Welcome back to the blog Lisa! Congratulations on your latest book! But before we get into that, can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m an award-winning author of The Ben Ripple; Choosing to Live through Loss with Purpose and Dancing in the Rain; One Family’s Journey through Grief and Loss. As well, I’m a long-standing writer for Just Between Us magazine and online devotionals including The Story and Good Ground. I’m also a 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).
I love walking, spending time in my kitchen, Skyping my grandchildren (who live too far away), and dating my husband of almost 40 years. 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.”
So, let’s talk about your latest book, “A Ministry Survival Guide”. This sounds like something a lot of women can use in their daily lives.
A Ministry Survival Guide is more than just a survival guide. It’s a sur-thrival guide! It explores the joys and challenges of life in the spotlight of ministry. Relatable stories, survival tips, biblical mentors, and a Bible study guide provide a valuable resource for pastors’ wives, women in ministry, and anyone desiring to thrive not just survive in the Christian life.
It covers topics on: living a public-private life, fortifying your marriage, balancing family and ministry, preventing burnout, navigating transitions, managing painful relationships, growing through personal challenges, building a godly support system, discovering blessings beneath burdens, and nurturing your soul.
What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration behind my story came as a result of almost forty years’ experience as a pastor’s wife and woman in ministry. I’ve not only experienced the joys, struggles, and challenges firsthand, I’ve witnessed and come alongside many others in the same position as they’ve tried to make their way in ministry. For years I kept an entire computer file of notes on scripture that has ministered to me personally throughout the last forty years along with short subtitles that triggered memories related to my experiences.
Who knew that it would take a year of seclusion amid a pandemic to provide me with the opportunity to go public with it all? It wasn’t until then that I understood why the Lord had lain Jeremiah 30:2 upon my heart in January 2020: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.’” Looking back with 20/20 vision, it all makes sense to me now. If I’m completely honest, I welcomed the pandemic as a gift—a reprieve, if you will.
It gave me the necessary time to lock myself away in my house and remain in social isolation, out of the spotlight of public ministry, to reflect upon my forty years in ministry. Now my prayer is that others, pastors’ wives, women in ministry, and women from all walks of life will be encouraged as they fulfill their calling in whatever form it takes.
What was the catalyst for your interest in writing?
Up until writing daily prayer requests—turned blog—turned book around my 18-year-old son’s battle with leukemia in 2008, I had honestly never considered writing. However, others felt differently. 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.
Do you have a day job? If so, how do you find time during your day to write?
Since the pandemic, my day job as an inspirational speaker has taken a back seat to my writing. My writing helps me process my personal thoughts. Most of my writing stems from my personal experience. Because of that, there never seems to be a shortage of things to write about.
Therefore, I always make time to write. 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 your story?
There were a few surprises as I wrote my story. The first was how good it felt to finally release forty years of pent-up ministry experiences, challenges faced, and lessons learned. To be honest, it surprised me how much I’d learned. And it surprised me just how desperately I felt prompted to share it with those who could benefit from what I’d learned.
Once I let the cat out of the bag that I was prayerfully considering publishing my experiences in ministry I was surprised at the immediate interest from women. Not only women in ministry, but women in general, begging for a book like this! I have to say they’ve all been very nice surprises!
What does your family think of your writing?
Seeing as all of my books involve my family, including this one pertaining to my ministry alongside my pastor-husband, they were, and still are, very supportive. The hardest part of writing my books, given the personal nature of them, has been maintaining a semblance of sacred and privacy while we, quite literally, live out our private lives in front of a live audience to this day.
Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?
There were actually a few supporters I immediately sought out for perspective and encouragement. One of the first I reached out to was Shelly Esser. She and I met when I was in the process of writing my first book. Even though I didn’t realize I was writing one at the time. She is a professional editor of the magazine she eventually invited me to write for, Just Between Us.
It’s a magazine initially published for pastors’ wives but has since expanded to reach women from all walks of life. Shelly’s perspective spoke from the volumes of women she hears from on a daily basis regarding their need for encouragement and inspiration. Things I was seeking to write for a similar reading audience.
The next person I reached out to was my oldest daughter, Natalie, who watched me live out everything I was now portraying to a hungry audience of ministry wives. I knew she’d help me to keep it real without divulging too much information. She’s the one who told me how much wives and young moms would benefit from such a book as this one. Natalie has also written the Foreword of my book.
The next person whose opinion meant everything to me was my sister-by-heart, Jamie. She’s known the deepest part of me for years. She allowed me to read it aloud to her and was able to guide me through the process of exposing sacred spaces in my heart. I’m eternally grateful for these three women of God as well as others who have since journeyed with me to make this book a reality.
