Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Best Of...

I'm leaving Ireland in about 5 days. Before my emotional summation of the journey, I'd like to tack out my favorites or "Best Ofs" in Ireland. Enjoy.

Best question(s): "You're from Texas?! Do you know Laura?" and "Where is Spring Break?"

Best advice: "You'll only be living in Ireland once..." Maybe not the best advice, but the most often heard!

Best stereotype: All Texans dislike Obama, we wear cowboy hats, and have horses. All true for me anyway.

Best compliment: that I break all stereotypes of Americans and even Texans...from a Frenchman!

Favorite place in Ireland: West Cork

Favorite place visited: Roma, hands down.

Best feat: Convinced someone that we don't have rainbows in Texas.

Favorite stupid moment: "That guy's not even looking at the road! That's why he's driving so slow." Um, Audrey, wrong side.

Favorite Accent in Ireland: Cork

Favorite Quote:
Boy: I didn't know Americans came that way.
Me: What way?
Boy: Intelligent.

Favorite Food: Garlic cheese chips!

Favorite way to pass the time: Other than studying, of course... reading & sitting by the river.

Favorite Irish Beverage: Guinness and tea

Favorite Saying(s): Pissed as a fart, anything with craic, and acting the maggot... list goes for days.

I think that's about it for now. When I think of more I'll add them! Be looking for West Cork updates, Irish Urban Dictionary, and my farewell to Ireland...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Trasna na dTonnta

Over the waves... you will come back to Ireland. Something like that... sweet song Niamh gave me. I WILL be back to Ireland someday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ireland, my sweet home away from home.

I never knew it was possible to fall this much in love with a country. How could I have forgotten about this burning passion to know & love people? The past few days have been painful, renewing and rewarding all at the same time. My time here is running out and my heart is so desperately torn between the comforts of home and the place that has pushed me beyond anything I could have possibly imagined.

I know with all of my heart that this is where God placed me with his own two hands. He wanted me to be here and he's making the reasons more clear every day. I've been praying for the past few weeks that God would show me my place in His Kingdom. I wouldn't say we're quite there yet, but for some reason I feel that it isn't too close to home. But wherever he wants me, that's where it will be.

I am so grateful for the people God has placed in my life and the handpicked friends I have waiting for me back home. I am fluttering with all kinds of emotions right now and I have never been more stoked on Jesus than I am right now. This one life is all I got, so why not live it completely for God? LOVE.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Still can't get over how God answers prayers.

I was reading through my journal from months ago. It's so crazy the things I wrote and completely forgot about... not to mention the things I prayed about.

"I need to depend on God for this trip. Obviously it's where he wants me and I pray that he teaches me new things about himself and my own self. I want to learn and grow and be miserably stretched beyond my comfort. College Station is too cozy. I need something crazy. I need faith testing, relationship testing, emotional testing...and I want to do it right and lean on God."

I'm so thankful for answered prayers!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

from a helping hand...

The LORD upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD watches over all who love him

-Psalm 145

God's people are everywhere and always willing to lend a helping hand. Praise the Lord for good friends and His word! I'd be lost without them. I spent about an hour reading and meditating (trying to anyway) on God's word out by the Shannon River. I'm trying this new thing...where I actually listen to God instead of talk. It's going to take some getting used to, but I already like the sound of His voice way better than mine. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Roma, Italia

The Coliseum
Rose on the edge of some statue.
The Trevi Fountain!

Sitting up high at Palatine Hill.

St. Peter's Basilica
Where Julius Caesar was killed
St. Peter's
The best lasagna I've ever had
The Forum. My favorite.
Good Friday at St. Peter's from audrey tompkins on Vimeo.

Running inside St. Peter's Basilica from audrey tompkins on Vimeo.

Bel far niente - the beauty of doing nothing.

For Rome, I think I'll take a different approach. But only because Rome approached me so differently than I'd ever imagined.

