The Father Giver of Gifts

The sun rising this winter’s morning.  

Only five more days till the darkest day of the year in the Northern part of the world. My last child number 14 in our family, has her birthday on the 22nd December. When she was born she brightened up our lives in the middle of winter. Four other of my children were born within three weeks of Christmas. When lots of people were in a frenzy buying presents we were having babies. They are gifts from God our Father. “‘Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127

Christmas is a time when we remember Jesus being born among mankind. God the Father sent his son Jesus from heaven to be present with us in the flesh. He was a gift to us from the Father.  He came from heaven to save mankind from sin and death, caused by Adam’s disobedience.

Having some of our children around the Christmas season when Jesus left his home in heaven, reminded my husband of a vision he had. He saw spirits of children around them Throne of God in heaven. They were asking God could they be born on the earth. Brendan said he was open to have as many children as God wanted to give him. We didn’t plan our family. God is our family planner.

Any parent loves to buy his children presents especially at Christmas time. They are excited opening the beautifully wrapped gifts. One mother I know puts £30 pounds aside every month for Christmas. But sadly thanks for the presents are given to a crazy, old, fat man in a red suit following a reindeer. Jesus said, “If you, then know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matt 7 v 7. God our Father delights to give us what we ask. We don’t have to be confined to asking God for presents at Christmas time.

God the Father is the true giver of all that is good. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Brendan and I reared our children on very little money. We believed the word of God,

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The supermarkets are full of food and gifts at this time. What will parents do who can’t afford the gifts and food that they see? I can testify that our family never went hungry at Christmas time. They were never in lack. God is faithful to look after us. He is our shepherd.

I would encourage anyone to do what Jesus said, Ask and It shall be given onto you.

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/

Why the Irish like Potatoes!

I live in Ireland. We are three weeks into March in 2018. We have had one day of clear blue skys and warm sunshine in that time. I took the opportunity to sit in the sun in the morning and get some fresh air and a walk in the afternoon. Being out in the sun lifted my mood. This past winter has been unusually cold and windy with snow. We seldom have snow!!  Its very easy to get depressed and run for the cover of the duvet.

I was reading a blog, Cure4Health written by Chadmin. I quote

“During the winter months the sun’s rays are weaker and often covered by clouds. This caused scientists to believe that it was the absence of light that caused depression. In a way they were right. The sun’s rays trigger our body to produce vitamin D.
Studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and mood. Vitamin D is a vitamin our body doesn’t store. Each day we need a source of vitamin D or we become deficient. The good news is that getting enough vitamin D each day is easy.   Continue reading

Granny Brings the Snow.

There was a meager amount of snow in Portaferry this week compared to other areas of N Ireland.

In Ireland we enjoy a temperate climate, not too hot in Summer and not to Cold in winter. We don’t have extremes of temperature. It means we can be outdoors all of the year. We don’t need air conditioning Summer or Winter. A fire in the hearth will get us through any unusual cold spell. We can gather there to keep warm.

N Ireland has been enjoying a cold spell with falls of snow this past week. The Christmas winter wonderland scene has come early. A log fire sounds so romantic. But a store of sticks have to be prepared beforehand. There’s nothing like a stack of logs neatly stacked away slowly drying. Thankfully Brendan and the boys get wood ready every year.

One can’t pass the opportunity to relax when it’s cold outside. It’s time for a crossword or a jigsaw puzzle. I’ve been working on one these last few days.

The cold weather can suddenly restrict one’s routine. I didn’t want to go shopping. Brendan was going to get some groceries for us. The roads would be slippy. It’s too cold. Then I remembered about my car. It was in the garage getting repaired. I rang the mechanic. Hey presto my car was ready. I forgot to ask how much the repair cost would be. Brendan helped me pick up my car, which meant a journey across on the ferry to Downpatrick and he kindly paid the not so small bill.

