A Walk in the Wicklow Hills.

Last weekend, Brendan and I were visiting my daughter, husband and family in Wicklow. They were glad to see us. She had a welcome meal ready for us after a long journey. The children were reminiscing with their grandad and remembering the video he made showing them dive off the pier. They are already looking forward to next year’s summer camp at Granddad’s house.

Shann was sorting out school clothes and putting away items the children had grown out of. The cuffs of the girls’ school jumpers were a bit frayed. A few stitches will repair them. Thread and needle were searched out and granny used her skills to make all things new.

The washing machine churned out sheets, socks, jumpers and tights. Clothes were brought in from the washing line and left in a pile on the kitchen table to be sorted later. More clothes were hung out to dry. I watched my daughter doing her washing from the comfort of the cosy chair Shann had purchased for me. I remembered back to when my children were young. The end of holidays was a frenzied time getting everyone one ready for school again.

Shann coaxed Brendan and I to go for a walk. They live in a beautiful area in the hills of Wicklow. I had to leave my cosy chair. I enjoyed the stunning views and the banter with the children. Two of the children brought their bicycles with them. They are like me, not too keen on walking.

We rested at the end of the lane. Wild fushia and heather were in bloom. Bees were buzzing collecting pollen. Trees that were planted by the forestry a few years back are now growing tall, replacing the trees that had been harvested. A new generation of trees.

Our grandchildren are now growing tall. I’m not quite ready to be chopped down. I asked my Maggie, my granddaughter who had her bicycle if I could borrow it to save my legs on the journey back to the house. She agreed. I sailed down the brae but gave it back when I came to a steep incline.

I joined the others to walk the last part of the lane. After a while we noticed Maggie had gone on ahead and she hadn’t waited for us. There was an inviting part of the lane up ahead. It was just perfect for me to sale down. But Maggie and her bicycle were nowhere to be found.
She must have been frightened that granny may have been too heavy for her precious bicycle.

When I returned home North I resolved to do some exercise to get these dry bones working again. I got out my own bicycle. Despite the pain and aches I will overcome and get fit. As I said I’m not ready to be chopped down or sit in the corner doing needle work. I have a lot of living to do yet. I am staying alive to proclaim the works of the Lord and to see more of my children’s children.

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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An Appointment With Nature

 

Over the summer months I have been focusing on writing a book. I haven’t had much exercise; not even working in the garden or walking. Despite a minimum of attention tomatoes, herbs and flowers have blossomed in the sunny summer we have had. Butterflies flutter and swallows swoop overhead . They are enjoying the end of summer sunshine.

My body was telling me it needed some exercise. I feel a bit stiff after sitting at a desk for hours on end.  I needed to get away from my computer and books.  I needed to get outdoors to see life around me.

Yesterday I awoke early to a warm, bright morning and decided to go for a cycle. I prefer cycling to walking. It is not too taxing pushing my bike along the Loughshore Rd. The seashore was just to my right. I heard the sound of stones hitting one another and stopped to investigate. I counted ten turnstones, tiny seabirds, busily upturning small stones and feeding on the juicy morsels of insects exposed. The birds were well camouflaged against the brown and grey seaweed and stones. One wouldn’t know they were there except for the noise they were making. I was delighted to discover them on my trip outdoors.

Each time Brendan and I go for a walk there is always something going on in nature. On the way home I noticed a dozen teal ducks who had come ashore to drink fresh water from a brook that trickles down to the sea. They were resting and preening their feathers. They were safe, warming themselves in the morning sunshine. How beautiful? What have I been missing?

A speaker once said that Nature is the bible of creation. Jesus said “Look at the birds.” I learn a lot from watching birds.

This morning I was full of aches and pains after cycling. I was feeling sorry for myself and wanted to stay resting under the blankets. I didn’t want more pain from exercising. Brendan encouraged me to come down for breakfast. After a chat and food I was revitalised. I persevered to go cycling again. I decided to keep up the exercise. What has nature in store for me this morning?

I got my bicycle out again. I wasn’t disappointed. I stopped to rest at Ballyhenry Island. It was low tide. A flocks of seagulls were sunbathing. I heard the chugg chugg of a boat in the distance. It was setting out towards the marine station where research is taking place. I watched as it came close.

A tall black bird caught my eye in the distance. It was flapping its wings. Perhaps it was stretching after feeding. It continued to flap and stretch its wings for fifteen minutes. I was amazed at its energy.   It’s not easy to see a cormorant up close.  They keep their distance from danger.  When on the ferry one can catch a glimpse of a cormorant as it surfaces after diving for food.  Their short legs and streamlined body help them easily glid into the water.  They have been likened to penguins. Bird Island off Kircubbin is where they can safely nest and rear their young.

