It is New Year’s Eve and talk as it always does turns towards resolutions. People sign up to an invisible contract with themselves to change aspects of their life. Most resolutions are not kept: gyms are busy in January and by February they are as quiet as December because people are looking for a quick fix.

We live in an age of instant gratification, if I want to change what I watch on television I just need to reach for the remote, I no longer have to get up and physical push in a button. Our cars are getting more advanced by the year with cruise control and automatic everything. One of my children was visiting their Grandmother and in her car was fussing near the window, he was looking for the button for the windows, we laughed as we showed him the handle, and again when we had to lock each door individually – do you remember that?

Do we approach God in the same manner, do we expect instant response? In the Old Testament there are many accounts of people preparing to meet God, there were rituals to be performed. Now I am not a proponent of elaborate rituals but do we give respect where it is due. 

There are different ways of expressing this respect:

Some people dress in their “Sunday best” to meet him at service showing respect for God in their best clothes. Question: Does this create a barrier on non-Sundays if that is how a person is to be dressed to meet God?

Some people sanction a time each day to meet with God in quiet or meditation time giving respect to God in time and silence. Question: Does this mean in the hustle of the day can they not meet with God?

Some people pray on their knees showing their respect for him by lowering themselves down. Question: Again does this mean in the middle of a supermarket trip they can’t pray because they are not in the right position?

Some people become so into whatever ritual they have that yes indeed they cannot meet with God because it is wrapped up in ritual. But having rituals does not preclude a person from mixing it up. If we truly believe that God has pitched his tent in our hearts then we can and should meet him often, not just in daily devotions, not just in prayer, not just in song, not just in praise and worship but all of these things. If we are living with God inside us, we are attached, he is a part of us and we are a part of him. So we can meet him anytime, anywhere, in any situation because he is already there.

That is what is so awesome about our God. He is the Creator, powerful and awe inspiring, and as well as that he is in relationship with us. He is a part of us. How brilliant is that!


Personal Jubilee, Glorifying God in Our Every Day

 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts(for you alone know the human heart), (2 Chr 6:30)

 Our God, the awesome Creator wants to be in relationship with us. He wants to hear our problems and issues, he wants to hear our joys and your sorrows, he wants to hear when things go well and when things go bad. He wants to know when we have behaved badly (sinned) He basically wants to hear from us all the time.

If we are living our lives to glorify His name then we don’t move away from Him, so the goal is to stay in this state of glorifying God all the time. Situations come, situations go, ever changing but our God is unchanging and is there forevermore, our only example of perfection to which we aim.

 The Lord knows us and knows our hearts, a famous Christian writer and speaker tells of the time he was wooing his wife, before he asked her to marry him he laid out his entire past, every sin he had ever committed, how he’d behaved badly in situations, the whole enchilada of a confession. He then asked her to marry him and she agreed. Some time later he thought about it and realised he had never been fully honest with God, he was a pastor. He had not opened up and admitted to everything he had done. When he did, he moved to a new place, he became a new creation, because in bearing his soul and seeking forgiveness, and, in accepting that forgiveness he was renovated, renewed into a new person. The Lord knew what was in his heart and waited till the moment that he came clean with everything to create in him a new heart, a new way of living.

 I call this “livin’ in personal jubilee”, (theologians feel free to comment on my wrongness below) and sometimes “livin’ in jubilee” (again comment away)

Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)

I aim to glorify God in my everyday life, worship for me is not just an organised religious service, it is a way of life.

 The rewards for living in this state of praise, of worship, of prayer, of singing, of joy are tremendous, each day brings a new aspect, it is like exploring the T.A.R.D.I.S, a new nook, a new room to be found, a new expression comes across my mind, a new thought.

 When I was a student of economics and came across the pyramid of enlightenment I thought it odd that as you climbed up the ladder of “success” the room got smaller, and now I know something Maslow didn’t – it is an upside down shape, but it’s no pyramid, you can jump to the exponentially greater level by simply asking Jesus into your life and in the process of bringing everything that is past to the Cross and asking for forgiveness and accepting it. God forgives and then forgets, so all that is past is gone, eradicated, blown out of existence and you become a new creation.

 There are no downsides to it, I always thought looking in from the outside at my Christian schoolchums who weren’t allowed to do a long list of things. How hard it must be to follow all those rules, and getting into terrible trouble if you slip up. As an adult I saw these stern people who judged me for what I was, why would I want to be one of them. Even when I attended church it was hard to try to keep to the rules, everyone had a pet hate, people hid the fact that they swore, or socially drank or whatever.


