My childhood church in Sun Prairie, WI, was where I began experiencing the joy of life in Christ. A lifestyle of being literally connected in God’s care was easy back then because my church was conveniently situated right across the street from my house, which meant I could walk to church on Sundays and to confirmation classes on Wednesdays. You’d think that my family was never late to church, but you know how that goes! Looking back, I’m thinking God was just simply happy to receive us no matter what time we got there.
Whenever I don’t know what to do or I’m scared or confused, I ask God to help me figure it out, and He always provides whatever I need, or whatever He thinks I need, and then I just appreciate it with a thankful heart and move on.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
There are times I have difficulty accepting His answer, but I work diligently at being at peace with it. Finding the good and glad is much more peaceful than finding the bad and sad. I am comforted with knowing that He is leading me.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
My parents divorced and my family collapsed during my senior year of high school. I didn’t know where I was going to live, so I asked God, “What do I do now?” God reminded me that I had been given a suitcase for my graduation gift, and I should pack it up and join the US Navy. That worked out so well that I spent twenty years as a Hospital Corpsman, three on active duty and seventeen on reserve duty. While there, I gave the church services at the chapel on base a try, but I preferred the connections with families at a church off base that I could walk to and from. This time it wasn’t across the street; it was a forty-five minute walk each way. Umbrellas are a nice invention. Everything turned out just great!
When I got settled in with my reserve obligations, I asked God, “What do I do now?” He reminded me of the day that he had introduced me to a very nice young man named Joel on a beautiful beach in South Carolina, and He told me I should marry him. It’s been thirty-eight years since then, and that turned out just great!
The next thing I needed was a job that would fill my soul with joy. I asked God, “What do I do now?” He reminded me how much I enjoyed the energy and wondering minds of children, and of the joy I got from learning. I put the two together and went to college to become a teacher. For thirty years I taught fifth and third-graders to go out into the world to let their light shine, and that turned out just great!
After I was married, I asked God, “What do I do now?” He created three wonderful daughters for us to love, to teach how to experience the joy of a life in Christ, and to connect to friends at Zion. He also provided a very nice house for us to live in. When we noticed it needed a great deal of repairs I asked God, “What do we do now?” He reminded me that he gave Joel some pretty serious carpentry skills, and three children who are very handy with a hammer, to get everything fixed up just fine. Everything turned out just great!
I’m very proud of my three grown children who are out in the world as young adults working jobs that fill their souls with joy. They are creating their own relationships with God and with the people He has placed in their paths. I really miss them. My teaching career with my wondering students has ended. I miss them, too. My Naval career ended years ago, and I still miss it.
At this transitional point in my life, I have that same question for God, “What do I do now?” I knew He would keep me busy and purposeful, while having fun along the way. In these early months of retirement, God has given me time to prepare for and enjoy my daughter’s wedding day, visit my children to enjoy their lives, host my nephews’ families, care for Joel’s mother, meet up with friends at the gym, and plan for my hobby of summer gardening. It’s all turning out just great!
God reminded me of how much joy I get from helping people and belonging to our Zion group. I was warmly welcomed into a group of women we endearingly call “The Church Ladies,” and I’m having the best time working with all of them to provide a comforting meal for funeral guests. It’s a work crew that is filled with delightful, hard-working, golden-hearted people and even though it is a solemn occasion, we still have fun together. It felt so good to help with Harvest of Hands this year, and to be a small part of such a big success. I’m learning a great deal about living a Christ-centered life by being among a group of friends who read and discuss books that are written under the umbrella of our faith in Christ. Sharing our stories as they connect to our chosen book and as they connect to each other has given greater depth to match the breadth of my faith in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Sharing friendship and fellowship with them is an even greater blessing. I’m also blessed with being a bell ringer with Zion’s youth bell choirs: Ring Forth and Class Ring. I’m the substitute when someone is absent, and I fill in when there are more parts to play than people to play them. They are such fun kids to be around! They care SO much about what they are doing, and that care and commitment are really evident when they play for everyone at church. They are talented musicians who bring a celebratory joy to our lives through their gift of making music from bells.
Thanks for filling my soul with your rings and laughter Sherilyn, Jason, and kids! And it’s all turning out just great!