The Almond Blossom

Snowdrops coming out of the earth welcomed my new year. Daffodils are beginning to open, trumpeting spring and brighter days. They have withstood the strong winds of winter.

I am excited to see my Almond tree blossoming in the full light of any sunshine that comes. It is indigenous to Mediterranean Climates. There it is known as the first tree to blossom. My walled garden is a good place to grow.

Brendan and I travel to Israel at this time every year. My Almond tree draws my mind to the Almond trees that line some streets of Jerusalem. Blossoms will be appearing there too, symbols of warmer and better days. I hope to see them soon.

I find it fascinating that each plant knows it’s time to emerge from the earth and put forth its shoots and flower. We can learn from the different species. If we trust God he will cause us to grow and blossom when it’s our time.

The bible tells us in Jeremiah that the Almond Branch is a symbol of God’s faithfulness. He will do for us what He promised. He will bring about our time to blossom just as the earth causes plants to come forth in their time. Let us be patient as we wait.
Let us learn from the farmer as he gets on with other activities waiting for his crops to grow and he will receive his harvest.

UNCERTAINTY

There is much uncertainty in our nations, whether we live in the west, east, north or south of the world in these days. We are remembering fifty years ago man went to the moon. Nothing seems impossible for man then. The sky wasn’t the limit any more. They showed a view of the earth from space. One could see the circle of the earth, blue seas and white clouds.
Many nations have prospered since then and this has brought much benefit to mankind.
But sadly despite prosperity, more food, more health care and more money available, mankind has passed laws to kill their young. It is inconvenient to have a child. “It will interfere with my joy, my work, my lifestyle. I don’t want any trouble” say those who abort their offspring.

Will we have Brexit or not? Can I sell my goods at a good price? The rich are pressing on leaving the poor behind.
But with God who created the heavens and the earth, the astronauts saw, there is certainty. In the following Psalm we are given hope. He is with us in time of trouble when you trust him. He sends the river of God, the Holy Spirit who will lead us into life and truth. For those who believe in God and his Son Jesus there is a future. We are not to worry. God will care for us.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.””
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:1, 4-7, 10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If you are distressed or despairing please read this aloud. Declare the truth and don’t be shaken by the nations in uproar.

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.

 

 

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.

Bless The Lord Oh My Soul

Bless The Lord oh my Soul and all that is within me bless his Holy Name.

Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave.  He appeared to his disciples over a period of forty days.  He ate with them and talked with them.  How comforting it would have been for them to spend time with Jesus and hear him explain what happened.

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.””
‭‭Acts‬ ‭1:4-5, 8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The Holy Sprit fell on the disciples with tongues of fire in the Upper Room.  They received power from the Holy Spirit to go out and boldly tell others that Jesus was their Saviour  sent from God.  The disciples were uneducated men, yet when they received the Holy Spirit they spoke with clarity and authority without fear about Jesus.

The gospel is continuing to reach the ends of the earth.  I am in Slovakia at the moment in the High Tatras.  One could call it an end of the earth.  I am far away from home.  The Holy Spirit has given me power to be a witness for what Jesus has done in my life.  I am telling men, women and children about my family and healing from Cancer.

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It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that I carried and reared fourteen children and am alive to tell the tale.

When I was young I had rheumatic fever which left me with a weak heart.  The doctors advised that I should only have one child.  I got married and had two children.  I was home looking after my family.  When my two children started school I was keen to have another child.  After some time passed I prayed and asked God for a child.  I said I will give my life to you if you give me another child.  I became pregnant and continued to have children.  God gave me the strength.  God must have healed my heart!

When I developed bowel cancer and it had advanced to stage four, I was very weak and giving up on life.  Others prayed to God for me to be healed.  As time passed I received power from the Holy Spirit to fight the sickness and overcome.

The same Holy Spirt will give me strength tonight to be a witness at the end of the earth that Jesus has arose from the dead, has forgiven sin, healed sickness, and brought deliverance.  I will be destroying some works of the devil.

Bless The Lord all my Soul.

Subdue The Land

Adam and Eve lived in a garden.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”  Genesis 1

When God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt he wanted them to go into the Promised Land.  He told them to subdue it.

He said to them, “If the Gadites and Reubenites, every man armed for battle, cross over the Jordan with you before the Lord, then when the land is subdued before you, you must give them the land of Gilead as their possession.  Numbers 32 v 29

One of the meanings of “subdue” is “bring under control.”
God intends that we subdue that for which we have responsibility, whether it be work, family, property or land.  We will have the strength to do it.  God is pleased when we obey him.

I decided today I would subdue my garden after reading this scripture.

Despite our recent cold spell, when we had snow and wind, seed time is here.  I had been reluctant to work in the garden due to the bad weather.

Genesis 8 v 22. “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

The days have more light and the earth is warming up.  Plants, whose leaves died back over the winter are putting forth shoots.  Leaves are breaking out of their wrappings on the branches.  The cycle of nature takes its course despite the windy cold blasts that would make one stay inside warm.  The daffodils broke forth a month ago giving us beauty.  Their yellow trumpets swayed in the winds and remained till their time of glory passed.

I saw some tomato plants for sale at a bargain price in a local shop.  The garden centres would charge much more.  They tempted me to start some gardening even though it felt too chilly to do any outdoor work.  I planted them out in the safety of the greenhouse.  Last years tomato plants didn’t need much attention and produced fruit well into autumn.  Just plant them and wait for the harvest.  That doesn’t seem like hard work.

There is a plot of land beside my house.  In former years the land would have been a farmer wife’s garden.  It has been neglected for years, no longer lovingly tended.  Last year it produced of itself nettles and curling weeds that stood strong and tall all summer.   I did not have the courage to invade their territory.  Thankfully the winter defeated them and the shoots withered.

I planned this year to get out early and cut back any new growth.  My son strimmed that area a few weeks ago.  The grass, nettles and weeds made a come back.  Today I determined to go to war against the weeds.  I was not put off by the cool wind.  These weeds will sprout overnight!  I used my lawn mower as my weapon of war.  I powered my way over the rough ground and all before the mower was mulched.  I subdued my land!

I will plant potatoes that will flourish in the fertile soil.  It has been left fallow for years.  Wherever nettles grow, one can be sure the soil is good.  No back breaking work for me digging up the soil.  No, I will drop each potato in a small overturned sod and let nature take its course.  I have the added benefit of having a ready supply of fertiliser for my garden.  I live beside the sea.  I have gathered seaweed that was washed up from storms in the winter time.

I will be sure of having a harvest of potatoes and tomatoes at least in the autumn and all without much effort. The garden will once more be lovingly tended and enjoyed for the food it will produce.  I will wait to see what other seedlings the local shop will offer for my garden.  For now the potatoes are busy sending out roots unseen underground.  The tomato plants are enjoying my green house.

It is amazing that each spring the plants begin to emerge out of the soil.  Isaiah 61 v 11 explains,
“The soil makes the young plant come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
Abundant life comes forth!  I rejoice to see what the scriptures describe, happen before my eyes in my garden.  I will praise Him.

A Sparrow Falls to the Ground.

When Brendan and I travelled with our family on holiday down through Ireland, we saw that there is plenty of space in the countryside, forests and bogland uninhabited.  When we fly over Canada we see wide open plains below with few towns.  As I travel through Slovakia I see open fields, valleys and plenty of forest lands.

Why do people say there is not enough room on the earth for people to live?   Why do people want to control the population of the world, saying there is not enough food?  Will not God look after mankind, whom he made in his image.

In these open places wild life abound.  No one sees this abundance of life except God.  We have the priveledge of admiring the wild life that turns up near to where we live.  The blackbirds in our garden, the fox that comes to steal the chicken, or the swallows or swans that fly overhead.  Where do they lay their head at night?

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Jesus said,
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭8‬:‭20‬ NIV)
We only get a glimpse of the beauty of living creatures from nature programmes.

In Job the writer says,

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.

Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding?

“Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions

Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? (‭Job‬ ‭38‬:‭4, 16, 18, 36, 39, 41‬ NIV)

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds; they leave and do not return. “Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied its ropes? I gave it the wasteland as its home, the salt flats as its habitat.

“Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will it stay by your manger at night?

“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare with the wings and feathers of the stork. (‭Job‬ ‭39‬:‭1, 4-6, 9, 13‬ NIV)

We only see a small part of what God has created.  He cares for it all.

I saw this photograph today.  It reminded me of the verse when Jesus said,

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (‭Matthew‬ ‭10‬:‭28-29, 31‬) NIV.

God will look after you and provide for you.

Beside A Bubbling Brook.

Psalm 110 v 5 – 7 NLT
The Lord stands at your right hand to protect you.
He will strike down many kings in the day of his anger.
He will shatter heads over the whole earth.
But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way.
He will be victorious.

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Out our window today the forest looks golden.

Brendan and I take a walk in the woodsimage in the High Tatras of Slovakia.  The sun is shining giving us a bright new morning.  The ground is covered in a layer of gold, brown and red leaves.  A brook flows below in the valley.  There are houses built there.  They are welcome retreats for summer visitors. The mountains and the trees give shade from the high temperatures of summer for the residents.
For us it is a short visit.  We will be back home in Ireland when the snow arrives and the bubbling brook freezes over.

God who made the Moon and Stars cares for You

I looked out the window this morning.  It was still dark with the bright moon high in the sky and a star above it.  
I was reading Psalm 8 later.  This is what I read.

O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens.
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? (‭Psalms‬ ‭8‬:‭1, 3-4‬ NLT)

The God of heaven who put the moon in place cares about me and you this morning.  He keeps all things in place.  The sun is not falling out of the sky.

A headline in the BBC News caught my attention yesterday.  A telescope has discovered new planets.
I quote from News.com.au, Science, Space.

“Three new planets, roughly the size of Earth, have been found in the ‘not too hot, not too cold — just right’ zone around their stars, significantly boosting the numbers of potentially habitable worlds.
And one of them may potentially be the most Earth-like yet discovered.
NASA’s Kepler mission early this morning made the announcement at a presentation marking the discovery of its 1000th exoplanet — the name given to worlds found orbiting stars other than our own. The results will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Each result from the planet-hunting Kepler mission’s treasure trove of data takes us another step closer to answering the question of whether we are alone in the Universe,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission.”

Man is discovering how vast the universe is.  But let man look for the One beyond the heavens.  He created the universe and there is no God like him.  He created us and cares for us.  He made himself know through Jesus his son who came on earth as a baby.  We just celebrated his birth at Christmas time.

All Christians pray the prayer Jesus taught us, “The Our Father.”
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be your name.

That means to thank God, honor him for who he is, praise him and magnify his works.  

I declare that God made the sun, moon and stars and all the universe, whether discovered or not yet discovered.  He is God yet he cares for mankind.

As I read about Moses, Daniel and other bible characters when they prayed they praised and magnified God for his power and works in creation first of all.  Then they asked for God to intervene in the difficult situations they found themselves.
I have discovered as I lift my eyes off my immediate circumstances and look up to God and magnify his works and power, then I find my worries seem small and He can take care of them and answer my prayer.

As I magnified who God is he reached down and touched me and delivered me from Malignant last stage Bowel Cancer

what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? (‭Psalms‬ ‭8‬:‭1, 3-4‬ NLT)

Gladioli That Point up to Heaven

I bought a bunch of Gladioli in the supermarket this week.  The trumpet flowers open out from the tall green stems.  The gladiolii flowers come in many shades, purple, pink, red, yellow or white.  These flowers bring back memories of attending Church as a child and the routine of Sunday morning in our home on the farm.

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In the country where I grew up, the community gathered at the church on the hill.  It was within walking distance from our home.  Dad and two of the family would go to first mass at eight o’clock.

Seasonal flowers decorated the Church altar.   The gladioli stood out for me as the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen. Their stems reached up to the heavens and the flowers opened up into trumpets.  I imagined they were brought from some exotic place far away.  I never saw such flowers grow ing in the local gardens.

I remembered the smell of the incense and the singing of the choir at Church.  Words were sung to someone beyond my world.  My heart was lifted up above my circumstances.  People dressed in their best clothes.  Families sat together in pews.  Going to Church on Sunday for me was very special.  Those holy, innocent days going to Church as a child are long gone.  I was oblivious to the big world beyond the church and the farm.  I imagined the Gladioli came from out there somewhere?

Dad would stand and talk to neighbours after mass and get a catch up on the local news.  Mum would make fried, fresh, farm eggs and bacon with home made soda bread for dad’s return.  As we smelt the bacon we would turn up for breakfast at different times.  Sundays were restful.  No farmwork or school to go to.  No last minute rush to catch the school bus at the bottom of the lane.
The rest of the family would walk or get a ride in the car to second mass at eleven o’clock.  Whoever went to first mass would prepare the Sunday dinner for us all.  Dad would sit by the fire and read the newspaper.  It was his day off.  We usually had a stew.  I loved the smell of it as it cooked on the stove and we waited for the others to return.  After dinner we would listen to Family Favourites on the Radio.  I remember songs being played that were sung by Burl Ives, The Ugly Bug Ball, The Little White Duck or Rudolfh the Red Nose Reindeer.

I never heard about the Sabbath Day then. I now know that God intended that man should rest from his labour one day of the week.  Our family did have that day off.

Observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (‭Exodus‬ ‭31‬:‭16-17‬ KJV)

God intended the Sabbath for man to rest.  If God needed refreshed after working all week, I think I will take his example.  He does not want to harm us, it is for our benefit to have a day off, in this world where so many other things take up our thinking, strength and money.
Have a good Sunday.