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

What’s Your Season?

Words like seasons, cycles and circle are often used to describe the life we lead and the never ending nature of life. Last weekend our family celebrated together as we witnessed a marriage and the beginning of a new season in all our lives.

Golden hour stroll

Endings

Though life itself is continuous, there are endings and beginnings within the natural cycle. Just as the deciduous trees drop their leaves each year to prepare themselves for the long winter, so we too must let go of certain things so that we may be ready to move forward when a new season arrives.

The leaves do not go to waste. They are not forgotten. They return to the soil to provide what the earth needs for new growth. And so it is with people. A life well lived doesn’t stop when life on earth has ended. Whether genetically or through relationships and nurture, that life will continue to impact and nourish all who follow. This is a particularly comforting thought for someone who has no biological heirs.

Thus, one phase of the bride and groom’s life ended as this new one began. So, too do the lives of their parents and siblings, aunts, cousins and friends. Parents are now free to relax knowing they have completed this task and the future holds something new and exciting for them.

Beginnings

As the young couple begins their journey they do so taking all that has been given them both in nature and nurture. Who they are biologically, spiritually, intellectually and socially is all a product of their family and experiences; and now they will begin a new life and family passing along their unique qualities to their children.

Career choices, children, first home, where to live, and what kind of life do they wish to create…both parents and children are now free to make these choices. This should be a glorious time for all.

Letting Go To Grow

Every culture has their family and social norms and these tend to modify and evolve over time. My maternal grandparents never left the immediate area where they lived most of their lives. As coal miners and farmers there was no expectation that they would do anything besides stay where their families had been for generations. My father’s mother was born in Hawaii to Chinese immigrants. She was the first generation born somewhere other than China and most of her siblings stayed in Honolulu. My paternal grandfather’s family came from England and settled on the east coast and then Indiana.

The leaving home to begin a new life has been recorded nearly as long as humans have been on earth. It is a natural and normal evolution. My great grandparents and great great grandparents all did it; they left family behind in search of something new and hopefully better. I am so thankful for people with such intrepid spirits as they are the reason I am here today.

My Dream For This Season

I want to be like them. I would love to live a nomadic life for a short period of time. I don’t think I could do it forever, but the lure of the open road and living in a way that is completely different from my suburban Texas existence is very exciting…and romantic.

I believe there are certain physical locations where we connect on a spiritual level with the land, the people, and the way of life. I don’t believe I have found mine. And, at this juncture in my life, I may never find it. But I would love to try. I thought I felt it the first time I visited Vermont. Vermont is possibly the most beautiful state I have visited; mountains, lakes, streams and waterfalls visible from the side of the road…no billboards or other visual pollution…it is simply magical. But I don’t fit. My values and beliefs are not the same as the people there. So, I will be content with visiting but I could never live there.

I am, however, convinced that there is a place somewhere in the United States (I have to clarify as my dream would be England or Scotland) where I would feel at home in all the ways that are important to me. Or…I could discover, that I am indeed in just the right place – Texas – I just need to get out of the suburbs and away from the coast.

Just as the leaves must release their hold and drop from the life giving tree, what must die in my life to live this dream?

What Must I Let Go Of?

1. Putting Others First: I have a destructive habit of basing my decisions on what pleases others. While thoughtfulness is an admirable quality, when it moves into a way of life that denies ones own truth and purpose, it becomes a cancer that must be removed. These thought processes are created throughout a lifetime of small decisions until one day one wakes up not knowing how to make even a simple decision for their own pleasure. This in turn leads to a sense of powerlessness and ultimately anger and bitterness.

2. False Identities: I am not always sure who I am apart from created identities. I am nearly sixty four years old, I think it is way beyond time to figure this out. I know who I am as a wife, stepmother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend; but who am I? I create social media identities, business names, and creative pursuits, all in an effort to forge something that says to the world, “This is Sheryl Means.” I explore my ancestry to gain an insight into the genetic code that might reveal a hidden key to unlock this door. Thanks to the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, I am working on unlocking many of these questions. I finally feel as though I am beginning to find my path.

3. Expectations Of Others: This is tightly connected to the first point. I perceive a certain level of expectation that others have of me and believe I am powerless to do anything except be the “good girl” and do as expected. This is a deeply rooted and difficult mindset to change. To disappoint someone I love is my ultimate fear. It seems selfish and wrong. Yet, living to the expectations of others is another denial of self; thus I live in a constant state of being disappointed in myself resulting in bitterness and frustration.

