The Sandwich Tern Arrive.

I was excited to see Sandwich terns today on Swan Island. It is rock outcrop a few yards from Strangford harbour. They are on time! Cold winds are easing and the days are warmer and have longer hours of daylight. Isn’t it wonderful that these birds fly thousands of miles from southern parts of Europe and America to rear their young. We are privileged to have them visit. Thousands of travelers on the Strangford ferry will get to see these terns up close. The birds are safe on the island out of reach from any enemies, but near enough for us to enjoy them.

There are many pairs in the colony that will nest and rear their young on the small island. They are very noisy. They rise up into the air together, screech and fly off to feed. They catch small fish on the surface of the water. Perhaps the same flock of terns return year after year.

The Strangford ferry is a vantage point to see the terns. Some of the birds stand on the end of the gangway on the ferry as it crosses the Lough. They aren’t shy of humans.

When I arrived home I heard Bird Song as the evening sun was setting. I recognized the blackbird’s, robin’s and starling’s call in the chorus. Only a few come to the bird table in the morning. They must be off looking for mates and making their nests in preparation to rear their young. It is safe now to start building. A week ago there was snow on the ground and many birds were feeding at the bird table.

The daffodils are sprouting yellow trumpets at last. They were held back by cold temperatures. What a welcome sight of new green shoots and yellow flowers swaying in the breeze, another sign that spring has sprung.

God’s glory is seen in his creation. Who tells the tern to leave the warm climes to come north to the best conditions to rear their young? Who causes the grass, flowers and trees to bud and blossom? Who causes the lambs to be born just when it is warm enough for them to survive.

“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:11‬. NIV


The Sunshine has Returned

It is a fact that man is sure to have trouble in this world.
Yet man is born to trouble, as sure as sparks fly upward. Job 5 v 7

When I was living in my father’s home I was sheltered and protected from life’s storms.
I was hopeful and joyful for my future when I left home. My sunny expectations have carried me through many ups and downs in life. Yes we will have troubles but God in Psalm 91 promises to be with us in trouble and deliver us out of it.

Psalm 50 v 13 to 15 v 23

I don’t need your sacrifices.
What I want instead is your true thanks to God.
Trust me in times of trouble and I will rescue you and you will give me glory.
But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.

The sun is shining again bringing light and warmth. Alleluia. It is so welcome after grey snow laden clouds and chilly biting winds here in Ireland. Humans, animals and birds were forced to shelter till the storm passed. Was that the last cold blast before spring? Can the daffodils blossom and lift their sunshine petal trumpets now?

How did I survive the cold spell? I needed the help of others. Brendan made sure there was oil in the tank, coal and wood at hand to light a fire in the evenings. The warmth from hot water bottles helped us get to sleep. My daughter made warm dinners.

I had a lingering cold for a few days. I had started listening to the radio in the mornings and when I was driving. My ears were buzzing with fears about results of Brexit, local tragedies and news of bad weather. My mood took a dip and I developed a fever as the cough developed. I hid under the duvet. I felt a dark shadow over me bringing gloom. My husband and daughter prayed and attended to me.

I realised what had happened to me. I was allowing all the bad news to affect my mind. I was not thanking God for his many blessings to help me through the dark days. I needed to get back to reading the good news. The Word of God is truth and up lifting and healing.

Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice, Paul encourages us. We may not feel like rejoicing when your car won’t start, you can’t get to work and the baby won’t stop crying. Thanking and praising God changes the atmosphere. Your mood changes and it lets God move to help. He comes to the rescue.

Often I would come before God crying and telling him all my woes. It doesn’t help. My prayers don’t get any higher than the ceiling. His word tells me to come before him with thanksgiving and praise. That is the best sacrifice that pleases God. Then he will move to change the woes. They will disappear like wax before heat and smoke before the wind.

Psalm 91 reminds us if we trust God he will be with us in trouble. In this world we will have trouble. Jesus said be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Our best security for the future is to thank God now, each day and he promises to be with us in the bad times and even deliver us out of them. Alleluia.

Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. The birds are singing, The sun is reflecting off the water again. The sky is blue. The dark clouds have gone. My car will get fixed. That which is broken will be restored.

We may do all we can in life to avoid trouble. But it is a fact that trouble will come.


Red Berries for the Thrush

A Robin jumped from branch to branch in the hedgerow to welcome us home recently. Brendan leaves food out every morning for the birds. The Robin is a regular visitor.

Last week, cold winds blew in over The British Isles bringing snow overwhelming homes and roads. Red alert warnings have been given to warn people to stay at home.

Someone told me that a Tesco Extra near where she lives was sold out of food before the freeze. People were making sure they had food to keep them over the cold spell. Birds need extra food too during cold weather. New birds came to our bird table recently, blackbirds, wagtails, chaffinch and sparrow. There is a wildlife display as we have our breakfast inside.

A tree down the garden had many red berries on it. I noticed a flurry of activity around it. I looked closer. A number of song thrushes were feeding greedily on the berries. They flew back and forth from the forest nearby. One bird sat on a branch and kept watch. If any other birds come to the tree it drove them away. Some blackbirds tried to get the bounty. A fight broke out till the intruders flew off.

The snow has melted. The thrush are staying in the forest. The shelves in Tesco will be filled again. Life will return to normal. The danger has past. Our regular visitor, the Robin will sit on a branch in the hedgerow waiting for the door to open.

