Many artists have written poetry, songs or painted scenes from October! The month of October for me brings a season of change and harvest. Situations I have been praying for seems to get answered in October. Our large family made a move from Coleraine to Co Down in Northern Ireland back in October the seventh in 1998. One son and two grandchildren have been born in this month. Another son, his Canadian wife and three young sons have just returned from Vancouver after six years away. He left with a suitcase and has returned with his arms literally full. My book, “The Grapes are Worth It” was completed and printed this month.
Change is reflected in nature. The full moon in the sky hails change. It is called the harvest moon. In our area the fields are emptied of rich crops of potatoes, wheat, barley and corn. The brown earth has yielded its goodness to the farmers.
The leaves of the trees have changed color from summer green to amber. I am reminded of a verse from scripture, where the Angel of the Lord is described .
I saw a figure that appeared to be a man. From what appeared to be his waist down, he looked like a burning flame. From the waist up he looked like gleaming amber. Ezekiel 8 v 2
We took a drive through the Mourne Mountains at the weekend. The trees’ leaves in the valley and hillside near Rostrevor painted a glorious picture that will stay with me. Seeing the beauty of the leaves of the trees at this season is healing to the soul. Scripture tells me “The leaves are for the healing of the nations.” It is true.
Brent Geese return form Canada in October. Seventy five per cent of the population of Brent geese in the world come to Strangford Lough for winter. Their brown necks and shoulders blend in well with the seaweed and stones. Underneath they have white feathers.
One morning I was traveling up the Ards peninsula. The sun was rising in the sky behind me. Birds were feeding along the shore of Strangford Lough, enjoying the warmth of the early morning sun’s rays. I noticed a large group of sea birds in the distance. They looked like white gulls. But to my surprise they were Brent Geese. Their white underbelly feathers reflected the low sun’s light.
These are some of my reflections this October of 2020.
The Loughshore Rd in Portaferry, Co Down is very popular with local walkers, and more so during the Covid restrictions. There is less vehicle traffic. A family of Black Guillemots have become quit celebrities to local visitors. They have brought joy to many people during this difficult time when people have had to self isolate. Getting out in nature among God’s creation brings healing to the soul and mind.
The Black Guillemot is a small black sea bird with a white patch on each wing. Each has a pointed beak, smooth feathers and red feet. They feed on sea creatures and can dive very deep underwater to feed. It’s a privilege to get to see such wild life nearby.
Black Guillemots have a nest amid the rocks in the wall along the shoreline of Strangford Lough. They have become quite tame. Passersby stop to watch them as their family play in the water below. My daughter was driving past last evening. Two birds were sitting on the wall. I asked her to reverse the car to see if we could see them up close.
Amazingly the two birds were not disturbed as we stopped. They didn’t fly off. We were able to take photos of them close up. What a delight.
The waves from storms in February breached the shoreline wall in various places. Some were repaired before the lockdown. The road had to be closed to traffic about a mile along the shore from where we live. The wall was broken and part of the road fell into the sea. The Covid lockdown prevented workers getting to fix it.
Then in July when work was due to start to repair the road, it was discovered that another group of Black guillemots had built nests nearby. They were still feeding their young in the nests. The department of the Environment stepped in and advised work to stop. The repair didn’t go ahead. The workers are waiting till the Black Guillemots are finished reading their young.
The tide is high
In Strangford Lough
No room to wade on the shoreline
The water is lapping against the wall
I’m safe here on the ledge
My favourite spot
Jutting out of the water
And keep warm
With my neck
Sunk between my shoulder blades
Till the water recedes
To dart at some tiny fish
Lingering in the shallows
I know their hiding places
I’m too old
To fly from my perch
To find another spot
Those fishing grounds
To the younger ones.
I am always encouraged when I watch birds in my garden. Jesus tells us to look at the birds. They don’t sow nor reap yet our Heavenly Father looks after them. We are more important to God than birds so we are encouraged to learn from the birds.
There are swallows nests in the eve of a barn and a swallows nest in a hedge nearby. Psalm 84 says “Even the swallow and the sparrow find a nest near your altar where she can rear her young. “. An altar speaks of a place of prayer. So if one is praying in his home be sure there will be a bird’s nest nearby in the springtime.
