Sheep or Stones? – Europe Journal Part 7

Monday, June 19

The fields on the hillside look like patchwork quilts. Trees and shrubs mark off the land like thick, fuzzy seams. 

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We play a game Emily made up called “Sheep or Stones?” where you look at the white/gray lumps in the distance to guess if they’re sheep or large rocks dotting the landscape.

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Sometimes it’s really hard to tell, although there’s an abundance of both. 

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Tomorrow is our last full day in Ireland, and I don’t want to leave. I don’t feel like I’ve soaked it all in yet – I so badly want to just be here, present and slow for a while. But life doesn’t pause, and there’s more world to see.

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Wednesday, June 21 

Monday we went to Dingle Peninsula – the Westernmost point of Europe. It took a few hours to drive out there, but was so very worth it. 

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There is actually, according to the guidebook, a larger sheep population that people population. I believe it, too. I’ve never seen so many sheep! I love them! My favorites are the super wooly ones that haven’t been sheared (shorn?) yet and that have the black faces.

So. cute. 

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While driving with pastures of sheep on either side of us, we recited the 23 Psalm. That was way cool. 

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

I was also reminded of the verse in Isaiah 40:11:

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

We also talked about how sheep are dumb. But then, I thought of how the Shepherd knows how dumb they are, yet He loves them anyway. I was blown away at how much my Good Shepherd loves me, even though I’m a dumb, simple-minded sheep in comparison to all that He is. He is the Good Shepherd. 

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This post is part of my travel journal from my time in Europe. To read the previous entries, follow the links below:

The Cliffs of Moher – Europe Journal Part 6

Sunday night, June 18

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The Cliffs of Moher – whoa. I hope I never forget the impression they had on me when I first reached the edge and looked over for the first time.

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I was a little bit out of breath from the climb, but the view took the rest of my breath away. My heartbeat quickened and I felt tears in my eyes. Because God did that because He wanted to. Even erosion can ultimately be redeemed into something for His glory. That’s what all of it is all about, anyway. 

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Over here in Ireland, I get the feeling that nature remembers its purpose. 

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Unlike us, nature doesn’t forget it was created to declare the glory of the Lord. It just does it naturally.

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It’s intrinsic and, even with the corruption of the Fall, it does not need to be reminded to display beauty. 

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And the cliffs? I’ve been able to see many beautiful sights of over the years, and this one lies toward the top. 

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Thank you, Father, for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Amen. 

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This post is part of my travel journal from my time in Europe. To read the previous entries, follow the links below:

A Thousand Hills – Europe Journal Part 5

I’ll never forget the beauty of the Irish countryside. I tried to describe it with words in my journal and pictures on my phone, but it’s too beautiful to capture. Here are two entries I wrote while at the cottage in Ireland, transcribed exactly as I wrote them while in the middle of that indescribable Irish countryside…

Saturday evening, June 17 

As we drove past herds of cows today, Psalm 50:10 came to mind and has been in my head ever since: 

“I own the cattle on a thousands hills.” 

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The surrounding passages give the context of how everything belongs to God. The psalmist  talks about how the wicked give their sacrifices, but their heart is not right. Therefore, the sacrifices do not matter. God asks why do they even bother to feign godliness when they are evil in their ways. He says thanksgiving is the way to honor Him – because He doesn’t need our stuff. The heart is what i’s all about. 

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So tonight, I give thanks. I’m thankful that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills – even the ones here in Ireland. I’m thankful for this opportunity He’s given to me. And I’m thankful that He loves me and doesn’t give up on me when I try to hide behind my sacrifices. IMG_6994

Sunday morning, June 18

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” – Psalm 24:1 

This verse echoes through my mind this morning as I look out over the Irish countryside. I sit on the back patio while everyone finishes getting ready to leave for a day of adventures, and I can see over a hundred cows in the pasture behind the cottage. Other cottages are dots in the distance, and I can even see a mountain range.

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Everything is free – oh, so green! – and lush, bursting with life and purpose and awareness of its creative design. I can try, but pictures can’t do it justice. Words can’t do it justice. It is the Lord’s, every last bit of it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. 

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This post is part of my travel journal from my time in Europe. To read the previous entries, follow the links below:

Wide Open – Europe Journal Part 4

Saturday, June 17

Powerscourt Estate, Wicklow, Ireland

I think this is how we were meant to experience life. 

We don’t have to cross an ocean or tour elaborate estates and crumbling castles, but we are made to live with our eyes fully open, inhaling until our lungs can hold no more fresh air.

Learning to dive headfirst into each sacred moment we’re given, fully experiencing the feeling of being alive.

When we do this, the world becomes more clear, the colors more crisp, life more wide open.

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It’s not rose-colored glasses at all, but rather, it’s removing glasses, seeing life the way it was made to be seen, living the way we were made to live. 

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This is an entry in my Europe travel journal. To read previous entries, follow the links below:

 

A Day in Dublin – Europe Journal Part 3

Friday, June 16

Yesterday we went in a cathedral in Malahide, Ireland. It was beautiful! It was also so quiet, even though several people were in there. At one point, the only noise was the clinking of coins dropping into an offering box and the click of a lighter as an older woman lit a candle. I wanted to take a picture of it, but something about it all felt too sacred to try to capture and save. But I love cathedrals. 

Today we went to Dublin. Bustling, lively, historic Dublin. We bought hop-on, hop-off passes for a red, double-decker bus, and sat up top. The Irish wind teased strands of hair from my braid, and I zipped my rain jacket all the way up.

We toured the city all day. A highlight was definitely St. Patrick’s cathedral. It stood tall in all of its historic splendor, pointing out the glory of the Lord for whom it was made. IMG_6385

We toured inside of it, and my literature nerd self was in heaven. 

Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels, “A Modest Proposal,” etc.) once preached there. Got a picture with his pulpit. Touched it. Fangirled over it. IMG_6373IMG_6377

I also saw his grave right there in the cathedral, as well as a case containing old copies of his work and – get this – a cast of his skull. What even…IMG_6374

But it gets better: there was also a death mask of his corpse’s face. So I now know what freshly-departed J. Swift’s head looked like, both with and without the skin. Ick. 

Got a picture. 

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I also saw where Oscar Wilde was born and lived, as well as Trinity College and some places related to James Joyce. 

Dublin was so much fun. I loved hopping on and off the tour bus and exploring the city. But as amazing as Dublin was, the countryside was all the more amazing and the highlight of the trip. I can’t wait to share it with you next time!

Thank you for journeying with me,

AnnaIMG_6264

P.S. This is the 3rd entry in my Europe Travel Journal. To read the first two entries, follow the links below:

Observations – Europe Journal Part 2

Hey, friends! This is part 2 of my Europe travel journal. If you want to start at the beginning, click here for part 1: “Here’s to Adventure.”

(The italicized text is quoted straight from my journal – the rest are thoughts I added later).

The day after we arrived in Belgium, we were up at 5:00am to head out on a flight to Ireland. Still deliriously jet-lagged, I recorded some observations in my hotel room in Dublin that night:

Thursday, June 15

  • The first thing that popped into my head when I saw a castle in Dublin: 

“Have fun storming the castle!” – The Princess Bride

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Malahide Castle

  • Jetlag thinks it’s my boss. I slept on the way to Belgium from the airport in Germany yesterday – was it really just yesterday?! – as we drove through part of the Netherlands. Slept again most of the way to the airport this morning and the entire flight to Dublin. 

People told me flying into Ireland is beautiful. You’ve got the water and all of the green and everything. I even had an empty window seat next to me, so I could scoot over, take in the view, and snap a picture or two of this amazing view. But from the time we were told to fasten our seatbelts until the plane hit the runway in Dublin, I was asleep. So much for views.

  • But I felt a lot better after that nap, so maybe I’m evening out. Although, Belgium is 6 hours different from home, and Ireland is 5, so we’re all over the place. 

(an old abbey and graveyard in Malahide)

  • There’s a trouser press in my hotel room. I tried it on my jeans, but Emily was afraid I’d burn the hotel down. Plus, it smelled bad. I don’t think it’s meant for denim. Fail. 

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  • I had to Google Fahrenheit to celsius conversions when I woke up freezing in the middle of the night. Turns out, 16 celsius is a little chilly. 
  • Despite its interesting name, bangers and mash is all I ever dreamed it would be and more. Amazing. Ate it in an Irish Pub. IMG_6249

That’s the cool thing about pubs in Ireland – they’re a whole experience. And they’re places where you take the whole family for a burger, or fish and chips, or those glorious bangers and mash (sausage, mashed potatoes, and gravy). It’s a fun atmosphere.

Truly, all of Ireland is a fun atmosphere. From the trouser press I should’ve left alone, to Malahide Castle and all of the adventures we went on that week. It was incredible.

Next time I’ll share about my day in Dublin! You don’t want to miss St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a recreation of Jonathan Swift’s skull (I’m as confused as you), and more new food experiences.

~Anna

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Here’s to Adventure – Europe Journal Part 1

Friends! I’m back on my side of The Pond after two weeks in Europe. I have so many pictures and stories to share. I kept a travel journal while I was away so I could remember details like the sounds, tastes, and smells of my travels. Over the next several posts, I’ll share about my trip and include entries from my travel journal. Secure your seatbelt and ensure your seat and tray table are in an upright and locked position, because we’re going on an adventure…IMG_6172.JPG
Tuesday, June 13

I’m something like 30,000 feet above Northeast Georgia. In a plane on my way to Dusseldorf, Germany. I should probably figure out how to spell that. From there, we’ll go to Belgium, then Ireland. Also, this is an 8 1/2 hour flight…IMG_6175 I’m so excited, though. A little nervous, but a lot ready to have an adventure. One of the thoughts I had as I boarded a small connector plane to Atlanta earlier was that I hope I never take the view for granted. So many people travel so often and don’t look out the window at the tiny little world below, but I pray I never grow callous or numb to the experience. I pray I never lose a sense of wonder at the world God has made. I pray I never lose perspective over the truth that I am small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things and yet, by God’s grace, He chooses to love me and give me priceless worth. IMG_6179.JPG So here’s to adventure! I’ve got my dearest friend Emily by my side and The Lego Batman Movie on my screen. 

Lord, help me soak up every moment. It’s all such a wonderful gift.IMG_7560.JPG