I Believe In You

Support OCD Awareness Week

As today marks the start of #OCDAwarenessWeek I’m going to be blogging exclusively about this devastating and deeply misunderstood mental illness in an effort to educate and raise awareness. As many of you know, I have struggled with OCD for most of my life, particularly in my 20’s and 30’s. While I largely control it […]

Be a rainbow in someone’s cloud

Last month I posted a blog titled Loneliness which you can read via this link https://fracturedfaithblog.com/2019/09/12/loneliness/ if you missed it. I had an idea about spreading some hope to people who do feel lonely by sending out Christmas cards/letters and asked if anybody would like to take part to send me an email. This idea […]

So Proud Of Our Kids

Now that Adam is sadly sidelined with a knee injury, Rebecca has taken up the mantle of sporting star for the Black family. After trying out a number of activities in recent years, everything from ballet to taekwondo, she has settled on football as her chosen sport. She started training with the local girls football […]

I’m Not An Angry Person But….

I woke up at 4:30 am and that’s been that, sleep wise. Since then I’ve been frenetically tapping away, putting the finishing touches to Chapter 5 of my serialised short story, ‘Bomb Girl,’ which I hope to post later today. I hope you all enjoy it. There’s been a bit of a gap between Chapters […]

Why?

I don’t really know what to say in this post so I’ll cut to the chase. Adam injured his knee in a match last weekend and underwent a MRI scan on Friday, the results of which we will receive today. We are hopeful it will be good news, but are prepared for the worst case […]

Are You Out There?

There have been a few technical issues with the blog of late, meaning my posts haven’t been reaching everyone. Fionnuala made me aware of this yesterday and we’re not quite sure what is causing it. Either way, I woke up this morning with the word ‘connection’ in my head. As a writer, it’s a key […]

Questions Of The Day

Occasionally I’ll sit back and let you lot do the work. Fionnuala and I spend our weeks in a blur with work and family commitments. There are many days I have little opportunity to run, write or blog. So this morning I’ll leave you with a question. Or three. Please answer, especially if you are […]

Support World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Every 40 seconds a person chooses to take their own life. All life is precious and every suicide is preventable. The problem is as prevalent and relevant in Northern Ireland, where I live, but it also affects your community. Many of us feel powerless against suicide but we can […]

We Are Here For You

Excited as I was last month at the continued growth of the blog, I was even more thrilled yesterday to realise we had broken our monthly views figure again in August. With a day to spare, no less. Yes, 14,000 of you clicked the view button on a FracturedFaithBlog post. Or maybe 7 of you […]

Don’t Live Forever, Live For Now

25 years ago Oasis released ‘Definitely Maybe.’ Hearing this announced on the news this morning made me feel very old. It also brought memories of listening to the album on my ancient CD Walkman while walking to my first ‘proper’ job all those years ago. I was incredibly nervous but the music helped me to […]

Can You See This?

I posted a blog earlier today but due to unknown technical reasons, it hasn’t appeared on a lot of timelines. Either that or I didn’t get the memo about the universal boycott of FracturedFaithBlog with immediate effect. The former is the obvious reason but my OCD addled brain latches onto the latter. It whispers ‘they […]

Suicide – What Do We Do?

Over the last 10 days, 15 young people have taken their own lives in Belfast. There is not a week goes past when I’m on call, that I don’t receive a phone call to inform me there has been another suicide. It has become an epidemic in all our cities and communities, cutting a swathe […]

There Is Always Hope

Being a total dork, I was studying our WordPress stats the other day and discovered the blog recently passed 200,000 views since its creation just over two years ago. Wow! And I’ll say that again. Wow! I still remember nervously tapping out my first post, ‘The Bag Lady,’ before hitting the publish button and sending […]

Keep Screaming

Thank you to those who responded to my post yesterday, calling for more interaction between bloggers. It seemed to resonate with a lot of you, judging by the number of comments I received. Your screams were most certainly heard and I’m still getting caught up on my replies so, please bear with me. You’re never […]

Bilbo Had A Ring

Bilbo had a ring. That’s how it starts. Arguably the greatest work of fiction ever written. A nondescript little hobbit in the back end of nowhere called The Shire had a ring. I’ve started re-reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ again and, some time ago, promised to share my thoughts on it with you all. […]

Screaming Into The Abyss

Interaction is so important to me as a writer. Whenever I post a blog, it’s great to see multiple views and likes pop up on my notifications, but it’s the comments that really matter to me. To know that a person has taken the time to read a post, truly thought about it and then […]

Why Did God Create Wasps?

All things bright and beautiful All creatures great and small All things bright and beautiful The Lord God made them all. So goes the traditional hymn I recall being belted out on the church organ so many times during my childhood. It was normally reserved for harvest time when each pew would be adorned with […]

Who Are You?

