Shout-Out to Fellow Travelers and Friends We Made in Ireland this Weekend (18 Sept-21 Sept)

How do you unplug? We travel. Sometimes it’s a planned and plotted out vacation, sometimes it’s spur of the moment. Last Tuesday, my husband who is enamored to the point of obsession with his roots, found great last minute airfare and hotel to Ireland. A police captain on the force for 28 years and caregiver to many, Sean finds his happy place on the Emerald Isle. Who am I to stand in his way? Like the lyrics to Eddie Money’s “(I’ve got) Two Tickets to Paradise, Pack your bags we’ll leave tonight!” we stuffed two carry-ons and left on Thursday 18 Sept spending a long-weekend in Dublin returning Tuesday, 22 Sept. Our main purpose was to attend the album launch of our friend Lughaidh “Louie” O Broin’s wife and her band The Evolution Project‘s new album, Outta the Blue at the hip Odessa in Temple Bar. (Read more about how we met Louie in “Moriartys in an Irish Bar Fight in 2012!”)
Besides cheering on these up and coming musical stars, we ended up meeting a slew of cool folks along the way. We want to shout out to those we met (and gave our card to) as we dashed through Dublin. Hello to fellow USA travelers Kathy and Rod from Seattle! Have a great next leg of your trip to South Africa! So good to meet you, Carrie and Paul from Yorkshire, England! What insightful conversation in Cassidy’s over our game of Scrabble! To John at the Abbey St. Methodist Church, we thank you for the tour and warm welcome. We were blessed to worship with your congregation representing 25 different nationalities. Sláinte, Larry and Evelyn of western Ireland! So great to chat at the album launch! Bike safe, Larry and all the best on your Master’s Evelyn! Stephen, Gary at the Padriag Pearse Pub, what good craic! We came in “just fer a pint!” but drank in so much more of Dublin’s life, vibe and culture! Hope all is well on the homefront, Stephen! Gary, did all the letters get delivered to the right addresses? LOL! Hats off to Jimmy at our last pub—Sean’s Cuban and bit o’ Jameson’s on the rocks. Sean and I hope to cross paths with each of you again, or at least keep in touch via this blog and/or our Facebook pages. https://www.facebook.com/sean.moriarty.505?fref=ts, https://www.facebook.com/tanja.moriarty.
“May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live.”

Getting “Unstuck” This New Year: Changes That Heal

Raw emotions had inconveniently bubbled to the surface in early December threatening to ruin this holiday season. In spite of lots of hard work to try to heal after I left my church of 46 years in April, I just couldn’t keep a lid on it.

I was stunned at the intensity of this sadness and anger that demanded to be dealt with. I so badly wanted “drive thru” healing, to be completely done with negative feelings by now.

In reality, I had not dealt with feelings of huge disappointment in the way things went down at my former church. It wasn’t so much about the leaders of the church, it was more about family who still attended there, who in my estimation, didn’t “get my back” for one reason or another. I was also mourning the fact that I would not be attending Christmas Eve service there this year. In spite of it all, that church did offer a beautiful Christmas eve service that meant so much to me and my family.

It all just came to a head in early December. Facing the holidays, how was I supposed to just paint a smile on and conduct “Christmas-extended-family-business as usual”?

I confessed to my new pastor and to my former therapist (she called me “out of the blue” in early December to check in), that I was struggling this particular holiday season. They understood my unresolved, raw emotions, and gave me permission to be a little ripped, and to give myself some more time. It had only been 8 months.

I immersed myself in a women’s Bible study group this fall in the new church to establish new relationships and try to see God, Jesus and Church (not religion) in new ways. One woman pointed me to a Christian psychologist and author, Dr. Henry Cloud. I picked up his book, “Changes That Heal: How to Understand Your Past to Ensure a Healthier Future.”

