Walking slowly through France - 230km done, 300 to go

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There is a rhythm to our days. We rise. We walk. A cafe is a bonus. The countryside is beautiful. Wild flowers and vineyards give way to rolling hills, sunshine gives way to rain. But it’s the people and the world we live in that fascinate me.

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Dinner one evening with a couple, he Italian, she Flemish, with our French Algerian cuisiniere. We talk about faith, Trump and Brexit in my broken French. Our host at the B&B has one Catalan grandfather and one Basque (as well as a magnificent moustache). The great European experiment! C’est un melange, they say.

The next night we stay with a German couple, another wonderful chef. He is giving up on the French and returning to Germany as the French never turn up as arranged! A marriage made in ...?

And then a young English couple who moved to Carcassonne. He’s now very grateful for an Irish parent and that their 18 month old was born in France. 

Yet as I read a novel set in occupied Nazi France, I reflect. It’s a mess - Europe. It’s not the ideal I believed in when I voted to join as a young man. It’s overladen with bureaucracy and senseless rules. But what is the alternative? Are we really better off on our own?

And then the kindness and the warmth of the hospitality surprise me. What happened to the French disdain for foreigners?

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I’ve lost my addiction to The Times and today’s news; but even here Trump’s attempts to destroy the Western Alliance send a shiver down my spine. Have we forgotten the lessons of history? My father turns in his grave.

It was our generation that voted for Brexit I’m ashamed to say. What world are we leaving for our 6 grandchildren? Isn’t it better that we live with uncomfortable compromises than with a certainty and nationalism that isolates and separates? 

just a few thoughts as we walk slowly across France .....

Kim

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FINDING OURSELVES IN FRANCE

Finally, after nearly 20 years on my bucket list, the big Walk Across France is about to begin! On June 1st, we fly to Beziers, and the next day, June 2nd, we will be on the Mediterranean beach at Portiragnes Plage.  There, we will turn our faces west, and begin the 500km walk to Cap Breton on the Atlantic. (20,157,480 inches, or 318 miles)

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We will be carrying everything we need, in our large backpacks, so living simply and carrying as little as possible! And we will be staying in B&B and similar accommodations. Some of the walk is relatively easy along the Canal du Midi. Some is more challenging, in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

After the ups and downs of married life, especially recently, and to celebrate the end of our gap year of travelling during the first year of retirement , we will be Finding Ourselves in France…..

We are obviously funding the entire trip ourselves, and going anyway; but then we thought it might be lovely if some people could follow our progress, pray for us,  and maybe support a couple of worthwhile causes to sponsor our every step!

There are two Christian charities for whom we would like to raise £2000 each – a total of £4000, which is £1000 for each week of walking. We will actually walk for 6 days and then take a rest day, so it will take nearly 5 weeks all together.

The International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org)

IJM is an international, Christian, organization focused on human rightslaw and law enforcement, and in particular to work towards the end of sex trafficking. It was founded in 1997 by lawyer Gary Haugen and is based in Washington, D.C.. There are field offices in AfricaLatin AmericaSouth Asia and Southeast Asia, and five partner offices in North America, Europe and Australia. 94% of IJM employees are nationals of the countries they work in. Gary was a member of the church in Virginia where we were on staff.

People against Poverty (http://www.peopleagainstpoverty.com)

in Romania

In September, a group of men from our church (Holy Trinity, Combe Down, Bath) will be going to Transylvania to work with a local pastor who has an outreach ministry to Romany people. Kim will be part of the group!  The men are self-supporting for their own travel; but need to raise the money to build a barn, and other buildings, to help provide farms for those who have no other means of livelihood. The church has a strong link with this ministry and teams have been before.

The fund-raising direct links are below - please join us on the adventure of a lifetime and follow the journey. Social Media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin will each have the occasional photo/update. 

