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Friday, September 22, 2017

A Fitting Ending & Beginning! • A County Donegal Mystery • Part 6

Joelle had been in Ireland several weeks already, and while she was there she was able to spend quite a bit of time with the church family. 
One of the men that she met at church was named Brandon. 
He was actually planning to go to the U.S. very soon to attend The Master's Seminary! 
His desire was to come back to Ireland and be a part of a church plant. 
Joelle loved the idea, and the two began to get acquainted. 
She knew that she didn't have a lot of time left before she was scheduled to head back to the U.S., so they spent quite a bit of time together.

The news of her ancestry finally came back. 
Yes, she was related to James and Jane Russell!
She would have a share in the inheritance of the ring, although it might be a small portion.
The letter that was found in the Bible at the crypt was enough of an inheritance for her.

This is what it said.

Dearest Eliza and John,

My dearest desire for you is to love and serve the Lord all of your days.
Read His Word dear ones, because there you will find the truth to get you through the darkest of times as it has me.  
It is far more precious and valuable than any jewels I can leave you, though the love of dear James in giving me the gift of the ring is a sweet memory.
Beyond the inheritance of these jewels, you have been deeded some land near this church.
The deed is enclosed.  

Aunt Jane.

Joelle dearly wished that the property could have a church built on it that taught the Word of God accurately, but she would have to wait for the inheritance to be settled to see if that was possible.

Before she left to head back to the U.S., Brandon proposed marriage to Joelle, and she accepted!
They planned to marry in the U.S. shortly before he would go on to seminary.

The rest of Joelle's family had decided to stay in Tennessee and start over.
They would move near Maryville where there was a good church that they could be involved with.

Joelle would one day be able to go back to Ireland and serve the Lord with her husband and see the friends that she had grown to love.
She had a rich heritage, and one day she hoped that many people in Ireland would hear the Gospel and turn to Christ.
The God who is Sovereign over storms and over us all can still change hearts, and He uses His Word and those who proclaim it!
What had started out as a nightmare with a hurricane had become a blessing that had surely worked for the good of Joelle, Brandon, and for Ireland!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Rich Heritage • A County Donegal Mystery • Part 5

The next day Joelle was so excited to attend the Bible Study and Prayer group in the garden.
She was welcomed and cared for, and people even prayed for those affected by the hurricanes and earthquakes in other parts of the world.
They were going through a portion of Matthew 5 that week.
She followed along, reading from her NASB translation.

Later on that day, she searched out her Mc Intyre ancestry, and she discovered an Eliza and John were the parents of her ancestor who came to the U.S. sometime before 1880.  A DNA sample might prove whether she was actually related to James & Jane Russell.

On the weekend, the family obliged her by going back out to the old Dunlewey church which was near the "Poisoned Glen."
There were differing stories as to why it was called that, but whatever the reason, it was rather intriguing.

Once they got to the church, she walked through the opening and tried to imagine how a jeweled ring could ever be discovered there.
The family found a place to picnic, and they discussed how they could go about finding out about the ring.  It was a lovely day, and Joelle felt at peace.

Weeks went by, and finally, they were rewarded with hearing that permission was given to search for the ring.
Meanwhile, Joelle had a DNA sample taken to see if she could be related to the Russells.
She knew that soon she would have to go back to the U.S., but she had hopes that she would learn about the ring and her heritage before leaving.

They carefully found a way to get into the crypt beneath the church ruins.
The coffin where James was buried was discovered, and an old rusted metal box was found above it.
Joelle was notified, and quickly she and her host family went out to the church again to see what was inside.
An old Bible and a jewelry box were indeed found!
There inside was the beautiful diamond and emerald ring!

