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Create Memories

Memories attach themselves to strong emotions, and I’m sure that most of us will never forget 2020.​ There may be good memories mixed in with the bad but unless we choose to focus on the times that were wonderful, we might get stuck in the unpleasantness.

Coming out of a time of difficulty gives you courage to imagine something new if you open your mind to opportunities.

In 1972, I was laid off from my first teaching job and felt angry, hurt, hopeless and bored until I was finally ready to do something wild and crazy, so I travelled to Europe with a backpack. I spent seven months over there having what a friend referred to as “the Europe cure”. It was fun and also hard. I had to learn confidence and resourcefulness to survive. Maybe that was the year that I grew up the most!

This is the time of year for looking ahead to what memories you will create and carry into your old age! Did you know that you can begin now? What will be your legacy from this year?

I suggest that you start by building a list of your dreams, goals, intentions or whatever you want to call them. If you already have a list of the things you want to do, be and have, dig it out now. If not, start writing! Write them all down even if ​you think they aren’t possible. Be brave!

What adventures are waiting for you in 2021?

I have signed up to take an online course in Biblical Hebrew starting in February. My “bucket list” has included getting a master’s degree for at least the last decade and this course is the first step. This is scary and exciting!

Now is the time for all of us…it’s the only time we’ve got. Start creating memories.

This is the year to write that novel, learn to paint, find a way to build your invention, pivot your business to a new and changing world…or start that degree program! God the Creator never intended us to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. He gave us a world that is broken and is asking us to fix it, one person at a time.

Create beauty. Find gratitude every day. Enjoy the life you have been given.

Shalom!

Welcome to the adventure of the new (and unusual) year of 2021.

If you took an Advent Journey with me before Christmas, I’m excited to announce that I plan to turn those daily posts into an eBook for sale sometime this year. Stay tuned for more info!

2020 gave us, globally, some particularly challenging things to face. Early in the year, the novel corona virus upset a world that in many ways was already broken. Political systems, elections, power struggles, and racial tensions dominate the news.

As with everything in life, we must choose how we will react to change. Some of us are angry and rebellious believing that this discomfort is a plot for someone to gain control. Others live in fear of what will happen next and many of us aren’t sure what to think. Or even what to do now.

I live alone in an apartment building and as I look outside today, the rain is coming down heavily and everything is grey. Some might say that I have the perfect life with no family responsibilities, a small pension, good health and lots of free time but as with all of life, there are downsides.

I have to motivate myself to do something productive when I only feel like lying on my couch with a murder mystery! There is loneliness lurking at the edges of my days and often I have to fight my feelings to pray for others, or reach out to find friends who might also need support.

This series of emails will be filled with hope and encouragement and maybe some suggestions for what choices you can make to find shalom this year.

In Hebrew, shalom means much more than peace. It is used every day in Israel by shopkeepers and friends on the street to say “Hello” or “Goodbye”.

“Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.” (www.myjewishlearning.com/article/shalom)

When our circumstances are blemished by lockdowns, quarantines, pandemic illnesses, and deaths, shalom can feel as if it is an impossibility. Notice the above quote says, “Shalom is… a manifestation of divine grace.” It is an undeserved blessing from God.

For the next few days, look for opportunities to say “Shalom” to the people you are with. “Shalom, friend! See you next week.” “Shalom…how are you?” “Shalom. Have a good evening.”

If you really mean it, you will begin to feel the peace coming back to you.

Shalom in 2021 is possible. Claim the blessing and choose peace every day!

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The Path to Shalom

Did you know that it is possible to live your life with peace and fulfillment – every day? 

I don’t mean peace that looks like a quiet beach or a calm shady forest. I also don’t mean peace all day, every day. However, I believe it is a process that anyone can learn.

In Hebrew, the word peace is translated “Shalom” which includes harmony and tranquility.

The two hardest places to find real tranquility are at home and in the workplace. That’s because people are typically the cause of our lack of peace.

The Shalom that we all want (and need), can occur in the middle of an argument with your spouse, in the chaos of a classroom full of children, or when deadlines are looming at work.

When you are living a life of fulfillment and taking steps toward how you want to live,
you can choose to let others do – or say – whatever they want,
without taking it personally.

Sound impossible? It’s not as hard as you might think. You can begin to flourish with an inspiring life now. It takes a lifetime to get good at it! Why not start right now…choose peace today, instead of waiting for tomorrow!

