good • bad • better • friendships by personality


For every strength of our personality there can be weaknesses on the flip side. What makes us a great friend can also be the very characteristics that become obstacles to being better friends – particularly when interacting with friends with a different dominant temperament than your own. 

SANGUINES

Sanguines make GREAT friends because they bring the spontaneity and joy to pretty much every situation. They celebrate well, they tell great stories and they find the fun in everything. 

Sanguines make BAD friends when they dominate in social environments, forget important details and don’t help with the dishes. 

Sanguines make BETTER friends when they make greater efforts to use their social power to include and draw in quieter friends, show sensitivity to the emotional climate of a situation, and are more reliable. 

CHOLERICS

Cholerics make GREAT friends because they will want to succeed at being a great friend. They’re good decision makers and full of big ideas for fun adventures and accomplishing things together. 

Cholerics make BAD friends when they get caught up in the tasks they want to achieve and don’t give attention to the feelings and emotional needs of others. 

Cholerics make BETTER friends when they make concerted efforts to understand people and give themselves to communicating at a heart level. 

PHLEGMATICS

Phlegmatics make GREAT friends because they are loyal, peaceful and consistent. They are observant, tolerant and can be drawn to laughter and fun. 

Phlegmatics make BAD friends when they are non-responsive or overly sensitive. Their lack of enthusiasm or expression can sometimes translate as a lack of care or concern. 

Phlegmatics make BETTER friends when they are intentional about expressing encouragement and emotional understanding and are more generous with their words and selves. 

MELANCHOLIES

Melancholies make GREAT friends because they think and feel deeply and seek creative forms of expression. Their perfectionism leads them to strive to be a ‘perfect’ friend and they follow through with intentionality. 

Melancholies make BAD friends when their depth of thinking and introspection leads them to overanalyse words, actions or circumstances and they become withdrawn, fearful, critical or suspicious. 

Melancholies make BETTER friends when they choose to believe the best of others and externalise thought processes in order to let others short circuit negative thinking. 
Which friend are you? Do you identify both the strengths and weaknesses of your personality type? What could you do to be a better friend or better understand your friends? 

it’s easy to make friends with kids


My life – and heart – are full of many special friendships with families and little people – and my connection with each of them is unique.

  • C gives me really ‘squeezey’ hugs and at some point squeezes me even tighter – mostly just his face and his bottom tense without his arms getting any tighter, but I still need to respond like he’s squeezing my neck hard.
  • considers me her private Disney-Jukebox. At any moment she might name a Disney princess or character and I have to sing ‘their’ song.
  • will come sit near me on the couch and stick her legs in the air – that’s so I can use her legs as pedals on an imaginary bike and pump her legs around – forward, backward, slow motion or super fast – and take us on imaginary adventures.
  • As E comes in for a hug she says ‘not too tight, not too tight’ – that’s code for ‘squeeze me like you’re trying to pop me!’
  • N doesn’t smile, hug or really even talk – but he fist pumps, with a little bit of a hand explosion and accompanying sound effect at the end. Just leave it at that and move on.
  • B is getting taller but is definitely already stronger than me – her cuddles are fierce and it’s best I take a deep breath when I see her coming before she squeezes it out of me.
  • have learnt from their father the ‘funny’ art of asking for a high-five but pulling out at the last second and leaving me hanging. Note to self – do not be trapped, do not be trapped!
  • B doesn’t like to be talked to directly too soon – I can talk to people around her and she will watch until she gets comfortable enough to smile – then and only then, should I try to make direct contact with her – anything before then will be met with much resistance.
  • A jumps into my arms, spreads her hands out wide and then gives me a ‘look’ – the look is to prompt me to start saying ‘no, don’t squeeze me, you’ll pop me!’ at which point she squeezes me until I use my finger to make a popping sound with my mouth. She will squeeze indefinitely, it’s best I ‘pop’ early.
  • E asks for a ‘really, really, really, REALLY, big kiss’ – that means that with my lips squished to his cheek I have to swing him around and hang him upside down and shake him until there’s a final ‘mwah!’ at the end.
  • J thinks it’s funny to sneak up behind me and yell to scare me (it’s not), so even when I see her coming it’s best to act surprised when she gets there. If I’m in a conversation, rather than interrupt she will just hug me from behind – best be ready for that one too! (Even if I’m praying for someone! 🙂 )
  • L will give me a hug so tight it ‘pops my head off’ – from time to time he decides to keep my head or swap it with someone else’s. It’s up to me to remember where my head is on any given day.
  • holds her breath while I come towards her for a kiss – if I stop just before I get there she’ll grunt and lean the rest of the way rather than handle the suspense.
  • considers me her personal play-equipment – she will launch from anywhere and attach herself to me. If I’m sitting down and she is nearby I should expect high impact contact at some point.

