social spark Aisling Beatha: January 2011


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Monday, January 31, 2011

Bible Study and Lino Cutting

Interesting title huh?  How am I going to combine those two?

Well, yesterday I was listening to the sermon at the church my son is interning at, and one of the things that was mentioned is that they want the whole church to study the same passage this week and then they are going to use some of the responses as part of the sermon on Sunday.  The thing that they want people to do is watch for 3 things within the passage.

A LIGHT BULB: Something that shines from the passage and takes your attention/impacts you.

A QUESTION MARK: Anything that is difficult to understand or a question you would like to ask the Lord about the passage.

AN ARROW: A personal application for your life.

Now, that is not the church I attend, it is much too far away and I love the church which God has us in right now, BUT I love that set of things to look out for.  In fact I want to use it in my regular journaling, and was wondering how to make sure I remember what the three things are, each time I come to it. Yes, I could print it out and make a bookmark but I wanted something a little more creative.
So I pulled out my lino cutter and some pieces of lino and got to work:

Things didn't quite go according to plan and I forgot that I needed to reverse the image of the question mark in order for it to be the right way round when finished.  I then started again and made the same mistake ARGH!  Finally, after getting up and going to do something else for a while I got it right!  Anyone want a back to front question mark stamp?

Here they are in use:

I'm thinking that I want to mount them on something, maybe some scraps of wood or something to make them easier to use. I'm sure there is something around here I can use.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Birthday Gift to Me

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a sewing project that I would also be able to combine with some of the skills I have learnt in Art Journaling.

I found a great tutorial for a fully lined messenger bag but felt it was just a tiny bit bigger than what I wanted.  I really didn't drop the measurements by much, just took the main pieces from 11 by 12 inches to 10 by 11 inches.  It has come out more or less the perfect size for what I wanted.

I also wanted to make the strap adjustable, rather than a fixed length, so I used another tutorial for that.  This meant I could wear the bag either with a longer strap diagonally across my body

or with a shorter strap on one shoulder.

I bought the fabric from IKEA, quite a heavyweight fabric, but just what I wanted.  Well, I had been hoping to use the cream for decorating to make the front panel but they had no cream so I settled for the white.  I decorated the front panel before making the bag up.  I made sure to leave just enough space at the sides for the seams and not to go right into the bottom corners because I would be curving them.  However I foorgot to account for the fact that the front panel also goes over the top of the bag.  This meant I would lost part of the image I had worked on, if I made up the bag as in the tutorial.  So I added another piece to the top of the front panel, which made the front panel image all appear on the front, but come further down the front.

I used diluted inks to spray the front panel. Some of them I added mica powders to. Then I used permanent inks (I think it's Archival in Maroon) to stamp the words and the angel image. I filled in the angel image using some glitter pens.

I also decided not to use two different fabrics for the rest of the bag as in the tutorial, but just the one brown.  So, the underneath of the flap is brown, not white.

The two pockets there are plenty roomy enough for any essentials you might need to carry with you, such as chocolate caramel digestives!

There are two matching pockets on the back of the bag, which are just a little bit deeper than the ones under the front flap.

When you lift the front flap there is a zipper to keep everything in the main pocket safe and secure.

The main pocket has plenty of room for my journal etc

And also has a fully lined, zipped, inner pocket too.

All in all a project I am very pleased with.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Pork Stir Fry

Here we have another of our photo recipes!

2 tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (we used garlic in a jar, 1tsp for each clove)
1 tsp grated fresh root ginger (we used ginger in a jar, 1 tsp)
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped.  (Either wear gloves when you do this, or cover your hands with veg oil before and wash off afterwards.  These methods prevent you being left with chilli on your hands, which you can then get in your eyes or whatever.)
1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and cut into strips.
3 carrots, cut into strips
1 large onion, sliced
250g pork, cut into cubes
1 courgettes, sliced
1 small broccoli head, divided into florets

2 tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp orange juice
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar.

1.  Prepare your vegetables.

2.  Here you can see some extra leaves.  That's because I decided to add Pak Choi as well, because there was some reduced in the supermarket.

3.  If you can get it, just chop the root end off, cut the firm part into smaller pieces and leave the green leafy parts fairly whole.

