Category Archives: Family

Love them!

The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – M is for Mammy


MM is for Mammy

OK before we start, I know ‘what if’ is a bit of a waste of time, especially when there is absolutely no way of knowing the answer to the question.

But…

There are two that have been rolling around my head for a while.

  1. What would my mammy of me being a pastor’s wife?
  2. Would I be better at this, if I was a mammy?

See I told you there wasn’t much point in the questions! So why can’t I get them out of my head?

I hope my mam would like what I’m doing now. When I started down this journey of faith, she wasn’t very happy. She was hurt, and worried that I was not on the path that I’d been brought up to travel on. I didn’t react well to her reaction and so, when it came to conversations about faith, there were a few difficult years. Over time I think she realised it was right for me. She got on great with himself and I know she really enjoyed our wedding day; and travelling to Wales to visit us when she did.

I am not sure what she would think of this development. I hope she’d be happy about this part of the journey too.

As for question 2. Well, the problem there is, I always think I’d be better at stuff if I was a mammy. I’m sure I’d be great at getting up early, more organised, more tidy, more patient, more sociable, skinnier, taller, faster, I’d have shiny hair AND shiny floors… See where I’m going with this? pointless.com!

There’s no doubt I’d have a better understanding of family life and the issues parents face, if I was one. I suppose I’m hoping that whatever the gaps in my knowledge and experience, God will fill them. I pray He will give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know Him better. (Eph 1:17)

If I have that, then maybe all the stuff I don’t know (what ifs included), won’t matter so much.

What’s love got to do with it?


Yesterday I was at a thanksgiving service for the life of a truly lovely lady.

372846331_e0b4166757_nIt was the first funeral I’ve been to since my Dad died in last March, so it caught me by surprise. I was sad to be saying goodbye to a woman who I was delighted to have as an aunty when I got married.  But I was not upset. She had a sure and certain hope of eternity with God, and we gathered to thank God for her life; rejoicing in hope that we would one day see her again.

What got me though – what caught me so that, for a just a few seconds, I could not get air in my lungs – was the open grave.

I’ve been to many funerals in my life, but the site of an open grave did not give me real pain, until my mother’s body was committed to the ground 10 years ago. And just last year when my dad was buried, I felt that same sharp pain of seeing the coffin lowered. It’s not easy to watch.

Different from my usual ‘Irish’ experience of funerals, my aunty was buried first. Then we went to the church for a service and some food. I liked it that way around, we did the hardest bit first.

3343669051_09d15d75df_nThe sight of an open grave though… the idea of putting someone you love in there… it made me think of when Jesus’ friends had to ask permission to take his body down. Then they placed Him in the borrowed tomb; someone else’s grave. No polished coffin with a brass name plate. No flowers, or photos of him. John 19 tells us that  His body was treated with spices and wrapped in cloths… by his own friends.

I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been.

A bit dismal for Valentine’s Day?

4744229511_c88aaa2d22_nWell, yesterday, people paid tribute to a woman who loved her family and loved her God. A woman who was loved by her God. We could place her body in that ugly open grave, comforted by resurrection truth.

It was all for love; God so LOVED THE WORLD that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

So no matter who responds, no matter who believes – we are ALL loved.   xx ❤

 

photo credit: Six Feet Under via photopin (license)
photo credit; Garden Tomb 07 via photopin(license)
photo credit: Like This, I Love You, as You Smile so Light as the Water of the Spring…. via photopin (license)

Someone’s on the naughty list…


I have broken my very own rule of not leaving my blog idle for weeks on end. As a reader of blogs, I really don’t like to visit one, only to find it dusty and in need of a fresh post. And here I am, rocking up for the first time since Halloween!

Naughty Amo!

