Spiritual Thursday: Renewal!

Renew: (transitive verb) to make like new restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection

Where I live in northwest Montana, it always feels like spring has been a long time in the coming. The long days of winter seem at time like they will never come to an end.

What I have noticed though, despite its seemingly tardy arrival, is that spring often seems to arrive in the blink of an eye. Unlike winter that often slips in among us at a slower more steady pace, spring’s arrival can feel like an overnight event. Winter creeps in, first with frosty morning windshields, and chilly temps that show our breath as we exhale. Slowly over time those cold mornings get ever colder, and often the arrival of the first snow doesn’t seem to take us too much by surprise.

Spring doesn’t typically tease us with its pending arrival. We wait and watch for the piles of snow in our yards to shrink, yet they seem to hold their own. We wonder when we will ever see the ground again.

At long last, spring break week arrives! This is typically the turning point for us. Sunshine is present for more hours in the day (thank you Daylight Savings) and with each passing day, the snow piles give way to the brown earth. Within what seems like only a few days, a few brave green blades of grass show themselves, and hardy crocuses take the role of harbingers of spring’s arrival.

This year our transition into spring dovetails with the Lenten season, which for me brings about a deeper spiritual renewal in my soul. As I am allowing my heart to more deeply understand the journey Jesus made to the cross, I am also marveling once again at the resurrection of nature all around me. God’s amazing creation we see all around us is a many splendored thing indeed!

How is the act of renewal making itself manifest in your life presently? I look forward to reading each of your posts on this topic that we are all experiencing in one form or another. And thank you, Irene, for the opportunity to host our Spiritual Thursday post this month!

Add your links below:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


SOL 7/31: Spiritual Thursday

Since I am in the midst of the annual March Slice of Life Challenge, I will double up my Slice today alongside my Spiritual Thursday post, which comes around the first Thursday of each month. Today we are hosted by Doraine @ Yoga Inspired. Thank you for hosting, Dori!

Our topic for reflection and writing is balance. For me, this word is aptly timed. Today is the first day of the Lenten season. While I have attended church most all of my life, I don’t recall really focusing on this season in the Church calendar. This year, however, I took a greater interest in understanding Lent, and found a daily devotional guide that I am reading each day from now until Easter Sunday.

Today is Ash Wednesday, and tonight my husband and I attended our first Ash Wednesday service. We were warmly welcomed by the small group of people gathered together for prayer, song, scripture, reflection, the imposition of ashes, and partaking of the Holy Eucharist.

As a passage from Joel chapter 2 was read aloud, we were encouraged to participate in something called the Lectio Divina. This is a 3-part reflection around one passage of scripture, read aloud three times. During the first reading, we were to listen for a word or a phrase the beckoned, stirred, or “shimmered” us. It was suggested that we quietly repeat the word or phrase to ourselves. During the second reading, we were to attend to the feeling or perhaps an image that we connected to the word or phrase. Finally, during the third reading, we were encouraged to attend to the way the word or phrase connects with the context and situation of our life right now. We could address our response to this in prayer, and then share with the person we came with what we discovered.

I found my phrase immediately. It read: …return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. (Joel 2:12)

As I reflected on this phrase, my mind remembered that I would be writing about balance in my Spiritual Thursday post, and I instantly thought about how important balance in my life is as I approach this Lenten season. I can easily find myself overwhelmed with responsibilities at school as well as those at home, and before I know it, my desire to find quiet time for my devotional reading and purposeful focus on this season of Lent loses its priority, and thus I lose balance.

I know myself and my weaknesses. I can easily teeter off course, but I am hoping that my new focus on this season and on the Lord’s desire for me to return to him with all my heart  will help me maintain the healthy balance I desire.

Home Birth Haiku

Yesterday was the first Thursday of the month, but a pounding headache prevented me from posting my Spiritual Thursday post. I hope my fellow ST friends will allow a late and combination Poetry Friday post today!

Donna @ Mainely Write and Laura @ Writing the World for Kids are the hosts where you can read more from my fellow bloggers today. These communities of writers are the most welcoming, heart-filled places! I encourage you to take a peek at what others are sharing in both spaces.

