Whale And Bird Watching

On the whale watch off Boston, I saw a hump back whale flip it’s tail and descend into the depths of the sea to catch its prey.

Before my trip to Massachusetts I noticed a couple of Swallows nesting in the eves of our barn. The Brent Geese have left but the Swallow has arrived. The Swallow is a tiny bird in comparison but it has just completed a 3000 mile trip from Africa. They have arrived in Ireland to rear their young.

I have just made a 3000 mile trip from Dublin to Boston. I have come to Boston in the springtime! The area around Boston is called New England. I wonder why? I soon found out as I travel around this area. Many people left Eurpoe over the past four hundred years in search of a new life in Northern America. The Irish came to America fleeing famine, poverty and war. It is surprising how the territory looks like The British Isles, similar lands, trees and birds, and similar seasons. The gardens around have similar plants to the ones back home. Many villages around here are called, Glouster, Dover, Portsmouth, Antrim, Manchester, Belfast.etc.

People can now fly to the New Land where many, many years ago only the birds could reach. Our hostess loves birds. She is from England. She leaves out food for them. All sorts of birds and creatures arrive to partake of the feast. Two Red Squirrels, Grey Squirrels , tiny Chipmonks, ducks, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Sparrows, to mention only a few, feed outside. I watch this little zoo at breakfast time. I look up in the sky and there are swallows here too. They fly here from warmer climates in South America.

Brendan and I were priveged to go on a whale watch off the coast of Boston. Different whales come north to feeding grounds off the east coast of New England. There are Minke, Humpback and Blue whale. We were told to look out for water spouts. This was spray released when the whale comes up for air. I was very excited when I saw a geyser of water in the distance. We were in whale territory! The boat slowed down. A mother humpback whale and her calf were swimming nearby. What big creatures! I marveled at these beautiful mammals as I followed them gliding through the water. Then the mother dived underwater as she flipped her tail. Many whales are recognized by the pattern on the tail. The people who take us for the whale watch have given a name to each new whale and keep a record of sightings. I thought of a scripture verse referring to the whale from Psalm 104

“O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small.
See the ships sailing along, and the whale which you made to frolic in the sea.
They all depend on you to give them food as they need it.
When you supply it, they gather it.
You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied.
May the glory of the Lord continue forever! The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭104:24-28, 31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On the whale watch on Thursday, a tiny bird landed on the boat. It wasn’t afraid to come close to people. It landed on a lady’s jumper. It was a Wilson’s Warbler, indigenous to North America. It is like our sparrow. It was on its way north to breeding grounds from the south. It had been blown off course. In the local Amsbury newspaper there was an article that said migration of birds was delayed this year to Massachusetts because of bad weather.
The Lord knows when a sparrow falls to the ground.

Outside the boat I could see one of the biggest creatures on earth and on the boat one of the smallest creatures. What a contrast and both are cared for by God.

The humpback whale dived, flipped its tail goodbye and began to descend again. Our boat turned for shore.

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

An Heritage of Potted Plants

Brendan and I were not given an heritage of land from our parents but we have inherited a love for plants.

When Brendan and I got married, the first place we lived in was the attic of a fellow student’s house. We progressed to other houses as our family increased.

Our first home with a garden was an end of terrace house. We moved there in 1987. A Cherry tree grew across the street. The pink blossoms were a delight in spring and the colored leaves lingered in autumn. Brendan brought more colour to our bay windows with boxes full of Petunia and Lobelia.  The benefits far outweighed the cost.  Thanks to Brendan the boxes overflowed with trailing blossoms full of colour: pink, purple white and blue. He carefully tended them with water, a touch of miracle grow and some dead heading. They flourished. Our house was the only one in town with a window display. It was greatly admired.  In primary school my son’s teacher asked the children to write about how their family helped their community.  He wrote about his dad brightening up his neighborhood with his colorful window boxes.

There was war in Northern Ireland in those years. People were distressed and their minds were far from beautiful flower arrangements. The sky was grey during the troubles and the atmosphere tense. There may have been war outside but God was giving us peace in our home and garden.  In 1998 we had the Good Friday Agreement.  We have peace in Northern Ireland.  Since then towns around the Provence have flower displays in their centres. There is a competition for the best Blooming Town.  Brendan was prophetic when he made those window boxes.  He was light in the middle of darkness.

