Granny Brings the Snow.

There was a meager amount of snow in Portaferry this week compared to other areas of N Ireland.

In Ireland we enjoy a temperate climate, not too hot in Summer and not to Cold in winter. We don’t have extremes of temperature. It means we can be outdoors all of the year. We don’t need air conditioning Summer or Winter. A fire in the hearth will get us through any unusual cold spell. We can gather there to keep warm.

N Ireland has been enjoying a cold spell with falls of snow this past week. The Christmas winter wonderland scene has come early. A log fire sounds so romantic. But a store of sticks have to be prepared beforehand. There’s nothing like a stack of logs neatly stacked away slowly drying. Thankfully Brendan and the boys get wood ready every year.

One can’t pass the opportunity to relax when it’s cold outside. It’s time for a crossword or a jigsaw puzzle. I’ve been working on one these last few days.

The cold weather can suddenly restrict one’s routine. I didn’t want to go shopping. Brendan was going to get some groceries for us. The roads would be slippy. It’s too cold. Then I remembered about my car. It was in the garage getting repaired. I rang the mechanic. Hey presto my car was ready. I forgot to ask how much the repair cost would be. Brendan helped me pick up my car, which meant a journey across on the ferry to Downpatrick and he kindly paid the not so small bill.

To cheer ourselves up we went for coffee. I received a text from a journalist to let me know she had published an article about me in the Belfast Telegraph that day. I bought a few copies. Brendan was distracted from the sting of the mechanic’s bill as we read the paper. I was delighted with the article and my retrieved car.

Brendan and I parted. He went shopping and I drove my car home. There was four inches of snow covering the back, top and front of my car from the snow fall the previous night. I wanted it washed off. I drove to the personalised car wash. It was closed. I went to a garage, it was closed. That snow was not going to budge. I drove back to Strangford to the ferry. I intended to go to the car wash to freshen up my car before I got home.

Strangford and Portaferry are on the edge of Strangford Lough in a micro climate. It’s effect keeps us warmer than inland. Some snow had fallen but it didn’t remain. One of the ferry men asked me where I was coming from. He was surprised to see so much snow on my car. This made me think. Here is my car covered in snow and there’s no snow around. I thought “I’ll drive to see my grandchildren and let them see the snow on top of my car. They’ll be happy to see it.” It was just getting dark.

The children came running out when I called them to see the snow. They coaxed their dad to make a snowman. All the snow was scooped off the car and a snowman built, eyes, nose and all. Their mum told me they had been talking all day about wanting it to snow so they could make a snowman. He still remains in the middle of the green grass of the lawn. God blessed the children with their hearts’ desire. I often say God gives us our heart’s desire. He is a good father.

I remembered Roy Woods’ Christmas song, ” I wish it could be Christmas every day.”
Here’s the first few lines.

When the snowman brings the snow
Well he just might like to know
He’s put a great big smile on somebody’s face
…..
Oh well I wish it could be Christmas everyday
When the kids start singing and the band begins to play
Oh I wish it could be Christmas everyday
Let the bells ring out for Christmas

Granny brought the snow and put a great big smile on the children’s faces even though there was a meager amount of snow in Portaferry.

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

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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/

Give Thanks

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who struck down mighty kings. His faithful love endures forever.
He killed powerful kings— His faithful love endures forever.
He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.
He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever.
He gives food to every living creature. His love endures forever.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭136:1, 17-18, 23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In front of my window this morning blackbirds, a pigeon, wag tails, starlings, a chaffinch and robins feed. The God, who created the heaven and the earth cares for them.
It is a privilege to be alive to see the life around me. It is good to be still and take rest in the peace. I heard a pastor say that nature is a bible for us to see with our eyes. The heavens declare the glory of the risen Lord.

I remember back to many times in my life when I was feeling weak and helpless. I was doing my work looking after my husband, family and home. At times I felt overwhelmed. Our unseen enemies put pressure on us.

There were enemies in Israel called the Amelikites. God hated them because they picked off the weak ones among the Israelites. The elderly and the young are the most vulnerable. If they attacked the people the elderly and the young die first. They will not survive in war.

