Two cards – one birthday!

It’s coming up to my mum’s 90th birthday! Hard to believe – here are pictures of her when she and my sister visited us in September. We went for several walks of 5 km or more, and mum was fitter than I was!! (Though to be fair, it was only three months after my chemo had finished!!)

I’m going over on Wednesday, and we have a big family lunch on 11th at a restaurant. It’s her birthday on 12th May. I have a picture that I bought in Strasbourg for her present: it was going to be her Christmas present, but sending it became so complicated I decided to keep it for her birthday. It means I can buy a frame too. I’m there for almost a week, which will be lovely – I hope to maybe catch up with an old friend from school while I’m there too.

So today I sat down to make a card. The first one I made was this:

 

I used papers from a papercrafting magazine plus various Noz embellishments. I quite like it, but it’s a bit boring for a 90th birthday card. So I went a bit more OTT and created this one:

It’s a three-fold card (which is a bit difficult to photograph) so it’s already a bit more “special” than the first one. Here it is, standing upright:

and in the second fold there’s another butterfly hidden away:

I think this one is a bit more joyous, and appropriate for such a landmark birthday. What do you think?

Advertisements

40ACTS2019 :: 39, 40 :: 70×7 & The Now & Not Yet

Ah, so here we are…It’s actually Easter Day, and 40 Acts is over for another year… Here are my thoughts on the last two Acts:

ACT 39

70 x 7

PROMPT: If generosity means giving more than we have to give, then forgiveness can be a deeply generous act. We forgive in the same ways that we’re generous: sacrificially, unconditionally, freely. Take a dive into some (maybe) uncomfortable memories: Who might you need to forgive today? What would it take for you to forgive from a generous place? How can God help you with that?

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Read the Easter story in the Bible (Luke 23) and focus on Jesus’ words of forgiveness. Ask God to help you forgive.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” (Matthew 18:21–22 NIV)

I actually struggled with this Act today: not because I found it hard to forgive, but because I don’t think that there is anyone I need to forgive… I certainly cannot think of anyone who has wronged me who I need to forgive. There was, in the past, someone, but I managed to come to terms with their actions a while back (through the first 40 Acts I think) and have forgiven them for what they did.

But it was today that I read on Bishop Mark Edington’s FB page, this quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship…can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, d. 9 April 1945

Mark says this: Bonhoeffer is here speaking specifically of the fellowship of marriage — but his wisdom applies to any Christian community, or at least to any community that claims itself to be centered on faith in Christ. And it is wisdom exactly because, despite how we may regard ourselves, forgiveness is not something we are naturally disposed to do; it takes discipline, as all discipleship does.

I will try to live by this – both in my marriage, but in my life outside my marriage. They seem good words to live by.

ACT 40

THE NOW AND NOT YET

PROMPT: The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a strange place. But it’s where lots of us live our lives – caught between mourning and moving on, between pain and joy, grieving different losses than death alone. If you look, you’ll find many around you in a place like that. Offer more than a half-hearted hug today. Help people encounter generosity in places of deep pain.

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Think of someone in your world that has experienced grief in the past 12 months. Give them a random call, tell them they’re on your mind, and ask them how they’re doing.

Amber: Are you struggling with anything that you haven’t told anyone? Confide in someone you trust. Giving others the opportunity to help and support you is generous because helping people makes us feel good.

Red: Think back to a difficult time in your life where someone was really there for you. Send them a text or buy them a small gift and let them know that you’ll be forever grateful.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

I love the title to this Act – The Now and Not Yet – it’s a really intriguing, exciting title that makes me yearn to know more. I feel like it’s reaching out to something beyond us now. I love the reflection too, that reminds us that God uses our bad times and our good times.

I think I fulfilled this Act by accident on Good Friday, as I met up with someone for coffee. She poured out her heart to me, confiding things she says she has never told anyone. I hold her in my heart.

It was on the same day that this Act arrived in my inbox that I also got a message from Rend Collective. It sums up what this is all about. I hope it’s okay to share it here:

This Is My Resurrection Day

Romans 8:11

The resurrection of Jesus means that we have full assurance of life BEFORE death.

Of course we also can count on life after death – that is definitely one of the most amazing promises of scripture and not something I would in any way diminish.
But what if the resurrection is even better than that?

You see, when my alarm clock blares at me on a Monday morning and I drag myself “Walking Dead” style to the coffee maker, I don’t really find myself energized to wake up and live for the kingdom by acknowledging the fact that when I die, I will rise again.

If anything, when I see the resurrection as only applying to me post-mortem, I might as well just go back to bed and seek shelter under the sheets and just try to stay comfy until the trumpet sounds.

No, what I need to set a fire in my weary bones is not the thought of a life after death but the reality that I can have abundant, meaningful life BEFORE death – and we find that in scripture.

Romans boldly proclaims that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is burning inside of us: begging for resurrection not to be about the afterlife but to be our way of life.

Wendell Berry, one of my favorite poets ( yes – I may just be the last person alive who reads poetry for fun!), puts it like this: “Practice resurrection.”

You may be saying to yourself right now that this seems like a really uplifting thought for a poem…but how do I actually do that in real life?

Every time you take something lifeless and broken and revive it, you are practicing resurrection.

Something as simple and ordinary as recycling your cardboard.

Coming alongside a couple whose marriage is on life support and speaking words of hope.

Sharing Jesus with a friend who doesn’t understand why, even though everything is fine on the surface, she just doesn’t feel alive.

We live out the message of resurrection: that dead things don’t have to stay that way and that even the bleakest of circumstances imaginable can be restored.

But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Before we start practicing resurrection out in the world, maybe we need to look inside and see those areas inside our own souls that need CPR.

Maybe right now you feel like you’ve fallen and you’ll never be able to get back up again.

Maybe you’ve failed so catastrophically, the weight of shame is just keeping you pinned to the floor, unsure if you’ll ever get up again.

In these seasons we need to remember that the risen Jesus – “the resurrection and the life” – is the lifeblood pounding through our veins.

With the fierceness that comes with knowing that we are invincible in Christ, we need to join Micah’s battle cry:

“Do not gloat over me my enemy, for though I have fallen I will rise.”

The fact is, if Jesus can rise up out of the grave, you can definitely get up off the floor.

Because by now we’ve realized the resurrection is not just our future hope – it’s the hope alive in us right here, in this very moment.

So let’s breathe resurrection into our own lives and into the world around us – starting right now.

– Rend Collective

A weekend of Spirit filled celebration

So, as I have mentioned several times I went to Paris on Friday through to Sunday for the consecration of our (then) Bishop-Elect Mark Edington. It was a great weekend.

Friday morning was a little fraught – I hadn’t packed and wanted to leave at 9.00 to give myself time to drive to Vichy and relax for my 10.50 train. I found I needed to go to the chemist and Mr FD asked me to book the car in for a service, so I started to get flustered – Would I have enough time? Well, of course I did, and I arrived at Vichy with about 30 minutes to spare. This was fine, as it meant I wasn’t running or hurrying.

The journey was fine, and I found my way safely to the correct Metro station. I know the route better now, having taken it several times over the past couple of years, so there was no panic. Also, there were no time pressures, as I knew that we couldn’t start preparing the food until 3.00, and that gave me an hour to get to the Cathedral. Also, it didn’t matter if I was late.

People were arriving with lots of different kinds of food from their local area –  the Convocation has churches in several different countries, so there was a wide variety of food: Italian salami and parmesan, German sausage, Belgian chocolates, pretzels and dip and lots more! I had brought Salers cheese and Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, and Laurie from church, travelling separately, brought the St Nectaire. I also took a couple of jars of home made apple-and-marrow chutney to go with the Salers cheese. I set to, slicing baguette, smearing chutney, cutting cheese, and soon the platters of cheesy canapés were mounting up.

Don’t tell Laurie I’ve put this on the blog – it’s not a flattering photo of her. She’s much nicer looking!!

After about two hours of slicing, smearing, cutting etc the food was looking more and more delicious. This is just a small proportion of it all:

Meanwhile a rehearsal for the next day’s consecration was going on, so after we’d finished preparing the food, we wandered into the nave to watch proceedings.

Here is Mark trying on the cope, one of the gifts given to him by the Convocation, his family, friends and colleagues.

