Bible, Christian Writer, Faith, Holy Spirit, Revelation, Seeing as God sees, The Word of God

THE PRISM OF HOLY SPIRIT

Last month I had to visit the optician. It was only a routine visit, but as suspected my eyesight had deteriorated, in line with my age, and I was going to need new glasses. This time however, the optician noted that my eyes focussed slightly differently from each other, so he suggested adding a prism to the lens of my glasses. He said it wasn’t essential to have it, but that I would notice the difference. He was right. My new glasses make things a lot clearer, and my eyes are less tired.

My experience of prisms in school was playing with a solid piece of glass, in the shape of a pyramid, shining a ray of light through it and creating a rainbow. Prisms split, bend and redirect light, or so I believe. I am not sure exactly how prisms in reading glasses work, but I guess they help bend light to reach the retina more efficiently. Help make the image clearer to see.

Image of a prism - a solid clear glass pyramid, with a single ray of white light being split into all the colours of the spectrum

Revelation like reading glasses

When I read my Bible, I can now see the words ultra clearly! But I also trust Holy Spirit to help me see beyond the words, to reveal to me the things He wants to teach my heart and spirit. I think revelation works a bit like reading glasses. Just like my prescription is personalised to me, so the things that God reveals from His Word are the things that He needs me to take hold of personally. Truths to help me understand who I am in Him, who He is to me, and how to navigate the season I am in.

It might be that many others have the same revelation as me. There are fundamental truths that all believers need to have an understanding of – the Father heart of God, the completeness of our salvation, the power of the cross, how deeply we are loved. But there are sometimes nuances within those revelations that are definitely personalised. Just like the addition of that prism to my lens. There are sometimes things that God needs to highlight with pinpoint precision, so that we really get a truth into our souls. The prism of Holy Spirit perhaps.

An open Bible with a pair of reading glasses resting on the pages

Pinpoint Precision

I know that God loves me, but recently I have been drawn to reread SONG OF SOLOMON again. It is a love song. Some say it is just about Solomon and his bride, most commentators agree it is a picture of Jesus and His bride, the church. But just recently I have been reading it as if it is a personal love letter from God to me. I read that I ravish His heart.

You have ravished my heart, My sister, my spouse; You have ravished my heart With one look of your eyes

Song of Solomon 4: 9

I can just read that  – oh yes, He loves me, loves the way I love Him – but then I have to stop and refocus. The way I look at Him (my worship) ravishes His heart? He is besotted by me? That is an extraordinary truth to comprehend. In the season that I am in, I need the prism of Holy Spirit to focus that truth, to amplify it and direct it straight to my heart.

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

Book Review, Books, christian fiction, Christian publishing, Christian Writer, Faith, Forgiveness

BOOK REVIEW: The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, by Ruth Leigh

The book, The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, displayed with scented candles, flowers and soft material as background.

Image of author, Ruth Leigh

I am thrilled to be invited to take part in the blog tour for The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, the third book in Ruth Leigh’s Isabella M Smugge series. Thrilled because like many others I have been longing to read another witty, well written book from this author’s extraordinary imagination, and to catch up on Isabella’s progressing story.

But I am also thrilled because now that Ruth has become a dear friend, I have been privileged to watch from the side-lines as this book was written. She herself would admit that it has been a hard book to write, and only exists because God enabled her. With the help of lots of prayer and encouragement from others. I have seen some of the pain this book has caused in being birthed. So to see it delivered safe and whole has brought joy to my soul!

Laugh out loud funny

As in her previous books Ruth has done an amazing job in creating Isabella’s world. She has spent hours researching what things are trending in the world of those who care about these things. The book is funny. There are laugh out loud moments, with hysterical hashtags and clever references to things ‘on trend’. Like this dig at the ever developing trend for giving paint colours pretentious names, that made me giggle,

‘We are staying in a smart twin ensuite room painted in Belle Peinture’s top selling shade, Gauzy Gutter’

Gauzy Gutter’? Perfect nonsense. Brilliant!

