/ / Renovare: Embracing Renewal in the Midst of Loss

Renovare: Embracing Renewal in the Midst of Loss


It has been a season of finding ways to restore, renew, and recreate myself in the face of loss.

Renovare is a word that came into my view as I typed this. It is a Latin word that means to renew.

Its a fitting word for all I have been pondering and for where I am finding myself in this season of life. Spring is a season of renewing and rebirth.

I have been renewing my garden spaces and places around my home and finding ways to renew my heart as I grieve and heal.

Renovare per Jesus

Lately, I have been thinking about how I’ve been neglecting my writing tasks and the desire to renew my writing work a bit.

The truth is I haven’t really been neglecting writing—or anything—for that matter.

I have been tending gardens and hearts—mostly mine—and all the priorities that need my attention.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been taking care of myself, just as I have been taking care of so many others for the past several years.

I have been living in the holy present moment of life and giving myself the grace to accept that is where I am now called to be.

The last time I published a blog post was over a month ago. I have attempted many times to edit, share, and publish many things I have written. I have been celebrating the end of school, big achievements, and graduations—an MBA and a high school young lady. These kids are ready to soar with so much to be proud of.

There is no doubt I have been writing. I just have not been able to share—thanks to living in the present moment and handling many big and unexpected things.

I’ve been wrestling with too many things as I gain clarity on what is most important to share.

This reflection serves as a weak attempt to return to focusing on one of the things I love to do most. Writing is definitely one of those things that gets me out of bed in the morning, along with waking up to water and tend the gardens.

With the gardens and flower beds finally in a manageable state, I knew it was okay to step back in.

Yesterday, I stepped back into “work mode” again, which means diving into writing and creating.

This is not just writing for my blog reflections but for writing a meaningful and important book or two that I have been working on for quite some time. A story the Lord is writing in me and will use to bring light and hope to others about marriage and family.

It feels daunting to write all parts of this story right now. But God keeps handing me the pen so I trust He will guide and inspire the words.

I’ve been inspired by my time in the garden. Embracing the time outside even while weeding and pruning and not the horrible kind of pruning a landscaper chose to do without my permission on our 18-year-old healthy, growing Japanese Maple Tree Jon and I tended for years. The gaping hole in my tree matches the one in my heart. Oh, the irony. 

I have been digging in the soil, planting, mulching, weeding, and re-laying stones that have shifted out of place. It has been mighty work that so needed doing. This week, I finally sat outside, satisfied with all of the work the kids and I poured into the flower beds and gardens, planting a few new things, tearing out the old, and reseeding worn patches of grass. 

Weeding and working in the garden has unearthed so much about this story. It’s time to get it on paper, especially the roots and weeds, seeds and blooms—God is finally giving me eyes to see. God uses every joy and sorrow to bring good and glory.

Just in time too. For days, our house has been bustling with life and guests—friends of my kiddos—who traveled from different places to be with us to honor my girl who graduated from high school. We have celebrated so many milestones this year in a year of loss. While it has not been easy—utterly painful at times, if I am honest—I am thankful we had so many beautiful moments to celebrate this year to help keep us getting out of bed and to find fulfillment and receive God’s call to come alive in the midst of loss and death.

As Father Jacques Philippe writes in Called to Live, Happy events in life are calls to gratitude and giving…Sorrowful events are calls to grow. Life is not quite that simple, but we do have a choice about our attitude and about embracing what gets us out of bed in the morning. 

“Everything that happens contains a call from God. The big and little happinesses of life are first and foremost calls to thanksgiving, and the happiness will be even greater if we respond. It is a joyful thing to receive a gift but even more joyful to give thanks for it.”

Fr. Jacques Phillippe

Peace surrounds our house while the gaping holes still won’t let us forget. We search for peace and restoration even as we grieve and remember. We are doing our best to live the life we are called to live despite our devastating loss.

Yesterday, after heading to an appointment to take care of myself, I was up and out earlier than I have been in sometime. Once the day started, I did not stop. I was so grateful for the things that kept me going even if some were not things I wanted to do.

I logged into our writing community to listen to the wisdom and encouragement of the weekly speaker. Priest and author Fr. Timothy Anastos shared his process and motivation for writing his book, Jesus, Make Me Fully Alive. What a timely message for me.

Many parts of his message resonated, especially the idea of becoming fully alive and ensuring that we keep writing if that is the gift we have been given. This allows us to share our story so it can reach those it is meant to reach.