4.  Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan.

5.  Add the garlic, ginger and chilli.  I also added the pak choi firmer pieces here.  You only want to soften and warm these, not brown them.

6.  Add in the pepper, carrots, onion and pork.

7.  Stir fry over a medium to high heat for about 5 minutes.

8.  Then add the courgettes and the broccoli.  We also added the leaves of the pak choi here.

9.  Mix the sauce ingredients together and stir into the stir fry.  Allow to bubble a little and toss the vegetables in the sauce to coat.

10.  Serve with noodles or rice.  When I took the photos for this recipe we were using microwave rice.  Not the cheapest option at supermarket prices, at all, but very reasonable in stores such as home bargains.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

New Things Art Journal Page

So these:

Became this:

Check out this link to read an earlier post about my theme for this year, NEW!

Invisible Seeds

I'm surprised my facebook posts about planting Invisible Seeds didn't bring more questioning looks than they did.  Let me explain . . .

My job has me in local primary schools (ages 5 - 11) giving assembly talks.
This month's assembly is titled Invisible Seeds and needed some props.  Thankfully I had everything I needed to make the props right here.  Invisible seeds obviously need an seed packet.  Now I don't know if you are aware of this but invisible seeds are huge, so they need a very big seed packet.  Actually it needs to be huge so the kids at the back can see it clearly, but I like my version better.  I was wondering where on earth to start the other day, and starting scooting around my craft desk to see what I could find.

Have you ever bought craft stuff from QVC, that comes in those BIG flat cardboard envelopes?  Well, I NEVER buy them at full prices but we have a QVC outlet store not far away and I have been known to pick up one or two things in there.  And what I found under my desk was that I had kept the big envelopes from my last visit, IN CASE I MIGHT NEED THEM.  See, don't tell me hoarding is bad, this time, it worked!

One HUGE envelope and one set of seeds.  Each seed was printed on a sheet of A4 card and then cut out.  To give you an idea of just how big invisible seeds and therefore invisible seed packets are, here's a photo with a 12 inch ruler included.

I was wondering how to decorate this seed packet and then remembered that I had A3 size cartridge paper left over from another project, so I got one of those out and measured it up, PERFECT FIT.

I decorated it with a set of HUGE foam alphabet stamps and versacolour ink pads.

And here is the final result:
One packet of invisible seeds

Yes, I made a couple of mistakes and had to cover those areas up with labels or paper and work again over the top of them but I am sure the children won't notice.

I wish I could get someone to take a decent photo of me using this in assembly to show you, but I go on my own. So other than trusting teachers who I only see once a month to take a decent photo, I don't really know how to make that happen.

Of course you can't really grow invisible flowers from invisible seeds, in invisible pots full of invisible soil. You can't water them with invisible water and hope they will grow. But you can grow invisible seeds in your own life and in the lives of those around you! What seed will you grow this week?

Oh and when it came to clean up I just stamped each letter I had used over and over on the back on the envelope and I kind of like the result. Might use this technique in an art journal page sometime.

Does Someone Need to Read This as we Start a new Year?

From "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge
I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough AS A WOMAN. Every woman I've ever met feels it - something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying gut feeling of failing at who she IS.
I AM NOT ENOUGH, and I AM TOO MUCH at the same time, Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is SHAME, the universal companion of most women.

Back to me:
The two greatest fears of a woman's heart, "I am not enough" and "I am too much".

How closely does this relate to our struggles with weight.
Society, doctors, and the enemy of our hearts tells us that we are
Too fat
too big
too greedy
too lazy

Not thin enough
not pretty enough
not disciplined enough
not beautiful enough
don't exercise enough
don't move enough
don't care enough

And the truth?
The truth is we are LOVED, we are ENOUGH, and we are NOT too much.
We are loved by a heavenly father who cannot love us even the tiniest bit more than He does right now, nor can he love us the tiniest bit less than He does right now. It is not possible because He IS love.
In Him we ARE enough, we are enough for Him, and that big long list of things that society, family, friends, governments, churches, tell us we SHOULD be doing, are very often not on His list of what he longs for us to be doing, those things that keep us busy, too busy to focus on ourselves in a right way, too busy to focus on Him. And His heart breaks to see what we have done to ourselves.

He is not angry with us because of what we have done to our bodies with weight, he is heartbroken by it. And there is no guilt that he puts on us with that. He understands totally the situations, events, emotions that brought us to this place and he longs for us to turn from those behaviours and start to live in a way that loves our bodies again.

He is not standing, with a big stick waiting to punish us for being overweight or obese.
He is standing, waiting for us to run to Him, pour out all our troubles and emotions at his feet, where he can pick us up, set us on the right track and encourage us and love us.

IN HIM we are ENOUGH and we are NOT too much.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A People MADE for Relationship

This piece was written in April 2009 in response to something written by my friend Dana.  In that post she talks about the fact that we as Christians are all called to live in community, not just so we can impact the world, but for own betterment.
Things have changed for us since then and not only are we now in a small group again but we are leading it.  I think all of this still stands:

I quote:
" As much as God works in us to transform us from the inside out, He gave us something more to refine us. He gave us each other. The community of Christ is meant to be a tool not only as the hands and feet of Christ to the world, but for the betterment of each other through shared lives, shared work, shared struggles and shared encouragement."

She obviously had no idea how timely this post would be for me.
I have really been struggling with the whole relationships issue over recent months.
Because of various things that happened, hubby and I found ourselves still in the same church but not in a small group. We do go to a soaking group most weeks, but lets be honest, that involves maybe 15 - 20 minutes of relationship building and then the rest of the night is spent sleeping, (well not necessarily sleeping, but it's interaction direct with Father rather than with each other). I LOVE soaking, I adore it, but I need something more. I need relationship.
I am not blaming anyone at our church for the situation in which we find ourselves, it is not down to people, it is down to circumstances that have arisen.

Over the last couple of months I have begun to understand and to formulate in my head why this is so important to me, and why I am feeling so lost without it.
I had already come to the realisation that a big part of it was about encouragement. I know one of the things I am called to do is to encourage people, I LOVE doing it, but unless you know people, unless you're aware of what's going on in their lives, that becomes a difficult thing to do well. I also was aware that I NEED encouragement. When I am facing struggles, when I am facing challenges, doubts, issues of sin even, I need encouragement, I need someone who sees what is happening in my life and says "Come on, you CAN DO IT!"

Then, on Sunday morning, before I read Dana's post, I came to a further realisation about my need for relationship.
On Sunday, we had baptisms. 5 people making that public declaration of their relationship with Jesus! AWESOME morning, absolutely amazing, and it made me cry! One of the things that happens at our church when a person gets baptised is that after they have been dunked in the water people pray for them publicly, or bring bible verses they believe god wants to speak to that person through, or pictures, visions, or other "words" from Father God. It's an incredible time as you listen to what God has in store for these people.
I sat there and I cried, because I realised that another big thing about small groups, whether that be an organised group within your church, or whether it be just a group of people that you gather together yourself, is that you are able to speak into each others lives.

Before we left the group we were in before, the group that we were leading and needed to take a break from, that was one of the things we used to do a lot of, praying for each other and speaking into each others lives, what we believed Father God was saying and showing to us.

Dana explains it this way:
" This does not mean that need to let all 1,600 members of my home church in on all my business all the time. It does mean that I have gathered around myself a few groups of people who know me and in spite of that, love me; whose counsel and advice I trust and cherish and most importantly; who love the Lord and want for all of us to be more like Him. It is these people that I can trust to honestly evaluate my words and my behaviours as Christ's ambassador. It is these people that I can trust to hold me up with Truth and not stroke my ears with pretty words. It is these people who sharpen me as I strive to live in community with people who are sometimes very unlike me."

So yes, those aren't just nice, sweet, "God wants to bless you with THIS . . . " type words. It was also a time where we were able to be honest with each other, where we were able to get a spiritual kick in the pants from people we trusted as we were honest with them and they were honest with us.

BUT that was the realisation of Sunday morning, that I am also missing out on the opportunity to have others whom I know and trust spiritually, speak into my life, and to do the same in return.

And all along I have known that WE ARE A PEOPLE WHO ARE MADE FOR RELATIONSHIPS, and women, even more so than men, we are made with this capacity to love and to share, and when that is not used, is not filled, we have a hole, something is missing.

