Don’t Be Despondent

Strangford Lough waters were like a mirror early today.  The boats, newly parked in the bay below, are still. This morning I read these words from the Bible.
Proverbs 15 v 15
For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.

These words shook me out of feeling heavy laden and down. I looked up the meaning of despondent in the dictionary.  Dejected, sad, depressed, disheartened, lacking hope or courage.
One can be despondent because of unhappiness due to difficulties that you think will not be able to overcome.
I was prone to despondency and despair before I had cancer. I definitely got depressed and it deepened. Situations in my life seemed insurmountable. But God saw me and had mercy on me. He healed me from cancer.
I can’t afford to let myself get down or despondent. This word this morning shook me. I want to have a merry heart and a feast instead. I have so much to be thankful for.
Another scripture says ,
“Do not be downcast. Hope in God for I will yet praise him.”  I began to thank God for all his blessings.  I got washed and dressed. I decided to go out in the beautiful morning and let the cobwebs blow away. The warmth of spring is here. I praise God for life.

The Sandwich Tern Arrive.

I was excited to see Sandwich terns today on Swan Island. It is rock outcrop a few yards from Strangford harbour. They are on time! Cold winds are easing and the days are warmer and have longer hours of daylight. Isn’t it wonderful that these birds fly thousands of miles from southern parts of Europe and America to rear their young. We are privileged to have them visit. Thousands of travelers on the Strangford ferry will get to see these terns up close. The birds are safe on the island out of reach from any enemies, but near enough for us to enjoy them.

There are many pairs in the colony that will nest and rear their young on the small island. They are very noisy. They rise up into the air together, screech and fly off to feed. They catch small fish on the surface of the water. Perhaps the same flock of terns return year after year.

The Strangford ferry is a vantage point to see the terns. Some of the birds stand on the end of the gangway on the ferry as it crosses the Lough. They aren’t shy of humans.

When I arrived home I heard Bird Song as the evening sun was setting. I recognized the blackbird’s, robin’s and starling’s call in the chorus. Only a few come to the bird table in the morning. They must be off looking for mates and making their nests in preparation to rear their young. It is safe now to start building. A week ago there was snow on the ground and many birds were feeding at the bird table.

The daffodils are sprouting yellow trumpets at last. They were held back by cold temperatures. What a welcome sight of new green shoots and yellow flowers swaying in the breeze, another sign that spring has sprung.

God’s glory is seen in his creation. Who tells the tern to leave the warm climes to come north to the best conditions to rear their young? Who causes the grass, flowers and trees to bud and blossom? Who causes the lambs to be born just when it is warm enough for them to survive.

“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:11‬. NIV

A Thin Place in Ireland

Beni Johnson wife of Bill Johnson, head pastor of Bethel in Redding in the USA, has written a book on intercession. It is her story of how God led her to be an intercessor. She has taken many groups all over the USA and the world to pray.

I am very excited after reading this paragraph in her book.

“A thin place is where heaven and earth are close. It is easier to experience the spiritual realm in these places. A lot of times you can tell if you are in a thin place, because there are a lot of spiritual and creative people who are gathered there. Examples of this include many parts of Ireland, which is known for its thin places.”

An example of a thin place is at Bethel in Israel where Jacob had a dream and he saw angels ascending and descending to heaven. Here is the reference from Genesis.

“He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.
and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house.
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭28:12-13, 16-19, 22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In 2015 Brendan and I visited Israel. I had a desire to visit Bethel, the place where Jacob had a dream. It was not on the usual visitor’s sites in Israel. We had to get a local taxi driver to take us there. He brought us to a viewing point at Bethel where Abraham once stood and God showed him all the land before him and promised to give it to him.
Genesis 12 v 7.
7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

It was a privilege to stand on that viewing point, where Abraham once stood, and look out to the north, the south, the east and the west and see the land of Israel stretching before me. God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled today as God is bringing the people of Israel back to their homeland.

