The Plan For 2010

So here it is … the first post of the new year … the first post of a new decade … the first post of 2010!

I don’t really make New Year Resolutions but instead try and write down some goals for the year ahead.  Last year’s list ended up looking something like this …

  1. Find a job doing something I love
  2. Buy my own car
  3. Look forward to a summer break with Jen somewhere sunny!
  4. BB Camp in London
  5. PCI Team… hopefully back to Woodvale!

This year’s is a little more extensive and looks like this …

1. Find a job doing something I love

I think it’s safe to say 2009 was an incredibly frustrating time on the job front.  Part-time employment in the same job that I’ve had since I was 17 just isn’t doing it for me any more and I need an escape route … hopefully 2010 will provide one!

2. Head back to the States with Jen

Without doubt the best holiday I’ve ever been on was to Florida in 2008 and we had planned to head back this year.  Possibly weighing up a few days in New York en-route and then down to Orlando to chill!

3. Get back into a gym routine

Since renewing my membership in July I think I’ve been to the gym maybe twice!  Playing 5 a-side football the odd week isn’t exactly a strenuous routine either so my iPod has been loaded with some heavy workout tunes and I’m determined to make Wednesday nights my gym night … you can hold me to that and check up on me if needs be!

4. Finish reading a book in the same year that I start it!

I am a terrible reader … I mean I got Richard Hammond’s autobiography two  (maybe three actually!) years ago and have yet to finish it.  I also began reading Max Lucado’s “Cure For The Common Life” in the middle of last year and am only about halfway through it!  I need a good book to hold my interest and attention so I can actually finish it … any suggestions people?

5. Spend less time on the computer

I think my sleep pattern has been completely destroyed since pulling all-nighters at uni but I have noticed I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time in front of my computer recently … possibly contributing to the small number of hours sleep got on average.

6. PCI Team 2010

Hopefully I’ll get the chance to head back to Woodvale again this year and build on the past two year’s work.  The numbers have increased and with the junior and senior YFs now set up and running throughout the year I’m really looking forward to getting back there and seeing what’s been happening!

7. Keep in touch with people better

I know it’s hard and people have very different schedules and things to do during the week but I felt bad this year when I got two Christmas cards from friends who I used to work with and had lost touch with over 2009.  I also got a card from a friend who I think I’ve been trying to catch up with or the last two Christmases … so 2010 is the year of better correspondence!

8. Redesign my business cards

I’ve left this to last on the list but it’s more than likely going to be the one I do first.  To be honest I like the design of my current cards but I do like to tinker and will hopefully come up with something along the same lines but a little more eye catching … watch this space!


2009 – The Best Bits (Pt. ii)

Part (ii) as promised …


I guess the biggest commotion that I caused this year was related to this blog post. We actually bumped into an old school friend in Tesco just last week who asked had we set a date yet … obviously having not read the whole post and still under the impression that we were engaged! So … just to clarify to anyone still in any doubt … Jen & I are finishing 2009 together … but not engaged!

There was however a real proposal this year that delighted me. Two of my longest-known and best friends, Chris and Su got engaged at the beginning of October. Chris has also asked me to be his best man so I’ve plenty of time to plan the stag-do and put my speech writing hat on in time for April 2009! I’m looking forward to it already!

BB Camp – London

A lot of things made BB camp different to usual this year … heading off late on a Friday night, not that many senior boys attending, no need to pack our own tents and marquee and even Doddsy not being there! The week itself was a wet one … infact a very wet one … but it didn’t spoil the enjoyment that camp always brings because our boys always manage to find some way to entertain themselves and the officers!

I think my highlight of the week was the trip to Thorpe Park which turned out to be one of the very few completely dry days we had and the pure adrenaline rush of several of the rides including Stealth. I was also pleased with how my epilogue went … based on the determination of Steven Bradbury not to give up when he lay in last place at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Woodvale 2009

Looking back, words really don’t do justice to the amazing week that I was part of in Woodvale this summer. I took charge of the teenage group in the mornings and was completely overwhelmed by how well the kids engaged with us and was also so thankful for the rest of the team who helped me out in those sessions (thanks Suz, Laura, Pony & Chris!)

Personally the best bit for me was the moment on Saturday night at Woodvale’s Got Talent when three of the boys who had been causing a bit of chaos most of the week, stood up in front of a church full of their peers and sang “Our God is a Great Big God.” Accompanied by the actions, these guys belted it out and by the end of the second chorus, the entire church was joining in and a sea of hands were performing in time with them … amazing … even just writing about it now still gives me goosebumps!

