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

GOD SPEAKS, DOORS OPEN

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

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

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

GOD SPEAKS

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

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

DOORS OPEN

Outside of a small stone church with door ajar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man walking through open church doorway into a whitewashed chapel

GOD SPEAKS AND MAKES IT PERSONAL

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

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

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

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

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

Bible, Christian Marriage, Christian Writer, Diamond Anniversary, Diamonds in the bible, Glorifying Jesus, God's faithfulness, In His image, Refined by God, The Word of God, Wedding Anniversary

Diamonds Are Forever

Sorry, I’ve now injected you with an earworm haven’t I? I bet even now you are singing it in your head with your very best Shirley Bassey impression… ‘Dimunds are ForeVERRRR’.

Picture of large single cut diamond on lilac background
A single cut diamond

Diamonds are indeed one of the hardest, most enduring substances on earth, (although whether they will actually last forever, only God knows). They are not only highly valued as gemstones, with their clarity, cut and brilliant ability to scatter light, they are also used as cutting tools in a great number of industries. In fact the vast majority of diamonds mined today are used this way.

Anniversary Celebration

This week we are celebrating our parents Diamond Wedding Anniversary. To reach a 60th wedding anniversary is an amazing achievement, especially in today’s world. Like a diamond, a long lasting marriage is a rare and beautiful thing. That diamonds are also symbols of endurance and resilience is also apt. Marriage needs those too!

Picture of old couple standing together, smiling, by a statute of Churchill, surrounded by trees
Happy Diamond Anniversary!

Now I’ve had a ringside seat to much of my parents’ marriage. I can tell you that it has not all been romance and roses. It has taken hard work, endurance and patience. It has involved forgiveness, self-sacrifice and compromise. It has also been an amazing example of love, faithfulness and devotion. Towards each other, to their ever growing family, to their friends, to those in need – and most importantly, to God. Their marriage has lasted because God brought them together and God has kept them together. And I for one, am extremely grateful for that. My family and I have the privilege of living in that amazing legacy.

I read somewhere that diamonds are ‘symbols of purity, unity, love, wealth and abundance’. How fitting then to be used in reference to a long lasting marriage -both are priceless gems that have stood the test of time.

Diamonds in the Bible

For the purpose of this blog I researched if diamonds were mentioned in the Bible and found, interestingly, that there is some division of opinion. Different words have been translated as ‘diamond’ in different translations. There is the reference in Exodus 39:11 to one of the twelve stones on the High Priest’s breastplate that represented the tribes of Israel. There is the obscure reference to hearts as hard as ‘really hard gemstones’ in Zechariah 7:12, that some have translated as diamonds. I have read some commentators that believe the sea of crystal glass that John described seeing before the Throne of God in Revelation 4:6, is actually made of diamonds. If so – diamonds will be forever, I suppose!

Diamonds forever

I think the most important thing here is to recognise that for anything to have true lasting worth it has to be given over to God. God can take a marriage full of human frailty and make it into a monument to His goodness and faithfulness. The true worth of a diamond only comes in it’s cutting and shaping. God can take any one of us – like uncut pieces of rock mined from the earth – and through His work in us, cutting, shaping, forming, polishing – make our lives into something pure, valuable and beautiful. And our lives, formed and shaped by Him, will indeed last forever, to shine and reflect His glory for eternity.

Image showing the text of 2 Corinthians 3 verse 18, against a background of diamonds
2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

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

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

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

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

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Wanderer Scorned’ by Natasha Woodcraft

The first murder

Most people have heard of the story of Cain and Abel. The story of two brothers, one good, one bad, born at the beginning of time. Murderous Cain killed his brother Abel, because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and not his. But is that the whole story? You can read the story in Genesis 4, but it doesn’t tell you much more than that. Except that Cain is confronted by God and cursed to be a fugitive, forced to leave his home and family behind.

Front cover of 'The Wanderer Scorned' featuring a close up of the face of a man half hidden in darkness, with sad eyes.

In ‘The Wanderer Scorned’ Natasha Woodcraft has done something few of us would dare to do. She has taken this story and, using her imagination, created a backdrop for a crime that has been condemned for millennia. Her starting point is ‘why?’ Why did Cain, a man who knew and heard God, murder his brother? Was it just a fit of jealousy over a misjudged sacrifice, or did it go much deeper than that? The story she creates makes Cain a human being just like any one of us. Exploring the idea that every human being has within them the capacity to do dreadful things, under certain circumstances, driven by wrong emotions, past hurts and long carried pain.

