Because of the people…

Our trip to Ireland, bookended by England happened because of people.

There are many memorable things about our summer trip to England and Ireland, but spending time with people we knew was a big highlight!

We forged a plan to travel to Ireland for 2016 in 2014 while old friends visited from Germany. The four of us wanted to get together again and wanted it to be sooner than the nine years since our earlier visit. The question was, “how do we make this happen?”

We discussed the possibility of meeting up while traveling and moved onto places we wanted to visit, but had not. Tom immediately said, “Ireland.” This location was also on their list.

We agreed on Ireland and the summer of 2016, figuring we had lots of time to make our plans.

Christmas of 2015, family was home from England. They suggested we visit them as well. We planned to do so, but hadn’t figured out the details. Jonny was great in suggesting a route allowing us to begin and end our trip in England. Instead of traveling back and forth in one country and then heading to the other, we would travel in one direction, starting and stopping in London. This also simplified travel arrangements to and from the U.S. Once we had that information and a contact in Europe who could make recommendations to us, the planning became much easier.

We landed in London and took the bus south where we spent the first days of our trip in the Dorchester, Dorset area. Reconnecting with friends and family, enjoying such a relaxing atmosphere was the perfect way to start a long trip. Thank you Sony, Alastair, Jonny and Abby. We had a great time!

Then we were off to Ireland. After landing in Dublin and renting a car, Tom navigated the challenges of driving on the ‘other side’ of the road. The first week we spent alone in county Kerry, Tralee.

From there we drove to county Galway, Galway and connected with our friends from Germany. What a delightful adventure, the four of shared as we toured the surrounding area and explored the seashores. Thank you Gudrun and Caj! We also had the pleasure of meeting Larena and Chris, missionaries to the youth in Galway.

We spent a few days in county Wicklow – Bray exploring by ourselves. One day was a train ride to Dublin where we explored part of the city; one we went to Waterford to visit the crystal factory and a trip to a lighthouse that has been in operation over 800 years; one we explored local gardens and old city ruins.

Then a short flight from Dublin to London allowed us to explore parts of London and wind down with Tim and Marina. This provided an opportunity to slow down a little and reconnect with family before heading back to America and home. Thank you Tim and Marina for your hospitality!

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Interactions with people are what I tie my memories of places to. This trip was so rich with those experiences and opportunities. There are many we exchanged conversations with not mentioned here; they each added to my memories.

Thank you all for contributing to my memories. It was an amazing epic trip.

 

Irish Memories Linger…

We’ve been home a few weeks and thoughts of Ireland still resound in my mind.

Here are some photomontages of different aspects of Ireland that stand out for me.If one were to ask for a quick overview, I would respond by saying –

Green! It abounded. The first photo of the trees growing over the road, shaped by the bus traffic is a common sight.

 

Water and Beaches! They were everywhere. I loved the wind coming off the ocean; the ever-moving cloud scenes; the smell of the water and the freshness of the air. The beaches varied from being beautiful sand to rocky. It was very different seeing the Atlantic ocean looking in a westerly direction.

 

Sheep! They were everywhere. They appeared so different from the sheep I see in Colorado. They were shorter legged, more rounded in body and many were dyed to mark who they belonged to. They might be found in meadow fields, climbing rocky cliffs or close to the ocean. Except when we were in a city, we saw sheep everyday.

 

Tower Houses, Castles, Abbeys – old structures

From BeeHive house structures from 800AD, a lighthouse that’s been functioning for over 800 years, to medieval streets in the heart of cities — there were so many old structures. Some were still being used, some have been restored and some are in varying states of decay. It was difficult for me to comprehend just how old these structures are.

 

The Burren! This area was a surprise for me. From a distance it lacked the intense green so prevalent elsewhere. The surprise is how rich The Burren is with small plant growth; what a haven it is; and how rich it is in history.

 

Irish Beaches

Dingle Bay

The day we drove Dingle Peninsula, approaching Dingle, we could see a lighthouse in the distance but no signs leading to it. We turned around looking for a road leading to the beach and headed toward a little village called BeenP1030592bawn. There we found a small road leading to the shore with a view of the lighthouse on the other shore. The beach area was the first of many special places we would find during this trip. We watched a few people drive up the road, look at the water and turn around and leave. Our experience was much richer. As Tom climbed the higher rock walls over looking the water, I took a path between two rock walks, ultimately leading me down to the shore. The tide was out so I walked the sandy beach. The sound of the waves rolling in and then crashing against the outlying rocks before splashing back into the sea eliminated all sounds save for those from a few sea gulls on the beach. I was the only person exploring this beach. It was heaven!

