When good intentions go wrong!!

I had such good intentions…

 

I had just set off to work, and was driving quite slowly. As I looked in my side mirror I saw a beautiful white moth clinging on for dear life. Thinking it would get squished by a car if it fell off I stopped, and tried to encourage it to move off the mirror. Using an old parking ticket I flicked it off the mirror.

It fluttered briefly, and lmanded in the middle of the road.

“No-o-o! You’ll get squished!” I said, and hastily scooped it up again (it was early. There were no other cars coming)

It fluttered again, and caught a slight breeze, so fluttered over to a trellis fence where it landed. I could see it clearly against the dark fence.

“Phew,” I thought, “It’s safe now…”

…and watched in horror as a bird flew down and ate it!!!!

 

Hey ho.

Sorry, no. The bird has already eaten it!!

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40ACTS2019 :: 35, 36 :: I-Spy, Compassion…& Notre Dame

Firstly, I feel I need to say something about the tragedy in Paris. Not, thank goodness, a tragedy involving loss of life – although reports are that one firefighter has been seriously injured – but rather the tragedy of the fire blazing through Notre Dame last night

Suggestions are that the start of the fire might be linked to the restoration work going on – rather ironic, one can’t help feeling. I wonder what exactly : a faulty extension lead, a spark from a welder’s tool, a cigarette butt from a sneaky cigarette smoked behind a gargoyle… I ask myself if there is one workman (or many) who is thinking “Could it have been me that started it…?”

But the building is still standing – although the spire has collapsed – and Macron is pledging that it will be rebuilt. I hope that it is still structurally sound, and that at least some of the many treasures within have been saved. It looks as though the stained glass windows have mostly survived – the Rose window seemed to be still intact when shown on the news.

It is a tragedy, yes, but it could have been so much worse…

ACT 35: I-SPY

PROMPT: By now you’ve probably caught on – a startling amount of living generously is simply noticing people. We often only realise people are lonely when they actually tell us. But there are plenty of lonely people who never say a word. Today, put those people-watching skills to good use.

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Watch for lonely people this week. At church, look for those at the sidelines. At work, look for those who eat lunch alone.

Amber: Make a point of connecting with someone you know, but have avoided spending time with because they’re a bit socially awkward.

Red: Strike up a chat with someone you don’t know – at the bus stop or café maybe – who looks a little sad.

When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’” (Luke 13:12 NIV)

 

For reasons I don’t need to go into 40 Acts was off the table yesterday. And possibly today too… I’m not sure how engaged I’m going to be able to be this last week, due to personal circumstances.

But I will try and bear it in mind for future reference AND I’m not excusing myself from acts of generosity, however small. (I did the washing up at work – over 20 cups & mugs needed washing!!)  It’s just that I might not be able to manage the big ones that 40 Acts is ramping up to.

 

ACT 36: COMPASSION

PROMPT: The word ‘compassion’ simply means coming alongside suffering – co-suffering with someone. That can sound a bit daunting, but when you think about it, what a gift to be able to offer someone your presence and the feeling that you’re with them.

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Think of areas where you’ve suffered in the past, and find a way to share time with someone who’s suffering similarly today.

When I first opened this act on my email, I’m sure there were 3 options of Acts…Now there’s only one. How bizarre.

I suppose this is another time I use my “wiggle room” card, the one that says “I’ve already done this” or “I’m doing this”. We’re already supporting someone through the loss of her husband. Due to her dependency problems, it’s a bit of a hard slog, and there are times when, quite frankly, I could do without it. But there you go.

But there is also the Challenge (that I was sure was there earlier!) which is to commit to pray for those who are suffering – my boss has just lost her mother, my friend has lost her husband, other friends going through cancer treatment…I will continue to hold these people, and others, in the living, loving light that is God.

 

 

40ACTS2019 :: 31 :: Hope for the Homeless

Just a quick post today, but I’m trying to write a daily post when I can; I have less time today because I need to go to the vet’s before I leave for work, as Pomme is running out of her pills again. We do have a tendency to leave it till the last moment to get replacements.

Thank you for all your encouragement and comments; they are, as always, very much appreciated.

31: HOPE FOR THE HOMELESS

PROMPT: How do we handle our hearts with those who are homeless? If we live in cities or towns, it can become all too easy to blank out the same faces we see day after day. And the question nags at us: surely there’s more we can give than 50p here and there? Today, we’re looking into the more that’s possible.

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Give to a local or national homeless charity.

Amber: Contact a homeless shelter and ask what they need. Then meet it.

