Caught Up (kinda!)

Do you know, I’m not sure how helpful it is for me, or for anyone else, to read about how I failed at completing 40 Acts this year, so I think I’m going to stop blogging about what I haven’t done, but rather briefly think about what I have done. If anyone wants to follow 40 Acts, the blog is here so you can read it for yourself.

For ACT 13 I posted some Ninja notes through random post boxes, some with Bible verses, others with encouraging sayings

For ACT 15 I tried to pray whenever I felt prompted…which wasn’t very often, I must admit!!

For ACT 16 I promised our neighbours, who are facing the closure oftheir restaurant, that we would support them in their takeaway business. So far, that’s meant three pizzas and two slices of gorgeous Chocolate-Apricot gateau! Not exactly a hardship! We are also committed to shopping locally – partly through necessity, but also to support small businesses through this difficult time.

For ACT 18 we are driving much less…!!! (Though not necessarily by choice) Isn’t it amazing how Venice is so clean when the everyday traffic stops

 

For ACT 23 I am trying hard not to moan through this confinement period: we know it is for the good of our health, and the good of others’; we have work to do and so can earn money; we are able to go out for a short walk in the beautiful countryside round here (1 km from our homes, no more than 1 hour, go alone); there are supplies in the local supermarket & other shops. We are lucky. I know there are people confined in small appartments with children, trying to work, or unable to work, worried about where money is going to come from…so definitely NO COMPLAINING!!1

For ACT 24 I’m telling you about LEND WITH CARE which is, in my opinion a great charity to support. Now I give a £15 voucher to any young couple I know getting married (!) so they can choose who to support on a new venture, as they start on their new life together. And it’s the gift that keeps giving: as you are paid back, you can lend to another entrepreneur. With an outlay of my initial £15 I think I have supported 4 or 5 people starting new businesses.

There! I’ve caught up in a more positive way!!

LUNCH TIME!!

I’ve got three lessons this afternoon, and quite honestly I’d rather just have a nap…

40 ACTS :: 5&6

Hey ho! I seem to be writing about the Acts in pairs…and I’m not doing very well with them either. I like the prompts I’m being given, but this year I’m not feeling the same excitement about fulfilling the challenges. Perhaps it’s because they seem very familiar after a few years of following 40 Acts, and so there’s not the same anticipation.

But then, sometimes this Christian life is just a bit of a slog: it’s pulling up your Big Girls’ Knickers and getting on with it. Not every day is going to be shiny and happy and full of the Joys of Spring. It’s just Doing It.

ACT 5: Shop Double

Instead of trolley dashing through the aisles to get your supermarket shop done as quickly as possible, consider shopping for someone else too. Offering to get supplies for a friend whose car is off the road, or for someone you know who is unwell or elderly, could be an absolute life-line. As the slogan says, every little helps.

Green: Pop a few extra items into your trolley for others or to add to the charity box on your way out.

Amber: Phone or call in on an elderly or unwell friend, neighbour or family member and ask if you can do their shopping along with yours.

Red: Bless someone by not only collecting their shopping for them but paying for it as well.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10 NIV)

It is the annual Restos du Coeur collection this coming Friday – collecting at the big supermarkets for the local food banks. I’m afraid I have ducked out of helping with the collection, as the Church slot is early evening, and I used the excuse of living an hours drive away. Yes, I know it was an excuse, and yes, I know I should have volunteered…But I didn’t.

But I am going to call in at the supermarket on my way home and buy some items to go to the collection point. So yesterday’s Green task is being postponed until Friday…

Act 6: Best Day…

Lewis Carroll first coined the phrase ‘unbirthday’. Why wait until it’s someone’s official special day? Make plans to spoil someone, either spontaneously today or in the near future. Surprise them if you know that’s what they like, or pre-warn them if that would make it easier for them to accept your invitation.

Green: Send someone a message to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Amber: Offer to babysit for a couple who don’t manage to get out much. Tell them to be as late back as they like!

Red: Casually ask the person you have in mind what their idea of a special day would be, then do your best to create it for them – even if it’s not your thing.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Matthew 22: 37–39 NIV)

Spoiling someone starts to sound expensive – and that worries me, as I am still trying to do these Acts on a budget (which sounds stupid after we’ve just bought a new car…but that was necessity rather than choice – and is, in fact, why I’m trying to do these Acts on a budget!!)

But the Green act isn’t expensive, in terms of money, at least. I haven’t seen our friend Monique for quite a while – she lost her husband just over a year ago, and found it a real struggle. We supported her through the first months, but then rather tailed off, I’m ashamed to admit.

I recently made some cards, so I shall write one to her, and drop it off as I leave for work, reminding her that we are thinking of her. I’ll also try to get across to see her at the weekend.

40 Acts :: 2&3

Oh, goodness! I’m already playing the “catch up” game, and we’re only on day 3!!

ACT 2: HANDS IN

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into situations that need your help. Over-flowing bins? Empty toilet roll on the holder? Don’t think twice, just sort it. Easy fixes are good practice, but if the task takes you out of your comfort zone, even better.

Green: Do the washing up – even if it’s not your turn.

Amber: Whether it’s emptying the bins or cleaning the toilet, do that one job nobody likes.