My post today will follow Donna’s Spiritual Thursday theme of Home, but will include a poem for my Poetry Friday friends. I’m actually happy the way this worked out. Last night when I was struggling with a distracting headache, I could not think of what I wanted to write about on the topic of Home. Today, headache gone, and a turn of my new metaphor dice, and everything fell into place. You may find it an unusual and unexpected reflection of home, but the dice made the call:

Have I got you wondering where this is going? It will help you to know that I had two of my four daughters at home with a midwife. I could write at length about all of the incredible aspects of a home birth versus a hospital birth, but the most beautiful part for me was simply being HOME. Having the comfort of my own bed, the freedom to move about as I needed, surrounded by my family allowed me to experience and control my labors in my own time, and more importantly, in my babies time. No doctor’s schedule to feel pressured by. No worry of a switch of nurses at shift change. Time was not a concern whatsoever. Thankfully, my first baby came in under 3 hours, while the second took her sweet time, making everyone wait all.day.long.

Through the entire experience of both births, the presence of my midwife and doula brought such comfort and reassurance. At no point did I ever feel rushed, or that I was doing anything wrong. My second labor was a very long day for everyone, but never did she seem concerned about my slow progress. She was in it for the long haul. She offered support when asked, diligently checked baby’s heartbeat regularly, and remained nearby when needed. This allowed me to focus on every contraction and remain as relaxed and rested as I could in between.

These experiences give home a whole different meaning to me as I reflect back on these home birth experiences. Home was a safe haven where the miracle of life entered the world. Where our older daughters witnessed the birth of a sister, then peacefully drifted to sleep in their beds. Where everyone woke the next morning, sitting together at the breakfast table taking turns cuddling the baby. Where the rhythm of life was barely disrupted; the welcome arrival of our new member brought us into a new rhythm, overnight growing from a family of five to six.

This photo was taken outside the house on the morning of our youngest daughter’s birth – 18 years ago this past Tuesday as a matter of fact! It seems the perfect setting for my accompanying haiku. My dice roll didn’t really make a metaphor I found workable, so I sketched out a few ideas, and discovered I had written a haiku without even trying.

Thank you for letting me share my beautiful memories from a very special home.


Spiritual Journey First Thursday: #OneWord2019

Welcome, 2019! Last year I chose and blogged about my first #OneWord – Intent. I wanted to take better control of my ability to spin many plates. This talent was often at the expense of giving greater focus not only to my work or task at hand, but the people and relationships in my life.

As I reflect on 2018, I did my best to keep my One Word at the forefront of my work and personal life, and can recall making deliberate choices in many instances to be more intentional. On the whole, I would probably rate my success a 3 out of 5 .

If I am being completely honest, I don’t know that I will ever fully perfect being more intentional; I have to acknowledge that I am naturally wired to take on multiple projects, and even at times look for more to take on. It is not uncommon for me to find myself, and/or put myself in a place where I have a handful of things on a To-Do list. Being without something that is demanding my attention is just not how I naturally roll.

Which, interestingly, brings me to my One Word for 2019… Boredom. Last month I blogged about the subject, completely on a whim, with no further thought on the topic. Shortly after I stumbled upon and ordered the book Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi. The premise of her book is that excessive cell phone use, including our attachment to social media, detracts our brains from opportunity to wander, and it’s in the wandering that greater creativity and productivity can spring to life.

Zomorodi isn’t anti-technology, but instead presents the argument for a balanced approach to our use of technology. She contends that pulling back from our screens may open up more space in our lives for creative thinking. I am still in the early chapters of her book, but already have made a few adjustments on my phone as well as in my daily use of social media apps. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have relocated to the back page where those pesky notification numbers can’t entice me to just check in and clear them (and half an hour later, I’m still mind-numbingly scrolling, scrolling, scrolling). For me, out of sight is out of mind when it comes to the draw of these time sucking platforms. I want to make better use of my time, and discover if what she says is true.

As I contemplate the year ahead, I consider what creative endeavors might be waiting to spring forth. Will I blog more frequently? Write more poetry? It remains to be seen. For now, I will simply begin by making a few deliberate changes in the things that are over-occupying my attention (i.e., mindless time spent on social media) in hopes of discovering more meaningful activities that stem from a more creative place.

2019…the best is yet to come!


Spiritual Journey Thursday: Special Days

Today our Spiritual Journey Thursday is hosted by Violet Nesdoly, and our topic is special days that are celebrated in our families. My first reaction to this topic was one of uncertainty that I had a special family tradition to share around a holiday event, birthday celebrations, or a unique special day our family celebrates.

