About Me

My video interview for New Wine Conference, 2017 – on my journey of faith, chronic illness, and the silences of God

tanya profile pic 2016

© Tanya Marlow – Profile Picture

Bio in brief: 

Tanya Marlow is an author, speaker and broadcaster on faith and spirituality.

She is also a campaigner for those with chronic illness, disability and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

Formerly a lecturer in biblical theology, with a decade of experience in Christian ministry, she has been published by The Spectator, Relevant, Premier Christianity magazine and others. She admits to a weakness for karaoke, sunny days and laughing at her own jokes. You can find her in a vicarage in Devon, England with her husband and bouncy son, or writing honestly about finding God in hard places and the messy edges of life at www.tanyamarlow.com.

 

Author of Three Books: 

She is the author of Those Who Wait: Finding God in disappointment, doubt and delay (Malcolm Down Publishing, 2017) – a creative and transformative journey through the lives of four Bible characters who waited impatiently – and found God in their frustrated longings. Preorder from Wordery (free worldwide delivery) or look out for the introductory offer 16-26th October on Amazon.

She is a contributor to Soul Bare – Stories of Redemption ed. Cara Sexton (IVP USA, 2016) alongside Seth Haines, Sarah Bessey, Emily P Freeman and more.

Her first book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty (2015), intertwines her own story with the biblical book of Ruth, offering a path back to God after disappointment and loss. (Get it for FREE here).

tanya profile pic garden

What do I write about?

My writing covers a whole host of topics, but circles around the spirituality of suffering:

  • How do we relate to God when hard times come?
  • What if God doesn’t feel near?
  • Where can God be found?
  • What if we are plagued with doubt?
  • How does it really feel to have chronic illness?
  • Where does the church fit in?
  • What if we find ourselves in a wilderness or limbo state?

My background is in theology and ministry, but I have an English Literature degree, and I like to tackle these topics creatively, interweaving story and metaphor with spiritual truth.

I love exploring the Bible so it gets under your skin, ministers to your spirit, and leads you to Jesus.

Vulnerability and authenticity is a way to unlock courage in other people, so I write honestly about my life and weaknesses.

I dabble in feisty social justice, especially M.E. advocacy, rights for disabled people, and feminism.

This is a space for people who feel like they don’t belong. It is a place for doubters, lamenters, broken, disappointed, wobbly or lost – those who have seen the muck and of life and somehow still seek gold therein. This blog is for cynics and hopers, word-lovers and God-seekers. (I also habitually recommend good books and am occasionally hilariously funny*.) You are welcome here, and I’d love to get to know you more.

*honestly, I am.

tanya marlow feisty pic

Writer, Broadcaster, Campaigner:

  • I was the founder of Compassionate Britain, a grassroots campaign that united Christians to speak up for disabled people against the government cuts affecting their essential support. I also campaign for better treatment and funding for M.E. patients with #MEAction Network.  

Birthday Trip out of the house

Background: 

  • I was formerly a lecturer in Biblical Theology, and Associate Director for a homiletics training course (accredited by St Mark and St John University, Plymouth, UK).
  • I have had ten years’ experience as a Christian minister in both church and student ministry, and have been a speaker and preacher at national Christian conferences (Spring Harvest, New Wine, Greenbelt etc). I hold a post-graduate qualification in pastoral counselling. 

Tanya profile pic wall

 

My health:

  • In 2007, I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, a debilitating chronic autoimmune neurological disease, which affects my mobility and energy, and comes with a plethora of annoying symptoms. You can read more about it here.
2016 M.E. Action Protests for Better research and treatment

Sept 2016 – M.E. Action Protests for Better research and treatment

  • In 2010, my world changed when I gave birth and my M.E. tipped over into ‘severe M.E.’ Since then I have been housebound, needing to spend approximately 21 hours per day in bed, only able to leave the house once or twice a month for a brief trip out in my wheelchair. I now measure out my life in teaspoons. I need to rest much of the day, and have to strictly ration my time talking with friends, writing, or playing with my son.
  • In 2014 I was also diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which means my body does not enjoy being upright, and my heart goes crazy when I stand up.
  • Living with chronic illness has shaped and refined my theology, and made me passionate about justice for marginalised people. You can read more about my response to this in Why Thorns and Gold?