Job Hunting

It hasn’t all been fun and games this year though so I felt like I had to include the most frustrating thing about 2009 as well … the search for a full-time job! Throughout the year I had been applying for pretty much anything that was going in the graphic/web design field and had been getting the response that always began with “Dear Mr Kelly, Unfortunately …….”

It became quite demoralising and there were times that I had completely given up hope and just stopped looking and all I kept hearing was that something would come along at he right time. Just as that line was beginning to wear more than a little thin with me, I did get a small glimmer of hope when I got invited to interview by the BBC for a position in their new media team … but unfortunately nothing came of it so 2010 looks set to begin in exactly the same way that 2009 is going to end … still working part-time in Next!

Autumn Internationals

November is a big rugby month, the Magners League is normally well under way and the international break brings the best of the southern hemisphere to the north. This year I did manage to get to two of the three Ireland games, against Australia in Croke Park and Fiji in the RDS in Dublin. It was great to see Fiji for the first time and in a new venue like the RDS, which may not have had the same massive atmosphere as 80,000 people at Croke but was still a great experience. Hopefully by the time next November comes around, the new Landowne Road stadium will be open for business!

So I guess overall 2009 has been a bit of a mixed bag of feelings, expectations and emotions for me. I do plan to sit down before the official end of the year and work out a few goals for 2010 and a few things that I’m already looking forward to … but for now I guess I’d like to say Merry Christmas to you if you’re reading this and hope 2009 has been a good one for you too!


2009 – The Best Bits (Pt. i)

The Christmas music has officially started playing in work so it must mean it’s almost December and therefore almost another year over. Looking back on 2009 I thought I’d pick out some of the moments, times, places and people that have stood out for me this year … enjoy …

Liverpool vs. Everton

Having not had the chance to get over to Anfield for a couple of seasons, I jumped at the chance when a friend got two tickets for the FA Cup 4th Round game against Everton. I’d never been to a derby game but the atmosphere was unreal … the seats were as close to the pitch as you could get and the result … well it ended 1-1 which we lost in the replay but … I did see my first goal scored at Anfield and by none other than captain fantastic himself, Steven Gerrard.


I didn’t get to many gigs as I usually would during the year but the ones I got to were immense! It kicked off in March with Snow Patrol in the Odyssey having just launched their “One Hundred Million Suns” album and they rattled through a huge set-list to a pulsating hometown crowd.

A few weeks later I had planned to join a mate in seeing Foy Vance in concert but he (my mate Andy, not Foy) got stuck in Dublin and didn’t make the gig so this was a strange one where I was on my own but completely overwhelmed by Foy’s talent and especially his voice! The highlight of the night was his rendition of “Never Let the Spirit Die” … awesome!

FUEL 2009 was a new experience for me this year and although I didn’t make the whole festival I did manage to get up for the Saturday evening’s programme which included Kevin Max, Robbie Seay Band and Downhere. It was amazing to see such an event be put on in Ballymena and broadcast to the world literally! Already looking forward to Fuel 2010!


Edinburgh is without doubt my favourite city and one I never get tired visiting. There’s something about it that’s different but I don’t quite know what … a certain je ne sais quoi I guess. We headed over for a long-weekend in May and I loved the time off work and getting to spend some quality time with Jen. I think I’m also correct in saying that this is where the proposal rumours began to circulate!

Next Football Tournament

In June I headed over to Birmingham for a football tournament held by Next in aid of Cancer Research. The event organiser, Kenny, arranged for him and his team from Cambridge to meet up wth us the evening before the tournament and we had a bit of banter around a few of the local city centre pubs and clubs … the getting to bed in the very early hours probably didn’t help our performance the next day!

The six of us thought we had a pretty good chance of winning this tournament but after the first match and a 6-1 drubbing we realised it was more about the taking part! We also managed to end up in the same group as a team from Cork so local and national rivalry was stirred up during the group stages. Overall the tournament raised just over £9000 for Cancer Research which I think you’ll agree was a fantastic achievement.


Me & Jen like a good road-trip … actually that’s an understatement .. we love them! I now have a small library of leaflets from all corners of the province in my glove-box just in case we feel like doing something in the spur of the moment.

Places covered this year have included Belfast Zoo, Portmuck, Scrabo Tower, Portstewart, Crawfordsburn, Whitehead, Brown’s Bay, Stormont, Ulster Folk Museum, Castle Espie, Giant’s Causeway, Carnfunock, Castleward and the newly opened Ulster Museum. There’s probably more that I’ve forgotten but you get the picture!

Stay tuned, part (ii) will follow …

Why Do We Fall?

So … I had two interviews in the past two weeks and have so far heard back from one … regretting to inform me that again I haven’t been successful in my application. The other was a fortnight ago and so the phrase “No news is good news” is beginning to wear a little thin with me.

