Beautiful Things

vale10logos

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…”

2010 – The Best Bits

It seems crazy that I’m sitting down to write this already and look back on what’s happened in 2010.  Looking back, I thought I’d pick out some of the moments, times, places and people that have stood out for me this year … enjoy …

Bon Jovi in London

Bon Jovi have always been a band that I have loved listening to. The first album I ever bought was their “Cross Road” album and I had seen them live in Croke Park, Dublin a few years ago but I doubt anything will come close to seeing them in the O2 Arena in London. Jena and I headed over at the end of June and spent two great days in London. The concert was absolutely immense with a packed out O2 and them playing for over two hours, just about as many of their greatest hits that I can remember.

We spent the second day taking in some of the sights and just generally relaxing around London before heading back home. A great break and a great concert experience … JBJ never fails to impress!

Woodvale PCI Team

Where do I even begin with this week of outreach in the summer?! I guess I should thank Jude for asking me to be her assistant this year and for the amazing job that she does not only during the week but throughout the entire year with the kids of the Woodvale area.

Words really failed me this year as we saw God work in so many ways and prayer being answered so readily and in so many powerful ways. The experience of co-leading the team was a great one and the guys who were on the team were amazing and I honestly mean that from the bottom of my heart. Nothing was too much to ask and everyone played their part in another amazing part in Woodvale’s history … you all truly shone like stars in the universe.

Never forget that greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this City.

Florida

This was a holiday that was VERY much overdue for both myself and Jena. We hadn’t had a proper holiday since the last time we were in Florida in 2008 so this was a much needed break from the horrors of part-time work and the seemingly no hope of finding full-time employment, so we used it as two weeks to get away and recharge and forget about everything back home.

We headed back to the same area as before but were a lot more chilled out and caught some more rays while relaxing at the pool rather than being at a park every day. We still managed to do all of Disney, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and (on Jena’s part) a lot of shopping!

An truly awesome holiday and I even managed to get (a bit of) a tan!

Viva Aviva

As most people know I’m a complete rugby fanatic and will watch any level of the game and November is always a big month with the Autumn Internationals. This year was particularly special as it saw the completion of the new national stadium at Lansdowne Road, or as it’s now known the Aviva Stadium.

It is a spectacular stadium, not the best I’ve been in, but it’s still a special place to watch a game that I love. I was lucky enough to get tickets to the opening international between Ireland and South Africa but unfortunately due to a massive cock-up by the IRFU regarding ticketing prices the place was only 70% full. It really dampened the atmosphere and let down what should have been a sell-out with the world champions coming to play there for the first time but hopefully this administrative error will be rectified before the Six Nations in February.

The Aviva is now home to Irish rugby but is still a very long way off recreating the atmosphere of the old Lansdowne Road.

Peter Kay

This was a night that we had waited almost a year for … Peter Kay live in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast. Probably the funniest comedian I have ever seen which is a huge compliment since my DVD collection includes Michael McIntyre, Eddie Izzard, Dara O’Brian, Patrick Keilty, Ross Noble, Frankie Boyle, Rhod Gilbert and Neil Delamere.

I honestly didn’t stop laughing through his entire routine with me in tears at some points and would highly recommend buying the DVD if and when it comes out next year!

Just some of the things that I found hilarious included …

  • The time before rulers were shatterproof
  • Teachers with amnesia
  • Teaching his nan to use Sky+
  • Checking FaceTube on your Thigh Phone
  • Woofing, Quacking and Mooing to Good King Wenceslas and Jingle Bells

The Best Christmas Present Ever!

After two and a half long years of trying to find a full-time graphic design job and after countless rejection letters, non-responses and feeling like giving up … I have managed to successfully escape the nightmare of retail and land myself a job in the marketing department of a top scientific company based in north Belfast.

I am so unbelievably thankful for them giving me the break that I needed and I’m positive that I will not let them down once I commence working for them after Christmas. I am also incredibly indebted to all the people who have been supporting me through their prayers and their helpful advice and pointers over the last number of months.

I kept my eyes focused on one Bible verse the whole time and it just goes to show that God is God and God is good …

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29 v.11

So I guess overall 2010 has been a bit of a mixed bag of feelings, expectations and emotions for me and in true fairy-tale style it ended with a happily ever after! I do plan to sit down before the official end of the year and look back at the goals I had set myself for this year and work out a few goals for 2011 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 2010 has been a good one for you too!

SK

Lost In Wonder

So I’m still recovering from what was almost certainly the best week of any summer team … ever!  I know that’s a pretty sweeping statement but this was the year that the breakthrough was made by God in Woodvale and He really worked miracles constantly throughout the week.  This church and community has been building towards this for several years now and finally great things happened.

Co-leading the team was made so much easier by the fantastic  group of people that we had on board … you all pulled your weight and did things when you were told … you even did things when you weren’t told and so I really thank you guys for that!  I think the following verses sum up the way the week went pretty well (thanks to Lisa!)