This was a question I was asked yesterday and it immediately popped into my head the moment I opened my eyes this morning. Hmmmm….now let me think. I’m a father, husband, son, brother, uncle and cousin. I’m a manager, employee, friend and acquaintance. I’m a runner, writer, blogger and lover of honeycomb ice cream and […]

Killing Villanelle

I’ve been binge watching, and raving over, the BBC series ‘Killing Eve,’ of late. So as I spill the rest of my life all over WordPress I thought I would share the love with my blogging friends. It stars Sandra Oh (from Grey’s Anatomy) as Eve Polastri, a MI6 operative tasked with tracking down a […]

Woolly Hats In August

Big running day as Gearard, my brother in law, and I stepped it up to over 10.5 miles. Gearard is running his first half marathon next weekend while I stepped up the mileage again as part of my training for the Belfast Half Marathon on 22 September. That’s only six weeks away now! It was […]

Girls Night Out….Boys Night In

Fionnuala, Hannah & Rebecca had a great time at the Boyzone concert in Belfast last night. 12,000 fans packed out Falls Park in Belfast to hear them perform their final ever Irish concert as part of the Feile an Phobail festival. The weather remained (mostly) dry and the girls sang their hearts out, returning home […]

Reasons To Stay Alive #4

People. My family. My friends. YOU! Writing can be such an insular process. The loneliness of the long distance runner, I get that, but it’s got nothing on the writing experience. The worry, the doubt, the 1001 emotions that rampage through your head every time your finger hovers over the publish button. It’s a whirlwind, […]

We Need Your Feedback

The blog passed 11,000 followers the other day and it’s growth continues to amaze and delight me. I don’t know why people keep coming back to view, like and comment but I’m forever grateful. At each milestone, I like to ask you guys what you want from the blog in the future. As well as, […]

Happy Anniversary To Us

Fionnuala and I don’t get out much but last night we went for a Chinese meal and, afterwards, the cinema to watch the new ‘Lion King.’ Okay, the girls were with us but that’s part of the fun of family life. Just getting out of the house and being able to do stuff together sure […]

Speak Less, Do More

Money doesn’t grow on trees and these dishes won’t wash themselves. Two phrases I am very familiar with. If nothing else, life has taught me that you’re likely to be very disappointed if you sit around all day doing nothing, waiting for the ‘good stuff’ to drop into your lap. Life doesn’t work like that […]

Help A First Time Author Out

Marketing a book is an incredibly steep learning curve. Believe me, the writing bit is the easy part. One thing I have learned is that us debut author live and die by Amazon reviews. There are over 6 million books available to buy on Amazon at any one time and it’s those precious reviews which […]

Our Day At The Seaside

A picture speaks a thousand words they say, whoever they are. We had a lovely day at the seaside yesterday so, other than describe it in a written post, I thought I’d share some photographs that Fionnuala and I snapped. Eleven to be precise. Which beats me rambling on for 11,000 words. Feel free to […]

Do You Suffer From Imposter Syndrome?

I don’t dream much, I leave all that to Fionnuala, who is a prolific nocturnal storyteller. But last night I dreamt I was a trainee pilot. I turned up at the airport for my first shift to be told I was flying a massive jet to Australia. No pressure, then, although I did have to […]

The Lonely Furrow

Blogging, and writing in general, can be a thankless task. Believe me, I know. You pour your heart and soul into your words only to be greeted with apathy and indifference. Us writers plough a lonely furrow at times. We don’t necessarily do it for the recognition, but it is reassuring to know our work […]

Thoughts On Doubt

Whenever you poke your head above the parapet of life and try something different, there is always a degree of trepidation. You can be gripped by fear, riddled with doubt or overcome with indecision. You do not know what to expect as this is new ground, never traveled before. You want to turn back, duck […]

I Stand By The Tracks

Thank I write this from my train stop as it’s back to work with a resounding bump this morning. The stop is empty, I’m either incredibly early for the next train or incredibly late for the last one. Either way, I’m sitting here on my own, enjoying the weak morning sun and the cheerful chatter […]

Where Are Your Words?

Don’t be sad, or tired, or lonely. Be you. For that is enough. I awoke this morning and the above words dropped into my head. Dropped with such a resounding clunk, that I had go write them down immediately. These words were not of me, I’m convinced of that. I don’t know where they emanated […]

A Record Breaking Day

Exciting times at FracturedFaithBlog. Sunday was our biggest and er…. bestest in over two years blogging. We set new highs in both daily views and likes. And, to top it all off, Fionnuala’s post on being the wife of a published author (moi) was the highest rating blog we’ve ever had. Huzzah. I found that […]

Reasons To Stay Alive #3 – It Will Get Better

It’s the weekend, and a long one at that, as it’s a public holiday in Northern Ireland on Monday. I finally have an opportunity to draw breath and look back on the events of the last few days. I’ve been employed by my organisation for 19 years and was promoted on Tuesday to a senior […]

Shards #1 – What Do You See When You Look In The Mirror?

When you look in a mirror what do you see? Is it a functional task, performing a visual checklist, before you step out to face what the day ahead brings. Hair, check. Clothes, check. Overall appearance? Meh, acceptable, you’ll do, I’m late for the train, no time to think too hard about this. Then it’s […]

Hungry For Life….And Toast

Now that the hatchlings are on their summer holidays, our house is a little less frenetic in the mornings. I’m the only ‘child’ Fionnuala has to usher out of the nest, so there is (slightly) less screaming, shouting and general pandemonium. It’s chaos but organised chaos for Mrs Black runs a finely oiled domestic machine, […]

Reasons To Stay Alive – The Now

I wish it was this time next month. I would be on my summer leave. I’d have another stressful job interview behind me. My book would be published. I’m anxious about the latter two. Very anxious. The next month could be one of the most important of my life. In so many ways. It’s a […]

Everywhere You Go….

