Sitting Down in the Storm

I am sitting having breakfast in our friend’s home in Jerusalem. I’m reading the newspaper headlines from the UK.
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“Devastating Storm Doris has battered Britain, with a woman killed and 100mph winds thrashing parts of the UK

The Weather Bomb has ripped roofs from buildings, pulled trees up, toppled walls and resulted in travel chaos across large parts of the country with roads blocked and trains and planes cancelled.”

As Doris hit, Peel Ports in Liverpool announced the city’s port had been closed due to “100mph gusts of wind”.
Network Rail advised “Storm Doris has caused significant disruption throughout the country”, with an enforced speed limit on some lines.” Quotes the Sun.

Brendan and I set out on our journey to Israel at five am on Thursday unaware of any storm that was brewing. We had booked an early morning flight from Belfast to Manchester and then connect with a flight at twelve noon to TelAviv. We were looking forward to our visit to Israel and catching up with friends.

The pilot on the easyjet flight from Belfast landed the plane carefully into Machester. We made our way through security for our connection to Tel Aviv. Then we managed to avoid the waves of beautiful attendants trying to sell us duty free perfumes and drinks till we found our favourite restaurant called Giraffe. Mexican breakfast specialities were on offer. I ordered Masala chilli eggs and salad from the menu. The young man who served us warned me that this dish was quite spicy and hot. I hesitated but decided to try it anyway. The waiter must have thought chilli was too dangerous for a grey haired, female pensioner. Brendan and I sat back and relaxed. Our holiday began.

The rain lashed against the window. The wind shook the roof. Outside planes landed. Below the luggage handlers and technicians unloaded and prepared some planes for their next journey to Finland or Iceland or Germany. The men were well wrapped in water and wind proof jackets. Inside we enjoyed our breakfast.

When our flight was called we made our way to the gate. Jewish men with their black coats and hats were easily recognized. Jewish women with children in arms were pushing prams and balancing luggage. Arab men were waiting as well. They were wearing long grey tunics and small caps. Arab women were distinguished by their long dresses and shawls. Some ladies were covered up completely except for their eyes. We were going to be sitting at close quarters on the plane to Tel Aviv.

We waited in line at the gate to get on the plane it seemed for ages. The wind was getting stronger outside and it was getting colder inside the terminal. Finally an announcement was made. We were advised to return to the waiting area till further notice. Our plane was not leaving. Announcements came over the tanoid system telling of cancellations to different flights due to the weather conditions. I was praying that the Tel Aviv flight would not be cancelled.

I remembered the scripture I know so well “A hope deferred makes the heart sick but a hope fulfilled is a tree of life.” The day before I noticed in my garden a bush that was in blossom. I looked closer. I heard a couple of bees buzzing around the white flowers gathering pollen. I thought to myself “Is that an Almond tree”. I hadn’t noticed it before. Yes it was an Almond tree. I remember when we were in Israel four years ago the Almond trees were in blossom. They are the first trees to blossom in the spring and the last trees to bear fruit. When I looked at the blossoms in my garden I was reassured that I would soon be seeing the Almond blossoms in Israel. The previous week had been very busy for me. I was looking forward to getting away on holiday.

God gave Jeremiah a promise,

“The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled and all my plans carried out. ‭Jeremiah‬ ‭1:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
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The Almond blossom is a sign of hope. One has not to give up. If God has given me a promise then he will bring it to pass. When I had cancer I had grown hopeless and doubted God answering my prayers and fulfilling promises he had given me. I was impatient. God is faithful. Despite my doubt and fears he healed me and restored hope to me. Now when I am faced with difficult situations I do not fear but trust God for the outcome.

