The Importance of The Scriptures

I’m sitting in a splendid home overlooking the newly built houses, apartment blocks, towers and roads that wind their way through the valley below and over the hills in Jerusalem. The roofs of the many cars glisten in the sun making them look like water drops. Sunday is a working day in Israel. Yesterday all activity ceased. The roads were quiet. Here the commandment given to Moses by God so long ago is being honoured. No work is done on the Shabbat.

Orthodox Jews are a religious group of Jews that give their time to studying the Torah, the first five books in the Scriptures. They teach the Torah at their religious services on Shabbat. Teachers in church, schools or universities are very important people in our lives to pass on truth they know to others.

I remember growing up in the country in Ireland attending Church on Sunday. Chapters from the Old Testament, the Psalms and the New Testament were read. I believe these were were seeds that went into my heart. Later in my life I was given a bible. When I read it I came across passages that I remember hearing all those years ago. They came to my mind again. All scripture is important whether we hear it in song or at Sunday School or in the Torah or in Church or from a mother’s lips as she cradles her young child to sleep with a hymn. God’s word promises that it will not return to him void.

““As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:9-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So all those years ago the word of God going into me has borne fruit much later in my life. So it is with many people. I was listening to a young man’s testimony. After many years living a decadent lifestyle he remembers what his granny said to him. “If you call out to God he will answer your cry. ” in his time of need he did call. God answered and led him into new pathways.

I turned to God when I was in need too. He led me to meet other people who knew about God and read the bible. I began to read it for myself and have done so down through the years. I use the Daily Bible everyday. That helps me cover the scriptures in one year.

It has proved to be a great support in time of trouble or suffering. God brings to mind something I have read which will be just what will encourage me. As I travel and meet people high and low, I find they do not have a knowledge of the Word of God. They may have great qualifications but do not know the Scriptures.

The Word of God is truth. Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life. He was the Word of God become flesh. The scriptures are like bread. When one reads the words it is bread from God to strengthen one. The words bring healing to one’s body and soul. No other book claims to bring healing.

I was reading about Joni Ereakson. She is a lady who has coped with being a Paraplegic
for fifty two years. She awakes every morning and says, “Lord I’m in pain. I can’t do this any longer. I don’t want to go through the regime of needing someone else to lift me out of bed, bathe me and brush her hair. You need to help me Lord. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So starts her day. She has done this for fifty two years. She says her pain, despair and depression drives her to Jesus. She remembers words of scripture that will help her each day.

I would not have got through rearing fourteen children and recovering from cancer without the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. I encourage you today to read the Word of God. Your life will never be the same. If you are suffering read the Word and you will get relief.

Just say something like this. ” God if you are there please help me. Speak to me. Lead me in the right way for my life. Amen”. He will answer.

Family Friday. We Move to A New Town


Brendan and I moved back to Ballynahinch, Co Down where I was born.  Nine children moved with us.  Four other children were at university.  One was married.  Friends were perplexed at us moving away from Coleraine with your big family.  “How were we going to manage?” they asked.  “You will never get good schools like here.  Where will you live? Your children will miss their friends.”

I had been praying for five years that God would provide a bigger home for us.  I knew these young children would turn into teenagers and would need more space.  I believed that God would provide for me.  He gave me my children, and I believed he would help me.  When the children of Israel went into the promised land they were given land according to the size of their tribe.  I had a big family and I hoped that God who helped the children of Israel would do the same for me.

You must distribute the land among the clans by sacred lot and in proportion to their size. A larger portion of land will be allotted to each of the larger clans, and a smaller portion will be allotted to each of the smaller clans. The decision of the sacred lot is final.  (‭Numbers‬ ‭33‬:‭54‬ NLT)

We moved to a modern, warm bungalow.  There was plenty of room for us all.  My son John loved his new home and town.  He made friends easily at his new school.  He loved getting outdoors.  He would spend a Saturday with his new friends walking along the river behind our house or wandering over fields and forests beyond.  There was a corn mill nearby that was still working.  The boys went down there and looked at the large wheel turning with the water flowing over it.  I remember going there when I was a child with my father.  He was getting bags of corn bruised into oats.  The river behind our house fed the wheel that turned the grinding stone in the mill.

