This is post #1 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah.
We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!
I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.
“Ireland, once you live there, you’re seduced by it.”–Frank McCourt
I’ve dreamed for years of going to Ireland. Maybe the idea first started when I read about my teen-year heroine Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind, whose father Gerald was from Ireland and who had a strong Irish brogue, so Scarlett was Irish, too. Or maybe it’s the breathtakingly beautiful pictures of the Cliffs of Moher, which I longed to see. Or possibly it was from hearing fun Irish music, like the jigs Leah plays on her violin.
Whatever the reason, Ireland has been calling my heart. So I began to pray for God to make a way for me to visit Ireland. My daughter Leah wanted to go, too. And God did it! I give Jesus Christ all the glory for this amazing opportunity! I told Leah that this proves that hard work and faith in Jesus can make your dreams come true! Yours can, too!
This package included lodging for a week at the beautiful Bunratty Castle Hotel and lovely, immaculately-clean B & B’s of our choice, the car rental for a week from Dan Dooley’s car rental, and the plane flights from New York to Shannon, Ireland and back from Dublin, Ireland to New York. The flights from Kansas City (where I live) to New York and New York to Kansas City were separately priced.
Leah and I went for seven days and had an amazing time! Ireland is GORGEOUS! I miss it and wish I was still there!
Two of the main things I wanted to see was the Cliffs of Moher near Galway and Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park. These beautiful sites surpassed my imagination. The Cliffs of Moher were both mine and Leah’s favorite place.
Another thing I wanted to see was Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney. This gorgeous Gothic-style cathedral was built in 1853 and has beautiful stained glass windows and awe-inspiring architecture. It is the Roman Catholic cathedral in County Kerry.
It was designed by the renown English architect Augustus Welby Pugin. The Great Famine in Ireland and lack of funds meant the work had to be stopped several times, and when it was recommenced, the interior decorations finished by James Joseph McCarthy.
It is very true that Ireland is SO green and that is why it’s called the “Emerald Isle.” It rains frequently there, thus all the greenery.
Most of the eastern half of the country has between 750 and 1000 millimetres (mm) of rainfall in the year. Rainfall in the west generally averages between 1000 and 1250 mm. In many mountainous districts rainfall exceeds 2000 mm per year. Rainfall ranges from about 151 days a year along the east and southeast coasts, to about 225 days a year in parts of the west.
I prayed before we went that it wouldn’t rain, at least hard, while we were there because I would be driving and don’t like driving in rain or bad weather. It did rain lightly there every day for short periods of time, but the sun quickly came out. As one couple on a shuttle to the airport said, “The sun (the Son!) followed us.” Leah even spotted a rainbow one day, which I had prayed would happen if it rained, before going over there!
I had bought me and Leah lightweight raincoats on sale (hers, new, at Amazon and mine at a thrift store) before we went over there due to the rain. They came in handy a few times when it softly rained and they worked perfectly! This and our rolling luggage, backpacks, and hiking/walking boots were a great investment for the trip!
I didn’t want to chance our luggage getting lost going on an international flight, so we didn’t check baggage and took the backpacks and rollerboards on the planes. I tried to pack “light and tight,” but they were still stuffed, so I had to push them under the seat to make them fit. Having been a flight attendant helps!
Pictures can’t do it justice and words aren’t enough to describe how gorgeous Ireland is! Ireland has breathtakingly beautiful mountains, the Atlantic ocean, lakes, waterfalls, trees, and flowers! I loved it and can’t wait to go back! Leah wants to go back, too–next time to see Giant’s Causeway in northern Ireland!
I’ll be sharing more blogs and pictures from this trip, so stay tuned here at BethJones.net. Please like and share with your family, friends, and peers. Cheers!
“If God cares about us and delights in us and therefore cares about the things we care about as a Father cares for the joy in His children, then we can exhale…He put the very ability to long in my soul. He gave me the gift of dreaming so I could have vision in this life.”–Sarah Mae, Longing for Paris
Summer is in full swing here in Missouri, with 3-digit temps some days, making even my husband Ray who hates snow long for cooler days. I look longingly at my friends’ beach pics on Facebook, their pretty painted toenails in the sand. The beach is my place of peace and refilling, and I miss and crave it in my soul.
