A Sign in the Sky

Last Friday night Brendan and I were driving to a friend’s house outside the city. Up ahead of us in the sky we saw the full moon silhouetted between two blocks of flats. It hung in the sky larger than normal. We drove on outside the city. The moon was high in the sky but not looking so big. Did we see an optical illusion? The moon can be seen all over the world when it is night The reason the moon looks bigger is because at this time of the year the moon is closest to the earth on its path around the earth. It is a sign that the season has changed. We have moved from winter to spring.

I enquired from my friend if she saw the moon.  Yes, she said.  It is called the Worm Moon because the worms begin to move through the soil as the land gets warmer.  I enquired more about the Worm Moon.  A farmer friend told me the worm is a farmer’s best friend.  The quantity of soil each worm moves is fantastic, maintaining the health of the soil.  It causes the nutrients on the surface of the soil from dead leaves, animal waste and other debris to be passed down into the lower layers of soil. The movement of worms in the top layers aerates the soil.  The seeds the farmer has planted absorb the nutrients and oxygen the worms have pulled down from the surface.  

As I looked up at the moon that evening, I took my eyes off my immediate difficulties. I am amazed how everything is in order in nature. I agree with the scripture from Psalm 65,

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders.  

From where the sun rises to where it sets you inspire shouts of joy. 

I am happy for the change of season. These last weeks have been cold, wet and windy. I am enjoying the sunshine. The daffodils lift their heads and the tulip buds open up in full colour. The birds begin to pair up again to build their nests to rear their young. By the time the nest is built and the young have hatched there will be plenty of worms available under dead leaves or in the vegetable patch to fetch for the hungry mouths.

Gathering Shells

Robert Louis Stevenson said

It is a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.

I’m staying in Tarbert, Scotland. The local people said “Have you been to the shell beach yet? I was telling some folk that I collect sea glass and shells to make mosaics. I call it my hidden treasure.

Tucked away out of sight along the coast at Tarbert are two shell beaches. Other inlets nearby are covered in rocks. For some reason only two small inlets are covered in broken clam shells, pink, white, brown and orange with hues in between, lie stacked up on the shore. The waves for years have broken the shells into small pieces.

The tourists would never find it. Access to the beach is hidden at first glance. If you follow a well worn path under the ferns, over stones and bared roots of trees you will reach the beach. Perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson, who was from Scotland, knew about it when he penned the words I have quoted.

Bird Singing in the Night

Outside my hotel window

It is the dead of night

Wem

A bird is singing

The sweet tweets echo through the silence.

Is he announcing good news?

Is he calling for attention

Like the multitude of heavenly hosts praising God

When the angel announced Jesus birth to the shepherds

Singing Glory to God in the highest

And on earth good will to all men.

There is room for me in the Inn

In a soft plush bed

Because He was born in a straw lined manger.

The Christmas street lights are bright

Early Morning Visitors

Wednesday was a bright sunny morning here on the shores of Strangford Lough. There are always plenty of birds out enjoying the winter sunshine just as much as I do.

We threw out some scraps to feed the usual birds in our garden. But today a group of gulls flew in and frightened off all the locals.

Gulls in our garden

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.

Gulls Feasting at Strangford Lough

The tide is high at Portaferry today. But instead of troubled waters and sea weed washed up over walls by storms, the sea is calm. The sun is glistening off the water and it’s warmth is concentrated in a bay near our home. Other parts of Northern Ireland are covered in snow. People are not venturing too far. More cold temperatures and storms are forecast.

On my way home I took this video of a flock of sea gulls gathered in the bay to feed off insects in the seaweed disturbed by the rising tide.

Sea gulls flit about, dive and fly. They don’t stand at the edge of the water to feed. They are nervous creatures and rise up out of the water at the least noise.

This scene cheered and warmed my heart today. I hope you enjoy it too.

I enjoy watching birds as Jesus told us. Every time I study them I am reminded of God’s care and blessing.

