social spark Aisling Beatha


Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

You can find posts with labels not included in that list via the labels list over in the sidebar.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

May You Know What It Means To Be Loved - (a blessing)

May You Know What it Means to be Loved wide

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As I may have mentioned last time, I want to finish this series of posts with a blessing.  It might not seem like a blessing in places but read it right through and weigh up whether it’s a blessing you want to receive or not . . . . (scroll down for video version).

May you know what it means to be loved.

May you know in the depths of your soul, the bravery of standing as who you are, the joy of removing that mask, the delight of tearing down those walls.

And yes, may you know too the fear that comes with that, for in knowing this fear and doing it anyway, we learn that we are loved.

May you know the fear of not being accepted, and step out anyway, because you know the One who ultimately accepts you.

May you know the fear of really being seen and step out into the light anyway, because you know the One who Is light.

May you know the anxiety that comes with trying something new, and try anyway because you know the one who promises to go with you.

May you know all these things because you began the journey of knowing what it means to be loved, a journey into the very heart of God.  A journey that begins with loving and accepting yourself.

©Zoe Gregg (Aisling Beatha) January 2014

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That brings to an end the series of posts that were originally written to be used elsewhere.  Check back next week for more from Thoughtful Thursdays.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

It Is The Dirt On His Feet I Remember - the Prodigal Returns

The Return of the Prodigal Son2

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The painting above is The Return of The Prodigal Son by Rembrandt 

Last week I suggested the idea that the prodigal son was kept away by the idea of living with his father’s disappointment.  Over the last few weeks I have brought you some writing, some thoughts, that open up questions and even doubts and that can be a scary place.  It’s a place that some people would tell you is the opposite of faith and something that will lead you away from God.  It’s a place that can at times FEEL far from God, and can make you feel just like the prodigal son, afraid to live with your father’s disappointment, BUT I honestly believe it is a place where GOD DWELLS WITH US.  It is a journey we do not take alone and we need not be afraid to show our face to God.  We need not be afraid to “come home”, because the doubts and the questions are not the opposite of faith, they are part of it, they are part of the journey God takes us on.
And so we come back to the end of the Prodigal’s journey, and I want to bring you that day from the point of view of someone we don’t usually think of in this story, one of the household servants.  (video at the bottom of the post).

It was the dirt on his feet I remember.  The dirt ingrained so deep I couldn't imagine it ever coming clean.  The dirt that represented the anguish of his heart, his desperation to “come home”. Yes, it was the dirt on his feet I remember.

I didn't recognize him at first.  I mean, he’d been gone so long we thought he was dead.  But the master, he never gave up hoping, looking, watching for his son to return.  And then, there he was, the master I mean, off and running.  I’d never seen a Jewish master run before, and there he was, grabbing up his robes in his hands and running down the hill.  To whom?  To what?  Why was he running?  And then we saw him, this man that the master had obviously seen approaching, this dirty, unkempt man, who had obviously not been living well.  He looked like a slave, not even a household servant like us, just a slave. His skin burnt from working in the sun, and wearing filthy rags. The sandals on his feet had certainly seen better days, they were only just holding together.  And those feet, those dirty feet, yes, it was the dirt on his feet I remember.

Because as the master reached him he saw the master coming and he threw himself at the master’s feet, but the master had turned already to lead him up the hill toward the house.  And so as he knelt before the master, all I could see of him was his back and the soles of those feet.  That’s when I recognised him.  I KNEW those feet!  I had served this family for many years, I had been there the day this son was born, I had bathed his feet each day when he came in from playing as he grew and then from working in the fields with his Father.  If he cut his feet working in the rougher ground, I was the one who tended to his wounds.  I KNEW those feet.  Well, that and the fact that then I heard him . .
“Father, forgive me.” It was an anguished cry, that obviously came from somewhere deep inside.  He wasn't going to be polite, he wasn't going to worry about who did or did not hear, all he wanted was to be allowed to come home. “I don’t deserve to be your son, make me one of your hired servants.”

He was asking to be one of us.  To live like this in the house of his father, to be ordered around by his family, and even by some of us?  How could he be willing to live like that, to accept that in the house where he had once been a son?  I didn't understand, and then I remembered his feet, the depth of dirt that was ingrained there spoke of many days walking home, without knowing what would await him.  He must have rehearsed this speech a thousand times.  I could not imagine what he had done while he was away, what he had been through, but I knew that even this, that he was proposing, must be far better than staying away. Or else, how could he suggest such a thing?

But the master did not wait, did not listen to his son’s protestations, maybe he didn't even hear them, because he grabbed his son by the hands, pulled him up to his feet, and he hugged him.  Another thing I don’t think I’d ever seen a Jewish master do before.  He hugged his son in full sight of anyone who cared to look. In full sight of neighbours, family, friends and servants.  

He brought him into the house and pretty soon we were all busy running around bringing things.  Clothes.  Not just clean clothes, but the best clothes, the sygnet ring that signified authority within the household, the fatted calf for a feast.  And then, as the others ran around preparing meat and bread and all the other food for the feast, the master called to me “The sandals, go fetch the sandals, the best ones from my room.”

So I fetched the sandals and I knelt before him as he had knelt before the master, and I took a bowl of water and a cloth and I bathed those feet again, and slipped on the sandals his father had kept specially, and I swore to myself that I would always remember those feet, those dirty, filthy feet.

