Living a Dream – Europe Journal Part 9

Tuesday, June 20

My alarm went off at 5am Sunday morning because we were headed to Paris!

IMG_7454

My first view of Paris when we stepped out of the metro was a bird cage sale. Not even kidding – several booths were set up selling bird cages like you’d keep a parakeet in. Birds are my least favorite. Oh, irony. 

IMG_7279

I was thankful for a sunny day so I could wear my sunglasses and hide my tears so I didn’t look like the weirdo American tourist crying as she walked through Paris.

IMG_7462

It’s just that seeing Paris has been a life-long bucket list kind of dream for me. Ever since I was small and read about an old house in Paris that was covered in vines and the 12 little girls who livesd there, I’ve wanted to go. And although we were only there for the day and didn’t have time to go in in museums like the Louvre, it was still incredible.

IMG_7430

I first teared up as we crossed the border into France to board the train, but it really hit me when I saw Notre Dame with my own eyes. We went inside, and because it was Sunday, and 11:30 mass was starting. So we got to see and hear a little of that. 

IMG_7202

Notre Dame really takes the cake on all of the cathedrals we saw. 

IMG_7257

Stunning stained glass, intricately detailed sculptures  tall ceilings and ancient paintings – all of it so sacred and beautiful. 

IMG_7238

When I stepped into the courtyard of the Louvre, I stopped and caught my breath. Just physically being in the place I’d grown up imagining was amazing. 

IMG_7286

Emily was so kind and patient – it was her 3rd time in Paris – and indulged me while I oohed and ached and requested she take my picture with everything. 

IMG_7501

We toured the city on foot and ended the day back on the train. 

IMG_7438

Some of the things we saw: 

  • Notre Dame
  • The Louvre
  • The Arc de Triomphe 
  • The Eiffel Tower
  • and more!

IMG_7360

We bought crepes from a street vendor and had an early dinner sitting outside a restaurant, facing the street and enjoying croque monsieur and fries.

IMG_7428 

We then had pain au chocolat at the train station, something else I’ve always dreamed of eating in Paris. I really don’t even have words to describe the expeirience.

IMG_7495

The day was warm and the sky was a brilliant blue. I walked the Champs Elyses and I stood in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

IMG_7479

I keep saying I need to go back one day to go to the top of the tower (the lines would’ve taken more than an hour) and go in the Louvre. Plus, I have about 8 euros left that I’ll need to spend one day. 

IMG_7386

Will I be back? I’d love to believe so. Maybe not in the immediate future, but who knows? I never even dreamed up this possibility for this trip. 

IMG_7413

Emily and I have dreamed of going to Europe together one day, but we thought the season of traveling together might be over. 

IMG_7364

But God. The giver of good gifts, the granter of seemingly impossible dreams, the One who gives us more than we can ask or imagine, well beyond what we deserve – He did this. He knew all along He would grace us with this. Earlier in the year when I prayed for the opportunity to see more of His world, when I was tempted with discouragement – He knew. And He already knows what He will do next – how He will answer other prayers. 

IMG_7378

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

Advertisements

Lead Me to the Rock – Europe Journal Part 8

Wednesday, June 21 

Yesterday, we went to the Rock of Cashel – an ancient church on top of a limestone hill. It’s crazy to think that the place has existed long before anyone even knew the continent of North America even existed. IMG_6869It was also used as a place of shelter and safety from foes. IMG_6993Psalm 61:2 kept echoing through my mind. 

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

IMG_6997The view from the Rock is amazing, which is commonplace here, of course, but something that never fails to take my breath away. IMG_6872Near the base of the Rock sits the ruins of an ancient abbey. It’s overwhelming to think about how the faith has been passed down and reformed these hundreds and hundreds of years. IMG_6916The Reformation wasn’t even a thought when theses places were built, yet the monks were earnest and devout in their worship. IMG_6923Oh, that I might be that devoted in service to my God! IMG_6914That’s the thing about Ireland – everything is so old. So rich in history and tradition and heritage in a way America doesn’t have. IMG_6903Our baby country lacks ruins at every turn – or “crumbly buildings,” as I called them while I was still severely jet-lagged. IMG_6904I’m seriously gonna miss all of the castles and abbeys and cathedrals and lush, patchwork land and quaint cottages and sheep and the accents and everything. 

Goodness, I’m tired, but I love it here. IMG_6897IMG_6876IMG_6874I pray I’ll remember the details, big and small, and that I’ll be able to recall details of how it all impacted me when I read through this journal and look at pictures. 

I can’t stop being thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. IMG_7004

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

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. 

IMG_6755

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.

IMG_6604

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

IMG_6856

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.

IMG_6839

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. 

IMG_6776IMG_6788IMG_6787

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. 

IMG_6846

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. 

IMG_6968

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

IMG_6632

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.

IMG_6666

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. 

IMG_6635

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

IMG_6710

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

IMG_6652

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

IMG_6694

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

IMG_6672

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

IMG_6650

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.” 

IMG_6682

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. 

IMG_6690

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.

IMG_6566

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. 

IMG_6565

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.

IMG_6467

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. 

IMG_6482

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. 

IMG_6375

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: