The problem with weeds


I have been trying to come up with a recipe for living with weeds.

The back of our place is mostly paved, but there is a line of weeds running along the side of the building and it drives me nuts.

I wrote a piece for the ACW Lent anthology, a reflection on the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13. I came to the conclusion that, for now, God wants us to live with them.

It gave me an idea for a cool new devotional series called… wait for it…

Nettle Soup for the Soul!

What a nifty idea eh? 😀 A book of devotional pieces that don’t remove the sting, they just help you live with it.

Here’s the other tricky thing. Opposite our line of weeds, is a wall that has all sorts of things growing out of it and behind it. I was pulling them out when a friend told me I was pulling away at perfectly lovely… flowers. Can’t remember what she called them. So how am I supposed to know the difference? How am I supposed to recognise the bits of scraggy growth that have potential to bloom?

Only God knows what are pointless weeds and what will blossom, in the mean time, there’s mercy available until it’s time to get rid of them.

Anyone for nettle soup?

photo credit: nesson-marshall april-2018 – 30 via photopin (license)

Not much but more than enough


Have you ever read the story of the widow and the small jar of oil? You’ll find it at the beginning of 2 Kings 4. A woman whose husband had died, was left to deal with his debt. In that place and time, debt that could not be repaid, was dealt with in human life. The woman was awaiting the debt collector, who was on their way to take her two sons away, as payment. She cried out to Elisha, and his response was to ask her what she had. Her answer… a small amount of oil.

I worry that I’m spreading myself to thin these days. I’m just so busy all the time and my to-do list is endless. There just isn’t enough of me to go around. I worry that I’m not putting my heart and soul in to anything, cos I feel I can’t put it fully into everything. They say you should do 1 or 2 tasks to completion, rather than have  10 tasks on the go, but my life at the moment is not so straightforward. There isn’t much I can put down.

So I’m praying for some oil. Not just any old oil, a portion of oil that looks small and is worth little, but that will last; the way it lasted for the woman in the Bible story. Elisha sent out for jars. As they kept coming the oil kept coming; jar after jar. When there were no more jars, there was no more oil. The amount of oil was not endless, it was enough.

I used to think I needed endless supplies of everything to be happy. Loads of money, loads of time, loads of food, loads of technology, loads of ‘contacts’, loads of people and activity around me all the time. I’m working on changing my mindset and remembering that I just need enough.

At the moment, my severe shortage is time. I’ve been challenged recently by a friend’s use of hers. She is so super organised, and after reading about how she plans her day, I actually felt like half a person for a couple of days. In no way did she set out to make me feel like that. I was intrigued and asked her to tell me more about her daily planning. (You know that thing about being careful what you ask for…) I doubt I’d ever be able to get to where she is, but her system has challenged me to make better use of my time.

As part of that, I’m going to ask God to keep stretching my portion of oil for as long as I have jars to fill it. I DO NOT have enough time to get it all done, so I’m going to need some help while I try to get organised.

I don’t need tons. I just need enough.
I just need what I have to stretch a bit, until the jars stop coming!

photo credit: Symic BerryWhite via photopin (license)

K is for Kingdom Wall


OK I’m going to be brave and share a section of my first real effort at Christian fiction. You’re reading it on some conditions.

  1. Please don’t  go ‘heresy hunting ‘ (to coin Nick Park‘s phrase) – it’s a work in progress.
  2. It needs some major editing – it’s a work in progress
  3. I haven’t decided what to call everyone, the names have been changed. No disrespect intended to any character – it’s a work in progress
  4. Did I mention it’s a work in progress? I’m not even sure it’s a good one.

If you’re happy to read it on that basis, off you go… comments welcome here, on Facebook or Twitter  (be gentle) 🙂

KINGDOM WALL

Things had been different for a few days. You could sense a shift in the atmosphere.

When you live in the glorious surroundings I do, you can forget there’s another way to live. Most of my work these days is done here. For years I worked out on the front line, fighting for and protecting His subjects. Now others do it and I am more in an advisory capacity. But today everyone is at the wall.

Twice in recent days a legion was sent in response to the needs #2. This morning we were all called into full service ordered to be at Kingdom Wall. Kingdom Wall is not the end of the domain, there is no actual end to it; the wall marks the border of this realm.