Day 1...
Traveling alone to Rome didn't make me anxious until everybody started mentioning the movie Taken. Everyone made sure to tell me not to share a taxi with anyone, don't look lost even if you are, don't walk around aimlessly, look determined while you walk, and all the other common sense tips one could handle. I was a little worried (but not really). So, the trip starts off with a bus from Limerick to Dublin at 1 am, which is about a 4 hour trek. I was seated and ready to fall asleep....until about 8 loud, rambunctious and possibly drunk boys decided to sit all around me. Great. No sleeping till the plane I guess. Then we stopped about 3 minutes into our journey because the luggage door had fallen off the bus. We had to switch to another bus - fine with me, I won't have to sit by the obnoxious boys. Wrong again. They were surrounding me yet again. I put my earbuds in and put my head against the window, signaling that I didn't care for any form of small talk or any partake in their antics. I guess that wasn't clear either. About 10 minutes in, I got a tap on the shoulder. For the next 4 hours, they were yelling, "Texas!" and I shared an ear bud with the boy who reeked of booze. He didn't like my "Texas music." Go figure that's what I kept putting it on so he'd leave me alone. Whatever. Finally got to the airport. The plane ride was fine. I got to chat with a young mom from Rome and told me that even on your own, Rome is an amazing city. Her daughter had the most beautiful blue eyes I'd ever seen! Just sayin. I got on a bus to town and then in a taxi and headed for the Ivanhoe Hostel. This cab driver must either be a nube or his inner compass was a little directionally challenged. He dropped me about a mile away from the hostel (keep in mind that the bus station is less than that) and Dad's advice came in handy within my first few minutes of being in Rome. It's hard to not look lost when you're dragging around a suitcase and holding a map. Do whatcha gotta do. I finally found the place and all I wanted to do was sleep! Wrong again. The hostel is closed from 11 to 4 for cleaning and it was only 12:30. Yes, I walked around for about 30 minutes looking for the place. So, I put my bags away and headed out to the city without a clue of where I was going or what I would do until 4. It's Rome though, so I figured I'd find something. First thing, find an ATM. I'm walking around and looked down at my map to see where the X was for the ATM. Not here. So I looked up to find a street name. Not here...but the Coliseum is right in front of me. Wow. It definitely took me a second. I feel like I had to peel the glaze off my eyes to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I headed straight for it. In my head I was thinking, "I need money. Don't care. I need hungry. Don't care. I need to take a nap. Don't care." I walked close enough to see the entire thing then decided that I did care if I was hungry and went to go eat. I won't go into much detail about how annoying the service was that day. Sometimes in Italy they just DO NOT desire to serve you. And they make it clear enough for even a stupid American to understand. Good thing I'm stubborn and sat there until they made eye contact. I got plenty of time, I could have played their game all night. Back to the Coliseum. It was such a beautiful day I decided to sit my back against a pole and rest my feet up on the side of the stairs and read a book. It was the quietest I'd been all day. All the frustrations of flying, all the anxiety about getting where I need to go, all the desire in my body to just lay my head down and sleep suddenly disappeared. I was sitting in front of this amazing work of art, the sun shining on my face, with nothing to do. That is absolutely my favorite part of traveling. Getting to soak up history just by reveling in the fact that it's there. Getting to bask in the sun and relax. Day one, you treated me very well. I finally made it back to the hostel and took a nap till about 8 o'clock when I was abruptly awoken by Erin jumping on my bed. "You almost made me pee my pants!" Too much? Dinner, more reading, sleep, for tomorrow we will see the Vatican.

Day 2...
Rise and shine. Wasn't expecting the wake up call at 4:30 am! Our noisy Italian neighbors in the hostel must have had a great night because they definitely wanted us to hear about it. I could have killed someone. 3 hours later, the real wake up call came. Time to go to the Vatican! I was so excited I could hardly handle it. We took the subway there and waited in line for about 2 hours. This was to be expected, of course, after all it was Good Friday. We made our way through the museum which was ok, but not that great. Then we FINALLY got into the Sistine Chapel. It was so amazing... everything about it. The walk through the rest of the museum was totally worth the prize at the end. I said it kind of reminded me of walking through Ikea. And yes, I realize I just compared the Vatican museum to Ikea. After that we had lunch (no meat though!) and headed off to St. Peter's Basilica. Wow. The line was already long and they weren't letting anybody in. We asked a few different people what the deal was and from what THEY told us, we couldn't get in unless we had a ticket and there was a Good Friday Celebration going on inside at 5. It will be on the big screens outside though. So, we decided to fart around till 5 to watch. When will we ever be in Rome on Good Friday again? After all that waiting we watched the ceremony which was in Latin. It was very different but it really made me do some thinking. Like always when I'm in another country and hear people praying or go to a church service in a different language, it reminds me how big God is. It doesn't matter what language you're speaking, he authored those tongues and knows them perfectly. Also, we went through the story of the last hours of Jesus' life and the crucifixion with our group. As Kerry said, "It's story time!" Now for our walk home. We kept running into amazing architecture that we had no idea even existed. Everything about that city is beautiful. Yes, even the frantic style of driving and littered streets of Rome I find very beautiful. Dinner was amazing that night. I read about tonnarelli cacio e pepe in the book "Eat Pray Love" and decided to give it a shot. It was amazing. Simple, just pasta, parmesan cheese and pepper. Just what I needed after a long day.

