Begin again

I don’t like to start over. It seems like a waste of time. Can’t I just pick up where I left off and keep going?

But sometimes beginning again is more about attitude. And it’s one I need.

I traveled with Jeff last week to Denver where he had work to do. It was the 6th week in my inner pilgrimage with The Soul of a Pilgrim, “The Practice of Beginning Again.”

In the book, author Cynthia Valters Paintner says,

“We are to remember that we are always beginning in the spiritual life. When we think we have it all ‘figured out,’ the further we are from the spiritual path.”

Yikes. Okay. So each morning I asked God, “Where can I begin again?”

On Monday morning, I set out on a walk near our hotel.


On Tuesday morning, I walked the opposite direction.


Different again on Wednesday.


But by Thursday morning, I knew I needed more of a “beginning again.” More of a challenge physically to challenge me spiritually.

I GPS’d directions to Gunther Toody’s Diner (I highly recommend it!) for a pancake and bacon breakfast. Alone (not my fave way to eat out).


Then I googled a local hiking trail (also not a fan of driving in an unfamiliar city—yeah, I have issues).

But sometimes to learn new things, we have to do new things.

And I want to learn new things.

  • About God
  • About myself
  • About others



None of us are done. Even as we finish one stage of life (I’m no longer raising kids!), we begin again in a new stage (how do I parent adult kids?).

We learn baby steps again. We mess up again. But we can always begin again, too.

Beginning again is a gift.

Thomas Merton wrote,

“There are only three stages to this work: to be a beginner, to be more of a beginner, and to be only a beginner.”

As I walked and prayed (and sweated) in Sweetwater Park last Thursday morning, I felt I was beginning again. I saw God in the Colorado blossoms different from my Alabama woods. I felt rewarded yet humbled by my initial reluctance to come here at all (I can be such a chicken).

The Lord had given me a new day. A new opportunity. New grace.

Maybe beginning again isn’t so bad after all.

Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there.
Isaiah 43:19 (GNB)


* * *

How can you practice beginning again? Is there an area in your life or faith that you’ve grown too comfortable in? Or something you’ve given up that you’d like a fresh start with? Please share in the comments.

32 thoughts on “Begin again

  1. Bill (cycelguy)

    Funny (not haha funny) I wrote in my journal today about a book I am reading- The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. The author, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, was a feminist lesbian and it is her story of coming to Christ and all that entailed. Talk about starting over! I am willing to start over if there is meaning to it. To start over just to say I started over is asinine to me. I commend you, Lisa, because you got out and did something new. You are better for it. (And Jeff flew home with a very contented wife). 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes–> “I am willing to start over if there is meaning to it.” I like to be intentional with the things I do too. That doesn’t mean we have to already know what the outcome will look like, but we step out in faith knowing that God will take our intention and transform the experience into what he wants it to be. And yes, Jeff did fly home with a very contented wife. He’s a great traveling companion so it’s easy to stay content around him. 🙂

  2. Linda Stoll

    Don’t you love that every pathway presents a different vista? And each enlarges our space, stretches us in some way, teaches us a bit more about ourselves … and our Savior.

    Lovely. Lovely.

    Oh … I’m featuring you on my blog right about now, Lisa.

    Blessed you’re in my life, friend …

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, you state it beautifully, Linda: “Every pathway presents a different vista.” I want to be more like Jeff who prefers the backroads to the interstates when we travel because he likes to see different things. I tend to be too focused on getting there the quickest, but life isn’t about efficiency but about finding and sharing the beauty of God everywhere we go. Thank you for sharing that beauty with your words wherever you land. I appreciate you compiling the posts on your blog and including mine there. Your voice speaks loudly and graciously.

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I get a kind of fresh start pretty often, but it’s not one that I really want. The paradigms for getting through each day, in terms of control of pain and other stuff, are starting to fail more quickly, and I don’t know what to DO!

    In the end, a lot of it – though not all – comes down to attitude. I can will myself to stand, and I can will each leg forward to walk. I can – and sometimes literally have to – talk to my hands to get them to hold a tool, or reach for the keyboard. As I write this, obviously, I made it to the keyboard, but I’m on eye-level with it. If I lift my head to far I shall swoon. Don’t you love that word, swoon? Pity it’s out of common usage.

    So each day is a new beginning, and a new challenge. In the sometimes grotesque “Roman wilderness of pain” in which I find myself lost, though (anyone remember The Doors?) , there is both joy and beauty.

    I just have to appreciate them…and that, indeed, is best learned and begun anew, each day.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      These words stand out from you, Andrew: “I can.” Your positive attitude has gotten you a long way. I’m glad you were renewed again today. I pray it for each of us, but especially for those of you who are living with such excruciating pain.

