Memories of Ireland by Chris’s Mom, guest blogger

bike ride sheep

DAY ONE: We landed to 40 degree weather and a steady rain coming down. We had a pretty hair-raising inaugural car drive from the airport to our first hotel. Don tended to drift off to the left, since he was used to the driver’s side being about 3 feet to the left of where it now was! After bouncing off the curb a couple of times, he got better. The rental car was already all scraped up on the left side – scars from other American drivers! We got to our room at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel (thank you, Lord!) and set the timer for just a 1-hour nap so we can go to sleep early tonight. Don’s on the bed sleeping again; I can’t keep him awake! There is a quaint little town (Dalkey) about 2 miles from here, so we donned our raincoats and grabbed our umbrellas and went exploring. We had our first Irish meal in a cute pub. Chris would love it – they have fireplaces burning everywhere you go! I enjoyed sitting next to 2 Irish ladies and listening to them talk! I helped one lady on with her coat. But Irish people don’t just say, “Thanks!” They wait until they say good-bye, then look you right in the eye and say, “Thank you for helping me on with my coat.” Chris is right – they are genuinely interested in you and ever so polite! It is so refreshing. And we had some beautiful views of the Dublin harbor during our walk. Tomorrow we’ll take a train to Dublin, then do a “hop on and off” bus around Dublin and see the Guiness factory; so I hope we get lots of rest!!

Harbor view

DAY TWO: The Guiness factory was impressive. Amazing how the production of an alcohol product would help the transportation infrastructure, but it sure did. Through the 1st 1/2 hour of the tour, Don kept saying, “There’s no way they produce ALL the Guiness beer from here.” But they kept saying 3 million pints per day, so now he believes it. At the tasting room toward the end of the tour, the guy asked all the visitors assembled: “What color is Guiness?” And I answered correctly, “red.” I was listening; you would have been so proud. We also saw the “Little Museum,” which included history of the town. It was sad to hear about all the violence Dublin has endured over the years; most of the town heroes ended up executed and the ancient Lord Nelson Memorial tower was bombed by terrorists!
We enjoyed the Dublin “hop on, hop off” tourist bus. However, it stopped at 5pm, unbeknownst to us! The driver just pretty much said, “Get off now!” I started to argue with him, since I had no idea where we could catch the train. Don finally said, “Lynne, just get off the bus.” I had no idea where we were. But God is good: we ended up being very close to a nice restaurant, PLUS a close train station to take us back home to our village after a great dinner. Lots of walking to burn off the calories, too! Our second castle tomorrow – please pray for safe travels across the Irish countryside.

Guiness harp

 

DAY THREE:  Kilronan Castle was fabulous; the best of both worlds. Tea in the ancient castle with all the gorgeous woodwork and art, but our room was in the wing that had just been built a few years ago – spacious with a huge bathroom. The concierge at the castle tried and tried to set us up with a boat ride to the Cliffs of Moher, but it is just too early in the season – too much likelihood of rain! I’d say the chance of rain is 100% each day this time of year. We were just happy when it stopped for a bit and the sun peaked out! This castle includes a lake and a nice wooded area for hiking. It is seriously so humid that the trees were covered in moss. We went to a coal mine and got a tour from a real former coal miner. He was so proud of his work, and he explained just how hard the work was. I couldn’t do it!

Kilronan hiking

DAY SIX: Ashford Castle: the most luxurious of all. We had high tea in the afternoon. The sun peaked through and the room was so ornate; truly just like Downton Abbey! Then a fantastic dinner last night; hosts, waiters, waitresses, a guy to wheel Don’s prime rib over and cut it for him, and a wine steward. They pulled out my chair for me, and put our napkins on our laps,and  took the covers off of our food (simultaneously), and removed our unneeded silverware and picked up the roll I dropped after 30 seconds and….well, you get the picture! The food was delicious, too! I almost expected a lady’s maid to come up and help me dress this morning….. Don is happy he is getting his long bike ride in today. The rain even stopped for part of it! Chris worked on us so hard that we ARE doing the falconry lessons today. It isn’t supposed to rain again, but the wind is very chilly. So my “cuddl duds” will come in handy. There’s an Irish singer tonight here; not sure where we’ll do dinner. Tomorrow we take a bus to the cliffs by the ocean and then head back to Dublin. Our last day there should be fine, so we will try to go see some ancient ruins. Then back home to real life!

