My Eldest Daughter’s Success

It was fifty years ago around Easter time that I discovered I was pregnant. I was in my second year at university, What should I do? What will my parents think? Will I finish my studies?

I was aware that the University Medical Center arranged for a student to go to England if she wanted an abortion.  Not everyone wanted the responsibility of a child.  One was at university to further one’s prospect of a job and career.  Having a child would interfere with those plans.  Best stop the pregnancy and no one will know, some students thought. 

The western world was going through revolution.  Youth in the west threw off the customs of their forefathers and guidelines on how to live.  The pill was available so one didn’t have to get married.  Abortion became available.  Music was being blasted over the airwaves about love, all you need is love.  The result of throwing off the wisdom gained from previous generations has resulted in millions of children being aborted.   

I decided I wanted to keep my child.  I didn’t listen to my peers.  I wasn’t passionate about a future career.  Brendan asked me to marry him.  We were twenty years and twenty one years old respectively.  We were willing to face the future together as many people before us have done.  My daughter Shann was born later that year.

Recently we celebrated Shann’s success in getting the highest mark in her Masters, doing research for community health care. If we had aborted my unborn child we wouldn’t have had the joy of raising and being responsible for another human being. Brendan’s mother wouldn’t have had the joy of seeing her first grandchild and spending many happy days with her. In nannie’s old age Shann cared for her.

Shann has brought love to many.  The world would not be the same without her. Shann has been a blessing.  She is married to Mark.  They have four beautiful children.  As a health professional she has worked with sick children and elderly.  She encourages her colleagues when they are having a bad day.  She is compassionate to her neighbours.

 Our eldest child has loved us and her siblings unconditionally.  We look forward to many good days together in the future.  

This story is the result of my choice fifty years ago not to have an abortion.

Pinky my Dressing Gown

There is an item of clothing that is very important to me. When I get up in the morning the first thing I reach for is my dressing gown. I was often so tired after feeding a baby through the night I eeked out the last few minutes before I got up to get the children out to school.

While rearing a big family, there was no time to get washed and dressed first before everyone else was up. There was always a rush to get using the bathroom in the morning with so many children. I helped the younger children get ready. A wipe with a facecloth and hair brushed was sufficient to look respectable for school. 

I have lived in big, older houses so the air can be chilly first thing in the morning. I like to wrap up tightly before I go to make a cup of tea. The kitchen can be the coolest part of the house unless one has the luxury of an AGA cooker. My dressing gown helped me keep warm tied tightly around my waist.  

I have had different dressing gowns over the years but I’ve had two favourite ones. A friend bought me a new dressing gown for going to hospital to have my daughter Mary forty years ago. It was full length, made of silk like material, navy in colour with flowers printed around the bottom. I had it for many years. I felt quite glamorous in it. When we were in Kerry one year I mistakenly left it behind. I regretted losing that dressing gown. I wasn’t able to find another one like it since.  

Ten years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, my daughter bought me a dark pink gown made of towel fabric. I suit pink and it felt very warm and comfortable to wear. I’ve worn it these last years. I call it Pinky.

No children to get out to school now. I enjoy my garden on a sunny morning still in my dressing gown inspecting the new growth of spring time. I would be out there for hours unmindful of the time passing. I better get dressed.

My husband would be particular about what I wear. If he didn’t like something I was wearing he would soon let me know. He never commented on either of these dressing gowns. He bought me a sheepskin pair of slippers. When I saw them first I told him they are what grannies wear. I didn’t think I would wear them. In my home they are my constant footwear, so warm and soft on my feet. Pinky and the granny slippers have been a comfort to me in the cold nights and mornings.  

I am often awake through the night. Sure enough my favourite dressing gown would keep me warm in my night watches. I did most of my blogging at night, prayed or worked on my mosaics. I would be caught up for hours in my workshop. Later in the morning I could be found still pottering about my kitchen, baking or cooking into the late morning still with my dressing gown on.  