Day 3...
Oh day 3, we are not very happy to greet you so early this morning. We got a late start but finally made our way to the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, and The Forum. It was pretty much...magnificent. We waited in line again for about an hour and a half but it was (and always is) well worth it. Palatine Hill is one of the most ancient places in Rome. It's just a huge park with ruins and old buildings and a GREAT view. I could have sat there all day, but of course I was pushed along to the next attraction. And I stole a rock from there for Aunt Robin. Shh don't tell. Next was the Forum aka a playground for my imagination. Everyone else was ready to get to the Coliseum to get this day going and get some food. Not me. I was wondering around like a baby who just discovered they could walk. I kept seeing things that caught my eye and kept imagining what on earth went on there! I may or may not have visioned all the tourists in white robes and sandals. The Coliseum was pretty cool. It's hard to imagine it they way it used to be. I almost like it better as a backdrop for my reading than walking around on the inside. Either way, it was intense. It made me want to fight a tiger or something. After that we met up with Shae's friend who is studying in Rome. We ate a nice, big, slow paced lunch. Ps, if you visit Italy, it's rude to wait for everyone at the table to get their food. They love their food and want you to love it too and eat it while it's hot. So eat! After that we made our way to the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain. Apparently the Pantheon is only cool when it's raining because there's a giant hole in the top. So, it wasn't that cool when we were there. The Trevi Fountain was cool and I'd like to believe is cool year round no matter what the weather. It was the most (having trouble finding the best word to describe it) breathtaking thing I've seen in a long time. If there wasn't a massive herd of people surrounding it, it would have been even better. Definitely can't kick back and relax in front of that historic monument. We finally fought the crowd down to the edge and threw our pennies in (the wrong way of course... it's right hand over the left shoulder, standing backwards.) We just made an executive decision that it's over the right shoulder. (When we found out I said, "Guess I won't be coming back to Rome because that's what I wished for... and I'm repeating it again now.") After that, nap time. Dinner again was fabulous. Carbs, carbs, carbs, gelato, gelato, gelato. No wonder people always gain weight when they move to Italy. It's totally worth it though. When you think about it, are there any skinny Italians you can trust? Probably not.

Day 4...
Time to hit the road. I didn't want to leave. I kept pestering Erin about how badly I wanted to live there. I fell in love with the city, the country. The people are slightly pushy, but not terribly unfriendly. That's a stereotype I wasn't really expecting but I guess doesn't really surprise me. I feel like I learned a lot about myself just being there for a couple days. Oh, and Dad, to answer your question. If I move back to Europe or if I could do this again, I'd definitely move to Italy. I talked to Shae's friend and she said she hadn't made any Italian friends. For a little bit I was jealous of her because I wished I had picked Rome, but when I heard that, I wouldn't trade the friendships I made in Ireland for pretty weather and beautiful buildings. But, I will be making my way back one of these days!

"The world is meant to be traveled and people are meant to be loved..."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

EAT PRAY LOVE - well said, Elizabeth Gilbert.

"Still, despite all this, traveling is the great true love of my life. I have always felt, ever since I was sixteen years old and first went to Russia with my saved-up babysitting money, that to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby - I just don't care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it's mine. Because it looks exactly like me. It can barf all over me if it wants to - I just don't care."

-Eat Pray Love, page 43

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is gaire cabhair Dé ná an doras.

I've been really busy the past couple weeks. I have much updating to do! I'm headed to Rome tonight and there will definitely be a post for that.

Rome on Easter? I'm not worthy. I have a feeling the Vatican will be more packed than normal. Off to doing as the Romans do...