The Bible was carefully opened, and Joelle noticed that it was well-worn.  Could James have truly loved reading God's Word?  Was he actually a true believer?  She would like to hope so.
An envelope fell out.  It was addressed to John and Eliza Mc Intyre!
What did it say?  Was this her heritage?
She hoped so.  She now loved Ireland and its people.
She loved the family who had taken her in.
Would Ireland become her new home, or would she go back to America with a new appreciation for both her heritage and her wider spiritual family of brothers and sisters who would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Surprising Discovery • A County Donegal Mystery ♦ Part 4

Joelle set down the intriguing letter she had found and picked up the book she had discovered it in.
She looked in the front of the book for a name. There it was!
It was inscribed to an Eliza Jane Russell in 1847.

1847?!  Jane Russell was the name of the lady who had the Dunlewy church built in honor of her husband James!
Joelle had just visited the old church ruin the other day!
James was supposed to be buried under where the church was. 
Before James' death, he had been a landlord for the estate.
Jane could very well be the aunt of Eliza Jane!

Why, the Great Famine in Ireland was at its worst in 1847 when Eliza received this old book!
Joelle had read a little about the famine. 
Many people had left the country even before that time while others died of illness and starvation during it.
She had also read that some of what could have been eaten by the people of Ireland had been exported instead.
It was a terrible time, and some of those who left died in the ships never making it to their destinations.

Joelle wondered if Jane had been a help for those still struggling after the very worst of that era (following her husband's death in 1849) by her employment of the people to get the marble and blue quartzite.
People were also able to prepare bricks locally for the church.

Could the ring that Jane had written about in the letter still be hidden away?
She really must find out if the Gaelic held any more of a clue as to where it could have been placed.
She looked for Briona and asked her if she could read and translate the postscript of the letter into English. 
She would be more accurate than an online translator.

It said, "Faoi marmar agus cloch, ós chionn chroí mo ghrá gheal, aimseoidh tú bosca taisce."

Here is what she learned that it meant in English:
Under marble & stone above the heart of my dear one, a box of treasures you will find.

She would have to go and explore the old church again, and she would likely need permission and cooperation from those in authority to see about searching for the ring (if they agreed that it was likely the right place and person).

Meanwhile, she would search out her own ancestry to see if she could be related to John and Eliza Mc Intyre!

(This is what the Dunlewy Church ruin looks like from above.)

Monday, September 18, 2017

HIdden Jewels? • A County Donegal Mystery • Part 3

Joelle was able to read most of the letter she had discovered in the old book despite its fading and age.

My Dearest Niece Eliza,

How time has flown since your father and I played in the gardens of each others' homes.
And now his daughter is grown and about to be wed.
I dearly appreciated how you lovingly ministered to me after my dear husband passed away.
I'll never forget your gentle compassion and kindness.

I am elated you have found the man of your dreams, the man God prepared to be your husband!
Soon you will be Mrs. John Mc Intyre.
Thank you for the invitation to your wedding.

I regret I shall not be able to attend due to a recent decline in health, but I want to tell you of a special wedding gift for you & your descendants should you ever be in great need (above and beyond the gift I plan to send along for you wedding reception). 
The special gift is an exquisitely lovely ring I could never bear to wear, as my husband (your uncle) died before he could give it to me for our anniversary.
It has an emerald just the shade of your beautiful eyes and is surrounded by diamonds.
I hid it in a place close to my husband's heart.

I hope you and your husband-to-be will always look to Christ in your marriage and that you will be as happily married as my husband & I were.

Aunt Jane

Joelle saw a postscript written in another language.  She guessed it must be Gaelic.
She would have to ask her new friends what it meant.

It was very interesting that Eliza's future husband's surname was the same as Joelle's.
Perhaps she should look further into her genealogy.  Could she be related?

(This portion of the story has been contributed mostly by my sister TJT.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Mysterious Letter • A County Donegal Mystery • Part 2

Joelle awoke the next morning eager to head to a car boot sale with Briona, the wife and mother of the family that she was staying with in Killult.
She had never gone before to a car boot sale - at least not by that name.
It was a beautiful day, and the two ladies enjoyed getting better acquainted on the scenic drive.
At the sale, Joelle discovered an old box of books which she purchased that day.
Joelle & Briona had a bite to eat before heading back to the cottage in Killult that day.

