Thankful Thursday ~ Post 42 ~ The End of a Year and a Challenge!

This entry is part 42 of the series Thankful Thursday


This series is in the process of being removed. This final post, and the previous one, will remain for a further few days, by which time I hope to have the full summary of posts up, just to prove that I did indeed achieve what I set out to do: 2018 thanks by the end of the year. As I remove the posts, I am storing them on my computer, as it is my intention to list all the blogging tips in another series next year.

Thank you to all those who have enjoyed, commented, and encouraged me along the way. It’s been an exciting challenge, and at times it seemed impossible that I’d complete it. So it’s a great encouragement to me to know that I’ve made it!


  1. It’s with great joy and relief that I can say I’ve successfully reached the end of the Thankful Thursday Blogging Challenge of 2018!
  2. So what has been the purpose? It has been huge. I give thanks for the way it has taught me to look for the positive in every situation.
  3. There have been some tough times this year, scary times, times of real distress, and times when I quite honestly wanted to quit . . . blogging, writing, and many other things. Yet through it all, God reminded me of His goodness.
  4. Yes, there were times I didn’t think I could go on  . . . but I did. And through His strength, I conquered.
  5. There were times when everything seemed bleak and pointless. I was like the little engine, staring ahead at the huge mountain ahead and thinking, “I can’t do this!” But each time, when I turned my eyes back to God, I sensed His words, “Shirley, you’re right.  You can’t do it. But together we can!” And we did. Thank You Lord!


  1. The first post in this series was a guest post by Daleen Reyburn on 11th December last year, in which she described how a similar challenge changed her way of thinking. You can read her excellent post here.
  2. She pointed out how every day contained gifts. You didn’t have to wait for Christmas! And indeed I have found this to be true.
  3. During the most difficult and unhappy days throughout this year, when I took a hard look at the day, I could see God’s blessings. He never let up on giving me gifts—of encouragement, of people who loved me, of moments of joy and promises of a better day tomorrow.
  4. I have experienced the encouragement of a number of you following along, or taking up the challenge in your own way, and receiving blessing through it as well.
  5. My friend, Ruth Dell, who recently emigrated to Ireland, completed the challenge a few days ago. She didn’t do hers on a blog, but in the old fashioned way of pen and paper, which in many ways I think it far easier.
  6. And as she says, the challenge is over, but the thankfulness is not. I hope to continue this new habit for the rest of my life.
  7. I am a far better and nicer person to be around since I embarked on this challenge, and so I say a very big thank you to Dalene for her encouragement!
  8. The series began with a guest post, and I’m looking forward to another guest post in the near future written by Ruth on her experiences with this challenge. She too has had a challenging year with many ups and downs, but has found the Giving Thanks challenge a source of strength and encouragement.


  1. And so today is my final blog post of the year, 2018. I admit I’m glad. But I’m looking forward to a new year of challenges, times of joy, excitement, and above all, thankfulness.
  2. It is my prayer that you and I will both be able to face whatever 2019 may bring with the awareness of God’s presence by our sides, walking with us and encouraging us, granting us strength where it’s needed, and a promise of great things to come as long as we look to Him.
  3. We started 2018 with the multiple gifts of 365 days.
  4. What did you do with each of them? What did I do? I wish I could say I used them all wisely and to their best potential, but that wouldn’t be true. Yet, in each one I received the gift of knowing Jesus and His love. And that’s the greatest blessing any human being can ever have.
  5. And so I face 2019 with that same promise and prayer. That as I receive another package of 365 squeaky clean new days, I will use them wisely and strive to reach their full potential day by day.


  1. Do you set these? I have gone through so many variations of this theme. But this year’s one of 2018 thanks recorded during the year has I think been the most successful, and even though it faltered a few times, I managed to catch up and I’ve actually completed the year with the resolution intact.
  2. And so for 2019, I set only one resolution. I will constantly look for as many things to say thanks for every day throughout the year.
  3. I have decided this year I’m going to have a box next to my bed, and a pad of tiny slips of paper. Every night I will scribble down as many thanks as I can think of and stick them into the box. It’ll be fun reading through them at the end of the year!


  1. As many of you know, my husband and I run a ministry to the 50 Plus group in our community. Although it’s located in our church, it is open to all over 50’s of any (or no) faith. We meet once a month for a morning of great fellowship, a super tea, and some fabulous entertainment. This year, I intend issuing a challenge to each of the 60-70 people who attend each month, to each set aside a box next to their beds, and to start to fill them with thank you notes each evening.
  2. Pray with me for success in this project? Some of them will succeed. Some will reach the end of the year with a box brimming with thanks. Others will not. Indeed, there may well be some who don’t reach the end of the year. But if only they have spend some of their time giving thanks, it will have improved their days!


