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

Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, Grief, Healing, Holy Spirit, Medieval Fiction, New Author, pilgrimage, Seasons of life, The Word of God

A Heart Set on Pilgrimage

image of a path across a headland, with the island of Bardsey on the horizon

As I write this, I really should be doing something else. I am supposed to be editing my manuscript for my second full length novel, The Pilgrim. The editing has been taking up most of my time and energy for the last few days. I know it has to be done, but I am finding it both exciting and exhausting. It is with mixed feelings that I read and re-read, and correct the words that I have written. And always the questions… is it going to be good enough? Are people actually going to want to read this?

Heart pilgrimage

At the end of each chapter, as I did in my first book, I have inserted a verse or two of scripture. In The Pilgrim these are taken from the Psalms. Each one is chosen for how it speaks into what is happening in the life of the central character, Brother Hywel, as he walks his own spiritual journey. But many of them have personal meaning to me too, like this one:

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Psalm 84: 5-7 NKJV

I have chosen to write about a real pilgrimage in the book, hence the title. But it isn’t just the physical path of pilgrimage that is Hywel’s journey to grace. It is also the inclination of his heart, to truly seek after God. 

Image of a valley path with the text of Psalm 84 :5

Tears bringing life

On my own journey I have been through some dark valley times, when it really feels like the Valley of Baca (‘Baca’ means ‘weeping’). I have struggled to understand why, but it isn’t always for me to understand. I only have to keep my heart set on Him. My ‘pilgrimage’ is to step by step walk the path that leads me closer to His heart. And it isn’t always easy to stay on that path, especially when blinded by tears.

But what if the very tears that I weep actually help to water the dry ground around me and turn it into springs of life? My strength to keep going actually comes from Him, if I ask for it! And He will increase that strength as I keep walking, make me even more resilient and fruitful. Nothing is wasted in Him. I might walk through the Valley of Weeping, but my very presence turns it into a place of blessing!

Image of the front cover of The Pilgrim. The title of The Pilgrim is in black font against a white background that looks like manuscript paper. The 'P ' is illuminated. Beneath this is a brightly coloured stained glass image of a group of pilgrims.

The Pilgrim: a pool of blessing

My tears have fed into the story I have written in The Pilgrim. My prayer is that the book becomes a pool of blessing for many. I am blown away that God has chosen to use the things that I have gone through, in my own pilgrimage journey, to create books that might just do that. I’ll remember that as I continue the sometimes painful editing process!

At least the book already has the most beautiful of cover designs. I pray that the words inside will be just as beautiful.

(The Pilgrim is due to be published in July 2022, but you can pre-order your copy now, by commenting on this blog post)


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, christmas, God's faithfulness, New life, New year, Seasons of life

NEW AND UNCHANGING

Happy New Year? 2022

Do you like new things? Or do your prefer the old and familiar?

Last year marked a lot of new things for me:

  • A new baby grandson – a complete delight!
  • A new persona – ‘Published Author’
  • A new kitchen and bathroom (and an almost completely renovated home)
  • A newly retired husband (who thankfully found himself a new part time job!)
  • A new purpose and calling – to write, and hopefully for those written words to bless others

But even among the joy and excitement of the new, I have found myself holding on to the reassuring old things too. At times the new seemed overwhelming. It was good to find some things familiarly unchanged and they blessed me too. Like the comfort of unpacking my crockery (almost 30 years old, and a wedding present) to put away in my new kitchen cupboards.

Happy New Year

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-33

I do love new things. I particularly love New Year every year. For me it is a time of renewed hope and expectation.

As we look back on God’s amazing faithfulness and provision in the past year, despite the chaos all around us, then we can surely believe He can do the same, if not more, in the year to come. Because He is faithful, and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22)

But I also love the traditions, the old things we do every year, especially at Christmas. The same tree ornaments that date back to before our marriage. The things we love to cook and eat, only ever at Christmas. The Christmas tablecloth that bears the stains of years of accidental spillages, but still covers our festive table every year.

Constant unchanging God

How amazing that the God who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5) is also unchanging!

Behold I am making all things new. Revelation 21:5

As we step into the new year we can do so confidently, knowing that He will be all that He has ever been. He is still the God who loves us, champions us, goes before us, protects, provides, heals and delivers. He has so many good things waiting for us in 2022. I believe it, because He has proved His goodness to us over and over – for more years than I have had that tablecloth, that crockery and even those tree decorations.