When Moses travelled through the desert he went at the pace of the people who were with young. He protected them. When Jacob was returning to see his father Isaac he went at the pace of the women and children.

The Amalekites are a symbol of spiritual enemies in our lives that are out to attack us when we are weak, to rob, destroy and kill. I believe a father and mother are so important to protect our young from the unseen spirits. Only with Jesus help can we overcome.

“He remembered our utter weakness. He saved us from our enemies.”

I can testify as we reared our children God covered our backs from our enemies who wanted to snare us.

It has been said that it takes a whole community to rear a child. In the past in Ireland neighbors and extended family looked out for one another. If a parent was under pressure a granny or relative would look after the children for a day to give respite.

Now families are independent and nuclear. One may think, “Oh I’m okay I won’t need anyone’s help.” The pressure comes when children are sick, the husband looses his job or other unforeseen difficulties. We need others.

I enjoy nature programmes. I have watched how wildebeest, zebra and caribou migrate in search of food and to have their young. When they come to the green pastures there are hungry enemies waiting who haven’t had food for days. A crocodile lies in wait under the water to gobble up some weak calf or sick animal who cannot get across the river and is cut off from the herd. Scrawny wolves lick their jaws when they see a meal coming their way. They hunt in packs and pick off the weak, sick, lame, old and young of the herd that have fallen behind. Lions hunt down the wildebeest that begin to stampede. The young and old can’t keep up with the rest so become easy prey for the lions who outrun them. There is safety in staying with the group.

Where our family lived was important. Our homes were always near schools, doctors, dentists, shops, hairdresser, bus stop, friends and recreation areas. There was a hospital, library and swimming pool in each town where we lived. The teachers knew our children as they passed up through the schools. They were kind to them. School friends were important. My eldest daughter still meets regularly with friends she met at school. Football coaches were supportive and looked out for my boys attending soccer, rugby or Gaelic. The clinic was nearby for care from the doctor when I was pregnant. I could walk to the supermarket from each place I lived. We felt safe in the places where we lived.

God brought us to green pastures and protected us from our enemies.

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

Someday you will Understand

I hear my mother echo down through the years, “Someday you will understand.”
Back then life was carefree; my dad and mum looked after their big family. We children played in the barn of hay, ducked in the river, roamed over the hills, played hide and seek, made mud cakes or climbed trees. I grew up on a farm and most of my childhood playtime was outdoors.

I became aware of the bigger world outside of our farm when I went to school. The master would have us stand around the map of Ireland. I realized I lived in Ireland. Another day we studied the map of The British Isles. Ireland was an island beside England. We were part of Europe and the World. “Who am I, a little girl in this big world.” What is life about? My father and mother shielded us from any concerns or worries they may have had in raising their ten children. How did they do it?
image
Now many years later my husband and I have raised fourteen children. We learned from the example of our own parents and the wisdom we gleaned from the scriptures and wisdom from other people. We have faith in God Almighty who we believe is looking after us. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, yet he cares for us.

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭8:1, 3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I did not know what life had in store for me when I left home. I was like a plant that had been nurtured in a greenhouse but had to face the elements when planted outside. Life has taught me many lessons.
I now want to tell my children the wisdom I have gleaned. Here is some advice from Proverbs in the scripture.

“My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.
Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭2:1-2, 5, 9-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“My child, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:1-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I want to give my children some understanding for the future. I know life was daunting as I started out in life in the world beyond family. The above scriptures give advice that gives one guidance that is sure not to fail wherever one is in the world.

Someday they will be thankful.

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

Christmas Shopping

image“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We remember Jesus birth at this time.  A time of joy, to thank God the Father for making himself know through his son Jesus, who was conceived in Mary’s womb and born in an animals’ home.
God our Father’s plan was to redeem mankind from the power of sin, death and the devil, who kept mankind separated from God and prevented them from going to heaven.  The devil stole the authority over all the earth and all living creatures, from Adam.  Jesus is the new Adam.

