Dark January

I’m dreaming of Summer holidays

Yes, it’s not a deck chair

Yes, it’s not a Piñata Colada

Yes, the glow is not from the sun

I have to make do with

An armchair

The coal fire in the hearth

And a cup of hot coffee

To keep me warm

As the cold wind howls past my window

Making it seem colder than it is.

 

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Clap Hands on Receiving a Degree

 

My daughter Hannah received her degree in Master of Science, specialising in Midwifery this week. There was great excitement as we gathered with her at the Graduation ceremony in Dublin from Co Down, Wicklow, Belfast and Bratislava. We all had a part to play to keep Hannah encouraged over the last two years. She studied part time for her Masters. She would be exhausted on a Tuesday night after her trip to Dublin. Will she get her dissertation in on time?  Sweat, prayers and tears went into getting this Masters degree.

The hard work paid off. She completed with flying colours. She got the prize. She overcame and got the victory. Isn’t that something to write about, or the saying goes, “Something to write home about,”

Photographers took photos in the fading light. Students looked smart in black gowns, blue trim and mortar boards. Girls balanced in the highest of heels specially worn for the day and posed for the cameras on their i Phones. Photos were dispatched on What’s App.


It was time to gather in the hall and await the entrance of students, lecturers and dignitaries from the university. The orchestra played and trumpets announced the arrival of the procession.  That was the loudest noise that was made in the whole session. We were advised not to clap after each student received their award. The whole event seemed a bit dull without the accolade and celebration of each one’s achievement.

Clapping hands is like sounding a bell. The metal gong on a bell is called a clapper. Clapping raises a sound to heaven of jubilation and thanksgiving. Students and parents get dressed up in their best for the occasion and want to congratulate their daughter and friends on their success. Some African parents were there to celebrate. They shout, dance and sing to celebrate victories.

Clapping also has health benefits. It stimulates blood circulation, the lifeline of the human body. Having a good blood flow brings well being.

Clapping also shakes the powers in the air. When the children of Israel were going around the walls of Jericho they gave a great shout and the walls of Jericho fell down.  When Jesus was coming into Jerusalem all the people were honoring and praising him. Some one complained but Jesus said if they don’t praise me even the very stones will cry out.
One reference in the scriptures says the trees will clap their hands.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Perhaps the trees outside the auditorium were clapping their hands.  After the ceremony finished we were treated to the best food I have enjoyed at a university graduation.  This was a saving grace.

I believe it is important to give the time to clap each student as he receives his degree.

browser:
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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. .

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Warning in Dreams

I started to read from Matthew’s gospel each day since the beginning of this new year. I am excited to read in the first three chapters there are five dreams given by God. The first was given to Joseph, who was engaged to Mary. When he heard Mary was pregnant he decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.””

The angel reassured Joseph in his distress and told him what to do. Joseph obeyed the Angel. He didn’t question or doubt or be unbelieving.

Here are the other references to the dreams.

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭2:9-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭2:13, 19-20, 22-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Just in two chapters of Matthew we read about God speaking to Joseph four times to guide him as the guardian of Jesus before and after his birth and Mary his wife. This is a great encouragement of any nervous man who doesn’t know who to marry or where to live, for the safety of his family. God is good and caring. It is good to trust in God.

Three Magi came to see the young baby Jesus bearing gifts, of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What did Joseph think when the Magi fell down before Jesus to worship the new baby, Jesus. Joseph didn’t know what was happening. These gifts would have covered the expense of his travels to Egypt, his stay there until he returned.

God spoke to the Magi in a dream to warn them not to go back to Herod who wanted to kill anyone who claimed to be a king. The Magi had come to Jerusalem looking for the new born King of the Jews.

The fact that God spoke to Joseph and the Magi in dreams is an encouragement for anyone starting out on a journey of faith. God will guide along the way.

God has spoken often to my husband, myself and other members of the family to guide us in testing times. When I was suffering from cancer, my husband and family had dreams to encourage me I was going to be healed. This helped me enter into faith to receive my healing.

Action and faith is required after God speaks. Joseph went to Egypt after he was warned in a dream. The Magi obeyed God and didn’t go back to Herod.

