Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, House renovations, Lessons from life, New Author, Seasons of life, Thankfulness, Uncategorized

MILESTONE MOMENTS

The last of the new windows is coming on Monday. Hooray! Phase 1 of our building project completed. It will be a milestone moment. All the major reconstruction and external work will be done at last (except for a balcony balustrade that is still on order). It is both an exciting and ever so slightly terrifying time as our builder hands over the project management of the rest of the renovations to us. On our immediate horizon is a lot of cleaning, decorating, and the fitting of a new kitchen and bathroom – a shedload of work still to do – but it also means that the date we can move back into our home is getting really close now. So we are celebrating! And so thankful. It’s felt like it’s been a long time coming, to get to this point.

It made me think about milestones. In times past milestones were exactly that; you still see them sometimes alongside ancient roadways –  little stones bearing place names and numbers, counting down the miles. I suppose for wearied travellers of the past they were equally encouraging, or discouraging, depending on how far down the journey you were towards your destination! You could at least see that you were on the right path and making progress, either way.

The travellers of the Old Testament had a similar way of marking important moments on their journeys. They built their own ‘milestones’, often in the form of altars. Jacob built his at Bethel as he returned to the land of his inheritance; Joshua built his after the miraculous crossing of the Jordan. For both of them it marked a significant stage in a momentous journey, but not the end point. It was an opportunity to stop and thank God for His protection and provision up to that point. And to celebrate that God had kept His promises.

When God gave His people victory over the Philistines, the prophet Samuel raised a stone and placed it in a visible place. He gave that stone a name, ‘Ebenezer’, which means ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us’. I love the ‘thus far’. Even when it isn’t quite over, when perhaps you know there may be more difficulties to come, there is comfort in that. If God has helped us thus far, we can be confident that He will continue to be there for us. Mile after mile. Working miracles, winning battles, making a way for us, being at our side.

There are many moments in our lives when we have the opportunity to stop and just thank God for what He has done, and is doing. To remember and celebrate His faithfulness. They don’t have to be momentous life changing moments, and they don’t have to be at the end of the journey. We don’t have to wait until every promise of God is fulfilled in our lives to give Him our worship. In fact every day we can stop and see how far we have come, and be grateful!

Those altars the patriarchs built would have stood for years, as a reminder to all who saw them, of the goodness and faithfulness of God. I hope I can look back in years to come, perhaps even to this blog post, and remember God’s goodness, and celebrate again, seeing how it was just another milestone on an incredible journey with Him.

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 www.joymargetts.com

Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Lessons from life, New Author, Seeing as God sees, The Word of God, Uncategorized

CAN I SEE CLEARLY?

Last Sunday I stood up to preach in front of a real life congregation for the first time in a very long time. It felt like a milestone moment, and it was a joy – gazing out at those lovely faces, half- hidden by masks, and seated in their socially distanced seats. Except that I could not see them. Yes, some of them were a long way away and I definitely felt the distance standing on my own at the far end of the hall, with just the lectern for company. But I couldn’t see their faces (or their reaction to my message!) not just because of the masks, but because of my glasses. I have reached that age where to see the words on the page in front of me requires glasses. That means that when I wear them I see very little else in focus. So then started the little dance – glasses on to read the Bible, glasses off to see my listeners, glasses on to check my notes, glasses off…. You get the picture. Finally I gave up and put the glasses down, choosing to rely on my memory and the prompting of Holy Spirit, rather than my notes, so that at least I could interact with those dear people who had made the effort to be there, sanitised and all.

I was preaching from Luke 5, the story where four friends bring their paralysed friend to Jesus for healing, and have to make a hole in the roof to lower him into the crowded house, so as to get him to Jesus’ feet. I have always loved that story; I can remember hearing it in Sunday school and always being very concerned about the hole in that poor homeowner’s roof, and whether they minded? And who fixed it after? In a lovely book that I am reading to review at the moment, the author uses this story as a beautiful picture of how much we need our friends when we find ourselves unable to help ourselves, or even to pray for ourselves. (More on that next week!) For today I wanted to bring another message from the story.