What Comes Next?

As grim as all that sounds, I am really in a good place. Now that the issues have been identified I must come up with specific and actionable steps to move forward from this place I currently inhabit. We have an obligation to our granddaughter to live life as it currently exists until the summer of 2022. Once she graduates from high school, our life as full time parents and grandparents will be over. My husband is self employed in sales and has the freedom to travel. Our time is coming.

We plan to move to the city where my mom lives. I had hoped we would be there by now but helping our granddaughter was a commitment we made eighteen years ago and we had to honor it in full. But once finished, that leaf from our tree will drop. It will be time for a new life to emerge. What will it look like? Where will we go? What will we do? Who will I be? It all remains to be seen but what I know for sure is that this season is just for us. As long as each of us is able we will travel, have fun, and I will be right here documenting the journey.

Where Are You?

No matter what season of life you are living there are things to learn; things to let go of; relationships to heal; and experiences just waiting for you to bravely step out and enjoy.

I highly recommend Julia Cameron’s book. When I am through with this one she has written several others I will read. However, and through whatever methods you choose, it is my sincerest wish that you are able to work through the old messages of your life so that they can fall, decay, and disappear so that new ideas and choices can take their place.

As Always…Sheryl

A Grandmother’s Legacy

Willie Brooks Woodring

Willie Brooks received her name because her father wanted a boy. No gender reveal back then, so the name stuck. According to my mom she went by Brooks; can’t say that I blame her. Willie is a tough one, even for a boy. Though I don’t remember meeting her I have pictures to tell me I did. I was only two or three at the time and, well, I wasn’t blessed with a strong memory for most anything and I certainly have no idea about things that long ago.

As far as I can tell I am most like my Grandma Brooks Woodring. Certainly my physique resembles hers and I have her knack for crochet and other handicrafts. I am anxious and mom has said she had a nervous side. I think about her when I do the things she would have done…crochet and cook a great meal all while using every pot in the house and making a grand mess. But the food is always delicious.

I also love chickens but in a city girl kind of way.
I’m fairly certain she never gave her chickens names.
Grandma was pragmatic…they were dinner.

Nellie Perkins-Liu

I know even less about my paternal grandmother. Nellie has been a mystery my entire life. All we have are a couple of pictures and a ladies pocket watch that supposedly was hers.

Nellie Perkins-Liu
January 1924

I can’t remember the origin of my interest or how long I have been fascinated by my grandmother. Maybe it is that there is so little known and the romance of the unknown is always tantalizing.

That is my father she is holding in the picture. Sadly, within weeks she was hospitalized and never came home. My dad never knew his mother and my grandfather never talked about her. They came from a generation where men didn’t discuss such things; they just stoically moved on. To the best of my knowledge her family never had anything to do with dad. I have no idea if that was them or my grandfather’s doing. They are all gone now so I will never know for sure. But the desire to know about her has been a near constant thought since at least 1978. Fortunately before my grandfather passed away I summoned the courage to ask about her. The veil of secrecy was thick and we were not emotionally close to him.

I am working on learning more of the ins and outs of research of this type. Ancestry is a wonderful tool as is newspapers.com. I can spend hours moving from place to place gathering tidbits of information and storing them away like a chipmunk with acorns.

Telling Her Story

No one else in my family has been haunted by her story the way I have. I don’t mean in a literal sense, but in the sense that I feel this is a torch that has been passed to me. In the long run, there is only one great grandchild to carry her forward; my brother’s daughter is now a married woman and one day will have children of her own thus the family story has value for her.

But beyond the family saga, I feel there is a bigger story. The story of a young Chinese woman born in Honolulu in 1905 and who only lived for nineteen and a half years. It was, however, long enough to give birth to my father and thus I believe, her purpose had been fulfilled. Had she lived to raise him, or any other factors of my dad’s raising changed, my brother and I would not have been born. I am thankful for her life.

I am now a grandmother. I wonder what legacy I am leaving for my three granddaughters. What will they remember about me? Have I taught them the important things that only grandmothers can teach? Because of our busy modern lives have I done the best I could or have I allowed busyness to get in the way? Time will tell.

