Stuff that caught my attention this week

A few things that I thought were worth sharing.

Dublin Housing Crisis

We’ve shared about this often. The link below is a feature done by the Guardian. Worth the time.

My life in a hotel room: Ireland’s hidden homeless crisis – video


While these are sad stories, I am so glad they are coming to light. I had a leader at one point, and any time you questioned something he did, he questioned your commitment to the kingdom. As though all he cared about was planting churches and seeing people come to Jesus, so questioning his behaviour was to be in opposition to those things.

From Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed:

Chicagoland’s Pastor Scandals of Power

On a happier note…

An English man plays Risk

There are a group of friends who get together regularly to play board games. The worthiness of Risk is an ongoing debate.

The video is from an Irish comedy group

Posted by bob in random stuff, 0 comments

Random Thoughts from WNY

Random things I’m thinking about…

HMA Update:
We are currently starting week 2 of our Home Missions Assignment. Tomorrow (July 4th) Liz and I get on a plane and head to Atlanta for four packed days. We’ll be able to connect with 5 families while we are there…two of whom we have not seen in about 15 years and one more than 20.

So while the travel and the support raising can be challenging at times, reconnecting with friends is encouraging and energizing.

Pray for Dublin
Usually, in Ireland, the talk is about how much rain they get. However, recent news stories are about drought conditions. Recently the greater Dublin area has instituted a ban on washing your car and watering your lawn. In addition, they have been dealing with much higher than normal temperatures. And while it is hot here in the States, we have an abundance of fans and air conditioning…In our place in Ireland, I’m not even sure the bathroom fan works.

Here’s an article from the Irish Times: Fears for autumn and winter water supply if the drought continues

Please pray that we get some rain in Ireland and that there is a break in the heat soon.


One of the good things about being on a trip like this is being able to sit down with people, share what we are doing in Dublin and answer questions. Newsletters & blog posts are nice but extremely limited. And we always figure if one person has these questions, so do others.

One question we hear is about our salary. For example, “Now that you are Director of Marketing for Communitas, do they increase your salary?” Like most missions organizations, our salary is completely dependent on what we raise from financial partners. We do not receive anything from Communitas that we have not raised.

Another question had to do with why we currently need to raise additional support. There are often various factors, but 4 that are big for us right now:

1) Cost of Living…over the years (and we’ve been here 6) things become more expensive. We’ve shared about the rapid increase in housing in Dublin. Recently Dublin was listed as the most expensive city in the Euro Zone for Expats.
2) Exchange rates...the value of the dollar has been about 10% lower than it was 18 months ago. Since we are paid in the US, it means we are getting much less when we transfer into Euros.
3) Ministry Expenses...As the ministry in Ireland grows, it means there are more costs. While we still keep things as minimalist as possible, those expenses come out of our support as well.
4) Attrition…People’s situations change. Job cutbacks, changing family situations etc mean some people who have partnered long-term need to stop or cut back.

I hope that is helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions.

Great Lakes
Over the past week, we’ve been in Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, and have driven along Lake Ontario. Having not lived here for a while, you can forget how impressive the Great Lakes are. I love walking along Dublin Bay in Clontarf, but these lakes aren’t a bad substitute!

Final 2 Weeks
After our upcoming trip to Atlanta, we will be exclusively in New York…if you are in Ithaca, Rochester, Albany, NYC or Long Island, please let us know if you would like to connect.

We are planning to do a drop-in dinner someplace in Ithaca on the 11th…we’ll post more when we have the details.

Thanks to all who have been praying for our trip! Looking forward to seeing a few more of you before we head back to Ireland!

Posted by bob

Day Out with M – Botanical Gardens

After a long week of planning for our HMA (home missions assignment) and our upcoming move…followed by a whole Saturday of doing taxes…M & I decided that Sunday was going to be for fun.

This afternoon we headed over to Glasnevin to visit the Botanical Gardens. M wasn’t sure she’d like it, but we both had a great day.



Posted by bob in family stuff

Flits, Pennies, and Learning Culture

View of the Dublin Convention Centre across the River Liffey

A big part of moving to a new country is learning to live in a new culture. There are aspects of any culture, that if you are paying attention, you will pick up on and learn. There are aspect of Irish culture that Méabh will come by naturally, but will always be a challenge to me, because I didn’t grow up here. And there are other things that as an outsider I can offer a different perspective on compared to those who have grown up in it. And a large part of our efforts these past five years here in Dublin have been on learning to live well in a very different culture. Trying to, as much as possible become part of the neighbourhood…to be Dubliners rather than Americans who live in Dublin. (Liz and I have both shared our thoughts about this process.)