I was not afraid or disappointed at the thought of us not getting away. I had a quiet hope. I sat down and waited. I was reading a passage in a book written by Watchman Née the evening before. Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. After he died on the cross to forgive our sins, heal our diseases, break all curses and restore us and provide for us, he went back to heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. God invites us to sit with Jesus in that heavenly place and bring our sins, worries and burdens to him. We are to enjoy what God has done for us. We are to rest and let Jesus bear the weight and responsibility of any difficulty that faces us. As I sat on the waiting room bench, I decided to sit with Christ in that heavenly place and let him take the responsibility to get me to Israel. I did not fret, or feel disappointed or look at the storm raging outside. I was hoping to get there. God will not disappoint as we trust him.

Three hours passed. Then I saw some of the people that were queuing earlier for our flight walking towards the flight gate. I went over to enquire if the Tel Aviv fight was leaving. They said “Yes”. Jesus was getting me and my husband to Israel. My heart was leaping inside.

We boarded the plane. Jews, Arabs, English and Irish sitting together, all happy and thankful to be getting away. The pilot boosted the engines to full power and we rose above the storm.

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Bearing Fruit in Old Age

I had a good sleep after our journey home from Slovakia.

I lie down and I sleep and I wake again sustained by The Lord.
Psalm 3 v 5.
These are days to rest after Brendan and my work in Eastern Slovakia.  We met beautiful families there.  It is a privilege to have the opportunity to share with others God’s goodness and mercy.

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I went out to the greenhouse to fetch a tomato for my breakfast.  Brendan was creating a treat for me on our first morning home.  One particular tomato plant has been blossoming and bearing fruit long after the others have withered.  I bought three different varieties of plants at the beginning of spring. The tomato plants all looked alike on the shelf at Homebase.  Gardener’s Delight is the only one still bearing fruit.  Take note anyone with a greenhouse and green fingers out there.
I was reminded of the scripture verse that says,
You shall bear fruit in old age.  Your leaf will not wither.

““But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.””
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭17:7-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I gathered some fruit.  Brendan called me for breakfast.  It was very welcome.  My strength will be renewed after a few more days of rest.

Later today my son was telling me about a lady he met recently.  She was a young at heart seventy eight year old.  She works in a Charity shop three days a week and travels from Carryduff with her bus pass.  This lady welcomed customers warmly and engaged each in conversation.  John was struck by her enthusiasm.  He listened to some of her life experiences.

She worked in the company C & A in Belfast.  She turned in for work looking the part, well suited and make up, perfect.  She spent her money on the latest fashion and good food.  After marriage she decided to give up work and rear her children.  She found that she was able to manage without the extra income her job could have offered.  She survived without the latest fashion and the best of food.  She learned to budget and enjoy being home with the children.

When her children were reared she went back to education and got qualifications to teach, which she did till she retired.  On retirement she launched into some other activity. This lady has important life experiences and is sharing them with anyone who will listen.  She is not giving up.  She is living life to the full.  Her leaf is not withering and she is bearing fruit at old age.

Family Friday. Going to see Family in Scotland

My daughter invited me over to visit with her in Scotland. We could spent some time together.  She duely booked flights for me.  I wanted to visit with three other of my children while I was over in Scotland.  My husband left on a trip the day before.  I was busy helping him get away.  Normally we travel together.

I took my time packing for my trip.  I travelled light.  I did not want to trail heavy luggage with me on and off the plane or on and off buses. I was travelling on my own. Brendan had typed out my boarding pass for the flight from Belfast to Edinburgh before he left on his trip.  He is good at any computer work that needs attention.  

I arrived at Belfast City Airport in good time.  Plans were going smoothly.  I was getting excited about my journey and looking forward to seeing my children living in Scotland.  I walked through to security check in as I already had my boarding pass.  As I handed my pass to the man in attendance I sensed I should have some other document.  It suddenly dawned on me that I had not brought my passport!  I could not get on the plane without my passport.

