Living Adventiously




What a week!  What an Advent week!




At the start of the week, some clergy arrived for a 3 day Advent Retreat. At the end of the week a group gathered in the Chapel for an Advent Away Day.



Pen & pup .jpg
from Anne Voskamp's book  "The Greatest Gift"

from Anne Voskamp's book  "The Greatest Gift"

From collecting twigs on a muddy walk to creating a twiggy Cross to hang on our Christmas trees; from recounting our family trees to planting bulbs (to watch and wait for a shoot to spring forth) ; from drinking  mulled wine to sharing communion together.  And through it all, the story of LOVE and PURPOSE, of a Baby who came to die. Of a Baby whose grace is for me - for you - for each one of us. 

And this. This. Thank you Jamie Brown for this: (click on that to hear an extract)

His tiny little hands will be nailed to a tree

His precious little feet will be pierced through for me

And his soft little lips will bless and forgive

Oh beautiful baby boy


His tiny little chest will be whipped and flogged

His precious little head will be stained with his blood

And his soft little cry will beg for my life

Oh beautiful baby boy


Oh beautiful baby boy. Oh holy Lamb of God

Away in a manger lies our perfect sacrifice

Oh beautiful baby boy


His tiny little eyes will seek out the poor

His precious little arms will welcome the whore

And his soft pudgy face is the image of grace

Oh beautiful baby boy


Living Advently - watching and waiting for a shoot to spring forth from the stem of David, a Baby, a beautiful baby boy. Who came for you and for me and for each one of us.

Oh beautiful baby boy. 

Amen. Even so, Come quickly Lord.


*   *  *  *  

And during the week, we offered two free nights on retreat at The Vine in return for tweeting/sharing/subscribing about the Vine. The winner's name was pulled from a Mays Farm mug containing all the names of those who entered, by one of Mb's Trustees.  Wendy Beech Ward was delighted when she discovered she had won! Congratulations to Wendy and many thanks to all of you who tried. Don't forget to book your own retreat for next year - whether Silent, Individual, walking or Chocolate, there's plenty to choose from but they are beginning to fill up so book soon!  



Diana picking a name

Diana picking a name

A 20 year old prophecy is coming true

"We prayed for Mays Farm to be bought by Christians, when it went on the market a couple of years ago," Jan says to me this morning.  "Di and I, we really wanted it to be a place where there was a Christian presence." "What made you think of that?" I ask.

"Because when my husband and I moved into the village 20 years ago, people were talking about a prophecy.  A prophecy that one day Mays Farm would be a Christian place, something special like a retreat centre. So, two years ago when it was up for sale after the very elderly farmer died, Di and I decided to meet regularly and pray that the prophecy would come true."

She pulls a face. "But it didn't.  The whole farm was bought by someone who obviously wasn't going to do that.

So we stopped praying."

Jan laughs. "But then of course last year he puts the farmhouse and gardens back on the market and keeps the farmyard and barn. And you bought it. And it seems the prophecy is coming to fruition."

All those years ago.

A prophecy about this place. To be a Christian presence in the village, somewhere special like a retreat centre.

I feel the goosebumps.

God knew, all along.

Well of course He did.

But He let others know too.

*  *  *  *

At the Open Day, there was a short service of dedication in the Chapel, to pray for the house and the Chapel and for those who live here and those who visit here. We'd given a general invite to local people to come and see and join us.

Afterwards, a lovely older couple from the village introduce themselves. They attend the Mount Zion Chapel in the village, we discover. "We've been praying for this farm.  But we could never have imagined that there would be worship here like this."

Surely God is in this place.

Surely God meant for all this to happen.

*  *  *  *

And in the hard times, in the times when there's too much month left at the end of the money (is it REALLY only halfway through October?), in the times when it feels as though it 's a moment of madness to be doing this, God gives something special.

This time it's the assurance that this is what He intended all along.

A 20 year old prophecy.

People praying for this place.

*  *  *  * 

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

*  *  *  *


Come and be part of this prophecy.

