Devotional writer and Christian counselor Shirley Crowder will be leading a SCWC workshop via Facebook Live video on Friday, Sept. 18 on writing devotions. She's a longtime Southern Christian Writers Conference member who has led facilitator groups at the annual conference, participated in all three SCWC Book Expos, won first place in the 2019 SCWC Writing Awards, and had a devotional published in the SCWC ebook Day by Day.
Her books include Glimpses of the Savior: 50 Meditations for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year; Glimpses of Prayer: A Devotional; Hope for New Beginnings: Devotions for the Adventure; Glimpses of God: A Summer Devotional for Women; and Glimpses of God: A Winter Devotional for Women. They are wonderful (and available on Amazon here).
[Shirley's workshop on devotional writing will take place Friday at 4 p.m. CT. in the SCWC Facebook group. Join the group here.)
I recently got a chance to talk to Shirley about her love of writing, counseling, and devotions, and how faith guides everything she does.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I did well in writing essays in school and began dabbling with prayer journaling when
I was fourteen and I have been consistently journaling since I was seventeen. I didn’t set out to be a writer, but it is one of the myriad ways through which I can make
I had not thought of writing for publication until December 2013. Several of those
I was counseling were facing their first Thanksgiving and Christmas since a spouse,
child, or parent died. They asked me to post a “devotional/uplifting” thought on
Facebook every day from Thanksgiving through the New Year. I began posting
things I observed or things from my Bible reading.
In one post I raised the question, “Why do we only sing carols at Christmas?” since
they are so rich in theology. One of my long-time family friends, Harry Butler, left a
comment on that post, “Call me (phone number) … I called! This friend coordinates
writers for The Gadsden (Alabama) Times’ Faith section’s “Paper Pulpit.” He told me to expand one that post and email it to him. "Why limit carols to Christmas?" was published in the online and print editions in February 2014. My articles continue being published—when I have sense enough to write and send them!
How did you get involved in devotional writing in particular?
Through continuation of the holiday Facebook posts. Meanwhile, my Nigeria missionary kid-cousin Harriet E. Michael (who had published devotionals in several publications) and I began talking about expanding those posts and co-writing a devotional book. We self-published Glimpses of the Savior: 30 Meditations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. Harriet and I speak of “thinking devotionally” which means we see biblical truths, insights, and lessons everywhere and in everything. Some of our devotional titles reflect this as we hope our devotionals help people catch “glimpses of God” all around them.
Do you feel like your style of writing coincides with your work as a Christian
Absolutely! In fact, my biblical counseling helps hone my devotional writing. Often in counseling sessions, I am helping a counselee see God in the midst of whatever she is struggling. As Christ-followers, we know God is omnipresent (everywhere and always present), However, when trials, struggles, and difficulties come our way, we have a tendency to focus on all the maelstrom around us and forget that God is with us enabling us to
walk through our circumstance with the confidence that He is at work in and through everything!
Tell me a little bit about your counseling career.
I’m a theo-nerd, I love studying theology! I was also blessed to have parents, my
Nigeria missionaries, and countless Christ-followers throughout my life who have
taught and modelled for me how to give hope and help to hurting people through the
Holy Spirit-inspired Word of God I learned to counsel as folks sat around our kitchen table for a meal, or in our living room or dining room, or in the car enroute somewhere. Mom and dad were always listening to people and pointing them to Jesus the only REAL source of hope and help.
During the pandemic, my counseling hours have multiplied exponentially as women
of all ages have struggles with anxiety, fear, loneliness, relationship conflicts, and
suicidal thoughts. A great deal of my counseling is helping women of all ages who are sinking in the throes of addiction—all kinds.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
You must be a pray-er!
Pray before you begin writing. Pray while you are writing. Pray when you complete
the manuscript. Pray when you send it to the editor and/or publisher. Pray for the
editor and illustrator. Pray as it is being produced. Pray as it is launched and
available to the public. Oh, and don’t forget to pray without ceasing!!
Writing is hard work! You need to determine what you want to accomplish with your writing (aka, Why do you want to write?).
For me, writing is one facet of the myriad of ways I make disciple-makers. I want to
get biblical truth in to as many hands as possible through as many ways as possible.
It usually makes a task easier if you are called by God to do that task, which means
he has prepared you with the gifts, talents, abilities, knowledge, training, and
understanding that you need to accomplish the thing for which He has called you.
When you recognize His call, you are to add to all those things training, practice,
training, practice … and so on!
Attend writer’s conferences and take the time to walk through the book tables and
talk to the folks who write what you are interested in writing. One of the gazillion
things I absolutely love about Christian writer’s conferences and book expos is that
Christ-followers are used to sharing their knowledge with others—we call that
disciple-making! Most Christ-following writers are pleased to share their knowledge
with you, give you advice, encourage you, and most importantly, pray with and for
What role does faith play in your writing?
For a person who calls himself or herself a Christian writer, their faith in Christ must
be absolutely solid and be the foundation upon which everything they write
Most of the devotionals I write have come from entries in my journals about things
God has taught (is teaching) me, how God’s mercy and grace redeemed and
forgave my sins of omission and commission, the struggles I have weathered,
glorious blessings the Lord has poured out on me, the fun things that I’ve observed
(or that have happened to me), and so on.
My faith engenders a passion to know God more which propels me to communicate
more with Him in prayer and through the Holy Spirit-inspired Word. The more I know
Him, the deeper my desire to obey His Word and share the truth of His Word with all
those whom He brings across my path.
When a deadline is missed or the cover design is messed up or the editor wants to
change a sentence that you spent four hours crafting, remember God is in control
and at work.
What is your life like outside of writing?
My real job is as a financial secretary at a Baptist Church. I am a member of another
church where I serve as pianist, women’s Sunday school teacher, women’s Bible
study leader, and whatever else comes along!
I love music, particularly piano music! When sit down at the piano I express my
worship to God, I pour out my heart and my hurts, I repent and ask forgiveness for
my sins, and I receive encouragement and strength, which leads me to worship Him
even more. I also love teaching the Bible to those who have served God for decades and for those who have just come to know Him.
I’m a people-watcher. I love to watch people and talk to people and figure out what
makes them tick.
I’m an avid reader. My first choice is always theology. My “To be read” stacks are
high. I prefer to hold a book in my hands and read rather than read an ebook,
particularly if it is something I may teach. Those books I mark up and make notes as
I read so when I’m ready to teach it, my outlines and student handouts are waiting to
be transferred from the book to a word document!
Purple is my favorite color. Dark chocolate and strawberries are my comfort food.
I have never married and have no biological children. I do, however, have spiritual
daughters and sons, as well as granddaughters and grandsons, serving the Lord in
secular and ministry position in 43 states and in 32 countries.
Check out Shirley on Amazon.
Check out her books at Write Integrity Press.