International Woman’s Day

It’s International Woman’s Day today, the day aimed to help nations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women. It also focused on helping women gain full and equal participation in global development, according to what I read this morning.  

The Duchess of Sussex at her last engagement in London as a Royal spoke about the need for men to care for the women in their lives. Any man will have a mother for sure, perhaps a sister and a wife. His ability to care for women in his life will be influenced primarily by what he has seen modelled to him by other males.

Down through the generations the family  with a mother and father has been the nurturing place for the healthy growth of human beings, physically and emotionally. Families with similar values group together in many cultures to support each other. In nature we see male and female creatures create young and spend their energy to raise them. The adults stay together with their own kind in flocks, herds or shoals where the young are protected. There is power in numbers.

The family model I grew up with that shaped my early life was my dad, who worked on the farm and my mother who looked after us ten children at home. Dad was a gentle man who cared for my mum who needed to be strong to rear us. My parents showed their love to me by providing food to eat, a warm home, education, sharing their time and guiding me in the best choices to make for later life, all on a limited amount of money. Extended family often visited our home and we attended the local church where I heard about God and met our local community.

I left home and chose to explore the world beyond the safety of family and home. I went to university during the troubles in my country. When I had two children of my own I began to look for the best way to rear my children. And give them the nurture and care I believed was important. In my search for truth and the right way to live I mixed with many different people with different values form me. I met some Christians who were kind to me. I looked at their lives and I began to read the bible.

I read about Jesus. He went about doing good and healing those who were oppressed of the devil, both men and women. All who came to him were healed of disease and delivered form devils. Jesus was particularly merciful to women and children. He released the woman who was going to be stoned to death, the punishment her culture demanded. He cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene. He raised the son of a widow so she would have someone to look after her. He let the little children come to him and took them on his knee and blessed them when his disciples wanted to stop them. A woman who was not from his culture came to him and asked him to heal her daughter. He did as he asked. He didn’t discriminate.

In my generation many women here in the west have had the opportunity to be educated and work alongside men. Women have now the freedom in the west to be independent of parents or husband due to their access to wages. Today we celebrate Woman’s International Day which wants to highlight discrimination against women and give equal participation in the global development of the world.

I totally agree with this vision. Is education and equal wages the answer to woman’s discrimination. I believe there is more to understand that can bring freedom to women. I am a free woman because Jesus forgives my failures and wrong choices and gave me a new beginning. He helped me rear my children and give them values for them to have when they leave home.

He healed me of fourth stage cancer and delivered me from demons of rebellion , rejection and bitterness. You see Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Sin and sickness are works of the devil. No amount of education or money can deliver a woman from poverty, sickness or abuse. People don’t know there is a spiritual force at work in the world, the power of the devil. Jesus came to save us from his power and show us how to live in freedom. Yes he wants men, as The Duchess of Sussex said, to look after the women in their lives. But they can’t do it properly with out the help of Jesus. It means laying down your life and your own desires for them, like Jesus did for his Church.

When Jesus, whose face was covered in blood from his crown of thorns, was carrying his cross along the streets of Jerusalem, he stopped to talk to women. He told them not to weep for him but to weep for their children because he knew it was going to be hard to rear children.

A woman’s role if she is married, I believe is to protect her unborn child and bring good values to her children. The world offers today women in the west, money, comfort and ease. But at what expense? Woman now have the choice to kill a child in her womb that will be an inconvenience to her way of life. Many people are afraid of the Corona Virus but there an ill in our society that is even promoted and paid for by nations, the killing of innocent children in the womb.

My advice as a mother of fourteen children to the global development of the world is to embrace Jesus, believe in him, accept him and follow him like many women did when he was on earth. Read about other women who were courageous to bring freedom to their nations, like mary, Judith, Jael, Deborah, Esther and Ruth.

Uncertain Days

An election has just finished in Canada, the British government can’t agree whether to leave the EU and our Northern Irish government refuse to work together.  Despite the confusion in the British parliament a bill to allow Abortion in Northern Ireland was passed. It became law on Tuesday because our assembly in Stormont continue to disagree.