I stood to the side and let other passengers go on through to get their cases scanned.  I was in shock.  I had been so careful to make sure I had everything I needed in my case.  But I forgot my passport.  When Brendan and I travel he takes care of passports and boarding passes and any other business that makes our travels go smoothly, car parking arrangements, help with heavy luggage or a stay overnight in an hotel.  He is very faithful in the little details, so I don’t have to deal with them.  I was so thankful and appreciated Brendan’s help in the past.  I had taken his help for granted.

It was too late for anyone from home to bring my passport to the airport.  Normally we are advised to arrive at the airport in good time.  I know some people who arrive two hours before the flight is due to take off.  I had left no extra time.  I reviewed the situation , didn’t panic and was reconciled to the consequences of forgetting my passport.   I will return home.  I will not get to Scotland.  I was thankful I was not travelling on to a far off destination.  

I remembered back to Brendan’s story about the chicken and the eagle.  Did I want to remain in the farmyard.  No I began to praise God and pray for his help.  I decided to lift up my wings with praise and prayer. 

Just then I remembered “I might be able to use some other identification on the Flybe flight.”  I had a card with photo identification on it.  I asked the attendant if other ID can be accepted by the Flybe airline.  Yes other ID will be accepted.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  I proceeded through security to the gate for Edinburgh.  I was a happy traveller.  I had a big smile on my face.  

I went up to the gate to board the plane.  I presented my ID card.  The attendant just glanced at it.  She did not inspect it closely.  I took my seat on the plane.  It soon took off and I was soaring above the clouds like the eagle.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭40‬:‭30-31‬ NIV)

I looked up the in flight book for Flybe. I got a pleasant surprise to see Tara Lodge recommended as an hotel to stay at when in Belfast. My daughter is the Manager?

I was facing disappointment due to my own carelessness or lack of foresight in not checking if I had my passport.  Someone may say “Tough.  You need to learn a lesson.  Be better prepared. Why are you so stupid to forget your passport.”

The fact is I am not perfect.  I was trying to get away earlier under pressure with seeing to last minute details before I left home.  I did not forsee this difficulty.

But do you know God is merciful.  With him there is no disappointment.  I had no one to help me get away.  My husband had already left.  My Heavenly Father cared.  He makes a way when there is no way.

I remembered again.  I have an enemy the devil who wants to rob, steal and destroy.  He wanted to rob me of my trip to Scotland.  As I resisted him and trusted God I was not robbed.

Often we want to be in control of situations, trying to cover every possibility for mistakes.  But that leaves one in stress and always having to live up to high expectations.  Yes it is good to be prepared.  But I am not going to stress out if I make mistakes.  I could not live under that pressure.  I will do what I can and realise there is someone above me who will look after me, my Heavenly Father.  I am not in control.  I let him, the God of the universe be in control.

Think about it, do you control your life and others?  Relinquish control and trust God.  When one is in control a spirit of control can be operating and driving a person without him realising it.

I was not in control of my life when I was willing to have fourteen children. It is good to trust God and not be afraid of what life may throw at us.  He has been faithful to help me rear fourteen children.  He has healed me from fourth stage cancer.  Forgetting my passport did not end my trip.

Sentimental Saturday. Left Behind.

Ten thousand visitors took to the country to Castle Ward, a National Trust property near where I live, on Easter Monday and Tuesday.  There were two ferries operating between Strangford and Portaferry to cope with the traffic.  I often wandered why there was an ice cream shop in Strangford.  Now I realise it is there to provide for the children who are waiting for the next ferry.  My own grandchildren had the extra delight of getting ice cream slushies as they waited for the ferry.  Delicious.

In an article in a Belfast newspaper there is a story about an one arm teddy bear that got left behind at Castle Ward.  Some little child would be missing his cuddly toy that night.  I hope teddy and child will be reunited.