Lynne high tea

DAY EIGHT:  We drove back across Ireland, back to Dublin. I was so glad we took a bus to the Cliffs of Moher, because the roads were barely wide enough for 2 small cars, let alone the tour buses whizzing along in either direction. Don did a good job driving. As my manicurist at Kilronan told me, “He’ll be fine as long as he’s confident.” He was that! We went to the tomb “mounds” north of Dublin at Bru na Boinne. The Druids built them 5000 years ago. It took 8 men 2 days to get each huge block up the hill. They must have known quite a bit about astronomy and architecture, because the mounds are still standing. Each year, at sunrise on summer and winter solstice, a beam of sunlight comes into the window over the doorway, deflects off of the ceiling and lights up the circle where they apparently put the bones of dead elders (or other important people). The people lived in wood huts covered in animal skins, but they worked very, very hard for 15 years to build this mound. What did they believe about God? It’s a mystery. It makes me happy to have the Bible and know God’s word. We are so blessed!

 Cows

Rhodiola Info

Want more energy during your workouts?  Interested in reducing the sore muscle feeling you get the day following a tough workout?  Trying to find something that supports your workouts without harming your body with artificial chemicals?
Following are a few resources that you might find interesting and helpful.  For myself, I notice the most dramatic difference using Rhodiola when I do a long “slow burn” type workout like biking 30 miles.  I just tend to have a bigger energy store to draw from.  That and I definitely notice decreased soreness following days when I took it prior to a workout compared to days I don’t.
the specific product claims are the following:
  • -Maximize mental focus and physical endurance. Experience the energy during workouts or anytime you need a quick, effective pick-me-up.
  • -Improve exercise performance. NUTRILITE Rhodiola 110 also boasts natural caffeine from green tea extract that, combined with rhodiola rosea, may help promote more vigorous workouts.
  • -Shorten your recovery time after exercise. Research suggests that rhodiola rosea helps decrease recovery time by improving your body’s stress response system.
There are many studies on the effectiveness of rhodiola, so i’ll let you search any trusted sources you have.  Nutrilite has done many such studies for most of their products, but if you want a third party source, check this one out:
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Jun;14(3):298-307.
De Bock K, Eijnde BO, Ramaekers M, Hespel P.
Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy in the Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics Laboratory at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Tervuursevest 101, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium.

Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise performance.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of acute and 4-week Rhodiolarosea intake on physical capacity, muscle strength, speed of limb movement, reaction time, and attention. METHODS: PHASE I: A double blind placebo-controlled randomized study (n= 24) was performed, consisting of 2 sessions (2 days per session). Day 1: One hour after acute Rhodiolarosea intake (R, 200-mg Rhodiola rosea extract containing 3% rosavin + 1% salidroside plus 500 mg starch) or placebo (P, 700 mg starch) speed of limb movement (plate tapping test), aural and visual reaction time, and the ability to sustain attention (Fepsy Vigilance test) were assessed. Day 2: Following the same intake procedure as on day 1, maximal isometric knee-extension torque and endurance exercise capacity were tested. Following a 5-day washout period, the experimental procedure was repeated, with the treatment regimens being switched between groups (session 2). PHASE II: A double blind placebo-controlled study (n = 12) was performed. Subjects underwent sessions 3 and 4, identical to Phase I, separated by a 4-week R/P intake, during which subjects ingested 200 mg R/P per day. RESULTS: PHASE I: Compared with P, acute R intake in Phase I increased (p <.05) time to exhaustion from 16.8 +/- 0.7 min to 17.2+/- 0.8 min. Accordingly, VO2peak (p <.05) and VCO2peak (p<.05) increased during R compared to P from 50.9 +/- 1.8 ml x min(-1) x kg(- )1 to 52.9 +/- 2.7 ml x min(-10) x kg(-1) (VO2peak) and from 60.0 +/- 2.3 ml x min(-1) x kg(-1) to 63.5+/- 2.7 ml x min(-1) x kg(-1) (VCO2peak). Pulmonary ventilation (p =.07) tended to increase more during R than during P (P: 115.9+/- 7.7 L/min; R: 124.8 +/- 7.7 L/min). All other parameters remained unchanged. PHASE II: Four-week R intake did not alter any of the variables measured. CONCLUSION: Acute Rhodiola rosea intake can improve endurance exercise capacity in young healthy volunteers. This response was not altered by prior daily 4-week Rhodiola intake.

