All posts by simplady

Week Four…

… was another week of connecting with folks. Scripture is replete with imagery of believers being a family. The last week has born witness to this truth many times. We stand in awe of our God. It is amazing how large and diverse God’s family is, and equally amazing how easily family members connect, breaking down cultural and geographic boundaries. We have been blessed as we’ve worshipped, dined, and chatted with friends around the county and beyond this week.

We spent Sunday with Tralee Baptist Church. We were blessed to witness how this community of believers has bonded together with genuine compassion and care for one-another. The church has a large outreach to the local technical college, with about 1/3 of their congregation coming from the college. This fellowship group meets in a historic site, which was cold when we arrived. The room was not heated yet. The caring for one another filled the room with warmth. 

Each week, we connect with the Tuesday Fellowship. They are continuing a study on the power of praying for healings.

We enjoyed lunch with a pastor and his wife (Michael and Ninfa), sharing stories of how God is working in each of our lives. Then we drove to Galway to meet up with a young couple who we met in 2016. They have been missionaries in the Galway area for 10 years. (Chris and Larena) Their heart burns with a passion for the Irish, particularly in Galway, which they now call home. They are stepping into a new adventure as they prepare to plant a new fellowship in downtown Galway. They planned for us to stay with friends of their’s, also in the ministry. (Sean and Julia) They are close to our age. It was a pleasure and blessing to hear their story, to learn how they became pastors, to witness their hearts for the Lord and the Irish. Then they shared more about the country’s faith history and struggles. How I would like to bring them to the United States to help others understand why we answered God’s call to work in Ireland! Being Irish, they have put words to many of the things we’ve simply felt within our spirits.

Friends in Galway doing God’s work

Our week was full of stories of how God is moving and working, stories of how each is reaching others, and stories of Irish history and culture. It was a powerful week and our hearts were overflowing.

The trip to Galway is a three and half hour drive where the countryside becomes less rugged, the hills more rolling, fields and homes larger and the sky sports blue more frequently. Unless it isn’t! We saw both sides of the weather. The trip home from Galway didn’t provide many photo opportunities. It stormed all day. We did stop by one of our favorite businesses though. A couple runs two operations side by side. She is a baker who specializes in gluten free and dairy free pastries sold in her café and coffee bar. He runs a bean to bar chocolate factory buying raw cacao from South America, roasting the beans and creating a luscious line of chocolate creations. Much of the drive was along the “Wild Atlantic Way,” and it was wild. Looking at the ocean, everything was grey except for the white caps of the waves. You couldn’t tell the difference between the sea and sky. Tom was a trooper doing all the driving. We took the ferry across the Shannon River, grateful to return to our little cottage and shut the weather out.

Time with the writers was rich. We spent an afternoon and then a meal with Judy, discussing possible family connections. We identified many similarities in our histories, but her history records don’t go back as far as ours. Still, we will look. What an afternoon of fun we had talking about Irish culture and telling “Flynn” stories. Laughter bounced off the walls until we drove to town for an early meal.

While in Galway, we also connected with Maire, the “Writer in Residence”, during most of Covid. What rich stories of history. She had many questions about what we do in Kerry. She was interested and encouraging. 

Writers Connecting

We’ve experienced several culinary treats which may creep into dishes we fix. First will be the search for recipes which seem to match what we ate. It is one way we carry Ireland home with us.

Week Three…

We’ve spent many hours on the road this week, which translates to many contacts. We’re also reminded of our appeal of the Dingle Peninsula. The terrain in County Kerry, Ireland is rugged, the peninsula even more so. We enjoyed the rare rays of sunshine breaking through clouds and more clouds this last week. It was the wettest week so far, but temperatures have been unseasonably mild. We’re grateful! 

