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.

 

 

A Bird’s Eye View

I’m looking out from an apartment on the third level of an hotel in Greece. I have a bird’s eye view of the sea in the distance, trees, mountains, clouds, tourists and birds. Just above me two sparrows are making a home under the roof tiles. I look down the row of apartments and notice other sparrows flitting in and out from under roof tiles. In this hotel, not only do you get an apartment to stay in, you also get the company of a couple of sparrows rearing their young above your balcony.

It is May in Greece. The weather hasn’t settled yet to be sure of uninterrupted sunshine for the tourist. One takes a risk to take a holiday at this time. We have had rain, sunshine, west winds and east winds blowing. I have my winter coat with me just to be sure to be warm if the temperatures drop.

The swallows are making their nests as well. They build where a wall meets an overhanging roof. They can be a bit messy and visiting tourists may not take kindly to a bird making his nest on their balcony. As a couple of swallows start to build the owners come along and remove the offending mud shelter. The next day the swallows start over again. So it goes till the birds are defeated and it’s too late to have their young.

Today I was able to continue my bird watching when we were out for a meal. I saw how one man has come to terms with the visiting swallows and his visiting tourists. He has built boxes around the nests and a platform below to catch any bird droppings. So no mess for the tourists to see. There is a welcome for the tourists and the swallows. Some swallows have come back to the same nest for years. They flew in and out while we had our meal . This owner has learned to be eco friendly. I looked up as one of the swallows sat proudly on the nest to hatch her young knowing she was secure in the shelter provided by the human owner. Man and birds are living in harmony.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭84:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God knows the sparrow and the swallow. I am blessed when they are around.

Spring Visitors

Here in Ireland, a few weeks ago on Easter Sunday the sun was shining and many families and their granny’s and dogs were out for a drive. The two ferry boats between Portaferry and Strangford were racing across The Narrows to help the travellers on their day out; perhaps to visit the festivities at Castle ward, Castlewellan or Newcastle. Others from Strangford come to visit the Aquarium in Portaferry or take a tour of the Ards Peninsula.

We had taken a drive a few days before to pick up our daughter who returned for Easter. The water had filled Strangford Lough as far up as Newtownards. It reached up to the wall that separated the the road from the sea. I looked down through the clear water as we drove along the shore. I marvelled. Where else is there a place where one can drive for miles so close to the shore? I was enjoying the Lord’s provision of leading me beside still waters to restore my soul. We continued to enjoy the Easter weekend of rest.

Easter Monday is memorable for me. Nine years ago I went to the Accident and Emergency in the local town. I was later diagnosed with fourth stage cancer. Praise God I am staying alive after my experience with cancer. I celebrated the victory over the weekend with my family.

On Tuesday the weather changed. Grey clouds rolled in on stormy winds from the east. There was a chill in the air. Warm coats were picked up again. All the visitors had gone. They returned home revived and refreshed from having time out in the country.

I noticed different visitors outside my window. The swallows have arrived for the summer. They nest under the eaves and rear their young. There was no time wasted. A couple of them inspected the nest used last year and began mending it, flying in and out with mud in their beaks.

All the ways of nature have a purpose. The swallows have travelled thousands of miles from Africa. The strong south east winds helped them on their way. The same winds carried the Brent Geese north on their return journey to Canada. I miss their calls as they gathered beneath our garden to drink from the fresh water stream. They have been feeding on the eel grass along Strangford Lough since September. When the Brent Geese arrive they look like ducks. When they leave they have grown fat and look like geese.

I will enjoy the company of the swallows over the summer along with the resident forest and sea birds. The blackbirds, robins, pigeons, pheasants, doves, thrush, starlings and sparrows are busy making nests for their young. The call of the doves in the morning replace the Brent Geese. The other birds join the chorus as the sun begins to rise in the east.

The time of singing of birds has come. Sap is rising through the tree trunks. The leaves burst open and discard their shells. The sticky pollen of the sycamore tree in front of the house is falling all around. Another thing the wind carries to other trees to pollenate them. The pear and apple blossoms are in full bloom waiting for the bees from a neighbor’s hive to collect their nectar. All nature is busy increasing and multiplying.

Yet more visitors arrived below on the Lough. A beautiful tall yacht drew up within my view below. The owners are getting it ready for sailing events over the summer. I watched as it was secured to a buoy. It is the season for yachtsmen to put their vessels back in the water. A crane lifts the boats, which look like big birds, and settle them on the water.

It’s good to be alive and see life abundant all around.  Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly.  He has done that for me.  It’s the devil who comes to rob, steal, kill and destroy.  John 10 v 10

Camping in December in Ireland

Back in December when campervans are stowed for the winter, Bones sprung into life again after her battery was recharged.

