In Search of Michael E. – Part 4

I was really struggling letting go of the opportunity to see the real property since we came so far.

I decided to call Josie and she was so gracious and accommodating.

We meet Josie back at the Church on our way out of town.

The Sexton Farm

She led us to the Sexton farm about seven kilometers away which covers 32 acres in Aghamore Upper, County Longford Ireland

Josie was born in the old house and moved into the new house in 1975. It was only she and her parents in the new house then. She has never lived anywhere else and has always been single.

Josie seldom goes down to the old house these days. She said to me, “Ya gonna need ya boots in all the muck Michael Edward.”

The property has always had cattle, calves and sheep on it and some of the acreage is now rented by a cattle farmer.

Who knows? There is a good chance that James and his father Patt were Cattle Farmers or Ranchers (or Cowboys as we call them in the States).

A Hard Life

Most of Patt’s life and all of James’ life were living on the farm as farmers or laborers. They worked for the landowner in exchange for a roof over their heads and food to feed their families.

Here is a sample of what a farmer or a Laborer’s house may have looked like in the 17 and early 18 hundreds.

Bothan Scóir, was a typical one-roomed house of a landless laborer who worked for a local landlord. Many of these houses, with their thatched roofs, disappeared along with their tenants during the Great Irish Famine.

Maybe that’s why Michael E made his way to America in 1891 at just 18 years old. He just didn’t see himself living the farmer’s life.

(Stayed tuned. There’s more to come.)

In Search of Michael E – Part 3

Today we headed into Longford Township to meet with local Historian Martin Morris.

Using the free ancestry website www.IrishGenealogy.ie Martin was very helpful pulling up civil records. He was also able to identify the Parish and Cemetery where my great-great grandfather James was buried.

Finding the cemetery

Using a hand drawn map of the cemetery we were able to locate James Sexton (1831-1913) as plot #296.

On the sides of James’ headstone was his oldest son Bernard (1864-1950) and his grandson James (1924-1996).

Meeting Josie

This is a classic divine appointment.

After visiting St. Colmcille Catholic Church and Cemetery in Aghnacliffe, County Longford we headed up the hill toward Dunbeggan in search of locals that might give us some insights and possibly identify distant relatives still living in the area.

At the top of the hill were two pubs and a fast food place.

I asked the two women behind the counter and a customer in the restaurant if they could point us in the right direction to Aghamore Upper.

The customer, a petite woman named Patricia Boyle, immediately chimed in and asked why Aghamore Upper?

We told her of our journey and and as God would have it she knew Josephine Sexton who lives in Aghamore Upper. “In fact,” she said with her thick Gaelic brogue, “she goes to church right down the way here. Let me go to the church and point her out for ya.

So she grabbed her food and before we knew it she was in her car and off she went. We caught up to her in front of St. Colmcille Catholic Church (were we just came from) and she scurried into the church where there with eight or ten older folks praying the Rosary.

As she search for Josephine she realized she wasn’t there yet. She suggested we wait since the Mass was starting at “half past 7.

20 minutes later, A sweet older woman with glasses came walking up the drive to the church. Patricia described her perfectly.

Within five minutes she tells me, “Call me Josie!” Quickly followed by. “Tell me. Who are ya now?

As it turns out, Josephine Sexton’s great-grandfather is James (born in 1831).

This makes us Second Cousins one removed. I think?

Josie shared with us that she was the only Sexton still living on the Aghamore Upper property and the original house could not be reached.

Since she was going to Mass we let her go thinking this was the end of our time together and bid our farewells.

We went up the hill toward Aghamore Upper to where we guessed the property might be. We knew we were close.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 4

In Search of Michael E – Part 2

We have had a productive couple of days in Dublin and enjoying the Republic of Ireland’s bustling capital.

Today we head Northeast of Dublin to Longford where we will continue our search for Michael E.

My wife, Lisa, and I are heading to Aghamore Upper in County Longford hoping we find the property and cemetery for James & Bridget Lee (Michael E’s parents).

Finding exact locations, addresses or coordinates have been a challenge. We are getting closer.

It seems a part of our journey is realizing that the Irish are great story tellers and the stories are not always factual. It depends on what story the story teller heard or how much Guinness they’ve consumed when telling the story.

Record keeping is similar and sketchy due to merged family names and terrible penmanship. Again, it may be the Guinness.

