Sixteen Graduations in One Family

Brendan and I set off for Scotland from Belfast City Airport on Thurday. We arrived on good time for our Flybe flight. I was looking forward to spending the afternoon with our son who was picking us up from the Glasgow airport.

We checked our flight on the screen. It was rescheduled for a hour later. That was fine. We relaxed in the lounge. Our flight was called but we were told to wait in the lounge. Time passed. We missed our flight! A big shock! Brendan comforted me but I was shaken. An attendant arranged for us to get the next flight at six thirty without any further expense. That eased the pain. We missed seeing our son. More waiting.

Today, Friday, 7/7/17, our daughter Angela graduated from Edinburgh university. We were with her to see her receive her award along with over a hundred other students. It was a colourful and jubilant occasion.

Angela is the last of our fourteen children. All sixteen of us have received a degree from university. It is forty five years since I graduated from university. Today’s celebration was worth the waiting.

I have lived to see all my children graduate after having cancer in 2010. God is good. He is faithful to keep his promise that he will bless my children. Exodus 20. Brendan was at each birth of our children and at each graduation. That must be a record. He is a great husband, dad and grand dad.

God and his angels rejoice when we were born on the earth. God and his angels are rejoicing over us today.

When God gives a promise nothing can stop it coming about. Our own mistakes, difficulties, even missing a flight will not stop what God plans to bring about.

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Testimony Tuesday. Call In The Experts.

If one is in any kind of trouble he wants someone who can help.  If your car breaks down you call a mechanic.  If you have a burst pipe in the house you call an expert, the plumber.  If the electric wires are not working you call an electrician.  You don’t call a plumber to fix the electrics.  If you need a house built you call a builder.  If you need to sell your house you call someone who can market your house.  If you need legal advice you call a lawyer.

If one’s body is the trouble he calls the doctor.  The doctors can help by diagnosing his disease.  He will give his professional advice and prescribe drugs or advise surgery if necessary. It is marvellous the advances in medical care in the 21st century in the west and we get to benefit from it.

I discovered in my research, that people who have cancer in Russia do not have the expertise we can avail of here in the United Kingdom. What can they do?

God gives experts in the Church who have different gifts to help the people.  Some people have the gift of healing.  So if one is sick call the experts in healing.  Call those who believe in God, who know how to pray, and help spiritually to bring healing to the mind and body.

Call people who believe God answers prayer, people who believe that God heals.  People who already have experienced healing.  One wants to be around those who have faith and who love and help one through the days of loneliness, fear, and sickness.

For one day I had the symptoms of sickness and wretching, side effects from having treatment from chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  Wretching alone made me feel weak and fearful.  My body and mind could not take any more pain.  I passed out.  During that morning two people rang me.  One lady felt The Lord prompted her to ring me and pray for me.  

Knowing God alerted someone who knew how to pray comforted me.  She prayed for me and she brought me peace.  My niece rang me and said God told her to ring me and pray for me.  He told her to remind me it was God who taught me to pray.  Again I was overwhelmed with God’s love for me.  He sent help.  I am so thankful God preserved me from pain, burning and sickness.  

Fear of death can overwhelm the cancer sufferer.  It can leave one with no courage to fight.  So one lies down under the sickness and loses the will to live.  I had been bleeding for three years from my colon but I thought it would go away.  I thought the blood could be coming from heamoroids or colitis.  I believed that God can heal and have prayed for others who have been healed.  At no time did I think of cancer.

I eventually came to realise my condition was not improving, but getting worse, I told my husband.  I needed others to help me.  We went to the hospital.  The doctor examined me and referred me on to the oncology specialist.  It seemed I had cancer.  I was numb and was relieved that my condition was discovered.  I now knew the truth.  I was too weak to care.  I had no fight left.  I was not in control any more.  I was now dependant on the help of experts, the doctors to diagnose the condition and those who believe that God heals.

The news hit my husband and children hard.  They were sad but not hopeless or overwhelmed.  They loved Mum and didn’t want me to die.  They believed God would come to our aid in my time of despair.  They gathered around me the first night and prayed for my healing.  My family arose as an army to fight fear, cancer and death.  The war was on.  

We were in a spiritual battle.  When someone comes into your house to steal your property will you stand by and let them steal it?   No you will put up a fight to put the robber out or call the police for help.  So it was with my family.  The devil was bringing cancer and death to their mum to steal her away from them.  They believed God and spoke God’s promise over my life that I shall not die and by the stripes of Jesus I am healed

Scriptures say the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (‭John‬ ‭10‬:‭10‬ NIV)

Jesus was referring to the evil one,  the Devil who comes to kill.   The Devil is a spiritual being and one cannot fight him physically.  But we can fight him and defeat him with Gods spiritual weapons of war.  Jesus came on earth to destroy the works of the Devil.  He preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, for people to turn to God away from sin and He would forgive their sins and heal their diseases.  He died on the cross and shed his Blood.  If we accept his sacrifice we will be healed.  By his stripes we are healed.  