Quite near by was a small building. “There is where It is traditionally thought that Jacob had his dream,” the taxi man advised us. When we went over to the building we entered into a small room.  The picture included in this blog shows a view to the east from the landmark.  In the middle distance is the house where Jacob is said to have had a dream.   We prayed and remembered Jacob’s dream. Again I felt blessed to be where Jacob of old rested. We took some photographs. A picture of my husband revealed just his turso. His legs and arms did not show up in the picture. Something supernatural happened in that place. It is still a place where the Angels ascend and descend, I believe, a thin place.

I’m privileged to live on the Ards Peninsula in Ireland. The local council haves named it the Ceeative Peninsula.  All along the shores of Strangford Lough are the ruins of Christian settlements. Many people lived in the thriving communities living off the produce of the land and sea. Prayers and praise to God would have been offered in these places. They are Thin Places, I believe. Ireland is known as the Land of saints and scholars. Many missionaries have gone out from Ireland to other nations, and still do today. There is a book written telling How the Irish Saved Civilization, By Thomas Cahill.  We have a wonderful inheritance in Ireland, yet to be mined.

I am Celebrating Easter

I was looking back at photographs on my iPhone taken in the last six months.  Some photos capture the beauty and colors of the sky and sea from where I live on Strangford Lough in Ireland.  The beauty all around me revives my body and soul.  I am being restored.

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The heavens declare the Glory of God.
The skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech,
Night after night they reveal knowledge.  Psalm 19 v 1

I am happy to enjoy the changes in the heavens all around, knowing the Creator holds me in his arms.

Tonight the time changes in Ireland.  The clocks move forward one hour.  It is Eastertime 2016.  I am thankful to God to be alive, six years on from being diagnosed with fourth stage colon cancer.

This Easter weekend we celebrate a world changing event that happened about 2000 years ago.  Jesus died a cruel death and was buried in the grave.  But he didn’t stay there.  He arose from the grave.  He now lives at the Father’s right hand interceding for us.

By his death he conquered the power of sin and death, and power of the devil over mankind and made a way for us to go to heaven.  He is the way, the truth and the life.

I know the power of his death on the cross.  Isaiah 53 says “By his stripes we are healed.”  I received my healing six years ago.

Are you weighed down by misfortune, misery and ill health? Look up. Ask the Creator of the universe for help. His son Jesus paid for your freedom from oppression and sickness by the shedding of his Blood. Have faith in God.

A Cruise Ship is Anchored Offshore

Portaferry was a busy port many years ago when fuel and goods were transported by ships.  It has a natural, sheltered harbour and had easy access to England across the Irish Sea. There were not the road networks we enjoy today, when many goods  are transported in lorries.  Many ships would have been docked at the port waiting to unload and then restock with local wheat or potatoes.

But the big ships do not visit any more.  There are some yachts parked in the Marina. The Portaferry Strangford ferry is the biggest vehicle in these parts.

I was pleasantly surprised one evening back in July.  Brendan and I had just returned from visiting our daughter and her husband in Scotland.  I had the pleasure of seeing a luxury liner enter the waters of Strangford Lough and put down anchor in the bay in front of our home.  No it was not the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth.  It was the Hebridean Princess, a small ship but never the less a luxury one.   It caters for fifty people in sheer luxury, according to its website.  Out there on the lough the customers will be settling down to fine dining.  The ship was visiting Irish waters to let their customers see our green land.

It was Gala Week on the lough.  Many yachts with their colourful sails were messing about on the water.  I looked out and saw many yachts with their sails catching the evening wind.  Red, blue, white, small and tall sails.  In the middle of the flotilla the Hebridean Princess appears.

IMG_2726

I wanted to find some information about this ship.  Where did it come from? Was it from Scotland, maybe the Hebrides off Scotland. To my delight I discovered the vessel was originally a ferry that traveled between the Scotland mainland and a Scottish Island.  It had been bought in 1989 and was restructured to become a cruise ship.

MV Hebridean Princess is a cruise ship operated by Hebridean Island Cruises. She started life as the MacBrayne car ferry and Royal Mail Ship, initially RMS then MV Columba, based in Oban for the first 25 years of her life, carrying up to 600 passengers, and 50 cars, between the Scottish islands.

My son in law’s father was the manager of the Caledonian Mac Brayne fleet.  He was instrumental in putting into service ferries that would connect the Scottish Islands to the mainland.  He did a great job. I appreciate the service our local ferry provides, connecting Portaferry to Strangford.