This place has never been so quiet. We do not know what is about to happen, yet we know what is happening. I know that is a contradiction and may not make sense to you, but we have a different way of thinking to you. We have insight into the two realms at once – it means we know more but we don’t know all.

As I made my way to Kingdom Wall, I saw the returning legion who had been sent to the aid of #2. The ones sent for those jobs are a specially trained battalion, ready for whatever is needed, and don’t tire easily. They looked exhausted. No, they looked empty; as if they had given all that they had, but knew it would never be enough.

I got to my post and joined the line. As far as I could see, and I can see very far, regiments were lined up on the wall, all looking at the other realm. The feeling of intense pressure was on all of us as we watched the scene unfold. The ones who had just returned were being refreshed and had been given a fleeting time of leave. I was nervous that they weren’t there. They would be needed and I and many others would feel a lot better with them standing in the gap.

It is not easy, but let me try to explain the type of awareness I have.
You see one realm and may have some insight and connection with this realm – I don’t know you, so I’m not sure. I see two realms at once. I’m not aware of everything at all times. That is His remit. But I can be given full awareness if needed. I know what is being done and what the plan is. However, I don’t know all His thoughts and ways, and so my knowledge though full, is limited. I told you it was hard to explain. The reason I even bother to try is I want you to understand why what happened was so painful.

Sometimes I see across vast lands but where I was standing at Kingdom Wall, I could only see a small area where #2 was posted. I almost missed him. The light that surrounds him down there was blurred by enemy fire. But there he was – standing in what looked like an outdoor trial. There was no justice, no peace, no fairness. These are thing that, if present, I can see. They were not present.

There was screaming and shouting in both realms, so much so that it was hard to distinguish one realm from the other. For some time, we’d been having trouble communicating with certain ambassadors working on the ground. Now they were in complete rebellion – shouting the loudest for #2’s execution.

Have you ever loved? Have you ever seen the one you love be hurt? Do you know what it’s like to have the power to stop that hurt? And not be permitted to? I hope not.

I and my legion watched as they brought the lash down upon him. I looked at the gap in the line and winced as the stripes appeared on his back. Had you been here you’d have seen it, heard it, maybe even felt it. But I could see both realms and I could see the motive and attitude of those doing the beating. In fact, all those who called for the beating to be done also held whips that could only be see in our realm.

In the middle of it all, the beating, the blood, the crack of the whip, the sound of the cries of #2, I saw him. The Liar. Just for a split second – he joined the crown. He had the biggest whip of all. He was happier than I’d ever seen him. He was too close. It unnerved us all. We’d all seen him. I took a step forward in readiness. The gap in the line still gaping like the wounds being inflicted.

I checked to make sure what I already knew, #1 was in His place.

I looked back and saw #2 climb the hill – carrying his burden. It was all happening as He said it would, as we knew it would, yet I was ready to stop it.

I have witnessed many things in my existence. Horrific acts of violence, miraculous moments of love, and everything in between. I will never forget the sight and sound of the nails being driven into his hands. His cries were like that of every being that we had ever tried to protect, all resounding in one voice. At the sound of it, we instantly took aim without being ordered too. Some legions got into position to move. I looked up at #1, ready for an order that I knew was not coming.

The elite legion, anxious to be deployed, were held back by their obedience. There was confusion among us as another nail went in. Some behind me, younger less prepared maybe, were pushing forwards, wondering why we had not moved. They knew that no order had come, maybe they hoped that they’d missed something.

BANG!       BANG!

Another nail and another cry. I confess I got angry. This was beyond anything #2 had ever been asked to endure. Legions had been sent to protect him before, why not now?

I looked up again and a captain was on his knees in front of  #1, begging to be let go forward.

As the cross was lifted, you could see the pain as the weight of #2’s body pulled on the nails. I had watched that body grow from conception. We marvelled how he lived in the impure realm and remained pure. Now he was filthy with the debts of everyone piled upon him.  We watched, we waited. I’d never been helpless or useless before that day.

A cold shadow fell on us. I thought the arch-enemy had tried to pay us a visit, he loved a good snigger and scorn when it looked like things were going his way; today it looked like it – but it was not him.

