Getting Older

What a beautiful warm day we enjoyed this Sunday in Ireland. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. The clocks went back an hour. People took the opportunity of waking up with an hour to spare and head to the outdoors. Perhaps we all wanted to enjoy the inviting warmth before darker and colder days approach.

We are like some butterflies, Red Admiral and Tortoiseshell, that came to my garden a few weeks ago. Late blooming sunflowers were lifting their heads to the sun in a sheltered corner of the garden. The butterflies spread their wings to soak up the warmth on the face of the sunflower. The beautiful colours of their wings lit up in the light. They lingered around the sunny corner trying out some other flowers they love, while the sun shone.

Brendan and I took the ferry from Portaferry to Strangford. A large crane was positioned near the terminal. It was available to lift any remaining yachts and boats out of the water to be stored for the winter. The end of the season for letting the wind fill the colourful sails.

We visited an outdoor market in Dundrum. As we walked about the stalls I could feel the warmth of the sun on my back. Everyone was light hearted. Smells of cooking wafted through the air. Both food outlets were doing plenty of business. We discovered a few hidden treasures; a mosaic topped table and chairs was my favourite find. I will restore them and look forward to tea in the garden next spring. Our children warn us not to be getting more stuff. But we don’t listen. Our home will end up as a museum full of items that evoke memories from our younger days, English Rose China, a crystal decanter, a rocking horse or tapes of old movies.

Some visitors called with us this evening. I sat with my friend by the fire. We chatted about our aches and pains. I suggested they can easily be warded off by a Magnisium supplement. I read yesterday from another blogger’s page that Magnesium is a cure for all; pain in limbs, high blood pressure, indigestion and insomnia. I will be keeping a bottle of Milk of Magnesia in the cupboard. There will be warm cups of cocoa at bedtime and Epsom Salt baths often this winter. No flu jab for me!

I was meditating on these words this evening after an active day.

But the godly will flourish like palm trees, and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. Even in old age they will produce fruit. They will remain vital and green..
So even to old age and grey hairs, O God do not forsake me.
Psalm 92 and 71.

Uncertain Days

An election has just finished in Canada, the British government can’t agree whether to leave the EU and our Northern Irish government refuse to work together.  Despite the confusion in the British parliament a bill to allow Abortion in Northern Ireland was passed. It became law on Tuesday because our assembly in Stormont continue to disagree.

Whether you live in Canada or live in Northern Ireland we cannot depend on our politicians to pass right laws. My only hope is in the name of The Lord.  His government and its peace will never end. Isaiah 9 v 7.
Isaiah prophesied in the same chapter that Unto us a child is born, Unto us a son is given and The Government will be on his shoulders.
Many people are dismayed and fearful at this time.  Isaiah was as well.  God told him not to believe conspiracies, but to make The Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in his life. He is the one to fear and he will keep him safe. 
The same is true for us today. I believe in God.  He is faithful to His promises.  He loves those He created.  He is merciful.  I know his faithfulness and love. He has cared for me and blessed me with a good husband and fourteen children. He delivered and healed me from 4 th stage cancer.  He is alive and true. He is the One to fear.

If you are upset and disappointed in life today, put your trust in the God of the Heavenly armies.  His name is Jesus.  Call to him.  He will hear and act.  

The Word of God

I was out yesterday gathering items along the sea shore to use in craft making. Just back from a recent holiday, I am invigorated and have plenty of energy. I was inspired by visiting some craft shops when I was away. Small sticks, driftwood, pottery and bits of rope were some of my find. What particularly interested me today was any flat pieces of wood.

A good sized rectangular piece was lying on one of the rocks. When I turned it over the remains of a placard was still attached to it. On it were these words in large bold letters,

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ”. The word Jesus is missing. This is a sentence from the Bible in 1 Timothy 2 verse 5.

Placards with a passage from scripture on it, I think are peculiar to Northern Ireland. You may find a notice with a scripture passage on a piece of wood nailed to a tree or hanging on a lamppost along a country road. Someone put it there in the hope of evangelising some unbeliever.

