NaBloPoMo 24: Random(ish) photo

I looked back through my photos to see if I could find one from this day in the past. I did, but they were so depressing (our badly renovated bathroom, back in 2016) I wasn’t going to share them!

So I just went for a random photo…

Here’s me rubbing shoulders with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in March 2019 – at the consecration of Mark Edington as our Bishop in the Convocation of the Episcopal Church in Europe.

Michael Curry was very patient and kind – people were queuing up for photos and he took it all in good humour.It was a bit odd seeing him with a couple of burly bodyguard-priests, but they were relaxed enough to be involved in the actual taking of photos. It was a great weekend – in the cathedral in Paris, with a dinner hosted by all the churches with their regional “specialties” – we took Auvergne cheeses and ham, the church in Waterloo brought Belgian chocolates, Munich brought German sausage, etc…The service was extremely moving, and I was enormously glad to be able to be there.

I’d started off working on the Transition Committee, to help Mark, once he had been elected, get prepared for his new role, and to organise the service. Unfortunately, cancer got in the way so I had to drop out. However, I was “allowed” to join the procession into the cathedral, together with myriad bishops, priests, deacons and lay people.

We have been truly blessed by having Mark as our Bishop – he is down to earth, yet spiritual; he talks a lot of sense, and is especially invested in helping Christ Church continue to be.

This link is to an interesting discussion between Bishop Mark, and Bishop Michael Hunn (of the Rio Grande) – about the Episcopal Church in Europe, and the conflict in Ukraine. I think it shows Mark’s thoughtful Godly nature.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=523518465786255

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NaBloPoMo 23: MORE about Thanksgiving!

Here are some photos from our church community Thanksgiving dinner

Fabrice, the chef, and his assistant serve up the meal – potatoes, green beans, turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing and gravy.

One table of church members & friends tucking in!

And another – that’s me in the rainbow jumper

I told you there were a lot of desserts!!!

NaBloPoMo 22: At skool today

On Fridays I teach in a primary school. Last year it was all day, this year it is only the morning – four classes. I do enjoy it, (once I get started!) but the early get-ups discombobulate me. Mr FD works in the office every other Friday, so on those days I stay in school in the afternoon, do my planning, and then go to Noz…The other weeks I come home for the afternoon. Huzzah, this week is a come home early week.

As three classes are having an evaluation test, there’ll be a lot of marking to do over the weekend, but never mind.

NaBloPoMo 21: Hospital appointments.

Yay! I have an endoscopy/ colonoscopy next week. It’s just a follow up from one I had 6 years ago, so nothing sinister is expected, but of course, having blithely gone into a mammogram appointment 5 years ago to be surprised by an anomaly, I am no longer quite as sanguine about these things! Last time a hiatus hernia was discovered with the endoscopy, and several polyps were removed via the colonoscopy so I’m expecting similar results.

For those of you who Know, you already have an idea of the necessary preparation for the colonoscopy: I’ve planned my menus from Saturday evening on – pasta, chicken, ham and eggs feature quite heavily, as do biscottes with honey and low fat cheese spread! No fruit, vegetables, dairy (except low fat cheese and butter), potatoes, fibre of any sort! Hey ho.

Then on Tuesday the “purge” preparation. That I’m not looking forward to, but it’s necessary, I know. 😦 I’ve treated myself to some luxury, soft, air cushioned toilet roll to make the experience slightly more comfortable!

Yesterday was the appointment with the anesthetist – does that happen in the UK or not? – to discuss any pre-existing medical problems. I was asked if I can climb two flights of stairs without problems…Yes, except for my knee, I replied. It wasn’t considered remotely amusing.

So next Wednesday I’ll be in hospital – just for the day – to be cleaned and examined and scraped. Yay!

NaBloPoMo 20: Surprise Cats

For the Silent Auction at Thanksgiving, I created lots of “Surprise Bags” – people didn’t know what was in them, but there were clues on the outside of the bag.

