I live on the shores of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. It is a nature reserve for wildlife. Many species of birds migrate here.
The Brent geese come here from Northern Canada in September every year. They come in thousands. I heard their call in the distance on the sixth of September while I was out for a walk. I looked up and saw a chevron of Brent Geese making their way towards the Lough. The birds have flown thousands of miles from distance shores to get to these feeding grounds on Strangford Lough.
They look like ducks when they arrive. After feeding all winter on eelgrass they become fat. By May they look like geese as they waddle on the banks of a drinking stream . They have strengthened themselves for the return journey to have their young in Canada. I am filled with wonder as I consider the rhythm of their lives. They stay together feeding and flying. There is safety in numbers. They go for miles to find safe places to feed and return to Canada where there are no enemies, to rear their young.
Swallows arrive here in May. They return to nests they have occupied year after year in our barn. They spend the next months feeding their young, flying back and forth from the nest ten thousand times catching insects. Sometimes I have to frighten away starlings that sit on the top of the barn waiting to rob the swallow’s young from the nest below. After one batch of young are reared the adult birds start over again and rear another nest of young. They keep feeding young till September comes. They gather on the local electric wires with their young and fly off to Africa to spend the winter.
Terns arrive in April to a small island off Strangford. Hundreds of them nest and rear their young. Their familiar noisy screeching call welcomes the visitor to the Strangford ferry, which connects with Portaferry on the other side of the Lough. Even though the island is only a few yards from the shore the terns are safe. No one is allowed to go to the island to disturb the nesting birds.
The words of God tells me from Jeremiah to look for the ancient pathways to find rest for my soul and to learn from the birds of the air.
“This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’” Jeremiah 6:16 NLT “Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year. But not my people! They do not know the Lord’s laws.” Jeremiah 8:7 NLT
Jesus said to look a the birds. I am learning from the birds. These small creatures do gigantic feats; they travel thousands of miles from here to another continent on the wing. They arrive at he right time and leave at the right time. It is so important to them to be in a safe place and where there is provision to rear their young. I look at just a few of the species of birds in my area that follow ancient pathways for generations.
God our Father who is the Lord of all creation, who made the heavens and the earth has given us guidelines though His Word how to live. Through reading His Word for many years God has guided me in my life. If one is willing to seek first the Kingdom of God, to seek God, submit to God, you will find rest for your soul. I have looked for the ancient pathways to find rest for my soul.
God has been faithful to lead me to a town during the war in Northern Ireland where it was safe to rear my children. After the troubles He led our family to another town where there were schools and clubs suitable for my growing teenage family. He has led my husband and I to a quiet place beside still waters after all our children have flown the nest. We have found rest for our souls here.
The shores of Strangford Lough are dotted with ancient ruins of monasteries and Christian settlements. St Patrick is believed to have come by boat to this area and sailed up The River Quoile. It is said a local landowner gave him a barn to start his Christian work among the people of Ireland. The rivers and Lough would have been full of fish giving provision to the visitors. Perhaps we are living on the land where some of these ancient settlers lived.
It certainly is a spectacular area to live. The full harvest moon rose high in the sky soon after the sun set in the west, a few nights ago. A vista of pale orange, yellow, grey and blue outlined the hills and valleys of Co Down. Our soul is continuing to be healed.
I thoroughly recommend you dear reader to seek God with all your heart and you will find him. I sought the Lord and he answered me and has been faithful to guide me all these forty odd years. I have just finished a book about how God has helped me in my life. It will be published soon. Please contact me if you would like a copy.
I was listening to a programme on BBC 4 radio this week. It was reporting on events in Ecqador during the Covid 19.
One lady was interviewed. Her husband contacted the virus and died in a few days. She rang the authotrities in her country to come and take away her husband’s body. Only after five days was his decaying body removed. The lady contacted the disease as well but survived. She had two young sons.
Many families suffered like she did. Dead bodies were left lying on the streets for days. The hospitals and normal services were not prepared for the death of so many people.
It is easy to complain about past and present wrongs in our country. I am so thankful after listening to that programme. I am so grateful for the services we are blessed with here in Northern Ireland. These services were put in place by people who believed God in generations past and wanted to help their fellow man. First of all I thank God for the people in our country who believe in God. God has preserved us from sickness and healed many who contacted the disease. Our local minister was told to prepare for many deaths from Covid. There were not any deaths from Covid in our town.
I am thankful for the Health Service, the many men and women who worked in the hospitals. I am thankful for the politicians who had to make difficult decisions in the crisis. I am thankful for the people in our families, villages and towns who supported each other through their fears. I am thankful for the people who know their God and intercede for others.
Let us keep alert and keep praying. God my Heavenly Father delivered me from death from cancer ten years ago through the prayers of many. I believe Jesus heals today. I want to tell others that Jesus will heal our diseases and even prevent us from getting sick. This is good news. Let us pray for workers in the harvest to go to those countries that don’t know of God’s love and care through Jesus sacrifice for us on the cross. The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and sickness.
One of the chapters of my new book says, The Christian life is not a bed of roses. The early Christians were throw to lions and Jesus learned obedience to the Father through the things he suffered. He died a horrible death on the cross. On Facebook and What’s App people want to share all the fun times in their lives. I don’t read much about their suffering or other difficulties. When one who is depressed or in difficulty reads about the happy times others are having, he may think what is wrong with me? I don’t have the money or ability to do what they are doing. So his life becomes more unbearable and he goes deeper into the pit. I remember friends of mine who were widows with four to five children. When they went to Church, they felt rejected. They didn’t have a husband, their clothes weren’t as pretty as the good living Christians. No one talked to them as others who knew each other stood in groups talking. Not surprising they didn’t go back to church. When I was getting my six or ten children ready for Church there was fighting or bickering. When we got to Church we had to pretend all was okay and smile. Underneath all the facade I was hurting and felt no one understood me. I thought what is wrong with me. I must be a terrible sinner. Everyone else is happy. It seemed to me if your life was not all fun you were a bad Christian . One feels condemned and not good enough to come to God or to Church. I cannot live up to others expectations of me. I didn’t know that God loved me and was with me in my battles and was helping me through them. One day a speaker talked about marriage. He said according to the scriptures those who are married will have more trouble than those who are single. This resonated with me. So friends on Facebook or What’s App don’t be surprised that I don’t respond always to the happy clappy times. If you share your difficulties I will respond. Please get to know what is going on in other peoples lives, especially family, the good and the bad. Then one can empathise or even pray with others.
I make boats from drift wood I find on the shore near where I live. I have wood I intend to use that is the remains of a rowing boat that was abandoned by its owner. The winter storms buffeted and broke apart the once loved vessel. I enjoy making something new and beautiful, a sailing boat ornament, from that which is discarded or broken. The reclaimed wood is now loved by its new owner as it sits on display in his home.
Today I travelled across Strangford Lough by ferry to see and pray for a friend. While I was waiting at the harbour a beautiful, slim lined yacht passed gracefully through the water. It had two masts that reached skywards. It towered over other yachts parked nearby. The ferry seemed small in comparison to this vehicle. It is a visitor to these parts.
I soon forgot about the beautiful vessel when the ferryman said my ferry card, to pay for the journey, was out of credit. I resisted the temptation to be annoyed. I paid the full price for the journey.
On my return home I wanted to call into a shop to top up my card which gives subsidised journeys on the ferry. I knew I risked not getting on the ferry because of restrictions to the number of vehicles due to Covid. I collected my card and drove to the terminal. The boat was full and the ferryman signalled to me, no more vehicles. I stopped, resigned to wait an half an hour till the ferry returned.
I said a quick prayer, “Please Lord let the ferryman change his mind.” Just as I said that he asked drivers on deck to move forward to make room for another vehicle. He beckoned me forward.
I was super excited at the quick answer to prayer. I was full of joy and thanked the men for their help in making room for me. The ferry launched forward. I saw the sky move and wondered what was happening. Then there was a crash. My car had moved backwards and broke the long pole that is lifted and closed when cars get on and off the ferry. I was disoriented and in shock. In my excitement at getting on the ferry, I forgot to put the handbrake on. No one else saw what happened.
I waited trembling on my journey across the Lough. “What will the staff think when they see the pole crash landed at the back of the boat! I have damaged the ferry boat. That woman I made room for, look what she has done!” Perhaps I should have stayed at home and not bothered going out to help a friend. I remembered a promise from Psalm 121, ” I will watch over your going in and out”. I said another quick prayer, “Help” to God. I waited as other cars started up their engines, preparing to disembark when we got to the other side.
Then one staff member discovered the damage. He called to another. Three or four men gathered to look at the fallen barrier. I waited in trepidation. There was no scolding. No rebuke. In fact they laughed at what had happened. Thankfully they waved me forward and off the boat. They will take care of it. No calling the police to the scene of an accident. Thank God for the ferrymen who helped me today.
I got home. The yacht I saw earlier was parked offshore. It is beautiful. I stopped for a minute to reflect on my adventure. I told Brendan about what happened. He raised his eyes. He asked if my car was damaged? I forgot to look. Later he discovered a dent, the size of my hand just above the back lights. Thankfully the lights weren’t smashed. This new damage is just an addition to the war wounds my car has got since Brendan bought is for me six weeks ago. I have a story to tell about each one. We laughed together.
No room to wade on the shoreline The water is lapping against the wall I’m safe here on the ledge My favourite spot Jutting out of the water I’ll wait And keep warm With my neck Sunk between my shoulder blades I’ll wait Till the water recedes I’ll wait To dart at some tiny fish Lingering in the shallows I know their hiding places I’m too old To fly from my perch To find another spot I’ll leave Those fishing grounds To the younger ones. I’ll wait
The tide is high No room to wade on the shoreline The water is lapping against the wall I’m safe here on the ledge My favourite spot Jutting out of the water I’ll wait And keep warm With my neck Sunk between my shoulder blades I’ll wait Till the water recedes I’ll wait To dart at some tiny fish Lingering in the shallows I know their hiding places I’m too old To fly from my perch To find another spot I’ll leave Those fishing grounds To the younger ones. I’ll wait
I am so grateful that I was able to do some craft work during the present restrictions due to the Corona Virus pandemic. I have made some boat, cross and angel mosaics. I collect broken pottery and sea glass from my local beach. My favourite items I have created are the angels. I have some place mats I bought at Christmas time. They are mirrors with sparkly markings on the edge. The broken base of cups or saucers are suitable for my angels. Two broken pieces make up the wing and skirt of this angel shown in the picture. The upper body is made of a piece of brown bottle sea glass. The head is a piece of poetry from a broken jar. I like this particular angel in the photograph. The rim on the wing and the curves on the skirt remind me of the wheels with the Angels in Ezekiel.
“As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.” Ezekiel 1:15, 19-21 NIV
Ezekiel saw a vision of angels. Millions of angels are around the throne in heaven worshipping God.
“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”” Revelation 5:11-12 NIV
An angel is allocated to each one born on the earth. Jesus said,
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10 NIV
Our angels watch over us and preserve us from harm. Human beings live on the earth but they have a connection to heaven while living here. Let us live in the light of this truth and respect little children.
I am always encouraged when I watch birds in my garden. Jesus tells us to look at the birds. They don’t sow nor reap yet our Heavenly Father looks after them. We are more important to God than birds so we are encouraged to learn from the birds. There are swallows nests in the eve of a barn and a swallows nest in a hedge nearby. Psalm 84 says “Even the swallow and the sparrow find a nest near your altar where she can rear her young. “. An altar speaks of a place of prayer. So if one is praying in his home be sure there will be a bird’s nest nearby in the springtime.
I’m fascinated by the energy the birds exert in rearing their young. Firstly they fly here and there to collect material to build a nest. Then the female lays her eggs and hatches her young. The male and female gather food to feed the hungry chicks. The poor parents are exhausted after the young leave the nest. I often felt like that after the summer when my children were home for the summer. I have never seen chicks in a bird’s nest before. This year I had the treat of seeing my first nest of young.
After visiting a friend before lockdown, Jean sent me a picture of a robin’s nest. She had been furloughed from work and was enjoying her garden. The parent birds had found a safe spot under a plastic covering in a shed. Jean wanted to use a table she had stored there. To her delight she found the nest with three chicks in it. She didn’t unsettle the nest but checked it every day till the chicks fledged three weeks later.
She inspected the nest more closely and found small purple pellets at the bottom of the nest. She did some research and it was suggested they acted as insulation and absorbed waste. How clever the robins are. They even know what can be used as good material for their rearing of their young.
My son is home during lockdown. Back in March we had some logs that needed chopped. Each day my son enjoyed a bit of exercise chopping the wood. His dad and he cleared a space in the yard to store the wood for next winter. One morning in May I noticed a Wagtail flitting in and out of the wood pile. Was he building a nest in the midst of the newly stacked logs? I never got to check where the nest was.
But I was social distancing at a friend’s farm recently. He said come here I have something to show you. At the back of his modern tractor in between the gear for lifting heavy weights was a nest with three baby wagtails. He told us the parents feed the young when the tractor is not in use. When the tractor is in use the parents follow it to feed the young when the farmer stops. How special is the lengths the birds go to rear their young and overcome obstacles.
I heard a cuckoo recently. It had a clear crisp,call. I was cheered to hear it’s call. They fly in from Africa in April. The female lays her eggs in a wagtails nest or other convenient nest in the meadow. She is lazy. She leaves the rearing of her young to poor little birds that feed one hungry Cuckoo chick after it has pushed the other young out of the nest. The Cuckoos don’t stay too long they fly away in May.