And I don’t have to wait to unpack Him from a box. He is my constant companion, every day of this year and the next, always there, and always good!


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



advent, Christian Writer, christmas, Seasons of life, The Word of God

ADVENT 1 : PEACE

For the month of December I am planning to post short blog thoughts twice weekly. These will hopefully get our hearts and minds ready for Christmas. I love this time of year. I love Advent, and I love Christmas. And whatever is going on in the world today, the wonder of this time of year is there for us all to grasp a hold of, if we choose to. I hope you will be encouraged to get excited in the waiting, as you follow along with me.

Image of a traditionally advent calendar

What does the first day of December mean for you? I guess for some it could mean an increase in panic and stress. A nudge to start to get organised with the realisation that Christmas with all its demands is rapidly approaching. For some I expect it will pass as a day like any other day. For some, I hope there is the slightest of stirrings of excitement and anticipation as we begin the countdown of these last few weeks of waiting to celebrate Christmas. Let’s face it, for some, today has just been the satisfaction of knowing that it is the one time of year that it is perfectly acceptable to eat chocolate every day for breakfast! (Have you got your Advent Calendar?)

THE NOTABLE ONE

The word ‘Advent’ means ‘arrival’, more specifically ‘the arrival of a notable person or thing’. Isaiah 9 v 6-7 describes the attributes of the notable person that arrived just over 2000 years on that first Christmas.

Image of text of Isaiah 9 v 6

One of the titles given Him is ‘Prince of ‘Peace’. Jesus was peace, the peace that calmed the storm and the peace that set captives free from torment. He said “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you” (John 14 v 27).

HIS GIFT OF PEACE

You know He has never taken that gift of peace back from us? We however can do a very good job of replacing the peace with other things!

A Christmas tree ornament that spells out the word peace

His peace is always accessible, and it only takes a moment to focus our attention on Him, even amongst the stress, worry and busyness. Why don’t we purpose this Advent to ask Him to keep our hearts and minds in a place of peace, whatever is going on in our lives. His peace is rest, even when our bodies are tired and resources stretched. It keeps us grounded and focussed on what is really important. Every day (perhaps as you reach to open that little door) pray this: ‘God, thank you for your gift of peace in Jesus, may it rule over my heart and mind today.’

If you don’t want to miss a blog you can sign up to receive my blog link direct to your email address, here https://joymargetts.com/blog/

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

Belonging, Book Review, Books, Christian Writer, christmas, Faith, Forgiveness, Grief, Seasons of life

TALKING TO CALIPPA CUMBERLAND: BLOG TOUR BOOK REVIEW

Christmas is coming! I know, I’m beginning to panic a bit too – it’s less than a month to go and I don’t feel in any way prepared for it! I am however praying that this Christmas will be a good one; a celebration of family and fun, a ray of light in the dark winter days, a time full of joy and hope. It will be wonderful, yet again, to tap into the true meaning of Christmas and look beyond the festivities to the One who came to bring the joy and hope, and dare I say it, fun!

I love Christmas. I treasure the memories of Christmases past and truly look forward to this one, especially as it is my first as a grandparent! But for many, Christmas isn’t a time for celebration, and may not carry those happy memories. For many, Christmas is a stark reminder of loved ones lost, of childhood traumas, of heartbreak and of the relentless passing of the years. It can be an acutely painful and lonely time.

ONE CHRISTMAS EVE

Front cover of the book, Talking to Calippa Cumberland

Chick Yuill has drawn on that reality in his latest novel, Talking to Calippa Cumberland and I am absolutely thrilled to have been included in the blog tour. It all starts one Christmas Eve in 1976. A small child shopping with her mother in a department store hears the tannoy announce that there is a little girl lost and crying for her parents. For 3 year old Lori Bloom that lost child stays in her heart and imagination. The name she thinks she has heard is ‘Calippa Cumberland,’ and Calippa becomes her imaginary friend, someone she can talk to and confide in, someone who perhaps understands her. Because the truth is that Lori Bloom is herself lost.

As chapter follows chapter we follow Lori’s life through a snapshot of subsequent Christmas Eves. We journey with her into her teens and into adulthood, as she discovers painful secrets, faces betrayal, suffers heart-breaking loss, and makes life choices with complicated consequences. All the time she is confiding in her faceless friend, Calippa Cumberland. All the time searching for someone who understands and someone she can finally, fully trust.