We fly back from Bordeaux on July 3rd.  and would love there to be some financial aid for those charities. Thank you so much for all your help, your prayers,  and your support in every way.

      with love,    Kim and Penelope

People Against Poverty:

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/kimswithinbank1

IJM:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=KimSwithinbank&pageUrl=1

 Architect's design for the barn. They discovered the ground is seismic and had to redo the plans - pro bono all the way.

Architect's design for the barn. They discovered the ground is seismic and had to redo the plans - pro bono all the way.

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WALKING THE VIA FRANCIGENA

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- the mediaeval pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome, through the heart of Europe.

We walk part of it in Tuscany, from San Gimignano to Montalcino.

It's very special, beautiful in its simplicity and peace, as we retrace the ancient ways.

DATE ALTERATION!

So maybe it will work for you to come after all 

NEW DATES  are September 1 - 8 (Saturday to Saturday)

There are  just a few places still available - full details here: 

http://www.ministriesbydesign.org/italy-pilgrimage/

 

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How much does the perfect Christmas gift cost?

In about half a second, Google will refer you to

388,000,000 ‘free gifts’

But do we trust freebies?

After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Is there?

 

How much does the perfect Christmas gift cost?

£24.4bn

is what we will spend between us all

in the UK this Christmas

according to The Retail Gazette

 

But there is one gift this Christmas

That is both

Priceless and free

 

It can’t be:

bought,

googled,

bartered for,

earned,

found on an app

or delivered by Amazon

 

It’s already been

paid for in full.

 

JESUS

is

GOD’S CHRISTMAS PRESENT TO YOU

 

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”

John 3:16 (The Message)

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How to come on A Pilgrimage In 2018

 What you are planning for your vacation next year? Could 2018 be the year to do something exceptional and special? Something that will refresh and reinvigorate you physically AND spiritually?

Most of us, most of the time, long to get away from it all: away from the rush and the stress and the busy-ness of our everyday lives. Time away to spend time with the Lord. Time to get fitter and leaner in every way. AND in a beautiful and special place.

So here’s a great idea for you. Come on a pilgrimage! It’s a vacation with a difference, and  many people are now discovering that walking on ancient pathways, surrounded by beauty, in peaceful quiet places, helps you get into a rhythm that often makes it easier to hear from God, to shed the burdens, to rediscover who you are and who you are meant to be.

Kim and Penelope, both clergy who are experienced in leading pilgrimages, are planning to lead two special walks in 2018.  

-       Come to Cornwall in mid May 2018 and walk the ancient coastal pathway from the most westerly point to the most southerly point of England. A land of wild seas, Celtic saints, clotted cream and Cornish pasties! You might spot seals, eat a cream tea, enjoy local fresh fish, learn about Celtic saints, worship in a 6th century church. And along the way, have plenty of time to be refreshed and renewed in your walk with the Lord. In May, the coastal path is fringed with glorious wild flowers - bluebells, thrift, gorse, campion and many others. For more details click HERE.

-     Or come to Italy in early September 2018, to walk along some of the Via Francigena in Tuscany.  Part of the long Pilgrim route which stretches from Canterbury to Rome, it offers glorious scenery, fabulous wines (!) ancient frescoes, hill top mediaeval villages, and a true sense of doing something different.   The ancient route was supposedly first travelled by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sigeric, in the year 990, as he travelled between Rome and Canterbury. The archbishop described the 79 stages of his itinerary in a journal.  You will follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims who over the centuries have travelled across Europe and down the Italian peninsula, and we will spend time enjoying the route and all it has to offer as we travel through a very special part of Tuscany.   For more details click HERE.

Both Pilgrimages offer special things; both will include days of glorious walking (some of which is demanding, but we help you prepare for that!); both will have daily times of worship, meditations and spiritual ‘exercises’ to help you to focus on what the Lord might want to say to you.

Take a look at the information,  pray and think about whether 2018 is the year when you do something very different, something that many people have found to be absolutely life changing. You won’t regret it! (except for the end of day one, but that’s another story….)

