Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meet...Jennifer AlLee, A New Creature in Christ

An attractive red-haired woman sat at my table. “Hi! Can I sit here?” she asked me.

My heart sang a praise chorus. "Sure!” Maybe I’ll meet my second writer friend

Thirty minutes later, the 2005 ACFW conference in Dallas had introduced me to a Christian sister, a writer sister, a future critique partner, and now blogger partner. Yep, Jennifer AlLee is one amazing creature!!

Jennifer wears all those hats—and more. Jennifer is a pray-er, consoler, cheerleader, influencer, and has written a book that makes you laugh, cry, and ponder the many hats that preachers’ wives must wear.

Jennifer didn’t always adorn herself with the Lord and His word. Her favorite scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:17 ("Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new"), has led her past the “mess” of her old creature to her redeemed work-of-art through Christ’s sacrifice.

When Jennifer isn’t writing, she immerses herself in her family, husband Marcus and son Billy. Marcus and Jen “had an unusual courtship (Jen ignored him for about a year), so it’s something of a miracle that they got together at all.” Yet God prevailed to yoke these special people, who “know without a shadow of a doubt that God wanted them to be together. That knowledge anchors the relationship when they “hit bumps and rough patches (of which they've had their fair share)”. And then there's Billy, “who has grown into the most awesome young man you'd ever want to meet. My proudest achievement is raising him.”

I got my itchy paws on Jennifer’s second novel, The Pastor’s Wife, when we became critique partners after that ACFW bonding. This past weekend, I held in my hands the ARC provided by Abington. Oh, readers, you are in for a treat! Sigh. But you have to wait another week or so!

To write The Pastor's Wife, Jennifer siphoned from years of experience as a pastoral secretary to let us into the heart, soul, and mind of a preacher’s better half. In her heroine, California girl and part-Irish Maura Sullivan, we meet the wife of pastor Nick Shepherd. Maura, ravaged by negligence, guilt, and societal pressures, unexpectedly leaves Nick and his small town congregation, then is forced to return to her former home and face the sour notes being played by resentful parishioners. Conflicts abound in this book. Will Maura reconcile with her husband? Will she make good on the dying wish of an old lady? Can she develop the talents God gave her? Can a pastor serve both God, mammon, and HIS WIFE?

Though the women Jennifer met through her church work handled themselves “with amazing grace under pressure, what if identity loss and “taking on the mantle of pastor’s wife” would be too much for a woman?

From Page 1, of The Pastor's Wife, Jennifer enticed me with a sharp hook and kept me enthralled with concise yet emotional writing. Why should I be surprised? “First and foremost, I want to entertain my readers with relatable stories,” Jennifer says. “I want you to feel like you're reading about people who could live next door. I try to present the faith element in my books the same as I do in real life. To me, the best way to share your faith is to live it. That's what I do with my characters: let them live their faith (or lack thereof) through the course of the story and take the reader along for the ride.”

I praise God for gifting Jennifer with her writing talent and pray that through her stories, she will continue to grapple with sociocultural issues, such as women who must wear “mantles.” Jennifer, long may you write!!!

Oops! Forgot to mention that one poster's name will be drawn randomly and sent a signed copy of Jennifer's new book!!!!!!

Question: Do you feel smothered by the mantle of your husband’s role (or your own role?)

Question: Are you a preacher’s kid, preacher’s wife, preacher’s wife’s friend???


  1. Good morning, Inkies. Patti, it was fun reading the things you know about Jen.

    I have a question. Patti, you mentioned this is Jen's second book. So, um, Jen...is the first book, like my first book, under your bed in a box never to see light of day? Or is it going to make it to the shelves one of these days, too?

    I can't wait for the chance to sit down and read this one. It sounds great. Jen, I hope you have many, many sales.

  2. SUZIE, love to see who is up and at 'em early in the morning!!!

    I craned my neck to see my shelves, where Jennifer's "The Love of His Brother" holds its own next to Lynn Austin books.

    A great read!!!


  3. Thanks for giving us the insiders scoop on Jen.

    My husband is not a "pastor." He produces Christian programming for the Arabic speaking world, but this means that he is in "ministry." I often feel pressured to get involved in his ministry in ways that I don't feel call to be involved. Mostly in the area of hosting parties and guests, which is not my forte. Plus, most of the people are Middle-Eastern, so there is a huge language and cultural barrier. It's hard for me to say no, but I try to stick to my convictions.

    About two years ago we discovered a great way for me to show my support without getting too involved in the day to day aspects. They needed someone to write songs in English about issues in the Middle East. I prayed about it, and God began to give me songs. I'm not a great musician, but I write the lyrics and sometimes the basic melody and hand them off to a friend who does the arranging and producing.

    Much like the heroine in Jen's book, this didn't really fit what people expected of me, but in many ways turned out even better.

