social spark Aisling Beatha: September 2017


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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.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

I Bet You Didn't Know That I ...

TODAY’S NUDGE: Share something that isn’t widely known about you.

Looking back to some of the things that happened when I was growing up it's fairly amazing that I am still here in some respects.

I am not going to attempt to get these into the right order, my memories aren't that good.

  • When I was very little one of my great uncle's had a canal boat.  I don't know how often we went there, but I do know about one particular visit.  Apparently there was a little rowing boat that was sometimes used while the canal boat stayed moored.  From what I understand, there were 3 of us on the boat.  One of my great uncles, my dad and me, oh and one of the dogs. I FELL IN THE CANAL. One of the two adults on the boat yelled "She's fallen in" and in that first split second the other one thought they meant the dog.

    I don't remember any of it but I think I remember afterwards being wrapped up in someone's jumper because I had no dry clothes there, my mom had no idea I would need them.

  • At some point in my childhood I discovered that childproof medication bottles were not childproof.  I have no idea what the medication was or how many I swallowed but it resulted in me ending up in hospital having my stomach pumped.  Again, I was very young and remember little about it.  I do know that someone bought me a gift of a nurses outfit after it was all over.
  • A few years later we went on a visit to Blackpool Pleasure Beach (A big permanent fun fair). One of the rides was a roundabout with cars and motorbikes and so on.  I was sitting on one of them, waiting for the ride to start and decided I wanted to be on a different one.  I got off and started to move to the other one but it was too late, the ride had started.  The ride operator stopped it immediately but not before I had got a huge nasty graze across my back as I had fallen over and one of the bikes had hit my back in some way.
  • When we went on holiday (vacation) to Romania, we had an emergency landing on the flight home, on the wrong side of the iron curtain so the airport was complete with soldiers with guns saying "you will go here, you will sit there, you will eat cake".  To us kids it was all a bit more adventure, but I remember one of the women there being in tears because "I don't like cake".  I think it was just the last straw in what was already a very stressful day.

There were other incidents too but I'll leave you with those.
If you are someone I know, how many of those were you aware of?
If not, what stories do you have that you pull out when you need to say "I better you never knew this about me"?

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Your Story in 50 Words - or - Who I Am

Have you ever seen this before? God's story in 50 words.

God made.
Adam bit.
Noah arked.
Abraham split.
Joseph ruled.
Jacob fooled.
Bush talked.
Moses balked.
Pharaoh plagued.
People walked.
Sea divided.
Tablets guided.
Promise landed.
Saul freaked.
David peeked.
Prophets warned.
Jesus born.
God walked.
Love talked.
Anger crucified.
Hope died.
Love rose.
Spirit flamed.
Word spread.
God remained.

I've seen this around for years and cannot find a record of the original author, so if anyone knows for sure where it originated, please let me know.

I was reminded of it recently and got to thinking what my 50 words would be. Or yours? My 50 words could be

I am :
the baby who survived after multiple miscarriages.
the toddler who nearly drowned in the canal.
the child who discovered what happens when childproof bottles aren't.
the awkward kid who never who never really found herself.
the ' good girl ' who found a guy, had a baby, THEN got married.

And that could be the end of my story, only it isn't.
And there begins another 50 words

I am:
blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed and forgiven.
loved with an everlasting love.
I am:
one who struggles to live in that grace.
one who dances.
one who writes.
one who STILL stands.
one who hangs on by her fingertips when everything around her yells "let go".
I am.

If you had to fit your story into 50 words or less, what would it say?

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Monday, September 11, 2017

The Woman Who Bled

Today in the Blog Hop I am sharing a story that I wrote a few weeks ago.  It is a story where after reading (or in this case listening to) a bible story, I imagined what it would have been like to have been there.  Where would I have been, what would I have seen, and heard? What are the details that would have got missed out when the story of that event was written down?

I was on the edge of the crowd somewhere and I wasn’t looking at Jesus.  I was watching HER.  I didn’t KNOW her, not to speak to but I knew who she was.  We all did.  We knew not to touch her if we passed in the street and I had watched her when she was shopping in the market.  She always waited for the stall holder to place her items down and completely remove their hands before she picked them up so that they would never be touching an item at the same time. I knew that a lot of the stall holders wouldn’t serve her at all, wouldn’t answer her questions, wouldn’t even make eye contact or acknowledge she was there.

It was as if they wanted her to be invisible, or maybe it was the concept of her blood they wanted to be invisible, for to deny the idea of a woman’s blood is to deny her power in part.  To refuse to acknowledge one is to never allow the other to be mentioned.

I watched her move through the crowd, slowly, silently, almost invisibly.  She was touching people, I mean she MUST HAVE been, there was no way to get through that crowd without doing so, but no one noticed.  They were all so focused on Jesus and what they wanted, what they expected from him that they didn’t even see this woman who really needed him.

There were moments when she disappeared in the mass of bodies, but then I would catch sight of her again.  Sometimes she had her back to me, or the side of her head, but there were moments when I had a clear view of her face.  I was expecting to see fear, or desperation, but what I had not expected to see was such a fierce determination.

She continued to move through the crowd, and I was so intent on watching her, so fascinated by her journey through the crowd that I almost forgot that Jesus was there.  That was until she got right up to him and then she ducked down and I lost sight of her altogether.

I was desperately searching for her with my eyes when I heard Jesus speak, clearly, above all the noise and clamour around him.
“Stop!  No, really, STOP, who touched me? Who was it?  I need to know.”
His friends looked at each other, then at the crowd.  They looked at Jesus and then back at each other, I could tell that none of them wanted to be the first to speak, but finally one of them did,
“errrr, have you seen this crowd? They’re ALL pushing and shoving.  Look, we’re not bodyguards, we can’t stop them.”
“No” Jesus said “That’s not what I mean.  Someone touched me, I felt power go out from me.”

That’s when I spotted HER again, I think I realised what had happened at almost the same moment she did.  She looked around herself and then right at me, I was sure of it.  Did she know I’d been watching her?  Was that a smile creeping across her face?  I don’t think I had ever seen her smile before, but then I noticed she was trembling too.

She rose slightly from where she was crouching, she cleared her throat and whispered
“It was me” but no one paid her any attention.  Was she still invisible to them?
Louder now she said, “Me, I touched him.”

Jesus turned to face her, she fell at his feet, her whole body shaking now.  He held out his hand and the crowd went quiet.  They waited to see what he would do next, they KNEW who she was, they knew to avoid her, why didn’t he know, was someone going to tell him?  Then she took his hand and there was an audible gasp.  Jesus smiled as she took his hand, he drew her towards him and she stood up, in front of him, in front of all of THEM.  Finally, they SAW her, finally she was acknowledged.

“Daughter” Jesus said “It’s OK, don’t be afraid, I know what you have been through, I know how you have been forced to live separated from even those you love.  You can go in peace now, your faith has healed you, you are freed from your suffering, both that which came with your condition and that which was put upon you by others.”

Where do you think you would have been had you been there?
Have you ever imagined yourself into a well known story, whether from a faith background, or a historical one?

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

What Brings Me Joy

There are 3 photos that I keep on the desktop of my computer and all 3 of them bring me joy for different reasons.  The first one is the most recent.  A good friend of mine (Hi Rachel) has a farm and recently had to hand rear one of the lambs.  I was lucky enough to make a visit during that time and I got to bottle feed that beauty up there.  Not a tiny little lamb any more, that gorgeous cutie, was as big as the dog and strong, really strong and the bottle was gone in seconds!  I didn't even have time to get a photo of the actual feeding.

My friend also gives me joy but because her home is difficult to get to by bus I don't get to see her very often.

The second photo is from a trip I made to Belarus with Operation Christmas Child.  The lady on the left is one of the Babushka ladies, in a village we visited.  This was in a village not far from the border with Ukraine, so fairly close to the Chernobyl dead zone.  It was really cold when we were there, snow at least 2 foot deep.  

Obviously most of the shoeboxes were being delivered to children in homes, schools, children's homes, churches etc, but a very small number of boxes had been packed specially for the elderly men and women of these villages.  We delivered just 2 of them while we were there.  I went with Denise (also in the photo) to one house and two other members of the team went to another house.  

This Babushka lady was 84 years old, lived on her own in a house with only cold running water and an outside toilet in a country which has snow on the ground at least 4 months out of the year. Her only heating was via a small wood fire in the living room and an even smaller one in the bedroom.  She chopped all her own wood for the fire and grew all her own vegetables.  Remember how close to the Dead Zone this is and you wonder whether that was a good idea but she seemed so healthy and so strong for her age.  And she smiled the whole time we were there.  This was truly one of the highlights of that trip for me.   

Finally the year I got gunged at the church holiday club (VBS).  It wasn't exactly a PLEASANT experience, oh that stuff was so cold and slimy as it ran down the back of my neck inside my T-shirt, but it was the culmination of a week where we had taken something that the kids loved, Dr Who and used that to teach the children about God as well as having lots of fun during the week.  