Red: Offer to do some gardening for someone who’s been struggling to manage it or help declutter a room.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.(Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

Last year, I was able to take the opportunity to wash up the cups at the language school where I work…since then, they’ve got a dishwasher, so there’s no washing up to be done! I did clear up a bit of debris left by the school children who are having an intensive course, but there wadn’t much else to be done…

I filled the staplers (yes, usually, if they’re empty I’ll tut and use a paper clip!!) as Claire complained that she’s the only one who does it! But it was hardly a difficult job.

And I tried to cheerfully put away the washing up that had been done at home, but not been put away. I’m not sure I quite managed the “cheerfully” part, but at least the only person I moaned to was God, and he can survive that!

But I think this act is certainly one of the ongoing ones – it’s not like tomorrow I’m going to walk past those things that need doing, because we’ve moved on to a different act! They’re still going to be there to do tomorrow…and the next day…And God will continue to remind us to do those things…

ACT 3: TREAT

If you’re in the blessed position to receive a salary, the few days between being paid and the bills going out offer a great opportunity to give a ‘payday treat’ to someone else. Instead of focusing on your needs and obligations, turn your attention to someone nearby. Not in work at the moment? Join in with friends and think home-spun.

I made a box and I can’t get rid of it!!!

Green: Take cakes or biscuits with you to share.

Amber: Suggest drinks or dinner after work to celebrate the end of the month.

Red: Think of someone who’s in need of a treat and get them something special or take them out to the cinema or for a meal.

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’”

(Mark 12:41-44 NIV)

This came a bit late for me to action today – an early start on Friday means I’ve left the house before the email pings into my inbox. I’ve only just read it (I have a break between lessons, giving me a chance to do some admin and write this blog post) so I think this act will be held over. I’m not working on Monday, so maybe I’ll make a cake or some biscuits then, to take into work, or over the weekend I’ll make something as a treat for someone…It’s not a difficult one.

The reflection (click on the link above to read it)  does link back to what I said on Wednesday however: I think for me the last part “when it is in your power to act” is important: I need to recognise that I can do more than I think I can (monetarily, as well as giving time or talents) I have a tendency to think “I can’t afford it” and to keep my hands in my pockets…but we probably CAN afford it.

This isn’t asking for an enormous outlay, but it is asking for something, but it’s a something I can afford. There’s a few families at church that are probably struggling more than I really know. Perhaps a MacDonald’s gift card would be a nice gift for one of them. While I don’t think that MacDonald’s is the healthiest of options, the kids would probably like it!! I don’t think I’m going to church this week, but I’ll try and sort it out for the following Sunday.

I’ll get my c-oat…

We’re not vegetarian here in Dormouse Towers, but we do eat vegetarian twice a week (or more, if I can squeeze it past Mr FD!)  and I try to get fish in the menu once a week.

This week our meals have been:

MONDAY: courgette tart, roasties and beans.

TUESDAY: soufflés in a vegetable sauce.

WEDNESDAY: enhanced pizza and salad – this our Wednesday go-to meal now. I get in late, and Mr FD does the shopping after work, so it’s a nice quick meal.

THURSDAY: Aubergine and tomato gratin, with sausages.

FRIDAY: Tomato, spinach and feta pasta with garlic bread

SATURDAY: Salmon fish cakes, sweet potato chips, salad and HM tartare sauce

SUNDAY: Chicken Basque, rice, mushrooms & courgettes.

We’re not doing too badly, but certainly dairy plays quite a big part in our diet…cheese, yoghurt, milk in hot drinks, cereal (Mr FD’s breakfast) So when I read this article in the Guardian : Almonds are out, Dairy’s a disaster, so which milk should we choose? I decided that we should at least give Oat milk a try.

Yes, it is more expensive than dairy (1,50€ a litre, compared to 0,85€ ) but it’s not out of our price range. Mr FD had already had it on his cereal, after using it up after making a cake for a vegan friend, and he said it was okay, so I thought that if it worked for me in coffee, we would start using it for cooking and drinks (though Mr FD won’t countenance it in his tea! His breakfast tea is sacrosanct!) I like it. It’s creamy, a little sweet – but not too bad- but certainly usable.

We still have a long way to go, but at least we’re taking an oaty step in the right direction!

A little library.

It seems these little libraries are popping up all over, using all manner of inventive items to house the books:

     

We used to have one in the village which used an old stationery roundabout, with doors. A bit like this, but less new and clean and attractive

It wasn’t very well insulated, and the books quickly became damp and damaged. It certainly didn’t look very inviting. Sometime over the past year it disappeared.

Well, this morning I passed the place where it had been, to find a beautiful new display case, which is obviously well-constructed, and definitely weatherproof! It is a delight!

  

You can see that there are fixed chairs too, so should one be inclined to, one could sit in the sunshine and read one of the books. It’s not the most picturesque part of the village, but it’s not hideous!

As the sign on the side tells us:

Book Cabins made by the employees of the wood workshop of our Upcycling centre, using recycled/reused materials taken from our collections, and reintroduced into the cyclical economy. If you see what I mean!! Acora is a second hand centre, where they also repurpose old pieces of furniture.

Of course, all the books are French, but with tourists in mind (there’s a campsite in the village) I went home immediately and rooted out some of my English books which I added to the library. Hopefully some other people will add their foreign language books. I think these free libraries are a great idea. The New MrsM – whose blog I read – created one as one of her 40 Acts of Kindness a couple of Lents ago, and there’s one set up near Church (I popped a few English novels in there a couple of months ago)

Have you got a Little Library near you?