40 Acts RoundUp

Goodness, time has just slipped away, what with work and every day worries I’ve not been blogging about how things have been going. Not fantastically well, but not dreadful!

The last Act I blogged about was Act21 – no takers on my offers of praying for someone – but maybe that will happen when I least expect it. I should, of course, remember that these 40 Acts are not really just for Lent. I think they are designed to change our behaviour after Lent too…so I should try to be braver about asking people if I can pray for them in whatever situation. It’s not something I do very often (partly because I don’t pray very often!) but this should become a prompt for me in the future…

ACT 22: Unplug: 40acts is normally about giving out, but today it’s back to giving up. Spend the day without any screens. Phones, tablets, laptops and TVs are off. Use today as an opportunity to connect with people face-to-face. Whether it’s over a board game or a walk in the local park, building a fort with your kids, or visiting your grandparents. Unplug and reconnect. No beeps, no buzzes. In the age of the black mirror, we invite you to rediscover Real Life for a day.

I didn’t unplug – partly because I was working! – but, while I’m not a great Facebook addict, I do think that our evenings are spent in front of the TV too much, with Mr D on his smarphone, me on the tablet. Perhaps, as spring advances I might suggest that we go for a stroll and a chat together before settling down for the evening…So often when we talk, there is the constant distraction of whatever’s on TV, meaning that we don’t pay full attention to each other…

ACT 23: Milk, no sugar: Tea. Coffee. Hot Chocolate. Bovril (maybe). Find a friend, neighbour, or co-worker and make them a hot drink. Bonus points if it’s someone you don’t usually speak to a great deal. Just 10 minutes with a work colleague or a neighbour can have a massive impact. You can probably remember a time when you’ve been cheered up by a warm drink with a friend. 

Sorry – no time to have a coffee myself today! Monday is quite a busy work day – and really my lne of work doesn’t lend itself to coffee breaks. However, this is a reminder that I need to nurture my friends and find time to see them, even in the midst of a busy life. “Stuff” is not as important as friendship.

Act 24: Grinning = winning Sorry to crash your April Fool’s Day – today, any pranks are going to be of the uplifting and not of the ritual humiliation variety. So turn the tables. Crack a joke that isn’t at someone else’s expense. Cheer up someone who looks bored. Make a point of not doing the grumbly British thing if someone pranks you. Your challenge is to make someone else smile on April Fool’s Day. 

Poisson d’Avril here in France – something to do with sticking a fish (paper, rather than real-and-slimy!) on someone’s back. I was at home lesson planning and taking lessons on the phone…Hardly saw anyone else. I’m afraid this is one Act that passed me by completely!

Act 25: Treasure Hunt:Let God lead you for half an hour. Put aside your lunch break, go to a public place (a park, a pub, plant yourself in a Tube carriage…) and ask God to do something through you.Start small and see what happens. You might end up buying a meal for a homeless person and eating it with them, or offering to pray for someone. Pray for those around you, and conversations will follow. This is about seeing what God can do with a chunk of your day, when you give him the space to work.

I had an hour between my Kiné session and my first lesson so I went to the pedestrian streets in Roanne to wander & “be led” I prayed for people I passed – but did feel a bit as though I was doing it because I’d “been told to”. Then I saw a woman begging on the church steps…Before 40 Acts I might have given her 50 cents, or even reasoned myself out of giving anything (only spend it on drugs…or whatever). In the midst of 40Acts I might have given her more, or bought her some food. Today I felt I ought to do more…

So, taking a deep breath, I sat next to her on the steps, and explained in French that I didn’t want to just give money, and walk past, but that I wanted to say hello, to talk a little, to find out how I could help. She looked at me in a really confused way.

“Ho hum,” I thought “My french really IS bad!”

“Je ne parle pas français” (I don’t speak French) she said

“English?” I said, hopefully.

No – Roumanian…

I tried speaking a bit of English, in the hope that she might understand some “international language” but no luck! I ended up giving her some money and buying a sandwich and a bottle of water for her…but, hmm. That didn’t go as planned

Later, as I recounted this on 40Acts Facebook I received the reply: The purpose of the act was to remove the ability of planning .Despite not having the ability to communicate with language you could still offer an isolated person a friend and a poor woman sustenance. Even if it was only for a short while the gift is exceptional and you can’t know the impact that it could have had ….

I also helped a young guy with a questionnaire, and found a shoe shop that I didn’t know existed for “difficult feet” (which sums mine up perfectly!) I know finding shoe shops wasn’t the aim of the Act, but I’m pleased to know it exists!!!

It wasn’t the amazing Spiritual experience that I had maybe hoped for (but maybe I wasn’t courageous enough – if I’d had the nerve spoken to those rough looking guys who were shouting at passers-by then maybe something amazing would have happened…) but let’s hope God can work through the little that I was brave enough to give him.

ACT 26: Domino: Likely to be visiting a coffee shop today? Buy the next person in line a latte (or a panini. Who doesn’t like a panini?) Or heck, go bigger. Pay for someone’s shopping or petrol. The generosity of God is constantly being passed along: The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Spirit. We are loved, and then we love. ‘Paying it forward’ can be a micro-version of this abundant grace that we get to be a part of. Generosity begets generosity. Start something you won’t be able to finish, and feel GOOD about it.

Out of the house early yesterday I didn’t see this prompt until I got home at night, so it was a little late for the Act. Also, when your French isn’t good it’s really difficult to explain what you’re doing and why!! Money isn’t very abundant here in the Dormousehold at the moment BUT I’ve decided to pay for a bit of someone’s shopping today…I’m going to pop 5€ in a couple of envelopes and leave them in shopping trolleys when I go shopping today, with a note saying something like “Here is something to help pay for your shopping. ” on them…A little like the Stealth note-leaving from last Wednesday. In fact, I’m considering doing some more “Ninja Notes” (!!!) today…I love the idea of leaving them in shopping trolleys for people to find as they are hurried and stressed at the supermarket! Maybe I’ll leave a couple of 1€ coins in the trolley slots too.

ACT 27 (Today) Blooming Marvellous: Roses, geraniums, peonies, zantedeschia, eurpobia, marginata. Say it (more simply…) with flowers. Flowers usually make such an obvious statement that we usually wait for a special occasion to give them to someone. Today’s challenge is to give someone flowers just because you care.

OK, I think I can do this! I’ll do a diversion as I’m driving home after my lessons via Clare’s home with a bunch of flowers (or a plant.) She works incredibly hard for the community and her family (she’s a district nurse with 2 practices, a volunteer fire fighter, a member of the Town Council and runs a livery business with her husband…It makes me exhausted just thinking about it!)

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