Will Power

From the moment babies learn that they are independent from their parents a struggle for autonomy and authority begins. We have all heard of the “strong-willed” child. When it comes to God’s power in our lives, I believe most of us are still strong-willed children. I know I am.

Jesus is my example. So, I ask for God’s will not mine and I wait to see what doors are opened and experiences come across my path as I go about my day to day life. God’s will is always what is best for me.

~Sheryl

A Life Well Lived

My husband constantly asks me, “What do you want me to _______?” Fill in the blank. I attribute this behavior to laziness; it is easier to ask me than it is to figure things out for himself. It drives me crazy, but after thirty three years I have given up. I answer the question then let him do whatever he wants. Most often he does the exact opposite of what I say. It is one of those funny behaviors that people who have been married a long time often do as a result of years of give and take.


But I do nothing without consulting the Father.

John 5:30a

This verse jumped out at me this morning as I asked God to show me what I was to write today. I opened my Bible to John and picked up where I left off. Jesus had healed the lame man and was then confronted by the religious leaders about breaking the rules. What happened next is what we in the south refer to as a “come to Jesus meeting.”

Jesus took the church leaders to task and in so doing said so many profound things including giving us a glimpse into the relationship between Father and Son. Jesus could have done everything he did on his own without consulting the Father. But he didn’t. He is our example, our guide, our teacher. Remember the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets? Here is the answer. He would do nothing without consulting with the Father.

I fail at this most days. I get busy or distracted. I wonder how my life would look if I began my day, before I even get out of bed, thanking God for the new day and asking him what he wants of me that day. Do I expect an audible answer? No. But what I know is that in the course of the day something will jump out at me like this verse did, and when I do what is before me I will have done what God wanted of me that day.

At the end of the day, this is a life well lived.

Blessings to you…Sheryl

Nourishment

This is looking for nutrition in all the wrong places.

So much of what I think will nourish me and provide purpose and meaning to life only ends up leaving me empty. It makes me think of the song “Lookin’ for Love.”

I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places

Lookin’ for love in too many faces

Searchin’ their eyes

Lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreaming of

Hoping to find a friend and a lover

I’ll bless the day I discover another heart

Lookin’ for love

Johnny Lee

I’m not looking for love, I found that, I’m looking for daily purpose in my life. I hop from hobby to hobby, always trying to turn those into a business only to get tired and move on to the next thing. I’m seeking a sense of fulfillment and purpose…I’m just looking in all the wrong places.

True Nourishment

I found my answer in the words of Jesus. As I continue my journey of reading and studying the words attributed to Jesus, I find that all the answers I need are right in front of me. He set the ultimate example. I just try to make it way too difficult.

My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.

John 4:34

In a previous post I wrote about the work each of us is given to do. Doing that work is doing the will of God. Being the wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister and friend that God created me to be, is doing the will of God. Showing Jesus to the world in the way I act, speak and behave, that is doing the will of God.

In a world filled with dopamine rushes at every turn it is easy to think we are missing something in our lives if we don’t get that high from all activities. Those moments of pure joy that come with doing something and feeling the reward…those are gifts from God to let us know we are on his path. But just like eating cake or winning a video game, too much of a good thing makes that thing mundane.

Be you. Be kind. Especially be kind to those who are not kind to you and let God handle the rest. That’s what Jesus did. He went where he was sent and took care of what was right in front of him. The more we live like this the more opportunities God will bring across our path to experience the joy of true nourishment.

Until Next Time…Sheryl

Life’s Work

In today’s highly connected, technological world, it is so easy to become discouraged. Social media creates the illusion that, it seems, there is a life out there we are not only missing out on, but that none of us can ever live up to. It is a conundrum for me. I enjoy engaging with folks who have similar interests as I do; I love sharing what I am doing; but I detest the inevitable discontent it breeds.

I am a creative person and all of my hobbies, in my mind, become possible business opportunities. I allow this mindset to suck the joy right out of everything I do. I am constantly pursuing validation through the work of my hands.

This morning I read this verse:

God in heaven appoints each person’s work.