From what we have gathered so far, it appears that Michael E’s grandfather may have been Patt who worked the farm in Aghamore Upper before his son James bought a portion of it. Any clarity on that will be welcomed. All we have to this point is Lot 14B on a Valuation map.

From County Longford we plan to head southwest through County Roscommon. Somewhere in this region is the home of Mary Gallagher who Michael Edward Sexton married in Lower Manhattan years later.

The biggest challenge thus far is identifying where to find accurate records; properties, cemeteries, church name and locations for marriages and baptisms, etc.

From Roscommon we head to Cobh (formerly Queenstown) to see what sailing records we can find. We are assuming that Mary Gallagher (who sailed in 1888) and Michael Edward (1891) went to Castle Gardens in NY from Queenstown rather than from Galway.

Queenstown is where the majority of journeys to America began for millions of Irish men and women.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 3)

As we head out of Dublin later this morning, please send up any prayers since this will be my first time driving on the left side of the road. Pray for the others on the road (and sidewalks) as well

In Search of Michael E

While embarking on a journey to Ireland in search of my family’s heritage I am reminded how lucky and blessed we are to live in the United States of America.

We are rich beyond compare. Especially when we reflect on what our forefathers had to endure to insure our freedom. We are free because of their bravery.

In researching the plight of Ireland and the conditions they worked and lived in, it is amazing we can simply get on a plane to fly to the Old Country.

When our Irish grandparents and great grandparents came to the New World it was a minimum seven day voyage.

SS Alaska

On the sailing vessels pre-dating the great steamers it was a three month adventure across the Atlantic.

I am Michael Edward Sexton (born in 1956). Son of Robert William (1923-1994) of the Bronx and grandson of James Jerome (1898-1975) of the Bronx.

James Jerome was the first generation Irish-American in our lineage.

His father was Michael Edward (1873-1940) who came to America in 1891 on a journey from Ireland.

At just 17 years old he had to be eager for a new life in the new world where millions of Irishmen emigrated to. The journey from the northern hills of Ireland to the docks of Queenstown must have taken him weeks or possibly months to find the ships heading to America.

From what we have been able to gather through genealogical research Michael E was a laborer and son of a farmer in County Longford.

We also know that Michael E married an Irish girl he met in Lower Manhattan and had seven boys and two girls including their first, James Jerome.

Her name was Mary Gallagher (1870-1956) from County Roscommon and she sailed to the new world in 1888. She was just 17 or 18 years old.

Our next seven days in Ireland will hopefully shine new light on where they came from and how we got to where we are today.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 2)

Easter Is Coming

We all know that Easter is coming and signs of Spring are blooming everywhere.

Coming out of the dark and cold of Winter is energizing with the sun shining brighter and the days getting longer.

Yes, we may celebrate Easter with a Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter Easter Bunny. These reminders are woven into our daily lives as soon as the first petals appear on the Cherry Blossoms.

For me though, this time of year is a great time to reflect on the Cross.

What we tend to forget is how we got here and who saved us.

Jesus Christ was anticipating our freedom and our salvation as Easter drew near. He was excited for all of His believers knowing that we were being given the gift of eternal life.

He also wanted to show His love to the entire world so He chose to extend forgiveness and to offer everyone salvation.

He chose a brutal death in a brutal time in history. Why not by “guillotine” or “lethal injection?” Those methods are much quicker and much humane then wearing a crown of thorns and experiencing excruciating beatings, scourging and suffocation.

Luke’s depiction of the crucifixion (http://bit.ly/2VngHXI) captures the agony of the Cross much like The Passion (http://bit.ly/2CZoHa2) does of the scourging Christ took at the hands of the Romans.

The fact that Christ chose to surrender himself to go through this hell is just another example of how much He loves us.

Considering what Jesus went through and how He suffered for us, please remember how He forgave us of our sins, was ridiculed in the process, and surrendered Himself to our Father in Heaven.

And on Easter Sunday morning celebrate His Resurrection because He rose from the dead and today He is alive seated at the right hand of the Father until the day He returns.

Hallelujah.

