- It’s International Woman’s Day.
Hip, hip hooray.
Many women have done well with their work in medicine, engineering, sports, literature, art, teaching, justice and caring jobs all over the world. With education available in the Western world women have had many choices of career available to them.
Not so for many woman in the third world.
I want to celebrate today women all over the nations who are wives and mothers of children. Some may be one of many wives a husband has. But she is faithful to her situation and looks after her children. She doesn’t have a choice. Well done to woman who rear their children in poverty situations, giving their last drop of milk to save a dying child at her breast. And women who care for their children on their own because their husbands have abandoned them. I celebrate today any woman who have chosen to have her child despite the doctor’s advice to have an abortion, the mother who is caring for her sick child and the mother who is rearing many children.
I was one such mother. I chose to have fourteen children and stayed at home to rear them. It was twenty four seven work.
I congratulate woman throughout the world who are wives and mothers.
It’s a miracle that so many people from different faiths and cultures live in harmony in Jerusalem.
When we arrived in Israel it was raining. This is the season when the rain comes to water the dry ground in Israel to help prepare for the sowing of seeds. We have been to Israel before but this is the first time we have seen the rain. I looked forward expectantly to our time in Israel. Will we receive His spring rain?
I was reminded of the scripture from Hosea,
““Come, let us return to the LORD.I
He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us;
he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
On the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.
Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises, he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.””
Hosea 6:1-3 NIV
I haven’t been disappointed. I have been rested and refreshed in my body, soul and spirit. I have seen prophetic words from the scripture develop before me eyes.
4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
6 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts. Hosea 6 v 4 to 6. KJV
They are many young couples with babies in prams, children holding onto their arms, and pregnant mothers in Israel. It has a growing population. God is bringing his people the Jews back from all the nations of the earth to live in the land of Israel. We met Ethiopian, Russian and American Jews.
Old people, couples walking hand in hand, others on canes are walking through the streets. They have lived here to see the fulfilment of prophecy. Nearby where we are staying is a school. Yesterday morning as we went out we met young boys and girls chirping happily as they entered the doors.
“In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem.”
Micah 4:1-2 NLT Continue reading
This last year I have been at too many funerals. It keeps one vulnerable to the reality that my time is short on this planet.
Praise God he extended my life by healing me from fourth stage cancer. It will be nine years this year since I was healed. I have experienced more and more God’s care and restoration in my life.
Psalm 71 says Even when I am old and grey, do not forsake me, my God.
Psalm 90 says, Our days come to seventy years or eighty, if our strength endures. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
I hope in God’s promises to me. He has been faithful to heal me.
Seeing friends who are ill and vulnerable makes me realise the importance of family. My husband and family have been there for me when I had cancer and more recently when I was nursing a broken arm.
Receiving a phone call to show one cared lifted my spirits. I felt even better when one came to visit or stay a while to help me. Bringing cooked food showed me love.
Many parents are left lonely and without help in their old age because loved ones leave home to work in foreign countries. Work there demands their time and they don’t have time to think of parents back home growing old.
Sickness can come to an aged person because of loneliness. With no one to visit or encourage one, it is harder to recover. Yes the health services help to a certain degree. Friends, if one has any, can help for a season.
Having the support of family keeps one alive. Psalm 127 says “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” When I had cancer my children rallied around me, cared for me and prayed for me. They were patient with me and brought my healing.
I know a friend who in her forties returned home to care for her elderly parents which took a period of twelve years. She is now married. Another friend, even though she had family of her own cared for her parents for ten years. Another lady, a widow, lived till her eightieth year, though she had ill health all her life, because her two sons went to see her every day.
Old people live long lives in Japan and Sardinia, not because they have money. In Japan older people have communities where they have activities and social interaction. Life is extended in Sardinia because the elderly parents are cared for by their children. They are surrounded by their grandchildren and help in their rearing. It has been studied that helping with grandchildren extends one’s life.
In China the law requires the children to look after their parents. They will be punished if they don’t. It is good to hear that China’s law’s are in line with what the Word of God says. “Honour your mother and father and it will go well with you and you will live along life.” It’s the only commandment with a promise.
In the West, so called “civilised world” sadly this commandment has been neglected. Young people have opportunities of education, travel and work. They end up being busy and years pass by. They forget their parents who reared them and gave them a start in life.
I visited a home recently where a lonely elderly couple lived. The garden was unattended. The paint work was not renewed for years. Inside the dust has gathered. Newspapers are piling up. They are neglected. The children have gone to foreign lands to work. Money does not buy love as the Beatle song goes. Another song has words that say “Bring your love to me, don’t send it.”
I was grieved last year to visit a dying friend. She was in a luxurious nursing home, where no expense was spared. Her children paid the bill, but they were in far away countries. No one to hold her in her last days on earth.
I could give more examples. If this message touches your heart, please think of your own parents or look out for elderly people you know.
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.
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.
My son Abraham pumped up the tyres on my bicycle today. The firm tyres seemed to improve my progress cycling along the path. I didn’t have as many aches and pains this morning. My body must be adjusting to my new regime. I was able to cycle further too.
“The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones:
I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”
Ezekiel 37:1-5 NIVY
Breath entered my bicycle and it was working better! I will remain ember Abraham as I go for a cycle. He leaves today to take up a job in London after finishing university this year. He leaves the nest today.
Sparrows came to my attention today as I was out on my bike ride.
There was an abundance of them. They flourish here because food is readily available. There are plenty of safe nesting and roosting sites nearby in the hedgerows and trees. A flock of birds flew up from the seaweed along the shore. Little grubs, beetles and insects break down the seaweed. The sparrows have easy nutrious pickings.
If they fancy a change the hedgerows are full of haws, blackberries and honeysuckle fruit. Nearby barley has been harvested by the farmer. There should be plenty of seeds left behind after the reaping. All this provision should see the birds through the winter months.
Seeing the sparrows reminded me of Psalm 84,
“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
Psalm 84:3-4 NIV
This scripture was a great encouragement to me when I was praying for a new home. God knew where it would be best and safe for Brendan and I to live to rear our young. There was always the provision of friends, shops and schools in the towns we ended up residing. As I reflect I see God’s leading in every house move. He brought us to a place of abundance. Just like the sparrows today. They are flourishing in a place of abundance.
Jesus used the illustration of a sparrow because it is the most widely distributed wild bird and it lives close to human habitations. Wherever I travel in the world I always see sparrows. Jesus said he knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. We are more important than the sparrow. We can be assured of Jesus care for us, just as he cares for the sparrow. If we fall or are downcast he knows and comes to our aid.
There is often a storm before the calm. I want to give you an example of how our unseen enemies can prevent us getting a blessing. I often remember that God said to Satan “You and your offspring will bruise the woman and her offspring, but they will crush your head.” Genesis 3. I have many offspring that can do some crushing to Satan and his demon’s heads.
Being a big family meant we didn’t get invited out to friends’ homes often. I remember one occasion very well when Rose and Seamus invited myself and ten children, who would have been under fourteen years old, to dinner. Brendan was away on a trip and I was looking forward to the treat of someone making dinner for us. I was determined nothing was going to stop me getting there. Very often when we would arrange family events some difficulties would arise to prevent us getting a blessing.
I encouraged the children to get ready early so we could get to Rose’s house in good time. Ruth offered to help her little sister get washed and dressed. She was very fond of her baby sister Angela, for whom she had prayed. There were six boys between Ruth and Angela. Ruth had longed for a baby sister.
She prepared the bath and put the baby into the water. The only problem was she forgot to put on the cold tap. I heard cries from Mary upstairs, “Ruth has put the baby in hot water!” I ran upstairs to rescue my baby. Angela was upset of course but I settled her all the while praying for her healing of the trauma and any harm done. The skin on her legs was red. I thought I would bring her to the clinic to get some cream to be on the safe side. I reassured Ruth that it can be easy to forget to turn on the tap. She was young and wanted to help.
Many of the other children were distressed at what happened and were angry with Ruth for her oversight. I continued to pray for my children to settle. I tried to calm them and said Angela is going to be alright. I’ll bring her to the nurse for soothing cream and she will be as right as rain. All the while I was aware that this mishap could cause me to cancel our dinner date. I trusted God’s word which says “He will be with me in trouble and deliver me out of it.” Psalm 91. God’s angels are around us to deliver us. I believe there was unseen evil going on to prevent our going out.
Because I had made sure the children got dressed in good time, we had time to go to the clinic and still get to dinner. All ten of the children climbed into our yellow minibus and I drove over to the clinic nearby. I took Angela to get attention and left the other children in the van. They were obedient children and knew to occupy themselves till I returned.
I was in the waiting room when Hannah came to get me. War had broke out between Mary and Ruth back at the van. I prayed again for God’s help. There was yelling, crying, screaming and upset with the younger children as they watched the melli. Mary had not got over her anger at Ruth and blamed her for hurting her wee sister. There were fists flying and pulling of hair. I ran back to the van to bring order and peace. I stopped the fight and made them forgive one another and settle down. The baby was attended to back in the clinic. She was none the worse for her experience.
Calm was restored to my children. I drove us all to our dinner date. I overcame unforeseen circumstances that could have prevented us getting there. We all enjoyed a feast. Our host Rose had made a big effort to prepare dinner for us all, not an easy task. Thank you Rose and Seamus, I will be ever grateful for your kindness.
I was relieved we came out of the storm only with a few bruises.