To cheer ourselves up we went for coffee. I received a text from a journalist to let me know she had published an article about me in the Belfast Telegraph that day. I bought a few copies. Brendan was distracted from the sting of the mechanic’s bill as we read the paper. I was delighted with the article and my retrieved car.

Brendan and I parted. He went shopping and I drove my car home. There was four inches of snow covering the back, top and front of my car from the snow fall the previous night. I wanted it washed off. I drove to the personalised car wash. It was closed. I went to a garage, it was closed. That snow was not going to budge. I drove back to Strangford to the ferry. I intended to go to the car wash to freshen up my car before I got home.

Strangford and Portaferry are on the edge of Strangford Lough in a micro climate. It’s effect keeps us warmer than inland. Some snow had fallen but it didn’t remain. One of the ferry men asked me where I was coming from. He was surprised to see so much snow on my car. This made me think. Here is my car covered in snow and there’s no snow around. I thought “I’ll drive to see my grandchildren and let them see the snow on top of my car. They’ll be happy to see it.” It was just getting dark.

The children came running out when I called them to see the snow. They coaxed their dad to make a snowman. All the snow was scooped off the car and a snowman built, eyes, nose and all. Their mum told me they had been talking all day about wanting it to snow so they could make a snowman. He still remains in the middle of the green grass of the lawn. God blessed the children with their hearts’ desire. I often say God gives us our heart’s desire. He is a good father.

I remembered Roy Woods’ Christmas song, ” I wish it could be Christmas every day.”
Here’s the first few lines.

When the snowman brings the snow
Well he just might like to know
He’s put a great big smile on somebody’s face
…..
Oh well I wish it could be Christmas everyday
When the kids start singing and the band begins to play
Oh I wish it could be Christmas everyday
Let the bells ring out for Christmas

Granny brought the snow and put a great big smile on the children’s faces even though there was a meager amount of snow in Portaferry.

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

Faith for Provision

It was 1998. Brendan wanted to take me to India, my first trip with him to the nations. He had been to India many times and wanted to introduce me to his friends there. Brendan wanted to bless me for looking after our children and home, while he travelled. He was wondering if it was the right time to go.

We had just moved house from one end of Northern Ireland to the other with nine children. We were still settling into our new home and getting a feel of our surroundings. It would mean getting visas and booking flights, and believing God for the provision.

One evening our family were relaxing watching a nature programm on television. It was about wildlife in India. The Brahmaputra is a river that winds across north India. The lush grass along it’s banks supports some of the biggest animals in the world. Wild buffalo, elephant, rhino, tiger, deer and many other species co exist. The documentary showed a large family of otters chewing on fish. They lay on the bank of the river in the sun contented with bellies full. There is plenty of food and space for all the species. They are not jostling each other for space. There is an abundance of water and food.

He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures. He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry. (‭Psalms‬ ‭147‬:‭3-5, 8-9‬ NLT)

At this time we were in transition. We had just moved from a town house with its restrictions for a large family to a broad place, a bungalow with large garden on the edge of town. We had taken a leap of faith. The documentary was an encouragement to me that as God provides for the wild beasts in Northern India will he not provide for me and my big family. We had more space in our new home, for our growing boys. There was plenty of room for them all.

I reassured my husband to go ahead and book the flights for India. I had faith that God would supply all our need according to his riches in Glory. His bank is not broke. Heaven is not running out of gold. The streets are paved with gold. He is looking after all peoples and nations. Is it difficult for him to look after our family? He provides even for the animals, will he not also provide for us.

The documentary encouraged our faith. Brendan needed further reassurance. He asked a friend to pray. He responded and said God gave him the word, Thomas. This was a word of knowledge, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Brendan researched about Thomas. He was one of the disciples of Jesus and it is thought he went to India.

The Holy Spirit confirmed I should go to India. Brendan went ahead and planned the trip to India. Friends looked after our children while we were away. God looked after all who were away and all at home.

