A love that is not glamorous, doesn't pay well and is not popular

Today, I’ve been reading some unpopular descriptions of love:

Love can be lonely.

A one-way love – with no exit strategy.

To be faithful to a covenant, willing to love when every fibre of your being screams ‘run.’

A love that sets its will to love, regardless of the response of the one being loved.

Love determined to adhere to the covenant, acting not on feelings but on covenant.

I’m reading “A LOVING LIFE” by Paul Miller.  In a world of broken relationships, in a world which believes love comes from feelings not from commitment, this book is deeply disturbing. It’s also profoundly moving, illuminating and arresting.

Miller is writing about the story of Ruth, in the Old Testament; and about hesed *  love – love which is faithful, steadfast, committed. Hesed love is a one-way love, a commitment with no exit strategy; hesed love is determined to love, no matter what. And it is the essence of Calvary love.

It’s not very popular today, of course. Disneyesque love is determined by feelings, by a desire for happy ever after. It tells us to move on, move out, if feelings for the loved one no longer exist. Give up, in order to be true to yourself and to your true (new) feelings.

But that’s not hesed love, not the love of God. Not the love demonstrated in the life of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus gives us the power to love no matter what our circumstances.  

Not that hesed love pretends that everything is rosy when it clearly isn’t. In fact, because it knows things are not all rosy, hesed love sets its will to love regardless of the response of the one loved. It upholds the covenant, the commitment.  “God’s grace works most powerfully when there is no exit, when we learn to love because we have no other choice.” (Miller)

I can’t pretend it’s easy – I know it’s not.

I know it’s costly.

I know it flies in the face of all modern convention.

But I do know it’s worth it. That I can only do it when the Spirit of the Lord flows through me with grace and mercy. And that the example of Philippians 2:1-11 is the only way it will work.

Humility, serving, dying.

It’s not glamorous, it doesn’t pay well (in this life) and it’s not popular.

But it’s the way Jesus loves me and all I can do is ask for the grace to love as he did and does.

For his greater glory.

*heseda unique Hebrew word, Miller explains,  which in the KJV was translated as ‘deal kindly’ but actually  combines ‘love’ and ‘loyalty.' A ‘steadfast love.’ Stubborn love, if you like.

Get it, read it, be changed by it. I haven't finished this book yet but already it is one of the most profound and transformative books I have ever read. It is hard hitting; my love is so paltry, so self-centred, self -righteous and with a sense of entitlement. 

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I find myself taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God.

From the book ‘If’ by Amy Carmichael

Blessings, burial, burdens – on a Bank holiday weekend!

Blessings There is so much for which to be grateful, always, daily, everywhere. But this weekend has been an especial blessing  - even in our tiredness and brokenness (see below). Friends came from far and wide to lend a helping hand or two on Saturday. Anjeanette from Virginia, Stacie from Colorado,  (yes, really, that’s where they are from and they were here to help!)  Allyson and Charlotte from north London,  Andy and Chris from Wiltshire. Together they scraped and painted and stripped (the walls that is) and in just a few hours made such a difference.

To have friends help, pray, support makes the venture seem a possibility  - even though there is still so much to do, so far still to go. The danger of course is that we try to do it alone, in our own strength, and think we can cope. We can’t; we none of us can.

Only God has the resources we so desperately need – and on Saturday He sent us good kind friends to work hard all day!  They each were and are a blessing to us and to The Vine @ Mays Farm.


We buried the time capsule on Saturday – well, laid it where it WILL be buried once the floorboards are nailed down! The Trustees of MbD chose Charlotte’s entry as the winning entry to the  competition, and it was a blessing to have Charlotte there!

In a tin which commemorates the 60 years since the Queen’s Coronation (and that was the year Kim and I were born, too, so doubly auspicious!) we placed the items Charlotte suggested – a Bible, a small holding cross from Bethlehem, a copy of my book Women By Design, photos of the renovation works so far, the first MbD brochure.

Then we placed the tin ceremoniously in its hole, before  taking time in prayer for Mays Farm, asking for blessings on it, blessings for those who may come and stay on retreat over the years to come, blessings on the village  - and sweetly, they prayed blessings on Kim and me.

Which brings me neatly to the burdens …


Why are we Christians often surprised when the enemy attacks? If God is at work, Satan doesn’t like it and will get in wherever he can – particularly where we are most vulnerable.

So we need prayers for protection!