We reconnected with Grace Baptist Fellowship on Sunday and spent a very relaxed lunch together after the service with the pastor and his wife and son. Monday we drove to Tralee to have lunch with the pastor and his wife from the Listowel Christian Fellowship. They are currently meeting via Zoom due to the number of members who have Covid. They hope to resume meeting at their building a week from now. One of their customs I really enjoy is that after service they move the chairs around and set up tables to enjoy a potluck meal together. It is always a great time of fellowship and building relationships. This is one of the few Irish born pastors in County Kerry and serves the same community he was raised in. We joined the Dingle Fellowship Group on Tuesday. We attended in person while one member joined us from Russia via Zoom. Much like at home, churches here use technology to their advantage to conduct weekly services, Bible studies, and stay in touch with members. Both of the pastors provided updates to their ministry. Their love for the communities showed in numerous ways. Our prayer for the Irish churches in County Kerry has been for God to raise up leadership from within the faith communities. Both pastors welcome such prayers.

Tuesday, after the fellowship, we took a different route and ended up enjoying a different section of coastline. We were drawn to the area hoping to see an ancient castle, or as the Irish say, an old tower house. We couldn’t get close as the structure was condemned, but it was fun seeing such an ancient structure. While walking around the area, we found an outdoor baptismal fount in the woods. The air was fragrant from the early spring blooms of the Gorse plant. They are everywhere, breaking forth with their bright yellow flowers.

We took off on Wednesday. We drove over to Adare, hoping to connect with an artist friend there. It was during the drive when we recognized the countryside appeared more civilized. The fields were larger. The land was more even. We keep passing large 4-wheel drive tractors with farm attachments on all the roads this trip. Adare is in County Limerick. It’s a picturesque town, home to one of Ireland’s 5-Star Hotel and Golf Resorts, the Adare Manor. It offers an afternoon high-tea which we indulged in on a previous trip. For this trip, the memories from a previous visit will suffice. While standing in front of a pub, reading the menu, a young man, about 30 something stopped to tell us, “You won’t go wrong there. This pub has the best food in the village.” His recommendation was all the encouragement we needed. So we entered and enjoyed a great lunch. We connected with our artist friend (Mary Liston) and again enjoyed her lovely textile art.

Thursday was the writing group. This was the largest group meeting they’ve experienced since Covid. There were two others, beside Linda, who had been Zoom members. It was a fun afternoon of readings, laughter, and good food. When creatives connect, there is always fun in the air.

The grey skies and rain on Friday did not dampen the warm fellowship in the home of one of the writers, Leslie. She and her hubby have a lovely cottage in the country.

Today we slept in and just went into Dingle for a “cuppa”. Besides being a tourist town during the season, it is also a commercial fishing village as it has one of the few protected harbors along the west coast.

Another week winds down and we recognize how quickly our time here is flying. There are so many others we hope to reconnect with. This week we will attend we will attend Tralee Baptist.

‘til next week…

Week Two

…in Ireland

Jet-Lag has been difficult to shake this trip, but may finally be behind us. Yeah! Just as Jet-Lag may be behind, it appears many of the Irish COVID restrictions will also be behind us. You may ask, how does that affect us while we’re here?

No longer will we have to show vaccination proof to enter an eatery, or indoor facility. Seating at pubs and eating establishments will no longer be limited to a maximum of 6 per table. Establishments can return to their normal hours of operations, (pubs and restaurants were required to close by 8 pm) and the work from home orders have been lifted. Masks are still part of one’s attire. Travel restrictions in or out of the country remains unchanged at this time. 

Most of week two was under the old rules. We’ve been walking the neighborhood, the beach and several of the towns. Sunday, Living Rock church provided the opportunity for corporate worship and the chance to connect with a few folks we knew from previous travels and meet a new couple. A group of us went to the hotel next door for lunch, where we sat in the rear of the dining facility occupying four tables of four in close enough proximity to see one another, but not really converse between tables. Our drive home from Killarney afforded an opportunity to be at Inch Beach for sunset. This is one of our favorite walking beaches. You can literally drive out on the sand and park as close to the waves as you dare. What a treat!

Tuesday, we attended the house fellowship in Dingle, held at the location where we’re staying. It was the first “in person” meeting in some time, but most were familiar faces. It was good to connect with them again and participate in their study. The format has evolved, resulting more in a teaching than an interactive study. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship of being face to face with in person laughter. 

