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

Finding The Joy In The Everyday

I’m not sure when I decided that October was to be my favorite month of the year. Thirty one years ago I got married in October. That could have been the beginning. Or maybe not. At what point in life do we mature to the point of not taking hours, days, much less months for granted?

I think back to my life in my twenties. It was not the most outstanding decade of my life. Married eleven days after turning twenty, I spent the next seven years growing up and realizing, though I loved my husband as a nineteen year old, the reality of building a life with someone takes more than I had to give. I was too immature to deal with the life issues required of such a relationship. By the time I realized how out of balance our relationship was, there was no recovery possible. So I left.

During those years and the few that followed I was caught up in working, paying bills, making a new marriage work, trying to be a step mom and grieving not being a biological mom. I burned out on one job only to move to another that, while providing me with wonderful opportunities, also caused me great personal stress. The stress of that job was then compounded by becoming a full time step mom to a sixteen year old grieving the death of her mother. I left the job to be home full time. There was only so much stress I could handle. I felt God calling me home to create a safe, nurturing environment for my daughter and husband. This was no easy task, but it was where I was supposed to be.

I still had not learned to relish the precious moments of life. I was still in survival mode. In fact, I feel as though much of my adult life has been spent there. Being the safety net for this broken girl to heal and grow as well as for her equally broken father, well, I think that was my calling from God at that moment in time. There are more details to our story. Details that, when viewed in retrospect, seem to point to me having been chosen for this family long before we said ‘I do.’

I stayed home for a couple of years. I love being home. But then I felt the pull to go back to work when I saw there was an opening for a receptionist at a local church. This again was the hand of God guiding me to where I needed to be at that moment in time. I was in the right place for the birth of our first granddaughter and the passing of my dad. It was a job that helped support our daughter so she could stay home for the first nine months of her daughter’s life, to bond and nurture her first born. Then it was my turn. I left the job and came home to spend a year filling the maternal emptiness inside me. And still I was so busy with the day to day of life that I don’t remember dwelling on the things I ponder today.

As many children do, ours left and returned several times before being ready to stand on her own. God has pressed into my heart that she would not permanently leave until she was mature enough and had found the man to spend her life with. A man who would love not only her but her three daughters. This process took many years. I was well into my fifties by the time I could rest knowing that she had indeed arrived at that place in her life.

So, here I am. I’m sixty two and spending most of my time relishing in the simple pleasures of a beautiful day, my husband, dogs and the various creative endeavors that bring me pleasure. I have finally let go of the constant need to produce, anticipate trends and stay ahead of anything and anyone. While I marvel at how young some people figure this out, I wonder…have they really got it all together or do they just know how to put up the facade on social media? Now, I make what I like, sell something here and there, or not. But it is all about the process and making the most of each day. And sometimes, making the most of the day means sitting outside soaking up the sun while listening to birds and swatting at flies.

Therefore, in retrospect, I think I have just now learned to treasure each moment of each day as I realize how fleeting these days really are. God has blessed me richly with the ability to be able to live this way and to Him goes all the credit for opening my eyes and heart as well as providing all the blessings I enjoy.

I pray that whatever season of life you are in right now, find simple ways to find the joy in each day. It might only be a moment, but I promise it is there. This is the true secret of making a life.

~Sheryl

Suburban Sunrise

There was a faint orange glow in the eastern sky when I rolled out of bed this morning. The dogs were awake and persistent. Grudgingly I let them have their way. As I stumbled to the bathroom thoughts of dread for another day rolled around in my sleepy brain. Lately I wake, not so much with a sense of dread but a sense of here I go again. Nothing to look forward to, it’s just another day. Sometimes, if I wake before the dogs and I’m feeling these feelings, I wonder, “Why don’t I wake up excited for a new day of possibilities?” “What is wrong with me?” I lay there in silence, thank God for giving me a new day yet the sense of here I go again doesn’t dissipate.

After their breakfast I let the dogs out and remembered that it is officially fall. It rarely feels like fall in September, but in the aftermath of a tropical storm, dry air moved south, bestowing southeast Texas with a delightful gift and who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? I made my coffee, found a folding camping chair, grabbed my iPad, phone and headed outside. Beggars can’t be choosers and if I wait until my backyard vision becomes a reality…well, I might never come out to watch the sunrise. What a shame that would be, as this has been a morning to savor.

During that first cup of coffee I relished in the navy blue colored sky slowly giving way to a clear, light blue. The orange fades and pure light takes its place. The sounds of the world waking up play like a symphony orchestra warming up before the evening’s performance. Birds squeak, squawk, sing and soar through the morning sky. Sometimes they fly alone, other times like a mad rush a small flock will rise up out of the horizon only to dip and dive into this yard or that. A female blue jay lands on my fence, looking at me quizzically then zooms down into the grass, picks up a long squirming something, snake or worm, then flies off. She lands on my neighbor’s roof long enough to reposition breakfast in her beak and off she went.

I found I became a little irritated with human interference in my serene nature-filled morning. A neighbor coughs. A car starts. People talking loudly wishing each other a good morning. And now yard crews mowing, edging and doing all the things we humans do to make our homes more attractive. I felt just a bit resentful that this time alone in my little world was gone. I have to share. I don’t want to, but I have no choice.

Maybe tomorrow when I wake before dawn I will now do so with anticipation. If I get up and come outside early enough I will have the birds and the trees, sky and squirrels to myself just a little longer. Now THAT is something to look forward to.

~Sheryl