All this time #1 had been looking at #2. His sovereign gaze had never shifted. The slight chill of the shadow made us jump a little. I looked to #1 as the shadow of his turning presence fell across both realms. It was the first time I saw him turn away from #2, who was obvious pain. Excruciating, life-sucking pain, but when the gaze of Him moved away, #2’s face changed from a man in pain to a man encompassed in devastating despair and horror. The grief in his eyes at the knowledge that he was no longer in the protection of #1. I can’t even describe it.

He cried out and asked the question that we were all asking. Why, have you forsaken me?

At that question, one of the legion broke through the barrier. He didn’t make it very far. Tripped up by his own disobedience, he fell weeping at the foot of Kingdom Wall. It is said that he will never be the same, until all is reconciled…

April Fool!


OK so my ‘A’ post is not sticking to my AtoZ theme.
I’ll just say this and get back to my theme tomorrow…

This year Easter Sunday is on April Fool’s Day.
I can see the memes already.

But you don’t need to tell me I’m a fool. I know who and what I am. I’m an eejit. 1st class, top quality. I’m in a constant state of eejit-ness.

I read some incredibly sad ‘In her shoes’ stories as part of the campaign to repeal 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution. I too believe women deserve better that the current options they have, but I still believe that ending the life of the unborn is wrong. Many people I know and love disagree. If the law needs to change so that pregnant woman are better cared for then, YES! Let’s do that. But a complete removal of protection of the unborn is just wrong.
I don’t say it often enough. If I did many would call me a fool, and worse.

I second guess and question myself all the time. Even as I write this, I dread anyone reading it. Weight loss is at a bit of a stand still. And though I’m determined not to go back, I’m annoyed not to have reached my first main goal of minus 6 stone. I worry about my writing, I worry about my performance in work. I worry about my role as a deacon in the church. What kind wife I am. What kind of Pastor’s wife I am. What kind of Christian I am.

I spend most of the time feeling like a fool.
Regrets…? I’ve had a few, too many to mention!

In and of myself there are no redeeming qualities. I am so disappointed with myself. All. The. Time.

But… the very reason I’ll be called a fool on April 1st is the only redeeming quality I can claim.

I don’t believe in self-reliance. If I am all I have, then I am in big trouble! There is only one person I can 100% rely on, and that his God. But I cannot come near him because I am a fool. I am an imperfect blundering blithering idiot. That’s where Good Friday comes in. That’s where the Cross comes in. Not just my idiocy, not just my idiosyncrasies, but all my sinful shame. All dealt with. On the cross. The only redeeming quality I own, does not belong to me. The only redeeming quality I can claim is Jesus’ redeeming work on at the Cross. He took it all, and in Him, only in Him, am I worth anything.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:25, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” On this Easter Day, I’ll be praising God for all He has done for me, and praying that His foolishness, replaces mine 🙂

Happy Easter x

Half way there and still such a long way to go…


So in my last post I  promise to fill you in on my change of plan for #NaNoWriMo2017.

I was all set to work on my second novel (first one is still in a drawer btw), but changed my mind at the 11th hour and decided to work on a non-fiction book that I’ve been pondering for a while. All about the weight.

We’re at Day 15 of NaNoWriMo, I’m behind par, and a bit stuck. I’m confident that this is a book I’m supposed to write. At the moment it’s called “Have Mercy on me, O Lord, a slimmer.” It was supposed to be fun and funny to write. But actually it’s tough going.

Non-fiction – truth, is so much harder to write that fiction. With fiction you can write a dream, write the impossible. You can make the doorbell ring and have who ever you like in the known universe on the other side of the door. Make the turn of events happen any way you like. You can write the happy ending.

They say the truth will set you free, but it’s a lot harder to craft because – it is what it is. It can be a terrifying thought when you’re used to lying to yourself. I’ve found that I can’t write about losing weight over the last couple of years, without searching why I put it on over the last 30 years.

I’ve been blogging on and off for about 10 years, writing fiction for about 5 years. This is the first thing I’ve felt compelled to write. I’d rather leave it and go back to my novel. Too late now, it’s Day 15 and I’ve another 30,000 words of truth to get out. This struggle to write, coincides with the most difficult diet week in the 18 months. I just want to eat everything.

