As a little girl, I savored special visits with my paternal grandmother. Granny lived in a sleepy southern town. Americus resided just one town over from Plains, Georgia, now well-known because of President Jimmy Carter’s fame. Back then, those small towns in the south held a slow pace of life which contrasted greatly from the pace of the big city of Atlanta, my hometown.


Most afternoons Granny and I sat for hours in the quiet of her screened-in front porch. She rocked, the wooden slats of the porch creating a slight thump with each forward and backward arc. I pumped my legs, maintaining a gentle back-and-forth motion in the dark green porch swing. Comfortable cushions made from black-and-white striped ticking fabric provided a cozy spot on the swing to pause at any time of the day.


Granny sipped sweet iced tea with a spring of fresh mint. I sipped fresh-squeezed lemonade. We nibbled sugar cookies topped with a crisp pecan harvested from nearby pecan groves. The porch swing, the rocking chair, and the snacks satiated our afternoon hunger for a bit of energy and calm in the humid thick summer afternoons.


After supper, we ventured back out to the porch. Though the humidity of the day still hung thick, as if by magic, the porch always felt bearably pleasant. Was it the swish of the white overhead fan or the slight movement of air from the rocking chair and swing that caused that sensation?


We waved to folks who strolled by on the sidewalk, taking their after-supper walk before the sun slipped past the horizon. They nodded, said hello, or even climbed up the steps for a visit. Granny welcomed folks to join us on the porch, to just to “sit a spell.” Conversations held stories of the day: tales about neighbors, the weather, the crops, or whatever else was on one’s mind.


In a small south Georgia town in the deep heat of the middle of summer, life moved ever so slow. Neighbors knew each other and looked out for those next door, across the back fence, or down the road a bit. As a young girl, it seemed like everyone knew almost everyone else. Stories flowed on the porch from casual life together.


If I could, I’d design every house with a front porch and grace every neighborhood with sidewalks, so folks could stroll along and stop by for a moment or two. Gentle gatherings—porch moments—create space for simple wonders to be part of the flow of life. The action of porch life involves presence, stories, and the slowness to savor it all. The motto of porch life could be “You are always welcome here.”


Porch time feels like time suspended, set aside from the normal everydayness, yet fully encapsulating everyday moments. A porch—part of the house yet also part of the world beyond—offers a safe space to chat about ordinary things yet also gives time for things that tug at the heart.


I hold dear the stories my Granny told me on that old porch. I learned about her life as a child growing up in this southern town and heard about her three children and their antics as well. She listened, too. As a little girl and as a trying-to-figure-it-out teenager, I shared hopes and dreams on that screened-in front porch.


Gracious and thoughtful, Granny made sure I enjoyed opportunities to gather with my Americus peers. Over the years, my favorite part of those visits came from the joy of being with her and being alone in her presence, a retreat from the city and my family of origin. I relished the slow of the small town and the wonder of being loved by a grandparent.


Of all my Americus memories, the best center on those porch times, where nothing big happened and all that mattered could be talked about in the quiet beauty of Granny’s porch.


Just as I cherished porch time with my grandmother, I need porch time daily with Jesus. I crave time in His presence, where I am always welcomed. I accept His invitation to slow down, listen, and be present to one another.


Psalm 27:4 says, One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.


Jesus is the One thing I most desire. I want to dwell with Him all the days of my life. I ache to gaze upon His beauty and to perpetually seek Him.


For that to happen, my relationship with Jesus requires time and space for intimacy to deepen. My soul savors His presence and needs time away from the fray of the day. Yet at times, I need more than mornings before dawn with Him.


Over the course of my life with Jesus, we’ve enjoyed many a conversation. Conversations have included celebrations as well as confessions; sighs as well as highs; laughter-infused moments as well as lament-infused moments. These moments have brought me deeper into His presence.


At regular intervals in my life, I need even more of Jesus, more of His presence, just more time to be with Him. I intentionally plan time apart from the normal flow of life. I think of these as porch times: a place where nothing big has to happen and yet a place where everything that matters can be discussed.



When I ache for more spaciousness with Father, Son, and Spirit, a retreat with Jesus offers the sense of extended porch time. On retreat, my soul discovers space to quiet and settle into the Presence of Him who is my life. I listen. He tells stories of Himself. He unfolds stories I hold within myself. It’s time apart from the regular activities of the day, yet it’s totally infused with the height and depth of my everyday life.

What does it look like when you retreat with Jesus?

How many kinds of retreats have you attended? I’ve shown up at leadership retreats, work retreats, graduate school retreats, congregational retreats, and small group retreats, to name a few. Each kind centered on different purposes.

      • Leadership, work, and grad-school retreats were usually goal-oriented.
      • Congregational retreats allowed folks from the same church to gather, to savor more community interaction together in a new way.
      • Small groups retreats provided freedom of time to explore the world together. In small groups where we’ve held one another’s story, renting a cabin for the weekend invited different types of interactions than the usual weekly Bible study gathering. To hike, swim, or picnic together invited room to know one another beyond the fray of the week’s whirl.
      • Some retreats included a speaker teaching on a certain topic, informational sessions about how to do life with Christ.
      • Retreats that offered transformational experiences with Jesus provided a quieter approach, conducive to soul care and intimacy with Him. In these retreats, either with a small group of friends or a group led by a few folks, we entered into the Presence of Jesus as the primary focus of the time away. Though among others, the focus was to experience time alone with God.


Retreats can be full of playful activities, in-depth teaching, or small group connections. They can be full of conversation, full of silence, or something in between. They may include time with a spiritual director alongside a set time of silent hours for contemplation.  

For deeper intimacy with God and for my own soul’s care, I savor what happens during a soul care or silent retreat. These sequestered times alone in Jesus’ presence move me from the hustle and bustle of daily life to the hush of holy Presence. Jesus and I gather in extended porch time just to be together. I’m encircled by the deep love of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Often there’s no set agenda. It’s time to unwind and listen. It’s time to let the swirl within me settle into deep silence, hemmed in by God’s good presence. 


I love to simply slip away to be with the One who calls me beloved.


On silent retreat alone with Jesus, there are times we are quiet for days on end, just being close to one another. Sometimes He invites me to focus on one particular piece of my own interior transformation. Such kindness allows us to peer in at what is happening in my soul. I receive deep attentiveness from the Trinity.


Perhaps this comes in a season when I’m being stretched in some new direction and need time to ponder how God is inviting me to grow in new ways. Perhaps I’m at a crossroads that requires discernment for decisions at hand. Here in the hush of intimacy, safety, and silence, I enter past words into Presence in a way that I cannot do in the frothiness of full days. 


Going on retreat with Jesus is like a return to the porch of my childhood, like those spacious visits with Granny. A lovely silence or a lovely conversation occurs. Nothing is prescribed. Everything is possible. I “sit a spell” and savor refreshments: the goodness of God in the stories He tells me about Himself and the ones He whispers about His deep joyful pursuing love of me.

What would it look like for you to slip away for some soul care time alone with God? What delights you about that idea? What scares you about that idea?

Going on retreat alone with God may feel like an unfamiliar choice. To accompany you as you discover the wonder of retreats with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I created a few offerings about retreats.  


In these offerings, I go into more depth about how to enter a rhythm of time away for your soul’s care. I suggest ways that you might have space to hear Jesus as He welcomes time alone with you to grow in intimacy with Him.

May you find retreat time as a gentle kindness to your soul like I do, a bit of intimate time on the porch with Jesus. 

Join My Mailing List

Encouragement delivered to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This