UTTERLY COMPELLING AND DEEPLY PLEASING

Back cover of the book, Talking to Calippa Cumberland

The book is utterly compelling. I read it in almost one sitting. Chick draws Lori’s character so well, and describes the things she goes through sensitively and convincingly. It is not a maudlin book, but it is real and raw in places. The story brings tears to your eyes and a lump to your throat, but also the odd smile and nod of understanding. It covers subject matters that are not uncommon, things that many of us can relate to in some degree. You find yourself rooting for Lori, hoping that she will ultimately find what she is looking for.

She does find good friends, and one in particular has a lasting and positive effect on her. Not to divulge any spoilers. Let’s just say things definitely get better for Lori, and she comes to terms with much of what life has thrown at her in a deeply pleasing way.

WHO ARE WE TALKING TO?

I was unsure at first of the device Chick used to let us hear Lori’s deepest thoughts. Is it strange to have an imaginary friend, even in adulthood? Is it strange to write notes to them pouring out your soul? Well as one of the characters in the book says…

 ‘every night before I sleep I have a conversation with someone I can’t see, who many people tell me is a figment of my imagination and whose existence I can’t prove…’

What Lori is doing, is what many of us do in praying and journaling. Except of course, for those who know Him, Jesus is no imaginary friend. Talking to Calippa Cumberland is Christian fiction, and the message of the gospel is there subtly throughout, but is never forced down your throat. I found myself yearning for Lori to meet the one person she could completely trust and pour out her thoughts, fears and feelings to. The One who could make the lost child feel found again, and forever secure.

The book set against a Christmas scene

A FABULOUS CHRISTMAS GIFT

I loved this book, and Chick writes so well, especially as he convinces us that he knows what it feels to be like a woman with definite female issues to contend with! And I salute his encyclopaedic knowledge of Christmas Number Ones! I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially seeing as Christmas is just around the corner. This book would make a fabulous gift to anyone who loves a well written and beautifully told story based around Christmas. And perhaps is also a book not just for Christmas…

photo of the author

SPECIAL OFFER

As a special offer, Chick is offering readers of this blog, a signed paperback copy of the book for the discounted price of £9.00. To avail yourself of this kind offer, and to bless the author, contact him via margaretyuill@martyart.co.uk  before 4th December and quote the code joysblogg

Talking to Calippa Cumberland by Chick Yuill, was published by Instant Apostle (22 Oct 2021), ISBN 1912726483, RRP £9.99, and is available from all the usual places.

Bearing Fruit, Books, Christian Writer, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Grief, Healing, Lessons from life, Medieval Fiction, New Author, Seasons of life, The Passion Translation, The Word of God

HARVESTING JOY: A NEW BOOK!

I have realised that four out of my last five blog posts have featured other people’s books. Now that is not a bad thing; I love reading and reviewing books. And there have been some great books to read and review! But I do think that perhaps I should dedicate this blog post to talking about my own book!

A NEW BOOK

A smiling author signing a publishing contract

 Not The Healing, or even The Beloved, much as I love talking about them. No, I’d like to talk to you about another book. A new book. I have gone and done it again. I written a second full length novel and have signed a publishing contract with Instant Apostle. The Pilgrim will be published, God willing, in July of next year. Which seems an awful long time to wait, but I’m sure will speed by! There is plenty to keep me and my wonderful publishers busy between then and now, I’m sure.

When I wrote The Healing, I had no idea where it would lead! I loved the whole writing and publishing process so much that almost as soon as The Healing was published I had started writing The Pilgrim. Brother Hywel needed his own story, and so the idea for a prequel was born. (Now I know that isn’t the normal way to do things, but it worked for Star Wars!). It was a much harder slog to get the book down this time, made yet harder by the disruption of major house renovations and the arrival of a new grandson. But the manuscript is finally finished, and I am so grateful for Instant Apostle having enough faith in it to publish it for me.

