Memories of Blackberry Picking

It is the blackberry season.
My granddaughter Rebecca is nine today.
Her family came up at the weekend.
Rebecca noticed blackberries along the hedgerows as they drove along the Irish country road near our home.

She wanted to go blackberry picking.  image

Jacob my son is enjoying living in the country.
He offered to take Rebecca and her two sisters out to play while we talked with their mum and dad.
I remember when my sisters and I went blackberry picking.
The local store collected the fruit and we earned a certain amount for each pound.
We valued the extra money.  It was an incentive to go out along the hedgerows looking for the black berries.
We competed with each other to see who would have their jar filled first.
When we filled a small jar we would empty it into a bigger container.
Our fingers were covered in the black juice, as were our lips.
Last week we visited a friend who offered us fresh blackberry sauce and custard.  It was delicious.
So Rebecca’s mum will be making some blackberry conserve.
The family will remember their visit to grandma’s house.

What Happened When My Second Son Left Home to go to Canada

It is a month now since a second son left home to work in Canada.
Isaac, my twelfth child and seventh son, graduated from University of Ulster with a degree in Public Relations.  The twelfth child to get a university degree in our family.
He worked hard and was diligent in his studies.
His graduation ceremony was in the morning and he started his journey to Vancouver that night.
Isaac desired to go to Canada again but he was not sure when to leave.
He had secured the important two year visa.
He had been given a token for 500 dollars towards a flight to Canada after he helped an unruly passenger on his last trip.
He looked at flight prices at the end of June.
After the third of July the prices to Canada went up.
He was able to book a flight on the third of July, the day of his graduation, and the price was covered by the token.
We had a great day celebrating with family but all too soon he was away.
I returned home that evening with the celebration balloons, which are a bit deflated now.
A bit like the way my heart was feeling.
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Over the next few days I was very tearful when I remembered Isaac.
The car mats were all that was left of his car.
His football gear was left in his room.
Would he wear the Downpatrick shirt again?
The towels on the floor of the bathroom and the empty bottle of aftershave were other memories.
Isaac had lived at home for the past year and was a great support to my husband and I.
Isaac means laughter.  He brought joy and comfort to us.  He helped us both with IT skills.
He helped with the house move.  He got on well with other family members.
He helped keep the home fires burning over the winter.
He helped kept our home warm as well as our hearts.
After Isaac left we both were a bit down.
We both suffer silently our pain of two sons leaving home to work in Canada within a month of each other.

In Genesis 3 v 16

Because of disobedience, God said to Eve, “I will greatly increase thy labour pain and thy child bearing.  And in pain will you bring forth sons.”

I believe this scripture means one will have pain not only in having children but also in rearing children.  Hence the heartache of separation after rearing children.
My husband spent some time making a photo album of the graduation day.
We remembered Isaac as we looked at the photos.
God comforted our hearts and the pain has gone.
It is now their time to make their way in live.  Like the young birds they have to leave the nest.
It is the way of life.  We lay down our lives as parents to give life to our children.
I know God has good plans for Isaac.
I am proud of him.
He will prosper whatever he puts his hand to.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11-13‬ NLT)

From the Top of the Sand Dune I watch the Seals.

From the top of the hill near where I live I can see the sea at Rossglass.  There lives the biggest gathering of common seals in Northern Ireland.

image from Islay Natural Trust.

 

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My son and I were out for a cycle on Wednesday morning.
I live two miles from the local Rossglass beach.  It suits me fine to go for a cycle locally as the roads do not have steep inclines.  The journey takes in some fabulous scenery and coastline along the way.
As I cycle along the road there is a stillness in the air.  I can hear the bees buzzing in the honeysuckle that is bursting out of the hedgerows.
My son is keen to advise which gears to use to tackle the hill ahead.
But I am enjoying what my eyes and ears are sensing.  I am not in a hurry.  I don’t have an appointment to keep.  It is good to be outdoors on a warm summer’s morning in Ireland.
We have rich farmland here.
There are different crops are at different stages of growth.
Some farmers grow Maize for cattle fodder.
Potatoes are growing in one field with rows of purple flowers and lush green leaves.
Another field has rapeseed growing.  It is ripe for harvest.
Another field is sown with barley.  It will turn golden soon.
The fields are ripe for harvest.
All the farmer has to do is plant the seed and it multiplies in the ground producing a good income for the farmer.
He has faith.  He is not fretting every day looking to see how his crop is growing.  He trusts God who causes the seed to grow in the ground.
God has promised seed time and harvest.

 

As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” (‭Genesis‬ ‭8‬:‭22‬ NLT)

 

We can take courage from the farmer and sow good into people’s lives and it will produce a harvest in due course.
God is pleased when we bear fruit.

 

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (‭John‬ ‭15‬:‭5, 7-8‬ NLT)

 

We turn down a road that stretches along the Rossglass coast.
I suggested we stop for some refreshment. I had already prepared some coffee.
We parked our bicycles down a path to the beach and rested on top of the sand dune.
This particular coastline is an area where common seals congregate.  It has the largest colony in Northern Ireland.
“Perhaps we can catch a glimpse of some seals today” I said to my son.
This is a safe, quiet part of a large bay stretching from Ardglass to Newcastle.
The seals blend in with the colour of the stones and outcrops along the coast.
There must be plenty of fish in the bay.  Seals are not the friend of fishermen.  They eat too many fish.
The timing of our stopping off could not have been better.
The tide was coming in.  The seals lie on small islands offshore,  safe from anyone disturbing them.
As the tide rises the islands get covered with water.  The seals move to the next piece of dry ground.  There were about twenty heads popping in and out of the sea circling around after being dislodged from the rocks by the incoming tide.  Mother seals frollicked with their pups in the water.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
A mother seal and her pup climbed onto an outcrop of rock not far from us.  Their black glossy bodies rippled up onto the rock to enjoy the warmth of the sun and just laze.  Others mothers and pups soon joined them.
The biggest seal, a male, took the highest point of the rock outcrop.  From the top he could be on the look out for danger, protecting his herd.  I suspect he was the head of the group.  They were of various colours, white specked, grey and black.  They blended in with the colour of the rocks.  I counted thirty seals.
I had a never to be forgotten opportunity to see the seals close up.  Different factors contributed to this moment.  There was a high tide and warm sunshine just happening as we were out this morning.  I could not have planned it better.
I sat for half an hour savouring the experience of this intimate scene.  The seals were oblivious to their visitors.  We were well camouflaged on the bank nearby.  From the top we could observe the wildlife.  It was special moment.
I did not have my camera with me that morning.  I went back the next day trying to capture some seals on camera.
Conditions were different.  The tide and the seals were far away.  As if to say “You will not recapture the moment” a mist quickly rolled in from the sea.  I keep the sightings of the seals in my memory.
Sometimes God displays his Glory just for our eyes.

 

“He leads me beside still waters to restore my soul.”  Psalm 23

 

 

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I Found a Ladybird in My Garden

I found a ladybird in my garden.  I did not have any in my last garden.

Hoorah.  It has blessed my garden.

I hope it brings its friends to kill the greenfly that want to consume the tender unfurling shoots and flowers.

I was considering how necessary and useful this small beautiful creature is in our gardens.

I mentioned in another post about how greenfly hindered my success at growing one of my favourite flowers, the lupin.

The lupin plant’s leaves unfurl in Spring. In May the first flower heads appear.

The greenfly love the new growth of the flowers. They leave the tough leaves alone.

Only a few pale, spindley flowers survived.

The ladybirds eat greenfly.  Ladybirds in one’s garden mean healthy flowers.

I was reflecting on the use of the ladybird and thought about my work as a mother with my children.

My young children are like the unfurling, tender shoots of the lupin.

As they grow up in the world the influences thereof and the lies the enemy of their souls tell their young minds, can hinder their beauty, maturity and development in life.

The lies and the pride of life land on our children’s head are like the greenfly landing on the tender flower heads.

I want to be like the ladybird.

A mother and father need to instruct the child against the dangers of believing the lies of the devil and not to believe others who would lead them into temptation to drink, greed, immorality and go the way of the world.

The bible says train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22 v 6

We tried to rear our children with this in mind.  I hope we have stopped the “greenfly” damaging their thoughts to some extent by telling them the truth.

Like the humble ladybird that eats the greenfly we parents are to eat up the lies and influences of the world that affect our maturing children.

The lies will be bread for us.

“If The Lord delights in us he will give us the land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Don’t rebel against The Lord. Don’t fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us, their defence is gone and The Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”  Numbers 14 v 9

Photograph thanks to New Scientist

How Weeds, Slugs and Caterpillars disappear!

imageBrendan enjoys flowers. He worked with his pots,  filling with compost, planting, watering, feeding and refreshing.
When we lived in a town house our window boxes were overflowing with lobelia and petunia, thanks to my husband’s expertise.
People passing admired the display of dangling colours.
We collected various shapes and sizes of pots over the years.
Their numbers would be added to as presents on birthdays.
When we moved house the pots came with us.
Brendan’s garden of pots increased.  Daffodils and tulips and primroses sprouted each spring.
Window box displays continued each summer.
Roses did well without much attention.
There was always some flower growing as the seasons changed.
Even in winter there was colour from primula and pansies that danced in the breeze.
Over the last two years, as our children left home, Brendan and I came to realise our home and garden were too big for us.
The birds had flown the nest.
It took time for us to let go and move on.
We had many happy times and memories raising our children in our home in Downpatrick.
Brendan and I now have a new start, a new beginning.
We moved house this spring.
A house that is easy to maintain, no more ashes, just the flick of a switch for heat.
Out plants are having a new beginning as well.
We brought our plants in pots with us.  The yard out back looked like a garden centre.
Over the last few weeks Brendan and I have been sorting them out.
It is sunny where we now live and if my pot plants do not get watered often they will quickly deteriorate.
I was sorting out pots that did not seem to have any life in them and I was pleasantly surprised to find a harvest of bulbs.
I won’t know what they are until next spring.  I suspect most of them are daffodils.  Anyway our pots needed fresh soil so contents of all pots had to be inspected and sorted.  We found little tree shoots growing in some.  Seeds from trees in our last garden took root.  I have ash, sycamore and lime saplings potted out separately. Dead roots and weeds were disguarded to the dump.  The other contents of the pots were choking out the flowers intended to be growing taking away the nutrients and water.

A new beginning for bulbs next year.

I do not need to use slug pellets or roundup.  Other pests of our pot plants at our last house was snails.  They loved the trees, walls and hid under the rim of the pots.  They came out at night to eat.   Caterpillars just loved nastursums.  They munched at the tasty leaves.  The butterflies have not arrived yet so I don’t know if I will have caterpillars.

One way of getting rid of weeds, caterpillars and slugs is to turn up the heat.
The heat and the sunshine just causes them to wither up.
So our pot plants have a new start with weeds and slugs gone.
All is needed is watering regularly with the odd boost of Miracle Gro.
Flowers are blooming and a little pruning here or there is keeping things going well.
I am getting plenty of exercise, fresh air and sunshine as I water my plants.
Perhaps my new situation is telling me God is just dealing with my enemies in the spirit.
Like the slugs and weeds they cannot live in the new conditions.
The heat was turned up in our situation with having cancer and children leaving home.

Job in the bible went through suffering and did not know why.

But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer.
For he gets their attention through adversity.
“God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress. He is setting your table with the best food. (Job 36:15, 16 NLT)

God has brought us to a broad place, free from distress.
I can testify that God is good and faithful to keep his promise.  Believe and hope in God.
Brendan and I can flourish and grow without hindrance in our new territory.
God is faithful.  He said in His Word he will deliver us from our enemies.

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.  (Psalms 107:1, 2 KJV)

How I am adjusting to The New Technology

 

I do like using my i Pad.  What a great invention!  Initially I didn’t think I needed one, and said so when Brendan wanted to buy one for my birthday.  Many years ago when my children got their first mobile phones, they enjoyed texting their friends.  I thought I will never be using one of those.  I had to eat my words when I got my first mobile phone.  I find texting invaluable to be in touch with family and friends.

My children are now up graded to i Phones .  They are texting, taking photos, listening to music, playing games, talking and recording all on this little machine in their hands.

Again I thought to myself I do not need one of them.  Then came the day I could not get hold of a plain mobile that texts for free and phone calls are cheap. I had to give in and go for an upgrade. I can even take photos.  Now I have to pay a monthly bill and I don’t know what for?

I took some interesting photos of scenery recently.  I asked a friend to help me transfer them to my I pad.  It was not quite as simple as I thought.  They told me I needed a Dropbox.  What on earth is a Dropbox.   Maybe it is not on this earth.  It is probably up in the sky somewhere!