 

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My family:

  • I have an amazing husband who is a vicar (church minister) in the Church of England, and we live by the sea in Devon, UK. (NB the picture above is NOT Devon. It’s Greece…) He’s an artist, scholar, wine connoisseur, preacher-man and organiser of legendary kids’ parties. He blogs sporadically here.
  • We have a small-but-loud golden-haired son whose company we enjoy immensely. To protect him from future teenage friends googling his name and finding out all the cute things he did as a toddler, I refer to him online as ‘boy’.

tanya pic lounge

Wanna know even more about me? Click on my More About Me page for some fun facts.

But enough about me – what about you?  Please do introduce yourself, say, hi, interact and leave a comment, tell me your story – I’d love to hear it.

Wanna keep in touch? Please do! The best way is to subscribe to my blog (unsubscribe at any time). Just enter your email below and get your book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty, for FREE:

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186 Responses to About Me

  1. Ruth Livingstone 31st October, 2018 at 4:08 pm #

    Hi Tanya

    I have been struck down with ME 10 months ago, but not destroyed ?. I’ve had to give up my career but I’m looking for ways to still have an impact within my new boundaries. You are such an inspiration in this – despite your struggles you are still able to help others.

    Thanks!

  2. Michael Allen 25th October, 2018 at 11:38 am #

    Thank you Tanya for your introductory letter. I particularly liked the greeting “Wonderful person!” I am a retired Methodist minister, married to Sally, with a son Richard who has been mentally for 20 years.I am 76 of age and am his carer. He lives alone near Cambridge and we 70 miles away in Ipswich, but we spend weekends together either here or in his flat. Naturally I wonder what will become of him when I am no longer able, for in many ways he is dependent on us. At least he can drive his car.

    I suppose there are two ways of looking at the situation, which are possibly not mutually exclusive. We can wait in faith and hope that at the right time, God will provide ( it’s really impressive about the succession of help you received for your baby, not a moment too early; not a moment too soon). I like to think of it as God coming along to rescue like a white knight. But does this absolve us from seeking solutions in the meantime? I must admit I am an activist to find such, eg a younger Christian family to take him on; seeking to introduce him to Christian girl who might marry him! He is actually quite unmotivated. Just now I have fixed him up with a recommended psychotherapist.

    My dilemma is that I don ‘t know whether this activity on his behalf is a proper use of my God-given gifts or actually a lack of faith that God will provide in the right way at the right moment.

    By the way I loved your sermon in Preach magazine,
    and hope you have lots of responses.

    There are some theological points I would like to share with you, but this is sufficient for now!

    With every blessing,

    Michael

  3. Ruth 9th August, 2018 at 6:14 pm #

    Hi Tanya

    Thank you for your emails – or are they called blogs? Perhaps they’re blogs that are emailed?? I’ve never used a blog thing before but was spurred on to it by Premier blog awards email requesting nominations.

    Your emails are so helpful to me (I have ME/CFS too) I wanted to nominate you. So I have. Hope you continue to get recognised. I see you already have some awards. I’m not surprised.

    May God bless you and your ministry. Also your moving house and renovations. I’ve done that a few times with ME/CFS – not easy!!! Like you said in your blog/email about renovations, you have to remember priorities. Have fun too – practical and joyful are both needed in a home.

  4. Peter Allison 23rd July, 2018 at 10:35 am #

    Hi Tanya, can’t remember how I was led to your website but am so pleased I was! I have had ME for nearly 20 years, it follows a bit of a relapse/remission cycle and presently I am in quite a deep relapse unfortunately.