When I was a child, every summer our family took vacations at the beach in Florida. My home town of Valdosta, GA, is about the last stop you can make in Georgia before you see that “Welcome to Florida” sign.
Several times we went to the idyllic Jekyll Island in Georgia, as my dad’s Civitan Club conventions were held there. But we also tried other beaches in Florida, such as Daytona and Panama City, where the current is so strong that you feel as if you’re going to be sucked right under the surface of the waves and carried out to sea, forever lost.
At the beach, my usually reserved father, a workaholic in his home business as a CPA, finally relaxed. He’d drink some beers, looking out on the ocean at night under the moonlight, and he’d actually laugh–a rare event. And when he relaxed and laughed, my mother–an overweight, stressed-out, usually screaming woman on the verge of madness–would laugh, too, and they might even hold hands on the patio. One time we kids actually saw them kiss, and I was shocked as they never did this at home in front of us. We all giggled.
During the day, we’d head for the beach, my mother making us slather our bodies with sunscreen, and my older brother Greg yelling, “Last one in is a rotten egg!” as he dove with exuberance in the waves. One year on the beach, Greg got stung on the foot by a jellyfish; they seemed to be everywhere in the water and on shore that year. While the sting was painful, he recovered and was okay.
Another year, we thought that Greg had drowned to death, as the strong current and a giant wave suddenly snatched him underneath the sinister surface. I recall the frightened calls of my parents, “Greg! Greg!”, as they frantically searched for him, and suddenly he reappeared out of the ocean like a Loch Ness monster, looking larger than life, but red-eyed and sputtering salty water. Thank God he was alive!
It wasn’t the only time that God spared his life. Years later, he was hit by a drunk driver when Greg was riding a motorcycle. He was in a coma for days, doctors unsure if he would ever wake up and not knowing the extent of any brain or internal injuries.
When Greg was in the coma, it was one of the few times in my life that I remember my dad, a strong, prideful, independent man, ever crying. I was at our high school’s prom when the accident happened; or at least, I was supposed to be there. My boyfriend and I were doing what was called “parking” back then, in a dark driveway by the town’s football field, when my boyfriend’s dad drove past us and spotted his son’s car. He’d been driving all over town to find us, to let me know about Greg’s critical accident; my parents had called him to find my whereabouts when I wasn’t at the high school.
Remembering his own high school days, he had a hunch what we might be doing, and found us just by a fluke. Imagine our surprise when he parked on the side of the road, got out of his car, and tapped loudly on the car window, interrupting us!
When he told me that my brother had been critically injured in a car accident, we rushed to the hospital. As I walked frightened into the ICU room, my father was furious with me, demanding to know where I’d been instead of at the prom. At the moment, my “activities” with my boyfriend (which were innocent enough as we’d only been kissing) seemed to be more important to him than my brother laying on his possible deathbed.
But then the doctor came in, and my father’s and my mother’s attention turned back to him and their oldest son, Greg. I stared in shock at my pale brother, with whom I was close friends back then. He was hooked up to a lot of machines that blinked and beeped ominously, the IV needle stuck in his vein and the fluids flowing into his limp body. Yet he looked peaceful and asleep.
Miraculously, Greg awoke several days later from the coma, his life spared and although he was shaken, he was fine. He sued the drunk driver, and they settled in court for thousands of dollars. Today he is a successful business man, married to a beautiful woman from Russia with a grown stepson, and is a Presbyterian minister, preaching the gospel of Christ. God protected and saved him for a glorious purpose.
But I digress…back to the beach vacation days! I’d walk on the wet shore, collecting sea shells to take home, wanting to forever preserve the memory of the beach. Why couldn’t we just stay here? I loved the beauty of the ocean and the sunset, smelling the salt in the air, and hearing the waves as I lay on a towel, warm sand on my feet.
At night, I slept restfully because we kids had played hard, delighted to wake up to the sound of the ocean the next morning and anticipating more fun swimming in it that day after breakfast. By lunch we were famished. Mama usually brought groceries on the trip so that we could save money, and we’d devour our sandwiches and chips. It was hard to wait the hour following lunch; mama claimed we’d “get cramps” if we swam too soon after eating.
