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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.

God, Will You Ever Use Me?

February 3, 2011

Do you read about the amazing things other women have done with a sinking heart? “Why can’t I do something like that?” “She’s obviously got more faith, talents or opportunities than me.”

The truth is that each of us has a unique life and God opens different doors for us all. Remember Psalm 139 that says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb”  …and again, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Corrie ten Boom once said that “the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the perfect preparation for the work he has called us to do.” Things we regret, or wished we could have avoided, often become the very things that open our eyes to needs that we now truly understand and feel deeply about. It is so easy to underestimate God’s redemptive hand in our lives.

Purpose in pain

My mother had a friend whose son was profoundly deaf and this led her into a fruitful life of working for that cause. She was dismayed when she first heard the news about her son, and could never have anticipated the twists and turns her life would take after that, but it was not long before she was attending conferences, chairing committees and lobbying the government on their behalf.

“The experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the perfect preparation for the work he has called us to do.” – Corrie ten Boom

Carol Kent, our 2008 Beauty for Ashes Women’s Conference speaker, started a ministry to prison inmates and their families when her twenty-five year old son, Jason Paul Kent, shot and killed his wife’s ex-husband and was jailed for life without the possibility of parole. In the devastation that followed, Carol could not have imagined that she would come to have such a love for prison inmates. From standing in queues with the families of other prisoners at visiting times, she also became aware of their needs and so a ministry was born out of her pain and anguish.

God works in seasons

Does this mean that God can only use us if we have had a huge misfortune in our lives? Not at all. Sometimes we just need to wait for the right season while God gives us the necessary experience for our future work. He is always at work in our present, though. Having small children, caring for an invalid, or a host of other things, can sometimes be the season when we are not free to do much else. God knows and understands your season and this does not mean that he is not at work in your life. While David was out in the fields looking after his father’s sheep, he was learning how to use his sling with the deadly accuracy that would one day bring Goliath down. He may have thought that his life was constricted and confining (after all he didn’t even get to choose to be a shepherd), but God knew exactly where he was and had his loving eye on him. (Without those years we would probably never have had Psalm 23 – imagine that!)

What to do when you are waiting

The main thing to do during those ‘waiting’ years is to develop your relationship with God, to learn to trust his leading, to learn obedience, and above all to be faithful with the smaller things he has given you to do. David faithfully looked after and protected his father’s sheep. It is God’s job to open doors for you – and he will! A faithful heart will always find lots to do for the Lord! Remember that…a noble life is not a blaze of sudden glory won, but just an adding up of days in which good work is done…and God ordained each of those days for you.

This article by Aldyth Thomson first appeared in the December 2010 issue of JOY! magazine. Used with permission.

I have lived in Ghana, West Africa, for the past five years, until May 2010 when we moved to Zambia.  We moved to Ghana because my husband accepted a position with a company there. Because we were going to Ghana, I went for a full medical check-up, which included a mammogram.  To my horror, I found out that I had stage 2 breast cancer and was facing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation!  By this time it was only about two weeks before Ian was due to leave for Ghana.  He would be with me when I had the surgery, but it was with a sinking heart that I realised that I would have to go through the chemotherapy and radiation without him.  

Afraid and alone 

I would love to tell you that I was very brave and ‘just knew’ that God was going to come through for me, but I can’t.  When I sat with Ian in the oncologist’s office 10 days after the surgery, and she started to go through the list of side effects my chemo would have, I started to cry, and cried on and off for two days.  I couldn’t believe this was happening to me!  Other people got cancer…not me…but then I remember thinking, “Why not me?  Why should it happen to other people and not me?” I was even in too much of a state to be grateful to God at that point that the good news was that the cancer hadn’t spread to the lymphatic system. In fact, if we hadn’t been going to Ghana, I don’t think that I’d have gone for a mammogram at that time and I only had about six months, maximum, before it spread under my arm to the lymph glands.

