Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, House renovations, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, Thankfulness, The Word of God


So we are home at last, and it is wonderful. The main building and reconstruction work is done: now work begins to get the house decorated and fitted out. We have no kitchen, no bathroom, and bare floors throughout.

who needs furniture…

I like camping, we always have done as a family, and it is just as well. Because at time of writing we also still have no running hot water, and no flushing toilet. Don’t be alarmed  – we have not resorted to digging pits in the back garden yet – we are coping admirably with the old toilet and a bucket of water at hand to flush it.

(This blog is all very lavatorial so far, my apologies, but it will improve –  honestly!)

Simple: essential or convenient?

so near and yet so far...

My son’s reaction when he heard we had moved back in without a flushing toilet was astonishment. (Concern for our wellbeing as the old codgers he perceives us to be, no doubt). The text messages went something like this –  ‘I can’t tell you how much of a bad idea I think this is’ and ‘a flushing toilet is what separates us from the animals’. I replied reassuringly, but then got to thinking. Actually his second statement is just not true. A huge section of the human race does not have the luxury of a flushing toilet, and that in no way reduces their status of humanity. We are just so blessed in the developed world that we see these things as essential to our lives. Of course we can live without these simple things. We just choose not to. For lots of good reasons.

What is an inconvenience for us – and that only for a few more days (hopefully)  – is a way of life for so many. And we have electricity, and a roof and windows, and clean running water, and soft beds, and fridges and freezers, and food on our tables.

my camping kitchen...

Being without some of those simple things, those everyday conveniences, has made us even more thankful for all that we do have, and usually take for granted. Don’t get me wrong – I will celebrate heartily when the new toilet and wash hand basin are finally plumbed in. But in the meantime, I will also celebrate all the good and simple things that we are daily blessed with. And take a moment or too to remember those who would love to live as comfortably as we do. Even in our unfinished home.

Choosing to be thankful

I have learnt the power of thankfulness in a new way over the last few difficult years, and it is a theme I refer to early on in The Healing. Philip learns from his mentor, Brother Hywel, the importance of being thankful for the simple things. And he does it the hard way (you will have to read it to find out more)! Whatever we are facing, however inconvenient, uncomfortable, or stressful it might be, if we can retain a heart of thankfulness then we get a better, more positive, and definitely more balanced outlook on the situation. God would say so too.

 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. 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.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here

Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Dealing with Fear, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, House renovations, Lessons from life, Thankfulness, The Passion Translation


One of the things I have had to learn to do lately, is to wait. Wait for the builders to put in the final windows and leave site. Wait for the adhesive to dry under the tiles in the new utility room so that I can move and plug my freezer in. Wait for the plumber to put the toilet in! Wait to move back home…

The windows are in!

Some of the waiting has been active waiting – doing what we can do to hasten our return home – cleaning, painting, aforesaid floor tiling. Some of the waiting has been passive. Waiting for the Covid test results, waiting to see if, and how the virus affects our loved ones, waiting out the isolation period. Waiting to cuddle my grandson again. All of the waiting has been stressful, one way or another. Some has been downright terrifying.

The tiles are done!

During a really difficult period a few years back, I learnt something about waiting. I had been familiar with the much repeated words of scripture about waiting on the Lord, but something I read gave me a whole new revelation of what that meant. Waiting on the Lord is definitely not passive waiting – not like waiting at a bus stop, or in a waiting room.

The Hebrew word for ‘wait’ used in the Old Testament can also be translated as ‘bind’, or ‘thread’. So it comes with the implication that waiting on the Lord, is not waiting FOR Him to do something, rather it is leaning into Him in the wait, binding ourselves to Him, holding on tight.  It is choosing to wait with HOPE, remembering His promises. It is choosing to TRUST Him in the waiting, remembering His faithfulness. It is choosing to WORSHIP Him in the waiting, remembering who He is and what He is capable of. It is holding on, while holding on  – for the better times, the answers, the promises to be fulfilled.

I have had to choose to hold on tight again this week. To not let my anxieties and disappointments derail me. Because the promise is that if I wait on Him, He will strengthen my heart, and the waiting will be so much easier to endure with a strengthened heart.