    As a Christian, like you I am interested in how the church deals with illness and misfortune in general, in our opinion not very well…both my wife and I go through it together of course.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t caring and loving people in our church, it’s just that overall the emphasis seems to be on victorious Christian living and any negativity is pushed under the carpet.

    Could say lots more, but thanks again for the book, might write again when I’ve read it.

  5. Becki 29th June, 2018 at 6:56 pm #

    I heard you speaking on the radio yesterday and it was so encouraging to me to hear a Christian speaking up about M.E on a public platform that I googled you and have signed up to your blogs!

    I suffered from a severe bout of glandular fever 15 years ago and was signed off university for 6 months. Although I recovered some strength I never fully recovered and have struggled physically since. I sometimes feel isolated, misunderstood by friends and family and frustrated but God has been my Rock, my Fortess & best friend and has taught me so much through this physical illness.

    My husband is not a Christian but over the course of our married life he has come to fully support me and understand my limitations and need for pacing. We have 3 children and he helps a lot with school runs, taking to after school clubs etc. Not many people ‘get it’ as I can live some sort of fulfilling life but they do not see a lot of what goes on behind closed doors. I have some sort of battery running in me but it’s never quite fully charged and I get ill when I don’t pace myself according to my limits which is very frustrating! Thanks for letting me share and God bless and keep you safe in His arms. There is no better place to be. xx

  6. Louise 15th June, 2018 at 1:46 am #

    Hi Tanya,

    Thanks so much for the honesty and vulnerability that you share. It’s not easy having a chronic illness in church as is seems like people just feel awkward around you! My experience is that people just focus on prayer for healing (which is great of course!) But don’t really consider the practical and emotional side of what you might need and how you’re responding to the illness. It’s always so good to know there are other spoonies out there who have this hope that goes beyond our situation. I’m only 25 and about to turn 26 but I just feel done. It seems like birthdays are just another reminder of a year in which it feels like I will make little impact on the world or am totally limited in what I do. I’m young and married and want to enjoy life with my husband before we have kids but it seems like all of those things are up in the air! Sometimes it is hard to see the hope! Thanks again for showing that doing life with Jesus with our illness is possible and inspiring so many.

  7. Ngozi Anita Onyekwere 16th May, 2018 at 11:33 pm #

    Hi Tanya, greetings and how are you and your beloved family doing.
    I need to chat with you, my situation, pain and deep agonizing pain.
    We were rejected by our hubby/daddy, left for death.
    Though I am still struggling to keep my integrity and stay afloat.
    We’ve seen it all and God has been faithful and has been sustaining us all thru.
    I need a true upright and uncompromising child/daughter of GOD.
    The world right is full of evil and deceit, I need a friend, a lifter, a mentor to help me to be steadfast without faltering.
    My life challenges has become a hopeless situation and a crossroad, all I need is GOD all around me.
    I am like a beggar, “the head that is a confused and complicated being.
    I can’t figure out what is wrong with me.
    I need to chat with you.
    God bless you Tanya.
    My story has overwhelmed me.

  8. Hepzibah 10th May, 2018 at 8:32 pm #

    Shalom! Hope you grasp all the meanings of the greeting. I am a reader for Torch trust (a Christian charity serving the visually impaired). I have just been sent your book “Those who wait” to read. The LORD has an amazing way of sending me books which I hope will bless many but which I also need. I have a disability from birth and as I age it gets harder in many ways. I have found God in the midst, but my jewish family do not yet share Him so Sarais journey of loss of close family as she obeys the call mirrored my own. And expressed what I had not yet put into words from a recent visit to my sister.
    I believe the Saviour wishes to go into all that has been traumatic and painful in my childhood and since, so have invited Him to get into those places. My emotions can be very harsh as the pain comes out… I have found the way you unpack the emotions in each circumstance has been so helpful – I see both myself and the love of the Lord in your writing. It has greater integrity as one recognises some at least is what you have lived through – it has become flesh in your life. Thank you so much. I have a family out there.

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