Belonging, Book Review, christian fiction, Christian publishing, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, New Author

BOOK REVIEW: ‘To Belong’ by Judith Galblum Pex

I have never visited Israel. It’s been a long held dream to do so, and maybe one day that dream will become reality. I hope so.  I would love to walk in the steps of the prophets and patriarchs, and especially of Christ Himself. But I know that it is possible to have a romanticised view of The Holy Land. Israel throughout it’s history has been a place of conflict and clashes of culture.  A land unsure of its identity. It is no different today. But if I never get to visit Israel at least I can thank Judith Galblum Pex for taking me there with the words of her novel.

Front cover of 'To Belong', showing a white woman holding two black children in her arms

The need to belong

To Belong tells the fictionalised story of a mother, Tamar, a Messianic Jew, and her husband, Steve, a Canadian immigrant. They live in the Israeli city of Eilat; Tamar a nurse and Steve a Diving Instructor. Within their close community of family, friends and neighbours we are introduced to Hungarian Holocaust survivors, an escapee from strict orthodoxy, modern day Jews struggling to live out their faith, and those genuinely seeking Jesus. We also meet Sudanese refugees that have fled the war in their own land to find refuge in Israel. The author has lived in Israel many years herself, and her understanding of the different beliefs and cultures that have to exist together, and clash so often, in a land that is a draw to so many different nationalities and faiths, is clearly demonstrated.

Tamar, the main character, carries her own scars from a childhood separated from her parents in a Kibbutz school. What she wants more than anything is a big family of her own. Here she hopes to find her fulfilment and her place of belonging. Her prayers are seemingly answered when she comes across two sick and abandoned Sudanese children in the line of her work . Following the leading of God, she and Steve take in the children, adding them to their family of two young teens. To Belong tells the story of how Tamar and Steve, their children and wider family, welcome Mary and Joey into their lives. It is a story of highs and lows, and learning to trust God through it all, and the children flourish, until the day that Tamar’s dream of a having them forever is seriously threatened.

A well told story

Judith Galblum Pex tells the story well, and we get emotionally involved in the lives of her characters. She also introduces other individuals who are searching for their own sense of belonging. Tamar’s sister who has tried running away from her parents faith. Yossi, the young man scarred by his orthodox upbringing. Estie, drawn to this Jesus loving family and a western boyfriend, worried about offending her Jewish parents. The plight of the Sudanese refugees is also well told. It made me go away and read up more about how Israel dealt with the refugees that flooded in across their borders.

photograph of the beach at Eilat, showing blue sea, white sand and palm trees, with mountains in the distance.

Eilat

But I think the thing I loved most about ‘To Belong’ is the authors setting. Eilat is described so well, it’s spectacular beaches, coral reefs and marine wildlife. The mountains, wadi’s and deserts that surround this oasis. The heat and the flash floods The warm sea to swim in and the beach to relax on. The people, the tourists, and the lifestyle. If I ever do get to go to Israel, Eilat will definitely now be on my itinerary!

Thank you Judith Galblum Pex for opening my eyes to better understand a people and land that I already hold close to my heart.

About the Author

Photograph of the author, Judith, on the beach at Eilat.

Judith Pex was born in Washington, D.C. and lived there until she was 18 years old. She lived 3 years in Alaska and then spent a year backpacking through Europe before landing in Israel in 1973. Judith fell in love with Israel, the Bible, and John from Holland (in that order).
     After marrying and living with John for a year in the U.S., they immigrated to Israel in 1976 and have made it their home since then. They have 4 grown children, 10 biological and 4 foster grandchildren.
     Judith and John have been running a hostel/guest house/ drop-in centre for 37 years called the Shelter Hostel, and John is the pastor of the non-denominational, multi-cultural Eilat Congregation.
You can find out more about Judith here: www.judithpex.com

To Belong by Judy Galblum Pex, published 1st Sept 2022 by Cladach Publishing. Is available to purchase via www.amazon.com in paperback and kindle editions, or direct from the publisher at www.cladach.com.

Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021, and her second ‘The Pilgrim‘ in July 2022. Her books are works of historical fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life; stories 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, and links to purchase her books can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Bible, Christian Writer, Connected to God, Faith, Grief, House renovations, Lessons from life, prayer, Seasons of life, Thankfulness, The Word of God, Worship

FILLING IN THE CRACKS

We have been renovating the house for over a year now. Bit by bit, we are completing rooms: when time, energy and finances allow. We have recently finished (almost) our lounge. We were particularly pleased with the rich teal blue paint we painted the walls with. It is a soothing calming colour, warm and yet bright, and frames the sea views beyond our windows wonderfully.