I don’t know what it’s like in your little corner of the world but, when all else fails in Northern Ireland, we talk about the weather. We talk about the weather A LOT. I say talk but it’s more complain. It’s either (mostly) too wet but then we moan when it’s too dry as it’s […]

Running In Circles

Back running today after my latest injury setback. I originally thought it was worse but, thankfully, it seems to have settled down after a week of rest. Well, I say rest, but what I actually mean is a week of not running. You never really get to rest at chez Black as we lurch from […]

Thoughts From A Crime Scene

The written word is a smoking gun. It leaves clues, drops of blood that we follow pitter, patter to the scene of the crime, the grisly truth. A crime scene is an oasis of silence, a deadly dearth, until life explodes upon it. Raised voices, orders tersely barked, the click, whirr, click of the photographers […]

Where Are You On The ‘Me Me Me’ Tree?

We are all a little self obsessed. It’s human nature, that we focus on our own interests. Animal instinct, if you like. The trick is to be aware of this character defect and work against the grain, to put the needs of others before our own. Love others. You get my drift. It’s not easy […]

Going To Work In Sports Socks

I’m not saying I’m a needy dependent but my wife did make me change my socks this morning before allowing me to go to work. I thought I looked perfectly respectable. Dark grey suit, white shirt, black socks and shoes. Fionnuala took one look at my feet and shot me a horrified look – ‘You […]

Words Are Where It All Begins

Life is too short. We need to say what we mean. I’ve spent much of my life beating about the bush, avoiding the real issues and choosing to ignore the various white elephants trumpeting in the corner of the room. I often feel that I’ve wasted so much time and am now desperately facing a […]

Digging

I’ve been digging in our front garden this week and now understand the meaning of the phrase ‘farmer fit.’ It’s ridiculously hard work. By the time I finished my back ached, my hands were raw, and the sweat was dripping off my nose. I staggered back into the house, doubled over and struggling for breath. […]

I Love My Husband….But He’s An Idiot

My super talented and slightly sarcastic wife jumped at the opportunity of participating in this week’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Warning – parts of this story may be true…. It was an usually cold May Saturday afternoon, exactly a week after Stephen’s birthday for which his wife Fionnuala surprised him with tickets for the last home […]

Photographs From Today’s Run

Here are some photos from today’s run. My 12 miles ended up as 13.5 but hey ho. Hannah joined me for the first mile while Rebecca chilled out at a picnic before joining up with me near the finish. Fionnuala was there to capture all the best moments and keep us all under control. The […]

Fractured Faith Hits 10,000 Followers

Hello from Northern Ireland. We woke up to more good news this morning. Fractured Faith Blog passed the 10,000 follower mark overnight. Almost two weeks ahead of schedule. Fionnuala and I would like to thank everyone who contributed towards the ‘final push.’ It’s been a tumultuous and topsy turvy week and I, for one, am […]

The Breaking Even Point

Being the most boring man alive, I’m reading a book about leadership at the minute called ‘The First 90 Days.’ It’s aimed at people who have moved into a new work role, normally as a result of a promotion, and who are expected to make an initial positive impact. It features lots of fancy leadership […]

Help Me With My Bucket List

I turned 49 today. I know, I know, I don’t look a day over 39 you silver tongued charmers. I’ve had a fantastic day with the family, received some lovely presents and eaten far too much. Back running again tomorrow in order to burn off the 49 million calories I consumed today. Thank you to […]

Happy Birthday To Me….Well Almost

It’s my birthday in five days! Where has the last year gone? Search me. No need to guess my age or enquire as to my address for cards and gifts. Well, unless you insist. Rather, I want to spend the week returning the favour. I’m very blessed and grateful for the life I have. There […]

How I Spent My Easter Monday

Charlie the border terrier may be seven now, but he doesn’t know that, so still bounces about with all the energy of a three month old pup. We woke up to a beautiful, sunny day so I decided to take him for a walk around the village so as to burn off some of his […]

Let’s Start Again

When it comes to beating yourself up, I could compete for Ireland at the Olympics. But the last few days have taught me I need to focus on my strengths as opposed to dwell on the perceived weaknesses which always loom large in my rear view mirror. Fionnuala reminded me recently of what I have […]

I’ve Got 99 Bibles….

While I’m an avid reader I haven’t picked up my Bible in some time. This has niggled away at my conscience but there always seems to be something else which gets in the way. It’s hard to put my finger on but one of my ‘problems’ is that when I think about reading it, I […]

I’m Home Alone….What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I’m Home Alone this weekend. Well, almost. Fionnuala and Hannah are off to Dublin tomorrow for the Shaun Mendes concert. Hannah is fit to burst with excitement and I think Mrs Black is secretly looking forward to it as well, although she would never admit as much. They are packing as if they are going […]

What Mythical Being Are You?