I’ve also written previously, that while we fully expected to work on that when we arrived in Ireland, what was unexpected…at least for me…was that we would also have to learn a second Irish culture. While we spend the vast majority of our time in Ireland’s capital city, we have over the past 5 years, focused a sizable portion of our time and energy up in County Monaghan because Liz and her family have owned a farm up there.

And, to be completely transparent, Liz has had far more interest in the culture and community in Monaghan than I have. In large part because that area of the country is such an important place for her family. Even now, a number of people remember her dad. So people there matter a lot to her. Where as I have a much more singular focus on Dublin.

Regardless, this has meant to varying degrees we have had to navigate a second Irish culture in the time we have been here. Well, over the past weekend, those connections in Monaghan have helped us learn a couple of new things about Ireland.

Saturday Flit
The first learning lesson had to do with something called the Saturday Flit. The word flit refers to moving…often moving home. Well it turns out there is a phrase, “Saturday flit, short sit.” It is basically the idea that people don’t want to buy property, or move house on a Saturday as it is bad luck…and you won’t end up staying for long if you flit on a Saturday.

The Irish Times did a story in 1997 reporting that 10% of people would refuse to leave the hospital on a Saturday and 40% of doctors would allow patients to stay an extra day, because of this superstition. The idea that if you are released from the hospital on a Saturday, it would be a short period before you were once again in the hospital. According to the story, when it was written 20 years ago, 58% percent of the population were familiar with the saying.

We learned about this idea because Liz had asked for a day to consider an issue. Since it was on a Friday, there was a move later in the day to get her to hurry her decision so that it would not be made on a Saturday. Now one of our family rules has always been “if you need a decision immediately, the answer is no.” (Something I picked up from my dad.) In other words if we can’t have time to think and pray about an important decision we won’t make it.

It was conversations over the next couple of days that we learned how big the “Saturday Flit” still was here.

Luck Penny
The other new thing we learned about this weekend was the Luck Penny (not to be confused with a lucky penny). Say I sell you a piece of property. After the sale is complete I would be expected to give you back up to a couple hundred euro for good luck. Liz was sharing this with a person this weekend and she mentioned that she recently had a person do work on her house and he charged her €1050.00. After the work was done, and he was paid, he gave back €50 as a luck penny.

So here’s a question for you.
If you moved to a place, and there were expectations like this that were held by the locals, and your realtor told you, “the buyer is expecting a luck penny?”, what would you do?

Would you say, “I don’t believe in superstitions and I’m not not giving them any extra pennies…luck or otherwise.”

Would you see paying this luck penny as a way to honor your neighbor? To demonstrate love for your neighbor?

Would your faith enter into the decision?

Or would you see a cash transaction as totally separate from faith issues?

Something else?

Would a question like that even matter to you?

So, that was our weekend.

Posted by bob in learning culture, 2 comments

No Agendas

I love Eugene Peterson’s Message paraphrase of the Bible. The passage that jumped out and grabbed me the first time I read it was in John 1:14 where Peterson writes concerning the incarnation:

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.

When I was planting a church in Ithaca I went out to a movie with a friend. Afterwards he told me that while he and his wife would not be attending our church anymore, he’d still like to hang out. But what immediately went through my mind was, “If you’re not going to coming to church, then I simply don’t have time for a relationship.”

And from that point on, I didn’t make time for that relationship. If a relationship did not further what we were doing, it was easy for me to move. I regret that. A lot.

While that was not a mindset I had going into church planting with, it was part of the church growth package I was trained in. It was dressed up in kingdom language, but it didn’t have God’s heart in it.

What I love about this passage here in the Message…what I love about the process of embedding is:

Relationships are not a means to an end…relationships are the end.

Rather than looking at each person you meet as a potential recruit, embedding is really about listening to people…finding ways to be a blessing to them…simply moving into the neighbourhood, with no agendas.

Speaking of embedding…here is video number two…

…and if you missed it, here is video number 1

Posted by bob in Dublin, 0 comments

How We Spent Our Summer

Okay, that was a crazy summer.

And while it isn’t officially over, when we look back on this year, it will be this past 8-week period that sticks in our memories.

