Thought I’d get one in before midnight. New Year’s always been a funny one to me, it is a new year, but isn’t every day anyway? Saying or thinking that always makes me think of God and how his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). There is a definite ‘feel’ to New Year, but whether that’s man made or real, I don’t know.
What I do know is that if you put your faith and your trust in Jesus, there is hope, no matter what day or year it is. There is always hope and He and it changes you, almost without you even realising it.
So, Happy New Year one and all, I pray for more of you to know God, through Jesus, to know the peace. love and mercy that only God gives, to know the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who is your counsellor, comfort and guide. If you know Him, to know a deepening of your relationship with Him, to submit your lives fully.
Before I knew Jesus, if I was out, I used to actually cry at midnight, I don’t even know why, just that I felt like I never belonged, that somehow I was missing something, new year just felt sad, specially when everyone was singing Auld Lang Syne and nobody actually knew the words, or even worse they were all kissing and hugging each other. I felt a loner at these times, wondering why I felt like this. The excessive amounts of booze probably didn’t help either. Whilst this was my unique experience I know that people experience different but similar scenario’s in their own lives.
I now know that the missing piece was God, knowing that I was made for him, for purpose, to be with Him always, knowing He gave His only son for me and that Jesus came so I could be reunited with God. No longer separate. No longer without hope or meaning or the deep love that I craved. Knowing that my life with Him would go on far longer than this life on earth. Despite what is happening in our lives, or how we feel, if we know that, we have joy.
I wrote something as a comment on a post the other week which went along the lines of ‘and you can’t cancel Christmas! We came here two years ago and had hardly any furniture and just each other and it was still good, because Jesus is’ (That’s from memory, not exact). That is true! and Christmas is about Christ and no, you can’t cancel it, even if no one meets up and we don’t eat and drink and make merry, it still isn’t cancelled. For me, the celebration has got more and more meaningful as time has gone on and there’s such a deep joy in even just saying his name, Jesus.
But it did dawn on me as well, that this could come across as quite reckless and abrupt to people who are struggling this Christmas, in whatever way it is. I then had a memory of the Christmas before I came to know Jesus and it reminded me of the goodness and mercy and kindness of God. it’s only short.
I was still working as a staff nurse on the community and we had been working Christmas Eve day, it was getting later in the day, I was in the office after doing visits and I really, really didn’t want to go home. I was almost in tears at the thought of going home, I didn’t even know exactly why, I suppose I was lonely and was struggling.
A Christian I worked with noticed how upset I was, no-one else did, and he was just so kind to me. It made a huge difference that he actually noticed how I was feeling and just cared. I realised afterwards that the difference is that he had God in Him and it was God doing the noticing. Later that year, I cried out to God, begging to know if he was there and he answered me.
This Christmas, don’t underestimate the power of what you may view as a small action, a kindness, a loving gesture. It can make all the difference.
Thought I’d share some snippets, some I might have shared before, some not! some funny, some serious. Here you are!
Before we had the windows and front door replaced, I got locked in the bathroom because the lock on the door broke and locked me in. I was on one side, I think the kids were on the other and Chris was locked outside. Chris had to climb in through the bathroom window and break the lock on the bathroom door :D. It makes me smile now, but not so much at the time!
Also, about a year ago, we all got locked inside the house because a screw on the new door came loose and wedged the front door shut. (We only have one door in the house.) Chris again, managed to get it open and fix it. We were on our way to the church Christmas party, we were late. Again, weird feeling, being locked in.
When Chris first got the tractor, when he first started going on the field on it, he got it firmly stuck a few times and we had to pull the tractor out of the mud with the Jimny. It was good fun! For me anyway (I was driving the Jimny).
I bought a scratch card from a petrol station in Northern Ireland by accident because I said the number of my petrol pump and she gave me the number of the scratch card and I didn’t dare say anything. I then mumbled the amount of petrol I’d got, paid and ran off, with my scratch card.
A neighbour visited unannounced, started to open the front door and I was just getting out of the plaster bath in the kitchen (which is just in front of the front door), having just had a bath (basically naked). I had to disappear quickly into the bathroom (which then had no bath), and then sidle past grinning, wearing just a towel. Leaving Chris to it.
If we don’t watch the dog, he runs off, often to a neighbour and will go into the kitchen with her. They don’t bat an eyelid. Although I try to keep a close eye on him and try to keep him with me (more successfully recently).
