2014’s Big Lesson

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Well as you may have noticed of late my blogging has been few and far between ! This is because I needed to learn a lesson again that I know – and I tell all my students and people I pastor. I just didn’t apply it to my life so well.

Here is the lesson – you can’t just keep adding !

So here is what I did – I added in a Master Thesis this year. I figured out how I would do it time wise and it seemed it would work – I just didn’t factor in the mental energy it would take (read – I was very rusty academically and needed to spend serious time to get my brain to go there again – thank goodness for a gracious and patient supervisor – and extra patience from the people I live and work with) .

I also added in a little extra preaching, a few extra people to pastor and picked up a few little bits and pieces for an under the weather colleague . I just kept adding and most of it except for the thesis was pretty inconsequential time wise.

They were all important and good things – I just forgot to take something out to make room for the things I kept adding. So then something took itself out- or it didn’t scream loud enough and so my over cooked brain took it out. Sadly it was something I really enjoy – my blog- and the interaction with you- the  people who take the time to read my blog. What a goose I am.

So once the thesis is finished – by Feb 1st with lots of hours and words written in January – I will be back blogging more regularly – as long as I don’t fry my poor brain totally and run out of things to say!

In the mean time- as you ponder 2015 – don’t make my mistake – if you have a full life- don’t keep adding. If you need to add in something- make sure you create space for it by taking something out. In that process you will count the cost and decide whether or not what you are adding is worth the sacrifice.

By the grace of God and the incredible  generosity of my Mum – not content to have a warm Sydney Christmas – by the time you read this I will be on a plane to spend Christmas with most of my family in tropical Fiji.  Such unbelievably good timing – I am not taking any work or study – I am going to sit on a beach with people I love – especially in light of the sad events in Sydney last week –  I am going to treasure them a little more.  I am going to restore my soul and my tired brain.

Hope you and your family have a happy and holy Christmas – and remember when you are planning 2015- don’t just keep adding stuff into your schedule . Take something out – create room .

(Enjoy the FIji photos – hopefully I will get some shots this good)

 

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Its Getting Crazy, Gotta Stay Sane

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At C3 College we have entered into our crazy season. Term 4 is nuts. We put on a Christmas Production, finish a term and 8 days later after a marking marathon we graduate all our students.

On top of that my Master thesis is requiring serious attention and it is Borrow Birthday season – we have 5 birthdays in about 6 weeks ! You know these seasons- we all have them.

Until a few years ago here is how I would have navigated this

Work lots of long hours

Come home exhausted every day and flop on the couch

Keep doing work emails on my phone all night

Eat toast for dinner too many nights

Go to bed late and too often sleeping through my prayer time.

Abandon any exercise because I had too much to do

Show up at family birthdays in body only

Study on Saturdays and Sundays

Have migraines

Make everyone happy by getting a mountain of work done but end up sick and worn out.

I know – all bad – but maybe some of you can relate ? Anyone else just go into lock down in a busy work season and just work crazy hard to the detriment of all else ?

So now this is how I am approaching the busy seasons these days

Walk the dog twice a day instead of once (Molly is slightly confused but happy)

Pray more (related to the walking – I walk and pray)

Go to bed on time

Making sure I eat all the veggies in my veggie box

Leave work at a reasonable hour – except for one night a week where I allow a work late night !

Turn off my emails on my phone when I leave work.

Keep my Sabbath in place.

 

Strangely enough I still get all the work done- or find smarter ways to do it- or people to help. I will be tired and needing a holiday at the end of the silly season but I will be sane and not have put on 5 kilos (12 pounds !)

Often we can’t control our workloads or our crazy seasons but we can control how we walk them out. I find the more I can keep normality in place the better I will navigate silly seasons.

I also have to ask myself- who am I pleasing if I work crazy hours?

OK -shutting down my computer and going to sit around a fire, eat great food and have a glass of wine with some of my favourite people. Too busy not to !

Thoughts, comments, agree, disagree – love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotta Get Away !

