Ringing the changes…

Hi all. I hope everyone is well and enjoying a little more freedom as the restrictions ease.

It has been a strange eighteen months! I know a lot of us have been through a tough time. I pray we’ll all come out of it stronger than we were before. I am certainly feeling better these days and am working on getting back out into the world. I say working on it… It is not as easy as I thought it would be. I’ve gotten a bit too used to being indoors and semi-isolated. But I don’t want to stay here. Things have to change.

One of the changes I’m considering is finishing up this blog and moving to podcasting.
I feel the need to do something new.

auntyamo.com is more than ten years old. I’ve enjoyed writing about being ‘Just another Christian Woman…” There have been various subjects, blog challenges, guest posts and book reviews. I want to keep that variety and bring other people in to share the new venture with me. And I’m hoping you lovely followers will come with me too 🙂

The working title for my podcast is – Words, Wobbles and Worship. I’ll be talking about and sharing some writing. I’ll also be talking about my wobbles – the physical ones and how I’m working to reduce them, and the emotional ones with regard to my mental health. And of course, it will be underpinned by my love and worship of a faithful God.

So… I’d love to hear from you. You can message me privately, or leave a comment below. Would you listen to a monthly podcast from me? Would you survive if this blog was no more? How about if I threw in some cake? Tempted now?

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love some feedback.

Much love , auntyamo xx

Free Stock photos by Vecteezy

Not Knowing but Still Going – Blog Tour Day #2

I’m delighted to have joined the blog tour for Jocelyn-Anne Harvey’s new book, Not Knowing but Still Going: A buoyant hope for uncertain times, published by Instant Apostle on 21 April 2021. Jocelyn-Anne is a fellow member of the Association of Christian Writers here in the UK.

The book focuses on the story of Noah’s Ark, but this is far from a Sunday School telling of the story. Jocelyn-Anne takes us through the chapters in Genesis. Giving names to Noah’s wife and daughters in law, she explores how these women might have reacted to what was unfolding. All the while, rooted in the biblical narrative.

In the introduction we read how the idea for this book about how a family dealt with their own lockdown and the aftermath of it, was planted in 2008. What amazing timing for the book to be published now. “The women had to go about their daily lives, while being conscious of the future change they all faced.” (Pg 28) Sound familiar?

Though it is an easy read, there is still much to stop and ponder. Each chapter helpfully ends with a prayer, a Chapter Contemplation section, and some blank journaling pages. The writer examines the human responses and practical issues that are hidden within the story. There are a number of helpful themes dealt with, such as, taking life situations a day at a time, what to do when you’re not sure what to do, having to fly in the face of popular opinion, waiting, family, human frailty and the respect we should show one another. Throughout the book, Jocelyn-Anne is honest in sharing her own struggles and mistakes, grounding her contemplations in Scripture and personal experience.

She takes us through familiar elements of the story, Noah the person, the building of the ark etc, but there were also pleasant surprises. I was reminded that they were the first to hear the sound of rain and a host of other new experiences that awaited them. There were practical implications to the changes of the landscape. There were also spiritual changes. Jocelyn-Anne reminds us, though the flood came because of sin, but, “sin hadn’t been swallowed up in the floodwaters.” (Pg. 224) Also, I had never noticed the significance that God closed the door of the Ark, but it was Noah who opened the window after the flood. In fact, the Ark Window chapter is particularly beautiful. The section about what windows can mean to us really resonated with me as we consider the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

This book would be great for a Bible study group and for personal reflection alike. It’s a book you could dip in and out of, or use for deeper study.

Follow the blog tour, if you want to read more about Not Knowing, but Still Going

You can get the book in good bookshops or a variety of online shops, including: FoylesWaterstonesAslan EdenAmazon (if you use affiliate links then also on Amazon US), and The Book Depository (this has worldwide free shipping).

Jocelyn-Anne loves the Lord, learning and literature. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, and her flash fiction has been published. Jocelyn-Anne is passionate about supporting others through theirs and helping them develop. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in a coffee shop with friends, exploring coastal paths or trying out recipes.

Z is for Zoom

So finishing this year’s AtoZ Challenge a day late, but I got there.
How can I not mention this piece of tech which has been both a blessed provision and the bane of my life for the last year or more!

Pre 2019, to me ‘Zoom’ was a song by Fat Larry’s Band or something Wylie Coyote did. But what would we have done without this communication software during the last year? It’s been a gift. I’ve been at parties with my family in Ireland, we’ve had family chats, writer’s group, prayer meetings, church services, after church fellowship, and I’ve attended some wonderful conferences and workshops. Having said that, Zoom fatigue is a thing. There are days when I’ve wanted to throw the laptop out the window – just so fed up with screen time.