Then the party started! I was (as I’ve said in another post) a “responsible person” for one of the tables, so I couldn’t mingle quite as much as I might have wanted to, but it was still fun. Gifts were given to Pierre, our departing Bishop, and to Mark. Tears were shed, speeches were given, champagne was drunk, and work well done was celebrated. I managed to eat a lot of food and even shushed a Bishop of the CofE who wouldn’t stop talking during the speeches!! The Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, was there, and several people asked him for selfies, but I came over all British and shy, so I just had a brief, rather shouted conversation wityh him (he was standing quite close to the very good but rather noisy music group)

Then Gaelle, from Emmanuel Church, Geneva, and I headed back with our hosts to the beautiful apartment where we were staying. We had another couple of glasses of wine before heading to bed.

This is the view of the Eiffel Tower from Nancy and Neil’s apartment:

A-may-zing!

The consecration service was at 11.00 so I stayed in the apartment and read for a while, until it was time to walk along the banks of the Seine to the Cathedral

Looking back to the Eiffel Tower, with the Russian Orthodox cathedral in the foreground

I’m heading to that spire!

It was 10.00 by the time I got there and already the place was filling up…

I was in the procession as a member of one of the committees (even though I'(d had to drop out) so we gathered in the courtyard ready for the beginning of the service. It was a splendid sight, all the Bishops in their beautiful clothes, and Mark dressed (at this stage) very simply in his white alb. Then we were off!

The ceremony was wonderful. There were several very moving moments – singing the Taizé chant “Venite  Sancte Spiritus” as the Bishops laid their hands on Mark, the moment when his wife, Judy, handed him his mitre (there seemed to be a very private moment pass between them) and when Pierre handed over the crozier to his successor. This crozier was commissioned by Pierre and has embedded in the staff a little cross made of a local wood for each church and mission in the Convocation; it is a very symbolic thing, and it was obviously an emotional moment for Pierre and for Mark.

There are more photos of the occasion if you follow this link

Afterwards the Cathedral catering staff laid on another fine spread of sandwiches and other goodies. It was termed “a light lunch” but it was, in fact, very generous! I took the opportunity to congratulate Mark, as he would be leaving that day to go to Munich – apparently it was something to do with not being in the same place as the Presiding Bishop (I think!)

By the time lunch was finished it was 3.00. I wasn’t sure what to do, so thought about visiting the Museum of Modern Art – it was free, so I didn’t feel bad that after about 30 minutes I thought “This is not impressing me, AND I’m tired!” So I went back to the apartment for a nap instead!!

I met up with Lee, Laurie and Mary-Ellen for a lovely dinner. I started with samosas

Then I had duck – but forgot about taking photos!! A café gourmande followed: a coffee with 3 little desserts: chocolate mousse, apple/raspberry crumble, strawberry fool. Yum!! I walked back to the apartment as it was a fairly warm night, and not too late.

Sunday morning was the day that Michael Curry was preaching in the Cathedral, so, guessing (rightly) that the church would be full, I got there early, having walked along the banks of the river again, passing this “living wall”

It was a great service, and the sermon was very good…

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then we shall have peace on earth.

After the service there was another line to meet the PB – when it was my turn I said I’d been too British to ask for a selfie before – and he said “Well, we can’t have that!” and handed my phone to one of his entourage…

I had lunch with some people from Munich – I know them from Convention, and as I walked past them outside a restaurant, they asked me to join them. A beer and a goats’ cheese salad set me up nicely! Then it was a quick trot back to the apartment to pick up my bag and then hop on the Metro. I was at Bercy station way too early, but that was OK. I sat and read until my train left. Back to Vichy just after 9.00 and home in bed by 10.30.

A truly wonderful weekend. Now the hard work begins for Mark and for his wife!

 

 

I am a cider drinker

A blast from the past here, with the video of The Wurzels, a British comedy (questionable!) band from the 70s. Does anyone remember them? They had a Number 1 hit with “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester (and I’ll give you the key)” as well.

Anyway…I thought of them as I wrote the title for this post, which is about our cider making exploits, back in November. It was a very mild day – just after a very cold spell – when our friends Jean & Claire called us to tell us that they would be making their cider that day. So we first of all picked apples at our friend Danièle’s plot, singing along to Big Big Train’s “Wassail” which seemed appropriate.

 

I was still wobbly on my feet – apparantly one of the longer-lasting side effects of chemo – so Mr FD did more picking than me, but we got quite a few bags-full between us. Bizarrely we found several “Bags for Life” abandoned in the orchard – we have no idea who left them there. They wouldn’t be from Danièle’s family, as no-one lives in the village any longer, so maybe it was an apple scrumper who was disturbed! Whoever it was, they lost their bags, as we used them and took them home!

