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.

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I am Celebrating Easter

I was looking back at photographs on my iPhone taken in the last six months.  Some photos capture the beauty and colors of the sky and sea from where I live on Strangford Lough in Ireland.  The beauty all around me revives my body and soul.  I am being restored.

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The heavens declare the Glory of God.
The skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech,
Night after night they reveal knowledge.  Psalm 19 v 1

I am happy to enjoy the changes in the heavens all around, knowing the Creator holds me in his arms.

Tonight the time changes in Ireland.  The clocks move forward one hour.  It is Eastertime 2016.  I am thankful to God to be alive, six years on from being diagnosed with fourth stage colon cancer.

This Easter weekend we celebrate a world changing event that happened about 2000 years ago.  Jesus died a cruel death and was buried in the grave.  But he didn’t stay there.  He arose from the grave.  He now lives at the Father’s right hand interceding for us.

By his death he conquered the power of sin and death, and power of the devil over mankind and made a way for us to go to heaven.  He is the way, the truth and the life.

I know the power of his death on the cross.  Isaiah 53 says “By his stripes we are healed.”  I received my healing six years ago.

Are you weighed down by misfortune, misery and ill health? Look up. Ask the Creator of the universe for help. His son Jesus paid for your freedom from oppression and sickness by the shedding of his Blood. Have faith in God.

The Strangford / Portaferry Ferry Choir

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Friday. Sea Birds Thirst for Fresh Water

A few weeks ago I awoke to the call of Canadian Brent Geese that were along the water’s edge below our home.  I looked out to see half a dozen pairs swimming in the shallow water.    They love to eat Eel Grass.  It grows along the shoreline where fresh water flows into the sea.  There is a small stream that enters the sea below.  

I fetched a pair of binoculars to take a closer look.  The brown colour of their body feathers are a good camouflage against the brown, grey, seaweed covered stones. They have a white feathers on their lower bodies. They swim about on the edge of the water avoiding other gulls that are there.  

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When the gulls fly off, the geese come up out of the sea and begin to drink from a small stream that flows across the stones.  They come to get a drink of fresh water!  They wait for each other to get their thirst quenched.  Then the whole group fly off, their outstretched wings, with white V markings on the tail, blend with the colour of the moving water and disappear into the distance.  

A couple of Great Black Backed Gulls come for a drink later.  There are a few pairs of them along this part of the bay.  A couple of Herring gulls rest nearby.
 
It never occurred to me that these birds needed fresh water.  I would have thought they would have got water from the food they ate in the sea.  When we went for walks along Tyrella beach I remember flocks of different sea birds gathered at the end of the beach.  A river flowed into the sea there.  The wildlife rested there in the sunshine for a while.

I believe God our creator wants us to drink from the flowing river of the Holy Spirit and rest a while.   Jesus told us to look to the birds of the air.  They don’t sow nor reap, yet their Heavenly Father cares for them.  I am taking a lesson from the birds of the air this morning.

As I watched the wildlife from my window, I was reminded of the Holy Spirit.  Very often life makes us weary, tired, dry and barren.   Our lives seem staved of life with nothing new happening.   But God invites us to come to him to get a drink of refreshing water to nourish our thirsty souls.

Jesus said to the woman at the well he would give her water and she would not thirst again.  
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 

The Holy Spirit is the Living water that Jesus promised.  He is described as the river that flows from the throne of God.  We are invited in Isaiah to come to the water.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.  (‭Isaiah‬ ‭55‬:‭1, 3‬ NIV)
As we drink in the Holy Spirit life flows again.

As I spend time praying in the Holy Spirit I get refreshed and have new strength.  No matter what age we are, we still run out of strength if we are too busy.  We need life from God to renew our energy.

Tableau Thursday. The Season of Singing of Birds has Come

“The season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. (‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭2‬:‭12‬ NIV)

It is the 29 th April today in Co Down, Ireland.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a swallow swoop towards my window this morning.  Hooray the swallows have arrived. It is a new season. There is a different song outside.  Robins thrill, doves coo, chaffinches chirrup as they call to their mates in the warm mornings.  It will be safe to start building nests to prepare for having their young.