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
– Psalm 126 v 1-3 –

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

  • The life & death of the Pink Poodle
  • The Benny Hill Challenge
  • Pingu’s Day of Fun with Ryan & Steve
  • Gillian’s seemingly bottomless wardrobe
  • “Pony, Pony, Pony” … at almost every mealtime
  • The Sunday morning balaclava-wearing raid on the girls room
  • Peter’s facial expression upon being woken up by seven balaclava wearing men
  • Almost being trapped in a muddy field with Pony & Susie by four small boys and their dog
  • Robert’s hickey attacks on Lisa & Andy
  • The longest lunch table in PCI history* (*not official)
  • Frank Mitchell introducing “Peter and his Pony”
  • Reuben trying to squeeze through the window just to hear Farmer & DVC
  • Matty B’s EPIC stories (with tuna endings)
  • Lisa’s garden chair / sun lounger for a bed!
  • Susie & Jude’s “shuffle hugs”
  • Peter almost always having a cup of tea in his hand every time you looked at him
  • The blue milk saga
  • Pony Mercury’s audition
  • O’ Chruch Arise and put your armour on …
  • “Andy …… Andy!”     “What?”     “Just checkin'”
  • Jude constantly losing her phone
  • Being told by a little P1 girl that I looked like a fox
  • Zebra or elephant?
  • Susie’s moth impression
A truly God-filled, awe inspiring, passionate week of outreach … but … greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city.

SK

Woodvale Team 2010

 

So it’s that time of year again … scary to think it’s 12 months since the team last year and even scarier to think that I’m co-leading the team this time around! We seem relatively well prepared and I get the feeling from the team that it’s going to be a good one and the whole Woodvale area is buzzing already in expectation of the return of Woodvale’s Got Talent!

I’ve jotted down our prayer points for the week below and as a team we would really appreciate your prayers over what is going to be a very busy, hectic, tiring, energy sapping but amazing God-filled week … you can also download a copy to print out <>.

Woodvale 2010 Team Prayer Points

* Our vision is to see dignity restored to people and to the Woodvale community through serving them in a Jesus-like way – pray that this would happen.

*Our newly birthed church youth group Squat will be serving alongside the team – this is an exciting new development – please pray that these young people would really encounter God through this and have their lives transformed. A small number of them are Christians but they have massive struggles – please pray for breakthrough with these issues – and that those who aren’t yet Christians will want to say Yes to Jesus.

* Pray for our kids and teens work – that young people would see God as real, powerful and exciting – and that life with Him is incomparably better than the alternatives offered to them as they hang out on the streets. Pray that many would want to come into a relationship with Him.

* Pray for our Woodvale’s Got Talent community event – people in Woodvale have been asking all year if we were going to repeat this after last year’s success. Please pray that this is a powerful experience for those who take part and those who come into the church to watch – that the community would be drawn together and see the church as somewhere open to them. Also pray that those who take part will feel so validated by being applauded and celebrated – and that they would experience Jesus through this.

* Pray for the team – that we would be united in vision and in Jesus’ Love. Pray for Jude and myself as we lead – for wisdom, passion and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

* Pray for the Church – that people would be inspired to get more and more involved in serving the people of Woodvale. Pray that the Church will become a central hub in the community.

SK

Future Dreams Turn To Real Life Nightmares

 

The opening line “What a difference a day made, twenty four little hours”  is from an old song that Jamie Callum covered a few years ago … the song goes on to tell of knowing that every day with someone you love is precious and how one day could have made the difference between being with them and never seeing them again.

It seems appropriate that this song came into my head when I heard the lunchtime news on the radio today.  Not even 24 hours after attending an incredibly inspiring evening in the Urban Soul Cafe held by Tell It In Colour, which used real people’s stories to reflect on the good news stories that are showing the world that Northern Ireland is changing for the better …… I find myself hearing breaking news of a man being gunned down in broad-daylight on a busy street in North Belfast.

Up until probably three years ago I had never been on the Shankill Road … never driven anywhere near it and knew no-one who lived there.  Now that area of Belfast is only a few hundred yards from where I have been involved with the Woodvale PCI team for a couple of years and is an area that I feel part of every time I go there.  It’s frightening to think that there are some people in this city who would intentionally go out of their way rob someone of a husband, a father or a son.

I guess we can only hope, dream and pray for a brighter future for this city.

SK

Tick, Tick, Tick

Just thought I’d update the list of things I had planned at the start of 2010 to do this year.  So far I’ve managed to tick off half of them and we’re only half way through March so I guess I’m not doing too bad!

Head back to the States with Jen

We have just recently booked to head back to Orlando for two weeks in October … I know it seems a long way off but I’m really looking forward to it already and cannot wait to hit the rollercoaster trail again!

Get back into a gym routine

Wednesday nights have officially become gym night … possibly due to the lack of Liverpool featuring in any Champions League action this season which has dramatically freed up my Wednesday nights!

PCI Team 2010

I’ll be heading back to Woodvale at the end of August and will be the assistant team leader this year alongside Jude.  I was delighted when she asked me if I would help her lead and am really excited about the work that’s going to be done this year, about the team members that we’re going to have and everything that amazed me about Woodvale last year!

I guess that’s as far as it goes in terms of progress so far in 2010 … still a couple of things left on the list and probably the most important one to me is still sitting at #1 and is still unticked …

  1. Find a job doing something I love
  2. Head back to the States with Jen
  3. Get back into a gym routine
  4. Finish reading a book in the same year that I start it!
  5. Spend less time on the computer
  6. PCI Team 2010
  7. Keep in touch with people better
  8. Redesign my business cards

SK

2009 – The Best Bits (Pt. ii)

Part (ii) as promised …

Proposals

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

bb-camp
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!

SK

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=”http://www.stephenkellydesign.co.uk/videos/woodvale2009.flv” /]