It’s Harvest Time

It is August, the month of harvest in Ireland.  The fields of barley and wheat around our home are ripe. It has been a sunny, dry summer and the farmers can expect a bumper crop. I saw a tractor pulling a trailer full to overflowing with grain. Did the farmer do anything extra this year more than other years to get a bigger harvest? No he is faithful to prepare the fields in the springtime and sow the seeds of wheat. He waits. He has faith.  He expects to get a harvest a few months later.

No amount of worrying will help the seed to grow. No matter what the weather is like if he believes he will get the harvest in. It is because of God’s mercy and goodness we have had good weather this summer in Ireland for everyone to enjoy and especially for the growth of crops and fruit. The earth has brought forth bountifully. When we visited with friends over the summer we enjoyed the strawberries from their garden.

Last year at this time the ground in some parts of Ireland was too wet for heavy machinery to gather in the harvest. In September a dry spell of weather allowed the farmers to clear the ground. It was later than usual but the harvest time did come.
God word promises
““As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭8:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A prophetic word was given by an American prophet back in May. He said,
“For the next season there will be an open heaven over you. There will be a release of God’s revelation and power. You can expect to receive payment for the attacks of the enemy. God is breaking clouds of darkness and bringing people out of the wilderness and God’s light is going to shine.”

Yes the light has been shining naturally all summer. God is showing us his favor. I am like the farmer expecting a harvest from what I have sown naturally and spiritually. I am expecting payment for what the devil has stolen. God is going to move sovereignly on my behalf. I didn’t earn his mercy. I believe in his promises and his prophetic words to me. He is going to keep his promises to me.  I have faith because God has said in his word.

There was a rainbow arch right across the sky in front of my home on Saturday. It is a sign of God’s covenant with me and with all life on the earth. He will never again flood the earth. It is a sign to me that God is there and he sees and encourages me to keep believing him. He told Noah and his family when they came out of the Ark,

“As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
“And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

God has blessed Brendan and I with increase of children. I believe he will continue to increase our family in number and multiply on the earth.  We will get our harvest now.  It is harvest time.

Living in Harmony

Watching a wildlife program about Japan has inspired me.

The most northerly island, Hokkaido has the harshest climate of all the islands of Japan. The people who have settled there are farmers who grow cereals and flowers in the short summer. Fishermen harvest the rich sea before the cold of winter freezes it over.

In September the Pacific salmon begin to return to the rivers of Hokkaido to spawn. Black bears gather at the coast to feast on the fish that team in the river mouths. Fishermen who also collect the bounty of salmon, sit mending their nets. These men and bears live in harmony with each other. There is plenty of food for both. Often a mother bear is fiercely protective of her cubs, but there is no need to fear in Hokkaido.

The farmers have reclaimed marshland on the coastlands. They were once the feeding grounds of large, tall, white birds called the Red Crowned Cranes. To the Japanese they are symbols of beauty and long life. A century ago their numbers were reduced to thirty pairs. They were in danger of extinction. The farmers, who drained the cranes’s feeding areas, rescued the cranes by giving them grain through the winter when the ground is frozen. Their numbers have now grown to 1000. Here is another example of men and wildlife living in harmony. They co-exist in the harsh conditions.

These cranes are known most of all for their singing and dancing. When they gather in large numbers they put on a show. The enormous birds lift up their heads and raise a deep call from their throats. They pirouette, jump and flap their large wings. They don’t crash on the icy ground. Their performance reminded me of the ballet dancers I saw recently in “Giselle.” The male star leapt across the stage. The many ballerinas created an enchanting atmosphere with their movements in the second act.

The Red Crested Cranes are an example to us. They live in a cold, harsh environment. They could chose a more comfortable climate. Instead they flourish, dance and sing where they are meant to be. Their beauty, strength and endurance are to be admired. I am encouraged to lift up my voice and dance, like the cranes before the One who created me, even in the most difficult of situations. The psalmist calls us to praise Him. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150 like King David danced with all his might before the Lord when he brought back the Ark of the Lord.