The weapons to defeat Satan are faith in God, speaking out the Name of Jesus, and saying the Blood of Jesus is against you Satan and walking in peace, forgiving others as Jesus has forgiven us our sins.

If I am in trouble I want to call someone who knows how to pray to God and get results.  I needed prayer warriors who were not afraid of the enemy and had the right weapons and armour to win the battle.  As news of my trouble spread people prayed for me.

After my family prayed for me, the bleeding stopped within a week.  The battle was on and my family was winning.  The healing from Cancer began.  

God promises to be with us in trouble.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. (‭Psalm‬ ‭91‬:‭14-15‬ NIV)

Testimony Tuesday. Norming and Storming Brings Unity.

In earlier years some children left home for university and others were still at home.  At holiday times those at university would return home to Ireland with their luggage.  They would have to find a spare bed or share with others for the duration of the holidays.  We all had to adjust to being in close proximity again.

When children leave they have more space in their new surroundings.  So returning to a confined space stretched their patience and they had to sacrifice their own comfort.  They usually were stressed out after exams at university and tired after all the activity student life demands.  They would crash in bed and sleep late.

I had other expectations.   I looked forward to their company and some help to give me a break from working in the home.  Instead I had more work to do, more cooking and shopping.  Home was somewhere for them to get their batteries recharged.  My batteries were running out.

In my dilemma I would get frustrated with the children and made demands they were not able to meet.  Children would get frustrated with each other and disputes would have to be settled.  All this was too much for me.  I would call on my husband to talk to any child  who was misbehaving and settle disputes between me and the children, or between each other.

Brendan had his work cut out.  He called these times “Norming and Storming.”  The children were disciplined and reconciled.  Often I felt disciplined when I had to be reconciled to my own children.  The father has the ability to do this for his family.  He can bring unity.  While living together as a big family we had to get on with each other and forgive each other.  We had to go through the process each time we were together.

Despite all the Norming and Storming at the beginning, holidays always turned out to be refreshing times when we could spend time together at meals and at play.  My husband and I were stretched at these times.  When everyone left we needed to take a break ourselves to forget about our troubles and spend time together.

When any group of people get together to do a task, they have to take time to know one another.  Each one’s skills and gifts are needed in the Christian life to help each other.  I needed others to help me get healed.  Someone with the gift of healing helped, another with the gift of prophecy encouraged, a deliverer, the doctors, nurses, family and friends were all needed to love me back to health.  God works through people.  We are his hands and feet.  That is why it is important to get on with each other and forgive each other.

We make up the Body of Christ.  Where brothers dwell together in unity The Lord commands a blessing.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭133‬:‭1, 3‬ NIV)

I Asked My Husband to Help Me With the Dishwasher.

 

Some of my children have been home for Christmas festivities and rest.   The last child left yesterday to go back to St Andrew’s university via the French Alps.  He must be influenced by princes.  Prince Willliam went to St Andrews and skied in the Alps.

When my children lived at home, chores wereimage delegated to each child.  Someone was in charge of the dishwasher, to load it and unload it.  Now Brendan and I are on our own I ask him to help in the kitchen.  I started to unload the cups from the dishwasher yesterday morning.  I noticed thy felt gritty.  They were not properly washed!  I asked Brendan if he would have a look to see why the dishwasher was not functionally properly.

“Is there dishwasher salt?”
“No I don’t have any.”
“There’s bound to be some about.”
I didn’t answer, wondering where am I to find it among all the stuff we still have to sort after our recent house move.

I left Brendan to work away cleaning up the dishwasher.  He removed two arms that spray hot water over the dishes.  The holes in them were blocked, so were not working efficiently.  Brendan removed certain debris, rice, string, glass, a piece of plastic, and other food particles.

He put the parts together again and completed the task.  It took longer than I thought.

When I involve Brendan in the work he does a thorough job.

A husband and father has many skills we as wives and mothers don’t often draw upon.  Very often I do the job myself to save hastle, or my pride says I can do it better.
If the husband brings home the money to provide for the family, he and we may think he has done his job.

How come the children will listen to their father and not the mother?   How come we hide what the children are up to from their father in case dad will be too harsh with them?  A child will respect his father when he is disciplined and it brings peace to the mother.

How come men don’t worry too much?   A man has grace to look after his wife and children.  If I don’t ask for his help he does not get an opportunity to use the grace God has given him.  

How come God made man to have strong, broad shoulders?  It is to carry the responsibilities we as women were never intended to carry?