And yes, I DO have relationships online, that other people in the church might not have, but over the last few months, those have changed, those have drifted, and are not the same as they once were. So here I am. Totally acknowledging and agreeing with what Dana wrote. STILL desperate to be in close relationship with a small group of people. Willing to work on creating that for ourselves, (I have worked on getting the "visitor" areas of our home suitable for visitors over the past few weeks and discussed with hubby last night who we might invite for dinner over the coming weeks), but not really knowing where to start.

I'll finish with a final quote from Dana's post:
"We spend a great deal of time focusing on the fluffy, friendly part of our Christian relationships and while we do so, we rob ourselves of one of our most valuable earthly assets. Accountability among believers is not always comfortable, easy or fun, but it is certainly one of the most loving things we can do for each other. Building a person up doesn't merely consist of words that puff up and make us feel good. It includes cutting out the weaker parts so that the entire structure is more sound. It is sometimes painful, heartbreaking, backbreaking work. Who better to entrust it to than those whose hearts are grafted with our own into the heart of the Giver of Life?"

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Remembering Nattie

Who was Nattie? I knew her first through an email group for Christian journalers, and later, much better through a group called Women At Home.

Yes, I only ever knew her online, and certainly there were others who knew her so much better than I did, but I will not resort to calling her an online friend, as opposed to an IRL friend, because that takes something from what she was (and other women on w@h are) to me. She was and they are In Real Life Friends. They are REAL, they exist, and they are there for me.

I am blessed to have known Nattie. She had struggled in various areas of her life but always came up smiling, always pointing us back to the Father. Nattie, I miss you!

To finish I want to share something I wrote on W@H back in 2008. Someone had asked us to imagine what Nattie had been doing in heaven that past year. There's nothing more to add, so I'll leave you with this:

I see her dancing with THE Father.

AS a daddy dances with his daughter.

I see her laughing and playing with him, sitting in his lap, talking about all the times she had to do that without the two of them in the same room, when she had to believe he was there, holding her.

I see her watching the hard situations that some of us are facing, and watch her talking to the father about it, watch her crying WITH HIM, over their pain, and then smiling again because the father is telling her of the plans he has for them and how he is going to bring glory out of the darkness that the enemy has tried to bring to them! I see her even laughing at those plans he is sharing with her, because they are so outrageous in grace.

I also see her reading, and I see her talking with authors who have also made their way to heaven, as if she and they were old friends. And I see her, watching the keen readers amongst us, seeing what they are reading and almost at moments, leaning over their shoulders, as it were, to get a peek at the current book of the moment.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

FINALLY my Theme for 2011

In my last post I wrote about how my theme for 2010 went.

Now it is time to finally share about my theme for 2011.

As in recent years I had not even really begun to think about my them for the year and then someone said something in passing, about someone else and PLONK, it was like a theme dropped into my spirit.   One of my online friends was focusing for a month on doing something NEW every day and I thought "hmmm, interesting, Is that my theme for next year?"
Then someone at church was talking about numbers and how 11 was a number of new beginnings etc.  My research on that didn't bring up new things as a biblical meaning for the number 11, but it did make my ears prick up.
Finally, on New Years Eve, obviously everyone was thinking about the New year and New starts and so on and the following were quoted by friends on facebook:

Revelation 21:3-6 (The Message)

3-5I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making his home with men and women! They're his people, he's their God. He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone." The Enthroned continued, "Look! I'm making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate."

LOOK!  I'm making everything new!
“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul" G. K. Chesterton
And finally my own son quoted

See Life from a NEW perspective !!!! That is the start of a NEW reality !!!Happy "NEW" Year !!!!! 2011
OK OK, I know that people are usually thinking about new things at New year, but seriously OK OK I get it, 2011, NEW THINGS.

What am I expecting from 2011 with a theme of New things?

There are already a few New things this year that I already know about.
Firstly I have picked up a new school with the assembly talks I do for my job.  It is another school in walking distance from my home which is good because on New years Eve we scrapped one of our two cars and the 2nd New thing is that I will be back to travelling to my further away assemblies by bus.  However hubby has assured me that before the end of the year we should be able to pick up a New (to us at least) car.  Finally, another thing for my job and I should by the end of the year be leading a team of adults that are doing weekly bible story telling assemblies in a local school.

