Can You Grow Between a Rock and a Hard Place? – Queen of Ordinary – November 1, 2014

IMG_6950  IMG_6948  Bushmills Cottages – Ireland

One of our cottage stays in Ireland was at Bushmills Cottage – Columba #2.  it was an interesting place with modern conveniences, sheep in the pasture behind us, a clothesline in the back yard for drying laundry, and wi-fi.  What a combination!

I took a walk with my camera on the path at the edge of the woods.  Actually I was trying to sneak up on the sheep.  I soon learned this is an impossible task.

On my walk I noticed how many little plants were poking out of cracks in the rock fences and gate posts.  With an entire field behind us on one side and the forest on the other side, and a lawn on yet another side where they might have grown more easily, these little plants were flourishing in the most unlikely of places.

If they had grown in the sheep pasture, perhaps they would have been eaten along with a mouthful of grass by the sheep.  If they had blossomed in the lawn, they surely would have been mown down.  If they tried to grow in the forest, bigger plants would have overshadowed them and blocked the sun.  So they flourished right there, where their seeds had landed and taken root.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people thrived as well in the rocky places of life?  Instead of whining and complaining about how tough things are, or how it is so unfair that some people have so much more than others, what if we just sent down our roots and decided to bloom where ever we landed, even if it was between a rock and a hard place?

I Peter 1:23  – for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

IMG_6952  Be strong in the Lord.  You CAN blossom right where you are!

Visiting the Burren in County Clare, Ireland – Queen of Ordinary – October 31, 2014

IMG_5873 The Burren – County Clare, Ireland

As we drove along the Wild Atlantic Way, we stopped in the Burren National Park.  Of course one stop doesn’t do justice to the whole thing, but I had never seen such a lonely, rocky, forsaken looking place.

After returning home and doing a bit of  internet research I found The Burren to be an amazing, fascinating place.  The Burren has evidence of inhabitants over 6,000 years ago.  There are archaeological sites of importance across the area, and 75% of all of Ireland’s flora and fauna can be found in the Burren.

It is a good lesson that we can judge nothing by one glance or one short visit.  The high season for plant species had ended about a month before we got there and includes a combination of species found only in that region.  When we were there it looked as though it would be impossible for anything besides scrub grass and bushes to survive the rugged landscape on the edge of the sea.

I suspect that if we were there in spring or summer, the place would look entirely different.  I wish had known more about The Burren before we visited.  I would have judged it entirely differently.  All we were looking at was a snapshot of a place on one day and on a day beyond the floral season.

I can’t help wondering how often we do that to other people.  We see someone on a trying day, a barren day, somewhere beyond their high season of growth and flourishing life and that’s all we see… a snapshot that is only a small fraction of the whole person.  Just as the land passes through seasons, so do people pass through seasons in their lives.  Just taking one glimpse of someone on any given day is absolutely no reflection of who they are, where they’ve been, what they are going through, or the marvelous plans that God still holds for them in their next abundant season.

When we look at ourselves, sometimes we feel like we’ve lost our bloom.  When we are walking through the dry seasons of life and the rocky barren places, it is easy to get discouraged.  Yet, if we hold on to what we know to be true about God’s love for us and what we know about ourselves as His children, we can be assured that there will come another season of change and abundance in our lives.

Psalm 139:16  “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

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I Fell in Love with Ireland – Queen of Ordinary – October 30, 2014

DSCF5796 The Castle at Cashel – Ireland

My dream had always been to go to Scotland.  When the trip I was planning on changed to include Ireland, I was happy about it, but it was Scotland I was excited about most.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with Ireland.  I will miss the Irish Sea for the rest of my life.  The people were warm and friendly, full of fun and stories.  I was hooked before I knew it.  The traditional music also grabbed me, but I’ve always loved Celtic melodies.

Isn’t it a wonderful surprise when something we had hoped for turns out far better than we imagined?  That doesn’t happen often.

The photograph is of the Castle at Cashel.  It was the home of the High Kings of Ireland.  It was the first stop on our long journey of 26 days.  We had just gotten off the plane and I had not slept all night.  After racing through the airport with a heavy backpack to catch our connection to Dublin, one knee was killing me.  But even far below my normal self, I was overwhelmed with the reality of standing in the place where Brian Boru reigned and ruled and the High Kings and Queens that followed for centuries.

Standing alone in the courtyard with my camera, I could suddenly hear the creak of leather on saddles, the smell of horses, the sound of children scurrying about and dogs barking.  I could hear the clank of swords and the busy sounds of life when the castle was occupied and full.  I was breathing the air they breathed, touching the stones that provided home and protection for them.  I was right there in the place where the High Kings made battle decisions, married off their daughters as part of treaties and military alliances.  I was there where Queens wept when their sons did not return form battle and old kings were replaced with new.

I know I have a wide open imagination, but every once in a while we have the privilege of glimpsing beyond our time and space.  My first impression of Ireland went deep.

I dropped and broke one of my cameras there – our first stop.  I’m very thankful I had a spare.  I was tired and frustrated because of the accident, but just being there wiped away any remorse about a spare camera being broken.

For the next several days I will write about our journey and the things we saw and people we met. I will also share photos of each place.  If you’ve ever wanted to visit Ireland, Scotland, England, or Wales, I will take you with me on our journey as I revisit our stops along the way.

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Change of Plans Turn Out Well – Queen of Ordinary October 30, 2014

DSCN5827 (3)This is the Abbey of Creevelea in Ireland.

I can hardly believe that I took this photo myself, in person, in the flesh, standing right there up close and personal!

I just returned from a month long tour of Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales.  To visit Scotland was at the top of my bucket list for many, many years.  I wanted to see the Scottish Highlands for myself and compare them to the Highlands of Kentucky where I live.  The tour through Sloan Travel Company grew from a single tour of Scotland to a lengthier one that included those four countries.

On the day we visited the ruins of the Abbey at Creevelea, we were actually scheduled to visit a different one.  A lady at the Castle View Bed and Breakfast where we were staying recommended this one instead because there was no entry fee and we’d be able to walk about and photograph as we pleased.  We took her advice and were delighted with the results.

I’ve heard the expression that if we want to make God laugh, just tell Him our plans.

God’s plans for our lives are always better than the plans we have for ourselves.  Just like the change in our plans for the day, when God changes the direction of our plans, it is always for our good in the big picture.

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