I’m so excited to have my friend, Lisa Elliott, on the blog today! Please tell us a bit about yourself, Lisa.
I’m an award-winning author, speaker, blogger, pastor’s wife, mother of four (3 on earth, 1 in heaven), mother-in-love to two and nana to four (so far). My greatest joy and passion is sharing the truths and life-giving principles of God’s Word Straight from the Heart, based upon Romans 15:18 that says, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” I love walking, spending time in my kitchen, Skyping my grandchildren (who live too far away), and dating my husband of almost 35 years.
I know these books are near to your heart. How did you come to write them?
The Ben Ripple; Choosing to Live through Loss with Purpose journals my18-year-old son, Ben’s year-long battle with leukemia and chronicles my grief journey for the first year after his death. Dancing in the Rain; One Family’s Journey through Grief and Loss is a companion book, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at the many faces of grief that take place right within a single family. Both books offer scriptural Lifelines and Practical Tips that not only give readers insight to those dealing with crisis and grief but also equip those wishing to walk alongside them.
I can’t imagine what you and your husband have gone through, losing a child. How did you decide to write about your experiences?
The Ben Ripple began as a Facebook page that was set up to rally prayer warriors to pray for my son, Ben, and our family. Throughout his life, but even throughout his death, Ben’s Christ-like attitude, otherwise called, “The Ben-Attitude” became an inspiration for me, my family, and thousands who joined and followed our journey from around the world.
What was the catalyst for your interest in writing?
Up until writing the daily prayer requests—turned blog—turned book, I had honestly never considered writing. However, those who were praying for us and joined our journey online, prompted me to publish. They felt it was not only a source of encouragement but also a powerful resource for others. What began as an outlet for my grief, opened up a writing platform with the editor of a Christian Women’s magazine, Just Between Us. This, in turn, led to a Christian Publisher inviting me to submit my manuscript and enter it into a Free Publishing Contest. I won. And the rest is HIS-story
Before we go on, I just want to share with our readers these two books and where they can buy them:
On August 12, 2008, Lisa Elliott received the phone call that changed her life forever. It was from her husband, David, on his way to the hospital emergency with their 18-year-old son Ben who was subsequently diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. After a one year and one week valiant battle, Ben was promoted to his heavenly home. Throughout his life, but even throughout his death, Ben’s Christ-like attitude became an inspiration for thousands around the world who followed updates Lisa posted on a Facebook blog entitled, “Prayer for Benjamin Elliott”. It was appropriately re-titled, “The Ben Ripple” upon his death. This is not just an ordinary “journal”, but a victorious and candid “journey” of one faith-filled mother who sought to use her story for the glory of God through her pain, loss and grief. It provides validation for those dealing with a family crisis, hope and inspiration for those who are grieving losses, and practical help for those desiring to come alongside those needing comfort. Copyright Amazon.ca
Buy it here: https://amzn.to/3rwGQmg
We all know what it is to face storms in our lives. The question is, how do you deal with them when they come? How do you keep your head above water when the undertow of crisis pulls you under? How do you keep your faith afloat amid loss, disappointment, and betrayal? How do you keep your faith from drowning in sorrows of unanswered prayer? How do you weather the storms as they break into the safe shelter of your home? How do you find an anchor during times of change? How do you live the abundant life when the life is sucked out of you? Lisa Elliott invites you into the living room of her heart in the aftermath of the biggest storm she ever faced. Let her take you by the hand as she and her family candidly share their journey of hope. You will find invaluable insights that will help you to dance in the rain! Dancing in the Rain is much more than a story. It is a chronicle of a spiritual journey, a decisive choosing to find and experience God in brokenness and ultimately live again with new inner strength, renewed hope, and joyful purpose. -Margaret Gibb Copyright Amazon.ca
Buy it here: https://amzn.to/2QGdg0G
Do you have a day job? If so, how do you find time in your day to write?
I am an inspirational speaker. So my every day is spent preparing speaking material. My writing stems from that and not only fills in the cracks, it also fulfills my soul. My publisher invited me to write a monthly blog for them Straight from the Heart in keeping with the name of my speaking ministry. I find that whether I’m at my computer or not, my mind is always actively writing, processing thoughts, and adding scriptural application. I need creative space that enables me to put my thoughts into writing and speaking material. So I seize moments whenever and however I can.
Were there any surprises that came up for you as you wrote these books?