John 3:27

No, I don’t believe God finds us our next job. But I know that we are all created with a certain set of abilities, gifts and talents along with the personality to use these things for good. In my case I am a nurturer. Though I never became the teacher or the mommy I always wanted to be, but all of the strengths needed for both of those were put to work in every area of my life.

I became a medical assistant so I could work in a doctor’s office; several years later I became a licensed nurse which led to working as a school nurse. I stopped working and came home when my step daughter’s mother died and I was needed here. That led to many years of nurturing her and then her children. And now, we have our oldest granddaughter living with us as she navigates her place in the world.

At sixty-four I spend much time analyzing where I’ve been as I look to where I might go next. It is clear to me that God appointed me as a caregiver to the next generation. One day when my work inside my family is done I will step out once again and care for the children and youth in need in my community. I don’t know where or how, I just know that God put that work on my heart and it will be my work for life.

May you find and know your worth and purpose; it comes from God and no one can separate you from it.

~Sheryl

Looking Backwards, Moving Forward

I’m still thinking about my life’s purpose and the path I should be taking during this season of my life. Since history is the best predictor of the future, I decided to look back and see where my life has been and where I should be looking in the future. As I analyzed all the things I have done, both consciously and unconsciously, one thread has continuously run through all the fabric of my life. That thread is children.

All Paths Are Personal

I never bore children of my own. The only profound regret of my life is that I never experienced the growing, delivering and raising a child of my own flesh and blood. Once it became biologically impossible the pain of this diminished and I was able to look back at my life and really see how God had given me hundreds of children. Granted none of them bore any resemblance to me, nor was I responsible for their well-being and life; however, I was given a chance to make a difference. The ripple effects of these relationships will continue to grow and affect the next generations. That is a powerful path.

Working at a school was the highlight of my working life. Both as a nurse and an assistant teacher I had the privilege of nurturing and encouraging children for ten years. I had always wanted to be a teacher and no other job fulfilled me like this one.

I left the working world to come home and be present in when our daughter was going through a particularly difficult time in her life. I was needed here to make a difference in her life far more than the kids at school needed me. The purpose was the same, the intended beneficiary had changed.

Next came our first granddaughter. Born to a single mom, lost and struggling as her own mother had died when she was sixteen (I am her stepmom). I now had two girls who needed me. My purpose continues.

Two more granddaughters come along; a marriage doesn’t work out and suddenly our empty nest is full again. The joy of a full house is indescribable. I loved the activity and purpose it brought to my life. Cooking for and helping with the girls brought so much joy. And then it was time for them to move on.

So, that brings us to today. Just when we thought we were done. Ready to live the retired life and wondering what we would do with this time on our hands, our first granddaughter — the one who changed everything for us — was in a crisis. So many experiences in such a short life left her in a rough patch. Her mom and stepdad were at wits end and they have two other girls to care for. We opened our home and brought her back to the place that was her first home. The past few months have been difficult but the growth and change are remarkable and she is well on her way to being the adult we dreamed she would be. Again…I (we) continue on the path.

Little Picture Living

I don’t always see what I do everyday as part of the bigger picture of life. I never had the “I’m going to change the world” mentality; never been the activist, or the person who wanted to accomplish big things. My goals were always about creating a home and family. I have written before about my one passion and that is children. I set out to care for children in my working life and I spent the vast majority of my career doing just that. But even that didn’t trigger any “bigger picture” views of myself. I just got up everyday and did what I was trained to do.

I think God protects me from thinking of myself in a grand kind of way. I am just an ordinary person who tries to be kind and do what is right. If I saw myself as some kind of saint I know it would go right to my head and all the good I could do would be wasted. The irony of all this is I spend so much time wondering what I am “supposed” to be doing with my life, when in fact I was doing exactly what God designed me to do all along.

I think because so much of what I have done just falls under the banner of you do what you gotta do. In the midst of the fire you don’t stop to analyze the fire, you just put it out. I have been on my path for all forty years of my adult life. During that time I never gave myself credit for doing anything to make a difference because I just looked at the big stuff. I never did anything big. I just left a crumb trail of lots of little things. Because what I did wasn’t traditional or I wasn’t the “teacher” I wanted to be, I only saw what I wasn’t not who I was.

