She’s Leaving Home

Well hello there :)


The Road to Autumn (and to our church in Brannockstown)

Yes it’s a while since I’ve been here. My little summer break turned into a longer one because I knew when I came back to the blog I’d be writing this post.

It’s a strange thing to finally have an answer after a couple of years of searching for one. Stranger still when it’s something that at one stage I didn’t want; and now… well it’s right.

I worry about myself sometimes; that I’m fickle and moody and have used up my quota of the women’s prerogative to change my mind. All those things are probably true of me… but! I also believe in seasons. Seasons that God has something for you and then something else. Ways in which He brings you around to His way of thinking.

I mean let’s face it, if I’m praying “Thy will be done”,
I suppose 
I have to be willing to say,
“and kick my plans to the kerb if you need to Lord”.

So I’m moving. Back to the Land of our Fathers. Well the land of his fathers to be precise. I say ‘his’, not ‘His’. I’m talking about him, the husband; not Him, God. Although some Welsh folk would say both is true.

I left Wales in 2007, eager to be in Ireland with my family. I was constantly homesick, and was not able to rise above the sadness of no children, the death of my mother and what felt like an ever-increasing distance between me and my homeland. I have family and friends aplenty in Wales, but I never stopped pining for home.

I look back and I know I was immature; maybe had I been a stronger Christian I would have been able to learn ‘contentment in all situations’. I’m not beating myself up, just wondering if that’s the case.

Either way, it was with no small amount of joy that I returned to Ireland in 2007.

The Road to Wales

And now what? Well more than 7 years later I have joy at the thought of returning. I’ve had a rough year, but I’m not returning out of grief. I’m involved in lots of writing and radio; things that will not be easy to leave behind, so I’m not going out of boredom or lack of fulfilment. Things have not turned out for us work & ministry-wise the way we thought, but we’re not returning out of failure.

We’re returning because God has called us.
He has made it clear that is where he wants us. Clear as a bell, to both of us, separately, and together; with joy and peace about it. Even though I hate saying good-bye and love being near my family and involved in all the great groups I’m involved with, I still know this is the right thing for us.

So in mid December we will head back across the Irish Sea to live in Wales again.

One of my favourite verses comes to mind. I use it about my writing, but it’s about my whole life Lord unless you build this house, I am building it in vain.  (Psalm 127:1)

Suicide Awareness

small__14361441374I would be lying if I said I’d never thought about it. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know about the struggles I’ve had over the years with childlessness, weight/food issues and loss. 2014 has been pretty rough too. I’m generally cheerful and am always good for a laugh; but I’ve considered it.

Not seriously, I’ve never tried it. I’ve thought about options and on one particularly dark night I hatched a plan; and that made me feel a bit better. That night was the turn around. The woman I had been at 4am, calmly calculating what it might take… well she frightened the living daylights out of me. For the first time, I had become aware of my own suicidal thoughts. It was terrifying, and I knew it was time to tell someone.

I can understand why people don’t say out loud that they have considered taking their own life. When you hear yourself say the words it makes you feel ill. Physically sick to the pit of your stomach. When you see the face of someone you love react to that statement – actually I can’t describe it, but it’s not good. We then had to enlist some help and I had to say it out loud again. In that moment I understood what and ‘out of body experience’ felt like.

My prayer life was a mess at that stage, but I started trying to say the Our Father regularly. When you spend time praying that and only that, you realise it pretty much covers everything.
Honouring God’s name, accepting His will, asking for daily provision, asking for forgiveness, asking for help to forgive others, help against temptation, and protection from evil.

I started having counselling, I went to the doctor, and was prescribed some mild medication. I remember sitting in the car with the prescription in my hand, crying my eyes out; convinced that anti-depressants were the beginning of the end. I was sure I’d never come back from there. But it was the opposite. They helped me to lift my head just enough to see over the darkness, and I started to recover. 18 months later I reduced the dose and was off them 6 months after that.

I remember the counselling session when I said “I want to live!” It took me a while to get back there, but I did.

