A couple of days before Christmas 1980 the labour pains became stronger. It was time to lift my old battered leather suitcase from the top of the wardrobe and pack my essentials, Bible, notebook and nightdress. Brendan and I sauntered hand in hand over the Bann bridge well after midnight. In the middle of the bridge a pain caused us to pause. The silent, starry night was crisp, clear and chilly. We wondered would our baby be born on Christmas Day.
Here, Brendan and I were swimming at Kalamaki beach. Suddenly we noticed two butterflies overhead flying towards a small nearby island. I was reminded of an old song by Bobby Darren
“Now there were two butterflies
Casting their eyes,
Both in the same direction.
You’d never guess that one little yes
Could start a butterfly collection.
Multiplication is the name of the game,
And in each generation it plays the same.”
Brendan and I were like those two butterflies as our daughter Mary was born on Christmas Eve. Mary came quietly, peacefully and on time. As she nursed at my breast for the first time and I marvelled at her shock of pure black hair I couldn’t have imagined just how many lives this little girl would save. There was only one other mother in the home that Christmas so they laid on a special dinner for us. But although it was an excellent meal it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the tea and toast just after the actual birth.
Have I mentioned the tea and toast ritual? After each birth while the baby is being washed and weighed
the nurses always bring me tea and toast. It’s a bit like a Graduation Cermony. After all the long patient months of carrying my precious cargo the first important part of the job is finished. Unto us a child is born and I am rewarded with my celebratory cup of tea. There is no better feeling in the world. Brendan saying, “Well done!” and the comforting taste of warm buttery toast.
People often ask how Brendan and I managed to rear fourteen children. The short answer is, one beautiful baby at a time. The scripture says if we are faithful with the little we are given we will be given more. God gave us a desire and strength to have more lovely children. It was truly a case of, “Not by might not by power but by the Holy Spirit.” Zechariah 4.
Brendan believed the scripture that says, “You can’t serve God and money.” He never ever thought along the lines of we can’t afford another child. God’s will and not the dictates of money was always our priority.
We believed Psalm 127 which says, “Children are a blessing from The Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” We received our offspring as a blessing and a reward from God. The same Psalm also says, “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” While Brendan sourjorned with the Baptists he was told a quiver full was five. Thus five children was a complete amount. For some reason this never witnessed with me.
A couple of years ago we were talking to a Jewish man. He said we had a quiver full of kids. He explained a quiver full was at least twelve children. When Brendan mentioned the Baptist idea of five he laughed. He said, “Do you think the Israeli armies only gave their archers five arrows to go to war with?”
Daily we always shared one meal together and always prayed as a family every evening. We taught our children to pray extemporaneously, spontaneously talk to God about their daily needs. A family that prays together stays together!
When Mary was six months old Brendan and I attended a Christian Conference. It was the first time we had ever heard prophecy. Brendan instantly knew he had that gift. He started prophesying from that day to this. Prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God uses to give us words of encouragement to help us in our Christian walk. Brendan and I were prayed for and given words of encouragement about our future. These words helped us through many difficult years ahead.
The Lord is the only God who tells the future and brings it to pass. If we want to know the future we should enquire of the living God. Isaiah 31 v 9.Mary now receives lots of important dreams. She is very prophetic.
When Mary was a toddler she swallowed a small coin. It stuck in her wind pipe. Brendan took her to the local hospital. She was immediately rushed to a special hospital in Belfast. Brendan sat in the ambulance nursing Mary and quietly speaking in tongues for the hour long journey. “Lord don’t let my precious daughter die.” Mary was operated on and the coin passed into Mary’s stomach and she was okay. We knew God had special plans for Mary.
Mary is a Surgeon in Obstectrics. She delivers babies and saves lives. She is recently back from a year in Ethiopia where she volunteered her services with VSO. (Google Mary McCauley and VSO to see the videos) In Ethiopia it was harder than Mary ever imagined. Lack of facilities and lack of medicine but Mary did her best. She saved lives and she made a difference. One baby at a time. One never knows the enormous potential of a little baby born at Christmas time.
Quotes from NLT version bible.