If we are connected via Facebook, or through our monthly e-newsletter, you may have followed along but just to recap…

  • In June one daughter sat the Junior Cert, and another the Leaving Cert.
  • In the middle of that, my parents flew over and visited for a little over 3 weeks. While they were here, we took a trip to the North to see where my mom’s side of the family is from (Limavady, Co. Derry) and to the West.


Gramma, Grampa & Méabh in front of the Samuel Beckett Bridge.
  • On the day we dropped my parents off we began packing up our stuff so we could move house. (Our old landlord was going to be selling our house.)
  • A week later, we were moved into our new place.
  • Two days after we moved in, we picked up friends at the airport that we hadn’t seen in years. While they were here, we spent a good deal of time talking about the possibility of them moving to Dublin to work with us! A week later we dropped them off at the airport, and went home to pack for our trip to Prague that would begin the very next day.
  • While in Prague we took part in two back to back conferences.

Session during CA’s Leadership Summit

  • We flew back to Dublin on Tuesday and on Wednesday spent the day hosting a couple of leaders from the church planting organisation we are with.

A few random thoughts.

If that sounds exhausting…it was. Mid-way through our time in Prague, Liz and I were physically and emotionally exhausted. I can’t remember the last time my whole body ached like that. We worked to catch up on some sleep, and that helped, but we’re still feeling the effects.

Each part of our summer, taken by itself was great (well, except for the exams). We got to spend quality time with family that we hadn’t seen in two years, and friends we hadn’t seen in even longer. Lots of good conversations. And in Prague we were able to meet and share a meal with several new friends, and talk in person with people we’d only met on Skype.

And the house is great. I don’t think I realised how dark our previous place was until walking through the new place and noticing all of the sun. Each person in the family, when walking through it for the first time commented, “it’s so bright.” I’ve never been someone who was affected by a lack of sun, but the past couple of years in “the cave” took a toll.

I learned that conferences have a natural flow. When you come to the end of one, you’re tired, and ready to go home. Once the leadership Summit ended, it took a day or two to gear up for the Connect Conference. Next year they are splitting them up…the Summit in March, and Connect in July.

That is probably complicated by the fact that every person in our family (except perhaps Méabh) is an introvert. And while someone at the conference pointed out that Christian Associates  (the group running the conferences) is an organisation full of ENFPs (if you know your Myers-Briggs), each person in our family needs sizeable chunks of alone time to recharge after spending time with lots of new people.


One of my favourite pictures from the past 8 weeks.

So, we should be ready to come out of hiding around mid-November. Okay, probably not that long, as we still have a lot to accomplish in August and September.

So what does the rest of the summer hold?

Erin gets her grades from her exams on Wednesday. We’ll know shortly after that where she’ll be going to school in the fall.

Brenna and Méabh will both be starting school at the very end of the month.

Brenna and some friends are planning to start busking in town.

Liz and I are still working on support raising. And while our schedule has kept us from doing as much as we’d hoped, it has been going well to date.

We’re planning to host a house-warming/end-of-the-summer-party as a way to connect with friends and new neighbours in a few weeks.

Liz has a bunch of administrative stuff to get ready as she gets ready to kick off her second year of teaching violin. Instruction will start the first week of school.


Final Night of CA Connect Conference

I need to get back on track working towards my Irish driver’s license.

And we could stand to catch up on some sleep, but with the bright sun coming into our windows starting around 5:30 am, that is easier said than done.

Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us, encouraged us, helped us move, supported us these past several weeks. We appreciate it so much.

Posted by bob in Dublin, 1 comment

Our Journey (Part 7) – St. Patrick’s Day

(This is part 7 in a series of posts detailing the events leading up to our move from Ithaca to Dublin. You can read the whole series here)

The View Out Our Window Where We Spent a Lot of Time Talking & Praying In February 201

The View Out Our Window Where We Spent a Lot of Time Talking & Praying in February 201

As we approached the end of February 2011, the big thing on our minds was the pregnancy. We were learning new medical terms like Placenta praevia and Vasa praevia, which were quite terrifying for both of us.

We both had some concerns about the doctor we were seeing and the procedures he was suggesting for us, so went for a second opinion up in Syracuse. While they still had some concerns about the Placenta praevia, they could not find any indication of Vasa Praevia. That was great news!

Still that all meant that we were still looking at a c-section as soon as the baby’s lungs could handle it, but, things felt a less tense than they had.

