Are you sick of insecurity?   Or has it been your friend these many years, eating dinner with you, whispering your worthlessness whenever it can? It’s time to say SCAT. Why? Because insecurity does nothing for you. It undermines your confidence. It makes you feel like you have nothing to contribute to the world. It makes you fear and shrink back from what God has called you to do.

And even when you experience success, Insecurity howls at you, tells you it’s probably a fluke.

I’ve been there. I am there.

I recently had a conversation where I let insecurity taint my words <http://www.marydemuth.com/2010/05/approval-money/> . I demeaned my own success, preferring to see what I hadn’t accomplished, forgetting what I had. The person I shared with was shocked. “But when I see you, I see success. You’ve arrived. You’ve made it.”

Isn’t it funny that even when you do find success, insecurity rips away the part of you that can rejoice in it? Instead there is always a need to prove your worth more and more and more until you work so hard, you end up exhausted and unsatisfied.

We need to see insecurity as an intruder instead of a familiar friend. Sure, we’ve come to adapt to insecurity’s presence, become quite comfortable with its mean words in our heads, but that doesn’t mean we can’t realistically look at insecurity and give it the boot.

The opposite of insecurity isn’t security as much as it’s peace. It’s not that war won’t come or pain or hurt. It’s that when it does, we have the peace to be okay with ourselves in the midst of it. When life smacks us down, when we’re more apt to welcome the voice of insecurity, we can instead ask the Prince of Peace to settle our worth, calm our hearts, and give us peace.

Here’s the difference between the two:

  • Insecure folks blame others for their lack. Peaceful folks take blame when needed and deflect when it’s not warranted.
  • Insecure folks belittle others or themselves with harsh words. Peaceful folks look for ways to bolster another and aren’t afraid to say, “I am a wonderful, well-loved person.”
  • Insecure folks wear masks to cover up their shortcomings. Peaceful folks are authentic without fear.
  • Insecure folks hide. Peaceful folks live openhearted lives, risking in relationships.

So where are you in this list? Have you welcomed insecurity as a friend? What do you struggle with most?


 Sue KeddyMay the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. – 2 Thessalonians 3:5

I spent almost two decades in Asia where haggling for a good price was a sport.  I loved the thrill of going back and forth with the shopkeeper until I wore them down and I was walking away with a bargain.  My parents told me that even as a child if I was convinced of something I would never back down.  My husband agreed.  Some would call that being stubborn but I like to call it being persistent!

Persistence is the main character trait in many a Bible Story which proves to me that God values it.  Matthew records that when two blind men sitting by the road heard that Jesus was passing by they began to shout for mercy.  The crowd tried to hush them but they shouted even louder! As a result Jesus stopped and asked them what they wanted.  They told him they wanted their sight and in the next blink of an eye, they were seeing! (Matthew 21:29-34)  Bartimaeus was a blind beggar who hollered until Jesus heard him.  The crowd told him to ‘STOP!’ but Jesus told him to ‘COME!’  He threw his coat off and ran in the direction of Jesus’ voice.  Jesus opened his eyes and Bartimaeus became a Christ follower (Mark 10:46-52).  A distraught Mom came to Jesus because her daughter was possessed by an evil spirit.  She fell at his feet and begged unashamedly for Jesus to intervene.  He assured her he had and when she returned home her daughter was free of the demon (Mark 7:24-30). Jesus tells a story about a widow who wouldn’t leave a judge alone until she got the protection she needed from an adversary and about a neighbor who continuously knocked on his friends door at midnight until he got bread to feed an unexpected guest  (Luke 18:1-5; 11:5-8).

Desperation breeds either despair or persistence. I choose persistence because the alternative is unthinkable.  Jesus responds to persistence. Blind eyes were opened and demons were cast out!  Justice was granted and provisions were supplied! Jesus wants us to persevere as he persevered for us!  He doesn’t want us to give up or give in.  In fact he honours those who keep asking, seeking and knocking.

My sister, don’t let anyone or anything muzzle your cries!  Start expecting the miraculous!   Be prepared to be amazed!

special-offerThis is honestly one of the most beautifully written books we have read for a long time. Mary was sexually abused and neglected as a child. This is the wonderful story of God’s restoration and redemption of the ‘thin places’ of her life.

Mary was interviewed about her story and about this book on The 700 Club on 5th April 2011 and you can watch that interview here.


In this moving spiritual memoir—Thin Places—Mary DeMuth traces the winding path of thin places in her life, places where she experienced longing and healing more intensely than before. From surviving abuse as a latchkey kid to discovering a heavenly Father who never leaves, Mary’s story invites you to a deeper understanding of your own story. She calls you to discover new ways to look for God in the past so that you might experience him more profoundly in the present.

What if you could retrace your life and discover its thin places—places where the division between this world and the eternal fades?