After a little more thought, I realized that in fact we do have a very special tradition that I have made a priority as a mother of four daughters. I started the tradition with our oldest daughter, and it continued on through each girl.

We call it “Women’s Day” and it is a celebration just for my daughter and me on the day when she gets her first period. This transition from childhood is one that I wanted to mark as a celebration, and not have it be perceived by my girls as something to be embarrassed about.

Our tradition was simple, but special. We went to lunch together, and then shopping for a special gift. As I recall, each of the girls chose a simple piece of jewelry they could wear to remember our day together celebrating this milestone in their life.

We kept it simple and low-key, not announcing it to everyone – although the younger sisters were aware, and I’m sure a little envious of their older sibling’s special date with mom. This, I am quite certain, left them waiting with expectancy for the day when they too would get to be celebrated in the same way.

My girls are all nearly grown and gone now, so reflecting back on these celebratory days with them brings a smile to my face, and a hope in my heart that they too will keep this special tradition alive in their families, should they too be blessed raising daughters.


#SOLC18 1/31: “Where words fail, music speaks”

On your mark, get set, … GO! Today marks the start day of my first Slice of Life March Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. I once attended an Ironman event a friend was competing in. Right now I feel like I am at the start, waiting on the beach, surrounded by more fellow “slicers” than I can see, and we are about to take the mighty plunge into the waters of writing


in March. Daunting, yet exciting. Am I confident in the task? Not at all. But I know I am surrounded by a group of supportive friends to encourage me all the way. A special shout out to my friend Margaret Simon, who is my greatest writing cheerleader, and my newly found writing tribe at TeachWrite. Let’s do this!

Today happens to also be Spiritual Thursday, which is a group of bloggers who gather once a month and blog around a common theme. Today we are hosted by Karen via Irene Latham @ Live Your Poem,  and our theme is music. Thank you for hosting, Karen.

I cannot think of a better topic to begin my month of slicing. Music has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. In childhood, a friend and I would belt out Donny & Marie’s “I’m a Little Bit Country, I’m a Little Bit Rock and Roll” with gusto in her front yard (I was always Marie). I later remember being thrilled to get the solo for Maria in our 6th grade performance of “Doe a Deer,” and continued singing all through school in addition to taking both voice and piano lessons.

Music filled me, and in many ways, met me at some of my most challenging moments in life. To this very day, if I hear a song that was particularly impactful to me in good or bad days, I can close my eyes and see, smell, and almost touch the experience itself. Through teenage heartbreak, the birth of a child, the end of a marriage, launching a daughter from the nest, saying goodbye to a mother….through these experiences and many more, happy or sad, music carried me, spoke to me, and sustained me.

When I am in church, I find music is deeply moving. Gathering corporately with others in a worship service is a powerful place to be. For me, there is no greater expression of love for God than through song. It is a mutual exchange of love and devotion that for me, cannot be replicated in any other situation.

A favorite worship song I am currently listening to right is called “So Will I” by Hillsong United. The poetic lyrics are simply beautiful, and almost require a meditative approach to fully appreciate their message. I have chosen one line that I find especially beautiful, and share this golden shovel poem with you. If you are not familiar with a golden shovel poem, it is where the writer takes one line from a poem, and places one word from that line at the end of each line in the new poem.


Spiritual Thursday: Lavender Moon

I am happy to once again participate in Spiritual Thursday. This month our host, Donna, at Mainely Write is hosting and posed our topic: the moon.

This beautiful quote speaks a message of hope to me, causing me to consider others who need hope right now. Perhaps they are fighting an illness out of their control, or wrestling to restore a broken relationship, or simply struggling to make it to the end of a challenging work week. Real people we interact with every day are carrying heavy burdens and need hope to sustain them.

I have walked through my own share of difficult seasons in my life, and felt hope waning. The thought of gazing up at a sliver of the moon, with the quiet and stillness of nature surrounding me, brings me to a place of peace and belief in the power of hope.

A scripture I have often turned to when hope feels far away is Hebrews 6:19 – “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” is a powerful truth. I once heard a message in church where the pastor described hope as a rope, and how when we find ourselves in a place without hope, heaven has a rope attached to us. No matter how desperate things get or how hopeless we feel, he is holding on to us and continually pulling us toward heaven. We are anchored.

Vera’s quote reminds us: imagining a lavender moon or heaven’s rope around us – neither may be very useful. But sometimes they are enough.