That man had an obvious problem that everyone could see. His friends knew it, the crowds knew it, anyone who had ever known him knew it – he could not walk. Nobody needed glasses to see that. Yet when Jesus looked at him He saw something that nobody else could see. The paralysed man had a greater need; he carried a greater burden than his disability – he carried the burden of guilt. Jesus looked into that man’s eyes and told him that his sins were forgiven, and then, and only then, He addressed the more visible problem and healed the man physically. That man went away whole in more ways than one.

On Sunday I only had to put my glasses on to see, and be able to read the Word of God clearly. How wonderful if it were as easy as putting on glasses to be able to read people and situations in the same way as Jesus did. To see in clear focus what was really going on below the surface. The truth is, that it is possible to see as Jesus sees, because as His believers, His Spirit lives in us. I just have to remember to ask Him to show me how He sees, and not rely on what my flawed human eyes can perceive. As the words from this song put it….

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love Like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am For Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
*

*from ‘Hosanna’, by Brooke Ligertwood. Hillsong UNITED

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 www.joymargetts.com

CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Dealing with Fear, Faith, God in control, Lessons from life, New Author, Thankfulness

WE’VE BEEN FRAMED!

There was cause for much celebration towards the end of last week when our window frames for our new extension finally arrived. Even more excitement when they were fixed in place and the window glass fitted. We have been waiting long weeks for those windows, and their fitting signals that the end is truly in sight, when it comes to our build. Those windows look great, but what is more, they make the space into a real room. With a touch of plastering, some heating and lighting, we will soon have a warm, weatherproof, secure living space, where there was once an open void.

It’s a wonderful thought.

The view from that room is stunning. I know how blessed we are to have it. The sea and mountains are beautiful on a clear blue sky day, but equally as spectacular on the dreary wet days. It was the reason we bought the house, even in the dilapidated state it was in. It is the reason we knew we wanted to invest in this build, to make this our forever home, our forever view. The view was stunning before the windows went in, but with the framing, somehow it is even more appealing. Frames can do that. Artists know that well; the sort of frame you use can change the way you view something. A well chosen frame can enhance a picture, or a photograph, drawing you in, making you focus more on what is inside that frame. A frame can change the way you see things.

The term ‘frame of reference’ I think originates from the world of physics, but it has come to be understood as the set of views, beliefs and values we might have as individuals that inform how we interpret things, and the assumptions we might make. We can blame a frame of reference for the choices we make and even the way we behave as a result. Each of us lives and operates within unique frames of reference.

I have come to learn that there is only one frame of reference which I should use to see and interpret the things I experience. And that is that GOD IS GOOD, and I CAN TRUST HIM. That isn’t always easy, believe me, but I have found it by far the safest frame to see things through. Whatever I am facing.

So when the answers to prayer seem to be slow to arrive. When the build goes over time, and worryingly over budget. When the world is in so much confusion still in the fallout of the Covid crisis. When I prepare myself for my second jab this week, when the first left me feeling so unwell. When a close relative experiences a death threatening medical emergency out of the blue that shocks us all to the core –

THIS has to be my frame of reference for all these things – that God is Good and I can trust Him.

Maybe I need to put that in a frame…

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 www.joymargetts.com

Christian Writer, Dorothea Quarry, Faith, God in control, Lessons from life, New Author, Seasons of life, Thankfulness, Uncategorized

A walk in the woods

Last week we had a few days off. With the house renovations, the new grandson, and family coming to visit – we couldn’t go far. We were really blessed to be offered the use of a caravan less than twenty minutes from home, but far enough to feel that we had got ‘away’. It was bliss. No TV, limited Wi-Fi, and peaceful enough to enjoy the birdsong. We took a few hours to get used to having nothing we HAD to do, but once we did, it was wonderful to just be able to read, talk, play board games, eat, sleep…

Having had a little crisis of confidence about my writing before we left I also decided not to write while we were away. Apart from one scene that was gnawing at me, that I had to get down in rough form, the laptop stayed closed. I needed to just spend time re-evaluating what my priorities and motivations were when it came to my writing, and how much time and effort I should be putting into it. It was good to breathe… and pray, and listen.