During the last two months Brendan and I have moved house. Initially it was quite daunting to start packing up. Two of my daughters helped during the Christmas holidays pack up some kitchen ware. Mary helped me with some of my clothes and other items in my bedroom. She was strict with me. Do you wear this? Have you worn this item this last year.? Yes I am guilty I had many dresses that were hanging in my wardrobe that hadn’t been worn for a long time. I did succumb to my daughters wishes to get rid of many items., less packing.  In the following weeks I packed clothes, books, jewellery that I didn’t want to get lost in the general afray of un named boxes.

The time came nearer to the final leaving date. Two other daughters came to help pack. I was glad of their help and I left them to make decisions.  I was trying to adjust to the change that was on the horizon for me. Leaving a large home with a beautiful view over Strangford Lough. I didn’t have the energy to do much packing. They did a thorough work giving up their time to help us move. 

A big blessing for me was Ruth finding a ring that my husband bought for me while I was on holiday in Egypt many years ago. It was made of silver with fourteen dark stones on it, representing all my children. I thought I had lost it fifteen years ago. It meant so much to me, and I missed it. No matter what the girls did in the move after that I forgave because they found this precious piece of jewellery in a desk cabinet.

One of the casualties of the move was my pink dressing gown. It was discarded with other worn clothes. Another daughter has tried to replace Pinky with other dressing gowns she bought for me a few years back. One made me look like a polar bear. I dreaded to wear it in front of Brendan. Another was a dark full length satin gown which wasn’t comfortable around my waist. I went back to good old faithful Pinky.

It had been with me through cancer, when I was writing me book and in the night when I would be working on my mosaics.  

When I spent my first night in my new home Pinky was not at hand to keep me warm in the morning. We were separated. I had left the rest of the packing to my girls to finish. Pinky became a casualty of the move. My daughters thought Its time for Mum to get a new dressing gown! Like my other favourite gown I can’t find another one like Pinky.  

My girls and I joke about it. All is forgiven because Ruth found my favoite ring that I thought was lost forever. I now wear the ring on a string around my neck. I can carry my children close to my heart.  

I now seek to wear a different garment , one the Lord wants me to wear.

“You are chosen by God for this new life of love, so dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”(Col 3:12,13). And where will you find that on the “High Street”?

My Book Launch

I’m pleased to present to you our book “The Grapes are Worth it”.
Brendan and I picked our book from the printers on Friday.


It is the story of our lives, getting married and having fourteen children during the troubles in Northern Ireland.


It is a testament to Jesus’ power in our lives of forgiveness, healing, restoration and reconciliation.


I have been prompted by God’s Holy Spirit to write about how God helped me in my life for some time.

It was only after I broke my right arm that I gave up all distractions and started to write on my red lap top Brendan had purchased for me ten years previously when I had fourth stage cancer.

My daughter said “What is daddy buying a new computer for Mummy when she is going to die.”

Her dad replyed “She is going to write her book on it God healed me of cancer.”


If you would like a copy please get in touch.


Angela

The Unnamed Innocent

I was reading this morning an article about the death of George Floyd. The writer encouraged us to remember this man’s name and speak of the injustice he suffered. He died after being pinned to the ground by a police officer. Thank God for mobile phones. His treatment was videoed and broadcast throughout the world.

Violence and protest marches took place in many cities in America and around the world, despite the guidance of our governments not to gather in groups due to the pandemic. People voiced their outrage at the death of George Floyd.

I have been reflecting recently on the importance of one’s name. I believe God calls me by my name. A priest gave me my name when I was baptised as an infant. Then a child was baptised soon after her birth. He called me Angela. This means Messanger, like the Angels, who are messengers of God. He gave me a second name, Petronella. This means solid like a rock. My names are prophetic for my life. I survived as a baby, despite many infants dying from diseases and Ill health. I survived rheumatic fever later when I was nine years old. Untreated this can leave one disabled. I have survived broken limbs. I survived malignant cancer ten years ago. I gave birth to fourteen children. I’m staying alive!

I now tell others about the God who created me in my mother’s womb and who cared for me all the days of my life.