“Thin places are snatches of holy ground, tucked into the corners of our world, where we might just catch a glimpse of eternity. They are aha moments, beautiful realizations, when the Son of God bursts through the hazy fog of our monotony and shines on us afresh. He has come near to my life. I will tell you how.”


You can also watch Mary telling her story very movingly in the book trailer for Thin Places here.



Fiction (Watching the Tree Limbs) and nonfiction (Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture) author DeMuth revisits supremely challenging and emotionally transformative junctures in her life as she reveals the childhood sexual brutalities of which she was a victim, the confounding death of her biological father, and ongoing years of neglect and parental irresponsibility with which she had to cope. DeMuth, whose fiction consistently evokes deep responses from her loyal fan base, has succeeded in offering a comparably powerful memoir by telling her own story with honest courage. At every signpost, the author presents life as it is, even when the offering is ugly. Despite the bitterness and anger that could naturally characterize her, the author clings to her faith in God and his goodness, deriving victory over her circumstances. DeMuth writes, “God sees,” and in this recalling of her early childhood pain, she sees, and is seen by, a faithful divine Father who provides refuge. (Feb.) — Thin Places: A Memoir

“Well known fiction author, Mary DeMuth open her heart in her moving memoir, Thins Places, an unflinching look at her childhood sexual abuse, death of her father, and years of parental neglect that somehow still shows God’s ever-present hand of love and healing. Throughout the messiness of life, Mary continually finds “thin places,” evidences of where God breaks through her pain and brokenness with his love and mercy. Striving to comfort others with the Divine comfort she has received, Mary’s Thin Places shines as a hopeful light for anyone who is struggling to overcome unspeakable wounds from the past” — Significant Living Magazine

Brave, moving, and poignant. An important story, honestly and beautifully told, of pain transformed into hope. The world is in great need of courageous voices like DeMuth’s.” — Tosca Lee, author of Christy-award finalist Demon: A Memoir and Havah: The Story of Eve
“This gifted memoirist writes like a woman at the well: Thin Places reads like rivers of living water. With her incantatory language, Mary DeMuth describes both the burden of suffering and the weightlessness of redemption. If you’re carrying past wounds, read this book. It will change your life.” — Sibella Giorello, Christy-award-winning novelist

“Author Mary DeMuth has lived up to readers’ expectations of exquisite writing from an exceptional author. She has also opened herself and allowed readers to see inside—all the hurts, disappointments, violations—in order to escort the readers on a painfully joyful journey to healing. A rare memoir from one of the best writers of our time!” — Kathi Macias, author of over thirty books, including Beyond Me and Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today

Mary-DeMuth---Embrace-Small-Beginnings (2)Read this article on writing by Mary DeMuth

This article first appeared in the April 2013 edition of JOY! magazine. It has some excellent advice for anyone wanting to start writing. You can read it here.

Live Uncaged

Mary will be speaking at the main Beauty for Ashes conference, Live Uncaged, which starts on the Friday evening, 24 May, and ends on Saturday, 25 May at 17:00. Her story “Dare to Live Uncaged, Free From the Past” is in the May 2013 issue of JOY! magazine, so try and buy a copy.

Write Uncaged

Write UncagedShe will also be speaking at a smaller mini-conference for writers and bloggers, Write Uncaged, during the day on Friday 24 May, 08:30-14:30, at a different venue. Men are welcome to attend this mini-conference. Please book and pay by 17 May.

Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone knows how to tell their story in a publishable way.

Learn the secrets of great storytelling, the ins and outs of writing great prose, how to organize your writing time, and how to market what you’ve written. Author Mary DeMuth has walked the publishing journey for 20 years. She’s traditionally published, blogged (www.marydemuth.com), written articles, self-published, e-published, and done just about everything there is in publishing. She’s passionate about helping you get your words out in the world so lives can be changed.

See our website, www.beautyforashes.co.za, for all the information you need.

_MG_1777 (2) 3Ann Goodfellow Tells Us Her Story

My first book was accepted for publication the year I reached 71. I had begun writing Prayers and Devotions more than 25 years before, through a weekly prayer letter for my church. I enjoyed writing, but never thought of publication. But after I retired God kept prompting me to write books. Yes! Books. Not just one!

The first book took over 3 years to put together – and many more years of rejection after rejection from publishers.

God always has a plan though! I had submitted my proposal to a new publisher, just 1 week after I had been rejected again. Three weeks later I received a phone call from overseas, showing interest, but the book was far too long, and would be difficult to promote from an unknown author. They suggested reducing the 52 weeks of daily devotions to make the book an acceptable length. We worked well together and the first book was received in December 2008.

Most publishers tend to publish only already known and affirmed authors. So God really wanted this book to be out there for people to read and grow to know Him in a deep and personal way, through a daily quiet time.

Now came yet another challenge! Distribution!

I had received 500 books for my own personal contacts and started to promote them to my church, friends, family, and by word of mouth. I have successfully distributed all 500 of the first book – praise God.