The “Surprise Bag for A Cat Lover” included various cat ornaments, some postcards of cats, a cat shaped box, some cat earrings, a couple of cat books… Mostly things I’d been given, but really don’t want to keep. I love cats, but don’t need myriad ornaments to remind me I like cats. The books were those type that are funny the first time you read them (Grumpy Cat’s Outlook on Life) but which don’t really bear looking at again.

The family who bought the bag were thrilled with the contents, and there was much discussion going on about who was going to keep which ornament, so I was happy about that.

One of the books I have received in the past, and definitely won’t be giving away is “I Could Pee On This – & other poems by cats” I’ve shared poems from this book before. And here’s another

O CHRISTMAS TREE

O please

O come on

O like you didn’t know

What you were getting for Christmas

Before I ripped open all your gifts.

O by the way

The tree looks better on its side

O I really do think so.

NaBloPoMo 19: Thanksgiving Dinner Redux

On Sunday we had our Community Thanksgiving dinner – although we didn’t have as many people as we have had in the past, there were still about 70 of us.

The chef, Fabrice, did an amazing job – and he was so cheerful and helpful, as was his assistant. Unasked for, he provided a big tray of chocolate doughnuts for dessert as well. The food was delicious, and plentiful; the company good. I sat with someone I don’t know very well, his girlfriend and son, and it was good to chat and find out more about them. P, the son, is on the autistic spectrum, but coped with the situation very well.

There were plates and plates of desserts, ranging from tiramisu to pumpkin pie, by way of cookies, banoffi pie, chocolate tart, caramel apples, carrot cake, white chocolate tart, gingerbread, the aforementioned doughnuts, apple crumble, grape clafoutis, and many other offerings…

The silent auction wasn’t quite as successful as we’d hoped, and I think some people got real bargains, but there was a great range of gifts – champagne, pictures, cards, the offer of a home cooked chicken curry, or cake, a lift to the airport, and many other things. Most things only got one or two bids, but there was a bit of a battle for the bottle of Limoncello!

Finally, the Auction made over 800€, so certainly not to be sniffed at. We’d just hoped for a little bit more.

As I had a rendezvous at the garage in Clermont the following day, I stayed with Lee & Laurie from church. We had a really enjoyable evening chatting about all sorts of things, which was great. They were very gracious hosts. I was a bit late for the appointment but it wasn’t a problem – service and Controle Technique (the French equivalent to MOT) both were fine.

I dropped the car off, then took the tram to Bonjour World office, where I thought I had a lesson, but didn’t. I did some work and Marie helped me apply for my Identifiant Numerique (This is a number that you use to access lots of Govt documents & sites.) The process is a bit complicated, and involved having a photo taken through the computer, reading out three numbers & then holding up your identity card. Well, first the instructions were not to wear glasses, but if I didn’t have my glasses I couldn’t read the numbers (!) Then I read the numbers in English, which sent everyone in the office into hysterics…finally we got it completed, only for me to receive an email today asking me to do it all over again!! Hey ho.

Back on the tram, a panini for lunch (hot food welcome as it was raining quite hard by then) and I bought three LED “candles” for Christmas. With Jim, it’s unlikely that we can have many decorations up – Chaos Cat would soon wreck them. So I thought I deserved some candles – but not real because of the Cats!

And then home, for peppercorn crusted salmon and garlic chickpeas.

NaBloPoMo 17: The Thanksgiving homily:

Thanksgiving is not a festival that we British are familiar with; Canadian Thanksgiving has slightly different origins and traditions to the American festival, but we all understand the concept of Giving Thanks – giving thanks for our blessings, for the good things in our lives, the food on our table, the family we share it with.

And as we celebrate in a uniquely French/ American/ Christ Church mash up we also give thanks for God’s provision in our lives. We remember the good things God has given us, and celebrate these.