Another friend had some beautiful photographs of my garden.  I asked if he would send them to my e mail, so I could store them.   I have advanced to use the e mail and store photos.  He told  me to install What’s App on my phone.  I was only asking for a simple doable request.  I am not a whizz kid on information management.  I just wanted some one to help me.

I must admit I am guilty of avoiding explaining something to a child.  I was just too tired to answer and told him to “Google it”.

Why does the mobile phone sales assistant want to get extra commission by selling a pensioner a phone that runs up a big bill?  Why are the younger generation impatient to help someone who is older?  Were they not helped by us when they were young to learn their A B Cs and cross their Ts and dot their Is.

One cannot survive on one’s own.  Let’s not be independant.  Let’s share skills and help one another with doable requests.

Much knowledge separates the generations and the genders.  The more we are independant, we do not need others and do not receive help from others.  I am willing to see the situation from another’s perspective.  Maybe the person I asked to help me was under pressure to get to work or had other pressing things on his mind.   Maybe he will change his mind.

I think many of us get illnesses because we internalise our frustrations.  Perhaps we think others are too busy to listen or they may not understand one any way, so why bother.  People go to the doctor looking for help.  Very often they are offered a prescription of pills to numb the pain.   A wise doctor may be able to look beyond and offer a comforting word of encouragement.

A wise person said “A good night’s  sleep solves many problems.”  It is like balm to one’s soul.

Let us communicate, stop, listen and help one another.  That develops love and understanding.  We will be all the more healthy.  Then we will be obeying one of the commands Jesus gave us “Love one another.”

 

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We are Moving House. Do it Again, Lord.

 

 

“Be very careful never to forget what you have seen The Lord do for you.  Do not let these things escape from your mind as long as you live!  And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.”  Deuteronomy 25 v 9

After rearing our children in the big house God provided for us, Brendan and I realised over the past few years that it is taking a lot of our energy to maintain it.  Lighting the fires in the morning to keep warm, cleaning and doing household chores made me weary.

Our children advised us to downsize to a more modern house that would be easy to keep warm.  It is not easy to be released from the home we reared our children for the last fifteen years.  Our children have memories of  growing up here.  There is space for us to have family get togethers, and the grandchildren come to visit.  There is room for them to stay over.

It is not easy to start looking again.  Back in September I read from God’s Word I will provide a home for the poor.  Brendan and I were going to trust God, as before, to provide a home for us.  “Lord you did it before, do it again,” I prayed.  “You will not forsake me now when I have gray hair,” according to Psalm 71.

Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. (Psalms 71:18 NLT)

I did not want to move away from the area where we now live.  I would be happy to move to the country nearby.  We began to look at possibilities.  I did not have the energy to look at potential houses and then be disappointed if we were rejected.  We did try once, found a lovely house to rent, but the owner was not willing to rent to us.  I didn’t try any more.

Brendan and I visited Jerusalem earlier in the year.  I believe God’s Word that says he will bless us in Jerusalem.
Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek The Lord of Heaven’s Armies and to ask for his blessing. (Zechariah 8:22 NLT)
I went to the ancient site of the Wailing Wall and prayed there about many things.

When we arrived back home I got a call from my hairdresser.  She said I had a dream about you last night and I need to tell you about it.  The dream indicated we would be leaving this house.  She did not know our situation about wanting to move from here. This dream helped Brendan and I decide to move from here.  We were in agreement.  Before I was undecided.

We looked at Property Pal, an Internet site for house rentals.  I searched for houses in our local area.  There were a few houses to let in the country nearby.  I called the agent of one I liked.  He arranged a viewing that evening.

It turned out to be a house next door to our friend who had the dream.  Her brother owned the house.  It proved ideal for our needs and applied to rent it.  The owner agreed and we move there next week.

The house is called “Bright House.”  In case we had any doubts about our move God has showed us signs three times.   I was reading in the scriptures,

“It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. (Colossians 1:9-12 MSG)”

Tea bags and cologne.

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A song on the radio called “Bright Eyes”.

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We are in the middle of our house move.  Energy is low but morale high because of the Bright future God has promised for us.

God speaks today.  Listen for His still small voice if you are needing to make a Big move.