It’s about time for “40 Acts”

It’s got to the point in our house where we all need to have a sit-down and re-think what our family values are. I’m tired of the way the older two children are talking to each other, weary of the niggling and the knee-jerk aggressiveness. I’m utterly fed up with the general lack of kindness being shown. It wasn’t always like this, and we, as parents, are starting to think, ‘What on earth did we do wrong?’.

In a way, it’s good timing: for the last few years, in Lent, we haven’t given anything up, but have instead taken up the mantle of the award-winning 40 Acts Lent Challenge. You sign up, and every day a mini challenge is sent to your inbox. There are ‘green’, ‘amber’ and all-out ‘red’ versions of the challenge so, depending on your time and resources, you can choose how you respond. You can also dip in and out as you please.

There’s also resources for families and I’ve printed (and laminated – it makes it feel more official) the wall chart to put on our fridge.

One of the first family challenges was, simply, ‘try not to argue, disagree or interrupt. Only speak encouraging words.’ That day, I only got to talk to Number One son briefly as he flew out of the door to school, but I talked to the younger two about the importance of listening to someone properly, and they discussed the ‘Decider Skills’ they’ve been learning at school – which included respectful listening this week. Something went in!

One of my favourite quotes ever is by Simone Weil: ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.’ I know I’m guilty of not listening properly or giving people my full attention, but, wow, what a difference it makes when someone does.

Here’s the little introductory video. I challenge you not to be moved!


Caring Café

My daughter spent yesterday evening fiddling around with an origami book and a stash of gorgeous paper squares, so she was tickled pink when we arrived at the Caritas Community Café in Town this morning to discover their perfect display of delicately folded paper cranes in the window.

It’s a wonderful community initiative, run by volunteers, and the inclusive welcome those people provide is heartwarming.  We’ve always been made to feel at home. The food and drinks are home-cooked and very good value (my coffee and three hot chocolates came to £5), and the philosophy is that, if you can, you pay a bit extra to pay ahead for someone less fortunate than you.  Continue reading