Glorious Day – Casting Crowns
http://bit.ly/2VvgNMM

Carry My Cross – Third Day
http://bit.ly/2CSu4YL

Forever – Kari Jobe
http://bit.ly/2D1pWpj

GOING DEEP

What is scourging?
http://bit.ly/2CZoHa2

Crucifixion
http://bit.ly/2VkGMGM

It’s A Miracle

Twenty seven years ago today my life was changed forever. At 35 years old, and just six weeks from my 36th birthday, I married Lisa Burrell. To have and to hold.

Neither of us had been married before so this was brand new territory for us both.

The difference was that Lisa had Jesus on her side. I didn’t… yet. She had an eternal mindset. I was just jumping in the pool not knowing how cold the water would be.

Lisa had an amazing journey with God that started just 18 months earlier with an abrupt move from the suburbs of Chicago to the shores of Long Beach, CA.

She knew she was delivered and she knew God had a plan for her new life. It was apparent to Lisa that I would be a part of that plan shortly after I walked into The Reef.

Lisa just started working there a few weeks before and God provided her a hot meal everyday. He was showing her the He was her provider.

I was looking for a set to film an episode of China Beach and had no clue that my life would be changed the moment I saw her.

Three months after our wedding day we decided to move away from Los Angeles and after listing several cities we felt we could live in we settled in Charlotte, NC.

Less than a year later we were on the brink of disaster. Lisa was working and I was floundering. She had a support network with the friends she made at work. I was drifting through odd jobs including selling produce, Christmas trees and bar tending.

Lisa was praying for me every day while I was drinking. I was falling deeper into my demise which manifested into depression and self pity.

We were going to a small church with a handful of charismatics and with Lisa’s prompting, the men invited me to a men’s retreat. I reluctantly agreed.

Looking back it now makes sense why Pastor Geoff wanted to play tennis so much. Lisa was calling him asking him to reach out to me.

Neither one of us knew at the time, but Lisa’s prayers and her diligence in witnessing to me, God was setting me up.

The night before the retreat I was bar tending in a local pub. Lisa was back in California for a conference.

It was February 19, 1993. It was 17 degrees that night and God decided it was time to get my attention.

Most nights I would have kept my coat with all of my personal belongings behind the bar. This night I hung them just inside the back door.

At closing time I could not find my coat since someone took it home with them. It was 2:30 AM and the locksmith told me they could come now for $200 or come in the morning for $40. Even in my inebriated mind that decision was an easy one.

I called my drinking buddy Joe to stay with him. My keys were gone so I couldn’t get into my house. Joe said “Come on” so I walked a couple of blocks to the produce store he lived in.

Joe had a cot and a sleeping bag he used. Nothing more. I settled on the concrete floor in the 17 degree temperatures with no coat, no keys, and no identity since my drivers license was gone too.

God spoke to me at that moment letting me know that He gave me everything. My car. My comfort. My identity. My wife and my life. And He could take it ALL away in an instant.

I went to the retreat later that day. Hung over and humbled.

I have no idea what Peter Lord said in the opening session but I found myself surrendering my life to Christ. From that moment my life has never been the same.

God freed me from myself that day. Freed from drinking and depression. And with Lisa’s help, He saved me.

Now 27 years later I realize that I not only got married but I was given a wife who literally saved my life.

Thank you Jesus and thank you Lisa.

Thanks For Showing Up

b_day_fhi08-792162528cc3e57bcf763a2e0403df32This past week my wife had a big birthday. She was so excited, she was sending me emails three weeks ago with suggested gifts. I was going to surprise her with a gathering of friends, but she found out early. Oh well, it was still fun and she was excited to see a large number of her friends. Thanks to all of you that showed up.

 

On Facebook and other social media sites I am reminded every day to send Happy Birthday wishes to all my friends and they’re all posting their thanks for remembering their big day.

I know I am always looking forward to my birthday. How about you? Even as the count of years gets higher I know this day is special because it is designated for the day I showed up. A part of me feels very special with every card and post I receive. I am reminded how lucky I am to have so many friends in my life.
istock-generic-baby1-466x310

Birthdays are a special day to celebrate yourself since it is the day you were born. They are also great days to celebrate the arrival of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and thanks to our moms for enduring the labor to get us here.

It is with that spirit of thankfulness and excitement that we want to remember the birth of Christ.  God sent His only Son to bring hope into our world.

We tend to forget within the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas that it is really all about Jesus’ birthday. He brought light into this dark world we live in.