Bones is the name my husband gave a campervan we bought two years ago. The doors rattled and the engine puffed out smoke when we first drove it. It needed much repair to make it roadworthy. It reminds us of the scripture in Ezekiel v 1 “ Can these dry bones live?”

I needed to use the campervan recently as my own car was being repaired. Tax and a top up to the insurance needed to be paid to keep it legal on the road. I thought I may as well take it out for a drive.

It had been wet and windy weather for a week. One of the wild nights I was travelling back home. I had the heater, lights, wipers and radio on in the van. I trusted Bones to get me home.

It did but next morning there was no spark to start it again. The power needed the previous night drained all life from the battery.

I was dreaming I could go on an overnight stay in the Campervan over the Christmas period. Who would come with me and would it be cold?

I wanted to visit Cushendun again. It is a beautiful place up along the Antrim coast. We had stopped in the village back in the Summer time. According to the brochures it had a Campsite that stayed open all the year round. After Christmas festivities my daughter offered to go with me one night in the van.

The forecast was 11 degrees centigrade one of the days so we planned and packed for our trip.

It was refreshing to wake up early when the sun was rising in the east over the Irish Sea. We had breakfast as the light shone through the drifting clouds. We spent the rest of the morning walking on the beach and driving through the picturesque villages along the coast road.

We treated ourselves to coffee in the luxurious Ballygally Hotel before setting off for home. I’m looking forward to many more trips out no matter what the season.

It’s good to be alive and enjoying my life. God is good all the time. There in healing in the Blood of Jesus.

Sent from my iPhone

The Chaffinch

What a colourful bird is the Chaffinch.

In springtime when the birds are feeding their young many come to our garden to eat the titbits my husband leaves for them. The food ranges from bread crumbs, left overs and some seeds. Each bird is glad of any extra food to feed their fast growing young.   I enjoy the company of our feathered friends.

Over the summer the Robin was our regular visitor, with only a few visits from Sparrows and Tits. The young had flown the nest and the breeding season had come to an end. The adults could take a rest. We would have only an occasional visit from the Chaffinch.

The Chaffinch is larger and stronger looking than the robin and more confident. He is handsome with a blue-grey cap, reddish-brown breast and back.

It’s now winter. Brendan supplements the food he leaves out with bird seed bought from the pet shop. The Chaffinch is now a frequent visitor. Brendan noticed he comes to feed when dark seeds are left out. He is not so fond of bread or other lighter coloured seeds. He feeds on seed from the thistle, which is a thorny plant. The chaffinch is sometimes associated with Christ’s crown of thorns.

It is a delight to see this beautiful visitor on our fence in the morning especially after reading about the chaffinch’s association with Our Saviour. I lift my eyes to our God who made the heavens and the earth. I thank God for his son Jesus. The crown of thorns pierced his head, blood flowed down his forehead and matted his hair. The flesh on his back was opened up with the thongs of a whip. His body and clothes were covered in blood from his wounds. Men turned away from the sight.

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭53:2-3, 5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus wounds healed me from fourth stage cancer.

Healing the Wounds

The season has changed.  This weekend the clocksgo back.  I went outside and looked up at the full moon high in the sky.  It was lighting up the land and sea below. I spent a few moments marvelling at the beauty all around. Praise The Lord maker of heaven and earth.  I didn’t stay too long in the chilly air. I headed off to bed looking forward to the extra hour under the blankets.

Here at my home in Northern Ireland it is a beautiful day. The sky is blue and clear of clouds. The sun is shining brightly, yes more brightly than normal. It shouldn’t be so warm at the end of October! The yachts and boats that were moored in the bay have gone.  The owners brought them to the harbour.  They have been hoisted out by a crane a few days ago.  It’s time to store the craft for the winter.

My grandchildren are visiting. It is warm outside, the air still and the water surface like glass. The conditions tempted the children to go down to the shore. It is a perfect day to go messing about in the water. They persuaded grandad to help them put our boat in the water again. It is a small yellow pedalo. It glides quietly over the water. No need for oars, sails or an engine. Just turn the pedals with your feet. Our grandchildren have such fun in it. No need to own an expensive yacht. The only equipment each one needs is a life jacket. Supervised from the shore by grandad and their mum, the children paddled effortlessly up and down the bay till their hearts were content.

I am reminded of the scripture,

“The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven times brighter, in the day that the Lord binds up the breach of his people, and heals their wounds.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭30:26‬ ‭KJV‬‬

As I am writing this I hears the calls of some birds overhead.  I look up.  It is a chevron of seventeen swans flying south.  They must have taken advantage of the perfect weather conditions, light by day and night to migrate south for the winter.