We also had time while we were away to visit places. One of these we had never visited before, even though it is less than thirty minutes from home. The site of old quarry workings, it consisted of several stunningly atmospheric steep- sided blue -green water pools, and a spattering of ruins, both of industrial buildings and what was once a fine three story Victorian house. Well marked paths led through the lush native woodland that had reclaimed the site, interspersed with sunny glades and colourful undergrowth. It was magical. And so full of inspiration for my writer’s mind that I had to consciously switch that part of my brain off to just enjoy being in the moment.

It did make me think, though, how easily we miss the beauty right on our doorsteps. We have lived here now for 25 years and never discovered the Dorothea Quarry site before. Life takes over, and busyness blinds us to what is so close to us. We stop taking the time to explore and discover. We stop stopping, just for a moment, to enjoy the things God has placed around us to bless us and feed our souls.

I realised I had also become blinded by busyness with my writing. I have been so blessed by the response to my books, and by the new writing communities I have become a part of. I have been offered the opportunity to write lots of things for different people and publications, and have loved honing my writing skills doing so. I have also tried to get on with writing that second novel but it has not come easy. What I needed to do was to stop. Breathe. Pray. Have some space to listen and hear and be inspired afresh. To just enjoy the beauty all around me and appreciate it. When I did, I could see things from a different perspective.

Unexpectedly finding a new place to explore was a lovely surprise. Having a publisher offer to publish my book had been an unexpected surprise too! Just like the way nature had beautified that harsh industrial landscape, so God had taken my roughly written words and made them into something of beauty for Him. I believe that my writing is a gift , and one that God wants me to share. It should never feel like a burden, but an absolute joy. As a good friend advised me, my writing can be, and should be, an expression of worship. And if it takes stopping to take a walk in the woods, from time to time, to remember that – then that is what I need to do.

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 www.joymargetts.com

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

GOD’S GARDEN OF GRACE

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 www.joymargetts.com

*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.

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

WHERE DID THAT WINDOW GO?

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 www.joymargetts.com

CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Faith, Lessons from life, New Author, New life, Thankfulness

JOY COMES IN THE MORNING

Well, actually, according to my mother, I arrived sometime in the middle of the night. I don’t remember, despite being there! What is clear in my memory as I write this are the events that led up to the arrival of our grandson – our first, and the reason for our joy this week. Last week was momentous. Not just in that he finally arrived, but because of all the emotions, stresses and worries that led up to his birth.

He is tiny. That was no surprise to us – he has his grandfather’s genes and he weighed only 5lb when he was born. But it had the medics worried, so induction was suggested. That was on the Tuesday. The date finally set to get things rolling was Friday. So we all had a few days to prepare ourselves. Or in my case, as an ex midwife, to think about all the possible scenarios, worry about the ‘what ifs’ and desperately try not to convey any of those niggling fears to my actually amazingly calm daughter and son – in – law. We prayed and prayed, and of course it was all ok. In fact she did amazingly well, with the minimal of medical interference, and our boy was born, rather quickly in the end, but safe and sound, on Friday evening. Mother and baby are doing well 😊

The hard thing for me was being apart from my daughter for all of those hours; both the hours in labour and the 24 hour period afterwards that she had to stay in to have the baby monitored. As her mother, I so wanted to be with her. I couldn’t even speak with her, as her Wi-Fi and phone signal were so bad. It was agonising. The waiting and wondering, yes, and the constant worrying.

But that was not half as hard as what my poor son-in -law had to go through. The dreaded Covid regulations meant that even he could not be with her. He spent Friday and much of Saturday in the hospital carpark, as the hospital is 45 minutes from home. He could not be with her in the early stages of labour when she needed him so much, and he only just made it to the birth, which was traumatic in itself. He also could not be with them for that precious first day of his son’s life, to bond with him, and to support his wife.

