Live on Purpose

I once dreamed of becoming a famous movie star going to dances in beautiful dresses! The dream didn’t last long because I didn’t love acting in a play at summer camp. Life (and grownups) sometimes unwittingly convince us that our dreams are impossible.

Do you remember your purpose?

For children, being a ballet dancer, policemen, hockey star, teacher, astronaut or driving big trucks seem exciting and equally possible. My dreams have changed many times over the years but the core of who I am hasn’t.

I remember as a 10-year-old wanting to stay that age forever because life was carefree and easy. We lived on an army base in Ontario where I took lessons in skating, swimming, and ballet. There were big fields for unorganized baseball, or homemade skating rinks. The low traffic roads were perfect for bike riding and there were lots of kids living there!

In reliving those memories, I can see some of the gifts God gave me. I have always been a leader. I had creative ideas for games and pretend dramas. I loved figure skating, public speaking and reading books.

Me – Circa 1963

This might be a good time in your life to take a stroll through your memories and see what comes up.

Even if you know your giftings, it’s fun to go on this treasure hunt. You’re looking for nuggets that show you who you are created to be and what gifts and talents you haven’t used yet. Make a list and add whatever surfaces during the next few days.

Some of those once sparkly dreams might be buried under layers of hurt and pain caused by someone who “should have known better”. Today, look at that pain. Allow yourself to really see what happened .

Forgive whoever was involved. Forgive yourself and thank God for that experience because it is part of who you are today. Of course, forgiveness isn’t easy, and you may need help from a counselor but finding freedom is important to finding your purpose. When you have forgiven, let it go like a helium balloon

“I believe you can do more than you’ve imagined so far. Regardless of your age, there is always more life.” This is a quote from my book, Flourish in a World Full of People. If I were to rewrite the book now, I would change it to “…we can all do more than we’ve imagined so far.”

Dust off your childhood dreams. It’s never too late.

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.