advent, Bible, Christian Writer, christmas, Jesus, Names of Christ

ADVENT 6 : JESUS – RULER

RULER IN ISRAEL

When the Magi came to Jerusalem they were looking for the promised King of the Jews and were expecting a prince born in a palace.  But this King was born in much more humble surroundings. The scholars of Herod’s court knew where to send the Magi, because of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 – that out of Bethlehem would come ‘The One to be Ruler in Israel’.

Text of Micah 5 v 2 in a wooden frame, on a background of Christmas decorations

As we saw yesterday it wasn’t just the promised King Israel was waiting for, but also for His righteous reign. Many of our favourite fairy tales and stories, from Robin Hood to Narnia, and including ‘The Lord of the Rings’, explore the theme of a good ruler coming whose power and authority would turn bad to good and restore society to what it should be. In this new King of the Jews the great expectation would be that He would be a ruler to crush Roman cruelty and restore peace and prosperity to Israel. But He was to be a different kind of ruler; a King of hearts and minds. His reign would be a spiritual one bringing the realities of the kingdom of heaven to earth.

RULER OF HEARTS AND LIVES

Our response to Jesus must be to submit to Him as ruler of our hearts and lives. He does restore, He does turn bad to good; He makes all things new, but requires us to acknowledge Him as King. It is His right, and one day He will reign over all creation. The government shall be upon His shoulders (Is 9:6).

Text of Isaiah 9 v 6 within a wreath of evergreens and berries.

The child the Magi found in Bethlehem was a king that would turn the world upside down; by His life and death He would prove Himself ruler of all. The ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah’, the one who carries the sceptre and wears the crown (Rev 5:5, Gen 49:10), who stands in heaven as the one worthy of all our praise and adoration.

Is Jesus the ruler of your heart and mind?

Image of a lion's face with the words 'Lion of Judah', and a golden crown.

‘Have you given your heart and your desires over to God, the lover of your soul, Carys? Have you asked Him to give you your heart’s desire?’

‘But I don’t know what it is my heart truly desires!’

‘The wonder of it is, when we surrender our lives to His love, and commit ourselves to His ways, then He gives us the desires of our hearts –  not necessarily the things we think we want and desire – but He gives us a desire for the things He wants us to have. The things He knows are best for us.’

THE BELOVED p 25

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


advent, Bible, Christian Writer, christmas, Jesus, Names of Christ, The Word of God

ADVENT 5 : JESUS – THE BRANCH FROM THE ROOT OF JESSE

MY SERVANT THE BRANCH

We are back in the book of Zechariah today. Another picture of the Messiah found in the book of Zechariah is in 3 : 8, ‘I am bringing forth My servant the Branch’, God declares.

In Jeremiah 23 : 5 we read that the branch will be a ‘branch of righteousness’ and from ‘David’. Isaiah 11:1 also describes this ‘branch’, this ‘shoot from the stem of Jesse’.

A GLORIOUS KING

When we think of a branch we might picture the branch of a tree, but the meaning here is more like a sprout of new growth with the potential to become a strong branch. If a great tree like an oak is felled and a stump left, with it’s roots still in the ground, there is the potential for a new branch to begin to sprout and grow from it. The stump or stem in this case is the kingly line of David and his father Jesse, and the branch that will sprout from it a new and glorious King. Although a King not born in a palace but in a Bethlehem stable.

The prophets Zechariah, Isaiah and Jeremiah were speaking at a time when the Kingdom of Israel was disintegrating and suffering under a succession of evil and godless kings. The promise was for a King who would have a reign of righteousness; like David the great King who had once ruled a great Israel. But this new King’s reign would even surpass that of David’s.

FULL OF THE SPIRIT

The features of this King and His reign are described in Isaiah 11:1-10. Full of the Spirit and wisdom, fully submitted to God, and delighting in Him, the branch King will reign with righteousness, justice, faithfulness and compassion. His reign (Kingdom) will see the lion lying down with the lamb, and the earth full of the knowledge of God. Gentiles (the nations) will seek Him and His kingdom.

