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.

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 😀

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 🙂

O is for Overcomer

I’ve been taking Saturdays off from the AtoZ Challenge this year, instead of the traditional break on a Sunday. I’m finding Saturdays buy and tiring and Sunday evenings are far more relaxing…

So today’s word is Overcomer. In Romans 8, Paul writes,

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

The phrase ‘more than conquerors’ means the same as being an overcomer. But it’s not something we can do alone. We can only do it ‘through him who loved us.’ We see it regularly in Scripture – Jesus is the overcomer. Whenever we prevail, we do it through him and because of him!

In John 16:33 (NIV) Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John writes again in his letter, 1 John 5:4,5 (ESV) For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Have a listen to this fantastic Mandisa song on the theme. Turn it up loud, and dance like there’s noone looking 😀 x

See you tomorrow… A x

M is for Monday is Monday

I remember this day so clearly. It was funny and embarrassing, so of course I’m going to share it… It was the day I found out that Monday is Monday 😀

You know when you actually start to worry about yourself! Well it was one of those moments. It was Monday morning and I was leaving for work. I walked past my neighbour’s house and he had his bins out. That’s strange, I thought. Bin day isn’t until tomorrow. What is he doing with his bin out on a Monday? So I kept walking. Just around the corner from my house, is my hairdresser’s salon. As I walked past the window I spotted all his lights were on, and there he was doing someone’s hair. But his salon isn’t open on a Monday. He only opens Tuesday to Saturday.

So I’m like, hang on. Peter, my neighbour, has his bins out. And the hairdressers is open. It must be Tuesday. I was sure it was Monday. How can it be Tuesday? How did I miss Monday?

It’s only a five minute walk to my office but I’m not kidding you, I was in sheer panic, all the way down the road.

What is wrong with me?

Have I lost it?

Is my memory failing me?

I’m sure I was in church yesterday.

Yesterday was Sunday, wasn’t it?

By the time I got to my office I was in a panic. I walked up to the receptionist with a wild look in my eyes

“What day is it?”

She lookedat me like, huh?

“No seriously,” I said tapping the reception desk, “what day is it?”

“Monday,” she said, with a very concerned look.

I went to my desk but it took me the whole morning to relax and calm down. As I thought about it, I saw how easy it was for me to be discombobulated. How quickly a couple of different things made me doubt myself, my sanity and my memory.

I’m a Christian but I live in a world where most of what I believe is challenged. Not only is truth challenged. But that truth even exists is challenged. That day, I was reminded that Monday is still Monday. No matter what .

And God is still God, no matter what. No changing circumstances can change that. 🙂

B is for Blood

Today is Good Friday. There are so many things about the Crucifixion that blow my mind. But I’ve always been fascinated by the concept that blood of Jesus cleanses us. 1 John 1:7 says, “…the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Have you ever bled on your clothing? A cut on your hand which stains you sleeve or a sudden nosebleed that stains your shirt? Blood can be a nightmare to get out of fabric.

Yet the blood of Jesus, instead of leaving stains, does a purifying work. Not on fabric, but on our very souls. Jesus was innocent but died to save sinners from having to shed their own blood. Jesus’ blood is the only blood that removes stains instead of causing them. It’s amazing. And I am so grateful to God that I get to benefit from it.


The old hymn goes…

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

Oh, precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

See you tomorrow for C… A x

Stepping back into the light

I’ve been thinking about this post for a couple of weeks now. Not sure what to say or how to say it. Searching for the words to describe the last year or more honestly, without sounding like I’m grasping at the sympathy vote. Before COVID was a familiar talking point, before lockdowns were a thing, before facemasks were commonplace, I was already heading into isolation. I knew it was coming, I could feel it creeping up on me. The stress, the anxiety, the fear, the weight of perceived responsibility, the exhaustion, the disappointment in myself and worst of all, the distance between myself and God.

I cannot find who posted this but I give full credit to whoever it is. Sums it up perfectly.

At the end of December 2019, I shoved it all in a corner of my brain and we went to Ireland for Christmas. I had a fantastic time with my Irish family. I forgot about (well, ignored) my endless to do list, my inability to do my job properly and my lack of enthusiasm for church life. I was home and free and happy. But by the end of that trip I was ill; my usual winter lurgy, I thought. After we came home, I fell down a couple of steps hurting my already injured ribs. I went back to work for a few days, but after starting to cry when my boss asked me, “How are you doing?” I went home and rang the doctor’s surgery. In her treatment room I poured it all out. Sickness and pain, both inner and outer, which left me with no ability to pick up the load I had laid down before Christmas. The GP’s advice was to forget about even trying to go back to that life.
“For how long?” I asked. “I’ve loads to do.”
“You’ll know when you’re ready,” was her reply. I went home with my sick note, a prescription for the pain (both inner and outer), and sat down in an armchair. I sat in that chair every day for weeks. I didn’t cry again. I wasn’t pining for home. I didn’t want to binge eat. I wasn’t even sad. It didn’t feel like depression should feel. It didn’t feel like how it felt the last time. I was just empty.