This is beginning to feel like a common theme and just as I begin to feel my confidence back-sliding I got an email from a fellow BB officer reminding me of a quote from Alfred in the film Batman Begins.

“And why do we fall, Master Bruce? So that we might better learn to pick ourselves up.”

I know it feels rubbish constantly getting negative feedback but it’s not the end of the world. We all learn fom our mistakes and I guess this is just moulding me into the right way of thinking or acting or whatever it is that’s not going right for me at the minute.

I may not have a job in the field that I want but I have a lot more to be thankful for … a God who knows what He’s doing with my life, a loving family, an amazing girlfriend, a faithful group of simply brilliant friends … the list goes on.

It’s time to pick myself up … pull myself together and get back in the race.


The Video That Facebook Rejected

I know I’ve already blogged about some of the events during the week in Woodvale and anyone who’s been on a PCI team before will know that words simply don’t do it justice … experiences that will last a lifetime and some memories we’d no doubt rather forget!

They say a picture says a thousand words, so enjoy many thousands of words in the following four minutes …

[flashvideo file=”” /]

The Eve of The Vale ’09 …

Tomorrow (technically it’s later today since midnight has passed) I head off on my PCI Summer Outreach team back to Woodvale.  Like I’ve said before Woodvale is a place that feels like it’s part of me since I was part of the team last year … the church is so welcoming, the kids are fantastic to work with and the team just clicked … so I guess I’m hoping for more of the same this year.

In fact I’m looking for more than that … our God is a God who can “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) so I’m looking forward to a more welcoming church and community, more amazing teens with their own backgrounds, troubles, fears and hopes and I’m looking forward to working and serving with 24 other fantastic team members each of whom will bring something completely unique to the team.

Behind all the excitement there are obviously some nerves … fear of no-one turning up … fear of the weather staying the way it’s been recently … fear of massive technical failures … ok maybe  I’ve been focussing on the negatives too much … but one thing I’m not afraid of is knowing that whatever happens will happen because it’s simply meant to … God has it under control!

I’ve listed a few prayer points below that I know the whole team would appreciate a few words being said to the Big Man on our behalf …

Pray For The Area:

  • For God’s Kingdom to be expanded in Woodvale…for His will to be done…and for a community to be touched by His Love.
  • For kids, young people and adults to say yes to Jesus and to begin to live transformed lives!
  • For young people who are already on a journey with God to give themselves more fully to Him, to grow in their faith and see transformation in their lives.
  • For kids and young people to realise that they are special andsignificant and that God loves them deeply.
  • For community groups who are doing vital work all year round in the community – organising activities to engage with kids and keep them from anti-social activities.

Pray For The Church:

  • For the leaders and congregation at Woodvale Presbyterian Church to be encouraged and inspired by the outreach going on this summer.
  • For the church and team to have a shared vision
  • For many people from within the church to get involved with the outreach activities.
  • That God would renew, strengthen, encourage and continue to excite the minister Ken Doherty.
  • That God would bless follow-up work that goes on – including the Sunday night ‘Squat’ group and possible new ideas for youth Bible study groups.

Pray For The Team:

  • For Jude & Chris as they take up the leadership of the team and all that that will involve.
  • For Lynn and Leanne leading the Kid’s Club and me leading the Teens Section in the mornings.
  • For Susie leading the Teens outreach in the evenings.
  • That we would have a servant-like approach to everything we do
  • That we would be united and display Jesus-like qualities
  • For team safety and protection in all we do – especially late night outreach activities.
  • For strength of mind, body and soul to face all the challenges of the week.
  • That we would step into all the divine opportunities that God will set up.
  • For wisdom and grace in dealing with any difficult young people
  • That God would give each of us some of His heart and passion for the people of Woodvale.

Thanks again in advance guys, it’s so good to know people are thinking and praying about us while we’re away!  I’ll try to keep you all posted via my Facebook status throughout the week!


The Lightning Bolt …

I just thought I’d blog about this as I’ve just witnessed Usain Bolt shatter another world record.  This guy is truly unbelievable in every sense of the word … to be honest I’m struggling to find adjectives that do him justice!

Standing 6ft 5ins tall and unbelievably blessed with power, agility and deathly frightening pace … I was glued to the TV for those 9.58 seconds, watching as he took another 1.1 second off his own world record set earlier this year … he even had the cheek to look at the clock when he was 10 metres from the line!

It was interesting to also hear the BBC commentators saying he thinks he could run 9.4 … I wouldn’t put it past him … lightning has already struck twice … would a third time be so improbable?