I believe everyone should have a garden. It gives extra space to sit in the sunshine or grow flowers and vegetables. In Greece I have seen families sit in the cool of the evening outside their white washed cottages, underneath a canopy of vine leaves. I believe it is God’s will as well. God says in his word, “Every man neath his vine and fig tree shall live in peace and be unafraid.” Micah 4 v 4.

Brendan continued to work in the garden at the back of the house. It was overgrown with weeds. Before we came to live there, people would walk through, as a short cut to the shops. He put up a fence, reclaimed the land, trimmed hedgerows, planted rose bushes, fixed the clothes line, and built a patio and a treehouse.

A lilac tree grew at the entrance to our garden. It reminded me of my childhood. A tree grew in my neighbor’s garden in the country. As I walked to school each morning in May I loved to see the curly, light purple blossoms. It was in full blossom around my birthday at the end of May. Nature was comforting me and remembering my birthday.  I was inspired to write this blog this morning after seeing many lilac tree in the locality.

I am staying on the border of Massachuttes and New Hampshire. As we travel about I see many lilac trees. I asked my host about them. She told me the lilac is designated the state symbol for New York and New Hampshire. A lilac bush can live for hundreds of years.  Originally from Europe and Asia, lilacs date back to the 1750’s in America – they were planted in the first botanical gardens and both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew lilacs in their gardens. I am planning when I go home to buy a lilac tree and plant it in my garden.

Birds built their nests in the hedges as Brendan worked and the children played in the garden. Life returned to the neglected house and garden. Our family flourished in the space and peace. Brendan and I bore fruit in our Captain St home. We had six more children there. The house was a warm “nest” for our growing family.

Came time to move to a bigger home. Brendan and the children put rose bushes and other shrubs into pots. Empty window boxes were packed away. We wanted to bring with us our plants we had nurtured in the garden.

We moved to County Down. It is where I lived till I was eighteen. I grew up on a farm. My mum and dad retired to the town. Their garden was full of rhododendron bushes. Each came into flower at different times in May. I loved their garden. Sadly mum and dad had passed away many years before we moved.  Brendan’s mum would give him a cutting of a plant he would ask her about. We have inherited all the plants she grew in her garden.

I bought some rhododendron for our new garden, to remind me of my parents. Rhododendron like acid soil to grow in. The soil at our new home was not suitable for rhododendron so I have grown these plants in pots ever since.

I was watching Gardener’s World recently. An eighty two year old lady was interviewed. She was an experienced gardener. Many owners of estates had sought her advice for their gardens down through the years. When she downsized to new accommodation she brought sixty pots of her favorite plants with her.

Brendan and I are like her. We had a trailer load of all our pot plants when we moved to our present home. Our assortment of plants have increased and multiplied. We have hostas, roses, geraniums, rhodendrums, daffodils, lily of the valley, primroses, lilies, gladioli, fushia, honeysuckle, agapanthus, everlasting sweet pea, varieties of daisy, pansies, and lobelia. I have a herb garden where the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, parsley and oregano have grown into bushes. They have space to grow when they are removed from the small pots.

Now all our children have left home, Brendan I enjoy tending our garden. This spring we were busy repotting plants, and filling window boxes. We have time to feed, water and dead head our flowers. I am reminded of the scripture,

“The Lord will guide you always; he will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58 v 11.

Our plants have increased and multiplied. This is part of the heritage we can pass on to our children.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/heritage/
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The Brent Geese have Left.

In the last week the Brent Geese have left for Canada. Isn’t it amazing the timing in nature. These birds have been migrating since creation. How marvellous our creator is.

“Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:20-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Many centuries ago before man has cultivated the land people living along the shores of Strangford Lough would have welcomed the arrival of the geese.  Perhaps there could have been a source of food. There are many historical Christian settlements along the Lough, Greyabbey, Nendrum and Movilla.
Nowadays the Brent geese are protected.

