Sharing inspirational stories, reflective thoughts, amusing anecdotes, and more

Archive for August, 2014

To keep or not to keep – that is the question?

We all accumulate a lot of STUFF in our lifetime. My husband was an easy target for a good salesman, and I could always tell by the sheepish look on his face when he came home from the shops that he had bought some you-beaut new gadget that he just couldn’t do without, which would eventually end up in our already overflowing  gadget drawer. One of the popular sayings at our house was – ‘this would be handy if you had a use for it!’

I am in de-cluttering mode at the moment and have been going through filing cabinets, drawers and cupboards, throwing out boxes and boxes of old notes, papers, documents and general “stuff”  which I no longer need or have space to keep. Someone said to me, “When you are going through your stuff, think about what your children will do with it when you are gone, and then save them the trouble and throw it out yourself.”

There are tips that are helpful in this process. One of the things that I do if I think I can’t bear to part with clothes that I rarely wear, is to put them in a separate cupboard, and if I haven’t worn them in the time allotted, say the past 12 months, then out they go. And of course the flip side is, there is then room in your wardrobe to buy something new that you will find much more useful!

A story is told about a man who was taking a cruise on an ocean liner. Somehow one of his socks got away from him and blew over the railing, lost forever. Without a moment’s hesitation, the man flipped the other sock over the railing too, then stretched out on the lounge in the sun and took a nap. He knew when he was looking at a hopeless situation, and he wasn’t about to let it ruin his opportunity for pleasure. You will note, of course, that this was a man – not a woman!

Many of us would take the remaining sock home and KEEP it, hoping a mate might miraculously turn up some time. But all we would be doing is cluttering up our sock drawer with another single sock. Instead, like the man on the ship, we need to let go of the surplus stuff that clutters our life. Of course, if you have young children, there is every likelihood that the missing sock will turn up in a mud puddle in the back yard, or under the bed or behind a cupboard. However, if the sock drawer becomes so cluttered with single socks that you can’t fit the pairs in, then perhaps it’s time to have a clean out.

Our lives can become over-filled with all the stuff we insist on hanging on to, both physical (like single socks and broken gadgets and old clothes), and emotional (like guilt, pain and misery). We can be afraid to let go of things that have been with us for a long time.

It’s like the story of the little monkey who put his hand into a jar to get a biscuit. When he closed his fist on the biscuit he found he couldn’t get it out of the jar. The only way he could remove the jar from his hand was to let go of the biscuit. And until he let go, he was doomed to carry the heavy jar around on his hand, weighing him down and restricting his movement. He could complain all he liked about the inconvenience and the heavy weight of the jar, and how sad he was because he couldn’t swing from tree to tree with the other monkeys, but he was the one who had to let go of the biscuit to regain his freedom.

Sometimes the stuff we hold on to, be it years of accumulation of needless possessions or the emotional stuff that we feel we can’t get over, weighs us down and clutters our life. But if we are willing to open our hands … and our hearts, and have a real spring clean, get rid of all the stuff that is cluttering our lives, including negative attitudes, we will have a lot more room in our cupboards and drawers … and in our hearts, for the things that are really important.

There is great blessing in letting go and stepping out, unencumbered, knowing that God holds our future in His hands.




The fire

The Fire

A tale of miraculous protection during the devastating 2003 Canberra bushfires.

Extracts from Paula’s story as told to Robyn


… January 18, 2003, was a sweltering Saturday with scorching winds battering the bush and stirring up the dust, which lodged like grit in our eyes. It felt like all the moisture was  being sucked out of our bodies. The searing winds had dried off all the undergrowth until it crackled under our feet as we walked through the bush. On that day 96 fire-fighters from the previous night shift were asleep at Greenhills. Early in the afternoon we were told that the fire was changing direction to the north-west and was now coming more toward us.

We alerted the sleeping fire-fighters and watched in trepidation as the flames plunged over the mountains in the distance and roared down the Brindabellas.

Without really thinking about it I decided to make a last-minute dash in the car down the road to our home to collect our little dog. I rushed into the house and had just gathered up Missy in my arms and taken our two Bibles off the table when suddenly the CB radio crackled into life and I heard Ed’s voice, full of tension, calling out to me with great urgency, “Paula. Look behind you up the hill. Grab the dog and get out of there NOW!”