Be A Weed

I write for the pure joy it brings me to “put pen to paper” and craft something that is funny, poignant, educational or just a personal brain dump. I don’t know that I could ever write assignment based articles. Oh, I suppose I could but they would not bring the satisfaction of sitting down to share what is happening in my head and my heart. Once complete I send my little essays off into the world to be read – or not – content that I had expressed myself. No worries about money, readership, egos, rejection letters…nope, just the satisfaction that I had completed what I set out to do. I really am a simple, low maintenance kind of person.

Who Am I?

I never noticed how often dandelions are used for logos and branding. Have you? It wasn’t until I decided that I am a dandelion in human form that I noticed dandelions, both realistic and stylized, are extremely common in branding. Trying to find a blog name containing the word dandelion that had an available URL was impossible. All the cool ones had already been taken. Don’t let the superficiality of that sentence fool you. There is a deeper meaning which I will get to a little later. Back to my personal branding.

For years I struggled to “brand” myself. In the fiber art world I have had so many social media handles many people just give up. No wonder I could never build a following. No one knew who I was going to be on any given day. My struggle was much deeper than the look and feel of my online presence. I was struggling to find me, my identity, my purpose in the world wrapped up in a cute logo with just the right pithy tag line. Funny how things work out; the harder I tried the more lost I became.

Trudy Smith

Three years ago I came across the story of a woman who continues to inspire me to this day. Trudy Smith was an artist. She had an artist’s heart and soul but didn’t live out her life’s purpose until she turned 85.

Trudy described herself as a “misfit” in her family. She didn’t fit in. She certainly didn’t conform to society’s definition of how a woman was expected to live. So she kept to herself, feeling like a weed in the middle of a flower bed. But Trudy was no ordinary weed. Is there even such a thing as an ordinary weed? Trudy knew about her passion for art but it didn’t fit, so she spent her life doing what was socially acceptable for her to do. She obeyed her father. Married a man who was much like her father in his stern nature and rigid opinion on the role of a woman, wife and mother. But when her husband died, Trudy came to life.

She picked up her paint brush and didn’t put it down until her passing in 2018, just two months short of her 103rd birthday.

Trudy Smith (Photo by Kate Stevens, ABC South Wales Australia)

“Be a weed — then you belong to everywhere or anywhere.”

Trudy Smith

To say Trudy Smith changed my life is an understatement. Not surprisingly, I came up with a brand, bought the URL, claimed the Instagram name and was off to the races. I was going to build a brand around this theme of embracing one’s inner weed. Then doubt set in and I quit. But I have never forgotten Trudy and her wonderful words of wisdom.

How Do Weeds Live?

Many of us pay a lot of money and work very hard to keep weeds out of our lawns and gardens. We strive for a perfectly manicured environment. But, despite our best efforts, weeds still find their way into our perfectly planned garden. They suck the water and nutrients out of the soil making it harder for the plants we have so carefully chosen and inserted into the environment to survive much less thrive.

What is it about weeds that allow them to do what they do? I have a few thoughts.

First, weeds know they are weeds. Weeds are not trying to be fancy or unique. They simply find a place to live and then get about doing the best job they know how to do. Some weeds are ugly, some are beautiful, but they don’t know that. They just are living their best life.

Second, weeds adapt. They can survive with minimal food, muss or fuss. Ever notice weeds growing in the cracks of a sidewalk in the middle of a city with no other plant life visible? Yup, that is a weed for you. It finds the tiniest bit of nourishment and it goes to town. Weeds don’t need fancy. They need whatever it takes for their roots to take hold and their stems and leaves to grow. Flowers are the icing on the cake.

Finally, weeds thrive despite their circumstances. Once weeds have found a place to survive, they learn to thrive. The surroundings may not be ideal but they do what is necessary to make more weeds. Because that is what weeds do. They grow, spread, and make more weeds.

Dandelions and Me

During this “Live Like A Weed” phase I adopted the dandelion as my spirit weed. I didn’t think very deeply about why, I just love dandelions. What is not to love? Pretty little yellow flowers turn into a puff ball and then sail away to settle in and begin the process once again. I love the symbolism. And, once I began to think more deeply on the subject, I realized just how much I have in common with dandelions. Next time I will delve a little deeper on this part of the story. Until then…wherever you are, be like a weed.

~Sheryl

Inspired By Dandelions

Life is an ever evolving cycle of change. Nothing stays the same no matter how hard we try or how desperately we wish to freeze frame a moment in time. To fight against change is to miss the beauty of this naturally cyclical thing we call life.

