Sunday, 8 December 2013


I have been hugely grateful for my contemplative practice these last few months.  The simple discipline of pausing regularly to bring myself to stillness before God has been my anchor through some turbulent storms.  And Ann Liddell's words, 'With Jesus in the vessel I smile at the storm', have been a constant musical mantra in my head.

My planned time of writing was unfortunately cut short due to further illness and difficulties with my elderly father.  From a month of quiet solitude I found myself plunged into a veritable whirlwind of decisions, actions and bedside times and for several weeks the demands of the present and the pressures of the moment dominated my life completely. 

Thankfully, all is well.  But I'm reminded that we're frequently not in control of our own lives, in the way we'd like to be, are we?  I had to set aside my writing projects to focus on more immediate priorities.  And I can think of  many known to me for whom the run up to Christmas is far from how they would have preferred it to be.  People who are struggling, grieving, fearful; people whose lives have been turned upside down at the drop of a hat.  People who today shudder at the words, 'Merry Christmas'.  People who may well be asking, 'Where's God in all this?'. 

My awareness of 'God in all this', though often shaken, renews and deepens itself through stillness and silence.  In the deep place of prayer I experience the truth of those words, 'I am with you always'.  He is, whether or not we feel him to be.  The One who entered our world in the messy reality of a Bethlehem stable, birthing himself in the midst of a struggling, oppressed community - that's the one who still invites us, moment by moment, to let Him be birthed in our lives.  He knows about struggle.  He knows about the imperfections of our world.  And He knows about solutions.

So, let's celebrate the birth of Jesus with every ounce of our being.  But let's also hold in our hearts those who need to know His presence most at this special time.

I thank you all for your friendship and support and wish you all a peaceful Christmas.


Saturday, 24 August 2013

A time to write

Don't you just hate the way that Christmas hits the shops in September? 

I certainly do.  But this August Bank Holiday weekend found me preparing for Christmas!  Crazy, I know - but there was a reason.   I am about to 'go to ground' in order to concentrate on some writing, so I don't anticipate being around very much between now and Christmas.  Hence, I must get organised!

As Virginia Woolf famously said, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write".  This is certainly true for me.  All my best work has been written in quiet spaces, well away from the many distractions of home.  So, I will be kick-starting this period with time at a Writers' Retreat Space in Devon.  Following that I shall be retreating for large chunks of time to a much loved cottage in Northumberland, within a stone's throw of Holy Island.

I am very grateful to those folks who offered me writing space, and to Ros Reay for reducing her prices for me.  Thank you to you all - I appreciated your generous offers.

After some difficult days recently, with my father's emergency admission to hospital, I am immensely tired and my first important need is for quality rest.  Please pray for rest and refreshment as I begin this creative time.  Please also pray protection on my father's health.

So what will I be writing?   Mainly healing meditations, for recording onto CD; but also some liturgy.  If all goes well, I hope to also begin a book about healing; something which God laid on my heart during my New Zealand experience.   I'll tell you what emerges when I get to the other side of this time!   Please pray for Spirit-inspired writing.  And please pray protection on this time, that it won't be interrupted by any further emergencies.  Please also pray for stamina when the going gets tough!

These are fairly big projects that will require both time and money to bring them to completion.  They are projects which people have been encouraging me to undertake for some time and which I believe could significantly help people to find healing, which is why I'm prepared to give my time to them for a period of months.  Please pray that the necessary funding will emerge. 

I am deeply indebted to you all for your continuing support and encouragement - and if you get a Christmas card from me, just remember   ...   it was probably written in August!


Saturday, 3 August 2013

A channel for His grace

I have learnt much, of late, about total dependence on God  ...   about acknowledging my weaknesses and simply offering myself to be a channel.  There were several moments of extreme tiredness during my recent retreat leading at Penhurst; times when I simply had to surrender and pray 'not in my strength, but yours, God'.  And whenever I did that the outcomes were remarkable: words were given, there was a tangible deepening of the presence of the Spirit, and healing and renewal flowed in powerful ways.

"A life-changing experience", was how one person described the Touching the Cloak retreat.  Give thanks for the deep healing that happened at Penhurst and please pray that that healing would be sustained.

It still delights me to witness how healing can flow when people are enabled to open themselves up to the real and present possibility of God's intervention, and it was a pleasure and privilege to lead at Penhurst, a space of immense tangible peace.

Thank you to all who underpin my work with your vital prayers.  And thank you to all who enable this ministry by your financial support.

I shall be offering another healing retreat in that special place in July 2014, and one at the Windermere Centre in March.