John’s adventures reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson’ poem,

Keepsake Mill.

Over the borders, a sin without pardon,
Breaking the branches and crawling below,
Out through the breach in the wall of the garden,
Down by the banks of the river, we go.

Here is the mill with the humming of thunder,
Here is the weir with the wonder of foam,
Here is the sluice with the race running under
Marvellous places, though handy to home!

He would head off down the back of our garden, through a hole in the hedge to meet his friends.  They went fishing and swimming in the river behind the garden.  He would not return till late.

John started a new school, and travelled nine miles by bus to it.  His older sister went to the same school.  Settling into a new area and a new school can be daunting for any child.  John looked on his experience as an adventure and was enjoying a whole new world, new countryside, meeting my extended family, and making new friends.  He never looked back.

I later found out that our new neighbours’ son was bullied on the bus and at the school John went to.  He left and went to another school.  My daughter and son did not face any trouble on the bus or at school.  Because they had each other, no one dared pick on John because his big sister would soon respond and not take any hastle.  She was used to dealing with her siblings.  On any bus full of teenagers there will always be banter.  John and his sister took it all in their stride and didn’t make any enemies.

We all had a family holiday to Spain in the year 2000.  On the flight over to Spain John met a girl who went to his old school.  She was telling him that many of the children in his old class were using drugs.  I was so glad we moved when we did.  It was good for my daughter as well.  She was getting to the age where she was being influenced by friends to rebel.  She was made head girl in her new school.  Both my children found favour when they moved to a new town and new school.  I knew God was with us and he would look after us just as this scripture says.

And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child.  Now he has brought you to this place.’ (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭1‬:‭31‬ NLT)

How I Learned to Use a Computer

While at school I was good at English Language but not so hot with English Literature.  My reading was limited to true life stories.  I did not like writing letters unless I had something good to write.  My husband would sit at night and tell my children stories about his childhood.  I never shared any stories from my past.

In 2004 when my fourteenth child went to primary school, I decided I would freshen up my typing skills and learn to use a computer.  I had an idea that some day I would write about my family.  My children in the primary school were being taught computer skills.  I wanted to get up to date.

I went to a typing class back in 1976 at the technical college in Coleraine.  My second child went to play group while I attended the class.  I had just moved to that town.  I got to meet new people.  I enjoyed the coffee break more than the actual class.  I was learning to type on the old typewriters.  I learned basic skills, asdf with my left hand and lkjh with my right hand, but made friendships there that have lasted till today.  I met an Indian lady, Shanti, who taught me how to make curries.  Pauline became my friend.  She had two children the same age as my own.  Everyone from that class went on to full time employment.  Motherhood became my full time employment.

Habits never change.  At my new computer class I enjoyed the coffee break best.  I got to chat to some of the other ladies.  One said to me, “You could get a job in Management with your skills after having fourteen children.”  She only encouraged my pride.  I thought to myself, “Yes that is true.  I must apply for a job.  I could supplement our income.  My talents could shine for all to see.  At last I could be free from the kitchen sink.”

When I returned home I threw the car keys on the table and announced to my husband  “I am going to apply for a job.  A lady told me today I could easily get a job in Management.”  He looked at me perplexed.  He was used to my strong will.  He did not say anything.  I didn’t ask his advice.
I went upstairs to my room and thought “Perhaps I should ask God?  Is it his will I go out to work?  It seemed a good idea to me, I could earn some money.”

God spoke to me through the scriptures, in other words “Do you want to work for me.”  I believe looking after my husband and children was the work God had called me to do.  I gave up the idea of going outside the home to work.  I had a full time job at home.  I gave up the struggle.  Going out to work was not mentioned again.

I finished the computer course.  Brendan let me use his computer to practice my skills.  There was an exam at the end of the ten weeks.  I had to complete a basic skill, such as writing a letter, save it and print it out.  I pressed the wrong button and my work disappeared.  My fears came rushing back to me of being in an exam and not knowing what to do, and failing.  Panic set in.  I felt like I was in the board room with Lord Sugar.

I steadied myself and thought “What am I doing getting annoyed over this exam.  I have a life experience of rearing my family, which is more important than a disappearing document on a computer.  It is not the end of the world.”  There is nothing wrong with failure.  I learnt from my mistakes.  I am careful to save all work I write on the computer now.

Over the years when I read from the bible some words would speak to me.  I would write them down with the reference.  If I needed to remind myself I could refer back to my notes.  Brendan called them my “Rewrites”.  He thought I was re writing the bible.  But he always bought me a new diary every year to keep my notes in.  I have a shelf full of these books.

I thought I would  like to progress to getting a computer to keep my notes.  But a computer is a bit more expensive than a notebook.  I was given some money so I said to Brendan “I wanted to buy a computer.”   Laptops were becoming popular.  Sometimes the children wanted to use Brendan’s computer to do their homework.  I reassured him that if I got one the children could use it.  He agreed and I bought a basic Dell Laptop.

E mail was becoming popular.  I used the laptop to send e mails to my children or friends.  Once in a while I would send an email about all the news in my family to each of my children who had left home.  I got great feed back from them.  They enjoyed my writing and wanted me to keep in touch.  This was the beginning of my writing.  I was encouraged by my children’s response.

My children taught me how to use the new laptop.  I did save some notes on it.  My children got the most benefit from it, doing their homework.

In April 2010 I was diagnosed with cancer.   It was my birthday at the end of May.  I was returning from one of my hospital visits when Brendan brought me to PC World.  He wanted to buy me a new Laptop. He said, “This is for you.  Don’t let the children use it.”  It had a gleaming, shiny red top.  I said “I want to write a book about my children.”  I have many life experiences I wanted to write about.

One of my daughters told me recently she thought I was crazy.  In one of her weak moments she didn’t think I would use it .  I had cancer after all.  My husband believed differently.

After I knew I was healed I began to use my laptop with great enthusiasm.  I wouldn’t let the children use it.  I wrote down about my recent experiences going through cancer.  I even watched Alan Sugar’s “The Apprentice” on I Player.  My son suggested I start a blog.  He set it up for me on WordPress and I stumbled into the cyber space.  Alleluia.  The whole world has opened up for me.

In 2012 we were visiting our daughter.  She had just bought a new I Pad.  She accessed much information through touching the screen.  She could type up an e mail swiftly on the touch typing screen.  Brendan was watching.  In May of that year he bought me a new I Pad.  It has been such a blessing to me.  My blogging has increased.  I can be in touch by e mail.  I can take photos easily and transport them to emails or WordPress.  I can take it on a flight with me.  I can take photos from the aeroplane portal.  I take photos on the beach.

My shiny computer sits on a shelf near me.  It was used by my children since 2012 for home works, applications for jobs, writing up CVs, e mails and watching movies late at night.  All their information has been deleted from it.  I will use it again.  I will collate all my re writes and use them.

My husband is a skilled writer.  I have learnt much from him.  He has written four books.  Thousands of copies have been distributed here and abroad.  Staying Alive has been translated into Slovakian, Italian and will be translated soon into Russian.

There is a time for everything under heaven.   God has guided me along the path of life and saved me from many snares.  It is now time for me to write and tell stories of good news.

Thank God for the development in Media Technology.  We are living in the days Daniel spoke of when knowledge and travel will increase.  Daniel 12 v 4

August Blues. I Have Joy Now Instead Of Blues

September’s weather has come in August here in Northern Ireland.
It is cooler and wetter.  The summer is cut short. 
The last bank holiday was a wash out.
In previous years August had been a busy month for me.
I had to get my children ready for the return to school.
I would check on last years’ school trousers, jumpers,  blazers or skirts to see if I could squeeze another year out of them.
If not I paid a visit to the local drapery store to get the necessary outfits.
That would have been my biggest bill of the year.
One year I had eight children at school.
The Lord promises my children will not go begging in the street.