I thought of the following scripture,
“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭148:7-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I imagined the cormorant was praising The Lord with its outstetched wings for more that fifteen minutes. I could not keep my arms raised for fifteen minutes. I marvelled as I watched the black bird in the distance.

It was time to return home. I look forward to tomorrow morning. What will the birds be doing?

God is Merciful Again and Again.

Prayer from the book of Nehemiah

“On October 31 the people assembled again, and this time they fasted and dressed in sackcloth and sprinkled dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors. They remained standing in place for three hours while the Book of the Law of the Lord their God was read aloud to them. Then for three more hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God.”
‭‭“Then the leaders of the Levites called out to the people:
“Stand up and praise the Lord your God, for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!”
Then they prayed:
“May your glorious name be praised!
May it be exalted above all blessing and praise!
You alone are the Lord.
You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars.
You made the earth and the seas and everything in them.
You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you.
You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him from Ur of the Chaldeans and renamed him Abraham. When he had proved himself faithful, you made a covenant with him to give him and his descendants the land of the Canaan.
And you have done what you promised, for you are always true to your word.
You saw the misery of our ancestors in Egypt, and you heard their cries from beside the Red Sea.
You displayed miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, his officials, and all his people, for you knew how arrogantly they were treating our ancestors.
You have a glorious reputation that has never been forgotten.
You divided the sea for your people so they could walk through on dry land! And then you hurled their enemies into the depths of the sea.
They sank like stones beneath the mighty waters.
You led our ancestors by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night so that they could find their way.
“You gave them bread from heaven when they were hungry and water from the rock when they were thirsty.
You commanded them to go and take possession of the land you had sworn to give them. “But our ancestors were proud and stubborn, and they paid no attention to your commands. They refused to obey and did not remember the miracles you had done for them.
Instead, they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt.
But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love.
You did not abandon them, even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, ‘This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!’
They committed terrible blasphemies. “But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness.
The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night.
You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst.
For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!
“They went in and took possession of the land. You subdued whole nations before them.
Even the Canaanites, who inhabited the land, were powerless!
Your people could deal with these nations and their kings as they pleased.
Our ancestors captured fortified cities and fertile land.
They took over houses full of good things, with cisterns already dug and vineyards and olive groves and fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate until they were full and grew fat and enjoyed themselves in all your blessings.
But despite all this, they were disobedient and rebelled against you.
They turned their backs on your Law, they killed your prophets who warned them to return to you, and they committed terrible blasphemies.
So you handed them over to their enemies, who made them suffer.
But in their time of trouble they cried to you, and you heard them from heaven. In your great mercy, you sent them liberators who rescued them from their enemies.
But as soon as they were at peace, your people again committed evil in your sight, and once more you let their enemies conquer them.
Yet whenever your people turned and cried to you again for help, you listened once more from heaven. In your wonderful mercy, you rescued them many times!
In your love, you were patient with them for many years.
You sent your Spirit, who warned them through the prophets.
But still they wouldn’t listen! So once again you allowed the peoples of the land to conquer them.
But in your great mercy, you did not destroy them completely or abandon them forever.
What a gracious and merciful God you are!
Every time you punished us you were being just. We have sinned greatly, and you gave us only what we deserved. Our kings, leaders, priests, and ancestors did not obey your Law or listen to the warnings in your commands and laws.”
‭‭Nehemiah‬ ‭9: 1-3, 5-12, 15-21, 24-28, 30-31, 33-34‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is a prayer the people of Israel prayed after some of them returned to Jerusalem. Their forefathers had been exiled to Babylon, seventy years before. The the temple in Jerusalem was torn down by their captors. The people gathered and acknowledged God and how he had been merciful to their forefathers even though they had sinned and went after other idols. They not only confessed their sins but acknowledged the sins of their forefathers. They humbled themselves with fasting.

From studies it is shown that brain cells grow when one fasts. Fasting helps to change and heal our minds. Old cells in our brain that remember thoughts that are not Godly can be washed away and new cells with new thoughts can come into the new cells. It has been shown by Dr Leaf that when one repents or changes his mind his brain cells change. God causes us to change our mind.

So fasting and confessing our sins of our generation past breaks curses from our forebears. To get free from generational curses one has to admit he could be under a curse. Then he can ask God to forgive and heal. The power of the curse down the generations has to be broken by someone whom God has anointed to pray in such a way.

This is what it means in Isaiah 61.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Do you want restoration? Are you praying for revival? Are you praying for healing? Are you praying for renewal of your youth. Then you need to confess your sins and the sins of your forefathers.

Then God will hear from heaven and heal you.

It’s Harvest Time

It is August, the month of harvest in Ireland.  The fields of barley and wheat around our home are ripe. It has been a sunny, dry summer and the farmers can expect a bumper crop. I saw a tractor pulling a trailer full to overflowing with grain. Did the farmer do anything extra this year more than other years to get a bigger harvest? No he is faithful to prepare the fields in the springtime and sow the seeds of wheat. He waits. He has faith.  He expects to get a harvest a few months later.

