A Feast in the Midst of Trouble

I bought my second Santa Fe last year. It was the during the COVID Lockdown. I wanted to try out my new four wheel drive. I went to visit my sister . She was careful about visitors as she was in touch with sick people. We chatted over coffee outside in the sunshine. The driveway up to her house is quite steep. She had recently installed an iron hand rail for ease in walking down or up to her house.

I said my goodbyes and jumped in my car. I drove off. Suddenly I heard “Crunch”. My car got impailed on the iron rail and left a long dent in the back door. My new car, What will Brendan say? I shook with fear. I sat paralysed. If I drive forward or backwards the dent will get longer. I felt helpless. The joy I had, evaporated. My sister reassured me till I recovered and got out of the car. I got in touch with my son and he came to the rescue. There is a signature dent across the back passenger door.

Fast forward to this past week. The car mechanic had rang me to tell me he had finished fixing my hand break. I asked Brendan to drive me to Saintfield to pick up my car and we could go for breakfast after. Before we left the house Brendan reminded me to bring my mobile phone. We drove to pick up my car.

I paid my mechanic and was delighted with getting my car road worthy again. Brendan and I agreed to meet back in Saintfield. I drove off, turned on the window wipers, the lights, the radio and had the heating up full blast. It was a dull, wet, cold morning. I was comfortable in my wagon, sheltered from wind and rain.

The Main Street in Saintfield is busy with traffic. Cars were trying to manoeuvre aroad a parked loading lorry. I got a parking space opposite the cafe Saints. I waited for Brendan.

I ordered freshly made pancakes with bacon. Brendan was having a coffee as he was meeting someone for lunch. We chatted and I shared my happiness at getting my car back. I was even happier when the waitress brought me three fluffy freshly cooked pancakes draped with maple syrup.

Breakfast over Brendan and I parted and said we would see each other back home in Belfast. I walked back to my car to find a white sheet on the dashboard. “Oh no”a parking ticket I thought. More money! It was a notice which read “Your car moved down the hill into the car in front.” I thought that’s strange I have just got my brakes repaired. A lady came out of a shop nearby. She told me what happened. The car in front was owned by an elderly man who had just stopped to pick up his pension from the Bank. He was distressed to see my car. He was afraid to move his car. Other shop keepers came to the rescue. Some one went looking for me in the local shops and cafes. I couldn’t be found. I was happy eating my breakfast across the way without any disturbance.

A driver had the bright idea to put a brick in front of my wheels to stop it moving again. Then the gentleman could drive off. He left his phone number for me.

I thanked everyone who had helped and apologised profusely. I wanted to get out of there fast! I jumped in the car and turned the key but no response. More trouble! It just went Click. Click when I tried the key again. What is happening? Then I remembered the radio, the heater, the wipers and the lights had run down my battery.

I wasn’t too distressed this time. I called Brendan to come back to help me. In the meantime I called the car mechanic. I didn’t have long to wait. He parked alongside my car and got my battery recharged. He removed the bricks from the wheels. The traffic got jammed again on the Main Street. Brendan returned. “It’s just as well you had your mobile or you would have been stranded!“

Just the events of a morning when it should have been quite straight forward to pick up my car. There was trouble but I didn’t loose my joy. I was having a feast while people were looking for me. I’m on the road again!

Will you have Fun This Christmas?

I keep thinking of The Christmas song made famous by Shaking Stevens. The lyrics go,

Snow is falling all around us,

Children playing, having fun,

it’s the season, love and understanding

Merry Christmas everyone.

We’re going to have a party tonight.

Up until 2020 we in the west have celebrated Christmas with freedom, prosperity and indulging ourselves on good things to eat and drink.

Christmas time last year was not fun. There was no snow, little understanding and few parties. Due to Covid, families were separated and not allowed to meet. We had to stay home from school shops and work. Our lives have changed forever. Do we consider why Christmas is called Christmas?