And now, what rule book! It is just an incredibly different way of living. I have spent a number of months trying to give voice to what it is, these are just a few descriptions I have come up with:

  • Complete freedom, financial, relational, emotional, anything is possible
  • Running without getting tired
  • Diving underwater, kicking off and being amazed at the power of the kick
  • Walking on air, just millimetres off the surface of the ground no matter how hard or stony the ground

Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a state of perfection, it is a state of moving forward, towards perfection that is the Lord. It is not a hermit, pious state, it is getting out in the world sharing the joy with everyone, not necessarily by speaking. In this state there is no bitterness, no offence, no worry. It’s wonderful. It is God.

Let Me Fit In

“Mum, it’s so unfair. All the other girls will be wearing them. I hate you.”

 The words spat with venom, her hands flailing Kayle turned, marching out of the kitchen, stomping upstairs to her room, slamming the door. The sound of her throwing herself on her bed and pounding her arms and legs resonated throughout the house.

Her mother, Laura, turned off the potatoes steaming on the stovetop and slowly slumped into a chair at the kitchen table. The same table she had helped her daughter at as she struggled with long division and fractions. The same table that had hosted Kayle’s thirteenth birthday party, the same table that she sat at knitting cardigans and singing lullabies to the sleeping Kayle who she rocked at her feet. The same table at which she had washed and changed her as a baby when she had first come into their lives arriving at four weeks old, a temporary foster child, who had won our hearts and had not left, eventually she was adopted and was an only child.

She was a very sickly baby, in and out of hospital, it was over a year before Laura discovered Kayle had been born addicted to heroin. Her only link to her past was monthly visits by her birth mother, Cora, and although Laura welcomed her into their home and gave her minute details of Kayle’s progress the visits petered out by Kayle’s third birthday. Cora barely spoke, revealing little about her or her past.

As Laura reminisced, she wondered could she have made Cora feel more involved. It was Laura who could remember Kayle’s miraculous first step, her first beautiful word. Her eyes welled as she thought of these precious moments, she was so proud of her. She hadn’t anticipated this unruly brattish behaviour that marked the beginning of teenage rule in the house, she was deflated, expecting her home to be immune from pubescent tantrums, and she was hurt by the words and actions of her most beautiful gift.

How to go forward from this, were her views too old fashioned? “Oh Lord, help me now, I need your guidance, amen”, a barely audible prayer escaped Laura’s lips as she continued to mull over the problem. These hot pants that Kayle wanted to wear to youth club on Friday night were they really appropriate and was Laura an old fuddy duddy. Would Kayle’s life suddenly become as golden as these lamé high cut shorts? She didn’t want to suggest to her daughter that the world perceived girls’ attire as a statement of their willingness. Most of all she wanted Kayle protected, from predators, from unwelcome stares, from drunken teenage louts and she admitted to herself she wasn’t ready for half of Kayle’s butt to be on show for anyone, no matter what fashion and her peers dictated.

She went back into her thoughts and wondered when would be the right time to give Kayle the whole truth about Cora, her real mother. She had to be given information that she would need for adult life choices, as an ex-addict albeit without choice she would have a predisposition to addiction. Cora had died three years ago from an overdose of sleeping tablets, speed and cocaine and Laura had taken Kayle to the service, they were the only mourners and it was expediently delivered by a nameless priest, one more addict sent to the furnace. They had taken her ashes to the seaside and emptied the pot into the crashing waves whilst losing their footing and landing unceremoniously into the crashing waves. Laughing, the pot was lost and with it the memories Kayle seemed to have of her birth mother.

During Kayle’s life Laura had pieced together a jigsaw of Cora’s progression into the horrific existence she then had; Up to the age of fourteen she had been the model child, her dad was an Anglican minister and she had joined in with church life, enjoying choir and leading Sunday school for the under fives. She was invited to a party at a friend’s house but after the party had finished she had been brutally and repeatedly raped by boys she went to school with. The reason, because she had refused alcohol unlike the rest of the girls and resisted joining in “Spin the Bottle”. It was a punishment for non conformity. The boys didn’t get arrested or charged and she would have seen them each day at school so she didn’t return. From that moment she had quickly spiralled into a drug fed world, firstly prescription drugs, and later speed, E’s, finally arriving at her new saviour, H. Anything to obliterate the memory, her family had tried to understand but as time passed she stole from them and the parish and they left her to live as she then wanted. By the time she became pregnant with Kayle she was injecting into her chest and barely noticed her growing bump.

Laura sighed and turned her thoughts to Kayle once more, rising she went to press the button that would alert her daughter by means of a vibrating disc that Laura was coming up to her room. She would calmly sign out her messages of love and hope, she would sign Cora’s tale onto Kayle’s hand, whilst cradling her tiny frame and looking into her blank eyes, born deaf and blind with stunted growth, Kayle was her miracle child and no scrap of gold fabric was going to breach their relationship, a new way would be found.