“O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭71:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

He is God Almighty, his son Jesus and his Holy Spirit, three in one. I am fulfilling my name Angela. God has made me like a rock to survive many difficulties thrown at me. I am fulfilling my name Petronella.

In the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem is recorded the names of most of the six million Jews who died in the concentration camps. In so far as possible each one is mentioned by name and where he was from. These records are a memorial on the earth to each one who died. He is remembered by his people after him by name. Each one mattered.

Every year on November the eleventh in Britain, leaders and people gather in towns at a Memorial Stone where the names of soldiers who died in World wars are recorded. They are remembered by name. They are given dignity and their memory honored.

A thought came to me the other day. What about the little children who have been aborted in my country since March this year. They have not been given a name. They will not be celebrated by each one’s mother or father. Get rid of the unseen problem. There is no mobile phone to record the lethal injection. There is no photo taken at the child’s birth. No beautiful clothes to cover the child’s nakedness. Northern Ireland was a safe place for me to have my children.

But God sees.
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The unborn children return to God who created them . He is caring for them. They will be remembered as those whose blood was shed. There is eternal life. There is a heaven where there will be no more pain. God is loving but he is the God of justice. He saw the unformed body in the womb. He keeps a record in his book. He remembers and he will bring justice for shed blood of the innocent children.

Jesus told us to use his name to pray to the Father in heaven. I am writing this article in Jesus name. There is power in the name of Jesus. His name is the name above all names. In the end every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

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.

International Woman’s Day

  • It’s International Woman’s Day.
    Hip, hip hooray.
    Many women have done well with their work in medicine, engineering, sports, literature, art, teaching, justice and caring jobs all over the world. With education available in the Western world women have had many choices of career available to them.
    Not so for many woman in the third world.
    I want to celebrate today women all over the nations who are wives and mothers of children. Some may be one of many wives a husband has. But she is faithful to her situation and looks after her children. She doesn’t have a choice. Well done to woman who rear their children in poverty situations, giving their last drop of milk to save a dying child at her breast. And women who care for their children on their own because their husbands have abandoned them. I celebrate today any woman who have chosen to have her child despite the doctor’s advice to have an abortion, the mother who is caring for her sick child and the mother who is rearing many children.
    I was one such mother. I chose to have fourteen children and stayed at home to rear them. It was twenty four seven work.
    I congratulate woman throughout the world who are wives and mothers.

Ph D Graduation Day.

I am celebrating today with our daughter Mary at her graduation for completing a Ph D, researching Maternity care in poorer nations of the world at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. I thank God I am alive to be with her today. Eight years ago, I was suffering from Cancer. Through the tender mercies of God I am healed and alive to declare today that God is faithful and good.
“For you will not leave my soul among the dead. All the good things come from you.” Psalm 16 v 2 and 10
I am alive to continue to support my family in the ways of righteousness. Mary would call me up when she needed encouragement. I would talk and pray with her. Along with other family, friends’ and colleagues’ help she completed today.   Well done Mary.  I’m proud of you.

Late April in Slovakia

I’m sitting under a willow tree in Slovakia,
My body welcoming the warmth of the sun
Along with all the creatures
That had to endure the long winter.
Life is breaking forth all around me.
Sparrows chirp above me in the branches,
Taking turns to fly up
Into crevices in the wall
Building their nests to have their young.
I survey the green panorama of the forest trees.
Two weeks ago they were bare brown trunks.
Doves call from their midst.
The apple trees burst forth buds and flowers
Attracting bees that buzz and hum
Busy collecting nectar and pollen.
White butterflies float in the air,
Outlined by the green background.
Although a thousand miles apart we share
Familiar wildlife in our gardens.
Sparrows, swallows, doves, bees and butterflies know no borders.
My son works with the soil.
My daughter in law is planting flowers,
Free from the repetition of washing dishes and clothes,
Cooking, baking and cleaning.
Their children play nearby,
Safe in the space of the new mown garden.
A hose gushes cool water.
The children dart in and out of the spray,
Running, chasing and squealing.
Barbecue smoke drifts through the air,
Inviting us to the picnic table.
Grilled chicken, courgettes, pineapple
Sweetcorn and mushrooms are ready.
Let’s dive in.