Image shows steps leading downed into lawned garden with field beyond, and blue sea and sky in the distance.

Damp patches

Teal Blue paint above window showing damp patch

Living by the sea is amazing, but it also means our house is at the mercy of the wind and rain. The price we pay for our stunning views is crumbling, cracked rendering on the front wall of our house. After a recent rain storm we realised the weather had permeated the render, and damp patches had formed in the newly painted window reveals. It was deeply frustrating to say the least.

So last weekend my husband took to the cracked render and used a thick gloopy substance to fill in the visible cracks in the render. Is this the perfect solution to our damp problem? No of course not. If we had the money we would have the whole of the front of the house re-rendered – banishing the old cracked render to the skip. But it is just not possible at the moment. We have to wait for the complete solution. But in the meantime, filling in the cracks will (hopefully) prevent further damp damage to the inside of the house.

Filling in the cracks

Outside view of top of window with cracks in the render above

Filling in, or ‘plastering over’ the cracks has negative connotations. We use the term to describe concealing surface problems rather than dealing with the root issues. But when the only solution to the root problem is in God’s hands and timing, there are times when filling in the cracks is all we can do. And it can really help to protect and prevent further damage.

Life is full of cracks. As a family we have experienced our fair share. Life happens. Things come against us that damage us and threaten us and leave us vulnerable, and crying out to God. I am a believer in miracles. I have seen God do so many and I have experienced them myself. But sometimes the truth is that we have to wait for our complete solution. Sometimes the healing isn’t immediate, the broken heart isn’t quickly mended, the breakthrough not obviously apparent.

Strengthening Ourselves

just like our complete re-render will solve our water ingress problem long term, in the same way I believe God the Redeemer will make all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He has promised to work all things out for our good (Romans 8:28), and to finish what He has started (Philippians 1:6). Those are things we can anchor our hope in. In the meantime… we can actually do our bit to fill in the cracks.

We can use things that strengthen ourselves in the Lord. A thankful heart. Worship, even when it is difficult. Reading and trusting His Word. Praying, and pouring our heart out to Him. Loving others well. Being obedient to His ways. Declaring His truth and promises over our cracked situations. All these are really effective in protecting ourselves spiritually and emotionally. And effective in preventing further heart damage. I for one, just now, am grateful for these tools He has put in our hands.

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, will be published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

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

Book Review, Books, Children's fiction, christian fiction, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness

BOOK REVIEW: BURROWED by MARESSA MORTIMER

I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the blog tour for the latest book from my prolific author friend Maressa Mortimer*. Burrowed is a full – length novel, designed primarily for teens and young adults, but equally suitable for all adults to read.

Front cover of Burrowed. Black text on an image of red tulips floating above a grey sea

Daydreaming in words

Maressa describes her stories as daydreaming in words. She writes because the stories in her imagination just have to be put down on paper. As a result we get to have an insight into her extra-ordinarily imaginative brain, and to read stories that are told with an immediacy that keeps you gripped. You live each moment with the characters, wondering what is going to happen next. Wondering if the author knew when she was writing it!

Burrowed is an fantastical adventure story. It has two main characters, teens who live on the imaginary Island State of Ximiu. The island has being going through major changes, and those changes are still happening, perhaps too quickly. You get the sense that things are quickly getting out of control, so much so that when more sinister things start to happen the people in charge don’t know what to do about them. In fact they seemingly are doing nothing.

Believable characters and topical issues

Apart from telling a good story Maressa has done a great job creating characters that are believable and empathetic. Jasira is the bold and brave, inquisitive and questioning daughter of the Island’s female leader. Her male friend Ilori, is wheelchair bound, a more sensitive soul prone to poetic outbursts, but with a genuine faith in God. Together, with two new unexpected allies they set out to solve the mysteries of the things that have been going missing from the island – cars, asphalt, energy – and some things that are much more precious.