How come men go off to the pub,  the football match, golf, or find another woman?  Perhaps they see us doing such a good job on our own, going out to work, looking after the children, shopping, cleaning and disciplining  that they feel they are not needed.  They were never asked so they find some other outlet to occupy their time.

Children will follow our example.  If a child sees his father taking a caring role in his family there is more likelihood he will do the same for his family.  If a child sees that the mother takes the caring role, as the father absents himself then that is the model he will follow.

As a wife and mother, cook and carer I busied myself over the years.  I worried, got anxious and prayed.  I often did not ask my husband for help.  Pride and independence prevented me from asking for help.   We grow up in society that tells us we are a failure if you can’t do things yourself.  Independence is offered to us.  You don’t need others. Earn enough money to buy independence and kill yourself in the process and one is left old, lonely and bitter.

I have learnt through my experience of life, through pain and failure that God’s pattern for marriage is the best.   He has the blueprint.  I have learnt to relinquish control.

What do you want, women, for your husbands and children?   Relax, don’t do all the work, ask the husband to help and take his rightful role in the family.  Respect his position that God has given him.  Let him lead.  Let him look after you.  Ultimately God will hold him responsible for how he looked after his family.

How I Learned to Use a Computer

While at school I was good at English Language but not so hot with English Literature.  My reading was limited to true life stories.  I did not like writing letters unless I had something good to write.  My husband would sit at night and tell my children stories about his childhood.  I never shared any stories from my past.

In 2004 when my fourteenth child went to primary school, I decided I would freshen up my typing skills and learn to use a computer.  I had an idea that some day I would write about my family.  My children in the primary school were being taught computer skills.  I wanted to get up to date.

I went to a typing class back in 1976 at the technical college in Coleraine.  My second child went to play group while I attended the class.  I had just moved to that town.  I got to meet new people.  I enjoyed the coffee break more than the actual class.  I was learning to type on the old typewriters.  I learned basic skills, asdf with my left hand and lkjh with my right hand, but made friendships there that have lasted till today.  I met an Indian lady, Shanti, who taught me how to make curries.  Pauline became my friend.  She had two children the same age as my own.  Everyone from that class went on to full time employment.  Motherhood became my full time employment.

Habits never change.  At my new computer class I enjoyed the coffee break best.  I got to chat to some of the other ladies.  One said to me, “You could get a job in Management with your skills after having fourteen children.”  She only encouraged my pride.  I thought to myself, “Yes that is true.  I must apply for a job.  I could supplement our income.  My talents could shine for all to see.  At last I could be free from the kitchen sink.”

When I returned home I threw the car keys on the table and announced to my husband  “I am going to apply for a job.  A lady told me today I could easily get a job in Management.”  He looked at me perplexed.  He was used to my strong will.  He did not say anything.  I didn’t ask his advice.
I went upstairs to my room and thought “Perhaps I should ask God?  Is it his will I go out to work?  It seemed a good idea to me, I could earn some money.”

God spoke to me through the scriptures, in other words “Do you want to work for me.”  I believe looking after my husband and children was the work God had called me to do.  I gave up the idea of going outside the home to work.  I had a full time job at home.  I gave up the struggle.  Going out to work was not mentioned again.

I finished the computer course.  Brendan let me use his computer to practice my skills.  There was an exam at the end of the ten weeks.  I had to complete a basic skill, such as writing a letter, save it and print it out.  I pressed the wrong button and my work disappeared.  My fears came rushing back to me of being in an exam and not knowing what to do, and failing.  Panic set in.  I felt like I was in the board room with Lord Sugar.

I steadied myself and thought “What am I doing getting annoyed over this exam.  I have a life experience of rearing my family, which is more important than a disappearing document on a computer.  It is not the end of the world.”  There is nothing wrong with failure.  I learnt from my mistakes.  I am careful to save all work I write on the computer now.

Over the years when I read from the bible some words would speak to me.  I would write them down with the reference.  If I needed to remind myself I could refer back to my notes.  Brendan called them my “Rewrites”.  He thought I was re writing the bible.  But he always bought me a new diary every year to keep my notes in.  I have a shelf full of these books.

I thought I would  like to progress to getting a computer to keep my notes.  But a computer is a bit more expensive than a notebook.  I was given some money so I said to Brendan “I wanted to buy a computer.”   Laptops were becoming popular.  Sometimes the children wanted to use Brendan’s computer to do their homework.  I reassured him that if I got one the children could use it.  He agreed and I bought a basic Dell Laptop.

E mail was becoming popular.  I used the laptop to send e mails to my children or friends.  Once in a while I would send an email about all the news in my family to each of my children who had left home.  I got great feed back from them.  They enjoyed my writing and wanted me to keep in touch.  This was the beginning of my writing.  I was encouraged by my children’s response.

