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/

A Place of Abundance

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.

An Invite for Eleven to Dinner

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.

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

Father of Fourteen Triumphs

Triumph is rarely instant. It often comes at the end of a period of patient endurance. This week my husband and I have joy. We saw the success of a long campaign as regards our children’s education.

We are celebrating all fourteen of our children having qualified with a degree from top universities in the United Kingdom. Our two youngest children just found out their results: Abraham got a 2: 1 degree in Chemistry from St Andrews and Angela got a 2:1 degree in Neuroscience from Edinburgh. We will be attending their graduations in June and July.

Psalm 128 says
“How joyful are those who fear the Lord — all who follow his ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.
That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭128:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I want to thank my husband. He chose to follow The Lord many years ago. Today almost forty years later I see the fruit of his choice back then. I am happy at his side and his children are successful. He has been faithful through many difficulties of family life in this generation when being a father is not honored.

Brendan chose to have as many children as God would give him. It has not been easy. One has had to be patient, endure, remain calm, pray in times of trouble and rejoice in times of joy.
An Arab taxi driver in Israel said to Brendan when he learned we had fourteen children, “You will go straight to heaven because it must be hell on earth.” A lady in Florida said “Oh your poor husband.” when I told her we had fourteen children.

I must admit I have not been as sympathetic with Brendan. But God sees Brendan’s heart and has been with him through many trials and temptations. He has strengthened him when the going got tough. But as the song says “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I would not be alive unless he believed that God would heal me. I had fourth stage cancer and I would not be here to see my children graduate.

My dad was a pioneer in his day when there wasn’t much money. He wanted his eight girls and two sons to receive an education. We all attended grammar school. My sisters qualified as teachers and nurses. I graduated from the University of Ulster.

Brendan loved books from he was young. He would spend many hours in his local library. When he visited friends with his mother he would take down the books from the shelf and read while his mum chatted. His call to be a writer was developing back then.
He encouraged his children to do well in education. There was always books in our home and a desk in each of the children’s room to do their homework. We didn’t have a TV when our children were growing up. Those children developed a love of reading books. Brendan coached his children and inspired them to be high achievers. If they failed he helped them to get going again.

We were blessed to have good schools for our children to attend, in Coleraine and Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. So a big thank you for all those teachers who encouraged and took an interest in our children.

A big thank you to each of my children who endured the difficulties and temptations that university life brings your way. You succeeded. You endured to the end. I am proud of you.

Above all God blessed us all with health and strength to achieve this success.

“O clap your hands, all you people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭47:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬

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

The Father of Fourteen Children

Today my husband and I are celebrating a great Achievment, that all fourteen of our children have qualified with a degree from top universities in the United Kingdom. Our two youngest children just found out their results: Abraham got a 2: 1 degree in Chemistry from St Andrews and Angela got a 2:1 degree in Neuroscience from Edinburgh. We will be attending their graduations in June and July.

Psalm 128 says
“How joyful are those who fear the Lord — all who follow his ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.
That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭128:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I want to thank my husband. He chose to follow The Lord many years ago. Today almost forty years later I see the fruit of his choice back then. I am happy at his side and his children are successful. He has been faithful through many difficulties of family life in this generation when being a father is not honored.

Brendan chose to have as many children as God would give him. It has not been easy. One has had to be patient, endure, remain calm, pray in times of trouble and rejoice in times of joy.
An Arab taxi driver in Israel said to Brendan when he learned we had fourteen children, “You will go straight to heaven because it must be hell on earth.” A lady in Florida said “Oh your poor husband.” when I told her we had fourteen children.

I must admit I have not been as sympathetic with Brendan. But God sees Brendan’s heart and has been with him through many trials and temptations. He has strengthened him when the going got tough. But as the song says “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I would not be alive unless he believed that God would heal me. I had fourth stage cancer and I would not be here to see my children graduate.

My dad was a pioneer in his day when there wasn’t much money. He wanted his eight girls and two sons to receive an education. We all attended grammar school. My sisters qualified as teachers and nurses. I graduated from the University of Ulster.

Brendan loved books from he was young. He would spend many hours in his local library. When he visited friends with his mother he would take down the books from the shelf and read while his mum chatted. His call to be a writer was developing back then.
He encouraged his children to do well in education. There was always books in our home and a desk in each of the children’s room to do their homework. We didn’t have a TV when our children were growing up. Those children developed a love of reading books. Brendan coached his children and inspired them to be high achievers. If they failed he helped them to get going again.

We were blessed to have good schools for our children to attend, in Coleraine and Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. So a big thank you for all those teachers who encouraged and took an interest in our children.

A big thank you to each of my children who endured the difficulties and temptations that university life brings your way. You succeeded. You endured to the end. I am proud of you.

Above all God blessed us all with health and strength to achieve this success.

But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.””
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NIV

Keeping my Home Clean

“Where there are no oxen, the stall is clean, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭14:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬
I found great comfort from this scripture when I was rearing my children. There is plenty of hard work and plenty of mess; Brendan and I had to see beyond the hum drum of daily life. We had young children but they will grow to become adults who will make a difference in the world. They will work, prosper and increase as they have wives and families of their own. They will bring a harvest of good for others. They will make a difference in their generation.

image image

It’s just as well I had an easy going disposition. I never thought it a priority to dust and clean and Hoover . Some people are house proud and keep their home like a palace where the family cannot relax. Don’t leave that there. Pick that up. Wipe that mess up. If I was constantly demanding my husband or children keep the house clean it would not be home where everyone enjoyed being together. My energy went into breast feeding, nursing, cooking, shopping, overseeing, driving and seeing to the needs of others. There was no extra energy to have the house spick and span. My husband had to get used to the busyness in a big family. He lived with his mother as an only child before we were married.

I kept the amount of clothes each child had to a minimum. That meant less washing, and less clothes to be left on the floor of the bedrooms. Each child who was old enough helped with clearing of dishes, filling the dishwasher, washing of pots and pans and sweeping of the floor after each meal. We had wooden floors which were easy to brush and wipe with a mop. I expected the children to look after and keep their bedrooms clean. I never got to the top of the house each day to check. Peace reigned instead of stressing over untidy bedrooms or dirty dishes.

Life was to be lived. After school there was time to play with friends outdoors, or with toys indoors. My girls enjoyed reading books. They would be found in their rooms engrossed in a book. We didn’t have a television in those early years. We found it a waste of our time. Often it brought strife. There would be diagreement of what programme to watch. We got rid of it and we found plenty of other things to occupy us.

My big kitchen has a tiled, speckled flour. The dirt does not show up on it. It can be left for days without being cleaned.

We had green carpets throughout the bedrooms. They kept the rooms warm but didn’t show up spills or grim. A weekly Hoover refreshed the carpets to keep them clean. Buying a dishwasher was my first big investment in my kitchen. It proved invaluable. Dishes could be stored in it and washed when it was full. That kept the benches clear and clean.

My household was full of family over the Christmas period. Bathrooms needed cleaned, the washing machine was in use a lot, clothes needed dried, beds needed changed for new visitors. I felt I was running an hotel.

It is quiet now with children left home. There is less work needed to keep the house. The stall is clean.

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