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, January 14, 2015

When God Repeats Himself . . . . . .

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When God Repeats Himself

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When God Repeats Himself, It's Time To Listen.
A familiar phrase or concept to many of us.  But let's be honest we tend to associate it with all the things we think God wants us to DO, all the "shoulds" and "oughts" and "musts". I was reminded last week that it also applies, in fact, in my mind it FIRST applies, to all the times God speaks of His love for us, all the times He speaks of His Grace and mercy, all the times He speaks encouragement over us, whether that be directly through His word, through his Spirit into our hearts, or through those around us.

I work part time, employed by the church I attend to provide assemblies, prayer spaces and other activities in local schools.  A couple of weeks ago I was pointed in the direction of a new job.  Not to replace the one I do now, but one that could run alongside what I do now and fit in really nicely with it (the 2nd job is also part time).  It would basically mean doing the same thing as I am doing now but in an additional environment for a different employer. Let's be honest when you work for the church you attend, with very little opportunity for feedback, you're never quite sure if you really ARE doing a good job, or not, so I was a little nervous.  I ummed and aaahed, and went back and forth in my head, trying to decide if I was going to apply, and finally, I did.  It took me a whole afternoon to fill in the application form, I wanted to do this right, and on Tuesday last week I posted it.

On Wednesday I received encouraging messages about the job from 3 separate people, 1 of whom knows neither of the others and I've never met before and only 1 of them was from the church I attend.  Each of them was saying more or less the same thing.
All of them coming on the same day like that, within a space of less than 12 hours, I knew that was not a co-incidence.

Whether I get the job or not is not really the point.  The point is when God repeats himself, particularly when it is in a short space of time like that, it usually requires a response from us.  In the case of the "shoulds" and so on, the response is obvious, but in the case of encouragement and all the things along these lines, the response is different.

Let me tell you something:

God thinks you are amazing.  He really does.  He notices the things that you do that bless other people, he sees the way you uniquely express your love for Him, the way you love others in ways that no one else can do.  He watches when you smile at that person everyone else overlooks, He notices the extra time you spent over something when you didn't have to.  He sees the things that make your face light up with joy, and they make Him smile too. He sees all of that and more and he speaks His love and appreciation and encouragement over you.  Over and over again, in ways that only YOUR heart will understand.

Your response is your choice.

Will you do what a lot of us do, what I have done in the past, and tell yourself "Oh well, I know God says that stuff, but He doesn't mean it about me.  Other people yes, but not me." or if the encouragement came through others, "Oh those people are just saying those things to be polite" or any of the other variants of things that we tell ourselves when our self esteem is low and encouragement comes our way?


Will you accept that love and encouragement?  Will you believe the positive things God is saying about you?  No matter who or what he uses to send that message?

You can check out other Thoughtful Thursday Posts here. 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, January 07, 2015

2015 - The Year of AGAIN

2014 Living in Between 2015 Again

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2014 had been hard for me on many levels, and has fit with my theme for the year in ways that I never imagined it doing when we began this journey back in January 2014.

I have studied and explored the stages of faith and grown to understand that this in between stage I have found myself in, in relation to my faith, this place of doubts, questions, refusal to accept the previous "easy answers" and yes, even anger, is a normal, natural part of the journey.  I have lived an "in between" stage with my health as we try a block and replace therapy to try and solve an overactive thyroid, and CPAP therapy continues for my sleep apnoea with a new wonder mask that has proved difficult to adjust to.  I have lived an in between stage in my marriage in some ways too as my husband spent 21 weeks out of a run of 53, working away in Germany.  I have certainly lived in between as a mother, as my eldest graduated from university in June 2014 and came back home to live until he finds a permanent job in his field (good news, he has an interview on Monday) but my youngest left for university in September 2014.  This has meant I have also lived in between with my creativity as what was my craft room is the eldest's bedroom once again until he finds a place of his own.  And of course I have lived in between with my writing, as some pieces I had written at the beginning of the year were held onto but not used by the person who asked for them, and then, the day after I said "enough is enough, I take them back" I was asked to join the team at middle places, and really what more "in between" could you get than MIDDLE PLACES.

For a number of years my theme for the year has coincided unexpectedly with where our church body found itself that year too, and 2014 was no exception (although 2015 is different, but more on that later), as we left the building that was previously our church home and moved to a new building that we are currently only renting until we can arrange the purchase.  So, in between, again.

And then we move on to 2015, and a search for a theme, well, not exactly, you see, I had thought about it being the time of year to think on a theme but I hadn't really got any further than that and then one day I was thinking about something else and this word came up, just one word, and it was like it dropped into my spirit and my spirit went "that's it, that's the word for the year ahead."  The word is AGAIN.

"Oh great" I thought, "are we just doing in between for a whole other year?"  But it wasn't that simple, because then another word dropped in alongside again, and that was HOPE, HOPE AGAIN, now that I liked, who wouldn't right?  So I sat with that for a couple of days and then more and more words began to drop into my spirit, each of them fitting alongside AGAIN.


I am sure there will be more.  So far there are no signs that this year's theme sits easily alongside where our church family finds itself this year, but it has turned out to sit alongside the Middle places theme for the coming year.  When I began to think of "again" as my theme, I already knew that the Middle Places theme for this month was (Re)Life or Real Life but then one night last week, while I was sleeping and the rest of the team were awake (that ocean between us has a lot to answer for, time zones included) It was decided that we would be keeping (Re) for most of the year, with different words coming after it each time.

1.  a prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition.

So there you have it, my theme sits perfectly alongside the Middle Places theme for the year, so I am excited to see what this year will bring!

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, 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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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.
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