  4. June

    New is my one word for this year, so this post was spot on for me, Lisa. But really, it’s spot on for my life. I’ve had so many changes – and I do not like change, either – and yes, I’m a big chicken too, lol – but my life seems like it’s been nothing but {big} changes. So I identify with the butterflies 🙂 and hope and pray that each metamorphosis makes me more like Christ. But also keeping in mind I have an awful LONG way to go. As you said, when we think we have it all figured out we are most in danger of failing. Thank you for sharing your journey, my friend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love it when I run across someone else’s post with my One Word, so I’m glad I was able to do it with yours. 🙂 I don’t mind change so much when it’s something I want to get rid of, but when I’m content where I am, I’d rather just stay put. ha. But yes, may Christ continually transform us more into his image with each change he makes in us. I have to remember to get out of the way and let him do his thing. Blessings to you on your journey, June.

  5. Joyufl

    Could I start over raising my kids?! That would be so wonderful! But as far as starting over in othere areas, oh yes, there are many things I have had to restart because I just haven’t “measured” up?… Today I will start over showing my love for my family… those that I work with. Some days I just don’t do that just right. But by God’s grace I can start over and try again.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ha. If we could do it all over again with our kids? I’d do quite a few things differently too. 🙂 My poor kids. But thankfully the Lord has shown great mercy in covering our parental mistakes so far. We all live and learn. I’m grateful too that we can start over and try again each day!

  6. Tiffany

    Beginning again is a gift. I’ve experienced that after great change in my life – starting over in a new place and feeling the joy of new opportunities. Right now, our home is for sale and a potential move is in our near future. The idea of starting over in someone else’s home and leaving mine (which I love) behind is terrifying on one hand, but exciting on another. I think the key to it all is trusting that God goes before us. When we trust Him and seek His guidance, each new step is a step closer to His plans. Thank you for reminding me of that today, Lisa. xo

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How exciting that you’re about to embark on a new home adventure! But yes, scary too. I totally understand that. You’ve got it right, Tiffany: the key is being aware that God leads the way and that we can trust him. Some days I do better with that than others. 😉

  7. Barbara H.

    You’re brave – if I traveled with my husband for his job I would have a hard time venturing out of the hotel by myself. 🙂 But I am grateful for opportunities God provides to begin again.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think we have some similar fears, Barbara. It’s nice to be understood. 🙂 Sometimes I feel embarrassed at how such small things can tempt me to hold back. So yes, I’m grateful too for those second (and hundredth!) chances to try again.

  8. David

    Like Finnegan! 😀

    Would that it were as easy as walking a different direction when I leave the house in the morning 🙁

    But I definitely agree that it’s an important attitude, both to one’s self and to others. Every morning is a little resurrection.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Agreed—if all our changes could be so simple. Circle right or circle left today? 🙂 Maybe in the long run, we’ll be able to look back and realize that maybe they were that simple. It’s just hard to perceive in the middle of things. “Every morning is a little resurrection” – love that.

  9. Kristi

    “New” is often uncomfortable. I agree. But, oh, the things we’d miss without the adventure into new. Many of them, God things. Lisa, my type A personality wants to have it all planned out. There’d be no new, all comfortable and familiar. Boy, it’s a good thing God has “more” in store and has better plans. Enjoyed your pictures and “walking” along with you. Your words are written beautifully, and it’s always a joy to visit.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Kristi. I’m definitely a planner too! If things would work out as we plan each day, oh my, what an efficient world this would be. haha. But I’m sure it would also be a big, boring mess. So yes, I agree with you that it’s better to let God give us more than we can imagine, even if it involves messing up our comfortable plans. Maybe especially so.

  10. Mary Geisen

    I love this post, Lisa on so many levels. The Thomas Merton quote really grabbed me and reminded me that we are never there (wherever there is) and we are always working toward learning more. I also have adult children and I am beginning again as I learn parenting in a new way and then soon as my sons will become engaged I will add another layer. I am beginning again as I just started retirement and all that will mean for my life and next steps. So glad for this post today. Blessings, my friend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “wherever there is” – Great point, Mary. That’s part of our problem, yes? If we’re not even sure where we’re supposed to be headed, no wonder we ramble getting there. Congratulations on your impending new relationship of having a daughter-in-law! My oldest daughter got married 4 years ago and I’m still not sure exactly how to be a mother-in-law, but I’m working on it. 🙂 I know how I DON’T want to be so that’s a start. Enjoy your retirement and your fresh start in life! I know God has wonderful surprises in store for you.