Despite a really hard year, I'm doing great. Writing helps :)

Despite a really hard year, I’m doing great. Writing helps :)

I wish I had some inspired words of wisdom that would change people. Suicide awareness is increasing all the time, yet people still take that option. The change came for me when I became aware of my own thoughts. I thank God that I spoke up about it.

In 2012 I wrote about a couple of people I knew who had taken their own lives. I briefly referred to my own struggles, and made lighter of it than it was. I wasn’t ready to be honest about it.

Say it to someone. Say it to me if you like. It will sound even worse on your tongue than it does in your head. But in my experience, real suicide awareness started with myself; then I knew I had to make others aware of it too.

I thank God that I am alive :)

A x

Places to call:
Pieta House Call +353 1 6235606
Samaritans Ireland Call 116 123

Photo credits:
1, Polina Glezova via photopin cc
2. me :)

Should I join this local church?


Great wisdom here on questions to ask yourself if you’re looking to join a church.

Originally posted on Sanctified Rant:


If you are looking to join a local church, here are 4 questions that it may be helpful to consider:

1. Do I buy-in to the vision?

Every local church should have a clear vision. A church that has no sense of direction will soon wander off track and end up in all kinds of trouble. What’s worse, it will almost certainly sleep walk into anonymity and irrelevance. Now it would be easy to make the question of vision all about the missional or ecclesiological direction that a church is going in. And those things are important, but they are not primary. What is of prime importance is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In other words, is this church captivated and motivated by nothing less than Jesus Christ Himself? And is that enough for you? Many churches claim to have vision that is big, bold and adventurous. However, I want to suggest that you can’t get bigger…

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Letter to my younger self – Dear Róisín…

After a few days away and a few busy days of reading at events. I’m back. :) To ease myself back into things, here’s another letter for you. (It’s still the summer, I can’t be overdoing it…)

Róisín is a social media connection who has been enjoying the ‘Letter to my younger self’ series, and decided to give it a go herself. Róisín blogs at and you can follow her on Twitter @randomdescent 

Over to her…

So you’re 15 now, and as awkward as baby foal (though considerably less leggy; you haven’t grown an inch since you were 12). I know what you’re thinking, back in 2004. When will life actually begin? The summer holidays are passing by again like they always do. You watch telly in the mornings and go shopping with Mam in the afternoon. You write letters to your best friend even though she lives three miles away. You write stories and draw pictures.
You have no idea how the future you, at the age of 25, would kill for so much free time.
Anyway, don’t worry. Life is just around the corner. You’ll go up to Belfast with your mam for a week, and see a bit of the island anew. In the HMV in Belfast city centre, you’ll take advantage of those low, low sterling prices and pick up a couple of CDs. One is The Strokes’ debut. You’d heard ‘Last Night’ on the radio and liked it; it’s a gamble to buy an album on the back of one song, but it’s only £6 or so.

So you did make it to RTÉ after all...

So you did make it to RTÉ after all…

In a B’n’B room on the Ormeau Road you put your Discman into your ears and from the failing digital bleeping that heralds the title track you’re hooked. The album is already three years old, made in that last New York summer before the towers came down, but to you it’s simultaneously the newest and oldest thing you’ve ever heard. You don’t really get what Julian Casablancas is singing about – that would all come later on- but you can feel the world-weariness, the disappointment. Raised on Britney and the Spice Girls, but always, always absorbing the Beatles and the Stones played at home, you never realised there were still rock bands out there.

Whatever The Strokes do or, rather, don’t do next, you’ll never forget that first moment, and this album will become an old friend to you. It’s all about the music, this time in your life. The musicals you sing in school, your classmate’s unearthly rendition of a hymn at a school mass, the violin you play, the Strokes and the Kings of Leon and the Killers and Franz Ferdinand and then, it’s Green Day and Nirvana and the Pixies.

Life is beginning and so is the music. The next year, the academic year when you leave fifteen behind and become sweet sixteen, this is the game changer. You’ll get up on the stage and sing in a wonderfully plummy English accent as Yum-Yum in The Mikado; you’ll think you’re in love; you’ll venture to Italy with your classmates and to Dublin and Mayo and everywhere in between.

You won’t realise it but it’s one of the best times of your life. You always snorted at that dreaded ‘school-days are the best days’ trotted out by those older; things would be so much cooler when you could do whatever you want, and you could get out of that horrendous green gabardine skirt.

Well, I won’t pretend, 15 year old me, that the skirt is missed. (It really was the worst garment ever made- you’ll be disgusted to know that after you left, the school changed to a rather nice blue uniform). You’d probably be a bit disappointed to know that you haven’t really gotten it together either. No boyfriend and no amazing career in journalism, but you won’t believe the experiences that in store. You won’t believe the good and the bad that’ll come, how much you will grow, how strong you will prove yourself.

Dear fifteen year old me, I will not let you down.

PS. I know Apple are totally lame now but trust me, I’d recommend saving your pocket money and buying a few shares. Don’t question it…


photo credit: photo supplied by Róisín and used with her permission 

Five Minute Friday – Tell

Time for Five Minute Friday… five minutes of unedited, non stop writing on a given theme. today’s theme ‘TELL’ 

Find out more about Five Minute Friday by clicking the button


There’s so much sad news this week it’s almost overwhelming. The news from the Middle East doesn’t seem to get any better. And God forgive me, I find myself wanting to bury my head… ‘PLEASE don’t tell me any more.’ 

The news of Robin Williams’ death is so tragic. I was surprised to find myself grieving at one stage. I don’t usually respond that way to the death of rich a famous folk; maybe it is because grief is still near the surface for me.
I find his death is also a bit frightening. To think a man who could make us laugh and think as much as he did, felt there was no other option but to take his life. That scares me.

The other news that deeply saddened me was the story of Vicky Beeching, and her struggle with homosexuality. I’m not sad because she is gay. I’m sad because not being able to tell anyone, or be honest about how she really feels, made her physically ill, with a very serious condition.  I’m also sad that now she has come out, she getting so much hatred flung at her. You know I disagree with her position on same sex marriage; Five Minute Friday is not the place for that discussion. But I do believe she has done a brave and honest thing in telling people.

Anything you want to tell me?

Anything you want to tell me?

I worry there are people in my life who feel they can’t tell anyone about something that is crushing them. And I suppose I just want to shout out to anyone reading – you can tell me. Tell me anything. If it needs to be said and you’ve no one to say it to, you can say it to me. I’ll try to understand, I probably won’t be able to do anything and but I’ll help if I can.

You can tell God too The Bible says that
we can tell Him anything.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you – 1 Peter 5:7

Letter to my younger self – Dear Orna…

Here’s the next in the Letter to my younger self series. At this stage, all I can say is, I wish my own writings brought so many readers here. It’s been an amazing few weeks here on ;) Here’s another great letter for you. This time from Orna, a fellow member of Shared Planet Writing group. You can follow her on Twitter @ornarichella

Over to her…

Yes you are afraid…

image (6)I look at you, me, our 16 year old self, through the looking glass and want to tell you it will be ok. Time has passed and you will still be here. You will survive and you will be a stronger person.

You are so scared and so lonely. Surrounded by others but isolated, no real connection to the everyday. You live in books and glance over the pages at life going by for everyone else but you don’t know how to join in. It is as if you came without the instructions. So you live in dreams and stories and the echoes of other’s lives. When you close the book reality seems a pale imitation. You are happiest in the twilight between sleep and wakefulness when the dream seems real and you can direct them. I wish I could come back and tell you that while you are dreaming life is passing you by. A million ice-cream vans drive away while you are trying to decide what type of flavor to buy. You dither rather than decide and miss out through inaction. It will cost you many things and you will berate yourself for your losses. This is not going to change, but sometimes you will be able to shake yourself and get past it and amaze everyone with what you can do if you focus. It keeps you going.

You go to college and build life skills and friendships and bad eating habits. You will try many things but achieve less than you should because you are afraid. Scared to tell your parents that you want to stay up weekends to work on plays. Scared to audition for people you look up to in case you are no good. Scared to try out for different sports because you don’t know how to start or how to fit in. Scared to fail.

Some terrifying things will happen in college and they will change you forever. You will experience heartache and loss and dreadful sickness and black desolation. If you knew going in to it what you had to face you would never believe you would be able to carry it. But you do and we make it through. Just about.

image (5)Your family, by birth and by choice, will be your strength and your burden in equal measures. Cherish every day with them and love the happy and silly moments. They will carry you through the terrible losses ahead. Hug your dad every chance you get and gather his voice to you. Every day is precious and he won’t always be there. Look at your mum. Really look and see all that she is doing and sacrificing for you and stop taking her for granted. She is spilling her heart blood for you and you will torment her with the selfishness that only a teenage girl can. When everyone else fails you and you cannot go on she will pick you up and carry you to the finish line.

Friendship which you chased like a rainbow all your life will return like a boomerang after you throw it away. There will be no bosom pal like you dreamed of in girlhood. You are no Anne Shirley. But a group of boys will be your posse and become family.

Love will come and go leaving you crushed. A few times. But you will find happiness with a friend when you least expect it and you will marry and eventually after much heartache become a mum. Only then will you realise the pain you have caused your own mum. That is your burden to live with. Try and make it up to her. I am still working on that.

image (4)Try your best rather than coasting on your ability. It would be nice to sparkle rather than simply shimmer. You don’t realise that yet. There is no dress rehearsal or matinée. You only get one performance. Make it one you can look back on and be proud of.

But most of all try. And when you are afraid try anyway. Because the happy days will always outshine the sad ones. And your blessings are more than any heart can carry without overflowing.


All photos supplied by Orna and used with her permission.

I woke up this morning and guess what… I was alive!

I woke up very early this morning, which I don’t mind – as long as I’ve slept well the night before. A full night’s sleep is a rarity these days; but… I slept all night and was awake well before 7am. (I know that for some of you, that is waking at ‘normal’ time – but it’s early for me!)

Weird thing was that the first thought that came to mind was
“Thank you God, I made it through another night. I am alive.”

This is an old pic of me & I'm only smiling because I had not intentions of leaving my bed that day :)

This is an old pic of me & I’m only smiling because I had not intentions of leaving my bed that day :)

I’m sorry to say that I am NOT one of those people who wakes with a prayer in her heart! Usually the first thought I wake with is the horrifying realisation that it’s time to get out of my comfy bed. I wish I was someone who wakes with a prayer on my lips – and maybe a song in my heart and a sparrow on my window sill???
But if you know me – you’ll know that’s just not me.

I hadn’t expected to die in the night by the way, so why I was so urgently thankful for another day of life, I’m not sure… but as I lay in bed pondering it, I remembered something. It happened yesterday as well. I’d been awake in the middle of the night for ages so when I woke I was groggy n’ grumpy, and I forgot immediately that I’d whispered a thanks to God for another day. I had missed it cos it happened before I was awake enough to start complaining.

medium_1476887807I’ve been told that writers should always have a notebook by their bed. Often in that state where you are either falling asleep or waking up – you know that in-between bit where you know what’s going on but you’ve lost the use of all limbs and the the power of speech – you come up with storylines and all sorts of different ideas. It’s said you should write them immediately cos once you are fully awake, you’ll forget them. I wonder if it was a similar thing.

I wonder have if I’ve done it before. Maybe I do it more than I realise. I’ve never been good in the mornings – numerous times in my life I’ve woken up at 6.30 to pray, only to find myself in an Adrian Plass-like* stupor at 8 when I SHOULD be getting up.

Maybe I am in that group who can sing “Early in the morning a song shall rise to thee.” Perhaps I am an early pray-er and didn’t know it.

A girl can dream eh? :)

photo #2 credit: jamelah via photopin cc

*Adrian Plass is a somewhat fictional character who tells his story in an Adrian Mole like diary. His story about getting up very early to pray for a few days in a row and ending up zombified having done very little praying, is told very well in ‘The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾’ You can read a sample here