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.”

Water on Thirsty Ground

Today a friend took us for a drive to the mountains on the island of Zaykynthos. As we drove out we noticed heavy smoke billowing from a hill near the town of Keri. Forest fires broke out. The wildfire in progress on the island of Zakynthos has led authorities to evacuate some exposed houses on the village of Keri, in the southern part of the island, as well as 120 tourists staying at a hotel there.

The tourists were taken by bus to another hotel, in the nearby resort of Kalamaki.

The fire service said 10 of the 12 fires burning on Zakynthos are still unchecked, with high winds making it difficult to control the flames. A fire brigade commander says they have consumed mostly forests and olive groves so far.

Later we were having lunch in a small village on the coast. We watched as two aeroplanes dipped down to the sea and picked up water. Then they circled around to take the water and dump it on the fire fronts.

A short time later a helicopter arrived, hovered over the sea and filled a large container with water and flew off to fight the fire.

Before my eyes I was seeing the fulfilment of a verse I had read before my holiday.

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,” Isaiah 44 v 3

‭‭This verse refers to the promise of God pouring out the Holy Spirit on anyone who is thirsty for the things of God.

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.