Wednesday, December 22, 2010


So Juli was doing a little shopping for a Christmas party we're throwing for our friends and neighbors and she discovered that she was 1 euro 76 short at the till (checkout).  The lady running the till told her, "Nah, sure you're fine.  I'll be working here 'till 2, just bring in the difference later."  When's the last time you were given an IOU at your local supermarket?  Can't remember?  I can't either.

Ireland's known for its friendliness and hospitality and this type of incident isn't uncommon here.  It's nice to know that in a world full of mistrust, cynicism, and dishonesty, that there are still a few people who will give you the benefit of the doubt.  By the way, while running a few errands in the village, I popped into Supervalu and paid the lady the difference.  I thought we better live up to our end of the bargain too! - Shay    

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baby Steps

If you've never seen the film What About Bob starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus you need to repent.  In the movie, Murray plays a charming, but troubled man with all sorts of mental hangups.  Dreyfus plays his shrink and some very funny stuff ensues, so if you've yet to see it you're in for some laughs.  One recurring theme that keeps coming up in the movie is the idea of taking your life one small baby step at a time.  Although the movie's not meant to be deep or profound and though the dominant theme of the story is more about the importance of relationships, the concept of "baby steps" isn't a bad one.

Ashlyn took 10 to 15 baby steps this past week.  She's still not confident to venture too far from the support of the couch or coffee table, but she's making progress, slowly but surely.  Most of the time when she's taken 5 or 6 steps, she'll pause, realize like Peter on the Sea of Galilee that her steps don't seem safe, and then plop down on her backside.  We're not at all worried that she won't yet trust herself to take more steps, even though its obvious she can.  We're content to let her take those baby steps one at a time, on her own time.     

Increasingly in our world people have grown impatient with baby steps.  We don't want it now, we wanted it 10 minutes ago.  Yet so many things in life take time and its important not to judge the end product by the work in progress.  My life is still a work in progress and I'm thankful that God has given me the grace to take one small step at a time. - Shay

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Living in a foreign country teaches you a thing or two.  One of the things that I discovered when I lived in England over a decade ago is that sports are universal.  Not necessarily that every nation and culture plays the same sports, but that all nations and cultures play sports.  The rules may be different, but the passion is the same.  Most of the time in Nottingham when I sat next to someone on a bus, I could easily begin a conversation by simply asking the person if they were a football fan and if so, which club did they support.  It was a great question because even if they hated football (soccer), they could tell you which sport they followed or that they were a part of that small global minority which despises sports of all kinds.  No matter what the answer, a conversation was created.

Ireland shares a lot in common with its larger neighbor to the east, including sports (soccer, rugby), but they also have their own unique games (Gaelic football, hurling).  I've maintained my love for soccer since my days in England, but I've not yet gained a passion for the specifically Irish games.  At this point, I don't think that I will either.  I've only so much energy that I can devote to following teams and with the European soccer seasons lasting from August to May and with the bits and pieces that I'm able to watch of American sports like basketball and football, I'm maxed out on my sports watching capacity.  Sports may be universal, but they're far from being everything, or even the most important thing.  I've learned enough about Gaelic football and hurling that I can at least ask a few questions if I discover that my bus or dart mate is more of an Irish sports fan than a soccer supporter.

What's most interesting about the universality of sports is that there is a universality to people.  Whether we were born in Dublin or Austin, Nairobi or Dubai, we all have similar dreams, similar fears, and similar needs.  We all bleed when we're cut and we all cry when we lose a loved one (or an important sports match).  Parents love their children and children misunderstand their parents in every language and culture on earth.  Politics are just as polarizing in your neighborhood as in every other place on this planet.  Granted, there are certainly a lot of differences between people and places (thankfully, that's what makes travel exciting), but in our central core, we're an awful lot more alike than we might sometimes like to think.  So, when the writer of the gospel of Luke traces Jesus' ancestry all the way back to Adam, he's making more than a statement about pedigree, he's making a statement about universality.  The gospel is for everyone.  Every man and woman in all places throughout all time needs the saving grace of God that comes only through Jesus Christ.  And its through Jesus Christ that I believe our ever shrinking world will finally come together as one. - Shay             

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Comes Early

Well I don't know if we'll have a white Christmas in Dublin, but we very nearly had a white Thanksgiving (by the way, the Irish don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but Americans living here do!).  Two days after Thanksgiving we awoke to a snow covered ground.  I thought to my self, "this will thaw by Monday".  It's Monday, 9 days later and we still have snow everywhere.  Of course we've had several more snowstorms since then and with the sub-zero temperatures, this blanket of flakes will take a while to melt.  Who knows, it may be that we have a white Christmas simply because the stuff we already have on the ground may decide to stick around until then!

One of the added benefits to all of the wintry weather is that the media has been slightly distracted from all of the reports on the Irish financial mess.  Only slightly distracted.  The headlines are still focused on the economy, the budget, and the bailout, but at least some of the pages in between the front page and the sports section have a bit of variety now.  We'll see how long that lasts.  Hopefully at least as long as the snow. - Shay