But we also need to remember the words from Thessalonians, Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Life isn’t always rosy and full of joy. There are what we might call hidden blessings…And although it is not easy, we are called on to give thanks in these circumstances also. I am not going to pretend I can do this myself. I promise you, I can’t! But this is what God wants: God wants us to acknowledge and give thanks for even those circumstances and events that seem like complete catastrophes, or at least minor inconveniences.

I just want to read two things to you, the first an excerpt from a book, the second a poem, to leave you to mull over.

In her book The Hiding PlaceCorrie Ten Boom tells of a time she discovered that God was working even in the most horrific circumstances.

Corrie and her sister Betsie had been imprisoned by the Nazis for hiding Jews behind the wall of their Dutch home, and in the concentration camp, conditions were pretty well unbearable.

Corrie writes:

“Barracks 8 was in the quarantine compound. Next to us–perhaps as a deliberate warning to newcomers–were located the punishment barracks. From there, all day long and often into the night, came the sounds of hell itself. They were not the sounds of anger, or of any human emotion, but of a cruelty altogether detached: blows landing in regular rhythm, screams keeping pace. We would stand in our ten-deep ranks with our hands trembling at our sides, longing to jam them against our ears, to make the sounds stop.

“It grew harder and harder. Even within these four walls there was too much misery, too much seemingly pointless suffering. Every day something else failed to make sense, something else grew too heavy.”

Yet, in the midst of the suffering, the women prisoners around Corrie and Betsie found comfort in the little Bible studies they held in the barracks. Corrie writes they gathered around the Bible “like waifs clustered around a blazing fire…The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God.”

When they were moved to Barracks 28, Corrie was horrified by the fact that their reeking, straw-bed platforms swarmed with fleas. How could they live in such a place?

It was Betsie who discovered God’s answer:

“‘”Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’

“I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room…”

They thanked God for the fact they were together. They thanked God they had a Bible. They even thanked God for the horrible crowds of prisoners, that more people would be able to hear God’s Word. And then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas.

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’

“‘”Give thanks in all circumstances,”‘ she quoted. ‘It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.”  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.’

“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”

It turned out that Betsie was not wrong; the fleas were a nuisance, but a blessing after all. The women were able to have Bible studies in the barracks with a great deal of freedom, never bothered by supervisors coming in and harassing them. They finally discovered that it was the fleas that kept those supervisors out.

Through those fleas, God protected the women from abuse and harassment.  Dozens of desperate women were free to hear the comforting, hope-giving Word of God.  Through those fleas, God protected the women from much worse things and made sure they had their deepest, truest needs met.

We all have “fleas” in our lives. We all have those things that we can see no use for, things that are obviously horrible, unpleasant, painful things that we want gone. No life is free of “fleas”, but if Corrie and Betsie can be our examples, God can use even these nasty insects for our protection and blessing.

The second thing I’d like to read is a poem: it’s not talking about problems anywhere near as serious as living in a concentration camp and dealing with death and misery. Rather it talks about the minor niggles that are in all our lives and turns the negative into a positive.

 As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, let’s thank God for His constant care and provision, and for His hidden blessings that come in ways we can easily overlook.

NaBloPoMo 16: Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is our Church Thanksgiving meal – this is one of our “outreach” events, offering a Thanksgiving meal to those US ex pats, or those over here on business (especially with Michelin) Of course, anyone else is welcome to attend and we have about 60 people coming.

The chef at a local school makes the main course, so it’s not really American style food, but we have turkey and potatoes, green beans and sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and gravy. The desserts are provided by some of the church members (I’m taking banoffi pie) and some of the guests.

We are also having a silent auction – I’m providing several lots, including “Surprise bags for Readers” (two books, a mug, a bookmark & some hot chocolate); “Surprise pamper bag” (with various lotions, potions, face masks, chocolate, a candle, some incense sticks…); a bag for a writer (notebooks, postcards, cards…) Plus some Zentangles & various bottles of alcohol that we know we won’t be drinking!

Here is something I’m sharing at the church service beforehand: