Sunday, September 20, 2020
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Donna Burke

How To Declutter

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Sometimes the only way to know what you actually have is to clear out the stuff that is completely unnecessary. The idea of simplifying is great, but in practice it’s a bit daunting! Sifting through bits and pieces, deciding what to keep, what to give away and what to throw out! If you’re anything like me the whole thing feels a little overwhelming. I struggle to know where to start, worry that it’s going to take too long and that in the process I will make more mess than I actually started with, but the feeling of stepping back and looking at a room that has been decluttered… there’s nothing like it!

Let’s get practical

Here are a few ways to help clear the clutter:

  1. Start small – pick a shelf, a counter or single cupboard and just declutter the small space first. By doing this you can accomplish something in a shorter space of time and it’s far less daunting than a whole room.
  2. Apply generosity – the idea of throwing away something that is still in working order or good condition can feel wrong. Don’t chuck it, find it a new home with someone who will use it, or donate it to charity.
  3. Set yourself a target – try finding 5 things to throw out, 5 things to put away and 5 things to donate.
  4. If you touch it, make a decision – don’t pick something up only to put it down again in the same spot – bin it, keep it or gift it.
  5. If in doubt, throw it out – if you’re not sure why you have something around, get rid of it. If it’s not useful or beautiful then it’s not needed.

When clutter becomes baggage

It’s good practice to every now and then take a look around and clear out the clutter. Not just physical junk but emotional junk as well. Those negative thoughts about your appearance, unhelpful attitudes towards colleagues or family members, unfounded fears that leave God out of the picture… all of those things that take up space, feel overwhelming and make it hard to see what’s really important. If you feel that you are being weighed down by emotional clutter and would like some help, please click on the link below.

Embrace Your Season

Time flies whether it’s fun or not

Life is a blur. It flies past at a dizzy rate and before you know where you are, your season has changed and the things you thought you would have time to enjoy have passed in a blink. I was chatting to a dear friend this weekend, who I haven’t seen in 6 months even though we live in the same city – terrible but just proves my point. We are both busy moms and she told me something that I plan to remember and just had to share. She said if you are able to enjoy each season of your life and be present, instead of looking forward to a future reality, when the time comes to leave that stage behind, you will be ready to move on without regrets. It’s when you are distracted and dividing your attention, that you allow opportunities and defining moments to slip by without embracing them.

Don’t get me wrong, there can be immense value in looking backwards to see how far you’ve come, to see what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. There is also an argument to be made for looking forward to the future and dreaming dreams about what’s to come, but to do either of these at the expense of seeing, experiencing and enjoying your present will lead to life half lived and potentially filled with what-ifs.

Sometimes it’s hard work

My current season is filled with 4 darling children who are 7 years and under. I love being their mom. It is without doubt the most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced but it’s incredibly hard work. My youngest 2 are 18 months apart and my day-to-day consists almost entirely of keeping them from doing major, irreversible damage to themselves (both are climbers and have no fear! It’s terrifying). Before the birth of my eldest, I never would have imagined what my life would look like now. My house is not tidy (even on a ‘tidy’ day), there is always laundry to be done, at any given moment there is a meal or snack to make, a nose to wipe, a nappy to change, a hug to give or a book to read. It’s fairly intense and not always pretty. There are moments when I look at my life and wonder if I’m ever going to drink a hot cup of tea, go to the loo alone (sorry, too much info) or leave the house looking half way human again? It’s seriously challenging but I wouldn’t have missed this for the world (even the cold tea!)

Don’t miss out!

My mother tells me that one day I will look back and miss this stage. I find it hard to believe at times but she’s been there and earned her stripes, so she must know what she’s talking about. There are moments (or days) when it does all feel a bit much, on those occasions I take consolation in the thought that this is just a season. With each day my children grow a bit older and a little more independent. In time I won’t be quite as necessary for more basic things and they will (hopefully) be well-rounded, wonderful human beings, but I don’t want to miss their ‘becoming’ because I’m too busy looking forward to what they will become. The danger in spending too much time wishing my children were older or remembering with rose-tinted glasses, my pre-child existence is that both scenarios will leave me yearning for something that isn’t my reality. I’m never going to be childless again (thank goodness) and I’ve learnt enough to know that even when my children are grown there will be new challenges to face and other situations that will demand my strength in different ways. The long and the short of it is that by failing to embrace your season, and looking forward or backward to different stage, ultimately you just become a frustrated mess!

