Rest, People Pleasing and Ambition !!


So as I mentioned last week it has been a tough few weeks in my family. I was really feeling it and so I decided to take a day off and escape to the mountains . I was scheduled to leave at 1pm last Sunday. At around 10.30 am on Sunday I got a text inviting me to be involved in a very cool ministry experience that night.

My 52 year old self  declined. If I was to tell you I declined without the thoughts crossing my mind – what a bummer, wonder if that opportunity will come again, wonder if I have let anyone down – I would be lying.

However decline  I did. I declined because I needed rest more than ministry. I needed to look after myself more than I needed to please the people who requested. I had been snapping at co-workers, sleeping badly and feeling like I could cry at any moment . I knew a place I could go to rest that would release the pressure valve. I had a great pastor suggest to me that I needed to do it, and I knew he was right.

However I knew my 32 year old self- and to be honest even my 42 year old self – would have immediately begun re-arranging things to take this and every ministry gig that came my way.

I am not proud of this fact. I am not proud of it, because it lacks faith.

It means I have to say yes to please people as if they are in the place of God. I have to say yes, because a tough God will see me saying no, and passes me by, the  next time his eyes rove across the earth to find those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

It lack faith in a Good Father who loves me and values me no matter what I do. A Father who makes me lie down to rest beside still waters (or mountains) when he sees me struggling.

Sometimes we just need to die to our people pleasing and our personal ambition – have some faith and look after ourselves.

Now as I type this I know there are some of you who will take this and make it justification for not ever stepping out of your comfort zone, and for being self indulgent. I am not talking to you – you probably need to say yes.

I am talking to the people like me, the driven, people pleasers who sometimes lack the faith to rest well. Sometimes too our sense of responsibility means we keep going way beyond where we should.

We should always say yes more than we say no- however we need to know when to say no.

We need to know that rest and recovery are crucial to longevity. I want to still be being fruitful and enjoying life at 80 and it won’t happen unless I look after myself now.

Tough times teach you so much, and reinforce old lessons. So I packed up my mum and the dog and went and stared at mountains, cooked, walked, played scrabble, finished my book , prayed and pondered. It refreshed my soul. Wish my 42 year old self could have done that too – she might have been healthier and more fun !

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Leading yourself 4 – Fight to be in the Moment

In January I had a few days up the coast at a gorgeous place called Woolgoolga, with my friends Kerry and Marg – and some of Marg’s family. It was lovely.

At the time there were some pretty challenging things going on in my family which were causing me concern.

I also knew that I would be going back to a very busy time at work.

I felt these pressures trying to rob me of my usual holiday joy.

So I made a decision to fight to be in the moment. It didn’t mean I stopped caring about my family. It  did mean that I savoured the moments that would fill my soul and bring rest to my mind, so that I can keep on caring.

Leaders know how to fight to be in the moments of refreshing despite pressures, concerns and problems.

So I walked on the beach,swam in the ocean, played 500, drank champagne as the sun set, and relaxed.

One of my favourite moments was where I took the beach photo, and got the fresh revelation that turned into this post. There was an outdoor shower at the beach. After I had a surf I would stand under cool fresh water in a shower looking at the view. I loved those moments. I determined to not worry about anything but to just soak in the pure joy of cool water , warm sun and a stunning view. To take the moment to thank God for his stunning creation.  To just be right there in that moment taking it all in.

We have to be people who can take every thought captive, we can lead our own minds and hearts to peace and joy in the midst of big lives.

Even in the midst of challenges and heartache, that we can stop and enjoy a moment. We can allow our soul to be refreshed by these moments.

I am convinced that leading our souls in this way will cause us to be able to run the race set before us for the long haul.

Lets be people who can be in the moment – and lets let those moments colour our worlds.

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5 Tips to Juggling

One of the things I was asked in my recent survey is how I do the juggle. The juggle that many of us do – balancing family, friends, work, second jobs, church commitments  and looking after ourselves.

To be honest this week I have failed badly at it. I almost missed a dear friends engagement, I messed up some dates that I booked people for and I tried to pray for new students for 2014 !! I blame it on a migraine, a move and inhaling too many cleaning products last week.

Normally I do manage to juggle quite a few things and enjoy it – so here is a few things I have learned about doing the juggle

  1. It takes planning – I spend time at the beginning of each week figuring out where all the pieces are going to fit in. I use my outlook calendar to put everything into – find a calendar tool you like and use it.
  2. I pretty much do what I have planned to do – no matter how I feel. Too much rescheduling causes lots of stress.
  3. You have to be in the moment – if you have a full life you have to enjoy right where you are at that time. I try to be totally present and enjoy right where I am. (The photo above is from the College Ministry Trip. Had a week with these crazy kids and loved being with them – enjoying too many great moments)
  4. I make sure that there are certain things that I don’t juggle – they are fixed and don’t move e.g. I walk and pray in the mornings, no matter what else is going on in a day. I always have one day off work a week no matter what. (If you have read my blog before you know I am passionate about the Sabbath -I wrote about it here 7 Tips to keeping a Sabbath)
  5. I allow margin where ever I can. Deliberate gaps in the schedule which allow for unforeseen interruptions. These interruptions are always people and people are always more important than any tasks, and worth the interruption.

I am not perfect at the juggle by any means and I don’t juggle as many things as many of you do – but I do have a full life and these are some tips that have helped me. Please comment if you have any great tips that could help us all

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5 Benefits of Turning Your Emails Off at Night


I love technology. I love being connected to friends near and far. I love access to all kinds of input that enriches my world.

However since I got back from my Long Service Leave two years ago I have started turning my emails OFF on my phone at nights and weekends.

Before this I was known to have my emails permanently on – and reply to emails all times of the day and night. I did this mostly because that’s what everyone was doing. I thought it meant I could get ahead of the game and save myself some time at work.

Here are 5 benefits  I have found since I decided to turn Emails OFF at night.

1. It gives me an actual break from work – turns out if I keep emailing at night I am effectively working 12-14 hours and this is exhausting. I need mental and physical rest in the evenings and especially on my sabbath day on the weekend.

2.If I return emails all hours of the day and night people will expect immediate turn around time and I will create an expectation I cannot sustain.

3.  Checking emails at night makes me feel like I am never OFF work and this leads to staleness in the work place. This means that I am actually less productive and creative during my work days.

4. It means I give full attention to my family and friends – instead of giving them a distracted Pam who looks at her phone every time it bings. This gives us all more meaningful connections.

5. It reminds me I am not that important ! Pretty much everything I do can wait until tomorrow to get a response. When something is really urgent people will text. However even this is very rare. When I feel the need to email people back in the evenings it creates a false sense of how important I am. This is a dangerous place to live. I need to be comfortable in my identity as a daughter of God – not as some-one who works all hours of the day and night.

I am hoping I am the only crazy one who had their emails on all hours of the day and night (when I was checking email when I went the bathroom at 2am – I could have guessed I had a problem)

If you are on email at night – I would suggest for the sake of your health and longevity -you turn EMAIL OFF.

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Gotta Get Away !


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



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

Margaret River

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


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!


7 Tips to Coping with Peak Seasons


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


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.

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?

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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 !