I’m fascinated by the energy the birds exert in rearing their young. Firstly they fly here and there to collect material to build a nest. Then the female lays her eggs and hatches her young. The male and female gather food to feed the hungry chicks. The poor parents are exhausted after the young leave the nest. I often felt like that after the summer when my children were home for the summer. I have never seen chicks in a bird’s nest before. This year I had the treat of seeing my first nest of young.
After visiting a friend before lockdown, Jean sent me a picture of a robin’s nest. She had been furloughed from work and was enjoying her garden. The parent birds had found a safe spot under a plastic covering in a shed. Jean wanted to use a table she had stored there. To her delight she found the nest with three chicks in it. She didn’t unsettle the nest but checked it every day till the chicks fledged three weeks later.
She inspected the nest more closely and found small purple pellets at the bottom of the nest. She did some research and it was suggested they acted as insulation and absorbed waste. How clever the robins are. They even know what can be used as good material for their rearing of their young.
My son is home during lockdown. Back in March we had some logs that needed chopped. Each day my son enjoyed a bit of exercise chopping the wood. His dad and he cleared a space in the yard to store the wood for next winter.
One morning in May I noticed a Wagtail flitting in and out of the wood pile. Was he building a nest in the
midst of the newly stacked logs? I never got to check where the nest was.
But I was social distancing at a friend’s farm recently. He said come here I have something to show you. At the back of his modern tractor in between the gear for lifting heavy weights was a nest with three baby wagtails. He told us the parents feed the young when the tractor is not in use. When the tractor is in use the parents follow it to feed the young when the farmer stops. How special is the lengths the birds go to rear their young and overcome obstacles.
I heard a cuckoo recently. It had a clear crisp,call. I was cheered to hear it’s call. They fly in from Africa in April. The female lays her eggs in a wagtails nest or other convenient nest in the meadow. She is lazy. She leaves the rearing of her young to poor little birds that feed one hungry Cuckoo chick after it has pushed the other young out of the nest. The Cuckoos don’t stay too long they fly away in May.
My daughter lives in a street in Belfast . Blackbirds have built a nest in a bush in the hedgerow. She sent me a photo of the nest with young in it. The parent birds fly in and out to feed them. Ruth is keeping her cat in lock down in case she disturbs the birds.
All these three stories of birds has comforted us during this season of isolation. We are looking to the birds as Jesus taught us. They don’t wear masks or are restricted in rearing their young. They continue to survive.
It is May 2020. The government has urged us to remain at home until further notice for fear of the spread of the Corona Virus in the country.
It has been unusually sunny and warm here in Ireland for May. I am not confined to the house. I am out enjoying my garden tending to plants that are breaking ground in the safe warmth of the sun’s rays. They new growth is thirsty. Pot plants already established soon wilt if not refreshed with water.
I had to rescue two lupin plants from an invasion of greenfly. The new shoots were weakened by dry conditions and their position in the shade at the back of the house. The green fly landed and began to eat at the juicy heads of flowers that were reaching up beyond the leaves. I sprayed the offending creatures with soapy water. I watered the plant. It’s leaves grew strong again instead of limp. I moved the plants to the front of the house where the sea air and sunshine will help them recover.
God promises in his word there will always be winter and summer. I’m so happy with this reassurance. I found this winter cold and longer than usual. There were storms and wet, dark days. The wind found any space past door frames and windows. Inside the house was cooler than normal. I am enjoying the windless and warm days of summer.
I can relate to the flowers. One needs the proper conditions to flourish. A good place in the sun, fresh air and water, strong against any infection or enemies. Jesus promised he would give me water that I will not thirst again. He gives me his Holy Spirt who revives me and strengthens me body, soul and spirit.
I have tried to grow lupin at my previous homes without success. I am determined to look after the lupins that grow here. I believe they flourish here because the greenfly doesn’t like salty air.
The lupin remind me of days of my childhood. My birthday is in May. I probably was feeling happy at the thought of my birthday coming soon. I noticed the beautiful flowers that appeared on trees and roadside verges as I walked alone to school. I walked past a neighbours garden. This lady had a colourful display of lupins every year, pink, purple, yellow and white. They were in full bloom on my birthday. It’s that time of year again. I am tending my lupin plants.
