A Princess Cup for my Teacher

 

Sara Joye said “Grandma, I want to buy a Princess cup for my teacher.”

“What is a Princess cup?”

“You know, like your cups, Grandma.”
She pointed to some china cups with flowered patterns  in my cupboard.  ”
“Do you not have these in Slovakia.”
“No grandma, only in your house.”
“Would  you like to get a special patterned cup and saucer for your teacher?  I understand now.”
“Yes, I just love Princess cups”.
She held a china cup in her hands close to her heart as if it was the most beautiful, tender thing in the world.

I enjoy collecting jugs and china plates with flowers and gold trim on them.  I display them on my dressers in the kitchen.  Forty years ago a China Tea Set was a “must have” item for a bride.  It would be kept in a safe place and only brought out for tea with special visitors or at Christmas or Easter.  My husband bought me a china tea set.  Its design was called “Angela.”  Sadly I didn’t keep it safe.  I liked to use it often.

I was reminded of words from the poem The Old Woman of the Roads by Patraic Colum.

O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods against the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!
To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!
I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!
I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!
Och! but I’m weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there’s never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!
And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house – a house of my own
Out of the wind’s and the rain’s way.

I had often dreamed of having a dresser to display pottery, fine china, glasses or gifts, high up out of little children’s reach.  In my new home I have two dressers.  Items I collected over the years are now on display.  Chinese patterned plates, I received as a twenty fifth anniversary present, wine glasses, china plates, gifts from my children and family photos.  My dream has come true.  My collection is being added as I pick up a bargain from a car boot sale or craft market.  Now my grandchildren admire my collection.  To their eyes it is treasure.  I must be a Princess, instead of a poor wanderer as the poem depicts.

On Saturday Aaron, Marta and their children went to shop locally.  Portaferry is a small village.  I wondered would Sara Joye find any Princess cups.  Her Mum prayed.  “Dear Lord please let someone bring Princess cups to the Charity shop today.”

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They set off.  Some time later they called me to give them a lift home.  It was cold and raining.  But the children’s spirits were not dampened.  Instead there was great excitement.  Princess cups were purchased at a bargain price.  It happened just as Marta had prayed.  In an Antique store or Fine China shop these goods would be costly.  The prized purchases were carefully wrapped to keep them safe on the journey back to Slovakia.

Sara Joye’s teacher in Slovakia will receive a Princess cup from Ireland.

Testimony Tuesday. Something Broken Made Into Something Beautiful

I have taken up a hobby of making mosaics from broken pieces of glass and pottery.

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One sunny morning in Springtime I went for a walk along the foreshore.  It is a stony beach.  I noticed pieces of green glass glistening among the pebbles.  They were looking at me inviting me to pick them up.  I picked one up, then another, and another until my pocket was full.  I felt like I was panning for gold in the stones of the shoreline.   Brendan joined me is my treasure hunt and he collected a pocket full too.  We collected other species, shades of blue, white, and brown.

I inspected them all when I returned home.  I asked myself what can I do with these colourful but broken pieces of glass.  The edges weren’t sharp any more and their colours were cloudy from the years of being broken and worn with the sea storms.  They had lost their shine.  Circumstances in life bring troubles, disappointments, lose or rejection leaving one worn down with the storms of life or relegated to the ash heap.

When washed and grim removed, my pieces of glass were ready to be positioned into something beautiful.

As I looked at the different shapes of green pieces I was inspired to make a mosaic of my country, Ireland, which has thirty two counties. I would use a piece of glass for each county.  I found a piece of wood and a tube full of tile filler.  So started my hobby of making mosaics.  I tried out putting other colours of glass together.  I find I relax as I work.

On Saturday I discovered a new site along the shoreline to build up my supply of broken pieces. I added to my collection, pieces of pottery.  I was excited to see how these pieces would clean up.  Some had blue willow patterns, some had plain colours.  How would they fit in to a mosaic?

As I worked I reminded myself how glass is made.  It is made from the common material, sand.  The sand is heated to 1700 degrees. Through the fire sand changes to become glass.  Pottery is made from clay, a common material.  The clay is treated in high temperatures to turn it to pottery.

The Word of God tells us that we were created by God.

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (‭Genesis‬ ‭2‬:‭7‬ NIV)

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭64‬:‭8‬ NIV)

Sometimes when I go through difficult times I wonder what is happening to me.  This passage from Peter explains,

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (‭1 Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬ NIV)

When I go though the fires of difficulty I am being transformed to be a useful vessel for The Lord, like the sand being transformed to glass or the clay to pottery.

The pieces of glass and pottery on the beach are all that remain of useful vessels.  Perhaps the blue glass was a beautiful perfume bottle or the piece of pottery, a treasured piece of willow patterned delph on a bride’s dresser.

But even after many years Our Creator God can reach down and touch all that remains of a broken vessel and make something new.  My mosaics speak to me of hope.  There is life after brokenness.  They can be displayed on a dresser again or adorn a bathroom wall and be a thing of beauty again.  God will restore lives again.

