The Brent Geese have Left.

In the last week the Brent Geese have left for Canada. Isn’t it amazing the timing in nature. These birds have been migrating since creation. How marvellous our creator is.

“Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:20-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Many centuries ago before man has cultivated the land people living along the shores of Strangford Lough would have welcomed the arrival of the geese.  Perhaps there could have been a source of food. There are many historical Christian settlements along the Lough, Greyabbey, Nendrum and Movilla.
Nowadays the Brent geese are protected.

When the Brent arrive on the Strangford Lough shores in September, they look like ducks. They have flown across the Atlantic from Northern Canada, a journey of two thousand miles. They spend the next eight months in Ireland. They feed on eel grass, which grows on the intertidal shore especially where fresh water meets the salt water of the sea. There are two such areas on the shore near where I live. I am privileged to watch the birds close up.

For the last month groups of geese gather near my home to feed. I can hear their guttural calling when they arrive. They are fattening up for their flight across the ocean. They now look like geese. They waddle from where they are feeding to the shore and float away when they are disturbed. They conserve energy at this stage only flying off when in danger. They can be approached up close to get a picture. When they do take flight they travel very fast just above the level of the water and disappear into the distance.

The name Brent means charcoal in Norse. Their feather colours are dark on the neck and wings. Their wing tips and underbelly are white. When the sun shines the light highlights the white feathers, making the birds look regal with the black and white contrast.

I thought the same geese return in the spring. The Irish Brent Research Group tells me the parents remain with the young for fifteen months before the fledglings are strong to make the long journey to feeding grounds along the shores of Ireland. They stay home with their young. This reminds me that even the birds follow the truth in the scripture,
“He gently leads those who are with young.” Isaiah 40 v 11.

“The migrating geese leaving en mass signify a powerful force in nature.” quote from Naomi Hart, artist. They know when the time is right. Perhaps there is a strong wind blowing that helps their journey north. The desire to leave and return are part of the bird’s life cycle. I am learning from the birds.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they don’t sow, neither do thy reap.”  Matthew 6 v 26.    I have learnt so much by looking at the birds.

When I travel to Toronto, Canada the flight from Dublin is seven hours. The journey home is only five hours. Why? There was a strong tail wind behind the plane helping it along. Similarly I believe the strong winds help the birds migrate.

Perhaps by looking at the birds St Brendan was inspired to make a boat to travel north into the Atlantic on a path of discovery. Swans and Geese head north into the horizon where the human naked eye can see no land. “But there must be some place out there for the birds to land,” he may have thought?

Brendan and I often go to far off nations around May and September.  Like the birds we know when it is time to fly.

The Influence of St Patrick is Massive

There will be massive celebrations tomorrow on St Patrick’s Day throughout the world.

St Patrick’s day is the second most celebrated festival after Christmas in the whole world!

Why is this? Although a small Island with a population of around 5 million today, Ireland has had a big influence in the world down through the ages. Descendants from Ireland have settled all around the world.
Ireland is positioned strategicly on the edge of Europe. There was easy access to the Americas, Britain and Europe by boat in the past. Nowadays Asia and Australia as well can be accessed by air out of Dublin. Two of my own children live in Canada, two in Scotland and one in England.

During the famine of the nineteen hundreds, millions left Ireland by boat for Northern America. In former days some Irish got free passage to the West Indies as slaves when Cromwell invaded Ireland. Again people were sent to Australia as punishment or got cheap passage in order to populate the new continent.

Priests and nuns went as missionaries to Africa and India. The Irish monks saved writings from Europe that could have been destroyed in the unrest in Europe. In 2007 when recession hit, many young men left Ireland searching for work in Canada, the Middle East, and Australia. Then in the 1970s many left Ireland because of the war and religious discrimination in Northern Ireland to settle abroad, whether in England, Australia or America. Many such people have longings to return to Ireland where some of their family may still live or want to see where their ancestors came from.

Ireland is known as a land of saints and scholars. Ancient Christian writings are stored in Libraries. Ancient ruins of cathedrals and Celtic crosses dot the country, leaving a memory of former Christian communities that prospered. We have had famous Irish singers and poets, dancers and musicians in recent times, keeping the Irish spirit alive. The band U2, the poet, Seamus Heaney, Bob Geldof, Sinead O Cannor to mention just a few.

