It's good to be back in the good ol' U.S. of A., in my home and at my computer, but my focus has been a little scattered. Clothes to wash, a pantry and fridge to restock, mail to sort, medicines to consume (a story for later), photos to download, errands and to-do lists to complete. You know what I mean. The preparation for a long trip is one thing. The recovery from it is something else. I promise to get to the beautiful, the delicious, and the surprising aspects of Ireland in coming weeks, but for today these are some of my scattered thoughts.
1) Yesterday I was in line at the Hartselle post office to buy a book of stamps. The man at the counter was acting a little strange and obviously didn't want to leave, in spite of the customers in line behind him. He looked to be in his late 70's. The postal worker was very patient with him, but when she went around the corner to "check on something," the man finally shuffled out. The postal worker then explained to those of us who had been observing that the man comes in every day to see if his check from Publisher's Clearing House has arrived. !!!!! Yes, I'm serious. This poor man is under the delusion that he'll be a millionaire soon. The Mennonite woman standing in front of me said, "I hope he has someone to care for him." And we all agreed that he needs a person to help him accept reality. You have to wonder what the whole story is. Would you pray with me for this dear man?
2) There were 23 of us on the recent tour of Ireland. Over the course of 10 days, we had a chance to visit with each of them at mealtimes and as we were sightseeing. One couple in particular told us a lot about themselves, and Steve and I found ourselves itching to steer the conversation in a spiritual direction mainly because of the things we were hearing and observing. At one point, Steve finally said, "Well, ____, what ARE your spiritual beliefs?" He quickly quipped back, "I went to Catholic school for 10 years. I'm good." He clearly didn't want to go any further with the conversation, but it was just as clear to us that things weren't good in terms of this man's eternal security. We are praying for this man, and I hope you will pray that someone will be able to reach him with the truth.
3) Our youngest daughter and her large family recently spent an idyllic month on Sanibel Island, but they came home to a kitchen and large homeschool classroom that had been severely damaged by a massive water leak while they were gone. All of her cabinets and counters have been torn out, and who knows when the repairs will begin. She has a very rudimentary, makeshift kitchen set up that she's using to feed herself, her husband, and nine children, but when I heard from her recently, she was preparing big pots of soup to take to two other families. I'm in awe of her coping skills, and I'm praying that she'll be able to stay poised, patient, flexible, and creative during these days. What an example she's setting for her children. When Momma's calm, everybody can be calm. Right? Would you please pray for our Julie?
4) Just today I submitted edits and dozens of photos to be used in my book "100 Things to Do in Huntsville and North Alabama Before You Die." I had submitted the manuscript a few days before we left on our trip, so I knew these revisions would be waiting for me when I returned. A book is a massive undertaking. I've realized during the process that I'm still a teacher at heart. I want to share what I've learned, seen, tasted, and experienced with others. I truly hope this will be a helpful resource when it is finally published. Was this the best way to use my time in the past several months? I don't know. But it has helped me keep my brain working at full throttle and maybe folks who own businesses in North Alabama, as well as those who choose to move here or visit here, will find it useful. I've met such lovely people in the process. Would you please pray that my book will be an encouragement to the people in all the places I've included?
5) I can't stop without thanking all of you for praying that our Covid tests would be negative so we could fly back to the States at the end of our trip. Everyone in the group received a negative test, but truthfully, I was the most "iffy" one. While we were there, I developed a nagging cough brought on by allergies, sleeping with the window open, etc., but we all know that a cough is "one of the signs." I didn't have a fever, and I could still taste and smell, but it was still cause for concern. Quarantining in Ireland would have been a massive, uncomfortable, and expensive deal, and I'm so grateful we didn't have to endure it. Your prayers were heard and felt. Thank you so very much. And also, our flights were safe and smooth. There were disruptive cancellations and delays during our flights from Dublin back to Huntsville, but during the times we were in the air, everything was good. So, thank you for those prayers, too.
So, I suppose I could have entitled this post "things to pray about." Prayer does change things, as we all know, and I believe God WANTS us to tell Him what's on our hearts. How can I pray for YOU today?
Colossians 4:2 -- "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 -- “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 John 5:14 -- "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
Ephesians 6:18 -- "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."