While we were preparing for our new arrival, we were also continuing to talk about Ireland. By late February we were at a point it seemed like Ireland was something we needed to consider very seriously.

There is something about birth and new ministry in our lives. 

  • Hannah was born the year we moved to Ithaca to start a campus ministry at Cornell.
  • Brenna was born 4 days before the first service of the Ithaca Vineyard (still not sure what I was thinking there)
  • Méabh was born as it is becoming clear that we are to move to Ireland.
  • Erin is the only one that didn’t bring a major life/ministry change with her

Liz  still wasn’t at the point of saying, “Yeah, let’s do this,” but more, “if God is doing something here…I don’t want to miss it, or resist it.”

The passage of Scripture that came to mind for us was Acts chapter 13.

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

The next logical step for us seemed to be going to our church council and sharing with them what we were sensing about Ireland, and asked them to pray and fast.

I referenced this passage in Acts 13 and asked them, “Please don’t pray that God would make it clear to us…he seems to be doing that. I want you to ask Him to make it clear to you. If you pray and sense that no, this isn’t God…we are not going to go.”

“However…if the three of you sense that this does seem to be God…I don’t see what kind of choice we have but to go.”

We had just wrapped up a Sunday message series where we shared our values with our church. One of our core values was “Living life together.” We knew that if we made this decision with out their input, we were violating something that really is at the core of who we are.

They took 3 or 4 weeks, and there was a part of me hoping they’d come back saying, “This is crazy, God wants you to stay in Ithaca.”

While I don’t think it was planned (they can correct me if I’m wrong) they asked Liz and I to meet with them on March 17th for dinner so they could discuss what they believed God was saying.

So on St Patrick’s day, the 5 of us went out for dinner, where they shared that while they went into it thinking this definitely was not what God had for us, what they heard almost immediately as they prayed was “send them.”

I don’t know what I was expecting to feel. We actually had a church-wide event that night that I remember almost nothing about.

The next morning I came into the office and basically sat in the foyer of the church and cried. Every time I sat down at my desk to finally get some work done…I’d cry more.

I eventually packed it up an went home for the rest of the day.

There was this weird sensation that took place. For months, Ireland was an idea…but an unlikely one. Staying in Ithaca seemed to make sense and as long as we kept doing what we were doing…that is exactly what we’d be doing…staying in Ithaca.

But at this point, it was like we switched tracks. We were now on our way to Dublin.

However, there were still a few obstacles to clear.

Posted by bob in Dublin, 0 comments
Our Journey (part 4) – A Bit of a Curve Ball

Our Journey (part 4) – A Bit of a Curve Ball

(This is the fourth post in a series detailing our journey from Ithaca to Dublin. You can find the previous posts here, here & here.)

Liz's Family Farm in County Monaghan

Liz’s Family Farm in County Monaghan

“What do you want us to do with the next 20 years of our lives?”

I already knew the answer to that question. In fact I talked to several friends before we left on our trip and said, “I think the answer is ‘continue leading the Ithaca Vineyard Church.’ But I need to ask.”

So we did.

I have a good friend who pastors a Vineyard just outside Philadelphia, and nearly every time he sees me (or anyone actually), he tried to talk me into planting a Vineyard in Philly.

(Even when I began talking to him about Ireland, he asked, “are you sure God isn’t calling you to the Irish part of Philadelphia?”)

Every time he’d ask me to plant a church in Philadelphia, I would of course say “no”…sometimes, I’d get a bit more emphatic and say, “I will never plant another church…it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life…I did it once, and I am not doing it again!”

(I never said I was smart.)

church in rockcorry

The Church in Rockcorry.

While we were in Ireland, we went around visiting different churches each Sunday. The first week there we went to visit the church Liz’s dad went to as a kid in Rockcorry.

A three weeks, we went up to Northern Ireland to visit Vineyard churches there.

On one of those trips we had to leave early in the morning to get there, so everyone in the car except me, was sleeping.

So I started praying and as I did, I began to get a really strong impression that we were supposed to plant a church in Ireland (didn’t have a sense of North or Republic at that point.)

What was really strange was that, as I started thinking about this, it wasn’t a sense of dread…oh no, not that…but rather there was a sense of excitement…

Until I mentioned it to my family…that did not go so well.

church in rockcorry

Inside during the service

I pulled Liz a aside and told here as soon as we arrived that morning.

As I mentioned previously, Liz had not been to Ireland in over 25 years and had  wanted to get back for years. I thought she’d be excited.