When the Brent arrive on the Strangford Lough shores in September, they look like ducks. They have flown across the Atlantic from Northern Canada, a journey of two thousand miles. They spend the next eight months in Ireland. They feed on eel grass, which grows on the intertidal shore especially where fresh water meets the salt water of the sea. There are two such areas on the shore near where I live. I am privileged to watch the birds close up.

For the last month groups of geese gather near my home to feed. I can hear their guttural calling when they arrive. They are fattening up for their flight across the ocean. They now look like geese. They waddle from where they are feeding to the shore and float away when they are disturbed. They conserve energy at this stage only flying off when in danger. They can be approached up close to get a picture. When they do take flight they travel very fast just above the level of the water and disappear into the distance.

The name Brent means charcoal in Norse. Their feather colours are dark on the neck and wings. Their wing tips and underbelly are white. When the sun shines the light highlights the white feathers, making the birds look regal with the black and white contrast.

I thought the same geese return in the spring. The Irish Brent Research Group tells me the parents remain with the young for fifteen months before the fledglings are strong to make the long journey to feeding grounds along the shores of Ireland. They stay home with their young. This reminds me that even the birds follow the truth in the scripture,
“He gently leads those who are with young.” Isaiah 40 v 11.

“The migrating geese leaving en mass signify a powerful force in nature.” quote from Naomi Hart, artist. They know when the time is right. Perhaps there is a strong wind blowing that helps their journey north. The desire to leave and return are part of the bird’s life cycle. I am learning from the birds.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they don’t sow, neither do thy reap.”  Matthew 6 v 26.    I have learnt so much by looking at the birds.

When I travel to Toronto, Canada the flight from Dublin is seven hours. The journey home is only five hours. Why? There was a strong tail wind behind the plane helping it along. Similarly I believe the strong winds help the birds migrate.

Perhaps by looking at the birds St Brendan was inspired to make a boat to travel north into the Atlantic on a path of discovery. Swans and Geese head north into the horizon where the human naked eye can see no land. “But there must be some place out there for the birds to land,” he may have thought?

Brendan and I often go to far off nations around May and September.  Like the birds we know when it is time to fly.

Jerusalem is Prospering.

Brendan and I are in Jerusalem. Number seventeen bus pulled up to our stop. The largest Mall in Israel and the Sports arena is nearby. On our thirty minute journey into the centre of Jerusalem we viewed the many houses, towers, blocks of flats and new hotels being built on the hills surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem. There are cranes standing outlined against the sky, signs of new building work going on. New roadways, tram and train tracks are being laid. Nowhere else in all the world is there such expansion. The new houses are being built to accommodate the exiles returning and the growing population
image

“Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.
Walk around and count the many towers.
Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations.
For that is what God is like.
He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭48:12-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

People from many nations have come to live in Jerusalem. I have met Ethiopians, Americans, Canadians, Russians, Moldovans, Romanians, Columbians, Carribeans, Irish and French people who now live in Israel. Prophesy is being fulfilled before our eyes. In the past the Jewish nation was scattered though out the world and suffered much persecution and rejection. But in these days God is bringing them back to live in Israel again.

““In that day,” says the LORD, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say,
‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’
Instead, they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel back to their own land from the land of the north and from all the countries to which he had exiled them.’
Then they will live in their own land.””
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭23:7-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Brendan and I raised a family of fourteen children. Family is very important in the Jewish tradition. We witnessed this as we sat down in the square of the Jewish quarter. Families were sitting together. One little girl cried out “Abba, Abba!” She wanted her daddy to watch her as she stepped up onto wall. Others walked together holding hands with their father and mother. In one family I noticed four little girls dressed in similar modest outfits. Perhaps the mother made the dresses. I remembered back to when my first three girls were young I made them similar blue dresses. Brendan and I looked at each other. We were reminded of the days when we used to walk hand in hand with our children in the forest or beach on a day out.

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I feel at home in Jerusalem. I am a mother in Jerusalem today. It is the only place in the western world where you see big families. Other nations promote birth control and abortion to restrict their population. They do not believe children are a blessing from God.

“May the LORD continually bless you from Zion.
May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live.
May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭128:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It is the twenty first century. Knowledge and travel has increased. I am seeing the prosperity of Jerusalem. I have been to Jerusalem four times since I was healed from fourth stage cancer. I have seen seven more grandchildren born. God has fulfilled his promise to me from Psalm 128. God is alive and bringing about his promises to the Jewish people and to my husband and I in these days.