Eyebrows were raised across the nation last week when Good Morning Britain, the U.K.’s leading breakfast show, interviewed an American lady who had decided to live her life as an elf. Complete with prosthetic ears, flowing dresses and ethereal eyed elegance. A proper elf, a la J.R.R. Tolkien as opposed to Will Ferrell prancing around […]

Why I Won’t Be Lying For Another 364 Days

Yesterday was the busiest ever day in the two year history of the blog. Our April Fool’s Day post received 227 views and, in total, we broke the 500 view barrier for the first time. We also broke the 9500 follower mark and are heading towards the big 10K, a figure we never dreamed of […]

The Curious Case Of People Who Read Christmas Blogs In March

As the first quarter of the year draws to a close, I’m somewhat surprised that people are still viewing a series of blogs I posted at Christmas – imaginatively entitled ‘The 12 Blogging Questions of Christmas’. Are people accidentally stumbling across these posts or are there folk out there who just can’t abide parting with […]

The Morning I Regretted Making Breakfast

As it was Fionnuala’s birthday the other day, I bounced down the stairs and grandly announced I was going to make breakfast for everyone. I zoomed off to the village shop, returning with bacon, sausages and fresh bread. Throwing them onto the grille, I began to probe the Black clan for orders as they blearily […]

It’s #Pitmad Day On Twitter

I’ll be participating in #pitmad today on Twitter, where writers pitch their book ideas in the form of a 280 character tweet. Literary agents will be scanning the feed throughout the day and, if interested in your pitch, will like the tweet and ask you to submit them additional material. It’s a great way of […]

Are You A Confident Person?

Fionnuala and I are attending Hannah’s annual school review this lunchtime. This does exactly what it says on the tin. We sit around a table and listen as her teacher, classroom assistant, physio and occupational therapist update us as to her progress so far this school year. I know we will have nothing to fear […]

The Hole In The Hedge Train

I’m on the early train this morning. It’s half empty and I’ve two seats to myself. Normally I get a later train where there is no room to swing a cat. I could swing several cats on this one. Simultaneously. We could have a cat swinging contest. I doubt if I’d win though. I’m not […]

Do You Say Yes When You Mean No?

I’m not very good at saying no. In fact, I’m pretty useless at it. I’m a people pleaser, I hate the thought of others thinking bad of me. I’ll do anything I can to avoid confrontation and disagreements, even if it means placing myself in a position where I commit to something which is detrimental […]

Are You A Wall Builder?

Everybody is talking about walls. Or barriers. Obstacles. Objects which will keep people apart. For a plethora of reasons, some of which make sense to me, others where I go ‘hmmmmm….I’m not so sure.’ This post is not about my opinions though, rather the subject of walls. This could be a bit of a rambling […]

I’m Exactly What It Says On The Tin

It’s Day Two of my Interview Panel Skills Training – everybody go yaaaaay – and today we are conducting mock interviews – everybody go boooo. I woke up with a sickly sheen of dread coating my body. For I despise days like this, where you are encouraged (forced) to partake in role play within the […]

Are You Gerascophobic?

Oh good….now that I’ve got your attention I’ll begin. Ahem….. I’ve just finished reading ‘How To Stop Time’ by Matt Haig which I highly recommend to you all. Haig writes a lot on mental health issues but is also an acclaimed novelist. The book tells the tale of Tom Hazard, who on the surface is […]

What Is Your Worst Habit?

Yesterday I wrote about my ongoing querying of literary agents and how researching their backgrounds prior to submitting your manuscript to them, is the acceptable face of online stalking. It was a tongue in cheek piece, as most of my writing is, but there was a serious message wrapped up inside the frivolity. That being, […]

I’m The Acceptable Face Of Stalking

Now that I’ve finished my first novel and it’s been through the beta critique and editing phases, the next step is to query literary agents. This, unfortunately, is a bit more than e-mailing them the manuscript, sitting back and crossing my fingers and toes. Instead I have to draft and forward them a bespoke letter […]

Sticking Your Head Above The Parapets

I was raised on fantasy novels and this has largely continued into my supposed adult years. It began with a fascination for Middle Earth and all things Tolkien. My mind was filled with adventures accompanied by hobbits and elves, battling orcs and armies of darkness at the foot of Mount Mordor. As a teenager I […]

Do You Believe In Yourself?

I received an e-mail earlier this week from a fellow blogger asking for advice on growing their blog. This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question. After much frowning of brows and scratching of heads I cobbled together a reply where I talked about quality writing, consistent themes and regular interaction with fellow […]

I Didn’t Want To Write Today

I didn’t want to write today. Yet here I am, tentatively tapping at the keyboard. Feeling my way into the next sentence, fumbling through another paragraph. The words come, they always do. A hesitant trickle at first, before I relax and they flow freely. And when they flow freely, then I am free as well. […]

Why Do Women Not Understand Manflu?

I woke up this morning and groaned. Not only was it a dark and dreary Monday morning, but I sensed a tickle in my throat. My nose was blocked and my energy levels were even lower than I normally would have expected. I sighed and sadly informed Fionnuala that I appeared to be unwell. I […]

The Blind Leading The Blind

The other day I encountered an elderly blind man in the city centre. He was experiencing some difficulties as double decker buses roared past, mere feet away. I instinctively wanted to go to his aid but the introverted, socially awkward voice in my head held me back. ‘You don’t talk to strangers, Stephen. What if […]

We All Need To Eat More Pizza

We had friends visiting last night so treated ourselves to Dominos Pizza, given it was buy one get one free Tuesday. It was too good an offer to miss out on, so we ended up going buy three, get three free. And try saying that with a mouthful of ham and pineapple deep crust. Everyone […]

Sins of the Father

Sins of the Father https://thewisewordsproject.com/2019/01/28/sins-of-the-father/ — Read on thewisewordsproject.com/2019/01/28/sins-of-the-father/ I was approached some weeks ago by http://thewisewordsproject.com and asked to write a piece for their website. Here it is, a tale of two great men, and the third who connects them. Thank you to the website for giving me the opportunity to write for them. […]

The Day My Dog Spoke To Me

Our dog, Charlie the border terrier, isn’t the sharpest tool in the box. Every morning I fill his bowl with fresh water, and every morning he and I enact the same routine. He pads over to the bowl, sniffs at it and then rewards me with a withering glare, before sulking in his cage for […]

These Boots Were Made For….Squelching

Now that I’m a full time Rugby Dad, my son honoured me at Christmas by buying me a pair of Wellington boots to keep my tootsies dry and warm as I prowl up and down the touchline. He even included a pair of thermal socks which almost reach my knees. Combined with winter coat, gloves, […]

What Do Bloggers Do On Sunday?

