SORROW & LOSS | Renew | Repurpose

10 March 2020

When is a tree much more than a tree?

My friend Dan lost his wife to cancer in July 2019. Their daughter Carey works for Friends of Trees, a non-profit based in Portland, Oregon. When her co-workers gifted her with a grove of trees to plant in memory of her mom, Carey organized a “friends and family” tree-planting gathering.


Carey with her husband and son (all photos courtesy of the family)
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30 June 2019

What is anticipatory grief?

A close friend’s husband has cancer. They’re saying maybe three, maybe four months.

And then there’s my sweet friend who lost her husband and young son to a sneaker wave. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Tragically.


Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash
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16 June 2019

Beginner’s Guide to embracing imperfection

In my ramblings on central Oregon trails this past week, several imperfect trees caught my eye. Not because they were imperfect. But because they stood out. In beauty. In uniqueness.


All photos: Marlys
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1 December 2018

Tidings of comfort and joy? But what about my loss?

This is my favorite time of year. Nearby mountains cloaked in winter white. Gaggles of geese discussing where to winter. Breaking trail in snowshoes. Family and friends gathering and giving thanks and eating way too much pie and lighting candles and opening gifts and ringing in a New Year.

And yet, the holidays without a job, without our health, with missing loved ones just aren’t the same.


Photo by on Unsplash


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26 November 2018

A love letter not sent

Dear Gary —

It’s been four years since you left this earth for a cancer-free, pain-free existence in heaven. You were concerned about leaving me, so you hung on longer than predicted.

I have a sneaking suspicion you now know that I’m doing well.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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17 November 2018

What is gift-blitzing?

My intent was to honor my husband on this anniversary of his Homegoing. And so I ordered dozens of pumpkin-flavored mini-cakes from Ida’s Cupcake Café.

Ida’s Cupcakes (all photos: Marlys)

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28 September 2018

9 fun ways to be a good neighbor

Today, September 28, is National Good Neighbor Day. This thought from

It is a blessing to have a good neighbor, but it is even a greater thing to BE a good neighbor.

What if we made it our goal to be a good neighbor year-round?


Photo: Pixabay


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10 September 2018

Why brave-making?

It’s infinitely more comfortable to wrap the security blanket of my routine around me — with stacks of books and pots of tea nearby — than it is to travel alone without my best friend/tour director/husband.

And so, I booked a cruise to the last frontier as a brave-making venture. Alone.


All photos by Marlys unless otherwise noted


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12 August 2018

Treasuring the past; living now

My husband, Gary, had a ’66 GTO when he was a bachelor. In all the years of our marriage, any time one of these classic cars came within sight, it was pointed out to me; I know the front grill of this car by heart.


1966 GTO


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24 June 2018

How to be gritty

Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth—author of Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance—defines grit as: 

Not just resilience in the face of failure, but also having deep commitments that you remain loyal to over many years.


Photo by Andreas Fidler on Unsplash


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About Me

Hello, my name is Marlys Johnson Lawry. I’m a speaker, award-winning writer, and Chai latte snob. I love getting outdoors—would rather lace up hiking boots than go shopping. I have a passion for encouraging people to live well in the hard and holy moments of life. With heart wide open.

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