The Effect of the Curse

Genesis 3 tells us that Adam and Eve broke covenant with God, and were banished from the garden and His presence and protection. At that moment mankind became cursed – with physical and emotional pain, with negative emotions that they had never known before. Guilt, shame, distrust, jealousy, anger, misunderstanding and lust to name a few. At the same time the earth itself was cursed – with thorns and weeds, predatory animals and insects that could desecrate harvests. It was into that cursed world that Cain and Abel were born. The Wanderer Scorned shows Adam and Eve, themselves outcasts, trying to navigate this new reality and carrying the guilt of what their sin would mean for all of mankind, including their own offspring.

The front cover of 'The Wanderer Scorned' superimposed on a desert scene, with the words 'a tale of love, hate, faith and doubt: obscured by centuries of rumour'

Great descriptive writing

Natasha Woodcraft has done an amazing job in describing what the earth might have looked like then and how Adam and his family might have lived in it, dealing with every new experience as they come across it. The way the family grow in their understanding of how to make the most out of creation’s bounty rings true. She extends the timing of the events of Genesis 2-4 over many, many years, and adds additional children, including a twin sister for Abel.

Her greatest skill is in her characterisation. Cain (Kayin) is a very real, and strangely sympathetic character, whilst Abel (Havel), the ‘good’ brother, although kind and godly, also has the ability to irritate! The author is very careful not to excuse what Cain did, but what she does is very cleverly construct a plausible set of causative factors for his act. We experience Cain’s grief, anger, jealousy and mistrust, but we also see him loving his family, serving them well, and working hard to get the best out of the land. The serpent too has a major role.

Engrossing and Enjoyable

I found it an engrossing and enjoyable read. I loved the references to Elohim, and to the time in the garden before the fall, which Adam and Eve bring to her story in their memories. The story also includes beautiful songs of praise, written by the author, based on the words of the Psalms.

I believe Natasha Woodcraft has done an amazing job in fictionalising a really difficult biblical story, in a way that makes you think, and consider the very nature of humanity. The Wanderer Scorned is the first of three books retelling Cain’s story, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next one.

Ask the Author!

Image of the author, Natasha Woodcraft

I was curious as to how and why Natasha chose to write this book, and about the songs she included, so I asked her!

I understand that you believe God put it on your heart to write Cains’ story, and that He inspired you in the writing of it. Can you explain a bit more about how you actually wrote The Wanderer Scorned?

Wow, great question! It’s tricky to say, ‘God inspired me to write,’ isn’t it? It sounds like I’m claiming some kind of authority, but really, I’m not. I woke up early one morning with an idea; It was a complete surprise to me. So, I prayed (really, God?), read the Bible (the first six chapters of Genesis), then sat down and started writing. The first words I wrote were, ‘It all started with the banishment.’ They are still where Kayin’s story starts!

I think what God put on my heart that morning was communicating that Cain was a bad person, yes, but so am I. It’s so easy for me to judge other people: I have to constantly repent of this. Writing from Kayin’s point of view was a spiritual journey, an exploration into both his character and God’s. Giving Cain a voice enabled him to ask all those questions I sometimes keep bottled up. (Was God fair in His dealings with Cain? Why would he reject his sacrifice?) Also, it was an acknowledgement of the fact that, given the right set of circumstances, I might be capable of what he did, which is a harrowing thought. Oh, how I need Jesus!

People have lots of very strong opinions about the early chapters of Genesis. I spent a lot of time researching, reading and revising, trying to pitch something realistic and challenging but not offensive. I hope I succeeded.

There were several times when I ‘got stuck’. At these times, I prayed, and then I opened the Bible. I remember vividly the night I found Psalm 50: it was a game-changer. Suddenly, in that Psalm, I saw everything I needed to complete Kayin’s story; it was a real gift from God. I also often find inspiration from walking. I wrote the prologue in my head when walking my dog around a lake – then quickly ran home to scribble it down before I forgot it!

The Wandered Scorned has two songs written out in full, which you have written music to and recorded. Where can people find these?

It does! They are on my YouTube channel, which you can find here.

‘The Wanderer Scorned is available now in both paperback and eBook. Visit www.natashawoodcraft.com for more information on Natasha’s books, songs and to follow her personal blog.

Image showing kindle and paperback versions of the book

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, Blog Tour, Book Review, Books, christian fiction, Christian Writer, Forgiveness, Medieval Fiction, pilgrimage, The Word of God

A Pilgrimage of Forgiveness

Image shows a stained glass window depicting medieval pilgrims, with a copy of The Pilgrim book in the foreground

Today is day 8 of the blog tour to celebrate the release of my second novel, The Pilgrim, on Friday of this week. Our dear writer friend LIZ CARTER was due to post a blog today, but sadly is not well enough to do so. Liz had asked me to write a guest blog on how the subject of forgiveness is explored in the book. So here is the text of the blog I wrote for her. I hope it blesses you.

