One of my greatest joys in the last few years, has been meeting up with other Christian writers. This has happened in several places and in different ways. Online, through the FaithWriters website, where I discovered a welcoming world of men and women who all loved God and writing. Locally, when I had the great privilege of going to a South African Christian Writers Conference, where further connections and friendships developed. The special thing about this ‘connectedness’ is that, not only have I met fascinating people all over the world, but I have also been introduced to writing that I would probably never have discovered.

“Towdah” is such a book, written by a woman called Sheryl Holmes, who I met through an online Writer’s group. Sheryl lives in Massachusetts, USA, and has nine children, all of whom she home-schooled. I am most happy to drop off my two children at school in the morning, and so was already somewhat in awe of Sheryl. Then I picked up her book and discovered how truly remarkable a woman she is.

“Towdah” is the story of Sheryl’s battle with, and victory over, cancer. The title is the Hebrew word for ‘thanksgiving’. Cancer—that disease that fills us all with such dread—and Thanksgiving? The two words don’t seem as if they belong in the same sentence. Yet Sheryl’s book is filled with praise and thanksgiving to God, even as it recounts her journey with cancer. Far from being the sombre read I had expected, it filled me with a surprising sense of courage. It models how a Christian can face a life-threatening trial in a way that is filled with faith and even joy.

I thought the best way to impart a sense of the incredible faith permeating this book, would be to quote a few of Sheryl’s own words:

“And so I leaned, and I leaned hard! I leaned on God. I leaned on my husband. I leaned on my children. I leaned on my family and friends, and all who were near and dear. I think I was leaning on everybody I knew. Each in their own way represented for me the tireless arms of the Lord.”


“I realised that the way to attaining joy and rejoicing in my sufferings was to have a heart of thanksgiving. Through the offering, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, I entered into relationship with God Himself.”


“Cancer brought me out of the place of busy doing and into the place of being with the Lord. Cancer brought me low, made me slow, chopped my pride and control, and placed me with purpose, in a space and time for me to see Him more clearly. That Sunday…I sat still and thanked God for my cancer.”


This book touched me deeply. I was therefore very pleased to discover that Sheryl has been nominated for the “Yahoo’s Women who Shine” Award. If you would like to read more about Sheryl and her book, or cast a vote for her (taking my word for how very worthy she is to receive this prize!), go to the Women who Shine website.

Towdah is available in print and digital format @ Amazon.