This is our Jesus, the King whose reign has begun but will come into its fullness in eternity, when the heavens and earth are made new, and sin and death, evil and darkness will have no longer have any power.

Is Jesus King in your life? He is righteous and trustworthy.

The tree will bear fruit again. We have seen it so many times before to know that it is true. Spring always follows winter. While the tree lives, even through the winter, then there is hope that it will flourish again when spring comes. So it is with us. We are sometimes defined, and altered, by the hard things that life throws at us, but we can learn to even appreciate the winter seasons. It is often in those hard times that God is doing the deepest and most important things inside of us, to prepare us for the more fruitful seasons of our lives that will inevitably follow. Our responsibility is to make sure our roots are deep and grounded in truth. In God, and what He says.’

THE HEALING pp 34-35

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com


advent, Bible, Christian Writer, Holy Spirit, Jesus

ADVENT 4 : JESUS- FOUNTAIN OF LIFE

CLEANSING FOUNTAIN

The little book of Zechariah is full of Messianic prophecies. One of these in Zech 13:1 promises a ‘fountain’ for the house of David. The explicit purpose for this fountain is for cleansing from sin. Psalm 36:9 describes God Himself as a ‘fountain of life’.

Text of Psalm 36:9, on a background of a image of Christmas tree baubles

Now when we read the word ‘fountain’ we might automatically think of an ornamental fountain in a grand garden. This is something completely different. The word ‘fountain’ could be translated as ‘spring’ but that is not enough if we picture a trickling spring on a rocky mountainside. This fountain is more, much more – it is water of life and cleansing springing up and flowing over in torrents, a well of never ending water, a wellspring.

FOUNTAIN OF LIFE

Jesus met the Samaritan women at a well and began a discussion with her about water and life. In John 4:13-14 He tells her that He is the source of water that will satisfy her thirst forever and will become like a fountain of life within her.

Text of John 4 v 13-14, on a background of a image of Christmas tree baubles

In Rev 21:6 the glorified Jesus offers the fountain of life to any that thirst for it. In the natural, water is necessary for life. As human beings we have the blessing of being able to turn a tap on at any time and access a clean, constant water source for drinking and cleansing.

In the Spiritual, Jesus is that water source. He is the source of all spiritual life, creating life within is and sustaining that life. He offers cleansing – because He shed His blood we can be washed, made white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) if we come to Him repentant.

So next time you turn on the tap for water, take a moment to connect with the One who is the ever-flowing fountain of life and thank Him for your life in Him.

Fast flowing torrent of water pouring over rocks

‘ Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned … God. I am so sorry. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You for the cross. Wash me. Make me clean, God. I submit myself to You, and lay my burden at Your feet.

‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation … Stay here with me, God. Let me feel Your grace. Change me, restore me, forgive me. I am Yours.

Hywel felt inexplicable peace descend and wash over him, until the very air around him seemed to be saturated with it. ‘It is finished’. God’s voice, not his.

THE PILGRIM p 225

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com



advent, Bible, Christian Writer, christmas, Jesus

ADVENT 3 : JESUS- FOUNDATION STONE

Text of Isaiah 26:16 on a background image of frosted evergreens.

FOUNDATION STONE

In Isaiah 28:16 God promises a stone that will be tried (tested) and precious, that will be a sure (trustworthy) foundation. We aren’t talking about a pebble here but a solid block of unyielding granite that has passed every stress test imaginable and has proved it’s worth, to be safe to build on.

Ephesians 2:20 – 22 makes it clear that this foundation stone, this ‘chief cornerstone’ is Jesus Himself. He passed every test, including the test of the cross, and has proved Himself precious and trustworthy, solid enough to build our lives, and the whole church on. This ‘chief cornerstone’ would be rejected (Psalm 118 : 22, Matt 21:42) by those who could not see it’s worth, but would stand nevertheless.

Text of Ephesians 2:20-21 on a background image of frosted evergreens.

STUMBLING BLOCK

This stone would be more than a foundation stone, it would be a stone of offense – a stumbling block (1 Peter 2: 4-8). Now a  stumbling block is just that – it’s large stone that trips you up as you blindly go down a path not looking at where you are putting your feet! It stops you in your tracks and maybe even makes you fall flat on your face. 1 Peter 2 makes it clear that it is those who blindly go off down the path of disobedience that will find themselves stumbling on the block that is Jesus. He will make them reconsider the path they are on and where they are headed.