What I had read and been counseled struck chords deep in my soul. I began applying Cloud’s suggestions to make changes that heal by navigating with Truth and Grace and allowing for Time to pass. In the meantime, I needed to stop blaming others, take responsibility for my actions, create new paths and draw healthier boundaries. I was honest about the way I felt with the people I love. It was a little messy at first, but enveloped in God’s mercy and grace, I was able to see them in a new and healthier light. I felt myself grow up. Things still aren’t perfect, but at least they are honest.

I want to share some of the highlights which turned out to be wonderful and merciful gifts I’ve received this Christmas season:

Getting a handle on bitterness. As I continue to harbor bitterness towards someone it will only stunt and make me ill. I will be estranged and/or only fake being “nice” and “loving” to that person, but the ugliness will eek out or spring forth eventually if I don’t deal with it truthfully. I have learned that sometimes the only way to start dealing truthfully is to confess to God, “I really suck at being loving and forgiving towards ________right now. I just don’t feel it.” God knows our hearts anyway, so we don’t have to fake “being good” when we’re just not there. When we admit we are weak that is when God makes us stronger, shows us the way.

Expectations. I need to stop expecting others to behave or “be” a certain way for me to accept them. I have been guilty of expecting more out of others (and myself). This doesn’t mean I have to be a “doormat,” accepting unacceptable behaviors. It means setting respectful boundaries. I can hope for “the ideal relationship” by modeling how I want my relationships to be.

Forgiveness. I recognize my need to forgive (and be forgiven) to eradicate the bitterness I have towards others. Sometimes forgiveness seems a tall or impossible order. In such cases, I need to give that person or relationship over to God. Let it be “between them and God.” That way, I can be “unstuck” to grow and be who I am supposed to be! Happy and blessed New Year!

Enjoy the lyrics of I Am,by Crowder.

Boo to The Who! They Blew Us Off: But We’ve Met Other Stars Along Our Way!

What happened to the fecking Who? The iconic rock band, launching their 50th Anniversary tour blew off Ireland! They were supposed to play in Belfast and last night here (26 Nov.) in Dublin, but we learned a few days ago they cancelled both shows for "logistical difficulties"! What? Apparently they had an unexpected? offer to play in Abu Dhabi on the 23rd and are claiming they couldn’t get to
Ireland? The UAE is not THAT faraway from Ireland, guys! I am thinking they got a better deal to party with the royalty and to heck with Ireland! Was there no way for them in this day and age to get back in time for “our” Nov. 26th show here in Dublin? Yes, I know this is such a first world rant but bear with me a bit.

Back in July Sean noticed The Who would be playing in Dublin at the beginning of their 50th anniversary tour in November. He asked if I wanted to go. I eagerly said yes knowing that he LOVES Ireland and The Who! Both in one place would be mind-blowing! But more that that, I was all for him going to one of his happiest of happy places—Ireland—to “get off grid” from his many stresses in the States.

We weren’t fully thinking in July that we’d be away for Thanksgiving so he bought The Who tickets that day. That kinda made us pregnant to take the trip!

I had a few misgivings about missing Thanksgiving, but also relished the idea of taking a break from 15 years in a row of hosting at our house. I’d miss our kids the most–and watching the parade in the morning, but our grown-up kids encouraged us to fly!

Even though we didn’t get to see The Who on this trip, we’ve had a great experiences already and have been privileged to meet some great people along the way–rock stars in their own right! Take a bow Brian and Helen, funky, classy hardworking hosts of the luxurious but comfortable Castlewood House B&B out in Dingle.

Thank you, thank you! to the very encouraging and hip Father David Gunn for welcoming us to your parish home at Port Magee for the tea and allowing us to pour over pages of hundred year old handwritten marriage and baptismal records as we trace more of Sean’s Irish heritage in the Ring of Kerry! We were welcomed right into the house and life “don’t mind the toys!” of a very cool cousin Sheila who introduced us to her wee ones, Shoon,3, Seamus,2. She made a phone call for Sean to see his cousins Mary and Tessie Cremens who lived up the road and across the street.