So when we hear Merry Christmas this year let’s also share a joyous Happy Birthday Jesus and thanks for bringing Hope into a lost world.

For me, I thank God he showed up.

when-hope-was-born_wide_t

How Do We Know That God Has Got Us?

Chris BradfordToday we all said goodbye to an awesome man, Chris Bradford.

He was a loving husband, caring and supportive son, and a pioneer among men advocating for victims of intimate partner violence.

I met Chris in July of 2008 when he showed up at a Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau training I was conducting.  He was hungry to learn and had an overflowing passion to support survivors and victims of emotional, verbal and physical abuse.

Chris was one of only a handful of men that showed up and participated whole heartedly in an effort to engage other men in turning the tide of violence against women and girls.

He had courage and determination to make a difference. And he did.  He leaves a legacy and he clearly touched many lives in his short time with us.

The primary challenge for me today is realizing that even being a champion for others, as Chris was, we also have our own struggles. We can advocate and participate in rallies and gain accreditation, but we are alone with our own internal battles to fight.

Chris, at 42, was apparently so consumed in his own fight that he decided he couldn’t win. He forgot for a moment how awesome he was. It is with a heavy heart to say… Chris took his own life. How? We don’t know. It isn’t important.

What is important is we all (especially men) need to learn how to ask for help.

I keep asking myself how I missed the signs that Chris was struggling. We talked at length about how to help men change their behavior, but we never asked each other how we were doing ourselves.

Chris knew how much I appreciated his help, his support and his courage, but I never told him I loved him. And I do love Chris. He is my brother in Christ and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven.

Yes. Chris was a Believer. But like all of us (believer or not) we can become isolated  which is exactly what the enemy wants. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy us.  For me, this is even more reason why we need each other.

Chris didn’t ask for help from anyone that we know of.  Maybe he struggled like every one of us thinking, “I’m a man. I don’t need help.” Maybe he felt he had his life under control and the enemy caught him at a weak moment.

The bottom line is this. We need to be willing to ask for help and we have to be willing to really dig in to get to know our brothers (and sisters).

Every man (and women) has a story.  We live together. We work together. We have church and Bible study together. But do we really know what each other is dealing with when we are left alone?

Whether we are believers in a risen Savior or not, many of us have experienced the enemy’s tactics; making us feel weak, insignificant and alone. This is why it is so important to realize that we are here to help each other.

In the beginning, God created man so He (our Creator) could be in relationship with us. He loves us completely.  He did not design us to be alone, but to love and support one another.

So today I say to each and every one of my family members, my friends, and especially my wife (who I do not tell enough), I love you.

We all need the reminder that we are loved.  Especially on a day like today.

I love how Chris’ wife Dana shared how God showed her His love in the following post a few days after he died.

Yesterday after seeing Chris for the last time, I returned home just before a big thunderstorm. Within 5 minutes of me entering our home, the rain began. My home was full of guests bringing me and my family love and support. I stepped outside on our deck and let God cry on me. I lifted my face and arms to heaven and let Him wash over me. It’s not often that it downpours (this) heavily with rain and thunder and the sun shining (all) at the same time. God and I wept together and I was the most drenched by His tears. (As I stepped back indoors) I was told my face looked different and that was because I was kissed by God and covered in His tears. I stepped back into the rain (for more).

God does love us so much and He does cry with us now as we say goodbye to Chris.

I choose to believe that our God is so awesome that He is now holding Chris. Reminding Chris how awesome he is in God’s eyes.

Going forward let us remember Chris for his pioneer spirit and his awesome heart for others. Chris always put our needs before his own.

Let us also keep Dana and Chris’ family in our daily prayers and consider helping Dana pay for today’s awesome service with a donation to the Fundraiser for Dana Bradford.

How do we know that God has got us? He shows us by revealing His love for each and every one of us… through… each and every one of us.

Chris said it perfectly when he said goodbye. “Be awesome to each other.”

Be awesome to each other

Trusting Him

In the past year since posting anything to this blog, life has shifted taking my journey down a new trail.

The past year’s adventure has brought great joy and deep sorrow, laughter and tears, excitement and confusion.

Through it all God has been there every step of the way.

He has instilled in me reassurance through Joseph’s journey that it would have been real easy for Joseph to be pissed off because of his brothers’ efforts to kill him. Even due the fact that they decided to sell him off into slavery, Joseph decided to trust His God and lean in to God’s plans instead of his own. (Genesis 37) In the end God used Joseph to reveal His glory.

