Irish Summer Weather is Unpredictable

The Summer weather in Ireland is unpredictable.  The weather forecaster may tell us there will be showers with some sunshine.  This unpredictability causes the Irish people to talk much about the weather.  You can be sure the tourists that come to Ireland don’t come to get a suntan.

We Irish have learned to make the most of our unpredictable weather.  Ireland is famous for having forty shades of green throughout the land.  We grow vegetables and crops that like rain and mature without hot sunshine.  One such crop is the potato. Another is Oates. The Irish have survived on these staple crops.

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Our unpredictable weather causes weeds to flourish as well. One such weed is the nettle.  Nettles love to grow in good soil and flourish if there is no competition.  Nettles spring up everywhere, along roadsides, in gardens, in forests and wherever it’s seeds land.  One doesn’t have to sow nettle plants.  If there is soil and water they will grow.  The seeds are so tiny they can be carried by the wind.

I went for a walk this morning.  There were plenty of nettles growing along the road.  Many other grasses, thistles and weeds were flourishing, making the road narrow at some parts.  Maybe the road will dwindle to a pathway someday if the weeds are not cut back.

As I looked at the vegetation along the Boreen, I remembered a dream I had last night.  I saw a nettle plant open up before me and many of its seeds were released into the air, just like a fire cracker that is released at Halloween.  I have been thinking about Multiplication recently.  The nettle was releasing seeds for the multiplication of new nettle plants.  God created every plant to multiply, despite the weather.

“Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”
And it was so.
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:11-12‬ ‭

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I am back from holiday.  My garden needs attention like the road.  If I don’t deal with the nettles and other weeds, the flowers and vegetables will be choked.  The decking is dotted with sycamore umbrella seeds.  The back yard paving has a sprinkling of leaves.  It is constant work subduing the land.  God created man to work the land and take care of it.  Weeds find a way to grow in the tiniest of crevices, on walls or between flag stones.  I need some men around here to clear up.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭NIV‬

The trees and weeds will continue to bear seeds and multiply.  God made them to produce their own kind.  It’s man’s job to manage all the produce of new life.
It all seems an never ending battle to deal with weeds.  But I take courage.  God said he would bless the work of our hands.

“You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land.
The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:3-4, 8, 12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There will be order again.  The weeds will not take over.  I will enjoy the fruit of the apple and pear trees, the tomatoes and other vegetables.  There will be trailing nasturtsums, daisies and roses.  The decking will get cleared and the lawn cut.  It is good all the weeds die back for the winter.  It gives me a chance to get ahead of the growth of nettles next spring and keep them at bay.

Plants and weeds flourish here despite our unpredictable weather.

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Testimony Tuesday. Enduring When Suffering many Trials

It was my grand daughter Eilish’s birthday on the thirteenth of March.  She was five years old.  She is an inquisitive little girl.  She asked me “Why is your hair white?  It is dark in the photographs.”  She lives in Slovakia and calls our home “The Irish House”.
I remember well the day she was born.

I had just come back from visiting one of our sons in hospital in Glasgow.  He had contacted a infection while playing football.  He grazed his shin and thought nothing of it.   But he developed a fever and was rushed to hospital and needed intensive care to combat an infection he had.  I flew over to see him.  I wanted to pray for him for God to heal him.
When I visited him he was quite happy and oblivious to any danger he may have been in.  Some friends, the Bowers, let me stay with them and they encouraged and prayed with me for my son.

When I got back to Belfast I stopped off at my daughter’s home for a cup of coffee and let her know how my trip had been.  She shared with me a dream she had the previous night.  She dreamt I had died.  She was upset and I reassured her I was okay.  But I wasn’t okay.  I was bleeding and I was getting worse.  My son being sick upset me as well.

Then the phone rang.  It was another son to tell me his wife had started in labour and was on her way to the hospital.   We prayed for a safe delivery for mum and baby.  We got news later that the new mum was rushed into theatre when she arrived at the hospital and had a Caesarian Section to deliver the baby.  Something serious had gone wrong and mother and baby’s life were in danger.  But Praise to God he preserved their lives.  They were traumatised but mum and baby were alive.