It is an engaging tale, and you are definitely drawn in. Towards the end it becomes harder and harder to put down, as the action becomes increasingly dramatic. But Burrowed is more than a good fantasy adventure story. It deals with topical issues such as climate change and the costs of going green, and autocratic government dangerously tainted by lies and deceit. It also describes a state religion that has become increasingly godless. All things that resonate with the reader.

Image listing the blog sites on the official blog tour

Emotive and dramatic

The book also sings with hope – woven throughout are references to faith, and the power of God to answer prayer. Themes of loss, grief and sacrificial love are also beautifully handled. As is the growing relationship of trust and dependency among the main protagonists. It is heartbreakingly emotive at times, edge of the seat dramatic at others.

Burrowed is a great book. And it needs a sequel. What happened to Jasira and Ilori next? Will the Island’s government survive and change for the better? What really happened under the surface and did anyone survive? And where on earth did Xandra’s sister go?

Time for some more ‘burrowing’ I think!

Image of Maressa Mortimer

*Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, with her husband and four (adopted) children. Maressa is a home-school 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. Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published in December 2019,  followed by two self-published YA novels, Walled City, and Beyond the Hills, and a novella, Viking Ferry.

Burrowed was released on 22 April 2022.  All Maressa’s books are available from her website, www.vicarioushome.com, Amazon or through local bookshops.

Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval 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.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

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

Christian Writer, Easter, Faith, New life

EASTER SNAPSHOTS

I have had to become used to using social media. It is a tool for sharing about me and my books, but I don’t always like it. I wanted so much to share about the real meaning of Easter this year, but I had to come up with a way of doing it that didn’t alert the anti-Christian algorithms. After all , what’s the point of sharing my faith if nobody sees the posts?

So I thought outside of the box a bit, and decided to be subtle. To draw people in with everyday images and thoughts, rather than the overtly Christian ones that you might normally see at this time of the year. I don’t know how successful they have been, but they have been seen. By hundreds of people I don’t know. These are the images and words I have posted over the last few days. What do you think?

Image of a table set for dinner, with food, plates and glasses

THE LAST SUPPER

You’ve planned a celebratory dinner. And invited all your closest friends.

You know one of them has already gone behind you back to the authorities

And the others will turn their backs on you when it all kicks off….

But still you laugh with them and love them to the end    

              ( JOHN 13)

A lakeside grassy spot with trees and a blue sky

GETHSEMANE

We all need those places we can escape to

Places where we can breathe, rest, listen, find peace

Until they are forever tainted by anguish and betrayal   

Gethsemane 

(MATTHEW 26)

A judges' gavel resting on a book

GOOD FRIDAY

The verdict handed down. Guilty goes free, innocence condemned

Hate wins. But Love triumphs!

Innocence condemned so that the guilty can go free!     

(JOHN 19)

EASTER SUNDAY

Today the story will be slightly less subtle. I want to shout it from the rooftops, but this will have to do. My Redeemer LIVES!

The garden tomb in Jerusalem framed with flowers

She didn’t come to put flowers on Your grave, or to see the gardener

She came, shrouded in grief, and found an empty tomb. A discarded shroud

A familiar voice?

Fear fled, hope ignited, and NEW LIFE began.

(JOHN 20)

Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval 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.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

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

Book Review, Books, Children's fiction, Christian Writer, Faith, God's faithfulness, Lessons from life

BOOK REVIEWS: ‘They Whisper About Us’ and ‘The Letters She Never Sent’ by Joy Vee

One of the pleasures of being a blogger who reviews books is being able to read books designed for children and teenagers, as well as those written for adults. I am particularly thrilled to once again be able to recommend two new books by Joy Vee*. They Whisper about Us, for readers 13+, and young adults and The Letters She Never Sent for readers 8+. The two books are written as companion books taking two different slants on the same story, and can be read separately or together. Each is written in a way that is age appropriate for the readers they are designed for, but as an adult I thoroughly enjoyed both!

We live in uncertain times. What we read and see on the news is deeply unsettling and frankly unbelievable. The publication of Joy’s books could not be more timely. If nothing else they might help younger readers make some sense of what is happening in Ukraine right now, and the history behind it.

They Whisper About Us

They Whisper About Us is set in two different times and places, focussing on two young girls of similar age. One is a promising ballerina, dancing for the Kirov Ballet in 1960’s USSR, the other a modern day teenager trying to work out what life is all about. What connects the two is a battered old tea tin full of letters written in Russian, and a pair of old ballet shoes, found deep inside a store cupboard in a theatre in Lincoln.