Reflecting on these (& many other) special interactions I’m mindful of two things. 

1. Children respond so readily to any effort we make to know and connect with them personally. 

So maybe we should do that more often. 

2. Adults probably aren’t that different. 

So maybe we could make that effort more often too. 

Y O U T H & the power of a cause


If we want our kids to thrive in life and flourish as people – we’ve got to get them involved in serving and giving.

The power of participating in a cause is well-documented for its contributions to general well-being (or happiness). The associated implications for physical health and levels of anxiety and depression are meritous alone. But we add to that the whole “let’s make this world a better place” idea and there seems little reason not to. 

Here are just three of the many ways engagement in a cause empowers and encourages our young people. 

Purposeful use of their time 

Every summer holidays you’ll find a group of youth from our church serving our local community through the “SummerWorx” initiative. 


Here youth spend their discretionary time working together on projects in local schools and community organisations – cleaning, gardening, removing rubbish, painting and sorting. 
We often bemoan our young people’s overuse of technology or seeming laziness without necessarily giving them an alternative by calling them to a greater purpose and genuine satisfaction in the work of their hands. 

The camaraderie of time spent with others with a mutual goal and the shared success in the achievements, grow skills of teamwork and responsibility. While providing a sense of deep fulfilment and belonging. 

A way to understand and fight injustice

Each year our community participates in the PingPongAThon. A 24 hour table tennis event created to raise awareness and funds for exploited, abused and trafficked young people via a number of organisations on the ground in Sth East Asia. 


Last year we raised over $24,000 as young people responded to the empowering realisation that they could in fact do “something”. As small as their contribution might have been it was caught up in a greater whole and each was confronted by the privilege of their freedom and the power in each of them to bring hope and restore dignity. 

A call to something bigger than themselves. 

Within our church community, young people are encouraged and assisted into roles of leadership and serving. They supervise children’s programs and lead small groups, connecting with families and participating in the faith and life development of children and youth of all ages. 


These opportunities allow young people to invest in others as they themselves have been led and nurtured in different aspects of their lives. They see the role they have – to step in to the time and place they’ve been chosen to occupy in history and to work to provide a hopeful and fruitful future for emerging generations. 

What do you think? What benefits have you seen from youth engagement in causes and projects? What initiatives have you seen that facilitate such involvement?

monday morning ministry


These are not my children. I borrowed them.

They’ve been seconded for an important Monday morning ministry that required availability in two categories. The first – that they needed to be somewhere at a specific time prior to 9am on Monday morning – in their case, school at 8:20am. Done. The second – they needed to be up for an early morning conversation – not a difficult task for this 15 year old deep-thinker, 14 year old sanguine and 11 year old lover-of-a-good-story. Done.

The ministry requirement is this – to help me fight a debilitating case of Mondayitis.

Although Sundays are my favourite days, they are also my longest and most physically exhausting. The love tank is full but the physical energy is depleted. Then comes Monday morning and we have our review and planning meetings – where I’m called on to bring the creativity, energy and lateral thinking. But more consistently, all I’m really able to bring is the coffee.

After a few challenging meetings, some disappointments in my own attitude and contributions, and just knowing that things were not functioning as positively or helpfully as they could, I was talking it through with a mentor. She encouraged me to consider ways to get myself in a better frame of mind and readiness for the start of the day and week.

Enter this fabulous trio.

The need to have them at school means I arrive at work 40 minutes before my first meeting – rather than 1 minute before (or after!) it starts. I have time to get a few emails processed, sort through things left on my desk and say hello to a few other people in the office. I’m more relaxed, switched on and ready to engage a better version of me.

As an externally processing extrovert, people interaction is what kick starts my engine – especially when I’m weary. Arriving at morning meetings having not actually used my voice let alone had a laugh or shared a moment of human interaction is not a great way to start. These kids ensure many laughs and a whole lot of random chats in the brief trip to the school car park.

And as an added bonus this team has totally adopted their ministry role in my life. If you ask them why I take them to school on Monday mornings they’ll tell you that they help to get my day started well and make me work better. As they get out of the car they’ll often check to see if they’ve made me laugh enough or told enough random stories. Bless them.

Some encouragements for you. Have you reflected on your own responses and best practices to be able to set yourself up to win? Who can you recruit to help you achieve that? And what might your ‘Monday morning ministry’ be? Who could you bless with some practical or emotional support? 

 

I am not the mother of a 14 year old 


February 9th was my due date. 

Babies are rarely born on their due date but when a baby doesn’t make it to full term, the due date is the only one there is. 