Family Friday. Mother Duck said Quack Quack Come Back

In my blogs recently I have been talking about birds. I get inspiration from them. Jesus told us to look at the Birds.  A good plug for going bird watching. I know a friend who was heart broken after her husband left her.  Part of her therapy to recover was to go bird watching.  She joined a local Bird Watching Club.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  Matthew 6 v 25-27 NLT
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭33‬ NLT)

One of my sons has finished his training in Law.  He is home for the holidays.  I was urging him to return to Scotland after the holidays and apply for trainee jobs to get him to the next stage.  Getting a job is so competitive.  In my mother role I was getting annoyed and worried.  Scriptures say worry is a sin and I don’t want to sin.  So I have to stop worrying and pray.

After a good nights sleep my mind is changed.  I have to let my son decide for himself and not conimagetrol him.  I have to let him go.  I can advise but it is up to him what he does.  It was by making mistakes and suffering I learned about life and the right choices to make.  I cannot go back to seven years ago when I developed cancer.  I have to stay alive.

Part of the role of parents is to look after the children but then to let them go to start their own lives.  Around the time I developed  cancer,  I was finding it hard to cope with the lose in my life of children leaving home.  My heart was breaking.  I was suffering in silence.

My daughter shared a post with me. She is in Kenya at the moment. It is about a little girl singing the nursery rhyme,
Mother Duck and her little ones. As she finishes the rhyme she starts to cry. She must have been sad for the mother duck left alone.

Five little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “Quack, quack, quack, quack”
But only four little ducks came back.

Until
One little duck went out one day…
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “Quack, quack, quack, quack”
But none of the five little ducks came back

The internet says it is a nursery rhyme that teaches children to count backwards.  That may be so but the writer of this work had something else in mind I believe.

As children leave home one by one a mother feels the pain of her lose.  The mother and children spend time together when the children are young.  They go out to play together.  Then a day comes when one grows up and has to leave to go over the hills and far away.  Nowadays hills don’t just separate us . Oceans wide and deep separate us.

One by one the ducks go far away.  This has been so for me and my children.  My last little duck left two years ago.  My heart would have been broken if The Lord has not comforted me and healed me.  He has given me other work to do after rearing my children.

There is hope.  The last verse of the nursery rhyme goes,

Sad mother duck went out one day
Over the hills and far away
Mother duck said “QUACK! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!”
And all of the five little ducks came back.

I think of a verse from the scriptures often.

This is what The Lord says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” This is what the Lord says: “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return.” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31‬:‭15-16‬ NIV)

Don’t cry mothers out there.  The Lord will reward your work. Like mother duck the young will return.

If You’re Irish Come Into The Parlour

Here is a song I sang growing up.

If you’re Irish come into the parlour,
There’s a welcome there for you;
If your name is Timothy or Pat (or David)
So long as you come from Ireland,
There’s a welcome on the mat,
If You come from the Mountains of Mourne,
Or Killarney’s lakes so blue,
We’ll sing you a song and we’ll make a fuss,
Whoever you are you are one of us,
If you’re Irish, this is the place for you!

I am in Toronto to see Ava, my son David and Jacquelyn’s baby. I am staying at Jacquelyn’s parents home. I am enjoying the change of season here. I took a walk and took this picture.

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David our son, was welcomed into the heart of Jacquelyn’s immediate and extended family. David has been fishing with Jacquelyn’s dad, brothers, uncles and and grand dad. They caught many fish and had a great time. He has been to hockey matches, plays tennis and soccer, been on a visit to Washington to see extended family, and sightseeing at the Niagara Falls.

Maureen, Jacquelyn’s mum spent all Sunday cooking dinner for friends who wanted to come over to meet me. It was Thanksgiving and Christmas all in the one day.
Maureen likes the windows open. I like a cool room too! She loves roast potatoes and Irish wheaten bread, which she bakes on the weekend. She had someone from Ireland she could share with. It was her mum’s recipe. Her mum grew up in Belfast.  We celebrated her mum. Her memory lives on.

Jacquelyn was particularly fond of her and misses her. Her baby is wearing a cardigan her granny knitted for her.

Maureen’s aunt called by the other day. She brought a beautiful Christening robe, an heirloom. Her sister had hand knitted it and gave her for her children. Now it was being given to Jacquelyn for Ava’s christening. She told us how she loves to make soda bread just like we get back in Ireland. She has here fridge full of it ready to give as a gift to anyone who calls or comes into her parlour.

I am being made to feel welcome and part of the family. I don’t have to cook, clean or shop. I am available for babysitting when Jacquelyn needs me. It’s not hard work nursing a warm, cuddly, baby girl. Oh the joy of being a grand mother. I don’t have to do the hard work of feeding, dressing and changing.
It is lovely to see my son caring, protecting and treasuring Jacquelyn and Ava. A whole new world for him.

When Brendan travelled to North America twenty years ago he was welcomed with open arms, celebrated, loved and accepted. A big shock to the system when back home in Northern Ireland there was war. The Irish were rejecting each other.

I went to England 35 years ago to have my own daughter. I was welcomed by the Irish community as a long lost relative. They were from Kerry and I was from Derry. But we were all Irish in another country.

The words of the song above are true. Brendan, David and myself have been welcomed into people’s parlours.