  1. I said I was only setting one resolution. But I would not be me if I didn’t have a whole stack of wishes for the year!
  2. And so I give thanks for the potential of those wishes.
  3. Thank You Lord for my writing.
  4. Thank You for the idea of a book of family stories. I look forward to collecting those.
  5. I look forward to seeing at least three books in print this year. Eve, Miriam, and my Family Stories.
  6. I hope to make a start to compiling an eBook of some of my short stories and articles. After all, if I don’t do something with them, the moment I depart Planet Earth, I know they’ll be relegated to the dustbin (garbage can)!
  7. These are not resolutions . . . I make not succeed in them all. But I’m grateful for the opportunity of trying.
  8. I also look forward to an opportunity of having fun (GASP!!!!! No specific reason other than FUN!) with my piano. I am excited about spending time just enjoying my beautiful piano and the musical talent God has given me, rusty though it is right now.
  9. I am happy about the future with Happy Echoes. For those of you who are not aware of this group, it is a choir of senior citizens, all retired, who love singing.
  10. There is a wonderful bond of love between us, and Monday mornings are a highlight of the year.
  11. We get together to learn new songs, practice the ones we’ve started, and generally have a lot of fun.
  12. Throughout 2019, we are likely to produce over 30 concerts for folk in the same retirement bracket including some who are in very sad financial and family situations. It is such a joy to be able to bring them an hour of entertainment and laughter.


  1. I look forward to times of fellowship and social get-togethers with my current friends and with other friends yet unmet whom the Lord brings across my path.
  2. Most of all, I anticipate some great times of fellowship and enjoyment with my Best Friend Forever, the man I married 51 years ago, as we grow older together. (Note, I say older. I don’t plan on ever growing OLD!)
  3. Rob of course is my human BFF. But 2019 will be a miserable year it I try to do it alone without my VBFF, my VERY best friend forever . . . and for eternity. I give the hugest thanks to Jesus, my Lord, who has been real to me since I was a very little girl, but who became my Saviour and the mainstay in my life in 1962.
  4. Truly, out of all the gifts I have ever received, He has been, and continues to be, the greatest.
  5. There’s a well-known old Scottish song that you probably know. It often gets sung at this time of the year. It talks of the value of old friends often forgotten, and so I give thanks for all of those.
  6. I give thanks for my school friends, many of whom I’ve “met up with” again through Facebook. Sometimes I don’t recognise them even as they were during those days, and certainly as they appear today, but I give thanks for friends who have been there for me throughout my over seventy years on this planet.
  7. I give thanks for the medium of Facebook, warts and all, and for the way it has brought old friends together, and introduced new friends.
  8. So yes, I give thanks to all of you, and to the many more whom I will never meet during our short time here on earth, but you have enriched my life immeasurably.
  9. And so I end this series as I say, THANK YOU 2018 for all your gifts, challenges, and experiences. For all the ups AND THE DOWNS! it has been a great ride.

And now I can end with that little steam train story yet again, this time quoting his final words as he crested the hill, “I knew I could! I knew I could! I knew I could!”

Yayyyyyyy! 2018 thank you’s! I’ve got there. Join me as we end the year with this traditional song:

I look forward to seeing you in the new year!


What one action, new habit, or attitude will you take into 2019? Share in the comments of this blog. Click To Tweet
 Disclaimer: Apart from a quick read-through as I worked, this post is basically unedited for time constraints as you’ll understand! If you spot something wrong, I ask you to do two things. 1. Forgive me, and 2. Point it out in a comment below. I’ll correct it asap. Thanks so much! (And of course, you will remember it is written in British English! 

Thankful Thursday ~ Post 41 ~ The end of a year

This entry is part 41 of the series Thankful Thursday


  1. About this time last year, I committed myself to completing blog posts covering 2018 thanks before the end of the year. I’m glad I did this.
  2. It has taught me to keep me an eye open for things to be grateful for.
  3. It’s been a tough year in many ways, but I soon found there was always something to say thanks for.
  4. The year has included a number of health emergencies, yet as a family we live to tell the tale!
  5. My blood pressures threw at least three readings well into stroke territory, yet I didn’t have a stroke!
  6. I saw the inside of casualty (ER) departments more than I ever want to see again, yet I am well!
  1. I tested out the new emergency medical service provided by the Echo Foundation who provide many of the retirement facilities in Port Elizabeth with a call out for paramedics and a rush per ambulance, siren and all, and I survived not only the ambulance ride, but the subsequent treatment to get the blood pressure down fast without putting my system into shock.


