Give Thanks

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who struck down mighty kings. His faithful love endures forever.
He killed powerful kings— His faithful love endures forever.
He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.
He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever.
He gives food to every living creature. His love endures forever.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭136:1, 17-18, 23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In front of my window this morning blackbirds, a pigeon, wag tails, starlings, a chaffinch and robins feed. The God, who created the heaven and the earth cares for them.
It is a privilege to be alive to see the life around me. It is good to be still and take rest in the peace. I heard a pastor say that nature is a bible for us to see with our eyes. The heavens declare the glory of the risen Lord.

I remember back to many times in my life when I was feeling weak and helpless. I was doing my work looking after my husband, family and home. At times I felt overwhelmed. Our unseen enemies put pressure on us.

There were enemies in Israel called the Amelikites. God hated them because they picked off the weak ones among the Israelites. The elderly and the young are the most vulnerable. If they attacked the people the elderly and the young die first. They will not survive in war.

When Moses travelled through the desert he went at the pace of the people who were with young. He protected them. When Jacob was returning to see his father Isaac he went at the pace of the women and children.

The Amalekites are a symbol of spiritual enemies in our lives that are out to attack us when we are weak, to rob, destroy and kill. I believe a father and mother are so important to protect our young from the unseen spirits. Only with Jesus help can we overcome.

“He remembered our utter weakness. He saved us from our enemies.”

I can testify as we reared our children God covered our backs from our enemies who wanted to snare us.

It has been said that it takes a whole community to rear a child. In the past in Ireland neighbors and extended family looked out for one another. If a parent was under pressure a granny or relative would look after the children for a day to give respite.

Now families are independent and nuclear. One may think, “Oh I’m okay I won’t need anyone’s help.” The pressure comes when children are sick, the husband looses his job or other unforeseen difficulties. We need others.

I enjoy nature programmes. I have watched how wildebeest, zebra and caribou migrate in search of food and to have their young. When they come to the green pastures there are hungry enemies waiting who haven’t had food for days. A crocodile lies in wait under the water to gobble up some weak calf or sick animal who cannot get across the river and is cut off from the herd. Scrawny wolves lick their jaws when they see a meal coming their way. They hunt in packs and pick off the weak, sick, lame, old and young of the herd that have fallen behind. Lions hunt down the wildebeest that begin to stampede. The young and old can’t keep up with the rest so become easy prey for the lions who outrun them. There is safety in staying with the group.

Where our family lived was important. Our homes were always near schools, doctors, dentists, shops, hairdresser, bus stop, friends and recreation areas. There was a hospital, library and swimming pool in each town where we lived. The teachers knew our children as they passed up through the schools. They were kind to them. School friends were important. My eldest daughter still meets regularly with friends she met at school. Football coaches were supportive and looked out for my boys attending soccer, rugby or Gaelic. The clinic was nearby for care from the doctor when I was pregnant. I could walk to the supermarket from each place I lived. We felt safe in the places where we lived.

God brought us to green pastures and protected us from our enemies.

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Getting to University

Tomorrow I am getting the cast off my left lower arm.

For over six weeks I have felt I am carrying around a heavy weight.

This has restricted me so much.  I have needed my husband and family’s help to dress and get washed.  This is humbling and keeps me dependant on others.  Others have had to do the cooking, shopping and housework.  Lucky me.  I have had an enforced rest.

I cannot drive so I cannot escape from the house if I wanted to.  I am learning to be patient and to ask for help.  Others in the family are learning patience as well.  It has been a good learning curve.  We are more forbearing with one another.

This accident happened at the beginning of June.  Normally my husband and I take a holiday in May, which refreshes us before the busy summer, when some of our children are back from university and our home is full again.

This year our fourteenth child, Angela, completed her secondary education and plans to go on to university in September.  We needed to be here with her to help her with university applications and to encourage her through her final A level exams.

Brendan and I have found this to be an important part of our work.  From last September Angela had to fill in forms to apply to university, write her cv, go to a formal, travel to interviews and make a video.  We have had to keep her focused when her studies became overwhelming. Then in the spring, expectation heightened as she waited to see if applications were successful.

Angela is a clever girl and had applied to do medicine at university.  In January Angela received a letter from one university to say she was unsuccessful in her application.  That was okay. There was hope that she would get accepted from the next one.

In May hopes were dashed when she got her final refusal.  Her dad and I helped keep her spirits up to focus on her final exams.  I remembered Winston Churchill’s words,  “Never, never give up”.  She could always take a year out and re apply.  I did not relish the thought of another year of ups and downs.  We prayed for her and trusted that the Lord would guide.

Many years ago when I had five children I read in Isaiah 54 v 13

“All your sons (and daughters) will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace”.  I held on to that promise in the past for my other 13 children who have been successful to go on to third level education.  We had peace.

Angela was now able to reflect and ask herself the question, “Did she really want to do medicine”.  Were we as parents or her teachers putting expectations on her?  As we talked it became clear she did not want to do medicine!  It seemed the right thing for her to do.  Many are the plans in the mind of man but the Lord directs his path.  Getting the refusals lifted the pressure.

A few days later she received an offer from Edinburgh to do Neuroscience.  She was delighted.  She accepted this offer and hopes to go there in September if she gets suitable results.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  I felt as if I had given birth and was glad the pain was over.

Brendan, I and children are just back from a holiday in Kerry.  A friend had called to say a house was available in Kerry.  We were all in need of a holiday.  Tempers were short as pressures came when we were feeling weak.  We all crashed, slept long, ate good food, and enjoyed the sun on our bodies after a long cold winter.  I firmly believe holidays are not a luxury.  They are a necessity for body, soul and spirit to be refreshed.

My heart overflows with gratitude to God for his faithfulness to us these last thirty four years since I prayed to have a baby.  He has been with us to help us rear our fourteen children, to keep them healthy and give them good success.

Ref  New International Bible.