Next week I want to share with you a blessing that I wrote last year.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Prodigal's Lament

Prodigals Lament

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Thoughtful Thursday Logo Finished

Have you ever wondered what kept the prodigal son away for so long? I mean, after the money ran out, after all his friends had left him, when he resorted to eating the food that was fed to the pigs he was looking after.
I think he was afraid of what would happen if he came back.
I don’t, however, think he was so much afraid of his father being angry with him, or rejecting him, I think it was something a bit different.
Prodigal’s Lament
I want to,
But I can’t,
To Go back,
To beg Him to allow me to stay.
But who am I?
What am I?
The one who walked away.

I regret,
Every day,
That decision I made.
I rue,
Every moment,
Of letting that relationship slide.

I want to,
But I can’t,
To see him again,
To know that look of love.

But He will see me,
And He will know,
Every moment I have lived apart from Him.
None of it was hidden From His eyes.

He will see me,
And He will know,
Every piece of my heart that was given away,
Every idol that took His place.

He will see and he will know
I cannot bear.

If he rejects me?
Turns me away?
If he’s angry, I deserve it.

But to live with His disappointment . .
Burning in my heart . . .
THAT, above all else, I could not bear,
And that is why I CANNOT go home.

© 2012, Zoe Gregg (Aisling Beatha). All rights reserved.

I honestly think his fear was of living with his father’s disappointment.  But the thing is, he didn’t need to be afraid of that.  Read the father’s response, grabbing up his robes and running.  I really would suggest you read that story again in Luke 15, but if you don’t have time don’t panic, because I shall bring you that part of the story next week with a fresh set of eyes.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This Imperfect Life

This Imperfect Life

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Do you ever look around yourself
And think
Is not the life I imagined”?
Is not what I was made for”?
Is not what God has called me to”?

Do you ever look around yourself
And think
“I want
To do so much more”?
“I want
To be so much more”?
“I want
To achieve so much more
For God”?

Did you ever see
a bird of prey
sitting on a lamppost?

Did you ever see
A bird of prey
high above the city traffic?

Did you ever see
A bird of prey
Far from it’s natural environment?
Far from what it was made for?
Far from where God designed it to be?

No open fields for these birds
No cliff top perches
Or mountain crags
No spotting their lunch from a wide open sky

And yet

They thrive.
Not just survive,

And in my heart I know
That in my life,
Your life,
Our lives,

Even when
We are not
Living the life
We think we were MADE FOR

We CAN thrive.
Not just survive,

We can know the joy
Of an open sky
We can know the smile
Of God on high

We can see Him
and be used by Him
Not someday
Not somehow
Right here
Right now
Right in the midst of THIS LIFE

This imperfect life.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bible Story Props - Stone Wall

Bible Story Props: Stone Wall

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I don't quite have step by step photos for this one but I'll do my best to explain.

The first thing you need is a large cardboard box, a strong one too because if you're going to be folding it up, pulling it back out etc over and over again it's going to take a bit of battering.  This one was still in our loft from when someone had an Apple iMac.  Take your box apart, this one was 2 pieces joined at opposite diagonal corners, so we had 2 large pieces. Next turn your box over so that you can paint on the back, the bottom of the box, will fold under in use and not be seen, so that does not need painting. We are just painting the sides and the top of the box.

In use we will be able to either fold the top back for a shorter wall or use tie wraps to stand those up to make a taller wall.  In the picture below you can see what I mean, the top of the box is standing up on the finished piece behind the one being worked on.

Bible Story Props: Stone Wall

The first thing to do is mark out your stones with a pencil or pen.  I did this fairly roughly, glancing at photos of stone walls to give me some idea of shapes.  I wanted this to look as traditional as possible, so there are large stones and smaller ones to fill in the gaps.

You need 3 shades of paint.  I used sample pots of decorating paint rather than fancy art paints and we used about 1 1/2 small sample pots of the lighter colour but less than 1 each of the 2 others.  You need a light colour for the main part of the stones, a dark colour for the gaps in between and something about half way between the two for the shading.

Fill your stones in with your lightest colour, which for us was an off white in a slightly stone looking colour.

The next part can be done in one of two ways.  You need to shade the stones to make them look like stones.  You can either do this in a dry brush method by letting all the lightest colour dry first and then using just a little paint at a time of your medium colour, keeping the brush as dry as possible to do your shading.  That is what happened with the picture above.  Whereas in the picture below I worked the shading as I went along, wet into wet.  I have to say that looking at them now I couldn't tell you which was which, so I would suggest going with whichever method suits you.

Bible Story Props: Stone Wall

Figure out before you begin shading, which direction the light is going to be coming from and then work your shading to be darkest at the opposite side of each stone from that light.  With some of the angled stones that can be a bit tricky, but honestly it's NOT that important, this is a stage prop that people are going to see from at least a little distance, no one is going to notice slight mistakes.

Bible Story Props: Stone Wall

Finally, fill in the gaps with the darkest colour of paint.  This also gives you an opportunity to tidy up any of the edges where you may have slipped and got paint into the gaps or not been as neat as you wanted to.  I used an artists brush at this point with quite a fine tip.

Bible Story Props: Stone Wall

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of it set up because there is not room at home to set it up and get far enough back to get a good shot of it, but the first time we use it, I will try and remember to take a photo and add it to this post.

The two pieces are attached to each other using velcro and as long as you angle the wall in a zigzag, it can free stand by tucking those non painted bottom pieces under if you put something small but heavy in front of each end to stop it falling forward.  If you need it to be a straight wall, you will have to find a way of supporting it or lean it against a wall.  If you want the taller wall, you need to make holes in each corner of the flaps, and use tie wraps through them.  With the wall angled as just mentioned, the flaps should stay upright.

You can also connect it back round into a square when doing stories involving a well or a chimney, etc.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.
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