In the Provence where I live some Protestants try to evangelise Catholics with these notices. We had war in Northern Ireland because there was division and misunderstanding between Catholics and Protestants which led to hatred and murder of one another. One can easily take offence when one doesn’t agree with the another. Someone took offence at the placard, and dumped it in the sea!!  As a teenager I remember a street evangelist reached me a tract with a scripture on it.  He did not communicate with me to explain what he was giving me.  I wasn’t interested and threw it away. I was offended just like someone with the same attitude threw this placard in the sea!

Back as a teenager if someone had told me about God’s love for me and demonstrated it to me by being kind, giving, and coming along side me to identify with me and get to know me I may have received their tract. It’s not enough to preach at one. One needs to show love. It never fails.

As I write this on reflection I met my husband in my late teens. He did the very things I have just recounted. He came along side me, was giving and kind. He showed me love. That is why I responded and fell in love.

There were troubles in Northern Ireland because, no matter what religion one had, we didn’t know God’s unconditional love, blessing, care, tenderness, forgiveness, healing, comfort and debts cancelled. Like all humankind without God, our hearts were hard and bitter. We didn’t understand one another. There was little generosity or forbearing one another.

I got to know God more later in my twenties when I met some loving women who introduced me to the Word of God. I began to read the scriptures and believed what they said. I believe in God our creator and in his son Jesus and The Holy Spirit. This same God healed me from Malignant Cancer.

I should be in the grave today. God is alive. He is real. Jesus tomb is the only empty one. He arose from the dead. I can tell you this for sure. He rescued me from the grave to tell others about him. He shed his blood on the cross and became a sacrifice to forgive all people their sins and bring them to heaven.  If you believe in Jesus your heart can be healed and you can be sure of heaven.

When I overturned the piece of wood today I thought to myself, God’s Word will not return void. Isaiah 55 v 11 says

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me void. But will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

He can use all kinds of ways to speak to people and get their attention. God even used a donkey to speak to Balaam when he wouldn’t listen.  I want to encourage you through my story of God’s love in saving me from death.  Believe in the miracle working God for yourself.  Believe in Jesus and get to know him through reading his word.

The words on the placard, all messy with seaweed is still speaking. I retrieved it. I will publish it. Through the internet I can send this scripture far and wide across the nations.

It’s Harvest Time

It is August, the month of harvest in Ireland.  The fields of barley and wheat around our home are ripe. It has been a sunny, dry summer and the farmers can expect a bumper crop. I saw a tractor pulling a trailer full to overflowing with grain. Did the farmer do anything extra this year more than other years to get a bigger harvest? No he is faithful to prepare the fields in the springtime and sow the seeds of wheat. He waits. He has faith.  He expects to get a harvest a few months later.

No amount of worrying will help the seed to grow. No matter what the weather is like if he believes he will get the harvest in. It is because of God’s mercy and goodness we have had good weather this summer in Ireland for everyone to enjoy and especially for the growth of crops and fruit. The earth has brought forth bountifully. When we visited with friends over the summer we enjoyed the strawberries from their garden.

Last year at this time the ground in some parts of Ireland was too wet for heavy machinery to gather in the harvest. In September a dry spell of weather allowed the farmers to clear the ground. It was later than usual but the harvest time did come.
God word promises
““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

A prophetic word was given by an American prophet back in May. He said,
“For the next season there will be an open heaven over you. There will be a release of God’s revelation and power. You can expect to receive payment for the attacks of the enemy. God is breaking clouds of darkness and bringing people out of the wilderness and God’s light is going to shine.”

Yes the light has been shining naturally all summer. God is showing us his favor. I am like the farmer expecting a harvest from what I have sown naturally and spiritually. I am expecting payment for what the devil has stolen. God is going to move sovereignly on my behalf. I didn’t earn his mercy. I believe in his promises and his prophetic words to me. He is going to keep his promises to me.  I have faith because God has said in his word.

There was a rainbow arch right across the sky in front of my home on Saturday. It is a sign of God’s covenant with me and with all life on the earth. He will never again flood the earth. It is a sign to me that God is there and he sees and encourages me to keep believing him. He told Noah and his family when they came out of the Ark,

“As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
“And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

God has blessed Brendan and I with increase of children. I believe he will continue to increase our family in number and multiply on the earth.  We will get our harvest now.  It is harvest time.