What previous pilgrims have said:

I have just started seminary…. I will ALWAYS think of that experience (ie the Pilgrimage)  as one of the tops, and it was the catalyst to begin this whole other chapter of my life — it sure was  amazing!    Meg

The Cotswold Way Pilgrimage was formative for me in so many ways, Penelope…thank you for providing this catalyst for transformation in my life.  Shelly

It was great to have devotions each night…they were really helpful talks.  Rick

It truly was a life changing experience for me; and I met with God in a way I’d never done before.  Roy

It was fantastic! I haven't had a group vacation in a long time and now that I know how much fun I had with others, hiking through the hills, I'd be willing to take more vacation time and do a longer or equally long trip/hike again. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have joined you and the others on this trip! Thank you!  Ann

I loved the Scripture memory especially the day we passed the verse around verbally, phrase-by-phrase, through the  kissing gates and along the trail. :)       I loved learning the morning collect too!  AJ

 Your information ahead of time was extremely helpful as to what to bring, wear for hiking and in the evenings, and what the terrain was going to be like. Colin

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jer. 6:16

 leaning into the wind in Cornwall!

leaning into the wind in Cornwall!

So NOW is the time to begin planning to come! If you are at all interested, please contact us to register your interest. This does not commit you, merely registers that you might well like to come and would like to receive full details when they become available. Each Walk is limited to just 12 people, so register your interest soon!
Couples and singles are all welcomed; please note that accommodation is in shared rooms of 2.

Please email penelope@ministriesbydesign.org with the following details:

 - Your name, address and home church

- which pilgrimage you are interested in (Italy, Cornwall or the Cotswolds)

- whether you plan to come alone, with your spouse, or with a group

This is a wonderful opportunity to take some out in a beautiful place - for time with the Lord, for seeing new places, for learning a new rhythm of life, for making new friends, for being refreshed and renewed. Why not pray about whether this is right for you for now?

Come walk with us - we look forward to seeing you next year!

- The Revs Kim & Penelope Swithinbank

 

"The idea (of pilgrimage) being that sometimes, in order to see clearly, we need to separate ourselves from the daily grind, from our everyday work and responsibilities. On a long (and sometimes arduous) hike, things often fall into perspective. Answers to tricky questions can break through when your head is free of the internet and the news.  With the wind whistling through your hair and the sun on your face, life suddenly becomes far more simple. You have time to think, maybe even to pray – and sometimes answers break through like a shaft of sunlight glancing down into a clearing." Jane Alexander, writing in The Telegraph

 

How Spice-y are you?

How to have a Spice-y life

Crawling back into bed in the small hours of the morning felt like coming home. The comfort and warmth and darkness enveloped me; my whole selfmindbodyspirit relaxed.   Utterly drained and exhausted, even the effort of pulling the duvet around me felt too much. Within seconds I was asleep – for a little while at least. It felt like heaven.

Let me ask you something: are you feeling tired right now?

Maybe not – maybe you leaped out of bed this morning absolutely raring to go, bouncingly full of the joys of spring, so pumped that a second cup of coffee would be over-the-top unnecessary.

Or maybe, maybe, you and I woke this morning feeling weary and tired, and it’s a tiredness that comes from life.  Life has thrown a curveball - actually, make that several curveballs -  at us and we’re all living in a world that constantly feels weary. It’s the sort of weariness that’s not solved by a good night’s sleep. It is a weariness of spirit, because we fill our lives with frenetic activity and then add escapist activity on top - compulsive social media, mindless television, recreational drinking – because we are too tired to choose stuff which would be truly life giving.  And our emotions become dulled and numb; our bodies groan and ache; and the guilt and the exhaustion become second nature and we come to accept them as normal.

What we need, you and me in our weariness, is the spice of life. Because we are so busy taking care of life and taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves and give ourselves some SPICE -  the acronym for the 5 areas we need to be fully human and fully alive.

Spiritual

Maybe we’ve ignored the manufacturer’s handbook for ourselves, trying to operate without following the instructions. Stress is always a warning light that we’ve taken our focus off God and are looking at our problems from a limited viewpoint.  Rick Warren said he believes the single greatest cause of stress is that we take ourselves too seriously and we don’t take God seriously enough.

