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.


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.” (

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)

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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.

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:

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

It’s the Little Things

Like many others, I sometimes experience fatigue and anxiety this year.

Here are some of the ways I have found to cope.

  • Create something to look forward to every week.

My favourite time of the week is Friday evening. Shabbat or Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and goes until an hour after sundown on Saturday. Rest is God’s idea. “And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2: 3.

One of the 10 Commandments is: “Observe the sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.” Deuteronomy 5: 12 – 15

Jewish people light candles, eat challah bread, and drink wine every Friday night. They often buy flowers to take home for the family Shabbat dinner. It is a weekly celebration of food, family, and faith.

I look forward to a glass of wine and a special dinner on Fridays even if I am alone.

  • Buy yourself some flowers. Tulips or daffodils are available now in the grocery store and when the weather is warmer, I buy from a roadside stand or farmers’ market.
  • Get outside. Take a walk in a beautiful place like a park or forest or beach. Breathe deeply and slowly. Notice your surroundings. Use all your senses. Do you feel God all around you?

Sometimes a drive is better when the weather is cold. Drive somewhere you don’t usually go. Stop to get a coffee and park where you can enjoy a lovely view.

  • Rearrange your furniture. Pushing things around not only gives me a new view of my room but forces me to clean under the heavy stuff and vacuum blinds or wash windows! Those “chores” are Wednesday or Thursday jobs so I can enjoy my pretty clean room on Friday night with my wine and a bowl of chips!
  • Decorate for spring. Many of us decorate our homes for Christmas but do you also decorate for other times of the year? At the end of January, I put away all the red and green from my mantle and changed it to pink and pale blue and white. A string of tiny lights draped randomly makes me smile when they come on every night.
  • Find ways to rest. Listen to music that moves you. Watch a funny show. Read a novel or magazine that gives you ideas and hope. Have tea with a friend on a video chat.

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. It is a day of rest so find ways to change your daily pace.

We’re almost through winter and March brings spring, new life, Easter…hope.

There is always hope!

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But if we love each other, God lives in us…” 1 John 4: 12

“We love because He first loved us.” verse 19

What is LOVE?

The question should be WHO is love? The Bible says that God is love but what does that mean?

We understand the feelings of intense love when we meet the “person of our dreams” or when we hold our beautiful baby. The challenge comes when we feel irritated with that spouse or child, who is now a toddler or teenager.

My daughter says:

This week my kids are buzzing with talk of Valentines, parties and all things LOVE related.  As a child I often heard 1 Corinthians 13, known as the “love chapter”. To memorize it for a school project, my friend and I wrote a rap.  I can still recite the rap to this day, over 20 years later!! 

Despite this, the phrases can just be words that roll off my tongue, not necessarily words of the heart, that sink down deep and marinate my life, actions, and interactions with the world around me. 

Today my Bible app message was from 1 Corinthians 13: 4, 5 which says “Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.”   

The words jumped off the screen.  “It does not demand its own way.”  How many times have I been indignant towards my husband, children, the person who cuts me off and steals my Costco parking spot? According to Jesus, love does not demand its own way.  Yikes.  There’s more: “it is not irritable…”  DOUBLE YIKES.  Guilty! 

My children have sometimes questioned my husband and I about which one we love most.  It’s difficult for children to understand that one child might be more responsive to discipline another more helpful but none of that affects the amount of love we have for them.

I believe the answer to give children is the one God gives all of us… “I love YOU the most. I also love your brother the most and your sister.”

Real love doesn’t have a quantity attached because God is limitless.

On this Valentine’s Day weekend, we know how love looks in our culture. You need a date with a significant other, flowers, chocolates, and maybe breakfast in bed with homemade cards from children.

This message is to remind all of us that those are manifestations of love from the outside. Love on the inside looks very different. It is patient and kind. It is not jealous or boastful or irritable. That kind of love is only possible when we understand how much we are loved by our Creator God.

May you experience God’s love today…and every day!

Habits for Success

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12: 48

The world needs your gifts and talents, even if you feel you haven’t been given very much! Look at your “bucket list” and then start by being thankful for what you have already been given. This will open your mind to possibilities!

Choose a dream from your list that makes your heart beat a little faster.

Don’t worry about money or time or even your own abilities and don’t look back on your past “failures”. Look forward and imagine creating something amazing this year.

Ann Landers, an American newspaper columnist who wrote an advice column, once said: “Opportunities are usually disguised by hard work so most people don’t recognize them.”

Any project we put effort into, is likely to result in interesting opportunities.

When I was 26 years old, I had a dream of starting a school. I didn’t have a classroom, books, desks, or money.

Each morning, I asked God to show me what to do that day. I filled a notebook with names of people to call and rooms to check out. Sitting quietly with my Bible open talking to God taught me to be obedient to His leading. I was learning to create habits for my life.

The opportunities that showed up were incredible! Someone suggested I might rent a room at the Anglican Cathedral. Discovery School started there! I got free desks from the local school district and books from the BC government. I didn’t spend much money until I started collecting tuition fees from the ten families who were excited to share my dream for their kids.

What little tasks will lead you to your dream?

Plan to read your Bible and pray for others – every day. Start memorizing a few verses.

Get fit by doing an exercise that is fun and easy. Read a few pages to learn something new. Take out your guitar or canvas or clay and practice a skill. Sign up for a course or talk to a professional in your field of interest. Forget about perfection; aim for “good enough”!

Jeff Olson writes: “The truth is, what you do matters. What you do today matters. What you do every day matters.” The Slight Edge, Secret to a Successful Life

Take little steps every day toward what you want.

#flourishinaworldfullofpeople #marniespencelayh #flourish #goodhabits #inspiration #dreams #bucketlist #encouragement #motivation #everydayhabits #relationships

Leave Room For God

Most mornings, I start my day with coffee and a message from Oswald Chambers. His little daily devotional book My Utmost for His Highest,originally published in 1935, has inspired me with his wisdom for many years. Here’s a quote from January 25:

“Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy and leave room for God to come in as He decides.”

Have you experienced “His surprising power”?

Maybe it has become so ordinary that you don’t notice when He steps into your circumstances. Or maybe you feel that it is just coincidence. How can you know the difference?

I believe that when we start being thankful all day, every day, no matter what our surroundings seem to tell us, we will see (and hear) God more often.

Think back to a recent time when things seemed to work out unexpectedly. Money or a job came to you at just the right time. You were in a rush to get somewhere and suddenly there was a parking spot in front of your destination. A person you have been thinking about calls to encourage you – out of the blue.

I understand that life isn’t always that way. Family members do get sick, bills sometimes go unpaid and maybe you believe it’s selfish to pray for a parking spot.

Life can be difficult which is why leaving room for God to come in is so important.

If you haven’t noticed that good things happen to you all the time, maybe it’s time to sit down with God and ask Him why things seem so hard. Where is He when you need Him?

Hearing His voice is challenging at first but there are a few things you can do to open your ears. Start by reading the scriptures, even just a few verses at a time. Have you read the whole Bible? If not, maybe this year is your time!

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119: 105

My sister-in-law called a friend she hadn’t seen for awhile and as they talked, she asked the friend if she could send an encouraging email then forwarded my message about Shalom in 2021. The friend said she really needed that message when it arrived!

Watch for God “coincidences” and act when you get the nudge to reach out to someone else.