From personal experience, Sunday is the quietest day of the week on WordPress. People tend to be offline and blog traffic picks up later in the week again. For many people, Sunday is traditionally a day of rest. They have a lie in, spend the day with their family, some go to church. I also […]

Words

Words are something that we all use every day of our life Words that are spoken in many different languages and ways be it through speech, sign language, communication boards, text messaging and writing to name but a few Words that are loving, encouraging, beautiful, uplifting and words that are dangerous, nasty, hateful and ugly […]

I’m With The 39%

According to a poll taken yesterday, 61% of its population think the United Kingdom is in crisis. The reason? Why, Brexit of course. The ongoing saga reached new depths last night when Prime Minister Teresa May’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement was defeated by over 200 votes in Parliament. This triggered the Labour opposition calling for a […]

Algebra Is Hard. Common Sense Is Harder.

Rebecca handed me the homework from hell yesterday evening. Algebra, no less. I initially thought it was Geography and was a study of North African nations until I realised it was Maths. Or, in order to avoid confusing our loyal North American readership….Math. Armed with a lowly ‘C’ in my O Level Mathematics back when […]

The Land Is Yours

Every so often, I get a phrase in my head that won’t budge. It’s different from the million other thoughts which bounce around my head every day. Different in that I know it is not of me. It’s as if a flying saucer has landed on my cranium and a team of little green men […]

I Interviewed A Dying Man….

I interviewed a dying man once. I was visibly shocked when he calmly informed me that this was the case. He mentioned it as you would the weather, or how shocking the train service has been of late. It was matter of fact, making conversation, a throwaway comment. To many, that sounds as if he […]

An Idiot Abroad – My Adventures In London – Part 1

I write this post from my hotel room in London. Despite the street outside sounding like a scene from ‘The Fast And The Furious’ last night, I managed to sleep quite well. We are staying in Mayfair, which is one of the most expensive properties on a Monopoly board. It’s apparently quite posh, swanky and […]

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

I’m on a road trip today. Not that I particularly want to, what with this current lurgy still afflicting me. The only trip I want to take these days is up the wooden hill to my bed. But, needs must, the hatchlings require feeding and Fionnuala has cushions to buy. So I’m off to London […]

The Day The World Went Mad….Again

Happy 7th January everyone! The day the world went mad….again. Well it is in this little corner of the planet anyway. The day, all the schools return after the Christmas break and offices and businesses crank into gear once more after the limbo of last week. The trains will be packed, the roads will be […]

A Sneak Peek For You All

A little book update for you all this morning. For it is morning in not so sunny Northern Ireland. Regular readers will know that I forwarded the 6th draft of ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles – Skelly’s Square’ to my editor, Laura, before Christmas. She had the audacity to take a break over the festive period […]

Belfast 2019

I’ve been a bit under the weather of late, and unable to run, but it’s good to have targets so I thought I’d write about my main racing target for 2019 – the Belfast Marathon on 05 May. It seems a long way off at the minute, but for most people January marks the beginning […]

Don’t Tell My Wife I’ve Written This

They are legion. Breeding. Multiplying. Every time I turn my back, more of them appear. Cloning. Driving me to the depths of despair and the heights of frustration. Are they a hallucination? A figment of my overworked imagination? Is there a medical term for such a psychosis? Do I require medication, counselling, a lie down […]

And So It Begins….

The grind, that is. Back on the 07:53 express train to Belfast. The platform bathed in a sickly glow, casting up the faces of my fellow commuters to me for scrutiny. The same faces as before, some new clothes and accessories, but the same faces. Wearing the same expressions. Mostly frowns, mostly down. The occasional […]

The Days When Everything Clicks

Today was one of those days as far as Adam’s rugby went. He was selected to play for Lurgan College’s 2nd XV away to Banbridge Academy. Banbridge had won the corresponding fixture 10-7 earlier in the year, and another close contest was expected. We were missing a few players however, due to the Christmas holidays, […]

The 12 Blogging Questions Of Christmas – Day 6 – What Do You Believe In?

Sixteen years ago today, Fionnuala made one of the worst decisions of her life. She married me! I’m joking…..I think. Since then, we have had our ups and downs, but we are still together and facing all the world has to throw at us. We have been blessed with three wonderful kids, and I’m looking […]

The 12 Blogging Questions Of Christmas – What Was Your Favourite Book Of 2018?

Blogging is all about interaction and community. During the course of 2018 I have stumbled across all kinds of varied, interesting people. All with relevant and inspiring stories. I’m hoping to find, and interact with, many more in 2019 and beyond. To encourage this intent, I’m going to run a festive themed blog series over […]

Something Has Been On My Mind.