What helps you reconnect with God each day?

Reverence for (or worship of) God adds hours to each day. Proverbs 10:27

Physical

Finding what works for our own particular bodies to feel great, keep in good health, be the best we can be.  Nourishing ourselves physically with the right food and the correct exercise. For me, it’s low sugar and low carbs, 7.5 nightly hours of sleep, lots of fruit and veg, long long walks, and regular exercising.

It’s taking care of what we’ve been given.

What makes your body feel in great shape?

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous--.  Psalm 139:14 (NLT)

Intellectual

Stimulating the brain is as important as exercising the body – use it or lose it; and without that stimulation and new knowledge, we get very stale. Some of us love crosswords and jigsaws and Su Doku; others of us play the piano or learn a new language or map-read our way across new territory as we walk….  

New experiences that use all the senses are good for our minds.

What stretches your mind?

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.  Proverbs 15:14 (NLT)

Creative

We humans are amazing at the way we can be so creative. We can invent theorems, knit a sweater, write a magnum opus, paint the Mona Lisa, compose limericks, cook up a storm. We are made in the image of a creating, creative God; to be creative is in our genes and gives us life.

How can you create something today? (other than creating a mess….!)

God created human beings; he created them godlike, reflecting God’s nature.  Gen 1:17 (The Message)

Emotional

“It is a slow death to be gloomy all the time.” (Proverbs 17:22 GNT) When did we learn as a generation, as a culture, to be so serious about everything?  When was the last time you said : hang it all, I’ve earned a break; and just left it all and went out for a walk, or took time to sit and chat with a friend, and just hung out?  Simplify: time, possessions, yes; but also attitude.  Laugh more, and work and worry less. When was the last time you relaxed and laughed with others? Or by yourself – watching or reading that one thing that makes you (and no-one else!) roar with laughter?

What makes you laugh? Or relax? What feeds your soul?

A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. Proverbs 17:22 (The Message)

 

So how spice-y is your life? 

Leave a comment below to share how you’re doing!

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around-life – and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed form the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of maturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  Romans 12:1-5The Message

What gives you life on Candlemas/Groundhog Day?

What is giving you life right now? 

Thoughts for the midwinter Cross-Quarter Day of Candlemas (February 2nd)    Oh – and it’s Groundhog Day too!
 

Maybe you’ve had the flu – or at least the sniffles.
Or that lingering lurgy and you just can’t shake it off.
The days may be lengthening, but spring is not yet here, and January has been such a long long month. Especially if like mine it has been more-or-less dry.
Budgets are tight, the weight won’t shift and winter has reached the woefully dreary stage. Plus my FaceBook feed is thoroughly depressing right now – Brexit to one side, POTUS on the other, Bishops in the middle.

Winter is hard for me. You too? It’s all too easy to look at what is draining and crushing and difficult right now. But there is another way and it’s actually simple. I like simple and I like doing something simple that helps.
 
I once read an article about searching out what gives you life. What energises you, what helps you to keep you smiling – in spite of what is going on everywhere else.  And with the middle of winter due on February 2nd, this idea is one I’m finding life giving.
 
And that’s what we need, right? Little things that are life giving. To notice them, make a note of them, remind ourselves to do them, have them, use them. Doing more of what makes you happy, what gives you life.  Little things that make a difference.
 
So I decided to make a list – it’s personal and yours may be very different.  But perhaps it might be helpful to share our lists and suggestions, to give us ideas of what actually feeds us, strengthens us, gives us life.


Daffodils or hyacinths on the kitchen table. Bright, cheerful and scented, they lift my mood whenever I see them.

Lighting a scented candle while I’m sitting working at the computer; and having supper by candlelight. Love it! Candles both relax and lift my mood

Bubble baths. Even 10 minutes to wallow in warmest water, with a good book. Not the Kindle – don’t trust myself not to drop it in! (no photo here…..)