Red: Invite a homeless person to your church, or to a local soup kitchen. Go along with them. If they need a lift, offer to give them one.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” (James 2:14–18 NIV)

It is a fairly hard-hitting reflection, I think, pushing us to really involve our churches in a mission to help the homeless. But my church is struggling to meet its own needs and commitments. With a small congregation – some of whom are near the breadline themselves – we “do our bit” both individually and collectively. I don’t feel I could ask them to take on more. So it’s down to me.

I know that the Red option is beyond me. Full stop. Point blank.

I also know that – as I have said previously – I’m coming to the end of my resources for sacrificial giving for meeting needs in large amounts. So I think the Amber is out.

So that leaves me with Green. Can I use my “Wiggle Room” card again? I did give money to a homeless guy/ beggar on Saturday – does that count?! Certainly the writer of the reflection seems to want us to give to charities, rather than individuals, but…

I think I’m going to be gentle to myself today. To fulfil this Act I will simply continue with what I’ve done before: when I see someone begging outside a supermarket (which I quite often do) I will ask them what they would like me to buy for them, and buy it. Plus a little bit extra. I’ve done this before, and when I’ve handed over the carrier bag the person asked, unbelieving, “All this? For me?” Which was a much nicer reply than the guy who sorted through the bag, saying “I don’t want this…or this…or this…” and then walked away leaving me with a pile of rejected groceries! I needed to try very hard to have a generous response to that!

 

40ACTS2019 :: 24,25 :: LOST SIGNAL & ROADWORKS AHEAD…

Hello, dear readers! I hope everyone is well and still getting through 40 Acts. Remember though, sometimes it isn’t possible to fulfil the Act, but it’s always possible to be generous! You don’t have to follow the Traffic Lights – you could do something else equally generous. And it’s also an act of generosity to forgive yourself if you somehow don’t do the Challenge.

This year, however, I am going to make myself an Excel spreadsheet full of pretty colours to see what I’ve done, and where I haven’t fulfilled a Challenge. I may share it, or it may be kept private. I do like a nice colourful spreadsheet, me. My account system (too simple to be called that, really) is full of different colours – all with meaning, but so many I think I’ve forgotten a few of them! But my 40 Acts sprreadsheet will have to wait, as I am away in Paris this weekend: I’m excited to be going to the consecration of our new Bishop. Really wonderful!

Yesterday’s Challenge is one which may well have a Going-to-do-this-but-not-sure-when-I’ll-have-the-time colour on my spreadsheet. It’s a good one, but it will require some time commitment.

ACT 24: LOST SIGNAL

PROMPT: It can feel like nobody loses touch any more – old friends live on in your Facebook or your address book, without real conversation or connection. What if we moved differently in this world? What if we took the time to get in touch with long-lost friends or family and make them feel loved, or re-forge a real connection that’s been lost?

LINK: HERE

ACT:  Green: Scan through your inbox – the phone inbox and the (dreaded) email inbox. Who haven’t you replied to?

Amber: Got a friend you can feel yourself losing touch with? If it’s a friendship you’d rather keep – have the awkward chat, and schedule a get-together.

Red: Draw up a list of contacts who might appreciate an out-of-the-blue catch up. Text or call one a day this week.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24 NIV)

 

This is a really timely reminder: I have a box full of letters from Christmas – you know the “round Robin” ones – which I have kept, fully intending to reply to them. I had thought to do it during Lent, but somehow forgot that one needs time to do this, which seems to be in shortish supply at the moment (though, if I’m honest, I probably could carve out time, if I thought about it!) So, I will move the box to full view on my desk – at the moment I can’t even see it! – and hopefully will catch up with those letters soon. AND I know there are a couple of emails to reply to, and a good friend to phone.

25: ROADWORK AHEAD

PROMPT: God has generous gifts for people outside of the church, for businesses, for those in our workplaces, and for our schools. And the phenomenal thing is he wants to give them through us. So today, live church outside the building. Get out into the streets, and be the encounter between God and those who have never met him.

LINK: HERE

ACT:  Green: Ask God to show you the opportunities around you today, and simply be more prayerful and intentional in the places you go to.

Amber: Pray for a colleague in the workplace. Or, sit in a coffee shop and ask God what he might like to say to someone else in there – then go and tell them.

Red: Find a stranger in the street! Ask them, ‘Is there anything I can pray about for you?’

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? … Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world.” (Matthew 5:13–14 MSG)

This Challenge is so not me!

And the Red Challenge is so beyond me I can’t even consider it.

My praying is sporadic, and unfocussed, and generally not what it should be. I start praying and – SQUIRREL!!! – lose the thread.

So advancing on an unsuspecting stranger and offering to pray – IN FRENCH!!!!! – is just laughable.