"God's help is nearer than the door."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My First Love

The one relationship that has surpassed any other, the one person who hasn’t betrayed me, the one thing in my life that I have never been more scared to live without, the one friend who gave their life for me, the single most important thing in my life – My first love.

I went back and forth between “Bride of the Messiah” or “Daughter of the King” and ended up with the latter. Iníon an rí. If my life has made me sure of anything, it’s that nothing is for sure. Even the best of intentions can end up ripping out your heart. I decided against the use of the word “bride.” I feel like it’s a fleeting and almost tainted word these days. Daughter, now daughter is something I can wear with pride and certainty.

What a beautiful and perfect way to describe my relationship with my first love, my creator, my true north. The God in heaven loves me enough to stick around and promises just that. No matter how many times I wander, no matter how many times I mess up by His or my own standards, no matter how many times I push him aside, He’s the only thing that has been constant in my life. He always speaks tenderly to me to call me back and to make sure I know that He’s there. That’s something to sing about if you ask me. That’s something to be reminded of daily.

I’m not perfect and don’t pretend to be. I’ll be the first to admit that there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get it 100 percent correct. But I’ll also be the first to tell you that I have a weakness inside of me always thirsting for more. I’ll be the first to admit that my Heavenly Father has created me in His image and I will praise Him because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. In a world full of false hope, misunderstanding, heartache and pain, God is always there. Whether or not I feel that he is or even want him to be, he’s not going anywhere. What a declaration to be made. Like my position as a daughter here on earth, I’m stuck with what I’ve got :) and daddy’s stuck with me.

I am a daughter of The King of heaven and earth and loved just as that.

Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 33:13-15 – From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Drinking TOO much on your birthday is bad for you..."

My birthday. Where shall I begin?

Midnight (local time) March 11th, I called my parents back in Houston so they could wish me feliz cumpleanos. Little did I know they'd have everyone there with a cake, beer, and Irish garb! It was such a nice surprise to get to see Grandma, Jeff, Robs, Nat, Bobby, Mom, Dad and even little ol' rat dog. I miss them all so much! My friends who weren't here when the skype birthday sesh was going on made comments the next day about "how cute" my family is or "how nice it was of them." It really started off my birthday wonderfully. And I hope that cake was good! I know exactly where the leftovers are sitting and let's hope there's not some still there when I get home in May. Thanks family, you're the best. Always have been.

Oh yeah, and Niamh and Ellen not so sneakily decorated my door and room with stickers, banners, and balloons. They're amazing.

The day of my birthday was relaxed to say the least. I went into town with the lads to get me a birthday outfit and ended up with even more presents. Anna got me a class Guinness lighter that is sitting on the shelf as we speak. I'm NOT losing that bad boy. Got the outfit, now time to head home to prep for the night. Ellen sent out invites to the entire Willow house and I was ready for my presents. After the party had gotten started rolling, all the lights were cut off and the cake was brought in. I know this is all sounding rather cheesy, but I haven't had a great birthday like this since I had a castle moon bounce in my backyard (was that even a birthday? Who knows). Anyway, they sang happy birthday and gave me my present. They got me a claddagh ring and a nice card that says, "Drinking TOO much on your birthday is bad for you. Just one glass... and keep filling it up!" I'd say that's a perfect fit for spending your 21st in Ireland.

I couldn't believe I got my claddagh ring. The heart is upside down, no worries padres - not in love. I had wanted to get this ring before I went home and it means so much more to me now that my friends got it for me. Overall, thanks EVERYONE for making my birthday super special! I'm expecting a round 2 when I get home. I also hope that yall feel really old now that one of the babies of the family is LEGAL.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Clear the Temple

My Jesus wears a headband and tosses temple tables.

Read Mark 11:12-19 tonight.

Love it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Newcastle & Sunderland, England

Sunderland - Our view from the hotel.

For Aunt Kate - Light houses always make me think of you. The walk was long & freezing but I had to...

Newcastle - St. Nicholas Cathedral

View from the top of Castle Keep

My favorite stained glass from inside St. Nick's.

Niamh and I at a rubik's cube party in Sunderland!