  11. floyd

    I like that perspective. It’s so easy to begin to become prideful about things we have studying and doing for a time, but everything changes and the wisest of all people are the ones committed to being life long learners. Thanks for that reminder.

    Denver is nice this time of year. I’ll be doing my stint on business up there in the next month or so. Loathe that airport…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Our pride does take a hit when we realize we don’t know even the things we thought we did. Always have to be learning, changing, starting over. When I was younger, I’m sure I couldn’t have known how much of a newbie I would still be by this age. ha. But that’s okay; it’s all good.

      Enjoy Denver! We love the low humidity when we go. Even after a rain, it hardly feels wet there. 🙂

  12. Dianna

    Good morning, Lisa,
    I’m not really sure why, but as I sat here and read this powerful post tears formed in my eyes. There have been a couple of areas where I had quit doing, and recently (over t he last few months) God has challenged me to start them again. It has been so rewarding. Now I am wondering if the tears are a reminder that there is something else where he wants me to begin again. Thank you for the challenge, my sweet friend. xo

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad the Lord used this in the ways you needed, Dianna. I love, love how he can use the same set of words to reach one heart one way, and another heart another way. That happens all the time with me too. You are so attentive to his voice; that blesses us all.

  13. Betty Draper

    Beginning again is a gift. Well said Lisa, well said. I am going to hold onto that thought today and watch for God in my beginning again as far as my blogging. I have been at a stand still due to a little fear, a little feeling not worthy, a fear of not wanting to offend, just lots of fear. So I so need to read this one this morning. thanks.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Just said a prayer for you, Betty, that the Lord will reveal himself clearly to you in the direction he wants you to go. I admire your courage in being willing to start again, even amidst some fear. As they say, courage isn’t the absence of fear but the ability to move forward despite it. Thankful the Lord goes with us every step.

  14. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! That breakfast looked amazing! I’m sorry you had to eat it alone though. If I was there, I would have helped you for sure 🙂 The walks you took looked so good too, all different, all so cleansing…ready to make you strong to start again.

    I was doing very well with my diet since I broke my leg. When we were visiting my son in Seattle, I ‘fell off the wagon’. It’s time to get back to discipline in that area. I definitely have to start again every day in that department.
    Happy 4th celebration to you and yours!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, food. Sigh. I have to start again every day there too. I wonder how large I would be if I really, truly ate everything I wanted to! The good thing about my trip to Denver was that even though I ate a little extra, I also had that beautiful mountain city to walk around and sort of balance things out. 🙂 Maybe one day we’ll find ourselves in the same town and can share a breakfast together.

  15. Jean Wise

    I am loving that book and that chapter on beginning again impacted me too. What a gift you had of that week to explore that practice. Interesting to read all the comments here. Obviously this topic hit a nerve and an interest. Maybe you should consider a series on beginning again. And don’t you love that Merton quote?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I do love that Merton quote. You know though, the whole concept of “beginning again” is still a tough one for me. I met a Buddhist priest (? not sure of his title, if he had one) last fall and he emphasized that one of the tenets of his practice was to remember he was always a beginner. It’s liberating in one sense. Yet a dagger to my pride in another sense. ha.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the book too. Some of the practices have resonated with me more than others, but often it’s not until the end of the week that I look back and go, “Oh! So that’s what God was trying to show me!” 🙂

  16. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    Lisa, thank you for this post. (I don’t like eating alone either!)

    For the past few years, I feel like I’ve been in a period of “beginning again” as a Christian… and it’s one I pray will never end. Through our work with street- and trafficked children in Brazil, God began to convict me of my (and the American Church’s) inward focus. Since I don’t live in Brazil, though, that conviction took roots in the way I live and minister right here at home in Tennessee. In the meantime, my husband was led to write Dirty Faith, and I was drawn in to the “messy” side of humanity even more. It was much easier simply sitting in a cushy pew on Sunday mornings and supporting missions with my checkbook and an occasional hands-on project, but that was a place of ignorant disobedience and less than God’s best for me. Now I’m learning new skills (listening, empathy, flexibility) and “beginning again” every day as I step further and further out of my comfort zone and into a hands-on learning experience of grace. The lessons I’m learning are hard and foreign, but God’s presence beside me is familiar and encouraging…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I so get this and applaud you for it: “I’ve been in a period of “beginning again” as a Christian… and it’s one I pray will never end.” Me too, Susan! Once our eyes are open to the “messiness” of humanity, we don’t want to live in the old ways anymore. Even though I still can get really frustrated with some of the “messy” people that we minister to, I realize that I’m just as messy, just in a different way, and I’m thankful Christ doesn’t give up patience with me. Thank you for the way you’re loving all the children of the world, beginning in your hometown.

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