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I woke up really early this morning – I have done this since I was a little girl – waking up early the morning I go on holidays. I am excited, I love vacation. I have loved getting away even before I knew how important it was.

This year for me is the year of inexpensive local holidays – last year I had long service in America, and (cue music) I had the time of my life.

This year I need to be responsible but yet I know we all need to take break. I quite enjoy the staycation, and I will do some time doing those this year, to work on my thesis, but there is nothing like getting out of your own environment, away from the cupboards that need cleaning and the garden that needs weeding !

I believe for that for life and health and longevity in ministry, holidays are not a fun thing we try to schedule in – but an essential. Rick Warren says- Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly and Abandon Annually (and if you are an Australian with 4 weeks holiday a year- abandon Bi-Annually if you can)

So I am off to abandon today – and I can’t wait.

Here are some things for how I am wired that are crucial for a great holiday

1. Family or Friends who are Family

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Today I am going away with two friends who are family- Annie and Leonie – we will laugh, talk, (Leonie will talk most) , be quiet, eat, drink good wine and it will be lovely. Don’t go on holidays with people you are pastoring- go on holidays with people who are fun for you.

Go on holidays with people who have similar budget, like to go at similar pace and enjoy similar things- it’s not rocket science is it? If I am on holidays exploring a foreign city – I love going with my friend Marg because we both like to see everything possible and collapse at the end of days happy and exhausted. If I need a rest like now – going with Annie and Leonie is perfect.

 

2. Creation to Behold

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This time it will be the mountains in the top of this blog- in January with my family it was the stunning beaches of Western Australia . Getting out in creation will restore your soul like nothing else . We allow our soul to be lead beside still waters, or still mountains, or still plains. On holiday there is time for long walks on beaches or in mountains, there is time to jut sit and watch the sun set. It is fabulous.

3) Art to Enjoy

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There is something about art that will inspire and rejuvenate you. Whether it is a good book, a brilliant movie, a gorgeous gallery ,beautiful buildings, a Broadway show or a jazz gig – people expressing their God-given creativity is fantastic – and for me essential on a holiday.

In a foreign city i will always visit a gallery or get half price tickets to a show. It just makes me happy. Today I am taking an artist with me- and another artist is coming to visit – I love it . I have stopped analysing why art makes me so happy and have just decided to go with it .

 

4. Disconnecting

I will disconnect from work emails and social media – I am sure the world can do without me for a week !! I will miss posting Happy Birthday on FaceBook for 6 days but I am hoping I will be forgiven. I don’t need to see what the students are up to or what great photos of Vivid Sydney have gone up today – I can shut out all the distractions and just be for a week.

I will do some study for my thesis as to not do so would be stressful for me -and a couple of hours a day reading theology looking at mountains is relaxing  (theology nerd I know)

So that’s my holiday essentials – what are yours ? I know for families it is different but I watch my brother and his family go camping and my sister and her crew go on beach holidays and I thing the principles are the same.

Next week I am starting to get some guest bloggers – friends around the world to give you their words of wisdom – which is really exciting !

Adios people – off on an adventure!

 

Do you have Boundaries that Creep ?


This week my iPhone froze – it just wouldn’t do anything – after a few frustrating minutes I realised I had not turned it off for weeks and it probably needed a reset. So I turned it off, allowed it, some downtime and when I turned it back on it was back to normal.

I wonder if sometimes we need to do the same thing, stop, turn off and reset.

I have done that today – and with some help from staff sending me texts telling me to get off email when I was supposed to be having leave yesterday and today- I have realised that  I am suffering from boundary creep!

We have been through an unusually hectic time at work – and there are some very valid reasons why I needed to put in some extra time and effort . Some of the things I know are crucial to my life- like turning off work emails at night -have snuck back into my world while I wasn’t  looking! Unless I stop and reset this will becomes a lifestyle (again!!)

I work with some people who have brilliant boundaries that rarely move – and I envy them. However I am sure some of you are like me and you suffer from creeping boundaries too.

Maybe it’s time to switch yourself off and go back to the boundaries you know are healthy. If you need some motivation- a reminder of somethings you know.

