Summing up 40 Acts

While I don’t want to say “Hey! Aren’t I great?!” I thought I wanted to do a summing up of 40 Acts and what I did. It’s more to encourage myself, I think AND to remind myself that there are things I still need to do, as well as to see that there were lots of small actions which made a difference. There are one or two other actions I diid which haven’t really fitted in to the chart, and there are two blank days when I didn’t do anything…

Some of the remaining actions are on-going things, and others are one-offs which need to be fulfilled…

 

  ACT WHAT I DID

 

WHAT I STILL HAVE TO DO
1 PLEDGE Continued to blog about 40 Acts & to encourage others as they blogged  
2 PEOPLE WATCH   Purposely look for opportunities to be generous
3 PERIOD POVERTY Gave sanitary protection to the Food Bank collection at church  
4 CASH STASH   Keep an extra 5€ back a month to give to charity
5 BLESS THE BOSS  Gave a card to Melissa & Thomas, and flowers & card to Claire.  
6 CHOCOLATE TUESDAY Bought chocolates for students at Bonjour World  
7 JOYFUL, JOYFUL!   The joy of the Lord is my strength… to remind me not to get grumpy!
8 BRING LIFE Encouraged others to give blood by posting on FB.  
9 BE PRESENT Went to see Charlotte & made time to go to Monique’s too.  
10 DROP EVERYTHING Gave shawl to Charlotte and (later) cross to Angel  
11 HIDDEN HEROES  A couple of boxes of biscuits to the PO people. A chance to talk about 40 Acts  
12 PRAYER CIRCLE  Helped a young Serbian woman by buying nappies etc for her.  
13 NEEDS MUST Washed up for Bonjour World and have continued to do so.  
14 GREEN   Buy – and use – beeswax covers rather than clingfilm.
15 LEG UP Gave my pay for 1 lesson to PC4R and offered to do a zentangle Highland Cow zentangle
16 DIRTY HANDS   Not look the other way when the cat trays need changing!!
17 MISSION ACCOMPLISHED Cards & gifts for Lunch Bunch helpers  
18 BROTHERS & SISTERS Cards and letters sent to persecuted Christians in Cuba  
19 NEXT DOOR Cup cakes made for Roland & Marion & the children.  
20 CLOSE TO HOME    
21 FROM YOUR SEAT Some encouraging/ Thankful messages sent  
22 OPEN INVITE e-card sent to friends to say I was thinking about them.  
23 GRIN Bought croissants etc for students/staff at Bonjour World  
24 LOST SIGNAL   Write letters!!!

 

25 ROADWORK AHEAD Prayed for my Wednesday students

 

 
26 WITHOUT BORDERS Told people about PC4R and set weekly reminder for the Friday Conga  
27 DISAPPEARING ACT Placed some Ninja notes around Paris. Ninja Parking meter!

 

28 CLEAR THE DIARY Gave time to prepare canapés; gave extra time at our table in the Cathedral.  
29 ANYTHING ELSE?   Write to hospital to offer services/ cards for English speaking chemo patients.
30 YIKES!    
31 HOPE FOR THE HOMELESS Nothing too overwhelming – gave a bit more than usual to a beggar.  
32 BETTER THREADS   Try to be a bit more thoughtful about my clothes buying. Do I NEED it?
33 BIG DEAL Giving time – made cookies for Raphaelle’s family  
34 ADOPT Plan to give cross to Angel and to have coffee with Rabab  
35 I-SPY   Have a conversation with people you don’t know – engage more!
36 COMPASSION Continue to pray for those close to me who are suffering – COMMITMENT! Continue to pray for those close to me who are suffering – COMMITMENT!
37 SEEK OUT   I know & God knows. Enough said.

 

38 BEHIND BARS Wrote cards & letters to three Christians imprisoned for their faith.  
39 70 x 7   Living with constant forgiveness of others. Bonhoeffer quotation.
40 THE NOW & NOT YET Coffee and talk with Rabab.  

All in all, I found this year’s 40 Acts to be encouraging and inspiring. It was a honour to have been asked to write a reflection for them, which seemed to be well-received. I enjoyed “meeting” other bloggers, and also catching up with others from past 40 Acts blogging. I felt that perhaps there were a few too many monetary based challenges, but – of course! – there is nothing stopping us 40 Act-ers going “off piste” and finding another time/talent based act to do!

There is something written by Baptist minister and Civil Rights campaigner Howard Thurman which speaks about after Christmas:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

Equally I think we could say:

When the chocolate has been eaten,

when we have gone back to work,

when the wonder of the stone rolled away has faded,

the work of Easter begins:

To proclaim resurrection life,

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

And so, let us begin.

 

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40ACTS2019 :: 38 :: Behind bars

PROMPT: Behind bars for good reason or not, people in prison are often locked out of experiencing basic human kindnesses – the simple joys of community life. Today, offer generosity to people who might feel locked out from ever receiving it, and who might never be able to pay it back: prisoners, young offenders, young people in pupil referral units, and so on.

