Sixteen Graduations in One Family

Brendan and I set off for Scotland from Belfast City Airport on Thurday. We arrived on good time for our Flybe flight. I was looking forward to spending the afternoon with our son who was picking us up from the Glasgow airport.

We checked our flight on the screen. It was rescheduled for a hour later. That was fine. We relaxed in the lounge. Our flight was called but we were told to wait in the lounge. Time passed. We missed our flight! A big shock! Brendan comforted me but I was shaken. An attendant arranged for us to get the next flight at six thirty without any further expense. That eased the pain. We missed seeing our son. More waiting.

Today, Friday, 7/7/17, our daughter Angela graduated from Edinburgh university. We were with her to see her receive her award along with over a hundred other students. It was a colourful and jubilant occasion.

Angela is the last of our fourteen children. All sixteen of us have received a degree from university. It is forty five years since I graduated from university. Today’s celebration was worth the waiting.

I have lived to see all my children graduate after having cancer in 2010. God is good. He is faithful to keep his promise that he will bless my children. Exodus 20. Brendan was at each birth of our children and at each graduation. That must be a record. He is a great husband, dad and grand dad.

God and his angels rejoice when we were born on the earth. God and his angels are rejoicing over us today.

When God gives a promise nothing can stop it coming about. Our own mistakes, difficulties, even missing a flight will not stop what God plans to bring about.

Sunny

Since May the first it has been sunny most days in Co Down Northern Ireland. The winter passed and we moved into summer early, and the sun is still shining as we end June. The sun shine reminds me of God’s promise in Malachi, “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.”

This must be a record. It is delightful to awake to bright skies. We have had breakfast outside most mornings and no I’m not is Geece.  There are clear skies recently up until eleven in the evening. This must be what it is like in Norway or Iceland where the sun doesn’t set in Summer.

I love living in Ireland. I have travelled to New Zealand, India, Mediterranean countries, the United Kingdom, America and Canada. I have enjoyed my visits there but I am so happy to return home to Ireland. It is comforting to hear the accent of the air hostesses on the flight back to Belfast or listen in to Hugo Duncan’s cheery radio show. I don’t mind the not so sunny days, the mist over Strangford Lough, the gentle rain, or the odd storm that brings winds that shake the trees in the nearby forest and rain that leaves a salty spray on the windows.

If it does get cold a warm jacket keeps the chill away. Woolen blankets are always at the ready on the settee for added warmth. I am sure of a good night’s sleep with a comforting hot water bottle on a chilly night, no matter if the wind blows a gail outside.

As the sun was setting last evening there was much activity around the harbour in Poratferry. There was slow tide. A large boat with a crane was near the harbour. It looked like an oil rig! It was hired from Liverpool to salvage a 1930’s sailing vessel that had sunk. We stopped to enjoy the lit up show.

Work continued into the night. The job was completed at four am. The sailing vessel was raised out of her sandy, muddy resting place and was manoeuvred by the larger rescue vessel into shallower water. Workmen were working today to break the wooden frame.

I enjoyed the spectacle of the lit up platform towering over the sailing vessel it had come to rescue. Excitement came to our quiet village. Many people lingered on to see the sunken vessel raised. Sadly the sailing boat was beyond repair. I thought of God when I looked at the oil rig-like platform. It was towering and strong.  Often in one’s life God our father comes to the rescue. Perhaps we get stuck in the mirey clay, or get into troubled waters. He reaches down with his tender arms and gathers us to a safe place.

Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!”
Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.”
‭‭He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:9 to 11 ‭NLT‬‬

I praise and thank God for the many times he has rescued me and my loved ones from danger. He will continue to do so. We have two more months of summer left. I expect we will have more sunny days and days of healing.

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

Father of Fourteen Triumphs

Triumph is rarely instant. It often comes at the end of a period of patient endurance. This week my husband and I have joy. We saw the success of a long campaign as regards our children’s education.

We are celebrating all fourteen of our children having qualified with a degree from top universities in the United Kingdom. Our two youngest children just found out their results: Abraham got a 2: 1 degree in Chemistry from St Andrews and Angela got a 2:1 degree in Neuroscience from Edinburgh. We will be attending their graduations in June and July.

Psalm 128 says
“How joyful are those who fear the Lord — all who follow his ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.
That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭128:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I want to thank my husband. He chose to follow The Lord many years ago. Today almost forty years later I see the fruit of his choice back then. I am happy at his side and his children are successful. He has been faithful through many difficulties of family life in this generation when being a father is not honored.

