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, September 17, 2014

Enjoy the Journey

Enjoy the Journey

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There is a main road that runs more or less right through the centre of our town. It keeps all the through traffic away from the houses, businesses, etc.
The A442, or Queensway, or Eastern Primary or EP, depending on who you're talking to.

Thousands of cars, vans and other vehicles drive up and down there every day. I drive up or down there a number of times a week, at least for part of it's length. One , long road that gets you from A to B really quickly, keeps you away from junctions, traffic light or anything else that might slow you down. And we all get so focussed on our destinations we are oblivious to what is around us.
From that photo above you might think that well, there isn't that much to look at, so why would you want to be looking at the things you are passing. But there is, oh please believe me that there is.

Quite a few sections of this road run between hills that still have trees and nature as it always was.
And just lately we have been seeing a bird of prey sitting on the top of one of those T shaped lampposts you can see in the photo. I have no idea what type of bird of prey it is as I can't get a photo because this is not a road you can stop on easily or safely, but I know that he is there, and I spot him MOST times I travel up that stretch of the road.

One day we were really blessed to see 3 of them in a short stretch of the road and one of them actually swooping across the road to land on the lamppost. Another day I spotted him sat on the same lamppost as a magpie, unusual because the other birds won't usually go anywhere near them. This magpie was sat at one end of the arms of the lamppost and the bird of prey was sat about half way along the other arm. Normally I see him sat square on the lamppost facing along the road one way or the other. But this day he was sat at an angle, almost as if he was eyeing up the magpie and wondering if he would make a nice lunch. It made me smile.

There are so many people using this road every single day and the vast majority of them don't even know these birds of prey are there. They've never "seen" them. And that makes me so sad. We have become so focussed on our destinations, so focussed on getting to where we want to be that we have forgotten to look around ourselves and enjoy the journey.

Bewildered Deliverer,
What is this "emptiness" you are feeling? I will tell you. You are in transition. In the midst of change there is no choice but to move. In the process of movement, settling in is out of the question. So, of course you feel rootless! A tree being transplanted cannot be rooted until it is planted again in good soil.

Ponder this truth and remember it - there is no way to enjoy the comforts of home and move at the same time. And it is impossible to harvest fruit from a vineyard yet to be.

I know it has seemed like a long journey, but it will be shorter if you keep this in mind: you aren't supposed to feel satisfied where you are. This isn't home. This is travel.

Meantime, why not enjoy the scenery? You will never pass this way again and one day you will cherish the memories of thsi trip, if you will take note of them now. otherwise, you might arrive at point "B" with no stories to tell!


from "From the Father's Heart" by Charles Slagle, published by Destiny's Image.

The image used at the top of this post and in the video are from John W. Iwanski on Flickr, via Creative Commons Attribution.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Really Easy Celtic Knotwork

Really Easy Celtic Knotwork Square

I've been watching some videos over on youtube on how to do really easy Celtic knotwork.  I love how easy he makes the explanation, so I thought I'd show you my notes and first attempts.  First, his introductory video, then you can check out what I have done so far.

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First my notes so that I could remember what he had said in the video.

Really Easy Celtic Knotwork How To

Then some practising, including switching between pointy corners and curved corners as well as learning how to treat a split line.

Really Easy Celtic Knotwork Learning as you go

Really Easy Celtic Knotwork Trying things out

So there you have it, in just a coupoel of hours of watching and playing I have the basics sorted. One of the key points is to keep the same width all the way round. While I managed that on most of those pieces above, once I switched to half the scale on the same paper, I began to struggle as you can see in the cross below.

Really Easy Celtic Knotwork Cross

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I did that cross during church on Sunday. I am used to moving and dancing in worship (a lot) and our church has moved to a building where that is not so easy, so I choose other ways to express myself during worship and this was one of those times. I chose to fracture the cross with split lines in various places. This was to represent the fracturing into more difficult concepts of my previously easy to figure out nice and clear faith.