Come on retreat to Mays Farm; enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this place of spiritual sanctuary; spend time with the Lord; and even have breakfast in bed! Oh, and there's a wood burner to keep you cosy as you sit and read or pray after a refreshing glorious country walk; plenty of space to BE.










This is the reality and it struck me hard

It struck me on Friday - struck me hard. I can't do this.

Whatever made me think I could?

I was painting the top of a gazebo purchased on eBay (one of my husband's many bargains) and it was upside down and fiddly and failing to stay still. It knocked over the tin of paint before swinging painfully  into me. Struck me hard.

I shall not share what I screamed at the top of my voice.

Meanwhile there were 4 rooms urgently needing a coat of paint, a polytunnel to weed and a raspberry patch which had run out of control while we were away.

Too much to do.  I can't do it all. I can't get this place ready in time for the first Preview Retreats.

I felt that, hard.


* * *

I spent Saturday painting a bedroom.


One room, walls painted - twice. But not the woodwork.

No-one else was able to come and help. That struck me hard. I felt isolated and unloved. Even though I know people are busy - and why should they  come and help? This is my calling, my vision, my hard-to-walk path.

And the walls of one room makes such a tiny drop in an ocean of stuff to be done. How can it be sufficiently ready for our furniture to arrive on Thursday? Three rooms at least need to be painted and cleaned, to store our stuff. Not that we can move in - just to store it, piled high.

It struck me hard.

I can't do this.

* * *

Sunday afternoon- at 2pm the raspberries looked like this:


Four hours later there was an improvement - I was half way through.

I stopped half way through.


It struck me hard again: there is just too much to do.

I can't do it.

I really can't.

* * *

I wandered around before leaving - looking for some pretty photos as usual, for this blog post.

And decided it's time to show the raw truth.

It's a building site.

For six months we have lived with the builders. They have worked hard. But there is still a long way to go.

How long, O Lord, how long?

* * *

Then I began to photograph some of the good things.





And I remembered.

His Grace is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore I will boldly say, the Lord is my helper.

His Grace is all I need.

And if His Grace is an ocean, we are all sinking.


I don't know who posted this on Face book - but I am so glad they did.

His Grace. I am sinking.

That struck me hard.


Preview Retreats

You liked the idea of coming to be guinea pigs and try out Ministries by Design for free this summer! I had thought there would be a small amount of interest and I would be able to allocate places soon after Easter. I was totally wrong!

The application forms continue to pour in and I am humbled, thrilled, excited, privileged, to read them, as you have shared so much of your journeys and reasons why you would like to come.

So I am working my way through them, beginning to allocate places, and feeling incredibly excited at what the Lord is planning for these Preview Retreats.  Some wonderful people wanting to come; soma amazing offers of help; some profound reasons for wanting a few days of spiritual sanctuary and solace this summer.

If you are wondering if your application has been accepted and you have been allocated a place - please grant grace? I am aiming to let people know by this coming weekend, so crave your patience for just a little longer.

If you are about to send in your application form , please note that

- there will be a waiting list for the Silent Retreats;

- there are still a couple of places available on the walking retreats;

- there is plenty of space for individual retreats.

Have a look at the dates and descriptions  and pop your application form in the post asap!

We look forward to welcoming you to The Vine @ Mays Farm this summer; and if you would like to go on to our mailing list with future dates please send in  your email address.

Please pray for MbD as we head into the exciting new ministry?


  Fitzroy Square. Cream buildings, a veritable heritage


Leaves swirling, greyly autumn.

Blue plaques on walls to mark the homes of famous men and women.

I look and read and try to imagine this or that person living in this space, looking out of that window, watching these trees shed their leaves. A blue plaque as living legacy, reminder of who they were, what they did, the length of their stay.

And I think of my legacy. What will I leave? Who would want to remember me?

My children, offspring from our marriage, carried in my heart and on my hip for so  long, and now carried simply in my heart -  as they carry their own on hip and in heart.

