The Arctic Terns Have Arrived.

I drove out this morning to town.  I parked my car along the sea front and walked on the sunny side of the street.  It was too chilly on the shaded side.  Resident gulls and Brent geese on the waters below were enjoying the warmth of the early sun too.

The winter slumber of people and nature has been awakened by the warm sun and noisy gulls eager to prepare for new life.

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The population of gulls along the shore has increased dramatically this week.  Artic terns have arrived at their usual nesting place on an island near Strangford harbor.  They are safe from intruders across a short stretch of water, but near enough for the onlooker to enjoy their activities.  They gather in the evening, bodies white against the black, sea washed rock.

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Another attraction for many black headed gulls this morning was the presence of a farmer ploughing up a field nearby.  It is seed time.  He is busy getting the land ready.  I was reminded of the poem I Will Go With My Father A ploughing, by Joseph Campbell.

I will go with my father a-ploughing
To the green field by the sea,
And the rooks and the crows and the seagull
Will come flocking after me.
I will sing to the patient horses
With the lark in the while of the air,
And my father will sing the plough-song
That blesses the cleaving share.

Instead of horses the farmer today is using a big tractor pulling a large wide machine which grinds up the soil.  Hundreds of gulls follow the fresh upturned soil.  They dive for tasty morsels of worms and insects destrubed by the machinery.  Rooks and crows live nearby in the forest.  They join in the foray, just as the poem says.  Joseph Campbell was born in Co Down.  Perhaps his father ploughed in the green fields by the sea near where I live.

Look at the birds of the air,  they don’t sow nor reap yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Matthew 6 v 26
I saw our Heavenly Father at work today feeding the gulls.

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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.

Testimony Tuesday. Difficulty to Get to the Airport for a Trip Abroad.

Brendan’s work to help people in other countries know the love of God meant he had to travel often. The devil often tries to stop us getting to do what God has called us to do. He will try any way to stop us. Brendan was flying on a trip to Ethiopia.  I had a small car and I offered to drive Brendan to the airport to save him the stress of driving.  He had everything packed, and made sure he had all items covered.

We called into the garage to get some fuel.  Brendan offered to put it in the vehicle.  He put twenty pounds of unleaded into the car and went off to pay for it.  Oh no, my car took diesel, and not unleaded fuel.  Brendan was used to filling his own car with unleaded fuel.  It is an easy mistake to make.   I said to Brendan, “My car takes diesel.”

“What shall we do?”.  It was too late to call someone to take us to a garage.  We called a friend but there was no response.  We remained level headed.  We didn’t get into an argument or blame one another.

I suggested that we fill up the tank with diesel and drive on to the airport.  We had to hope the engine would not be damaged by the unleaded fuel.  It would be diluted by more diesel.  Brendan said “Let’s try it”.  We don’t have any other option.  

I drove the vehicle to the airport and the engine was still working fine.  Brendan got his flight and was able to get to his destination.  Praise God.  God is faithful to care for Brendan when he goes on trips.  We may have different difficulties but God always helps us out.  If we are working for the Father he will be faithful to look after us.  

The enemy was thwarted from his plans to stop Brendan getting on that plane. You may think I am out of my mind mentioning the devil and that he stops us going places. I know his work is to rob, steal and destroy and I want to expose his works. So you need not be afraid. Jesus defeated him and we can overcome all evil if we trust in Jesus.

A Bird Built His Nest

 

Recently I was thinking of the blackbirds in the garden of the our Saul St home. There were so many blackbirds that I wanted to call it “Blackbird Garden”.  Every spring they would be competing for the best territory to build a nest. The hedge rows, the ivy covering the walls, the holy bushes, the undergrowth of briars, all offered a safe place to build a nest. In the big garden the birds could forage for food to feed their hungry chicks.

The male blackbird has black feathers and a bight orange beak.  He was distinctive with his shiny coat as he sat on a branch surveying the area he was planning to build his nest and singing to attract his female.  She was close by, proud of her mate who was going to prepare a home for her and her young.

The birds began to build the nest.  They flew in through a hole in the hedge with beaks full of small twigs, moss or wool.  They built their nest with the twigs and used the moss or wool for the cosy lining to keep mother and chicks warm.  When the young were hatched father blackbird was even busier collecting food and feeding the young.  He was working all the hours of sunlight.

As I watched the early morning activity of the birds, my thoughts went to my husband.  He was like the blackbird.  He was busy being responsible for me and his family and property.  He made sure his home for his family was warm and there was enough food.  He had a house full of hungry young as well.  He kept the home fires burning in the cold months.  He paid the bills.

Our Heavenly Father has put it into the heart of the bird and the father to have young and care for them.  God cares for all he has created.

We have moved house recently.  It has plenty of space for our children and grandchildren to visit.
I see this aspect of a caring father in my husband at the moment, even though our chicks have all flown the nest.  He is like the blackbird going to and fro putting things in place, hanging pictures of the children, making up beds, preparing his workplace, carrying chairs and tables.  He will sit at the head of the table as we share food and family times again.  He will sit around a camp fire out on the veranda and tell stories to his grandchildren that he told to his own children.  Brendan is preparing a home for his own children to return to and bring their little ones.

We are not retiring as parents.  Our work will continue as God gives us strength.  No pensioners bungalow for us.  Our children still need us.

Gods word encourages us to look at the birds.

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 ‭6‬:‭26-27‬ NIV)

People have often asked us “How can you afford such a big family?”  We have faith in God like the birds he will care for us.  We are more important than them.  God promises to care for us.  He is worthy to be trusted.

In one of the psalms it says,
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! (‭Psalms‬ ‭84‬:‭3‬ NLT)

Brendan was working with the children in our garden once before.  A blackbird came and built a nest very close to where they were working.  It busied itself with its young while Brendan was busy with his young digging the garden.  The birds like to be around life.  As our spirits reach out to God the birds respond.  They sing for us on the branches.  We will always remember that family of blackbirds.

The first of our children and grandchildren came to visit at the weekend.  I turned on the heating to warm up all the rooms.  I reminded my husband that the blackbird lines the nest with wool to keep the young warm.  He swallowed hard.

It is the middle of an Irish winter.  Whoever thinks of a house move at this time!  Our new home is bigger.  Our last house was a modern bungalow with good insulation.  It was like a hot house.  I was using the same bed covering here that I used in the bungalow.  I was feeling the chill last night.  I gave in to changing the bed covering to a duvet Brendan bought two years ago.  I tried it out before but found it too warm.  It was just what was needed in our new nest.  The feathered filled duvet kept us cosy through the cold night.  My husband had already provided for the colder days!

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