Exam Weather

It is May, the time of the year that college students dread. Exam time. In Ireland there are blue skys and sunshine, typical exam weather. Instead of studying one would prefer to sit in the park and hang out with friends.

Two of my children are studying at St Andrews and Edinburgh. This is their final year and they hope to graduate in June. Abraham finished his last exam this morning. What a relief after five years. He is celebrating. No more lab research, library, exams, reports or lectures. Angela has handed in her dissertation and has three exams to sit. Only a few days to go.

Seven years ago I was suffering from Fourth stage bowel cancer. I was wondering if I would live to see all my children graduate or indeed see any more grandchildren. Nine children have been born since then and I have my outfit ready for two graduations this summer. Praise God, he has kept me alive to enjoy the goodness of God in the land of the living.

I started my treatment of chemotherapy and radiotherapy on July the first in 2010. Each day for five weeks I would attend the City Hospital Cancer Treatment unit in Belfast. I told my husband I wanted to try out a different cafe each day for lunch after my treatment. It would lift my spirits before the long journey back home. Let’s celebrate now, whether I was going to live or die! Brendan didn’t know what to think.

I had been diagnosed with cancer back in April. Since then I was given promises from God that I would be healed. People were praying for me. I was encouraged by this new hope and I began to respond to it. Students from Queen’s University, Belfast graduate In July. Placards outside restaurants advertised places for graduation dinners. I thought I will organize a meal and invite my daughters who were visiting, a step of faith. It will be my graduation from cancer dinner, even though I was just starting my treatment. I had been to a graduation dinner each year for some of my children as they finished university for the previous five years. Three of my daughters joined me for dinner a few days later. They must have thought I was crazy. They were trying to cope with my diagnosis and were hoping the best for me. I had lamb for dinner and remembered another lamb, who was sacrificed for me, Jesus.

Brendan arranged another surprise graduation for me. On the day of my last treatment my daughters Mary and Nora walked into the waiting room of the cancer department with a bunch of flowers and balloons. They presented them to me as Brendan played the song, “Pretty Woman” on his I phone. Music and joy filled the room, a light relief in the somber atmosphere. I was taken by surprise and uplifted with my loving family, another step of faith on my healing journey.

This summer I am seven years cancer free. I’m alive to celebrate my last two children out of fourteen graduate from university. I’m alive to praise God for his touch in my life.

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.

A Walk in The Woods

The final days of winter have passed.  The time for the singing of birds has come. Often our lives feel as if it is winter all the time. In Narnia, the writer C S Lewis gives the image of all creation living under the spell of  the wicked witch. Every life form was frozen. But Aslan the lion, who is a symbol of Christ, comes and breaks the spell of the winter of a hundred years and all life begins to warm up and live again.

Just as in CS Lewis’ book Narnia we can be trapped by forces over which we have no control, being under the spell of darkness and coldness, or things not working out in our lives. We have free will to make choices and live as we wish. But sometimes life does not work out the way we had planned.

If anyone feels like this Jesus gives us his promise. “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” John 14 v 18. This is a wonderful promise. He will not leave us in the winter of our lives, which happens to us because of circumstances which are beyond our control. There is an evil power that casts a spell on our lives. It is the devil. He has been ruling over the world since Adam and Eve were put out of the garden. But Christ appeared to destroy the works of the devil.

While Jesus was on earth he went about healing the sick and casting out demons that kept the people bound. One woman believed that if she touched the hem of his garment she would be healed.
“And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: Matthew 9 v 20
A man crippled from birth was healed and took up his mat on which he was sleeping and walked. “And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.” John 5 v 5.
Another man who was blind from birth was healed so God was glorified. John 9 v 1.
In these three situations mentioned, the individuals had their condition for a long time, one twelve years, one thirty eight years and the other from birth. Jesus healed them all.

If one is in a situation for a long time when there seems no change, I assure you Jesus will come to you and set you free. There is hope. Spring will come in your life. The singing of birds will come as The Song of Solomon says.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; Song of Solomon 2 v 11.