Understanding and accepting forgiveness

The idea for my second novel The Pilgrim came from a scene in my first, The Healing. In it, Brother Hywel reveals to Philip a bit of his own history, his secret guilt. How a youthful indiscretion set into motion a series of devastating consequences for people he cared about deeply. He does so to illustrate to his younger friend how powerful forgiveness is in bringing about transformation in our lives.

So in fleshing out Brother Hywel’s story, The Pilgrim inevitably became a story of one man’s journey to understand and accept forgiveness. Fairly early on in the story he is offered forgiveness by the man he has hurt and betrayed. At this point in the story Hywel is still Hal, not yet having entered monastic life.  As his friend, Cenred, is dying, he tells him that he has forgiven him, but then goes on to say this:

‘I have but one thing to ask you in return.’

Hal lifted his eyes to meet those of his friend. ‘Anything! I will do anything. Tell me what I must do.’

The desire to put things right, to somehow negate the pain and grief his actions had caused this man, was so overpowering.

‘Forgive yourself.’

Hal was confused, and also disappointed. Was there not something else he could do? What Cenred was asking was impossible.

He felt a squeeze on his hand again. Cenred had closed his eyes, but seemed determined to say more.

‘I must commend myself to God’s forgiveness soon. You will find God will forgive you also, if you come to Him truly repentant. But, Hal, accepting that you are forgiven and forgiving yourself… those are the only ways that you will be able to walk free… of the guilt and pain you are bearing now.

‘You are so young, Hal, and there is so much good you can do with the rest of your life. But to do so you must be free. It is what I desire most for you. What I long for.’

The grace gift of God

Image of a large cross, dark against a blue sky with sun rising above a cloud

Although he struggles to embrace the enormity of those words when they are spoken, Hywel does eventually come to understand them. It takes an encounter with God at the foot of the Cross, and a personal revelation of God’s mercy and grace, for him to realise the extent of the forgiveness on offer to him. Still he has to accept it for himself, receive it as the grace gift it is – a gift still offered freely by the cross of Christ for each one of us who willingly responds to Him. 

Hywel’s journey continues. For to truly know freedom, to truly become the man God has called him to be, he must forgive himself. He hears the stories of two of his travelling companions. Both have experienced the burden of living with guilt, and both in their own ways have come into a new understanding of the power of forgiving self. As Hywel struggles to come to that point himself, so I believe we all can struggle with forgiving ourselves.

Forgive, as you have been forgiven

In His story of The Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18 : 21 -35) Jesus taught that we ought to forgive as we have been forgiven. Forgiving others is not always easy, but perhaps we feel more inclined to do so when we understand how much we have been forgiven by God. But what if Jesus meant His words to apply to forgiving ourselves also? Forgive yourself, as you have been forgiven.

I think we sometimes feel we have to continue to carry the guilt for the things we are ashamed of, long after God has forgiven us. That somehow we are serving some sort of penance by doing so. But that is not living in the grace of God. If He has forgiven us then there is no more to pay – the Cross has done it all. Guilt and shame can continue to keep us burdened and bound, and self-condemnation is a favourite tool of the enemy to keep us from living in the freedom that God’s forgiveness offers us.

Scripture says if I belong to Christ, then I am no longer condemned (Romans 8:1) If God does not condemn me, than neither should I condemn myself. We need to be truly repentant for our mistakes, of course, but once we have come to the Cross and received His forgiveness, it is a done deal. Accepting and receiving God’s forgiveness means letting go of our guilt and self-condemnation once and for all. Whether it be in a small stone church, or a wind- swept mountain top, or in a monastery guest house – there will come a time when we, as Hywel and his fellow pilgrims did, need to forgive ourselves and walk free of our burdens.

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

Image shows a garden table and chair, with the view of the sea beyond. On the table is a copy of the book, The Pilgrim, and a vase of mulitcoloured flowers.

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

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

Bible, Casting our care on Jesus, Christian Writer, Connected to God, God's protection, The Word of God

LOVINGLY HELD

Small child standing, his face lit by the sunlight through a window

It is a blessing and a privilege to be actively involved in our grandson’s young life. He is just one year old and seems to love being with us. We care for him regularly to enable our daughter to work, and it is a joy. We bend our creaking limbs to get down on the floor to play with him, we run to catch him when he makes an unexpected move towards the stairs, we laugh at his antics when we try to feed him, and wonder at how he is constantly growing and developing his character. When he is finally tired out he will happily come up on to a lap, especially if his favourite TV programme is put on. He sits watching and suddenly he relaxes back against you and his hands go up to fiddle with his ears, and you know he is getting sleepy.

The most wondrous thing is how much he trusts us. He feels completely safe, he leans back and lets himself be loved. He has no worries or anxieties in that moment. He is lovingly held.

