In Ireland.

Zach and I just got back from a 10 day European vacation. It was incredible. I mean, it's Europe, how could it not be, right? But it was good in ways that I didn't even consider. We spent the first half of our trip in Ireland. I can't remember why we decided to go to Ireland. It isn't a place that either one of us has ever dreamed of going, but for whatever reason, that's the country we picked and we could not have chosen a better place. When we got off the plane in Dublin, I literally twirled on the tarmac. I spread my arms out and yelled, "IRELAND! We're in IRELAND!" That was when I first noticed the change in me. For the first time in what seems like forever, I could not have cared less what people thought of me. It felt like years and years of insecurity, not measuring up, and fear of disappointing fell right off of me. It felt good. Real good. 

Every day, it was a little easier to breathe. Our last day in Dublin, before we left for the Irish countryside, we took a boat ride out to a tiny island, The Eye of Ireland. The only residents on the island are birds and the only thing man made is a tower and church that are now in ruins. It was so beautiful. As soon as we got off the boat, I took off. I didn't even look back to see where Zach was. There was just something in my gut that compelled me to run and climb and I really didn't care if Zach could keep up or not. I felt like a kid again. I had a stupid grin on my face the whole time, and Zach was so gracious to capture it over and over and over again. Ha. I looked like such a goofball, but I was just so happy. We were on a beautiful island with only 5 or 6 other people, everyone exploring in different directions, surrounded by water, birds, and fresh Irish wind. I didn't have anyone else to worry about, protect, or discipline and I felt so free ... like I belonged there. Like all my life I was trying to find this place, I just didn't know what I was searching for. I could have spent all day there. 

Those first few days set the standard for our trip. Zach and I started to connect in ways we hadn't since we started having kids. We spent a lot of time just sitting in silence, enjoying each other's presence, and reading our books without being interrupted. We held hands. We ate meals together. We took pictures together! We haven't taken a picture of just the two of us in ages and now we have dozens. We had conversations about life, ministry, dreams, and goals. Slowly and steadily, the fog from the past year lifted. I didn't realize how heavy it had been. I didn't realize how much I wasn't seeing because I was just trying to see what was right in front of me. It was so, so, so, so, good. 

I'll probably get into more details about all that later, but for now let's just talk about Ireland. 

HOLY. MOLY. Ireland is beautiful. Every single place we went to took our breath away. The people were hilarious and good natured and refreshingly honest and forthright. We had such a great time interacting with people. The Irish take care of their tourists. We felt so welcomed in the country and we cannot wait to go back. I told Zach that if I ever get a real deal publishing contract, I'm writing my book in Ireland. I can't get enough. I think it'll be our place that we keep going back to over and over again. When I was showing my sister in law our photos she said, "You look like you belong there!" I slapped Zach on the arm and said, "I TOLD YOU!!" And he was all, "I AGREED WITH YOU!" Anyway. 

Here are some shots from our trip. I decided I didn't care about editing these, so here's so me straight off the camera goodness for ya.