What I’ve learnt

Having said this there are days I get it so wrong it’s not funny but I’ve learnt a few things in the last 8 years that have helped me embrace this stage and love it for what it is:

  1. Don’t worry about things that won’t matter in 12 months, 5 years, 20 years – I try to let things go that won’t matter in the long run. I don’t need to correct or fix everything
  2. Your children won’t remember how tidy/clean/organized your home is but they will remember how it feels – if it’s calm, welcoming and a happy place then you’re doing OK.
  3. Sometimes all they need is for you to play Lego, build a tent or sing Insy Winsy Spider and that’s it – it’s ok to let everything else go and keep it simple.
  4. No matter how hard your day has been, tomorrow is a new day – Everyone has bad days but each day your get a chance at a fresh start.
  5. Someone somewhere thinks you make this look easy – trust me, someone really does

Not in my own strength

I wouldn’t change what I’ve been called to, I am the only person who can be mommy to my children and I believe that no matter how drained I may feel at times, God has given me everything I need to do this season well. It’s His strength that I draw on when I reach the end of myself. Each journey has its beauty and its struggle but it’s how you walk, and whom you walk it with, that’s important.

 

 

Choose To Forgive When You’re Hurt

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Pain happens

Have you ever been in a situation where no matter how good you are, or how much effort you put into something, you’ve been left feeling that you’re just not good enough? It’s not a great feeling. I would guess that at some point everyone has had to face being rejected. A few years ago I found myself in just such a situation.

My Story

I love to sing. I’ve been doing it most of my life and although I’m never going to win X-factor, I sound ok. A couple of years ago I was asked to sing an item at a fairly big event. I was so excited. We started rehearsing and things were going well. But then, a week away from the event, I got a phone call and was told that I was being replaced. They wanted someone different. I managed to be gracious and understanding on the call – after all it wasn’t meant to be personal – but in all honesty, I was crushed.

They didn’t want me, they wanted someone else.

I felt expendable, unappreciated and undervalued. What hurt the most was that, I wasn’t put aside by people who didn’t know me, I was replaced by people who were my friends. When it came down to it, I wasn’t good enough.

No happy ending?

It’s never easy to dealing with the reality that no matter how much you give or how hard you work, you’re not going to measure up. Whether it’s a job you’ve grafted at only to be passed over or let go, or a relationship where you did everything you could but, through no fault of your own, it still didn’t work out. It’s never easy hearing that your best efforts haven’t been good enough. I’d love to tell you that minds were changed and I was asked to retake my role but we don’t always get the endings we choose. I was, however, able to sit with my friends and talk through how I disappointed and hurt I was and thankfully leave the whole situation behind us and move forward with our relationship still intact, after all no matter how I felt, the intention was never to hurt me.

The choice is yours

Disappointment; hurt; rejection, all these unpleasant things are part of life, part of growth and unavoidable. We are unable to choose or dictate how others receive us, this element is sadly beyond our control. I can’t make people want to include me or see me as valuable, but I can always choose how I will respond when faced with the not so happy endings. Just because my feelings and pride have been wounded doesn’t mean that I am a victim to those emotions. I can rise above the way I feel and show grace. You can choose to forgive when you’re hurt, even though you would rather throw all your toys out of the cot.

Amazing Grace

Grace is an incredible thing. In the simplest terms it means to give favor or forgiveness when it hasn’t been earned. It’s not always the easiest of responses but the fruit it produces is by far the most rewarding and has the ability to replace bitterness, offense and resentment with peace and a much brighter outlook for the future for both the giver and the receiver.

The most amazing example of grace that I know of, is the grace that God has extended to us. As a race, mankind turned its back on God, it’s Creator, it’s Father. We chose our own wisdom above His and treated Him as valueless. In every way God had every right to be offended, wash His hands and leave us to the mess we had embraced but He didn’t. He chose grace. He gave His most valuable, His most precious, in the person of Jesus so that we didn’t have to continue to be at odds with Him.

If you have been hurt and don’t know how to move on or would like to know more about the grace God offers us, please click the banner below.

You Get Out What You Put In!

The truth about poop!

Every week I take my two youngest kids to playgroup. It’s a non-negotiable. They love it. I love it. Win-win! In the midst of building blocks, coffee, crayons and nursery rhymes there is a platter of fruit pieces for the children to snack on. It’s great. Pear. Melon. Banana. Pineapple. Yum! My 2 year old is particularly fond of this aspect of playgroup. In fact, from the moment the platter arrives, until it’s completely clean, she will stand next to it and devour the lions portion before anyone else can get a look in. I need to point out, she’s not a chunky monkey at all, she’s a petite little thing, and she just has a VAST capacity for fruit. It’s become a bit of a running joke with the other moms and no matter how much we distract her, she still manages to go full hog… literally! As a mom, it’s great to have a child who is so happy to snack on something as nutritious as fresh fruit! I’m certainly not going to complain about that, but when she was still in nappies, there were times when the aftermath of her fruit binge wasn’t pretty.