God works all things for good

What was even more remarkable was that Ian had been retrenched six months previously, and unless he’d been retrenched, we wouldn’t have gone to Ghana, and therefore had those medical tests. It’s been absolutely amazing to me how God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The cloud of chemotherapy

What scared me the most was the chemo, almost more than the thought of death. I couldn’t sleep, and my last thought at night and my first thought upon waking, was “chemo”…like a huge, black cloud pressing down on me.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so isolated before.  I have a very caring family and wonderful friends, but the more they tried to encourage me and say that it would all be okay, the more desperate I felt, because how did they know I was going to be okay?  They weren’t the ones facing chemo!  And what did any of them know about cancer anyway? 

Finding comfort from the Lord

Sometimes, I’ve found, you just have to hear from God for yourself, as nothing else can bring you any comfort and peace…the kind described in Philippians 4:7 where it says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard (garrison) your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV).

 One of the things that really concerned me was the fact that my oncologist had told me that 10% of people who had my type of chemo were left with permanent heart damage.  She said that they didn’t know why and had no way of predicting which patients would be affected in this way.  In desperation, two days before Ian was due to leave for Ghana, and four days before I was due to start chemotherapy, I shut myself in my bedroom, knelt next to my bed with my Bible open, and begged God to speak to me.  My eye fell on Psalm 121:7, “The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life.”  The words leapt off the page – I just knew that God was telling me that my heart would be okay and wouldn’t suffer any adverse effects from the chemotherapy!  God’s comfort and peace was so real and His voice so clear, that my tears dried…for good.

 Not ready for the change

Although I knew my heart would be okay, I was still desperately afraid of the actual chemotherapy and wondered anxiously exactly how sick I would be.  I had heard such stories and was actually quite unable to look up or read anything about cancer on the internet. People told me to read Lance Armstrong’s book, It’s Not About the Bike, but every time I peeped nervously into it at one of the bookshops, I’d slam it shut thinking, “I’m not ready for this…too much information!” I did read it a year or two later and really enjoyed it.

The night before my first chemo and the day after Ian had left for Ghana, I went into my bedroom and again asked God to speak to me and help me deal with my fear. This time my eye fell on Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.”  What I didn’t know that night, was that the needle used to administer the chemo would always go into the back of my right hand!  This time that overwhelming feeling of fear and helplessness lifted and for the first time I felt able to cope.

God takes detailed care

I was also reminded of God’s loving care more than once during the months that followed. On one occasion during the radiation treatment I’d been really scared by a particularly gruesome cancer story that someone in the waiting-room had thoughtlessly told me. For the first time since I’d started treatment, I felt weepy and terrified again. While I was driving home from the hospital that day, my cell phone rang. It was my father, phoning to find out how I was. I knew he had enough on his plate worrying about my ailing mother, so as usual I told him that I was just fine. “No, Aldyth,” he said, “I was praying for you today and I felt compelled to spend some extra time in prayer for you. Something is wrong and I want to know what it is.” Can you believe that during all those months he should have made that phone call at that precise moment? Well, of course, I burst into tears and told him what had happened and he prayed with me right there and then – the fear lifted and I felt comforted.

My life today 

It’s now five and a half years since my cancer diagnosis. My heart is fine and my health is good. The years in Ghana were some of the happiest of my life, and I was able to really rest and recover there, in a way I wouldn’t have done if I’d still been teaching in Johannesburg. God had known what was coming and had lovingly arranged the circumstances of my life for the good. And the wonderful thing to remember is that there are no favourites with God – he cares about the circumstances of your life too!

This article, written by Aldyth Thomson, was originally published in the September 2010 issue of JOY! magazine. Used with permission.

Kim Hill and Angela Thomas will be on My Top 10 SA which is on One Gospel, channel 331, DSTV, on Friday 11th June @ 21.00. Repeats will be on Saturday 12th @ 13.00 & 23.00; Friday 18th @ 08.00; Tuesday 22nd @ 20.00.

They will be talking about their 10 favourite music videos & why they like them. Great interviews with them, not to be missed! They are pictured here with Nomvula Sibeko of One Gospel TV.

Kim Hill & Angela Thomas will be on MyTop10SA which is on One Gospel, channel 331, DSTV, at 21.00 on Friday 11th June. They will be introducing their 10 favourite Christian music videos and explaining why they like them. Each music video will then be shown. Great interviews with them, not to be missed!

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