As the story and the mystery of the connection between the two unfolds, we are drawn into the not so distant past; a world of fear and uncertainty, where to be different is to be treated with suspicion. In the modern day the author deals well with the angst of teenage insecurities and family dynamics, as well as touching on themes of aging and dementia with sensitivity. The characters are engaging and the description of places and events believable.

It is a faith based book but the Christian message is subtly done, and completely in context. I would not hesitate to give this book to a non believer, but it would also challenge and encourage Christian readers too. The storytelling is great with its twists and turns, leading to a satisfactory ending. Although there may be some unanswered questions and that is where ‘The Letters She Never Sent’ comes in.

The Letters She Never Sent

This shorter book tells the story of Amy-Hope and her surprising new friend. Amy-Hope loves dancing, loves her dog Cosmo, and deals with the upheaval of the separation of her parents by writing in a diary. When her dad moves into a new house, Amy-Hope discovers she shares her love of dancing with the strangely shy, elderly lady, Mrs P, who lives next door.

The Letters She Never Sent’ takes the form of Amy-Hope’s diary entries, alternated with letters written by Mrs P to a long lost brother; letters that she will never send. The effect is to beautifully describe in intimate detail the developing friendship between the two main characters, their interactions and the growing realisation of how much they can help one another to make sense of the things that happen.

I loved both books but this one was really special. Joy Vee deals with big issues, such as fear and anxiety, in a really gentle way and there is an overriding feeling of hope throughout. The ending is lovely. It is also a faith based book, and deals with faith themes in an accessible way that only enhance the storytelling.  

Both books are available separately in paperback and kindle versions, or can be bought as a hardback omnibus edition. They are available to purchase online, or via the author direct at www.joyvee.org.

*Joy Vee lives in the UK, with her husband and two children. She is married to a Ukrainian, and lived in Ukraine and Russia for 7 years. Her first book for children, ‘The Treasure Man‘ was published by Instant Apostle in 2020. She has since published several more books for children.

About me:

Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval 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.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

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

Book Review, Books, Christian publishing, Christian Writer, Faith, New Author, Publishing

BLOG BOOK REVIEW: ‘They’ll Never Read That’ by Tony Collins

Image of front cover of 'They'll Never Read That'

I never expected to become published author. It came late in my life and was surprising and terrifying all at the same time. I wrote a novel and it got published, and at the time I had absolutely no experience or understanding of the publishing world. My publishers had to hold my hand and guide me through the whole process, and they were patient and kind, while maintaining utmost professionalism.

Around this time I found the Association of Christian Writers, and a group that met via Zoom weekly (this was right in the middle of lockdown craziness). Here I found a group of lovely writers who were more than happy to chat, and answer my questions, and share funny stories, and generally encourage. One of the people I met was Tony Collins. I was a bit awestruck at first, when I realised how he had spent his life in publishing, the authors he knew personally, the books he had helped to publish. But Tony was generous and kind with his advice.

Imagine my delight when he announced he was publishing a book based on his experiences in Christian publishing. I could not wait to see it in print. And now I have the absolute delight in being able to review it and recommend it to you.

How to make mistakes in publishing’

Image of back cover of 'They'll Never Read That'

They’ll Never Read That’ has the subtitle ‘How to make mistakes in publishing’. It is Tony’s story and he does not gloss over the difficulties he encountered, both in his professional and personal life. He tells the tale with a gentle and engaging humour, and it is a compelling read. The publishing world might seem like a glamorous one on the surface, but it is far from that in reality. It is hard slog, and not always rewarding. It can even be heart-breaking at times. I did not know this. Now I do, and I am grateful to Tony for opening my eyes.

On the other hand, there are amazing successes, and achievements to be genuinely proud of. I turned the pages of Tony’s book and discovered time and time again, that he had been instrumental in publishing some of the books that have been influential in my life and walk with God. From the English version of the NIV Bible, to ‘Killing Fields, Living Fields’ by Don Cormack, and ‘The Heavenly Man’ by Paul Hattaway/Brother Yun. I also have Tony to thank for the publication of the ‘Freedom in Christ’ course by  Steve Goss, which has been transformational in my life and in the lives of many that I know.

