A Place of Space, Peace and Quiet.

I was reading from 1 Chronicles this morning.

The men listed above by name were leaders of their clans. Their families increased greatly, and they went to the outskirts of Gedor to the east of the valley in search of pasture for their flocks. They found rich, good pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet. (‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭4‬:‭38-40‬ NIV)

This passage reminded me of the South West of Ireland where The Lord led us to go on holiday for the first time thirty years ago with our “flock.”   Brendan had bought our first car and we were thinking of going on holiday together.  Brendan asked me, “Where would you like to go on holiday?”  I immediately thought of Kerry, in the south west of Ireland.  The best way to accommodate  our growing family was to rent a holiday home.

We felt the Holy Spirit was telling us to get in touch with someone in Kerry, who was in the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship.  This turned out to be George Mc Auliffe.  Brendan rang him and asked him if he would locate a house to rent suitable to our needs.  He had never heard tell of us before,  but he kindly responded and found us a holiday home.  The two weeks it was available was at the beginning of August when my eighth child was due.  I wasn’t afraid of travelling there, because my children never arrived on the date the doctors suggested.

i believe holidays are not a luxury they are a necessity.  Family life, being together, can get neglected when work and other pressures put demands on the dad and mum.  Being together on holiday helps everyone unwind.

The day to travel arrived.  We were so excited to be setting out on an adventure that would take us 600 miles away.  The Peugot 505 was filled with children and provisions for our stay for two weeks.  We invited another family to stay in our home when we were away.  We believed in sharing with others.

As we got nearer Kerry we’d looked at the colourful houses with gardens full of roses.  Would that be the one we will be staying in, or that one?  I would like that one.  We dreamed on.  The one we finally arrived at was beyond our expectations.  There were five bedrooms and two big living rooms.   Mary even had a room of her own!  It seemed like heaven for the children.  Plenty of space inside and outside the house.

Our children poured out of the car, stretched their legs and arms like cattle released from the stall.  There was plenty of space to run and chase each other.  There were cows in the green fields over the fence.  Good pasture lands.  There were rainbows in the sky.  It was near the beach.  The journey was worth it.

Back then there was war in Northern Ireland.  There was pressure in the atmosphere.  Everyone was under a cloud.  Kerry was so different.  There was no oppression, people welcomed us with their soft arms, hearts and voices.  George introduced us to other families who welcomed us into their homes, even though we had a big family.  Thus began our visits to the Kerry and Limerick area.  From that year on we went for two weeks holiday there during the troubles in the north.  We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and warm welcome wherever we travelled.  We always returned refreshed.

In more recent years,  Brendan and I have been on a holiday to Greece in May to recharge our batteries after winter and work schedules, take in the sun and good food.  Our children have left home.  We had not planned anything this year.  There was no time free in May.    My body was weary and needing some attention.  I dreamed of travelling west in Ireland to be refreshed seeing the mountains and green valleys.  I decided to help Brendan continue prepare for people who were coming to stay with us.

June was busy with guests from Alabama and India.  The day before guests arrived another friend called to offer us his home in Adare at the end of June.  When Brendan told me I was delighted.  God is faithful.  He knew my need of rest and he provided.   As we shared our home with others, God inspired another person to share his home with us.  He had let us and our family stay in his home many times over the last years.  Not everyone wants to let a big family have the run of their home.

A man reaps what he sows.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (‭Galatians‬ ‭6‬:‭7, 9‬ NIV)

On our holiday in Adare, we slept, worked in the garden, ate and slept again, a bit like hobbits.  One of the evenings we ventured out to visit a friend.  We travelled along the coast of the Shannon estuary through Ballybunion and on to Tralee.  I remember stopping at a viewing point overlooking Tralee sometime before when our children were with us.  The blue of the river and ocean framed the hills of Clare to our right and the stronger mountains of the Dingle peninsula to our left. Tralee was nestled in the green valley below.  The big sky had plenty of room for darks clouds carrying rain in the midst of clear parts where the sun shone through. There was always a cloud dropping rain somewhere.  I could spend hours on that spot letting this beauty wash over my soul.  I drank in the beauty again that evening.

The glory of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

I now realise why we came on summer holidays with our children to this part of the world so many times down through the years.  It was a place of quiet, peace and space, with lush pastures to restore our souls.

Refreshment in a Land flowing with Milk and Honey.

I believe holidays are not a luxury, they are a necessity.
In this busy world, work and other activities demand our time and energy until one is worn out. I thought it important for us as a family, even though a big family, to get away for a summer break. We had valuable time together creating memories.

Brendan and I are staying in Limerick.  It is a little bit different this year.  We are on our own, instead of eight, nine or twelve of us.  A friend offered us the use of his home while he and his family are on their holidays.  We usually take a holiday at the beginning of May to recharge our batteries after winter and work schedules.  There was no time free in May this year.  My body was weary and needing some attention.  I dreamed of travelling west in Ireland to be refreshed seeing the mountains and green valleys.  I decided to help Brendan continue prepare for people who were coming to stay with us. I continued to dream.

June was busy with guests from Alabama and India.  The day before guests arrived our friend called to offer us his home in Adare at the end of June.  When Brendan told me I was delighted.  God is faithful.  He knew my need of rest and he provided.   As we shared our home with others, God inspired another person to share his home with us.

A man reaps what he sows.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (‭Galatians‬ ‭6‬:‭7, 9‬ NIV)

Thirty years ago, our friend offered us the use of his home.  We had eight children at the time.  It was a generous gesture.  Not everyone wants to let a big family have the run of their home.  We were able to visit the local tourist scenes and go to the beach when the sun shone.  The children played about in the fields nearby or at the beach like young calves released from the stall.  We have stayed in his home many times down through the years.  He is a blessing.

Kerry and Limerick are famous for the production of milk. Lush, thick grass grows all the year round to support the herds of Friesien cows. There are plenty of green pastures. It is a land flowing with milk like the Promised Land.

Back then people were in conflict in Nothern Ireland.  There was pressure in the atmosphere.  Everyone was under a cloud.  From that year on we went for two weeks in July for holidays to Limerick, Donegal or Kerry.  We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and warm welcome wherever we travelled.  We always returned to the  North of  Ireland refreshed.

If You’re Irish Come Into The Parlour

Here is a song I sang growing up.

If you’re Irish come into the parlour,
There’s a welcome there for you;
If your name is Timothy or Pat (or David)
So long as you come from Ireland,
There’s a welcome on the mat,
If You come from the Mountains of Mourne,
Or Killarney’s lakes so blue,
We’ll sing you a song and we’ll make a fuss,
Whoever you are you are one of us,
If you’re Irish, this is the place for you!

I am in Toronto to see Ava, my son David and Jacquelyn’s baby. I am staying at Jacquelyn’s parents home. I am enjoying the change of season here. I took a walk and took this picture.

image

David our son, was welcomed into the heart of Jacquelyn’s immediate and extended family. David has been fishing with Jacquelyn’s dad, brothers, uncles and and grand dad. They caught many fish and had a great time. He has been to hockey matches, plays tennis and soccer, been on a visit to Washington to see extended family, and sightseeing at the Niagara Falls.

Maureen, Jacquelyn’s mum spent all Sunday cooking dinner for friends who wanted to come over to meet me. It was Thanksgiving and Christmas all in the one day.
Maureen likes the windows open. I like a cool room too! She loves roast potatoes and Irish wheaten bread, which she bakes on the weekend. She had someone from Ireland she could share with. It was her mum’s recipe. Her mum grew up in Belfast.  We celebrated her mum. Her memory lives on.

Jacquelyn was particularly fond of her and misses her. Her baby is wearing a cardigan her granny knitted for her.

Maureen’s aunt called by the other day. She brought a beautiful Christening robe, an heirloom. Her sister had hand knitted it and gave her for her children. Now it was being given to Jacquelyn for Ava’s christening. She told us how she loves to make soda bread just like we get back in Ireland. She has here fridge full of it ready to give as a gift to anyone who calls or comes into her parlour.

I am being made to feel welcome and part of the family. I don’t have to cook, clean or shop. I am available for babysitting when Jacquelyn needs me. It’s not hard work nursing a warm, cuddly, baby girl. Oh the joy of being a grand mother. I don’t have to do the hard work of feeding, dressing and changing.
It is lovely to see my son caring, protecting and treasuring Jacquelyn and Ava. A whole new world for him.

When Brendan travelled to North America twenty years ago he was welcomed with open arms, celebrated, loved and accepted. A big shock to the system when back home in Northern Ireland there was war. The Irish were rejecting each other.

I went to England 35 years ago to have my own daughter. I was welcomed by the Irish community as a long lost relative. They were from Kerry and I was from Derry. But we were all Irish in another country.

The words of the song above are true. Brendan, David and myself have been welcomed into people’s parlours.

Christmas Gift from God

It takes three days to settle into a new situation. Today all the changes have caught up on me. I awoke dehydrated, jet lagged and itchy from mosquito bites and a bee sting. After breakfast we decided to take a break from the sun, stay in our room and caught up with newspapers.

In the cool of the evening we took a walk down by the beach. We sat down and little sparrows flitted about our feet. Look at the birds of the air they neither sow nor reap yet their Heavenly Father looks after them.

Brendan, me and our two children moved to Coleraine. Brendan was going to attend university there as a mature student. Shann was attending primary school and Brendan was at play school. I was not working. I had time on my hands. I desired to have another child. I had read in the Bible that children are a blessing from The Lord. I asked God for another child. I believed he is the author of life. He answered with a baby girl we called Nora.