Image of huge blocks of granite stone

To those who believe He is immeasurably precious. His love and His truth, tested in the fire of suffering, are the surest foundation we could ever need to centre our lives on.

His truth, the conviction of His Spirit and the Word, can at times, also be the stumbling block we need to stop us in our tracks and get us back on the right path. Precious Cornerstone.

Have you ever experienced Jesus as a stumbling block, stopping you from going down a path that would have harmed you?

It was cool and quiet inside the stone building, and sunlight shone through the high windows. He would pray and meditate a while, and refocus on the here and now and the life he had here, a life that contented him. He knelt and let his head fall, closing his eyes and breathing slowly and deeply. ‘I need Your peace, God, come close to me,’ he whispered in his soul. Aware of only the sound of his own breathing and the feel of the warm sunshine as it kissed his shoulder, Philip stayed bowed and let God’s peace flow over him. It was as if his soul breathed deeply, and found its way back to rest. Philip smiled to himself. It was so much easier these days, in this place, in this atmosphere, to recentre himself and let peace and joy quieten the tumult within. He thanked God for teaching him the simplicity of a devoted life, through the example and compassion of the true lovers of God that had become his teachers in this place. THE HEALING P 159

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

advent, Bible, Christian Writer, Jesus the Shepherd, Names of Christ, The Word of God

ADVENT 2 : JESUS – SHEPHERD

Text of Psalm 23 v 1-2 on a background of festively wrapped gifts

TRUE SHEPHERD

Psalm 23 is perhaps the most familiar and most quoted of all the Psalms. David, the Psalmist, describes the Lord as his shepherd, the one who leads, feeds and protects.  The theme is explored with even more depth in Ezekiel 34, where God describes Himself as the true shepherd to His people. In v 23 of that chapter He talks of the ‘one shepherd’ to come, calling Him his ‘servant David’. Now as Ezekiel was prophesying long after the death of King David this can only refer to Jesus, David’s greater son.

Isaiah 40 :11 describes this shepherd as feeding, gathering, carrying and leading His lambs.

Text of Isaiah 40 v 11 on a background of festively wrapped gifts

GOOD SHEPHERD

In John 10 :11 – 16 Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd, as the one who would give His life for His sheep, and as the one who intimately knows His sheep. When He came, Israel was a people without a true shepherd (Matt 9: 36), weary and scattered. Sheep without a Shepherd are vulnerable in every sense. A good shepherd in Jesus’ time was much more than just a leader, he was one who cared deeply for the sheep in His care, would ensure they were fed, rested, and safe. He would give his very life to protect them and cared that not even one sheep went astray.

Image of a a flock of sheep being led by a shepherd in biblical times

Jesus came to offer Himself to the people of Israel as the true Shepherd His Father had promised them, and for those who accepted Him that is what He became. He offers the same for us. When we belong to Him, we are the sheep of His pasture and He is the Shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2 : 25) who has brought the wandering ones back to Himself. We can trust Him, to feed us, care for and protect us, even to carry us close to His heart when that is what we need.

Is Jesus your Shepherd in every area of your life?

Image of front cover of The Healing

He was reading the Psalms mostly in his private study. He thought back to when he had read them in the early days of his recovery at Grand Selve, where it was the complaints of the psalmist that spoke most to him. Now as he read the Psalms, it was the cries of praise, the promises of hope, and the testimonies to God’s faithfulness that spoke most into his situation. He could meditate on these, and hear God’s voice speaking into his spirit and soul. He loved the Gospels also, and these he found himself reading as he was illuminating them, his pen being put to one side as the story of his Saviour gripped his heart. The man Jesus came to life in the words, and made him yearn to live a life modelled on His. THE HEALING p 151

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

advent, Bible, Christian Writer, Glorifying Jesus, Jesus, Names of Christ, The Word of God

ADVENT 1: JESUS – SERVANT

This year I am going to attempt to do something I have never done before, on this blog at least. Today marks the first day of Advent and I am going to attempt to post a blog every day, right up until Christmas.