A dandelion’s life purpose is to sow seeds to the wind so that new little seedlings can be brought to life. This is how I see myself. Like a dandelion with a head full of little seeds ready to be set free.

Seasons of Life

Each season of life has its own purpose, tasks to accomplish before moving forward. It is a rich and complex subject that deserves time to properly digest and dissect. I am finally coming to grips with the fact that I am entering a new season of my life. I have actually been traveling this road for the past four years; now at the door I have the choice to stand and knock or open it and walk through to what waits for me on the other side. Standing motionless is safe but does nothing to help me or anyone else. So, I really have only one option – open the door and boldly walk into whatever it is God has for me on the other side.

Gathering and Dispersing

In the past few months something has been happening in my heart and mind. I am suddenly seeing things in the world through a new lens; a softer and gentler lens. I won’t delve too deeply into this today but I will say that it has taken me by surprise. As I have been open to these thoughts and allowed them to penetrate any barriers that rise due to the discomfort of new things, I am feeling my way along a new path. A path I believe God is leading me one step at a time.

This morning I read an excerpt from a book called “Falling Upward” by Fr Richard Rohr. In this book, Fr Rohr discusses the spiritual and life purposes in the two halves of life. I believe that I am in preparation for my second phase of life: the giving away or dispersing of what I have learned in the first phase. This book will arrive at my door tomorrow. Just when I swear off the immediate gratification of Amazon, something like this crosses my path.

Seedlings

Whatever it is I am to do with the wisdom I have gained is unknown. I am less worried about the what than the preparation. My heart is softening. I am reading and growing in knowledge. I will be (at age 63) attending college beginning in January. I am practicing spiritual disciplines to connect more deeply with God to be sure I am traveling on the best path for his purpose in my life.

I choose to think of my writings here as seedlings. Little bits of information that I send out into the world to take hold if and when they are needed. That is my hope and prayer for every post. Since seedlings represent growth and new life what you will find here are just little nuggets of wisdom and goodness designed to lift up and never tear down. There is enough pain and suffering in the world. My passion is to apply a soothing balm on a hurting humanity. I trust God to guide and direct the writing and the reading of everything on this little blog.

There will be talk of books, dogs, family and all the normal stuff of life. I love to crochet and make art with my yarn and hooks; it is another way for me to express beauty of the world around me. My husband and I will be traveling more so I will take many photos and will share those as well. Whatever is good, and right, kind and beautiful will all find its way here. There is also pain in life…I won’t shy away from that either. It is only in the journey through the pain that we find light once again.

If you have made it this far, thank you. If what I have said has spoken to you, then I hope you will follow along. Either way, thank you for reading.

~Sheryl

Who’s In Control?

Wowza! Last week was certainly a doozy. I feel as though I lived several lifetimes in the course of the past seven days. I don’t recognize much of anything in the world these days and that may not be a bad thing.

Real Old Testament Stuff

Movie buffs will remember those words as part of a famous scene from the original movie Ghostbusters. Follow the link to watch the scene, it is worth it. But the truth is, we are living in an Old Testament type state of mass hysteria and there is only one answer. It is the same answer that existed for the Israelites of the Old Testament and the only one that would really solve the problems that exist today.


His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who call us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4

Powerless Without Humility

Humanity relying on its own knowledge and wisdom, trying to solve the problems created by that knowledge and wisdom is doomed to make matters worse. Without God, we, by nature, do all that we do with a personal bias and self interest. It is only with God that we are able to step outside of ourselves and do that which is righteous.

The United States has moved further and further away from the principles on which it was founded. This is not a right vs left, Republican vs Democrat issue. This is a wide spread humanity issue. We are all guilty and fall short of God’s perfect plan. We are all sinners and must humble ourselves before God and pray. I am regularly wakened in the middle of the night with a thought in my mind that I know has been placed there by God. I lay still and pray until I fall back asleep. Once my job is done, sleep returns. It is a beautiful symbiotic relationship that I cherish more than life itself. The giver of life is calling on me to assist in his precious work.

Humility

I recognize my weakness and my flaws (well, most of them). I understand that if I believe that power resides within me to change the world then I am a fool. However, if I live in humility and supplication to God, the creator of the universe, then his power works through me to accomplish more than I could ever dream possible. He is at work in advance of everything I am to do; he is paving the way, softening minds and hearts and will bring to me the people and circumstances that are intended for me. The result will be his glory shining in the world through me. I am made less, that he is made greater.

