Sea Gulls Batheing.

I was looking at the birds today. I was learning from them.  I parked beside the shore to rest.
On this December morning some gulls were having a happy time in the water. It was high tide.
It was beauty treatment time!
A flock of birds were dipping, diving, dashing, splashing, cleaning, dunking, plunging, stretching, swaying, playing, balancing, dancing and batheing.
One would rise up in the air and others would follow. They were free.
They circled overhead and came back to base.
There wasn’t a strong, cold wind with which to contend.
There were no angry waves dashing against the shore, just gentle ripples flowing.
The sun’s rays warmed them.
They were enjoying being together. They were being cared for by their Heavenly Father.

Jesus said,
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6

Why do we not learn from the birds particularly at this time of the year. There is too much worrying, shopping, spending, eating, drinking, stressing, rushing, driving and cooking.

Take time to rest. Enjoy your flock.

Spring Is Springing.

Yesterday was one of those days promised long ago.  “You will see many good days.”
The sun rose and its light reflected off the water.  The light brightens up the front of our home.  I went up through the house to pull back the curtains to let the warmth and light in.

I heard bird song.  It is just January.

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Outside my window I noticed birds feeding among the dead leaves.  A wren, a blackbird and a robin turned over leaves close to each other.  None of them chased the other away.  They live at peace with each other.

I looked out onto a walled garden at the back.  A starling was inspecting a hole in the wall where a family of starlings had been reared last year.  He must be preparing for this year’s brood.  Chaffinches sang and flew about in the ivy above on the wall.  I will keep an eye out to see if they have nesting places in the wall as well.

I remembered back to our house in Saul Street where there was a garden that had trees and undergrowth at the back.  It was an ideal habitat for birds.  Blackbirds found plenty to eat under the leaves that had not been cleared away.

Many things needed my attention.  In the past I would have been overcome by worry and stress about my children or other pressing needs.  Nowadays after being knowing God’s power and love to help me be healed from cancer, I cast my care upon The Lord.  The cancer will not come back!  Today I can see and enjoy what is around me.  I go out and enjoy being alive.

Later in the day I decided to pay a visit to a friend.  I went to the vegetable store that sells locally grown produce.  No GM produce there.  The owner showed me early daffodils and tulips.

On my way to a friend’s house a hare crossed my path.  He ran along the road in front or me and then swerved into a field.  I stopped to see him skip over the hill.   Hares are rare and are know to be seen in March.

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I parked the car to take in the view of the sunset.  Another car pulled alongside.  A man got out with his camera.  He was looking for that memorable short.

The water level was low in Strangford Lough.  I walked along looking for Sea Glass.  I picked up some shells.  They make good angel wings in my mosaics.

My friend was glad to see me.  I am so thankful to God for being alive to enjoy a good day!

Daily Prompt. Through the Window.

I live in a beautiful place.  I live on the Narrows at the entrance to Strangford Lough, the largest sea lough in Ireland.

Today the weather is different than many of the days recently.  Winds blew and the surface of the water was ruffled.  In the distance the sea swell made breaking waves at the mouth of the lough.  Yesterday sea and sky were grey.  The  sea reflected the storm clouds.

But today all is well.  I look out my window and see still, blue waters that stretch to the mouth of the lough where it joins the Irish Sea.  It is unusually quiet.  There is no bird song.  There are no birds flitting about.  They have no need to attract a mate.  The young have flown the nest.

The Strangford Ferry is out in the middle of the bay.  The sound of the Diesel engine is a welcome sound.  It breaks the silence.  It is faithful to travel back and forth between Portaferry and Stangford.  It provides an important service.  I do not feel cut off from the rest of the world.  One mile down the road I can catch this ferry and It brings me into the world again.

For the moment I am enjoying the view out my window.  The sea meets the sky in the middle of my panorama.  Both are blue today.  The morning sun rises.  There is a contrast of greens before me.  My lawn, which was cut recently, is light green.  The mature trees’ leaves are dark green.  Their green outline stands out against the blue sky.   Red poppies and hosta at the side of my garden welcome the warm sunshine.

Our cat sits on the window sill, waiting patiently for her meal.  She washs her face with her paw.  I don’t feel guilty as I eat my breakfast.

The lough seawater slowly rises with the tide and approaches the sea wall at the bottom of my garden.
Today there are no crashing waves making the waters approach menacing.  A lone yacht is anchored in the bay.  There is no sound of the metal tinkling against the mast.

