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Interview with Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is a writer with a heart. Her passion for words, as well as for her Lord and the ministry He’s given her, are apparent with each word she writes or says. She is eager to pitch in on any project, shares her enthusiasm with others, and is a good, quirky friend. Jennifer is an editor’s dream come true, taking comments and implementing them while also learning from one project to the next so that the changes become fewer and fewer and her writing becomes better with each project. I’m pleased to introduce her to you—if you don’t already know her.

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“No one is beyond grace,” Jennifer Slattery says when asked why she writes.

“I sensed a clear and definite call from God. At the time, I fought Him hard. I was terrified. If I were to surrender, people might connect my married name to my maiden name and would begin to learn about my past, a past I was trying hard to not only hide, but forget about.”

But since she was a high school dropout who spent time living on the streets as a teen, she wrestled with God about being qualified. “I asked Him point blank, ‘Why would you want me to write for You?’ His answer was clear and quick: ‘So that everyone would know, no matter where they’re from or what they’ve done, no one is beyond grace.’

“At that moment, I was hit deeply by the love of Christ; a love that reaches out to each one of us, especially those who feel they don’t deserve it.”

The mirror of Scripture

But she was still terrified and paralyzed by shame. Then one morning Jennifer was reading 1 Timothy 1:15-16 as a devotional—and it was like God raised a mirror.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

“I realized my fear was motivated by pride, by a disproportionate concern for how others might perceive me,” Jennifer says. “I was putting the opinion of others above, not only my obedience to Christ, but above the salvation of others.

“Wow. That really clarified things for me and wiped out all my pathetic whining and excuses.”

Stepping into ministry

Later, she was sitting in a room full of youth in a church that had a rapidly growing urban ministry. Her chair was literally between two factions of teens engaged in a turf-war. All night she watched the teens sling hateful glares at each other, ready to go at it any moment.

“But then God flicked a switch in me,” she says. “I didn’t see their anger anymore. All I saw was incredible pain and brokenness. I wanted to share my story. I wanted them to know it didn’t have to be that way; that their life could change. I wanted them to know there was hope.”

Two weeks later, a women’s ministry leader at her church said that God had put Jennifer on her mind and the leader invited Jennifer to speak. “I smiled at her and said, ‘I know exactly what He wants me to share.’”

That was May of 2012 and it was the first time Jennifer publicly shared her story—the same story she had just months earlier begged God to keep hidden. “I was expecting judgment and rejection, but what I learned was that I wasn’t alone,” she says. “Nearly every woman in that room was carrying shame and regret for something.”

Wholly Loved

When she’s not writing, Jennifer loves to spend time with the leadership team of her Wholly Loved ministry. “We’re a group of moms, wives, and professionals who love encouraging women to discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ,” she says. “Through live worship, engaging retelling of biblical illustrations, and humorous anecdotes, we facilitate authentic community, emotional healing, and point women to their Savior.”

But her favorite thing to do is life with her husband Steve and their adult daughter. “I often say to him, ‘Can’t it just be me and you, and our daughter on weekends?’ To which he smiles and nods and tells me how many days he has until he retires.”

It’s no wonder Jennifer wants to spend time with her husband. Steve has backed her call as a writer for longer than she has.

“Steve saw the writer in me before I did and has continually encouraged me to make it a priority,” she says. “Whenever I've worried about the (largely) lack of income my writing brings in, he says, ‘I feel like God allows me to support you so you can write for Him. That’s important.’ He also reads nearly everything I write, and most importantly, gives me permission to share our lives and marriage—the good and the ugly—with my readers.”

Connecting with God provides strength

Jennifer struggles with physical challenges, as well. In fact, pushing through when she’s not feeling well, which is often, can be her hardest task. “I struggle with a fatigue that is difficult to explain and even harder to overcome. I can and do a lot of things when tired or in pain, but my muse isn’t quite as resilient,” Jennifer says. “To adapt to this, I’ve learned to organize my day around when I’ll feel the most alert and energetic.”

It also helps to connect with God frequently, she notes. “Each day I ask him—sometimes several times throughout the day—to direct me. I want to hold all things loosely and to be able to surrender everything, even writing, if He were to ask.

“In other words, I try to make my writing an act of obedience, and I pray that His heart will shine through.”


Michael Ehret has accepted God's invitation to enter into a new season of writing. His first novella, Big Love, will be published in mid-May in the collection, Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection, published by Penwrights Press. In addition, he's worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal for the American Christian Fiction Writers and pays the bills as a marketing communications writer. He sharpened his writing and editing skills as a reporter for The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at his website, Writing On The Fine Line.

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