I am nursing a broken arm. It is very painful. I am feeling helpless and miserable. I fell from a stepladder as it crashed under me. My right arm and bottom took the full impact. Today, three weeks on I am encouraged by God’s word. My wounds will heal.

If you are feeling discouraged, are sick or heavy burdened don’t despair.  Look up.  See creation all around.  Your Heavenly Father who created all this beauty cares for you.  Through believing in his son Jesus you will be healed.   It’s time for your breaks and wounds to heal.

“Be still and know that I am God”

Don’t give a Woman a Colour Card

Celestial, Teal Magic, Hidden Glade and Chocolate Kiss.
No they are not the names of drink cocktails, cakes or a mystical holiday destination. They are some of the names of colours on my paint colour card! My head is in a spin seduced by these enchanting names. Nowadays one has many more choices of colours than the seven colours of the rainbow, blue, red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet.

Our present home has had a make over this summer. All electric fixtures were checked. Old light fittings above doors were replaced and the car park light repaired. Old bulbs were replaced with luminescent long life ones. The roof, gutters and yard have been power washed. Windows frames and surrounds needed repairs. The outside walls, some indoor rooms, doors and windows are looking good after being freshly painted.

I read in Isaiah 60 v 10 that ““Foreigners will rebuild your walls.” Workmen has been with us during the sunny months of July and August. They don’t realise they are doing the Lord’s work. They don’t realise that my walls are ever before him. Isaiah 60 v 18 “Your walls will be called salvation and your gates praise.” They are rebuilding, repairing and renewing my home.

My daughter bought a house in Liverpool. Finding a house, putting an offer on, waiting to see if it accepted, applying for a mortgage can test one’s patience. More waiting was needed for the owners to move out after they agreed to sell. It can be one of the most stressful events in one’s life.

She took ownership of her new home in February. The house was cold with no curtains. She slept on a mattress on the floor the first night. More stress. The first thing she arranged was a carpet clean and the walls painted. She didn’t have the time to choose wonderful colours for her walls. They were all painted magnolia. I lived with magnolia in all my homes. Brendan thought it the best and cheapest option when we were on a budget rearing a big family with many rooms and corridors in our home to paint. He and some of our children were the painters then.

Four of the inside rooms needed freshened up as well. Brendan was happy to let me choose the colours for the inside rooms. I was given a colour card by the painters. There were so many different shades of green, blue, greys and yellows. I trusted my own judgement and picked the colours, olive, Bokhara, mustard and yellow. Brendan looked nervous but agreed and sent off an e mail to the painters with the choices.

The painters arrived on Monday morning this week armed with brushes, buckets of paint and sheets to cover any furniture. They walked into my workshop. They looked nervously at the clutter. It couldn’t possibly all be covered up with the sheets they had brought. There was relief written over their faces when I told them they could start in our bedroom which had been cleared out.

Some of our family were visiting. Brendan co ordinated a clean up of my workshop for the painters. I hid upstairs. Whatever will be will be. The painters started painting in my workshop the next day. Brendan saw the first strokes of the Bokara paint on the walls. He looked for me and protested “Your room is going to be a bright orange like Easyjet.” He was beginning to regret letting me choose the colours for any room. I went to look. I agreed. What can we do? Can I live with bright orange in my workshop?

I asked the painter, his name was John, could we change the colour. He explained that each tin of paint had been individually mixed to order. They could not be changed. I let him continue his work. After four coats of paint and two disgruntled men, my workshop is transformed to a warm orange/brown shade like the sunset. It didn’t turn out to be the new Easyjet room. It is more reminiscent of an oasis in the Sahara desert. The workmen fiinished the other two rooms and left yesterday. One is golden and the other sunshine yellow. We have four fresh rooms and Brendan is happy. He’s busy picking out suitable art work.

Brendan told me John said to him “Never give a woman a colour card!” He was happiest with old faithful magnolia! A wall painted magnolia doesn’t take four coats to finish. Two other daughters moved house this year. There is no magnolia in sight. Stairways are painted navy blue. Other rooms are dark shades of green, grey and blue. I was inspired by their choices. I and my girls have boldly coloured homes.

I awoke in my olive green bedroom this morning enjoying all the shadows the morning sun was creating on the walls. Each wall was a different hue of olive. The smell of fresh paint has cleared. The painters are gone.

Praise God for colour and beauty. It lifts our spirits. A friend of ours returned from abroad many years ago. It took him time to recover. Everywhere was grey; grey skies, grey streets, and grey walls. Ireland is definitely a country of forty shades of green. Take a drive though the countryside and count the different hues of green and yellows of harvest. I am inspired by the beauty of my surroundings.

In any dark days of winter that are ahead my heart will rejoice as I sit in my sunset workshop or welcome my guests or family into the sunshine guest room.