Whether you live in Canada or live in Northern Ireland we cannot depend on our politicians to pass right laws. My only hope is in the name of The Lord.  His government and its peace will never end. Isaiah 9 v 7.
Isaiah prophesied in the same chapter that Unto us a child is born, Unto us a son is given and The Government will be on his shoulders.
Many people are dismayed and fearful at this time.  Isaiah was as well.  God told him not to believe conspiracies, but to make The Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in his life. He is the one to fear and he will keep him safe. 
The same is true for us today. I believe in God.  He is faithful to His promises.  He loves those He created.  He is merciful.  I know his faithfulness and love. He has cared for me and blessed me with a good husband and fourteen children. He delivered and healed me from 4 th stage cancer.  He is alive and true. He is the One to fear.

If you are upset and disappointed in life today, put your trust in the God of the Heavenly armies.  His name is Jesus.  Call to him.  He will hear and act.  

My Grandchildren’s Christmas Play.

I attended my grandchildren’s Christmas play this morning. When they appeared on stage the mum, dad and myself had to wave until the two boys caught our gaze. They were ready to get on with the show knowing family were watching.

It doesn’t seem so long ago since I was watching each of my own boys and girls in a traditional Christmas play. They would dress up as a shepherd, an angel, a wise King or a donkey. They sang songs about Jesus birth.

Today’s event was different. The children invited us to see how six other nations celebrate Christmas. Poland and China were my favourites. The little ones were dressed in red Chinese costumes and flat hats. I must congratulate the teachers on managing so many young students. A big effort indeed.

I called my son last night to tell him I wouldn’t be able to make it. I was too far away, too cold, too sore, too old, too tired, too alone and my car wasn’t working. I awoke early. I changed my mind and made the effort to go. Ressurrection power kicked in.  The electric plugs had fused. First hurdle to overcome. I dressed in warm clothes because the chilly cold winter winds were blowing. I got the ferry. It was navigating across from Portaferry to Strangford on choppy waters. I sat nervous in my van. I hoped the wind would die down for my return journey.

All the effort was worth it to see my son’s and grandchildren’s smiley faces because granny came along. I remember being at a school event after my first grandchild was born. Everyone was congratulating me on being a granny. It must be an important hurdle for a woman. We now have eighteen grandchildren. Most of them live too far away to attend school plays. They live in far flung places; Canada, Slovakia and Dublin.

I’m glad I didn’t miss today’s Christmas show.

An October Morning.

Oh the stillness of Monday morning.
The house is quiet.
No popping of the toaster, or the kettle boiling for tea and coffee.
The high chair is empty till the next grandchild comes to visit.
No airport pickups today.
Visitors from far away places in England, Canada and India have left.
The light, warmth and stillness invites us outside.
The calm after the storm.
Our friend the robin welcomes us.
He flutters and swirls around me, excited.
Others birds in the forest are singing their hearts out.
Two blue tits come down inquisitively looking for food.
A blackbird calls.
A solitary Raven chases away any competitors for the food scattered on the lawn.
The sunshine glistens on the water, thousands of lights dancing.
Tinkle, tinkle sounds come up from the last yacht below in the bay.
Where is the sun bed?
It hasn’t been packed way yet.
I stretch out and look up.
A few dry leaves drift past.
There is the blue sky beyond the bare branches.
Somewhere up there in an aeroplane is my son and his family.
I will savour the sunshine and beauty.
It’s a new day, I will not be sad.

A Piece of Ireland

Would you like a little bit of Ireland to cherish.

Order now for Christmas and avoid hold up in the post.
I sent an order to Canada at Christmas last year and it arrived at Easter.

Here is a sample of necklaces I have made from Irish Seaglass and pottery.
I pick the glass up from the shore along the Irish Sea. It has been mounded by the waves crashing on the shore and then tossed about for decades.
For me it symbolises what God does in our lives. He takes that which is broken and makes us into something beautiful.

“Cast out but picked up,
Rejected but restored,
Cut off but brought back,
Worn down but built up,
Broken but renewed,
Hope for the future,
Scarred but made beautiful,
Sharp edges softened,
Cut down but living again.”

“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭54:11‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Each necklace is made form leather or cotton tie and Seaglass or Pottery.
Cost is £5 per item. Postage is £1 in UK or £3 to Europe, USA or Canada.
Order through message on Facebook.
Other items can be seen and ordered from Etsy.com.

Order now for Christmas!!!

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.

