I got it all wrong last week. Ever feel you've reached the end of your rope? That you've got it all wrong; you're barking up the wrong tree; hopelessly out of your depth; mis-hearing God's Voice; and any one of the many other clichés I could quote.
Yes, all of that. And more.
So I posted a sad little note on Facebook.
Said that I wanted to give it all up, as it all seemed like a big failure.
I felt totally out of my depth. Totally out of perspective.
What had happened?
- we moved into the new house on July 18th; the first retreatant arrived that same afternoon of July 18th.
- the house was full of retreats and lovely retreatants for the next SIX WEEKS! Even at weekends. Oh, and did I mention that I was leading the retreats and doing all the cooking - oh, and still have no Aga and for most of the time had just a microwave and then a small electric oven.
- at the same time, we had all the unpacking to do. The work was still progressing. The builders are still here.
- then we madly had a large party to celebrate rather large birthdays this year and to have a house-warming. Lots of lovely family and friends came. It was a fabulously happy day. And took a lot of organising and preparation. But there was no time to clear up properly for we were off to Italy.
- 2 days of rest and we were straight into leading a Pilgrimage. 10 amazing people came with us as we led them 70 miles on the Via Francigena, leading physically and spiritually. At least no-one was lost or inadvertently left behind.
Returning home on Thursday, we walked into the lovely house we had left - and could not believe our eyes!
We'd left this:
and we walked into this:
you can't see the thick dust in the photos but it is everywhere, over everything, in every room
The decorator we had hired came in while we were away. And did a terrible job; and didn't do half of what was supposed to be done.
And it's truly colder inside the house than it is outside, even at midday and with windows open to let in the comparatively balmy air from outside. It was much warmer in Tuscany and the difference is stark.
Then there was the post - and the bills and more bills; and no money and no support (we so far have just one person supporting us monthly and are desperately in need of financial support.)
Living by faith is hard. Especially when you are totally exhausted.
Living into God's calling is not always the easiest path - but it's the only one worth walking.
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Friends and acquaintances have given enormous support to me over the past few days, all via social media.
Lots of prayers, lots of verses from Scripture, lots of encouragement.
I am exceptionally grateful.
Of course, there's still dust everywhere and the house is upside down and there are about 100 people coming on Saturday for the Open Day and Launch. (will you come? please?) It's still cold and damp indoors.
There's still no money, and only a total of 4 nights of retreat booked in for the foreseeable future and lots of outstanding bills.
* * * *
But I need to be grateful for how far we have come in such a little time. Grateful for the extraordinary weeks of the Preview Retreats.
And to remember not to give in to despair and frustration.
Especially when so very tired.
And isn't that just when the enemy likes to get in and tell us we are no good and never will be any good and that it's all gone pear shaped?
illustration from #smokymtnchristian on Facebook
seen on FaceBook, from the Psalm we learned on the Pilgrimage
So now I am tied to God.
Resting in the power of God.
Learning to be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord.
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What do you do when you are at the end of your rope? Where are you tied up?
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SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 28th 2013
OPEN DAY and LAUNCH
for THE VINE @ MAYS FARM
We would love you to come and enjoy The Vine @ Mays Farm
Come for as long as you can - call in, or stay!
Light refreshments served all day
2pm short dedication prayers in the Chapel
The Board of Trustees will all be here
Come and see what is on offer at this place of spiritual sanctuary -
retreats for you, for your leadership team, for your small group
RSVP by email. Thank you!
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What retreatants are saying, after experiencing one of the Preview Retreats which were offered over the summer:
"L & I returned home from our Retreat at The Vine this weekend. The retreat center is going to be a wonderful place (it officially opens in Sept) and I highly recommend it to all for visiting. It might be very special to go with a group of friends. We enjoyed meeting new friends, loved seeing the countryside and charming villages, and most especially experiencing afresh God's blessings upon us. The location is beautiful and peaceful, and the ministry very meaningful. The Swithinbanks are called to this place for ministry, and her Godly leadership skills for custom retreats are excellent! " L&L from USA
"I had the most amazing time and am longing to be back at the best 'spiritual spa' that I have ever been to. I could not have asked to have been blessed with more beautiful and tranquil surroundings . I found utter peace at The Vine - I just loved it. I came back and felt like I had found how I want to live - I want to live with the supernatural peace that I experienced at The Vine." S.B. from London
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for more information, Penelope's latest blog posts, and retreat details.
Your prayers and support are greatly valued and appreciated as we begin this new ministry. There are huge hurdles ahead of us (not least the money to complete the house and support the ministry) and we are learning afresh to look to the Lord and lean on Him:
Jesus said, "I am the Vine ... Remain in Me."