Sukey Mackie (aka Suzie)


I missed you today, it wasn’t anything special, like feeling you in the room, I tripped over the rip in the carpet. Do you remember? You dragged the dining table across the room for Christmas dinner, your mother was staying and when I shouted at you, she came to your defence and I ran out the house crying. What a memory to think of. Not for us a shared rose tinted world, our marriage, our lives together were just arguments strung together with mutual stubbornness.

Whilst you were still here I often wondered why we remained living in the same house. I made a list, it’s probably around here somewhere, maybe I’ll look for it later. Bridies coming tomorrow to take away your clothes, I’m keeping the camel jumper we both wore, it smells of you, I haven’t washed it and it is acting as a pillow case, breathing in the aroma of you helps me sleep.

Your sisters went home yesterday, I thought they’d never go, they talk so much, constant vapid commentary on nothing at all, I lay awake three nights ago trying to remember what they spoke about that evening, I could visualise their mouths like goldfish rushing round and round but I couldn’t think of one memorable phrase, they patted my hand a lot.

I have cried quite a bit this week, you would’ve been proud of me, I used the little hankies instead of my sleeve, silent tears slid down my un-made up face, oh, they’ve started again, I’ve got very quiet since you’ve been gone. The tissues were changed regularly by passing relatives, they have all been so kind, I have been touched by it, because for all their vacuous talk and constant cleaning, they were all there for me as much as you.

I suppose in a few years I’ll say it takes a tragedy to see the kindness of humans. It was tragic, love, wasn’t it. You weren’t on the list for dead people on that day. I know in my heart there is no way it could’ve been your time. For a start the basketball blitz is next week and your team was all set for another victorious campaign, they all came – the team, their mams and dads, the other trainers. I know it’s tradition in a small village but with us being blow-ins I didn’t know if they would. Your family was shocked by the amount of people at the removal, in England, you’d be lucky to get your family there.

The Mass was lovely, Father Ahern took it and he knew I didn’t understand the whole ritual so he led me through it, the children were fantastic, so well behaved, in fact since you went they’ve been as quiet as me, even Bláthnaid hasn’t said boo. When everything settles down I’ll do the best I can to get them to a new normal, once I work out what a new normal means. If you were here we could work it out together.

Your grave was the fifth open hole I have stood by, I hoped by now to have got used to how far down the coffin gets lowered, but no every time  is a new shock. Joey and Fin carried you with your snooker mates. They did a good job, no complaints about your weight or anything. I was so proud of them, proper little men. They don’t want to go back to school, don’t see the point in exams and all that. I will push them back to their studies though, it is only grief talking and when they begin to recover studying will help them get through.

What’s going to help me get through love, it was always you I leaned on, it was always you who gave me that hug, or a dig when needed, Sure I’ll take it handy, maybe I’ll go visit that little chapel in Killarney, it looks small and cosy, maybe I’ll find comfort in something there. Love, look after yourself, I’ll see you again somehow, no doubt and we can continue the argument we were having on the phone when you lost control in the ice.

A letter to Santa? the poem

I want a dad that doesn’t drink

Until he throws up in the kitchen sink

I want a mum who doesn’t bark

And kick and I hide from in the dark

I want relations who don’t bicker

Showing off to which one is thicker

I want a brother I can look after

That I can tickle with bursts of laughter

I want a sister I can keep safe

Away from those who in their deeds, chafe

I want a way out of here to a sunny place

Just a few hours to give my head space

A letter to Santa? the not poem

In response to the poem “A letter to Santa?”

I was watching a drama on ITV3 the other night entitled ‘Clash of the Santas’ and as the plot unfurled I found myself becoming more and more disturbed. It began as the children of the family explained to their dad that there was to be no Nativity this year respecting other religions. The dad says “what’s religion got to do with Christmas?”

The poem was written at the same time as watching the drama, real needs in the world, real needs within families are not going to be fulfilled by a fat man in a red suit. Not so much the images in the drama but the dialogue was disturbing because to place all your hope in an idol is wrong.

Now I have to confess I am a Christmas movie aficionado and love nothing more than to curl up in my blanket watching someone’s life changed around the holiday season. They tend to follow the same plot: there is a baddie who becomes a goodie, there is a victim who is vindicated, and all characters end the film with warm fuzzies and a happy ever after. The santa character is a mystical person – part angel, part social worker who puts the world to rights. The children tend to be right and the adults tend to be wrong. Marriages are fixed or singletons are united in a true and loving relationship. Christmas movies are fantasy, but in the main follow principles that can be found in the bible:

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased;

and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matt 23:12)

and Matthew 5 the Beatitudes.

