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/

The Sandwich Tern Arrive.

I was excited to see Sandwich terns today on Swan Island. It is rock outcrop a few yards from Strangford harbour. They are on time! Cold winds are easing and the days are warmer and have longer hours of daylight. Isn’t it wonderful that these birds fly thousands of miles from southern parts of Europe and America to rear their young. We are privileged to have them visit. Thousands of travelers on the Strangford ferry will get to see these terns up close. The birds are safe on the island out of reach from any enemies, but near enough for us to enjoy them.

There are many pairs in the colony that will nest and rear their young on the small island. They are very noisy. They rise up into the air together, screech and fly off to feed. They catch small fish on the surface of the water. Perhaps the same flock of terns return year after year.

The Strangford ferry is a vantage point to see the terns. Some of the birds stand on the end of the gangway on the ferry as it crosses the Lough. They aren’t shy of humans.

When I arrived home I heard Bird Song as the evening sun was setting. I recognized the blackbird’s, robin’s and starling’s call in the chorus. Only a few come to the bird table in the morning. They must be off looking for mates and making their nests in preparation to rear their young. It is safe now to start building. A week ago there was snow on the ground and many birds were feeding at the bird table.

The daffodils are sprouting yellow trumpets at last. They were held back by cold temperatures. What a welcome sight of new green shoots and yellow flowers swaying in the breeze, another sign that spring has sprung.

God’s glory is seen in his creation. Who tells the tern to leave the warm climes to come north to the best conditions to rear their young? Who causes the grass, flowers and trees to bud and blossom? Who causes the lambs to be born just when it is warm enough for them to survive.

“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:11‬. NIV

The Sunshine has Returned

It is a fact that man is sure to have trouble in this world.
Yet man is born to trouble, as sure as sparks fly upward. Job 5 v 7

When I was living in my father’s home I was sheltered and protected from life’s storms.
I was hopeful and joyful for my future when I left home. My sunny expectations have carried me through many ups and downs in life. Yes we will have troubles but God in Psalm 91 promises to be with us in trouble and deliver us out of it.

Psalm 50 v 13 to 15 v 23

I don’t need your sacrifices.
What I want instead is your true thanks to God.
Trust me in times of trouble and I will rescue you and you will give me glory.
But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.

The sun is shining again bringing light and warmth. Alleluia. It is so welcome after grey snow laden clouds and chilly biting winds here in Ireland. Humans, animals and birds were forced to shelter till the storm passed. Was that the last cold blast before spring? Can the daffodils blossom and lift their sunshine petal trumpets now?

How did I survive the cold spell? I needed the help of others. Brendan made sure there was oil in the tank, coal and wood at hand to light a fire in the evenings. The warmth from hot water bottles helped us get to sleep. My daughter made warm dinners.

I had a lingering cold for a few days. I had started listening to the radio in the mornings and when I was driving. My ears were buzzing with fears about results of Brexit, local tragedies and news of bad weather. My mood took a dip and I developed a fever as the cough developed. I hid under the duvet. I felt a dark shadow over me bringing gloom. My husband and daughter prayed and attended to me.

I realised what had happened to me. I was allowing all the bad news to affect my mind. I was not thanking God for his many blessings to help me through the dark days. I needed to get back to reading the good news. The Word of God is truth and up lifting and healing.

Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice, Paul encourages us. We may not feel like rejoicing when your car won’t start, you can’t get to work and the baby won’t stop crying. Thanking and praising God changes the atmosphere. Your mood changes and it lets God move to help. He comes to the rescue.

Often I would come before God crying and telling him all my woes. It doesn’t help. My prayers don’t get any higher than the ceiling. His word tells me to come before him with thanksgiving and praise. That is the best sacrifice that pleases God. Then he will move to change the woes. They will disappear like wax before heat and smoke before the wind.

Psalm 91 reminds us if we trust God he will be with us in trouble. In this world we will have trouble. Jesus said be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Our best security for the future is to thank God now, each day and he promises to be with us in the bad times and even deliver us out of them. Alleluia.

Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. The birds are singing, The sun is reflecting off the water again. The sky is blue. The dark clouds have gone. My car will get fixed. That which is broken will be restored.

We may do all we can in life to avoid trouble. But it is a fact that trouble will come.

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Red Berries for the Thrush

A Robin jumped from branch to branch in the hedgerow to welcome us home recently. Brendan leaves food out every morning for the birds. The Robin is a regular visitor.

Last week, cold winds blew in over The British Isles bringing snow overwhelming homes and roads. Red alert warnings have been given to warn people to stay at home.

Someone told me that a Tesco Extra near where she lives was sold out of food before the freeze. People were making sure they had food to keep them over the cold spell. Birds need extra food too during cold weather. New birds came to our bird table recently, blackbirds, wagtails, chaffinch and sparrow. There is a wildlife display as we have our breakfast inside.

A tree down the garden had many red berries on it. I noticed a flurry of activity around it. I looked closer. A number of song thrushes were feeding greedily on the berries. They flew back and forth from the forest nearby. One bird sat on a branch and kept watch. If any other birds come to the tree it drove them away. Some blackbirds tried to get the bounty. A fight broke out till the intruders flew off.

The snow has melted. The thrush are staying in the forest. The shelves in Tesco will be filled again. Life will return to normal. The danger has past. Our regular visitor, the Robin will sit on a branch in the hedgerow waiting for the door to open.

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

Present Time Still Standing

The present cold, dull day makes one want to stay close to home comforts. My AGA cooker is one of my home comforts. For the last few days it was not working properly and I was feeling the cold. The engineer checked it over on Friday night. The problem was a blocked filter stopping the oil flowing to power the cooker.

I had been meditating on the scripture about five wise virgins who had their lamps filled with oil. I wrote a blog on the subject. I was experiencing at first hand what it was like not to have the oil flowing. I was very cold as a result. I was waiting patiently to see if the Aga was working again. I was overjoyed to see it was working better than it had been for a long time and my kitchen was warm again.  I cooked pancakes for breakfast, made wheaten bread in the oven and cooked soup, all before ten am.

In the early morning the sun light up the sky and sea to a pale blue. Light and warmth were returning. Is the winter over?

My husband and I went for a walk along the shore. We walked through the variety of boats safe on dry land for the winter. A rich man’s yacht, a black upturned curragh, an unfinished wooden skiff and some fiber glass small boats sheltered there. We went to our favorite spot to collect sea glass. Oh, the welcome warmth on our backs as we bent down searching.

Later we sat at the quay sharing some fish and chips. Other creatures were enjoying the welcome sunny morning. Brent geese fed in the water and gulls soared overhead. Two gulls landed on the pier a little distance off. I took a photo of them. A friend distracted me for a while. She was out enjoying the morning as well.

When I looked at the gulls again, I noticed the bigger one was standing on one leg. I commented to my husband. A moment later the gull stretched the missing leg out behind. He limped a few steps forward and sat down. His partner looked on attentively. He must have been in pain. We prayed that the gull’s leg would be healed and restored.

Yesterday was a joyful day. I wanted to fit in so much while the sun shone. The joy of yesterday overflowed into today. The cold and dullness at the present time has not dented my sense of wellbeing.

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