I am writing from Ireland. Brendan and I wanted to leave Ireland in the late eighties. It was oppressive raising our children in an atmosphere of religious war. We wanted to move to Wales. We prayed and thought about it a lot. God directed us to stay. He cares for us. We were vulnerable as a young family and it was best to stay in Ireland rather that move some where we had to start to get to know people. I’m very glad we stayed.

For many reasons people want to celebrate St Patrick’s day. But let me tell you something about St Patrick. He was not Irish, he came as a missionary to preach the gospel to the people then living in Ireland in the fifth century. The same gospel is available to us today through the scriptures. The good news that Jesus died to forgive sins, heal diseases, set us free from captivity, and restore our lives from oppression and slavery and to give us eternal life in heaven. He had dreams and left writings that we can read and find out more about his life.

For fifteen centuries we have that Christian legacy in Ireland. I am a descendant of those people St Patrick first taught about Jesus. Exodus 20 says “those who love God, their children will be blessed to the thousandth generation.” I am one of those blessed, many generations later.

I want to remember our heritage and I pray that Ireland will again be a place where people are free from oppression and slavery, and our people will not submit to laws that will destroy marriage and our children. Ireland has been a good place for Brendan and I to raise our fourteen children. It one of the few countries in the world where abortion is not legal.

Come let us return to the Lord. God is alive and wants to help us in this twenty first century. So when you are celebrating St Patrick’s day remember who he represents. St Patrick is buried in a grave, history tells us in Downpatrick, near where I live. He represents Jesus whose grave is empty. Jesus is alive and lives to help us in our distress. It is good to follow him. Call upon him this St Patrick’s day. .

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/massive/

Praise Flows out of Love

Everyone flourishes under praise.  When I was spoon feeding my grandchild this evening I congratulated her on each spoonful she accepted, chewed and swallowed.  Before we knew she had the whole bowlful finished.  My son was able to enjoy his dinner while I looked after Ava.  Normally she would help herself.  Dinner would be spread all around the table and on the floor.  Dinner time was a delight and peaceful without having to persuade Ava to finish her dinner.  No one cared about the mess.  What we did enjoy was our meal together at grand dad’s house.

Our two sons and their families are visiting from Canada.  We are getting together for our son Patrick’s wedding next week.  I am alive to celebrate my son’s wedding and to enjoy my sons visiting from Canada.

When I praise my husband he doesn’t know what hit him.  A light turns on and he would do anything for me.  But sadly I forget too often to thank or praise him.  Recently a friend was praising me for my work and it was very humbling to accept her thanks and approval.  Often one is negative instead of appreciating what a friend, daughter or son does, or value their worth.  I am often guilty of seeing what someone doesn’t do instead of praising them for who he or she is.

I think praise for someone comes out of a heart of love.  I have experienced the love of my family and friends when I was healed from Fourth stage bowel cancer.  They prayed to the One whom they believed and hoped would bring my healing.  I thank and value the help of doctors but they  admit they can treat cancer but do not offer a complete cure.  The One is Jesus.  When he was on earth he went about healing all those with diseases.

I have come to experience God’s complete healing from this deadly disease in my life.  He’s a God who answers prayer.

I am completely indebted to God for my life.  I now find it easy to thank and praise God every day and I want to tell others what a wonderful God he is.  Expressing praise in words and song from the heart to God brings an intimacy with the One who loves me.

“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭48:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He returns his peace and love to me.  I am safe in his care where no enemy can touch me.  Other peoples’s negative words roll off me like water off a bird’s waterproof feathers.  When I am in difficult situations I am not afraid.   From this safe position I can value and praise others rather than express my frustration and negativity.

My heart has been changed by knowing God’s love and praise for me.  He values me.  Jesus lifted me up from the pit of despair, depression, disease, fear and death.  He said he can set me free because he died on the cross 2000 years ago to forgive my wrongdoing, to heal my disease and give me life and a hope and a future.  He conquered death by his own death on the cross.  We don’t have to die prematurely.  God promises three score and ten years of life.

“Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭90:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am now living in that future, a future of restoration, life, peace and love.  He is a God to be trusted and given praise.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/praise/

Sacrifice is True Worship

The Air Transat plane had a bumpy landing into Calgary.  This city on the Canadian prairie presents a challenge to any pilot. Winds from the Rockies circulate over the area. I had been traveling for eight hours.  I held my neighbor’s hand.  She was frightened.  The tension eased and many passengers disembarked.  The rest of us were continuing our journey onto Vancouver.