It was my husband’s seventieth birthday last Saturday. Our children had planned to fly in from Canada, Slovakia, Italy, England and Scotland. Due to the Corona virus lock down the planned celebration with family and friends was cancelled. The children were disappointed not being here with their dad to celebrate this special day.
I was looking forward to the event marked on the calendar. Brendan had been busy for the past few months helping me finish my book. He would awaken at five am and start working. A friend of his called one day. My son told him Dad was resting because he was up at five am writing mum’s book. The friend put his hand to his heart and appeared shaken, saying to me , “Brendan must love you very much.”
It was a glorious sunny day on Brendan’s birthday. Some of our children are staying with us at the moment and working from home. We planned a celebration for Brendan with just a few of us. We hung bunting and balloons around the garden. Abraham prepared a barbeque.
Different kinds of guests dropped by to celebrate with us. Unexpected visitors arrived from Africa; swallows that return every year to nest in the barn. Brent geese flew overhead. They are preparing for their long flight to Canada. They leave Strangford Lough at this time every year. Bees buzzed among the apple and pear blossoms. Starlings flew in and out of the garden wall where they are building their nests.
The open space of our garden where Brendan’s pot plants, shrubs and trees are bursting forth was an ideal venue. Bird song provided the music. All freely given by our Creator God.
Abraham put together a video of each of our children reciting one of Brendan’s poems. I shed a few tears when I saw our children. We had a great celebration despite the circumstances. Happy Birthday Brendan
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.
Snowdrops coming out of the earth welcomed my new year. Daffodils are beginning to open, trumpeting spring and brighter days. They have withstood the strong winds of winter.
I am excited to see my Almond tree blossoming in the full light of any sunshine that comes. It is indigenous to Mediterranean Climates. There it is known as the first tree to blossom. My walled garden is a good place to grow.
Brendan and I travel to Israel at this time every year. My Almond tree draws my mind to the Almond trees that line some streets of Jerusalem. Blossoms will be appearing there too, symbols of warmer and better days. I hope to see them soon.
I find it fascinating that each plant knows it’s time to emerge from the earth and put forth its shoots and flower. We can learn from the different species. If we trust God he will cause us to grow and blossom when it’s our time.
The bible tells us in Jeremiah that the Almond Branch is a symbol of God’s faithfulness. He will do for us what He promised. He will bring about our time to blossom just as the earth causes plants to come forth in their time. Let us be patient as we wait.
Let us learn from the farmer as he gets on with other activities waiting for his crops to grow and he will receive his harvest.
The tide is high at Portaferry today. But instead of troubled waters and sea weed washed up over walls by storms, the sea is calm. The sun is glistening off the water and it’s warmth is concentrated in a bay near our home. Other parts of Northern Ireland are covered in snow. People are not venturing too far. More cold temperatures and storms are forecast.
On my way home I took this video of a flock of sea gulls gathered in the bay to feed off insects in the seaweed disturbed by the rising tide.
Sea gulls flit about, dive and fly. They don’t stand at the edge of the water to feed. They are nervous creatures and rise up out of the water at the least noise.
This scene cheered and warmed my heart today. I hope you enjoy it too.
I enjoy watching birds as Jesus told us. Every time I study them I am reminded of God’s care and blessing.
Only ten days to Christmas the lady on the Radio said this morning. Does she mean to warn us we still have those days to spend our money on parties, food, drink and presents.
Or is she warning us to prepare our hearts to remember Jesus coming as a baby to earth. I prefer to remember the coming of our Saviour to set up the kingdom of heaven on the earth. He came to end Satan’s rule over the world, the kingdom of darkness. He came as a lion to defeat the wicked witch who kept the world in coldness as depicted in the Narnia tales.
I praise and thank God at the end of 2019 for his goodness and kindness to me this past year. I am still alive and I believe his promises to me that are not yet fulfilled. I was hopeless when I was dying of cancer. I thought God wasn’t answering my prayers or was going to fulfill his promises to me. My hope in God was restored when I was healed of cancer and delivered from death.
I was reminded of God’s promises to me this morning as I looked out at the sunrise around nine am British time. We are in December, having long dark nights. When the sun rises in the morning it brings warmth and light and hope to me. God our creator is faithful. Psalm 50 describes
The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises and heals the wounds of his people.
Isaiah 30:19-21, 26 NIV