Goodfellow_Cover (2)Since then I have written another four books, and they have been successfully published, not only in printed form, but also as eBooks – so they are readily available all over the world. My newest will be available in two months time.

2 Corinthians 8 : 11 says, “On with it, then, and finish the job! Be as eager to finish it as you were to plan it, and do it with what you now have.”

My husband of 48 years died just two months before the first book was delivered to me, but he had always been very supportive. I have since moved into a retirement village, and am glad to be able to fill my days with writing for God. Writing and publication has been a wonderfully satisfying new career, and I give God all the glory as I promote Him to all who desire to read about His love.

Ann’s books will be available at the Beauty for Ashes conference book table. They are also available as eBooks here.

DSC_0181Strength Renewed is a book of 90 meditations based on actual incidents that happened during Shirley’s cancer journey, tied in with relevant scriptures.

During her time on treatment, Shirley spent much time in the botanical gardens near her home. There she watched a pair of Vereaux’s eagles and wished she could rise and soar over the cancer valley. Isaiah 40:31 says “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles.” This favourite verse of Shirley’s became the foundation verse for her book, as well as the title of her website, http://riseandsoar.com, to encourage those in the cancer valley.

Did you experience any unexpected challenges as a breast cancer patient

A number of things blind-sided me. I felt inferior to “normal people” and insecure in company. It was as if everyone looked down on me because of my diagnosis. I think a lot of that was caused by the number of people who felt they had to tell me why I had cancer.

What about after the treatment? Did you face any unanticipated challenges then?

A month after I finished a year’s aggressive treatment, my oncologist explained that the chemo would still be in my system for many months, and it would continue to work in cycles. I wish he’d warned me in advance as I couldn’t understand why I still felt so ill at times. I also grappled with a sense of failure because there were so many things that were still too hard for me.

Today, you’re a published author. How did that come about?

From the age of 14, I wrote songs and skits for the church, and for a period I wrote quite a bit of poetry. I also did a correspondence course in creative writing, although I had no thoughts of being published. During cancer treatment, I started journaling, and a year after treatment I started writing short meditations for The Upper Room and other similar markets, often using anecdotes from my cancer journal.

In 2004 I won a scholarship to attend the Sandy Cove Christian Writers’ Conference in the States.  Following this, I started my first website as well as an online support group for Christian Writers of Southern Africa (http://tinyurl.com/Shirley-CWOSA).

In 2010, the Lord miraculously provided the means for me to attend the Florida Christian Writers Conference. There I met the acquisition editor for Revell/Baker, and as a result, Strength Renewed was published last year.

Where is your book available?

It is in CUM and Exclusive books, as well as bookstores across the globe. It is also available in all the major online bookstores, in print or in all the major e-versions. Oh—and it will be available at the Beauty for Ashes bookstore on 24-25 May 2013. 

Shirley Corder, author of Strength Renewed

Shirley Corder, author of Strength Renewed

One beautiful, sunny African afternoon, my life changed forever.

For two years, I had asked my gynaecologist for a mammogram. For two years, he had told me it wasn’t necessary. Finally another specialist sent me for a “routine mammogram and ultrasound” which turned out to not be as routine as I’d hoped. I had breast cancer. And because it hadn’t been discovered earlier, it had already spread to the glands.

How can I describe the experience? 

It was like when you are tearing along the road, enjoying the scenery and eager to arrive at your destination, and all of a sudden the road turns back on itself. You jam on brakes and grip the steering wheel in an effort to keep the car under control as you attempt to navigate the U-turn you hadn’t seen coming.

It was just like that.

I jammed on brakes, gripped my steering wheel, and sped into battle against what turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer. With the use of a skilled surgeon, an unconventional and courageous oncologist, a supportive family, and a team of praying friends, God pulled me through that dreadful year of treatment. Not only did I survive the U-turn, I found myself travelling, as you do with a U-turn, in a different direction. I went from being a nursing sister to being a published author.

God promises in His Word that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). It took me a while to see it. But I began to realise how many invaluable lessons God taught me during my “cancer year,” and it wasn’t long before He prompted me to share these lessons with others in the form of meditations.

The words of Isaiah 40:31 followed me throughout the whole cancer experience:

“They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” 

StrengthRenewed-3DI wanted so badly to have my strength renewed, but how do you wait on anyone, even the Lord, when you are told you have cancer?

The Lord was ready and willing to teach me. Sometimes I got it right, and sometimes I didn’t. But gradually and patiently He led me through many bumpy experiences, and I emerged from the journey closer to Him than ever before.

Last year, Revell/Baker in the states published Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer, telling about 90 of those experiences and the lessons I learned. It is my prayer that my readers will be blessed and helped as they navigate the U-turns in their lives—hopefully with more control over the steering wheel than I often had.

You can read the first seven devotions online here for free. It will be on sale at the Beauty for Ashes women’s conference, 24-25 May 2013. You will enjoy reading Shirley’s informative website, Rise and Soar – above the cancer valley.

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