Bible, Casting our care on Jesus, Christian Writer, Grief



Image of Monty -a small white hairy dog, with brown and black patches. Monty has a blanker on his head.

When I first started writing this blog, way back in December 2020, I thought that I would try and encourage reader engagement by featuring pictures of our dog. Christmas that year Monty even got a whole post dedicated to his enjoyment of the season. My blog has changed and morphed since, and the dog has long since stopped appearing as a regular feature. But he was always here with me as I wrote. An enduring presence. Until he wasn’t.

Monty was definitely a presence. A Jack Russell Terrier cross with an attitude five times his size, he genuinely ruled the roost. He had his chair, and his schedule, and his opinions, and we learnt to abide by them all. He barked at everyone who came to the door, and had a special vehemence in his reaction towards the postman and the Tesco delivery driver. He would bark at people visiting the neighbours, bark at birds in the garden, bark at nothing in particular. During lockdown he even learnt to bark at the telephone, or during Zoom calls – the word ‘hello’ set him off. When he wasn’t barking, he would be snoring, or moaning, or just breathing heavily. It is quiet without him. Unbearably quiet.


So we are in grief, and slowly readjusting to life without the bothersome old dog. He was an enduring presence through some of the hardest moments of our life. Someone for me to talk to when I found myself home alone more often than not. A reason for me to get out of my bed on the days I really didn’t want to. A constant source of laugh aloud moments. We miss him. Even his exasperating traits. And his smell.

So how are we coping? We are being kind to each other, and spending time doing things together, and getting out of the too quiet house, and enjoying our grandson. We are starting to think about planning things to do that having a dog stopped us doing easily. We are looking at photos and videos and laughing at the memories. And shedding tears too.

Image of Monty -a small white hairy dog, with brown and black patches. Monty has a wrapping paper on his head.

Image of Monty -a small white hairy dog, with brown and black patches. Monty is sitting in an armchair, smiling.


For me personally, I have found myself clinging to the One who is the true enduring presence. A scripture verse that I have found myself saying over myself, over and over, particularly when the sense of loss has left me physically and emotionally exhausted is from Exodus 15:2

The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;

And then yesterday this verse popped up on my daily Bible verse app, and it is just what I needed. Psalm 18:2

Image of an outline of a  mountain range in shades of blue, with the text of Psalm 18:2 superimposed

We have had a hard few weeks, and I know we are not alone in that. Covid, the flu, financial concerns, dark days, wet weather. Loss. I have friends who have lost loved ones, other friends suffering life threatening ill-health. All these things take their toll. But what a blessing to know we are not alone through any of it. God is an enduring presence. He never leaves our side (Hebrews 13:5) He walks through the mess with us. He understands, and knows, and can carry our burdens. He collects every tear we shed (Psalm 56:8).

Even the tears cried over a dog.

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

Book Review, Books, CHOOSING HOPE, Christian Writer, Dealing with Fear, Faith, God in control, God's faithfulness, Grief, Healing, Seasons of life, Thankfulness, The Word of God, words of comfort


Scent of Water (Words of Comfort in Times of Grief) is a beautiful, moving, and honestly real devotional for those experiencing loss. Penelope has bravely written out of her own traumatic experience of witnessing her elderly mother’s life taken violently. And out of the subsequent deep grief response that left her numb and flailing.

The moment I read the blurb for Penelope Swithinbank’s new book Scent of Water, I knew that I wanted to read it. In her own words…

‘she found nothing that reached her dark night of the soul, nothing that let her know that God was still with her… she found it very difficult to pray or to read the bible… hugs rubbed her raw and consoling well meant cliches did not ring true… she wished there was a specific daily devotional to help her connect with God in and through the grief’

I was drawn to those words because I’ve been there. This book is a book for those who grieve, and grief comes in many forms and for many reasons. When I was at my lowest point, grieving the life I had once lived and loved, I longed for something easy to read, that would plug me into a God that I had known for years, but who at the time seemed so distant. A simple, non- demanding devotional, of maybe a single line from scripture and a word that spoke into my pain, was what I longed for. I was given books to read, great books on moving on, looking up, strengthening myself in the Lord; but they were too much, too soon. I wish now that I had had Scent of Water.

“For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.
 Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,
 Yet at the scent of water it will bud …

Job 14 :7 – 9 NKJV*

The book takes it’s title from this scripture, and it is about hope, but maybe only flickering hope – the merest scent of water – not the deluge, not the soaking, just enough hope to keep you holding on, barely, by your fingertips. I get that.

Penelope is a woman of deep faith, with a lifetime of following and serving Jesus. But that did not make her immune to pain, doubt and despair. She wrote Scent of Water out of her own need to just hold on through the storm. And her words in it are real, the emotions expressed raw and totally relatable, and yet hope also sings from every page. Like the Psalmists of old she has not hidden how grief has made her feel: the frustration, anger, disbelief, hollowness, confusion, and sheer exhaustion. But alongside her heart cries are the gentle words of God, the reassurances, the moments of strength for the weary soul, the thankfulness. It is just so beautifully moving to read. And to return to, over and over again.

Scent of Water comes as a small, easy to hold hardback, designed to be given as a gift. It’s design and appearance are stunning, from the front cover to the lovely colour photograph plates that mark the start of each new devotional. There are 25 of these six day devotions, enough for six months. Each has it’s own theme, some based on an extract from a bible chapter or a Psalm, others following a thought through, using different scriptures, with titles such as ‘Punched in the stomach : shock and agony’ and ‘Learning to Lean : when I need to rest’. The daily scriptures and thoughts are brief and undemanding, and end with a heartfelt prayer each day.

Penelope has also added a section at the beginning of the book with devotionals for the difficult days e.g. the day of the funeral, first birthday, first anniversary, first Christmas, as well as some additional meditations at the end of the book for people to dip into as they feel able. This book is so sensitively thought out and put together. I, for one, am going to treasure my copy and am so pleased that this book is out there. I know I will be buying it and giving it as a gift for those who need help to get through their grief, gently and slowly, but in connection with a Father who knows and loves them.

Penelope Swithinbank is a chaplain at Bath Abbey, and a vicar with twenty years of experience, specialising in spiritual counselling and therapy. She also loves both undertaking and leading others on pilgrimage, both in the UK and in Europe. You can read more about her and purchase Scent of Water via her website at

Scent of Water was published by Sarah Grace Publishing on 7th July 2021 and is now widely available online and in bookstores.

*New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission, all rights reserved

Read more about my own writing here