Daddy would usually take us out to eat at one nice seafood restaurant during the vacation, the highlight of the trip for my mother, as well as her being able to swim in the ocean. She had been an excellent swimmer in high school and swam effortlessly as a mermaid in the water.
Mama seemed to feel young and sexy again in her one-piece swimsuit, diving under the waves, and letting her greatly freckled skin dry in the sun–but not too long, as she and us kids seemed to burn so easily. We’d usually get burned anyway, and mama would rub Noxema or something to cool down our skin. The fun seemed so worth it!
My dad and my sister Maria had olive complexions and would get dark, and I’d be envious of her, walking around in her itty-bitty bikini, sporting her new tan. But nothing could take away my happiness completely, because we were at the beach, our once a year, only, fun vacation. The stuff dreams are made of.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”–Susan Sontag
Sarah Mae still hasn’t gone to Paris, even after writing this book! I confess that I am frustrated about this. The reasons are never really clear–the expense? Because she has kids and we all know that moms can’t travel to exotic places? Who really knows why?–but I understand. I’d be traveling all over the world to many nations right now if only I had the money to do so!
Still, what is stopping me from saving every single dime until we have enough money for me (and/or my husband and our kids) to go where we want?
“We give our dreams and longings to God, trusting Him to do as He pleases, knowing He cares about us, our growth, and our total trust in Him…We recognize our longings are in us for a deeper purpose.”
“Use your imagination…go on, close your eyes and dream. What would you do if you could go to Paris (or another place that calls to your heart)? What would you want to see?”
I’ve actually been to Paris…twice. Once in high school with my French teacher and our class. It was the first time I’d ever tried champagne or any alcohol, and I confess that I got drunk with my classmates, because I didn’t realize how potent alcohol was! My French teacher, Mrs. Gandy, threatened to kill me if I told my mother and father. To this day, I hardly ever drink, except a glass of sweet, red wine over dinner with Ray once in a blue moon.
I was enthralled with the Eiffel Tower (it’s beautiful, fascinating, and so tall!), the gorgeous art in Le Louvre musem (especially the Mona Lisa; I stared for an hour at her), and I loved dipping the French bread into hot chocolate in the morning!
And once, speed forward years, I went to Paris again on Ray’s and my 10th wedding anniversary trip. We traveled there briefly by train when we flew to Europe, renting a car and driving all over Switzerland.
We stopped for a couple of days in Italy, France, and an unheard of place called Lichtenstein, which borders Switzerland and Austria.There at a beautiful castle on a high hill, I boldly and secretly buried a piece of paper with a Scripture in the ground, proclaiming the word over the area.
Ray said we couldn’t walk around inside, since it didn’t look open to the public. (We found out later that the Princely family lives there!) After I furtively buried the Scripture in the ground, immediately a strong wind blew through, and I realized I had probably stirred up some demonic principalities of the air! But God’s word had been prophesied over this nation!
In Paris for the second time, I cried seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa again, and I simply couldn’t get enough French bread baked with chocolate and French cheese. In many of our pictures from this trip, you see me standing in line for chocolate bread! Sometimes I’ll buy baguettes and French cheese to recreate the feeling of being in Paris again, an idea of wishing, which Sarah Mae encourages in her book Longing for Paris.
“Grab your kids and hunt for something French! Maybe you will discover the best croissant in your town together. Or maybe it will be the best macaron. Take a side trip to the library and check out The Little Prince or Madeline or The Story of Babar–adventurous tales with a French twist.”
For me personally, it’s not enough to pretend to go to Paris, eating the Americanized version of French bread (the baguette is actually much thinner and longer) with imported French cheese. I want the real thing.
I want to truly travel abroad all over the world! I believe dreaming is a gift from God and He wants to give us the desires of our hearts, just like we as parents want to make our own children happy and laughing.
I believe it’s important to never give up your dreams and to go for them, as much as possible. God can miraculously make the way for them to become true!