I have enjoyed helping older folk, or those who are not confident with technology to get connected. I think Zoom will be with us for a while, and though many things will go back to being face to face (thank God), even our small church will never have to cancel services due to bad weather. We’ll just revert back to Zoom. However there are a number of people/churches I know who have not had the devices or the confidence to cope with it. Which is why I’d love to get Sunflower Tech up and running. It’s my new idea. You can read about it here. I reckon Zoom [other communication software is available :)] will remain commonplace even after lockdown.

The one thing I will miss if it disappears completely will be attending meetings in my slippers. That’s been the main benefit of Zoom for me!

So that’s the end of the AtoZ Challenge for this year. Thanks so much for reading, Normal service will resume now, with me appearing on the blog at random intervals.

ttfn, A x

Y is for Young

I looked in the mirror the other day and said to myself, I look dreadful for 30! Then I thought, Hang on , I’m nearly 50, I LOOK GREAT!
Is 50 old? Cos is isn’t young!

I don’t feel old, although my knees would disagree. Age may only be a number, but next year it’ll be a big one.

I am healthier than I was ten, even twenty years ago. I’m far more active than now, and even though I still struggle with weight, I am dealing with it. I spent a long time pretending it didn’t matter and I didn’t care. It does and I did. So, with age has come personal development, spiritual growth (I hope), physical improvement, aswell as the aching bones and the wrinkles.

It’s the last year of my 40s. I keep thinking I should be making a bucket list, or planning an adventure. All I really want to do is gather family I haven’t seen during lockdown and hug them til they can’t breathe. (Then I’ll let go, promise) There’s nothing like a global pandemic to show us what is important, and how precious every day is.

Psalm 31:15 says, ‘My times are in your hands.’ I believe that. But the context of Psalm 31 is one of extreme danger for David. He is making that statement of trust, in a setting of fear. He is fleeing enemies and looking for refuge. For the first thirteen verses, David describes his situation. Then in verse 14 he says, BUT…

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” (v15) My times are in your hands…

My plan as I move towards a new decade should be to trust in the Lord. He has all my days in his hands.
What a blessing for this not so young woman 🙂

X is for Xenial

Most years I have to go searching for X words. I can’t write about Xerxes every year now can I. (Xerxes being the King who Queen Esther is married to in the Old Testament.)

So I found this word – Xenial – pronounced Zee-nee-uhl. Dictionary.com says that one of its meaning is “warm, welcoming, and hospitable.” It is something I have missed being and doing during lockdown. We love to have people over for dinner and coffee. Myself and himself both come from families where there were always family popping in. His family is smaller but he was not completely averse to a houseful. Though a houseful in our family was often a littler fuller.

The context of the original word in Greek refers to hospitality to people from different cultures and origins, (the opposite of xenophobic). Again Dicitonary.com uses a sentence about xenial laws that exist in Greek mythology.

The Bible calls us to be xenial. The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 is a great example. There are many verses in the Old and New Testaments that tell us to welcome the stranger

As for me… well I’m totally in xenial 😀

V and W are for Haiku (eh?)

It’s true, V and W are not for Haiku, but for these two letters I’m giving some Haiku a go… I’ve just asked the husband to throw some words at me and so I’ll write based on them

Brightens whitens cleans
Vinegar is versatile
Put it on my chips

I did learn to play
but bow to better players
not quite up to scratch

Arm in arm I walk
with my father, and a smile
shining through white lace

Make sure not to waste
develop a thirst to save
life-saving liquid

Can I please throw off
restraining expectations
so I can be me

Do you remember
wormwood, gall and afflictions?
Forget. Here’s Jesus

Are we nearly there yet? 🙂 Three more letters and two more posts!

T is for Tallaght and U is for Unknown

T should be for tardiness cos I’ve fallen behind in my A to Z Challenge, but today T is actually for Tallaght. My beloved home town 🙂

Tallaght has had a bad rap over the years, but I for one am proud to have been born and bred there. I was brought up in St. Maelruan’s Park, went to primary school in Our Lady of Loreto GNS (as it was then), and went to secondary school in Old Bawn Community School. I lived in Tallaght until I was 27. I worked in Dublin city centre while I was hairdressing and then worked locally in Xtra Vision on the Greenhills Road and then for The Echo Newspaper before moving to the UK in 1999. But my heart never left Tallaght.