  1. We travelled this year. Oh how we travelled! Yet with no accident or mishap.
  2. Rob accepted a monthly position conducting a communion service at the beautiful seaside resort at Jeffrey’s Bay, nearly an hour’s drive away.
  3. This was a big help to us financially as well as giving him the opportunity to do what he loves most: bringing the Word of God alive through his fabulous sermons.
  4. Half way through the year, our friend, Jen, offered us the regular use of her holiday home in Aston Bay, just 10 minutes from Jeffrey’s Bay.
  5. That not only removed the need for a horribly early start the Sunday Rob was preaching there,
  6. it also gave us the opportunity to having a regular weekend away.
  7. Except for one month when it coincided with the Primetimers week, we went out most Thursdays and had a relaxing long weekend.
  8. Even the month when it did coincide with Primetimers, it was still great to be able to travel out to Aston in the Saturday afternoon, only returning on the Sunday afternoon.
  9. We also did a trip to East London to visit my brother and sister-in-law’s new B  & B. What a lovely weekend that was.
  10. We went half way through the Easter Weekend which gave us a chance to meet our very cute little great-niece, Julieanne who was visiting with her parents from Johannesburg.
  11. During the year we did several short trips to Hoekwil to our elder son and his wife and lovely young boys.
  12.  Except for the one trip, we also got to see our granddaughter, Sacha, as she now lives in George, a few miles away from Steve’s home.
  13. The exception was when Sacha went down with shocking flu just as we’d recovered. We didn’t dare risk catching her flu, especially as the Naomi launch was just round the corner.


  1. It was with excitement that I was finally able to convert one of my eBooks, Naomi, into print locally.
  2. We held a launch for the book here at our retirement village in the hall.
  3. It was attended by approximately 100 people, and I sold more than 100 books within the week.
  4. We have been blessed to see lots of our daughter and son-in-law who live in far-off Montenegro.
  5. Although they left us before the New Year 2017 it was only a few days before, and we still got to speak to them before they went back overseas.
  6. Then they came out midyear for a month,
  7. And we were able to hold the launch of Naomi at that time.
  8. So they were able to join us for that special occasion.
  9. Debbie did a stunning presentation of Naomi, whom I interviewed. Such fun.
  10. When we got together at Aston prior to the launch, first my son and daughter-in-law from Hoekwil came to join us.
  11. They just popped in for tea prior to moving on to PE where they were booked into a hotel
  12. so they could be involved in the launch.
  13. To our delight, when their car pulled up out hopped our grand-daughter, Sacha, who was originally not going to be able to make it.
  14. Then my brother and sister-in-law who had cancelled due to car trouble arrived.
  15. What a blessing to belong to such a caring family.
  16. This has encouraged me, and I have Eve nearly ready to publish,
  17. followed by Miriam, which I’m publishing as one book. (It’s two eBooks.)
  18. Some of my family have urged me to put into print a book of family stories. Not a biographical book, but snippets and stories that will bring a smile or a memory to mind.
  19. I have a book by Beth Moore that does this, and that prompted me to see how it could be done.


  1. As mentioned, the kids have given Rob a beautiful couch  / sleeper couch (double bed) for his birthday.
  2. This necessitated a clear out to make space.
  3. In the process, I emptied a filing cabinet full of writings.
  4. These go back to as early as the late 1990s, and it was fascinating reading some of the stories and articles I had done for various competitions, publications, and assignments.
  5. So I’m keen to try and compile them into a book this year.
  6. A few months ago, I “met up with” another authoress on Facebook and we agreed to partner each other for critiques.
  7. This went really well until we both hit a series of crises, both health wise and time wise. But I praise the Lord for the knowledge that in the New Year we will both be off to a whole new start.
  8. We have hit it off really well, and I know my writing is improved because of her input.p
  9. She has expressed similar sentiments which is great.