Over the past week some of my own children and grandchildren came to visit to celebrate Easter and my fifth year anniversary free from cancer.  Bedrooms were overflowing with people, like the luggage hanging out of suitcases.  I had to make sure there was plenty of hot water for all the showers going.  Hair dryers were buzzing.
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The fridges were full, the range at full heat, logs were gathered in, plenty of supply of toilet roll and tissue, the boiler timed for heat and hot water, and the dishwasher was spinning. The kitchen was full of activity as meals were prepared and ate. For a few nights it was like the old days when we would gather around the fire with Brendan telling stories, then prayers and bedtime, for old and young.

In the mornings I heard voices from the bedrooms. Sisters were talking and laughing as they caught up with each other’s news. Three of them did a workout in the morning sun. Four children were tempted to take a swim in lough below. In the afternoon some collapsed on the lawn with heads together chatting and enjoying the warmth of the sun.

One of my girls had the flu when she returned.  With love, rest and prayer she recovered and headed off to Kenya for work on Tuesday.  Some of my grandchildren had tummy upsets and chills.  One of them went to the doctor.  He could find no infection.  Praise The Lord it was a demonstration of God healing her.  She had a smile on her face when she returned.  Mum and child had no need to worry.  Grand Da’s home is a place of refuge and healing from the storms of life.

All the grandchildren left today.  The house is silent.  The fridges are empty, only ashes in the fireplace, the dishwasher and hair dryers are quiet.  The bin is full of empty Easter egg packages and drink bottles. Bedcovers are tossled on empty beds.  Damp towels are left on the floors.

I had a relaxing bath and went to bed early trying to cope with the emotion of it all.  I awoke in the middle of the night to get a cup of tea.  Brendan joined me.  We are together again, just the two of us.
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A children’s I Pad, some Easter eggs and vases of colorful tulips are left behind.  On the floor a toy donkey was lying with its leg over his head.  Perhaps it was wiping away his tears at missing the children.  A toy bird lay on the table.  There was no more screaming laughter from Grand Da’s antics with the puppet bird.  A bunny rabbit sat forlorn with a toenail broken.  I can understand where the inspiration for Toy Story came from.

But I have lots of love and memories in our hearts.  And I have clean carpets and a new Hoover.  My daughter could see the dust.  The dust and the grandchildren have gone.  They will return.

Family Friday. Confusion with Airports and Flights

Brendan and I were visiting our daughter in Edinburgh in July of 2012.   She and her husband had just returned to live in Scotland from Switzerland.  We had flown with Easyjet to Edinburgh from Belfast International Airport.  We were happy to see Ruth and Stuart again after she had settled into her new accomodation.  It was nice to relax and catch up with them.  Brendan needed a longer break so I suggested he stay on for a few days.  

I arranged to pick him up on his return.  I headed off to Belfast International Airport in good time.  In Belfast the traffic was held up.  It was the Twelfth of July and there were Orange Band parades through Belfast.  I had to wait while all the parade passed.  I got anxious that I would be late getting to the airport.  After an impatient delay I eventually was able to be on my way.  I reckoned I would get there on time.

When I arrived in the airport carpark I got a call from Brendan.  He was outside the front entrance waiting for me.  I told him okay,  I was just parking and would meet without further delay.  I walked over to the entrance but Brendan was nowhere to be seen.  I called him on my mobile phone.  He kept explaining he was at the entrance to the airport.  I was perplexed.  He was nowhere to be seen.  I got more exasperated.  He got more annoyed at the other end of the phone.  

Then it dawned on both of us.  I went to the wrong airport to pick him up.  He had arrived into Belfast City Airport on Flybe.  He had changed from  Easyjet to Flybe to get home.  We were both upset with each other.  He suggested he would get the bus home.  I said ” Go ahead. You may get home before I do.”  

I drove off in the car still upset.  After a short time I settled down and called Brendan and said I would pick him up on the way through Belfast.  We decided to forget about the misunderstanding of not going to the right airport.  From then on I make sure I check which airport I am to go to if I have to pick someone up.  Once bitten, twice shy.

