2011 – The Best Bits

So a month into 2012 and I’m finally getting a chance to look back at what made my list of highlights in 2011 … better late than never I suppose.  Just a few things that stood out for me in 2011, in no particular order …

  • Starting a new job doing what I love
  • 6 Nations weekend in Edinburgh
  • Tour of the new Aviva Stadium in Dublin
  • Heineken Cup quarter final, Ulster vs. Northampton in Milton Keynes
  • Chris & Su’s wedding
  • Andrew’s graduation
  • Claire & Nik’s wedding
  • Woodvale Team 2011
  • Short break to London
  • Build Conference in the Waterfront
  • Jimmy Carr live
  • Bill Bailey live

SK

The Curse Of The Ten

So the All Blacks finally put their 24 year old ghosts to bed and won the Rugby World Cup for the second time in their history, but it was far from simple as many, including myself, would have thought.  They won the game 8 – 7 with the winning kick coming from Stephen Donald, their fourth-choice fly half who wasn’t even included in the initial World Cup squad.

With Dan Carter, Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden all suffering from the injury jinx, there’s one thing for sure, I wouldn’t want to be the next player to pull on the All Black number 10 jersey.  I can’t think of any other instances in rugby where it has felt like a jersey is cursed, but know from being a Liverpool fan that it has happened mostly with the Anfield number 7 shirt, with less than 50% of players wearing it, performing well:

Kevin Keegan; Kenny Dalglish; Nigel Spackman; John Aldridge; Peter Beardsley; David Speedie; Dean Saunders; Nigel Clough; Steve McManaman; Vladimir Smicer; Harry Kewell; Robbie Keane; Luis Suárez

Regardless of their injury jinx, the All Blacks fully deserved to lift the Webb Ellis trophy, going undefeated and scoring 301 points in seven matches, cementing their position as the best rugby playing nation on the planet.

SK

Beautiful Things

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Once again I headed for Woodvale this summer co-leading the team with Jude and once again I set high expectations, which were completely blown away by the end of the week. I arrived feeling like I hadn’t done very much in the build-up to the team, but instantly felt comfortable and knew that things would work out.

A big part of that was helped by a lot of familiar faces returning from last year’s team … you guys played a massive role in achieving what we did this year. God used each of you in your own unique way to connect with those kids and teens who we came into contact with during the week.

One of the great things I’ve found about leading a team is that once you’re there and up-and-running, you almost become a spectator at times. There were times when I felt like I was standing back and watching God transmit His message through you to the young people you were working with and seeing you shine for Him like the stars that you are!

All week in team devotions we were focusing on the theme of new life and the verse that summed this up for me and summed up how I feel the week went is:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:20

We went to Woodvale as servants of the King and ambassadors for Christ … what we witnessed in our time there was a transformation of hearts, souls and attitudes that will help Woodvale Presbyterian shine out into a community that is too often associated with darkness.

Some banterous highlights (which will mostly only make sense to fellow team members) of my week included …

  • Lisa’s ridiculous excuse for a bed (second year running!)
  • Robert’s inappropriate uses of Benny & Betsy
  • Alana’s missing shoe
  • Melissa’s “Awk guysssssssssss”
  • Our national anthem – “Oh Church Arise”
  • Semi-naked team members
  • Nipples on Susie’s phone (not related to the previous point by-the-way!)
  • Laura Quinn’s affection for the Pink Poodle
  • Alana’s manly “Yeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooo”
  • Ryan’s epic puppet voice (especially in church on the last Sunday!)
  • The legend that is Albert
  • India trying to play ‘I Have Never’
  • The best goal celebration ever
  • Susie’s fear of Betsy
  • The “forgiveness balloon” craft
  • Busking For Souls
  • Frapes almost every day
  • Teens acts of random kindness
  • Pony pranking Dave’s phone
  • Mummy Spence’s amazing chocolate cake
  • Susie literally throwing a handful of sweets through a woman’s car window in an “act of kindness”
  • Neil’s non-flushing toilet
  • Ah bawwwwww
  • “You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust…”

2011 – An Update On Things

At the start of the year I made my usual list of aims and hopes for the year ahead. We’re now two thirds of the way through 2011 so thought I’d post an updated list and a few photos from a few recent adventures …

Aim To …

  • Quickly settle into the new job.
  • Get in the world of Twitter and start tweeting.
  • Spend less time on the computer at home.
  • Move out of the parents house.
  • Get to the gym on a more regular basis.

Hope To …

  • Trade in my brick-like Sony Ericsson for an iPhone.
  • Read more … (actually finish a book would be a start!)
  • See Jena finally escape the hell of retail and find a job that she’ll love doing.