Here’s what I’ve learned through it all:
    Don’t give up; don’t be impatient;
    be entwined as one with the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope.
    Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!             

Psalm 27:14 TPT*

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. 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.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here

*The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Review, Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Dealing with Fear, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Grief, Healing, Seasons of life, Thankfulness, The Word of God, words of comfort


Scent of Water (Words of Comfort in Times of Grief) is a beautiful, moving, and honestly real devotional for those experiencing loss. Penelope has bravely written out of her own traumatic experience of witnessing her elderly mother’s life taken violently. And out of the subsequent deep grief response that left her numb and flailing.

The moment I read the blurb for Penelope Swithinbank’s new book Scent of Water, I knew that I wanted to read it. In her own words…

‘she found nothing that reached her dark night of the soul, nothing that let her know that God was still with her… she found it very difficult to pray or to read the bible… hugs rubbed her raw and consoling well meant cliches did not ring true… she wished there was a specific daily devotional to help her connect with God in and through the grief’

I was drawn to those words because I’ve been there. This book is a book for those who grieve, and grief comes in many forms and for many reasons. When I was at my lowest point, grieving the life I had once lived and loved, I longed for something easy to read, that would plug me into a God that I had known for years, but who at the time seemed so distant. A simple, non- demanding devotional, of maybe a single line from scripture and a word that spoke into my pain, was what I longed for. I was given books to read, great books on moving on, looking up, strengthening myself in the Lord; but they were too much, too soon. I wish now that I had had Scent of Water.

“For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.
 Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,
 Yet at the scent of water it will bud …

Job 14 :7 – 9 NKJV*

The book takes it’s title from this scripture, and it is about hope, but maybe only flickering hope – the merest scent of water – not the deluge, not the soaking, just enough hope to keep you holding on, barely, by your fingertips. I get that.

Penelope is a woman of deep faith, with a lifetime of following and serving Jesus. But that did not make her immune to pain, doubt and despair. She wrote Scent of Water out of her own need to just hold on through the storm. And her words in it are real, the emotions expressed raw and totally relatable, and yet hope also sings from every page. Like the Psalmists of old she has not hidden how grief has made her feel: the frustration, anger, disbelief, hollowness, confusion, and sheer exhaustion. But alongside her heart cries are the gentle words of God, the reassurances, the moments of strength for the weary soul, the thankfulness. It is just so beautifully moving to read. And to return to, over and over again.

Scent of Water comes as a small, easy to hold hardback, designed to be given as a gift. It’s design and appearance are stunning, from the front cover to the lovely colour photograph plates that mark the start of each new devotional. There are 25 of these six day devotions, enough for six months. Each has it’s own theme, some based on an extract from a bible chapter or a Psalm, others following a thought through, using different scriptures, with titles such as ‘Punched in the stomach : shock and agony’ and ‘Learning to Lean : when I need to rest’. The daily scriptures and thoughts are brief and undemanding, and end with a heartfelt prayer each day.

Penelope has also added a section at the beginning of the book with devotionals for the difficult days e.g. the day of the funeral, first birthday, first anniversary, first Christmas, as well as some additional meditations at the end of the book for people to dip into as they feel able. This book is so sensitively thought out and put together. I, for one, am going to treasure my copy and am so pleased that this book is out there. I know I will be buying it and giving it as a gift for those who need help to get through their grief, gently and slowly, but in connection with a Father who knows and loves them.

Penelope Swithinbank is a chaplain at Bath Abbey, and a vicar with twenty years of experience, specialising in spiritual counselling and therapy. She also loves both undertaking and leading others on pilgrimage, both in the UK and in Europe. You can read more about her and purchase Scent of Water via her website at

Scent of Water was published by Sarah Grace Publishing on 7th July 2021 and is now widely available online and in bookstores.

*New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission, all rights reserved

Read more about my own writing here

Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, Medieval Fiction, New Author, Uncategorized


As a newly published author I have had the extraordinary blessing of being introduced to a whole new community of like-minded gifted writers. In fact the pandemic has helped me meet far more people than I could ever imagine as online groups have sprung up all over the place. One such group that I have become a part of is ‘FAB CHOW’. I know – makes no sense. But it was the name adopted as the group has a rather wordy title – the Association of Christian Historic and Biblical Fiction Writers – A O C H B F W, rearranged, is FAB CHOW. And it is fab to meet together, share our writing and critique one another, and champion each others achievements. So today that is what I am going to do. I want to introduce you to these great books by two authors, who, like me, are new to this publishing business. Both are very enjoyable reads, with good storylines and containing strong faith messages. I’ll leave the authors to tell you more…

MAN OF GLASS by Andrea Sarginson

As rumours of a terrible plague reach gifted young glazing apprentice Amalric’s village in East Yorkshire in 1349, he dreads its arrival and despairs of the Church’s response and his village’s rampant superstition – but even he cannot deny the ominous portents that seem to abound. When the gruesome pestilence at last comes to Warren Horesby and neighbouring Meaux Abbey, Amalric and his family are blamed. Exposed to brutal recrimination, he is horribly injured in a vicious assault. Suddenly his survival depends on the care of a shy servant girl and the improbable support of the village priest and a newly qualified doctor of physic with pioneering ideas. Can the village ever come to terms with the ravages of the pestilence? Can Amalric honour his family, fulfil his talent and help the village survive? And can he find love and happiness in the aftermath of the terrible disease.

Andrea Sarginson says, Man of Glass is fiction based on fact, inspired by the remains of a medieval village and Cistercian Abbey in East Yorkshire, and the history of the Black Death. I have written about what could have been. After all, who knows about the lives of people buried long ago in a village church graveyard when records were seldom kept: who made the stained-glass windows of the fourteenth century churches, how did the ordinary person with only the basic traditional healing methods react to the symptoms of the devastating pestilence, what was it like to be a doctor unable to help? Written just before the Covid pandemic, when it was unknown in England, my novel has proven to be eerily prophetic.

About the author: Andrea Sarginson trained as a midwife, operating theatre nurse, teacher, and later as an art historian with interests in art and stained glass. She lives in Greater Manchester and since 2012 has been an Authorised Lay Minister in the Manchester Diocese. She approached retirement combining both art and medicine as an associate of the Arts for Health Department at Manchester Metropolitan University. Creative writing became an interest for her when retired, developing a curiosity for the interaction between medicine, art and spirituality.

Man of Glass by Andrea Sarginson (ISBN: 9781912726189) is published by Instant Apostle, 304pp, £8.99. Available from for £7.00 incl postage.

Leaving Bethany by Susan Sutherland

“I was a bird that liked my own garden and lacked the confidence to fly away to new places. I wondered whether I would ever have the courage to leave Bethany.” 

Judea 32 AD

It is a day like any other in the sleepy village of Bethany. Martha, a young widow, meets a travelling Rabbi called Jesus. And her life changes forever.

To become a disciple of Jesus is a dangerous decision, but one Martha must make. She follows Jesus to his death and sees him comes alive again three days later. Now, she is at the heart of the group of believers around Jesus. She changes from one always ready with a plate of food for a hungry guest, to being eager to teach others the things she learned.

How can she follow Jesus in the perilous world of religious politics and Roman rule? Those who killed Jesus are now looking to stop them by any means possible, including murder. It is only a matter of time before they come for her family. Martha now faces her greatest challenge. Can she find the path to truth through danger and betrayal to save those she loves?

Susan says:  There has been much talk of late about the women who followed Jesus as his disciples. Not only providing materially and financially for him but working and learning alongside the traditional male disciples. The story of Jesus’s female disciples has for far too long been given less prominence than his male ones. An imbalance I wanted to redress. Martha of Bethany has such a compelling story, her voice cried out to be heard and I had to write it for others to read.

About the author: After running her own educational training company and writing articles that appeared in several educational journals, Susan turned her hand, and her keyboard, into writing her debut novel. Following success in flash fiction, the full-length novel, Leaving Bethany appeared. The sequel is now in process of being written with a third planned.

Visit for more information and details of how to buy Leaving Bethany.

Hope you are inspired to read them yourself!