I began to realise we were under attack from our enemy Satan.  He was trying to take my son’s life, my daughter in law’s and my grandchild’s life and I wasn’t feeling too well myself.  But he didn’t succeed.  Six weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer.  More suffering.  How much more could I endure?  I was weak and feeling hopeless.  I couldn’t fight any longer.  It is when we are helpless God moves.

We came through many trials in the springtime of 2010.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.”

People often ask why they have to suffer.  Will we just believe in God when times are good, when he is blessing us?   Going through trials makes our faith strong.  When we see Jesus, who went through horrible suffering when he was whipped, pierced, bruised, and crucified for us, it will give us courage to continue to believe and hope in his help to bring us through our suffering and heal us on the other side.

“So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (‭1 Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭6-7‬ NLT)

God preserved my life and my children’s life from death.   I am able to say God is good and merciful.  He is faithful to care for us as we obey him.  I have joy instead of sorrow and crying.  I now don’t look at the suffering but I hope in the joy after we suffer a little while, until God brings the answers to our prayers.

Psalm 91 says God will be with us in trouble and deliver us out of it.

Are you going through pain or despair at the moment? Are you hoping for God’s promise to you being fulfilled and it looks impossible for that promise to come about. Be patient in your trials. Your faith is being tested. Will you still believe God or give up and doubt and have unbelief?  He will give you strength to go through and come through to the other side. May your hope in God’s help be renewed.

Marvelous Monday, Signs and Wonders this past Week for the Irish

What an exciting and extraordinary week we have had here in Ireland.  We are a small island off the coast of Europe with approximately five million people.  Yet there are about sixty million diaspora throughout the world.  On St Patrick’s day throughout the world everyone wimageho has Irish roots celebrates.  It is the second most celebrated day in the world after Christmas Day.

Here is a photograph of Ireland taken from the International Space Station by astronaut  Terry Virts and tweeted on St Patrick’s Day.  Thank you.  It is wonderful to see our island from high above the Earth without clouds.  The sun was shining on us.

On St Patrick’s day there was celebrations and parades in Dublin and Downpatrick.  Other nations acknowledged Ireland by lighting up certain monuments in green.  Five years ago, the Sydney Opera House was the first global location to go green.

But this year, From the London Eye and Edinburgh Castle to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, global landmarks went green on St Patrick’s night.  More than 150 iconic landmarks in mainland Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, as well as China, South Korea, India, Brazil and South Afriimageca were floodlit with green light in honour of St Patrick’s day.

The Minister for Tourism for Sourthern Ireland, Paschal Donohoe, said: “The fact that 160 buildings have opted to go green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this year brings an enormous sense of pride to our people at home and across the world.

“Being able to put ourselves front and centre on the world stage in this way reaps unrivalled dividends in terms ofimage publicity, promoting Ireland and getting the message out about our recovery and the progress we are making.”

To crown a wonderful day of lights there was a display of the Aurore Borealis, vibrant shades of purple and green illuminating the skies over Ireland.  Normally areas closer to the North Pole see this phenomenon.  This display of lights was not man made.   I believe God added his display of glory to end the day.  Behold the Glory of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.  Photo taken by photographer over Slemish.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (‭Psalm‬ ‭19‬:‭1‬ NIV)

God is described as the Father of Lights.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.  (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭17‬ NIV)

On Friday morning I was working in the kitchen.  I noticed it was getting very dark outside.  I looked out and saw a dark cloud overhead coming from the east.  I thought to myself , “It must be going to rain”.  Dark clouds are not unusual in Northern Ireland.  During the thirty years of troubles every day seemed to be dark and grey.  I later found out that morning there was an eclipse of the sun where the moon covered over part of the sun.  Here is a picture showing the moon partially covering the sun.  This event seldom happens.  Photograph taken by photographer in Donaghadee, Co Down.