I thank God this morning for the view out my window.  My eyes are brightened.   I am alive to see the goodness of God in the land of the Living.

Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, (‭Psalm‬ ‭13‬:‭3‬ NIV)

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Family Friday. Mother Duck said Quack Quack Come Back

In my blogs recently I have been talking about birds. I get inspiration from them. Jesus told us to look at the Birds.  A good plug for going bird watching. I know a friend who was heart broken after her husband left her.  Part of her therapy to recover was to go bird watching.  She joined a local Bird Watching Club.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  Matthew 6 v 25-27 NLT
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭33‬ NLT)

One of my sons has finished his training in Law.  He is home for the holidays.  I was urging him to return to Scotland after the holidays and apply for trainee jobs to get him to the next stage.  Getting a job is so competitive.  In my mother role I was getting annoyed and worried.  Scriptures say worry is a sin and I don’t want to sin.  So I have to stop worrying and pray.

After a good nights sleep my mind is changed.  I have to let my son decide for himself and not conimagetrol him.  I have to let him go.  I can advise but it is up to him what he does.  It was by making mistakes and suffering I learned about life and the right choices to make.  I cannot go back to seven years ago when I developed cancer.  I have to stay alive.

Part of the role of parents is to look after the children but then to let them go to start their own lives.  Around the time I developed  cancer,  I was finding it hard to cope with the lose in my life of children leaving home.  My heart was breaking.  I was suffering in silence.

My daughter shared a post with me. She is in Kenya at the moment. It is about a little girl singing the nursery rhyme,
Mother Duck and her little ones. As she finishes the rhyme she starts to cry. She must have been sad for the mother duck left alone.

Five little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “Quack, quack, quack, quack”
But only four little ducks came back.

Until
One little duck went out one day…
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “Quack, quack, quack, quack”
But none of the five little ducks came back

The internet says it is a nursery rhyme that teaches children to count backwards.  That may be so but the writer of this work had something else in mind I believe.

As children leave home one by one a mother feels the pain of her lose.  The mother and children spend time together when the children are young.  They go out to play together.  Then a day comes when one grows up and has to leave to go over the hills and far away.  Nowadays hills don’t just separate us . Oceans wide and deep separate us.

One by one the ducks go far away.  This has been so for me and my children.  My last little duck left two years ago.  My heart would have been broken if The Lord has not comforted me and healed me.  He has given me other work to do after rearing my children.

There is hope.  The last verse of the nursery rhyme goes,

Sad mother duck went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!”
And all of the five little ducks came back.

I think of a verse from the scriptures often.

This is what The Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return.” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31‬:‭15-16‬ NIV)

Don’t cry mothers out there.  The Lord will reward your work. Like mother duck the young will return.

I Miss the Ferry Today

Today in Northern Ireland the media is celebrating Red Nose Day.  Money is raised for charity by celebrities doing fun things.  There will be plenty of buzz on the radio and TV to distract people who are annoyed with others who go on strike.

It is also the day the Unions for Public Transport Workers, Teachers and Health Care Workers called a strike in protest for more pay.  Don’t we take for granted the services we enjoy, until they are not there and only then we appreciate the service they provide.

From the front of our home we look out on Strangford Lough.  We see the Strangford – Portaferry ferry cross over the channel ever fifteen minutes.  Today there is no sign of the boat.  I feel lonely and  bereft.  I miss the security of the ferry.  I love to see the boat cross, regular as clock work from seven thirty am till eleven pm.  When we are taking a trip into town we have to take the ferry.  We can leave the house a few minutes before the ferry is due to leave the port.  We get there on time.  No waiting around.

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We cross over on this ferry often.  When we were moving house here a few months ago, one of the workers on the ferry said to my husband, “You will soon own this ferry with all the money you are spending.”  My daughter stayed here a few weeks ago.  She said the ferry was company as she watched it lights as it moved to and fro across the lough. There were lights even though it is not Christmas.

There have been storms this week.  The ferry stills works even through gales, snow  and chilling winds.  Often the men’s hands and faces are blue from the cold, as they collect the fare.  The weather does not stop them being cheery and give a pleasant greeting. But today they are having a day off, even though they are taking unpaid leave. They deserve a reward for the service they provide.  Thank you.