They will remember.  But what will they remember; and their children, my  grandchildren, and perhaps their children too.  What will they remember of me? What  will they remember me for?

And the only thing I want for my legacy is that it should be my prayers for them.  Prayers reaching down through the generations, unto the third and fourth generation. To pray for my children, for their children and their children’s children.  For them and their spouses and their children’s children to be those who love the Lord, who live for  Him and give their all for Him.

I think of my legacy; and think, hope, pray, that it’s not too late, that there is time for the prayer to continue and to reach forward into the future, their future.

So I slow down, walking more slowly, taking time to look at the blue plaques, praying for those precious descendants. And I want more time; time to pray. I want time to slow and allow me moments more in prayer, moments to talk to my offspring, to tell them what’s really important to me. To whisper His story to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, tell them of the Lord’s great love for them and of mine too, a shadow of His.

My footsteps carry me on and Fitzroy Square is behind.  I quicken, conscious of dawdling, hurrying once again to the time-busyness of busy London around me. Yet deep inside I know: my legacy has time to deepen and develop.  I need not hurry on.  This one race is not the one I want to win – there’s no prize for being the first over the finishing line of life.

Instead, God grant me the time to pray it forward, tell it to my descendants, live it out the best I can for them.

“And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,
and my blessing on your children.
They will thrive like watered grass,
like willows on a riverbank.
 Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’
 Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’
 Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands
 and will take the name of Israel as their own.”         ISAIAH 44:3-5 (NLT)








Time to start looking ahead?

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 to return. Yet - 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 favorite shrugs and cosy sweaters and proper shoes.  The purchase of a new woolen skirt and dressy pumps to accompany it and 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, of daisies, 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 eight long weeks.

I pull on long pants, slip a shrug 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




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?

This summer is the end of two years of mourning.  I am returning – to the memories, to the second anniversary of The Day, to the return of what must become normal-but-without-her. Can I see possibilities if God is in charge of this new thing, this new life, this new beginning which is now offered me.  A chance to start over, sharpen the pencil, open the new page, take a new seat.  A new vision, a new calling, a new frame of mind.

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.

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






We all need them.

But I hadn’t realized just how much we long to be hugged, yearn for the warmth of human embrace, until I wrote about hugs a couple of days ago  and received a number of comments and emails in reply.

And then on Friday afternoon, I went to the gym – for the fourth time this week! I’m visiting my daughter in Virginia and she goes regularly – and now her gym has kindly given me a free pass for the duration of my visit.  I’ve got the bug already – pounding away on the treadmill, doing the rolling hills program, trying to keep ready for the 100 miles walk of Pilgrimage in September; weights in hand, ear plugs in, small TV screen on in front of me.  And off I go, oblivious to my surroundings.  I’ve watched chat shows, Wimbledon tennis, the news, depending on the time of day.

On Friday afternoon it was the news. And I was fascinated to see coverage of a HUG-IN.

A sweet looking Indian lady, called Amma (mother) to her followers, had been just a few miles away in Alexandria, VA, all day, just hugging people, one after the other. It’s what she does.

She sits there and hugs anyone and everyone who comes for a hug.                   

People had been waiting for hours in order to get a hug.

“She doesn’t get up, or stretch, or eat. It makes you contemplate your own life and challenges….When she hugs me, I experience a great surge of peace and spirit. I have to go sit down,” said a woman quoted in The Washington Post.

People believe that Mata Amritanandamayi, the hugging saint, transmits power to others through a simple hug.

And in many ways they are right. A hug can relieve stress, prolong life, increase healthy levels in the body

But it seemed so sad that people had travelled and waited in order to be hugged by a stranger. Was it so very different to being hugged by family or friends? Did the effect wear off and if so would they have to follow Amma to her next location for another hug?

And I thought again of the Good Shepherd carrying His lambs close to His Heart. (Isaiah 40:11)

How He wept because the people were tired and confused, like sheep without a Shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

And how He has no hands now but our hands – to hug and hold and help.


Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) wrote:

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Might you hug someone today with the hug of the Good Shepherd?  Who needs a hug from you? 

Or maybe you need to ask for a hug for yourself?

And send this on to someone so that they will also hug someone else?

UPDATE: hugs for January HERE:





Reflections on water


I am writing a daily blog (Monday to Friday)  on preparing spiritually and physically

to lead a Pilgrimage of 100 miles in September.

for details of the Pilgrimage, click on the dropdown Cotswold Pilgrimage bar at the top of this page 



The Fosse Way. Ancient, straight, unbending.  Full of old memories.                                                       

Roman soldiers marched it. Horse carts stuck in its mud.

Cars still drive most of it.

My friend and I walked some part of it, heads tossed about in the wind, hairfree, carefree, glad to BE.

We walked.  We talked.  Glossy black cows and speckled herds were over the hedgerows.

We found berries sweet, small, sun-kissed.


There was a sadness in each of us, years or more of hard places.   Parents departed. Children making nests empty. Struggling spouses. Illnesses. Finances. Life.


And the book I recently encountered.  Eucharistic moments – the breaking of bread, the giving of thanks in the brokenness, the miracle ensuing. Looking for charis, gifts of God, so often unnoticed yet there for our accepting.


We strode on, the ground dry and cracked, the path hard to our feet. And then.  The farmyard, horses, a tractor from which to stand aside.  The gate to the next field, always open – always there a puddle thick with farmyard mud to straddle.


More dry earth, more fields, more cows.  More sun and wind and glorious freedom in the views. And then that final wet stretch, teetering along its edge, trying to find a pathway through, and I knowing it to be always wet, “Perhaps it’s a spring, fresh water always leaching through.”



Hop skip jump and we are over and onwards.

Remembering later, I write to her.



Thinking of that cracked dry soil we saw in some places this afternoon; and the puddles which never seem to be dry - a metaphor of what happens when joy and grace and God's gifts penetrate our broken, cracked lives.  


And looking for the Gifts.  Searching out the Eucharistic moment. Allowing Him to leach into our crackedness.  Dry hardness becomes soft.


Life giving.

Life healing.

Life refreshing.

Life in all its fullness.

His life filling into ours.


Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”  John 4:13-14






When have you experienced that Life-Giving Water  in new and unexpected ways?

Who needs your help in finding that Water right now?



When you don't know what to pray

I am writing a daily blog (Monday to Friday)  on preparing spiritually and physically

to lead a Pilgrimage of 100 miles in September.

for details of the Pilgrimage, click on the dropdown Cotswold Pilgrimage bar at the top of this page 



- I’d love to pray more.

 - But sometimes I just don’t know what to say. 

 - I have no words yet I want to pray.  Can you give me some ideas of what I might say?

 - I’m in such a mess. I can’t seem to say all of what I feel.

 - My sorrow is too deep for words. I feel cut off.

- I’m too full (with emotion) to be able to pray.


This, these, have been voiced to me recently. And I know how that feels.

And I know a little of what has helped me.  Might it help you too?

Short, succinct prayers.

Few words, but words with great depth.

Words uttered by others over the centuries, those who too have plumbed the depths – and the heights.

Words repeated until they sink into one’s soul, become one’s breath; reiterated to extract their full meaning. Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life (John Bunyan)


Words such as those by Thomas Traherne:

Lord have mercy

Into Thy hands

Thee I adore


Or the paraphrase from blind Bartimaeus

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.


The words of a father longing for his boy to be healed:

Lord I believe; help Thou my unbelief.


The first line of St Francis of Assisi’s famous prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace


Many of the Psalms have single lines of prayer that can be helpfully expressive:

Bless The Lord, O my soul, let all that is within me bless His holy Name!

Teach me your ways O Lord and lead me

There is none like You, O God, You are a mighty fortress unto me

Lead me, Lord – led me in your righteousness. Make your ways clear to me


Simple, short prayers that can be uttered repeatedly.