I was surprised at how God showed up in answer to my prayer through the writing of both of my books. Every day, as I sat at my son’s hospital bedside, I opened the Psalms. Psalm 40:1-4, in particular, was impressed deeply on my heart, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” These verses became my prayer, so it really shouldn’t have surprised me to have a ready-and-waiting audience. It was like each person who’d journeyed with us felt like they were characters in the book. Perfect strangers became deeply connected to me and my family. And really, they were. It was a nice and welcome surprise in my darkest moments.
What does your family think of your writing?
Seeing as both my books involved my family, they were, and still are, very supportive. In fact, Dancing in the Rain includes some of each of my family members’ own writing to tell their parts of the story. The hardest part of writing my books, given the personal nature of them, was maintaining a semblance of sacred and privacy while we, quite literally, lived out our private lives in front of a live audience.
Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?
This may be a different answer to the question you’re asking. However, I think it’s worth mentioning here. My husband wasn’t on Facebook as I was posting my daily updates to a prayerfully watching world; many of which were strangers. When it came time to sift through all of my entries to see which ones to include or exclude in my book, I was having difficulty. So he had me hand the entire manuscript over to him. Rather than scratching out what should be excluded, he chose to highlight what he felt needed to be included. I was moved to think that what he highlighted was my heart. And that became the published product. As a note of interest, I didn’t even read my book in its completed book form until Ben’s would-have-been twenty-fifth birthday, six years after his death. And when I did, was amazed at how deeply it spoke into my six-years-fresh grief to minister to my heart.
Please share your favorite excerpt from your book:
In The Ben Ripple; Choosing to Live through Loss with Purpose, I included an excerpt of what living in the moment looks like. I felt it noteworthy enough to mention again. In many ways, it’s the platform on which we have stood as we’ve striven to Dance in the Rain.
- Living in the moment doesn’t wallow in the land of “if only.” It doesn’t reflect on the past, in case seeds of bitterness and regret are planted. These are bad weeds that will sap us of any true strength to deal with the task at hand.
- Living in the moment doesn’t live in the land of “what if”. It doesn’t forecast the future, in case seeds of worry, anxiety, and fear take root. Ninety percent of what we worry about never takes place anyway, so it’s a waste of time and energy we don’t have to spare.
- Living in the moment only requires what’s needed at the time. It’s dealing with what is rather than what should or could be, setting aside our “if only’s” or “what ifs”.
- Living in the moment means celebrating the process rather than regretting the past or putting things off until tomorrow. (Tomorrow, by the way, is not promised for any of us.)
- Living in the moment means making the best of today—this hour, this moment—since yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery. But here in this moment, today, is a gift, and that’s why we call it the present.
- Living in the moment means savoring each blessing that comes along.
- Living in the moment means allowing tears to flow when the moment proves to be a painful one and making sure to take time to taste the tears.
- Living in the moment means trusting God with the bigger picture.
- Living in the moment is where Jesus lives. He holds the future. He has a purpose for the past. Great is His faithfulness! His mercies are new every morning!
I believe that living life in the moment is what it means to live the abundant life Jesus invites each of us to live as His children. The abundant life isn’t something we look forward to; rather, it’s something to be lived out now. Right here, right now. Scripture tells us, “This the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 11:24, NKJV). Jesus is peace and comfort and hope and joy and a very present help in times of trouble. You have the privilege of making this moment count for eternity!
Thank you for sharing this moment with me.
(Dancing in the Rain, One Family’s Journey through Grief and Loss: Pg. 129-130) Copyright Lisa Elliott
What’s next for you as an author?
The Lord used the Covid-19 pandemic to lock me in my house and open wide my heart to produce a book for pastors’ wives (and anyone else who is curious). What Every Pastor’s Wife Wants to Know but is Afraid to Ask has been percolating in my heart for years. Lord-willing, it will be published by the end of this year. I believe it will be a great resource, particularly for pastors’ wives, but also for those in ministry, ministry, kids, and anyone seeking to follow Christ. It contains a wealth of personal experiences, practical advice, biblical examples, and a Bible study for devotional or group discussion purposes.
Where can readers find you online?
Word Alive Press, Blog–Straight from the Heart Word Alive Press is published every month. You’ll also find me on Facebook, Lisa Elliott – Straight from the Heart – Speaker/Author. Or view 100 Huntley Street Interviews: November 12, 2012 “Choosing to Live through Loss with Purpose” (Parts I & II), & July 21, 2015, “Journey through Grief”. And for added interest, view 10 Days Before Dying- Ben Elliott Stratford – YouTube to meet my son, Ben, my inspiration for writing.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us today, Lisa. I can’t wait to read your new book for pastor’s wives when it comes out later this year.
Readers, do you have any questions for Lisa about how to deal with grief, or how to help someone else deal with their grief? Leave it in the comments and she’ll drop by to answer them.