Sunday
Mar232014

Being a Mother to Jake

Today we are honoured and blessed to welcome Sarah Cahill my sister in law, share with us on our series 'Celebrating Mothers' Sarah tells us what it was like to become a Mum to Jake and how her heart grew with a new kind of love.
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Every day I am still amazed that Brian and I created this perfect little boy.

Being a mother to Jake is such a blessing. I knew my life would change when I had a baby but I never understood the extent of how much you can love somebody or something until Jake came into our lives.

Being a mother is quite possibly the hardest yet most rewarding job ever. I thank God every day for gifting me with this bright, healthy, strong and handsome boy.

His cute little noises, smiles, laughter and cuddles fill my heart with so much joy.

Jake has definitely made me a stronger and better person. I'm so excited to celebrate my first Mother's Day this year.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mums :o)

Sarah

Thank you Sarah for this beautiful and heartfelt post.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Saturday
Mar222014

The women that helped make me the woman I am today a guest post by That Belfast Girl

Today to continue our new series 'Celebrating Mothers' as we wait for Mother's Day falls on the 30 March in Ireland, this year we are absolutely thrilled to welcome back the fun, funky and fabulous That Belfast Girl, as she shares with us about the women who made her the women she is today.  I just know you will find this post as inspirational as I do.

I have been blessed with a great mum. I was born in at the start of the 1990s and my mum was a single parent by the time I was two years old. Most people would be down-hearted by this but I am not. My mum has worked my whole life to give me everything I need, plus far more.

A huge part of me having this amazing life has been down to my grandmother who has supported us through thick and thin. My grandmother, like my mother, was also a single parent so understood the bounds of time, money and emotional baggage that comes with being a lone parent.

I think like so many girls of my generation, the grandmother in many ways becomes a second parent. This can be both amazing and confusing at the same time! For school concerts or big events in my life, my mum and grandmother attended and as the years went on, I realised the crowds were filled with more and more of these combinations. As well as my mum and grandmother, my life has been filled with great female role models.

My first role model in life was my Sunday School teacher. She was kind-hearted and genuinely loved children. I met her as a three or four year old and almost twenty years later, I still look up to her and ask her for life advice on all manner of things. At school I was lucky to be taught by some amazing women.

My Primary One teacher inspired me to pursue a life as an educator as the beginnings of my education began so firmly under her wonderful guidance. At secondary school I took singing lessons and always made to feel confident by two wonderful women who coached me over those seven years.

In my final year of school, as an awkward and unsure eighteen year old, a caring and inspiring woman took me under her wing and continues to provide me today with fantastic advice and a shoulder to cry on. While doing my under-graduate degree I met so many women that changed my life.

My dissertation supervisor was the best craic and our chats on Politics often turned into talks about life. While at university I joined Belfast Community Gospel Choir and our director has provided me with many words of encouragement over the last number of years.

The choir has provided me with abundant opportunities to meet lifelong friends… including the owner of this blog! My blogging career has also allowed me to meet some inspiring women.

One of my blog friends has become a hugely positive influence in my life over the past two years. I met her at an extremely bad time in my life and her guidance and support have undoubtedly helped contribute to the happy young woman that I am today.

I am only in my early twenties so I am excited to meet the rest of the women who will shape my life. I am excited to have children so they can meet all of these inspiring adoptive aunties! I feel honoured to know all of these women- strong, interesting, compassionate and unwavering in their love, support and guidance.

You never know that you might be a role model to someone through your actions or words. Thank you to my mother, my grandmother and all of the aforementioned women who have made me into “me”.

Happy Mother’s Day

Love,

That Belfast Girl

follow That Belfast Girl 

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That Belfast Girl and Salt & Sparkle would love to hear from you about women that have shaped your life, please get in touch - comment, Twitter, Facebook or Email.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Friday
Mar212014

FEAR of joy - a guest post by Sinéad Lynch, Psychotherapist

Today to continue our new series 'Celebrating Mothers' as we wait for Mother's Day on the 30 March in Ireland, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome back the wonderful and beautiful Sinéad Lynch a Psychotherapist who is sharing with us today about her Mother and not being afraid of Joy.


My mum called me the ‘joy of her life’. She had a name like this for each of us -My four brothers and I. But it was more than just a description. The sentence summed up so much of her feelings and experiences with each of us, in a very unique and special way. I’m sure she felt joy for my brothers too, but it was especially apt for me, having waited so long for a baby girl.

As her anniversary draws closer, I am reminded more and more of her. Things seem to pop up in no ordinary coincidence. A robin bobs into view in the garden; a bunch of roses spring up on a walk; Joe Dolan sings on the car radio…all reminders of her favourite things.

