Gathering Shells

Robert Louis Stevenson said

It is a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.

I’m staying in Tarbert, Scotland. The local people said “Have you been to the shell beach yet? I was telling some folk that I collect sea glass and shells to make mosaics. I call it my hidden treasure.

Tucked away out of sight along the coast at Tarbert are two shell beaches. Other inlets nearby are covered in rocks. For some reason only two small inlets are covered in broken clam shells, pink, white, brown and orange with hues in between, lie stacked up on the shore. The waves for years have broken the shells into small pieces.

The tourists would never find it. Access to the beach is hidden at first glance. If you follow a well worn path under the ferns, over stones and bared roots of trees you will reach the beach. Perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson, who was from Scotland, knew about it when he penned the words I have quoted.

Less of Me and More of God

Brendan and I moved house recently to be near four of our children and their families. The whole downsizing thing was worse than expected. Today I tried to sort out some boxes and albums of photographs. There were loads of them. Brendan always took photographs of his big family.

The pictures sent me on an intense emotional rollercoaster ride which lasted all day. It was as if a big hand reached deep inside my heart and stirred up so many memories and emotions of people I loved, living and dead. Photos of family events, holidays, birthdays, weddings, graduations, football successes, new grandchildren, new towns, foreign travel and ministry adventures were all lying hidden and forgotten in these old boxes and albums.

I saw my fourteen children blooming and sprouting from baby, teenager, adult, some into marriage and parenthood. I wondered how Brendan and I reared fourteen children. Praise God who daily renewed our strength. When my children were young I was happy with them tucked up in bed at eight o clock at night. I wasn’t really prepared for a house full of teenage girls and boys.

The photos recorded joy, beauty, feasting, play, rest, exploring, walking, swimming and friendship. Each decade shows development, children at primary school, grammar school, university, work, marriages and grandchildren.

What was clear to me is that God has changed every one of us. For myself, as I walked down through life, I had to die to what I personally wanted to allow more of His kingdom in my life. I could see a change in my appearance from year to year. God so often lifted burdens that were too heavy to carry. I will continue to be charged into the likeness of Christ. As someone said, God hasn’t finished with me yet.

My choices today will steer my life for the next ten years. Will it steer me into life and health or will I end up in trouble because wrong choices? Even if I make bad choices God in his kindness will not let me continue in my mistaken ways. He gives us a way of escape and a chance to start afresh because of His love. Like a Father who watches over his children so God is watching over us. He knows our frame and He knows the pitfalls. I am being changed from one degree of Glory to another.

As I rummaged through the photos I was reminded of a short humorous poem Brendan once wrote.

These are the good old days we’ll all remember well.

Turned into days of heaven, from these bad days of hell.

It is good to remember the good times.

Good Tidings

View from our home in Portaferry, Ireland.

Greetings to all of you.

Thank you for your interest in my blogs in 2020.

Look for the goodness of God in the land of the living. This promise kept me going on many difficult days.

My grandson Benjamin asked me the other morning, “When is the sun going to waken up”.

This morning the sun is arisen and beauty is multiplied all over the sky. Enjoy it from where you live.

Malachi says “May the son of righteousness rise with healing in his wings”

May God, the creator of the earth , sea and sky bless you and keep you and make His face to shine on you and grant you peace.

Bird Singing in the Night

Outside my hotel window

The Christmas street lights are bright

It is the dead of night

A bird is singing

The sweet tweets echo through the silence.

Is he announcing good news?

Is he calling for attention

Like the multitude of heavenly hosts praising God

When the angel announced Jesus birth to the shepherds

Singing Glory to God in the highest

And on earth good will to all men.

There is room for me in the Inn

In a soft plush bed

Because He was born in a straw lined manger.

Historical Jerusalem

The chill of winter is in the air yet the Almond Trees lining the streets of Jerusalem are  in blossom. The prophet Jeremiah spoke about the Almond blossom being a sign from God that he is alive and active even in harsh conditions to bring about his promises in our lives. I am always encouraged to keep believing God’s promises for me. Brendan and I are just home from visiting Jerusalem.

erusalem is an historical city. Today it is flourishing. There was disruption on our way from the airport. Lorries and heavy machinery blocked our way. New roads and tramways are being built. Cranes litter the skyline helping in the construction of tall buildings for hotels, businesses and homes. We saw with our own eyes the restoration of Israel as prophesied thousands of years ago. People are returning from the nations to make their home there. Mothers and babies, old men and women with canes are walking the streets of Jerusalem. Groups of young men and women are sitting, talking, rushing or playing. Abundant life is all around.