When I looked up I saw the fire had converged with one from the other direction and a wall of fire was roaring over the hills towards Greenhills at incredible speed. It was a terrifying sight and the noise was horrendous. I only had minutes to make my escape. There was no time to gather up photos or precious possessions. As I ran from the house I simply cried out in all sincerity, “Jesus, this is your house and all that is in it is yours. You can have it if you want it, but I’m asking you to look after it for us.” Then I drove back up the hill to the Centre, with my foot flat to the floor on the accelerator.

… The fire came up the valley and over the hill and raged over the building where we sheltered. We sat pressed up against the back wall of the downstairs room, swaddled in wet towels and breathing through wet tea-towels. The noise was deafening, as if hundreds of trains were roaring overhead. It felt like we were about to be incinerated in a giant furnace, such was the ferocity and heat of this fire. Our hearts were pounding as we prayed and asked God for His protection. Could He save us from what seemed to be certain destruction?

… When the worst of the fire storm had passed over us the air in the auditorium had become so thick with smoke and debris we couldn’t stay there any longer and moved upstairs to the dining area. Incredibly, the building was intact. The body of the fire had roared up the valley then, miraculously, jumped right over the top of the whole Murrumbidgee Centre, including the accommodation blocks on the hill beside us.

… Unbeknown to us a few of the fire-fighters, without any thought for their own personal danger, had stood together in the upstairs dining area holding trestle tables pressed up against the glass windows all along the front of the building. Their fear was that if one of the windows exploded there would be no way of saving the building or the people it sheltered.

We stood and looked out into the pitch darkness. The air was filled with thick smoke. We couldn’t see how much damage had been done or what buildings were left of the old Cotter Centre down the hill from us. Suddenly the vacuum created by the intensity of the fire as it passed over us seemed to suck the flames back and ignite a second wave of burning. It was as if the fire came back to finish the job it had started. We stood in shock and watched as the old buildings down the hill below us caught fire and lit up the sky. Dorms and halls were consumed by flames ignited by the sparks and embers. The buildings were flattened by exploding gas bottles. Flames launched like spitfires into the black sky while we stood watching with horror. One building after another succumbed to nature’s destructive power.

Later that evening the fire-fighters drove the fire truck up to inspect the damage and then continued to put out smouldering wreckage for hours. When they returned the driver had a stunned look on his face. He gave us the thumbs-up sign and told us that incredibly, against all odds, our house was still standing. The fire had burnt the brush fence right to the edge of the house. My hanging pot plants on the front veranda had melted and were hanging down like stalactites. All around it was burnt, but the house was intact. We were stunned and just looked at each other in amazement.

To read more of this amazing story, and other unique stories that will captivate your heart,  see my book, Inspiring Stories of Life and Faith. Details at:




“To a Mist” – taken from a collection of poems written by my father in his teen years.

morning mist 5

To a Mist

Up from the river, softly stealing,
by wanton breezes rent and torn,
Half concealing, yet, half revealing,
The glories of an early dawn,
The mist sprite draws her gossamer veils
O’er the wakening face of earth
As on the wings of the wind she sails
Clouding the sunlight’s birth

Clammy, damp, bewildering,
Thou art as light as thought,
Folding us in a fairy ring,
Making our vision nought.
Bedewing all the flowers and leaves,
With gems of priceless cost,
From us these favours thou dost retrieve,
They, with the rising sun, are lost.

In billowing waves thous dost ascend,
Unto an unknown height
Waiting till time to re-descend,
At dawn of day, at close of night:
No-one knows how thou dost go,
Or when, or why, or where,
We only know, that here below,
Thou changest into air

The magpies are in the leafy trees,
Heralding the dawn with notes divine,
Up the vale thy slow approach they see;
How, over all you slowly climb,
O’er-whelming in thy chilly grasp
Rocks, stones, trees, both far and near,
At thy touch they seem to gasp,
To sink, and disappear.


Written by Wilfred Butler in September 1924.