Would you pray with and for us? Please? We can’t do this without your praying support – and much as I hate hate hate asking for things, I realize that we DO need to ask you for this! Along side the enormous sense of gratitude for all the many many blessings poured out on us, not least the provision of Mays Farm, we would love your prayer support!  I read these words this morning:

Ps 35:7 Roll thy was upon the Lord (Kay’s translation)  “Way means a trodden path, the journey of life, today’s life. Often when we cannot lift a thing we can roll it … Roll everything that concerns you upon the Lord. Roll it again, no matter how many times you did before, and then rest, ‘assure thyself in Him and He, He Himself, will work. ‘ (Derby) “   - Amy CarmichaelPlease pray that we will be able to roll and rest and be reassured!  But specifically:


  • Kim has had a cough and poorly chest for over three weeks. After the first week he went to the doctor who gave him an inhaler. After the second week she gave him antibiotics. Now, he is still feeling under par (thought a golfing expression here was just the right note!) and still coughing – and badly coughs at night which keeps us both awake so we are tired and irritable and sleep deprived.  And in the tiny Bolt Hole there is no-where else for me to sleep to get away from the cough!  SO he is finding it hard to cope with the physical work and foremanship. Please pray for healing for him and for sleep for us both.
  • The Bolt Hole has been on the market since Easter and has had only a handful of people look around. We’ve lowered the price, changed agents … and still nothing. It has a lot of our capital in it – which we had assumed we would have soon when it was sold and which we now  need for the rest of the renovation work at Mays Farm!  Please pray for a buyer for the Bolt Hole.
  • The first brochure is due to be mailed out both in the UK and the USA. It is essentially to do three things, listed below. It needs to have envelopes stuffed and addressed and to actually get in the mail – the UK ones hopefully before we go the USA on Thursday! Please pray for reception of the brochure and for  financial provision for the ministry.                                                    1)    to bring awareness of the work of Ministries By Design to as many people as possible

2)    to raise finance for projects such as the Chapel and the MbD office

3)    and a bursary fund for those who need to come on retreat but can’t afford it (mostly clergy!)

  • Yes, we are flying to the USA on Thursday, for 2 weeks. The first week is holiday and staying with our daughter and her family; and the second week Penelope is speaking on a women’s retreat in upstate New York and Kim is meeting with a group of pastor friends (they get together at least once a year for mutual support and prayer – and golf!)  Please pray for refreshment and renewal; and for the Retreat talks and walks.
  • The rental property in Bath that we have owned for a long time and rented out  for years has become a real headache. Without going into too much detail,  Please pray for the Lord to sort it out somehow!
  • We will be holding more Saturday work days when we are back – June 15 and 22. The house and gardens will be most grateful of any possible help. Please pray that people will come and kindly give some very practical assistance!
The hole for the large bifold doors to form a garden/breakfast room
  • We have to get the furniture and all our belongings out of the Vicarage by the end of June ( and what a blessing it has been to be able to leave it there all this time!) Please pray that there will be at least a space large enough to store it when it arrives even if we can’t unpack.

Seven items for prayer!

Could you pray one a day for us for the next little while? And might you let us know if you are doing this?

It would be a vast and glorious blessing to have your support! Thank you.

2 Corinthians 1 was given to me today:

"We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety."

Thank you for your prayers already!







April 12 and there was  a shocking setback,  a personal hit . No need to go into details; but there it was. It hurt and it was hard. But God.

That's one of my favourite phrases in Scripture.  BUT GOD ....

Because part of my daily devotional time includes reading the day's thoughts from a little Dohnavur book  - a collection of writings (notes, letters, thoughts) from  Amy Carmichael, entitled "Edges of His Ways." 


In the front, my handwriting boldly proclaims

Penelope J Walter. Cambridge. April 1975

I have been reading it on and off ever since then. Sometimes in the mornings, sometimes in the evenings. This past Friday, I read it in the evening. And read it again. And again.

I had had a shock; but God knew what I needed.  

Here's what it said:

April 12      2 Cor. 11:28  RV margin: Things that come out of course.

Sometimes things seem to happen contrariwise, on purpose. We are prepared for the usual trials of life, but these are not usual. They are things that come 'out of course,' and they are the most difficult of all to meet peacefully and to pass through peacefully. They are most upsetting things, as we sometimes call them, and they often continue to try to upset us.

