Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ross’ Birthday Getaway!

For Ross’ birthday my parents so graciously let us stay in two of the bed and breakfast’s that we would have stayed in if their trip hadn’t been cancelled. On Saturday, we headed down to Killarney, an adorable town in the southwest of Ireland. We checked into Crystal Springs, our B&B, rested awhile, and then drove around The Ring of Kerry, a scenic drive around a large peninsula. It was a lot of driving, but the views were absolutely breathtaking… gorgeous rolling bright green hills coming right down to meet up with beautiful blue water…ummmmm a view you can never get enough of!
View from the Ring of Kerry road

The furthest tip on the Ring of Kerry... gorgeous!

Crystal Springs B&B in Killarney
Katie and Aaron, two friends of ours met up with us that night and spent the next day with us as we took a boat/bike tour through the Killarney lakes and Gap of Dunloe. At first we were a little hesitant of the boat ride since it was a pretty small, dinky boat, which we were to load our bikes onto. We said our classic line, “Well, this is Ireland!” Our friend calls it TI2 (for “This Is Ireland”) for random things that you would only find here. It was freezing on the boat, but the scenery made it worth it! Once we rode down the lakes we unloaded our bikes and began our cycling journey of a lifetime! It was SO intense! For a large majority of the first half of the journey we had to walk our bikes because the incline was so steep! Even though we made it to the top with burning thighs, catching a first glimpse of the valley below made it all worthwhile. We coasted down the rest. Our classic line of the trip was, “Wow, my gap of dunloe is sore! How about yours?” Hee hee! Doing this bike tour after not having ridden a bike in ages, will do some serious damage to your rear!
View of Ross Castle from the boat

At the top of the mountain!

Cathedral in Killarney
That early evening we parted ways with Katie and Aaron and headed to the BEST part of the trip, DROMOLAND CASTLE :) . Amazing, breathtaking, charming, lovely! Our room was HUGE! Seriously, I think it was bigger than our entire flat here in Dublin. We had a delightful dinner surrounded by medieval and posh d├ęcor. Our server addressed me as madam, I think a first for me! We then enjoyed a live guitarist in their bar area. The next morning, we had delightful eggs benedict in their fancy dining room. Ross’ favorite breakfast meal, he was ecstatic when he saw it on the menu! We then played tennis, a favorite hobby of ours that we haven’t been able to enjoy since leaving La Mirada. As we were playing a helicopter landed right in front of the castle to drop of a guest. Ross and I looked at each other thinking, “Where in the world are we?” Upon returning to our room, I then had the delight of using my long awaited bath bomb! There is nothing like a relaxing bath in a castle :). After checking out, we walked the lush grounds and enjoyed a yummy cup-o-tea in the drawing room. Sounds fake, right? It felt surreal! Ross thought he spotted Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice on the grounds in the cool of the day, I told him he was only a fictional character, but that he could pretend to be him for the weekend. And so he did.
Dromoland Castle

Another view of the castle

The cozy sitting room

Dinner... chicken and fish & chips

Chicken with Parsley Mashed Potatoes....mmmmmm!

Eggs Benedict...yummo!

Mr. Darcy relaxing in his castle

A fierce tennis match
Next, I surprised Ross with horseback riding! For some reason I thought it was something he has always wanted to do… well it turns out that as a teen Ross read an article in “Men’s Health Magazine” about how many accidental deaths take place while men were horseback riding. From that point on he had no desire whatsoever to ride a horse… oops! He told me that he thought it was going to be “interesting to say the least” but he really enjoyed it in the end :). I guess I should have done my homework before booking that one! Our horses were Smurf and Shrek, very calm, gentle horses who were great for us beginners. The countryside was amazingly beautiful and our guide was very informative, actually probably a little too much! Ross and I were a little overwhelmed at the wealth of horse knowledge she wanted to impart to us! The great thing was, she was happy to shoot tons of pictures for us during our trek, a woman after my own heart!

It was a great weekend! After all the emotional drama I had gone through the weeks prior, it was a much appreciated and needed get away. We can’t wait for the fam to be able to take the trip with us when they are able to come out!

Oh, the Ups and Downs!

So as many of you already know, this has definitely been a very difficult few weeks for us! Since we moved here in August, we have been planning my (Suz) parents’ trip out here for this April. Especially since coming home from Christmas, there has been much planning and anticipation towards their arrival. We were so excited to have the opportunity to share our lives here in Dublin with those we love. The bizarre ash cloud from Iceland’s volcano caused my family’s flights to be cancelled the first go around. I was devastated. Then a few days later, my hopes rose again when my family’s flights were rescheduled for the following week! Yeah! The whole week I was telling myself, “Suzanne, don’t get too excited. It is possible that their flights could get cancelled again. Prepare yourself for it not to happen.” So I tried, a measly attempt I must say. The morning of their flights, I finally allowed myself to get excited. Right before heading out the door to go to my last tutoring, I quickly checked my email to find that my mom had seriously injured her back! I didn’t know how to react! I was an absolute wreck. I was so upset hearing that my mom was in extreme pain and that both of us were unbelievably disappointed that their trip was cancelled again! To both myself and Ross, it was immediately evident that my reaction to this disappointment was coming from somewhere deep. I didn’t know why it was affecting me so badly, but it did! I felt so incredibly helpless, frustrated, disappointed, and lonely. For a few days tears were my constant companion. My poor, sweet hubby was a champ during this time. I am so blessed to have a man who knows when to give an encouraging word and when to be silent and simply embrace me! A few days after finding out this news and experiencing a whole lot of emotional pain, the Lord graciously gave my sweet hubby insight into my life to help me process my emotions.

By living here in Ireland, many great things that I have held near and dear to my heart over the years have been stripped from me, my ability to teach and the ability to see my fam. Although these are amazing things in themselves, I have gradually placed my trust and emotional stability in them. Over the years I have become very good at trusting in my ability to manage my circumstances and emotions, rather than rely upon the Lord. It has only been during the times of helplessness, when I am completely unable to control my circumstances, that my unhealthy attachment to these things burns bright. Although it has been a really painful process to see my heart, the Lord has been so gentle and loving through it all. He keeps reminding me that He is my Good Shepherd that I can rely upon Him to take care of my needs. He will faithfully to lead me to green pastures and still waters. I often see myself as a lamb who can manage it on my own, but thank the Lord, He is teaching me to rest in His arms and allow Him to lead me. He has led me to a place of helplessness that I might learn to trust in Him. Both Ross and I are yearning to be in a place where the Lord is our ultimate treasure and we are tethered solely to Him, so that when the unexpected life circumstances come, we are built on The Rock who is stable, and not on our life callings or people in our lives (even each other) who were ultimately never meant to fill that place. Although, I am still really disappointed my family wasn’t able to come out, the Lord has graciously used the emotional pain I have experienced as a way to reflect those unhealthy attachments in my life. Thank you Jesus that crummy circumstances can be used to draw us closer to You!

If you think about it, please join us in praying that the Lord would use our time here in Ireland to continue to deepen our dependence on Him, as well as for my mom’s healing. She is still having extreme pain in her back.