I wrote some time ago that I was no longer going to write exclusively about Christian topics. I described myself as a Christian who blogs, as opposed to a Christian blogger. My reasons for this have been well documented so I don’t think I need to repeat them on this post. Suffice to say, I […]

Everybody Hurts. Most of the Time

My neck hurts. This is a surefire indicator of stress. Here’s a true story. The night before I got married, I got a cramp in my neck. Since then, whenever I get stressed, I develop a dull ache in one side of my neck. Cracking it helps. A little. I have no idea if there […]

Happy Birthday Hannah

Today marks a special day at chez Black. Our middle hatchling, Hannah, turns 15 years old. Fionnuala and I are deeply proud of the wonderful young woman she is turning into. She has her moments, don’t we all, but her kind nature, sensitive heart and bubbly personality serves as an inspiration to us all. We […]

#Pitmad – Be Extraordinary

pastorkarlablog.wordpress.com/2018/12/07/be-extraordinary/ My third and final #pitmad reblog goes to an extraordinary lady, Pastor Karla, who offers an extraordinary message. None of us are ordinary, even when we feel at our lowest ebb. I’ve been there, rock bottom. I know. There is always hope.

Only People In The Movies Slip On Banana Skins

Have you ever watched an old black and white movie where one of the characters slips on a banana skin and then launches into mid air before coming crashing back to earth again. Cue howls of laughter. Oh stop, my aching sides. I always thought such scenes were confined to the silver screen. Surely such […]

Where Are You God?

It was a frosty start this morning as we arose to face a dark and dreary Tuesday. The car thermometer informed us it was below freezing as Fionnuala drove me out to the train station for my daily commute to Belfast. Ahead of us was another busy day. The weekend seems a long way off, […]

Can You?

Northern Ireland seems to be in a state of permanent darkness at present. When I wake up it’s dark, cold, wet and windy. I go to work and sit in an office all day. With no windows. Then I come home. It’s dark, cold, wet and windy. The only time I encounter daylight is on […]

Who Would Win A Fight Between Donald Trump’s Hair And Tom Selleck’s Moustache?

Living in Northern Ireland, a country obsessed with politicians who are utterly incapable of agreeing about anything, you would think an educated, intelligent young man about town like myself would have more than a passing knowledge of the subject. Well, yah boo sucks to you, for I have very little interest in our learned leaders. […]

It Was Too Good To Eat….So I Ate It

I was in a coffee shop the other day and was drawn to this bad boy. A raspberry and white chocolate scone. An uber scone, a scone to end all scones. Thankfully the calorific content was nowhere to be seen, as it lured me onto the rocks of decadence. I was powerless to resist and, […]

It’s 23 November….Happy Christmas!

HAPPY CHRISTMAS! Er….okay. I realise it’s not even December yet, but Fionnuala and I buckled to pressure from our daughters today. Hannah has already been watching Christmas movies for several weeks, and was belting out festive tunes this morning in the car. It was only a matter of time before I was dispatched to the […]

I’m Giving Up Blogging To Join The Circus

Relax. I’m not. Although…. I was driving home from work last week, after a brutally tough day in the office. My head was fried, my brains were mush. All I wanted to do was get home and vegetate on the sofa. I was too tired to write, run, do anything really. My neck ached, a […]

Dreams Of My Father

I lost my father eight years ago to prostate cancer. Since then, I’ve tried to keep memories of him alive. I’ve run marathons in honour of him, written a book where his legacy is touched upon, even had his name tattooed on my forearm. But I’ve rarely dreamed of him. Which has always puzzled me, […]

When Faith Is Fractured | Interview With Fractured Faith

When Faith Is Fractured | Interview With Fractured Faith https://nobledevotionblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/06/when-faith-is-fractured-interview-with-fractured-faith/ — Read on nobledevotionblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/06/when-faith-is-fractured-interview-with-fractured-faith/ A big thank you to T.R. Noble for affording me the opportunity to talk about my ‘fractured faith.’ Be sure to check out her blog!

Would You Be Missed If You Didn’t Get Out Of Bed Today?

We woke up to vile weather this morning. It was cold, dark, wet and windy. Standard Northern Irish weather. Which made getting up to go to work an even less pleasurable experience than normal. Yet, still we get up and stumble wearily into the day ahead. We front up to any number of monotonous, mundane […]

Keep Going

My beloved Manchester United won today, coming from behind to beat Bournemouth F.C. 2-1. This was even more exciting, given the nature of the winning goal, a last gasp strike from young English striker, Marcus Rashford. United have a rich history of such last minute heroics, harking back to the 1999 Champions League final, when […]

HAPPY BIRTHDAY REBECCA

Happy Birthday to this 12 year old girl today. If you don’t know her, then I’ll spell out to you how much we love her. R – Rowdy E – Energetic B – Beautiful E – Exciting C – Clever C – Cheeky….Sometimes A – Athletic HAPPY 12th BIRTHDAY REBECCA!! 😊♥️🎂

What’s The Stupidest Question A Stranger Has Ever Asked You?

Now I’m not one to pass comment but…. There I was, minding my own business yesterday, around two miles into a seven mile lunchtime run. I was happily loping along at a very respectable pace, enjoying the autumnal sun and surrounding scenery of the Lagan Towpath. This riverside walkway is always busy in the middle […]

How Did That Happen?

We passed 7500 followers yesterday. Quite the achievement for the little blog that Fionnuala encouraged me to start almost eighteen months ago. Since then, there have been almost daily posts about life, the universe and everything. I’m not quite sure why, but people continue to read and post encouraging comments. It has been both an […]

Are You A Morning Person?

