Ireland – It’s an Irresistibly Interesting Island of Intrigue: Departure

Airports! How I love to hate them. Especially the large ones. Does anyone feel the same?

Departure is a hassle. I find the process confusing. But Ireland, the irresistibly interesting island of intrigue, was waiting and that provided all the motivation I needed!

Departure for Ireland

Parking lot photos – a wise departure tip!

We arrived at the airport and parked near the terminal indicated for our departure. My husband suggested we take a photo of the floor number, zone letter, and stall sequence to help us find our car when we arrived home. I’ll be honest, I thought that was silly. We were parked just left of the door; I could remember that.

Sign indicating parking level
It was good we had the photo reference to zone D. All the doors looked alike.

But hubby is wise and those photos saved us! The terminal was much larger than I knew. There were several exit points to the parking garage and many doors. I can’t imagine how difficult it could have been to find our car again without the photos for reference.

Departure woes at the check-in counter

Once inside the departure terminal, we found a long check-in counter behind many self-service kiosks. We approached an empty kiosk, scanned the boarding passes we’d printed at home, and stickers with all the pertinent information came spitting out. We put them on our luggage and proceeded to the counter.

Only one agent could check luggage for international travel, so we were directed her way. She was very grumpy with us. I don’t think she actually called us stupid for printing our baggage claim tags at the kiosk, but she heavily implied as much, emphasizing only she could print labels for international destinations. She ripped ours off our bags with noticeable aggression and slapped new ones on.

Then she told me my suitcase was too big. She threatened to charge me $200.00 for oversized luggage and grimaced like it physically pained her to afford me grace. I trembled inside.

Agent appreciation before departure

I was almost certain my suitcase was an allowable size, and well under weight. I’d measured several times to be sure. But she wasn’t charging me, so I didn’t want to challenge her.

I thought maybe she needed to feel appreciated, so I thanked her profusely before I walked away. I pray it boosted her mood a bit for next person trying to navigate departure in her line.

Worry melted upon departure

The check-in experience worried me. It reinforced my fear of undesirable consequences stemming from my lack of travel experience. But once I was on the plane, my worry melted in the radiance of God’s glory.

We taxied to the runway and took off with the sunset. God painted a vibrant farewell to departure day. Just look at that view!

City view from an airplane

Despite a few hiccups, our departure was successful. We bid adieu to home and the setting sun. The darkness ahead was fleeting as we crossed time zones into tomorrow while our watches still read today.

“Let the name of the Lord be praised,
    both now and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised.”

Psalm 113:2, 3

Next stop, London!

We jetted toward Ireland, our irresistibly interesting destination of intrigue. We had one stop to make on the way at London’s Heathrow Airport. Have you ever passed through there? I hope you’ll join me next time for a few fun photos!

Curious how this Ireland trip came about?
Click here for the introduction post.

Introductions Vacations

Ireland – It’s an Irresistibly Interesting Island of Intrigue: Introduction

Welcome! Thanks for pausing here! This is an introduction to a series of posts about our trip to Ireland, an irresistibly interesting island of intrigue. My goal is to create a series of short stories about the magnificence and laughs and to share the lessons we learned in case they can help anyone else enjoy a similar kind of adventure.

If you read my last post, you know that I was hit hard by jet lag. Thank you, sincerely, for your prayers and encouragement! I’m happy to report that I’m feeling better.

My mind and body have been recalibrating. Shout out to K.L. Hale from Flannel with Faith for giving me that wonderfully appropriate word. I’m putting together mostly coherent sentences again and I’m so excited to write this introduction and everything that follows about the intrigue of Ireland!


How the Ireland trip came about

I work for a science and technology company with offices all over the world. The team, of which I am currently a part, is based in California, Massachusetts, and Cork, Ireland. And then there is me, working remotely from Arizona. (If you missed the miracle of how that happened, you have to read this post!)