We were returning from Canada recently.  We had to get an inland flight from Vancouver to Toronto.  We arrived at the airport in good time to get checked in.  We stood in line at the Westjet desk waiting to check in our baggage.  There were quite a few passengers ahead of us.  When we gave the attendant our tickets she said “I am sorry sir you are flying with Air Canada and pointed us in the direction of the check in desk.”  We had wasted precious time at the wrong desk.  

I asked an attendant could we skip the queue because our flight was leaving soon.  She said,”I’m sorry Madam, the desk is closed.  You are too late to check in.”   We are going to miss this flight and the next connection to Ireland from Toronto!  I ran up to the desk and asked could someone help me.  Thank God a lady helped us.  She opened her desk again and checked our luggage through.  She even gave us a ticket to fast track the security gate.   Phew.  That was a close call.  

We had a very pleasant flight with Air Canada to Toronto.  I was so stressed, I hadn’t realised we had taken off and were airborne.  I was so thankful to God we did not miss the flight home.  God promises me I am under his daily care so I don’t need to fear.

Psalm 71:15. I cannot count the times when you have faithfully rescued me from danger. I will tell everyone how good you are, and of your constant, daily care.

Testimony Tuesday. Enduring When Suffering many Trials

It was my grand daughter Eilish’s birthday on the thirteenth of March.  She was five years old.  She is an inquisitive little girl.  She asked me “Why is your hair white?  It is dark in the photographs.”  She lives in Slovakia and calls our home “The Irish House”.
I remember well the day she was born.

I had just come back from visiting one of our sons in hospital in Glasgow.  He had contacted a infection while playing football.  He grazed his shin and thought nothing of it.   But he developed a fever and was rushed to hospital and needed intensive care to combat an infection he had.  I flew over to see him.  I wanted to pray for him for God to heal him.
When I visited him he was quite happy and oblivious to any danger he may have been in.  Some friends, the Bowers, let me stay with them and they encouraged and prayed with me for my son.

When I got back to Belfast I stopped off at my daughter’s home for a cup of coffee and let her know how my trip had been.  She shared with me a dream she had the previous night.  She dreamt I had died.  She was upset and I reassured her I was okay.  But I wasn’t okay.  I was bleeding and I was getting worse.  My son being sick upset me as well.

Then the phone rang.  It was another son to tell me his wife had started in labour and was on her way to the hospital.   We prayed for a safe delivery for mum and baby.  We got news later that the new mum was rushed into theatre when she arrived at the hospital and had a Caesarian Section to deliver the baby.  Something serious had gone wrong and mother and baby’s life were in danger.  But Praise to God he preserved their lives.  They were traumatised but mum and baby were alive.

I began to realise we were under attack from our enemy Satan.  He was trying to take my son’s life, my daughter in law’s and my grandchild’s life and I wasn’t feeling too well myself.  But he didn’t succeed.  Six weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer.  More suffering.  How much more could I endure?  I was weak and feeling hopeless.  I couldn’t fight any longer.  It is when we are helpless God moves.

We came through many trials in the springtime of 2010.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.”

People often ask why they have to suffer.  Will we just believe in God when times are good, when he is blessing us?   Going through trials makes our faith strong.  When we see Jesus, who went through horrible suffering when he was whipped, pierced, bruised, and crucified for us, it will give us courage to continue to believe and hope in his help to bring us through our suffering and heal us on the other side.

“So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (‭1 Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭6-7‬ NLT)

God preserved my life and my children’s life from death.   I am able to say God is good and merciful.  He is faithful to care for us as we obey him.  I have joy instead of sorrow and crying.  I now don’t look at the suffering but I hope in the joy after we suffer a little while, until God brings the answers to our prayers.

Psalm 91 says God will be with us in trouble and deliver us out of it.