Jesus grew up in his family and lived humbly helping his parents.  He would have helped with the other children, just as my older children did when they were growing up.  His father was a carpenter.  He did not have a high school or university education.  When he was thirty years old he entered his public ministry.  For three years he went about doing good, healing and delivering all who were oppressed of the devil. He was bringing down the power of the devil, who was keeping people in darkness, believing lies, living in oppression and sickness.  Jesus is the truth.

He was the son of God.  He could have set up a kingdom here on earth and ruled and ordered people what to do.  Instead he allowed himself to be arrested and accused of curing people on the day of rest, working miracles and claiming to be the son of God.  His accusers were jealous of him.  They had to get rid of him before everyone started following him and upsetting the kingdoms that were ruling at that time, including Romans and Jews.

His own people the Jews wanted him crucified.  “Away with him” they said.  Jesus never opened his mouth when he was whipped by soldiers, a crown of thorns hammered into his head, nails pierced into his hands and feet to nail him to a cross and when a sword opened up his side.  He hung on a cross till he breathed his last.  He suffered and died.  He became the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.  There is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood.

A leader from India told us recently how people sacrifice their children in the fire or in the river, or cut themselves in order to get their sins forgiven.  Even after such pain they find no relief from their guilt.  This man told some of these people, “Jesus has forgiven my sins.”  I’m not guilty any more.  They were surprised.  “What sacrifice did you make.”  “How much money did you pay.”
He said, “I believe in Jesus.  He was the sacrifice for my sins.  He died in my place.  He shed his blood for me.  This is good news.  You too can know your sins forgiven by believing in Jesus.”
One woman said “Why did you not come sooner, before I gave my child to the God of the river.”  She was heartbroken.  She was prayed for and Jesus healed her.

“ But if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who please God completely.. He is the sacrifice for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What a wonderful privilege we in the west have to hear the name of Jesus.  We have good health care and good education.  Freedom to work, get married, have children, and live in peace in our homes and neighbourhoods.  But sadly many of us no longer know the power of the name of Jesus or the power of his shed blood or acknowledge, thank or honor him in our lives.   We have forgotten what Christmas really means.

We were travelling home from Dublin airport leaving at five pm yesterday evening.  The road out of Dublin was packed with cars.  On coming near Belfast the roads were packed with cars.  Why is this?   I have travelled at the same time earlier in the year and there were no holdups or roads full of cars.  Ah, people are out Christmas shopping!

Are they shopping for their children who are expecting Santa Clause to leave them some gifts?  Are they shopping for food and drink for fear the shops might run out of provisions nearer Christmas?  How can parents exhaust themselves and get into debt to buy presents for their children who think some mythical being drops them gifts down the chimney?  Are the father’s involved with the shopping, or is it just the mothers?  The children never thank them or appreciate the stress involved.  Why do they continue the lie of Santa Clause?

Do the refugees get presents?   Do the poor people of Africa or India get presents.  Does Santa just come to America and Europe and bless those who already have plenty.  I have asked myself this even when I was young.

Where does Jesus come in our celebration of Christmas?  “Joy to the World” the Christmas cards proclaim.   Brendan and I deleted Santa Clause out of our family when we had four children.  We told them the truth.  If we tell our children about Santa and years later realize there is no Santa, what will they think of mum and dad.  “They told us lies.”  We tell our children the good news that is at the heart of Christmas.  God sent the gift of his Son to us.  Jesus came to take away the sins of the whole world and the give the gift of eternal life.  We can be with him forever in heaven.  We tell them about the other gifts God has for us, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gift of children, the gift of life itself.

Many people did not agree with us, including family, friends and teachers.  The headmistress asked us to stop our children telling the other children there was no Santa.  Our children did not miss out on gifts.  We saved up and brought our children on summer holidays instead.  I refuse to get caught up in the hype of Christmas.  It does not satisfy!!!

I now live in the hope of going to heaven when I die.  I want to tell others this good news and tell them what Jesus has done for them.   God rescued me from an early death when he healed me of Malignant cancer.  I choose to follow him.  He is returning to the earth soon.  I want to be prepared.  I want to be of use in the years I have left.  I find comfort from this scripture,

“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