  4. Patti, you'd be surprised to know how early I got up this morning. I know I am. LOL! My only question now is, how am I going to get through the work day? I'm ready for a nap and it's time to get ready for work.

    Seriously though, I didn't know Jen had a "first" book published. I thought this was the first one, so I just finished reading a review of the other book and it sounds fabulous. I'm going to order it. Thanks for telling me about it.

  5. Good morning!

    I've read a couple reviews on Jen's book and look forward to reading it soon. Thanks, Patti for the scoop on Jen's previous release, too.

    My first impression of Jen was someone with a calm grace around her, full of the confidence of one who knows that God loves and guides her. I'm sure that comes from being a strong 'pray-er', as Patti said.

    I'm thrilled we have this opportunity to celebrate Jen and her new release this week. And I'm blessed to have her as a friend. She's definitely an encourager!

  6. Congratulations! You are both writing wonders!!
    My dear husband was a state senator and served in the MO legislature for 12 years- our 5 kids were little and the pressure was big. It was hard- I'm an introvert. But God chose the political world to help me become a stronger woman.

  7. I'm looking forward reading to this book. Congrats to Jen Allee! Thanks, Patti, for sharing this info, and congrats to you too, for the upcoming book!
    Karen :)

  8. Hi Jennifer! I read the first chapter of The Pastor's Wife on the Abingdon Press website- WONDERFUL!

    I linked to Amazaon to see it is was available on the Kindle and requested that it would be. Either way I cannot wait to pick up where I left off.

    As a Pastor's wife this is my kind of thrilling read! Thanks for letting the Lord use you in such a way.

  9. Dina, Deb, and Suzi, wavin' at ya! Dina, your story continues to haunt me...a novel, perhaps????

    Cheryl, WHEW! You WERE in the pressure cooker! Thanks ever so much for sharing!

    Karen and Tamika, so great to have you at The Well! You are so right in thinking that this is a great READ!!!!!!!

  10. The birth of a book is almost as exciting as the birth or a child. In both there lies the potential to effect the world. In this case I feel like a proud Auntie.

    Can I recommend that you pray about purchasing a copy of this book for your pastor's wife or church library. It truly is the kind of story that encourages understanding.

  11. I can't wait to read this book. I think the themes explored applies to more than just Pastor's wives. How many of us, even in this supposedly gender-equal time are pressured to squeeze into roles God didn't create us for?

    I have two friends who have their own careers and lives and yet three or four times a year they are pressured to buy a new dress, put on lipstick, and be a corporate wife so hubby can impress clients or his boss. And they do it, because the family needs his job and his career advancement.

    Just this week in my consulting practice I encountered a physician's wife who is reluctantly managing her husband's office (been there, big time)and confessed to me, a perfect stranger, that it wasn't good for her marriage. Of course its not good for her marriage because she's probably not doing what God gifted her to do.

    I know we all have to do things that we don't want to do. And all over the world women are forced into roles simply because of their gender and there is no concept of "being who God created you to be."

    But, we do live under a new covenant where our talents and giftings are God's, not man's )or woman's). I do know that too many of us have experienced the frustration Jen's character experiences. As I said, I can't wait to read this book.

  12. "To me, the best way to share your faith is to live it." I totally agree with this statement. As well, I believe that some of us learn best through stories that show people walking through various circumstances and live their faith through it.
    Regarding the question: I was a preacher's kid for a couple of years (pastoring was not my Dad's gift but he tried it anyway), my husband is the associate pastor at our church and I've been friends to many preachers wives over the years. I also work in a ministry setting and so even before I was married, I could understand some of the things the pastors wives were experiencing.
    Elaine King

  13. So glad to see all of you this morning. I'm happy to report that my head is much less congested today... I'm starting to feel human again :+}

    Suzie, I think the confusion about whether this is my first or second book comes from the fact that this is my first CBA book in wide release. My first, The Love of His Brother, is a Christian romance, but it was published by Five Star. They're a small niche publisher that markets primarily to public libraries. So even though The Pastor's Wife is my second published book, it truly feels like it's my first.

  14. Deb, you know what my first impression was of you? Elegant. Now that I've known your longer, I still see you that way, although I've added straight-shooter and wickedly funny to your list of adjectives. :+} You and all the Inkies are a great blessing in my life!

  15. Cheryl, I can't even imagine the pressure of being married to someone in public office. That's a career that's quite similiar to pastoring when it comes to what's expected of a spouse. God bless you!

    Tamika, so glad you enjoyed the first chapter. As for Kindle, I've been told that all the Abingdon fiction releases will be available on Kindle... I just don't know how long after the initial release that will be. But it should be coming.

  16. Wenda, you're so right about the theme of the book applying not only to members of the clergy. It really addresses the issues anybody has when they're overcome by their work. How many of us have had to make the decision which to put first: work or family?