I had a toothache over the previous weekend.  It was bank holiday Monday so my dentist was not available.  I needed attention as I was leaving for Vancouver on Tuesday.  I got some penicillin and pain relief from an emergency dentist at the City hospital.  I thought that will sort my condition till I get back in a week’s time.

The toothache did not ease on the journey.  I doubled the dose of medication.  My head was so sore I couldn’t enjoy any movies or music offered.  I dozed on and off.  I comforted a lady beside me who was traveling on her own.  When the flight landed in Calgary I rushed to the bathroom.  I was feeling sick.  Why did I not stay at home.  This long journey is all too much.  Why did my son have to get married in Canada so far away from home. Too much a sacrifice.

Then I remembered the scripture,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I will make my body a living sacrifice despite the pain.  This is true worship to God.

I have suffered other pain over the past two years.  I have had heartache.  My husband and I had travelled to Vancouver many times over the past ten years, speaking about the love of God to many people.  Canadian friends have visited Ireland.  I encouraged the connection between ourselves and Canada because of a dream.  This dream has tested my heart over the past two years.

My son David moved to live in Toronto two years ago.  He and Jacquelyn have a baby girl.  I now have a Candian grandchild!  The Irish/Canada dream connection was strengthened.  I have visited them in Toronto.  It is not too far to travel from Ireland.  There are good flight connections out of Dubin.

When Isaac finished his studies two years ago he too left for Canada.  He had spent some time in an internship as part of his degree.  I thought he was going to visit friends there and would return after a few months.  He has been working in Vancouver ever since.  He developed a relationship with a Canadian girl.  Will I see him again?  Vancouver is 7000 Kilometres away across the ocean and continent, the end of the earth!

I thought back to Irish mothers whose sons left for America down through the decades because of circumstances, famine, hardship or war.  Many left N Ireland during the recent troubles in the seventies.  These mothers made sacrifices to let their sons leave and give them an opportunity of a better life.  Many did not see their children again.

As a mother I have a choice.  I can nurture the grief and mourn over my two sons who live far away.  I may not see my grand children growing up.  I can remain sad.  I don’t want to internalize my pain and develop some sickness as a result of my depressed situation.  That’s what happened when I had cancer.

God has healed me of fourth stage cancer and saved me from dying six years ago.  I don’t want to get sick again.  I choose not to internalize my heartache.  I cast my pain upon Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus became a Sacrifice on the Cross when he shed his blood and died.  He took all my suffering and pain.  I share in his suffering as I experience the pain in my heart of  my children leaving home.  I will not deny the pain and say I am alright.  I have gone through the valley of loneliness and sadness.  I will offer up this pain of toothache and heartache as a sacrifice.  Jesus mother Mary watched as her son was cruelly killed.  Her heart was pierced.  Jesus spoke to the women as he carried his cross to Calvery.  He knew that women would suffer in child bearing and rearing.

A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women. But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
Luke‬ ‭23:27-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I awaken in the night with Jetlag.  I hear a train’s horn blowing.  The sound gets stronger as it passes nearby.  It is a familiar sound from my visits to Canada in the past.  At day break I hear new sounds.  Chuck chuck, whistle whistle, chirrup, chirrup, the sounds of a dawn chorus. These sounds speak to me to welcome me to this different country before anyone else is up.  We have been hosted in a beautiful home in the woodland.  We have attended barbecues, breakfasts and been well received in Vancouver.

The wedding day has arrived.  The bride and bridesmaids are excited.  They are getting ready.  The bridegroom, our son, has found his bride.
Jesus has healed me.  My toothache has gone.  My heart is healed.

By the stripes of Jesus I am healed.  Isaiah 53.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in Canada.  I will celebrate the day in victory grateful to have lived to see another of my children married and setting off and released into his new future.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sacrifice/

The Strangford / Portaferry Ferry Choir

 

Tonight the Strangford/ Portaferry Ferry is lit up and the deck is a stage for choirs singing Carols.  Praise songs ring out over the Lough in the chilly, evening air.  School children and adults take part.  Drivers are entertained as they make their way home.

image

At the ferry exit on each side of the Lough there is a mini Christmas Market.  I am at the Craft Fair with my Seaglass Mosaics.   John, my son is exhibiting his Bog Oak and Bronze.  We are hopeful for a successful evening.  It is a good opportunity to meet families from our community.

