(This is the fourth post in a series detailing our journey from Ithaca to Dublin. You can find the previous posts here, here & here.)
“What do you want us to do with the next 20 years of our lives?”
I already knew the answer to that question. In fact I talked to several friends before we left on our trip and said, “I think the answer is ‘continue leading the Ithaca Vineyard Church.’ But I need to ask.”
So we did.
I have a good friend who pastors a Vineyard just outside Philadelphia, and nearly every time he sees me (or anyone actually), he tried to talk me into planting a Vineyard in Philly.
(Even when I began talking to him about Ireland, he asked, “are you sure God isn’t calling you to the Irish part of Philadelphia?”)
Every time he’d ask me to plant a church in Philadelphia, I would of course say “no”…sometimes, I’d get a bit more emphatic and say, “I will never plant another church…it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life…I did it once, and I am not doing it again!”
(I never said I was smart.)
While we were in Ireland, we went around visiting different churches each Sunday. The first week there we went to visit the church Liz’s dad went to as a kid in Rockcorry.
A three weeks, we went up to Northern Ireland to visit Vineyard churches there.
On one of those trips we had to leave early in the morning to get there, so everyone in the car except me, was sleeping.
So I started praying and as I did, I began to get a really strong impression that we were supposed to plant a church in Ireland (didn’t have a sense of North or Republic at that point.)
What was really strange was that, as I started thinking about this, it wasn’t a sense of dread…oh no, not that…but rather there was a sense of excitement…
Until I mentioned it to my family…that did not go so well.
I pulled Liz a aside and told here as soon as we arrived that morning.
As I mentioned previously, Liz had not been to Ireland in over 25 years and had wanted to get back for years. I thought she’d be excited.
It turns out that the previous day, while we were walking around Derry, she told the kids, “I’ve had a good trip, but I have no desire to live in Ireland. God would really have to do something to get me to want to live here.” (that sounds almost as bad as saying, “I’ll never plant another church!)
When the kids found out, they were angry. Only 1 of them would talk to me. The other 2 just scowled, and one of them would make sarcastic comments about me.
After a couple of days of that, I prayed and said, “Father, my kids are all in middle school or high school…this is a huge thing. If we are going to do this, we all need to be on the same page.”
So we had a family meeting & said…let’s all take 6 months, & pray about it. If at the end of 6 months, we aren’t all in agreement that this is God, we won’t go. That went over well & everyone was talking to me again.
We had a couple more weeks in Ireland, including a 3-day trip where we drove from Ballybay to Croagh Patrick (which we climbed) to Galway to Cork and back to Ballybay.
While we weren’t discussing it with the kids, Liz & I were making mental notes on where we’d want to live if we were to move here (Galway – no; Cork – yes.)
For me personally it was hard to leave Ireland. We still had a week left on our trip…mostly in London with side trips to Paris & Cardiff (to see the Doctor Who Museum).
And then it was back to Ithaca.
Once we were back in NY, school started in less than a week, and Liz and I got back to work at the Vineyard.
At that point, with where the kids were, it seemed that Ireland was off the table…at least for the next few years. But we’d wait until December to make a final decision.
And speaking of waiting…until next time.