It was very pleasant in the warm sunshine, with a view over the village. Here’s a view of the orchard

 

Some of the apples had been eaten away – I imagine from the inside, as some flying creature laid its eggs inside the apple to provide a food source for the hatched babies, whatever they were. The remains were actually rather lovely in their way. We left a lot of apples on the trees and on the ground – hopefully they will provide nourishments for “creatures of the forest” during the winter.

After we’d picked the apples, we headed over to Les Ports, the family home of Jean, now used as a holiday home by his sister, who lives in Lyon. Here there is the old machinery that has been used for generations to make cider. Each year (that the harvest is good enough) Chantelle and her husband, and possibly children too, come across from Lyon, and with her brother, Jean, and his family, the ancient equipment comes to life once more.

This year, Claire & Jean’s youngest were home from their studies: Alyssia and Joe are twins. Joe had brought two sisters from China who are at Uni with him to see what was going on.

 

 

 

First the apples were tipped into the hopper of this machine, which chopped them into smaller pieces. It’s a vicious machine, with blades going up and down really quickly. H&S doesn’t exist here, as Jean pushes the apples towards the blades with his bare hands! The pieces of apple are gathered in large plastic buckets, ready to be tipped into the press.

    

Mr FD, Jean, and Jean’s BiL are manipulating the press. The apples have been tipped into the barrel part, and the top part is weighted down and a huge screw-like mechanism is turned to press down on the apples to extract the juice.

There’s a bucket at the bottom, collecting the juice (which is filtered through straw placed around the base of the barrel-part) and we had to keep an eye on this, ready to whip it out as it got full, and replace it with another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was then taken outside where it was decanted into various jerry-cans, bottles, and demi-johns to be transported home. Here’s Alyssia and one of the Chinese guests carefully pouring the juice into a demi-john.

I was getting really chilled near the end, so I went and sat next to the log burner inside, while everyone finished off, overseen by Jet and Bilout, Jean & Claire’s two dogs

We took home several bottles of apple juice, which Mr FD mostly drank. It was a bit too sweet for me. I suppose (thinking about it far too late!) I could have mulled some of it with spices and lemon juice, which would have been nice! Never mind…

It was a very enjoyable day.

(Sorry the placing of pictures and text is a bit random. I was trying to embed the pictures in text but wasn’t very successful!)

Goodbye to 2018

So that was 2018 – not necessarily my “best” year, but a year in which I learned something about myself, in which I made new friends, in which I drew closer to God. There were bright times, and darker ones, but here are a random selection of 12 photographs.

JANUARY

I found that focussing on celtic knotwork was a way of taking my mind off what was happening to me. I had surgery on 3rd January, to remove the tumour. This was done during my recovery, as a Burns’ Night gift for my Scottish-ancestors Rector and his Scottish wife.

FEBRUARY

Chemo started – again focussing on zentangling was a way of taking myself out of the situation. This koala was drawn as a gift for someone, but I have no idea who!!

MARCH

Despite chemo, we were able to go to Manchester to see Bill Bailey (comedian) and Elbow (band) in concert. We also met my great nephew, Billy, for the first time. Here he is with my niece, Rose, and her husband, Dave. We had a magnificent time. I also lost my hair by the end of the month

APRIL

I was still well enough to go to Fréjus with the Cycle Club – I spent a lot of time resting in the holiday village, but was able to for shortish walks. Here I am dipping my toes in the Med!

MAY

The Royal Wedding gave me an excuse to wear my patriotic scarf as a turban! Friend Cathy and I went up to Friend Richard’s to watch it on his big screen TV – an excuse for fizzies and good food! I made an inelegant elderflower and lemon sponge. Which was very nice!

JUNE

I was into the second set of chemo treatments by now – these were less pleasant (if “pleasant” could be used to describe the first set!) than the FEC100 with fatigue really taking over. However I still was able to get to Annecy with the cycle club. I did a little tiny bit of walking – 2 km was the furthest I walked, but I was very happy to have managed that!

JULY

We were into high summer by now, with long balmy evenings. Friend Cathy hosted a music night up at her home, where we sat out, singing, playing instruments, and enjoying good company. Great fun – even if we were forced indoors by a sudden rainstorm!

I had my last chemo at the beginning of July – huzzah! – and two or three weeks later started my six weeks of radiotherapy. It wasn’t so tiring, by any means, although I still appreciated an afternoon nap when I returned home from hospital.

