Dr. Zoe Shaw, A Year of Self-Care

Marlys Johnson Lawry

Marlys is a speaker, award-winning writer (Cascade Awards 2019 and 2022), and Chai latte enthusiast. She loves getting outdoors—would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping—and has a passion for encouraging people to live well in the hard and holy seasons of life, having embraced her share of sorrows and losses.

How to Forgive a Friend Who Betrays You

How to Forgive a Friend Who Betrays You

“You don’t even know us well enough to not like us,” I wanted to say in a smirky tone. I could tell from day one that the new computer teacher didn’t like me or my husband. He wouldn’t smile or joke around with us as he did with the other staff and faculty, and when I asked a question, he mumbled an answer without looking me in the eye. Baffled by an Unexpected Admission For twelve years, I wore a few different hats at a Christian boarding high school founded in 1924. I served as activities director; oversaw the publications, including the student newspaper; and coached an award-winning cheerleading squad. Michelle, who taught art, was my closest friend on staff. She was […]

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9 Best Ways to Choose Happiness

The 9 Best Ways to Choose Happiness

I was glamping in an elegant Airstream in a land of sunny skies, craggy mountain ranges, and saguaro cacti—Tucson, Arizona. The trailer next to mine was a cool, vintage model and stenciled on the back was this thought: “Today, I will be happier than a bird with a French fry.” Which begs the question: Can we choose to be happy? Based on my experience, I believe happiness is a choice. And if a choice, then perhaps the old adage, “Practice makes perfect,” comes into play: “Note to self: Anything you have ever wanted to be good at, you’ve had to practice. If you want happiness, practice being happy. Keep these handy tools in your backpack to help along the way: gratitude, observation, presence,

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multiple hands held open on top of each other holiday a small paper cutout of a family

Want to Support an Adoptive Family? What 10 Adoptive Moms Want You to Know

The boys were ages 5, 7, and 9 when my daughter Summer and son-in-law Josh brought them home to America—three brothers from Uganda who had known significant trauma. I love these grandsons even though they don’t carry my DNA. In the eight years the boys have belonged in our family, Summer has shared books and helped me become more aware of early childhood trauma. I still see the side effects of trauma in my grandsons, but I’m amazed at the healing God is producing and how far these three have come. I believe it’s important that we who are on the fringes of adoption and foster care have a better grasp of the journey—we being the family, friends, and church family members.

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older couple walking outside hand in hand

The Joy Series: Marrying Later in Life Brought Unexpected Beauty and Delight

Dan and I both marvel at how easy it was to transition from widowhood to being married again—almost as if we’d known each other all our lives. And oh, the joy of remarrying later in life. Because when you lose a good thing, and when goodness eventually replaces the loss, it seems so much sweeter. It’s not that I meant to take anything for granted in my first marriage. But as the years passed, I got used to the stability and the faithfulness and the companionship. And then I found myself doing road trips alone. And snowshoeing the trails in the Cascade Mountains alone. And holding Friday date night alone (I know… weird, but it was part of my brave-making campaign as

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Why Should I Be Grateful When There’s Not Much to Be Grateful For?

Why Should I Be Grateful When There’s Not Much to Be Grateful For?

On Mother’s Day of the year my husband died, my daughter presented me with a book by Ann Voskamp—One Thousand Gifts. Voskamp’s writing challenged me to draft a gratitude list with the goal of reaching 1,000 things I was thankful for. But how do you do that? How can you be grateful when all that is precious is slipping away—in our case, our home, all we had worked for against retirement, my live-in mom with Alzheimer’s, and my husband’s terminal cancer diagnosis?  What I learned during that season—after entirely too much whining and self-pity—was this: Even as our home and the people I prized most were no longer mine, there was an abundance of gifts to be grateful for. Even During Dark

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It’s a Wonderful Thing to Fall in Love Later in Life