One Path, Small Detours

I don’t want to leave the path, I’m just ready for it to look a little different. I want to use my talents and skills to improve the lives of another generation of children. I have always dreamed of writing books. I could write a picture book for emerging readers. I would love to write the kind of story that encourages children to be the best they can be, or tell a fabulous tale that is remembered forever. Maybe it should be a book for the adults on blended families and lessons we have learned through the years. Maybe I will volunteer with disadvantaged kids and help them with school work. After all I did want to be a teacher. That urge is still inside of me. I don’t know where I am going next, but I do know that my path to the destination is sure and I have history on my side.

Wherever you are in life, do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do, rather look at what you are doing and know you are doing your best. If, like me, you feel a nudge towards something, a tug at your heart, pay attention. God might be preparing you and showing you your path. If the time is right and you can do something about the nudge, then do it. If you aren’t able, just be aware and know that one day in some way, your path will become known and you can follow in confidence.

My Three Step Program

For the first time in my nearly sixty-four years I don’t have anything to worry about. I have a happy marriage, stable and thriving child and grandchildren, a roof over my head, enough money to meet and even exceed my needs, all extended family are healthy and happy, in short, I want for nothing. I am blessed beyond measure.

And yet I am constantly seeking that one thing to do that will give purpose and meaning to life. This usually takes the form of a maker type business. I am a talented human being and have everything it takes, including small business experience, to succeed in such an endeavor. So why do I struggle?

Living In Fear

I don’t know any other way to explain my feelings and inability to follow through. I get excited. I come up with a concept, product, logo, website, social media marketing, and then it comes time to put my work out into the world and I freeze. The feeling is very uncomfortable so I tell myself I am simply not cut out to do this. So I stop. And I feel like a failure. This cycle has repeated itself over and over again for many years leaving a trail of broken promises and an inflated sense of failure. I know this is not how God wants me, or you, to live. So, what is the answer? Here is my three step plan of attack.

Step 1: Trust God…Do Not Fear

I think I read somewhere that the admonition to “not fear” is the most used often used in the Bible. God knows us all too well. I am considering having the word trust literally tattooed on my body. God equipped me with skills and abilities to use in this lifetime. I have tried too hard to make things work on my own. I need to relax and just do what I am capable of doing then letting go. I believe I am finally coming full circle and can see fewer dead ends on my life’s road.

Step 2: Identification

Before something can be fixed it must be identified. I assumed I was on the wrong path because I felt anxious that my work would not be good enough or that no one would want to buy what I make. This was a signal to stop and look for a different path; but all paths ended the same and the desire to do this has never left me. Maybe I was changing the wrong thing?

I am notorious for trying to create a life that will fit nicely into pretty little boxes. Life is not to be viewed as a box to fill but a road to travel. Each experience leads to something new and everything builds on previous experience. Instead of a winding road with the usual twists and turns, hills and valleys, I have allowed my road to be a series of dead end detours. I see something interesting and I veer off only find a dead end. At each dead end (aka whatever craft I am passionate about at the moment or whatever product I think I could spend the rest of my life making) I tend to throw my hands in the air and give up. My instinct is to get rid of all the supplies and declare that endeavor as dead. This rarely ends well as I usually decide I still want to resume doing whatever it is I have abandoned. The internal message is that I am a failure incapable of following through and doing what I dreamed of doing.

In fact, what I did was give into that negative voice and stop before I gave myself a chance to get started. Self-sabotage happens every time I listen to the wrong voices in my head. I am currently in the beginning stages of starting yet again. This time I am not trying to fill a niche in the market I am simply going to make the things I love to make and would use in my home. I am also honoring the historic roll of textiles and fiber in women’s lives. I am fascinated by how women’s roles have changed and how modern women honor the contribution of our ancestors by keeping these skills alive. I am excited to make things, research, learn and write about what excites me. I know that no matter what else happens I will be making a contribution to something I care about.

