I am writing a daily blog on preparing spiritually and physically

to lead a Pilgrimage of 100 miles in September.

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

Today has been a curate’s egg kind of day.

This morning, I stood at the happiest place: the arrivals gate. Oh the joy of hearing the cries of delight, the sobs of joy, the squeals of pleasure, as loved ones were reunited.

Smiles and laughter. Hugs and kisses. Exclamations and enthusiasm.

Would my own loved ones ever come through that door?

And would I recognize them?

I always have that ridiculous fear when waiting for my family and friends – that I won’t recognize them.

But of course I always do.

There they are!

And my eldest granddaughter she leaps up into my arms, words spilling out to tell me of the overnight flight and all that she, they, have done.

And her younger sister holds out her arms – she’s balanced precariously in her car seat on top of the luggage.

My poor daughter  is pushing the luggage AND the buggy – so is doubly glad to see me.

The happiness of reunions and being welcomed and recognized.

Surely a foretaste of arriving home in heaven?

Of being welcomed and recognized and swept up in joy and affirmation.

* * * *

And then this afternoon.

The unhappiest place to be: driving across a hot dusty crowded London. Friday afternoon in a tired capital.

It’s only 14 miles door to door:  it took exactly two hours and ten minutes.

People were hot and tired and frustrated.

Horns blared and bleated.

Finger gestures were indescribable.

Cars were cutting in and cutting up and cutting out.

Voices were raised.

It was all too tempting to join in.

And then something reminded me of Amy Carmichael and her writing.

Her 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.


How sweet was my spirit this afternoon?

What flavour was spilt?


* * * *

No walking today.  Fewer than 1,000 steps, after the ten, and eleven and twelve thousand of earlier days.


Relationships take priority over rules.

Joy over judgement.

Tomorrow is another day: and I am booked for a 7 mile hike with a friend – to Hampstead Heath and back.

And then a powerplates session.

* * * *

And I’ve been in the happiest of places today.

I’m grateful.


It’s good to have my girls back.





I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25):

A Guest Post by Penelope Swithinbank

I was really honoured and excited to be asked to write a guest post for Anita Matthias on her blog spot


Here it is again in case you missed it

I can remember how it felt – that walking across the Square, arms stretched long with shopping bags.


I can remember how it felt  - that looking at our church, heart stretched hard and cold with unbelief.


I can remember: before coming to that church the years of losing everything – the business I had started, homes and cars and income, all lost; the worldly stuff I had held so dearly, gone.  Taken by God, vindictively it seemed.But then came this church.  Its large draughty  Victorian Rectory. My life turned upside down and not in the way I wanted. For I had enjoyed my status: 20th century vicar’s wives did not usually head up their own nationwide company.


Gone. All gone.


I was tired, so tired of it all.


* * *


But then I remember: that clergy wives’ conference, days after crossing the Square. The reluctant going, the fear of being thought an abject failure, the hesitancy in case someone uncovered my unbelief. A speaker – who was she? And what did she have to say? Lost in time. But then, oh then, another speaker, who spoke creatively, humourously, and who then asked us to stand so the Lord could minister to us.


STAND? My hesitation – what was this about? My desire to melt away and not be part of this. And then finding myself standing, pulled by the Unseen Presence. His Light, flooding the room. His Warmth enveloping me in ways I could not comprehend. His Voice, unheard, speaking into my poor stretched heart: I am here, I am true, I am your strength.  I AM.


Their prayers for me, surrounding me. My tears falling.  Shaking with the overwhelming sense of His being with me.

One stood back, pondered, allowed Him to speak through her voice.


"I wonder," she said, "if this verse might be for you? Somewhere in the Old Testament I think. Words from the Lord.  I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten."


They prayed some more. He took those words deep into that cold stretched heart. He promised restoration, things that would replace what was lost, devoured and devastated.


A swarm of things new and above what was lost.


So I clung to that verse over the years that were to come. Years with ups and downs, but years of fruitful ministry just as He had promised. A book was published, an international speaking gift confirmed, a ministry ordained. The years lost through unbelief were more than made up for.


Always I remembered that verse. He had restored the years the locusts had eaten – and more.


* * *


And then.


Seventeen months ago, my mother died. Swept away. One moment she was there, a feisty ninety-year-young who cared ceaselessly for others, drove old ladies to church, talked non-stop on the phone to her friends and family whenever she could.  Prayed for us all, every day.


And the next she was gone, swept away under the wheels of an out-of-control car.


And I stood there, frozen, helpless. Stunned from having been hit by the same car just a few moments before. Deafened by the shouts and screams and sirens. Deafened by the silent scream inside. And my tears turned to ice and my scream frozen deep within.


She was gone.


I stood at her feet and I tried to pray for her, aloud.  Tried to thank God for all she was and had been to me and others; tried to ask Him to take her to Himself; committed her to the One who loved her the best. And the paramedic had tears in her eyes.  “I’ve never heard anyone pray out loud before,” she said.  “Would you like her teeth? And her watch?”


I took the watch and turned to thank the paramedics and the police and the passersby.  People were so kind; so very kind.


But I was frozen.


For seventeen month now, I have been frozen. Unable to work or to play, to read or to write. Lost, barren, devoured by locusts.


But now.


A slow greening of tiny shoots again.


A decision to be grateful in the brokenness.*

A monthly Happiness Project.+


And confirmation from He whom my soul loves, that what has yet again been devoured by locusts will be restored to me.

The verse remembered.


That decision to have a monthly project – for March, to write again.


He promised.  And there was the verse, my verse: on Anita’s tweet. Her invitation on February 29 to write a guest blog.  And on March 1st an offer of a freelance writing project – very small but it’s writing and it’s paid! Unsought, it brought with it His Voice of Promise: I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.


Confirmation that my ministry years are not over, as I had feared.


He who has promised is faithful and He will do it. Again and again, whenever it is needed:

“I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.” Joel 2:25



*  One Thousand Gifts. Ann Voskamp. Zondervan

+ A Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin. Harper