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/

Praise Flows out of Love

Everyone flourishes under praise.  When I was spoon feeding my grandchild this evening I congratulated her on each spoonful she accepted, chewed and swallowed.  Before we knew she had the whole bowlful finished.  My son was able to enjoy his dinner while I looked after Ava.  Normally she would help herself.  Dinner would be spread all around the table and on the floor.  Dinner time was a delight and peaceful without having to persuade Ava to finish her dinner.  No one cared about the mess.  What we did enjoy was our meal together at grand dad’s house.

Our two sons and their families are visiting from Canada.  We are getting together for our son Patrick’s wedding next week.  I am alive to celebrate my son’s wedding and to enjoy my sons visiting from Canada.

When I praise my husband he doesn’t know what hit him.  A light turns on and he would do anything for me.  But sadly I forget too often to thank or praise him.  Recently a friend was praising me for my work and it was very humbling to accept her thanks and approval.  Often one is negative instead of appreciating what a friend, daughter or son does, or value their worth.  I am often guilty of seeing what someone doesn’t do instead of praising them for who he or she is.

I think praise for someone comes out of a heart of love.  I have experienced the love of my family and friends when I was healed from Fourth stage bowel cancer.  They prayed to the One whom they believed and hoped would bring my healing.  I thank and value the help of doctors but they  admit they can treat cancer but do not offer a complete cure.  The One is Jesus.  When he was on earth he went about healing all those with diseases.

I have come to experience God’s complete healing from this deadly disease in my life.  He’s a God who answers prayer.

I am completely indebted to God for my life.  I now find it easy to thank and praise God every day and I want to tell others what a wonderful God he is.  Expressing praise in words and song from the heart to God brings an intimacy with the One who loves me.

“Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭48:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He returns his peace and love to me.  I am safe in his care where no enemy can touch me.  Other peoples’s negative words roll off me like water off a bird’s waterproof feathers.  When I am in difficult situations I am not afraid.   From this safe position I can value and praise others rather than express my frustration and negativity.

My heart has been changed by knowing God’s love and praise for me.  He values me.  Jesus lifted me up from the pit of despair, depression, disease, fear and death.  He said he can set me free because he died on the cross 2000 years ago to forgive my wrongdoing, to heal my disease and give me life and a hope and a future.  He conquered death by his own death on the cross.  We don’t have to die prematurely.  God promises three score and ten years of life.

“Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭90:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am now living in that future, a future of restoration, life, peace and love.  He is a God to be trusted and given praise.

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

Sacrifice is True Worship

The Air Transat plane had a bumpy landing into Calgary.  This city on the Canadian prairie presents a challenge to any pilot. Winds from the Rockies circulate over the area. I had been traveling for eight hours.  I held my neighbor’s hand.  She was frightened.  The tension eased and many passengers disembarked.  The rest of us were continuing our journey onto Vancouver.

I had a toothache over the previous weekend.  It was bank holiday Monday so my dentist was not available.  I needed attention as I was leaving for Vancouver on Tuesday.  I got some penicillin and pain relief from an emergency dentist at the City hospital.  I thought that will sort my condition till I get back in a week’s time.

The toothache did not ease on the journey.  I doubled the dose of medication.  My head was so sore I couldn’t enjoy any movies or music offered.  I dozed on and off.  I comforted a lady beside me who was traveling on her own.  When the flight landed in Calgary I rushed to the bathroom.  I was feeling sick.  Why did I not stay at home.  This long journey is all too much.  Why did my son have to get married in Canada so far away from home. Too much a sacrifice.

Then I remembered the scripture,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I will make my body a living sacrifice despite the pain.  This is true worship to God.

I have suffered other pain over the past two years.  I have had heartache.  My husband and I had travelled to Vancouver many times over the past ten years, speaking about the love of God to many people.  Canadian friends have visited Ireland.  I encouraged the connection between ourselves and Canada because of a dream.  This dream has tested my heart over the past two years.

My son David moved to live in Toronto two years ago.  He and Jacquelyn have a baby girl.  I now have a Candian grandchild!  The Irish/Canada dream connection was strengthened.  I have visited them in Toronto.  It is not too far to travel from Ireland.  There are good flight connections out of Dubin.

When Isaac finished his studies two years ago he too left for Canada.  He had spent some time in an internship as part of his degree.  I thought he was going to visit friends there and would return after a few months.  He has been working in Vancouver ever since.  He developed a relationship with a Canadian girl.  Will I see him again?  Vancouver is 7000 Kilometres away across the ocean and continent, the end of the earth!