Abortion

Here in Ireland, the beauty of creation is all around me. The sun is high in the sky during the day giving warmth and brightness, inviting us to enjoy outdoors. The odd shower of rain brings a colourful rainbow between the rain clouds and the light. There is a big moon in the sky at night. It’s draw causes Strangford Lough to fill up at high tide. The light from the moon reflects off the still water.

I am reading in Psalm 139 this morning.
“Oh Lord you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
To you the night shines as bright as day,
Darkness ad light are both alike to you.” V 1 and 12
Our creator God keeps all of nature going by his power. The sun or moon are not falling out of the sky. God is faithful. This same God promises me in Psalm 68 v 19 that he loads us with benefits every morning. Just imagine his kindness and care and things working out in our lives daily. His mercies are new every morning. God is speaking to me through the birds that are beginning their song on this the longest day of the year in Ireland. He cares for the birds will he not care for us.

The mighty God who created the sun and the moon created us in our mother’s womb. I read further in Psalm 139 v 13, 15 and 16.
“You made all my delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.”

Someone sent me an article from rightoflife.org that 10 pregnancies over twenty weeks are terminated in the mothers’ wombs per week in England. A child can live outside the womb at twenty weeks! The baby in the womb is killed with an lethal injection into the heart.

The Word of God clearly states in Psalm 139 that God knits the baby together in its mother’s womb. He creates life. There is a thief who comes to rob, kill and destroy, John 10 v 10 says. The thief is the devil who is behind the destruction of the unborn in these days. When war broke out earlier this century men gave their lives to defeat the evil that was rising to take over Europe. Six million Jews were exterminated in the holocaust. Today there is a silent holocaust of babies across the world.

Perhaps the young woman doesn’t know the seriousness of having an abortion because her boyfriend says it’s okay, her family says it’s okay, the doctors say it’s okay and one’s government says it’s okay. She doesn’t know the truth that God created the baby in the womb and it’s against God’s laws to take life.

The same God provided a Saviour to forgive us when we break the law and sin. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Forgive him for he knows not what he is doing.”
Northern Ireland is one of the safest places on the earth for the unborn. Northern Ireland was a safe place for Brendan and I to have the fourteen children God gave us. When I was expecting my 11th child the consultant suggested I may have a Down’s Syndrome child. He would have offered me a termination if I was frightened. I declared to him that God gave me this baby and He will bring him forth safely. I changed consultants.

Brendan and I had fourteen children because we believe God gives life and children are a blessing from God.

From Ireland missionaries went all over the world to bring the gospel including the new world which is the USA and Canada. Sadly now Ireland’s government is giving money to to nations to promote abortion.

Despite the holocaust and bad news there is hope. The same Jesus who died and rose from the dead is still willing to forgive sin and deliver one from the power of the devil. Ask for his forgiveness and he will freely pardon and renew hope for this life and the life hereafter. Remember Jesus said to the thief on the cross, today you will be with me in Paradise.

The Robin

 

In Ireland the humble bird the Robin is celebrated on our Christmas cards. Images of the bright eyed bird with healthy feathers, red on his breast and brown on his body and wings are displayed on many a mantle piece.

One forgets that this bird has had to survive a busy schedule in spring and summer building nests, hatching eggs, and foraging for food to keep himself and young alive. Brendan leaves out seeds and leftover bread on the fence for the birds. One bird waits expectantly every morning. It has come into our kitchen when we leave the door open.

If I am away for a few days the Robin welcomes us back by hopping in circles around me from shrub to hedge to get my attention. I haven’t been looking out for my friend for a while. But this morning I was up early. The bird must have seen me move about the kitchen. He was looking for food.

I fetched the seed box and laid out some seeds. The Robin came along. Sadly he looked a bit disheveled. His head was bereft of healthy feathers. He had few red feathers. He must have been in a few difficult situations; fights, hungry or thirsty.