If mine was a different story, my baby would be 14 years old today. Within that there is grief to process (read here) and questions still unanswered (read here) but I can’t help but pause to think how different my life would be if I were the Mum of a teenager. 

Of course it’s all speculation, but with what I can imagine my life could be so very different. My day to day schedule could be different, Work life, friendships, social activities, priorities; heart focus. I might drive a different car or live in a different house. I might have less money in the bank, more shoes at the door, a higher turn over of food in my fridge. Those of you with children could list indefinitely the way my life might be changed by the presence of a child – right now and for the 14 years before. 

It’s one of those “sliding doors” moments. You know the film where they track the parallel stories of a train missed or made and the different outcomes of each. 

The “what if” game can be fun (or painful) to play. Imagining the outcomes of a decision made differently, a relationship ended or started, a job gained or or lost, a different path chosen, 5 mins earlier or later, a different family, the near misses and the close calls. Some of them we’re glad to have avoided but others we regret and reflect on with longing and grief. 

It’s almost impossible to imagine all the impacts of a baby in my situation. It might’ve meant a different relational status, living in a different State, a different career and job (and all the implications of that), I’d probably not have written a book and experienced the opportunities that have opened up because of it …you might not be reading this blog. 

So today, I am not the mother of a 14 year old and all the implications of that. But I AM so many other things. The mental gymnastics of the “what if” can be fun but also painful. They can lead us to celebration of who we are and all we have or can cause us to be stuck in the pain of missing out or the negative spiral of comparison. 

What about you? How do you handle your “sliding door” moments?

miscarriage – a unique grief


If you’ve ever had a miscarriage, or intimately known someone who has, you’ll know it brings a unique type of grief. 

Discovering you’re pregnant is a giddying experience. The combination of hormones and hope; anticipation and mild panic brings a range of emotions and there’s a sudden rush to a reimagining of your future from that moment forward. In 9 months I’ll be a mother, in 6 years I’ll be a school mum, in 14 years I’ll have a teenager, in 20+ years I might have raised the next Prime Minister or the scientist who’ll cure cancer or a heart that will embrace the broken and the marginalised; or my best friend. 

The early stages of pregnancy do strange things to your body – growing a tiny human will do that. For me, it meant nausea that reduced my appetite – turning me into a perpetual grazer and a weariness that settled on me and wouldn’t shake no matter how much I rested or slept. 

The news of a miscarriage is so clinical. It’s just a black blob on the ultrasound. The potential for life has ended. Almost as quickly as possibility has been conceived it is dead. The whiplash of emotions can be profound. (read more here)

If you listen to the stories of miscarriage the grief is often marked by an isolation or loneliness. So often both the pregnancy and miscarriage happen even before an announcement is made and so it is intensely private. Many times the celebrations and excitement have been held within a tight circle of family and friends – heeding popular advice to wait until the first trimester is reached and the chances of the pregnancy reaching full term become greater. But these things can contribute to others not engaging as personally in the loss when they haven’t had opportunity to connect with the joy and potential. 

For some, like me, the oft assured temporary ‘set back’ of loss – waiting for new timing, second chances – turns into long term childlessness. The miscarriage becomes a brief flirtation with the experience of parenthood. A promise whispered, but silenced. 

For others who are fortunate to conceive again and meet their little one – the grief mingles strangely with joy. Perhaps due dates are forgotten as birth dates get celebrated. Perhaps there is a struggle to hold the public celebration of new life in tension with the seeming disregard for lost life. One so much more tangible than the other. 

When I reflect on my own journey and hear the stories of others’ I am struck by the common thread of unspoken or forgotten grief. I am constantly surprised by the eagerness to share their experience, to speak of the loss, to name their expectations, to recall the deep sadness; to question and doubt. So many words waiting to find ears and hearts to land on. 

So I’m led again to share these thoughts and ponderings. Maybe they spark a familiar feeling. Maybe they serve as an invitation. Maybe they touch an ache harboured deeply in a heart. Maybe they serve as unknowing preparation. Maybe they help. 

becoming more patient | #3 being others focussed

Have you ever had those moments when you’re pretty sure everybody around you is just trying to annoy you?

Everyone is driving slowly when you’re in a hurry. People are walking the aisles of shopping centres like they’re balls in a pin-ball machine, making it impossible to get around them. The person at the petrol pump in front of you decides now is the time to clean their windscreen back to showroom condition. The clerk processing your payment at the post office reminds you of the sloths from the movie Zootopia (check it out, great movie). Your child is attempting a world record for longest time taken to eat a bowl of cereal. Your teenager is on their third trip back into the house to get something they forgot and can’t leave without. Your work mates are reaching new heights of meeting-hijacking abilities.