It was clear that I could not return to the job I’d been doing, and should not return to all of the many calls on my time. It had never occurred to me that I could change things. I thought I was being lazy and selfish; a bad Christian and a BAD pastor’s WIFE (not a BAD PASTOR’S wife, you understand). But the doctor, and the pastor, and others I spoke to assured me that it was not only possible, but essential. I decided to give myself permission to only do what I could. I wanted to start running again but was worried colleagues might see me in the the park and think, she’s off sick, how comes she’s doing laps of the duck pond?

The Occupational Health doctor my employers put me in touch with, said I should get out there. He told me he’d prescribe it if he could. In his opinion, getting out doors and moving again is better than any pill he could give me. So I started an online couch to 2k, which went on to a 2 to 5k. I was running again and making good progress. This is me having just finished my first non-stop 5k. The elation I felt did indeed do more for me than the pills I’ve been taking (grateful as I am for them).

I’m officially finished work, but ‘under the doctor’ as they say in Wales. All this is just the start of my way back. I’m in no fit state to go job hunting. This is a time to reenergise, get my eating back on track, keep active, edit my book, and as from four weeks ago, venture back into church life. The irony is not lost on me, that I now wear an actual mask to church, at a time when I’m finally able to take the emotional one off.

I’m doing so so much better these days. Still have a way to go. But by God’s grace and love, I’m getting there.

Thanks for reading.
More soon. A x

Looking after the bricks and mortar

Helloooo! Am back after another blogging break. I have a good excuse though. I was nursing injured ribs. I almost called this post ‘Falling Slowly.’ I can remember every moment of the fall and the landing. I tripped over a few millimetres of crooked paving stone and landed with an extremely painful THUD! So I was out of action for a few weeks. Then I went on holidays…

We went on a road trip. Not as far and wide as we’d planned, due to my delicate condition. We went to Cirencester, the Cotswolds, Oxford, Kent, Chichester, Farnborough and our last day before returning to Wales, was a day in Bath. If you know me, you know I love Bath. I’m always up for a spot of Jane Austen spotting. But what really fascinated me on this visit was our walk around Bath Abbey. They have embarked on a major project of renovation and restoration. At the same time as repairing the collapsing floor, they are working on preserving the history of the building, and reducing their carbon footprint. They will be running the warm spa waters under the Abbey and utilising underfloor heating. It’s a super project called ‘Footprint’ and I’ll add the link below if you’d like to visit the Abbey website and read about it.

My first pastor regularly reminded us that the church is not just bricks and mortar. We met in a community centre and were delighted eventually to have our own permanent home in the loft space of a row of shops. But he kept reminding us, we were not get to caught up in our surroundings, but to get caught up with Jesus, and the Word of God.

As I entered Bath Abbey and saw the huge undertaking of restoration work, my old pastor’s words rang in my ears, and I confess I kinda snorted at what I could see happening. I know I know – a terrible attitude, but almost immediately God pulled me up on it…

God’s Word was all over the building. Each panel used to ‘fence off’ the renovation area had a Scripture verse on it. We found copies of The Lord’s Prayer in one of the small chapels, in a number of languages (including Welsh). There’s also an exhibition called, ‘Let My People Go.’ 23 beautiful pieces of work that reflect Bible stories from Creation, through to Moses.

Bath Abbey is definitely not JUST about the bricks and mortar, even though the bricks and mortar currently need some attention. I was blown away by it, I have to admit.

As I’ve spent some time healing from my injuries, I’ve been pondering my own efforts in physical restoration and renovation over the last few years. I continue to look after myself, staying active and trying to lose some more weight. But I too am not JUST about my bricks and mortar. I’ve written before about how I’ve mistreated this temple I’ve been given, and though I need to take care of my body, I also need to make sure I’m taking care of my spirit. I’m crumbling on the outside, there’s no denying it –  aches and pains, still carrying too much weight, laughter lines that have developed into hilarity tunnels. But… as long as there’s plenty of God’s Word on the inside, I reckon I’ll stay standing.

Go check out the Bath Abbey website… and do visit if you can. It’s a super place, inside and out 🙂 x