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. 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.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here

Bearing Fruit, Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, New Author, The Word of God, Uncategorized


Beyond the Hills by Maressa Mortimer

I love books and I love reading, and one of the absolute delights of becoming a published author is making lots of new friends who are also writers. And who write great books – that they send me free copies of – and ask me to review for them! I am thrilled that my blog this week forms part of the Blog Tour for the new book by Maressa Mortimer, Beyond the Hills.

Beyond the Hills is the second book in the series of the Elabi Chronicles, fiction aimed at young adults but suitable for anyone teen and above. Walled City introduced us to Elabi, a dystopian world set sometime in the future, where society is strictly controlled, emotions are frowned upon, and faith actively prohibited. In the first book, Gax, a young man on a mission to share his faith, infiltrates the city for a time and becomes frustrated at how little he seemingly can do to make a difference. Beyond the Hills picks up from after he leaves, and shows just how much he did achieve, unknowingly, by living a different way among the people he interacted with. And by leaving behind a legacy… in the form of a few thin pages torn out of an ancient book.

I love reading, but the book I love reading the most is the Bible. I make no apologies for that. It has become more and more important to me, particularly over the last few years, to spend time in that amazing book. The Word of God, is exactly that to me. It speaks life and health and strength to me, every day. I was so thrilled then to discover that a major theme of Maressa’s  new book is the power of the Word of God to transform a person’s life.

The central character in Beyond the Hills is a girl called Macia. She appeared only as a minor character in the first book, and when we first meet her she is the perfect Elabi citizen. Her father is a council member and she is aiming for the highest class status she can achieve, through hard work and assiduously keeping the rules. She is outwardly successful in her ambitions and her future seems secure, but inwardly she is struggling. Someone she was once close to mysteriously disappeared from Elabi, and left a letter containing a bundle of thin pages from a now barred book. Macia fights the urge to read the words on those pages but something draws her to them. The more she reads, the less resistant she is to reading more, and bit by bit she finds herself longing to read those life-giving words, returning to them over and over again, memorising them, and letting them change her heart. The changes in Macia do not go unnoticed, and to give nothing away, she finds she has to cling to those words she memorised to survive the devastating consequences of choosing to follow the God they introduce her too.

I asked the author why she chose to have Macia come to faith in God through the Word of God alone, and whether she knew of anyone else who had come to faith that way? This is what she said:

I wanted Macia to be touched by the Word, without any help. I think as Christians we can easily forget how powerful the Word is, and we think it’s up to us to ‘reach the lost’, forgetting God’s Spirit working irresistibly in people’s hearts. Macia has no understanding, or desire, to know God, yet the unfamiliar words, printed on strange paper, draw her back time and again. I found it utterly fascinating, and I felt myself wondering if she would carry on reading or throw the pages away. I have heard of people becoming Christians after reading the Bible only, but I can’t remember exact names or places. In most cases, I seem to remember that those people had met missionaries handing them the books, so at least there was some outside influence. I felt it was a message of hope, a casting your bread out on the water, trusting God to bless it and make it fruitful.

I thoroughly enjoyed Beyond the Hills. It did help that I had read Walled City first, but it does stand alone as a very readable and compelling story. I loved the way Maressa wove truths of scripture into the narrative, and her insights into Macia’s thoughts and feelings. I found myself drawn into Macia’s journey with all it’s twists and turns, and rooting for both her, and her fledgling faith in God, to survive. I am looking forward to book three, and knowing Maressa, it is well and truly in the pipeline!

Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, England with her husband and four (adopted) children. Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published December 2019, and her first self-published novel, Walled City, came out on 5 December 2020, followed by Viking Ferry, a novella. Beyond the Hills is the second book in the Elabi Chronicles, and will be released on 18 June 2021.