She cried.

It turns out that the previous day, while we were walking around Derry, she told the kids, “I’ve had a good trip, but I have no desire to live in Ireland. God would really have to do something to get me to want to live here.” (that sounds almost as bad as saying, “I’ll never plant another church!)

When the kids found out, they were angry. Only 1 of them would talk to me. The other 2 just scowled, and one of them would make sarcastic comments about me.

After a couple of days of that, I prayed and said, “Father, my kids are all in middle school or high school…this is a huge thing. If we are going to do this, we all need to be on the same page.”

So  we had a family meeting & said…let’s all take 6 months, & pray about it. If at the end of 6 months, we aren’t all in agreement that this is God, we won’t go. That went over well & everyone was talking to me again.

We had a couple more weeks in Ireland, including a 3-day trip where we drove from Ballybay to Croagh Patrick (which we climbed) to Galway to Cork and back to Ballybay.

While we weren’t discussing it with the kids, Liz & I were making mental notes on where we’d want to live if we were to move here (Galway – no; Cork – yes.)

For me personally it was hard to leave Ireland. We still had a week left on our trip…mostly in London with side trips to Paris & Cardiff (to see the Doctor Who Museum).

And then it was back to Ithaca.

Once we were back in NY, school started in less than a week, and Liz and I got back to work at the Vineyard.

At that point, with where the kids were, it seemed that Ireland was off the table…at least for the next few years. But we’d wait until December to make a final decision.

And speaking of waiting…until next time.

Posted by bob in church planting, 0 comments

Our Journey (part 1) – Minding Our Own Business

On the first leg of our trip to Ireland, we missed our connecting flight in Iceland.

On the first leg of our trip to Ireland, we missed our connecting flight in Iceland.

While we were back in NY last month, we went through some of the stuff we left in storage over there, and carted some of it back with us. One of the things Liz brought back, were letters that I wrote to her while we were dating. I was reading some of them yesterday (I’d like to think I’m a better person 24 years later).

In one of the letters, (dated November 1989) I wrapped up the letter by talking about foreign missions. I basically said, “while I understand this is something you have a heart for…I don’t, so please don’t try to persuade me to consider it.”

That ranks right up there with “I will never plant another church.”

Which leads to this…

Three years ago this month the 5 of us (actually Méabh was a stow-away on the trip…we just didn’t know it yet) were preparing for a 6 week sabbatical which we would spend mostly in Ireland.

Liz and I were excited and looking forward to it.

The kids were partly excited, partly upset that they’d have to spend almost their whole summer apart from their friends.

Two years ago this month, Liz and I (& Méabh) flew to Dublin to meet with the pastors of the Dublin Vineyard Church; make sure that we were actually doing this; and then walk and pray around the city to discern where we should live/plant a church.

One year ago this month, our family got on a plane and officially moved to Dublin, Ireland. (Okay, Erin & Hannah came over in August, but you get the idea).

July is a pretty big month for us. This month we begin our second year of life in Dublin, and at the same time, we look back and celebrate some important milestones in this journey we’ve been on for the past three plus years.

Over the rest of this month, we are going to share some of the ups and downs, as well as some of the big events that led us from ‘minding our own business’ and going about our lives in Ithaca, to living in Dublin and planning to plant a church.

If you’ve been part of this journey with us these past few years, a lot of it maybe stuff you’re familiar with, but hopefully you’ll see how many of the pieces connect.

For me it was foreign missions…for you what was the thing you didn’t want to do, that you now find yourself excited about?

Posted by bob in Dublin, 0 comments

We’re Remodeling

Welcome to TheWilsonsInDublin.com!

As you might have guessed, this little corner of the interwebs is about our family (the Wilsons), and our lives in Dublin. (Sadly creative blog/website naming has never been a strength of ours).

The purpose of this site is to share a bit about the journey we have found ourselves on over the past few years in moving from Upstate NY (Ithaca) to Dublin Ireland.

For the past couple of years, we’ve been sharing most of our stories over on Bob’s blog (bobwilson.me), and a few occassionally at DublinChurchPlant.com, however, at this point it made sense to separate them out a bit, and create a site where sole focus of this this site about our new lives in Dublin.

So at this point we are still in the process of getting this site up and running, and it should look a lot less ugly quite soon.

Thanks for your patience and for stopping by!

Posted by bob in housekeeping, 0 comments