It’s a Wonderful Thing to Fall in Love Later in Life

Our children and grandchildren met each other for the first time over pizza on a Friday evening. A bonfire was built later that night. Marshmallows were toasted and paired with graham crackers and chocolate, and grandkids were sent back to their cabins sugared up (because this is what grandparents get to do). Dan and I planned an outdoor wedding weekend, having fallen in love later in life. We were surrounded by our adult children, children-in-law, and the grands. Each family occupied their own tiny cabin near a wild and clear river. Grandpa Dan flipped pancakes on Saturday morning at a cook station set up on the deck of a woodsy house. Here is where the bride and her junior bridesmaids, pre-teen granddaughters

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This Is Why You Can’t Rely on Looks in a Relationship

This Is Why You Can’t Rely on Looks in a Relationship

It took three years after my husband died to consider dating again. “Father,” I prayed, “if marriage is in your plan, then please lead him to me.” And then—out of curiosity—I listened to a couple of podcasts about dating and tucked away this interesting nugget: “If there are twenty eligible singles in a room, we automatically rule out seventeen of them based on outward appearance and/or body type.” Too short, too thin, too tall, too thick, apparently we rely on looks. In the course of time, I dated a couple of different men. And then, I met Dan while interviewing him for an article about a shower truck ministry for the homeless. Dan might have fallen into the category of the seventeen

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How to Talk to Children About Death article feature image

How to Talk to Children About Death

For some unexplained reason, my husband called all our grandchildren ‘George’ even though they reminded him repeatedly what their names were. These three kiddos loved their grandpa despite the teasing. Or maybe because of it. Grandpa was the one who let them dump out all the Legos and then he’d sit with them on the living room floor building extravagant structures. He was the one who gave wheelbarrow rides when they helped him rake leaves (I’m not sure how much help toddlers are, but still… there were the wheelbarrow rides). And then one day, their beloved grandpa was diagnosed with late-stage disease, and although he lived much longer than expected, he was gone from his grandkids’ lives much sooner than they wanted.

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how i'm making my later in life love story one worth telling

My Later-in-Life Love Story Is One Worth Telling

(Listen to the audio version of this article here.) The bunny that lives under our deck is mowing our lawn, one blade of grass at a time. A misshaped “V” of geese just flew overhead, so close I could hear the whir of their wings. A cool breeze is playing with the wind chimes, and I’m wrapped in a fuzzy, hand-knitted shawl. We live in a mountainous region. Even though there’s a feeling of autumn in the air, I am not fooled. It will be summer again and then fall, and summer again before it officially settles into fall, after which the next day will be winter. One Year Into Our Remarriage I love the change of seasons. My husband, Dan, and

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family member holding old woman's hand to talk about death arrangements

You Need to Talk About Death with Those You Love—Here’s How

“What most concerns you?” the palliative care physician asked, sitting beside my husband’s hospital bed. Gary pointed at me and said, “Leaving her.” He was hospitalized with yet another serious infection because of late-stage cancer, and the doctor was helping him complete the Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. Back at home, my husband announced that he was going to spend the day teaching me how to survive. I had lessons in online banking and using my phone’s GPS system. But when he retrieved a pipe wrench so I could learn how to unclog a sink, I gave him my best raised-eyebrow look, whereupon all tools were put away. Gary was relatively young when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It had

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What I Wish I Had Known: The Hard Years Make You Strong

What I Wish I Had Known: The Hard Years Make You Strong

Generally speaking, it’s a good thing we can’t see into the future. But if I were required to know in advance what the wilderness years would hold for me—that season of profound loss—then here’s what I’d say to a younger version of myself: Dear younger me, This is to let you know there are some hard things ahead. But much good will come of it. Trust me. First, the bad news: Your husband will be unemployed for two years when the company he works for is sold. You will eventually deplete your savings, cash out your investments against retirement, and sell your home, using up the equity to make ends meet. Your mother will move in with you for a few years, sinking into

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What Not to Say to a New Widow