Meanwhile, after a very busy six months, I'm now enjoying some rest and refreshment and am off to New Wine tomorrow.  Please pray for refreshment and spiritual nourishment.

Following that, I shall be taking some time out to settle into a variety of writing projects.  More on that later   ...

For now, my love and prayers to you all   ...   summer blessings to my readers in the UK, and winter blessings to those of you on the opposite side of the world!


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Deep Silence

Thank you to all who underpinned my recent event with prayer.  It was a pleasure to lead another Touching the Cloak day - this time for the folks at Holy Trinity, Meir.  And, on a Saturday in June, a little corner of Stoke-on-Trent became a 'thin place'. Deep healing flowed in the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.

One participant summed the day up for me when she said, "It saddens me that people who don't believe healing is possible just don't realise what they're missing".  Amen to that!

Deep silence, combined with imaginative contemplation with the healing scriptures, often proves to be a powerful vehicle for facilitating healing.  I continue to feel deeply humbled whenever this happens. Ignatius, who first recognised the benefits of contemplation with the scriptures, would have been thrilled!

Of course, deep silence in its raw simplicity can heal too.  By this I mean deep internal silence, as in the stillness of contemplative prayer.  This is something that a group of us explored with Fr. Martin Laird last weekend in an event at Tabor Retreat House.  As well as drawing on Fr. Martin's extensive experience of this practice, we explored, with his help, the increasingly accepted medical benefits of contemplative prayer and the riches of finding communion with God.  For anyone interested in this, I highly recommend Martin Laird's two books, Into the Silent Land and A Sunlit Absence.

Please pray for me now as I complete my preparations to lead a Touching the Cloak retreat next week at Penhurst.  Please pray for Spirit-led preparation and for God to touch each participant in ways beyond their imagining.

Finally, some exciting news.  Look out for Mary Fleeson, the illustrator of my new book, who will be appearing on Songs of Praise soon. The programme is due to be broadcast on August 4th.  Catch it if you can!

Thank you again for your much valued prayerful support.   

Summer blessings to you all. 


Friday, 7 June 2013

What else are we not seeing?

You may or may not have heard this story, about a family who went on holiday to a remote place:

A young boy in the family, mesmerized by the night sky, asked, "Daddy, why don't we have stars like this at home?"  His father explained that the brightness of the stars is hidden because of all the electric lights.  The child became silent, deep in thought and then suddenly broke out of his pensive mood with the exclamation: "I wonder what else we're missing!"

That story, quoted in Macrina Weiderkehr's lovely book, Abide, resonated deeply with me today.  I have been privileged to attend two very powerful, and very different events this week.  The first involved five hours of exuberant and Spirit-led worship alongside 600 others.  The second was a Masterclass on silent, contemplative prayer.  To find a greater contrast would be very hard, and yet I am struck by the resonances between these two events and the question of the little boy; "I wonder what else we're missing!"

Both were unmistakeably about the presence and power of God.  And both were about hosting that presence.

Victory Church in Cwmbran has been caught up in a great move of God over the last two months. It all began when a man who had been confined to a wheelchair for 10 years was healed when hands were laid on him in prayer.  Since that moment, sensing that God wanted to continue moving in power, the church has been consistently worshipping and praying, with a few exceptions, every night. Hundreds are being drawn to the church, hundreds are making first time committments to Christ and hundreds are being healed.  You can read a very balanced account of it all here.

I was with them on day 50 of this outpouring.  By that time there had been 250 reported healings, of which 50 had been medically authenticated as miracles.  And, perhaps more importantly, people and communities were being transformed by the tangible touch of God. Speaking with the pastors of the church, they spoke of how the events that were overtaking them were forcing them to surrender themselves in prayer, day by day, moment by moment.

Cynthia Bourgeault, an internationally renowned authority on contemplative prayer, offered something very different.  She spoke of how radically surrendered prayer can transform our consciousness and take us into the very heart of God in such a way that the wholeness and abundance of the reality of the Kingdom of God can break through into the present moment.

Two very different experiences.  One very important connection.

I wonder what else we're missing?


Saturday, 18 May 2013


"I feel like an 83 year old who wants to do cartwheels across the lawn".   Such was the response of one person to last week's Touching the Cloak day at Shallowford House.  For others, there were tears, born out of strong emotions.  But there was also healing, the evident touch of Jesus, and a deep, permeating peace.  It was a privilege to lead the day and I extend huge thanks to all who support my  ministry and who underpinned the day with their prayers.