With pandemic restrictions lifted right now, my boss decided to have our October team meeting in person at the Cork site. To be honest, I was nervous to travel so far by myself and took a few days to pray before I responded to the invitation. I have never flown internationally.

My husband suggested he accompany me. He didn’t want either of us to miss what might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Ireland. Once I received permission for him to tag along, my hesitations were greatly allayed.

Our ideas for our introduction to Ireland

We decided to go a couple days before I needed to report for work. We purchased my husband’s tickets on the same planes on which my company had reserved my seats. We booked a hotel room for the extended portion of our trip. We even planned to join a tour bus to see some of the sights.

I have so much to tell you – good, bad, funny, and sad. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! The next several posts here on the Back Porch will be dedicated to sharing my experiences.

Ireland is an irresistibly interesting island of intrigue. Thank you for praying for my travels. Join me next time to hear about our first lesson learned so you won’t make one of our most preventable mistakes. Talk to you then!

“Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
    no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
    will come and worship before you, Lord;
    they will bring glory to your name.

For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
    you alone are God.”

Psalm 86:8-10, emphasis mine

Jet Lag is a New and Surprisingly Brutal Thing

Hello, my gracious friends! You all are amazing. You know that, right? Just in case you need to be reminded today, hear me! You are a walking, talking (and writing) miracle and I am blessed by you.

Jet lag is a new thing for me, and it is surprisingly brutal. I sit here, wide awake at 0’dark thirty in the morning, feeling overwhelmed. I have so much I want to tell you, ask you, share with you… and for some reason I feel crunched for time.

I’m not sure if there is a real reason for that or if it is jet lag making mountains out of molehills. (Have you heard that expression? I’ve always liked it!)

Updates, Photos, and Life Events held momentarily captive by jet lag

I am grateful for your grace this fall. I know I owe you some updates. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers for me regarding the skin treatment I underwent last month and my trip to Ireland, from which I’ve just returned.

Autumn is amazing and it seems to have fallen upon my little mountain town while I was away. It shows me God’s wonder afresh, as the places I’ve previously lived did not showcase seasons the way I get to experience them now. Naturally, I have photos to share with you!

Looking forward, I spy a few major life events staring back at me. I want to tell you about them in hopes you’ll walk with me through them. Your insights, stories, and prayers are precious to me. These things make us more than fellow bloggers. They make us friends.

Is jet lag brutal for you?

I have some writing to do! And I promise to get to it… just as soon as my mind catches up with my body. I feel as though my mental faculties took a parachute mid-journey while my physical form stayed on the plane and arrived home. And I don’t even know where my sleep schedule derailed. Maybe it got stuck in the same overseas time zone as my luggage.

This was my first international trip. The jet lag is surprisingly more brutal than I expected. I want to hear your stories. Please commiserate with me!

How does jet lag feel for you? Or are you one of those people who can hop around the world and not feel it at all? Bonus points if you can identify the airport in the cover photo. I can’t wait to hear from you!


Drill Down to The Depths with a Simple “Why?” Game!

Have you ever had a child repeatedly ask you “Why?”? I was walking with my granddaughter the other day and she was playing this game.

Me: “Look at that boat out on the lake. I think people are fishing off it.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “A lot of people like to fish. They find it relaxing.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “Probably for different reasons. I am usually relaxed when I’m by lakes and oceans too.”
Her: (Giggling) “Why?”
Me: (Now realizing this is a game) “Because the water is beautiful and the sound of it on the shore puts my heart at rest.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “It’s a peaceful sound.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: (Cutting the game short, picking her up and tickling her) “Because I love you and Jesus loves you and that is all.”

The “Why?” game helps me drill down deep.

I had a week-long visit with my granddaughter. That “Why?” game happened daily. I noticed when we drilled down as far as we could go, God’s love was at the heart of everything.

The second to last answer was either “Because God said so.” or “Because God made it that way.” When “Why?” was asked to either of those statements, the final response was “Because He loves us so much!” That was the end because I couldn’t fathom why.

