Last Week of Sabbatical

Our last sabbatical eat-out at Mellow Mushroom in Atlanta. We got to sit in a “tree.”

Apple & walnut granola. Well, this is it. The end of my sabbatical. This last week has been spent catching up on sleep and rest before school and work start this week. The kids are settled into home life once again. I can tell because their rooms are a mess. They are really ready for school. I have heard, “I’m bored!” one too many times. We have really laid low this week.  Molly has been in bed for most of the week with a strange and painful leg malady. Hopefully, she can knock it out with some dietary changes and some homeopathic remedies. I’ve been writing, playing, and learning how to play the mandolin, while also preparing my mind for return to full-time work. I also went to see Ant-Man, which was awesome! Those are my favorite kinds of movies. I’m excited and anxious about my return, hoping to be a better priest than I was before.

The few folks I have run in to have all asked: “What did you learn?” The answer to that question is certainly multifaceted. But I have come up with 10 things that I know in my bones now that I didn’t know before: Read More

Twelfth Week: Home in Hamilton

Back to regular cereal and coffee.

But am I ever glad to have coffee! One thing the UK and Ireland do not have is better coffee than here, but that’s just my opinion. I drank a lot of good tea over there, though!

The kids with their cousins Haviland and Victoria.

Well, we have been back in town for almost a week now, trying to recover from the jet lag. We woke up last week in Ireland, and got up extra early to return our rental car. Luckily, the B&B was very close to the airport. We were out the door at 6:00am (1:00am EST!) and caught our flight out of Shannon in no time. Luckily, our flight was a bit early, but that only meant our layover in London was going to be longer. Read More

Eleventh Week: The Long Goodbye

Full Irish Breakfast: Fried egg, bacon, sausage, tomato, potato waffle, and yes, black pudding.

I can’t believe our trip is almost over. In almost 24 hours, the Jacksons will be back on Hill Street. A part of me almost thought this day would never come. As we look back on the last two months of travel, there are so many emotions, memories, and just simple joy. It hasn’t been completely easy taking four children to England, Scotland, and Ireland, but I have to say, it has been one of the most meaningful accomplishments of my life. Molly and I have dreamed of coming back over here as a family after many separate trips between the two of us. This trip has been years in the making, and took hours of planning and researching. Tomorrow morning at 6:00am (1:00am EST), we will start our journey home. Yes, I am deeply sad to leave. Who wouldn’t? I’m grateful I have two more weeks before I go back to work. But there are many things and people I have missed and I’m excited to reconnect with them all. Read More

Tenth Week: Raining in Ireland

Shredded Wheaties (aka Chex)

Dia dhaoibh! Ní fhaca mé le fada sibh!

That’s Irish for “Greetings! Long time no see!” Here we are, still in Inch, Ireland on the Dingle Peninsula. Ireland is wonderful, but it seems we picked the rainiest and coldest couple of weeks in the summer. Even the locals have expressed their disappointment in the weather. Rain makes the island green, but it certainly affects how the tourists spend their time. As we have walked through the town of Dingle, you can see tourists lining the streets in their slickers and ponchos. However, when the sun peeks out behind the gray, everyone raises their faces to the sky in thanksgiving. Read More

What We Bought With Our Spending Money

Mom’s pancakes w/ maple syrup, sausage, and a glass of orange juice

 Sorry we (meaning the kids) haven’t posted in a while! But we talked about it and we are going to post about what we bought our spending money that our St. Nicholas family gave us! Before the trip we counted the amount (which was in two different currencies, pounds and euros) and in pounds we had the total of approximately 80 pounds and 40 euros! Then of course we divided it and each of us got 20 pounds and 10 euros. Since we are almost done with our trip we thought it would be a good idea! We will also tell you how much spending money we have left. Read More

Ninth Week: Driving in Dingle

(I’m going to start with my breakfast from Saturday, which was fantastic:)
Fried egg, baked beans, mushrooms, grilled tomato, sausage, Irish bacon, black and white pudding.

Ireland truly is a magical place. This week has shown us unspeakable beauty and the most divine grace as we’ve traveled the length of the country. I’m sitting now in our house in Inch which has the most incredible view. Of everything we’ve seen so far, the best may have well been saved for last.

Before we made our way here, we settled into our flat in Dublin, which was very conveniently located two blocks from O’Connell Street, which is one of the main thoroughfares through the city. Most of what we wanted to see in Dublin was featured on one of those “hop-on, hop-off” buses, so we opted to join the mass of tourists to see Dublin.

Dublin itself was incredibly surprising to me. I’m not sure what I expected, but I absolutely fell in love with it. Mind you, it was peak tourist season and walking through the city was like walking through DisneyWorld in June, but I found the crowds to be manageable. I saw people from seemingly every culture vacationing there from fellow Americans to many Germans, Japanese, and French tourists. Everyone was also very pleasant and jovial, as I guess Dublin has that effect on people. Read More

Eighth Week: Iona to Dublin via Glasgow

Strawberry granola…the best I’ve ever had.

It’s only been a few days since my last post, but we’ve jumped around so much that I felt that I needed to give you all an update.

Before I rush into the trip, there have been lots of things going on in the U.S. that have disturbed me and some things that have brought me much joy. The South Carolina AME church shooting is forefront on my mind. Racism is alive and well, my friends, and we have to do something about it. Mix that racism with poor gun control and you’ve got yourself a real problem. I guess being over here lets me see things more objectively, but I see plenty of black people here, yet no one seems to treat them like they are treated in the U.S. I also notice that the police don’t carry guns. I know nowhere is perfect, but that seems to be a good sign. Second, I hear that people are in an uproar about the Confederate flag being taken down. If you don’t understand why that flag should be taken down, perhaps you’re part of the problem.

However, I am very happy to hear about the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex unions. In case you haven’t heard, our bishop, Rob Wright, has publicly given us priests permission to perform such unions, which I am glad to hear. In other Episcopal news, our General Convention is meeting this week and has elected the Right Reverend Michael Curry as our new Presiding Bishop! He is our first African-American P.B. and is one of the best preachers I’ve ever heard. I was hoping he would be elected. I think all of these things are positives for the Church and for the Kingdom of God. I’m sure not everyone agrees with me, but that’s OK. It’s a big church and we have a big God.

Back to the trip…when I last posted, we were on Iona, and it was cold. Our last full day there started off rainy and cold, but we were determined to get out and explore some more. We had our usual lunch at one of the few restaurants in the village: Martyr’s Bay, the Iona Heritage Cafe, or St. Columba’s, and by the time we were finished the sun came out! We decided to hike out to the west coast of the island to the “Bay on the Back of the Island.” The shoreline is covered in the most beautiful rocks you can imagine. They are piled everywhere. Read More