The April A to Z brings me back


It’s been a while. Too long! I am, however back and looking forward to delighting you all with my excogitations and ministrations. 🙂

I have decided to launch into my favourite blogging event of the year. The April A to Z Blogging Challenge. Last year I didn’t finish it, but it’s always one of the funnest things to do. It’s a great way to connect with other bloggers, find new people to follow and some new readers too. If you’re interested, you still have a few days to sign up before the list closes. I’m number 1,617! There’s room for one more…

a-to-z banner 2016 2

My theme this year is “The A to Z of being a Pastor’s Wife.” I have been a Pastor’s wife now for 4 months, so obviously I know all there is to know *coughs* and am ready to share my wisdom. 😀

OK so I still have oodles of stuff to learn. God has shown me things about myself that I had not seen before (or maybe things I had just ignored). I’ve also seen the beloved in a new light, and am learning to let him be my Pastor too. We live ‘on site’, which has its own blessings and challenges. And we are loved, so unbelievably loved, by people we’re just getting to know. It’s been an amazing few months and I’m looking forward to sharing some of my thoughts on these early days.

So! After a break from writing, I’m delighted to getting back into the daily habit.

I’m really glad you’re still here – oh faithful readers. Thank you! xx

And I’ll see you bright and early, on April 1st 🙂

A is for Absolutely Astraddle (and ‘Adiaphora’)


AIt’s Day 1 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and I still haven’t come up with a theme. I considered Bible characters, Bible verses, Hymns or Songs, great theological writers… but I couldn’t decide.

So here I am on day 1 thinking of holy ‘A’ words.

Annmarie…?  nah I don’t think so.

Ann, is a form of Hannah, who I believe was the mother of Mary; and of course, Marie comes from Mary. So, even though Annmarie is made up of the names of Jesus’ mammy and granny, when you put them together you end up with me. That knocks holiness out of play 🙂

However, I had a rummage around for an interesting ‘A’ word that might be closer to holiness than my own name; and I found this word, ‘adiaphora’

TheFreeDictionary.com tells us that it is, “a Christian Protestant theological theory that certain rites and actions are matters of indifference in religion since not forbidden by the Scriptures.”

The concept itself is familiar to me but I didn’t realise it had a name. If you think about it, it’s a big part of Christian life. When we think of guidance for some of the big things we ‘choose’ – spouses, jobs, money, which church to attend etc – there are few hard and fast rules. We know we should work, and should gather together in fellowship, and should be good stewards of what we have – using it wisely etc. But although I know I shouldn’t work in a brothel, there is nothing in the Bible to say that I shouldn’t be a civil servant, accountant, hairdresser or dog groomer.

We’re not told what person to marry, how much is too much to spend on a house, or whether a church is holier with or with or without a pipe organ or drum kit. We’re to use our wisdom and discernment, seeking God’s guidance and will for our lives.  I also believe this connects to preference and diversity. I don’t see all the varied styles of church as disunity or contradiction. I see them as a gift from God. We’re all different and have different likes and bugbears. So He has made a vast range of worship styles and building shapes, so that we can – with all our foibles and oddities – find a place to worship Him in, and a group of people to worship Him with.

So here’s to adiaphora!

I only hope that my search reveals more interesting words for the rest of the alphabet.

Happy A to Z to you all,
Amo x

Guest Post by Ruth Gyves: the Twists & Turns of Life


A warm welcome to my guest on the blog today – Ruth Gyves 🙂 She was with me on the Wednesday Night show on Spirit Radio this week. I’ll let her tell her story…

Last Wednesday night, I made my debut on Spirit Radio. I was the guest on the lovely Annmarie Miles’ show. We spent time chatting about finding God in the twists and turns of life, in the context of some of my own life experiences. Here is a summary of our discussion.

Ruth Gyves
Ruth Gyves

I am an ordinary person living an ordinary life – my story doesn’t consist of thunderbolts and lightning! I am from Dublin, the youngest of a family of 5 and was brought up in a church going family; I had a great childhood. At the age of 11, at a camp in Greystones I responded to the verse in Revelation 3:20 that says ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in’. I had just discovered it was not automatic that I would get to heaven, and the guarantee I sought was to ask Jesus into my heart. Simple? At that age it seemed so, but of course life is not that simple. The journey begun on that camp so long ago, has consisted of many twists and turns but has always brought me back to knowing that no matter what I go through, God is real; His love for me is real, his forgiveness is absolute and he gives peace, hope and security that nothing else can give.

As I reached the end of my teens, I had a ‘burning bush’ experience at another camp when I could almost hear God speaking from a bonfire. I couldn’t actually hear him speak, but the sense of his presence was so strong, I knew there was more to this Christian life than just the security of heaven.