Brendan and I went for a walk in the woods near our home two weeks ago. The morning sunlight streamed though the trees. Ferns were opening their arms in the warm rays of light. Streams of blue bells flowed down the banks. Doves cooed in the branches. A single bumble bee busyed himself visiting the open blossoms. He had so much work to do, flitting from flower to flower collecting pollen. Three different kinds of butterfly were enjoying the still, warm air. Bird song rejoiced. We were walking in a garden the Lord tended.

The season has changed. The sun is shining. Life is returning to the forest after the final days of winter.

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

Begin to Unravel the Problem

Police are called to unravel the cause of an accident, or how a thief got access to a home to steal. Lawyers and judges use their skills to find out if a person is guilty of a crime. Doctors can unravel what is causing a certain illness. Something has gone wrong in each situation to cause the failure.

At the moment in our country the UK government are trying to unravel why the talks in Stomont have broken down and are helping the parties to come to an agreement to move forward. Experts are needed in different fields in order to resolve, find an answer to, or disentangle a situation.

It seems in life situations there comes a crisis when one has to look back and see how one came to an impasse. It can be a breakdown in health, in a relationship, in a job, in a company or in government. It can feel like there is no way forward or all hope is gone.

At that juncture there is a need to unravel what has gone wrong and seek for a solution.
I was given a prophetic word many years ago that God was unraveling my life, unraveling the wrong roads I had been down. We are born into an imperfect world with a predisposition to make wrong choices. Woe is me! But God promises to be with us in trouble, Psalm 91. When I called out to God when I faced death with fourth stage cancer he started to unravel the cause of my distress by giving dreams and revelation. Each one’s situation is different. God untangled my feelings and attitudes.

John 10 v 10. The devil is described as “the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus has come that we may have life to the full, “and he undoes the work of the devil. He unravels the work of the devil in our lives and cancels all hold the enemy has on our lives. He says, Stop, no more Killing, Destroying and Stealing. This is what Jesus did for me. His Holy Spirit gave revelations that released me from Cancer. You can read all about this in my book, Staying Alive on Amazon.

My hope is restored as I hope in God to unravel any situation I face. God can do the same for you and restore hope. Call on the name of Jesus. He is alive and hears your cry. He is not deaf. He will unravel your life.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unravel/

The Influence of St Patrick is Massive

There will be massive celebrations tomorrow on St Patrick’s Day throughout the world.

St Patrick’s day is the second most celebrated festival after Christmas in the whole world!

Why is this? Although a small Island with a population of around 5 million today, Ireland has had a big influence in the world down through the ages. Descendants from Ireland have settled all around the world.
Ireland is positioned strategicly on the edge of Europe. There was easy access to the Americas, Britain and Europe by boat in the past. Nowadays Asia and Australia as well can be accessed by air out of Dublin. Two of my own children live in Canada, two in Scotland and one in England.

During the famine of the nineteen hundreds, millions left Ireland by boat for Northern America. In former days some Irish got free passage to the West Indies as slaves when Cromwell invaded Ireland. Again people were sent to Australia as punishment or got cheap passage in order to populate the new continent.

Priests and nuns went as missionaries to Africa and India. The Irish monks saved writings from Europe that could have been destroyed in the unrest in Europe. In 2007 when recession hit, many young men left Ireland searching for work in Canada, the Middle East, and Australia. Then in the 1970s many left Ireland because of the war and religious discrimination in Northern Ireland to settle abroad, whether in England, Australia or America. Many such people have longings to return to Ireland where some of their family may still live or want to see where their ancestors came from.

Ireland is known as a land of saints and scholars. Ancient Christian writings are stored in Libraries. Ancient ruins of cathedrals and Celtic crosses dot the country, leaving a memory of former Christian communities that prospered. We have had famous Irish singers and poets, dancers and musicians in recent times, keeping the Irish spirit alive. The band U2, the poet, Seamus Heaney, Bob Geldof, Sinead O Cannor to mention just a few.

I am writing from Ireland. Brendan and I wanted to leave Ireland in the late eighties. It was oppressive raising our children in an atmosphere of religious war. We wanted to move to Wales. We prayed and thought about it a lot. God directed us to stay. He cares for us. We were vulnerable as a young family and it was best to stay in Ireland rather that move some where we had to start to get to know people. I’m very glad we stayed.