I remember being sent to Reilly’s butchers for chops and I was to tell the butcher they had to be nice ones. (Never knew what that meant). I have a vague recollection of buying a lucky bag in Riordan’s shop in the village, but the shop I remember best is Conlon’s – officially known as The Lilac Centre 🙂 I spent a lot of time walking around the old Tallaght Town Centre. I bought my first record, ‘Hold Me Now’ by the Thompson Twins, in Radio Shack. And every so often, my brother sent me there for new needles for his record player. I bought my lipstick upstairs from the make-up stall and my cigarette (singular), with three matches and a corner of the matchbox from the kiosk. I would go shopping with my mam in H. Williams, until she changed to Dunnes Stores in Kilnamanagh, which was a long walk or a bus ride away if I was meeting her from work. Chips were bought from Borza or Macari’s the odd time, but mostly they were made at home from giant potatoes and cooked in, what would now be considered, a very dangerous deep fat fryer. Halloween costumes were often a black plastic bag and a plastic mask, and McKeowns were always the first to have their tree up for Christmas. I feel blessed to hail from such a place

The Tallaght Flag 🙂

U is for Unknown
an ode to Tallaght

If you have never been there, only heard about its faults
Took the slagging on the telly with more than a pinch o’ salt
If you’ve read the papers saying Tallaght’s just debris
Then you’ve never stopped to look and see the beauty I can see

The hills that wrap around it, like the arms of God himself
The river running through it, like a vein of purest health
The playing fields and football fields of Davis’s and Anne’s
The house where Newtown Rangers got its name, proudly still stands

The Sean Walsh Park, the Tymon Park, the Dodder Valley Park
Though some might try to ruin them, they are part of Tallaght’s heart
Shops and hotels, the Luas line, have made the place a hub
But even Shamrock Rovers, could not beat the Hell Fire Club

The Dragon and Ahernes, The Old Mill, that once was Bridget Burkes
Places for a pint, to wash away the strain of work
The Priory in the Village, St. Maelruan’s up the Road
It’s a place you can believe in, no matter what your Holy code

Can you only really love it, if it is where you are from?
Can you see past all the negative, if it’s not where you were born?
If you’ve never stood in Tallaght, thanking God that it’s your home
Then to you maybe this little town will always be unknown

S is for sshhhh

In my first post of this year’s April AtoZ Challenge, I mentioned that I had no specific theme. I’ve shared some flash fiction, some Easter thoughts, I’ve had a bash at some poetry. I also mentioned back in that first post that I would share about a ministry project I’m thinking and praying about.

I want to help individuals and churches get to grips with technology. I reckon Zoom and live streaming of services and conferences is here to stay. I have helped many people get used to Zoom and find their way around YouTube. I have also spoken to a number of people who are sorry they’ve let the internet and smart phones pass them by. One lady I spoke to recently said it never occurred to her that she would regret not being online, but in the last year she has, almost every day. Lockdown meant I couldn’t help her beyond a phone call, and in her case it was not enough. She told me that as soon as Lockdown eases, she wants some lessons. Others I’ve had similar conversations with need me to sit with them and walk/talk them through it. And that’s what I would love to do when Lockdown eases. Help individuals navigate smart devices and connection to the internet, also, help churches who have not been able to, but would like to try streaming services and/or have a social media presence.

I really wanted to name this ministry. I spent ages thinking of all sorts of clever names for it, then it struck me that the name needs to be ‘friendly’ and approachable, rather than cool. So today, S is really for… Sunflower Tech. At the moment it is still an idea, but I wanted a logo/image to focus on as I pray – and this is it. If you’re of the praying persuasion, please do pray for me. And let me know what you think…

btw the beautiful image of the sunflowers is a photograph taken by Graham Morley, who has generously allowed me to use it 🙂

R is for Reservoir

Today was the MIL’s birthday. Her second one in Lockdown, but thankfully, we didn’t have to stand at the bottom of her driveway and blow kisses. We were able to take her out. So we took a picnic to our local reservoir.

Llandegfedd Reservoir is about ten minutes from us in the car. Its restaurant is closed at the moment due to Covid restrictions, but they have opened a takeaway coffee shop. All three levels of their carpark face the lake and it’s a fabulous view. Rich and I go regularly, and REALLY missed it when it had to close. It also has a watersports centre for sailing and paddle boarding. But I just go for the coffee and the view.

Is there anywhere you are looking forward to visiting when stuff opens up? Or have you already been there? I’d love to hear 🙂

I have to say I’m excited and nervous about tomorrow’s post. It’ll be my first time to share my idea for what I’d love to do, now that I’m not working (as well as being a Pastor’s wife and a writer obvs 🙂 )

See you then… A x