Wearing my favourite clothes. Instead of keeping them for ‘best,’ just wearing them and enjoying them. And throwing out what I feel I ought to keep but actually never wear. Taking discarded things to the charity shop. 

Eating well. And nutritiously. Takes an effort but SO worth it! Here’s a hot chicory, mackerel and radiccio salad I made last week. Yum. (Thanks to chef Tom Kerridge's new book!)

Reading the Psalms. I read 5 each day and so it takes a month to read them all the way through. Start with the Psalm that corresponds to the day’s date, read it and add 30 to find the next one to read, and so on up to 5 Psalms. SO: on the 15th, read Psalms 15, 45, 75, 105, 135. Today is the 30th and I read Psalm 30, 60, 90, 120 & 150. (tomorrow is Jan 31 so just Psalm 119 on the 31st)  I’m using “The Psalms on Fire,” which is the new Passion Translation and I find it extremely helpful.

Exercise. Yes, I know, we all hate it while we are doing it. But then it depends on what type of exercise. Because I have discovered I prefer some and loathe others! Walking in the fresh air or taking a Pilates class each make me feel so much better. Preferably both, regularly. 

 Painswick - the Rococo Gardens

Painswick - the Rococo Gardens

Doing nothing for a few minutes. I either close my eyes or indulge my latest passion - colouring letters from mediaeval manuscripts. Breathe deeply and just enjoy the moment. 

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Pause and assess - choose to do more of what makes you happy.

 S'mores with the family

S'mores with the family

Can’t wait to read your list – what gives you life in the deepest middle of winter?

Feel free to share my blog with others who might like to read it - you can sign up in the top right hand box and it will slip quietly and happily into your inbox about every 6 weeks or so. 

Resolutions Resolved

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS: Love them or hate them, they are in the air right now.

New Year’s Day is nearly here. A day to begin afresh. A day bursting with new year zeal, an unmarked fresh-snow-fall start. A day for making Resolutions, writing down lists and intending, really and truly intending, to keep to the list THIS year.

At least for the whole of January.

Smugly, the list grows; lose those extra pounds, go to bed earlier, join – and go to – the gym, tidy the house, find a new job, declutter, read the Bible every day, pray, keep in touch with friends….

Good intentions.

But how to keep them?

Maybe I’m starting from the wrong place.

Maybe my lists are impossible to keep.

Maybe I am setting myself up for failure from the start.

One thing I have discovered about myself over the many years I’ve known me is that I am hopeless at long term implementation. I can set out with good intentions but soon they change and become impossible tasks, things I am failing to do, hopelessly unattainable aspirations. And the failure leads into that horrible downward spiral -

self criticism

low self esteem

depression

failure – again.

I  tried the Happiness Project.

It worked – for a while. I even made myself a star chart and awarded myself lots of stars for tasks accomplished everyday. But basically the things which I continued to do even without a star were those which energised me, brought enjoyment, caused enthusiasm. No chart was needed for them.

Re-reading children’s literature. Walking in beautiful countryside. Seeing my family.

And reading the Bible in a year – using a great aid to do it. Guthrie’s Chronological Reading of God’s Story -  I  enjoyed and appreciated the overview and the thoughts and the questions and also that it’s 6 days a week so there was always a catch-up day if I needed it.

And it’s on my Kindle, so it was easy to take with me to read wherever I am. It too brought enjoyment and enthusiasm.

So why not make my Resolutions things I know I will enjoy, things which energise and enthuse me?

I will walk every day. 

I will have a date night with my husband once a week.

I will re-read a favourite book on alternate months.

I will have a long warm bubble-bath occasionally and read in the bath!

I will nourish my soul – for me, that means short meaningful Scripture passages to read, times of silence and reflection, prayer walks. Each of those regularly; but not necessarily every day. What will be constant is connecting to God, building my relationship with Him.

Why punish myself or set myself up for failure with a long list of things I don’t really want to do? Why not plan to do what energises, encourages, enthuses - for then I feel better and only then will I be able to tackle some of the areas that formerly would have comprised the Resolution lists.