Sitting Down in the Storm

I am sitting having breakfast in our friend’s home in Jerusalem. I’m reading the newspaper headlines from the UK.
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“Devastating Storm Doris has battered Britain, with a woman killed and 100mph winds thrashing parts of the UK

The Weather Bomb has ripped roofs from buildings, pulled trees up, toppled walls and resulted in travel chaos across large parts of the country with roads blocked and trains and planes cancelled.”

As Doris hit, Peel Ports in Liverpool announced the city’s port had been closed due to “100mph gusts of wind”.
Network Rail advised “Storm Doris has caused significant disruption throughout the country”, with an enforced speed limit on some lines.” Quotes the Sun.

Brendan and I set out on our journey to Israel at five am on Thursday unaware of any storm that was brewing. We had booked an early morning flight from Belfast to Manchester and then connect with a flight at twelve noon to TelAviv. We were looking forward to our visit to Israel and catching up with friends.

The pilot on the easyjet flight from Belfast landed the plane carefully into Machester. We made our way through security for our connection to Tel Aviv. Then we managed to avoid the waves of beautiful attendants trying to sell us duty free perfumes and drinks till we found our favourite restaurant called Giraffe. Mexican breakfast specialities were on offer. I ordered Masala chilli eggs and salad from the menu. The young man who served us warned me that this dish was quite spicy and hot. I hesitated but decided to try it anyway. The waiter must have thought chilli was too dangerous for a grey haired, female pensioner. Brendan and I sat back and relaxed. Our holiday began.

The rain lashed against the window. The wind shook the roof. Outside planes landed. Below the luggage handlers and technicians unloaded and prepared some planes for their next journey to Finland or Iceland or Germany. The men were well wrapped in water and wind proof jackets. Inside we enjoyed our breakfast.

When our flight was called we made our way to the gate. Jewish men with their black coats and hats were easily recognized. Jewish women with children in arms were pushing prams and balancing luggage. Arab men were waiting as well. They were wearing long grey tunics and small caps. Arab women were distinguished by their long dresses and shawls. Some ladies were covered up completely except for their eyes. We were going to be sitting at close quarters on the plane to Tel Aviv.

We waited in line at the gate to get on the plane it seemed for ages. The wind was getting stronger outside and it was getting colder inside the terminal. Finally an announcement was made. We were advised to return to the waiting area till further notice. Our plane was not leaving. Announcements came over the tanoid system telling of cancellations to different flights due to the weather conditions. I was praying that the Tel Aviv flight would not be cancelled.

I remembered the scripture I know so well “A hope deferred makes the heart sick but a hope fulfilled is a tree of life.” The day before I noticed in my garden a bush that was in blossom. I looked closer. I heard a couple of bees buzzing around the white flowers gathering pollen. I thought to myself “Is that an Almond tree”. I hadn’t noticed it before. Yes it was an Almond tree. I remember when we were in Israel four years ago the Almond trees were in blossom. They are the first trees to blossom in the spring and the last trees to bear fruit. When I looked at the blossoms in my garden I was reassured that I would soon be seeing the Almond blossoms in Israel. The previous week had been very busy for me. I was looking forward to getting away on holiday.

God gave Jeremiah a promise,

“The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled and all my plans carried out. ‭Jeremiah‬ ‭1:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
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The Almond blossom is a sign of hope. One has not to give up. If God has given me a promise then he will bring it to pass. When I had cancer I had grown hopeless and doubted God answering my prayers and fulfilling promises he had given me. I was impatient. God is faithful. Despite my doubt and fears he healed me and restored hope to me. Now when I am faced with difficult situations I do not fear but trust God for the outcome.

I was not afraid or disappointed at the thought of us not getting away. I had a quiet hope. I sat down and waited. I was reading a passage in a book written by Watchman Née the evening before. Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. After he died on the cross to forgive our sins, heal our diseases, break all curses and restore us and provide for us, he went back to heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. God invites us to sit with Jesus in that heavenly place and bring our sins, worries and burdens to him. We are to enjoy what God has done for us. We are to rest and let Jesus bear the weight and responsibility of any difficulty that faces us. As I sat on the waiting room bench, I decided to sit with Christ in that heavenly place and let him take the responsibility to get me to Israel. I did not fret, or feel disappointed or look at the storm raging outside. I was hoping to get there. God will not disappoint as we trust him.