Maressa is a home-schooling mum as well as a pastor’s wife, so her writing has to be done in the evening when peace and quiet descend on the house once more. She loves writing Christian fiction, as it’s a great way to explore faith in daily life. Her books can be found on her website and on Amazon in both kindle and paperback format. You can follow Maressa on both Instagram and Facebook @vicarioush.ome

Bearing Fruit, Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, Lessons from life, New Author, Rick Warren, Seasons of life, Uncategorized


This is my how my front garden looks at the moment. I took this photo yesterday on our obligatory visit to our home/building site. The overflowing skip and wrecked sofa are especially decorative features I feel (there is a move to more hard industrial landscaping, and ‘outside room’ living in modern garden design, isn’t there?) But actually I would quite like my front garden back – the little patch of well mown grass, with it’s ornamental tubs overflowing with bright summer flowers; and a well managed shrubbery, without cement mixers and scaffolding boards hiding under the bushes. But saying all that, our bright pink Azalea is actually doing really well. We were worried for it, as it had to be moved pre-build, and they don’t like being moved, apparently. It’s lost a few leaves but the flower display is pretty spectacular nonetheless.

I also listened to an interview clip yesterday featuring Rick Warren. The well known ministry leader and author was being interviewed by a Christian television network about how he and his wife dealt with the sudden suicide of their youngest son some years ago. It was a moving interview, especially when he spoke candidly about his son’s lifelong struggle with clinical depression, and the years of seemingly unanswered prayers. But Rick also spoke about how during his too short young life his son had led people to faith in God, counselled some who were contemplating suicide, and helped others deal with their own mental pain. In describing this, the phrase he used that really stood out to me was this one,  ‘In God’s garden of grace, even broken trees bear fruit’. Now he may have said it before, but it was the first time I had heard it and it struck a chord.

There is a lovely scripture in Psalm 1 where it talks about the tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth it’s fruit in season. I love how The Passion Translation puts it,

 ‘they will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design. Deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, bearing fruit in every season of their lives.’  Psalm 1:3 TPT*

 I love this, because I believe, like Rick Warren, that it is possible for our lives to bear fruit for God whatever season of life we are in, whatever we have gone through, or are going through. In fact sometimes it is even the brokenness itself which causes the most bountiful fruit to appear. My book is that – the fruit of a season of brokenness in my life. By God’s grace, I stayed planted in His garden, even when it felt that my roots weren’t quite as deeply planted as I wanted them to be. Obviously, like that Azalea, my weak, disturbed roots managed to stay held deep enough that my life continued to produce something alive and beautiful for God.

So when I look at my front garden now, I can see that actually little has changed. The cherry tree has blossomed and is in leaf, the shrubs are growing healthily, the grass (and the weeds) are flourishing, and once the build is done – once that season has passed – the garden will return to it’s former glory. But meanwhile, as long as those plants stay rooted, they will continue to bear fruit.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. 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.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here

*The Psalms: Poetry on Fire, The Passion Translation, copyright 2012. Used by permission of 5 Fold Media, LLC, Syracuse, NY 13039, USA. All rights reserved.

Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, New Author, Uncategorized



‘Are we nearly there yet?’ For anyone who has ever transported young children on a car journey of any length those words will be alarmingly familiar. And yet put yourself in that poor child’s place for a moment. Strapped into a moving vehicle with no idea exactly where you are going, how long it will take, and what you are going to find at the other end; that is, with no control whatsoever. A child in that situation has only one option- to trust the adult driving the car – that they know where they are going, how long it will take, and what is at the other end of the journey.

For many of us life feels a bit like that at the moment. Uncertainties surround us on every side. How long is this pandemic going to last? What are the easing of restrictions going to mean for us and our loved ones? Is everyday life coming out of this going to look very different? What about vaccines and variants, and foreign travel, and homeworking, and schooling, and exams, and church? The questions are endless.

It is into this world of uncertainty that a great new book by Jocelyn-Anne Harvey comes, with such a timely message. ‘Not Knowing But Still Going’ is an exploration of the story of Noah’s Ark, from the perspective of those who travelled in it, the women in particular. If ever a journey was uncertain and an outcome unknown, it was the voyage of the Ark.