I shall keep my new year’s resolutions: because they are the very things I want to do. In fact, I am looking forward to them. So I shall start now. I’m off to nourish my soul.

What helps you to keep your Resolutions?

What will energise and enthuse and encourage you, so that you are able to tackle the less liked areas?

Leave a comment and share your helpful thoughts with us ....

Share this blog with your friends and find out their Resolutions too?

And check back soon to read the next January instalment - why not sign up right now, so you don't miss it, and have it slip quietly to your email inbox.

Is this an ending or a beginning for you?

Summer's lease hath all too short a date - 

And so it comes – the end of the idyll that was our summer.

A summer’s worth of weeks.

But now it’s time.

Time for a new thing.

We felt it, American daughter and I.  Just a few days ago. The air is different, we said. It’s hotly glorious, sky clearly blue. But a change is coming. We know it. We can feel it. We can sense it.

It feels good and right and timely.  Welcome, even.

So we put away our shorts and strappy tops.  There was the ceremonial binning of much-worn well-loved worn-out summer sandals. The joy of rediscovering a cosy sweater one evening -  and proper shoes.  Exultation in that feeling of being well-dressed after a summer of short shorts, skimpy skirts and simple sandals.

It’s time. Time to grow up again. Time for routines and schedules and restoring order.

And yet. And yet there lingers a love of lazy summer days, sand between the toes, doing whatever whenever. However. It will return, we promise ourselves: next year, it will come again, but for now we are content, with our summer memories and still-golden tans, content to let the summer go, thankful for all we have done and all we have been and all we knew, for those long, long weeks.

I pull on trousers, slip a sweater over my shoulders – and drive with the roof down still, enjoying natural air conditioning after the hot, heavy, closeness of the humid summer air.

Anticipation. I almost long to sharpen my pencils ready for the new school term, to begin a fresh exercise book with its invitation and expectancy and openness and possibilities. To write my name on a new fly leaf and know I can begin afresh, in a new place with a new desk and new seat.

Time to return. Yet -

Time for a new thing.

The promise is there.  I’m doing a new thing for you, says God.  Don’t you see it?

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18,19)

God says

CHANGE YOUR FOCUS:

STOP LOOKING BEHIND!

START LOOKING AHEAD!

Walter Brueggmann writes of this action of God:

“It is remarkable that Israel is told to forget the old exodus narrative in order to notice the new departure. The ‘new thing’ is not only more contemporary, but also more spectacular and exhibits the power of God in more effective ways. In these verses all the accent is upon the new experience which pushes the old memory aside. It may be worth noting that in the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, in so far as Christians are concerned, the same accent is upon the new at the expense of the old. Our God is doing a new thing.”

Our God is doing a new thing.

Because the past won’t sustain us.

God says, Forget the former things, I am doing a new thing.

The children of Israel had seen God have many victories in their past.  It had been a good past.

Leaving Egypt

Conquering the Land of Canaan

Fighting off prospective conquerors

Surviving a split in their country

But all their previous victories were doing nothing for them in the present. They needed a new work, a new miracle, a new victory.

So the question isn’t: what has God done?

There’s no doubt about that!

The question must be:

What new thing is God doing right now?

The children of Israel had a choice to make. They were in exile, looking back at former glories.  And looking back wasn’t helping. Yet all they could see in the present was problems, and their own powerlessness. They didn’t like where they were at the moment, and yet they didn’t seem to trust God to change things for them nor to want to be open to the possibilities He had in mind for them.

And so there is a choice:

They can continue as they are, nostalgic for what has been, yet not happy in the present, not trusting the Lord.

Or they can focus on what God wants to do in their lives. And God wants to do a new thing.

Can I see possibilities if God is in charge of this new thing?

We are returning to a house unsold and an unknown future. Do I believe that God is in control?Can I see possibilities if God is in charge of this new thing, this new life, this new beginning which is now beginning.  A chance to start over, sharpen the pencil, open the new page, take a new seat.

Claim the new thing HE is doing for me.  In me.  Through me.