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The Poolbeg Lighthouse & the east coast of Ireland

I do have reasons (excuses) for my absence though. It’s a frantic time for me at the moment. I’m 5 days away from relocating to the UK. If you missed that bit of news, you can catch up here.  I’m trying to pack my life into boxes, say goodbye to people, clear the decks as it were, and… AND I’m battling one of my winter lurgies. *cough *splutter

Yeah, yeah, I know, poor me, boo hoo… 🙂
I would be a firm proponent of the ‘let nothing stop you from writing’ ethos, but I have indeed let things stop me. Busyness, tiredness, coughing, crying, more crying, packing, and a heart bursting with emotion at the thought of leaving my homeland.

I hate goodbyes and because my days are full of them, I don’t want to write them. And it’s not just goodbye to Ireland, and my family & friends. It’s goodbye to an era, as we experience the first Christmas without my dad in the world. He WAS Christmas to us, and to think we’ll never gather in our family home on Christmas morning again is hard. Very very hard.

So I have allowed the pen to dry up a bit as I pack stuff, hug people and eat chocolate.

HEY! people keep buying it for me, what am I supposed to do…?

Not sure if I’ll be back here before 2015, So I want to thank you all for reading, and the support you’ve given me during the year as I’ve wrestled with loss, and rambled on about it here.

Here’s to another year of words. There might even be a few good ones.

I’m thankful to each and every one of you who has liked, followed, commented or just popped in for a quick read. Have a great Christmas all.

auntyamo x

photo credit: Corey Leopold via photopin cc

She’s Leaving Home


Well hello there 🙂

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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)

Crying with Laughter


I met a friend recently and the idea was that we would get together to write for a couple of hours. Spur each other on with a fantastic word count. Almost an hour and a half (and a pot of coffee with biscuits) later, we had done no writing. Well, we had not written anything down. We’d spent the time story telling.

We reminisced about family life, losing our mothers and the painful hilarity of grief.

There’s no doubt that for both of us, losing our mammies was hard. But the stories we shared about their last days and the time spent giving them their final farewell were full of laughter mixed with tears.

I think the release from grief that laughter brings, is a fantastic gift from God. I of course am sad that my mother is no longer around, but the couple of weeks before she died that I spent with my 7 siblings is very precious to me. So many people don’t get to say goodbye to loved ones. I feel very blessed that for two weeks I got to sit by my mother’s bedside and laugh and cry with my siblings as we watched her slowly drift away from us. 

I had the rare chance to sit alone with her, at this stage she wasn’t conscious. Quietly, I sang ( a very ropey version of)  ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You’, the Rutter version, to her as she slept. It’s a precious moment that is, in equal measure joyful and painful.

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Sunshine and Rain together 🙂

So much sadness, and yet we two friends were able to laugh and laugh as we remembered precious sad/funny times with people we love and the loss of the women who bore us.

I’m a firm believer that God has a sense of humour, I’ve looked in the mirror… 🙂
I think it’s a measure of his grace that He has allowed me to ease the pain of loss by giving me moments and memories that make me laugh, or at least smile.

They say you have to take the good with the bad, and the rough with the smooth – it’s so much easier when they come at the same time.

photo credit: josemanuelerre via photopin cc

Letter to 15 Year Old Me


On the About Aunty Amo page I added an option for people to ask me questions. A question that came back to me is ‘If you could write a letter to your 15 year old self what would you say to her?’ So here’s the answer… 🙂

Dear Amo

dispic me

Despicable Me

you won’t recognise me but I’m the older, bigger, more frightened, less stupid & probably at first glance, disappointing ‘you’ 27 years from now.

I doubt anything I say will change you – if mam couldn’t get through then no one will, but here’s a few things to keep in mind.

In about 7 years from now, you’ll have a religious conversion that will frighten the life out of a lot of people around you. It will really annoy others – YOU will really annoy others. It’ll take you a while to get the hang of it but you will.
Keep moving forward.

