Hello, dear Readers – whoever and wherever you are. Thank you for popping in, and thank you for your comments and “likes”. I really do appreciate them all (and I’m not just saying that – see 17 below!!)
I have been doing the Advent Challenges – although to be honest, I’ve not really been taking on board the meditations, or Bible passages that accompany them. I’m glad I’ve done this, as it has helped me think about others. As we are going away from tomorrow onwards I won’t be posting about the remaining challenges – & I may not pick up the emails from the Bible Society (it depends on my data roaming package in the UK) – but I will try to consider others more.
So, what have I been up to?
DAY 12: EXIT THE COMFORT ZONE: It’s easy to be kind to kind people. It’s less easy to reach out to those we find tricky or those who are unkind to us. Yet, this is exactly what the Bible calls us to do. Eek. Today’s the day to reach out to the bad-tempered so-and-so you usually avoid. Or how about just reaching out to the people in our lives we have little to do with? If we do the unexpected, people’s reactions might surprise us too!
With 61.6% I chose the challenge to “hand deliver your Christmas cards” to neighbours. Actually, that was a bit daft as we are so behind on Christmas cards this year, & it’s not really a French tradition. But I did take one along to the CCI where I was working today, which I delivered.
It wasn’t really exiting my comdfort zone though, as I get on very well with Frederique, the woman I mainly deal with at the CCI (partly because, during 40 Acts last Lent I gave her a cake as a random act!).
DAY 13: GADGET DE-TOX: Screens and gadgets can rob us of valuable time if we let them. Did you know that the average time we spend on social media every day is estimated at 106 minutes? (Statista, 2015) That’s about one-and-three-quarter hours we could be spending instead with real people. Having a one-day gadget detox might just help us rediscover the joy of a phone call or face-to-face chat and reconnect with people. The Bible calls us to ‘love one another’ and that means spending quality time with people and enjoying their company.
Today I wasn’t really going to be near a screen, so it wasn’t quite suitable as a challenge today! However, I chose the challenge to call someone I would usually email/ text (as did 34.3% of the Advent Challengees) – except I decided that I would write a letter to them instead. This is going to wait until after Christmas though, as time is running out!
DAY 14: PUT A SMILE ON SOMEONE’S FACE: The tinsel and fairy lights can help lift people’s spirits – but what if we went one step further today and brought a beaming smile to people’s faces and deep joy to their hearts? The Bible calls us to encourage people and build them up. How can we lift people’s mood and lighten the tone today? We can be sure that, when one person starts smiling, others will follow suit.
58.1% (including me) chose the challenge to put chocolate through someone’s letter box (although I’m not sure that if I received a random bar of chocolate in my postbox I would eat it…Suspicious minds, and all that!) but in fact I took a packet of chocolate biscuits to the Garage with me when we took the car in for a change of tyres. The Garagistes had choccie biccies with their morning coffee. Alex (the owner) was suitably surprised and smiley!
DAY 15: GIVE ME A BREAK: There’s an awful lot to do in the mad dash towards Christmas, and some people are starting to feel the strain, with deadlines to meet and jobs to be done. It can be a tiring time for many. The Bible describes how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms in battle, literally shouldering his burden with him. It’s a vivid picture of how God encourages us to help others so we can all reach our goals and win our struggles. Give someone a break today!
I didn’t do this on Day 15, but it’s Mr FD’s turn to change the eight litter trays (EIGHT!!!!) this weekend, but I’m going to do at least four of them, and if I feel really kind I’ll do all eight. The ones in the cellar and the one on the balcony are the worst!
DAY 16: LOVE YOUR PLANET: Our planet is a precious gift from God and the Bible calls us to look after it, for our benefit and for future generations. Sadly, we’ve ignored God’s instruction to care for his creation. Many scientists now believe global warming is manmade, and climate change is making life even harder for millions of the poorest people on earth. This is a huge injustice – and one we cannot ignore.
21.4% of us chose to put on an extra jumper instead of turning the heating up… Well, we don’t have central heating, so instead of not turning up the heating for a while I didn’t use any heating, and kept moving. It did get a bit too chilly in the end though!! I didn’t put the granule burner on at lunchtime, and had lunch in my study instead.
DAY 17: BE GRATEFUL: If we pay too much attention to boastful friends, we can fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others. Social media doesn’t always help in this regard. It’s not long before envy takes the place of gratitude. The Bible tells us God wants us to have an attitude of gratitude at all times and ‘in all circumstances’… for our own good. It’s the key to contentment and keeps us open to receive God’s blessings.
40.7% of us chose to write a list of 10 things we are grateful for…
- The real message of Christmas: the incarnation of Christ – God bridging the gap between heaven and earth. Love came down at Christmas, and challenges us to continue his work.
- Mr FD…with all his annoying habits! I appreciate and love him for all that he is and does.
- Friends – those I see regularly and those I don’t. Those who I’m going to see this Christmas, and those I won’t. For their love, laughter, tears and support.
- A new bathroom. It’s been a nightmare getting it done (you can read about it in other posts!) but I have to remember that a warm, clean place in which to shower in copious amounts of hot water is a dream for so many people.
- Plentiful food, that we can afford to buy. Use of Food banks has tripled in the past year. Katy Boo wrote a moving post here.
- Our lovely cats. We love their cuddles and purrs when they snuggle up to us in bed. We miss our lovely George boy so much, but are grateful for the three who remain…and we still hope George may come back.
- ChristChurch, Clermont Ferrand…I am very happy to be a member here. Of course, because the church is made up of broken, hurting people there are tensions and misunderstandings, but we are all members of the body of Christ, trying to spread his message of love. Especial gratitude for our dynamic rector and his lovely wife.
- The incredibly generous donation made by the Bishop to Phone Credit for Refugees. I made 200 Christmas cards, which he was going to send to whoever the Bishop of the Convocation of the Episcopal Church in Europe sends Christmas cards to. He sent a donation of 400€ for the charity.
- Work. A job I love, and which pays reasonably well. Yes, I’d rather not have to work, but if I have to, I can’t imagine a job that’s much better than this…Except maybe acting, or crafting.
- Christmas music – including the bautiful Sol Invictus by Thea Gilmore, Kate Rusby’s cheerful folk music, Hely-Hutchinson’s lovely Symphony of Carols and, of course, Rend Collective!
So there’s 10 things…but of course there are so many more.
I wish all my lovely readers a very happy Christmas