Of course you have those moments, sometimes many of them in succession. We all do. If you were getting anywhere with this whole ‘becoming more patient’ idea then these are the moments that are set to derail you … big time!

Patience is the act of waiting well. It’s the ability to endure set backs and challenges without becoming anxious or irritated. Patience is indeed a virtue and one that is tested on a regular basis.

In our efforts to become more patient we’ve noted the need to take  a big picture perspective – to step back and see things in their broader context. We’ve looked at the idea of planning in order to be more patience – choosing  wisdom over reaction. And we also need to keep an important truth in mind … it’s not actually all about you!

It turns out not everyone is intentionally plotting ways to make your life miserable – even though it might seem like it. The slow driver in front of you probably has no idea you’re there. The dude at the petrol station is more worried about his windscreen than you. Your teenager is probably just forgetful or distracted. There is not, despite the seeming appearance to the contrary, a concerted focus on the part of all the people in your world to make life miserable for you.

And this makes perfect sense as you read it. But in those moments, so much of our irritation is borne out of a sense of focus on ourselves that causes us to see everything as a deliberate mission to make us frustrated.

It’s not all about you!

Next time you find yourself impatient with the actions or in-actions of another person, pause and take a moment to consider the situation from their perspective. “I wonder if that slow driver is lost, or a learner, or experiencing anxiety or dealing with a crying baby in the back seat.” “I wonder if this sales assistant is new to the job or tired from a full day of work.” “I wonder if my teenager is trying to keep too many things in their mind, or is worried about something; or is hormonal.”

Such a thought process changes nothing of the circumstances. You’re still going to be impeded or impacted by the other person’s behaviour in some way. But patience isn’t about not waiting it’s about waiting well. And when we shift the focus from ourselves we release something of the anxiety and irritation and replace it with empathy or compassion.

What might that look like for you? How might taking the focus of yourself cause you to be more patient with others?

 

disciplines of gratitude


For the last few years I’ve kept a “thankfulness jar”. 


The last thing I do each night before getting into bed is to pause and write a couple of sentences of gratitude for something that happened during the day. 

Some days it is really easy. I list off fun activities, great Ministry moments, joyful interactions with friends & family, experiences of wonder, tasks accomplished or things learned. 

Some days are harder. When I’ve been sick, when work has been hard, when I’ve spent the day alone; when my heart is burdened, these are the days I want to get into bed as fast as I can to bring them to an end! 

However, when I stand before the small piece of paper with a pen in hand, looking at an ever-filling jar of other moments of gratitude, I never fail to find something to write. 

Sometimes I’m just thankful that tomorrow is another day and another chance to do better. Sometimes I’m thankful that those days that are hard are offset by many days of joy and hope. Sometimes I’m thankful for specific people who God brings across my path to bless, inspire, encourage and support me. Sometimes I’m thankful for stewed apricots or a house full of people or God’s grace or a great movie I’ve watched or sore cheeks from laughing or new stationery or a new experience …the list is as diverse as it is endless. 

The discipline of gratitude is a necessary part of grounding my heart and mind in the truth – particularly when I am weary or despairing. It resets my internal dialogue – interrupting any negative thought track by forcing me to consider something positive. 

In moments of celebration and joy this discipline draws the attention of my heart to reflect on the source of those blessings, growing my faith and deepening my trust. 

What about you? Do you have any practices of gratitude that you regularly do? Maybe a daily discipline like this could be a place to start?

why you should send handwritten notes


In my box of treasures I have a handwritten letter from September, 1984. 

In the weeks before I received it, my grandparents had been tragically killed in a car accident. They were beautiful, Godly, much-loved people and a great loss to our family and their wide circle of friends. 

Enid was an older friend of our family. She had taken the time to write so that I would get a letter of my own in the midst of all the fall out for my parents and others as they processed what was needed to deal with both their grief and practical needs. 

It was special at the time and every time I come across it I am reminded again of the gift it was to me. 

I was recently chatting with a group of school teachers with many years of experience. We were swapping stories about our students and also our own teachers when one shared a story of connecting with a 26 year old ex-student who remembered receiving a “welcome to our class” letter from her 21 years earlier

In quick succession we all shared stories of letters given or received that had continued to be significant decades after they’d be written.

An encouragement note exchanged on a youth camp. 

A letter of condolence or care from a time of particular difficulty. 

A card of congratulations for an achievement or milestone. 

A note to commemorate a special experience or occasion. 

The more stories we shared the more we were compelled to go home and pick up a pen. 

How about you? Have you kept handwritten letters that have particular significance for you? Who could you drop a letter to today?