The Caledonian MacBrayne fleet is the largest fleet of car and passenger ferries in the United Kingdom. With 30 units in operation, the company provides lifeline services to 22 islands off the west coast of Scotland, as well as operating routes across the River Clyde.

I was touched that I am connected to the history of the cruise ship that came to visit Strangford Lough that day.

This post is dedicated to Stuart.  Happy Birthday!

Daily Prompt. Through the Window.

I live in a beautiful place.  I live on the Narrows at the entrance to Strangford Lough, the largest sea lough in Ireland.

Today the weather is different than many of the days recently.  Winds blew and the surface of the water was ruffled.  In the distance the sea swell made breaking waves at the mouth of the lough.  Yesterday sea and sky were grey.  The  sea reflected the storm clouds.

But today all is well.  I look out my window and see still, blue waters that stretch to the mouth of the lough where it joins the Irish Sea.  It is unusually quiet.  There is no bird song.  There are no birds flitting about.  They have no need to attract a mate.  The young have flown the nest.

The Strangford Ferry is out in the middle of the bay.  The sound of the Diesel engine is a welcome sound.  It breaks the silence.  It is faithful to travel back and forth between Portaferry and Stangford.  It provides an important service.  I do not feel cut off from the rest of the world.  One mile down the road I can catch this ferry and It brings me into the world again.

For the moment I am enjoying the view out my window.  The sea meets the sky in the middle of my panorama.  Both are blue today.  The morning sun rises.  There is a contrast of greens before me.  My lawn, which was cut recently, is light green.  The mature trees’ leaves are dark green.  Their green outline stands out against the blue sky.   Red poppies and hosta at the side of my garden welcome the warm sunshine.

Our cat sits on the window sill, waiting patiently for her meal.  She washs her face with her paw.  I don’t feel guilty as I eat my breakfast.

The lough seawater slowly rises with the tide and approaches the sea wall at the bottom of my garden.
Today there are no crashing waves making the waters approach menacing.  A lone yacht is anchored in the bay.  There is no sound of the metal tinkling against the mast.

I thank God this morning for the view out my window.  My eyes are brightened.   I am alive to see the goodness of God in the land of the Living.

Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, (‭Psalm‬ ‭13‬:‭3‬ NIV)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/

I Miss the Ferry Today

Today in Northern Ireland the media is celebrating Red Nose Day.  Money is raised for charity by celebrities doing fun things.  There will be plenty of buzz on the radio and TV to distract people who are annoyed with others who go on strike.

It is also the day the Unions for Public Transport Workers, Teachers and Health Care Workers called a strike in protest for more pay.  Don’t we take for granted the services we enjoy, until they are not there and only then we appreciate the service they provide.

From the front of our home we look out on Strangford Lough.  We see the Strangford – Portaferry ferry cross over the channel ever fifteen minutes.  Today there is no sign of the boat.  I feel lonely and  bereft.  I miss the security of the ferry.  I love to see the boat cross, regular as clock work from seven thirty am till eleven pm.  When we are taking a trip into town we have to take the ferry.  We can leave the house a few minutes before the ferry is due to leave the port.  We get there on time.  No waiting around.

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We cross over on this ferry often.  When we were moving house here a few months ago, one of the workers on the ferry said to my husband, “You will soon own this ferry with all the money you are spending.”  My daughter stayed here a few weeks ago.  She said the ferry was company as she watched it lights as it moved to and fro across the lough. There were lights even though it is not Christmas.

There have been storms this week.  The ferry stills works even through gales, snow  and chilling winds.  Often the men’s hands and faces are blue from the cold, as they collect the fare.  The weather does not stop them being cheery and give a pleasant greeting. But today they are having a day off, even though they are taking unpaid leave. They deserve a reward for the service they provide.  Thank you.

The sea is calm, the sky is bright, no dark clouds or cold winds.  There is no activity beyond on the channel of Stranford Lough today. There is no chug chug from the diesel engines. Only the sound of birds shrilling in the warm sunlight. Today is one of only a few days that the ferry does not operate.  I am so thankful for this service.  God bless the workers today.