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Write a letter to a prisoner. Tell them you wanted to get in touch just to say that someone was thinking of them.

Amber: Send a gift to a prisoner, or help prisoners send a gift to their children.

Red: Visit a prisoner.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.’  (Hebrews 13:3 NIV)

I am not “dissing” the good people at 40 Acts here. I admire what they do, and really appreciate their commitment and their hard work. It cannot be easy to come up with 120 different acts, which have varying degrees of difficulty and commitment, and cost.

BUT…

I followed the link given on the email (but not the “blog” post on the 40 Acts page) to the Prison Fellowship website, thinking that I would be able to fulfil the Green option, by writing a letter to a prisoner. Just add it to the long list of other letters waiting to be written!!

But there isn’t an option there to write a letter: instead the organisation wants letter writers to commit to sending a monthly letter to a prisoner. I already know, from my aforementioned list, that I can’t commit to this; it’s a lot more than a “green” option! I could donate money – but we’ve already discussed this, haven’t we?! – so I’m left with a feeling of not-sure-what-I-can-do.

I’ve emailed Prison Fellowship with the following message:

I’m following 40 Acts, who have provided a link to your page. One of the “acts” is to write a letter to a prisoner. I see from the information here that you require (in my opinion quite rightly) a commitment to writing regularly. I can’t give this commitment; I know I would be unable to keep it up. Is there the option of writing a “one-off” letter, or is this not part of your work?

and I await a response. If the “one-off” option exists I will gladly take it. If it doesn’t, well…I’m less sure what I can do.

 

….PAWS FOR THOUGHT….

 

Aha! I know we have already had an Act focussing on writing to support persecuted Christians around the world, which I did, writing cards and short letters to several people in Cuba, but there are also Christians imprisoned for their faith. Inaddition, there are Prisoners of Conscience too. I explored the Amnesty International site, and they have a targeted letter writing campaign in November, but there may well be the option of writing to prisoners on a one-off basis there. More thought needed there.

I have also found a site called “Prisoner Alert – this site has details of many Christians who are imprisoned for their faith, and gives the opportunity to send letters.The letters all appear to be created using provided formulae (“Choose up to 12 phrases from the following list”) which means that the prisoner will receive the letter in his/her mother tongue.  Having constructed the letter, you then print it out with the address, so that you can then send it to the correct place. This makes it an easy “green”option, requiring only a little time commitment – and, of course, the postage costs!

Maybe it’s not quite what 40 Acts were thinking of, but it certainly fulfills the brief! I have no lessons this morning, so I’m going to print off three or four letters, add them to a card, and take them to the Post Office before I go to work this afternoon. If I get a positive reply from Prison Fellowship I will also write a letter to a prisoner in the UK.

 

40ACTS2019 :: 31 :: Better Threads

Hello everyone! Yesterday was a busy day, even though my last two students cancelled. One was a late cancellation, with no explanation, so I ought to charge them 50% of the lesson cost – it’s written on my bill! – but it didn’t really inconvenience me, and they’re good customers…So I might just let them off with a warning! The other was Valentin, who was recently in a car accident. The poor lad was quite seriously hurt, and now has a body brace to wear, which restricts his movement, and, of course, is struggling with the after shock and ongoing pain from the accident. He’s been too tired for his lesson the last three weeks – I’m not heartless enough to charge for these missed lessons! When I got home I cooked dinner (usually Mr FD on “Chicken Wednesday” but he had a job to do for M across the road, and I was home early enough) and then we watched the episode of “Line of Duty” that we had missed. Oh, that’s such a good series!! If you don’t watch it I recommend trying to find all the series on the i-player, or whatever.

Today I have a later start than usual on Thursday – so I’ve prepped dinner (Mr FD is doing the shopping) and now have time to write today’s 40 Acts blog post. I still have to track Pomme down to give her the pill – she has secreted herself somewhere and is keeping quiet. Sneaky cat…

But Pomme’s doing it right!

32: BETTER THREADS

PROMPT: Picture this: you’re looking at a cheap-as-chips shirt, wondering what on earth happened to make it that cheap, and before you know it, you’ve gone and bought it. It happens to most of us. But today, we’re getting thoughtful about our threads. What’s the history behind our clothes? And what makes ethical clothing generous?

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Make up a list of places you’re happy to shop for clothes, and places to avoid that aren’t ethically sound.

Amber: Do an inventory on your clothes. Sort through them and see how many are ethically dodgy. Take anything you don’t need to a charity shop.

Red: When you need something new, buy ethically instead, and get a new habit started.

“Be under obligation to no one – the only obligation you have is to love one another…” (Romans 13:8 GNT)

This is an Act that has come up in various guises in the last couple of years, I think – and it’s important. It’s not just clothes that we in the developed world want to see sold cheaply: food, clothes, anything really – we want it cheap and we close our eyes to the real cost to both other people AND to the environment.

I love a bit of Primark, me – I try to go into the shop when I’m in Liverpool. Mostly for tops, but I can sometimes strike lucky with trousers…And each time I go in there’s a niggling thought: who is paying (and how are they paying?!) so I can have such cheap clothes? And then I see a stripey top and that thought flies out of the window!