Sculpure by Angela Johnson
My main meditations were woven around an extended poem on the intertwined healings of the woman with bleeding and the daughter of Jairus.  You can see a short extract from the poem on my poetry page.

I will be leading a similar event at Holy Trinity Church, Meir, on June 15th.  And for any who would like to go deeper still, I am offering a Touching the Cloak Retreat at Penhurst Retreat Centre in early July.

More and more I find I understand in a new way the significance of Jesus' words to his disciples, "Come away with me, to a quiet place".  It is the greatest privilege to lead people into quiet imaginative contemplation with the scriptures and to see the transformation and healing that can flow.

So please, give thanks for a successful John Young Foundation Quiet Day.  

Please pray for me now as I finalise preparations for the Meir quiet day and the Penhurst retreat; and as I then settle into an extended period of new writing.    Pray too for the life and ministry of Mary Fleeson, who will in due course be working on illustrations for my new book.

Thank you.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter News

Thank you to all who have been holding me in prayer.  I've had a very busy six weeks, with a good dose of the winter bugs thrown in for good measure.  And all has gone well, with the exception of the Penhurst retreat, which unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the snowy travel conditions. For those of you who missed putting it in the diary first time round, I shall now be offering this healing retreat at Penhurst on July 8th-10th.  I'd love to see you there!

I have been fortunate to be blessed and inspired by several recent events.  At the Windermere Centre's 'Visual Bible Retreat' a small group of us were enabled to go deeply into the heart of the passion narratives - a powerful and moving experience.  A little while later, at Harnhill, it was a privilege to be able to learn from and share experiences of healing with Alison Morgan.  And, very recently, I have again been blessed and inspired by the beautiful Holy Week Reflections in churches in Stafford.  My thanks and prayers are with all those who facilitated those events.

I continue to be in discussions with BRF about the possibility of publishing a new book with them.  It would be brilliant to work in partnership with such a quality Christian publisher. Please hold this in your prayers and pray that BRF would offer me a contract.  And watch this space   ...

I am now taking a few weeks off to rest and  deal with some domestic issues.  After that, at the end of April, I'll be attending the Christian Resources Together Retreat, where I hope to 'bump into the right people' to take various projects forward.  Please pray for the right connections to be made at that event.

And for those of you living local to me, I am leading a Quiet Day at Shallowford House on May 16th.  Bookings can be made through the John Young Foundation.  We shall be reflecting with the healing scriptures and all are welcome.

Thank you for your continuing interest and support.

Finally   ...   as I write this, it's Good Friday - that dark day before the dawning of the greatest ever promise.  I wish you all a blessed and Christ-filled Easter, full of resurrection hope and the knowledge that the risen Jesus is with us always.


Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Busy Diary

A busy but exciting diary now lies before me, as we head towards the celebration of Easter.  Your sustaining prayers would be appreciated through this time.

After a couple of interesting learning events, I will be preparing to lead a retreat at Penhurst retreat centre.  The theme of the retreat will be Touching the Cloak: Journeying Towards Healing Through Imaginative Contemplation.  The last time I led this event, almost every member of the group received significant healing, in two cases resulting in cancelled operations. This response always humbles me deeply and I look forward hugely to seeing what God might accomplish at Penhurst.  Please underpin this retreat with prayer: for inspired preparations, for those who will attend, and for a strong outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Please also pray for protection on me - I am fast learning that such events often stir up strong spiritual opposition.

I have two events in the diary before Penhurst.  Firstly, I'll be attending Elizabeth Gray-King's 'Visual Bible' retreat at Windermere, exploring ways of engaging with bible texts in visual ways.  This is close to my own retreat-leading heart, and I look forward to learning from and being inspired by Elizabeth.   Please pray for rich blessings on this retreat, and pray for Elizabeth as she leads it.

And then, to my other great love! Following Windermere, I'll be spending time at the Harnhill Centre, taking the opportunity to learn more about healing from the very gifted and experienced Alison Morgan, on her course 'Shalom: The Meaning and Music of Healing'.   Please pray that this event will help me to increase my wisdom in facilitating healing.

Finally, in early March I'll be taking the opportunity to have a focussed talk with a publisher (Naomi Starkey of BRF) at the ACW Writers' Day.  Several writing projects are burning on my heart right now and to be able to interest a mainstream publisher in them would be great.  Please pray for a constructive conversation with Naomi.

Every person in Christian ministry, at whatever level, is empowered primarily through prayer underpinning, and I am very aware that, in praying for me, you play a significant part in my ministry.  So thank you and God bless you.  Please keep the prayers coming!