Sunny

Since May the first it has been sunny most days in Co Down Northern Ireland. The winter passed and we moved into summer early, and the sun is still shining as we end June. The sun shine reminds me of God’s promise in Malachi, “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.”

This must be a record. It is delightful to awake to bright skies. We have had breakfast outside most mornings and no I’m not is Geece.  There are clear skies recently up until eleven in the evening. This must be what it is like in Norway or Iceland where the sun doesn’t set in Summer.

I love living in Ireland. I have travelled to New Zealand, India, Mediterranean countries, the United Kingdom, America and Canada. I have enjoyed my visits there but I am so happy to return home to Ireland. It is comforting to hear the accent of the air hostesses on the flight back to Belfast or listen in to Hugo Duncan’s cheery radio show. I don’t mind the not so sunny days, the mist over Strangford Lough, the gentle rain, or the odd storm that brings winds that shake the trees in the nearby forest and rain that leaves a salty spray on the windows.

If it does get cold a warm jacket keeps the chill away. Woolen blankets are always at the ready on the settee for added warmth. I am sure of a good night’s sleep with a comforting hot water bottle on a chilly night, no matter if the wind blows a gail outside.

As the sun was setting last evening there was much activity around the harbour in Poratferry. There was slow tide. A large boat with a crane was near the harbour. It looked like an oil rig! It was hired from Liverpool to salvage a 1930’s sailing vessel that had sunk. We stopped to enjoy the lit up show.

Work continued into the night. The job was completed at four am. The sailing vessel was raised out of her sandy, muddy resting place and was manoeuvred by the larger rescue vessel into shallower water. Workmen were working today to break the wooden frame.

I enjoyed the spectacle of the lit up platform towering over the sailing vessel it had come to rescue. Excitement came to our quiet village. Many people lingered on to see the sunken vessel raised. Sadly the sailing boat was beyond repair. I thought of God when I looked at the oil rig-like platform. It was towering and strong.  Often in one’s life God our father comes to the rescue. Perhaps we get stuck in the mirey clay, or get into troubled waters. He reaches down with his tender arms and gathers us to a safe place.

Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!”
Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.”
‭‭He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:9 to 11 ‭NLT‬‬

I praise and thank God for the many times he has rescued me and my loved ones from danger. He will continue to do so. We have two more months of summer left. I expect we will have more sunny days and days of healing.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sunny/

Unity

There was devastation in my country, Northern Ireland, when Protestants and Cathoilics were at war from 1968 to 1998.

Thirty years of Troubles. Catholics were bombed out of their homes, forced to move away from Protestant neighbours. Protestants were bombed out as well to force families into Ghettos. City centres were bombed to try to disrupt everyday life. Your life was at risk if a Catholic married a Protestant. Hearts were broken over the death of loved ones, and dreams. Men and women were kidnapped and never returned to their families. Many people were forced into exile. Why did this happen? Other nations who don’t believe in Jesus were laughing at us. We were bringing shame to the name of Jesus.

This is Christian Unity week. Around the third week in January each year, Christians are encouraged to gather together to pray. This movement has been encouraged for around ninety years. I think it a great idea. I was inspired to seek for unity many years ago when I read Jesus’ word to his disciples before he went to the crucified.

“Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.
Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
‭‭John‬ ‭17:11-12, 17, 21-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It was one of Jesus’ last prayers for us before he died. This prayer is still valid today. When I first came upon this scripture there was war in Northern Ireland; war between Protestants and Catholics.
I was distressed that this situation was definitely the opposite of what Jesus prayed. I determined to look for unity among Christians.

I sought out other Christians in my town. I went along to every Church to meet the people and see what their services were like. I found they had many things in common. The bible was read and explained. They prayed to the same Father in heaven, “Our Father who art in heaven.” They all said that Jesus forgives our sins. They all said there is a heaven and a hell and one can be sure of getting there to heaven if one has faith in Jesus. They all celebrated the breaking of bread to remember Jesus death. Many people turned to God during the troubles and found solace at Church. Congregations were growing. But still I wondered why are there so many churches. Why were there so many different meeting places? Why was there such hatred and bitterness among people outside causing bloodshed in my country?