My daughter lives in a street in Belfast . Blackbirds have built a nest in a bush in the hedgerow. She sent me a photo of the nest with young in it. The parent birds fly in and out to feed them. Ruth is keeping her cat in lock down in case she disturbs the birds.
All these three stories of birds has comforted us during this season of isolation. We are looking to the birds as Jesus taught us. They don’t wear masks or are restricted in rearing their young. They continue to survive.
It is May 2020. The government has urged us to remain at home until further notice for fear of the spread of the Corona Virus in the country.
It has been unusually sunny and warm here in Ireland for May. I am not confined to the house. I am out enjoying my garden tending to plants that are breaking ground in the safe warmth of the sun’s rays. They new growth is thirsty. Pot plants already established soon wilt if not refreshed with water.
I had to rescue two lupin plants from an invasion of greenfly. The new shoots were weakened by dry conditions and their position in the shade at the back of the house. The green fly landed and began to eat at the juicy heads of flowers that were reaching up beyond the leaves. I sprayed the offending creatures with soapy water. I watered the plant. It’s leaves grew strong again instead of limp. I moved the plants to the front of the house where the sea air and sunshine will help them recover.
God promises in his word there will always be winter and summer. I’m so happy with this reassurance. I found this winter cold and longer than usual. There were storms and wet, dark days. The wind found any space past door frames and windows. Inside the house was cooler than normal. I am enjoying the windless and warm days of summer.
I can relate to the flowers. One needs the proper conditions to flourish. A good place in the sun, fresh air and water, strong against any infection or enemies. Jesus promised he would give me water that I will not thirst again. He gives me his Holy Spirt who revives me and strengthens me body, soul and spirit.
I have tried to grow lupin at my previous homes without success. I am determined to look after the lupins that grow here. I believe they flourish here because the greenfly doesn’t like salty air.
The lupin remind me of days of my childhood. My birthday is in May. I probably was feeling happy at the thought of my birthday coming soon. I noticed the beautiful flowers that appeared on trees and roadside verges as I walked alone to school. I walked past a neighbours garden. This lady had a colourful display of lupins every year, pink, purple, yellow and white. They were in full bloom on my birthday. It’s that time of year again. I am tending my lupin plants.
Spring has arrived. Cherry blossom trees are coming into bloom. Ten years ago Brendan and I were sitting, sobbing together under a cherry blossom tree outside the Lagan Valley hospital in Lisburn. We had just received confirmation that I had Malignant Colon Cancer. On page 13 of Staying Alive Brendan writes, “The nurse said you have a long hard road ahead of you. She mentioned, scans, tests, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and an operation”. I had been bleeding for some time. I was too numb to take in the enormity of my situation. The doctors and nurses had a plan to help me, six weeks of chemotherapy and chemotherapy and then an operation to remove the tumour. This treatment could extend my life for a while. Few people survive for many years after colon cancer.
I continued with hospital appointments. Each day for five weeks I attended The City hospital in Belfast for chemotherapy treatment and radiotherapy. I didn’t suffer any side effects. Six weeks later the doctors called me to arrange an operation to remove the nine inch tumour. The treatment was just to reduce the tumour in preparation for the operation the doctors said. They were quite shocked when I told them I believe I was healed by God and I didn’t need an operation. They protested, Mrs Mc Cauley, “You don’t understand. The scans show the cancer has spread into the walls of your colon and surrounding tissue. We still need to operate.”
I said “I understand Doctor. I acknowledge your skills in helping me and your consern for me. I know my God, and I believe when he healed me he will have done a complete job and left no cancer behind.” The doctor did a colonoscopy and found no trace of the tumour. Instead the inside of my colon was like a baby’s skin. The doctor wrote out a letter to say he couldn’t find any tumour. I call this my certificate.
My testimony is that I was healed by the power of the name of Jesus and the power in his shed blood on the cross. In Isaiah the prophet said he was bruised for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities and by his stripes I am healed. I remain healed today. I am not on any medication and I have regular scans which show there is no cancer in my body. I give thanks and praise to God Almighty.
I wish to acknowledge the prayers of many people, their faith that God heals today, their love and encouragement, the help of medical staff who showed care and kindness to help me in the early stages.
What God has done for me he can do for you. I am not a holy person but it is by faith in the power of the name of Jesus I am healed. I believe that Jesus heals today. Put your trust in Jesus. Seek him with all your heart. I pray for others to be healed. Come to him just as you are. He will never turn anyone away. Pour out your desires to God.