My sophomore year of high school placed me in one of a handful of ‘Advanced Placement’ (or ‘AP’ for short) classes, which were of a higher (supposedly) caliber or skill. In taking these classes came opportunity for college credit pending the outcome of an end of year exam. One of these classes, despite my performance, would become of one of my more favorite topics, World History. Through the course of taking this class, an opportunity was presented that could hardly be passed on. An international historical trip across the Atlantic ocean to the (sorry in advanced for the cliche) emerald isle, Ireland then to the country of Wales (which contained no whales), before ending up in the (another cliche incoming!) quaint country of England. The only caveat that was a hurdle to overcome before this opportunity could be acquired was the fact that this trip was two years away. Two whole years, sophomore and junior years of school stood between me and my first international travel experience. Oh the horror (overdramatic emphasis intended, my apologies…)! While my sophomore year laid the groundwork for what would ultimately come to pass. However, there is more to this story.
I’ve always been a highly introverted person. As a child, I despised answer the phone. My body would shake with tension if I had to speak on the phone, even if it was a friend or someone I knew. I could not spend the night at other people’s houses because I was not comfortable. Being away from home was never comfortable, and there were many times when my parents would have to come pick me up at unreasonable hours of the early morning because I was so uncomfortable and distraught. No offense to my friends or anything, their houses were cool, they were cool, and so forth, but I just could not do it. If I was able to stay the whole night, I definitely was not getting a lick of sleep. Having grown up since, I’ve become much more sociable, much more equipped for interacting with people, the public, and taking charge to whatever situation I come across. Though, as some of my closer friends would suggest, I outwardly appear more extroverted than introverted. However, I strongly disagree. One aspect of introversion that I absolutely love is the fact that I am an internal thinker. My mind is always at work, always thinking, always processing out how social engagements are going to happen, contemplating the intricacies of the nature of the universe, constructing better perspectives on theology and so forth. However, as I veer off into a tangent for another time, I have and do retain most of my introverted tendencies and idiosyncrasies. Back to the point of this article, once I had expressed a desire to my parents about this opportunity a certain question was raised. You see, having never travelled that far and having issues in the past about being away from home (cause as every twenty year old knows, home is where your bed is). If memory serves correctly, it was my mother who asked the question, “are you sure about this.” The answer, of course, was yes.
Fast forward to 2010, the summer before my senior year. I was eagerly awaiting the day when I was going to go with my then former AP World History teacher and a bunch of classmates. The day had finally arrived, and we gathered at our local international airport and departed. At the time, the flight from Texas to Chicago to London to Shannon, Ireland had been the longest amount of time I had ever spent flying. Prior to this trip, it had been from Texas to Florida (because of Disney World of course). It was here that I learned of one (superpower) thing about myself, I do not experience jet lag. I’ll not bore you with the details of our flights, except for one. Our arrival to Ireland, while I’m sure is ordinary to the country, was cloaked in fog. We had not even seen the island as we crossed the ocean between the United (err… the then united) Kingdom, but upon the decent through the clouds we were greeted by the rich green land of Ireland (I warned you about the cliches, I’m sorry). This fog and overcast weather would not last, and when asked where we were from, we would be told that we brought the sun all the way with us from Texas. Go Texas, y’all!
From Shannon, we made our way to Killarney where we’d close the night. Around the time that we went on this trip, it was close to the summer solstice. Recalling correctly, I hope, the sun never seemed to set the first night we arrived. The sun hugged the horizon leaving everything in a dim veil of light as we tried our hardest to contain our excitement for what adventures we would set upon.
The next day, we arose early (or we were suppose to anyway) to take a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry. However, my room was the last to make it to the bus because we were distracted by two things. One, was that the Irish television was playing old, and when I say old I mean old (in the best of ways), black and white Looney Tunes animated cartoons. Secondly, we were having a laugh of the television playing a clip (a commercial, I guess?) of a little Irish boy singing Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire‘ (I’ll try to find the clip for y’all (Nope, sorry. No luck there)). When asked why we were late, we shamelessly stated as fact that we were watching Looney Tunes. Our response was met with thunderous laughter, but we would not become the butt of the jokes the entirety of the trip.
We made several stops along the way, but for the point of abbreviation I will omit most and focus in on the ones that stuck out most. We stopped at the Kerry Bog Village to see what historic Ireland bog life was like, before moving next door to the Red Fox Inn. This is where we tried Irish Coffee for the first time. Later on, we stopped at a lookout at Dingle Bay (pictured above) where we spied a strip of sand that extends into the bay. This strip of sand is famously captured in cinema as the Normandy landing scene of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. From there, we stopped at a thatched cottage for lunch where I ate Shepherd’s Pie for the first time (delicious!). Then we moved on to a stop in Waterville, where we got out and walked along the beach. Texas does not have blue oceans, thanks to the Mississippi river, but how I was taken aback by this beach (pictured above) and it’s perfect blue water. We discovered that this beach was the perfect place to skip rocks as evidenced by the dark speckles that dot the golden sand. From there, we reached another outlook which pointed us back to our homeland, Texas (or America, I’ll let you take your pick).