We walked in a park dedicated to Teddy Kollek. He was Jerusalem’s Mayor since 1967 to 1993. He is numbered with the leaders of old who restored Jerusalem, for example Hezekiah. In his time Kollek put in place programmes for housing the people, theatres , libraries and old people’s homes. He encouraged peace and unity among Jerusalem’s people. He raised finances to help with the work.

School children came for lunch In the Kollek park. Water fountains burst into life as geysers bubbled up to differing heights. Young boys skipped in and out of the spray. The park is a welcome oasis for the weary child or tourist.

I was reflecting on my visit to Jerusalem as I happened to read Psalm 48.

We had heard of the city’s glory, but now we have seen it ourselves— the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
It is the city of our God; he will make it safe forever.
O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.
God himself is in Jerusalem’s towers, revealing himself as its defender.
Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.
Walk around and count the many towers.
Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations.
For that is what God is like.
He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.”

Water on Thirsty Ground

Today a friend took us for a drive to the mountains on the island of Zaykynthos. As we drove out we noticed heavy smoke billowing from a hill near the town of Keri. Forest fires broke out. The wildfire in progress on the island of Zakynthos has led authorities to evacuate some exposed houses on the village of Keri, in the southern part of the island, as well as 120 tourists staying at a hotel there.

The tourists were taken by bus to another hotel, in the nearby resort of Kalamaki.

The fire service said 10 of the 12 fires burning on Zakynthos are still unchecked, with high winds making it difficult to control the flames. A fire brigade commander says they have consumed mostly forests and olive groves so far.

Later we were having lunch in a small village on the coast. We watched as two aeroplanes dipped down to the sea and picked up water. Then they circled around to take the water and dump it on the fire fronts.

A short time later a helicopter arrived, hovered over the sea and filled a large container with water and flew off to fight the fire.

Before my eyes I was seeing the fulfilment of a verse I had read before my holiday.

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,” Isaiah 44 v 3

‭‭This verse refers to the promise of God pouring out the Holy Spirit on anyone who is thirsty for the things of God.

The Stairway to Heaven.

Two weeks ago I read this scripture.
“Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth. ””
‭‭John‬ ‭1:51‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I had never noticed this reading before. I remember another story from the Old Testament where Jacob had a dream.

 

Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac.” But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!””‭‭Genesis‬ ‭28:11-13, 17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On holiday in Greece recently I visited a Craft shop. The Artists make their pieces from reclaimed items they find on the beach. I too work with stuff from the shore where I live in Northern Ireland. Small sticks, driftwood, pottery, Seaglass and bits of rope are some of things I find. The man of the shop made ships and boats. On each one was a ladder that went from the deck of the ship up the mast. Ladders also figured on the lady’s work. Here is an image of a ladder reaching up from the earth to the clouds above. It is from a piece of art I bought form a craft shop in Greece.

I was excited to see the image of the ladder. I was thinking back to the scripture about Jesus being a stairway or a ladder. I told the couple what the image of the ladder can mean. They were very happy to hear what I had to say.

The theme of the ladder came to me again today. I was reading Merlin Carothers’s book Proson to Praise. In it Merlin recalls a vision he had.

“I saw a bright summer day. Up above was a solid heavy black cloud. A ladder extended from the ground into the dark cloud. At the base of the ladder were lots of people who wanted to get a chance to climb the ladder. They had heard that beyond the cloud was something beautiful. Some people tried to climb. As soon as they got to the dark cloud they came sliding down again. Merlin climbed the ladder. He kept going through the dark cloud even though it was difficult. He came into intense brightness.”

The Lord explained to Merlin that the ladder represents praising God. Some people start out praising God but give up when times get difficult. They lose faith and go sliding back. When one continues to praise God he comes to a place where he can walk on difficulties no matter how dark they seem as long as he keeps his eyes off the problem and looks to the Lord.

I’m encouraged today after reading about Praise. I will believe that God can work all things together for good as we praise him and thank him no matter how difficult the situation gets. He is in control. Keep clinging to the ladder of praise and keep going up. Keep clinging onto Jesus who is the stairway to heaven. He takes us from the earth to heaven, just as Jacob saw in his dream.

 

 

The Word of God

I was out yesterday gathering items along the sea shore to use in craft making. Just back from a recent holiday, I am invigorated and have plenty of energy. I was inspired by visiting some craft shops when I was away. Small sticks, driftwood, pottery and bits of rope were some of my find. What particularly interested me today was any flat pieces of wood.

A good sized rectangular piece was lying on one of the rocks. When I turned it over the remains of a placard was still attached to it. On it were these words in large bold letters,

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ”. The word Jesus is missing. This is a sentence from the Bible in 1 Timothy 2 verse 5.

Placards with a passage from scripture on it, I think are peculiar to Northern Ireland. You may find a notice with a scripture passage on a piece of wood nailed to a tree or hanging on a lamppost along a country road. Someone put it there in the hope of evangelising some unbeliever.

In the Provence where I live some Protestants try to evangelise Catholics with these notices. We had war in Northern Ireland because there was division and misunderstanding between Catholics and Protestants which led to hatred and murder of one another. One can easily take offence when one doesn’t agree with the another. Someone took offence at the placard, and dumped it in the sea!!  As a teenager I remember a street evangelist reached me a tract with a scripture on it.  He did not communicate with me to explain what he was giving me.  I wasn’t interested and threw it away. I was offended just like someone with the same attitude threw this placard in the sea!

Back as a teenager if someone had told me about God’s love for me and demonstrated it to me by being kind, giving, and coming along side me to identify with me and get to know me I may have received their tract. It’s not enough to preach at one. One needs to show love. It never fails.

As I write this on reflection I met my husband in my late teens. He did the very things I have just recounted. He came along side me, was giving and kind. He showed me love. That is why I responded and fell in love.

There were troubles in Northern Ireland because, no matter what religion one had, we didn’t know God’s unconditional love, blessing, care, tenderness, forgiveness, healing, comfort and debts cancelled. Like all humankind without God, our hearts were hard and bitter. We didn’t understand one another. There was little generosity or forbearing one another.

I got to know God more later in my twenties when I met some loving women who introduced me to the Word of God. I began to read the scriptures and believed what they said. I believe in God our creator and in his son Jesus and The Holy Spirit. This same God healed me from Malignant Cancer.

I should be in the grave today. God is alive. He is real. Jesus tomb is the only empty one. He arose from the dead. I can tell you this for sure. He rescued me from the grave to tell others about him. He shed his blood on the cross and became a sacrifice to forgive all people their sins and bring them to heaven.  If you believe in Jesus your heart can be healed and you can be sure of heaven.

When I overturned the piece of wood today I thought to myself, God’s Word will not return void. Isaiah 55 v 11 says

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me void. But will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

He can use all kinds of ways to speak to people and get their attention. God even used a donkey to speak to Balaam when he wouldn’t listen.  I want to encourage you through my story of God’s love in saving me from death.  Believe in the miracle working God for yourself.  Believe in Jesus and get to know him through reading his word.

The words on the placard, all messy with seaweed is still speaking. I retrieved it. I will publish it. Through the internet I can send this scripture far and wide across the nations.

A Turbulent Flight Home

Yesterday my husband and I were enjoying chatting and having lunch with friends, our last meal together before we left Israel. We sat on the balcony enjoying the sunshine and warmth which had returned after much rain. Our hosts had made a Greek salad with bread and Calamari Pasta. I savoured and had plenty of the delicious food. The meal strengthened us for the journey ahead. We had just finished when the taxi man called to say he was waiting outside. After quick farewells we got the taxi to the TelAviv airport.

We checked the times of flights at Ben Guirion airport. Ours was the only one that showed the flight was delayed. When it came time to board old and young, babies in arms, Arabs, Jews and returning tourists gathered at the Gate for departures. An infant cried the whole time. There were Orthodox Jews on board, some old, feeble, humble men with long white beards and black hats. The attendants welcomed us on board and helped settle mothers with young and the old.