Jesus said “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. (‭Luke‬ ‭21‬:‭25‬ NIV)

On  Saturday many Irish people were glued to their TVs  waiting for the outcome of the Six Nations Rugby Competion.  Eventually Ireland knew they were the winners after England failed to get enough points.  More joyous celebrations.  On Sunday the Irish Women’s Rugby team became champions as well.  A great end to special blessed week for the Irish.

 

photos shared from Images of the Solar Eclipse.

 

 

Family Friday. My Coats did not Wear Out.

As you can gather from my recent blogs, I believe in keeping warm and I like woollen products.

Brendan bought me a beautiful three quarters length coat.  It was made from wool.  It was navy with bunches of grapes in the weave.  It was comfortable to wear especially when I was driving.  It also suited me when I was pregnant.  The children cuddled in beside me when I was wearing it, like a mother hen covering her chicks.  I enjoyed wearing this coat for many years.  The scriptures say that the children of Israel walked round the desert for forty years and their clothes did not wear out.  This coat of mine didn’t wear out!  

“During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭29‬:‭5-6‬ NIV)

The symbol of grapes is very important to me.  When I read in the scriptures that the children of Israel went into the promised land.  They saw grapes and giants.  The grapes were that big it took two men to carry a cluster of them.  But the people were afraid of the giants and failed to go into the land God promised them.  Isn’t that often the case in our lives.   We are afraid of change because of fear or lack of faith.  Joshua and Caleb said “With God’s help we can defeat the giants and eat the grapes.”  But the people did not believe.  I wore my coat as a statement of faith.  I wanted to eat grapes and destroy giants.

Since I read this scripture I decided I would believe God.  With God’s help I have defeated some giants along the way.  For example.  Cancer is a giant.  With God’s help I am healed of cancer.  I believed God to help me.  I am alive to enjoy good food especially grapes.
 
Ten years ago a friend gave me a fur coat.  I was wearing it till recently.  It was full length and made of artificial fur fabric.  I wore it constantly from Autumn to Spring.  It protected me from cold winds, when we would go for a walk.  It kept me warm like the caring arms of my Heavenly Father.  I looked prosperous.  I did not have to get dressed up.  I pulled on my coat and I looked a million dollars.  I have travelled to Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, England, Scotland and Slovakia in my fur coat.  No one complained about me wearing a fur coat. I felt at home when  I was in Iceland recently. Garments made from seal skin and animal hides were for sale.  People who live there need to walk or work outdoors in the harsh, cold weather.

Brendan and I were visiting in New Zealand.  We had to travel by bus to a friend in another town.  We had two cases each, to haul around with us in a strange place.  Tempers were frayed. It was springtime and I was getting hot under the collar pulling my cases up and down hills.  Eventually we found the right bus stop.

We got on the next bus that stopped.  It was home time for the workers.  The bus was full.  Standing room only.  Brendan told me to get in and find a seat while he lifted the luggage up.  The driver was impatient to get on his journey and was not a happy camper.  There was no luggage compartment for the cases!  As I walked up the aisle people looked at me as if I was an alien in my fur coat and red face.  There, Brendan and I stood in the aisle, cases blocking the walkway.  We looked like two mad Irish bears.  No one offered help.  Eventually as people disembarked we got a seat and rested our weary bones.  We laughed at this incident for many days later.

Soon months back I had a dream I was wearing a red coat.  I completely forgot about the dream.  Brendan and I went shopping looking to buy some presents for friends in Canada.  It was sale time.  Brendan found a red coat and asked me to try it on.  Hey presto, it fitted me and was comfortable.  It was made of wool.  He bought it for me.  I remembered my dream.  It came true.  I had to hang up my bear coat! 

Brendan and I are travelling in Canada at the moment.  We flew up over the mountains from Vancouver to Dawson Creek in a Bombardier aircraft.  I felt safe in this plane.  It reminded me of home.  Bombardier parts are made in Belfast, N Ireland.  When we arrived at the small airport I was greeted by the ground staff as if I was a dignitary.  “Welcome to Dawson Creek.  Have a good day lady in red.”  We all laughed.  I am getting compliments everywhere I go.  