Those are the things I already know about.  There are other things that I have a gut level feeling I might be doing for the first time this year and I know at least one of my friends who will tell me "I told you so", (yes, you Tam).  I'm totally clueless on how that one will happen or when or where, and I'm scared by it and not ready to share what it is yet.

Back to the person from church who talked about the number 11 and one thing he said that if you are looking to see new Things starting you often have to be ready to let go of some old things, or see them end, in order for the new thing to begin.  I will hopefully be able to keep that in mind, but am aware that some of those things that end might not be things I want to end, but be things that God needs to have end in order to do the new things He wants to do in me.

So, in short,
2011 - New Things

New starts, New Perspectives, New ways of thinking, New things to do, New ways to BE, NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW


How my Theme for 2010 Went

A few posts ago I wrote about what I thought my theme for 2010 would mean.  I had intended to get to the post about how that turned out yesterday, but something came up, so here we go . . .

There's just one sentence that comes to mind when I consider 2010 and my theme word.

Looking over what some of my friends have said about 2010 and their themes, I am not the only one.
I lost focus and got off track and did not Simplify as much as I had hoped to!  Although at different times throughout the year I did simplify in different ways and had begun to pull things back into focus towards the end of the year, which led to me giving in and rejoining FlyLady after all these years.  Over the holiday period that has fallen by the wayside and now I have been struck down with a cold but when I get over this I do intend to get back on track with that.

The decluttering?  Well, I didn't get as much done as I had hoped, but there is certainly LESS STUFF around here than there was at the start of the year, and in fact there is a big box of stuff waiting to go to the charity shop, mainly Christmas decorations we no longer need.  I was going to get them to a charity shop in the run up to Christmas, but all that snow prevented it.

And some things which may not be looked at on the surface as simplifying were actually a way for me to bring things down to basics and focus on what really mattered, such as the art journaling.  That too had fallen by the wayside towards the end of the year as I withdrew from pretty much everything and hid from myself and everyone, because I was feeling overwhelmed just by life.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Wrote this in 2006

I have just sat through an episode of Deep Space nine, one of the ones with Warf in it, which was kind of weird, because we're used to seeing him on the other series, but anyway!

Series 5 episode 7.

A group of them go on holiday to a planet called Risa.

I just sat through someone (who actually turned out to be a kind of bad guy, meant well, but went wrong, but anyway) sit and tell them that because the whole point of this planet was pleasure and enjoying yourself and having a good time that he saw them all as children who couldn't defend themselves! And if he saw them like that then how did their enemies see them?
Risa is one of those planets the federation has set up with all sorts of things to control it's natural environment. They control the weather, to make it always lovely and wonderful, they control the seismic activity to make sure there are never any earthquakes (and BTW therefore never any tsunami waves), and so on. He turns off the weather control and all of a sudden the people start to leave, they're not enjoying themselves any more, they complain about everything.
And I sat there and watched this, kind of open mouthed really, like "OK, now I understand what T's been on about".

There was also some stuff in this episode about Warf and his romantic relationship with one of the female characters.
And how she confronts him on the fact that he is so restrained, so locked in, never really knowing how to enjoy stuff, never really being truly himself, who he was made to be.
And he talks about how in the heat of the moment of a football match when he was a kid he killed a boy, not meaning to and realized that . . . .
here it comes . . . . .
"I realized how much more fragile humans are and that if I was going to live among them I would have to hold back for the rest of my life!"
Then there was some stuff about the relationship with her, and he didn't want her as someone he loved to get hurt, because of him being himself.
But in the end he got so angry at what this bad guy was doing that he did let rip, did let the real Warf out.

Doesn't that have something to say to our men, to where a lot of them have found themselves in the past, and for sure some of them still are, but also what you said about the young men in youth as well. That maybe some of the holding back has been out of fear for what would happen to those around them, those they love.

But also something more general than that, something about the angels we've seen as well, something about them holding back, because we would get hurt.
Not sure I understand all of it, but it was incredibly powerful.
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