Are you going through pain or despair at the moment? Are you hoping for God’s promise to you being fulfilled and it looks impossible for that promise to come about. Be patient in your trials. Your faith is being tested. Will you still believe God or give up and doubt and have unbelief?  He will give you strength to go through and come through to the other side. May your hope in God’s help be renewed.

Family Friday. My Coats did not Wear Out.

As you can gather from my recent blogs, I believe in keeping warm and I like woollen products.

Brendan bought me a beautiful three quarters length coat.  It was made from wool.  It was navy with bunches of grapes in the weave.  It was comfortable to wear especially when I was driving.  It also suited me when I was pregnant.  The children cuddled in beside me when I was wearing it, like a mother hen covering her chicks.  I enjoyed wearing this coat for many years.  The scriptures say that the children of Israel walked round the desert for forty years and their clothes did not wear out.  This coat of mine didn’t wear out!  

“During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭29‬:‭5-6‬ NIV)

The symbol of grapes is very important to me.  When I read in the scriptures that the children of Israel went into the promised land.  They saw grapes and giants.  The grapes were that big it took two men to carry a cluster of them.  But the people were afraid of the giants and failed to go into the land God promised them.  Isn’t that often the case in our lives.   We are afraid of change because of fear or lack of faith.  Joshua and Caleb said “With God’s help we can defeat the giants and eat the grapes.”  But the people did not believe.  I wore my coat as a statement of faith.  I wanted to eat grapes and destroy giants.

Since I read this scripture I decided I would believe God.  With God’s help I have defeated some giants along the way.  For example.  Cancer is a giant.  With God’s help I am healed of cancer.  I believed God to help me.  I am alive to enjoy good food especially grapes.
 
Ten years ago a friend gave me a fur coat.  I was wearing it till recently.  It was full length and made of artificial fur fabric.  I wore it constantly from Autumn to Spring.  It protected me from cold winds, when we would go for a walk.  It kept me warm like the caring arms of my Heavenly Father.  I looked prosperous.  I did not have to get dressed up.  I pulled on my coat and I looked a million dollars.  I have travelled to Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, England, Scotland and Slovakia in my fur coat.  No one complained about me wearing a fur coat. I felt at home when  I was in Iceland recently. Garments made from seal skin and animal hides were for sale.  People who live there need to walk or work outdoors in the harsh, cold weather.

Brendan and I were visiting in New Zealand.  We had to travel by bus to a friend in another town.  We had two cases each, to haul around with us in a strange place.  Tempers were frayed. It was springtime and I was getting hot under the collar pulling my cases up and down hills.  Eventually we found the right bus stop.

We got on the next bus that stopped.  It was home time for the workers.  The bus was full.  Standing room only.  Brendan told me to get in and find a seat while he lifted the luggage up.  The driver was impatient to get on his journey and was not a happy camper.  There was no luggage compartment for the cases!  As I walked up the aisle people looked at me as if I was an alien in my fur coat and red face.  There, Brendan and I stood in the aisle, cases blocking the walkway.  We looked like two mad Irish bears.  No one offered help.  Eventually as people disembarked we got a seat and rested our weary bones.  We laughed at this incident for many days later.

Soon months back I had a dream I was wearing a red coat.  I completely forgot about the dream.  Brendan and I went shopping looking to buy some presents for friends in Canada.  It was sale time.  Brendan found a red coat and asked me to try it on.  Hey presto, it fitted me and was comfortable.  It was made of wool.  He bought it for me.  I remembered my dream.  It came true.  I had to hang up my bear coat! 

Brendan and I are travelling in Canada at the moment.  We flew up over the mountains from Vancouver to Dawson Creek in a Bombardier aircraft.  I felt safe in this plane.  It reminded me of home.  Bombardier parts are made in Belfast, N Ireland.  When we arrived at the small airport I was greeted by the ground staff as if I was a dignitary.  “Welcome to Dawson Creek.  Have a good day lady in red.”  We all laughed.  I am getting compliments everywhere I go.  

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭51‬:‭11‬ KJV)