Juggling Fire

Juggling fire

A friend of mine told me about a talent show she was a part of on a church camp. Everyone was super-excited about it, especially the children. They so wanted to be involved, to be important, to have their moment of fame at the front of the room.

They thought long and hard about what their ‘talent’ was going to be. What they were going to do that would wow the crowd. Their imaginations went into overtime.

One ten-year-old boy said to his mum, ‘I know what my talent is. I’m going to get some sticks, set them on fire, and juggle them. Then, I’ll have a bucket of water behind me, and once I’ve finished juggling, I’ll throw the burning sticks over my head into the bucket of water to put them out.’

Now I’m telling you, that would have been very impressive. Amazing.

Especially since the child has never juggled before, and hasn’t played with fire much either.

Needless to say, his mother suggested that he think of something else.

The thing he actually did was also pretty impressive, even if it wasn’t quite as showy: He ate an entire bag of Minties (I don’t know how long that took.)


Look, it’s funny, but I see myself doing this in my own life.

Moz and I got engaged while he was still in his last year of high school. (I graduated the year before; I know, I’m a cradle-snatcher.)

When he first asked me to marry him we kept it very quiet. It was a secret from everyone.

Then the time came to ask my parents. They gave their permission, but they suggested (strongly) that we didn’t announce the engagement until after Moz finished high school.

I was so frustrated. Why couldn’t we share our good news? For that matter, why couldn’t we just go ahead and get married? What was all this faffing about for?

But I realised over the next few months that I wasn’t ready to announce our engagement. I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t done all the thinking through of what that would involve, what making such a huge change to my life was actually like. I knew we had made the right decision, but the timing wasn’t quite right. The four months between getting engaged and announcing it to the world were necessary for my mental health.

Right now I can make the same mistake with my writing. I would like my stories to take off, to be best-sellers. I would like my blog to go viral. I would love to be a household name.

Or would I?

Because every time a little bit of ‘fame’ comes my way I recoil. I get overwhelmed. I start to ask, ’Is this what I really want?’

I think God is being gracious by holding things back. I hope that one day I will be mature enough to handle a little bit of fame, and a larger number of book sales. But I want to wait until the time is right.

I don’t want to find myself onstage, hurling burning sticks in the air and hoping I can catch them without being hurt or hurting anyone else. There are things I need to put into place in my business and in my life, so that if I get my fifteen minutes of fame I will cope with it well and it will be a blessing to others.

For now,  I’m learning to juggle. And Minties taste really good.

Is there something in your life that is waiting for the right time? Do you feel like good things are being held back? Is there a skill you need to learn so that when the time comes, you will be ready?


A tough day

I have to admit it. Yesterday was a tough day.

Not the first half. The first half was great. Just the last half was tough.

I have to go back a bit for this to make sense (though I’m so tired, I’m not sure that making sense is on the agenda).

On Tuesday I flew to Canberra. I spent the week meeting up with longstanding friends from as far back as grade 6 (lost in the mists of time) and spending time with my lovely daughter Jess. I also managed to do some writing, which was very good, working on the first transcript book for the A Quiet Life podcast.

On Friday, Moz and Caleb joined us and we all prepared for the wedding of good friends on Saturday.  You know, those friends who are almost family. Who are family, really.

The wedding was gorgeous. Mel was a gorgeous bride, Pete a handsome groom, but more than that, the joy that was there in the room was delightful. And the people were so great. It was a fun night. Lots of chatting, lots of dancing, good food, excellent speeches.

Late to bed, not so late to rise, checking out of the motel, heading to brunch with Jess and hearing her news and stories from her recent visit to Panama. All excellent.

Then we hit the airport.

I told Moz and Caleb that I was just going to put headphones in, listen to a podcast or five, and not relate to anyone for a while. I had done the extrovert thing, I had socialised all week, I was ready to stop.

Our plane from Canberra was delayed. When we finally got on the plane I was sat next to a lovely lady from Ireland who loved chatting to me. I listened. She really was a nice person. (After take-off we both read books so I didn’t have to chat the whole way).

Once we got going I had a look at our boarding time for the next flight (from Melbourne to Hobart) and started to get concerned about making it to Melbourne in time. My neighbour was also concerned about making her connecting flight. She was in more trouble than us though, she was heading back to Ireland. She had about an hour to make it to the next terminal and get on the flight. I hope she made it.

We didn’t. Our next plane pulled out of the bay as we pulled in.

We were flying with an airline whose name starts with V and goes well with the name Mary and they were really good to us. Sure, they didn’t hold the flight for us, but they booked us on another one, and they gave us food vouchers that were very generous and exit row seats once we got on the flight.

They just couldn’t get us on a flight until 7.40 pm.

So we waited.

The new flight was delayed as well. By over an hour. And even when we got onto the new plane it was delayed another 10 minutes because something was broken, I’m not sure what. None of the three of us were with-it enough to hear the announcement by that stage.

We got home before midnight. Well past pumpkin time for me though.

So it was a very boring afternoon. Not what we wanted. Not what we planned.

But it could have been so much worse.

The thing is, all three of us decided that there was no point in being angry or upset.

Every time I felt the frustration rising I chose not to allow it to overtake me. I chose to stay calm. To laugh, occasionally (it was a bit of a bitter laugh, but still). To just let the time pass. To be grateful for the food vouchers and the little bit of window shopping distraction. To be grateful that Moz and Caleb were there and that we could chat and play games on our phones and look after each other’s bags so that we could go for the occasional walk (I made my step target by the end of the day). Really to be grateful to be ‘suffering’ from such a completely first-world problem.

We just waited.

Now, I’m not saying that we were full of joy all afternoon either. We did not smile and laugh our way through. We didn’t cheer up the whole airport terminal or stage an impromptu evangelistic event. We just waited.

But the afternoon could have been so much worse if we had chosen to be upset and angry, frustrated and grumpy. We could have snapped at each other, and at the airport staff. We could have cried and whinged when we got the information about the further delay of our already-delayed flight. But instead we chose to help each other through and be as patient as possible. And that means that the memories of the afternoon are pleasant rather than painful.

So that’s my little take home from this one. Sometimes it is better to choose to be happy and grateful. Sometimes just that little choice rebounds on you and makes your day better.

I hope that in the little things you are also able to choose a wise response this week.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a nap.


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