Playing this childhood game can be tiresome, but the concept is extremely valuable. I think the Holy Spirit has been playing it with me lately too. He’s helping me drill down to the depths of some important matters.

Depth of Focus

I have the tendency to plow through life content to see, hear, and think about the obvious. My focus is often on the surface stuff. And that is to my detriment.

For instance, I’ve been thinking and reading about anxiety. My last post was a result of learning that I treat anxiety as a problem to address, when in truth, it is a symptom of my problems. I can focus all I want on calming my anxious thoughts, but if I allow the circumstances which cause them to continue unresolved, I can’t ever expect to be free of anxiety.

Depth of Belief

The habit of drilling down to the depths of matters is crucial for deciding on my beliefs as well. Many ideas sound solid on the surface, but if I apply pressure, they give way. I must push until I find a foothold that stands.

The Holy Spirit showed this to me by bringing a past conversation to mind. I had posted on social media about my excitement to meet a baby who was due to be born any day. A young Christian had challenged my celebration because, in his words, this young mother was unwed, and her pregnancy was a sin. (He took a stand.)

He had his facts correct. This was an out-of-wedlock, teen pregnancy. It had come about through sin. But the pregnancy was not a sin. It was a consequence. (His platform did not hold.)

A warning sign posted on a wooden pole.
Photo by Skitterphoto on
Secure footing is important!

I explained this to the young man and assured him he could join me in celebration. Not only was the sinful relationship repented of, but the full-term pregnancy was also proof that this young mom had decided virtuously among her options. And new life is always a gift! (A sturdy foothold.)

I think we’d all do well to drill down to the core of what we believe and why. It is crucial with political choices, religious stances, and cultural issues. We may not like the conflict we create when we ask ourselves “Why?”, but until we unpack it, we won’t be able to reconcile it.

Depth of Thought

These things keep reverberating through my mind as I contemplate my internal dialogue. I need to pay attention to my thoughts. And as I drill down to the depths of them, I realize I’ve adopted some ideas without completely thinking them through.

When God looks at us, He sees all the way to the core of us. He pays attention to our thoughts, not just our words. He notices the intentions behind our actions. He knows we can act and speak rightly, but not be righteous inside.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7b

We will be accountable to Him for what exists in the depths of us. I think the Holy Spirit is helping me to go there. He is shining a light so I can explore what I find inside. He is asking me “Why?” and then asking it again as we’re drilling down.

Depth of Conversation

Playing the “Why?” game with my granddaughter showed me that my casual comments and observations were insufficient. They weren’t untrue, generally, but they were shallow and left a lot unsaid. Having to answer “why?” after every sentence made our conversation incrementally more meaningful.

I sure would love to be present enough in the depths of myself to speak from there at the onset of a conversation. Wouldn’t it be great if everything that came out of my mouth was only one step away from “because God made it that way” or “because God said so”, and the only other place to go was “because He loves us so much”?

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”.

1 Peter 3:15

Dear Lord, I have a lot to sort through as your Holy Spirit helps me drill down to the depths of my words, thoughts and intentions. Thank you for the simple “Why?” game, which has highlighted my need to speak and act from a more meaningful place. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14

Hurry Happens in the Heart when Humor Hits Hard

My husband sent the following meme to our kids and me in our family group text. I agreed wholeheartedly and laughed too hard. I felt understood.

When the humor hits hard…

Humor is funnier when it has an element of truth in it. I know this hit hard with some of our kids, because it’s something we’ve been talking about for years! Little did I know God was about to do something with it in my heart.

An diagram of different ways to install a toilet paper roll.
My sentiments exactly!

I have some monsters in my family. I should be thankful if the roll is on the holder, no matter how it hangs. But I’m not. I stand staunchly, loud and proud, on team ‘flap over’. If it’s done wrong, I need to fix it in a hurry.

In our group text, one of my daughters teased that she often changes the rolls from No! to Yes! at her sister’s houses. I gave that a big thumb’s up!

And then one of the sisters chimed in. She said she gets confused because she has to install the rolls in the No! position at work.