Three hours passed. Then I saw some of the people that were queuing earlier for our flight walking towards the flight gate. I went over to enquire if the Tel Aviv fight was leaving. They said “Yes”. Jesus was getting me and my husband to Israel. My heart was leaping inside.

We boarded the plane. Jews, Arabs, English and Irish sitting together, all happy and thankful to be getting away. The pilot boosted the engines to full power and we rose above the storm.

Fear Makes One Tremble

What would make one tremble?

When we were in Iceland we saw an image that described fear.
An Alsatian dog was tied on a lead to the back of a wagon. It was barking and looked fierce. It’s ears were upright and his mane was big. He looked fierce like a lion.

A lady turned the corner with a white Scottie dog into the road where the Alsation was. When the small dog saw and heard the Alsatian it stopped and trembled with fright. The owner couldn’t move him as she tugged on his lead.

The Alasation could not do any harm, but his size intimidated the little Scottie.
Aren’t we often like that when we are faced with fear or bad news. One’s body trembles automatically and uncontrollably. I feel like that when I walk along a cliff or ride on a roller coaster. My body started to tremble when I was about to give birth to a child. The body reacts automatically for different reasons.

I was reading about a different kind of fear from the scriptures today.

God spoke to Moses and called him up onto Mount Sinai to give him the Ten Commandments. These were laws the Israelites were to follow. These commands are guidelines for life even today for mankind, thousands of years later.

“On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled.”
‭‭All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭19:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬
“Then God gave the people all these instructions: the Ten Commandments.
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” “Don’t be afraid,”
Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!””
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:1, 18-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It is good to have a holy fear of God. We need not tremble with fear when we know God loves us and cares. Here are some more references to the fear of God.

In Isaiah 44, the writer describes God,

6 This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies:

“I am the First and the Last;
there is no other God.
7 Who is like me?
7 Who is like me?
Let him step forward and prove to you his power.
Let him do as I have done since ancient times
when I established a people and explained its future.
8 Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
You are my witnesses—is there any other God?
No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

And in Isaiah 66:2 I read,
My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.”

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

Craft Work is Creative

imageI am at a Craft Fair today in Belfast, the first of the New Year. All the preparation and activities of Christmas are over and I am emerging into the New Year like the daffodil shoots that are reaching up out of the soil. The freezing temperatures last night would have been trying for new growth and little birds alike. My car was covered in wonderful designs of crystal ice, including the door handle. Brendan kindly defrosted the car and loaded boxes and books while I had breakfast.

The birds were having breakfast as well. A Robin with his feathers puffed up was feeding on some seeds Brendan left out for it. We have a tree of ivy out the front. Blackbirds were diving into it, greedy for the last berries on the stems. I counted six birds. They needed more fuel than usual after the cold night.

I started making mosaics from sea glass I found on the beach eighteen months ago. Sea glass is worn down pieces of broken bottles and glass fashioned by years of tumbling and crashing in the waves, sand, water and rocks. I make something beautiful from disgarded,broken and misshapen pieces of glass.

Life treats us a bit like the waves of storms. We get tossed about, rejected, disgarded and worn down by difficulties, sickness and misfortune, till we are a shadow of our former selves. Then the Lord can pick us up and put us together again into a new creation, his creation. He breathes breathe into us and says “Live dry bones, Live.”

My mosaics are a symbol of restoration. I had cancer seven years ago. I should have died from my condition, but God had mercy on me and healed me completely. I am enjoying new life and strength. I was inspired to start my craft. God is the Creator. He created us in his image. He made us creative. As I start my work with the pieces and polyfilla I get creative ideas. I have made birds, angels, trees, Maps of Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, Zante, the World, Irish cottages, shamrock and hearts.

God not only healed me of cancer but he has restored me to good health to enjoy life and and activity.

Psalm 103 says
“Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭103:1, 3-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Psalm 23 He restores my soul.
God is restoring my soul through my craft work.

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