Brendan chose to have as many children as God would give him. It has not been easy. One has had to be patient, endure, remain calm, pray in times of trouble and rejoice in times of joy.
An Arab taxi driver in Israel said to Brendan when he learned we had fourteen children, “You will go straight to heaven because it must be hell on earth.” A lady in Florida said “Oh your poor husband.” when I told her we had fourteen children.

I must admit I have not been as sympathetic with Brendan. But God sees Brendan’s heart and has been with him through many trials and temptations. He has strengthened him when the going got tough. But as the song says “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I would not be alive unless he believed that God would heal me. I had fourth stage cancer and I would not be here to see my children graduate.

My dad was a pioneer in his day when there wasn’t much money. He wanted his eight girls and two sons to receive an education. We all attended grammar school. My sisters qualified as teachers and nurses. I graduated from the University of Ulster.

Brendan loved books from he was young. He would spend many hours in his local library. When he visited friends with his mother he would take down the books from the shelf and read while his mum chatted. His call to be a writer was developing back then.
He encouraged his children to do well in education. There was always books in our home and a desk in each of the children’s room to do their homework. We didn’t have a TV when our children were growing up. Those children developed a love of reading books. Brendan coached his children and inspired them to be high achievers. If they failed he helped them to get going again.

We were blessed to have good schools for our children to attend, in Coleraine and Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. So a big thank you for all those teachers who encouraged and took an interest in our children.

A big thank you to each of my children who endured the difficulties and temptations that university life brings your way. You succeeded. You endured to the end. I am proud of you.

Above all God blessed us all with health and strength to achieve this success.

“O clap your hands, all you people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭47:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬

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

The Father of Fourteen Children

Today my husband and I are celebrating a great Achievment, that all fourteen of our children have qualified with a degree from top universities in the United Kingdom. Our two youngest children just found out their results: Abraham got a 2: 1 degree in Chemistry from St Andrews and Angela got a 2:1 degree in Neuroscience from Edinburgh. We will be attending their graduations in June and July.

Psalm 128 says
“How joyful are those who fear the Lord — all who follow his ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.
That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭128:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I want to thank my husband. He chose to follow The Lord many years ago. Today almost forty years later I see the fruit of his choice back then. I am happy at his side and his children are successful. He has been faithful through many difficulties of family life in this generation when being a father is not honored.

Brendan chose to have as many children as God would give him. It has not been easy. One has had to be patient, endure, remain calm, pray in times of trouble and rejoice in times of joy.
An Arab taxi driver in Israel said to Brendan when he learned we had fourteen children, “You will go straight to heaven because it must be hell on earth.” A lady in Florida said “Oh your poor husband.” when I told her we had fourteen children.

I must admit I have not been as sympathetic with Brendan. But God sees Brendan’s heart and has been with him through many trials and temptations. He has strengthened him when the going got tough. But as the song says “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I would not be alive unless he believed that God would heal me. I had fourth stage cancer and I would not be here to see my children graduate.

My dad was a pioneer in his day when there wasn’t much money. He wanted his eight girls and two sons to receive an education. We all attended grammar school. My sisters qualified as teachers and nurses. I graduated from the University of Ulster.

Brendan loved books from he was young. He would spend many hours in his local library. When he visited friends with his mother he would take down the books from the shelf and read while his mum chatted. His call to be a writer was developing back then.
He encouraged his children to do well in education. There was always books in our home and a desk in each of the children’s room to do their homework. We didn’t have a TV when our children were growing up. Those children developed a love of reading books. Brendan coached his children and inspired them to be high achievers. If they failed he helped them to get going again.

We were blessed to have good schools for our children to attend, in Coleraine and Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. So a big thank you for all those teachers who encouraged and took an interest in our children.

A big thank you to each of my children who endured the difficulties and temptations that university life brings your way. You succeeded. You endured to the end. I am proud of you.

Above all God blessed us all with health and strength to achieve this success.

But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.””
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NIV

The Good Weather

I notice postings on Facebook from family and friends is slow recently. Is it because the good weather back home in Northern Ireland has enticed folk to enjoy activities outdoors?
The warmth of the sun is comforting all of creation. It brings life after the cold and darkness of the winter season. It is freely given.

The Lord’s face is likened to the sun. In Numbers Aaron and his sons were to command a blessing on the people of Israel.

““ ‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭6:24-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, LORD God Almighty;
make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭80:17-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God knows our frame. He knows we are but dust. If he takes our breathe away we would die. We need to see his goodness in the land of the living. God will not fail those who look to him for bread. This scripture has been a great comfort and brought me hope in the past when I was busy or feeling discouraged.

“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:13-14‬ ‭KJV‬‬

God is good. He is faithful. He has compassion on all he has made.

An Heritage of Potted Plants

Brendan and I were not given an heritage of land from our parents but we have inherited a love for plants.