Returning – to a new thing.  It’s in the air around us. Routines. Schedules.  School. It’s time.  Time to return to God and to the new thing He is doing. The beginning, not an ending.

O gracious God

Give us wisdom to perceive you

Diligence to seek you

Patience to wait for you

Eyes to behold you

A Heart to meditate upon you

And a life to proclaim you

Through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen,

WHERE IS HOME?

I've just had the privilege of writing a guest blog for Amy Boucher Pye's series on THERE's NO PLACE LIKE HOME, which follows on from her book "Finding myself in Britain."

“Shrimp for supper,” I announced to my hungry husband. “Same recipe as that one I tried in the States last week.” I think he started salivating. We had visited our American grandsons in America, and I’d found a new recipe which we’d loved: skewered shrimp. Now I wanted to recreate it in Wiltshire, and had eagerly pounced on a packet of shrimp I’d spotted when shopping.

Time to cook; I’d soaked the bamboo skewers in preparation and slit open the defrosted packet. Out tumbled tiny, tiny pathetic pink things. Not the large succulence I was expecting; these were miniscule. Lots of them to be sure, but far too small to be threaded on to skewers.

And then I remembered – we are two nations divided by a common language. What England calls prawns are what America calls shrimp, and they are huge in the States and tiny in the UK. I should have looked for ‘jumbo prawns’ or ‘tiger prawns’ in England. At least I had remembered that zucchini are courgettes and summer squash merely the yellow ones.

We ate shrimp and courgette risotto for supper. It was edible (just) but not what was expected, and a poor substitute.Same word but different meanings. And I had forgotten my translation skills. The years we spent living in the States should have reminded me of the need for interpretation. I used to dread using some word in a sermon that might be perfectly normal and acceptable in English, but have an entirely different and unsuitable meaning for my American congregation.

“Let’s make a list of differences,” Patti exclaimed enthusiastically, as we told each other about trunks and boots, pavements and sidewalks, bonnets and hoods. A gloriously correct Southern Lady, Patti found paper and pen and drew a line down the centre (center!) of the page. She wrote at the top of the left hand column: “English” and listed trunk and sidewalk and hood. Her pen hesitated at the top of the righthand column and she turned back to me. “So what do YOU speak?” she asked, bewildered.

Two nations divided by a common language, said George Bernard Shaw.

And then there’s “home.” Where is it? What is it?

When we lived in Virginia, despite the fact that we were ‘having a blast,’ and following the Lord’s calling to minister there, I often had moments of overwhelming grief. I would wander into my elder daughter’s bedroom and stand there sobbing, knowing that she was thousands of miles away in the UK at university and that my son, also in England, was now married and would never join us to live in the States.

It wasn’t place I was missing, but people, family....

To read the rest of this article, click here to go to Amy Boucher Pye's blog

    American granny

 

American granny



Win 2 free nights on retreat .. and other fun things

Lots of you wanted to join with us at the Open Day on June 27th
but have said alas - and how could you help from afar? 


So here's how YOU can help to bless those who come to The Vine on retreat, and how you can have some fun doing that! 
Because people DO find it helpful to be here!


"Thank you - for letting me just be, in all my tiredness and emptyness - to come and be refreshed,
welcomed, loved and restored. Wonderful peace. I've not slept so much in years! Thank you again."
 
H.from London wrote in the visitors' book just this morning! 


SO - TWO ways you can bless people who need what The Vine offers: 
- buy some raffle tickets
- and/or sponsorship an item for the Irene Room.


Have a quick look at these lovely prizes, and then some interesting quotes, and a fun photo below!