http://www.anti-aging-guide.com/Rhodiola_scient.html

 and three more:

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/rhodiola.htm

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/03/07/rhodiola-rosea-natures-anti-depressant/

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/risks-benefits-rhodiolarosea-6222.html

Being an Iron Sharpener

Are you a blessing to those around you?  Should you be?  If so, what does it take to effectively speak into their lives, encouraging them and helping them to live a thriving life?

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Those Who Have Helped You

God has designed us for community—we grow through our interactions with others, as iron sharpens iron.  Who are some of the people who have been most positively influential in your life?  Are you glad they took time to sharpen you and help you grow?

You Are a Valuable Resource

Perhaps we know that we should be building up others and helping them to grow in wisdom and truth, but we find it challenging to speak into their life effectively.  Or sometimes, we may think, “who am I to think I can help them?”  It is only when we recognize that we don’t have all the answers that we can be used by God to work His purposes in the lives of those around us.

Two Keys Make Up the Bridge

Think of a bridge over a wide river.  One bank represents the thriving life we are all called to live.  The other bank represents a person God has placed in our life.  We desire that our friend has the thriving life that he wants, the life that’s effective for the Lord’s Kingdom and our community.  In order to bridge the space between, we will need two keys.

Knowing the What

The first key is knowledge and wisdom of what a thriving life looks like.  Those wise men who have mentored us are a good resource for this knowledge, and of course the principle source of all wisdom is the Holy Scriptures.  As we read and study God’s Word, we learn what He is like and over time we see a clearer and clearer picture of what a Christ-life really looks like.

Knowing the Who

The other key is personal.  We must know the person we’re speaking to.  It’s fine to share general knowledge—in fact, what you’re reading now is this very thing: generalized knowledge shared publically.  But to really build up others around us and be effective in being the iron sharpening iron, we must have relationships.  And not just realationships on the surface, but real and deep relationships.  How easy it is to let our interactions with others remain shallow and casual, but this is not the thriving life we’re called to.  Instead, we must choose to take an interest in people, really value them for who they are, and listen to them.

Start Now

Tomorrow, ask God whom he would have you reach out to.  Go to that person and ask them about their favorite topic:  themselves!  Start with something like, “so how long have you worked here?”  “Oh, really?  Well how did you come to work here?”  Listen to what they share, and ask them follow-up questions.  You will be surprised how quickly they will go into detail about who they are and what drives them.  Don’t fake interest, really be interested and keep asking them to explain more.  In so doing, you will have discovered the second key—cultivating authentic relationships.

Be a Blessing

With these two keys, we can all become more effective iron-sharpeners, ready to be used by our Heavenly Father to affect His purposes. We will be more of a blessing to those around us, and as we all grow in this path, we help each other to live more of a thriving life!

Doing It All Yourself?

You and I are capable of amazing things—when we let ourselves dream, search out and discover wise means of reaching our dreams, and focus and commit to building ourselves brick by brick, day by day.  God has created us with limitless potential, and you’re used to reading words here that will challenge and encourage you to take action today toward growth and pursuit of your goals.  As you go forth on your journey, however, you cannot expect success going it alone.  It is only when we find our particular purpose for which we have been created and plug into God’s agenda that we can truly thrive.

Wedding

Psalm 63

7For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.

8My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.

9But those who seek my life to destroy it,
Will go into the depths of the earth.

10They will be delivered over to the power of the sword;
They will be a prey for foxes.

11But the king will rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him will glory,
For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

Conveying the Truth

We are given a great many pictures in the Bible which convey the way God relates to us.  In v7 and v8 of this Psalm, we see two examples:  The shadow of God’s wings and God’s right hand.  Although God has neither wings nor hands, these metaphors give us a very clear and powerful idea of what God is like and how we are meant to live.  We are our strongest not when we work hardest and rely most on ourselves, but rather when we recognize our frailty and seek refuge in God.