In our house on weekdays, the alarm normally arouses the adults from blissful sleep at 5:45 am. Routine then kicks in and our weary bodies go onto autopilot. Fionnuala commences the Herculean act of getting a bouncing eleven year old and two zombie teenagers out of the house and on their way to school. Uniforms […]

I’m Not A Fussy Eater But….

When it comes to food, I’ve always prided myself on being able to eat pretty much anything. I’m not a fussy diner. Place a plate of food in front of me and ten minutes later, possibly sooner as I’m a quick eater, it will be gone. I inherited that from my father, although Fionnuala has […]

The Winning Ticket – Part Two

Earlier today I wrote about purchasing a monthly train ticket for the princely sum of £138. Since then I have been commuting to and from Belfast, constantly checking my wallet to satisfy myself it was where it was meant to be. I would produce and stare at it longingly like Frodo Baggins on his way […]

The Winning Ticket – Part 1

As many of you know, I get the train to and from Belfast every day as part of my commute to work. My adventures on the 07:53 express to often feature on this blog. Today’s post is no exception. But today I want to talk about money, or rather saving money. Something I’m not very […]

Why I Love Being Rubbish

I upped my distance to eight miles yesterday. A very slow eight miles, but eight miles nonetheless. It was a beautiful autumn day, a total contrast to the heavy rain and high winds which swept across Northern Ireland on Saturday. I’m nowhere near the level I was running at, even six months ago. A couple […]

Unsung Heroes

Our weekends seem to be getting busier and busier as the kids get older. Today has been no exception. Adam had a rugby game in Belfast, prior to starting his part time job at 3pm. In the middle of all that, Hannah had a lunchtime birthday party to attend. As we only have one car, […]

Getting Back On The Horse Again

Storm Callum hit Northern Ireland with a vengeance yesterday. About half a mile into my comeback run to be precise. I have run very little since the Causeway Coast Marathon at the end of September, but vowed yesterday to get my running shoes on and pound the pavements again. Which sounded like a great idea. […]

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

My hiatus from novel writing and running has allowed me to re-evaluate and focus on more important areas of life – namely my faith and family. A few days ago I asked for suggestions as to which book of the Bible I could feature in a future study on the blog. I was inundated with […]

Is God Really Good?

When I was at school, and Queen Victoria sat upon the throne, I had a very grumpy English teacher called Mrs Hume. I felt sorry for Mr. Hume if she was as grumpy at home. Mrs Hume was a well balanced woman. She had a chip on both shoulders. Life had dealt her a poor […]

The Tooth Will Set You Free

Remember that tooth? You know, the one I have been whining….I mean writing….about these last few weeks? The idiot who ran a marathon with toothache? Then collapsed in a heap when he crossed the finishing line and cried like a baby the whole way home? Yeah that tooth? Well, three visits to the dentists later […]

Which Book Of The Bible Should I Start With?

As I wrote earlier in the week, I’m going to be blogging about Christian topics in future posts, although not exclusively. As I’m tentatively finding my way back into Bible study, and in order to be accountable, I thought I’d throw it open to my fellow bloggers as to which book I study first. The […]

Are You On The Right Tracks This Morning?

Good Morning. I have a busy, but exciting day, ahead. I’m on the 06:13 train to Belfast, a full 90 minutes before my normal one. The reason? I have a big meeting to attend this afternoon, so want to get in early to prepare for it. A three hour meeting, no less, where I will […]

Why I Need To Start Reading My Bible Again

I’m as blind as a bat. Seriously. Since I was nine, I’ve had to wear glasses. I remember the first day they were unveiled to the ahem….watching world in Mrs. Robinson’s P5 class. I broke down in tears as the entire class turned as one to gawk at my oh so stylish National Health Service […]

Happy Birthday Anne!

A belated Happy Birthday to our dear friend, Anne McCartney, who celebrated her ahem …. something first birthday yesterday. Anne has been a tremendous spiritual and practical support to Fionnuala and myself in recent years, through good times and bad. Anne and her husband, Graham, have been two of the people who have inspired me […]

Start Playing The Martyr

I am quite partial to melancholy, to wallowing in self pity, feeling sorry for myself. There are various terms one can use to describe the act of introspective navel gazing. When the odds are stacked against me, and everything is going belly up, you can be guaranteed I’ll throw myself the mother of all pity […]

Mud, Sweat and Toothache

I’m off work today, and currently perched on the sofa, editing Chapter 70 of the novel. I’ll be blogging later in the week about my latest trip to the dentist, earlier today. Thankfully it was a much less painful experience than the last visit. The offending tooth has been packed and capped, prior to it’s […]

I’m A Bit Broken

I’m a bit broken Words rarely spoken The truth Tastes so bitter and strange, clay emotions. Barely alive Rotten inside Dead to a world Where I once loved and thrived. Cursed with routines Obsessive dreams Compulsive acts Mask stifling screams. Speculate, ruminate Gnaw, then regurgitate Cyclical sickness These images dominate. Falling apart An effortless art […]

A Running Concern

It’s three days to the Causeway Coast Marathon and reality hit home when I received my joining instructions yesterday. These are so long and detailed that I could probably run a marathon in the time it will take me to digest and process them. Cutting to the chase, though, it is 26.2 miles of road, […]

I’m Getting Paid To Go To The Movies

Tonight I’m going to the cinema. Unfortunately it’s not a date night with Fionnuala but, instead, work related. Myself and a colleague are attending the screening of a documentary at a small film festival in Belfast. It’s content is very relevant to an investigation we are conducting and my bosses are keen that we view […]

What Are You Hungry For?