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭51‬:‭11‬ KJV)

Family Friday. Our Slovakian Grandchildren Come to Visit.

 

I arrived home from Iceland last Friday.  Our son John, Rachel and their boys were waiting for us.  They had prepared dinner.  It was delightful to see the children and their joy at seeing grand Dad and grand Ma.  The boys ran about the kitchen excited to see us.  I could see they had grown in a week.  Joseph said Hello Granny.  He has four grannies, two of them being great grannies.  It is amazing he doesn’t get us mixed up.

John and Rachel wanted to hear what adventures we had while away.  When Brendan came home for trips to other countries me and my children were eager to hear his stories about what he saw and how God used him to help others.  Now Brendan is taking me with him on his adventures.

This week I will see my grandchildren who live in other nations.  My son Aaron and his family are visiting from Slovakia.

imageAaron and Marta have three children. They call our home the Ireland house.  They arrived yesterday.  The children were amazed as we walked from room to room and eventually got to the bedroom where the two girls will stay.  Once again the corridors are full of the sound of little children playing.  Our home is ideal for them to play hide and seek.  A little child can squeeze into a small space, under a coffee table, or in a kitchen cupboard.

Children have a disposition to explore and try out new things.  They can easily occupy themselves, chasing each other outside, climbing walls, trees or making mud castles.  Us adults often instill fear into our child, afraid little Johnny may fall and break a bone, afraid of the child climbing the stairs, “Don’t do that?”

When I was young my brothers and sisters played games or went for walks to give our mother space.  We did not have computer games, television, dolls, Mexicano, Lego, iPads or DVDs.  I loved going for walks through the fields to find out what was over the hill at the back of our home in the country.  I loved paddling in the stream that separated my dad’s field from his neighbour’s, on hot days.

Mummy was busy in the kitchen making a meal for us all, or feeding the new baby that had arrived.  We would return home when we were hungry.  None of us got lost or injured.  If we scaped a knee we would give it a rub and continue playing.  We didn’t visit the accident and emergency at the hospital.

I remember having a cut on my forearm.  I was not rushed off to the doctor’s surgery.  I walked around protecting the injured part and the wound closed over in a week or so.  No penicillin or stitches. In those early days seed of believing that God heals were sown.  If I had a cold I learned after a few days I would be well again.  If I fell off my bicycle and grazed arms and knees, in time the cuts would heal.  God made our bodies with an immune system that fights off infection and replaces cuts and bruises.

I now believe that the simple food our mother made us kept us healthy.  We ate home made bread, soups, stews, porridge, eggs and milk from the farm.  In the summer we would have salads, some fruit or the odd apple tart. The fridge and cupboards were not stacked with cereals, chocolate, coca cola, crisps,  biscuits or sugary snacks.

What I learnt when I was growing up helped me rear my own children.  I did not have a fridge or freezer.  My food was bought fresh and eaten.  I did not keep excess.  There was no eating in between meals.

When my grandchildren arrived I had a pot of soup and homemade bread ready for them.  What I learnt from my mother, I did for my own children and now for my grandchildren.  They will play happily while they are visiting grand Dad’s Irish home.

As we sat at night praying and reading the children’s bible with our own children before they went to bed,  so we will do the same with our grandchildren when they are visiting with us.  We will tell them stories of how God answered prayers for us.  Brendan will tell them about his adventures when he travelled in other countries.  I will tell them that God healed granny from cancer;  how God provided our new home for us with space for them to come and visit and many other examples of God’s goodness to us.

Exodus 10 v 2 says,
You will be able to tell wonderful stories to your children and grandchildren about the marvellous things I am doing, to prove I am The Lord.

Today Brendan and I leave to go to Canada.  We will see our Canadian grandchild.  We will have experiences and new stories will be created to journal and recount at another visit of our children and grandchildren.

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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