4 Reasons to Keep Healthy Boundaries

1) Without healthy boundaries you will be tired all the time and will actually need to work longer to achieve the results you want. Studies have shown our productivity decreases when we start doing long hours – we think it is achieving our goals but it is counter productive.

2) Without healthy boundaries you will become resentful and angry about the things that you actually love to do. The martyr complex sneaks in – and it is not pleasant.

3) Without healthy boundaries you will spend time at work that you should be spending with people in your world and relationships will suffer. Also when you are with your family and friends you will be irritable and tired (and you could lose it at your brother over something stupid like I did last week )

4) Without healthy boundaries you will not look after your own body and burn out or get sick.

So I am resetting my boundaries again – I am fighting the creep and putting the lines back in the sand.  I know it will allow me to go the distance.  I want a life like that photo I took at sunrise on Narrabeen Lake  – full of colour, life and peace- can’t get it without having some things in order!

Are your boundaries creeping ?? What helps you to reset ?

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the Season

 

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I have watched the photos on social media of my friends in the Northern Hemisphere being hammered by snow storm after snow storm this winter. It has made me reflect on my 15 winters in New York. I wish I could say that I missed a real winter but really I don’t . The first snow of the season is gorgeous and I have some beautiful memories. However I have too many snow shovelling , scraping snow off my windscreen in the freezing cold, garbage on side walks covered in what was now brown slush memories , to want to return to NY in winter. I always go in spring, summer or fall if I can now.

What I do know is that I made the most of the snow when I had it. I went skiing when I could (I am not a great skier by any means but I had fun) , I walked in the snow, my connect group would turn on the outside lights and grab our sleds at 10pm and sled down the huge block of land I lived on in Smithtown , LI until we were exhausted and freezing. I so remember a lovely afternoon living in Manhattan and my brother John visiting and sitting in the window seat of the huge Barnes and Noble on Union Square drinking coffee, reading books and chatting as the snow turned the city white.

So when I left real winters I knew I had enjoyed them – and hated them . I had taken the best out of the season.

I think it’s so important to enjoy the season you are in – the actual season and the figurative season. Too often – particularly as Western Christians – we are so looking forward that we forget to get the most out of today, this week, this month.

Single people want to get married, married people want babies, people with babies want them to be able to walk and talk , parents with teenagers want them to be independent etc etc et . Meanwhile we are missing the things God has for us right now.

In church life we are wanting the church to break through to the next level all the time and not allowing ourselves to rejoice in the current season.

Every season – even the tough ones – has gold to be mined and God to encounter.

If you can help the people, you are leading , embrace the season they are in we would have many more content people in churches. People who have learned the “secret of being content whether in plenty or in want “.

Years ago I made the decision to enjoy the single season of my life. This season has gone on way longer than I anticipated or wanted. However I am so glad I know I have enjoyed the season. I have traveled to some gorgeous places, made great friends and had incredible experiences in this season . The alternative was to be miserable – and honestly I just can’t stay there for too long.

In each season life and death stands before us – chose life people and enjoy where you are today!

(The photo above is from a fun holiday in Amsterdam in Summer – a beautiful city with beautiful friends in it )

 

7 Tips to Coping with Peak Seasons

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Peak seasons – we all have them – times when we are unusually busy. For me there are three times in the year that are the main peaks; the lead up to College starting, the end of College and Presence Conference. For me they are wonderful as we welcome new students, celebrate and graduate or attend an incredible conference. They are also stressful and tiring.

In the past I have been great at achieving much in these seasons, narrowing my focus to the tasks at hand and ignoring everything else. Which sounds brilliant and probably was good for KPIs but was actually pretty unhealthy for me. I would wind up exhausted, able to schedule a migraine and with a house that was a disaster. (Any previous flat mates or roommates will tell you it is true !)

So I have learnt in recent years a better way – and most of you probably knew this intuitively – but maybe some of you are like I was.

Seven tips for coping with the Busy Season

1.Pray

Keep praying – long hours are exhausting,and God understands the season, but spiritual disconnection is not the answer. Apart from anything else you need His strength and wisdom.