The Shadow of His Wings

The picture of living in the shadow of God’s wings gives the thought of a powerful and majestic bird of prey.  I think of an eagle soaring high above the ground, completely out of reach of those who may wish to harm him.  At any moment, the eagle can sweep down with his powerful talons and reign down with a fierce attack on whomever he wills.  As one loved by God, I know than when I rest in the shadow of His wings, I need fear no man.  The shadow means that although I can’t touch Him, I know he is there without a doubt.  He is above me, ready and able to protect and defend me from any who would oppose His will and my obedience.

God’s Right Hand

Being upheld by God’s right hand conveys many similar ideas.  When I think of how easily I can be overcome by others or by life’s circumstances, I am encouraged by remembering that God’s strength is something I can lay hold of.  When in my humanness I would certainly fail, I know in that moment that I can rely on Christ to give me His strength.  It may be a fight against temptation, or the tenacity to hold my resolve in a tese situation, or even to withstand persecution.  In these times, I have confidence, knowing that when my strength fails, God will provide all the strength I need.

His Glory

So much more could be said, how many volumes could be filled with this glorious truth!  God’s power and strength are infinite, and He is anxious to grant them to any who will follow after Him, seek His will, and have the faith to live it out each day.  As we work with the tools we have to grow in our own wisdom, strength, and capability, let us never forget that One who is infinitely stronger than we could ever be or imagine stands with us.  As he shows Himself powerful and faithful, we will discover new heights achievable only through His divine work, for His glory and our good!

Take a Step Back From the Edge

What would you do if your transmission went out tomorrow?  If your identity were stolen and your credit frozen, would you be taking the bus to work?  If your uncle offered to sell you his mint condition Ford Mustang for only $5,000, would you be able to come up with the cash?

We’re apt to take many of the great things in our life for granted, up to and including out income.  In our culture, it’s acceptable and a common practice to live right the edge of our income, spending 90, 100, or even 110 percent of our annual income each year.

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A Valuable Heritage

But for centuries (maybe longer), wise people have practiced the discipline of saving money for a rainy day.  Because we don’t know the future, it is necessary to save an emergency fund to have the options and choices we want.

In today’s article we’ll outline what the emergency fund is, why it’s important, and what it’s to be used for.  If you’ll make the decision to adopt this important discipline, you’ll reap the great rewards that wise men and women have been enjoying throughout history.

What’s It For?

The purpose of the emergency fund is to cover expenses that may come that you can’t predict.  Anything you can predict should be included in your monthly budget.  When I first began budgeting, I was tapping my emergency fund every other month, but as we get better at predicting what’s coming, there are fewer times when we need to use the emergency fund at all.  The goal is to have a full emergency fund that is never ever used, but just sits there “just in case!”

Can you estimate how much you spent on car repairs last year?  Take that estimate divided by 12 and this is how much you should allocate each month toward car repairs.  So maybe you’ll allocate $100 to car repairs in your February budget, even if you don’t take the car in.  But if your check engine light goes on in February, you have $200 sitting there, all ready to pay the bill.

If It Can Be Predicted, Figure It Out

Similarly, let’s say you know you want to upgrade your car by $4000, six months from now.  Just divide it out and you’ll find that you need to save $667 per month.  Again, it’s predictable so include it in your budget, not the emergency fund.

Overcome the Little Kid Inside

The tough part is saying no to all the things we’d like to do until the emergency fund is complete, totaling three to six months of your household expenses.  But it’s worth it to have the security; when you really need it and you have the money sitting there, it takes a lot of stress out of the equation.

How We Spend It

“Why would you want to read when you got the television set sitting right in front of you? There’s nothing you can get from a book that you can’t get from a television faster.”  If you’re wondering where that sage advice comes from, hearken back to a little movie called Matilda.  That’s right, this little dandy comes from Matilda’s scumbag father, played by Danny DeVito.  We all get a good laugh hearing such a ridiculous claim—but hold on a minute, how many of us are spending our time each day living this philosophy out?

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How About Us?

Did you watch TV this week?  How much time did you spend watching in the last 7 days?  Ten hours?  Fifteen?  More???  Watching TV’s not wrong, but it’s not particularly beneficial either.  It’s nice, when you’re tired, to plop down on the couch and unwind a bit.  But two hours later, are you really rested?  Wouldn’t you actually be more energized an alert the following day if you had simply gone to sleep instead?