Step 3: Be Authentic

I am a jack of all trades but can never be monogamous to just one pursuit. This is usually where I fail. I try to be known as…a hand spinner of unique yarn, a crochet artist, a crochet historian, a weaver, a stitch artist, and the list could go on but I won’t bore you.

My authentic self loves old tools, old ways, and doing lots of different things. Why I ever thought that sticking my very round peg into a square hole was a good idea is beyond understanding. I love history and knowing I am continuing doing things the way they have been done for hundreds of years. The methods are old, the end result is modern. Gotta love the dichotomy.

The other authentic part of me is my love for writing. I write here about life and as my new site gets going I will be writing about the historical and modern aspects of needle and hand work as it applies to the lives of women. That is a win-win in my book.

You’ve Got This

No matter what your heart is calling you to do, you can do it! Be careful who or what you listen to, pay attention to what tugs at your heart, and do not fear. You’ve got this!

Seeking The Still Small Voice

Planning

In less than a week I embark on my three day retreat in the woods. As is typical for me I am planning my entertainment first. I will take care of other details such as food and clothing after I know I will not get bored and resort to driving to civilization for a quick dopamine fix. The weather is not cooperating so no flannel shirt and matching bandana for cute matchy-matchy pictures with Maggie, but I will find temperature friendly attire in which to document our big adventure.

Going Analog – Almost

I am vacillating on how much technology to take with me. The cabin does not have WiFi, so I will have to download entertainment should I choose to watch. But…I am leaning towards leaving it all behind and only use what is possible without a connection to the internet. I will have my phone so the possibility exists to partake should I choose to do so. I must download media first so there has to be forethought and intent. Today, a week away, I am resolutely in the camp of music only. I’ll let you know how that goes as the week progresses.

Currently this is my entertainment packing list:

• Kindle

• Sock knitting project plus a back up if I get bored or finish

• Journal with favorite pen

• Morning pages notebook

• Books: The Artist’s Way, The Creative Cure, Faith Of A Writer, Bird by Bird, On Writing Well, and American Primative by Mary Oliver

• Bible

• Binoculars for nature watching

I am craving solitude and silence. The guest house has a special box for phones. It isn’t mandatory and the phones are retrievable at any time, but it is a tangible act; a willingness to set aside the attachment to devices for a prescribed period of time. I will keep in touch with my husband who will worry the entire time I am gone. I will text him each morning and evening to let him know I am alive and well, but then the phone goes back into the box. I will wear my Apple watch which has a locator on it so that if I am walking Maggie he can see where I am. I consider this as much for my safety as his peace of mind.

What Lessons Are In Store For Me?

For one thing I hope to be reminded that I am enough. I am capable and I can survive on my own. It is one thing to be safe in my home alone; it is another to be in the woods, possibly with no one around for miles. I have lived in a large and often scary city most of my adult life and I have succumbed to the fear. I need this adventure for me.

As you can probably tell by my reading list I want to learn and grow as a writer. I hesitate to even use the word ‘writer’ about myself as I don’t have, what I perceive to be, the requisite education for such a title. And this is precisely the fear I am seeking to overcome. I believe I have been given a gift. Writing gives me a sense of purpose and fullness unlike any other creative pursuit. I have pursued many things; all have led to a sense of emptiness and defeat. I write and I feel fulfilled. I click ‘publish’ and I have accomplished my daily goal. Therefore, I suppose, I am a writer. My seeking is about the direction of my writing and am I doing all that I am able and born to do? My heart’s desire is to write even one blog post, story or essay that resonates and makes a difference.

I want to be ensconced in God’s creation while leaving myself open for whatever it is I need to hear. Reassurance. Direction. Guidance. Comfort. It could be any mix of those things or possibly something I haven’t even thought of yet. I am open. I want to be still and sensitive to the still small voice of God. That gentle nudging or the sudden confirmation that I am going in the best direction for me. I don’t want to miss anything because I am distracted.

As I stand poised on the precipice of a new chapter, I feel like a dandelion puff. I am full of life experiences and ready to send them out into the world to plant, germinate and grow to repeat the cycle. If I send forth seeds of love, empathy, kindness, and humor there are no boundaries to what God can do with my tiny little effort.

Morning Rituals

I see people on social media going through their morning rituals and wonder…why can’t I get it together? My mornings are never as thoughtful and beautiful as theirs seem to be. But then again I am not staging my morning ritual for the sake of the camera. This photo is authentic. I didn’t arrange things for you. This is how that corner of my desk looks all day every day.

Mornings At 2434

I stagger out of bed, feed the dogs, let them outside, make coffee and sit back down. Sometimes I wonder why I am sitting when I just got up from eight to nine hours of sleep. Why aren’t I ready for a jog, or even a leisurely stroll? Nope. I want to sit, sip my coffee and contemplate the day ahead.

I always spend some of this time talking to God and then being quiet to see if He has anything to say back. Sometimes I get an idea, or resolution to something that has been on my mind. Other times I just feel peacefully quiet. I used to write in my journal every morning. I have replaced that with my morning pages. I get to brain dump knowing I will discard the pages so no one will ever read all the garbage that can occupy the gray matter that is my brain.

We all have those thoughts, worries, anxieties, angry voices, destructive words. I know I am not alone. So now, thanks to Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way I am learning to release them by writing in a throw away notebook. It is the equivalent of taking all the junk out of one’s home, putting it in a storage unit then throwing away the key. Except the storage unit owner might sell the contents of that unit sight unseen and then someone else has to deal with all that stuff. I think I will do a ceremonial burning as I finish each notebook. I like the idea of turning all those thoughts and worries into ashes. After all, God creates beauty from ashes, therefore so should I.

Lessons Learned

Let God in first thing in the morning. Just invite Him and be still. It sets the tone for everything that is to come.

Do what prepares you for what comes next. Some days I have things to do and places to go so I drink my coffee while I am getting dressed. The talking to God happens in the shower – also one of the best places to really listen. But all of this comes after I have met my dogs’ needs. Children first.

Do you. Social media, for the most part, is staged and therefore not real. I do believe most of these people do what they show but it isn’t always so pretty and perfect. Don’t self flagellate for having an ordinary life. We are all ordinary.

Spend time alone. There is nothing more important than really knowing and loving yourself to prepare for the slings and arrows of the outside world. Get grounded, put on the armor then go into battle. The world outside your door is a war zone. Stand firm in the knowledge that God created you and is with you. Jesus has won the war and walks with you each step of the way.

Have a blessed day. You are not alone.

~Sheryl

Cries From My Soul

For more years than I can recall, my soul has longed to write. I start blogs, then I give up. I journal for a while then I give up. Why? Fear…fear of what might happen if I succeeded and the expectations that come with that success.

We all have those things that cry out from the depths of our souls; passions, drives, those themes that seem to recur regularly as we travel the path of life. I believe we are all created to add to and make this world a better place. Our lives are not without purpose or value. God placed us here at a certain time and in a certain place for a reason. Ours is to stay connected so that we may live out that higher purpose and complete the task we were assigned.

Don’t get caught up in the idea that only big things count as callings. Being a kind and caring person to all you meet, while important for all of us, some folks just seem to effortlessly be at the right place to help. And in so doing, they fulfill their calling. It is the simple things. It is act of doing what you feel most strongly about in a way that fulfills your spirit and makes the world a better place.

Conquering The Fear

My Fear Monster has controlled my life for too long. I may never get published, but I will write. However, writing is not my calling. Writing, the art and craft of using words for a specific purpose, is the vehicle for my calling. Every job, task, or activity that has had meaning and provided me with a sense of fulfillment have all shared one commonality. In all things I was able to help others. Professionally I was a nurse, an assistant teacher, church receptionist, and shop owner. I am a dismal businesswoman, but I excel at assisting and guiding people. I tried to stay in business for the mere purpose of selling items I had made. I hate it. I have to force myself to do it; thus I fail. My calling isn’t making and selling. I can do it but it robs my soul of joy. From the day forward I choose joy over fear.

So, how to find and live out your purpose? In a word, listen. In the stillness of the early morning light, quiet your mind, and listen. Listen for that still small voice inside. It takes practice to be fully quiet and present, but keep trying. Just a few minutes a day is all it takes. Give yourself this gift. First thing in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up, take time to listen.

