Drawing Ladies Out of the Shadow

Out of the Shadow

When I started this series, Out of the Shadow, I wanted to take a look at some the women in the Bible who are commonly seen “under the shadow” of another person or location. Hence it is not Out of the Shadows, but only one shadow. Although they are often well-known names, you will find it surprising how little you actually know about these women.

Book 1

Book 1 of the series is Naomi, Beloved Mother-in-Law, who lives under the shadow of her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Her story is contained in the Old Testament book of Ruth, yet that book begins with Naomi’s story and ends with Naomi’s story. If it hadn’t been for the bravery of Naomi, Ruth would not have converted to Judaism, moved to live among God’s people, and ultimately become part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Moved from her home to God’s “scrub bucket,” Naomi lived for years in a foreign and idolatrous land. She experienced several devastating losses before she made the first of a number of huge decisions.

Written in creative nonfiction, the story stays close to the biblical story, but is brought alive in a way that will help you identify with Naomi. Just as this lady of old faced life-changing decisions, so we too can face threatening situations trusting in Naomi’s God.

If you have read this book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon for me. Thank you.

Book 2

The next book in the series is Eve, Mother of All.  Of course we have all heard of Eve, the very first woman who was created in God’s own image. She lived in a beautiful garden, the Garden of Eden, and she was married to the first man, Adam. Remember her? She lived a perfect life in an idyllic setting.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.  As she’s drawn out of the shadow of the garden we find a real flesh-and-blood woman; the first wife, the first woman to give birth, the first woman to hold a newborn baby in her arms and ask, “Now what?”

Again, if you’ve read this book, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you.

Book 3

Next up is Miriam, Devoted Sister. I’m sure we all know about Moses, the baby rescued from the bulrushes alongside the crocodile-infested River Nile. We no doubt also know the story of Miriam, the little girl who bravely faced the Egyptian princess and suggested a plan that would save the life of her three-month-old baby brother. But what happened to the little girl as she became a woman living in a nation under slavery?

As we draw her out of the shadow of the baby in the bulrushes, we learn that she grew up in Goshen, at a time when her people were slaves to the wicked Pharaoh. Her parents were Godly people who not only taught Miriam about the God of their forefathers, they instilled their faith into their little boy who would leave them at the age of three to grow up in the Egyptian palace.

Miriam, Devoted Sister, ends at the point when the Hebrew nation gather at the border of Goshen,  about to embark on their amazing venture: the journey to the Promised Land.

Once more, if you’ve read this book, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon for me. Thank you.

 Book 4

When I first set out on this journey with Miriam, I wondered if I would find enough information to fill an entire book. Imagine my surprise when one book became two.

And so the 4th book in this series is Miriam, Gifted Leader. This takes up Miriam’s story at around eighty years old. Yet, as we will see, this was no fragile, elderly woman. She had far more energy than I have, and I imagine more than you. About to embark on an incredible journey that would take the rest of her life, she faced adventures and horrors of terrifying magnitude. Throughout that time, she showed herself to be a gifted leader in a time when women were not regarded as capable of taking the lead.

This story commences as the previous book ends. The Children of Israel gather at the exit from Goshen, about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. I invite you to pick up your bundles and get behind our leaders as we prepare to take our leave of Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the life of slavery. We will follow Miriam as she steps out of the shadow of her famous brother, Moses, and becomes a true leader in her own right.

As before, if you have read this book, please will you pop over to Amazon and leave an honest review? Thank you.

So who next?

And so in four books, I have covered three characters. Many have asked me, “Who next?” We will be taking an in-depth look at another lady out of the shadow (there are plenty!) and continue with the series. This lady was another slave, but in a very different type of shadow.

I am also in the process of compiling a book of 365 brief devotional messages based on some of the women of the Bible.

Which would you rather read first? Tell me in a comment below.

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Eighty-year-old and her Walk to Freedom

Miriam! Who was this amazing woman?

Miriam 1

The Young Miriam

Miriam! What a fascinating woman. Over the last months, I have spent time in her company. What a joy it has been to unpack her life story.

When I first set out on this journey, I wondered if I would find enough information to fill an entire book. Imagine my surprise when one book became two.

Devoted Sister

Miriam—Devoted Sister, tells of a little girl who saves the life of her baby brother, Moses. We trace her girlhood years as she faces the horrors of belonging to a large and rapidly-growing nation of slaves, owned and ill-treated by the Pharaoh of Egypt. Despite their conditions, her parents, Amram and Jochebed, manage to instill in their daughter a rich faith in the one true God, Yahweh. We draw Miriam out of the shadow of her famous brother, Moses, and get to know the young girl growing up in Goshen, Egypt.

The Elderly Miriam, still beautiful but a lot older and wiser

Gifted Leader

Miriam—Gifted Leader, takes up Miriam’s story at around eighty years old. Yet this is no fragile, elderly woman. As she embarks on an incredible journey that will take the rest of her life, she faces adventures and horrors of terrifying magnitude. She shows herself to be a gifted leader in a time when women are not regarded as capable of taking the lead.

In this book we are encouraged to pick up our bundles and get behind our leaders, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, as we take our leave of Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the life of slavery.

You will be encouraged by the way God used this woman who was well past her prime and her, at times, head-strong attitude. Miriam was a normal woman, far from perfection. That gives me hope. I am also far from perfection, and I suspect you are too.

  • These are currently eBooks available on Amazon.com
  • They will hopefully be converted to print next year.
  • Each book is a standalone. Although it is obviously best to read them both in order, this is not necessary.

Out of the Shadow

See the Out of the Shadow series to date here on my Amazon author page:


The Out of the Shadow series is what it suggests. It covers women from Scripture commonly thought of  under the shadow of another person or place.

  • So we have Naomi, who is commonly known as Ruth’s mother-in-law.
  • Next comes Eve, the first woman, who lived under the shadow of Adam as well as the Garden of Eden.
  • Then we look at Miriam, this woman who is first seen as a ten-year-old, then followed through into her nineties! An amazing woman indeed.

Each book stands alone, and they don’t need to be read in order.

Opening Special!

Word-of-mouth is crucial for any author to succeed. If you enjoy a book, consider leaving a review on Amazon.com. Even a line or two is a huge help.

If you want to be among the first to know about Shirley’s new books, please leave your name and email address below. This will not sign you up to receive heaps of spam or lengthy newsletters.

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When did you last have a field day?

This entry is part 5 of the series Common Sayings

 

Each Monday, I’m posting on my blog about a phrase or common saying, what they mean and how they came about.

I’m working through the alphabet and choosing one saying for each letter.

Have you ever heard or used the expression, “He’s having a real field day” . . .  or “The kids had a field day when their teacher wasn’t around to keep them quiet?”

That’s what we’re looking at this week. What does it mean to have a Field Day? And where did the expression come from? read more

What is an Author’s Street Team

Originally written in November 2017. Updated August, 2018.

There is no point in publishing a book if no one knows it's there. Click To Tweet

Would you agree?

That’s where the idea of a street team comes into being.

What is a Street Team?

It all began for me when my friend, Marion Ueckermann, mentioned the term to me during a Whatsapp call. I immediately asked if I could join hers to see how it worked. And, of course, I turned to Google to learn more.

How to be Part of a Powerful Street Team. Read more here. Click To Tweet

At iUniverse I found this: “A street team is a group of volunteers who band together to promote an author and his or her book. Members of a street team are motivated by their love of an author’s work to promote it to as many people as possible.”

I learned a good deal from various sources, but most of all from a guest post by Jennifer Probst, a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

In Jennifer’s words, “A street team is a dedicated group of readers who like your work and are interested in helping promote your books. These readers are interested in helping to promote your book because your relationship with them is mutually beneficial. They get to hang out online with one of their favorite authors and receive exclusive material, and you get help with promotion to share new releases, giveaways, and special events.” read more

How to Build Something Beautiful in Your Life

Click on image to see book on Amazon.com

Disclosure: This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience.
Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

I think many of us who are in our senior years often look back and think of all the things we should have / could have done with our lives. As the years run by, we long to do something that will count, and yet can we? Do we have time left to make a difference in today’s world?

Challenging Sermon

Yesterday in church, the minister quoted from a book by Malcolm Muggeridge titled, Something Beautiful for God. It seems that this worldly skeptical author experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity because of Mother Teresa’s exemplary influence. He hails her as a “light which could never be extinguished.”

He first interviewed her for the BBC. The interview became so popular that a year later he traveled to Calcutta with a film crew to produce a documentary about Mother Teresa’s work among the poor people of that city. The documentary was called “Something Beautiful for God,” a title which would subsequently be given to his book about Mother Teresa.

One of Mother Teresa’s favorite Scripture verses was “Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” She lived and died according to that Scripture. Muggeridge’s book covers mostly the author’s conversations with this Nobel Peace Prize Winner (1979) and contains many of her quotes.

Yet it was not Mother Teresa’s life that yesterday’s preacher chose to draw attention to, but her belief that we each are able to do something beautiful with our lives. Mother Teresa stressed it didn’t need to be something big or heroic.

Mother Teresa’s philosophy in life:

'Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.' ~ Mother Teresa Click To Tweet

On the same line, she also said,

'I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.' Mother Teresa Click To Tweet

At the end of the sermon, the preacher urged us to look for the “something beautiful” God has called us to do. If we couldn’t identify it, the minister urged us to look for it. It may be something small, like that little pencil (who, in God’s hands, did a tremendous work for the Lord). But if the Lord has called us to do it, its value is priceless, and its effect will be immeasurable. But if we could already identify it, herein lay the challenge. Were we using it to grow something beautiful? Or were we just seeking to make the best of it?

I was truly challenged and immediately identified two areas where the Lord had called me.

1. He’s called me to write for Him.

I admit I never saw my writing as “something beautiful.” I write the best I can, and produce the most professional work I am able to do, but something beautiful? Is my writing sending a gift to the world? An action of love? A beautiful thing? I find that concept challenging as well as exciting. It increases my desire to write, and to “write to inspire” (my tagline). Not everyone is called to write amazing trilogies or blockbuster movies. Even a “little pencil in the hand of a writing God” can send “a love letter to the world.”

2. He has also called my husband and I to a ministry called Prime Timers

where we seek to reach the over 50’s in our community. We deliberately don’t try to turn it into a Gospel meeting. We’re wanting people to come to the meeting who would normally never darken a church door. For a nominal donation, they receive top rate entertainment, a good morning tea with cakes and snacks, and fellowship around tables. And we see to it that there is something inspirational in each program to point them to God and their need for Him.

Mother Teresa by Manfredo Ferrari

Suddenly, a light bulb went off for both of us.

Is what we’re doing something beautiful? And are we doing it for Him? If the answers to both of those are “Yes,” we’re on the right track.

“There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in – that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.” ~ Mother Theresa

How about you?

What are you doing that is beautiful?

I close with one last quote.

'There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.' ~ Mother Teresa Click To Tweet

After you’ve left a comment, do yourself a favor and click on this link to hear a wonderful rendition of “Something Beautiful” by Bill Gaither.

Why Are South Africans Wearing Black Today? #BlackMonday

In South Africa, we’re wearing black today. Why?

Because it’s Black Monday.

This is going to be a very different post, and I’m hoping you will follow it to the end. (It’s not all that long!)

All across South Africa, people are dressed in black. The suggestion came from a devastated farm manager last Tuesday, after a farmer was murdered on his farm near Stellenbosch, a town about 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of Cape Town. This was yet one more to add to a spate of farm murders and attacks that have plagued the country in recent months.

70 people have died in farm attacks since the start of 2017. But it’s not only the farmers. According to figures recently released, around 52 people are murdered every day.

A nation in mourning.

And so we are a nation in mourning. People across the country are wearing black, some to show an awareness to the farmers’ plight, others to draw attention to the ridiculously high rate of rampant crime.

Black Monday is about drawing attention to the rapes and the murders that are becoming every day occurrences in our beautiful land. But whether we’re wearing black or not, whether we’re thinking specifically of farmers or not, we’re all saying, “We’ve had enough!”

Across the nation, gatherings have been held. Highways were blocked by cars and trucks. People stood in groups, all dressed in black. Crowds of people sank to their knees along the roadsides and in the fields, praying for God’s intervention. It’s not only for the farmers. It’s for all men, women and children who have lost their lives in our beloved country.