Important but Not Urgent

TV isn’t bad, but it can keep us from using our time for things that are important.  Spending time with our families, improving our minds, studying and spending time with God—these are all vitally important activities that aren’t urgent.  The problem comes when we put them off because they’re not urgent.  We accidently fall into the result of having gone all day without really talking to our spouse, without spending time reading the Word, but how much TV time did we fit in?  Oh yeah, two and a half hours.

If Only I Had the Time

Have you ever heard a friend say, “I wish I had more time to—“  What’s crazy about this statement is that anyone who has ever done that thing my friend’s wishing to do has exactly the same about of time all the rest of us have:  168 hours per week!  You’re never going to have more time than that!  So if you want time to do something, then allocate your time and do it!  The reality isn’t that you are short on time and can’t do the thing you want; the reality is that you simply don’t want the thing you claim to want as badly as you want to watch TV (or fill in whatever other random activity or habit).

Stop Starving Your Mind

We know that reading good books is like feeding our brain.  If you’ll make the decision to read a book for your personal growth every day, you will absolutely reap a beneficial harvest.  It takes dedication; it takes commitment to build the habit.  But you can do it, and you will begin to notice the fruit of this great habit almost immediately.  Try this—just reduce your TV time by 15 minutes this week.  That’s likely less than a 10% decrease.  So you’re still getting 90% of your TV time in.  That’s not so hard, right?  Just be ready and agreeable to letting a good book shape your attitude and feed your mind, and enjoy the thriving life that will begin to unfold before you!

Giving Thanks

Even though we enjoy countless blessings, it can be very easy to take many of our good things for granted. We become accustomed to our daily routine, and we are often so busy that we don’t take the time to reflect on and be thankful the many blessings we enjoy. Try sitting down with a blank piece of paper for fifteen minutes and listing things you have to be thankful for. You may be surprised how quickly the paper is filled!

Family Christmas

Our Many Freedoms

We live in a country with more freedoms that most any time and place in history. We can assemble freely to worship God and learn about Him. Any citizen may own property, or run a business, without excessive government oversight or restriction. We have a representative democracy which allows we the people to choose our leaders, and a press that holds these leaders accountable for their actions. Though no government is perfect, we do yet retain many of the freedoms as intended by the founders of this nation, and we should thank God for continuing to preserve our great nation.

Family

I am blessed to have been born and raised by Christian parents who loved me, taught me well, and have stayed together–married for 33 years and counting!  My brother and sister are great and loving siblings, and I smile every time we can spend time togehter.  Not only that, but they have each found a spouse who compliments them perfectly, and I feel that I’ve gained even more great siblings through these marriages (and soon-to-be marriages!)

I am married to a wonderful, beautiful, and loving wife who loves me, respects me, and is truly my partner for life. She is caring and incredible, and I am often in disbelief of how she can accomplish all the things she does, even making it look effortless. She is sweet and loving, and an excellent communicator. Even when we don’t see eye to eye on things, she takes the time and makes the effort to connect, express her perspective, and stay with the issue until we both understand and agree on how we’ll move forward. I could expound all day on the many wonderful things she does to enrich my life and the lives of those around her, and I am grateful to have her as my wife!

God has blessed us with three delightful children, who make our lives busy, interesting, and fun. They say the funniest things, and help us to remember how much more fun life is with a lighthearted attitude. They are smart and inquisitive, always wanting to explore their surroundings and find out how things work. They even encourage us in our faith, as they ask questions about God and trust in Him with the childlike faith Jesus taught us to have.

The Greatest Gift

The list of my blessings could go on and on and on, and fill many more pages that this site could hold!  Taking the time just to begin recounting all the great joys and gifts in my life has reminded me again truly how much I have to be thankful for.  In difficult days, when things don’t always seem to be going the way I’d like them to, I will do well to remember all the many blessings I’ve been given, recognizing that just as I did not deserve them, so have I been given heavenly gifts that I don’t deserve.  Chief among these is the salvation I have through Christ, the forgiveness of my sin and God’s promise that I will enjoy eternal life in paradise with Him.  Thank God today for all He has given you, and reach out to the Savior and follow Him!