    When I was working for a large telecommunications company in Ohio (many moons ago) I started going into the office on Saturdays because I could get three times the amount of work done. It was great for my work life, but I was giving up a day that I could have been spending with my family. I'm so glad those days are behind me!

  17. Great job, Patti! I didn't know she had another book out either so I'm glad Suzie asked. I've just checked it out on Amazon and wow - great cover! I have to admit, I've never heard of Five Star before. And with only 4 reviews, we'll have to get the word out on this somehow. :)

    Dina - every time I hear about your book, I think you should use your experiences to turn it into fiction. Maybe because of my military background where we weren't allowed to speak to reporters, etc but writing it as a non-fiction is putting it in the realm of politics which many people don't want to touch. But you can get around that with fiction. JMHO

    Lisa - great analogy with the book/child.

    Jen - can't wait to read it!

    Yes, I think I'll buy an extra copy or 2 - my sister is a pastor's wife and also our church has a small library which could use some new material. :)

    I'm so excited. Just call me Auntie Anita. :D

  18. Elaine, So glad to see you here!
    It sounds like you know all about living under the pastoral microscope :+}

  19. Patti, I did write about my story in my new inspirational nonfiction book. There is much more in it than I included in the post.

    Anita, the book is actually more of a collection of narrative nonfiction, fiction and poetry. I'm not a huge nonfiction fan either, but I was told "inspirational nonfiction" would be the genre I should market it under. I'm sure these experiences will find their way into my fiction at some point as well, though.

  20. Lisa, it's been a long road, hasn't it? For those who don't know, Lisa's been with me since the beginning of this book. She and Patti both read it and re-read it (probably more times than they wanted to, bless them!) These gals are more like godmothers, because God definitely put them in my life just when I needed them.

    BTW, when Patti and I first met, my hair WAS red... I've let it go back to my natural dish-water blonde, but now it's got silver highlights (which sounds so much better than "gray") :+}

  21. Hey Aunti Anita! Thanks for checking out the first book. It was a challenge to market for several reasons, but I'm still pleased with how it did. My sales met the publisher's expectations, the book is in libraries across the country (including a large print edition), and it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get serious about writing. God is good... He knew I needed to ease into all this :+}

    Dina, I know God's going to do great things with your book. At the right time with the right people, it's going to touch lives. I can't wait to get my copy!

  22. Hi ya'all please throw my name in for the drawing for the book
    I am not a pastor's wife but my husband is a deacon in a Southern Bapist Church, So I guess you can say I am the next thing to it.

    I love to read and I follow your blog.


  23. Thanks for the fun post about Jen, Patti! I never knew how you two met, and this was a fun way to get to know Jen.

    Wow, Cheryl -- your experiences sound tough! I've bet you've got some stories!

    There can be a lot of pressure on wives. As Wenda said, we all have to do things we don't wish to, but God will grant us strength to accomplish what concerns Him.

  24. I can't imagine the pressure there'd be in being part of a pastor's family. I'm not related to any pastors at all.
    It sounds like a really good book. Thanks for the intro to Jennifer and her work! :-)

  25. Hi Patti,
    Well this has been fun. I love hearing about all the things you know about Jen. It's fun to get the scoop through the eyes of another friend.

    Jen I hope you know how much we are all celebrating with you as this book makes it's appearance on the shelves.

    GO JEN!

  26. My best friend growing up was our pastor's daughter. She and I swore we'd never marry ministers based on the behind-the-scenes that we saw. We wound up marrying minster brothers, from a large family of ministers. At time it has been suffocating, but it's also been very loving. Although my husband is not actively pastoring now, I still struggle with being me.

  27. I just lost my comment. Don cha hate when that happens. all that cleverness gone....


    Jen you made me blush.

    I wanted to say that I loved seeing some of our lurking followers comment today. We miss you ladies!

  28. Hi Edna & Jessica! So good to see you ladies here.

    Patricia, wow, seems like the thing you most feared came upon you :+} It's funny that you and your friend not only ended up marrying pastors, but pastor brothers. God certainly has a sense of humor, doesn't he?

  29. How wonderful to hear from both Patti and Jennifer. What a great combo you are. I don't feel tremendous pressure as a deacon's wife, but there is a little. I'm always worrying about the impression either myself or my husband leave upon people. Go figure, I'm a little paranoid and self-conscious.

    Jennifer, I look forward to reading your book. I've been hearing about it for a while and have anticipated its arrival. I met Patti over the phone when our book club read her first book and we talked with her on the phone. We have a running joke about how Patty is to be spelled.

    Anyway, I would love to win a copy of The Pastor's Wife.


  30. congratulations on your masterpiece Jennifer....this book is on my 'wish list.


  31. Wow, cool to see lots of comments!
    Sorry that y'all got stuck with the least organized of the Inkies as I forgot to state a deadline for the free copy of The Pastor's Wife. How about February 1, a nice round number?????


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