My apologies for saying so little in this post. I have found that even in the worst of times, there is always something to be appreciated in God's world - architecture, history, locals, rolling hills, rivers, freezing winds, smelly pubs, the consistency of Starbucks, getting lost, free metros, even livestock. Find the pretty around you even when things aren't so great! xx

Galway & The Prom

I finally made my way to Galway. I was a little resentful because NUIG failed to admit me to their school :) but I had to see the place. With only a few hours, I figured I'd rather get out of the city and see the bay. The pictures are from walking along the Promenade on the Galway Bay. I wanted to see the Aran Islands but I'll need to make sure I have a little more time instead of just a couple hours of daylight. 

It's tradition to kick the wall at the end of the Prom. Even a local didn't really understand why... either way, don't ask questions. Do as they do!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

La Ville-Lumière

I never in my life thought I'd make my way out to Paris. Although rushed and short on time, Paris was spectacular. It was different than I'd expected...bustling city, lots of people rushing around, beautiful architecture and the phantom of the opera himself! 
We arrived in Paris around half eight and hurried our way to the Eiffel Tower. As we approached the tower I said, "This isn't real." I could say this over and over again, but I really never imagined going to Paris and it took it a while to sink in that I was actually there! The tower started its grand display of glittering lights and you could hear squeals and ooh-ahs throughout the ground. We went all the way to the top and got to see all of Paris lit up at night. It's a beautiful view up there!
The next day we had a bus tour and saw all the main attractions of Paris. The Arc de Triomphe, the opera house where the idea of Phantom of the Opera was created, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Luxembourg, the Pantheon and much more. Our hotel was in the Red Light District of Paris and we weren't too far from Moulin Rouge! It was nice to see everything in one sitting so next time I go I can actually live a little. I definitely need to go back and see Versailles! 

Saturday night we had a group dinner at a little restaurant in the Latin Quarter. It was a quaint place where 7 loud, giggling Americans were a little out of place. I'm definitely going to hit up some French lessons before I go back. I realized I only knew about 3 words in French - hello, goodbye, and thank you...and I completely butchered them all.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Siuil a ruin - "Go in peace, my love"

I finally got to go home! Everyone at the UL goes home for the weekends and I'm stuck here. My friend Niamh invited me to go home to Ballyclerihan with her... and she didn't have to do much convincing. It was about an hour drive and out of the kindness of her heart became a tourist on Sunday to show me the Rock of Cashel.

On Saturday we hung out at the country pub with some of her friends and the locals. It was probably one of the best nights I've had since I've been here! It was so much fun to just sit and chat with locals. Jimmy, who was from somewhere in the north, sang us rebel songs and bought the whole pub (about 10 people) pints. It was so amazing. 

It was such an experience getting to see how everything works here. I've gotten the college experience, but I hadn't seen what home life was like. On Sunday we went to Niamh's house for dinner (at 2 pm) and her mom had steak, mashed potatoes, carrots and gravy all ready for us. It was one of the best meals I've had! After that we went to the Rock of Cashel. Because we're college kids and too cheap, we decided to just walk around the outside. I was so mad that half the castle was covered by rafters. It was still the best castle I've seen so far. (This trip was a lot of the "bests" haha). 

I'm going to Paris in a couple weeks. Get ready for some exciting posts! 
Niamhy being a tourist. that I love. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Days are turning into weeks.

I am so thankful for all the friends I've made here at UL. It's amazing how generous, friendly, and welcoming some people are. God really has answered my prayers by putting these people into my life!

School is school. Nothing too fun about it. I'm still trying to get into the swing of things. Upon returning home, I'll be addicted to tea and coffee, I won't care for ice in any of my drinks, I'll worship my dishwasher, love American TV shows and channels, I'll be using Irish slang and praising the Lord above for the hot Texas sun. It's absolutely incredible how different things are here. That's what I wanted though! I needed to step out of my boundaries and experience life as someone else knows it. I also came to the realization that it's going to be so hard to say goodbye to Ireland. I shouldn't be thinking about that already, but I'm going to miss it here so much!

My friend Niamh invited me out to train with her rugby team. Yikes. It was so much fun but there's no way I can commit to taking that much abuse three times a week! I had no idea rugby was like that and I'll definitely have an argument or two when I get home about how much more hardcore it is than football.

I finally got a homemade shepherds pie from the boys upstairs. Dad, you would have loved it! It was probably the best meal I've had during my couple weeks here. I also finally got to hear some traditional Irish music that pops will also love! I'll bring you home a CD.

LOVE & MISS YOU ALL! Oh gosh. I said you all... "y'all" is slowly fading from my vocabulary.