Sarah writes, “When my son draws me a picture, he is so excited to give it to me, not just so that I can see his talent, but because he loves me and wants me to take pleasure in it. This is what God does with us; He wants us to take pleasure in the beauty He’s made and in the gifts He endows us with.”
Never stop dreaming; never give up. Be the girl (or guy) who goes for it!
What is your big dream? Remember that NOTHING is impossible with God? To be encouraged to go for it, check out my book, The Cinderella Story: The Power of Dreams, at Amazon, by clicking here.
It’s finally spring here in Kansas City, Missouri. The birds are so happy lately, chirping and singing, and my daughter Heather is happy, too, because it’s her favorite time of year. I love it, too.
The trees that had been gaunt, barren skeletons this winter, stripped of their autumn glory, are now clothed in emerald green leaves. Flowers are blooming: Virginia bluebells, pale-pink geraniums, yellow Black-eyed Susans, white hydrangeas, and one of my favorites, the sunflower.
They’re such a simple thing, but fresh flowers give Heather and me joy. In fact, Heather’s name means a flower, the mauve or white heather plant that is found widely in Europe, usually in late summer. It’s an usually beautiful flower, just like Heather.
This morning the streets were still damp from last night’s rain. The mourning doves were cooing, as I drank my creamy coffee and talked with God.
So many things going on right now. I prayed Psalm 18 over me and my family, especially for Heather and her girls Annabelle and Violet, who were coughing badly last night. Heather went through a painful divorce several years ago and is basically a single mom–the hardest job in the world. I was one with Heather for nearly 10 years. Heather has important projects this week, so she can’t afford time off.
So I pray for them: “The Lord thundered from heaven, And the most High uttered His voice. Hailstones and coals of fire, He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, Lightnings and in abundance, and He vanquished them.” Please pray complete, speedy healing for them.
Our beautiful daughter Leah is continuing to practice her violin and her art, and is now looking for her first job. Please pray God’s favor upon her to get the right job, and courage for her to apply and at interviews.
This morning I quickly glanced through my avalanche of emails; it’s time to clean it out and delete, delete, delete, and unsubscribe (again!) from newsletters I don’t even read. Time’s a’wastin’, as Joaquin and Reese sang in Walk the Line. I love the advice to apply the 4 D’s to email as soon as you get it: do right now, delegate it to the right person, defer (by adding to a to-do list, for example), or delete it.
Your time is gold. I’m hearing about more sudden deaths lately, especially with younger people, and Ray is seeing a lot more deaths lately at his work as a paramedic; yesterday three patients died on his calls, which is unusual as Ray usually saves lives. I believe these unexpected deaths are because it’s the end times. Jesus is coming back soon, and we need to be ready to face God at any time.
I love the ocean. When I was growing up, my family went to the beach every summer for a vacation: Jekyll Island seemed to be the most common spot, since my dad’s Civitan Club conventions were held there. We also went frequently to Daytona Beach and even the gulf, Panama City.
The most beautiful ocean and beach I’ve ever seen were in the Bahamas, when I spoke at Tony Robinson‘s Women of Destiny conference on a cruise ship to the Bahamas.
The water is an exquisite blue-green and so clear, and the sand a soft white with no shells or rocks to hurt your feet. It was truly like paradise. When I ate coconut shrimp, drinking a pina colada with a little umbrella in it, I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
The beach is calling my name!
But work calls, too. This week I’m working on a new book, the second book in my Storm Tossed fiction series, entitled Afflicted. The main character, Rachel, gets kidnapped while on a mission trip in Africa. This book was inspired by the powerful story of missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham,In The Presence of My Enemies, but will take place in the Congo in Africa instead of the Philippines.
I have written several chapters and already have the image for the cover from Istock, where I usually buy images for my book covers. (You can be the first to hear about the new book’s release by signing up here at my website on the right-hand side at the top of the page.)
I just spoke at a virtual event with my peers Doreen Penner and Karen Wells, Walk Free Summit. We’re working on creating a bundle product of audios and handouts from our speaking presentations at the event. Stay tuned for details!
That’s about it for now. How has your week been? What are you up to? Leave your comments below.