A love for books

Image of the author, Tony Collins

Tony Collins has worked for several of the biggest Christian publishing houses in the UK, including Lion Hudson, Monarch and SPCK. He has published hundreds of books and turned down thousands more (let’s not mention Joni!) That he loves books is without doubt, but what comes across is that he also appreciates authors. He understands the work that goes in to produce a book, the frustrations and the joys. Now that I have read his book I have a much greater appreciation for publishers – in particular the individuals who dedicate themselves to each stage of  the publishing process – the people who work so hard to ensure that we have great quality Christian books at our fingertips.

Tony’s book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the Christian book world. Whether you are aspiring writer, an already published author, or just a reader. It is a great read, written by man honest about his failures, and yet propelled by his faith in God to take risks, over and over again. It is a brilliant expose of all that publishing books entails and a celebration of the life of a man who loves his involvement in it. I commend it to you wholeheartedly.

They’ll Never Read That: How to make mistakes in Publishing‘ by Tony Collins was published by Sarah Grace Publishing in Feb 2022. RRP £9.99 ISBN 9781912863983

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 medieval 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.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

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

Christian Writer, Connected to God, Dealing with Fear, Faith, God's faithfulness, God's protection, prayer, The Word of God

THE POWER OF GLASS: THE POWER OF PRAYER

Dog v Rabbit

We have a dog. Sometimes having a dog is hard work, especially when they are old and hairy, and smelly and noisy. But they can also be oh so entertaining. A few days ago we witnessed something that made us laugh out loud.

We have wall to ceiling windows in our new extension, and the garden is just the other side of the glass. Dog takes up position on his chair (Yes, he has his own armchair. Don’t judge me!) from where he has a good view of all the goings on outside. This particular day a large wild rabbit appeared in the garden. Now dog is a terrier, and rabbits are for chasing, and so of course he went mad. Barking, running up and down, generally being a big fierce scary little terrier. The rabbit for its part just sat down. Less that six feet from the window. Completely unmoved by all the commotion the other side of the glass, it just sat. For over an hour. In the end dog just had to give up, and collapsed panting and sighing onto his chair. Never once did he take his eyes off the garden invader, but he was not able to get anywhere close to chasing it away.

Wild rabbit sitting on a pile of garden soil
Small black and white dog sitting on a chair gazing out of a window, his chin on his paws

What the glass wall represents

Now as a Christian writer I could take all sorts of things from this and use it as an illustration applicable to our every day lives. For example

  • The glass represents God, the barking dog is the enemy and the rabbit us. The enemy can make a big noise but he can’t get at us, if God is our protection. His bark is worse than his bite.

Or perhaps

  • Like the rabbit we should be unmoved by what people (dog) say about us, and stand firm under persecution, holding on to the truth of the word of God – what God says, that is the glass by which we should see things.

Our prayers, the glass wall

Now both of those are great truths and perhaps they are an encouragement to you. I really do hope that they are. But I am especially aware today of millions of people who are right in the frontline of attack and persecution. Not least our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. It doesn’t necessarily feel like they are being shielded from the enemy, and they are truly vulnerable to persecution and suffering, however strong their faith in God is at this time.

So for them perhaps a better metaphor might be that the glass represents our prayers for them. We might not be able to prevent the bark becoming a bite, but we can stand in the gap for them. We can claim God’s promises on their behalf, we can call on Him for His protection of them, we can declare their victory in Him. We can ask for their needs to be provided for, their faith to be strengthened, their hope to rise and God’s peace and joy to sustain them. We can pray. And our prayers work. There are stories of miracles and hope, love and kindness pouring out of the areas of conflict.

Image of a stone wall with a  glassless window overlooking a field of sunflowers and the text of Ezekiel 22 v 30

The power of prayer

My dog is not evil, it is his natural instinct to want to taste a bit of rabbit. The rabbit is not all good. In fact it really looked like that bunny knew how much of a tease it was being. And wild rabbits can desecrate a garden.

Perhaps then, rather than painting one side all wrong and the other side all right, our prayers should extend to those on both sides of the conflict. No-one is outside of God’s mercy and grace. Our dog and that rabbit will never be friends, but the power of God’s love and mercy can reconcile the fiercest of human enemies.  History proves it to be true.

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 medieval 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.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

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

Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, Connected to God, Faith, God speaks, God's faithfulness, Holy Spirit, words of comfort

Blog Book Review: God Speaks: 40 letters from the Father’s Heart

GOD SPEAKS?