Peter Rabbit

Every evening my son and children would be frantic looking for their escaped pet rabbit.

Last summer he was given a pet rabbit. His children named him Peter Rabbit. It was pre-owned but not pre-loved. When a bunny is young it is furry and cuddly, and is attractive as a live pet instead of a fluffy toy that doesn’t breathe. But a pet needs looked after, fed, watered and space to sleep and run. It may not take to being cuddled or it can mess up the kitchen if kept indoors. Soon the novelty of a pet rabbit wears off. Peter Rabbit had grown up, had a mind of his own and didn’t want to be cuddled any more. It wanted adventure.

At first Peter joined in with my son’s children when they were playing in their back garden. An elderly neighbour who lived on his own commented that he loved to hear the children play and listen to their squeals of delight when they played happily together. He would have heard a different cry when they would fall or fight but he didn’t mention that part.

The two older boys played together. The third child wasn’t always included in their play so he made friends with Peter Rabbit. He was chased round the garden or often got soaked when the boys were playing with the hose as their dad watered the garden. When bedtime came mum and dad were busy making dinner and getting their young family to bed. Toy tractors, diggers, buckets and spades were scattered where the children left them. Peter Rabbit was forgotten about. He made his own way into his bed in the shed for the night.

School term started, cold days came and the little children were not out playing in the garden as often. Peter Rabbit was alone. He began to find his way beyond the garden squeezing under the gate. He wanted to explore. He survived cars, dogs and cats in the neighbourhood. Of an evening when mum would return from a school run a neighbour would return Peter Rabbit. This happened a few times. Eventually the neighbours gave up. But Peter Rabbit always found his way home for the night.

Soon this young family were feeling hemmed in and needed for more space for their growing family.  Mum and dad busied themselves through the winter keeping up the routine of getting children to school, making meals and caring for their children. The young family and Peter Rabbit survived the winter.

My son began to look for a bigger house. They would ideally have loved to move to the country. But there was nothing suitable available. God cares for the little children. He cares for the parents. He understood our son and daughter in law’s pressure in rearing a young family.  He even cares for our pets.

A friend of their’s told them a house was available near where she lived in town. It wasn’t on the open market yet. Would they be interested in looking at it?  They went along to view it. It was a big old house with a walled in garden and a green house with two grape vines in it. When I heard about the grapes I said, “That is the house for them”.

They were a bit daunted at first. “How will they heat it?” “Can they afford it?” But look at the grapes. It is private, it is safe for the children, no one overlooking your garden. It has a sunny aspect! The estate agent suggested my son put in an application. The house would be freshly painted and carpets cleaned for the new owner.

I was totally confident that God would provide a bigger home for my son and his family.  I believed God for our growing family and he has always provided.  In Numbers 33 v 53 I read,

“Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy. You must distribute the land in proportion to their size. A bigger tribe gets more land.”

I went to visit my son and his family a few days ago in their new home. The front door opened into a bright hallway, already family photos on the wall, a spacious living room, kitchen, play room full of toys and bedrooms. More than they could ask or think.  The back door opens onto the garden, a natural sun trap. They had their breakfast out on the lawn on their first morning. What freedom and beauty.  The Lord has given my son his promised land!

We sat down in the sun for a cup of coffee together. I marvelled at the goodness of God in the land of the living. A Robin flew past me and landed in the hedge behind. It then perched on a chair and pecked some crumbs from the table. Peter rabbit was munching happily nearby. The young children played together somewhere in the big garden. We heard their voices. Mum and dad could enjoy time relaxing in the sun having coffee secure knowing their children were safe. Peter Rabbit won’t want to escape again.

My son and children won’t be frantic looking for their pet rabbit again.

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

Article Published in Local Woman Magazine

I had the privilege of having an article written in a Northern Ireland magazine.
It is called Local Woman. The Belfast editor, Maureen Coleman got in touch with me. She wanted to print something for Mother’s Day.
Here is a copy of the article. You can go to your local newsagent and as for the March copy of Local Women.