We were allocated our seats at the very back of the EasyJet aeroplane. This economic airline has no frills or extra comforts, but gets you places one could not otherwise afford to go. We didn’t mind because we had an unoccupied seat on the inside giving us space to stretch and have a sleep if need be. We were thankful.

The pilot spoke before our departure and apologised for the delay due to baggage handling back in the UK. He announced the flight time would be five and a half hours, which seemed a lot longer than our flight there. He didn’t tell us about the turbulence on the way over. The pilot has to slow down through turbulence. There were no frills but plenty of spills and thrills ahead of us.

We were strapped in our seats for the first two and a half hours of the trip home! The plane shook and jerked. Mothers and babies were sick. The flight attendants were going up and down the aisle giving out orange plastic bags and cups of water to help the sick.
I was praying as I do when turbulence hits on a journey. But never has it lasted so long.

I thought of the scripture when Jesus was asleep on a pillow at the back of the boat in the storm! Brendan and I were at the back of the aeroplane in a storm. He rebuked the disciples for being fearful and having little faith. Mark 4 v 38 to 40 KJV

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

I decided not to be fearful and trust in God. I prayed for many others who were vulnerable. Brendan sang in my ear a song “I feel pretty”. We heard it in the movie we watched one night on Netfix. It’s called Anger Management staring Jack Nicolson. He got his clients to sing a song if they were in a difficult situation. Not only was Brendan singing but he ordered some snacks and a drink from the attendant. He was not fearful but enjoyed a few treats in the storm.

The Importance of The Scriptures

I’m sitting in a splendid home overlooking the newly built houses, apartment blocks, towers and roads that wind their way through the valley below and over the hills in Jerusalem. The roofs of the many cars glisten in the sun making them look like water drops. Sunday is a working day in Israel. Yesterday all activity ceased. The roads were quiet. Here the commandment given to Moses by God so long ago is being honoured. No work is done on the Shabbat.

Orthodox Jews are a religious group of Jews that give their time to studying the Torah, the first five books in the Scriptures. They teach the Torah at their religious services on Shabbat. Teachers in church, schools or universities are very important people in our lives to pass on truth they know to others.

I remember growing up in the country in Ireland attending Church on Sunday. Chapters from the Old Testament, the Psalms and the New Testament were read. I believe these were were seeds that went into my heart. Later in my life I was given a bible. When I read it I came across passages that I remember hearing all those years ago. They came to my mind again. All scripture is important whether we hear it in song or at Sunday School or in the Torah or in Church or from a mother’s lips as she cradles her young child to sleep with a hymn. God’s word promises that it will not return to him void.

““As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:9-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So all those years ago the word of God going into me has borne fruit much later in my life. So it is with many people. I was listening to a young man’s testimony. After many years living a decadent lifestyle he remembers what his granny said to him. “If you call out to God he will answer your cry. ” in his time of need he did call. God answered and led him into new pathways.

I turned to God when I was in need too. He led me to meet other people who knew about God and read the bible. I began to read it for myself and have done so down through the years. I use the Daily Bible everyday. That helps me cover the scriptures in one year.

It has proved to be a great support in time of trouble or suffering. God brings to mind something I have read which will be just what will encourage me. As I travel and meet people high and low, I find they do not have a knowledge of the Word of God. They may have great qualifications but do not know the Scriptures.

The Word of God is truth. Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life. He was the Word of God become flesh. The scriptures are like bread. When one reads the words it is bread from God to strengthen one. The words bring healing to one’s body and soul. No other book claims to bring healing.

I was reading about Joni Ereakson. She is a lady who has coped with being a Paraplegic
for fifty two years. She awakes every morning and says, “Lord I’m in pain. I can’t do this any longer. I don’t want to go through the regime of needing someone else to lift me out of bed, bathe me and brush her hair. You need to help me Lord. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So starts her day. She has done this for fifty two years. She says her pain, despair and depression drives her to Jesus. She remembers words of scripture that will help her each day.

I would not have got through rearing fourteen children and recovering from cancer without the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. I encourage you today to read the Word of God. Your life will never be the same. If you are suffering read the Word and you will get relief.

Just say something like this. ” God if you are there please help me. Speak to me. Lead me in the right way for my life. Amen”. He will answer.