Abide: Reprise


Last month, I issued an invitation to a writing retreat that my friend Jody and I are planning. First of all, I want to say thank you for your enthusiastic response! I am so grateful and, frankly, floored that so many people are interested.

Jody and I have fielded a number of questions about details, so for those of you who, like me, are strongly J on the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (and even for those who aren’t), here is a preliminary schedule, so you’ll know what to expect:

FRIDAY Oct. 16th
4:30-5:30 Arrival & Check-in

5:30 p.m. DINNER

7:00 p.m. Welcome, Worship & Gathering Time

Jody and I will go over the vision and schedule for the weekend along with any logistical details you need to know about Grunewald’s expectations of us while we’re there.

Jody will lead us in a time of singing and worship. Then I will lead us in a time of lectio divina on John 15, our Scripture passage for the weekend. If you’re a writer and you’re not familiar with lectio, you’re going to love it. If you don’t, I will stand on my head. (Now you have to come, just to see that!)

9:30 p.m. Quiet hours begin

SATURDAY Oct. 17th
8:30 a.m. BREAKFAST

9:30 a.m. Worship

10:00 a.m. Small Groups/Breakout Sessions

We’ll divide into two smaller groups. One group will go with Jody, who will facilitate a wonderful workshop on Writing as a Spiritual Practice. The other group will come with me, where we’ll Play With Words.

11:00 a.m. Free time to read, write, retreat, hike, play, rest

12:30 p.m. LUNCH

1:30 p.m. Small Groups/Breakout Sessions

This time the group that was with Jody in the morning will come play with words with me, and the group that was with me in the morning will go engage in writing as a spiritual practice with Jody.

2:30 p.m.  More free time to do whatever seems most restful to you

There will be an Art Space available, and a group art project that Jody is coordinating. But this is totally optional.

5:30 p.m. DINNER

7:00 p.m. Worship & Gathering Time

Jody will facilitate some poetry writing. Don’t freak out. We’ll be using a pantoum form, which makes it almost impossible to not write something lovely. And you won’t have to share if you don’t want to. And Jody will walk you through the process. It’ll be fun. Trust me.

8:30 p.m. Tea and Chit-chat

9:30 p.m. Quiet hours begin

SUNDAY Oct. 18th
8:00-9:30 a.m. Pack Cars & Clean Up

9:30 a.m. BRUNCH

10:00 a.m. Worship/Group Sharing

We may have a Morning Prayer service. We may have communion. We may have both. We’ll see how it unfolds. (Sharing is completely optional.)

12:00 p.m. Retreat Ends


All this goodness, including your room and five meals, for only $229! (Through the end of the month; the price goes up to $249 on June 1.)

And all you have to do to be part of it is send Jody an email with your name, mailing address, email address, phone number (and whether we can text you at that number), and web address or blog (if you have one). She’ll let you know about payment.

But don’t wait too long. Spots are filling up. The price is going up. So you want to be signing up!


Photo by Janet Tarbox. Creative Commons via Flickr.

Talking to Myself


Nine months ago, my husband and I sold our beloved little Craftsman in our favorite Seattle neighborhood and moved to the suburbs. We needed to move—six people, four of them growing rapidly, in a two-bedroom house was becoming untenable. No, it was already untenable. I was at the end of my rope, and my sanity.

So we moved.

And I am still grieving. I miss my little house so much. I miss my old neighborhood. It doesn’t help that now it takes 45 minutes to visit my friends or that every third day, something in our new-to-us house breaks: the furnace, the electrical outlets in the kitchen, the dishwasher. Even the baseboards are falling off the walls.

I have raged and railed and grieved. I have given thanks and made (figurative) lemonade and tried to look on the bright side. I have beaten myself up with shameful words. I have hidden. I have half-hoped the house would burn to the ground. I have tried to let go of my anger and grief. I have pleaded with God.

But I am stuck in this house. I cannot go back. I cannot unmake the decision I made last summer.

After nine months I am still—still—grieving. 


I’m over at Grace Table today, friends, having a little conversation with myself about grief and gratitude and being hospitable with those parts of me I’d rather didn’t exist…I’d love to chat with you, too, if you’ll come on over and join me.



Half a dozen years ago or so, after attending yet another extraverted and exhausting writing conference, I began to wonder what it would look like to host something smaller, quieter, the kind of conference where more contemplative, introverted types like me could feel at home. No jostling in a crowd or jockeying for position. No big dark rooms with deified speakers on a spotlit podium while the rest of us sat in darkened obscurity. No giant screens and state-of-the-art sound systems.

Instead, a quiet, thoughtful, even worshipful space to hear wise words from those further along the writing road than I am, to engage in conversation with one or two other kindred souls, to eat good food and reflect on and maybe play with words.

Then my twins were born, and this little seed got buried in the chaos of life with four children…until last summer when Jody Ohlsen Collins watered it with her words: she shared a similar dream, she said, and together our little seeds began to grow.

Abide is the fruit of those little seeds. It’s a 3-day writing retreat for women who want to deepen their faith, their relationships with other writers, and their craft.

Our text for the weekend is John 15, Jesus’ discourse on the vine and the branches.

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

Over the weekend we’ll ponder the words of this amazing passage, meditate on them, play with them, and let them sink deep into us, let them abide in us, and let ourselves abide in Christ so that we can bear much fruit—in our writing, our relationships, our lives. We’ll remind one another who we are and Whose we are.

We’ll worship together, enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, share stories, reflect, and write. We’ll make art and play with words. Some of us (like yours truly) will cry. We’ll laugh—a lot. We’ll relax and drink tea and eat good food and rest.


So you totally want to come, right?

You just have a couple of questions: when is it? where is it? how much is it? And how do I sign up???


Friday, October 16th at 4 pm till Sunday, October 18th at noon.


The beautiful Grunewald Guild in the Cascade Mountains, outside of Leavenworth, Washington.

How Much?

The cost for the whole weekend is just $229.

This includes:

  • your room (Check out their facilities!)
  • board (Friday dinner through Sunday brunch, all of it as locally-sourced as possible, some of it grown in the garden on the grounds. Fellow foodies, we’ll eat our hearts out!)
  • art supplies (Yes, we writers will do art; it’s good for highly verbal people to exercise non-verbal parts of their brains. Plus it’s just plain fun.)

$100.00 is required to reserve your spot.

Sign Me Up!

I’d be happy to! Just let me know you want to come, and I’ll make sure you get a registration packet.


Still not certain? Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions you have.  Or just re-read this post :) And take some time to prayerfully consider coming.

But don’t take too long to consider. We only have 16 spots left! And the price goes up to $249 on June 1.



Photo by Janet Tarbox. Creative Commons via Flickr.

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