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, September 11, 2014

Staying Away From Church

Why Do We Go To Church

Thoughtful Thursday Logo Finished

Here's a shocker to begin this week's Thoughtful Thursday post - I believe that sometimes you need to stay away from church.   That sometimes, because of the place you are in, it really is the best thing you can do for your spiritual health as well as your physical, emotional and mental health.  I am not suggesting that long term it is beneficial, but in the short term, sometimes it's ok, and more than ok, sometimes it's necessary.  Of course, there have been times when I have not been able to be there for whatever reason and I have been desperate to get back, so I am not saying this is for everyone or even for anyone all of the time, just sometimes . . . .

One thing I have become aware of, however, is that once you have stayed away for one week, staying away for the next becomes even easier.  And if you stay away for two, then, well, the third is even harder to go back.  And so on.   At some point in that journey you get to a point where it might become useful to examine WHY it is you go to church.  Not why people have told you SHOULD, not what you have read as good reasons to go, not why you went in the past, but why you personally do it or would do it if you were to return.

There are many reasons people go to church.  Many reasons that we tell ourselves are our true reasons when really, if we're honest, it's not quite the whole truth.

I guess what I am trying to say is there are 2 questions that look almost the same:
1) Why do we go to church?
2) Why do we REALLY go to church?

I am not saying that any of those answers to the second question are necessarily bad or wrong. What I am saying is be honest with yourself, be willing to examine your own reasons every once in a while, even if you thought you knew what they were in the past, because they might have changed without you even noticing them.

Some reasons to go to church.
- Because God says you should honour the Sabbath and keep it holy.
          -How do we know that church is the only way to do that?  Personally, I don't think it is, I don't think our modern church services were what God had in mind when he gave that commandment. Do I think the sabbath should be like every other day?  No way! Do I have some idea of what I think God meant by "honour the Sabbath and keep it holy"?  Not really, I just doubt that what he had in mind is the same as what we have turned it into.

- To worship God in community with others
          - Of course you can worship on your own, of course you don't need others to do that, but there is something about being together with people of like mind, all worshipping together that is different to worshipping alone.  However if church services are the only time and way in which you worship or the only way in which you understand worship then I think you equally have a problem, because worship is so much more than a few songs on a Sunday morning.

- Because we need to hear of the experiences of contemporary believers.
          - "testimony time" while it can sometimes be cheesy is one way in which we get to hear what our very real God is doing in the lives of some very real people, the ones right in front of us!  I'm not talking about your "how I came to Jesus" stories, I'm talking about your "what God is doing for me this month, this week, in the here and now" stories. Some churches give this opportunity every week, some never do.  Some have you pre submit your testimony, others just make it open mic.  Others have open mic but not all the time.  Have you ever had a testimony burning within you that you are bursting to share and then no opportunity is given?  Yeah, maybe that's why I turned to blogging in the first place and thank God for facebook at times like that hey?

There are a whole host of other reasons, some might be mine, some might be yours, some, I think are good, some might need looking at again, some might be appropriate at one point in our journey and not at others.  Here are just a few more for you to consider, and I offer them merely as that, a list to be thought over and considered, no judgement, just an open hand.

- Because we need regular reminders of the stuff of our faith.
- Because belonging to a community of faith is important.
- Because we are on the Sunday school rota (or coffee rota, or nursery rota, or ushers rota etc) and HAVE TO be there.
- Because we are the pastor and HAVE TO be there. (it happens, I've been told).
- Because we need help in walking this Christian walk.
- Because others need help in walking this Christian walk.
- Because we need to be reminded that God loves us.
- Because others need to be reminded that God loves them.
- Because we need an alternative to the messages of a culture that ignores or even opposes God.
- Because we need to experience artistic and creative expressions of faith, such as music, singing, dancing, visual art, prayer, spoken word, and so on.
- Because we need to reflect on the past week and see it in context of a longer journey with God.
- Because we need a concious break from "self" to focus on God.
- Because this is what Christians do, right?
- Because it feels good.
- To worship God
- To listen to a rousing sermon
- To hear the voice of God
- To grow in knowledge of God's word
- To be prayed for in person
- To pray for others in person and in community with others
- To feed your soul
- To get a break from your kids while they are in Sunday school or the nursery
- Because you miss being around people and are lonely
- To make friends
- To find people who see the world the same way you do
- To Grow as a person
- To serve others
- To set a good example
- For networking
- Because we want our children to be raised going to church
- Because we have something to give even when we think we don't.