A few years ago I did a series of studies on the names and descriptors of Jesus, primarily taken from the Old Testament Messianic prophecies. I have long wanted to develop these and so this year I am going to include them in this blog, in association with quotes from my books. I want to focus on Jesus, more than ever this Christmas, when there are so many difficult things going on in the world. I hope that you will follow along with me, and be taken up with the myriad ways Jesus is presented in Scripture. That you will see more and more just how wonderful He is.

SERVANT

Isaiah is an Old Testament book full of prophecy, and within it’s pages are many references to the coming Messiah.  These use many different names and ways of describing the coming Saviour. The one I want to focus on today on mentioned in Isaiah 42:1, and echoed in Is 43:10 and Isa 49 : 6.

Image shows the words of Isaiah 42 v 1 surrounded by a wreath of evergreen and holly berries

Through Isaiah’s prophetic words God describes the one to come as ‘My Servant’. We know this was a prophecy about Jesus as Matthew quotes it in Matt 12:18-21. Reading Isaiah 42:1-4  we can see that this Servant will carry the Spirit of God and will bring justice  – a form of justice that doesn’t crush the already bruised. In Isaiah 49 : 6 it tells us He will come bringing light to the gentiles, and salvation to the ends of the earth.

Image shows the words of Isaiah 49 v 6 surrounded by a wreath of evergreen and holly berries

BOND SERVANT

In the New testament, in Phil 2:7, Paul describes Jesus as the one who came as a ‘bond servant’ – one who knows they have no rights of their own and yet are willingly submitted to obey and serve the one in authority over them. Jesus willingly left behind any rights He had as God’s Son and took the form of a servant, demonstrating this in the washing of the disciples’ feet in John 13. He came willingly submitted to God’s authority and lovingly enslaved to Him, obedient to the cross. It was His choice and God honoured Him for it ‘my elect one in whom my soul delights’ (Is 42:1).

Image shows a mans hands holding and drying another man's foot with a rag

Image courtesy of freebibleimages.org

He came as a servant in order to bring about our salvation, and in doing so Jesus gave us the supreme example.  But did coming as a servant lessen His power, authority or kingship? No! That is the most amazing thing. He came as a servant, but also as a king. He showed us that true leadership requires humility, compassion and a servant heart. To those we are called to serve, and towards the One who calls us.

The Servant King shows us that we are called to be lovingly enslaved to God, and lovingly enslaved to one another.

In the areas of your life where you have authority, how can you follow Christ’s example of being a servant?

But kneeling to serve doesn’t lessen Father Abbot’s authority, or the respect he engenders. In fact, it does the opposite. We watch him pour himself out and we want to follow his example. He leads us with a quiet and loving authority, even disciplining us when necessary. But because we know the goodness of his heart, his inert humility, his love for his fellow man, we take the discipline and the encouragement with equal gratitude. He is being as Christ was, you see, the Servant King. He does not abuse his position of authority by lording it over us, rather he uses it to teach us a better way. The mark of a true godly leader.’

‘The Pilgrim’ pp 176-177

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bible, Blog Tour, Book Review, christian fiction, Christian Writer, The Word of God

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Wanderer Reborn’ by Natasha Woodcraft

The Wanderer Reborn: Book 2 in The Wanderer series

I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to kick off the Blog Tour for Natasha Woodcraft’s much anticipated second novel. The Wanderer Reborn. Natasha burst on to the Biblical Fiction scene earlier this year with her debut novel, The Wanderer Scorned. In her first book she set out to retell the story of Cain and Abel and did so with such godly imagination, that even though we know the outcome of that familiar story, it was a riveting read. You can read my review of The Wanderer Scorned here.

Image of front cover of The Wanderer Reborn, showing a young girl with dark hair and eyes, against a background of barren hills and a moody sky.

The Wanderer Reborn is a sequel, picking up the story after Kayin kills his brother Havel. It explores the grief, loss, and anger brought about by one of the most famous crimes in history. How does a family recover from the loss of two beloved sons? Especially when one has taken the life of the other? Is forgiveness and reconciliation possible? How would you react? Natasha explores all these themes with great sensitivity.