Shortly after she died I had an amazing experience. A band called The Noisettes’s have a song called ‘Never Forget You’ and I’ll never forget the first time I heard it. I was back in my old bed in our family home. Groggily one morning I woke and smacked off my alarm clock. This gave way to 10 minutes snooze time with the radio playing. As I lay there half asleep the words of a song I had never heard before started to wake me…”Don’t you know that you’re my joy, always remember me”.

My eyes flipped wide open. I could not believe the lyrics. I felt the song was written for me. I could hear my mother’s voice in the music. It was so upbeat and so her! A message that seemed so positive as if she was saying ‘’Don’t worry about anything – I am here with you”. Something sad and melancholic would not be her style. This song, as emotional as the lyrics were, put a pep in my step. I felt her warmth, her encouragement and her presence.

Through studying psychotherapy I have come to believe that we really do live in fear or love. Mostly, we live in fear. That fear is manifested as our everyday anxieties, where we find ourselves living in the regret of the past or grasping at the future. But have you ever thought about how fear can hold you back from living? How fear can hold you back from joy? We can be afraid to love, to give, to share…because fear tells us we might get hurt. 

Joy, however, is manifested in presence - that point at which we shed the past, let go of the future and are just there, where we are, in that moment. Our fear and our anxiety are often about a sense that we lack control, or that we have or will lose control. Guess what though? You can't control anything. We'd like to think we can, but we can't. We can only do what we are doing in the moment. And joy comes from squeezing that moment for all it's worth.

When I think of the joy that I must have brought my mother, I feel proud. For her to have chosen that word to describe me may seem typical enough for any parent to feel toward their child – But when I really think of the word – JOY – and allow it to sink in, I feel such happiness. And now when I graduate from college on her anniversary, I am filled with so many mixed emotions. I am filled with pride and joy, but also sadness that I don’t get to spend the day with her. But I know in my heart she is fully present. I believe when a person dies they continue to live on as long as we live on, because they are inside us.

I was recently asked ‘What are anniversaries like?’ I said they were no different to any other day because you think of the person you lost everyday anyway…You think of them in summer, in winter, at the start of the year, at the end of the year, at Christmas, at Easter. They are always with you. But one thing I did not realise when I answered that question was how our bodies, our hearts, our souls seem to relive the experience of losing that person all over again when it’s their anniversary.

Maybe it’s just because during this time we allow ourselves to be still. And in this stillness we allow the depth of feelings. The sadness; the longing; the pain. We remember the day or night the person slipped from this life and the hurt comes rushing back. I always say the sadness of losing a parent can only be shared with those who have gone through it.

Maybe this is a naive statement as we all have different relationships with our mothers and fathers. But unlike the grief that comes with losing a friend or lover or even a sibling, there is something about the death of a parent that makes you feel like a lost child.   

I will always miss my mother. I miss her smile, her comforting words, her hearty hugs and her reassuring eyes. On her anniversary I will think of her more and this year I am aware of the joy that I would yet again bring her on my graduation day. The pride she would feel and the love she would pour on me. Somewhere between the pain and sadness of missing her I will remember this joy and I will feel proud knowing she is pouring all the same love, happiness and pride that she would have, if she was there by my side.

That is the gift she has given me – Faith. Faith in me, faith in life, faith in love … and faith in her presence that I know is real. I will feel this and know not to be afraid …of joy.

 

Sinead Lynch
P.S.I., M.Sc., B.A Psychology, H.Dip Psychotherapy & Counselling
You can follow or reach Sinead here - 

web: www.silverlinings.ie
mail: sinead@slcounselling.ie
tel: +353 86 088 2860
twitter: @SLcounselling 
 

Thank you for this powerful post Sinead. 

That's it for now ...

 

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Thursday
Mar202014

Finding Black Gold on the Emerald Isle a guest post from Willetta Flemming

Today we are thrilled to welcome back again author Willetta Flemming as our guest writer today, she is talking about writing her latest book a memoir 'Black Gold On The Emerald Isle'.

These days go by fast. Like a cloud swept by a strong wind gripping each one. Instead of regretting I take a moment, regressing to my beginning. To gently pause on the future, dreaming, mystified and gleaming in treasures found. Wanted and unwanted like a yo-yo bouncing up and down, an orphan abandoned and a lover who is gone forever.

Searching for my crown, it is lost but only for a moment. I stop. I write. Each word healing comes and grace unwritten and conceived not by human efforts. I stop. I write. Each word sealing my security and establishing me to be more than I was deserving of, a Queen a treasure. Black gold.

Finding Black Gold On The Emerald Isle is a diary of some of my journey through life. It takes a detailed, look at the poetic, practical and difficult of my days. 


I was able to heal through writing this book. I was able to set down some of the pain I carried and walk away, this was my chance and I took it. It has been such a joyful experience to remember and write a bit of my growing up years. I laughed and cried as pen emptied out onto paper.
I feel like this is the beginning of something wonderful a new romance with writing that remained in my dreams until now.