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I found colorful wildflowers, so small and delicate, growing on the sides and tops of the rock walls creating pockets of color against these dark reddish rocks. The sea was alive and vibrant; some of the waves created towering splashes as they crashed against the rocks.

 

 

This was the first of many enjoyable trips to the sea.

 

Cliffs of Moher

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As we sat, we soaked up the sun, allowed the breeze blowing off the water to tussle our hair, breathed in the fresh ocean air and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks below.

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Sea Air & Wind

 

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Not all shores had beaches…

But they all had beauty

Salthill area outside Galway

 

 

 

 

Lunch on an island at a remote golf course tee overlooking the ocean…

 

 

The Hook Lighthouse Beach…

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At one beach we met an older gentleman who had recently checked is fishing traps. He said, “The sea gets under your skin. I couldn’t live a day without coming down here.”

When You Travel – hold onto your hat!

 

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We arrived in Galway, checked into our apartment and headed to the store to pick up a few things so we could fix breakfast the next morning. By Irish standards it was a large store. We made our selections and were walking down the produce isle when an elderly man approached me. He was neatly dressed and wearing an old leather hat. He spoke with a heavy brogue and had to repeat himself several times. Tom and I realized at the same time what he was saying. He inquired of me, if he could exchange hats with my husband. Tom wanted to know why I was being asked instead of him. The gentleman replied that he knew Tom would say no, but perhaps I’d be willing to work the exchange. I laughed saying I kinda liked my husband in his hat. We all laughed. As he turned to walk away, he told us he was just making fun.

 

Between Ireland and England, several people approached Tom and asked about his hat. No one had an offer as good as the gentleman in the grocery store.

 

We had just stepped off the tube one night and were walking toward the exit. There was a gust of wind. I felt my hat move and grabbed it quickly. I mentioned I almost lost my hat. Tom said he saw that. As we continued walking toward the stairs another train blew through the station on the tracks in the opposite direction and Tom’s hat went flying. We were unsuccessful in rescuing it, before it fell into the tracks. We had nothing long enough to retrieve it. After checking the schedule and seeing we had a couple of minutes before the next train was schedule to arrive, Tom carefully lowered himself down to the walkway at the track level, retrieved his hat and scurried back up to the walk level. I breathed a sign of relief when he was standing beside me again. We were on our way up the stairs when the next train came through the station.

 

If you are traveling and like your hat, hold on!

 

Sometimes First Impressions are Incorrect…

 

We packed up and headed out of Tralee, County KP1030723erry. I’d gotten used to the “green” Ireland offers and had heard so many talk about.
We crested a hill and neither of us could believe what we saw. It did not look like the Ireland we had been introduced to. Our German friends called it a moonscape. I just thought it looked arid and barren.

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A couple days later at a local perfumery (more about the perfumery another day), I learned the area is called the Burren and it offers the most diverse vegetation of anywhere in Ireland. There are only a few Irish plants that don’t grow in this area, and there are many only found here. In fact, there is a wild Irish found nowhere but here.

We walked the Burren and I was amazed. The limestone rocks have many cracks, crannies and holes. They are home to various plant life.

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I understand why so many consider the Burren to be a very special place.

 

 

Tralee

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…a town in juxtaposition of very old and very modern.

I awoke in the heart this town just starting to rouse its self from winter, in preparation for the seasonal tourists, which are sure to arrive. Narrow medieval streets lined with colorful tiny shops filled my morning walk. People bustling about on narrow sidewalks dodging in and out of cars, to get where they are going. Crosswalks exist, but are rarely used. Drivers seem to expect people will pop into the street and cross in front of them.

Yes, this is a village, a very old village. I’m snuggled in the middle of it for a week, and I it’s charming. I almost feel lost in another time and place.

Expanding the exploration outside the old core, are many modern buildings and amenities. In these neighborhoods, the houses are bigger and further apart. The homes have characteristics of the region, but they feel like neighborhoods I’ve been to in many places.

Yet it’s in the very old where I find myself more comfortable. I enjoy walking from place to place. The people feel more connected with each other. They smile as you pass or stop to greet you.