One good thing about Black Monday

The great thing is that, outside of the tragedy and the mourning, there is again a sense of solidarity. One lady wrote in a newspaper that she wished all those with a negative response to this call could feel what she felt. She said, “die gevoel van samehorigheid en saam staan hier kan geen woorde beskryf nie!!!”  (“the feeling here of solidarity and standing together is indescribable”)

So why am I writing this way?

I want to ask you first to watch this video about Black Monday, and look at a country in mourning. See the cross-section of people of all races and ages. And then please, will you pray for our land? Pray for our government to wake up and take action. Pray for our law enforcement units to stand together in their fight against crime. Pray for our farmers, for protection and for courage, that they will be able to keep feeding the nation. And pray for the people of this rainbow land, that we may stand together under the banner of an Almighty God.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge. This is the final post in the challenge.

Cover Background Survey Results

Inspirational photo taken on my son’s property in Africa

Thank you to all who contributed to this survey.

As those of you who responded know, I am

working on an inspirational book based on stories and images of Africa. At the same time, I discovered I had credits with a photo stock company that I had to use within two days. My Scots blood would not allow these to go to waste, so I had to jump ahead and buy something I would use in the future.Opinion Stage

I tried several software programs to run a survey. None of them suited my requirements until I came to  Opinion Stage. This turned out to be ideal, and it had excellent support.

I created five polls, then joined them into a set and asked you to vote on each poll.

Each poll consisted of a choice of three photographs which could have been used as a cover background for my upcoming book. However, I wasn’t committed to using one of the 15 photos. I wanted to find out, with your help, what TYPE of picture would tempt people to take the book off the shelves and read the back cover.

 

Categories

Each photo focused on one of three categories:

  • Scenic view
  • Animal scene
  • Sunset 

This was an extremely useful exercise, and I will definitely use the idea again. It showed my idea of what you would like and your idea of what you would like were polls apart. (Pun intended!)

Now, I do know there were not that many people participating (77) and hopefully next time I will be able to run one for a longer time. Nevertheless, the results were enough to show a clear trend, which is what I wanted.

Here is a reminder for you of the 5 polls you voted on:

Out of a total of 333 votes, the statistics read as follows:

  • Scenic view, which I anticipated being highest: 17.74% preferred this type of image.
  • Animal scene, which I expected to be a close runner-up, scored 21.12%
  • Sunset came in with a high 61.8%

Out of the entire option of 15 photographs, one came out as a clear leader. The ellie with the sun shining through the trees. What a magnificent photo!

So what inspirational photo did I choose?

As I live in South Africa and have taken a lot of sunset and animal photos myself, and I also have a couple of family members who take wonderful photos, I decided not to spend my credits on this picture, beautiful though it is. I’m sure, with the help of Photoshop, I can create a photo similar to the ellie photo if that’s what I decide to go with. And I can always go back and purchase it if I wish.

So I spent my credits on a photo that I can change in various ways and use, if not for this book, for another. I probably won’t use it exactly as it stands, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a lovely photograph—and it is certainly one I wouldn’t be able to create.

Thanks to 123rf for this photo. Hover over the image to get the attribution.

So thank you to all those of you participated. I was amused by the number of people who commented on the photo at the top, taken on my son’s property in Hoekwil, South Africa.

Over to you:

Whether or not you participated in the survey, won’t you tell me which, out of all the photos on this page, you would like to see on the cover of a devotional book? That includes the one on my son’s property, and the one I finally downloaded. Just describe which one you like best.

Of course, if you like C best, you will add something about the picture so I can identify it, right? Yes, I knew you would.  😆

The Best of Everything. #Share Your World

This entry is part 13 of the series Share Your World

SC: I’ve been out of action with this challenge for a few week. This week, Cee Neuer asks some deep but fun questions in her Share Your World Challenge. Here are my answers.

SYW: wants to know: What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

SC: A day relaxing at a resort with my entire family including my brother and his family. 

SYW: Complete this sentence: My favorite place in the whole world…..

SC:My favourite place in the whole world is the secluded beach on the outskirts of Gordon’s Bay in the Cape. It has trees overhanging the sand, a long beach walk, magnificent mountain scenery, and a fish and chip shop just up the road if you forgot to pack the sandwiches. We have been there with all three babies, so it holds special memories.

