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

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My Energy gets A Recharge

My energy levels needed a recharge after a busy season.

My husband always arranges a holiday when we both need to take a break from work and the business of home life and recharge our batteries.  We already visited Kerry at the beginning of August.  It was now September.  Ruth and Stuart offered us a stay in their cottage in Scotland.  A chance to take in the beauty of West Scotland and rest before we go on mission to Slovakia.  More recharging of our energy.

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One evening on our return from Scotland, my daughter left a bunch of flowers on the counter when she came in from a busy day’s work.  Dinner had to be rustled together for seven hungry people.  The flowers lay in the midst of someone cutting bread, or making coffee, dirty dishes and saucepans.  Life went on.  No attention was given to the flowers.  When family were fed, dishes cleared, washed, individuals filtered away to rest.  I needed to rest after a hectic day.  The bunch of flowers were still on the bench.

Another daughter was packing up to leave for university.  My fourteenth child, is starting her final year at Edinburgh Univerity.  Last minute arrangements had to be attended to.  Boarding pass at the ready, who would leave her to the port, where is my hair dryer, did you see my purse?  She came in and out of my room asking me questions.  She was getting fraught.  In the end she relaxed in a hot bath and washed away all her stress.

There was no time to get sad at her leaving.  Angela has been home for the summer and has been a blessing to her mum and dad and other family that stayed.  She introduced a summer camp for some of her nieces and nephews.  They had a great time.  The sun shone, they canoed, swam, shopped, face painted, cycled, had barbecues, and enjoyed their wee cousins.  It was the highlight of the holidays for Maggie Sue.

Other events this summer have included our son Isaac’s wedding in Canada, our first grandson’s Confirmation, a grandchild’s baptism, our son Patrick’s wedding in Scotland, a new grandchild, our forty fifth anniversary and my sixty fifth birthday, family visiting from Canada for the wedding, visits to Kerry, Arran and Tarbert,  having two American families stay at different times, and hosting a Gathering in Corrymeela.

I’m taking a deep breath just now.  But Praise God I am alive and not dead from cancer in the grave.  I am alive to see my children married and see my children’s children.  God has been gracious to our family.  I am being restored in the midst of life.  It is not a time for me to put my feet up.

Later that night I went down to the kitchen when the house was quiet.  The flowers were still on the bench unopened.  Everything else was cleared away.  I undid the wrapping, fetched a vase, cut off unnecessary leaves and arranged my flowers into beautiful display.  I admired the gift my daughter brought home for me.  There was no celebration to mark.  Just to show me her appreciation and love. This touched my heart.

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.”
Psalms‬ ‭127:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I often receive rewards from my children and husband, especially gifts and holidays.  I have been enjoying the roses after the dust of the summer has settled.  They all help to recharge my energy levels.

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

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.

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.