Oddly enough, most my photos are from out of town. Go figure…

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Eternal Justice

Disclaimer: I’m sure this topic may elicit some strong feelings from some of you. Please feel free to share your thoughts, but don’t expect any heated debates.

For more than a year, I’ve been reading or studying the issue of women in the church. All the reading and thinking, has left me feeling as if my sense of justice has been violated.

During this study time, I’ve come to recognize the power, or should I say, abuse of power by a few. The Judeo/Christian culture is primarily a patriarchal culture. I accept this as the world I live in. However, when I see how one uses their position of power and/or trust to contrive a message to fit their life view instead of accepting the original text may have been written to challenge or question that very life view, it strikes me as an abuse of power and trust. My sense of justice, or the sense that one should do the right thing because it is the right thing, feels very violated.

While sharing these thoughts with a close friend, she helped me put some perspective on this. She could understand my feelings; but told me when she feels something is unjust, she tries to step back and look at it from the scales of eternal justice. She said those who abused their power and trust, would one day be held accountable. Wow! Those words created a strong visual, and immediately brought to mind James 3:1

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers,
because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

The good news is the sense of justice being violated was replaced with peace; with the promise and assurance the eternal scales will validate the truth.

Current day teachings associated with this topic should address the failings of those who translated the original manuscripts, or of those who led the early church into placing such emphasis on scriptures designed for a particular location or a particular set of circumstances. Will that happen?

That still leaves the question of, how ‘women in the church’ is to be lived out today?

For those of you who know me, this is a reversal of my former thoughts on the subject. I want to be clear, I believe God intended for women and men to be spiritually active in the church and among others. This change in my thoughts is not a matter of feminism or equal rights. For a woman, or a man to be involved in spiritual leadership, they have to possess the spiritual gifts of the position they are filling. Those gifts are not bestowed because of gender. People (men and women) receive these gifts from a loving God when they are in relationship with Him.

Stopped in My Tracks…

The following two sentences are in the middle of a book I’m reading, the last paragraph on the left side of the page. I had to stop and just think about these thoughts. In fact, I’ve been thinking about them for four days.

This is why a defining mark of revival is that as the Spirit increases, divisions decrease. Gender divisions, race divisions, socio-economic divisions fade away as everyone encounters God together.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve been working through thoughts related to Revival this year. Looks like I’m still thinking about it.

I still believe ‘refining’ is a critical component of ‘revival’. Yet after reading the above sentences I have to wonder, besides the obvious refining we each need to submit to daily, does this refining need a common focus? As Christians do we each need to take a good look at ourselves, our churches and our communities and then determine where we as individuals, might be able to help bridge some of the divisions that exist in our families, our churches and our communities? If you’re a leader, or following a leader, should you be looking for this?

No one needs to look far, to see the affects of divisions caused by:

  • Ego or power struggles
  • Desire for control and recognition
  • Financial disparity that abound around us
  • Women hampered by the glass ceiling
  • Relationships severed due to hurt feelings or harsh words

This list is unending. I’m sure you could add many more things to it, but you get the idea.

As we pray for Revival, perhaps we should be asking to be refined in a true spirit of unity.

Good Friend, Good Wine, Great Memories

Relax with a good wine...
Relax with a good wine…

 

During one of our trips to the mid-west, we enjoyed the privilege of staying with good friends. We were each looking forward to spending time together. Mary wanted everything associated to our visit with them to be perfect. We shared many good memories with them, so being together again felt relaxing and comfortable. The four of us settled in the living room and planned to catch up on the news in each of our lives. The guys would share a white wine. Mary had a special red wine she wanted me to try. Everyone was comfortable, and we toasted one another. I took a sip of my wine and was pondering the flavor. She took one sip, stood up and said, “This wine is not what I wanted. It won’t do.” She took my glass, headed to the kitchen where she proceeded to the sink and dumped the two glasses of wine down the drain. Surprised and shocked, I didn’t know what to do. This was so out of character for her, and I thought the wine tasted superb.

She rinsed our glasses and opened another bottle of wine; then returned with a different red wine. Mary found this wine satisfying. I considered it enjoyable, but I liked the first better.

Because of the memories associated with that evening and our friendship, I try to keep at least one bottle of Wild Horse, Pinot Noir in my house. Whenever I open a bottle and enjoy a glass, I am transported to another place in time. I remember our evening, our friendship and the pleasure of our shared relationship.