Wednesday was the local writers meeting in person at the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee. We were seated in an alcove area of two tables and there eight in attendance. What a treat for Linda to connect in person. Some of this group is also part of the weekly Zoom group which meets on Thursday. Good food, good stories, good friendship. It was a fine afternoon. When Tom arrived, one of the ladies asked who he was. Another replied, “my cousin.” They then realized he was Tom. Much laughter ensued. This woman and I have spoken before. Due to similarities within the family stories, strongly suspect there may be a family link and hope to resolve this question during our time here this year. 

Friday, while out walking, we received a call stating there’d been a cancellation and if we could make it to Tralee Friday evening, we could attend a performance of “The Importance of Being Ernest.” Yes, we could meet the schedule. This was a high school performance, done well and entertaining. The show ended early enough for us to be able to just get into one of the restaurants we’ve enjoyed in the past. This rounded out the evening with good food, good memories and a great chat with the owner of the establishment. It’s a small family owned business, and he spoke of the challenges of COVID and some of the changes he has seen. His expectation is the impacts aren’t over yet even though the restrictions are being lifted. 

We are certainly living in uncharted, ever changing times. Isn’t it wonderful to know, God is NOT surprised by any of this and HE is still in control. 

Landed…

Feet are back on the ground after losing Tuesday to travel. It felt natural to land at the cottage. Worked to set up housekeeping and set about getting comfortable with the time change. If you’re sleeping, we’re probably up and about.

Time is a strange thing. Our most recent visit to Ireland was 2020, same time of the year. To us, it has felt like it was last year. We’ve connected with a couple of our Irish friends from one fellowship and they, too, thought we were here last year. This trip the vegetation doesn’t strike us as being so unusual. Could this be because of our multiple trips, or living with similar plants in California?

Many of our friends expressed concern about traveling during Covid. After much prayer, we felt confident 2022 was the time to resume travel in Ireland, connecting with various pastors, church members and other friends we’ve made in County Kerry. Little did we know when we purchased our tickets, the EU considers Ireland to have one of the most successful vaccination programs, with about 94% of the population vaccinated. The Omicron variant is alive and well as it moves through the population, similar to its behavior in other countries. We’re still trying to understand how the pandemic has affected the churches, their work, and their people. Linda remains connected with a group of writers and knows from them how difficult the lock-downs were for many. We’ve still to learn how that affected the churches.

Life is hardly back to normal on the Green Isle. Pubs and restaurants close at 8 pm. To gain access to an establishment serving food, they request to see proof of our Covid vaccines, and most recently asked for a contact phone number in the event they receive the report of an infection at the establishment.

We’re adjusting to the “normal” here and expect before long we won’t notice.

In our efforts to get settled, we’ve gone to some places we’ve shopped in the past. Some businesses have been updated since 2020. We’ve noticed many businesses are closed out on Dingle Peninsula. Some due to normal winter shut-downs. Some due to lack of employees, caused both by illness and the lack of international workers. Those workers aren’t here because of the virus, international travel restrictions, or other international relationships; and the lack of affordable housing here. Some of this news sounds similar to what we hear at home. In the brief span we’ve been here, we’ve witnessed people attempting to carry on with life. We’ve a friend from an earlier visit whose daughter turned 11 this last week. That daughter wanted to have high tea with her mom and friends of her mom. They graciously included us in the gathering. It was an honor to see the lovely young lady Meabh is becoming, and to share in her celebration.

High Tea for a young Lady

The adventure continues…

Ho, Ho, Ho…

The stockings are hung…

Ho, Ho, Ho! The stockings are all hung on the mantel with care.

Not with hopes of gifts, but stuffed full of memories from Christmases past.

Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa should come on a sleigh. 

Ha, ha, ha—no snow here, but then there are no children here either. So perhaps no one will notice.

The music of the season fills the airwaves, the shopping spaces, vehicles and homes. Taking listeners on journeys back to their past, those years of prior Christmases. Some smile, some shake their head and think it is all nonsense. I’m one who smiles with memories of being a child, memories of being a mom and surprising a child. My memories overflow and allow me to derive pleasure watching others as they celebrate the season.

