Seven years ago I was struck down with a debilitating illness out of the blue. It felt like it had stolen every part of my life. I could no longer work, run the home, serve in church. I could not even concentrate to read or write, for more than a few minutes at a time. I found myself spiralling down into a pit of despair, where I railed at God, and withdrew myself from Him. He felt a million miles from me, and I felt betrayed, abandoned and miserable. But God was not prepared to leave me there, and gently, very gently, He began to rebuild me. The way He worked was through people who loved me, and who loved God. One friend in particular was my Brother Hywel. She spoke truth when I was believing lies, she prayed when I couldn’t, and she stuck by me even when it got very messy. God also drew me deeper into His word, and the promises and truths it contained just for me. I chose to hope, I chose to believe in God’s power to heal and to restore me. I chose to live. I learnt very many things during this time of my life about God and about myself, and those things have changed me. My physical health has improved drastically and I am believing for full healing, but the healing of my heart and my spirit has been much more life changing. God is doing His finest healing work in me, from the inside out.
Little over a year ago my husband and I were visiting the ruins of a Cistercian Abbey close to my home. I love these ancient spaces, where people lived and served God in times past. As I sat enjoying the peace and beauty of the place I began to imagine what it would have been like to live in such a community. Surely it would have been a place where a wounded soul could find peace and healing? I was talking to God about this, and in a few moments a whole storyline was downloaded into my imagination. I hurriedly took some notes on a scrap of paper, and filed it away. I came back home, and did some historical research, finding out more about the Cistercian way of life in the middle ages, adding to my knowledge of Medieval Wales, and finding a real-life family that would fit with my story. And then I panicked. I didn’t know how to begin to write a book, and I was scared of even trying.
In April of 2020, right in the middle of lockdown, I was having a conversation with my daughter about writing, she having done a creative writing university degree. I told her about my book, and that I didn’t know how to start it. Her advice was to think of a scene that I could picture really well, and start by writing that one; not to worry about starting the book at the beginning. I took her advice, and one afternoon sat and wrote my first complete chapter – it ended up being one of the last chapters of the book! I was hooked, and I wrote the rest of the book in a matter of six short weeks, writing every day. It felt like Holy Spirit was writing it with me. The story just flowed from my fingers onto the keyboard, often surprising even me with the twists and turns it took. Before I realised it, I had written my book. It was a complete joy, and writing it a healing experience of it’s own.
I believe this book is a gift – to me – and hopefully to others. Those who have read it have loved it, and have been moved and inspired by it. My heart in seeing it published, is that perhaps God can use it to help others who like me, find themselves needing to find hope, love and laughter again. My testimony is that God is the Greatest Restorer. He wants us to live joy-filled, abundant lives, whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. The message of this book is never more timely. We need to keep our focus on God, His love for us, His sovereignty, and the destiny He has designed for each one of us. We need to believe that nothing is beyond His redemptive power.
Thank you for considering reading my book.
‘This is an account of how kindness and grace are more powerful than the sword; where Christian love reaches out to fight against self-destruction. Joy bravely draws on her own experience of pain and hopelessness in her journey back to health and strength of body and spirit. Gentle, yet forceful, her story shows how love can restore our hope and trust in both God and man.’ Alick Ford