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The migrant birds are on the move.  The Brent Geese that had visited with us since September left the shore below while I was away in Scotland.  When they arrive in September they look like ducks.  They have shed weight while rearing their young in the Tundra in Northern Canada and have used up energy flying thousands of miles to our shores.  The Brent Geese come to the shores of Strangford Lough to feed on Eel grass. By April they have grown and fattened up.  They look like geese.  When the new season comes they fly away.  I miss  them.  Some geese came to feed and drink each morning below at a spring of water that joins the sea water lough.  I would hear their throaty calls from my room.

Jesus tells us to take the birds as our example and not to worry but seek first his kingdom.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body.  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭25-27‬ NIV)

I was shaken from my melancholy when I noticed the swallow this morning.  I went to share with my husband , “The swallows have arrived”.  It was an unexpected visitor.  He has flown here thousands of miles from South Africa.  He has made it as his family before him did.  What a feat.  Such a small bird can fly such a long way.

He had no luggage with him.  No belongings.  No passport. He has no purse.  He is free to fly over borders and nations.  He is no threat to anyone.  God had prepared a place for him in the barn behind our house. He will eat the food and drink the water here. He is welcome. He has brought joy to me. The singing has come to our land.

I watched a nature program about the flights of migrant birds.  On the swallows’ journey up North they stop off at different points to feed and rest for the next stage.  One stopover is by a lake.  The swallows arrive there just when millions of flies hatch out.  The air is dark with the flies.  The swallows swoop in and out of the cloud of flies and have a feast.  This is another example of God providing for the birds of the air.  I rejoice to see God’s timing and provision for the birds of the air.  Our Creator and Father looks after all his Creation.  I marvel in his Glory. I see his Glory in Creation.

The swallows song will join with the resident birds in the dawn chorus.  They will build their nests and rear their young in the barns behind where we live.

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. (‭Psalm‬ ‭84‬:‭3‬ NIV)

I will hear a different sound in the morning.  Instead of the Brent Geese’s call, there will be the chirping of the swallows on the wire.

From Geography Class to seeing the Niagara Falls

I visited the Niagara Falls on a recent trip to Canada.
When we approached to town of Niagara I could see the cloud of mist that rises up from the Horseshoe Falls. I got excited. I have heard about this feature many times. I remember first hearing about the Niagimageara Falls over fifty years ago. I attended a country school in Co Down in N Ireland. I was standing with other pupils around a map of the world with our primary school teacher. We were having a geography lesson.
Here is photograph I captured on my iPad.  I have a bird’s eye view.

I get to see the Niagara Falls when my thirteenth grandchild is born.

My son dropped my friend and I off at a viewing point. Opposite I could see the American Falls. Then upriver is the bigger Canadian Falls or Horseshoe Falls. What power and beauty in these tumbling waters.
I could not but praise The Lord, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/photography-101-water/

 

 

August Blues. I Have Joy Now Instead Of Blues

September’s weather has come in August here in Northern Ireland.
It is cooler and wetter.  The summer is cut short. 
The last bank holiday was a wash out.
In previous years August had been a busy month for me.
I had to get my children ready for the return to school.
I would check on last years’ school trousers, jumpers,  blazers or skirts to see if I could squeeze another year out of them.
If not I paid a visit to the local drapery store to get the necessary outfits.
That would have been my biggest bill of the year.
One year I had eight children at school.
The Lord promises my children will not go begging in the street.

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (‭Psalm‬ ‭37‬:‭25‬ NIV)

I wanted my children to feel fresh and smartly turned out as the new school term started.
My last child left second level education last year.
All the uniforms are forgotten and schools ties’ and blazersimage are hanging at the back of the cupboard, only to be retrieved for a fancy dress party perhaps.
I don’t know if I have more money in the bank this year in August, but I am glad I do not have the stress of shopping for back-to-school items.
August is a time of harvest.  Fruit is ripe, wheat, oats, barley, hay and maize are ripe.
Fruit, plums blackberries and apples are picked.
In the past August has been a month of testing for me.
It steers the course for the coming year.
I had three children in August.  
I was in hospital in hospital twice in August.
But this year I am expecting fruit from all I have invested into others.
The farmer sows seeds in the spring.
In autumn he expects a harvest.
It grows of itself.
Our creator causes the growth.
So it is I expect my God to cause the growth in seeds I have sown into people’s lives to produce a harvest.
And I expect to eat of it.
Two people I prayed for in the past have had life changing experiences this August.
I have joy when I hear of answered prayers and when God uses me.
I am not expecting a baby this year but I am expectant for God’s promises to be fulfilled in my life this August.
Are you expectant?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/august-blues/