Front cover of God Speaks: 40 letters form the Father's Heart. Hard cover book with decoration in two shades of green

For too many years I believed that God only spoke to special people. Like the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostles. Of course I was taught that God speaks through the Bible, and through the words of those preaching His word. But I could not expect Him to actually speak to me personally. Not in a heart whisper, not in a thought, not in a dream or vision, and definitely not in an audible voice. After all, how could I trust that what I was hearing was actually from God?

Fast forward to my forties, and to the radical work of the Holy Spirit in my life. As I opened my heart and life to the gifts and anointing of Holy Spirit, and began experiencing Him in a fresh way, I discovered that actually I had been hearing Him for years. Not just in the written Word, but in my heart also. He had used the words of others, lyrics of songs, and even creation to speak to me, and He still does. But what about if I actually wanted a two way conversation with Him? Isn’t that what prayer is supposed to be?

LETTERS FROM GOD

I then discovered journaling. Encouraged by others, I began to not just write down my thoughts and prayers, but to also ask God what He thought. And I began to write down what I believed He was saying to me. And do you know it was always loving, always encouraging and always biblical! This kind of journaling has seen me through some of the toughest times, and is still part of my regular prayer life. Which is why I was thrilled to be asked to review Ruth O’Reilly Smith’s Devotional Journal, ’God Speaks: 40 letters from the Father’s Heart’*.

The minute the book arrived I knew I was going to love it. It comes as a handy- sized hardback, printed in two beautiful colours. Inside there are forty ‘letters’ from God. Each is accompanied by scriptures, prayer prompting questions, and space to write down your response. These personal ‘letters’ are indeed straight from the Father’s heart, and as I have discovered, are loving, encouraging, comforting, and completely scriptural:

Image of inside pages of book showing prayer questions and space for writing
Image of inside of book, showing one of the letters and a verse from the Psalms

Day 10: 

‘When your heart faints, I will sustain you. When you think you’ve failed, know that, in me, you are victorious. Let the voices of doubt and despair be stilled. Hear only my voice. I am with you until the end of the ages.’                             Deuteronomy 31:8

FOR LENT OR FOR ANY TIME

Ruth began asking God to speak at the beginning of Lent 2020, just before that first scary lockdown set in.  Writing her letters from God daily for forty days sustained her through those weeks and now she has chosen to share them with us, in a time that is just as uncertain and fear -filled. That there are forty devotions means it lends itself to being used for Lent, but it could as easily be used at any other time. I cannot recommend it enough, if you need encouragement and comfort, or to just discover what it means to truly hear God’s voice for yourself.

I am going to use the devotional myself this Lent, starting today. I can’t wait to go deeper, and I know it will be a blessing. What an absolute privilege to be gifted with this resource, and what an absolute joy to know that the Father is speaking. To us, His beloved ones:

Day 29:

‘As certain as the rising sun, so certain is my love for you morning by morning…

As vast as the heavens that stretch out before you as far as the eyes can see, so are my care and compassion for you. Not one star is out of place. I see all. I know all. And I love you completely…’

Psalm 57:10.

Image of the back cover of God Speaks.

*Ruth O’Reilly Smith currently hosts a radio show with United Christian Broadcasters on UCB2 called ‘This Is My Story’. The Bible has been key to Ruth’s growth as a Christian and she is passionate about communicating God’s heart through His word. Ruth’s website can be found at www.ruthoreillysmith.com.

‘God Speaks’ by Ruth O’Reilly Smith is published by Authentic Media, ISBN 9781788932226.


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 medieval 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.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

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

CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Healing, House renovations, Lessons from life, New Author, Thankfulness

Destructive Disappointment

Image of water dripping through top of window frame

If you’ve been reading my blog for while, you’ll know that we have had some major renovation work done on the house. It has been stressful at times; it has also been incredibly exciting, and we are so pleased with the changes, and so, so thankful. But there have also been disappointments and frustrations. This last weekend as high winds and rain lashed the house, one of the new windows sprung a leak. Disappointment? Definitely. We had new windows put in specifically because the old ones weren’t keeping the weather out!