My son had a dream the first night after I started my chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I was feeling discouraged and fearful. God sent help. In the dream he heard a voice say, “The blood is not getting to the cancer. His sister, who is a doctor said in the dream “let’s wait till the doctors tell us.””

It is right to go to the doctor to show one is healed. When Jesus healed the lepers he told them to go to the doctors to show they were healed. This dream greatly encouraged me. It was God’s will to heal me but I had to believe myself and act as if I was healed. I went through the treatment of five weeks the doctors advised.

But when they wanted to operate I told them I knew I was healed of cancer and I didn’t need an operation. The doctors thought I was crazy. I remained strong in my faith and didn’t waver. The doctor did a colonoscopy. There was no sign of the tumor. I showed my self to the doctors. They saw the tumor was gone. Even after seeing the photos of my clear colon the surgeon insisted I still have an operation in case the cancer was still there. I refused. I said to the surgeon “I believe that God has healed me completely of cancer.” He was perplexed.

I was confident to speak to the top cancer surgeon because of the revelation from God in my son’s dream. If I gave into doubt or fear I would not have been healed. I showed myself to the doctors and they couldn’t find the tumor. I remain healed seven years later and I do not have to take any medicine! Thank you Lord.

Let me explain a little more how I received my healing. In Joel I read about God speaking through the prophet.

““Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:12-13, 28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In Joel God warned the people to return to Him with fasting and mourning. When I had cancer it was a time of mourning and weeping for me. I had to cry out to God. I confessed my sins of rebellion, independence, self ambition, resentment, bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness. God forgave my sins. After my confession of sin I was healed of cancer. Then God sent his dreams to bring my healing as Joel promised.

So at the beginning of this New Year 2017 let us return to the Lord. Let us thank him for all his goodness and mercy. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. He is pleased with a contrite heart. As David said in Psalm 51 “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence O Lord.” Only God knows what is lurking in our hearts. I didn’t know what was in my heart. God had to reveal it to me.

Irish Summer Weather is Unpredictable

The Summer weather in Ireland is unpredictable.  The weather forecaster may tell us there will be showers with some sunshine.  This unpredictability causes the Irish people to talk much about the weather.  You can be sure the tourists that come to Ireland don’t come to get a suntan.

We Irish have learned to make the most of our unpredictable weather.  Ireland is famous for having forty shades of green throughout the land.  We grow vegetables and crops that like rain and mature without hot sunshine.  One such crop is the potato. Another is Oates. The Irish have survived on these staple crops.

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Our unpredictable weather causes weeds to flourish as well. One such weed is the nettle.  Nettles love to grow in good soil and flourish if there is no competition.  Nettles spring up everywhere, along roadsides, in gardens, in forests and wherever it’s seeds land.  One doesn’t have to sow nettle plants.  If there is soil and water they will grow.  The seeds are so tiny they can be carried by the wind.

I went for a walk this morning.  There were plenty of nettles growing along the road.  Many other grasses, thistles and weeds were flourishing, making the road narrow at some parts.  Maybe the road will dwindle to a pathway someday if the weeds are not cut back.

As I looked at the vegetation along the Boreen, I remembered a dream I had last night.  I saw a nettle plant open up before me and many of its seeds were released into the air, just like a fire cracker that is released at Halloween.  I have been thinking about Multiplication recently.  The nettle was releasing seeds for the multiplication of new nettle plants.  God created every plant to multiply, despite the weather.

“Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”
And it was so.
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:11-12‬ ‭

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I am back from holiday.  My garden needs attention like the road.  If I don’t deal with the nettles and other weeds, the flowers and vegetables will be choked.  The decking is dotted with sycamore umbrella seeds.  The back yard paving has a sprinkling of leaves.  It is constant work subduing the land.  God created man to work the land and take care of it.  Weeds find a way to grow in the tiniest of crevices, on walls or between flag stones.  I need some men around here to clear up.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭NIV‬

The trees and weeds will continue to bear seeds and multiply.  God made them to produce their own kind.  It’s man’s job to manage all the produce of new life.
It all seems an never ending battle to deal with weeds.  But I take courage.  God said he would bless the work of our hands.