  1. As I write this, my daughter is playing the piano in the background.
  2. I think back to the years of practicing and lessons and give thanks for my musical family.
  3. I also give thanks that this year, the Lord answered our prayers by giving me a beautiful piano,
  4. as in a genuine gift! What a pleasure.
  5. It included a lovely piano stool big enough for two,
  6. so duets are in my plans for the new year!
  7. The end of this year has been chaotic as Carol (the director of Happy Echoes) has been ill, but the great thing is there are two of us who have been helping her.
  8. So where I am her assistant, Bev is now backing me up,
  9. which meant we could step in and run things for her. God is good!
  10. I look forward to a new year filled with music
  11. and having time to enjoy my new piano.
  12. As part of the clearing out process, I sold my electric keyboard,
  13. my piano accordian,
  14. and my guitar.
  15. We sold our round dining-room table and chairs
  16. as well as two bookcases
  17. and most of my writing books. (The one I wasn’t using.)
  18. With the money gained through the sales we have been able to buy a few things we needed which has been good.
 Disclaimer: Apart from a quick read-through as I worked, this post is basically unedited for time constraints as you’ll understand! If you spot something wrong, I ask you to do two things. 1. Forgive me, and 2. Point it out in a comment below. I’ll correct it asap. Thanks so much! (And of course, you will remember it is written in British English! 

Miriam Part II ~ Gifted Leader

Miriam Part II ~ Gifted Leader

is another Out of the Shadow book.

Meet Miriam, the gifted leader!

Would I find enough information to fill an entire book? That was my question when I first set out on this journey with Miriam. Imagine my surprise when one book became two.

Most of us know about the little girl who watched over her three-month-old brother as he sailed in a basket boat on the crocodile-infested River Nile. Her story is told in Miriam Part 1 ~ Devoted Sister, which ends as the Children of Israel gather at the exit to Goshen, their home for many decades, and prepare for their trip to the Promised Land.

Miriam ~ Gifted Leader takes up her 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. This in a time when women were not regarded as capable of taking the lead.

This story commences as the previous book ends. 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.

If you recognize this elderly lady from the previous Miriam book, you are right. She’s the same person. She’s just aged as we all do!

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

The Entertainer Blogger Award

About the Entertainer Blogger Award

A special thanks to Debbie Harris for nominating me for this Entertainer Award, along with many other entertaining and inspiring bloggers. I’m delighted to be part of this line-up! Deb writes an entertaining blog that covers adventure, travel and beautiful photography. Read her application for this award here, as it gives you some insight into the person behind the name!

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Share Your World #SYW ~ January 16, 2018

This entry is part 14 of the series Share Your World

SC: Hi Everyone! And to those whom I haven’t met up with elsewhere on the Blogosphere, a Very Happy and Blessed New Year to you! May 2018 be a year of great things, big or small. And no, that’s not a contradiction in terms. Small things sometimes turn out to be the biggest of blessings.

I’ve been out of action with this challenge for a few weeks, so I look forward to answering Cee Neuer’s fun questions in her Share Your World Challenge. By the way, it may interest you to know that there are currently 7,919 people following this challenge!

Here are my answers for this week:

SYW: Complete this sentence: I’m looking forward to….

Share your world, SYW, cards,

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.

If you want to be among the first to know about Shirley’s new books, please leave your name and email address below. I promise you will not receive heaps of spam or lengthy newsletters, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Want to receive notification of Shirley’s new releases?

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

Share Your World (#SYW) ~ July 10

This entry is part 10 of the series Share Your World

How do you like to spend a rainy day? That is the first question in this week’s Share Your World Challenge, run by Cee Neuner.

SYW asks: How do you like to spend a rainy day?

I would just love to have this problem! I live in the drought-ravished Nelson Mandela Bay in the Western Cape province of South Africa. We were recently declared a disaster area, and no—it had nothing to do with politics.

When we do have a rainy day (I live by faith!) I will probably spend it following my usual program of writing on my computer, but with regular thrilled looks out the window to enjoy the sight of my long-suffering garden receiving a long-needed drink of clean water! (At the moment the plants have to exist on irregular drinks of soapy water collected in buckets from the occasional washing machine load.) We cannot use the machine often, as we have a limit of 60 liters of water a day per person. That doesn’t even allow for a daily shower!

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Share Your World #SYW ~ July 3

This entry is part 9 of the series Share Your World

SYW: For your main meal do you prefer sweet and sour, hot and spicy, spicy and sweet, bitter, salty, bland or other?

It depends on the mood I’m in, but generally I prefer salty. I also enjoy a mild curry and rice, but it must be mild! I definitely don’t go for sweet when it comes to my main meal.

SYW: Where do you hide junk when people come over?

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