There is not been, in my lifetime, a greater example of humanity grasping for power and control than we have right now. Some would say it is President Trump who is trying to overthrow our democracy. I say it is the ones that are trying to destroy him. It is not enough that he will no longer be the President; no they are attempting to destroy him as a human being. He has less than two weeks before leaving the White House. Let him walk out and back into private life then move on. But that is not good enough for the people who are anxious for power and control.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are promised not an easy life, but a life that looks much like what Donald Trump has experienced during the past five years. We are targets of those who do not believe. We are targets of other ‘religions’ and their followers. We are targets of those within our own denominations and between denominations. Standing firm in one’s faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is guaranteed to bring earthly isolation and pain.

But take heart as we are not alone. Remember I said God goes before us? If everything we do in life is preceded with prayer and thankfulness to God through faith in Jesus Christ, We will be able to endure the arrows and stones sent our way. How does President Trump keep going day in and day out? It isn’t under his own power. There is only one way to survive what he has survived and that is the knowledge that his path was set before him by God.

Spend time with God every morning. Come to him with an open and thankful heart then wait for him to show you your way through this season of mass hysteria. We all have a job to do and no two paths are exactly the same. But if we each just do what we are given to do, change will happen. Nothing is impossible with God.

~Sheryl

K.I.S.S. – Day One

I love reading about the latest lifestyle trends, taking the quizzes, looking at pictures, imagining living in any one of a number of homes found as I scroll Pinterest. I don’t necessarily put in the work to implement the changes necessary to have the life, but I sure do love reading how other people do it while wondering how they manage to live such (fill in the blank) lives, while mine remains relatively the same year in and year out.

Hygge and Minimalism are two of the most recent trends that I have thought I would like to adopt into my life. My husband and I both tend to hold on to sentimental belongings. I can get rid of things more easily than he, but still I find it hard. Minimalism is a very unachievable goal for me. But, I can simplify. I can and I must find a way to simplify my home so that I can enjoy what I have and feel the peace that comes from a well ordered environment.

It is the “do the same things expecting different results” syndrome. To have change, one must do things differently. What an astonishing revelation this is! With this in mind, and as I strive to make a life not merely react to what life gives me, I must start doing some things differently. But where to start?

Stop Thinking & Just Begin

It has taken me three weeks to get my dining room turned studio space in order. I have boxed yarn and spinning fiber. I have moved boxes from the house to the garage. I have cleaned out a closet so that I can put things away in an orderly fashion. Next will be clearing out the bedroom where the overflow ended up and moving what I can into the garage and the rest sorted by potential projects and stored so that I can remember what I have and the designated project I have in mind. I must admit I feel like I am beginning to get a hold on the process and a small sense of control is returning to my life.

I have a great deal of money invested in the yarn and fiber I own. I don’t want to just give it away and most every knitter, crocheter, spinner or weaver I know has this same issue. The plan is to evaluate my stash every six months. Things that I have not touched, nor have a plan for, will be donated to a local Houston business that supports artists and teachers by selling donated items really inexpensively. Texas Art Assylum is a great place to go to buy all kinds of stuff for collage and other assemblage art. I feel good about my stuff going to a place that I know it will have a second life.

Maker In Action

When I first decided to focus this blog on making a life, I was really only thinking of the things I make. I make yarn. I make fabric with a crochet hook, knitting needles and looms. I make art that hangs on my walls. But I soon discovered that there is so much more to this making a life thing than the items that flow from my hands.

Making a life is making choices and accepting the consequences. For different results, different choices must be made. I have lived a reactionary life for so many years that I don’t know how to be proactive. It is much riskier. It is scary to step out and do rather than just accept what falls in our laps.

There are always others to consider. I am a wife, parent, grandparent, daughter. My choices affect a large number of people. I can’t just do what I want. Or can I? Can we? Dare we dream to make this part of our lives…the final season…a life that is created by us for us? We have ALWAYS lived for other people. Could this be our turn?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but what I do know is no matter what our future holds, I can begin making a life right here, right now. There is one thing for certain, if I continue living a reactionary life, absolutely nothing will change and I will still be looking longingly at other people’s life wondering why not me.

Baby steps. Just take one small, simple step forward and build on that every day. That is what I am going to do. Won’t you join me?

~Sheryl