Jocelyn- Anne does a marvellous job of getting us to imagine what life pre-flood, life on the Ark, and life post- flood might have been like, by fictionalising parts of the story, including giving those nameless wives names of their own. I love the cover of this book, it is beautifully designed, but what really caught my attention was the strategically placed washing line! I love that, because in reality the Ark was much more than a floating zoo, or an escape ship, it was those women’s domestic world, their home, for over a year. In that Ark they had to cook and prepare food, for themselves as well as the animals, they had to make comfortable places to sleep and rest, and they would have had to do the washing! Although it probably wouldn’t have been hung outside to dry! How did they cope? Not just with the enormous job of keeping them all fed and cared for (animals included), and living with the in- laws in close proximity in the most strict of lockdown bubbles! But also with the realisation of what the flood meant to mankind. How would it have felt to know that they were the only survivors, and that life, and even the earth itself was going to look very different when they emerged from the Ark? And they were going to be responsible for repopulating the earth, and with only each other to rely on? They had no control over any of this, and no real idea of what any of it was going to look like.

I love animals, but I could not imagine being shut in with a whole menagerie for all that time. In a sense Jocelyn-Anne creates a veritable menagerie of complimentary ideas with her writing. Alongside the fiction and the imaginings there is a wealth of wisdom. Her knowledge of scripture is evident and she uses it very well. She also applies things that she has learnt from her own life experiences and these add real weight to the book (I’d have liked more of these – some stories left me hanging!). It is also rich in other well researched detail about the geography of the earth pre- and post flood, the construction of the ark, changes in weather and diet after the flood. Some things take you by surprise- like getting up in the night and stepping on an escaped snake in the dark would! And others require you to examine your pre-conceived ideas and think more deeply on these things. You may find you struggle with some points of theology or supposition, but it certainly does make you question and go back to the Bible, and that is a very good thing.

The book is divided up into chapters that follow the story of the flood, tackling such subjects as: working with what you know, not pleasing people but leaning into God, being content in the waiting, sensing when new windows are opening, and the importance of family. Ultimately Jocelyn- Anne shows us how it is possible to keep going without knowing, trusting God to know what He is doing, and living the way He would want us to do, amidst the uncertainty. It is aimed primarily at women, and the author does celebrate particularly the way God sees and honours women, which I appreciated greatly. Throughout the book, the author challenges the reader to think and apply things to their own life and experience. I particularly loved that each chapter ends with a really helpful prayer, and some questions as an aid to thinking more. The book even provides blank pages for journaling, if you can bear to write on the pages of a pristine new book!

This is a great debut book from an imaginative and obviously well- read writer. If anything, I found it almost too rich. I read it through fairly quickly so that I could review it as part of Jocelyn- Anne’s blog tour, but I know I am going to have to go back to it, and re-read certain parts again. And maybe, just maybe, bring myself to write something on those empty journaling pages!

Not Knowing But Still Going by Jocelyn- Anne Harvey was published by Instant Apostle on 21st April 2021 and is available from all good bookshops or from a variety of online shops including: FoylesWaterstonesAslan EdenAmazon  Amazon US and The Book Depository (this has worldwide free shipping).

Jocelyn-Anne loves the Lord, learning and literature. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, and her flash fiction has been published. Having taken the leap from her senior HR role in the UK Government, Jocelyn-Anne can identify with those walking through uncertain times, and she is passionate about supporting others through theirs and helping them develop. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in a coffee shop with friends, exploring coastal paths or trying out recipes.

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, Lessons from life, New Author, Thankfulness, Uncategorized


We are in the throes of having some major renovation work done at home. This has necessitated us moving out temporarily, but not so far away that we cannot nip back home most days to check on progress, pick up post and phone messages, water the plants etc. I take photos too, lots of them; the advantage of the handy smart phone with built in camera. These photos are creating a marvellous timeline of the changes as they occur and I’m sure we will look back on them in time and wonder, when the final transformation is complete. It also means I can keep the family up to date as well, my son especially, who lives an hour away and thinks he has a vested interest (his inheritance!)  I’m sure he would be project managing it himself if he lived nearer…

One of the photos I took was this one of a blocked up window. There was something about it that really spoke to me, I think especially because of the arch at the top, that showed where the window had been. First they removed the window and then blocked it up with building blocks. Then a few days later the first layer of plaster went up; you could still see where the window had been but it was definitely looking more like a wall. And then the final plastering occurred and now there is no real trace of the window at all. It is in a room that was being used for little more than dry storage and had four windows that all needed replacing.  As this one looked out on to another wall, we took the decision to block it up, and use the resulting wall space for some much needed shelving, in what will become our new office/writing room.

You might have heard the old adage, in Christian circles at least, ‘when God closes a door, He opens a window’. In fact if you are a fan of the old musicals, like I am, then a very similar phrase occurs in The Sound of Music, where Mother Superior is trying to counsel a distraught and confused, lovesick Maria about renouncing her vocation. The open window in her case is to leave the Order and marry her Captain.

In my experience, sometimes God closes a door and then goes on and blocks up a window too! Just so that we get the message that we are completely in the wrong room!

Some years ago I was faced with a major life decision. The time had come around, as it did every three years, to pay to renew my registration to practice as a nurse. I had not nursed in practice for a while. If I paid up I would have to not only find a job where I could practice my clinical skills, but I would also have to do some refresher courses to get myself up to date. If I did not pay to renew my registration, that was it. I could no longer work as a nurse without an extensive period of retraining. I had to decide whether that would be the end of my nursing career once and for all. It was such a tough decision, but one ultimately that I had little choice in. I was not well enough to work in clinical practice any more. And all the studying and training I had done over the years was seemingly going to be wasted. The window was going to be well and truly blocked up and the door slammed shut.

But like that blocked up window, traces of my past life remain. I can still remember enough to advise friends with medical queries, keep an eye on my husband’s blood pressure, and talk my daughter through new -born baby care from a midwife’s perspective. But nursing is not a window that I am ever going to be able to re-open. And actually I’m fine with that. Because just like that room, and that (once window now a) wall, are going to have a completely different use when all is done, so my life has taken a completely different path. If you had told that nurse/midwife ten years ago, that one day she would be an author of Christian historic fiction, she would have laughed out loud!

I am actually really glad that God plans the ongoing renovation and remodelling of our lives and not us. He knows that closing certain doors, and even blocking up the odd window or two, is not the end of what He has for us. Sometimes it takes time and reflection, to look back and see just how good a building designer He is. So if you are feeling like doors and windows are closing all around you, take heart. He could be that He is leading you into stepping into a whole new room altogether.

Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in mediaeval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. 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.

More information on Joy and her writing can be found here

Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Marriage, Christian Writer, Faith, Lessons from life, New Author, Uncategorized


Two weeks ago my hubby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. I say ‘celebrated’ – the celebrations included a short drive out to a local beauty spot, and a home- cooked steak dinner! Which suited us fine. Neither of us do big gestures, but it was good to mark the day and especially look back and thank God for our marriage, and His faithfulness to us over the years. Is ours a perfect marriage? Well after 29 years it must be pretty good, right? It is! But it is not perfect; it never has been and probably never will be. There have been times when it has been a fight, and times when it has been a joy. But we made vows to one another and before God, and by His grace, we are still here, and still one, and still loving each other.

This week I have also had the joy of reading a new book, ‘Grace-Filled Marriage’, by Claire and Steve Musters. I agreed to be part of their launch team, not entirely sure what I had signed up for! But I have been privileged to be able to read a pre-publication copy of this amazingly insightful and helpful book. I have devoured it. Perhaps having been married a good many years, it seems strange to be reading a book on marriage, but the truth is that we still make mistakes, we still unintentionally hurt one another, and we still need grace – buckets full of it.  I also found it a challenging read. It is heart- breakingly honest in places, and disturbingly convicting in others.

Grace Filled Marriage’ is a perfect marriage in my humble opinion. It brings together great scripturally based wisdom and advice, and marries it seamlessly with compelling real- life stories. I found these little snapshots into other people’s marriage struggles particularly helpful, not least the authors’ own candid revelations of their own troubled marriage journey. It is a brave thing to do, to let God use your own ‘warts and all’ story to bring hope to others. And I think that is what Claire and Steve have done. You know that they know what they are talking about. You can trust they have ‘been there, done that’, and come through it all with a stronger, more loving, more God- honouring marriage  -because of His redemptive grace and their willingness to fight. I pray God will honour them for that vulnerability.