Ritual, as a part of focusing the mind to hear and listen (yes, they are different), is important. Small things we do to prepare alert our mind that something special is about to happen. I am not great at setting up and keeping rituals. I love the idea but in practice am not great at it.

My sacred space.

I finally have my desk area set up and this is now where I spend my mornings. I light my candle, sip my coffee, read from my Bible and devotional books, write by hand in a journal and I listen. I wait. Because that still small voice may not arrive today, but it will arrive and when it does I want to be ready. Ready to hear and respond.

I believe there is an inner longing and purpose inside each of us. If only we, as human beings, would spend as much time looking inward to become better people as we do looking outward at what others are doing (or not doing), the good would soon outweigh the bad and the world would really be a beautiful place to live.

Until next time…

~Sheryl

Lulled From Slumber

A soft, filtered light streams in between the slats of the blinds, gently illuminating the room. It is quiet in here. No television. No radio. No other people. I am lulled into a state of peaceful contemplation by the sound of clothes as they roll around in the dryer, and just now the low rumble of thunder breaks through to remind me of the weather.

The remnants of a tropical Pacific storm are now moving through Texas. Gusty winds and rain have been my companions today. These are my favorite days. Alone in my thoughts with cloudy skies and rain to provide a soothing backdrop for whatever I choose to do. I cherish today as tomorrow is promised to be hot and muggy.

The wind comes in waves; tree limbs bend as water is shed from their leaves. Rain beats against the window with an ever quickening rhythm, lulling me into sweet slumber.

Necessary Rest and Diversions

I haven’t been sleeping well of late and it has taken a toll on me. So many things running through my mind and I wonder, how others seem to do it. How do some people live lives filled with just what they want and not fretting about the minutia. Because it is generally the minutia that wears me down. I carry thoughts, worries, and what ifs around like stones in a bag and then wonder why I am mentally and physically exhausted.

These days none of the usual pastimes help. Making yarn then crocheting, knitting or weaving with it used to fill the need to create and brought a calming peace to my soul. And, maybe one day it will again. But for right now all the stuff feels like a burden. A burden that needs to be set aside.

As I have written before I have had a life long love affair with books and reading. I set the activity of reading aside for many years as I was “too busy” and seemed to fall asleep every time I picked up a book. But the love for books themselves never left and I always feel a deep sense of comfort when surrounded by them. I believe that I am now entering a season in my life where reading and writing are about to take center stage in my life.

Quenching The Thirst

Of late I find myself hungry for knowledge. I want to know more, see more, experience more things. I am no longer content to sit passively by and just live in the status quo. My first reaction was, “I need to finally go to college.” And while that is a pursuit I have not ruled out, I don’t think that alone will satiate my longings.

At this moment in time, having fulfilled all the early life tasks, career, raising children and now a grandchild, we – I include my husband in this journey – are at the brink of a bold new life and I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. It is not enough to live a simple life, although that is a big portion of the goal, but to live a simple life fully. And for me that means learning, seeing, exploring and then sharing my experiences.

It means reading history and visiting places to feel the lessons from the past. Learning about the struggles of others and changing in me whatever needs to be changed to be a more loving person. It means learning new skills, eating new foods, moving forward to do those things we have only talked about for thirty years. It means living each day in a way that honors God and who He created me to be.

Do Not Fear

Fear is an ugly monster. It lives inside all of us and takes on so many different disguises. We learn to ignore, squelch and run from our fears, but until we stop, turn around and boldly face the fear monster, we are never free.

The concepts of “trust” and “do not fear” appear in scripture more than anything else. There is a reason for this. God knows we need to hear it over and over and over again. For those of you who do not believe in God, you have the same need, you simply look for your answers elsewhere. But we all have this internal anxiety.

What is my Fear Monster? Being thought of and called out as stupid, uneducated, and unworthy of an opinion. I have cowered in the face of fear and that is not the life we are called to live. I have allowed it to stop me from doing something I love and believe I’ve been given the gift to do well.

More to come…

~Sheryl