Of course, although we all had to go through the mill, nothing compares to what my daughter went through. She breathed her way magnificently through the early stages, alone apart from stranger midwives. She was out of it by the time the decisions were being made to hasten his arrival, and her carefully prepared birth plan went out of the window. And then she had to deal with the aftermath – feeding and caring for a new-born whilst exhausted and in pain – alone, with minimal assistance, for almost 24 hours. We were all mightily relieved when they all finally got home!

But all of that has faded into a distant memory, now that we can hold him, smell him, smile at his funny little expressions, decide who he looks most like, marvel at his tiny hands and feet. All perfect. He has brought so, so much joy into all of our lives!

It just reminded me once again – not only of God’s amazing goodness and faithfulness, and wondrous creativity – but of how He keeps His promises. Whether you are the one going through the difficulty, or a loved one watching from the side-lines, feeling their pain but being powerless to help – His promise stands over all our lives.

Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5 NKJV

We may weep through the night, but at daybreak it will turn into shouts of ecstatic joy. Psalm 30: 5 TPT

I know it to be true. I’ve proved it over and over.

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 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 http://www.joymargetts.com

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

A PERFECT MARRIAGE?

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

BIRD’S EYE VIEW

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 www.joymargetts.com for £9.99 including UK postage. Visit my website for more information and do sign up to receive my newsletter.

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

JUST AN OPPOSING VIEW

I took this shot whilst visiting the building site that is our home this last week. As I looked at the photo, the word that came to mind was ‘juxtaposition’. I love it as a word – juxtaposition – the way it rolls off the tongue. It starts with a hard, almost jarring, ‘jux’ and then tapers into a soft ‘tion’ at the end. Which is apt when you consider what the word means

Juxtaposition:  ‘The fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.’

So things or images placed together that create a startling contrast: hard with soft, light with dark, gloomy with cheerful.

I guess my photo is an example of the juxtaposition of two views. There is the pile of slabs, the mess, the indication of the upheaval of the demolition that is going on out of shot, against the calm serenity and unspoilt beauty of the coast, sea, sky and mountains beyond. In fact the whole building site is one great juxtaposition. There are instances of it all over the place – the period windows against the new plasterboard walls, the glorious view looking out of the window, against the not so glorious view looking back in through the same windows!

It got me thinking. We are surrounded in life with juxtaposition. This last year or so has highlighted that more than ever. We live among contrasts and conflicts. There is joy and there is grief – like a sovereign celebrating her birthday within days of burying her beloved consort. There is laughter and there is tears, often in the same day, or at the same occasion. We are socially distanced, and separated by miles, but perhaps closer in some ways via Zoom, than we ever have been before. We celebrate life events and walk through our days of work and family life, and yet around us the world is still in turmoil. Perhaps it is all just one big juxtaposition.

As Christians we know all too well what it means to live in tension. We know the reality of the Kingdom and all that God promises and yet somehow the reality of life, as we perceive it, doesn’t always seem to fit with what we believe. We sometimes have to choose to look beyond the things we see, feel, and understand, and hold on to the truth His word promises and declares. We can have hope because of what Jesus did on the cross and because of what is promised us, in eternity, and in the here and now.

When you look at that photo, or at this one, where are your eyes drawn? I’d like to guess that you don’t focus on the mess in the foreground but instead your eyes are instinctively drawn to the beauty beyond. That’s how it should be with us. We need to learn to live in the juxtaposition that life throws at us, by not focussing on the mess that seems to be closest to us, but by focussing our eyes, hearts and minds on the expansive, light filled, beauty that is Him.

God knows and understands. The cross was perhaps the biggest juxtaposition of them all. Love hung bleeding, for the sins of us all, the righteous for the unrighteous. Separated from God so that we could draw near. Death bringing life. Our reason to hope.

The Healing, my debut novel is described this way ‘impossible to read without encountering hope.’ Part of my healing journey was learning to choose hope in the face of despair and you can read more about it in the book. It 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 www.joymargetts.com for £9.99 including UK postage.