No amount of worrying will help the seed to grow. No matter what the weather is like if he believes he will get the harvest in. It is because of God’s mercy and goodness we have had good weather this summer in Ireland for everyone to enjoy and especially for the growth of crops and fruit. The earth has brought forth bountifully. When we visited with friends over the summer we enjoyed the strawberries from their garden.

Last year at this time the ground in some parts of Ireland was too wet for heavy machinery to gather in the harvest. In September a dry spell of weather allowed the farmers to clear the ground. It was later than usual but the harvest time did come.
God word promises
““As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭8:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A prophetic word was given by an American prophet back in May. He said,
“For the next season there will be an open heaven over you. There will be a release of God’s revelation and power. You can expect to receive payment for the attacks of the enemy. God is breaking clouds of darkness and bringing people out of the wilderness and God’s light is going to shine.”

Yes the light has been shining naturally all summer. God is showing us his favor. I am like the farmer expecting a harvest from what I have sown naturally and spiritually. I am expecting payment for what the devil has stolen. God is going to move sovereignly on my behalf. I didn’t earn his mercy. I believe in his promises and his prophetic words to me. He is going to keep his promises to me.  I have faith because God has said in his word.

There was a rainbow arch right across the sky in front of my home on Saturday. It is a sign of God’s covenant with me and with all life on the earth. He will never again flood the earth. It is a sign to me that God is there and he sees and encourages me to keep believing him. He told Noah and his family when they came out of the Ark,

“As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
“And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

God has blessed Brendan and I with increase of children. I believe he will continue to increase our family in number and multiply on the earth.  We will get our harvest now.  It is harvest time.

Do You Live on Benefits

Did you know that King David, who was a man after God’s heart, lived on benefits. In our prosperous Western countries, people who are on benefits from their nation are often looked down upon by better off citizens.
David was a young boy caring for his father’s sheep, killing lions and bears who came to steal the sheep. He was dependent on his parents. He was out in the fields when the Prophet Samuel stopped by his father’s home. David was sent for. Samuel anointed him king of Israel. God called him to be king.
Did you realize no matter what your situation, living at home, having no money, in a low estate, God is calling you. He can cause you to end up living like a king.
David encourages us to
“Praise the Lord Oh my soul and forget not all his benefits.”  Psalm 103
He was king and yet he acknowledged that all he had in his life came from God. He was not ashamed to declare that all his help came from God.  He thanked God for all the benefits he had given him. God was with David in all his battles and gave him victory. He ended up as king to rule over Israel. He acquired much wealth, gold and silver and set it aside to build a temple in which to worship God.
When one thanks God and acknowledges all his benefits it honors God. He gives us life and renews us.

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.

Living in Harmony

Watching a wildlife program about Japan has inspired me.

The most northerly island, Hokkaido has the harshest climate of all the islands of Japan. The people who have settled there are farmers who grow cereals and flowers in the short summer. Fishermen harvest the rich sea before the cold of winter freezes it over.

In September the Pacific salmon begin to return to the rivers of Hokkaido to spawn. Black bears gather at the coast to feast on the fish that team in the river mouths. Fishermen who also collect the bounty of salmon, sit mending their nets. These men and bears live in harmony with each other. There is plenty of food for both. Often a mother bear is fiercely protective of her cubs, but there is no need to fear in Hokkaido.

The farmers have reclaimed marshland on the coastlands. They were once the feeding grounds of large, tall, white birds called the Red Crowned Cranes. To the Japanese they are symbols of beauty and long life. A century ago their numbers were reduced to thirty pairs. They were in danger of extinction. The farmers, who drained the cranes’s feeding areas, rescued the cranes by giving them grain through the winter when the ground is frozen. Their numbers have now grown to 1000. Here is another example of men and wildlife living in harmony. They co-exist in the harsh conditions.

These cranes are known most of all for their singing and dancing. When they gather in large numbers they put on a show. The enormous birds lift up their heads and raise a deep call from their throats. They pirouette, jump and flap their large wings. They don’t crash on the icy ground. Their performance reminded me of the ballet dancers I saw recently in “Giselle.” The male star leapt across the stage. The many ballerinas created an enchanting atmosphere with their movements in the second act.

The Red Crested Cranes are an example to us. They live in a cold, harsh environment. They could chose a more comfortable climate. Instead they flourish, dance and sing where they are meant to be. Their beauty, strength and endurance are to be admired. I am encouraged to lift up my voice and dance, like the cranes before the One who created me, even in the most difficult of situations. The psalmist calls us to praise Him. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150 like King David danced with all his might before the Lord when he brought back the Ark of the Lord.