We celebrate Jesus Christ being born. He came to tell us about God our Father’s love and care for us. Jesus lived on the earth for thirty three years. He died a cruel death on the cross to set us free from the sin of Adam and Eve and the power of the devil who wants to rob, steal and destroy us. Do we need Jesus at all?

We are approaching Christmas 2021. Society is trying to get back to normal inviting the public to spend and spend to make this Christmas fun and party season again.

But how can there be fun in many families who are suffering the lose of a loved one, or going through the ravages of Covid which has left many weak and discouraged. Fear, despair and disappointment has taken hold of many people.

I can say we do need Jesus. He will bring comfort to the despairing and heal the broken heart. Parties will not heal broken hearts.

Psalm 138 v 3 says As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength.

Learn more about Jesus this Christmas. By praying to him.

Gathering Shells

Robert Louis Stevenson said

It is a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.

I’m staying in Tarbert, Scotland. The local people said “Have you been to the shell beach yet? I was telling some folk that I collect sea glass and shells to make mosaics. I call it my hidden treasure.

Tucked away out of sight along the coast at Tarbert are two shell beaches. Other inlets nearby are covered in rocks. For some reason only two small inlets are covered in broken clam shells, pink, white, brown and orange with hues in between, lie stacked up on the shore. The waves for years have broken the shells into small pieces.

The tourists would never find it. Access to the beach is hidden at first glance. If you follow a well worn path under the ferns, over stones and bared roots of trees you will reach the beach. Perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson, who was from Scotland, knew about it when he penned the words I have quoted.

Jesus Gives You Life Abundantly

I celebrated my seventieth birthday on Sunday. It was the the warmest day of this year in Northern Ireland so far. It was an ideal day to be outside. The sun was shining. There was no chilling wind. Everyone, children and adults felt comfortable sitting, eating, playing or walking outside.

Due to travel restrictions some of my family could not be there. Those who live in Ireland came with their families.

I am blessed having a big family. A party can be arranged at short notice. If I invite my family we have a crowd. Jesus said in his word I have come to give you life and life abundantly.

John 10v10

The thief comes only to kill and steal and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

I can testify that Jesus has done that for me. By believing in his word, his miracles, his resurrection from the dead and the power of His death by shedding his blood I am alive and living abundantly on the earth.

Who is the thief? He is the evil one, Satan who wants to destroy what God has done. He puts thoughts in our minds to hassle us, make us fearful, distress us, and sends disease. Jesus work is always to destroy the work of the devil.

The disciples were in the upper room behind closed doors. They were fearful of the religious leaders who had recently killed Jesus. Jesus appeared to them in the room and spoke peace to them. Who else has ever appeared through locked doors or thick walls?

Through the use of cameras nowadays we can see on screens people flying through the air and many other illusions. But it is not real. It is only an image. No other man has done the miracles Jesus did when he was on earth and before he went to heaven.

Jesus has worked miracles for me and has defeated the work of the devil in my life. He wanted to kill and destroy me. Jesus healed me from a disabling disease, Rheumatic Fever as a child, healed my broken bones and delivered me from fourth stage cancer.

I am alive and writing these stories today, to help you to continue to believe in Jesus. Many circumstances in our life on the earth comes to discourage and wear us down. The recent COVID disease, lockdown and isolation has caused pain and loss. Perhaps you need new hope. Jesus is still working among his people. So don’t give up hope. Continue to believe in Jesus . Like the disciples he will come to you today to speak peace. In the name of Jesus I speak peace to you. Call upon the name of Jesus today and He will help you. Amen.

Day Trip in Northern Ireland Series

Hurrah. Lockdown has eased in Northern Ireland. Shops are open and people can dine out again in Belfast.

Brendan and I were going on a Mystery Tour with Our daughter, Ruth. Mary Black’s songs were seranading us as we headed north out of Belfast.

Brendan and I were singing a different song eleven years ago as we went to the hospital to have a test to check for cancer. “Because he lives I can face tomorrow”. The Cherry Blossom trees at the entrance were in full bloom.