Joelle loved the vistas from the home's gardens.  There was a view of a bay of the Atlantic ocean in back of the property, and another location on site was lush with greenery.  It was where a Bible study was held each week.
She looked forward to that, and she was grateful that she was with a brother and sister in Christ at this home.
She explored the garden and enjoyed the calm serenity.
She had not forgotten all of her concerns about a future place to live, but she quietly prayed and did not let it destroy her present enjoyment.
She watched again as the sun set that evening, only this time she watched the gorgeous hues over the bay waters in back of the cottage.  She was so thankful to be here.

The next day it began to rain,  so after breakfast and reading her Bible, she looked over the books which she had purchased the previous day.
She spied a folded yellowed paper in one of the books.
Curiously, she opened the book and carefully pulled it out.
The year on the paper was 1852, and excitement tingled inside of her.
The writing was faded, and she held it up to the light to see if she could read it.

More next time, Lord-willing!

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Adventure Begins • A Visit To Mt Errigal • A County Donegal Mystery • Pt. 1

There was a pink glow as the sun set on Mt. Errigal in County Donegal of Ireland.
Joelle turned around and hurried to the car of her host family.
Joelle had been surprised to be sent to Ireland for a visit after her family home had been destroyed by flooding after a hurricane in the U.S.
The rest of her family (parents and younger siblings) were crowded into the small house of an aunt in Dandridge, TN.
Joelle, at age 19,  was both excited and frightened to be off on an adventurous journey all by herself.
Thankfully, the host family had taken excellent care of her from the time they saw her at the airport.
They included her in everything, and she was thankful to be treated to a visit to Dunlewey Church and Mt. Errigal this very day.
The marble and quartz of the old church ruin and the fresh-water lake and Seven Sisters mountain chain were fascinating....especially with the history surrounding them.

(I might continue this story another time, or perhaps someone else will guest write the next segment.  We shall see! The setting for this story beginning is from an online acquaintance in Ireland.  Thank you to Tom!)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Encouragement In Fires, Floods, Hurricanes, & Other Tragedies

Hurricanes, floods, fires, and tragedies seem to abound...and perhaps you may be able to add something else that you are facing in your home or family.

Charles Spurgeon gave a sermon when many in his congregation were faced with terrible loss.
Yes, there were hurricanes, shipwrecks, and tragedies in his day.
He also faced depression after someone caused a stampede at the church by yelling "fire" at one point in his life.
There were some deaths & injuries from that.
His theme for the message I'm sharing was God's sovereignty at one of these times (the loss of a ship), and he touched on laws of nature He uses to rule that He can choose to suspend or not to suspend (and providence).

 Here are a few quotes that I want to encourage you with.

He reigneth in the calm summer's day, and gives us the precious fruits of harvest, but He is equally present and regnant in the hurricane which destroys, or the blight which desolates. His providence speeds the ship to its desired haven, but it is equally His providence which sinks the barque and its mariners to the bottom of the sea.  - Charles Spurgeon
If not a sparrow falleth to the ground without our Father, we are sure that no great calamity can befall us apart from Him. He is not far from us in our deepest sorrow, and however we may trace a calamity to the carelessness or the mistake of men, these are but the second causes, and we see behind all mere detail the permit of the Lord.                     - Charles Spurgeon
God hath appointed all things, and His people are safe everywhere, whether they live or die.  - Charles Spurgeon
To read that whole sermon Click HERE.
Great is the peril of the ocean, but there are also dangers on the hind, and at, any moment we also may be summoned to appear before our God.
Since this cannot be questioned, let; each prudent man foresee the evil and prepare himself for it. - Charles Spurgeon
To see more of what he shared after a hurricane, Click HERE.