If you’re a prayer, please pray for me. The battle is on!

This is my song at the moment 🙂

Memories, like the corners of my mind


I love the Facebook memories function. I enjoy looking back at them; most of the time they are a good laugh. One day last week, some memories popped up that threw me back to what was a very dark time, and I suddenly realised how far I’ve come.

When we moved back to Ireland in 2007 I was in a bad way. I finally let out the sadness that I’d been holding in for a long time. I was on mild medication and going to counselling. I thought that was the beginning of the end; but it turned out to be the beginning of the slow road back to health and strength.

I’m surprised to see myself smiling in the memory photos; inwardly I felt like I was crumbling. Even my hair was awful. I remember coming home from the hairdressers and I cried my eyes out. It didn’t take much to make me cry, but I was so upset by the hatchet job I’d ended up with. Maybe I was too dazed I didn’t communicate properly. I’m sure I showed her a photo, but whatever happened I pretty much ended up with a crew cut. I looked as dreadful as I felt.

The photos are of a holiday we were taking in South East of Ireland in 2008. Friends let us stay in their holiday home. It was a refuge we were grateful for. It was in the middle of nowhere, with no wifi and hardly any phone signal. Just what we needed. Richard was doing a lot of reading and studying for Bible college and sermon prep. I would sit on the floor each day with my guitar, singing and crying to God. It was the lowest I had ever been. I felt sure I’d never recover. I was convinced I was going to die of sadness. It was like I’d saved it up for years; it all came out in one go. Seriously, how I’m smiling in those pics, I don’t know. I remember feeling so empty.

It’s hard to believe the difference. And I suppose that’s the point of this post really. To say that things can change. I didn’t believe God would be ‘the strength of my heart’ – even though I sang it through tears, sitting on that floor.

After my mam died in 2005, God had led to me a beautiful verse which I had taped to my monitor in work. 1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. I had been hanging on to that hope. I didn’t just want restoration. I wanted it to be true that “he himself” would restore me, even though I did not believe he would.

Over time though, it has become true for me. I feel stronger, firmer and more steadfast than I ever have. That’s not to say that I don’t have rough days,  just flick through some old posts here and you’ll get the drift.

I just want to encourage anyone who feels overwhelmed with sadness. It can change. God can turn your mourning into dancing. It takes time, and a lot of clinging on. He does it though; I promise.

Better than that… HE promises.

Don’t give up! One day, these sad days will be memories.

A x

Walking off the worry


I’ve had a very unnerving few weeks.

That sounds so much better than, “I’ve been worried sick for the past few weeks.” We’re told so often in the Bible not to worry. I think it might the hardest command to follow.

I had a couple of hospital appointments for tests that were potentially series but ‘just precautionary’. When they were scheduled I was actually fine about them, but too much time can play with the mind. As the days passed I got more anxious (another word for worrying) and struggled to stay calm.

I drove myself to the first one. It was early, so there was very little traffic about. I had left myself plenty of time to park in a multi story and walk the half a mile to the hospital. As I drove, I asked God for a clean bill of health. I’d already spent a several years attending that hospital some time ago. I didn’t want to be a regular there again.

I know the carpark well and its name, but I wasn’t thinking about it. I parked up and walk down the road; the road shares the same name as the carpark.

I continued in my prayers and, as panic set in, my prayers became frantic – a series of what, why and where questions. I took a few deep breaths and calmed down a bit. The calm prayers returned. “As long as I’m on your path for me Lord, I am fine. Help me know that whatever happens, this is part of our journey together.”

And there is was on a street sign ahead of me, the name of the carpark and the very road I was walking along.

Kingsway.

I was on Kingsway.

I must have driven down that road a thousand times and parked there almost as many. I’d never seen it before.

My steps were more confident from then on. What ever was ahead, He was with me. He answered my worrying (there, I said it), with a small gift; a reminder that the road I’m on in life is the King’s way; come what may.

I thank God that the results I received over the next couple of days were all negative. But in that moment of uncertainty I was being held and held up. Walking in the Kings way, with the King Himself.

If you ask me, it’s the only way to travel.

After more hate, there’s more love


It’s hard to comprehend what is going on in our world in these days.