Disappointed valentine

I’m writing this on Valentine’s day, but I have refused to do a Valentine’s themed post. Partly because Valentine’s day has been a source of disappointment for me over the years. I waited in hope and excitement every year for a card to plop on to the doormat. It never did. I have only ever received one card, from the hubby, and that was in our first year of dating. He doesn’t do traditional romantic gestures and it took me a while to reconcile myself to that fact. Does he love me? Unquestionably. Does he show me in a million other ways, every day? He does. But Valentine’s day continued to be a disappointment for a good while.

Unanswered prayer?

Image of a sky bright with the setting sun above a silhouetted castle, and a calm sea.

This last Sunday I went forward for prayer for healing at the end of our church meeting. Why did I do that? Because I live with a long term health condition that there is no known cure for in medicine, and lately I have felt my symptoms worsening again. Because I believe in miracles and a God who heals. Because I believe in the promises God has given me. Because I have seen Him heal miraculously, sometimes even when I have been praying for people myself. So I went forward for prayer with faith, but as I sat being prayed for, all sorts of negative, unhelpful thoughts bombarded my mind. And although the prayer prayed was lovely and faith- filled, I came away feeling no better. In fact I have felt worse since. I think disappointment is playing a part.

Destructive disappointment

Disappointment can be so destructive. It can cause our faith to falter. If I gave into disappointment it might mean that I never go forward for prayer again. So what do I do with my disappointment? Well with the window leak, we contacted the builders and ask them politely to sort it! Likewise I can take my disappointment about seemingly unanswered prayer back to the Healer. I can pour out my disappointment to Him, put it all back into His hands. He knows and understands and doesn’t condemn me for feeling disappointed. As I speak to Him, read His words, listen, He invariably encourages me with a whispered word, or a promise renewed.

Image with lovehearts and the text of Jeremiah 31:3

As for Valentine’s day. It is no longer a disappointment. Because it is only one day out of 365. And every day of the year my husband faithfully cares for me, serves me, encourages me, and loves me unconditionally. So it is with God. The moments of disappointment are small, set against His overwhelming faithfulness to me. His love, protection, provision and guidance. His mercy and grace. His empowering and comfort. His presence through it all. The daily blessings. When I start to thank Him for all of those, the disappointment dissipates. I know that I can trust Him, and His timing. I know He is good. I’ve proved it over and over. And I won’t stop going forward for prayer.


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 medieval 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.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

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

Bearing Fruit, Christian Writer, Connected to God, Faith, imitating Christ, Lessons from life, New Author, The Word of God

IMITATE WHAT IS WORTH IMITATING

I have a new part time job. It’s only one day a week, but it gets me out of the home. It’s not paid – well not with money anyway – but it is so worth my time and energy. It leaves me physically exhausted but with a heart filled fit- to- burst and with experiences and memories that are beyond value. What is it? Grandchild care.

photo of baby sitting playing with blocks

Yes, a few weeks ago my daughter returned to work after the birth of her boy. And my new job started. And I’m absolutely loving it. My grandson and I are beginning to develop an understanding, and he is getting more and more used to me being his chief care giver for those few precious hours. I just need a lie down when I get home. (How did I ever do it 24 hours a day when my kids were young??!)

LEARNING BY IMITATION

Our boy is at that lovely stage, where he is not yet verbal, or indeed mobile, but is alert and learning all the time. He watches and listens – and imitates! He knows that the TV remote and the big black screen are related and loves grabbing said remote and pointing it in the right direction!! Put the block into the box and he takes it out. Take the block out of the box and he puts it back in. He smiles when you smile, and his latest trick? Blow a raspberry and he blows one right back.

It is quite sobering to be reminded just how much children learn by imitation. But isn’t it true of all of us? Even as grown ups we can easily learn how to speak, behave, think even, from the people we associate most with. That’s why we have to be so careful that those who we choose to spend our time with are those whose speech, attitudes and actions are encouraging and edifying. It’s easy to become imitators, even when we don’t mean to be.

IMITATE CHRIST

coloured in sunflower with the text 'plant in me a desire to know and follow you'

It also follows that if we want to imitate Christ, be more like Him in our speech, actions and attitudes, then we need to spend time with Him. We can do this by walking with Him through the gospel accounts. Or by sitting quietly in His presence. Or by talking to Him about the things that concern us, and even asking Him about the things on His heart. It is so good for us to do this. And good for the people who want to be around us. For it follows that the more we imitate Christ, the better influence we will be on those who imitate us.


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 medieval 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.

The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022

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