Clan Cottages in Scotland – Queen of Ordinary – November 18, 2014

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Clan Cottages – Scotland

Sometimes things happen in such an amazing way, it is unprecedented.  I loved the movie Brave Heart when I saw it, but I really never wanted to see it again because it broke my heart.  After visiting the William Wallace Monument in Edinburgh and climbing all the way up the 250+ stairs, seeing the real sword that belonged to William Wallace, and over looking the city from the tower built to honor him, I reconsidered.   I would definitely watch the movie again because it had become personal.  I had been there in the Scottish Highlands, seen the people and lands that he loved and was willing to die for.

We were scheduled to stay in the Clan Cottages after having been to the William Wallace Monument on our first day in Scotland and after driving through the Scottish Highlands.  I had always wanted to stay in a stone cottage with a thatched roof.  Imagine my surprise when we pulled in to our new lodging for three days and it was exactly that!  They were recently built, but in keeping with the landscape and the traditions.

What did we do that first night?  Our tour guide had bought the movie Brave Heart and had it ready for us to watch, on a foggy evening at the foot of a rocky mountain, beside stream that lead to a Loch.  It was mind boggling to be there, having heard the history or William Wallace, seen his actual huge broad sword, and the monument the people erected in his honor.  It was almost as if we could step out the door and into that other place in another time.

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The stay in the clan cottage was a joyous one.  Beyond the Brave Heart experience, it was in a beautiful setting with sheep in the pastures, swans on the lake and sunsets on the loch that would steal your breath away.

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Our stay at the Clan Cottage was one of my favorite parts of Scotland.  From the photos, I hope the reasons are obvious.  It was a place where I could walk at the end of the day or early in the morning before our day’s tour began and talk to God.  I had many questions about why Scotland had been in my heart and prayers for so many years, and why I was there at that particular time.  Scotland had just voted to remain part of the UK – such a parallel event in keeping with William Wallace’s struggle to free Scotland.

Many times among our destinations and activities I felt like the whole thing was a dream.  God’s blessings in my life to bring the trip about were too many to number.  I was sure I was there for a purpose more than to be a tourist and take photographs.  I’m still asking God those questions about having been there, and every day probably for the rest of my life I’ll still be giving thanks for the journey.

Facing the Fear of Heights and More – Queen of Ordinary November 16, 2014

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An Irish View of the Ocean

On this day in Ireland we were heading to Slieve League along the Sky Road and to walk across the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.  We took a wrong road somewhere, but just look what we found by mistake!

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I don’t know who took the time to write “I love you” with the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs, just beyond the ocean’s reach, but I’m so glad they did.   When I saw it, it felt like it was a message from God to us on our journey.  We thought we had made a wrong turn, but perhaps it was just because God wanted to share this unscheduled beautiful view with us.

We did make it on to our adventure at Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.  It was one of the toughest things I made myself do on our whole trip.  I have a deep rooted fear of heights.  Just looking at photos of things at a great height make my liver quiver!  Looking over the edge of something, even if I’m behind a railing, makes me woozy.  But I made myself take the long hike out to the rope bridge stretched between two cliffs about 100 feet above the ocean surging against the rocks below, and forced myself to face my fears and walk across anyhow.

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For someone as afraid of heights as I am, it’s a miracle that I ever crossed the bridge in the first place.  I kept saying to myself, “Help, me Lord…” and “Look at her back, and don’t look down,” about the person in front of me from our group.  But on the way back, there had been children jumping up and down to make the bridge sway and bounce, so the fear was doubled.  I had a death grip on the ropes on both sides and was only able to make my feet move about six inches at a time.  I was too afraid to be embarrassed about holding up the people behind me!  I truly thought I had made a mistake by crossing over in the first place.

Our tour guide, Coty Sloan, had crossed way in front of us and positioned himself on a cliff overlooking the bridge to get a group photo of us crossing together.  It surely didn’t happen.  Karen went on ahead of me and left me far behind with blank space, bride, and ocean staring up at me.  Sandy was behind me waving at Coty, and I was too terrified to look anywhere besides at the boards in front of me.

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Sometimes we question the path that we are on and wonder if we are on the wrong one.  At times fear may paralyze us when the gulf between where we are and where we need to be is so great.  But, if we ask Him to go with us, God is there every step of the way across that divide and to the safe place we are heading.

I didn’t think I was going to make it back across that bridge without fainting, but I kept reminding myself of Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.”

“The Quiet Man” – Queen of Ordinary – November 10,, 2014

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One of the best surprised on my recent trip to Ireland was on the day we went to fly falcons at the school of falconry.  We had parked the car and were walking toward the facility where we would work with the falcons when we realized we were standing in the very place where part of The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara had been filmed.  What a joy!

The Quiet Man has long been one of my favorite movie classics.  I loved the images of Ireland, their customs, lands, and homes portrayed in the movie.  I don’t know if the little lady inside heard my squealing with delight, but she came out of the Danagher’s home and started talking to us.  She is the daughter of the man who owned the cottage when the movie was filmed way back in its day.  John Wayne and her father had become friends.  Maureen O’Hara had been a lovely young woman who was kind to everyone and had returned in recent years to visit this woman’s mother before she passed.DSCN5329 DSCN5318

Every detail was a delight.  She and her family along with community members had been extras in the movie.  Then she took us inside her house!  There was the table where Squire Danagher knocked the dowry money to the floor!  There was the China that Maureen O’Hara had served her brother and works from in the film.  All around the room I saw things I recognized from the movie.  The suitcase John Wayne had carried at the beginning of the movie was sitting on an honored shelf.

She was the sixth consecutive generation to live in the house!  When a door unexplainably opened and closed by itself, as if someone had come into the room with us, she looked, but never missed a beat in her story telling, and never made reference with what had just happened.  Maybe some other family members had dropped in on the fun.

It was all such a blur and we were in a rush to get to our appointment at the School of Falconry that we cut short what I would have loved to lingered with.  BUT I surely didn’t want to miss the lesson in falconry.

My brother had said if he was going with me, the only place he really knew he wanted to see in Ireland was the place where The Quiet Man was filmed.  I had no idea we would be there.  In the village, the bar where the big fight scene took place was still standing.  A statue of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara was on the square.  A shop was named for the movie.

Our tour guide had not arranged this lovely encounter.  Truly, it was a gift from God – a point of joy for us and for the Danagher daughter.  Sometimes we plead with God for things we think we want and sometimes he just surprises us with a gift because He knows the desires of our hearts.DSCN5289 IMG_5939