I married in 1984, have 3 grown up children and a beautiful granddaughter, Amelia who is 5 years old. Over the years, life has thrown many surprises at me such as the breakup of my marriage, bringing up 3 children through difficult teenage years, and walking with my 18 year old daughter (and my sons) through the loss of her little baby, Ruby.

Some months before my daughter became pregnant, I didn’t know why but my heart was stirred to ask 3 people from my church to pray for my children. I can’t help but wonder how we would have got through that difficult year, if I hadn’t had that prayer cover. I don’t know why it all happened, and I might never know, but I do know that God was very real to me in the pain and sadness we experienced.

medium_534074080So many negative things happened at once; the illness and subsequent death of my dad, a wayward teenage daughter and a long drawn out divorce process. My closeness to God was not as strong as it is now but I was conscious of God walking with me and hanging on to me when my grip was slipping. Often it was hard to put on my positive face and keep going – times when getting through a whole day was difficult, so I broke my day down into slots – breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner, dinner to bedtime! As time went on, I was able to look at whole days together and things became less difficult.

How did I find my way back? How did I find God again in the twists and turns?

Four key practical things that got me through, and continue to strengthen me on my journey are these:

Prayer
I pray about everything, all the time! I used to give God a list of issues and how I thought he should ‘solve’ them. God often has different ideas and I have learned that praying for God’s solution is better. I was unemployed during 2009 and through that year I saw God’s provision for me in a very real way. One month when money was very short, an anonymous bank draft for exactly the amount I needed came in the post. I believe that God’s way of answering my cry was to prompt someone who knew my plight to respond through generosity.

The Bible
The book of Psalms is a great place to start. I have found endless strength and encouragement in reading the writings of David and others, in all sorts of situations. Psalms like 46 ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ or 62 ‘My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.’ It’s through reading the bible that I have learned so much about the God in whom I trust and rely on. If I want to know about someone famous, I’ll read about them – if I want to know about God, then reading Scripture is exactly where I’ll find him.

Writing/Journaling
Writing has been a great way to make sense of it all. I write anything – prayers, thoughts, rants, poetry. It has been a huge encouragement to me to look back over the many many notebooks I have written in and see how God has led me and ‘worked it all out’. Just like the children of Israel – it was when they looked back, they could see all God had done for them. I write about hopes and dreams, reviews at the end of the year – anything and everything. One day I’ll write a book…

People
This may be the most important. I am blessed with people in my life who have supported and challenged me. I have also found it essential to be part of a church family where I can learn and grow with other people who love God and are willing to walk with me on my journey. We were not made to be alone – finding someone to walk with me, cry with me, laugh with me, bless me and encourage me has been vital in finding my way through the storm.

There is so much more that I could have shared on the show if time had allowed – and so much more I could share here. Perhaps this might not be the last you’ll hear of me!!
Ruth 🙂

photo credits:
Ruth supplied her own photo
Mary Anne Thygesen via photopin cc

Five Minute Friday – Worship


Five Minute Friday… five minutes of unedited, non stop writing on this week’s given theme ‘Worship’

Let us enter a time of worship…

Worship the Lord in spirit and in truth…

This is your spiritual act of worship…

Let us continue to worship God with our offering…

Sing songs of worship…

The word worship is a strange one. On the one hand you get this idea of sacred, reverend moments where everything and everyone else is put to aside and God is held above all others. Maybe not actually kneeling down; but certainly assuming a solemn position.

But on the other hand there is a picture of simple daily living. Making decisions and performing tasks in the light of love and mercy that have already been given. A willingness to surrender all power and possessions.

I reckon worship can be elaborate and extravagant. But I don’t think it has to be.
It can be simple and quiet and almost invisible to the passer-by.

worship

Whether you’re swinging from the rafters in praise, or sitting quietly – worship is only worship when it’s happening on the inside. I was once told that your relationship with God is only as authentic as the form it takes when no one but He can see you.

Click the image to find about more about Five Minute Friday
Five Minute Friday

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

13 years ago I didn’t marry my soul mate


On Monday myself and Sir Galahad were 13 years married.

Personally I think we’re lucky to have made it! I often envy people’s FB posts that say, “x amount of years ago I married my best friend, my soul mate!” I’m like… really? Well you’re lucky. Cos I did not marry my best friend and definitely didn’t marry my soul mate. In fact I hardly knew him, but I sure did (and do) love him.

Over the 13 years we have become best friends and I’m not really sure what a soul mate is, but he’s probably the nearest thing to I have to one – apart from Jesus. (Who I think probably wins the prize actually.)

We’ve had 13 years of hard slog. Grieving over lost loved ones, lost hopes of having children, fighting depression and they’re just the issues I can put out on the world-wide web. Email me for a full list if you’d like. (You won’t get one, but it would be good to know who are the nosey-parkers :D)

It’s been difficult and there have been times when I thought… “you know what? I can’t be bothered with this any more…” But thank God I came to my senses.