The entire conversation poured encouragement straight into my heart that I am on the path with the books I am being called to write.

My absence from writing is not about lack of motivation. These last few months, I have been challenged to tend to and manage many unexpected things. Some things are still not quite where they ought to be.

The Lord is teaching me patience and showing me the gift of self-control as I work with him on renewing, restoring, and “re-creating” myself in this new, curious season of life I am called to live.

I spent eight profound weeks diving into a personal vocation seminar with Dr. Joshua Miller (listen to our podcast conversation with him here). I am beginning to see glimmers of light shining on the places where I am being called to renew—renovare—through the work and process of writing and creating.

A few things strike me as I look back on my notes from Wednesday’s writing community talk. As writers, we never think of ourselves as writers. Yet we are. Moreover, there usually are signs others see in us, long before we see them in ourselves. Writing can be a very isolating vocation—most work is done in quiet spaces alone. Living as a widow is very isolated as well. There will be more on this at another time.

Fr Timothy, the speaker from our writing community talk, also reminded us that we must keep writing and journaling because the world is thirsty for clarity and truth through the work of sharing our words. Through that work, our stories will reach those who are meant to hear/read our words. Often, I hear that sharing our stories of healing and hope will allow for transformation, healing, and hope to be found by those who read what we write and will do some holy work to restore and make new those who tap out the words. Perhaps this hope for healing motivates writers to get out of bed each day for the hard and lonely work of writing.

I am always amazed at how God stitches together moments. Sophia and I recorded a podcast episode released today about some similar themes of the talk inside my writing community. It’s very affirming. We met at the roundtable where I do most of my work and have not been sitting for weeks—since the last class of my personal vocation seminar.

It’s not where we usually record the Hear and Now Podcast, but I spent most of my day yesterday there. It seemed fitting we would record a Roundtable Ramblings at the roundtable where I work. Our busy day ended with us seated at yet another table at our parish office in a quarterly board meeting for Young Catholic Professionals. This is a story for another day, but it is doing the work God is calling us to do right now.

It was a busy day.

It was a fulfilling day (ode to the vocation seminar), yet my heart still has big voids that really can’t be filled even by the effort of writing. But writing (or sharing the gifts we are called to share) gives purpose to our suffering and pain. Life then begins to grow around the grief we hold.

But taking these steps to do what I can to receive God’s call to renew—renovare—is helping me become fully alive in who God is calling me to be in loss and in this new season of life. Sharing our gifts and charisms is necessary; we are Called to Live.

In this season of loss, and yes, it is still a season of loss and grief, I am learning and accepting where I am called to be. As Father Jacques Phillippe writes in Called to Life: “Sorrowful events also contain calls, though with a different content. They can be invitations to faith, to hope, to patience, to courage, to acts of forgiveness, to acceptance of our limits…the list is endless. But there is always some particular point, and it does not necessarily become clear to us all at once.”

I don’t know how one is expected to step back into life as it was. It is impossible, given that life will no longer be as it was—it won’t ever be. The only thing I know to do is trust that God’s plan is bigger and better than mine and to embrace and cling to God with hope as He restores, renews, and recreates (if that makes sense) my heart.

Trusting and being obedient to the Lord’s call and my heart (when it needs to rest and set aside writing and other things when needed) helps me lean into becoming fully alive in the face of loss and death. 

“Every call is a call to believe, to hope and to love.”

Fr. J. Phillippe

As I get back into the swing of things and wind down a few projects around the house and with the shop (temporarily), I am taking time to continue “chasing and embracing slow.” Summer is the season for chasing slow and getting rest as the sun’s rays shine upon our faces and the summer breeze covers us like a warm blanket.

Let’s call this a season of embracing and becoming fully alive in the face of death and allowing a GoOd and faithful Father to enable restoration and renewal.

May you be inspired to reflect on how the Lord may be speaking to you and moving in your life as you face whatever life event—happy or sorrowful—you are called to live right now.  

May you live fully alive and embrace the spirit of renewal in whatever loss or challenge you are facing too.

“”You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.”

Psalm 16

Look for my June Issue of The Landing, my monthly newsletter for subscribers, in the next day or two. We have a few new things in the shop, a few (newsletter-only) reflections to share, and a guest writer who will touch your heart. I look forward to publishing it and sending it your way. You can join the list here if you are not an email subscriber.

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