I won’t bore you with all the story details at this stage, as I’m sure there will be time enough for that over the next few months. Needless to say it involves monks, abbeys, and horses, and a redemptive journey in the form of a pilgrimage.  If you want to get sneak previews you can always go to my website and sign up to receive my newsletter, as that will be where I will be posting a lot more about the book in the coming weeks. http://www.joymaretts.com

HARVEST OF JOY

Sheaves of ripened wheat in a sunlit field

I was reading Psalm 126 this week, ‘ They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.’ I know there are many ways of interpreting that verse, but for me it seemed to just speak into what God has miraculously been doing in my life. There has been a lot of weeping. I grieved, and still do grieve at times, the life that my illness stole from me. But I can look back now, and see that what was being sown, as I wept, was the seed for what I am able to do now. Now I can write; words of truth and life, words of hope and redemption, all wrapped up in historic fiction about medieval Welsh monks! And my words can touch many –  I have had  so many messages from readers to prove that this is actually happening. Maybe this is the harvest – the abundance of sheaves that can have my heart rejoicing. It really feels like it might be. And it is all down to Him.

Those who sow their tears as seeds
    will reap a harvest with joyful shouts of glee.
 They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow,
    but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness
    as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!

PSALM 126 :5 – 6 The Passion Translation

The Pilgrim Fantastical pre-order Prize draw. Sign up for a pre-order copy now to win a chance of winning one of three great prizes.

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 can be found here www.joymargetts.com

Belonging, Book Review, Books, Christian Marriage, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness, God's faithfulness, Healing, Lessons from life, Seasons of life, Thankfulness

BOOK REVIEW: ALL SAINTS? BY ELLIE CARTER

I love reading new books by new writers, who like me have been brave enough to put their writing out there. Which is a very scary thing, believe me. I especially love books that are very definitely inspired by God, with a great faith message, that is lightly handled and wrapped up within a gripping fictional tale.

All Saints? Is one of those books and I am very happy to recommend it. I’ve seen it described as Christian chick lit, but I wouldn’t label it such, as it is such a good observation of everyday life, that I think it would appeal more widely. If you have ever been involved with church, if you have ever had to deal with real life challenges and heartbreak, if you are a man or woman with questions about faith, then you will find things to relate to in this book.

Clever Title

All Saints?’ is a clever title. It refers to the Parish Church that sits at the centre of the tale, but as the story also follows three Christian women connected to the church, it explores just how saintly each really is. Of course the Bible might describe all believers as ‘saints’, but how we live out our lives is often far from deserving of the title, and that is normal! Sophie is the church minister’s wife, juggling handling a difficult adopted toddler and also trying to support her husband in his role, whilst being a good friend to the others. She also has deep wounds related to her struggle with infertility that resurface when her friend Hayley announces that she and her husband are also unlikely to be able to conceive naturally. Hayley is desperately unhappy and makes a decision that has devastating effects for all of them.  Lucy is single, and feeling bypassed, calling out to God for a man to love her. It seems God has answered her prayers. Her journey is heart-breaking.

Raw and real, and relatable

All Saints? is raw and real in places, shocking even, but it is also heart-warming, as the bonds of friendship, and the love of God, see these three friends, their partners and families work through their issues together. That it is set around a church, works brilliantly.  For anyone like myself, who has grown up immersed in church life, the different (odd) people that make up the congregation, the funny little incidents, the frustrations and the joys are all so recognisable. The green cup/blue cup mix up made me laugh – I’ve seen something very similar happen myself, and can even picture those ‘church’ cups and saucers. The open day where half the village come because it’s free – and none of them actually then come to church as a result, had echoes of many ‘failed’ outreaches I’ve been part of. The rich parishioners who think they should run everything, including the minister, but would rather raise money selling jam than donate money themselves to repair the pot-holed driveway, also made me smile knowingly.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, reading it in a couple of days, and becoming quite invested in all of the main characters. It does cut quite close to home at times, but also talks about faith matters in a gentle and non threatening way.

Well done Ellie Carter on your debut!

*Romans 1:7

Ellie Carter has walked the path of infertility. She and her husband are now blessed with two adopted children. If you would like a personally signed copy of All Saints? please bless the author by contacting her direct at elliecarterauthor@gmail.com.

She is offering the book at a discounted price of £7.00, including postage, to anyone who contacts her as a result of this post.

All Saints? was published by Instant Apostle on 19 June 2020, ISBN 1912726211, RRP £8.99

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

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 https://penelopeswithinbank.com/

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 http://www.joymargetts.com

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, 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