An Invitation to be Still

Come stop.

Do you hear the click, click, click?

A flurry of Turnstones,

Along the shoreline,
Looking for insects,
Tasty, moist morsels,
On up-turned pebbles.
Ignore your ringing phone.
Do you see their darting bodies,
Brown and white, camouflaged.
Their beaks turn over stones
Among the seaweed
That glistens in the sun.
I cannot see God
But I see his Glory
In these little creatures.
Forget about shopping.
Don’t worry,
Dinner can wait.
Come stay a while.

Present Time Still Standing

The present cold, dull day makes one want to stay close to home comforts. My AGA cooker is one of my home comforts. For the last few days it was not working properly and I was feeling the cold. The engineer checked it over on Friday night. The problem was a blocked filter stopping the oil flowing to power the cooker.

I had been meditating on the scripture about five wise virgins who had their lamps filled with oil. I wrote a blog on the subject. I was experiencing at first hand what it was like not to have the oil flowing. I was very cold as a result. I was waiting patiently to see if the Aga was working again. I was overjoyed to see it was working better than it had been for a long time and my kitchen was warm again.  I cooked pancakes for breakfast, made wheaten bread in the oven and cooked soup, all before ten am.

In the early morning the sun light up the sky and sea to a pale blue. Light and warmth were returning. Is the winter over?

My husband and I went for a walk along the shore. We walked through the variety of boats safe on dry land for the winter. A rich man’s yacht, a black upturned curragh, an unfinished wooden skiff and some fiber glass small boats sheltered there. We went to our favorite spot to collect sea glass. Oh, the welcome warmth on our backs as we bent down searching.

Later we sat at the quay sharing some fish and chips. Other creatures were enjoying the welcome sunny morning. Brent geese fed in the water and gulls soared overhead. Two gulls landed on the pier a little distance off. I took a photo of them. A friend distracted me for a while. She was out enjoying the morning as well.

When I looked at the gulls again, I noticed the bigger one was standing on one leg. I commented to my husband. A moment later the gull stretched the missing leg out behind. He limped a few steps forward and sat down. His partner looked on attentively. He must have been in pain. We prayed that the gull’s leg would be healed and restored.

Yesterday was a joyful day. I wanted to fit in so much while the sun shone. The joy of yesterday overflowed into today. The cold and dullness at the present time has not dented my sense of wellbeing.

Lamps filled with Oil.

Two days before Jesus was arrested and brought to be crucified, he spoke to his disciples. One of the last parables he spoke to them about was the story of the ten virgins.

““At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.
The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.
The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

When Jesus was with his disciples he spoke to them about many things which they did not have had clear understanding about. It was after he died and rose again that they began to think about what he had told them.

The disciples received the Holy Spirit when they were waiting and praying together in the upper room. Jesus told them to wait till they received power from on high. After they received the Holy Spirit they were bold and proclaimed about Jesus without fear.

In the scriptures we are told that the Holy Spirit has many attributes. Here are some or them; like a dove, Luke 3 v 22; quencher of thirst, Isaiah 55 ; the comforter, John 14 v 26; teacher of truth, John 16 v 13, giver of power, Acts 1 v 8; giver of joy, Romans 14 v 17. giver of love, Romans 5 v 5; giver of eternal life, John 4 v 14; oil, Mark 6v 13; prayer, Jude 1 v 20.

Do you need love, joy, heaven, truth or comfort? Are you thirsty? Are these not attributes all our hearts desire? I have good news for you. The Holy Spirit wants to give these without measure. Receive him.

The five wise virgins with their lamps and oil are symbolic of people who receive the Jesus (lamp) and keep the Holy Spirit (oil) flowing in their lives. They are prepared for any good work and will not be ashamed when Jesus returns. The foolish virgins are symbolic of those of us who receive Jesus but don’t keep the oil of the Holy Spirit flowing in their lives. They will be unprepared for Jesus return.

Many people start off excited about the Holy Spirit but do not continue praying in the Spirit. Persecutions or lack of perseverance discourage one. So we give up. Let today be a new day for you. It is the beginning of Lent. A new beginning to turn again to God.  A flickering flame he will not put out. Instead God can cause that flame to be stirred up into a fire! Be filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit.

i can testify to the Holy Spirit being my Comforter.  Many times when I’ve been distressed I’ve been comforted.  The Holy Spirit has led me into truth and led me in life’s paths that are good for me.  He has given me joy instead of despair.  His power strengthened to rear fourteen children and be healed of cancer.  When I have no love left, he fills me with love again.  He will keep me and give me eternal life in heaven.  Praise God.

The Heron

Cyclists sprint past,
Cars hurry to the ferry,
Lovers chat,
Strong youths hike along the shore road
Unaware of the heron

Standing nearby

Long legs stiff

Beside the still water

Dignified with

Long, whispy feathers

Dangling from his chest.

Slender neck outstretched

Head tilted
Eyes staring, glaring.
Yellow beak darts and stabs.
A small fish is swallowed.


Head wound into his shoulders

Rest for a while

Satisfied, savouring success
He waits into the night, fishing.
He knows that tomorrow
There will be choppy waters.
He shrieks, spreads his feathers,
Like a skirt hanging from his wings,
And rises to the hills beyond,
To wait, high in a tree,
Till the storm passes.