Grief, loss, forgiveness and reconciliation

The story is focussed on Awan, Havel’s twin sister. On one fateful day, Awan loses the two men she loves most in the world. The book describes her grief and loss, how the years go by and she watches her siblings grow up and experience the things that she once dreamed of. Bitterness threatens. And then one day God asks her to embark on a physical journey, which will also become a journey of forgiveness and reconciliation. Confronted by temptation and her own sinful nature, Awan realises the power of forgiveness, and that nobody Is beyond the scope of God’s great love and redemptive power.

This is an imaginative and evocative retelling of a story that scripture only hints at in Genesis 4 and yet is utterly compelling and so hope-filled. It drew me in from the very start and left my soul deeply encouraged. The descriptions of the early earth are believable, the characters sympathetic, and the message is eternal – that there is hope for everyone, even the worst of criminals, and that the scorned one can be reborn to new life.

Composite image of the front cover of the book against a background image of cliffs lake and trees.

Highly recommended

Image of author, Natasha Woodcraft

Although there is no scriptural basis for the story of hope retold here, The Wanderer Reborn is so full of the love, mercy and grace of God. It is also full of scripture, as yet again, the author uses her song writing skill to convert familiar passages of lament and praise into songs that Awan sings. It is a beautiful book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Except that – I would encourage you to read the first book first, to get the whole redemptive story.

The Wanderer Reborn will be officially published on 3rd December and can be pre-ordered now direct from the author at natashawoodcraft.com/books/

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bible, Christian Writer, Faith, Holy Spirit, Revelation, Seeing as God sees, The Word of God

THE PRISM OF HOLY SPIRIT

Last month I had to visit the optician. It was only a routine visit, but as suspected my eyesight had deteriorated, in line with my age, and I was going to need new glasses. This time however, the optician noted that my eyes focussed slightly differently from each other, so he suggested adding a prism to the lens of my glasses. He said it wasn’t essential to have it, but that I would notice the difference. He was right. My new glasses make things a lot clearer, and my eyes are less tired.

My experience of prisms in school was playing with a solid piece of glass, in the shape of a pyramid, shining a ray of light through it and creating a rainbow. Prisms split, bend and redirect light, or so I believe. I am not sure exactly how prisms in reading glasses work, but I guess they help bend light to reach the retina more efficiently. Help make the image clearer to see.

Image of a prism - a solid clear glass pyramid, with a single ray of white light being split into all the colours of the spectrum

Revelation like reading glasses

When I read my Bible, I can now see the words ultra clearly! But I also trust Holy Spirit to help me see beyond the words, to reveal to me the things He wants to teach my heart and spirit. I think revelation works a bit like reading glasses. Just like my prescription is personalised to me, so the things that God reveals from His Word are the things that He needs me to take hold of personally. Truths to help me understand who I am in Him, who He is to me, and how to navigate the season I am in.

It might be that many others have the same revelation as me. There are fundamental truths that all believers need to have an understanding of – the Father heart of God, the completeness of our salvation, the power of the cross, how deeply we are loved. But there are sometimes nuances within those revelations that are definitely personalised. Just like the addition of that prism to my lens. There are sometimes things that God needs to highlight with pinpoint precision, so that we really get a truth into our souls. The prism of Holy Spirit perhaps.

An open Bible with a pair of reading glasses resting on the pages

Pinpoint Precision

I know that God loves me, but recently I have been drawn to reread SONG OF SOLOMON again. It is a love song. Some say it is just about Solomon and his bride, most commentators agree it is a picture of Jesus and His bride, the church. But just recently I have been reading it as if it is a personal love letter from God to me. I read that I ravish His heart.

You have ravished my heart, My sister, my spouse; You have ravished my heart With one look of your eyes

Song of Solomon 4: 9

I can just read that  – oh yes, He loves me, loves the way I love Him – but then I have to stop and refocus. The way I look at Him (my worship) ravishes His heart? He is besotted by me? That is an extraordinary truth to comprehend. In the season that I am in, I need the prism of Holy Spirit to focus that truth, to amplify it and direct it straight to my heart.