Thank you to the other Middle Places Writers who shared some of their suggestions with me.  Like I said, no judgement here, just a list to be considered, to be thought over, prayed over, considered with God.  Notice I did not say "me, you and God", this is just for you and God to consider together. However if you were making this list what reasons would you add?

And if you are considering a return to church I suggest you read this post by my new friend Rachel Oliver:

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 03, 2014

Did You Ever Read a Verse and Think . . . . . . . .

Thoughtful Thursday Logo Finished

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Today I have some difficult questions for you, questions that might make you squirm a little and throw up an automatic “proper Christian response”.  I’m not going to say anything more than that, except, please, don’t give up if it’s uncomfortable, read through to the end, I think it’s worth it.

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Did God really say that?”

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Surely something
was lost in translation”?

Did you ever read a verse and think
“I’m not sure I want any part
of a God who can
Do that
Say that
Be that way.”

Maybe we
Are reading different bibles.

Did you ever read a verse and think
“If THAT is true
They Why
Does My
Life prove the opposite?”

Some would tell me
I just need more . . . . .

More what?
More faith?
More study?
More bible?
More prayer?
More church?

As if adding something more
To our overloaded lives
Our overloaded minds
Our overloaded hearts
And souls

Is going to fix ANYTHING

So maybe we need less.

Less TV?
Less distractions?
Less busy?
Less stuff?
Less . . . . ?
Less, less, less

As if taking something away
From our aching, empty hearts,
The spaces in our souls,
Emphasising what
And who
Is no longer THERE

Is going to fix anything.

It’s like we play
a giant game of Jenga
With our lives.
“Take this from here
And put it there.”
“Take A away a
And add in B.”

All the time waiting
For what seems

Oh come on now,
Surely you know
How this game goes.

But surely
The tower grows
And taller
And taller it goes.
Less and less stable
No longer secure
And taller
And “Be careful”
“Watch out!”
“Don’t dare breathe.”

And everyone
Who’s playing the game
Knows what’s coming,
Even praying
That their move
Won’t be the move
To bring it
Crashing down.

Hoping no one will see
The gaps
The empty spaces
The questions
In their hearts.

“Hold it together”
“Don’t let anyone see”
“Never mention the questions”

Well now
Can see me

Now you know
Now it’s clear
MY tower is not secure

But I know I’m not the only one,
And I know I’m not alone
And I can tell you I’m still hanging on
To the God by whom I’m known

To the God who knows my questions
To the God who hears my heart
To the God who knows
and hears
and loves.

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Did God really say that?”

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Surely something
was lost in translation”?

Did you ever read a verse and think
“Surely He
Can’t love Me

Did you ever read a verse and think
“This God,
This grace,
This mercy,
This love . . . .
This is something I have to have”?
© Jan 2014, Zoe Gregg (Aisling Beatha). All rights reserved.

Do you ever have a day when you feel like your hold on God is loosening?  A day when you wonder questions to yourself that you dare not speak aloud?

If the answer is no, well, good for you, but read on anyway, because one day you might need to know this.

If the answer is yes I have a few words I want to whisper in your ear.
It’s OK, you are not broken, you don’t need to be fixed, this is a valid part of your journey, God still has hold of you and he trusts you to work this out.

But most of all, the thing I want you to know, more than anything else, is


Come back next Thursday for another Thoughtful Thursday post.
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 02, 2014

SketchNotes at Church

I'm new to the idea of sketch notes and I need a bit of practice, but I had fun with them at church tonight.

I've been struggling with CPAP therapy the last few nights and didn't have the energy to stand and sing, so I sat and sang and sketch noted.

Sketch Notes Tuesday of Prayer Week

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Sketch Notes Tuesday of Prayer Week

Two things.  I find it difficult to draw the icons the way I would want them, when drawing fast enough to be making sketchnotes. And secondly, while I love lettering, I seem to only be able to do two or three fonts from memory.

I'm hoping both of those improve with time.

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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