What’s next for you as an author?
Many doors have opened up to me as a result of my writing. I’ve already mentioned, Just Between Us magazine with both their printed issues and online presence. I plan on continuing writing for them for as long as I have breath to breathe that would help encourage other women.
My publisher, Word Alive Press, also opened the door wide and invited me to write a monthly blog, Straight from the Heart. That came as a tremendous encouragement to me and affirmation that my writing was worth reading. I can’t think of a greater compliment they could have given me.
Other opportunities have come in the form of devotionals for The Story and Good Ground devotional app. I’ve also been sought out to contribute to books like Good Grief People and Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon.
Who knows where my writing will take me next! My heart is always open. That’s where it really gets exciting as I continue to write Straight from the Heart!
I’m going to share your beautiful cover and back cover blurb with our readers and then get into an excerpt from it:
A Ministry Survival Guide: Straight from the Heart explores the joys and challenges of life in the spotlight of ministry. Relatable stories, Survival Tips, Biblical Mentors, and a Bible Study provide a valuable resource for pastors’ wives, women in ministry, and anyone desiring to thrive, not just survive in the Christian life.
- Living a public-private life
- Fortifying your marriage
- Balancing family and ministry
- Preventing burnout
- Navigating transitions
- Managing painful relationships
- Growing through personal challenges
- Building a godly support system
- Discovering blessings beneath burdens
- Nurturing your soul
An Excerpt from A Ministry Survival Guide:
A Ministry Survival Guide: Straight from the Heart is written as an interactive book. It’s one thing to share my own personal experiences and another to invite the reader to consider their own. It is designed for personal or group study and is definitely a Book Club read! With that, here’s a sampling of my book:
For years, my family and I set aside an hour a week to check out of life as we knew it. With munchies in hand, we’d each nestle into a comfy chair and tune into the television reality show Survivor. The show aired the night before my husband’s day off. So we affectionately called it Survivor Night.
For those unfamiliar with the show, each season a new group of castaways is dropped off on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere with only a backpack containing a few essential items. The goal of the game is to see who will “outwit, outplay, and outlast” the others to become the sole survivor, winning a million dollars.
While the show isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I have a strange connection to it. Throughout each season, I grow to appreciate the players’ endurance and stamina as they bear up under extreme weather conditions and compete in grueling challenges. I feel the pain of defeat in their losses and rejoice with them in their victories. I see them carefully build alliances only to be blindsided by those they thought they could trust. I weep with them when their families arrive for a reward, realizing how valuable those relationships are. I identify with their efforts, struggles, and frustrations as they fight to survive against all odds.
During every single episode I say to myself at some point, often out loud, “I could never do that!” Until I finally realized I have done that! That’s when it occurred to me that the reason I find such a connection to the game is that ministry is a lot like Survivor.
You see, I’m a survivor. Not merely a sole survivor but a soul survivor. What the castaways play out in front of a camera for forty days, I’ve lived for forty years before a live audience called the church. At times it’s felt like I’ve had a spotlight on me, my marriage, and my family. I’ve been scrutinized and reviewed by critics. I’ve fumbled through unrehearsed lines and unscripted scenes, most of it unedited.
While I may not win a million dollars at the end of it all, my reward is waiting for me in glory. I find assurance in what 2 Timothy 4:8 tells us: Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
Survival Tip: Rise to the challenge. The game of Survivor is full of challenges. These challenges test endurance, stamina, and skills that push the survivors to their physical, mental, and emotional limit. Likewise, your endurance will undoubtedly be put to the test in ministry. You will be pushed to your limit. There will be moments when you doubt you have what it takes to accomplish what God has called you to do.
You’re not alone. He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). The Lord’s desire is that you not only survive, but thrive in what He’s called you to do. He never calls you without equipping you. As 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Why not take some time right now to recommit your ministry to Him?
I’m so excited for this book, Lisa! Readers, you can buy it on Amazon at:
Signed copies are available for $20 each plus shipping. Order by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
My book is also available where books are sold or order online: Wordalivepress.ca, Christianbooks.com, Chapters/Indigo, and US-based Anchor Distributors.
Where can readers find you online?
You can contact me at email@example.com,
Follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Lisa-Elliott-Straight-from-the-Heart-SpeakerAuthor-370667793001091), or visit my website at: https://lisaelliottstraightfromtheheart.wordpress.com/
Just Between Us Magazine www.justbetweenus.org
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