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/

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.

From Intense Heat to Gentle Rain

I return to Northern Ireland.  I  carry the benefits of the holiday in Greece on my skin, in my mind,  and in my body.  I have my beauty treatment for the winter and the few extra pounds will sustain me in the colder days ahead.  My mind and body are rested.

Our son Isaac welcomed us with a meal of cooked fish.  He had fished it from the sea just an hour earlier.  He had  caught it when I rang to let him know we had landed into Belfast and were on our way home.

I am reminded of the story in the bible about Jesus preparing a meal of fish for his disciples.

“As soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid there on,and bread.”  KJV John 21 v 9.

Back in Ireland, warmth and freshness are in the air.  Flowers in the garden are flourishing in the extra September sunshine.  Purple Lupins give a welcome display at my back door.  A light shower of rain fell.  The beads of water glisten like diamonds.  Nasturtium planted late must think it is spring.  I love the deep green of the leaves and the orange, brown flowers.

I spent a while in the green house.  Tomato plants that didn’t need must attention all summer, have become fruitful vines.  I pruned back leaves to expose the fruit to the sun.  The main stem can now send its energy to the ripening fruit.

imageimageApples in the orchard are being painted red with the evening September sun.  The fruit that has fallen to the ground has been chewed on by rabbits and pecked at by birds.

What a picture of God’s beauty and goodness.

You take care of the land and water it.  You make it very fertile.  The rivers of God are full of water. You soften the ground with rain and then you give it a good crop.  You give the year a good harvest.  Psalm 65 v 9-11

It’s Harvest Time

imageimageimageTo every thing there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.  A time to plant and a time to reap.  Ecclesiastes 3 v 1 and 2
What a joy to see the results of sowing seeds, seedlings, corms or bulbs in the soil.
The farmer planted seeds of wheat nearly a year ago and he now harvested the golden crop that has grown up.
My husband enjoys flowers.  He planted one of my favourite flowers in early spring, Gladiolii.  Green shoots have been growing all summer until now when we have a array of Beauty reaching up to the sky.
I planted a courgette seedling.  Look what it produced.
My son went fishing last evening.  Here is the harvest of his labour.
We are eating the harvest of fish from the sea and plants from my garden.  We delight in the richness of colour in our garden.
God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  Ecclesiastes 3 v 11

Pheasants Come to Visit.

I was sitting by my bedroom window with my feet up taking a few moments to praise and thank God for the beauty all around.  I have been writing about birds in some of my posts.  I am learning from them each time because Jesus says “Look at the birds.”

image

I was pleasantly surprised when some movement at the side of the lawn caught my eye. I watched as a mother pheasant followed by five young, walked along the side of the garden.  There is dead, brown vegetation as well as green grass there.  The five chicks spread out looking for seeds in the mixture of vegetation on the verge of the lawn.  In the photo I hope you can see the hen on the look out, a chick to the left under a bush and another to the right.  One, with coloured feathers like a necklace, ventured further than the others.  He must be a young male.  His coloured feathers were beginning to show.

I enjoyed the scene before me for some minutes.  I wanted a closer look.  I got my binoculars.  The hen stopped, relaxed and began to preen her feathers.   She stretched her wings, ruffled her feathers and scratched.  I could see the pattern on her feathers as she picked through them.  Her overall colour blended well into the background of brown vegetation.  Her chicks investigated the foliage around her.  They had no fear, as their mum was close by.

A farmer is harvesting his crop of wheat over the fence from where we live today.  Beyond the field is a forest.  They must have been disoriented today because of the noise of the farm machinery.  The wheat would be their convenient supply of food.  It is harvested today. They will have to search for seeds left on the ground.

It is true what Jesus said.

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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭26-27‬ NIV)

God had supplied a whole field of wheat for this family.  I can see the pheasant family are well cared for, how much more will God care for me and my family.  We are more important than the birds of the air.

What are the main things people worry about: health, lack of money, how to look after their children, what to eat, being alone, where to live.  Have faith in God, who promises if we seek him first he will add all things unto us.  I can testify to God’s provision for food, houses, and health for my family of fourteen children.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭31, 33‬ NIV)

I was pleasantly surprised to see this family of pheasants cross my lawn in the early morning after we returned from holiday.  I watched as they jumped up onto the bank to the left and head back to their nest for a rest after their morning forage.  I will see them again.

image

Update, Sunday 20th September, saw family in orchard garden in the afternoon.

Saturday 26th morning at dawn family flew from neighbours garden into ours.  They played about for a while.

What Happened to the Long Sunny Days?

Here in Ireland we have had a wet, windy, cold July.  Fires were lit and the heating turned up in our homes.  Festivals were damped by the bad weather.  People were beginning to suffer S.A.D. syndrome.  This is a condition which describes someone who is depressed because he hasn’t received enough sunshine.
I encouraged myself and others “Don’t worry there will be good weather soon because the farmers have to harvest their crops.”
The Lord promises seed time and harvest.

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (‭Genesis‬ ‭8‬:‭22‬ NIV)

The warm, still, bright, sunny weather has arrived!  While out driving yesterday we saw a field of corn  that was harvested.  The grain was taken away in a big truck and the golden straw was freshly baled.
At eight o’clock last evening a local farmer was preparing grass to be made into silage.  He was drawing a machine that was about eighteen foot wide.  It gathered the cut grass into a line.  Another machine is used to collect the grass into circular bales.  Last night after twelve we heard the sound of tractors trundling along the road nearby.  They worked through the night in case the weather changed.

I mused.  We do have “climate change.”

I remember my father harvesting a field of corn.  His family were out helping him, girls and boys.  My brother and he would cut the corn while we came behind gathering the cut stalks into bundles and tying them with a few stalks pulled from the bunch.  A stook would be formed by standing four sheaves of corn on their ends and tied together at the top.  This helped the sheaves to dry.  We worked together as a family.  Those were happy days for my father with his family around him.  Mummy would bring tea and homemade bread drenched with butter to the field for the workers.  It tasted good eating a bit of bread and a drink of tea in the sunshine together.  A hare would scuttle in the distance and the corncrake sang in the meadow.  Sweet communion, mankind with each other and with nature.  

The warm days lasted as we harvested the crops.  I do believe we don’t have as many warm days nowadays.  One reason for  climate change I suppose no one has thought of.  The modern farm machinery do the work of many men and finish the work in a shorter time.  They don’t need as many good days.  The hares and corncrakes have left the meadows because the farm machines destroy their nests.  One farmer owns many acres and meadows.  Gone are the days when a small farmer could make a living to feed his family.  The youth have gone from the land too.  The joy of harvest is missing in our land.  There is not the community atmosphere of helping one another to gather in the harvest.  The talk, sharing of stories and the banter is missing.  In Ireland, people danced at the crossroads when the harvest was over.  Marriages were made and family ties strengthened to help one another through another year.  The days of sunshine have left too!

The Fields are White Unto Harvest

I grew up on a small farm in Co Down, Ireland.
My dad raised ten children from farming the land.
He kept a herd of Freisians cows.
That meant milking the cows twice a day.
No lying in bed when one felt like it.
Mum reared chickens and sold the eggs to a local grocery store.
I used to carry buckets of grain and water across a field to feed the chickens, and then collect the eggs.
Dad grew crops of potatoes for the family’s use and oats and barley to supplement the feed for the animals.
We children always helped out when we could.
When the oats crop was ripe and cut, we would help dad gather up the stalks and bind them into sheaves.  The sheaves were then collected and built into a stack.  At the top of the stack an empty food sack was tied on to keep the seeds and stalks dry until threshing day.

 

image

 
Here is a photograph I took recently of such stacks.  There are eight stacks, the number of daughters my father had. The scene prompted me to write this post.
This farmer keeps the tradition of threshing going to show the next generation how the oats were harvested.

Threshing day for dad would come around.   Farmers in the neighbourhood came to help with the work.
A Threshing machine was used to separate the seeds from the straw, and bind the straw into bales to be stored for cattle bedding.
It was an exciting and joyful day for our family.  We helped our mum prepare a big pot of stew and home made soda bread to feed all the men who came to help.  The boys helped the men while us girls played around in the sunshine.  It was a golden scene with the sun gleaming off the straw.
In Ireland in the past this harvest event would have been a time for match making.
A marriage could be arranged between a suitable young man at the threshing and a daughter of the household.
The single men who attended dad’s harvest may have had designs on us daughters, but we thought they were far too old for us.

We found our husbands in farther away fields in other counties.
Today some of our children have found husbands and wives from the nations.
We got news yesterday of the birth of our Canadian grandchild!  This is my harvest!

A very long way from the Threshing field in Dunmore.
Life in the past was more leisurely and people depended on each other to help with the harvest.
It did not matter if you were a Protestant or a Catholic when it came to helping your neighbour.
We  could not hate our neighbours.
Sadly the community atmosphere has disappeared.
Small farmers have to supplement their income with another job.
Big families are rare.
The combine harvester sweeps up the harvest .
No more cups of tea and soda bread with melted butter running down the sides in the harvest field.
No more talking and sharing stories or finding out who had got married or had a baby.

Jesus was familiar with harvest time in the Land of Israel.  He would have seen the farmers gather in the grapes, olives and wheat.  He mentioned stories relating to the harvest, olives being pressed to make olive oil, grapes being crushed to make wine and grain being crushed into flour to make bread.

We remember His death through the breaking of bread and drinking wine, the fruit of the vine.

He spoke of a different kind of harvest, the harvest of souls to bring to heaven.  He is looking for workers in His Harvest.  Let us bring joy to Jesus.

 
Nowadays we find out the news from friends via Facebook.
The harvest field is now the nations.
Welcome to my field.
Thank you for listening to my story.