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Book Review, Books, christian fiction, Christian publishing, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness

BOOK REVIEW: The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, by Ruth Leigh

The book, The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, displayed with scented candles, flowers and soft material as background.

Image of author, Ruth Leigh

I am thrilled to be invited to take part in the blog tour for The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, the third book in Ruth Leigh’s Isabella M Smugge series. Thrilled because like many others I have been longing to read another witty, well written book from this author’s extraordinary imagination, and to catch up on Isabella’s progressing story.

But I am also thrilled because now that Ruth has become a dear friend, I have been privileged to watch from the side-lines as this book was written. She herself would admit that it has been a hard book to write, and only exists because God enabled her. With the help of lots of prayer and encouragement from others. I have seen some of the pain this book has caused in being birthed. So to see it delivered safe and whole has brought joy to my soul!

Laugh out loud funny

As in her previous books Ruth has done an amazing job in creating Isabella’s world. She has spent hours researching what things are trending in the world of those who care about these things. The book is funny. There are laugh out loud moments, with hysterical hashtags and clever references to things ‘on trend’. Like this dig at the ever developing trend for giving paint colours pretentious names, that made me giggle,

‘We are staying in a smart twin ensuite room painted in Belle Peinture’s top selling shade, Gauzy Gutter’

Gauzy Gutter’? Perfect nonsense. Brilliant!

Deeply Moving

Apart from being funny, this book is also deeply moving and the story engrossing. There is no doubt that Isabella M Smugge is changing. Oh, she is still a renowned social media influencer, with a bestselling book series, and blogger awards galore. Her elegant home is still being featured in magazine photoshoots and she has numerous companies clamouring to engage her to endorse their products – from teething rings to self plumping pillows.

Back cover of book with blurb description

But her life in reality is definitely less glamourous. Now she is a single parent to four children, including hormonal pre-teens and a teething infant. Issy’s mother, with whom she has a fractious relationship, is now also residing with them following a stroke. Add to that a cheating husband trying to wheedle his way back in, her arch enemy Lavinia Harcourt still causing trouble, and a plethora of other family dramas and secrets coming to light. Life is far from dull, and not always in good ways. Our heroine has to admit she can’t do perfect anymore – not alone anyway.

Thankfully the village community she once looked down her nose at has now become her place of refuge. Her fellow school mums, the vicar and his wife, the church community, they are all there to help, support and understand. What’s more Isabella has found the joy of giving and serving. The scenes where she shepherds a flock of nit-ridden angels for the church nativity, and runs around with hairspray and bun nets as a dance show chaperone were hysterical, but also strangely moving. This is a new and more selflessly genuine Isabella, doing things she would once never have dreamt of doing.

Changed by Love

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of this third book is Isabella’s growing personal experience of God. The church draws her, the Holy spirit touches her, and prayer becomes more natural. Isabella finds herself learning to forgive, wanting to rebuild broken relationships, becoming a much more empathetic and insightful person, and even finding the strength to address some of her own past demons.

‘At church… I once again found myself a sobbing mess, just because they sang a hymn we had at Daddy’s funeral. Honestly! I tried to pull myself together but I was as if something huge and slippery and uncontrollable had risen from the very depths of my being and was calling out for attention…’

Front cover of book against a background of cut flowers

I have had the pleasure of being able to blog review all three of Ruth Leigh’s ‘Issy’ books. The first, my first ever book blog review, on The Diary of Isabella M Smugge, you can read here. The second, on The Trials of Isabella M Smugge, you can read here. Do you have to read the first two #Issy instalments to enjoy the third? No. But why wouldn’t you? The books are so funny, so entertaining, but also so relatable. I would encourage you to read them all. But for me the third is definitely the best one yet. Why? because I really love what Ruth has done with Isabella’s character, turning her from a self absorbed snob into a open hearted, kind and generous individual. Can a person be changed like that in real life? Actually yes. Faith- filled friends and a loving God can do that for a person.