My children taught me how to use the new laptop.  I did save some notes on it.  My children got the most benefit from it, doing their homework.

In April 2010 I was diagnosed with cancer.   It was my birthday at the end of May.  I was returning from one of my hospital visits when Brendan brought me to PC World.  He wanted to buy me a new Laptop. He said, “This is for you.  Don’t let the children use it.”  It had a gleaming, shiny red top.  I said “I want to write a book about my children.”  I have many life experiences I wanted to write about.

One of my daughters told me recently she thought I was crazy.  In one of her weak moments she didn’t think I would use it .  I had cancer after all.  My husband believed differently.

After I knew I was healed I began to use my laptop with great enthusiasm.  I wouldn’t let the children use it.  I wrote down about my recent experiences going through cancer.  I even watched Alan Sugar’s “The Apprentice” on I Player.  My son suggested I start a blog.  He set it up for me on WordPress and I stumbled into the cyber space.  Alleluia.  The whole world has opened up for me.

In 2012 we were visiting our daughter.  She had just bought a new I Pad.  She accessed much information through touching the screen.  She could type up an e mail swiftly on the touch typing screen.  Brendan was watching.  In May of that year he bought me a new I Pad.  It has been such a blessing to me.  My blogging has increased.  I can be in touch by e mail.  I can take photos easily and transport them to emails or WordPress.  I can take it on a flight with me.  I can take photos from the aeroplane portal.  I take photos on the beach.

My shiny computer sits on a shelf near me.  It was used by my children since 2012 for home works, applications for jobs, writing up CVs, e mails and watching movies late at night.  All their information has been deleted from it.  I will use it again.  I will collate all my re writes and use them.

My husband is a skilled writer.  I have learnt much from him.  He has written four books.  Thousands of copies have been distributed here and abroad.  Staying Alive has been translated into Slovakian, Italian and will be translated soon into Russian.

There is a time for everything under heaven.   God has guided me along the path of life and saved me from many snares.  It is now time for me to write and tell stories of good news.

Thank God for the development in Media Technology.  We are living in the days Daniel spoke of when knowledge and travel will increase.  Daniel 12 v 4

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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I Always Have Difficulty Working the Shower When On Holiday

I always need my husband’s help to show me how to work the shower when we stay abroad. When I travel I have come across such a variety of showers in hotels and apartments.

I was in Homebase recently and my mind could not take in the variety of bathrooms and showers.

In this competitive market an hotel’s rating could balance on how good the shower is! Is there power in your shower? Each hotel wants their name to be number one on trip advisor.

My daughter manages a hotel in Belfast that has been awarded number one on Trip Advisor.   I believe the award is due to my daughter’s management skills.

I have never come across instructions on how to use showers. The owner always presumes that the user is up to speed with modern utilities, or has access to the internet “to google it”.

Usually there is a metal dial that is hard to grip with wet hands.   Not a simple tap that can be turned easily. One has to adjust it to get the right temperature.  If I am undressed I run the risk of freezing with cold water or being scalded with hot water as I turn the dial.

I am staying in a cottage in a quiet village near the Tatra Mointains in Slovakia.

image

It seems we stepped back in time. My neighbours were preparing blueberries to make Jam. I awoke the first morning and went to wash. It was too early to awake my husband.

image

I reached into the shower to turn the knob at the top. I thought, “I will get the water running before I get undressed.” Cold water sprayed me from left and right and soaked my arm and dressing gown. I tried the next knob to the left and right?  It would not budge.

I have never come across such a complicated shower unit in my life, and so unexpected since this is the country. All I want is a shower that works simply and helps me get washed in the morning, not a torture chamber that threatens one with sprays of cold water.

I began to feel this shower unit behaved like an enemy and was out to stop me having a simple wash. Will I have to resort to a quick freshen up with a facecloth like the old days before showers were used. It certainly would be less complicated.

I checked out the bathroom upstairs. I decided to have a bath instead and used the shower head to wash my hair. I was going to steer clear of the torture chamber downstairs.

Later that morning my husband went to wash. I did not warn him about the torture chamber.  I wondered, “Will he be my knight in shining armour again to rescue his distressed wife, wrapped in a towel?”

He got the shower working!  Hurrah.

There was even a radio in the shower to help one whistle while you wash. He conquered my enemy. What a great husband I have!

This shower seemed to be an upright hot tub. With all the knobs turned to the proper position, water sprays from various openings along the wall, to massage the occupier. The reward for discovering how to get the shower working!

When Brendan and I speak at conferences in different countries, we need an interpreter to help us communicate. In future I will need an interpreter to show me how tho use the modern gadgets!