Tuesday, September 29, 2009

kerry (kickin it killarney style)

Killarney in County Kerry was home base for us. We stayed a whole week in a cute house in a real Irish neighborhood, which is kind of remarkable, considering that Killarney is about as touristy as it gets.

Our first day there, Kevin and my dad and brother got to go to a Gaelic Football game between Kerry and Cork.

The town sits on the edge of Killarney National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. It is mountainous and green and spanned by two huge lakes.

We had a great time touring Ross Castle, which has been beautifully restored. It was built in the 15th century by the O'Donoghue chieftains. Pretty sweet, huh? The inside of the castle was nothing like you'd imagine a typical castle based on the movies. Apparently, everyone but the lord and lady of the house sleep in the rather small main room, and there is one extremely narrow staircase that connects everything. My history-buff hubby loved it.

The weather was so perfectly Irish--misty, gray and cool. We went for a long walk through dense forest and along rocky outcroppings.

Later that day we headed twenty minutes south to Kenmare expressly to visit Crowley's Pub, which was recommended in one of our travel guides. It was so trippy; the owner of the pub was a Crowley, of course, and he looked exactly like my cousin David. I kid you not. This place was awesome.

On another day trip, we took a crazy hike up the side of a big mountainside. It was worth it.

Kevin challenged Evan to a boat-building contest on our way back down. I love his creativity about that kind of stuff.

Next up: Dingle (my favorite day!!).

Monday, September 28, 2009

1000 gifts (The Body edition)

Yesterday was Kevin's tenth anniversary of attending New Life (and Ciara, if you still read this, thanks for that email reminder [#27]--super encouraging). He stayed up late last night writing to our pastors and thanking them each specifically for their eternity-shaping investment in his life. Wow.

It's been eight years for me, and I'm grateful for every one of them. In particular, I have watched these men, our pastors (past and present) sacrifice over and over out of love for God and love for His Church. Their wives have taught me how to pursue God with real-life fervor, how to love my husband, and how to bestow on my role as mother all the glory it deserves. So without further ado...



MIKE has always helped me feel a sense of stability in the midst of turmoil. In many cases, I think his faith has been bedrock for everyone else's. As a freshman, my church inheritance was memories of politics, fights over money and names, petty grudges and hurt a mile deep. Mike's quiet constancy helped me trust in leadership again.


STEVE is just plain crazy, and every church needs a man like him. He is our Abraham, taking wild leaps of faith and setting up altars everywhere, because--what do you know--God keeps coming through. I've always known Steve believes in me; his encouragement got me on staff and continues to motivate my heart for women's ministry.


JOHNNY used to sit with me during lifegroup coaching and wait compassionately while I cried for who knows what reason. He always told me the same thing: "You're doing a great job." I never ever believed him. I honestly thought it was lip service. But now I can see that he was speaking the truth to me--that God is pleased. I wish I would have let the truth he spoke through a little earlier.


JOEL is unaccountably steadfast. What is his secret? On a small scale, he sends emails that say "Thanks!" when I do something that I was supposed to do a long time ago. On a large scale, his life is often outrageously crazy, but he always radiates peace. I know, from watching Joel, that is is possible to rejoice in the face of suffering, grief, stress and illness. It is possible to be genuinely happy, no matter what.


NIK is my friend. Behind all of his passion, leadership ability, drive and intensity, there is a guy who knows how to chill. That kind of combination is deadly (in a good way), and I'm glad he's so influential; otherwise no one would know how to chill. Nik's hospitality and friendship provide support for me as a staff-member, wife, and mother.


GRAIG is himself like no one else I know, and the biggest thing he has taught me is to be myself. The best part is that he makes absolutely no grand claims about being a world-changer. He's just Graig, and then he changes the world. I look to the Austins as my examples for faith. I want to live my life like they live theirs--no holds barred, no way of knowing, let's just go with it.


SHAH was my first real boss and has had a hand in completely overhauling my mindset many times. His voice still rings in my ears whenever I think the solution to my problems would be more discipline. "No. Again, Meghan, no. What you need is to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about God and His graciousness to you." He taught me to see myself as God does--not as a bunch of sins that need cleaning up, but as a herald of His goodness.


RICK is my teacher. I think I've been his unofficial apprentice for about four years (at least in my own head). He sees. His perspective on everything is mind-bogglingly huge. He always seems to know where he's going in a conversation, but he lets me tag along and veer everyone wildly off, if I'd like. God has used Rick to give me confidence as His shepherd.


Ok, seriously. Are you kidding me??? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus, for plopping me down in this family and giving me leaders that I can trust. I know that what I have is wildly extraordinary. I am so grateful. Anyone else from New Life want to chime in?

holy experience