I have wandered and wondered if maybe I have been trying to force my plans instead of patiently waiting on Him. Because of that, He has placed in me trust in Him knowing that our God and Savior has this covered. His plans are always greater than our dreams.

Praise in the hallwayNow; on what I am praying is the light at the end of this dark tunnel, God is working on getting me to an understanding that He is working.

Rather than me crying, “But Lord, its quarter to 11.” He is telling me to praise Him in the hallway until He blows open the next door.

So, I guess what I’m sharing here is that it is really easy to jump to a position of doubt in ourselves instead of remembering that He wants to use each and every one of us for His glory.

In the end He doesn’t need us, but He wants us.

Please remember that when this world gets tough. He wants us to rely on Him. To trust Him.

God our Father created YOU for His purpose and His purpose is to love us forever.

Coffee Anyone?

There is nothing quite like the aroma of coffee in the morning, in the afternoon, and for some… at night.coffee2.jpg

Some of us will go out of our way for just the perfect cappuccino, the fullest café latte, and some are all about the richest beans.

My guess is you have a preferred haunt with the best barista that you tell all your friends about.

If not, here are a few recommended places to check out. Go to their websites for other offerings like the Smelly Cat’s Chia Tea or Mama’s specialty foods. You may enjoy your visit more if you call them to confirm if they have Wi-Fi or not. Some of us cannot drink our cup of joe without an iPad or phone.

I would have listed these alphabetically to insure my list is incorrect next to your list, but instead they are provided geographically so you can choose the coffeehouse nearest you.

CENTER CITY

Amelie’s
College & MLK Blvd
7:00AM – 2:00AM

101-199 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28282
www.ameliesfrenchbakery.com
Directions

Central Coffee Company
Plaza Midwood
6:00AM – 8:00PM

719 Louise Ave
Charlotte, NC 28204
www.facebook.com/CentralCoffeeCo
Directions

Not Just Coffee
7th Street Market
7:00AM – 8:00PM

224 E 7th St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
www.notjust.coffee
Directions

Port City Java
Hearst Tower
6:30AM – 5:00PM

214 N Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
www.portcityjava.com
Directions

Rush Expresso Café
Latta Arcade
7:00AM – 5:00PM

120 Brevard Ct.
Charlotte, NC 28202
http://rushespressocafe.com
Directions
Starbucks
Dilworth
5:30AM – 11:00PM

1401 East Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28203
www.Starbucks.com
Directions
NORTH

Amelie’s
NoDa
Open 24 hours

2424 N. Davidson St.
Charlotte, NC 28205
www.ameliesfrenchbakery.com
Directions

The Smelly Cat
NoDa
6:00AM – 10:00PM

514 E 36th St.
Charlotte, NC 28205
http://smellycatcoffee.com
Directions

SOUTH

Amelie’s
Carmel Commons
7AM – 11PM

7715 Pineville-Matthews Rd #34B
Charlotte, NC 28226
www.ameliesfrenchbakery.com
Directions

Mama’s Coffeehouse
Pineville
6:30AM – 7:30PM

716 Main St.
Pineville, NC, 28134
www.MamasCoffeehouse.com
Directions


Rush Expresso Café

Ballantyne Village
6:00AM – 8:00PM

14825 Ballantyne Village Way
Suite 135
Charlotte, NC 28277
http://rushespressocafe.com
Directions

Starbucks
Southpark
5:30AM – 10:00PM

4425 Park Road
Suite 100
Charlotte, NC 28209
www.Starbucks.com
Directions

EAST
Julia’s Café & Books
Latrobe
7:00AM – 6:00PM

1133 N Wendover Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28211
www.JuliasCafe.org
Directions

ONLINE
Climb’s Roast Coffee
Coffee with a cause…
1515 S. Mint St.
Charlotte, NC
www.ClimbsRoast.org
Directions

 

say what.jpg
Just in case, here is some help with coffee terminology.
www.coffeeforless.com/coffee-glossary

 

coffee.jpg

Now… let us know your favorite…

best location…

best cup of brew…

best desserts…

best part about drinking coffee.

Please let us know about any place we missed. Include all the details so we can check it out when in the neighborhood.

Ciao…