SYW: Who was your best friend in elementary school (prior to age 12)?

SC: Jackie Ford. We met when we lived in the same block of flats in Gwelo, Rhodesia (now called Gweru, Zimbabwe) when we were about due to start school. As only children, six months apart, we bonded instantly. We spent our free time from school (prior to 12) like sisters. We shared our mischief and our fun and rarely fought, which is more than can be said for our two dogs. Jackie’s cross foxy, Patches, and my Heinz 57, Brownie, hated each other with a vicious passion, despite the hours they were forced to spend together.

Both of our mothers went out to work, and we were supervised (sort of!) by our grandmothers. Poor old ladies. When I think what we put them through!

When we reached high school age (going on 13), our parents moved to opposite sides of town and we were forced to go to different high schools. So although we are still in touch today, mainly through Facebook, we ended up making new friends. Sadly, I don’t have one photo with us both in it. Jackie, if you’re reading this, do you have any?

SYW: What inspired you this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

SC: Okay, you know what’s coming right? I returned from our 50th wedding celebration to 5 cutting dies from China, and a further 5 arrived during the week. One of them was a beautiful lacy umbrella. I had no idea why I’d ordered it and couldn’t find ideas for cards. It was too big to use it with other dies that I had. So I needed serious inspiration. Here’s a few of what transpired:

How about you?

1. What inspired you this week?

2. Would you like to join the Share Your World challenge? Cee posts a few questions each week, and all participants need do is answer them. It’s a cool way to get to know one another. The idea is to answer the questions without overthinking them and just have fun. If you are interested in joining this blogging challenge—just copy/paste the above questions into a new post and answer them. Then put the link for your post here: Cee’s Challenge.

 

Where did these Strange Expressions come from?

This entry is part 4 of the series Common Sayings

Back to Common Phrases!

After a gap, I’m returning to posting each Monday about a strange expression or common saying. We’ll look at what they mean and how they came about. Sometimes there will be only one saying, while other times there may be more. I won’t in any way cover all the possibilities as I’d like to complete the series in this lifetime. But it should be fun. Join me?

I intend working through the alphabet, so sign up at the end of the post so you don’t forget to visit me each Monday and perhaps participate by adding suggestions.

Today we look at G. And we have two common sayings.

Get out of bed on the wrong side is a strange expression!

We have all heard this strange expression. We’ve probably said it.

And oh dear! We may well have been accused of this! I know I have, and with good reason. (I don’t DO early mornings if I can help it!)

When someone is grumpy or bad tempered during the day, we often say he “got out of the wrong side of bed.”

out of bed on the wrong side

Olden Days

This is based on superstition from the olden days. Many people believed that evil spirits lurked on one side of the bed during the night.

If you were unfortunate enough to clamber out of bed on their side, those evil spirits and their influence would inhabit your body for the entire day.

The only solution to this problem was to make sure the next dawn you got out of the correct side! (I don’t think I would have ever gone back to sleep!)

The Romans were well known for their superstition that a left-sided anything was evil, so that may well be from where that expression evolved. (That must have been tough on left-handed soldiers!)

Getting the sack is another strange expression!

Today, this means the person has lost his job, been fired, been dismissed without honor.

This common phrase may well go back to the 17th century, where workers carried the tools of their trade in a large sack. When an employer took them on to do a certain task, he would then hold the worker’s sack which contained the unneeded tools, for safe keeping.

When the man completed his job and was no longer needed, the employer would return the sack to him. There was therefor no disgrace. To be given the sack in those days meant they could carry their sack of tools to their next place of work.

Are there any other strange expressions you can think of that start with G? I can think of a few. How about you? Share them below in a comment.

 

Share My World

This entry is part 12 of the series Share Your World

Last post I shared the plans we had for celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary. As with all plans, some worked out as expected, others changed mid-stream. But all round it was a great time.

I’ve missed a couple of weeks of blogging, so I’m pulling myself up by my bootstraps (to use a well-worn but appropriate cliche!) and trying to get back into routine. This week, instead of doing Cee’s Share Your World challenge, I thought I would Share My World, and tell you more about our celebration holiday (a.k.a. vacation). So if you’re interested, read on.

read more