From here, the bus moved on for some time until we stopped in Killarney National Park. Here we hiked up a trail to what would become the most spectacular waterfall I have ever laid eyes on (which is two at this point in my life). Being the adventurous cowboys that we Texans are, we decided to climb upon the rocks which make up the waterfall’s many paths as it makes its decent down into the valley. It truly was an experience like no other, and one I would much like to do again if given the chance. Thus concluded the day.
The next day, we went to Blarney Castle. We kissed the Blarney Stone, blah blah blah. Supposedly, we got the gift of gab, but I’m not so sure I believe it. It’s not like I ramble on when I write, speak, or write. Oh wait… Sorry. I digress. However, in the interest of time, let me fast forward some. But to recap what we did. We did stuff. It was fun. It was exciting. I’ll just include some photos with captions (which randomly disappeared when posted? IDK…) of where they are and what we did for the sake of moving on toward my point.
All in all, my purpose in writing is to show the change throughout my (our) life (lives) as it progresses. I have undergone many a change throughout my life, and with change has come different perspectives and experiences. As I’ve gotten older, which I realize that it is hard to describe the mid-twenties as old (it’s a perspective thing 😜), my desires have changed with them. While I’ve discussed some of this in other posts, I’ll repeat it here. I’m at a place in life where I’m ready to start ‘living’ if you will. Ready to have my adult job, to be out of my parents’ house, ready to be married, ready to have a family, and so forth. Here’s the kicker though, while I may and do desire these things I may not be maturely ready for them from God’s perspective. However, this does not mean that I should rebel from Him. Or that I should try and make my own way (Have patience (yes, I am writing myself a reminder within an anecdotal parentheses)). Because, as I’ve detailed already, there comes growth with walking with God. Some of my transition toward some extroverted characteristics came from getting plugged back into the body of Christ my freshman year of high school.
In getting plugged in, I had to reach out to others and be personable. I had to curb my sarcastic nature which has caused so much division in people I had been around. Much of this stems from my experiences of being bullies through middle school which I will likely address in a future blog post. The expression of ‘hurt people hurt people’ is, at least I can attest, is a very valid and true statement. Getting plugged back into the church body was one of the best things that could have happened to me, and I am so thankful that it came when it did. In my experience, in my life, I have come to the conclusion that change, no matter how easy, painful, slow, or quick it might be, is necessary. If we, I, want to change, I first have to be teachable. I have to accept discipline, must accept that I am not in charge of my own being. Before any of this can happen, I first have to accept love. But not just any love, but the sacrificial love that was poured out as blood from a man who lived a perfect life and was wrongly accused and put to death on a tree of his own creation for my sins, my failures, my mistakes, my actions. It is here where I am torn, because I want to discuss this matter more deeply, but I also want to isolate it within it’s own body of work. Yet this truth, this reality is vital to every aspect of life, to who Jesus was. Perhaps then, I will soon write detailing my testimony as to how I came to know Jesus as my Lord, my Savior, my God. I have given a very brief and loose testimony in the ‘About Me’ section of the menu above, but I have a growing cause to share this in greater detail. Though my testimony is my story, it is but a chapter in the testimony of Jesus who continues to call us down the path of forgiveness, of sanctification, of righteousness. To daily pick up our cross and carry it, recognizing that we are broken creatures, causing us to self-examine our lives as we are called to look more like Jesus. If this is described as anything less than amazing, than I have failed. Yet, thankfully, where I fail, grace abounds. Where I sin, grace abound. Where man fails, grace abounds. All thanks to Jesus. Thanks to the one who took my sin and died for me, that I may bring myself before Him and lay down my imagined crowns and kingdom and find a peace that is like no other. A peace that lasts forever, that is unwavering. Our, my, God reigns! He is good, better than I could put into word. Left speechless. And so, my dear, dear friends, let us give thanks to the one who is actively, intimately wanting to be at the center of our lives. Who loves us even when we do not love ourselves. Who loves us when we hate Him. Who cares for us when we cannot care for ourselves. Who comforts us when we need it most. Our God is greater than we could ever understand, than we could ever deserve! Let us rejoice in that fact! Let us rejoice for our God is good! Great! The Greatest!