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (‭Psalm‬ ‭37‬:‭25‬ NIV)

I wanted my children to feel fresh and smartly turned out as the new school term started.
My last child left second level education last year.
All the uniforms are forgotten and schools ties’ and blazersimage are hanging at the back of the cupboard, only to be retrieved for a fancy dress party perhaps.
I don’t know if I have more money in the bank this year in August, but I am glad I do not have the stress of shopping for back-to-school items.
August is a time of harvest.  Fruit is ripe, wheat, oats, barley, hay and maize are ripe.
Fruit, plums blackberries and apples are picked.
In the past August has been a month of testing for me.
It steers the course for the coming year.
I had three children in August.  
I was in hospital in hospital twice in August.
But this year I am expecting fruit from all I have invested into others.
The farmer sows seeds in the spring.
In autumn he expects a harvest.
It grows of itself.
Our creator causes the growth.
So it is I expect my God to cause the growth in seeds I have sown into people’s lives to produce a harvest.
And I expect to eat of it.
Two people I prayed for in the past have had life changing experiences this August.
I have joy when I hear of answered prayers and when God uses me.
I am not expecting a baby this year but I am expectant for God’s promises to be fulfilled in my life this August.
Are you expectant?

My Boys did not go to Eton College!


Scripture tells me “They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.”(Isaiah 65:23 NIV)

I watched a programme recently about three boys from a state school who got scholarships to Eton.  It is a prestigious British boarding school for boys from eleven to eighteen years old.  The fees are 33,000 pounds per year.  Music tuition is an added  cost.  Princes and Prime ministers are educated there.

Each child is allocated a room with a bed, desk, chair and wardrobe.  A matron does their laundry and carefully returns it folded and pressed.  I wonder does she have any trouble loosing socks in the wash?  A cleaner refreshes their rooms each day.  Food is provided in the refractory.  

The boys are free to concentrate on their studies, homework and other school activities. If they are homesick they are able to be in touch with parents by Skype. The boys settled into their new school and did well in their exams.  After a hectic term the boys go home to rest and catch up with their families.  

I was thinking it must be difficult for them, leaving family and friends at such a young age.  No home comforts or times to relax with family at the end of the day.  No outings to the beach or movies!  No coffee times with mum or football matches with mum and dad cheering on the sidelines.  No drives to school if one missed the bus.  No fights with their sisters or brothers.  All the normal things that in the tumble of family life causes one’s character to develop.

My last nine children lived in their new home with plenty of space.  Some of them had a room on their own, with a desk to study at, thanks to their dad.  We made sure they kept up with their school work but I seldom had to help them with it.  They were successful in exams, music and sports.

I did the washing, cooking, and cleaning when they were younger.  Mum was laundress, caterer, nurse, cleaner, advisor, protector, trainer, comforter, intercessor, taxi driver and cheer leader.   If there was any trouble at school the teachers knew we were nearby, and things got sorted.  If a child got mistreated we always defended him.  Above all I prayed for each one.  We would pray together each evening as a family.

My husband was their mentor, helping them fill in forms to apply to university and advise them about life choices.  He was there model too.  He has travelled to the nations and our children are extending their wings as well.

As they grew older chores were allocated to each child.  The oldest at home would cook the evening meal.  Someone else was in charge of washing.  Another, hoovering.  Each one tidied his room.  

Eight of the children were able to walk to the grammar school ten minutes from home.  
They came home for lunch.  I had a warm meal ready for them.  No lining up in the school canteen for them.  One of my sons could see the smoke rising from the chimney of our home and he said he looked forward to seeing me at dinner time.

The teachers were great and encouraged my children in their particular talents.  My youngest daughter played the double bass at school.  She took part in the yearly school orchestra performance in Belfast.  There was room to practice her double bass at home.
Another son played the Tuba.  He took part in school orchestra events.  All this experience for free!

We are priveledged to have free education to second level in Northern Ireland.  We have great schools.

My children had many of the benefits of Eton College but were able to live at home and it did not cost us a fortune.  Think of the thousands of pounds we did not have to pay.  If all nine of my children went to Eton We would have had to pay 2,000,000 pounds in total.  

My husband says I have saved him millions of pounds.  It is true!