LEANING IN

It made me think about my relationship with my heavenly Father. There are times when we do things together, times when He feeds me, times when He steps in to protect me. But perhaps the most precious moments are when I just allow myself to sit in His presence. To lean into Him, to allow myself to rest and let the anxieties fall away.

As my grandson grows older, inevitably he will learn to be more independent. Learn more about life, learn to worry and become less trusting. I hope that is a few years off yet. We as adults have lived long enough to know there are many reasons to worry, and that we just can’t trust everyone. But God still calls us to come to Him as a small child. Psalm 131: 1-2 says this:

Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes  lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me. (NKJV)

I like how The Passion Translation translates the Psalm:

Lord, my heart is meek before you.
    I don’t consider myself better than others.
    I’m content to not pursue matters that are over my head—
    such as your complex mysteries and wonders—
    that I’m not yet ready to understand.
 I am humbled and quieted in your presence.
    Like a contented child who rests on its mother’s lap,
    I’m your resting child and my soul is content in you.
 O people of God, your time has come to quietly trust,
    waiting upon the Lord now and forever.

LOVINGLY HELD

Small child on the lap of an older man

The truth is, that unlike a small child, we have to make the conscious decision to stop and put it all down, to not be overwhelmed by our anxieties. We have unlimited access into God’s presence (Hebrews 4:6). And just as Jesus sat with His disciples and let John lean back against Him (John 21:20), so His desire is for us to lean into Him and trust Him completely. To rest back and relax into the safety of His protection. To allow ourselves to be lovingly held, if just for a while.

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

Bible, Capacity to care, Casting our care on Jesus, Christian Writer, Connected to God, God's faithfulness, prayer, Seeing as God sees, The Word of God

HEART CAPACITY

I’ve been thinking about capacity lately. Not how much rich food my stomach can hold – rather my heart capacity. How much emotion can I realistically handle before it overwhelms me? Particularly the negative and stressful stuff. I think this is a thing that varies greatly from person to person. Like the capacity to parent – some people can have five children of their own and then foster more. I knew my limit would be two. I was right. And they survived – just!

Baby with his grandad

Moments of overwhelm

But our capacity to care can also been greatly influenced by own health and emotional strength. It dominated my thoughts particularly one recent weekend when I was feeling physically lousy, my elderly parents contracted Covid, my baby grandson was also poorly, and my daughter had a birthday celebration. To top it all the dog required a visit to the vets. I made the comment to my husband that perhaps we weren’t designed to have the capacity to worry about four generations of family at once. Which sounds awful now that I read it back. I love still having both of my parents around, and both of my parents- in- law too. And I love being a parent and a grandparent. It was just one of those moments of overwhelm. Not knowing where, or on whom I should be expending my emotional capabilities. Who needed my support most? And why wasn’t I able to give more? Yep. Let’s add guilt to the emotional load.

God’s heart capacity

We used to sing a song in church that had the tearjerking line ‘break my heart for what breaks Yours’. I struggled to sing it then, and I struggle with the truth of it now. Yes, we are called to be compassionate, to see the needs of others, to care as Jesus cared. But I for one, know that my heart capacity would break far before God’s heart would. There is no way that I could take on all the cares of the world like our Saviour does. Do I really want to be so totally overwhelmed that I am in fact useless to anybody?

The news is heart-breaking at the moment. The sufferings of ordinary people thrown into war. The plight of refugees, and not just the ones from Ukraine. The ongoing spectre of Covid. The mess in government and the economy. I have to admit I can’t watch the TV news. The tipping point for my overwhelm runs too close to the surface.

Jesus: my heart’s release valve

 many pink hearts on a white background with the text 'Let not your heart be troubled'

And then I remind myself of Jesus’ words, just hours before He was betrayed and crucified for the burden of the world’s cares.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me                    John 14:1

We can use all sorts of self -care methods to prevent emotional overload, but actually Jesus gives us a very simple one. He says, ‘give the trouble to Me’.

casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.                       1 Peter 5:7

Our hearts have a release valve, when they feel close to bursting, and it is Jesus. Things are far easier to bear if we share them with Him. That’s the beauty of prayer.

Enlarge my heart

I am reminded of another scripture also

I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart.                                                 Psalm 119:32

The context might actually be speaking of a capacity for wisdom and understanding here. But I also believe that God can enlarge the capacity of out hearts. Perhaps not to breaking point, as the song used to go. But perhaps to make us more aware of the needs of others, give us more understanding, more compassion, more capacity to give. I could do with that. Perhaps it is good then to pray ‘enlarge my heart, God.’

Large gold heart on white background with the text 'Enlarge my heart, God'

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, 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

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

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