When Brendan and I got married, the first place we lived in was the attic of a fellow student’s house. We progressed to other houses as our family increased.

Our first home with a garden was an end of terrace house. We moved there in 1987. A Cherry tree grew across the street. The pink blossoms were a delight in spring and the colored leaves lingered in autumn. Brendan brought more colour to our bay windows with boxes full of Petunia and Lobelia.  The benefits far outweighed the cost.  Thanks to Brendan the boxes overflowed with trailing blossoms full of colour: pink, purple white and blue. He carefully tended them with water, a touch of miracle grow and some dead heading. They flourished. Our house was the only one in town with a window display. It was greatly admired.  In primary school my son’s teacher asked the children to write about how their family helped their community.  He wrote about his dad brightening up his neighborhood with his colorful window boxes.

There was war in Northern Ireland in those years. People were distressed and their minds were far from beautiful flower arrangements. The sky was grey during the troubles and the atmosphere tense. There may have been war outside but God was giving us peace in our home and garden.  In 1998 we had the Good Friday Agreement.  We have peace in Northern Ireland.  Since then towns around the Provence have flower displays in their centres. There is a competition for the best Blooming Town.  Brendan was prophetic when he made those window boxes.  He was light in the middle of darkness.

I believe everyone should have a garden. It gives extra space to sit in the sunshine or grow flowers and vegetables. In Greece I have seen families sit in the cool of the evening outside their white washed cottages, underneath a canopy of vine leaves. I believe it is God’s will as well. God says in his word, “Every man neath his vine and fig tree shall live in peace and be unafraid.” Micah 4 v 4.

Brendan continued to work in the garden at the back of the house. It was overgrown with weeds. Before we came to live there, people would walk through, as a short cut to the shops. He put up a fence, reclaimed the land, trimmed hedgerows, planted rose bushes, fixed the clothes line, and built a patio and a treehouse.

A lilac tree grew at the entrance to our garden. It reminded me of my childhood. A tree grew in my neighbor’s garden in the country. As I walked to school each morning in May I loved to see the curly, light purple blossoms. It was in full blossom around my birthday at the end of May. Nature was comforting me and remembering my birthday.  I was inspired to write this blog this morning after seeing many lilac tree in the locality.

I am staying on the border of Massachuttes and New Hampshire. As we travel about I see many lilac trees. I asked my host about them. She told me the lilac is designated the state symbol for New York and New Hampshire. A lilac bush can live for hundreds of years.  Originally from Europe and Asia, lilacs date back to the 1750’s in America – they were planted in the first botanical gardens and both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew lilacs in their gardens. I am planning when I go home to buy a lilac tree and plant it in my garden.

Birds built their nests in the hedges as Brendan worked and the children played in the garden. Life returned to the neglected house and garden. Our family flourished in the space and peace. Brendan and I bore fruit in our Captain St home. We had six more children there. The house was a warm “nest” for our growing family.

Came time to move to a bigger home. Brendan and the children put rose bushes and other shrubs into pots. Empty window boxes were packed away. We wanted to bring with us our plants we had nurtured in the garden.

We moved to County Down. It is where I lived till I was eighteen. I grew up on a farm. My mum and dad retired to the town. Their garden was full of rhododendron bushes. Each came into flower at different times in May. I loved their garden. Sadly mum and dad had passed away many years before we moved.  Brendan’s mum would give him a cutting of a plant he would ask her about. We have inherited all the plants she grew in her garden.

I bought some rhododendron for our new garden, to remind me of my parents. Rhododendron like acid soil to grow in. The soil at our new home was not suitable for rhododendron so I have grown these plants in pots ever since.

I was watching Gardener’s World recently. An eighty two year old lady was interviewed. She was an experienced gardener. Many owners of estates had sought her advice for their gardens down through the years. When she downsized to new accommodation she brought sixty pots of her favorite plants with her.

Brendan and I are like her. We had a trailer load of all our pot plants when we moved to our present home. Our assortment of plants have increased and multiplied. We have hostas, roses, geraniums, rhodendrums, daffodils, lily of the valley, primroses, lilies, gladioli, fushia, honeysuckle, agapanthus, everlasting sweet pea, varieties of daisy, pansies, and lobelia. I have a herb garden where the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, parsley and oregano have grown into bushes. They have space to grow when they are removed from the small pots.

Now all our children have left home, Brendan I enjoy tending our garden. This spring we were busy repotting plants, and filling window boxes. We have time to feed, water and dead head our flowers. I am reminded of the scripture,

“The Lord will guide you always; he will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58 v 11.

Our plants have increased and multiplied. This is part of the heritage we can pass on to our children.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/heritage/
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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. .

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