Today eleven years on Cherry Blossom Trees are in full glory in the sunshine. They seemed to line our journey today, waving from gardens and hedgerows. Scripture says the trees of the field will clap their hands as we go out with joy. Yes I have joy after those sad days of cancer eleven years ago. I am healed by the power of the name of Jesus.

Our first stop was Ballyronan, a caravan and woodland park on the shores of Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the British Isles. Plenty of wildlife flourish here. We saw two healthy herons up ahead on the walkway. Whopper swans and ducks come here from Iceland. Chaffinches and sparrows sang overhead in the Ash tree branches. Although we didn’t see any, there is a good population of bats and owls.

Our next stop was where the River Blackwater joins the Lough Neagh. We lingered there in the stillness. A kingfisher flew over the water and disappeared in a flash.

Time for lunch. We headed towards Ardboe. At a crossroads not far away was a small building with a sign outside saying

High Cow Bagels, Drive Through. Coffee.

Brendan said “Let’s stop here. This guy has a sense of humour.” High Cow is the English translation of Ardboe. Ard means High and Bo means Cow.

I asked the Chef, “Is there any cow on the menu.” We chatted back and forth and had a good laugh. I told him I was healed of cancer. He was happy to receive some of my books.

Ruth looked at the menu.

High Cow Classic, High Cow Melt, The Cowboy Melt, High Cow Big Breakfast and much more. We enjoyed a unique tasty lunch, coffee and a High Cow Classic Bagel al fresco. The chef was a bundle of fun and the food was five star. I’d definitely go back again.

You never know what you may find when you leave the motorway and go on the roads less traveled.

Thankful for Health Services

I was listening to a programme on BBC 4 radio this week. It was reporting on events in Ecqador during the Covid 19.

One lady was interviewed. Her husband contacted the virus and died in a few days. She rang the authotrities in her country to come and take away her husband’s body. Only after five days was his decaying body removed. The lady contacted the disease as well but survived. She had two young sons.


Many families suffered like she did. Dead bodies were left lying on the streets for days. The hospitals and normal services were not prepared for the death of so many people.

It is easy to complain about past and present wrongs in our country. I am so thankful after listening to that programme. I am so grateful for the services we are blessed with here in Northern Ireland. These services were put in place by people who believed God in generations past and wanted to help their fellow man. First of all I thank God for the people in our country who believe in God. God has preserved us from sickness and healed many who contacted the disease. Our local minister was told to prepare for many deaths from Covid. There were not any deaths from Covid in our town.

I am thankful for the Health Service, the many men and women who worked in the hospitals. I am thankful for the politicians who had to make difficult decisions in the crisis. I am thankful for the people in our families, villages and towns who supported each other through their fears. I am thankful for the people who know their God and intercede for others.

Let us keep alert and keep praying. God my Heavenly Father delivered me from death from cancer ten years ago through the prayers of many. I believe Jesus heals today. I want to tell others that Jesus will heal our diseases and even prevent us from getting sick. This is good news. Let us pray for workers in the harvest to go to those countries that don’t know of God’s love and care through Jesus sacrifice for us on the cross. The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and sickness.

Boats

I make boats from drift wood I find on the shore near where I live. I have wood I intend to use that is the remains of a rowing boat that was abandoned by its owner. The winter storms buffeted and broke apart the once loved vessel. I enjoy making something new and beautiful, a sailing boat ornament, from that which is discarded or broken. The reclaimed wood is now loved by its new owner as it sits on display in his home.

Today I travelled across Strangford Lough by ferry to see and pray for a friend. While I was waiting at the harbour a beautiful, slim lined yacht passed gracefully through the water. It had two masts that reached skywards. It towered over other yachts parked nearby. The ferry seemed small in comparison to this vehicle. It is a visitor to these parts.

I soon forgot about the beautiful vessel when the ferryman said my ferry card, to pay for the journey, was out of credit. I resisted the temptation to be annoyed. I paid the full price for the journey.