For many reasons people want to celebrate St Patrick’s day. But let me tell you something about St Patrick. He was not Irish, he came as a missionary to preach the gospel to the people then living in Ireland in the fifth century. The same gospel is available to us today through the scriptures. The good news that Jesus died to forgive sins, heal diseases, set us free from captivity, and restore our lives from oppression and slavery and to give us eternal life in heaven. He had dreams and left writings that we can read and find out more about his life.

For fifteen centuries we have that Christian legacy in Ireland. I am a descendant of those people St Patrick first taught about Jesus. Exodus 20 says “those who love God, their children will be blessed to the thousandth generation.” I am one of those blessed, many generations later.

I want to remember our heritage and I pray that Ireland will again be a place where people are free from oppression and slavery, and our people will not submit to laws that will destroy marriage and our children. Ireland has been a good place for Brendan and I to raise our fourteen children. It one of the few countries in the world where abortion is not legal.

Come let us return to the Lord. God is alive and wants to help us in this twenty first century. So when you are celebrating St Patrick’s day remember who he represents. St Patrick is buried in a grave, history tells us in Downpatrick, near where I live. He represents Jesus whose grave is empty. Jesus is alive and lives to help us in our distress. It is good to follow him. Call upon him this St Patrick’s day. .

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

Doubt in God

Many people doubt that God exists.
Some people seem to think that God is dead. They think God isn’t watching us. He has closed his eyes and won’t even see what we do. These are some words of Psalm 10
But God is alive. He is the God who made the heavens and the earth. He revealed himself to Abrahan, Isaac and Jacob. His son Jesus came on earth to destroy the works of the devil. He forgave people their sins, delivered and healed all who were sick. He told his disciples go go and do likewise in Mark 16.
“And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.
These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭16:15, 17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God’s glory is seen in his creation. He is Almighty God. He is alive to help anyone who calls to him.
I believe in God and his son Jesus. I pray for the sick as Jesus said.
I want to tell you some recent news of healings that were done through the name of Jesus.
Last year when Brendan and I were in Israel I gave a lady, called Jackie, my book Staying Alive. She read it and started praying for her cousin in South Africa who had fourth stage breast cancer. She sent her my book. This year I hear from Jackie that her cousin is healed of cancer. Praise God.
One of my daughters is a sister in charge of a unit for expecting mothers who want to have a natural birth. Mid wives deliver their babies. It gives the women the choice how to have their children. They can go to the main hospital where they can get an epidural to ease pain or have a Caesarean section where the doctor operates to deliver the baby. In the midwifery led unit the midwife encourages the mother through her labor until the final push when the mother is fully aware of the delivery of her baby. She will experience pain but the joy of having new life soon makes her forget about all her pain.
My daughter was on night duty some time ago. She helped a mother deliver her baby naturally. Everything went well during the birth but the infant did not breathe after it was born.
My daughter gave the baby mouth to mouth resuscitation and continued working with the baby as the ambulance took the baby to the main hospital. She would have been praying quietly for the baby. When my daughter handed the baby over to the doctor in the hospital he did not give the baby much chance of survival. The baby was not able to breathe on his own. Hannah had to return to speak to the mother and comfort her.
I happened to call my daughter that evening. She was crying. She was sad about the situation with the new born baby. I prayed with her and we agreed in prayer that the child would live and return home with his parents in Jesus name. I bound the spirit of death and prayed that Jesus would touch the baby and give him life. Another daughter had prayed for the situation as well. Three days later the hospital got in touch with Hannah to tell her the baby was doing well and would get home soon. Alleluia.
Last Sunday she was helping in another delivery when the doctor did not expect the baby to live after a difficult delivery. Hannah had to comfort the mother and other mid wives who were involved. The baby was taken to another unit to be looked after. Hannah came home to visit with us that afternoon. She was upset again. I said lets pray again. God helped the other baby, he can help this baby too. We prayed.
The report came back the baby recovered and got home. This time Hannah told her colleagues that her mum prayed for both the children who survived. They have seen the power of prayer. Jesus said “Let the little children come to me.”
So I don’t doubt there is an all power full God. I believe in Jesus.

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

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.