You can follow Wiletta Fleming on Facebook

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Wednesday
Mar192014

When Sister's Pray - a guest post by Jennifer Camp

Today to continue our new series 'Celebrating Mothers' as we wait for Mother's Day falls on the 30 March in Ireland, this year we are absolutely thrilled to welcome the truly beautiful Jennifer Camp, who writes inspiringly at her blog You are My Girls, as well as writing Loop a personal and prophetic letter of encouragement, you can receive to your email box three times a week - you can sign up here for Loop.  Jennifer has some powerful words to share with us about 'when sister's pray' I know you will enjoy them as much as I have.


Tucked up in my lap, fair head pressed back against mine, daughter’s breath touches warm on my skin. Intake and outtake of air in these lungs, beating this heart—I can take this miracle for granted.

How, Father, do I breathe? 

I inhale, wanting to lean, too, within this circle of women who pray.  My daughter leans against me, her support, five-year-old legs dangling long, and I bend my head forward, pressing my own head against hers. 

Two daughters clinging to what makes them feel safe.

Breathe.

The prayers lift up, mothers’ hearts joining His: This daughter’s heart wounded, this son’s words to his brother igniting conflict, this son, almost a teenager, challenged to stand for what he knows is true.  Another son longing to discern whispers He speaks to his heart and the Father to say, “yes, listen, I am here.”

We lift up these heartaches, these breaths pushed down, to rise. And we see.


There is nothing more sacred, more humbling, more beautiful, than breathing in these voices of women—sisters—with whom I have connected, over the years, in prayer. We pray and receive breath. We pray for each other’s children and are blessed with His words our own.

A prayer, the groaning of hearts lifted up, is found in community, yes—but more so, by breathing in the breath of the One who loves and who shows us each how.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God (Romans 8: 26-27).

I have few words--His air my own, my heart His (and what, even, is a word, but life, breath?)—but trust the words He prompts will come. He knows this heart of mine, the aches and pulls, the old stuff pushed down, the new, on the surface, just breaking again, in waves, to rise.

Sisters, let’s rise.

Prayers He forms—His breath true, beautiful, holy, life. Love knows no other way. And He in me speaks no other language but love. The Father in me. His Spirit coming to give me breath.

Inhale.

I sit at His feet, little girl heart looking up.  But I feel His breath, my intake of love, and I breathe out.

Stay.

Will you breathe with me, sisters? Can we stand together, circled up, leaning close to listen, and pray? How can I pray for you?

Jennifer

Jennifer Camp, author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California. She loves to write . . . but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can connect with Jennifer and follow her over on her blog, You are My Girls. 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

 

 

Tuesday
Mar182014

My Mum was THE greatest influence in my life

Today to kick off our series on 'Celebrating Mothers' as Mother's Day falls on the 30 March this year, we are delighted to welcome our first in a number of guest posters the Director of the Belfast Community Gospel Choir, Marie Lacey, with some thoughts on her Mum, in this wonderful guest post.

From the bottom of my heart I declare that my Mum was THE greatest influence in my life. She was a woman whose character influenced the decisions I made in life and whose support, even when I got it wrong, was unflinching.

My Mum was without guile, a woman of fierce integrity, an opponent of gossip, a woman who could laugh for Ireland and a woman with an enormous capacity to LOVE! She filled our home with music, laughter, the smell of home baking and, given any opportunity, her opinions on history, politics and world affairs.

Over all things she filled our home with the love of Jesus for she was first and foremost a lover of God and her faith dictated how she lived her life.


She was no softie though and she dished out love, encouragement, advice AND discipline in equal measure. I often felt the sting of a chastening slap to the leg when I stepped out of line.

Mum and I went on regular weekends away together. We both had a passion for visiting stately homes, cathedrals, historic cities and of course no trip was complete without SHOPPING! She was my Mum, sister and girlfriend rolled into one.

When she fell ill with cancer in 2010 and was sent home to spend her final days in the little cabin we built for her at the rear of our house, members of my choir, the Belfast Community Gospel Choir came and serenaded her. They stood outside her bedroom window and we raised Mum’s hospital bed up as high as it would go so that she could look out at all the singers. I am convinced God released a host of angels to accompany the choir as the sound created was out of this world and my Mum’s face was glowing and radiant!

Even the neighbours were leaning out of their bedroom windows soaking up the atmosphere. I will never forget those few precious days and the wonderful conversations Mum and I had before, as Mum put it, she finally upgraded from her cabin to her mansion in heaven.

The greatest compliment I’ve ever received was paid to me by one of Mum’s dearest friends “Marie, while you’re alive, your Mum will never be gone”!