2. Exercise
Keep exercising – we all feel like we don’t have time when we are busy but the stress relief from my morning walk with an excited puppy is priceless

 3. Eat well 

If  you are a stress eater like me you will reach for the chocolate – and in moderation it is wonderful – but believe me too much of a good thing will mess with you. I now have a fruit and veggie box delivered which helps so much – there is always healthy food in my fridge . Plan ahead for busy times and shop. Otherwise you will eat fast food and feel awful. Your body needs to be working well at these times.
4. Sleep

Sleep as normally as you can. Try not to stay up late watching Suits- oh wait that is just me !
5. Have fun

Last night I got home after two huge days and the temptation was to hibernate in front of the TV. However my brother invited me to play a board game with the family and a friend. Did I feel like learning a new game? Not at all? Do I know my extrovert self would be better for some fun with people – yes. (See my previous post on Knowing Yourself ) So I got into it and for two fun hours could only focus on getting my men up a board game mountain alive and beating everyone else. It was so much better stress relief than allowing my life to narrow down to work and sleep.

6. Clean your House /Bed room 
Keep your house in vaguely good shape – and make sure the washing is done. I am convinced one of the keys to life is a stack of clean underwear and clean sheets – somehow if I have both of those all is well with the world.

7.Laugh 
Keep laughing – don’t take it all too seriously – this season will pass and the next one is coming. Even in the midst of very tough times there are things to laugh about which will “do you good like medicine” . (This is from a girl prone to getting way too intense – it doesn’t really help anyone )

I know it is all very basic – however it took me a while to learn.
What do you do in peak times?

(If you would like to get content like this  in your email regularly and never have to look for it on social media again – just put your email address in  the subscribe section . My goal is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made and to encourage you on your journey! If you liked it feel free to share it on Social Media- if you don’t like it let me know – don’t want write blogs no-one likes ! )

7 Tips to keeping Sabbath

So we established last week we need a  sabbath – but how do we do it ?

The Old Testament has chapters and chapters about keeping Sabbath – keeping it holy – and most of it describes how to not work. When the law around Sabbath is introduced in Exodus 20 as part of the Ten Commandments, it says “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” and then goes onto say “Six days you shall labour and do all your work but the seventh day is a sabbath to The Lord Your God on it your shall not do any work”

If Jesus went explained say Sabbath was made for mankind – and thus kept it as a pattern to follow .However it seems we are really good at working and not so good at resting.

So here are my tips – most of them I learnt the hard way from doing the opposite

1. Chose a day that works as your Sabbath – if you work at a church – in whatever capacity Sunday does not count as a Sabbath – it is a work day. For a long time I had a Jewish like sabbath – 5pm Friday till 5pm Sat. It made me leave work on time on Friday night and gave me till Sat night service off.
2. Don’t spend time with people you are pastoring or leading- that is work . if you are with people you work with and you make a pact not to discuss work.
3. Turn off your work emails – none of us are that important that people need an instant response.
4. Don’t answer work calls (unless it is your boss – and if they are a good boss they won’t call on your day off unless it’s an emergency – every rule has exceptions- emergencies are just that- emergencies!
5. Don’t respond to work texts – I once had to say to a student after repeated texts ” I will get to it tomorrow I am having a day off” – she responded well and hopefully I modelled something for her
6. A new one I am going to try this year – disconnect from social media – the world actually doesn’t need to know how you are spending your day off ! You don’t actually need to know what everyone is doing or saying on your day off- a break from all the noise of social media cold just instantly make our sabbaths holy !
7. And most importantly – spend some time with God and some time alone and/or some time in nature or some time with people who refresh you !

I really don’t think Sabbath can be optional for those of us wanting to do a long journey and do it well. If you want to go hard and burn out – the fastest way to do it is to work 7 days a week! Occasional busy seasons require it- but a lifestyle without a day off is not sustainable.

Those are my tips – what are yours – help us all out and post a tip that has helped you keep the sabbath holy !