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Anchored In The Storms Of Life

"A female friend - amiable, clever and devoted - is a possession more valuable than parks and palaces; and without such a muse few men can be happy" - Benjamin Disraeli (former British Prime Minister and confidant of Queen Victoria)

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15

Hello beautiful souls,

And hello June! What's happening, how did we get here? The sands of time are rushing through my fingers! Is it just me? May's weather is still trying to hang on with blustery winds today, how does it manage a head wind in every direction? I rode my bike earlier and almost got blown to Timbuctoo! Speaking of riding my bike, I peddled out last weekend with my daughter to a local Victorian walled garden to see if the Wisteria was out. It is magnificent.

My flower seedlings are now robust plants with many making their way into the beds. I've decided Borage is off the growing list for next year. Yes it's sweet, pretty and you can eat the flowers, but it thrives despite neglect and grows like a weed, it's taking so much of my compost and precious real estate . The bees do like it but every seed germinated and I am currently overrun! 😅

I've had some wonderful experiences through May, there's nothing like overseas visitors to help you play tourist in your own town. I've posted some of this over on my Chapel Studio Substack.

Thank you to those of you who have supported me financially over on the Sub, it really means alot to me and every little helps.

Spring's clothing is glorious right now, my daily walks are such therapy to my heart. I sense the grandeur, the kindness and extravagant love of God in every buttercup.


Did you know I link every book, film, recipe etc in the Beagle? Where you see words highlighted, simply click the link.


In the Studio

I'm continuing to faff with flowers and composite images, it's fun but still much to learn. This backdrop is A Venetian Balcony by William Merritt Chase. These parrot tulips always remind me of one of my very favourite poems, I'll share it below. My daughter spotted this handmade little jug in a charity shop, it's the perfect aesthetic for my style of work.

Still Life

An Anchoring Moment

I was driving me and my American friend back from a wonderful day out in London recently. We watchfully followed the Sat Nav as I hadn't been this way before, "There are no mountains", she said, looking around to try and get her bearings. Back in her hometown of Colorado Springs there is the constant presence of the Rocky Mountains and Pike's Peak which provide a landmark by which to locate yourself when disorientated. This gave me a wonderful visual of my need to find God when I'm feeling lost.

Do you ever have down days like that, moments when your soul 'refuses to be comforted' and you just can't see God in the thick of it? I've learned over the years to look up sooner rather than later but it's still an effort when you're feeling overwhelmed. The thing is, as with the mountain, God is always there; immovable, steady, strong and sure, it's we who've turned, or had our gaze turned away.

God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer. When I’m far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, I call out, “Guide me up High Rock Mountain!” - Psalm 61:2 The Message

There's no denying the evidence of my life following Jesus, He is the landmark who steadies my compass.

Some undoing I've had to undertake is that of circumstantial theology; the idea that my circumstances are a reflection of my standing with God. Having started my faith journey in a cultish environment I find this insidious, destructive teaching isn't limited to the extremes. Like airborne seeds it's crept its way into many denominations.

When things were going well I believed I was under God's shadow of protection, in the shade of the 'High Rock Mountain'. But when life took a down turn, even missing that parking space, the shade of favour had lifted. This was of course all backed up by scripture, weaponised against us to keep us obedient. We were taught that when we do well we'll be blessed coming in and blessed going out. And when we don't, we were cursed with a curse. There was also the convenient alternative teaching, blame the devil. I swear we were more harassed than Jesus Himself if that were true!

It was so freeing to read of Paul and the other apostle's lives, how they'd endured so much suffering and hardship yet were God's precious ones. Shipwrecks, beatings, hunger, persecution, snake bites, imprisonment, illness, sleeplessness, cold, loneliness, sorrow, betrayal, abandonment, yet in all these things, still God's chosen, still loved, still known and held. The belief in God's constant love is the anchor in the bedrock to enduring faith.

On the day I cried out, you answered me. You encouraged me with inner strength. - Psalm 138:3 CEB

Sometimes, for whatever reason, be it insecurity, attachment style, upbringing, bad teaching, hurts from Christians, it can be a genuine challenge to connect with God's love when you're hurting.

I'll always remember sitting on my lounge room floor in floods of tears, feeling deeply rejected by my church. I had my bible open to Psalm 91.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty . . . . He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge . . .

"I just want someone to take me under their wing" I sobbed as my husband tried to comfort me. He gently rubbed my back and put his arm around my shoulder, "You've got me". I sadly confess I was unable to see at the time that the Lord had already answered my heart cry, that His invisible hold can be felt in the arms of a loved one.

As my friend and I drove home that day our hearts were full. Friendship is a gift, it's also a garden which needs cultivation. You need to make time and keep it sacred on the calendar. Throughout our day we'd shared hearts, picnicked on a bench by a pond, giggled at jokes, unburdened our worries. She had helped point me back to the Mountain in areas I felt disorientated and reminded me of that great Presence with me. I'm grateful for the friends in my life who lift my eyes to see Him on days when I need a little extra navigational help. "Where hearts meet ministry happens", Sally Clarkson says and it's proven true in my life time and time again. I hope you can give yourself space this month to anchor yourself in God's love, whether alone or with a friend over something delicious. God bless you.

"Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer". - Ed Cunningham


"The Hundred-Foot Journey" is a 2014 film directed by Lasse Hallström. It is based on the novel of the same

name by Richard C. Morais. The story revolves around the Kadam family, who leave India and settle in a small village in France after a tragedy. They open an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai, directly across the street from a Michelin-starred French restaurant run by Madame Mallory, played by Helen Mirren.

The film follows the clash of cultures and culinary styles between the Indian and French establishments. Hassan Kadam, the Kadam family's talented young son, develops a passion for cooking and becomes a prodigious chef, incorporating Indian flavors and techniques into his culinary creations. Madame Mallory, initially wary of the Indian restaurant, eventually recognizes Hassan's talent and takes him under her wing.

As the two restaurants compete, an unexpected romance blossoms, and the characters learn valuable lessons about tradition, acceptance, and the power of food to bring people together. "The Hundred-Foot Journey" explores themes of cultural identity, family, and the pursuit of one's dreams, with a blend of heartwarming moments and delectable visuals of food.

The Light We Carry on Netflix. An interview with Michelle Obama by Oprah.

This interview, which I believe was a part of Michelle's book tour is a treasure of wisdom and insight. I love the friendship between her and Oprah, the conversation flowed easily and naturally.

Michelle is very funny, her humour disarms the usual resentments about marriage, friendship, and life's challenges, of which she's had many. Drawing heavily from her father's influence and loving upbringing you can see how her childhood helped shape her into the woman she became.

Michelle wrote the book during lockdown as she herself was struggling with the pressures it presented and wanted to reach out to encourage others.

One favourite aspect she refers to as her source of sanity is her 'kitchen table' - the group of friends she's collected over many years. I value this in my own life; women who get you, know you, cheer and challenge you. This interview felt like we were being invited around that table and it was a privilege to lean in and glean for these two precious icons.

[Occasionally my recommendations may not be for everyone. My choice of films, books etc are based on my particular tastes and tolerances. Just a note for my G-rated friends]


Listening to

I don't often recommend worship songs/music because to be honest, I find much of it very uninspiring, cookie cutter. But this month I've curated a little playlist with some beautiful songs for you. These have stopped me in my tracks and given me pause to breath, reflect, adore Him, dare I say raise my hands.

I'm a little obsessed with this artist discovery, Spencer Annis. I have his songs on repeat in the studio and you'll see a few of his tracks in the playlist.



Death of Flowers

Edith Joy Scovell

I would if I could choose

Age and die outwards as a tulip does;

Not as this iris drawing in, in-coiling

Its complex strange taut inflorescence, willing

Itself a bud again - though all achieved is

No more than a clenched sadness,

The tears of gum not flowing.

I would choose the tulips reckless way of going;

Whose petals answer light, altering by fractions

From closed to wide, from one through many perfections,

Til wrecked, flamboyant, strayed beyond recall,

Like flakes of fire they piecemeal fall.

Judith's poem inspired me a couple of years ago to create my still life pairing Flakes of Fire and Answering Light.

But today I bring you a new-to-me poem taken from Malcom Guite's book David's Crown.

Psalm 93: XCIII Dominus regnavit

Malcom Guite

And trusting him until the day I die,

I will not fear the surging of the sea,

Though troubles in a flood-tide rise so high;

Wave after wave of panic surges through me

And other people’s fear and rage increase

My own, until the toxic mix is deadly.

But when it seems these troubles never cease

I sense beneath them all some solid ground,

A sure foundation and an inner peace,

And, over-arching them, the starlit round

Of heaven’s firmament. Though in between

The storms of life rage on, with all their sound

And fury, I still trust that all unseen,

Founded below and glorious above,

My saviour stands and keeps my soul serene.

I encourage you to visit Malcolm's website where you can find out more about this lovely piece and also hear him read it himself, wonderful.



I think you all deserve sainthood for bearing with me while I prep my notes from The Enchanted April. Our book talk will hopefully happen this side of 2023! I use a fantastic note taking service called Roam Research to collate all my writings and this is the first time I'm working through a book and transferring each quote into it. It's taking longer than expected but will be well worth it in the end. I'll keep you posted over on Substack.

This month I will finish up the last 10% of throw books: Writing Down The Bones, The 5am Club and What's So Amazing About Grace.

What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. - Luke 12:6-7 The Message

What you might have missed on Substack

Podcast - Staying Soft Is Hard: Thoughts On Marriage, Adventures with Sally & Helping Friendship Blossom

Podcast - Teatime With Sally Clarkson: Adventures in a Royal Park and Nurturing Friendship.

I shared some lovely phots from our day out over on Substack, I hope you enjoy them.


For fun


Snaps from home

This feature has moved to Substack and is available to my paid subscribers.


Signing off

Dear friends, thank you for being with me another month. I'm thankful for your companionship and love to hear from you, it does help ease that sense of speaking into the abyss. Let me know how I can be an encouragement to you. If the Beagle blesses you please tell your friends about it and share it on your platforms if you have any. I would love to reach as many sweet women as possible.

God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you, because it does. You are loved.

Jacqui X


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