19th August 2000
19th August 2000

So… you may wonder are we celebrating at all and do we have anything to celebrate?

YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT.

We have made it to another year, another milestone. We know folk who struggle with marriage issues and don’t make it. Many are sad to break up, some are relieved – because it’s easier and just better not to be together.
And I get that – believe me, I get that.

But we are celebrating and thanking God that we have won the latest battle; even though there’s no doubt there are more to come. But for now we trust Him, and we stand together
in victory, weapons ready, armour on.
Cos it’s the only way we are going to make it!

amo and rich 2012
September 2012
somewhere nr Kenmare

Thank you God for another year.
Thank you God for 13 years.
Bring it on!

NB! No husbands were injured in the writing of this post, (Well mine wasn’t, in fact he approved it!)

Between a thing and a whatsit…


I’m about to read a book, that I’m hoping will change my life.  

Don’t worry, I haven’t gone mad 🙂 I’ve never been a fan of self-help books. A number of them have been recommended to me over the years, but I haven’t ever read anything that has influenced me more than the Bible. I’m not saying I rule out everyone else’s wisdom. I read ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey and that, and his book ‘First Things First’ had a huge impact on my working life.
In general though, I’m not one for that genre.

The-In-Between_KD-171x260But my interest has been piqued by Jeff Goins new book ‘The In-Between’. I’m taking Jeff’s ‘Tribe Writers’ course and am really enjoying it. I’m encouraged to find that I’m already doing some of the things he recommends. I’m learning that I have a lot to… well… learn. There are plenty of good habits to get into and a few bad ones I need to break.

I can’t review a book I’ve yet to read but the concept of ‘the in-between’ is one I’m really interested in. I have struggled to enjoy, to savour, and to learn from ‘the in-between’ stages in life. At times I have resented them or at least felt frustrated by them. There have been so many things that I have hoped for and those hopes have not been realised. I’ve spent years searching for where I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to be, who I’m supposed to be.

“What should I be doing with my life?” has been my mantra for so long that I have neglected to look at what I AM doing and how valuable it might be. It’s hard not to look back and mourn the wasted time, and to be honest I still feel things have yet to fall into place. Me and my husband and both in our 40s and still waiting…

I am looking forward to reading the book as I’m hoping it will give me a different view on ‘the in-between’. It would be beyond liberating to feel different about it.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

No yets or buts!


I was reading a blog post the other day and it was a letter to God. This man’s friend has a child who is very ill and the writer was so frustrated that none of his prayers were being answered. He said he has been defending God to the parents of the sick child but he confessed that inwardly he isn’t as sure of God’s love and power as he was proclaiming.

It reminded me of some of David’s psalms – where he pours out his heart to God.
Why do you let the people perish?
Why do you let evil prosper?
Where are you when it hurts?
Can you hear me?
Are you even there?

But one thing you often find in these psalms is… a ‘but’ or ‘yet’. I’m paraphrasing again but you often read…

Things are crap, but I will praise you.
My world is falling apart, yet I will trust you.

This is missing from the blog post. It ended with no answers, just more questions.

I can safely say that I’ve spent the bulk of my Christian life totally confused about what God is up to. I don’t have a crisis of faith, in the sense that I have no doubt that He is there – and I believe the Bible and the glowing character reference it gives God. But like me, the writer of that blog post feels as if, verses that say things like, ‘your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts’ are just not enough.

I was going to challenge the guy though and suggest that he should do a bit more trusting and a bit less complaining. But I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t. At that moment I remembered an email I’d send to a Christian a while ago, I mentioned I was struggling with some stuff and asked for prayer. The reply came that I should stop complaining and rejoice in the victory that God has given me.
I will probably never ask that person for prayer again and or share a struggle with them. Even if they are right and I’m wrong – the response did nothing to warm my cold heart that day.

It’s very easy to thump someone on the shoulder and tell them to rejoice in their sufferings. Sometimes too easy. A valley usually only looks pretty when you’re viewing it from the top.  When you’re down deep in it, the view is never as good.

These verses in Habakkuk 3 always come to mind when I’m pondering stuff like this.  And I’m sure I’ve shared them before…

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Even though it looks like I have nothing to thank you for, I’m going to thank you anyway. I actually do believe that because of who He is, God is worthy of our praise regardless of my state of mind or heart.
But my state of mind and heart sometimes makes it harder to praise him.

I suppose I was affected by the blog post cos of the empty questioning that sounded like it would never be answered. I was hoping for the ‘but’ and ‘yet’ at the end of the post and it never came.
That doesn’t meant that I can’t add it tho… 

I really do thank God for His unconditional love!
If I was in charge I’d have given up on me a long time ago! 🙂