I’ve had to steri strip littlest’s forehead twice over the last six months, both times he’s fallen onto stones on the driveway. Both times they’ve healed well. I just leave the strips on for a week (ish), if it’s bled, it’s clean… It is always that difficult decision, do I take them to hospital? You just have to make the call. I also monitor him closely if anything happens. There are lots of things to take into consideration, previous nursing experience is a definite bonus. It’s always a shock though to see blood running down your child’s face…! previous nurse or not!
(The spare room was mainly filled with Chris’s aeroplanes, which is why we couldn’t move into it for ages.)
J was only 3, nearly 4 when my dad died. He came in one day, a little while after, saying my dad had been on the phone and said to tell me that he was fine.
On the night my dad died, around the same time as it happened, J woke up and asked me to come into bed with him because he was scared. It is actually a very special thing to remember in a strange way.
When we had a plasterer here for quite a while, doing the downstairs ceilings. J followed him around constantly, continually talking to him and asking questions. The plasterer was amazing with him, seemed to really like him and was really patient and funny.
A farmer who lives further up the road, more into the mountains, had been saying he would come and split some wood for us. One day not long ago, he did, he just turned up with his log splitter attached to his tractor and split a load of the fresher wood that Chris had cut down earlier on in the year. It seems it was just because he wanted to do it, which was awesome. He was here for hours. The same farmer gave us the panels for the chicken shelter.
There’s a mobile butcher who drives around the area in a van on Friday evenings, we’ve started getting most of our meat from him. It’s a very snazzy set up in the back of that van!
I have often had bruises from logs flying out when I’m chopping them up and thumping into my shin (usually in the same place). I’m getting a little more adept now at avoiding that (hopefully). Although one occasion was different because Chris threw one in my general direction not realising I was there.
We don’t really like eating the chickens we’ve killed. Don’t know why, there’s just a ‘thing’ about it that’s weird. Last time, Chris asked me to hide it in a curry.
I have to bribe the littlest to go outside at the moment. Usually with the promise to look for bats. He refuses hats, coats and gloves usually and then gets cold and wants to go back in quickly. I can remember J going through a similar phase.
A recent one, I went to An Post the other day to send the Christmas parcels, it came to the time to pay and I just stood there having gone completely and utterly blank. I could not remember my pin number. I stood there for what seemed like 5 years just looking between the card and the cashiers face with tears welling up and then kept thinking of my British card’s number, so I used that instead. I’m glad I thought of it! Extreme reaction for forgetting my pin I know….I hadn’t used it for probably two or three months because we haven’t been anywhere…
Finally, we are still holiday eating even though we’ve been here two years (although actually not nearly as bad as in the first year and we’re now calling it Christmas eating).
Finally, finally, I’ve got to go because I’ve just realised that littlest has ripped some of the salt dough ornaments that we’ve made, in two, including J’s snowman (which he’s a tad upset about)… hot glue is on and heating up…bye!
Tomorrow, it’s been two years since we moved here. Since we got up ultra early in the morning, vacated our terraced house and set off towards the almost unknown. I’ve said it before but we got here lateish evening, Chris lit a fire, we ate a ready cooked chicken I’d bought when I picked up the keys, we set up the airbeds and travel cot in the living room and all slept in there for the first night. The stove was an old pot bellied stove and belched out smoke while it got going, that was slightly worrying but it was all we had! It would have been a nice stove if it wasn’t for the holes in it.
Then the next morning we got cleaning, it was pretty grimy with cobwebs everywhere and as the house warmed up, with insects emerging, particularly upstairs. It gradually dried out but as it did so it could be pretty grim. You’d wake in the night and your hair and the pillow would feel damp. You had to make sure everything was away from the wall as well. It was quite the experience. We slept upstairs in the one bedroom together for at least a few months, using air beds and the travel cot and then after our beds arrived, we went to the other bedroom, sharing with the boys, using the original bedroom as storage. I was still feeding the littlest as well so it made sense to be in together. The littlest was about 16 ish months and J was four. The original bedroom was full of boxes and aeroplanes for quite a long time. It eventually got cleared and Chris and I moved into there. It was quite weird at that point separating from the boys but also good as well. We had to make sure the boys had a night light because if they woke in the dark they were scared, it is so very, very dark here, the good about that is that J is really not bothered by the dark any more.