All fourteen of my children have gone to third level education.  Some of them have been rubbing shoulders with students from Eton! 

I can truly say God has blessed our children as I mentioned at the beginning.  It is not in my own strength I was able to be a multi task mum.  God gave me the strength and he still does.  My children have done well because God promises to bless our children if we obey his voice.  



At seven in the morning it is dark here in my home town of Downpatrick, Co Down, Ireland.   As I look out my window I see the main road wind its way out into the distance.  During the week day mornings there is a constant flow of pairs of red lights, cars with people on their way to work in Belfast.  Later there is a flow  of buses and cars into town with school children.  Downpatrick is a hub for education.  We have great primary and grammar schools here, a good place to rear children.

The road is quiet this morning.  I hear the church bells ringing.  A call to prayer.  What a wonderful Christian  heritage we have here in Ireland.  Despite the war,  people still pray.  The bells were silent for a time recently.  I missed them.  I enquired and was reassured the bells would be ringing again.  The  bells ring down through the centuries.   Everyone hears the bells, whether one is Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslem, Chinese, male, female, child or pensioner.  It  is a beautiful sound, memories of home,  neighbours and security.

All is at rest in this small town today.

Panic Attack

Panic attack

I have fourteen children and the last seven include six boys in a row, with my daughter Angela at the end.  Before these boys were born God spoke to me from the scripture in Psalm 147 v 13 LB  “Blessed are the sons within you”.

At one stage five of these boys were at primary school, where children attend from the age of five to eleven.  They were getting along fine.  We lived within walking distance of the school, so each day they were able to come home for lunch. They were keen to get back to school, so they could have some play time with others in the playground.  All was well.

When I look back it was great when the children were young.  We had a routine which no one rebelled against.  Bedtime was at seven for the younger ones. The others did their homework and went to bed a little later.  Brendan and I were sure of some time for ourselves then.  I did not have the time to go over homework with each one.  I may have signed a homework book to make sure the work was done the odd time.  It is great that some mums home school but that was not for me.

When I had four children I remember reading a scripture that really stayed with me. 

It is Isaiah 54 v 13 RSV  “All your sons will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children’s peace”.  

 I am so thankful to all the teachers that have been involved in my children’s education. They were being used by God!  A big thank you to you all.

Once a year the school arranged an evening when the parents were invited to attend to meet the children’s teachers and to hear how our little loved ones were getting along.  I had always looked forward to having a chat with the teachers because they were helping me.  Thank God for school.

I got glowing reports from Isaac’s, Jacob’s, David’s and Patrick’s teachers.  They were well behaved and doing well with their three Rs.  I was smiling, joyful that my young boys were doing me proud, like little saints.  I thought only John’s teacher to see now.  He was the oldest of the boys at the school and was very responsible in helping with his brothers.  As it turned out he was too responsible in defending his brothers when they were called names or wrongly treated.

I sat down with his teacher expecting another good report.  She drew her chair close to me and said, “John is doing very well in his work but he is a terror in the playground!  The principal doesn’t know what to do with him.  He is always fighting”.  This was a big shock; surely not my son John.  He was a very lively, happy boy.  If this is how John is doing what is it going to be like when these other boys get older.  I panicked.

My panic attack lasted all weekend.  I thought, “How am I going to rear these boys”? What will happen if they start fighting with each other at home as well.  The future looked bleak.  The head teacher did not know what to do with my eleven year old boy, whom to me was pleasant and well behaved.  How was I going to rear these six boys!

On the Sunday night I had a dream.  I do not remember the details but in the dream God reassured me of his love.  Scripture says in 1 John 4 v 18, “Perfect love casts out fear”.  My panic attack was over.  God would help me rear my boys.  He promises me in Psalm 91, “He will be with me in trouble”.

My husband and I were on holiday in Israel.  My husband was telling the Muslim taxi driver he had fourteen children, because Brendan heard Muslims have big families.  The man responded, “How many sons do you have?” Brendan replied “I have eight sons”.  “You will go straight to heaven because it must be hell on earth”, the man replied.

God is faithful.  It never turned out to be hell on earth. Indeed my sons are blessed.