It is very humbling to go through the list of ordinary things, as apparently they were regarded by the first missionaries - labours, prisons, stripes, stonings, shipwrecks, perils, travails, - and then stop and consider these added words, "beside the things that come out of course." What were they? We do not know, but judging by the things which were not counted as 'out of course,' they must have been a good deal harder than anything that comes our way.

Is there anything that you do not like and did not expect in your to-day?  If so, perhaps these words will help you to meet it with serenity.

So I went to sleep pondering those words.

And woke early to reach out and read them again. But by then it was Saturday and I needed new grace.  For Saturday was April 13 - the anniversary of my dear mother-in-law's death and my husband was feeling it right hard through the tears.

I read from Amy Carmichael to him.

APRIL 13  1 Kings 8:56 There hath not failed one word of all His good promise.

I have found in times of disappointment of any kind there is great help in these words. .....One of His good promises is, "Whatsoever is right I will give you." (Matt 20:4)   ..... Another is this: "The Lord will not withhold good things from them that walk in innocence."   (Psalm 84:11 LXX)  "No good thing will He withhold "  so that the thing not given could not have been good for us. He knows what is good.

It is just here that faith is tested sometimes very sharpely, and we begin perhaps to distress ourselves over the condition attached to the promise. Is it because of something in me tht this good thing - as I believe it to be - is not given? God, who searcheth the hearts, alone knows our need of the cleansing Blood for motive in prayer, but if by His enabling we will to desire His will, then we may leave all torturing thoughts and rest our hearts on Him. No good thing will He withhold - There hath not failed - nor ever can fail - one word of all His good promise.

We prayed for His good and perfect will. We  gave thanks for dear Granny Nancy and all she had meant to our family - and recalled the chain of events her death had started, which caused us to leave the USA , move to London and now on to Mays Farm, our new home.

No good thing will He withhold ... there hath not failed one word of His promise ...

Amazing grace, because all is gift, even if and when we don't deserve it. His promise will not fail; HE will not fail.

The blessings kept coming, all day,  in and through the hurt and the pain.

Ann Voskamp's blog with its photo

Someone wrote on Facebook: When you are going through something hard and you wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test.

Testing times for me; maybe for you too this week?  But God ..  ?

On a short fuse

Stress. Renovating projects and moving house and changing jobs are all rated highly on the stress indicator tables. Add to that the PTSS and depression of the previous two years, and I can excuse my instant explosions.

That angry tongue.

Those hateful words.

The impatient temper which explodes just when I'm not expecting it.

I even - yes, I confess to this too - I even hit the dog. Not hard, but still. I hit her, because she was leaping up at a visitor: trained already by our lovely workmen (they truly are, always cheerful and hardworking even in the recent freezingly cold weather) to leap as they tease her with their sandwiches. I've only recently discovered this and they do't do it anymore. But old habits die hard, especially in Labradors eager for any tidbit. Exasperated by her disobedience and desire to jump, I scolded and then lashed out, impatient, angry, on a short fuse.

And in front of a wonderful young Christian who had come on Saturday to help us work on the house.

So that's where I was last week.

On a short fuse.

It kept hitting me too, that short fuse.  Exploded externally, nagged internally.

But Sunday. And the sweetness of the Lord came pouring in as the tears poured out.

"This is the air I breathe ... and I, I, I - I'm lost without You, I'm desperate for You."

Worship at The Bath and Avon Vineyard. The Spirit convicting. 

Lord, change me.  I'm desperate for You to change me. I can't seem to get rid of this short fuse.

* * * *

He sent me Words. Words I have known for years but had forgotten. From Amy Carmichael's small but profound book IF  - 

If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.

I need Calvary Love. HIS love, pouring into me, loving others through me, filling me to the brim with His sweetness and patience and grace.

So I kneel at the foot of His Cross, conscious once again of that all powerful Love. LOVE that died for me and my short fuse.  LOVE that can flood me. LOVE - the first of the fruit of the Spirit.

Cross in chapel

The Cross we found (in the floor joists!) is now in the Chapel

close up of cross

I welcome His love in and drink deeply. Oh, LOVE, that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee ...

I'm still on a short fuse.  But I've handed the fuse to Him.

* * * *

SATURDAY  was another work day. The final wall came down, to create the kitchen. And the ceiling came down in one of the attic bedrooms.  That's the end of demolishing; now we start putting it all together. YAY!

last wall comes down

kitchen space!

ceiling comes down