Offered up silently or aloud, as one walks and goes about one’s day.

And on a Pilgrimage, words formed on the lips for a longer period of walking, repeated until they become who one is for that time, said in rhythmic walking pace, focusing the mind on that alone.

For a Monday: words silently offered up in the midst of life, work, children, stuff. Shaping the day, crying out, focusing briefly on the One who understands.


Might you try  as short simple prayer today , repeating it as you go on?


What short prayers have most helped you?

Write them in the comment section below?

They may well help someone else today.

And maybe forward this to someone who needs to know a short prayer today? Thank you for grace.





Week One: Day Two Yesterday evening was cold.  So very cold.  We shivered as we sat in our studies on what used to be the ground floor of the Vicarage.  The church boiler is broken; there’s no money for a new one; and it was icy.

The Vicar came upstairs to the Vicarage flat.


He spotted an unfinished bottle of mulled wine still sitting on the shelf, waiting to be warmed and consumed.

I sat on the sofa, shivering still, glad of the radiator at my side – and gladly too held out my hand  to take the steaming ruby liquid.  It should be Pimms right now, I thought, the warmth of the hot mulled wine seeping into my chilled blood.

The second (small!) glass slipped down easily too.

Comforting, defrosting, soothing.

The Vicar left for PCC.  My daughter called me on Skype and I laughed to tell her of the Mulled Wine.

-      but you said no alcohol, she accused me. In your blog, getting ready. No alcohol!


So I need reminders.

I need accountability.



I’ve started a chart.  With ticks as I have no gold stars to embellish it. There will be gladness of heart to see each square as positively done.

Maybe a reward for a week’s worth of YES?

And the memory is physically with me today; after half an hour on the powerplates yesterday I have aching muscles in places I had forgotten I had muscles.

A good reminder to carry with me all day.

I need a reminder of the Lord as well.

A verse from the morning’s readings, to learn and to carry and to dwell in as I walk and travel?


I’m glad I bought a useful little pack when in the States.












And my Gratitude Journal.


Time to start again properly on the second thousand.












It feels like a new beginning.

Each day is a new beginning: we get to start over.


Praise God that He makes that possible!


Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;
 his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
 therefore, I will hope in him!”




The Lord works in mysterious ways - not sure why He so often surprises me, I should be used to it by my age but I never am!  

Last summer I began to pray and think and plan about a new

phase of ministry that I felt the Lord was putting on my heart:

to enable small communities of ordained women/women in

full time Christian ministry to support one another regularly.

I sent out invites for this April to some 40 USA women clergy;

and I think 2 or maybe 3 responded.


So I thought maybe the timing was not right .. or I had misheard

the Lord … or there was no perceived need after all.


And then, just this past 10 days, I have had messages from

5 or 6 saying when is it, can we come, are you full up yet.


I guess the Lord knows what we need and when we need it!!


So, we are indeed going ahead, and the details are below.




Please let me know if you can as soon as possible

so that I can go ahead and make all the arrangements. I am

SO excited to think that we may soon be able to support one

another in this way and deepen and strengthen our ministries.


Numbers are limited to just 8 so you do need to get back to me

ASAP if you want to book. It would be such a privilege to have

you as part of a small group who want to be in Spirit-filled prayer

for one another and be mentored as women clergy in leadership.


May I ask you to be in prayer with me to seek the Lord's

guidance as to whether this is for you.





We want to form small communities of about 8 women.

Each community will meet together twice a year,

for 48 hours, under my leadership and chaplaincy.


We will have time to get to know one another, support

one another in prayer, and have “Round-table time” when

we can discuss things where we need help, and to learn

from one another.


And then, in the months in between meeting together,

the prayer and support will continue via phone, Skype etc,

so that there really is a network of support and community

with others who understand. But mostly, we want to pray

for one another, and have unhurried time to do this.