What Not to Say to a New Widow

One of my young friends, Charity, lost her husband and 3-year-old son in a tragic way. Two weeks into widowhood and deep grief, a family member said to her in exasperation, “When are you going to get over this?” When a fellow nursing student learned of Charity’s indescribable loss, it made her feel physically ill. “When something that big happens to someone you care about,” she said, “people don’t know how to handle it. So they run away because it’s very painful to be around the person. I let Charity know I was available. And I wasn’t afraid to hear her trauma.” It’s important to acknowledge the losses and sorrows of our friends and family and neighbors, and to walk toward them

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How to Make Your Daughter a Lifelong Friend

How to Make Your Daughter a Lifelong Friend

My mom was an amazing woman who attended college at a time when not many women did—back in the early 40s. I am so grateful to have been raised by this strong-minded woman. She was determined that her three kids would learn a good work ethic, attend church, memorize scripture, and learn to love books. Our reward for helping her clean house every Saturday was a trip to the library. She was into health foods long before it became trendy. No potato chips, sugared cereals, or soft drinks in our home growing up, and we drank our fair share of home-crafted carrot juice. My mother did a lot of things right as a mom, but there were rarely any one-on-one mom/daughter times.

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When Life Changes, Does Your Purpose Change, Too?

When Life Changes, Does Your Purpose Change, Too?

(Listen to the audio version of this article here.) An old, wooden door with a torn screen and chipped paint once graced our front porch. A birch basket of pinecones sat on a red chair in front of the door, and a “Welcome” sign hung from the top corner. The screen door that once slapped happily against the frame of a tired, old farmhouse had been repurposed into porch art. It received a few comments through the years, not all of them complimentary. One friend went so far as to offer to repair the screen door. (It seems that some people don’t appreciate good art when they see it.) What if you once knew what your purpose was? And what if you

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When Roles Reverse: Caring for Your Aging Parents

When Roles Reverse: Caring for Your Aging Parents

I always thought she would live with us, and I assumed it would involve much resistance. She’d said she never wanted to be a burden to any of her children. But my mother arrived with less dragging of heels than I’d imagined. She had blacked out and hit the floor of the drug store in the tiny town where she lived. The doctor couldn’t seem to determine what was wrong. “Mom, come stay with us,” I urged. “Just until they can figure out what’s causing this.” She finally consented and my husband and I drove over the mountains to pick her up. Mom saw the cardiologist on a Tuesday before Christmas and was outfitted with a heart monitor. I received a call

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How-Can-We-Have-Teamwork-in-Marriage-When-We're-So-Different?

How Can We Have Teamwork in Marriage When We’re So Different?

How can we have teamwork in marriage when we’re so different? Dan and I recently celebrated a wedding anniversary. Ours was a later-in-life marriage and now we can say that we’ve been married for years.  (Two years … but still.) We reserved a cabin at the historic Weasku Inn, built in 1924 near the Rogue River in southern Oregon. It was a favorite fishing retreat for Clark Gable back in the day. A full, sit-down breakfast was dished up every morning at the lodge. Appetizers were served late afternoons; fresh-baked cookies at 7 pm; and around 8:30 each evening, hot chocolate and ingredients for s’mores were set out and a campfire was lit. Dan and I reflected on our love story—how we met

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Dear Caregiver You Don't Have to Be a Superhero

Dear Caregiver: You Don’t Have to Be a Superhero

My caregiving roles overlapped and tangled. My mom moved in with us, slipping further into dementia. And then we heard these heart-stopping words from my husband’s doctor: “It’s cancer.” The season as caregiver for my mother was challenging. She was negative. And distrustful. She was sure my husband, Gary, and I were stealing her money. This wasn’t the woman who reared us kids with courage and imagination, who told us we could be anything God wanted us to be. There were plenty of fun memories mixed in with the challenge, though. Mom and I held a weekly Girls’ Movie Night. Little Women, Sleepless in Seattle, and Roman Holiday were among her favorites. Nearly every evening after the dinner dishes were done, we

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