Back home, it is quiet here. Not an eerie quietness, but a quietness that settles like a soft comforter one wants to snuggle into. This season has brought contentment, joy and peace. I revel in these feelings.

Lights and baubles bedazzle the tree; some shiny and some not. 

Each bauble holds the secret of its history waiting for the dark when only the lights of the tree allow them to speak of their origins and how they became part of this holiday tradition. How I would enjoy hearing them tell their own story, how they feel being out of the box for a brief season. 

The nativity scenes on full display sit in several rooms, emitting their own scenes and memories from years past within the family tree. Now they live together in our home, with our family, and share their pride of being treasured for so many years. Their story continues to live in our lives.

Ho, Ho, Ho! 

May this Christmas season come to your home and bring hope for the future, eyes to see the good in others, and peace to all who enter through your doorway, thus leaving you with many happy memories.

This time of the year…

What’s your shiny object?

While holiday songs fill the airwaves and pine fragrances permeate the air, I find my days filled with decorating, getting holiday letters written, gifts for children and grandchildren to be mailed. With those things going on, my personal pattern finds my mind pulled to evaluating the year’s writing goals, and developing plans for the next year. This trend has been consistent, and you’d think I would expect it instead of finding it to be an annual surprise.

Reflecting on 2021 writing was an interesting project. My major goals were accomplished. I have “first drafts” of three distinctly different writing pieces completed. It also means many hours of editing, creating cover designs and proof copies will fill 2022.

Be on the lookout for upcoming information on:

  • The sequel to Dream Glasses, which is Finding the Way Home. Liz returns from Paris excited to start the future she has planned, only to discover life doesn’t always move in the direction we expect.
  • A collection of short stories, poetry and little quips—Clouds. Most of this writing occurred during COVID, and was inspired by various writing communities I am involved with. The inspiration and camaraderie of like-minded artists is invaluable to me.
  • A children’s story, Charley’s Great Adventure. The story of Charley the Chipmunk on his first big outing without his mom. He’s excited, he’s nervous—and he’s totally unprepared for what he encounters. How does he react to a fearful situation, to knowing he failed to follow his mother’s advice?

On the less than stellar accomplishments, my commitment to write as regularly as I had in 2020 was a struggle. Between moving and connecting in a new community, there were more interruptions. My excuse “shiny objects distract me.” I’m fortunate to have another writing mentor who assures our group, even when writers are not writing, they are processing information for future writings. I take heart in her words.

As your year is winding to a close, where are your thoughts and dreams for the coming year? Did you feel stuck in 2021, or did you discover new passions and interests this year? 

Holiday Decorations 2021

This is the first year since leaving Wisconsin that we have a Christmas tree inside the house. Our Colorado years sported a dressed tree on the deck outside our dining area. Sturdy ornaments able to withstand the elements donned the tree. Many of the years, dustings of snow graced the branches and sometimes birds would land in the tree. All those years our fragile ornaments hid in boxes wrapped in tissue. It was a treat to open those boxes and see treasures stored away.

The decorating process unleashed memories from years back, memories of family events, memories of friends. The nativity set I grew up seeing at my grandparent’s house now lives at mine. Unwrapping each piece stirs memories from my childhood, when its home was a corner table in their living room. I treasure the story of how the set was acquired. First the stable with the holy family, then, as finances allowed, they added to the collection. The pieces don’t match, but they warm my heart as it’s part of my history. Several years back, my husband purchased a new stable for the set. It was our way of putting our own touch on this set.

Antique Nativity

The other set comes from hubby’s family and was purchased by his parents many years ago on a trip to Italy. The pieces all have exquisite facial features, all are in the same style. It is a simplistic piece that finds its home on an end-table each Christmas. I love both sets, and unwrapping them is our introduction to the holiday season.

Italian Nativity

Unpacked ornaments lay on the table, ready for the tree. Hubby picked up a piece and said, “Is there a history here? I see so many snowmen.”

I chuckle. “Yes. I have a friend who knew I liked snowmen and for many years, she gave me an ornament or two for my tree.”

I’m grateful he asked. It brought back so many pleasant holiday memories after my children were adults and I lived alone. Friends are so important in life.