But I can try the Green challenge today. Before each of my lessons I will pray for my students – mostly all young adults – for their hopes and dreams, for their future lives. I will lift them to God and trust that he can do something with my – SQUIRREL!!!! – stumbling words.

***

And just to catch up, I’m off top the Post Office soon to post some cards to various Pastors based in Cuba, with encouraging Bible verses and a short note in each. These are names from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (Act 18) of Pastors suffering from persecution and hardship due to their faith. I hope they will help.

40ACTS2019::8,9, & 10 :: Catching Up!

When I’m working, I don’t have much time to blog – I used to be able to blog in the evenings from my laptop, but that suddenly died on me a few months ago, and we’ve not been able to afford another. My PC takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to boot up, and I am not inclined to trot up to my study after a day’s work, to wait for ages and then to write a post. Last week I had a tad more free time so I was able to start with a post every day…next week, maybe not. But I do try to post on the 40Acts FB page too.

So this is a bit of a catch up post:

No, LOL cat! I must catch up on my blog!!

Allons-y!

ACT 8:

BRING LIFE

PROMPT: Today is a chance to, quite literally, bring life to someone. Giving blood is such a potent image of generosity, because it’s giving away something so critical to ourselves – our actual lifeblood! And that can train us into sacrificial generosity in other ways, too.

LINK: HERE

ACTS: 

Green: Find out about giving blood at http://www.blood.co.uk and make a one-off trip.

Amber: Start giving blood regularly.

Red: Give blood as often as you can.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV)

Oh! I was surprised at how much controversy this caused! A lot of people on FB were fairly upset that all the Challenges focussed on giving blood. There was no “non-donating” challenge. Of course, many people are precluded from giving blood, because of illness (like me), or needle phobia , or because they are a non-celibate gay man (STUPID!!!!!) (The rule, not the gay men!) or because of the idiocy of their country who won’t accept their blood because they lived in the UK during the Mad Cow outbreak even though France had it too (that’s me too)

But there’s no edict from 40 Acts saying that “the only blood donating related act you can do today is give blood”. I just shrugged my shoulders, said “I can’t do the act, but I can encourage others to give blood” – so I wrote a post for FB, and also gave a shout out to my nephew who went a step further and donated bone marrow. There was no need to get up in arms that I couldn’t do it. Others supported blood-donating-connected charities, such as Blood Bikes or went to a local centre to encourage the volunteers, and nurses who were there. I didn’t quite understand why some people got quite so worked up about the focus of the Acts. Hey ho.

After all, the aim of 40 Acts is being generous, finding a way to go an extra step or two…It doesn’t have to be exactly what it says on the day’s post. Sigh.

 

ACT 9

BE PRESENT

PROMPT: ‘Being present for someone’ might conjure up images of therapeutic chats and tissue boxes. But really, all it means is intentionally putting yourself in the presence of others, for their benefit. It’s giving the best of your time and the best of your attention to make someone feel valued. Maybe today that’s someone who you’ve overlooked, or who doesn’t usually get invited out.

LINK: HERE

This is a good reflection, reminding us that we need to support friends through good and bad times. I’d like to add a Thank You to those friends, both “real life” friends and blogging friends, who supported me so much during my last year. I wasn’t always cheery, but I knew that folk were there, to talk or not to talk. To make me laugh. To sympathise. You were invaluable.

ACTS: Green: Spend some quality time listening to a friend or family member. Why not have breakfast or lunch together today?

Amber: Strike up a conversation with a colleague or classmate who you haven’t ever sought out friendship with. Make sure the first three questions are about them.

Red: Be present with quality listening. If someone has shared their worries with you recently, follow up with them and try not to jump in with advice before it’s due.  If you’re up for it, take some courses (like this one) to help you get better at listening.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NKJV)

This is quite a tricky one for me – I don’t meet up with friends very often, and work is fairly manic so sitting down with a colleague for a heart-to-heart isn’t really possible.

But I decided that today would be the day when I got off my backside and arranged to visit someone who I do consider a friend, but who I rarely see. Charlotte befriended me in the hospital during my first chemo session, and helped me feel better about it all. She has terminal cancer, having chemo every three weeks, and so our sessions often overlapped as I was on a three week rota too. She is so cheerful, and optimistic, despite her terminal prognosis, and the last time I visited I spent ages talking to her. But she lives some distance away, and I don’t want to disturb her if she’s just had chemo, and I’m busy at the weekend and…and…

So I read the challenge yesterday and immediately messaged Charlotte to ask if she was free this weekend. She is, so I’m going to see her this afternoon (today’s Saturday) And I will make sure that my first three questions are about her!! I’ve made scones to take, with some marscapone and strawberry jam too!