Some of the issues which have already been mentioned are: 

-    isolation:

  • working for wonderful but male Rectors
  • not geographically near to other women clergy
  • unable to pray through or talk about some issues with a male Rector

-   criticism

  • after preaching out one’s heart, the comments are often along the lines of “Did you know your jacket clashed

with the color of the carpet in church?” (for those who don’t wear robes!)   or “Your bracelet caught the lights and glittered and put me off”

  • after administering communion: “I don’t like to take communion from hands with chipped nail varnish!”
  • the old issues of women in leadership, male headship, ordination of women
  • disbelief that a woman could be called into the ordained ministry, and questioning of the calling

-   stress

  • unable to take time off without feeling we are letting people down if not available for 24 hours!
  • Trying to be pastor, wife AND mother – pulled between church and family
  • feeling guilty about spending money on haircuts or new shoes or whatever
  • Wanting to get away for a few days of retreat and time with other women but not knowing where to go or with whom.


The first group is SOON!.  We will arrive during the

evening on Sunday April 29, in time for supper;

and we will depart late afternoon on Tuesday May 1. 


The Retreat will be on the beautiful barrier island of

Seabrook, just south of Charleston, South Carolina.

We will stay in a quiet, private home on the lagoon,

near the glorious beach (there will be time for walking

on the beach, watching the dolphins & pelicans …)



Accommodation will be 2 people per room (separate beds!)

each room has a private bathroom.  All meals are provided, unlimited tea and coffee, wine with evening meals.

For details see

and yes, it's our home!  


The cost for this Retreat is $165.  All you need to bring is yourself, a toothbrush and a Bible!! (is that very British humour?? All linens are provided)

Booking is via email, and payment will be

invoiced using the secure Paypal online so you can pay

either with credit card or e-check very easily.


LIMITED to just 8 so please book very soon


If you'd like to find about a bit more about me, check

out my website and blog:




“I LOVE your idea and sense of calling.  As someone who benefits from knowing you and learning from you as a friend and mentor, I know firsthand how needed this is and how it is currently lacking.  So, for you to have a sense of coming into this ‘void’ is wonderful."

"The practical ideas you set out are great.  I especially like the idea of a retreat and phone calls. Community is so important.  And feeling connected to women one feels like one relates to is equally important (as we both know).  And I know my Rector and his wife will be supportive since this is one of the #1 things he keeps encouraging me to seek out — women mentors! “

Bishop Todd Hunter, The Anglican Mission:-

“Penelope is one of the finest priests I know—not “female” priest, but just “priest”. God has seen fit to combine in her high character, deep piety and a broad gift-mix. This combination makes her a wonderful guide and retreat leader for both current leaders and those who feel called to ministry. I sincerely commend Penelope and her work.”

Susan Alexander Yates, author and speaker:-

“If you are looking for a speaker who is both biblically solid and personally relevant, you have a treat in store with Penelope Swithinbank. She makes the scriptures come alive while at the same time she speaks to the real needs of women today. Her style, which is classy and elegant, appeals to thoughtful women who long for substance.”     


The decking and the hammock overlooking our lagoon - space for retreat and quiet!



So this is how it is, this learning to live again; this living with the sorrow and withoutness. Another  lingering look back, not wanting to forget.

I shall not forget.

There comes a time to move on, a time to learn to live again. To learn to live without.

To live with it, my grief and sorrow; that emptiness which once she filled. My memories.

Her love.

For love does not die. I love. She loves still.

But not here.

And so the space which once was her filling and her loving is my withoutness. I do not want the space to be filled with other people, other things and so I must, I need, to learn to live with it.

From here until.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10

Not the finally as we often think of finally – in our terminology that means “I’ve got to the end at last.”

Like a long sermon.

No, for I shall not get to the end of my withoutness.

But “from now on, from now until the end.”

From now on it will be like this.

She will be missed and at times the withoutness will recede. Then it will crash back and overwhelm. This is how it is to be.

Withoutness does not pass; it is not some passing whim.

It is here to stay.

But from now on , from now until the end, there can be strength in the Lord and in His mighty power.

He does not pass and there is no withoutness with Him.