That got me thinking.

Oh my goodness, she’s right!

As my mind raced, my heart hurried. I have seen toilet paper dispensers in public restrooms which require rolls installed the wrong (in my not-so-humble opinion) way.

You know the ones? They have flat edges, which hang on the stall wall, and covers that bubble outward. When the roll is inside, the flap of the roll must hang down the back to dispense.

Hurry happened in my heart.

Hurry / noun: disorganized activity, a state of eagerness or haste

I was immediately humbled. Mentally, I walked for a moment in my daughter’s shoes. My heart hurried toward her point of view. I felt compassion that wasn’t there before.

My way is still my favorite way, but it isn’t necessarily “right”. I guess that is what happens in the heart when humor hits hard. It’s hilarious until you understand where someone else is coming from.

I appreciated my daughter for kindly stating her rationale. It let me think, empathize, and learn. And, as God does, He prompted hurry and taught me a lesson.

What about you?

Hurry has happened in my heart on this subject, but I will always hang toilet paper “flap over” in my home. I have been softened by compassion. And I still enjoy the humor in the meme above.

I’m dying to hear your opinion. Are you in agreement, or does this humor hit hard? How do you prefer the toilet paper in your house? Does your family follow your lead?

“The one who states his case first seems right,
    until the other comes and examines him.”

Proverbs 18:17
Celebrations Collaborations

Love from My Daughter’s Heart – A Rich Gift to Me and You

Deep inhale. Sniff. I’m pulling myself together. Seriously, I am!

I have the sweetest thing to share with you today! My oldest daughter, Meagan, wrote a guest post for my birthday. And this is the day I get to publish it. I’m so excited! It hits me right in the feels and I’m so thankful. What a blessing!

Mother and daughter in a heart-shaped photo
Meagan and Me

5 Things About Me that are My Mother’s Fault

a Guest Post

What goes around comes around, Mom.

My name is Meagan. I am Mama Lava’s eldest child. In honor of her birthday, I am writing a guest post to show my love.

A while ago, my mom posted 5 things that she blamed her mother for. Here’s the link to that post. Today, I’d like to return the favor.

Mom, you should know it’s all your fault that I am so…


I asked my siblings what I am most, and they said “kind”. Surely it was all the lessons about being a peacemaker and helping others that made me this way. Undoubtedly the way you treated others modeled kindness in a way that it stuck with me.


Watching you be a mother to five children and teaching me to help them has surely impacted the way I treat others. The way I speak to little ones and build them up and encourage them was certainly learned. Now I’m a mother and a teacher- that’s certainly your fault.

Baking Obsessed

You were a whiz with the kitchen aid, always cooking and baking for us and neighbors and friends. My love of baking definitely stemmed from the days in your kitchen- eating all the cookie dough pieces that fell onto the counter.


You got this from your mama, and I got this from you both. You prefer to defer and so do I. Please everyone, don’t ask Nana, my mom, or I what we want for lunch. We want whatever you want. We are happy when you are.


Like you Mom, I love arts and crafts. Nothing simultaneously calms us down and stresses us out like a new project. Whether its interior design, macramé, or some other medium… We love to create. I remember your treasure chest full of crafts and projects for us to do together with fondness.

A lighthouse, with ships in the background
“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”
– Dwight L. Moody

In her original blog post, linked above, my mom quoted Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” We were just talking about this verse on the phone the other day.

I like to joke that the word “way” is a broad term. Perhaps the “way” is north, and my siblings and I are all headed there but we are taking different routes. Some of us are on windier paths, some of us are finding short cuts, some of us have had tumultuous journeys. We aren’t headed the wrong way- per se- just taking different paths than may have been envisioned for us.

I’m sure every parent can relate to feeling stress over a child making different choices- but different doesn’t always mean wrong. Luckily, I have good foundations- thanks in large part to my mother- to help me along the way.

Happy Birthday Mama Lava- Sending hugs and love to you today!