Those nieces and nephews you have… well they’ll keep coming. Every year, there’ll just be another one. And just when your brothers and sisters stop providing them, the grand nieces and nephews will start arriving. Based on the ones you have at the moment, that might sound like a nightmare (I mean they’re great – but you’re talking about another 30 or so…and counting), but believe me they’ll give your life meaning that you have no ability to understand right now. You’ll end up with lots of babies to hold; and you’re gonna need them.

You will not marry L, D or P. That will seem like a bad thing at the time. IT IS A GOOD THING! You will however marry R. 🙂 And he will think you’re wonderful. You will never get used to how wonderful he thinks you are. In fact you’ll go out of your way to prove him wrong. Try not to do that too much; he’s wonderful too.

Your heart is going to be broken; more than once. I don’t mean by L, D or P. I mean your heart is going to be almost crushed – a few times over the years. The key word here is ‘almost’. You will make it. You’ll think you won’t survive, or be happy again, or even be able to keep breathing.
You will. Honestly… listen…
Hear that? Another breath. They do keep coming.

That religious conversion I mentioned earlier? I played it down a bit but it’ll be the single most transformational thing that’ll happen to you. You’ll still end up 42, overweight, frustrated and often very sad. But you’ll have an eternal perspective on things, a hope that makes no sense, a joy that keeps you strong and a relationship with God that will LITERALLY save your life.

Oh and you’ll end up working for a guy called Rob Parsons. He will say lots of great things, but one of the things you’ll remember above all others will be,
“You’re not as great as you think you are and you’re not as bad as you think you are.”
It’ll turn out to be very helpful advice.

amo permKeep singing, keep writing & keep your chin up. Amo x

ps You were right about The Cure – amazing
pps You were wrong about the perm – disastrous

Oh My Papa


Christy Keeley April 1930 -  Feb 2014

Christy Keeley April 1930 – Mar 2014

On Monday 3rd my dad breathed his last after almost 84 years. He’d been unwell for a couple of months and just 2 weeks ago moved into a great nursing home, with staff who were very caring of him and us.

In some ways I lost my Dad in 1985 when I was 13. He was knocked down by a car and sustained a massive head injury which he battled with until he died. I know my mam found it very hard at times. Over the years he came back to us a little – he certainly didn’t lose his sense of humour or his love of a drink and a sing song. Thankfully, we had lots of moments where his real personality got out in front of the struggles he had with mental health. He had a great ability to tell a story you’d already heard (more than once) and still make you laugh. He had an endless supply of songs and energy to sing them. And the combination of his and mam’s love of music and parties, and just being together was passed on to us.

At the funeral last week, my brother mentioned that we had trouble keeping up with him. We really did! Right up to the last couple of months he was constantly on the go. And right up to the last few days he had great intentions to keep going.

He loved Christmas. No really… he LOVED Christmas. And he was always prepared well in advance. Another trait he passed on. One of my abiding memories of him is his work ethic. I used to say that my leg would have to fall off before he’d let me take a day off school. And even then he’d ask if I could carry it!

I’m still in shock to be honest and have all the usual ‘why didn’t I…?’ questions rolling around my head. But although we spent a lot of time worrying about him, he was as happy as larry most of the time. So I’m going to remember his life and sense of humour. His hilarious stories and comprehensive Christmas card list. His lively singing voice and charming smile.

“No better man” was a phrase he used a lot. But I love that he didn’t only use it about himself. “No better man” and “No better girl” was a compliment given to us all at one stage or another. He didn’t mind sharing the title.

I’m sorry I never got to talk to him about my book. He did talk to others about it and was surprised that I was able to write so many stories. When that report came back to me I was laughing & thinking… “eh hello… and where did I get that from do you think???”
But I did find his copy of my book with a little note on it and like most things after the owner is gone – it’s all the more precious.

No better endorsement :)

No better endorsement 🙂

This weekend we’ll be thinking of him and my mam as it is her 9th anniversary. It’s a strange thing to have no parents any more. But I’m so blessed to have had them both as my parents. And I know my family feel the same.