Here is another verse that inspired me at the time.

““I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:19-22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I wanted God to change my life on the earth. Jesus said “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus promises us eternal life in heaven with him and the Father if we believe and trust him. Not only that but he wants us to experience his kingdom life here on earth. There is peace, joy, unity and love in heaven. Why not on earth as well? I wanted heaven to come on earth in my life, home and community.

I wanted to pray, even if it was only one other person, all those thirty eight years ago. I read a book in the library about people in America meeting together to pray for healing and people got healed! I found a group of ladies who prayed. One was a Presbyterian, another a Church of Ireland, a Methodist, a Baptist and myself a Catholic. We met together to pray each week. I felt at home and began to pray. One lady said later, “I was the best wee evangelical prayer she had ever heard.” Yes God was in our midst, as Jesus said “I am there with them.” There may have been war outside, but we had peace in our hearts and in our meetings. Prayers were answered, especially prayers for peace in our country. We would pray that bombs would not go off. Often bombs were found by the police before they did any damage. We prayed for our families. I found these ladies loving and encouraging. I looked forward each week to seeing them.

With any step forward in one’s walk with Jesus, one’s heart gets tested. Immediately after Jesus taught his disciples to agree in prayer, Peter asked “How often have we to forgive?” It is necessary that to be in unity one has to forgive. Each of us is a sinner. If I want my own way and don’t work with the other person then there is disagreement. Our prayer is not answered.

This can be particularly relevant when a husband and wife wish to pray together. You don’t have to leave home or go to Church to pray with someone else if you are married. Statistics show that not many couples pray together. It is easier to pray with a stranger who believes in God than one’s husband. It is God’s plan that a husband and wife are in unity. He wants us to be one! How can this be? Only by God’s power. No amount of reading “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” will bring about the unity. I know. I have been tried in the furnace of affliction in order for me to agree with my husband. Perhaps you ladies out there can identify with me.

““But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:6-9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This is the ideal but in the working out of this truth one has to give up one’s own agenda for the sake of the other. It means giving up one’s pride, ambition, and independence for the sake of the other. Am I willing to do this for the sake of the Kingdom of God and unity to come in my marriage, my family and community of believers.

Jesus knew how difficult we would find it to agree. It is difficult for two sinners to live together. Paul fell out with Barnabas, who had been a big encourager to him before. They went their separate ways. Jesus has made provision for us. He died and shed his blood for me for my forgiveness of sins. He wants me to forgive my brother or sister who has done me wrong. Through his blood we can be reconciled and be in unity again, so we can pray. Outside of ourselves we have the evil one, the devil, with whom to contend. He hates when people agree to pray and especially when a couple pray. Satan is defeated when we overcome our disagreements.

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to united again in your belief and practice. It is clear there are serious differences among you.”
God has taken me on a journey to seek an answer to Jesus’ prayer for unity. This has taken me back into my own home. I seek unity with my husband so we can pray and our prayers are not hindered. God has cleared away the serious differences between us. This means being humble, forgiving and not arguing.

Jesus told us to remember his death in Communion. Before we come to Communion in remembering Jesus death on the cross we are encouraged to go to our brother and and sort out any disagreement.
“Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am beginning to understand why there is bitterness and hatred among Christians. It is deeply rooted in their hearts. Injustices against one another in past generations had grown into devastation of lives and property in our towns. Great offences had festered for generations and grew into deep roots of malice and hatred. Can our land be healed? Can people be healed who have been deeply hurt? Is there any balm to heal the wounds of my people?

God was working. There was hope. Two “Cities of refuge”were opened. Cecil Kerr began a work of Reconciliation in Rostrever Renewal Centre. Protestants and Catholics could find a space to meet together and be accepted. Corrymeela, near Ballycastle, was opened by Ray Davey with a vision to give holidays to people who needed to get out of the war zones. Another city of refuge. Protestants and Catholics were starting on a journey of getting to know one another.

