Ha'penny Bridge

The Ha’penny Bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin

One day earlier this week, as usual, I was up before the kids needed to get up for school. I had some quiet time to read, pray, and enjoy a few very good cups of coffee. The phrase, “receive this as a gift,” popped into my head. It is a phrase that has been coming up a lot since.

While I enjoy this time most days, I wouldn’t normally think of it in those terms…As a gift, I’ve been given to enjoy.

A day later, Méabh “decided” to get up with me @ 6:30 am, and while I sat down to read, she recited a list of things she needed right then:
– socks
– shoes
– music
– a stuffed animal
– to go to the bathroom
– food
– a dress
– warm milk with no skin (I heated her milk too much once, & it formed a skin on top..this seems to have been a very scarring experience for Méabh)

While on the one hand, you might think I’d compare and contrast those two very different mornings, this week I received them both as gifts.

One day the gift was time to enjoy silence and solitude, and time with my Father…the next day the gift was a 2-year-old who wanted to hang out with her dad and spend the morning talking with him. Another gift.

When I’m working on my plans and trying to accomplish stuff, it’s easy to miss some of the gifts that come my way, because I’m expecting something else.

I’m trying a practice over the next couple of weeks of where ever I am and whatever I’m doing, just saying, “Thank you, Father…I receive this (whatever it might be) as a gift.”

Yesterday we had an experience that helped me see again a gift Elizabeth and I have received.

We were able to have coffee with a couple from the States who want to move to Ireland for ministry. We had a very enjoyable time with them, and are pulling for them to get here. Before that can happen, they need to acquire visas.

They told us of another couple they heard of recently who are here in Ireland now but have been told their visas are not being renewed, and they have 30 days to leave Ireland. (Imagine getting that news next week)

The day before I was reading a blog from another American living in Ireland who was told their visa was not being renewed and has begun the work of trying to get that decision changed.

We have friends who want to move to Dublin and be part of our church planting efforts here, but once again, visas are an issue.

I had two immediate reactions to this…first was, in light of what I just wrote, “what a gift.” Elizabeth and I wanted to move to Ireland, and we did. And we love it here.

There have been things that have been hard here (which also look like gifts in hindsight). But this…being able to move to and live in Ireland has been without a hitch. (as long as I remember to bring all the correct forms with me)

(When I was sharing this with her, Elizabeth replied, “Probably the first time you’ve ever been thankful that I’m Irish!”)

The second reaction was to ask you to pray for these other families.

For a number of reasons, it has become much more difficult for people to move to Ireland from the US. If someone comes on a religious worker’s visa, they can come for three years, they cannot work while they are here, and in general, they will not be able to renew their visa, nor receive another one in the future. (At least that is what we hear over and over).

Imagine God putting a people and a place on your heart, and not being able to go there.

So if you have a chance, even though you don’t know their names, please pray for these families so that they can get to…or stay in Ireland.


What gifts have you received recently, that perhaps in the past you wouldn’t have seen that way?