Saturday was the start of the new rugby season, so Fionnuala and I hugged the touchline, to watch Adam play for his college against one of the big Belfast schools. Unfortunately they lost, but didn’t go down without a fight. Adam had a great game and scored his team’s only try. I thought he was […]

Be a Rainbow in Somebody’s Cloud

Today is Mental Health Awareness Day and I felt its an area that needed to be addressed here. It’s no secret that Stephen suffers from mental health problems he blogs about it regularly and was actually one of the reasons for starting up this blog. There aren’t very many households now days that don’t have […]

The Bible Is Full Of Idiots

I didn’t come up with that title for shock value but, let’s face it, I’m not far off the mark. Let’s consider the evidence. I’ll start with Abraham. He hardly covered himself in glory now, did he? That business with Hagar, the slave girl, who gave birth to his son, Ishmael. Although his wife, Sarah, […]

Only An Idiot Would Sit Under An Apple Tree

Rebecca came home with her first Science homework of the new school year, which was to write a newspaper article about a famous scientist. I overheard Hannah and her discussing who discovered gravity. Hannah hit the nail on the head when she stated that it was some guy who was sitting under a tree when […]

Prayer Warrior? I’m More A Prayer Wimp

During my church going days, I attended a fair share of prayer meetings. They always bothered me. You see, while others prayed aloud for what seemed forever, I wondered if they were more in love with the sound of their own voice, as opposed to in love with their Creator or the people they were […]

The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles – Skelly’s Square

Over the weekend I received a raft of feedback from beta readers regarding the first 15 chapters of my debut novel – ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles- Skelly’s Square.’ Its an urban fantasy aimed at the Young Adult/New Adult market. Set in modern day Belfast it tells the story of our eponymous hero, a twenty something […]

Back To School

The kids are all back to school today. Hurray I hear beleaguered mothers all over WordPress cheer. No more bored teenagers skulking around the house, no more playing the role of a police officer/boxing referee separating squabbling siblings; and no more endless board games that nobody ever wins because we suddenly realise that none of […]

The Unadulterated Joy Of Shopping With Hatchlings

Today I tested the limits of my parental skills, I attempted the Everest of fatherhood. As Fionnuala is housebound nursing a heavy cold, I took our three hatchlings (aged 16, 14 and 11 going on 61 respectively) out shopping. I felt a bit like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible; all that was missing was being […]

Are You A Martyr?

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I have a thin skin. Some might say I am overly sensitive. The other day in work a colleague made a comment about me that I found very hurtful. So much so, that I was taken completely off guard and unable to respond. I had to excuse myself […]

It’s Not God’s Fault If Christians Are Idiots

Over the weekend, Fionnuala and I reorganised our bedroom. This included a bit of a spring clean and moving some furniture around. It was hard work but worthwhile. I found my missing Garmin watch charger and several dozen odd socks whose whereabouts had been baffling me for some time. I also recovered the grand total […]

I’m Writing A Book….Still: (Part….I’ve Forgotten Which Part)

Regular readers will know that I’m writing a book. I’ve been droning on about it for the better part of a year. It’s titled ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles – Skelly’s Square’ and is the first part of Young Adult fantasy series based in Belfast. The hero of the piece is very loosely based on yours […]

History Is Written By The Winners

When my OCD was at its worst I was a slave to my own thoughts. They controlled me from when I opened my eyes in the morning until last thing at night. The obsessive thought would settle like a toxic dew and only lift temporarily whenever I completed the corresponding compulsive act. This normally involved […]

Do You Write Truthfully?

Coming from Northern Ireland I have an accent, just like we all have accents. It’s not the broadest of accents. While I work in Belfast, I’m a bit of a country boy having been raised in the market town of Omagh in the west of the country. So basically my accent is a bit of […]

Resignation

Resignation https://meupgraded.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/resignation/ — Read on meupgraded.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/resignation/ Another excellent piece of flash fiction in response to my recent receipt themed challenge. Emma’s story oozes with positivity which is all the more admirable given she has been quite poorly of late. Please support her blog. Another talented writer who deserves more exposure.

Waking Up Hungover When I Haven’t Been Drinking

Last night, after dinner, Adam and I went to the park to work on his rugby skills. The new season is less than three weeks away and he is pushing for a place in the first team this season where he would be playing against boys two years older than him. I say boys but […]

Our Eleven Year Old Daughter Has Moved Out

There is never a dull moment at chez Black and this weekend has been no exception. But it has been a little quieter than usual. The reason? Rebecca, our youngest daughter, has been sleeping over at her Granny’s house in Belfast. This was initially meant to be a single night sleepover but she announced to […]

How Are You Really Feeling Today?

This may come across as a bit personal but I’m asking the question anyway – how are you feeling today? Sad? Happy? Worried? Hopeful? Every day of our lives we are exposed to a diverse range of scenarios which impact upon our mood and outlook on life. These can be temporary and superficial or more […]

We All Have A Little Gollum In Us

The book. The book. It’s always the book. So by the end of this week I will have finished the third draft of ‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles – Skelly’s Square’. 120K words. 90 plus chapters. 400 ish pages. I’m now in a position where it can be printed out, bound and attacked with a red […]