I thought back to Irish mothers whose sons left for America down through the decades because of circumstances, famine, hardship or war.  Many left N Ireland during the recent troubles in the seventies.  These mothers made sacrifices to let their sons leave and give them an opportunity of a better life.  Many did not see their children again.

As a mother I have a choice.  I can nurture the grief and mourn over my two sons who live far away.  I may not see my grand children growing up.  I can remain sad.  I don’t want to internalize my pain and develop some sickness as a result of my depressed situation.  That’s what happened when I had cancer.

God has healed me of fourth stage cancer and saved me from dying six years ago.  I don’t want to get sick again.  I choose not to internalize my heartache.  I cast my pain upon Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus became a Sacrifice on the Cross when he shed his blood and died.  He took all my suffering and pain.  I share in his suffering as I experience the pain in my heart of  my children leaving home.  I will not deny the pain and say I am alright.  I have gone through the valley of loneliness and sadness.  I will offer up this pain of toothache and heartache as a sacrifice.  Jesus mother Mary watched as her son was cruelly killed.  Her heart was pierced.  Jesus spoke to the women as he carried his cross to Calvery.  He knew that women would suffer in child bearing and rearing.

A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women. But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”
Luke‬ ‭23:27-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I awaken in the night with Jetlag.  I hear a train’s horn blowing.  The sound gets stronger as it passes nearby.  It is a familiar sound from my visits to Canada in the past.  At day break I hear new sounds.  Chuck chuck, whistle whistle, chirrup, chirrup, the sounds of a dawn chorus. These sounds speak to me to welcome me to this different country before anyone else is up.  We have been hosted in a beautiful home in the woodland.  We have attended barbecues, breakfasts and been well received in Vancouver.

The wedding day has arrived.  The bride and bridesmaids are excited.  They are getting ready.  The bridegroom, our son, has found his bride.
Jesus has healed me.  My toothache has gone.  My heart is healed.

By the stripes of Jesus I am healed.  Isaiah 53.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in Canada.  I will celebrate the day in victory grateful to have lived to see another of my children married and setting off and released into his new future.

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

The Strangford / Portaferry Ferry Choir

 

Tonight the Strangford/ Portaferry Ferry is lit up and the deck is a stage for choirs singing Carols.  Praise songs ring out over the Lough in the chilly, evening air.  School children and adults take part.  Drivers are entertained as they make their way home.

image

At the ferry exit on each side of the Lough there is a mini Christmas Market.  I am at the Craft Fair with my Seaglass Mosaics.   John, my son is exhibiting his Bog Oak and Bronze.  We are hopeful for a successful evening.  It is a good opportunity to meet families from our community.

My mosaic collection began in May this year, after I picked up some green pieces of glass from the local beach.  I was inspired to make a picture of Ireland with a piece of Seaglass for each of the thirty two counties.  More inspiration has followed.  I enjoy the peace and results as I work.  I never dreamed I would be making mosaics, never mind selling some at a Craft Fair.  I believe The Holy Spirit gives me the inspiration.  He is the Creator.

I have visited the Christmas market in Bratislava.  It is full of Craft Stalls selling Christmas Fare.  It is a event where friends and families meet to have time together, sharing mulled wine and kebabs.  Eight of my family are there in Slovakia tonight!  From one Christmas Market to another, Ahoi!

I was excited to learn that the idea of Carol singing on the Ferry came from Vancouver, Canada.  I have been to the ferry terminal at Nanaimo and have travelled on the ferries to Seashelt and Vancouver Island.  My son Isaac is in Vancouver at the moment.

It all began fifty years ago with one boat decorated with Christmas lights.  Now fifty boats take part in the Carol Ships Parade of Lights.  It is a great attraction for visitors during the Christmas season in Vancouver.

The Ferry Crossing between Strangford and Portaferry is the oldest continuous ferry crossing in the world!  I can imagine Patrick and the early Christian settlers making the crossing back centuries ago in a wooden craft.  Our Ferry ship today is humble in comparison to the big ferries that dock in Nanaimo.

It is a wonderful experience to have a Christmas market and Choir Ferry so close to my home.  May this festival grow as the years pass and become a successful tourist event and attraction for Portaferry and Strangford.

Some information taken from an article in the Down Recorder, published on 2nd December.