We were reunited with Tomas who spoils us at Kate Kearney’s Cottage in Killarney and now has his own photography business. It was so good to see John and Nora in at their lovely Ferris Wheel B&B at the Gap of Dunloe. We spoke at length to a very decent and bright woman at a woolen shop in Cashel— (Knitted) Hats off to Inga!

We anticipate meeting a few more “celebrities” as we spend the next few days here. Tonight, about the time you all back home will be enjoying your beautiful turkey dinners, (we’re 5 hours ahead), Sean and I will be taking a Literary Pub Crawl learning where Irish writers—Yeats, Joyce, Wilde, etc. hung out to discuss life, politics, their stories, and where they put down a few pints. Who knows who else we’ll encounter? Sean met Conan O’Brien on Grafton Street in 2012!

Happy Thanksgiving to our American family and friends. And Thank You, friends and relatives we’ve met on this trip! God Bless, Salente, Cheers!

Somethin’s Brewing: New Coffee House Starting to Perk

The outreach team and in-house band at the new church we’ve been attending wanted to pick our brains on how to run a coffee-house of all things! About a month ago, a new “sister” there stopped to chat with me to say the church had been talking about having a coffee-house for two years, but they weren’t sure what exactly to do. My heart raced and my throat tightened as I blinked back tears.

We (my husband, niece and I) had left my old, life-long church this past April after being the principle facilitators of Soup and Song open mic coffee house—for EXACTLY two years!

Before things came crashing down with the administration there, the coffee-house was drawing in an average of 55 participants on the Saturday nights it was held since 2012.  April 5th was the two-year anniversary. The coffee-house was a success at the tiny church not because of me, but because it was always God’s coffee-house. Tons of prayer went into each one. I never knew how many pots of soup or chili would be donated or how many trays of cookies or brownies would grace the table. I never knew who or how many were coming to perform, to help set up and take down. Lo, there was always enough. It was the fishes and loaves thing that kept me flying by the seat of my spiritual pants, that gave me hope at my long-time, fledgling church.

It kept me humble and it kept me in the moment! Oh, we had many a great moments. I can look back and see God all over it.

I understand it is still going on now. After of ton of God’s grace and mercy, time and healing  I can say “God bless it” and mean it.  It is still attracting people to fellowship, share music. That is the point.

Yes, it has been a painful transition to be called away from a place you’ve known, good and bad, had so much hope for, had vested so many years in, but I honestly believe it was God’s call. I wandered heart-broken and bewildered for a while, but God’s been faithful. My family has a been beyond welcomed, more like enveloped, into a healthy place of worship. Encouraged, included, and now invited. 

While the new coffee-house is just heating up and will likely be a blend of what worked well in Higganum, I know it will be God’s coffee-house because it is being brewed in prayer. I am confident it will be welcoming place where people of all ages, churched and non-churched, can come in, share talent, encourage others, and have some great food!

Stay tuned for details. Coffee will be on early in the new year, God willing!

Click on this great song! “Thrive” from WOW Hits 2015 (Deluxe Version) by Casting Crowns. Released: 2014.

Impromptu Family Sing-a-long Soothes Souls More Than Spoken Words Ever Could

Sometimes family gatherings can be strained…We have enough heartache and history, coupled with the fact that my sibs and I still have to deal with how to do holidays with “exes”, namely our long-divorced parents. Mom and her husband were hosting Easter this year at the family homestead, and though it was suggested my father “could also join us”, we three thought “NOT.” We made other plans to see Dad before the big dinner.

My sister had the great idea of visiting my Dad at his community center “living room” on Easter after church.  Andy brought his guitar and Dad took his spot at the piano.  I had my trusty bag of percussion instruments I keep in the trunk of my car! (Just waiting for an opportunity to break it out—always at the Soup and Song Open Mic Coffee House!)

I don’t know how or why Andy lead us in Donovan’s “Atlantis” but suddenly this song “took over” and we all were enveloped in a healthy and jolly communion of music. Our visit like this became a highlight and happy experience instead of perfunctory duty. Thanks be to God!