He asked about other ornaments or decorations. Some were from my mom; some made by children; some purchased on travels; some, I don’t remember. Then we talked about some ornaments he brought.

I have many things my mother gave to me over the years. So much has changed since last year when we were absorbed with cleaning, unpacking and getting settled in our new home. There were no Christmas decorations. In retrospect, I recognize that may have been healthier for me. This year, I’m able to pick up a piece and enjoy the thought of my mom giving the ornament or decoration to me. Many of the items reflected her personality. The simple styles, or elegant lines, reflected who she was and how much care she gave in selecting gifts for others. Last year, I wasn’t ready to appreciate the memories associated with those items. 

Time is a healer.

Thanksgiving 2021…

Our second in this house

Much different from the first

When we shared a simple meal alone

This year–

Family, food and laughter filled the house

More food than we needed

Laughter abounded

Memories to savor

Traditions from years past

Introduced with new foods and different stories

For 2021, this event is over

Yet, the memories linger

Thanksgiving 2021

Seven Dwarfs Humor

Storm Clouds

Nothing else matters more than sharing kind thoughts with friends and those you care about. Let me tell you a few reasons why. Friends carry one another burdens. Friends make friends laugh. And friends make life fun. I have friends scattered around the globe and they enrich my life. I’m the connection point in this story that spans three countries. I hope the story stretches even farther.

It all began as the result of a writing prompt from an Irish group I’m part of. They gave us about 10 minutes to answer the following question.

If you were one of the seven dwarfs, which one would you be?

My initial reaction. Ugh. What am I going to write?

Then the words flowed. I read, and to my amazement, the group laughed.

The next day, I was chatting with an overseas friend, suffering from the effects of COVID, and she stated she knew she was grumpy, and hated feeling so. I offered to share what I written, hoping she’d find humor in the piece.

What I received back was totally unexpected. It was delightful and left me laughing. My husband, not wanting to be left out of the humor, read both pieces and joined me in the laughter.

Words are so powerful. If you can share something which will lighten another person’s burden—I encourage you to do so.

Here are the two pieces. If you have a response to either, please leave a comment.

Who knows what type of dialog we may get going here…

The prompt:

If you were one of the seven dwarfs, which one would you be?

Today, I would be GRUMPY. You know how they say one gets up on the wrong side of the bed? How can that be? I share my bed, which means I only have ONE side to get up from. If I’m GRUMPY today, and only have one side to get up from, does that mean I’ll be GRUMPY again tomorrow, and the day after?

I can’t bear the thought of having the name GRUMPY hung around my neck. It feels like a two ton weight. Carrying this burden around continues to wear me down.

“Get outa my way! Can’t you see? I’ve got a load to carry and you’re making my work harder than it needs to be.”

“Don’t you smile at me! There’s nothing to be happy about today.”

“You. You, over there… Stop talking about me. You’d be GRUMPY too if you had to lug this rock around with no one to help you.”

“Don’t go telling me what to do. I’ve gotta mind of my own.”

“When will this terrible day end? …and who else is going to show up thinking they can tell me what to do.”

“What’s wrong with this porridge? It isn’t sweet, and it has lumps in it?”

“Time for bed again already?”

“Hey you. Shut off the lights and shut up your mouth. I wanta get some sleep.”

The response:

Hi, I am GRUMPY this week and I am told Covid is responsible for that bad feeling. I have been SNEEZY, SLEEPY, DOPEY and DOC too. I was so HAPPY to talk to you again today, but when I am better, I think I will be my old self BASHFUL again xx

All the dwarfs loved your poem and amazed you got that out in a few minutes. Thank you for sharing it with me, love from BASHFUL xx

–by Sony Gordon-Farleigh

Still learning…

Fall 2021

Almost a year of tending a rose garden

No prior experience

Gaging water and fertilizer needs

Spraying insects

Pruning for shape and plant health

Always guessing

Questioning decisions

You think you have learned

Then the seasons change 

So do the needs of the plants

Sigh!

Cooler temperatures arrived

Buds abound

First cutting this season

I know way more than last year

Yet know there is more to learn.