That's my son over on the left in the stripy shirt, his team had lost the points competition and he was supposed to be gunged (all a set up for what came next of course) but I stepped in at the last moment and took the gunge for him.  The kids loved it and it still comes up in conversation sometimes.

These 3 photos bring me joy because they bring back vivid memories of those events.  There are loads of other things that bring me joy too, but these are the ones I wanted to share with you today.  What brings you joy?  What makes you smile?  What makes you feel like flinging glitter all over the place?

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Apple Cinnamon Donuts

  • 65g Plain Flour
  • 4 teaspoonsTate & Lyle White Sugar with Stevia, 3 in the mix and 1 for the topping

  • 1teaspoons, levelBaking powder

  • 12teaspoons, levelGround Cinnamon, 1tsp in the mix and 1/2 for the topping

  • 1teaspoons, levelVanilla Extract

  • 12teaspoonsAsda Cider Vinegar, use proper ACV if you have it or lemon juice if none at all

  • 2 TBSPTwo Chicks Free Range Liquid Egg White

  • 80mlArla Best of Both Milk

  • 75gApple(s), peeled and diced small (I used 1 small apple)


  • Preheat oven to 350F, 180C & spray your donut pan and set aside.
  • Peel and cut your apple into very small pieces.
  • Mix dry ingredients together then add wet. Gently fold in your apples.
  • Divide into 5 donuts in your pan. Mix the 1t of sugar and ½t cinnamon in a small bag, sprinkle on to the 5 donuts.
  • Bake in oven for approx. 9-11 minutes

2 SMART POINTS per donut, but unfortunately 5 SMART POINTS for 2

Adapted to UK measurements from Original Recipe on Drizzle Me Skinny

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Wistful Mermaid & Deconstruction Poem

I said on day 1 of this September blog along that there would be a whole mix of things during this month.  So today I'm sharing a recent spread from my art journal followed by a poem I wrote a few years ago.  Considering this is the first face I've painted in around 2 or 3 years, and in a style that is a bit different from what I have done before, I am quite pleased with her.

I had not intended to share things from previous posts, but then I wrote yesterday's post and this poem seems so appropriate.  This was written around the start of my deconstruction.

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 
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.

If you like listening to words like this read in a British accent, or you want to see what I looked like before I got my hair cut, you can check out me reading this poem on YouTube.

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Monday, September 04, 2017

What Do You No Longer Believe - Effy's September Blog Along Day 3

I am going to continue to be a day behind Effy's prompts for a while at least.
Today’s Nudge: Write about something you used to believe that you no longer believe and how that shift in belief has changed things for you. 

Oh my word, there are sooooo many things I could write here and some of it is SO complicated.
I'll be upfront because I know that not everyone involved in the Blog Along is the same, I am a Christian.  BUT I feel like I need to say something like "I'm not THAT sort of Christian."  Putting this out here, in written form is a risk, but I'm doing it because I need to get this out somehow.

I used to believe that the Bible was the word of God, every word of it, that it was all truth, not just truth for when it was written but truth for now.  I still believe in God, I am still a Christian, but I have come to a place of understanding that the Bible is a complicated creature, that contains all sorts of literature.  We would never attempt to understand a piece of poetry in the same way we try to understand a writing of history or science.  We wouldn't interpret a biography in the same way that we interpret a piece of fiction based in a particular period of history.  

I believe the Bible contains many words of God, but I also believe that the process of taking those stories that had been passed down through many oral traditions, and collating them into a written form, was a process that was controlled by people, mainly men and mainly men in positions of power of some sort.  I believe that the later decisions over what would be included in the Bible and what would not was also a process that was controlled by a group of powerful men.

I have learnt to look at history through a lens of "Who wrote this?" The truth is that it is the victors, the people who are the ones in power, who have traditionally been the ones to control what is written as history.  I look at certain parts of the bible in a similar way now, "who wrote this" "what were they trying to communicate?" "Who were they trying to communicate to?"  "What was the context they were writing in?" "when did it happen?" "how long after that was it written down?" and so on.

I also believe it is possible to be Gay and Christian, I did not always believe that, yeah I know, I was a pretty sucky person back then who believed what she was told rather than seeking truth for herself.  I believe it is possible to be Trans and be Christian, I believe in Gay Marriage.  I know that not everyone who is a Christian believes the same things, I know that not everyone who attends the same church I do, believes the same things. I believe that makes being part of that church complicated but not at this time impossible, because I believe in the 4th of my 5 mottoes for this year (see below) and I will continue to try to understand where they are coming from and find the common ground that we do have.

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