Acts of terrorism and tragic events which I was used to thinking about happening ‘over there’ are now happening  less than a couple of hundred miles from me. It shouldn’t make them more terrifying or tragic to me, but it does.

Most people who know me, disagree with me, but I’m loved by many of them. Lots of my nearest and dearest think the opposite to me on most things about faith and social issues, but I thank God (even if they don’t) that we’re able to hug, and laugh and sing and dance together. It is possible! I don’t know how anyone DOUBTS there is a God; but many, if not most, do.

You might be one of those who reckon that love and compassion were invented by John Lennon and the Dalai Lama. I BELIEVE WITH ALL MY HEART they were invented by God – the Bible tells me that and I believe it. But though you may disagree with me about where love comes from, can we at least agree that it is FANTASTIC that it’s still there?! Despite all that’s happened, in vast quantities, in the form of blankets, money, a bag of toiletries from Asda, someone’s spare room, someone’s spare jeans – love really is conquering all.  The stories of the mighty courage of first responders running into danger to do their jobs just blows me away.

There’s that stop-you-in-your-tracks quote flying around at the moment from Maya Angelou, “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.” Amazing words, from an inspired woman.

Here are some more amazing words, from Jesus. “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt 5:43,44)

I’m not saying that no Christian has ever said a hateful thing, but hate is not Christ’s way. I’m sorry for the times I’ve been a bad ambassador for Jesus, or just a bad human being. I believe the world needs His counsel more than ever. Disagree with me if you like, but give us a hug first. If you’re not into hugs, then let me put the kettle on. Cos I love you, and so does HE!

Inspired by Austen (oh and by the way, I’m back!)


Hello there,

after 7 months of being in the writing wilderness, I have returned. An updated look, and a fresh perspective.  I deliberately stopped writing for a while. I felt dry and empty of words, and so concentrated on my health and fitness. Walking, running, gymming (I’m not sure ‘to gym’ is a verb but more here on that one, and it’s -5 stone now). Also spent time working, reading, singing and praying..

I’ve felt for a while that I was making my way back to writing. This week a couple of things happened that sealed the deal. One of them was a trip to hear Lucy Worsley talk about Jane Austen. It was a great event. She was entertaining, engaging, and stylish with it. Had it been the payday and not the day before payday, I’d have bought her book and got her to sign it, but I’ll get my hands on it at some stage.

It was a joy to sit in a room of avid fans. All avid fans of Worsley, if not of Austen. One thing that struck me was that she didn’t dwell on Austen’s books, or even her as a writer, but of Austen as a woman. I kept having to remind myself we weren’t talking about Lizzy Bennett or Emma Woodhouse – we were talking about their creator (small ‘c’ 😀 ). She debunked the myth of the cold and bitter spinster and described a passionate woman, whose writing was fighting talk, in a society that sat women down; with elegance and modesty of course.

It reminded me how much I love Jane Austen’s writing; how much I love to write, and how much I miss it. So here I am, back at the laptop; delighted to see so many of you still around.

More soon x

The A to Z of the Pastor’s Wife – Z is for Zig Zag


ZZ is for Zig Zag

So, here we are at the end of the challenge. I’m so glad I made it. I didn’t quite do it last year.

I feel that I’ve Zig-Zagged and wandered a lot in my thoughts over this A to Z Challenge. Thanks again for your comments and likes and for sticking with me.

This PW thing is still very new to me, and I’ve used the A to Z to think out loud about the questions and concerns that I have. For all my bravado and chuckles, I don’t want to make a pig’s breakfast of the whole thing. These posts have been helpful to me and the responses from readers has encouraged me to see the merits of some worries and meaningless of others. So thanks for that.

I do most things in a Zig Zag style. I’m a bit of a here, there and everywhere person, but that’s not always a bad thing. Let’s call it flexible. 🙂 Being someone who can zig zag will hopefully help when some unexpected stuff comes. I’ll be able to adapt and change. I just hope that over time, I will learn to balance that flexibility with consistency. I’ve a lot to learn, but lots of time to learn it.

In the mean time, by God’s grace and with himself beside me, I’ll do my best to be a good PW.

Farewell AtoZ friends. See you for the tour 🙂