I can only hope that those words are true for if I am a reflection of my Mum then I truly am a blessed woman indeed.

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Marie shares a little below about a wonderful opportunity for you to get involved with Belfast Community Gospel Choir and their opportunity to spread Joy in New York City.

Most of our fans will know that it has always been BCGC’s dream to take our music to the heartland of gospel music – the USA.

Well, we now have the opportunity to make that dream a reality after an invitation from the Belfast Lord Mayor to sing at the “New York-New Belfast” Conference in New York City in May 2014!

And to achieve our dream - We need your help


We wouldn’t be anywhere without the support and encouragement of our dedicated fans all over the world, and now we are asking for your help to get us to the United States! BCGC members are undertaking all kinds of individual and group fund raising activities and we also plan a fund raising concert before the tour. More details soon!

We’re asking if you would consider helping to send us a little bit of the way across the Atlantic by supporting us through making a donation securely via PayPal. We are still £20,000 short of our target and every penny donated will help us achieve our goal.

Your money will help toward the cost of flights, accommodation, travel, as well as exciting things like hiring venues and advertising our concerts. Every little bit will help.

We’ve already achieved so much with your support and now we need you more than ever, so please, make a donation, share the news with your friends and help us fulfil our dream!

Marie it was wonderful to have you at Salt & Sparkle today.

That's iot for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Sunday
Mar162014

St Patrick was not a drunk little green man

St Patrick was not a little green drunk man with an orange beard. The patron saint of Ireland was born in Britain during the 4th century, most likely in Wales, to a wealthy Roman family, his father was a deacon; his grandfather a priest. Patrick as a teenager was not a believer.

'I did not, indeed, know the true God'
Saint Patrick, Confessio, translated from Latin

Patrick was abducted and sold as a slave by Irish slave traders when he was a teenager. He was sold to a chieftain named Milchu and spent six years as a shepherd tending his master's flocks on the slopes of the Slemish Mountain, County Antrim. Patrick recounts his time as a slave in his memoir entitled The Confession.

'I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time.'
Saint Patrick, Confessio, translated from Latin.

Patrick escaped from his life as a slave after six years and stowed a way on a boat bound for Britain. While he was back in Britain he felt he was called to return to Ireland as a missionary.

'I seemed to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: 'We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.'
Saint Patrick, Confessio, translated from Latin.

Patrick spent several years studying before he began his life as a missionary in Ireland. He returned to Ireland, as the country's second bishop, bringing the message of Christ to the pagan nation, he baptised thousands of people. He faced much opposition from the pagan Irish natives and was often imprisoned by local pagan chiefs. Patrick did not bring Christianity to Ireland, there is good evidence that shows there were believers in Ireland before he arrived. Not to mention the fact Pope Celestine in Rome had sent Palladius as a missionary to Ireland many years before Patrick.

Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved grass to help explain the Trinity, how God could be three entities (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) yet, at the same time, be one.

Today is the the shamrock is the national emblem for Ireland for this very reason.

One of Patrick's greatest legacy were scholar-monks, who sought to preserve the classical works of Greece and Rome. At the same time the Romans were burning down the Great Library at Alexandria, Irish Catholics were faithfully copying much of what was being lost.

When Roman Catholics disagreed with a certain text, they burned it, but Irish Catholics copied it word for word, but made editorials in the margins like 'this is pure rubbish, here'.

The Irish took to their new religion with gusto and shortly after Patrick large monasteries were built across Ireland. Missionaries such as St Gallen, St Columkille and St Columbanus left Ireland to re-convert Europe during the Dark Ages.

Poignantly, Patrick although he was committed to Ireland also wrote of his longing to leave the nation while he was a missionary here.

'How I would have loved to go to my country and my parents, and also to Gaul in order to visit the brethren and to see the face of the saints of my Lord! God knows it! that I much desired it; but I am bound by the Spirit.'
Saint Patrick, Confessio, translated from Latin

Most of what is known about him comes from his two works; the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish christians.

Saint Patrick described himself as a “most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God.”
Saint Patrick, Confessio, translated from Latin.

St Patrick is believed to have died in 493 AD and his remains are assumed to be buried in a grave at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.

Patricks legacy today may have more to do with the Nationalism of Ireland in the 18th Century than his actual work as a missionary. Patrick became a powerful symbol of identity for Irish people, as politics advocating Home Rule for Ireland looked for ancient symbols that would unify people in an identity different from Britain. As the Irish left Ireland because of famine, deportation and emigration, they looked to Patrick to unite them with a sense of their identity. St. Patrick's Day was first publicly celebrated in Boston in 1737 where a large population of Irish immigrants resided. Nearly 200 years later, the first St. Patrick's Day parade in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931.

Happy St Patricks Day.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable