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.


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. 

Congratulations Iain!

June 15, 2012

Iain Macdonald & Shannon Glover dance at Beauty for Ashes 2012

Iain MacDonald of the SA Ballet Theatre has danced at the Beauty for Ashes conferences many times and is a firm favourite! We were especially touched that he chose to come and dance for us on this particular weekend (Beauty for Ashes 2012) because his wife, Karen, had just given birth to a bouncing, 3.06 kg, baby boy that morning (25 May)! This is big sister Grace(3) with brother Shane (meaning “God is gracious”). Shane is two days old here. Aren’t they just too cute!

Baby Shane with big sister Grace

Goodbye, Dear Cathy

June 15, 2012

Cathy saying goodbye at the BFA 2012 conference

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Beauty for Ashes Women’s Conference 2012! I pray that you will be blessed by God this weekend in every way and that He will do ‘superabundantly, far over and above all that you dare ask or think—infinitely beyond your highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.’  Ephesians 3:20 (The Amplified Bible).

Sadly, I have to leave you! Let me explain… I co-pastor a local church with my husband Steve and due to time constraints because of the ever increasing demands of a busy, fast growing church, I have had to resign my position and ‘hands on’ involvement with Beauty for Ashes and turn my attention to our local church. This decision has not been an easy one for me; however, it has been a God directed one which makes it easier!

I have loved every minute of my involvement with Beauty for Ashes and I have been enriched by the friendships I have developed over these past 16 years and 26 conferences. Beauty for Ashes has changed my life for the better and I trust that in some small way I have been a blessing to you too!

I want to thank Aldyth and Karen for all they have meant to me and for all I have gleaned from our working relationship and friendship. May the Lord continue to bless Beauty for Ashes in your capable hands and may He add co-labourers to your team who will help you take the conference to the next level!  I will certainly be on the ‘side lines’ cheering you on and praying for you!

Much love,

Cathy Leicher

From the Beauty for Ashes Team

We said our sad farewells to Cathy at the 2012 Beauty for Ashes Conference (the photo of Cathy was taken at the conference). This letter from Cathy was in our conference booklet, but for those of you who didn’t make it to the conference, we thought you’d like to read it. She is going to be sorely missed. From all of us a BIG THANK YOU CATHY for all you have meant to Beauty for Ashes and all your years of faithful service! We love you!

PS We gave Steve and Cathy two nights away at a guest farm near Clarence, so keep an eye on FaceBook for their photos.

Faith And Dance

May 5, 2010

Iain MacDonald is the Principal dancer of the South African Ballet Theatre. Iain, shown here with his wife Karen, is a committed Christian and has often danced for Beauty for Ashes and will be dancing for BFA again this May. This is his story.

As a Principal dancer with The South African Ballet Theatre, my body is my instrument. I must always be in tip-top condition and as fit as possible. Like all professional athletes, an injury to a dancer can have a very negative impact on ones career.

In 2004 I suffered from great pain in my hip joint: this was a result of wear and tear and for the first time in my life, had to face the very possible reality of a life without dance. Ballet has been my life since I was nine years old and very much a part of my identity and persona.

The months leading up to the diagnosis had been the most trying and depressing time in my life. I soon had to decide whether or not to undergo surgery – a successful outcome from this surgery was not guaranteed and there was the very real possibility of my ballet career coming to a premature end.  After much discussion with my wife Karen, family, dance teachers and friends and medical practitioners, I decide to undergo a hip replacement operation in 2004.

Despite the phenomenal support I had, I still had my doubts and looked to the Lord for affirmation. He had been at my side throughout my career and it had been by His grace that I succeeded. He helped me see the ‘bigger picture’ in this situation and gave me the courage I needed to undergo the operation.

On the day of the operation, January 30th 2004, I was paging though an inspirational book called “Faith for Living”. By chance I opened the book on a page which said that medical doctors are blessed by the Lord as they have been given the gift to heal. I arrived at the hospital secure in the knowledge that the Lord was with me and that I had made the correct decision.

I am pleased to say that I was appointed Senior Principal dancer in 2008 and after the operation, continued to have a varied and exciting career as a ballet dancer in South Africa. I have performed for presidents, politicians, mothers, fathers, children, journalists, the rich and the not-so-rich; people from all walks of life. The Lord has given me the talent, strength and focus to share the magic of ballet with audiences across the country.

PS The SA Ballet Theatre is in desperate need of funding since many sponsors have had to withdraw as a result of the current economic crisis. If you want to know more or get involved please visit their site at http://saballettheatre.co.za.

New Beauty For Ashes Blog!

February 27, 2010

We are going to keep you completely up-to-date with all our news in this blog. Please sign up so that you don’t miss anything. Best of all, you can join in the conversation both here and on our FaceBook page which is called “Beauty for Ashes Women’s Conference.”

Please visit our website, www.beautyforashes.co.za, to register for the conferences in May 2010. The Cape Town conference will be held on 7-8 May 2010, and the Johannesburg conference on 14-15 May 2010. You can also read about our two amazing speakers, Angela Thomas and Jan Silvious, and get the full conference programme and all the details there.