On my return home I wanted to call into a shop to top up my card which gives subsidised journeys on the ferry. I knew I risked not getting on the ferry because of restrictions to the number of vehicles due to Covid. I collected my card and drove to the terminal. The boat was full and the ferryman signalled to me, no more vehicles. I stopped, resigned to wait an half an hour till the ferry returned.

I said a quick prayer, “Please Lord let the ferryman change his mind.” Just as I said that he asked drivers on deck to move forward to make room for another vehicle. He beckoned me forward.

I was super excited at the quick answer to prayer. I was full of joy and thanked the men for their help in making room for me. The ferry launched forward. I saw the sky move and wondered what was happening. Then there was a crash. My car had moved backwards and broke the long pole that is lifted and closed when cars get on and off the ferry. I was disoriented and in shock. In my excitement at getting on the ferry, I forgot to put the handbrake on. No one else saw what happened.

I waited trembling on my journey across the Lough. “What will the staff think when they see the pole crash landed at the back of the boat! I have damaged the ferry boat. That woman I made room for, look what she has done!” Perhaps I should have stayed at home and not bothered going out to help a friend. I remembered a promise from Psalm 121, ” I will watch over your going in and out”. I said another quick prayer, “Help” to God. I waited as other cars started up their engines, preparing to disembark when we got to the other side.

Then one staff member discovered the damage. He called to another. Three or four men gathered to look at the fallen barrier. I waited in trepidation. There was no scolding. No rebuke. In fact they laughed at what had happened. Thankfully they waved me forward and off the boat. They will take care of it. No calling the police to the scene of an accident. Thank God for the ferrymen who helped me today.

I got home. The yacht I saw earlier was parked offshore. It is beautiful. I stopped for a minute to reflect on my adventure. I told Brendan about what happened. He raised his eyes. He asked if my car was damaged? I forgot to look. Later he discovered a dent, the size of my hand just above the back lights. Thankfully the lights weren’t smashed. This new damage is just an addition to the war wounds my car has got since Brendan bought is for me six weeks ago. I have a story to tell about each one. We laughed together.

The Old Heron Waiting



The tide is high
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
I’ll wait
And keep warm
With my neck
Sunk between my shoulder blades
I’ll wait
Till the water recedes
I’ll wait
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
I’ll leave
Those fishing grounds
To the younger ones.
I’ll wait

Historical Jerusalem

The chill of winter is in the air yet the Almond Trees lining the streets of Jerusalem are  in blossom. The prophet Jeremiah spoke about the Almond blossom being a sign from God that he is alive and active even in harsh conditions to bring about his promises in our lives. I am always encouraged to keep believing God’s promises for me. Brendan and I are just home from visiting Jerusalem.

erusalem is an historical city. Today it is flourishing. There was disruption on our way from the airport. Lorries and heavy machinery blocked our way. New roads and tramways are being built. Cranes litter the skyline helping in the construction of tall buildings for hotels, businesses and homes. We saw with our own eyes the restoration of Israel as prophesied thousands of years ago. People are returning from the nations to make their home there. Mothers and babies, old men and women with canes are walking the streets of Jerusalem. Groups of young men and women are sitting, talking, rushing or playing. Abundant life is all around.

We walked in a park dedicated to Teddy Kollek. He was Jerusalem’s Mayor since 1967 to 1993. He is numbered with the leaders of old who restored Jerusalem, for example Hezekiah. In his time Kollek put in place programmes for housing the people, theatres , libraries and old people’s homes. He encouraged peace and unity among Jerusalem’s people. He raised finances to help with the work.

School children came for lunch In the Kollek park. Water fountains burst into life as geysers bubbled up to differing heights. Young boys skipped in and out of the spray. The park is a welcome oasis for the weary child or tourist.

I was reflecting on my visit to Jerusalem as I happened to read Psalm 48.

We had heard of the city’s glory, but now we have seen it ourselves— the city of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
It is the city of our God; he will make it safe forever.
O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.
God himself is in Jerusalem’s towers, revealing himself as its defender.
Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem.
Walk around and count the many towers.
Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations.
For that is what God is like.
He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.”