When we lived in the UK I was happy to shop in charity shops for clothes – and I still explore them (in addition to Primark !) – when I go back. But here in France they are much fewer – and a lot less clean! The only time I’ve ventured into one the musty smell really put me off browsing. The other problem is that any French clothes shops don’t seem to believe in “big ladies” – anything over size 14 is labelled “Big Sizes” and is spectacularly uninspiring, and if you need a 31″ inside leg (what’s that in cm?!) for trousers you can forget it! So if I find something nice and affordable that fits, I’ll snap it up without thinking about much else!!

However, these are all excuses. There ARE mail order shops, with a good choice of sizes and styles, which are ethical and deliver to France…But they are expensive. Yes, good quality but I will look at the price and think “I’m not paying that for a top!” But then, really, I need to consider: Do I need a top?  I tend to buy clothes on a whim – I see it, I like it, I can afford it, so I buy it. I don’t need it. Which is why I have a plethora of stripey tops!

So perhaps I need a different challenge – or I need to look more closely at the Red Challenge: WHEN you need something new… I need to think more closely about what I need, and not what I want. If I don’t buy that stripey top will I feel the loss? Probably not. I have at least 5 more similar ones in my wardrobe! So before buying something new, I will consider if it is needed…and where it comes from. And then where I’m going to buy it from.

And for anyone who’s interested, these are two mail order firms I’ve used who claim to be environmentally and ethically sound:

Nomads

Gudrun Sjoden

(and if they’d like to send me anything to try and review I’d be very happy to do so!!!) (😊) No, really…

 

And those are two garments that definitely should NOT have been bought!!

Remembering the Ten…

Today on BBC Breakfast there was a special programme – on the 75th anniversary of a plane crash in Sheffield there was a fly past of various RAF/USAF planes.

Why? What was special about this particular crash?

It happened on 22nd February 1944, when Tony Foulds, then aged 8, and his mates were playing in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield. They saw the B-17 bomber plane limping back, after being damaged during its bombing raid, desperately looking for somewhere to land. They didn’t realise the state of the plane though, and when they saw someone waving from the plane the boys excitedly waved back, not understanding that it was a sign for them to clear the field. In order to avoid killing the boys the crew of the Flying Fortress steered away from them and crashed into the wooded hillside beyond. All ten airmen were killed instantly.

Since a memorial was erected in the 1970s, Tony has regularly kept plants watered and the area clean to remember the men who died. He says that he feels enormous guilt that the men died in order to save him and his friends, and this is one way of trying to make up for this. Tony says he “loves them like my own son or daughter” – these men who made the concious choice to die, rather than risk killing the young boys playing in the park below.

A report from BBC Breakfast recounted how Tony tended the memorial and how much he wanted to see these men honoured in a fly past. Permission was granted, and the USAF at RAF Lakenheath organised the Fly Past today, the 75th anniversary. This was the news report that started the whole thing off:

So today, thousands of people gathered in the park to watch the fly past, with the Breakfast Show being broadcast live from there. Tony was present, together with relatives of the young airmen who died. Here is a still from the TV report as a B-17 (at least I think that’s it. I may be wrong!) passes over and Tony raises his arms to wave.

It was actually a very emotional segment to watch, as the relatives tried to help assuage the guilt that this man feels “every day of my life” and he watched this commemmoration of their sacrifice.

Please note, I’m not unaware of the irony of the airmen dying while saving the lives of some young lads playing football in Sheffield, when they had just been over Germany dropping bombs on German civilians. But it’s still a moving story all the same.

Changing attitudes…

It struck me, as I sat waiting for my mammogram results, how events can change attitudes. I know this is really quite obvious, when you think about it, and I suppose I knew it on an intellectual level, but I hadn’t really thought about it before.

Before November 2017, I had no problems going for my bienniel* mammograms. Being tall enough to reach the plates without standing on tippy-toes, and being (cough) large on top, I found them uncomfortable, but not painful. Waiting for the results was just a formality.

On Wednesday, I had a mammogram & ultra sound; the first since the tumour was discovered (and removed!) And my attitude was so different! Before I hadn’t considered that they might actually find anything wrong; even when the doctor said that there was something “odd” and I needed to go back for an ultrasound (sorry, they couldn’t fit me in that day, but in a fortnight would be fine!) I scarcely imagined that it might be cancer. This time, I was worried before the mammogram, I was worried during, and I was worried after! It wasn’t until – immediately after the ultrasound – the doctor said “It’s fine. It’s all clear” that I was able to relax. And even have a bit of a weep!

I can’t go back now to that carefree attitude. Every mammogram is going to be the same: holding my breath until I get the all clear. But it’s so important. Don’t hold back. If you are offered a breast check then take it! Having mine caught the cancer early enough to stop it in its tracks.

Now I need to go and have a frottis!!

* I had to look this word up. I got bi-annual (twice a year) mixed up with bienniel (once every two years)