My baby was due near Christmas. A friend of my husband visited us. He invited us over to London to stay with his family for Christmas. He was returning by car so all four of us could travel with him. No Ryanair or Easyjet then, or even the money to pay for all of our travel. I was excited at the opportunity to get a HOLIDAY. We said yes.

I went to see my doctor to tell him my plans. He thought I was crazy to think of travelling such a distance when my baby was due. I said to him “Well, Mary travelled on a donkey seventy miles to Jerusalem.” He had nothing to say. He gave me some notes to take with me. My friend took me to their doctor in London. He did the necessary checks. All was okay. We all enjoyed the adventure, Christmas dinner and toys for the children. Our hosts were very generous to us. We were like the sparrows, being cared for.

While there I went to the local church. Some people met to pray. I decided to go along to get some prayer. There was some women there who were from Kerry in Ireland but now lived in London. Even though I was from the North of Ireland they welcomed me as a daughter. Just being from Ireland united us.

Nora was born on the twenty eighth of December. The delivery went well and baby and me got out of hospital after two days. We returned to Ireland in early January. Our new ex Irish friends sent us out with their prayers. As I was waiting to board the boat at Liverpool, a priest was waiting on the gangway. He saw I had an infant with me and he offered to pray for us. My new child was well covered in prayer.

Around the time of her birth, changes were happening in my husband’s life. He would spend time carrying her in his arms and looking into her face. Something was happening in his heart. Perhaps our daughter was radiating love to her father and he to her. He spent many hours with her. Our new baby brought us closer as a family. The two older children enjoyed having someone else to look after and play with.

Nora is an answer to my prayer. God sent her into our lives. She is special. She brought a lot of healing to my husband as he helped me care for her. He enjoyed the little bundle in his arms. She drew out the nurture and care that only a father can give.

Not only is Nora special to us she is special to her husband and to God. He is watching over her. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow her all the days of her life. Psalm 23 NIV.

Holidays

Holidays are like sleep; problems don’t seem so big after a good night’s sleep.  There is a saying that goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.  It is time to walk or drive to be together and enjoy the beauty of our country.  We always went places where our children could have fun for free, a beach, forest or playpark.  One time we even saw elephants without going to the zoo.  We just parked alongside a field, where a circus was letting the animals graze.

One may think he cannot afford to take a holiday.  We have found God is faithful to provide the money we needed for holidays.

Psalm 23 says The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.

When Brendan and I got married in June 1971 we went on honeymoon to Southend to visit relatives.  We got the ferry overnight to Liverpool and then the train to London.  It was the first time I was in England.  When we returned to Ireland we did not go immediately to our new home but hitch hiked to Donegal and travelled around having an adventure until our money ran out.

The adventure of our lives has continued till this day.  Travelling did not hinder us when we had children. We were interested in community living and we heard about people who lived together in Findhorn in the north of Scotland.  I got some money from teaching.  We headed off the next day with two children to Scotland.  We travelled by boat, bus or hitch hiked.

Our travels took us through Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh.  Isn’t it interesting that seven of our children have gone to university in the same towns we visited back then?  Scripture says he will give us the ground where our feet shall trod.  We did not stay in the community.  We returned home and grew our own community!

Each summer we would always plan to go on holiday.  For a few years when we had three children we went on summer youth camps as volunteers.  We got to have a holiday and got paid for it.

Corrymeela is holiday centre in north Antrim, hosting families on holidays from troubled areas of Northern Ireland.  A lady who worked there offered us a holiday.  Our family was growing but that did not deter us.  I think we went there about three years running.

When we had seven children Brendan bought a car, a Peuguot 505.  We felt so blessed.  Brendan and I decided that year to venture out on our own as a family and rent a holiday home.  We were talking together and Brendan asked me, “Where would you like to go on holiday”.  I had a desire to go to Kerry.  Brendan heard of an organisation called the Full Gospel Business Men.  He had one of their booklets.  He looked it up to see if there was anyone in Kerry who organised meetings.  He got in touch with the leader and asked him to look out for a house for us.

I was expecting my eighth child.  We headed off with the car full, Brendan myself and seven children.  The house was a dream.  Plenty of rooms, washing machines, showers, and rainbows outside.  Our children loved the space.  Kerry is famous for milk and golden butter.  In the field beside the holiday house our children got a close up view of the black and white cows and heard the sounds of them tearing and munching on the grass.

We attended prayer meetings in our friend’s home.  I was praising The Lord and dancing.  People were afraid I would go into labour.  My son John held on for another two weeks.  We have been going to Kerry since, over the past twenty seven years.  We have made many friends and were always warmly received and blessed.  It became an oasis for us from the troubled North each July.

We are just back from a week’s holiday in a house quite near the mouth of the River Shannon.  We never went to Kerry for the sun.  Normally it rains, but this year we had wall to wall sunshine.  It was as good as being in Greece without the flights and expense.