The book is 12 chapters long, each tackling one area of marriage where we need to exercise God- given grace with each other. They cover such subjects as complacency, forgiveness, conflict, and championing one another. Each chapter contains at least one story from a real life marriage, and ends with a few thoughtful and helpful questions to ask ourselves. As well as being a great read for individuals, it is potentially a great resource – for couples considering marriage, for newly-weds, for all marrieds wanting to be better at it, or for small study groups.

As I said, we don’t have a perfect marriage, and I don’t actually think God expects us to have perfect marriages – we’re not perfect people after all. But in the same way as He is working in us, and changing us as individuals, from glory to glory[1], to becoming more a reflection of Him, the only perfect one, so I believe He also wants our marriages to get better and better, with His help. I read this book alone, although there were times when I paused to share some particular nugget of wisdom, or challenging thought, with hubby. As a couple, many of the things the book deals with we have already learnt, the hard way sometimes, in our nearly 30 years of marriage. But we can still learn more, so we have decided to go through the book again together, slowly and prayerfully, and see how we could be doing better. And by God’s grace we will.

Grace Filled Marriage by Claire and Steve Musters is published today, 7th May 2021, by Authentic Media, RRP £9.99. It is available via all the usual bookselling outlets but you can bless Claire and Steve particularly by purchasing a copy direct at

[1] 2 Corinthians 3:18

Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Faith, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, New Author, Thankfulness, Uncategorized


Out temporary home is a little self contained flat on the top floor of a four storey Victorian terraced house on the seafront. Where I sit to write is by a window, that if you look straight out of all you can see is sea and sky. Some days it feels like you are onboard a gently rocking ship, and a little disorientating to say the least!  However, if you peer over the windowsill and look down, the view is much more revealing.

From where I sit, or stand (to get an even better look!) it really is a bird’s eye view. I can say that, because opposite us is a street lamp that both seagulls and pigeons use as a handy perch, and that perch is a good 6 feet below our window. I have the opportunity here to do what I cannot do at home –  to people watch, and to do it unnoticed! What is it about beaches, and holiday makers, and day trippers, that I find so fascinating? The lunatics who think swimming in the sea on a freezing April morning is a good idea? The hapless novice paddle boarders who paddle aimlessly round and round in circles? The stalwart sea fishermen who sit for hours and seemingly catch nothing? Or perhaps the young couple who don’t realise they have an audience for their amorous canoodling?

No, I am not a voyeur! But it is hard not to smile at the things people do when they don’t realise that they have an audience. It has keep me entertained, particularly on the days when the ME symptoms make contemplating the four storeys of stairs difficult, and I have missed getting out to enjoy the unseasonably warm sunshine, and the cool fresh sea breeze for myself.

We have a magnificent sea view from our own home too. But it is very different. The sea is further away and there is a garden and field between. We can see and hear people, but only at a distance. We are much more likely to bird watch from our windows at home, than people watch. I miss it. And being able to step outside effortlessly, through my ground floor patio door, into the sunny garden beyond.

It made me think about how our views and perspectives can change, dependent on the season of life we are in, and what we are experiencing. In both homes I have so much to be thankful for. It’s different here, but it is still good. I miss my home, but I am blessed to have somewhere warm and comfortable to stay whilst my home is being rebuilt. I have days when it is hard to get a good and helpful perspective; when I feel weary, when the news in the media is sad, when the book sales have slowed down, when the build is delayed… but I have learnt the lesson that Hywel teaches Philip in the early pages of The Healing

Being thankful is a good place to start in order to begin to see thing more positively. Be thankful for the everyday things, big and small. Focus your mind on those good things that you are grateful for.’  

 The Healing , p 29

I am thankful for my bird’s eye view and for the laughs it has given us. Thankful that I live in such a beautiful place, with such amazing vistas. And most of all, thankful that God is with us here, and in it all, book sales included!

The Healing was published by Instant Apostle on 19th March 2021, and is now widely available in both paperback and kindle format.

Signed paperback copies are also available direct from me at for £9.99 including UK postage. Visit my website for more information and do sign up to receive my newsletter.