I was reading from 1 Chronicles this morning.
The men listed above by name were leaders of their clans. Their families increased greatly, and they went to the outskirts of Gedor to the east of the valley in search of pasture for their flocks. They found rich, good pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet. (1 Chronicles 4:38-40 NIV)
This passage reminded me of the South West of Ireland where The Lord led us to go on holiday for the first time thirty years ago with our “flock.” Brendan had bought our first car and we were thinking of going on holiday together. Brendan asked me, “Where would you like to go on holiday?” I immediately thought of Kerry, in the south west of Ireland. The best way to accommodate our growing family was to rent a holiday home.
We felt the Holy Spirit was telling us to get in touch with someone in Kerry, who was in the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship. This turned out to be George Mc Auliffe. Brendan rang him and asked him if he would locate a house to rent suitable to our needs. He had never heard tell of us before, but he kindly responded and found us a holiday home. The two weeks it was available was at the beginning of August when my eighth child was due. I wasn’t afraid of travelling there, because my children never arrived on the date the doctors suggested.
i believe holidays are not a luxury they are a necessity. Family life, being together, can get neglected when work and other pressures put demands on the dad and mum. Being together on holiday helps everyone unwind.
The day to travel arrived. We were so excited to be setting out on an adventure that would take us 600 miles away. The Peugot 505 was filled with children and provisions for our stay for two weeks. We invited another family to stay in our home when we were away. We believed in sharing with others.
As we got nearer Kerry we’d looked at the colourful houses with gardens full of roses. Would that be the one we will be staying in, or that one? I would like that one. We dreamed on. The one we finally arrived at was beyond our expectations. There were five bedrooms and two big living rooms. Mary even had a room of her own! It seemed like heaven for the children. Plenty of space inside and outside the house.
Our children poured out of the car, stretched their legs and arms like cattle released from the stall. There was plenty of space to run and chase each other. There were cows in the green fields over the fence. Good pasture lands. There were rainbows in the sky. It was near the beach. The journey was worth it.
Back then there was war in Northern Ireland. There was pressure in the atmosphere. Everyone was under a cloud. Kerry was so different. There was no oppression, people welcomed us with their soft arms, hearts and voices. George introduced us to other families who welcomed us into their homes, even though we had a big family. Thus began our visits to the Kerry and Limerick area. From that year on we went for two weeks holiday there during the troubles in the north. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and warm welcome wherever we travelled. We always returned refreshed.
In more recent years, Brendan and I have been on a holiday to Greece in May to recharge our batteries after winter and work schedules, take in the sun and good food. Our children have left home. We had not planned anything this year. There was no time free in May. My body was weary and needing some attention. I dreamed of travelling west in Ireland to be refreshed seeing the mountains and green valleys. I decided to help Brendan continue prepare for people who were coming to stay with us.
June was busy with guests from Alabama and India. The day before guests arrived another friend called to offer us his home in Adare at the end of June. When Brendan told me I was delighted. God is faithful. He knew my need of rest and he provided. As we shared our home with others, God inspired another person to share his home with us. He had let us and our family stay in his home many times over the last years. Not everyone wants to let a big family have the run of their home.
A man reaps what he sows.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:7, 9 NIV)
On our holiday in Adare, we slept, worked in the garden, ate and slept again, a bit like hobbits. One of the evenings we ventured out to visit a friend. We travelled along the coast of the Shannon estuary through Ballybunion and on to Tralee. I remember stopping at a viewing point overlooking Tralee sometime before when our children were with us. The blue of the river and ocean framed the hills of Clare to our right and the stronger mountains of the Dingle peninsula to our left. Tralee was nestled in the green valley below. The big sky had plenty of room for darks clouds carrying rain in the midst of clear parts where the sun shone through. There was always a cloud dropping rain somewhere. I could spend hours on that spot letting this beauty wash over my soul. I drank in the beauty again that evening.
The glory of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
I now realise why we came on summer holidays with our children to this part of the world so many times down through the years. It was a place of quiet, peace and space, with lush pastures to restore our souls.