The movies themselves are cheap, made for tv movies that are usually vehicles for specific actors or singers. The sets can be seen moving and the lighting is atrocious, with shadows appearing in the wrong places, like a bad soap opera. All this is allowed because of the message of hope they bring and like bringing a daughter to a Justin Bieber concert, you just hope they get it: the hope they yearn for can only be found in Christ.

‘Clash of the Santas’ did none of this, there were no warm fuzzies that could lead a person to discover Jesus. From the press pack, the following excerpts:

‘The essence of the story, in true Christmas style, is about the power of believing in Santa Claus. Will Howie become a true believer?’

The writer, Jeff Pope says,

“But the real struggle was the story within the story. That question again: ‘Do you believe in Santa Claus?’ Unfortunately there are some people who don’t, who would like to spoil it for those of us that do. Howie Scott is one of them, and Colin Armstrong spends the entire film trying to persuade him to change his mind. Belief in Santa Claus goes to the very heart of Colin as, I suppose, it does in me.”

 One of the main actors, Robson Green says,

That Christmas is only magic if and when we believe it’s magic. Santa is real if and when we believe Santa is real. Clash of the Santas is really about having faith in the magic and wonder of Christmas.”

Reading the entire press pack, there was one thing missing, Jesus, and for me the true meaning of Christmas is remembering back 2000+ years to when God came down to earth and that He’s coming back again. It is a joyous celebration of the birth of Christ tinged with sadness for what we, as humanity did to him and with anticipatory excitement of Him returning.

So yes I love to watch Christmas movies, but now I have discovered they have to dovetail with God, if there they are only based on the ‘magic’ of Christmas without the substance of faith and belief in God. At the end of ‘A Christmas Carol’, a book which has been adapted into dozens and dozens of Christmas films ends with an apt ending to this piece:

“God Bless Us, Every One!”


Being Christian and INTP

I must regress a bit to my when I wasn’t a Christian to explain how I came to this point. My first brush with personality types was through a work colleague, she had been to Ardfert Cathedral to do an enneagram course and wanted to know my type, I think she wanted vindication for why we didn’t gel. This behaviour was not new to me, people have tried to change me all my life, I was the proverbial cuckoo in the nest in any group situation; saying the wrong thing, or not speaking, having a lack of empathy for people in general, (computers are my friends!!!). I took the test and I was a type 5 with six wings making me a problem solver most associated with the Five-the intellectual who is interested in science, technology, and acquiring facts and details. The colleague surprised me because she thought I would be a 2, a healer. If you want to know your type there is hiding in this site a free test:

With the dawn of the widespread internet, I progressed to taking the Myers Briggs test an example can be found here: and there I discovered I wasn’t odd I was INTP. I found forums for INTP and enjoyed the shared joy of knowing “I am not alone” there were 2% of the population the same as me.

Coming to church was against type; generally, INTPs are either without religion or anti-religion.  Coming from an atheist background made sense, it fitted, except a bit like a shoe with a tiny bit of grit in, it wasn’t comfortable, it didn’t feel right, due to a little seed planted in me when I was a very small child by a Christian woman. I liked being in church, full of these good people, who were kind and friendly and all got along. My “happy clappy” bubble was burst a few weeks later but I was pleased that I was used to resolve the situation. It was my first; being aware of being used by God and so I began to look back to the few notable occasions when Christians tried to veer me onto the right path. I had now experienced that sense of being used and it felt good.

It has been suggested that there are three ways that an INTP relate to religion:

  1.  They can outright deny it as irrational.
  2. They can accept it as a philosophy and analyse it.
  3.  They can accept the experience of others which might include the collective experience of a tradition.

When I became part of a church community, I watched carefully the rituals of others, keeping my own thoughts inside while listening and then analysing what others had to say. I knew I wanted this God that they talked about in my life but no matter how many times I heard “all you have to do is ask” the rational logical part of me couldn’t accept it was that simple. So I became a Christian-in-waiting. I believed in God, and I was working on changing things in my life slowly. I was doing a good job of fooling everyone including myself, verified by someone thinking I had a church background.

On many levels it was real, but it was like a Pixar animation of real – a lot more real looking than “Tom and Jerry” but it was still not real. It took a lot more analysing and philosophising, of picking the bits I liked from the bits I didn’t and a whole bunch of other stuff before I got to the Truth of it, it really was that simple, ask.

The journey since then has been different because now it doesn’t matter that I am different and INTP, God accepts me. My personality type is something I am always going to have but now I can say I am not accepting the experience of others, I am fully experiencing for myself the wonderful gift of having God living in me. Each day brings new insights into his vast awesomeness, his boundless love and his grace and mercy that have brought me to this place, to this time where joy is overflowing in me and with his strength I can do anything he wants me to. I love my God, and I love being INTP – they dovetail perfectly.