I have to admit I didn’t like Issy much at all in book one. By book two, I had warmed to her considerably, but still wouldn’t have had much in common with her. By the end of book three I loved Isabella. I wanted to spend time with her, laugh and cry with her, and get to know even more of the real person beneath all the fluff. Which is why I really hope there will be a book four. Over to you Ruth!

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power.

Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

Image of Joy Margetts

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bible, Christian Writer, Connected to God, God speaks, Holy Spirit, Medieval Fiction, pilgrimage, The Word of God

GOD SPEAKS, DOORS OPEN

Last weekend we had the absolute ‘joy’ of being able to spend time with some lovely friends. Joy (yes she shares my name) and I met online around 18 months or so ago, connected by our writing and our heart to share kingdom truth through fiction. It was so good to finally meet face to face. And to spend hours, yes hours, talking about our writing, plans, ideas and dreams. It was good to meet Joy’s Ukrainian husband. And to get the smallest of insights into the reality of what the conflict means for his people, and for God’s people in Ukraine. To pray for them and with them.

Image of a couple standing together on a headland, with the sea, sky and a small island behind them

For part of the weekend we offered a tour of some of the places the pilgrims visited in my recently released novel, The Pilgrim. We had a wonderful day, retracing the steps of Brother Hywel, albeit in reverse. The day was punctuated with exclamations of, ‘This is where Hywel raised his hands to heaven in praise,’ ‘This is where Hywel took the boat to Bardsey Island’, ‘This is where Hywel knelt and encountered Jesus.’ Except of course Hywel was not real! We had to keep reminding ourselves of the fact. It still felt very much like we were walking in the footsteps of many, many pilgrims.

GOD SPEAKS

In both of my books, The Healing and The Pilgrim, I try to demonstrate how much God wants to speak to us personally. That might be through other people, it might be through things we experience or observe, it might be through dreams or prophetic words, it is always through the filter of His Word. This last weekend God spoke to me really clearly.

The day before our pilgrim tour, Joy had been challenging me about how I saw my writing. How did I weigh it against other things I believed God had gifted and called me to do? She spoke about my published novels as perhaps being the means of God opening up other things for me, like ‘handles on a door’ perhaps. The following day, as we progressed around our tour, something began to happen that was really quite strange.

DOORS OPEN

Outside of a small stone church with door ajar

I have visited the little ancient stone church at Pistyll many times, and it has always been locked. I have had to peer through cloudy windows to get a glimpse of the interior, and based my descriptions of it in my book on similar churches I had seen. On this day, however, we found the door unlocked, and stepped inside to find sweet smelling rushes on the floor and a simple altar, just as I had imagined it.

inside of a small simple stone church, with rushes on the floor and a simple altar table with a wooden cross.

Then we visited the great church of St Bueno at Clynnog Fawr. The church that stands on that site is a 15th century pilgrim church, but part of it was built over a much more ancient church – dating back to the 6th century. Whenever I have visited before, that part of the church has been behind locked doors – three of them! Now I think you are going to guess where I am going with this.

When we first entered the church the first door was indeed locked, but at some part during our visit we suddenly realised it had been unlocked. And the next one, and the one after that! We stepped through each open doorway in growing excitement, until we were standing in the very spot where pilgrims had worshipped for centuries. As I stood taking it all it, just so thankful for God’s goodness, some words came to my mind and I spoke them out,

‘Whatever door I open remains open, and whatever door I close remains closed’

I knew it was scripture, if in paraphrase, and later I found it in Rev 3:7-8

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ‘

Man walking through open church doorway into a whitewashed chapel

GOD SPEAKS AND MAKES IT PERSONAL

Now I know that those words were written to the church in Philadelphia, but taking into consideration what Joy had already said to me, and the strange co-incidences of finding doors opening everywhere we went, I knew in my spirit that God was speaking to me. A new excitement has filled me since; I know He is about to open up doors for me that I thought were shut. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I have an idea, and I think it might well involve collaboration with my friend Joy.

What made it even more special was that God spoke to me in the very same places as He spoke to my imaginary 13th Century pilgrim, Brother Hywel. God speaks! And I have no doubt that He will find the right time, the right place and the right way to speak to you too. Be ready!

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, was published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

More information on Joy, and her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com