My mosaic collection began in May this year, after I picked up some green pieces of glass from the local beach.  I was inspired to make a picture of Ireland with a piece of Seaglass for each of the thirty two counties.  More inspiration has followed.  I enjoy the peace and results as I work.  I never dreamed I would be making mosaics, never mind selling some at a Craft Fair.  I believe The Holy Spirit gives me the inspiration.  He is the Creator.

I have visited the Christmas market in Bratislava.  It is full of Craft Stalls selling Christmas Fare.  It is a event where friends and families meet to have time together, sharing mulled wine and kebabs.  Eight of my family are there in Slovakia tonight!  From one Christmas Market to another, Ahoi!

I was excited to learn that the idea of Carol singing on the Ferry came from Vancouver, Canada.  I have been to the ferry terminal at Nanaimo and have travelled on the ferries to Seashelt and Vancouver Island.  My son Isaac is in Vancouver at the moment.

It all began fifty years ago with one boat decorated with Christmas lights.  Now fifty boats take part in the Carol Ships Parade of Lights.  It is a great attraction for visitors during the Christmas season in Vancouver.

The Ferry Crossing between Strangford and Portaferry is the oldest continuous ferry crossing in the world!  I can imagine Patrick and the early Christian settlers making the crossing back centuries ago in a wooden craft.  Our Ferry ship today is humble in comparison to the big ferries that dock in Nanaimo.

It is a wonderful experience to have a Christmas market and Choir Ferry so close to my home.  May this festival grow as the years pass and become a successful tourist event and attraction for Portaferry and Strangford.

Some information taken from an article in the Down Recorder, published on 2nd December.

A Sparrow Falls to the Ground.

When Brendan and I travelled with our family on holiday down through Ireland, we saw that there is plenty of space in the countryside, forests and bogland uninhabited.  When we fly over Canada we see wide open plains below with few towns.  As I travel through Slovakia I see open fields, valleys and plenty of forest lands.

Why do people say there is not enough room on the earth for people to live?   Why do people want to control the population of the world, saying there is not enough food?  Will not God look after mankind, whom he made in his image.

In these open places wild life abound.  No one sees this abundance of life except God.  We have the priveledge of admiring the wild life that turns up near to where we live.  The blackbirds in our garden, the fox that comes to steal the chicken, or the swallows or swans that fly overhead.  Where do they lay their head at night?

image

Jesus said,
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭20‬ NIV)
We only get a glimpse of the beauty of living creatures from nature programmes.

In Job the writer says,

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.

Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding?

“Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions

Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? (‭Job‬ ‭38‬:‭4, 16, 18, 36, 39, 41‬ NIV)

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return. “Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied its ropes? I gave it the wasteland as its home, the salt flats as its habitat.

“Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will it stay by your manger at night?

“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare with the wings and feathers of the stork. (‭Job‬ ‭39‬:‭1, 4-6, 9, 13‬ NIV)

We only see a small part of what God has created.  He cares for it all.

I saw this photograph today.  It reminded me of the verse when Jesus said,

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (‭Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭28-29, 31‬) NIV.

God will look after you and provide for you.

You Shall Wear Them All as Jewels.

I picked up this ring today from the jewellers.  I had left it there some time ago to get enlarged to fit my finger.

image

My son Isaac was home from Canada last month for a visit.  He left Ireland in July 2014 to work in Canada.  He not only found work there but also romance.

Earlier this year Isaac travelled with Sam Emerson on a mission to Kenya.  My husband connected Cloverdale Church with a pastor in Kenya that educates and cares for orphans.  The church continue to support this work.  So my son from Ireland goes to Kenya via Canada to meet a pastor his dad met many years ago.

Isaac and Sam had some time to kill while they waited for their flight out of Kenya.  They went downtown Nairobi.  They enjoyed the colourful culture of this country so far away from Canada or Ireland.  Isaac’s dad travels to the nations, so Isaac was comfortable seeing a new nation.
Isaac found a silver ring with jewels on it, in a shop or market place, I don’t know which.  He counted the number of jewels.  There were sixteen, the number of children in his family plus dad and mum.  It reminded him of his family.  He purchased the ring and kept it safe.
Isaac presented it to me when he returned home for a visit.  I was touched when he told me how he came by the ring.
Brendan often says, “God knows where I live.”
That day God knew where Isaac was.  He picked up a piece of jewellry in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a street in Kenya.  It reminded him of home.  He is one of those sixteen stones on the ring.  I will wear this ring.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.
Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “you will wear them all as jewels;
you will put them on, like a bride. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭49‬:‭15-18‬ NIV)