Meet the writer: Sheila Jacobs, Day by Day with God May–August 2020
Sheila Jacobs is a writer, editor and award-winning author. She lives in rural north Essex and attends an Elim church where she was a deacon for a few years, and is now on the pastoral care team. A regular contributor to BRF Bible reading notes, we asked her to tell us about herself, and added a few questions about her current series of reflections in the May–August 2020 issue of Day by Day with God, titled 'Family ups and downs: Isaac and sons'.
I’ve been a Christian since I was in my twenties; quite a testimony around that! I’m single, and a writer of around seventeen books to date, including Humbug and Happiness (DLT, 2019); one of my books won the CBC Gold Award. I’m also an editor – that’s the ‘day job’. I love encouraging new authors, and spend quite a lot of my time supplying feedback on new books.
One of my greatest joys is leading retreats and doing some day chaplaincy at a local retreat house. It’s a real privilege to be able to listen to people, facilitating a space for them to encounter God. Next spring I hope to be able to lead a series of writing workshops at the retreat house, postponed from this year. Encouraging people to meet with God and then help, inspire and challenge others to do so through their writing, is one of my passions. Writing is a skill that can be honed. I was recently asked to write a short eBook on how to write for publication: An Editor’s Brief Guide to Writing was published by Malcolm Down earlier this year.
I am interested in Ignatian spirituality, love the Examen – an Ignatian practice for reviewing the day to find the movement of God in its encounters and events – and, of course, retreats. I also enjoy the countryside; used to ride horses, love Labradors (I have had two), and spend much time tackling my large garden. Sadly my mum is in a care home with dementia.
What do you enjoy most about writing for Day by Day with God?
I love the privilege of being able to share what I feel God is saying to me, with other people; I like the fact that readers can look at the notes at their own leisure, and that gives them space and time to engage with God might be talking to them about. For me, it’s all about taking time to listen to him, to give him room, and that’s what can happen when someone spends time to read these notes.
What inspired your series on family ups and downs?
I think it’s interesting to realise that even the Old Testament ‘heroes’ had family issues. No one is perfect. I like the authenticity – looking at ‘real’ people and situations, not plaster saints who never made a mistake. Yet God didn’t give up on them.
What did you learn from writing it?
The main thing I learned was that however imperfect we are, God still has a plan. With all our faults and failings and tripping up and falling down – God’s there to give us a hand to get back up and keep following Jesus. And he still has good plans for us – he isn’t fazed when we mess up, or things seem to go wrong. He’s bigger.
What is the key thing you hope your readers might take away from the series?
Just to remember that God is God; he loves us. He never gives up on us. He just invites us to come closer. So, if we’re struggling and needing any kind of breakthrough, we needn’t think he isn’t interested, he’s walked away, or he’s condemning us. Just like the ‘Bible heroes’, we’re fallible. But we have an infallible God who I believe is looking for reasons to say ‘well done’ –to put a tick in our box.
Sheila's reflections, 'Family ups and downs: Isaac and sons', is available in the May–August 2020 issue of Day by Day with God.