I’ve been looking to see if there are any photo’s I haven’t shared already so here are some, I might have shared some of the already, but I’m sure there are some new ones.
Firstly, just before we moved and the journey.
Then some from when we first got here and before the ground was cleared (this happened very quickly.
The view was the view I had just before I got to the cottage, we’d come in separate cars and I had gone to pick up the keys, it was getting towards dusk and the sat nav took me over the mountains (Sliabh an Iarainn), it’s very beautiful but a one track road with ditches to either side of the road (there are some passing places), so I veered between isn’t it beautiful? and aagh I’m a bit scared, please don’t go dark and I can’t remember where I’m going. I prayed a lot!
Then there’s two of the front garden, pre clearing, the back through the kitchen window, it had been part cleared and the transit van that had been left there by someone previously had been moved. The room doesn’t look that Christmassy in the photo’s but it was to us, it was very bare and there was only one comfy (ish) chair that had been left there, otherwise it was camp chairs or the floor.
That fire in the kitchen had a back boiler which powered the radiators, it didn’t actually give out that much heat as a fire and it was extremely dirty. Littlest was constantly covered in coal dust. That’s all gone now, along with the fake stone back, well, they were stones but they’d been put in over the wall. We have the Stanley in there now. The kitchen’s been painted, but we still need to order the tiles to go around the cooker. The old tiles have been removed. The little electric cooker is what we used for all our cooking initially. It was given us by a friend of Chris’s. It was brilliant, especially since that was all there was! I did Christmas dinner on it in 2018, we had a ham that year. Admission – I’d never actually cooked Christmas dinner before! We had always been to my mum and dad’s to have it.
Back to now, well sort of, Chris got a job in March 2019 I think it was, initially working as a night porter, but then he very quickly got a different job as a welder. So after March he was at work full time. Then, a year after, in March 2020, lockdown began. So he was off for a while, and we were here together again for a while. Then he returned and has been working ever since. For the second lockdown his work place was included on the essential businesses. It was really good that he got a job as we thought that may be a problem in this particular area of Ireland, but it wasn’t. It is very demanding work as well, so combined with the work here that Chris has done I need to say he has worked so hard and it has been very difficult for him. But he has and is working wonders. So we have to try to make time for rest and we don’t always succeed so well!
So, even though we’ve been here two years and I returned to England a few times during the first year. The last 9 ish months have been pretty insular really, even more than before. So I haven’t really got to know many people. This will come though as time goes on. It’s been a year and three months since me or the boys went back to England (two years for Chris). So it’s quite a while since we’ve seen our friends or family.
We’ve got a lot of work done on the house and area around the house over the past nine months especially. We have a bathroom with a bath, a dining room, some storage in the kitchen, a chicken shelter, a greenhouse, as well as more that I can’t remember at this moment. There’s still a huge amount to do, but not as much as before, which is what we try to keep in mind. This Christmas we have loads more room than last Christmas, because the living room was the room we lived in, the dining table was in there and the coat rack and we did everything apart from cook and sleep in there.
It has most definitely been an adventure, a brilliant, beautiful, horrible, heart wrenching, amazing, lonely, different, faith instilling journey, which is still going on and will still go on, wherever we are.
If I have learnt one thing over the past two years it is to trust God always and always go to Him. I have had some help with this from a very good friend back home. It doesn’t matter what is going on, it doesn’t matter what I want to do if it is contrary to what He wants me to do, I need to trust Him, worship Him and obey Him and that’s it. I can tell Him anything, and to tell Him is key, not go telling all and sundry, but go to Him. He is trustworthy, He is worthy, His ways are the best ways. He loves us and there is more to life than what we see or know. I/we have veered all over the place since coming here, always coming back to him and each other, I even ran off with the kids and found myself on a ferry crossing the Irish sea at one point. (I was quite ill at the time and I did need some time to recover). We were ill a lot when we first came here, I don’t know why, but we were really poorly at times. Then after the first September it seemed to stop.
So, here are some up to date photo’s. I’ll leave it at that. There is so much that I could say and describe but it would be an absolutely massive blog, so I won’t :D.
As I’ve said, there’s still a lot to do, but there is so much more space to live in now! and is much more pleasant. The garden also looks a little ropey because of the time of year, but believe me, it is so different to two years ago. Looking through the pictures it’s easier to see for me, rather than just thinking about it!