Peace talks were held with the help of other leaders from Britain, Tony Blair, and America, President Clinton. Channels of communication were opened. Political leaders from Northern Ireland, John Hume and David Trimble received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work for peace. Martin Maginess and Paisley who had been enemies, became the First Minister and Deputy Minister in Stormont. They worked together and became known as “The Chuckle Brothers.” The War ceased. The devastation stopped.

There is a Balm to heal the wounds of my people. I found him. He is Jesus. He forgives all sins of the people and their forefathers’ sins through the shedding of his blood. If we have faith that he forgives sins we can be set free. So the devastation, hurt, divorce, cancer and hatred need not continue. It starts with me forgiving another if he hurts me. If I feel wounded I ask Jesus to heal me and not let the wound fester until I want revenge. By his stripes I am healed.

When I was suffering from cancer, I had unforgiveness in my heart. I definitely wasn’t in agreement with my husband and other Christians. I had to ask Jesus to forgive me again and in return I chose to forgive others. My heart was cleansed and at the same moment my cancer disappeared. I sought reconciliation with my husband and others.

The war has ceased. But now so many of our churches, whether they are Catholic, Church of Ireland, Prespyterian, Methodist, Baptist, or new Church having falling numbers in their congregations? Why are so many people suffering from cancer. Has there been fall outs in marriages, divorces, family and church members?

I urge you as Paul says above, to make up the differences between you. Pray together again with one or two. This is how we solve our problems and our nation’s problems. When we are forgiven, healed and restored we are free to pray together and our prayers will be answered. Some people from Northern Ireland now are invited to other war torn nations to help broker peace. What God has done for us he can do for others.

There is restoration after devastation. We need not give up hope.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/devastation/

 

My blog published on www.birthdebate.com

I was invited to write about my experience giving birth to children for wwwbirthdebate.com.

B!RTH is an international theatre festival developed by the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and The Oglesby Charitable Trust to provoke debate on a global scale and question one of the key issues of our time, the vast inequality in healthcare across the world. The Royal Exchange Theatre has commissioned seven leading female playwrights from across the globe (Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Syria, UK and USA) to explore this issue through their country’s approach to childbirth.

Here is the article that has been published.

I have had 14 children
Where did you give birth or where was the birth you witnessed?
Northern Ireland

Can you describe where your/the birth was?

I have had 14 children, all of whom were born in maternity centres in Northern Ireland.

Who was present at your/the birth?
My husband and a midwife.

Can you describe the experience of giving birth or watching the birth?
I am a mother who has given birth to fourteen healthy children. I have the blessing of living in Northern Ireland, where family is valued and we have free health care. When I went into labour with all of my children I attended the local maternity unit. I was always so glad when my labour pains started. I trusted the experienced midwives to look after me. I had faith each time and knew it would not be long until I would nursed my new infant. I always enjoyed my stay in the maternity centre. I remember that the staff were kind and that I and my new baby were well cared for. It was like a holiday and rest for me every time! Oh, how I enjoyed the tea and toast the midwife rewarded me with after I gave birth. I then enjoyed a long sleep, relieved that all was well with me and baby. I stayed in hospital as long as I could.

I only asked for gas and air to help me with the labour pains near the delivery. Thankfully I did not need any epidural pain relief or need to delivery any of my babies by Caesarean Section. I did not have any stitches for thirteen of my fourteen children and my wonderful and supportive husband was at my side for every delivery. Each delivery of the new baby was a special time for us both.

My babies ranged in size from seven pounds to twelve pounds and there were no complications with any deliveries. I breast fed thirteen of my fourteen children, most for up to twelve months. I recovered well from each delivery without complications.

During my labours I did not have any monitors attached to me. The midwives just listened to the heart beat every other minute or so. I felt secure that my baby was going to be well. I believe my faith in God kept me safe in childbirth. However, I also appreciate and so thankful for the skilled doctors and midwives that took good care of me during my labours.

My daughter Mary, who is a doctor,  has published three blogs on the same website.  Also my daughter Hannah who is a midwife.