I also popped in to see my friend Monique – she lost her husband a couple of months ago – with a tiny plant…Gave her time to talk a little. It’s hard for her, but she is, little by little, coming to terms with it.

ACT 10

DROP EVERYTHING

PROMPT: How do you view the resources you have at your disposal? Are they there for your benefit only or the benefit of those around you? Today we’re dropping our personal intentions for things we own and using those very things as generous gifts for someone else.

LINK: HERE

ACTS:  Green: Think of an everyday item that’s in good condition. Find a recipient and give it away. Umbrellas, handcream, etc.

Amber: How do you get around? Can you give a friend a lift too?

Red: Just like Mary with her alabaster jar, what can you give away that you can’t undo? Maybe it’s a bottle of perfume, or a favourite jumper. Bless someone else with something that means something to you.

“While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly. ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.’” (Mark 14:3–6 NIV)

When I saw these Acts I immediately thought “Ah, the amber one!” You see, over and over I’ve thought I really should put my journeys to work on BlaBla Car – but actually, that’s quite a selfish thing, because you get money for it! But I should still do it! I know the times I’m going to Clermont, even if I don’t know exactly what time I’m coming back, so I could easily post those times and take somebody. It means that I’m not just one person in the car.

But in my heart of hearts, I knew that actually it was the Red challenge that was calling me… As I said before I’m visiting Charlotte this afternoon. She is a wonderfully flamboyant person, and I have a scarf that I love. It’s a muted brown/maroon paisley pattern, but on it are pearls and sequins, all shiny and pretty and “out there”. It’s lovely. I will admit I don’t wear it very often, but I love it. Dammit, God, I thought, you want me to give that to Charlotte, don’t you?

Grumble. Grumble.

Harrumph.

‘Nuff said.

I’ll do BlaBla Car too.

Good things have been done!

I’m writing this on Friday. I think it will get published on Sunday.

Good Thing #1: I made some scones which I took across to Friend M. I made her a card a couple of weeks back, to encourage her while she was in rehab, and she came back home on Wednesday. We went to see her, and her partner, M, and it was such a pleasure to see her looking so much better. She looked brighter and cheerier, and explained a little about what she had been through. And she said firmly “Now I’m drinking nothing but water!” Good for her. We are hoping to re-start our card evenings, where we try to teach them cribbage and they try to teach us Tarot. (Don’t worry – it’s NOT reading tarot cards. It’s just the name of a card game.)

Here are the scones. I may have put one or two in the freezer for us!!

Good Thing #2: M, her partner, said he was driving down to Clermont today with someone from the village, to take clothes and shoes to a centre for refugees and migrants in Place 1ere Mai. I had already sorted out a bag of various bits and bobs, as I changed my wardrobe over yesterday…Autumn draws on and I’m thinking about fleeces! But Mr FD’s wardrobe is a mess.

Here’s a photo of the camp that is starting to grow in Clermont Ferrand

So I encouraged him to first go through the mountain of discarded shoes at the bottom of the coat wardrobe in the downstairs room. Some were too badly damaged to be given away, but there were five pairs that, although they were a bit battered, or rubbed Mr FD’s feet, were certainly good for a season’s wear. The really horrid ones have been set aside to go to the tip. Then he emptied his wardrobe upstairs and went through a pile of jumpers and tops that he doesn’t wear – they’re too short, or too small, or he doesn’t wear them…There were a few I was tempted to appropriate, until I remembered I had loads of clothes and these were going to people who were going to struggle to get through the winter. We took five bags of stuff across to M for him to take – including some hats and scarves which we don’t wear now.

Good Thing #3: While we were there M gave us an orange box full of peaches and one full of apples. To be honest, I think he was glad to be getting rid of them! So I skinned, chopped and sorted out the bruised bits from all the peaches, and made several freezer boxes full of peach compote/purée. Then Mr FD peeled and cored about half the apples – the other half were too damaged and bruised to be used. We could have gone through and picked and chopped the good bits but we already have boxes of stewed apple in the freezer and there’s a limit to how much one needs. But the leftovers are at least going to the composting bin at the tip.

Good Thing #4: I’ve prepared dinner for the Poor Cats. I fed them on Wednesday, and I’m due to feed them today as well. I used up some refused food from our Not-So-Poor Cats, plus a couple of tins of fairly cheap cat food. This gets mixed with hot water and a load of biscuits, which then makes a good mash for them to eat. Over the weekend I hope to also use some polystyrene sheets that Friend Richard gave me, to insulate their shed. I’m going to Emmaus with Friends Richard & Cathy, so I’ll see if I can pick up some cheap duvets/ blankets to help make the shed warmer for the winter.

Even though I didn’t get to do my ironing as I had hoped to do, we both feel that we’ve done Good and Useful Things today!

Bits and bobs and 40 Acts (21 & 22)

Hello dear ones – thank you so much for your supportive and encouraging comments on my last post. They really helped me, and I appreciate the fact that you all took time to post a commernt. If you haven’t seen the comments from other people, I encourage you to go back & read them: they might help you too.

 

Yesterday I went for a short walk – a walk I’d probably do in 10 minutes took me about twice that time, and I felt quite breathless by the end of it. I will do the same today, straight after I’ve finished this post. I’m still sleeping more than normal – usually 10 – 11 hours a night, especially if I’ve taken an iboprofene. The “front door” is causing me some discomfort/pain when I lie on my side, I think because it’s getting squished up and pressed into the flesh, but that’s the side I feel most comfortable to sleep on. If I sleep on my back I get backache; if I sleep on my right side, my arthritic hip hurts! The iboprofene makes everything more comfortable, so I sleep better, but I don’t feel happy taking one every night!

Tonight we’re going to a birthday party – a 120th birthday party. But not for a very old person, but two 60 year olds! Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!

Even though birthday cards aren’t really a French tradition, I have, of course, made one:

  

I hope they like it.

I don’t want to be too late to bed either, as I hope to make it to church tomorrow as well. A friend from church came over on Thursday, bringing me three hats she’d knitted for me – so, together with a lovely one that Michelle knitted, I am all set. Except my hair is showing no sign of falling out yet! I’ve got an appointment at a coiffeuse/wig shop on Tuesday too, but at the moment everything seems to be anchored to my scalp! Which might be a good thing aesthetically, but it makes me worry that the chemotherapy isn’t doing its job, as it should be killing off all the fast-growing cells, which include hair follicles and cancer cells. Oh well, I can always check up with the doctor on Thursday before my next session.

Onto 40 Acts:

ACT 21:: ACTION: Three weeks in – we’re halfway there! By now, generosity is probably sinking a little deeper into our lives. It’s a great time to put action behind our words. Think of moments when you’ve read or heard about something generous and thought, ‘That’s a nice idea,’ but never get around to doing it. Now’s the time. Only one act for today: What act have you put off over the last few weeks? What sounded like a good idea at the time, but you never got around to doing? Put it at the top of today’s to-do list.

Well, for me, the main act really is donating to Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced Persons

This is a fantastic but tiny charity, started by one man, James. The website says: James came up with the idea while volunteering at the refugee camp in Calais known as The Jungle.  After talking regularly to people within the camp he realised that phone credit was a lifeline for many – and something he could help with from his home in Norfolk!

In the beginning, the process was very simple. James created a Facebook group, and added all his friends and some of the refugees he had met while volunteering. His goal was to have his close contacts provide phone credit to the handful of refugees he had come to know so well.

The group grew and grew, with his FB friends adding more friends, and they added more. Now over 64,000 members chip in when they can, donating £5, or more, to give credit to those who are desperate to contact their families left behind, or to contact aid agencies. This phone credit has saved the lives of vulnerable people, especially minors and women, so often targeted in camps.

Every Friday there is the Friday Conga, where everyone who can comments and donates (if possible), doing something important with FB algorithms that helps the group. I can’t always donate, I often forget to comment. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to start doing so. My Act 21 is to start saving 2€ coins, and when I have 10€ to make a donation. Can you afford to give a one-off donation to PC4R? This tells you how:

 

ACT 22: VALUED:: Today, a guaranteed way of making a difference. Talk up a service staff member. It’s such an easy chance to make a difference in someone’s day – but ask any service staff member, and you’ll hear how rarely it happens. Don’t let fear of insincerity put you off. A simple ‘You’re amazing, thank you for that!’ goes a long way when it’s well meant.  

I actually completed the Green task a couple of days ago, contacting the restaurant where we’d eaten on Saturday to compliment the waiter who had been very attentive to us. I certainly used to do this in the UK:  if I had received good service from a shop assistant I’d go to Customer Services, and say “I will complain if I receive bad service…” The face would fall “So equally I want to compliment good service…” The face would smile, and I would explain who had been helpful etc.

Sadly, France is not exactly the epitome of good customer service, with requests for help being met more often than not with a surly shrug. But I can still smile, and be polite and say Thank You to everyone who helps me, whether they do it with a smile or a shrug.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Thank you for reading!!