Perhaps the hungry mouths he was helping feed this summer pulled at his feathers when he was sharing his morsels. Is it time to moult his feathers? Or was he in some territorial fights? I discovered from a bird blog that robins defend their territory fiercely.

He has some nice territory to defend. He has two gardens in which to forage and get plenty of food for his offspring. He has a home owner who leaves out treats for him every morning. He isn’t going to give up easily.

Can I learn from this little bird. Jesus said look at the birds. I see this Robin as a real warrior fighting for his home and his land where he gets provision for his young. I read in Nehemiah 4 v 4 that the men prayed for their families and their homes. They built with one hand and defended their property with a sword in their hands. Like the Robin I often get a few ruffled feathers as I defend my home and children. It is my space and I want to keep it a safe place free from evil.

Jesus likens a man to a house.
““When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. “”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:43-45‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We can learn from this scripture Jesus warning to continue to keep our house free from evil spirits. They will always want to come back in. They will never give up. So one needs to be on guard to prevent evil coming back into ones life once we have been set free.

How does one do that. By believing in Jesus, by prayer, by reading the Word of God and by obeying what God has asked one to do.

An Appointment With Nature

 

Over the summer months I have been focusing on writing a book. I haven’t had much exercise; not even working in the garden or walking. Despite a minimum of attention tomatoes, herbs and flowers have blossomed in the sunny summer we have had. Butterflies flutter and swallows swoop overhead . They are enjoying the end of summer sunshine.

My body was telling me it needed some exercise. I feel a bit stiff after sitting at a desk for hours on end.  I needed to get away from my computer and books.  I needed to get outdoors to see life around me.

Yesterday I awoke early to a warm, bright morning and decided to go for a cycle. I prefer cycling to walking. It is not too taxing pushing my bike along the Loughshore Rd. The seashore was just to my right. I heard the sound of stones hitting one another and stopped to investigate. I counted ten turnstones, tiny seabirds, busily upturning small stones and feeding on the juicy morsels of insects exposed. The birds were well camouflaged against the brown and grey seaweed and stones. One wouldn’t know they were there except for the noise they were making. I was delighted to discover them on my trip outdoors.

Each time Brendan and I go for a walk there is always something going on in nature. On the way home I noticed a dozen teal ducks who had come ashore to drink fresh water from a brook that trickles down to the sea. They were resting and preening their feathers. They were safe, warming themselves in the morning sunshine. How beautiful? What have I been missing?

A speaker once said that Nature is the bible of creation. Jesus said “Look at the birds.” I learn a lot from watching birds.

This morning I was full of aches and pains after cycling. I was feeling sorry for myself and wanted to stay resting under the blankets. I didn’t want more pain from exercising. Brendan encouraged me to come down for breakfast. After a chat and food I was revitalised. I persevered to go cycling again. I decided to keep up the exercise. What has nature in store for me this morning?

I got my bicycle out again. I wasn’t disappointed. I stopped to rest at Ballyhenry Island. It was low tide. A flocks of seagulls were sunbathing. I heard the chugg chugg of a boat in the distance. It was setting out towards the marine station where research is taking place. I watched as it came close.

A tall black bird caught my eye in the distance. It was flapping its wings. Perhaps it was stretching after feeding. It continued to flap and stretch its wings for fifteen minutes. I was amazed at its energy.   It’s not easy to see a cormorant up close.  They keep their distance from danger.  When on the ferry one can catch a glimpse of a cormorant as it surfaces after diving for food.  Their short legs and streamlined body help them easily glid into the water.  They have been likened to penguins. Bird Island off Kircubbin is where they can safely nest and rear their young.

I thought of the following scripture,
“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭148:7-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I imagined the cormorant was praising The Lord with its outstetched wings for more that fifteen minutes. I could not keep my arms raised for fifteen minutes. I marvelled as I watched the black bird in the distance.

It was time to return home. I look forward to tomorrow morning. What will the birds be doing?