“You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land.
The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:3-4, 8, 12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There will be order again.  The weeds will not take over.  I will enjoy the fruit of the apple and pear trees, the tomatoes and other vegetables.  There will be trailing nasturtsums, daisies and roses.  The decking will get cleared and the lawn cut.  It is good all the weeds die back for the winter.  It gives me a chance to get ahead of the growth of nettles next spring and keep them at bay.

Plants and weeds flourish here despite our unpredictable weather.

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Dreams Come True

Dreams come true.  Psalm 128 says “May you live to see your children’s children.”

I celebrated being sixty five recently.  Brendan and I celebrated being married for forty five years on Saturday.  Our children wanted to mark the event.  They reassured me they would do the catering and make it a hastle free day for us.  They wanted to hold the event in our home.

The first of the family arrived on Thursday night from Slovakia.  Aaron and his daughter Sara Joye wanted to be here to see other family and cousins.  Mary and Hannah arrived on Friday night.  Brendan took me on a mystery tour to a secret destination to avoid the stress of getting the house ready for visitors.  What a lovely surprise!  Brendan is romantic.

We returned next day refreshed ready to receive visitors and family.  Twenty seven of my immediate family gathered for the day.  Friends and extended family dropped in on Saturday afternoon.

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The fog lifted, the ferry sailed, the sun shone, the range got fixed, vehicles parked at the side of the house, roses blooming, tea and coffee brewing, sandwiches tempting, candles burning, tea cups clinking, adults embracing, chit chat buzzing and children darting.  Love was in the air.

Suddenly I remembered a dream a friend sent me over ten years ago.  She saw Brendan and I in a house on an elevated site overlooking the sea.  We were in an open plan living room with all our children and grandchildren around us.  Last Saturday I was in the dream.  The dreams have come to pass.

God gives dreams about the future to give us hope.  God is faithful. He fulfilled those dreams.  We were gathered with our children and grandchildren to celebrate forty five years of marriage.  We made it to celebrate forty five years together despite many trials, temptations and cancer.  Our children were delighted for Brendan and I.  They were overjoyed to be with us, especially since I’m staying alive after cancer six years ago.

It was a special joy filled day.  I remain alive to see my children’s children and see dreams come true.

Restore our Fortunes.

God will restore our fortunes.

Today I read in Northern Ireland Visitor’s Journal the following article.

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I was born near where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea in Co Down Northern Ireland.  I took its beauty for granted.  I left home at 18 and studied in Coleraine, eighty miles away.  A new university had opened there and I applied to go there and was successful.  I remained there and raised my family.

I came to visit with my sister for a few days with four of my youngest children.  She lives in Co Down.  We went for a drive to Newcastle.  As I approached the town I was amazed at the beauty of the mountains that stood before me.  I had not appreciated this beauty before.
Are not we all like that.  When we are young we can’t wait to leave home to seek our fortunes somewhere else.

Percy French wrote a song which helped  publisize the Mountains of Mournes in Co Down.

Oh Mary this London’s a wonderful sight

With people here workin‘ by day and by night

They don’t sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat
But there’s gangs of them diggin’ for gold in the street
At least when I asked them that’s what I was told
So I just took a hand at this diggin’ for gold
But for all that I found there I might as well be
Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.

The song tells us about a young man who left behind his girlfriend in his hometown near the Mournes, to seek his fortune in London.  He comes to realize the futility of hard labour away from his homeland, his beloved and his beautiful country.

Some years later my family moved from Coleraine back to Co Down.  God brought me back to my father’s land.  Just as he doing for his people Israel.  Over and over God promised his people Israel that he would restore them to the land of their forefathers.

Down the centuries many people have left Ireland.  Many songs and laments about Ireland have been written.  The inspiration comes out of hearts remembering where they came from and longing to return.  They listened to stories their forefathers told them.

Psalm 126 describes the fulfillment of the longing of the Jewish exiles who returned to their homeland from exile.

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭126:1-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God fulfills dreams.  Are you longing to return to your homeland?  Take the leap of faith and return.

God is restoring my fortunes and filling my heart with joy in my homeland.