Looking Forward To …

  • Scotland vs. Ireland at Murrayfield in February.
  • Being Best Man at Chris & Su’s wedding in April.
  • Jena being bridesmaid at Claire & Nik’s wedding in July.
  • PCI Summer Team in August.
  • Rugby World Cup in September & October.
  • Not working in retail in December.

 

      
      
      
      

Writing The Right Headlines

So it’s official … Northern Ireland currently produces some of the greatest golfers in the world.  I’ve never been a huge golf fan … really only ever watching the majors when they came about, but the past few weeks have had me glued to it.

In mid-June, Rory McIlroy bounced back from the disappointment of the US Masters, stunning the golfing world with a masterclass at the US Open where he finished eight shots clear and broke numerous records in the process.  It granted Northern Ireland status as one of very few countries to have back-to-back US Open champions, not bad for a country with a population of 1.8 million.

Fast forward four weeks and the British Open provided Northern Ireland with an even prouder moment when Darren Clarke held his nerve and clinched the title of 2011 Open Champion, making him the third golf major winner from Northern Ireland in 15 months … a truly remarkable achievement.

Twitter was buzzing with the news and one tweet summed it up perfectly…

It’s hard to explain what Darren’s win means to Northern Ireland . It’s not just about golf it’s about beating the odds. We are good at that.

@EamonnHolmes on Twitter

Sadly sandwiched between these two great sporting achievements was another glimpse of everything that is so badly wrong with things in Northern Ireland.  The annual Twelfth parades caused a number of nights of rioting at flashpoints across the province causing numerous injuries to police officers and innocent people caught up in the senseless violence.

When are these stories finally going to be written out of our newspapers and replaced with stories of hope?

SK

The Sad Side Of Our Wee Country

The ugly side of Northern Ireland reared its head again this weekend in a callous and cowardly attack on a young new recruit of the PSNI. The story made news headlines across the world and brought a week of numerous security alerts across the province to a sickening end.

It seems that the dark days of Northern Ireland’s past are not yet behind us and until these groups of dissidents are brought to justice and held responsible for their heartless atrocities, there is only hope of a brighter future. I was listening to the latest album from Seventh Day Slumber in the car today and the words to this song stuck in my head …

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades,
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame,
And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise,
From the inside out, O my soul cries out.

Seventh Day Slumber – “From The Inside Out”

We may be heading back towards dark days but there is an everlasting light that will never fade into the darkness … Do you know Him yet?

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John Ch. 8 v12

SK

2011 So Far

At the start of the year I made my usual list of aims and hopes for the year ahead. We’re almost a quarter of the way through 2011 so thought I’d post an updated list and a few photos from a few adventures …

Aim To …

  • Quickly settle into the new job.
  • Get in the world of Twitter and start tweeting.
  • Spend less time on the computer at home.
  • Move out of the parents house.
  • Get to the gym on a more regular basis.

Hope To …

  • Trade in my brick-like Sony Ericsson for an iPhone.
  • Read more … (actually finish a book would be a start!)
  • See Jena finally escape the hell of retail and find a job that she’ll love doing.

Looking Forward To …

  • Scotland vs. Ireland at Murrayfield in February.
  • Being Best Man at Chris & Su’s wedding in April.
  • Jena being bridesmaid at Claire & Nik’s wedding in July.
  • PCI Summer Team in August.
  • Rugby World Cup in September & October.
  • Not working in retail in December.

SK

Stories Of Life

Northern Ireland has a reputation that sadly and all-to-often seems to precede any news story that comes from our wee country. When news from here reaches a national level the usual headlines typically involve murder, bombings, tragedy and many other equally negative connotations … but Tell It In Colour aims to change this … and change it for a new hopeful generation of people.

TIIC began as an idea by a friend of mine who works for a television and radio station and wanted to show that there were good news stories out there that just didn’t get the air-time they deserved. Since that initial idea, it has grown into an organisation that is aiming to fill the grapevine with stories of hope and show the positivity that is contained within the people of this country.

Some of the stories from the site were the basis of an evening a couple of weeks ago in the Black Box in Belfast. Alongside the stories, local singer-songwriter Stewart McIlrath used the evening to launch his debut album entitled ‘Stories of Life’. The album adds another string to the very creative Tell It In Colour bow and is well worth a listen (link to iTunes below)

The video below will give you a taste for how the evening went and check out the Tell It In Colour site for future events of a similar hopeful and positive nature!

Stewart McIlrath – ‘Stories of Life’ (on iTunes)
Stewart McIlrath – Homepage
Tell It In Colour – Homepage

SK