It’s a strange thing that happens when you become a mom. You develop a bizarre interest in the bodily functions of another person. It’s not uncommon to see a mom hoist her child up and sniff, without a hint of embarrassment. I’ve been in a room of mommies where all the moms have done this at the same to determine whose baby is in need of attention. It’s hilarious. We all do it, but it doesn’t end there. Many a new mom has worried about the contents of her child’s nappy, and as yuck as it may be, the main drive behind this obsession is the very valid question, ‘Is my child healthy?’

You reap what you sow

The final product gives a pretty good indication of what’s going on inside and what went in, in the first place. If you’re only consuming bad stuff then really bad stuff is going to come out, but this doesn’t only relate to food.  I’ve found that certain Television programmes demonstrate unwelcome attitudes, and less than desirable ways of treating others, and my older children pick up on these things.  Unconsciously, they mimic what they hear and if it’s not pretty on the screen, it’s not going to be pretty in real life. It’s simple, you get out what you put in! It’s a universal law, you reap what you sow.

Fix your thoughts

In the New Testament book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes in Chapter 4 verse 8:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

I’m reminded of this scripture every time I find myself dwelling on something that I know isn’t going to have pretty results. When I’m angry with someone and holding onto my offense. When I read the news and become hopeless about the state of the world. It’s so easy to fix my thoughts on negative things and take on board all that I see and hear, but in the process I become fearful, bitter and jaded. Conversely, if I’m intentional about what I’m allowing my mind and heart to consume, making sure I’m dwelling on hope, peace and love, the fruit of those things will be so much better.

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs Chapter 4 and verse 23 it says:

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life

By considering and being aware of the things we take on board and setting our hearts on all that is good and true, the very course of our lives are affected.

If you would like to know more about how to fix your mind on things that will produce positive outcomes in your life please click on the banner below.

Are You Beautiful?

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Are You Beautiful?

A Facebook friend posted the most wonderful quote today. It said:

‘ Pretty isn’t beauty. Pretty is how you look; Beauty is who you are. Pretty is in the face and body; Beauty is in the heart, mind and soul. Pretty fades; Beauty grows.’ (Michael Josephson).

This thought really struck me and certainly got me thinking. Needless to say, I ‘liked’ it.

It’s probably not all that surprising, considering that I’m 36 (When did that happen?!) but this weekend I found not one, but two grey hairs! Maybe not a major issue for some, but up until now I’ve not had any and I’ve been quite satisfied without them, thank you very much! It’s a sobering reality. I’m getting old(er).

The truth is, that with age comes grey hairs, wrinkles, lines and all those other wonderful things that speak of the passing of years… but it would be oh so much nicer if they didn’t.

We love Julia

A few weeks ago Julia Roberts (I love her) posted a makeup free selfie on her Instagram account. In the caption she spoke of popular culture’s obsession with perfection and how unobtainable that is. She spoke of her wrinkles and being able to love herself, just the way she is.

No matter how hard you fight against it age comes to us all (even Julia). We can embrace the change and accept our lot with grace or become insecure and possibly a little odd looking as we fight the inevitable. Either way, it doesn’t matter what the packaging looks like, if we ultimately don’t love what is held within.

As strange as it sounds, I’ve never really thought too much about the way I look. I don’t dislike my face or feel ugly, I just don’t really dwell on it. That’s not to say I don’t care about my appearance. I do, but I know God made me just the way he wants me to be and besides, there is more to me than just the outside.

More than just a pretty face

As a Christian, I’m wonderfully encouraged by the thought that the parts of me that are eternal and will remain, are the things that don’t age. The precious place within me where I love my husband and children won’t get wrinkles. The bit of me that comes up with crazy and wonderful ideas or remembers special moments isn’t going to go grey. My heart, my mind, my soul and my spirit will remain untouched by age. The things that really are the most valuable; kindness, compassion, grace, respect, strength, loyalty are aspects of who we are that can remain with us, unweathered and unspoilt and just as attractive and truly beautiful in our later years as they were in our youth.

We spend so much time, effort and finance improving and preserving things that are supposed to change and yet the things that are long-lasting, should be invested in and nurtured, we tend to neglect. If all you have is an aesthetically pleasing outside but your inside is a mess, unlovely and uncared for, you don’t have much in the long run.

What makes you beautiful?

There is nothing more attractive and ultimately beautiful than a person who is at peace with their self and the only way to be at peace with who you are is to see yourself through the eyes of the One who made you. God made you perfect and he loves you the way you are. On our own we may strive to be better and improve our character and our hearts but when we allow God to have a place in our lives, he is able to give peace in a way that no other can.

So next time I spy another silvery hair or a crinkle forming I pray I remember that it’s just my wrapping doing what wrapping does, love my face regardless and while my pretty may fade, the beauty that is held within will continue to grow.

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