AUGUST

The village had its Fete Patronale, right at the end of August. Never our favourite time, as the travelling fair sets up right outside the house, but we went to stay at Friend Richard’s overnight, and came down to watch the light show. It was, let’s say, “interesting”!

I finished my radiotherapy sessions!

SEPTEMBER

September was a good month, as I started to get some energy back, and – apart from my hormonetherapy – I had finished treatment. So, we were able to have a holiday in the Italian lakes, thanks to the generosity of a friend. Here I am enjoying the gardens above Lake Maggiore

And then my mum and my sister came to stay.

Mum, Judy and Mr FD on a walk through Le Gouffre d’Enfer in the Pilat mountains.

OCTOBER

I went back to work – not too much, but I was glad to be starting again! I felt I’d been lounging around for too long!

Still time for fun however – I had my birthday celebrations at Friend Alison’s

and went to Waterloo for the Convention of the Convocation of Episcopal churches in Europe, where Mark Edington was elected as our Bishop. Here he is speaking, via Skype, to the Convention. I was on the Transition Committee for the process of preparing for the Consecration of Mark; however, as it was causing me fairly severe anxiety, I resigned from the Committee in November. Still, I’m looking forward to going to the Consecration service next April.

NOVEMBER

The weather was a little odd, going from very cold (plus snow!) to extremely mild within a matter of days. Luckily it was warm(ish) and sunny on the day we got involved with making cider with our friends Jean and Claire, at Jean’s family home a few kilometres from St Just. Here is Jean, Mr FD and Jean’s brother-in-law manipulating the apple press that has been used for generations. And here are Jet and Bulot (except I don’t know how to spell his name – it’s a French slang term meaning “Little Willy”!!)

DECEMBER

My friend Jane and I spent a few days in Strasbourg, exploring the Christmas Markets. Here are a couple of views of Petit France, the area of the city where there are canals. It was a chilly day when we walked around, but we found a lovely restaurant to warm up in!

****

Do you know, looking back over these – and many other – photos has reminded me that this year hasn’t been so bad after all! Yes, I had to go through treatment for breast cancer, but despite that, there have been many really enjoyable things! We’ve been lucky enough to be able to go away several times, though I was sad to miss a couple of weddings, as they fell on a Saturday just a couple of days after a chemo session – no way I could have gone!

Here are the cards I made for them

I hope that 2019 will be even better than 2018. It’s starting well: Mr FD has a job!! He begins three months of training with a fibre optics company on Wednesday. As long as he passes the training, he has a six months probationary period with the company; if he passes that period, he should have a permanent post! This is really good news.

So, I wish all my readers a happy 2019, full of joy, and blessings.

 

Happy Christmas!

THE WICKED FAIRY AT THE MANGER

by U.A.FANTHORPE

My gift for the child:

No wife, kids, home;
No money sense. Unemployable.
Friends, yes. But the wrong sort —
The workshy, women, wogs,
Petty infringers of the law, persons
With notifiable diseases,
Poll tax collectors, tarts;
The bottom rung.
His end?
I think we’ll make it
Public, prolonged, painful.

Right, said the baby. That was roughly
What we had in mind.

 

 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I wish all those who take time to come and read what I have written a very Happy Christmas.

Christmas Song N° 8

Here’s a carol I’d forgotten about, until I saw it suggested on a resources-for-church page, suggesting it as a possible song for yesterday. It is a song that I love, but which isn’t really sung that often.  It is an ancient hymn, originally written by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius in 348. It reminds us not so much of the humility and impoverished beginnings of Christ’s life, as many carols do, but rather the glory and the praise that will be when he comes to reign.

So here is a hauntingly beautiful rendition, followed by a rather joyous Celtic-inspired instrumental version

Of the Father’s love begotten

Ere the worlds began to be

He is Alpha and Omega,

He the Source, the Ending He

Of the things that are, that have been

And that future years shall see

Evermore and evermore

 

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him

Angel hosts, His praises sing

Powers, dominions, bow before Him

And extol our God and King

Let no tongue on earth be silent

Every voice in concert ring

Evermore and evermore

 

This is He whom Heaven-taught singers

Sang of old with one accord

Whom the Scriptures of the prophets

Promised in their faithful word

. Now He shines, the Long-expected

Let creation praise its Lord

Evermore and evermore