Take a long slow breath in and hold it for a second or two then slowly let it out. When you feel yourself spiraling out of control, remember to breathe. Now find something that makes you thankful in this moment. Maybe the weather, your home, the person who annoys you…

In my years as a principal and teacher, at board and staff meetings, in my marriage, raising children, and in many friendships, experience taught me that I can choose my reactions to others. Through both failures and successes, I am finding my own path to peace each day. 

“Are you actively making choices for the life you want, or are you drifting along hoping someday things will get better? Or somebody else will fix it?”

It is my life purpose to help others to:

  • live a life of gratitude
  • find ways to forgive, and,
  • learn to accept others, without trying to change who they are.

I wrote a book called: Flourish in a World Full of People that is full of wisdom and experiences shared from my own life-long journey. You can find it here to read on your Kindle or why not send one as a gift to a friend?

To Flourish or Human Flourishing is defined 
as an effort to achieve self-actualization and fulfillment within the context of a larger community of individuals, each with the right to pursue his or her own such efforts. (Aristotle)

If you want to follow me, in future blogs, click this link to subscribe. 

Shalom!

Let it Go!

Are you a 10-gallon person with a 1-pint family?

On a YouTube video with Oprah Winfrey, Bishop T.D. Jakes says that some people have a 10-gallon capacity for love, but they grow up with 1-pint families. Your family may have given you all they had but maybe you feel like it was not enough.

“By holding onto your history, you could lose your destiny.”

Sometimes people experience pain caused by a parent and it still hurts many years later. Children understand things in their own way and often what doesn’t feel fair or right, can carry on into our adult lives.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

  • “He doesn’t care enough about me to even remember my birthday!”
  • “What gives her the right to tell me what to do when she is an alcoholic?”
  • “She gave me away and I can never forgive her.”
  • “He made me feel useless and stupid.”

What feelings do you have when you think about your mother? Or your father?

If you feel pain, anger, hurt, or criticism, you can change your story right now. Maybe you don’t think that it matters whether you forgive or not. Did you know that forgiving is essential for your own growth and health? We are all trying to manage in a broken and hurting world and no one is perfect – including our parents.

Your parent is an ordinary person who also struggles with pain, disappointment, and rejection.

When you were a child, your friends might have seemed to have the perfect life; happy and encouraging parents, homemade lunches with chocolate chip cookies, parents who got up early to take them to sport practices. Those families had their unique challenges too. Life, for everyone, involves times of disappointment, betrayal, loss and, the difficulties of dealing with other people.

How would your life be different today, if you found a way to forgive people who hurt you in your past?

What if you could… just let it go and move on?

“Forgiveness is not necessarily admitting the other person was right.
And it’s not about letting the offender continue to reoffend.”

“…it cuts the chain that ties two souls together in painful memories;
to set yourself free to live your own life.”

You can make a deliberate choice to take your hands off what should happen to that person or how they should act.

One way to let go of the pain is by writing down all the things that hurt you. List everything. Give yourself permission to feel the pain. But don’t stay there. Read it through once more, then rip it into little pieces and throw it away.

Take a deep breath right now. Make a choice to let it go and then exhale slowly! Sometimes the hardest part is reminding yourself to not take back any of the painful feelings. Letting go, allows you to live your own life without carrying around the burden of the old wounds!

There is one more step. Tell someone.

The Bible says to “confess your sins” (James 5: 16). Find someone you trust to listen without giving you their sympathy. Another person’s sympathy will only reinforce your feelings of being wronged.

Tell your Pastor (or a friend) that you are sorry for carrying this heavy burden of pain for so long. This is called repentance. It is a deliberate action to turn those feelings over to God; to be set free.

Today, it is time to let it go!
You are a 10-gallon person with love to give and a big life to live. Don’t lose your destiny.

God is big enough to go with you and He will…every step of your adventurous, wonderful life.

Forgiveness is an important topic in my book, “Flourish in a World Full of People” as quoted above. For more stories and tips to learn how to forgive, let go and be free to pursue your destiny, click here to order a copy of my book. If you would like to leave a comment, please click in the review section on Amazon, to encourage others.  

Do you ever feel like a fraud?

It was a challenge to learn and complete the many tasks necessary to write, edit, rewrite (many times), then publish my book. Writing the book was often difficult, but I thought that next part of blogging and social media posts would be easier! Not so.

Creating an online business involves new learning and challenges that I often choose to leave for another day; the way I sometimes left my homework to the last minute when I was in high school! While I have struggled with the “to do” lists, my emotions have gone up and down.

Several times I decided, “I am done! It’s all too hard and I don’t care if no one reads it!”

It was particularly bad one day when I suddenly felt like a fraud. What did I know that could help other people? What if people hated it? Or maybe worse, what if they loved it and I couldn’t keep up with the orders?! My headache kept me home all day feeling sorry for myself. 

A couple of days later, I attended a women’s conference at our church that was billed as “Flourish”! Even though I felt tired, I knew I needed to go. During the sessions, I began to feel as if some hard things in my heart were being blasted loose, like an iceberg breaking up. I was seeing places where I have been critical of others, had pride in my accomplishments, and most of all I was aware of fear.

This was one of those times when I realized that I needed to find a new perspective on my life. I needed to find a new purpose for why I was doing this work and to pay attention to those things that were holding me back.

Brené Brown has a video called “The Call to Courage” where she talks about the connection between courage and vulnerability. Sometimes I don’t feel very brave, but I am sharing myself in this book which makes me feel vulnerable. I know with God’s help I can learn to keep trying even in those difficult times when quitting seems so appealing.

Have you ever felt this way? Do you have a dream that you haven’t gone after because it feels too scary? Have you stopped letting yourself imagine that life could be better? I think we have all been there. You are not alone. My hope is you can begin to ‘flourish’ despite the challenges you face. Maybe you can ask yourself if you are letting any attitudes or habits cause you to feel like a fraud and make the decision to be brave. 

Order my book, Flourish in a World Full of People for more insights on changing your perspective by using this link. https://linktr.ee/spencelayhmarnie

Slow Down!

What one small thing can you change to improve your life? 

This week, while driving through rush hour traffic, I was feeling tense and impatient with other drivers. It occurred to me that if I would slow down, I might enjoy the drive more. So I stayed in the right lane for most of the way and every time there was a car wanting to merge in front of me, I waved them in.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but by doing this, I felt less tense and happier and maybe I blessed someone’s day. Slowing down a bit is not a new idea for me, but what is different is that I am making conscious changes in my thinking to find peace in my life. I am trying to stop the impatience I feel when I am in a hurry to get somewhere. This small attitude adjustment allowed me to notice my surroundings, breathe deeply, and relax my shoulders.

Many years ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to be that person who was always running late. (Notice the word “running”!) Instead of racing to the ferry or staying in the left lane to pass everyone while stressing about being late for a meeting, I would choose to leave home at least 15 minutes sooner than I thought was necessary, to get to my destination. If there might be traffic, I try to leave 30 minutes or even 45 minutes early, to relieve my stress.

Now, I make sure I take a book and my water bottle (or a cup of coffee), so if I do end up waiting for someone else, it will be an enjoyable and peaceful experience. And here is a radical thought…if I have to wait, I can just sit and do nothing!

How do you feel about time? Do you feel like you are always in a rush? Do you get impatient as I was when you are stuck in heavy traffic, knowing you are going to be late?

Time will go by no matter what you do. Worry and stress won’t change the outcome. As you read this, take a moment to start to notice how the passing of time affects your life. Are there any small changes you can make? When was the last time you just sat without even looking at your phone? 

Click the link to listen to a recent podcast where I talk to Alexis Newlin (The Brave Podcast) about living with purpose: https://open.spotify.com/episode/7ohBoAr2NPaKG8erc09YRb

To follow me as I continue on this journey or find my first book “Flourish in a World Full of People”.  Click here@spencelayhmarnie

The Sacred Romance

I have just finished rereading a book from my shelf called The Sacred Romance – Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge. It has challenged and excited me the way it did when I received it as a gift 20 years ago.

“Some years into our spiritual journey, …. a voice speaks to us in the midst of all we are doing. There is something missing in all of this, it suggests. There is something more.”

“Sometime later, the voice in our heart dares to speak to us again, more insistently this time. Listen to me – there is something missing in all this. You long to be in a love affair, an adventure. You were made for something more. You know it.”

This is not a book to rush through but a life changing meditation. It is also not another self-help book.

The authors describe our lives as small stories defined by the arrows from our past, as well as the crises and persistent troubles – “dragons and nits”, interspersed with infrequent and unexpected blessings. Maybe “they are part of the plot through which God redeems our heart in very personal ways.”

The whole world is groaning and while it is easy to complain and argue about opinions, a bigger story is happening all around us. God is calling to each one of us.

God still teaches me about myself through times spent listening to Him, even after more than 40 years as a believer. God brings to the surface hurts and unforgiving attitudes that I didn’t know I’d buried and sometimes hurts from arrows that I knew were there but didn’t want challenged.

The longing for more continues to draw me in the midst of the dragons and nits of my life.

I want my last years on earth to be “a journey full of intimacy, adventure, and beauty” even if there is some danger on the path!

“If you long for something more, even if you don’t know what that something is, then open this profound book…The Sacred Romance is the story of our lives; it is God’s story. It is His invitation to experience His unfathomable love for us.”

The Sacred Romance – Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge; Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1997. www.thomasnelson.com

www.marniespencelayh.com

A Woman of Faith

“.. God created man(kind) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ”Genesis 1: 27

That is an amazing thought – that we are created in God’s image. Each of us is special, of great value in His sight.

I have mentioned my mother, Dorothy Dobson, many times in my writing because she has influenced me more than anyone else. When she was in her eighties, she wrote a book called, A Journey Through the Bible, then after she was ninety, she felt it needed editing, so she retyped the whole thing.

A Journey Through the Bible takes the reader from Genesis to Revelation through Mom’s daily “quiet times”. Here is an excerpt:

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. (Genesis 8: 22)

When I crawl into bed at night and think about how I’ve been doing this over and over again all my life, I’m amazed at how quickly the days pass and soon add up to years. Really, life is very short when I consider all of history. What a shame it is to waste any time in useless attitudes like self-pity or complaining!

Mom had a passion for children which led her into teaching school and raising four kids! She was the first principal at age 69 of the Christian school we started and took many trips after she was 80 to Israel, Europe and Central America as well as several mission trips, to work with teachers in Africa and Kazakhstan.

Mom is 102 years old. She is still the positive, encouraging, cheerful woman many people have loved. She sleeps a lot and doesn’t add to conversations now, although I don’t think she misses much when her family are talking around her! She still says, “Bless you” instead of “Goodbye”!

This weekend we celebrate mothers. The very fact that you are alive means that your mom (or stepmom or adoptive mom or grandma) cared enough to feed you, challenge you, encourage you, even disagree with you and punish you!

I wish all women a Happy Mothers’ Day whether you have birthed children or not. You care for and encourage others and you were created by our loving God…in His image.

To order A Journey Through the Bible, reply to this email with your address. We will send a donation to the mission organization, Classrooms for Africa, from the sale of every book.

Cost: $20 for the book (plus shipping)

Walk Humbly

My husband, the gardener, loved his spring flowers and so do I!

I sometimes ask God what He wants me to do in a particular situation. You know, “Should I spend money to go to this event?” or “Should I take that job?”

It’s wonderful when I feel that He has given me a clear answer but often we must decide within broad parameters. Here is one verse that gives us a few boundaries for our choices.

“What does the Lord require of you…but to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6: 8 (New International Version)

In my Hebrew class I learned that the Biblical word for “just” can sometimes be translated as “righteous”.  Living with integrity in a virtuous, fair, and upright way in all situations sounds daunting but this is what the Lord requires of us.

I picture a person who stands tall spiritually, by doing the right thing at work; not billing more hours than is right and treating others fairly. This person is recognized as someone who is trustworthy and making a positive difference in the world.

You become just by choosing to do the right thing.

Mother Theresa loved mercy and spent her life caring for the poor, sick, and dying but you don’t have to go to India and be a missionary (unless God is calling you to do that!).

Love mercy where you are. Reach out in kindness and compassion to the people around you. That includes family, friends, neighbours, and everyone you meet as you go about your business.

  • Give generously of your time and money for the good of others.
  • Forgive the people who have wronged you.
  • Act with compassion, not impatience, when you don’t agree with someone.

I love the Amplified Bible interpretation of “walk humbly”, “setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness”!

This “overblown sense of our own importance” shows up in the way we expect others to meet our needs or act in a certain way. Close relationships are the hardest place to get this right.

The only way to truly follow God is to let go of our own concerns each day. Listening and obeying the Word of the Lord requires a humility that doesn’t come naturally.

The choice is always yours. You can choose to be the boss of your own life and manage all the problems that arise OR walk humbly with your God in simple, child-like faith and the other requirements of the Lord will follow.

Start walking humbly with your God then you will find that it’s natural to act justly and love mercy!

https://linktr.ee/spencelayhmarnie

#flourish #flourishinaworldfullofpeople #encouragement #walkhumbly #actjustly #lovemercy #motivation

Authenticity

I’m reading a book by Brené Brown that has me thinking about how to live a “wholehearted life”. She says: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” *

There is much pressure in our society to do, be and have what others seem to do, be or have.

The message is clear that if you don’t own your home, have a respectable job, a perfect relationship, or a big bank balance, that you aren’t quite good enough. People don’t have to tell you that, you feel it inside.

Worse than that, is the pressure to look a certain way.

If your hair is grey you need to dye it. If you’re the “wrong” shape, you focus on how you should eat differently or exercise more and feel guilty if you don’t. No wonder there is so much on social media about needing that extra cup of coffee or glass of wine!

Some of the lies that plague me are that I should have earned a master’s degree, I’m too old to reach some of my goals and that I might not have enough money to enjoy old age. (When does old age start, anyway?)

I often don’t live up to my own expectations. That’s when I need a friend to counter the lies I am telling myself, with the truth of God’s word.

Ephesians 2: 10 says: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Read that verse again – slowly!

We are created by God for His purposes. This sets us free from self-doubt, blame, and expectations. We have important Kingdom things to do!

What lies from the enemy of our souls are you believing? Take time to sit in God’s presence and listen. Ask Him to tell you the truth about who you are in His eyes. You can ask Him how He sees you and what name He calls you. You might be surprised at what He tells you.

Authenticity is a daily practice.

No one gets it right all the time so encouraging each other to hear God’s heart is part of our work.

Right now, I encourage you to get my book, Flourish in a World Full of People, and do (or redo) a few of the exercises. If you are like me, you read the book and planned to do the work later.

Pick one chapter to read and start practicing today. Gratitude, forgiveness, saying “No”, getting a new perspective…

Click here if you don’t already have a copy and order Brené’s book at the same time!

https://linktr.ee/spencelayhmarnie

*The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

He is Risen!

Those are probably the most profound words ever spoken – after “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

This week let’s take time to relive the Easter story.

The busyness of life and watered-down faith traditions can obscure the power of what Jesus the Messiah did for all people. This week, imagine the scenes anew by putting yourself into the stories.

Read John 12: 12 – 19 and rejoice with the people as they followed the man named Yeshua (Jesus) on a young donkey down from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.

“Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel”  

They believed that He was the King prophesied many centuries earlier who would rescue them from the slavery of the Roman government. The religious leaders in the temple were alarmed about losing their hold on the people.

All four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the awful story of His arrest, “trial” and crucifixion. (Read John chapters 18 and 19) Imagine the anguish that His family and the disciples – His friends – must have felt as they saw their teacher suffer and die.

Now read the part where a few of His closest friends went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for proper burial in John 20: 1 – 9.

Angels celebrated His birth, comforted Him in the wilderness and now made sure that He wasn’t stolen by grave robbers. He wasn’t dead but alive!

The story may be familiar but every year it feels new and an amazing possibility for us. Jesus is not just alive for Himself. He rose so that He could rescue us from the slavery of the “prince of this world”.

Our slavery isn’t chains and whips. Our chains are belief systems we structure based on the difficult situations we experience as we stumble through life. Emotions, poor decisions, blame, a lack of forgiveness all flow from these beliefs. 

Jesus Christ died so that we could be set free. Believe in Jesus and ask Him to live in your heart. It’s so easy, even a little child can do it. The hard part comes after that decision…

Walking with Him every day – for the rest of your life.

We do that by getting to know Him through the Bible stories. Talking to Him (pray without ceasing) and of course, that means listening as well as talking, forgiving as He forgives us, taking care of His children, our family members, neighbours, the poor, people around the world etc…every day.

HE IS RISEN INDEED!

It’s time to celebrate! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!