A SUMMER RAFFLE
for Saturday June 27th 2015 at Mays Farm
Tickets £2.50 each or 5 for £10. Draw will be made at 3pm
All proceeds are for the IRENE ROOM


PRIZES


A RETREAT AT THE VINE AT MAYS FARM
A TWO NIGHT STAY FOR ONE AT THIS EXCLUSIVE RETREAT CENTRE IN WILTSHIRE! Full board included. Subject to availability of rooms/dates. Valid until May 30 2016.
* *
A  ROUND OF GOLF
with Kim at THE MANOR HOUSE, 
AN EXCLUSIVE GOLF CLUB IN CASTLE COMBE, WILTSHIRE,
Followed by lunch at the Club House
Designed by the renowned BBC commentator Peter Alliss and his design partner Clive Clarke in 1992,
it is now widely regarded as one of the finest golf courses in the South West. No.1 Course in Wiltshire - Top100 Golf Courses 
* * 
A COACHING SESSION WITH MIKE WILSHER
CEO: THE EXECUTIVE FOUNDATION – “Together, stronger, further”
Mike offers business leaders, and others, amazing insight, clarity, inspiration and expertise. He has many years of experience in the business world.
Freshen your thinking and improve your leadership. 
* *
A DESIGNER MAN BAG by BAUME ET MERCIER
Swiss maison de’horologie
AN EXCLUSIVE OVERNIGHT BAG - PLUS WASHBAG, LAUNDRY BAG AND SHOE BAG
Fulsomely made in leather and canvas for you or the man in your life! 
* *
A BEAUTY GOODIE BAG
A SELECTION OF GORGEOUS THINGS
Clarins, Neals Yard, Cath Kidston, Miller Harris, Arbonne

* *
A FOOD GOODIE BAG
A SELECTION OF DELLICIOUS THINGS
Mulling Syrup from Selsley (nr Stroud), Hand made jam from Norfolk,
Thorntons Chocolates, and local honey from Badminton
* * 


SPONSORSHIP 
THE IRENE PRAYER ROOM AND SUMMER HOUSE

Buy something for the summer house and contribute to the ministry which will happen here


CABIN                                              £2,054
ERECTION OF HOUSE                    £400

ELECTRICITY SUPPLY                     £300

PAINT                                               £35 per pot x 8

CHAIR                                               £75

THROWS                                           £35 x 2

TABLE                                                £250

RUG                                                   £87

WICKER CHAIR                                £65 x 2

WICKER TABLE                                £67

Irene, Penelope’s mother who was 90, and Penelope were involved in a double, horrific car accident in September 2010, when an out-of-control car first slightly injured Penelope, and then Irene was swept away and fatally crushed. The new summer house and prayer room is named Irene (peace) in memory of Penelope’s mother. She was an amazing prayer warrior, still taking the ‘old’ ladies to church, babysitting, and supporting others. Her love for the Lord was palpable.

The Irene House will provide a special place for prayer, reflection, writing and resting.


To buy a raffle ticket and/or to sponsor something in the Irene Room, please go to: http://www.ministriesbydesign.org/giving/
This has links for both UK & USA giving.
Designate your gift 'Raffle' or "Sponsorship" and then email us with your name and phone number and details of what your gift is. 
If you buy raffle tickets your name will be entered on the ticket/s and put into the pot with those purchased on the day. If you are a winner a prize will be chosen for you by one of the Trustees and you will be notified later that day.

Thank you for your support of this vital and life-giving ministry. It could not continue without your support both financial and prayerful. 


A pastor spending the last few days of his sabbatical here has put in the visitors' book: "Such a wonderful gift to be in a place of deep peace where the Presence of God is rich and real." 

A missionary who has just returned from Nepal wrote, " The perfect place to meet with God. It has been a very special time."

A church leader who brought a group for an Away Day emailed to say:  We were certainly blessed. Time in the garden helped us unwind, and we all really appreciated you leading us in meditation in your cool, calm chapel. Although the time was short it was really valuable and significant for our souls. The peace and perspective lingered long after I had left. A concentrated dollop of God's goodness.

And a young executive from London came for a weekend: “I appreciated the space to just be – to let it all out, to sleep, walk, not perform, not worry about my attire, have no demands. At all. I slept SO much and was not made to feel guilty for doing so!”


NOW BOOKING FOR THE AUTUMN:

for

individual retreats,   groups

Away Days, Staff days, Vision & Value days