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May 2011

Coming to God

Jennifer Slattery was saved at a young age, baptized at eight—then life intervened.

Jennifer Slattery“My life turned chaotic, and, in my teenage years, spiraled. From 15 on, I bounced from one house to the next in survival mode,” Slattery said. She ended up on her own, working two jobs, and crashing at night with college students she met on the job.

“I lived off of potatoes for a while—they’re a cheap energy food—and started drinking heavily. Every night I prayed to God for forgiveness and mercy.”

One day, she met my husband and he helped her, taking her under his wing. “He was the kindest, gentlest man I’d ever met. My Boaz! And he didn’t want anything from me.”

Jennifer and Steve Slattery“Once we got married, he and I started going to church together and I clung to God like never before. God began to heal some deep wounds, telling me again and again how much He loved me. This healing process took about seven years—seven years of God pouring His love into me.”

One moment, however, stands out. At a women’s retreat in Santa Barbara, their assignment was to spend the day drawing near to God. “I went on a long run, then came back to the monastery grounds and found a little alcove where I cried out to God. I said, ‘Why don’t you love me?’

And He responded, very clearly, ‘You won’t let Me.’”

A Few Moments With ... Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery headshotThe passion to write for Jennifer Slattery didn’t start out as a burning need.

“Writing sort of crept up on me,” Slattery said. “Although I piddled around with it as a kid, I primarily started writing about 10 years ago for the church I attended at the time.

“…But I didn’t feel God call me to write until about seven years ago. I fought Him for awhile, wanting to do anything else—anything that might earn me a paycheck—and finally surrendered to His call about three or four years ago.”

Slattery, who was a Top 5 finalist in the 2010 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, is marketing manager for Clash of the Titles, “the ultimate literary challenge where authors battle and readers judge.”

Slattery also writes for the websites Reflections in Hindsight, Christ to the World, Samie Sisters, and The Christian Pulse. She served on the conference reporting staff for Afictionado, as well.

You get what you see, a kind, beautiful, loving, God-fearing, strong, faithful lady.

While she may have wrestled with God on the decision to be a writer, one trait many of those who know her identified was her kind spirit. “She simply is the ‘real deal,’” said Sarah Boyd, a long time friend. “You get what you see, a kind, beautiful, loving, God-fearing, strong, faithful lady.”

Clash of the Titles editor April GardnerThis sentiment was echoed by Clash of the Titles senior editor April Gardner. “You never have to guess what she’s thinking or if she’s hiding her true feelings,” Gardner said. “I appreciate that in her. She’s a lovely person who is sold out for Christ.”

Rex Febus, Jennifer’s father, said, “Jennifer is a motivated, loving, giving, dedicated woman.”

Making it work—weekly

That dedication is clear when you ask her about her biggest challenge as a writer, “My biggest challenge is balancing my time, since I write such varied material and have files upon files of ideas waiting to be written.”

While many writers struggle with these things, Slattery has come up with a unique—and what appears exhausting—schedule.

She writes her “fiction on Mondays and Tuesdays, tween devotionals on Wednesdays, Christ to the World on Thursdays and Fridays, and freelance or other assignments on Saturdays. Evenings are spent doing critiques and edits.”

Given this work ethic, it is almost funny Slattery is surprised by her success. “My biggest surprise has been some of the doors God has opened.”

Some of that could likely be attributed to her willingness to be flexible to God’s call—even when it wasn’t what she expected. 

Drawing closer, following His lead

Now, instead of planning, plotting, and wasting hours … I focus on drawing near and surrendering.

“I started writing with a fairly narrow mindset of what I believed God called me to write,” Slattery said. “I’ve learned, by drawing closer to Him and following His leading, I really have no idea what His plan is! Most often, it’s way bigger than I’d imagined. So now, instead of planning, plotting, and wasting hours trying to ‘figure out God’s will’ I focus on drawing near and surrendering.

“As I started to walk through the doors God opened, God expanded my view. Now, I refuse to box God in. I hold on to two passages that combined have become my life mission statement. One is Ephesians 2:10 which says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The other, Slattery says, is James 4:13-17, about the folly of trying to plan your own life instead of allowing God to do so. “Ephesians 2:10 tells me God has a plan for me. James tells me I have no idea what that plan is. My job, then, is to walk forward in continual obedience, trusting God to work everything out in accordance with His big-picture plan.”

And she is reaping the rewards of that obedience. “When I started Clash of the Titles in September of last year, I asked Jennifer if she would jump on board with the idea.” Gardner said. “So glad she did! Right off the bat, she tackled our marketing needs and has far exceeded any goals I had.”

Willingness to serve is not new

“Even at a young age, when girls typically can get very nasty, Jennifer was a genuinely kind, caring friend,” Boyd said. “She has such an encouraging spirit, she truly felt her friend’s victories as if they were her own… She has an uncanny ability to tap into other’s emotions and truly identify with them—this is what makes her writing so loveable.  Even though I know she writes for many to read, I feel her words speak directly to me.”

It is with this caring heart that Jennifer continues to aggressively pursue God’s call on her life. She is a combination of dogged determination and humble submission—a vessel that can be truly used.

Visit Jennifer at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud.

Bits and pieces about Jennifer

What do you enjoy reading?

My taste in reading varies as much as my writing. I love a meaty non-fiction—anything by Francis Chan is awesome. I love the writing of CJ Darlington, Francine Rivers, and Roseanna White. I prefer novels with grit and tire easily of predictable characters or plot lines.

What are some of your hobbies?

Hmm…Is there life outside of writing? I run, although some days I think it is more self-inflicted torture than a hobby. I love to read.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve actually received a wealth of great advice! I’ll tell you the best advice I’ve ever received—from my dad, who’s a coach. It’s a mantra he repeated often when I was growing up: “Good, better, best; never let it rest, till your good is better and your better best.” Of course, there’s always a better, so…

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I used to rock climb, even though I’m terrified of heights.

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