January. The blue month. When we've snuggled up in front of log fires.
And thought about living well and having a survival kit for the dark days which lay ahead. Making sure we hugged well in order to relieve stress, boost immunity and live longer - you are still hugging? Having twinkly lights and special scents - I wish I could help you experience here what The Vine has been fragranced with these past few weeks, but you can see the twinkly lights.
Retreatants have made the most of this special place - jogged on the (disused) airfield; walked in the rain and come back to hot baths; curled up on sofas in front of log fires; relished cream teas; sat in silence by candlelight in the Chapel; read; journalled.
We've prayed for and with them. And they wrote in the visitors' book when they were leaving:
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, for the most timely and special of retreats. This really is a wonderful place of God. I will be back with my hubby. Thank you, Penelope! x" (a Vicar from Kent)
"Thank you for making your home a haven of peace and tranquillity and with such a wonderful sense of God's peace, which I needed to experience at a major crossroads in my life. Hope to be back again. and the meals were scrummy too!" (A Vicar from Hampshire)
God answers prayers. But those seemed like comparative small ones - to us. although perhaps not to those who were staying on retreat. Miracles are happening in the garden too. An area I prayed over very much last summer, hoping it would be a wonderful place in spite of my lack of time, skill and expertise. There wasn't a single bulb or flowering plant here when we arrived, other than a couple of roses.
The gift of a vast quantity of bulbs was amazing. And they are growing!
And just look what a friend brought round on Friday afternoon ... she'd been busy ... and thought the retreatants might like this ...
The house is progressing too ... we're nearly finished in the main house. If you've been to stay you'll notice the difference. Another area which has been one for our prayers, to get it all finished.
The old elm stairs look beautiful now they are sanded and stained, and the risers painted. A joy to run up and down!
And another special place, with curtains and cushions done - to curl up and read ..
And there always time for a coffee or tea, as we read the Church Times this last week and see that we have an advert in the special Holiday and Retreat section - an advert suggested, donated, paid for, by a dear friend. Another answer to prayer.
BUT THE MOST AMAZING ANSWER TO PRAYER ISN'T ANY OF THOSE, wonderful although they are.
The one that brought tears to my eyes was a brief email.
It told me that an American family Foundation was making a donation to Ministries by Design. A donation such that we can have the Chapel and the office finished properly. The parking area finished. And I can be paid for a couple of months too. (We have had no income since MbD was no longer able to pay me from last October due to lack of funds)
It is perhaps one of the largest answers to prayer we have ever experienced.
A proof that God answers prayer. We are stunned, amazed, hugely encouraged, thankful. Because living by faith is proving to be a test.
We still need regular monthly supporters, Friends of The Vine, who will undertake to give each month to support us in this call to provide a place of sanctuary especially to those who are struggling in ministry or feeling they are burning out. (we've had lots of those already, and the Lord meets them as they come to a halt in this place)
There are just 3 people, 2 in the USA and 1 in the UK, who do this for us - give a small amount each month. We need more. We pray on ...
WILL GOD ANSWER OUR PRAYER? Might you be the means by which He does that? Click there to find out how!