The sea is calm, the sky is bright, no dark clouds or cold winds.  There is no activity beyond on the channel of Stranford Lough today. There is no chug chug from the diesel engines. Only the sound of birds shrilling in the warm sunlight. Today is one of only a few days that the ferry does not operate.  I am so thankful for this service.  God bless the workers today.

Can’t Beat Home Made Bread

We took a break from unpacking, washing and cleaning.

The sun was shining and reflecting off the water in front of our new home in the country.  We don’t just have a pond at the bottom of our garden, we have Strangford Lough!  I decided to make some Irish wheaten bread which cooks beautifully in the Aga.  Brendan wanted to go for a walk.  I asked him to wait till the bread was cooked before we left.  A friend said he would go for a walk and leave the food in the oven but too often they were away longer than they intended and the food was burnt.  I didn’t imagewant that to happen.

Brendan and I went for a walk along the bay.  The water lapped against the sea weed covered rocks.  I forgot my binoculars to do some bird watching.  I didn’t need them today as some birds were close by, gulls, sandpipers and many more were feeding on the shore. We walked around a little peninsula which becomes an island when the tide is high.  We sat down in the sunshine had coffee from my flask and enjoyed the view, Bella Vista.

The Lord is my shepherd; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. (‭Psalms‬ ‭23‬:‭1-2‬ KJV)

When my children were young I always wanted to move to the country to live.  I thought they could work off a lot of energy playing in the open spaces, like I did as a child.  It was not practical to live in the country for my family.  Living near schools, shops, friends, health centre and dentists in the town was more suitable.  The children could attend after school activities and sports events without me taking them by car.  They could walk home.  We weighed up the benefits of living in the country or the town.  Living in the town suited our young family better.

I haven’t made bread for twenty years.  When the children were young I made a batch of wheaten loaves every week.  Our children loved the hot bread with butter and jam running over the sides.  It was very satisfying. Baking bread was gone for a season but not forgotten.

When I was in Canada recently my host, Maureen, relaxes on the week end and makes a wheaten cake of bread for her family.  Her mum, who was from Belfast, taught her how to make it.  She keeps an Irish tradition going.  Perhaps she inspired me to get going again making bread.

I remember my mother made griddle soda bread for us.  It is made with flour, baking soda and buttermilk mixed together.  The dough was turned out onto a floured baking board, shaped into a circle an inch deep and cut into four parts.  The dough was placed on a hot griddle on top of the cooker.  When one side was cooked it was turned over to finish it off on the other side.  The smell of the cooking bread brings memories of provision, warmth and comfort.  If I was about when the bread was ready I loved to have a piece with butter melting on the fresh slice.   Homemade soda was fat free, nutritious and inexpensive.  Those were the days before supermarkets and mass produced food.

My first loaf of wheaten bread on my new Aga turned out tasty.   Brendan enjoyed it for lunch after our walk.  The smell of the freshly baked bread filled the room.  We will have daily bread from now on.

Jesus told us to pray, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭9-11‬ KJV)

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Writing Challenge, Around My Block

Yesterday I decided I wanted to go for a cycle around the block.
That meant a visit to the cycle shop to get my bicycle tyres pumped up, a chain fixed and the purchase of a bicycle pump.
Not too much needed done after it’s wintering out in the shed.  My neighbour helped pump up my son’s bicycle’ tyres.
His bicycle is a different genere with thick frame and tyres.
While I was getting ready, the sky in the distance was very dark and I heard thunder.  I found out later that there were heavy thunder storms all around but it did not come our way.
We ventured out.  The block near where I live comprises farmland on three sides and the sea on the fourth.
I pass a few houses where families are resting before the week’s work ahead.
The locals that are enjoying the fresh air outdoors like us, are cows with their young, sheep with their lambs and seals reclining for the evening on the rocks, out of reach of harm.

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Weeds on the roadside are bursting into flower, reaching out for their share of the sunshine.
Green ferns unfurl on the bank that is shaded.
This is the season when birds are rearing their young.
Swallows, blackbirds, doves, starlings, crows and  sparrows sing, swoop and feed.
There is an atmosphere of peace in the country.
All the noise of the radio, television, traffic, pubs and factories are far away.
It is healing for one’s mind.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46 v 10
Oh Lord, the earth is full of your unfailing love.  Psalm 119 v 64
This is where I live, in the Irish countryside.
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