Deeply Moving

Apart from being funny, this book is also deeply moving and the story engrossing. There is no doubt that Isabella M Smugge is changing. Oh, she is still a renowned social media influencer, with a bestselling book series, and blogger awards galore. Her elegant home is still being featured in magazine photoshoots and she has numerous companies clamouring to engage her to endorse their products – from teething rings to self plumping pillows.

Back cover of book with blurb description

But her life in reality is definitely less glamourous. Now she is a single parent to four children, including hormonal pre-teens and a teething infant. Issy’s mother, with whom she has a fractious relationship, is now also residing with them following a stroke. Add to that a cheating husband trying to wheedle his way back in, her arch enemy Lavinia Harcourt still causing trouble, and a plethora of other family dramas and secrets coming to light. Life is far from dull, and not always in good ways. Our heroine has to admit she can’t do perfect anymore – not alone anyway.

Thankfully the village community she once looked down her nose at has now become her place of refuge. Her fellow school mums, the vicar and his wife, the church community, they are all there to help, support and understand. What’s more Isabella has found the joy of giving and serving. The scenes where she shepherds a flock of nit-ridden angels for the church nativity, and runs around with hairspray and bun nets as a dance show chaperone were hysterical, but also strangely moving. This is a new and more selflessly genuine Isabella, doing things she would once never have dreamt of doing.

Changed by Love

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of this third book is Isabella’s growing personal experience of God. The church draws her, the Holy spirit touches her, and prayer becomes more natural. Isabella finds herself learning to forgive, wanting to rebuild broken relationships, becoming a much more empathetic and insightful person, and even finding the strength to address some of her own past demons.

‘At church… I once again found myself a sobbing mess, just because they sang a hymn we had at Daddy’s funeral. Honestly! I tried to pull myself together but I was as if something huge and slippery and uncontrollable had risen from the very depths of my being and was calling out for attention…’

Front cover of book against a background of cut flowers

I have had the pleasure of being able to blog review all three of Ruth Leigh’s ‘Issy’ books. The first, my first ever book blog review, on The Diary of Isabella M Smugge, you can read here. The second, on The Trials of Isabella M Smugge, you can read here. Do you have to read the first two #Issy instalments to enjoy the third? No. But why wouldn’t you? The books are so funny, so entertaining, but also so relatable. I would encourage you to read them all. But for me the third is definitely the best one yet. Why? because I really love what Ruth has done with Isabella’s character, turning her from a self absorbed snob into a open hearted, kind and generous individual. Can a person be changed like that in real life? Actually yes. Faith- filled friends and a loving God can do that for a person.

I have to admit I didn’t like Issy much at all in book one. By book two, I had warmed to her considerably, but still wouldn’t have had much in common with her. By the end of book three I loved Isabella. I wanted to spend time with her, laugh and cry with her, and get to know even more of the real person beneath all the fluff. Which is why I really hope there will be a book four. Over to you Ruth!

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 of Joy Margetts

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 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

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

BOOK REVIEW: ‘To Belong’ by Judith Galblum Pex

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

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

The need to belong

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

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

A well told story

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

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

Eilat

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

Joy Margetts is a blogger and a published author. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021, and her second ‘The Pilgrim‘ in July 2022. Her books are works of historical fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life; stories of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.

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

Bible, 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, Easter, Faith, New life

EASTER SNAPSHOTS

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

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

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

THE LAST SUPPER

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

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

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

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

              ( JOHN 13)

A lakeside grassy spot with trees and a blue sky

GETHSEMANE

We all need those places we can escape to

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

Until they are forever tainted by anguish and betrayal   

Gethsemane 

(MATTHEW 26)

A judges' gavel resting on a book

GOOD FRIDAY

The verdict handed down. Guilty goes free, innocence condemned

Hate wins. But Love triumphs!

Innocence condemned so that the guilty can go free!     

(JOHN 19)

EASTER SUNDAY

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

The garden tomb in Jerusalem framed with flowers

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

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

A familiar voice?

Fear fled, hope ignited, and NEW LIFE began.

(JOHN 20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They Whisper About Us

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

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

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

The Letters She Never Sent

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

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

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

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

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

About me:

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

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

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

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