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

P is for Pollen

Hayfever sufferers like myself are not fans of pollen. It’s nothing personal 🙂 Our immune systems think pollen is a baddie and so overcompensate.

This is a snapshot of the metoffice.gov.uk website today for Wales. The pollen count is high, but I didn’t need to check the website to know that. I knew before I woke up. My eyes have been itchy all day, I can feel the tingling of a cold sore coming, and my nose is running. *sniff

Aswell as my antihistamine, and my inhalers, I have lip Vaseline, designated ‘nose only’ Vaseline and Zoviraz for the budding cold sore. I’m also wearing my sunglasses indoors as it helps with the itchy eyes. I am thankful for the good weather tho… so I’ll write a little ode to Pollen

Pollen Haiku
my poor eyes, they itch
a runny noise, tissue please
two words for pollen, bless you

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