Nicey T. Eller is a Southern Christian Writers Conference member who has just published a devotional ebook titled Conquering Anxiety with Thanksgiving: 30 Daily Devotions for Facing Fear and Standing Your Ground. (View it on Amazon.)
I recently had the chance to talk with Nicey about her writing (and her life outside of writing).
Tell me a little bit about where you got the idea for your devotional book.
It came from realizing the power of thanksgiving as a calming force rooted in joy and peace.
Responding to anxiety with thanksgiving came from hearing friends and family members honestly share their stories, prayer requests, and cries for deliverance. I know the power of the written word, and I invite readers to pause and write their own thanksgiving reflections because I know everyone has a story that is magnificent. As the author and finisher of our faith, God insures that.
What main point do you want readers to get from the book?
This book is for Christians seeking a way to encourage those who wrestle with anxiety, and it is for God’s beloveds who struggle with mental health issues. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the U.S., affecting forty million adults. We know more and more children are being diagnosed with anxiety disorders. Christians have hope to offer all, and we can walk with those who suffer, sharing God’s word, His faithfulness, and our own experiences to demonstrate thanksgiving grows as it is nurtured and it stems from facts.
Giving thanks triggers faith, perseverance, and peace. I do not offer thanksgiving, or “thanks
living” as a panacea or easy fix to anxiety, but making gratitude a routine response in every situation centers our focus on God’s proven goodness and faithfulness rather than shadows and possible storms that rob us of peace.
From a writers standpoint: tell me a little bit about your writing background, What else have you written? And are you working on anything else right now?
From the first letter I wrote to my brother who was in Viet Nam, I have loved to write. At the age of 16, in my junior English class, we were assigned a paragraph that had the topic sentence, “One day I want to be ____________.” Without hesitating, I finished that sentence with “a writer.”
For more than a decade, as an eighth grade English teacher, I didn’t just teach the writing
process; I wanted students to know the secret to writing is write what you know and we all have stories waiting to be told. I wrote plays, skits, poems, and rewrote songs to entertain, encourage, and inform students. For more than a decade, as an administrator, I composed poetry inspired by the miracle workers I served with every day in classrooms, hallways, conferences, and meetings. Those teachers continue to inspire me and have inspired others who have read the published poems in Teachers of Vision magazine.
My first by-line was for an article published in the National Association of Secondary School
Principals journal. I remember exactly where I was standing when I saw my name as one of the co- authors. And I remember how glad I was there was a chair close by to sit in while I bawled.
Since retiring I have had devotionals published in The Mighty Pen: Christian Encouragement from Writers to Writers and essays and stories selected for publication in the Short and Sweet series of books. I am working on a children’s book about Betsy our bird dog and her friend Bentley, the fox squirrel.
How does the writing process work for you? How did you go about writing this devotional book?
My personal thanks giving posts I shared on social media were the initial springboard for this
book because so many people encouraged me to write a book with them. While researching anxiety, I realized the power thanksgiving has over worry and fear and I married the two topics in Conquering Anxiety with Thanksgiving. Over the years I have come to understand I may spend more time researching than I do composing because I want to be sure what I say speaks truth, whether I’m writing a devotion, fiction, a poem, or an essay. Anxiety impacts people I love and people with whom I serve in ministry. To learn how to respond to anxiety in my own life and as I heard others share how crippling it can be, I began to research it. I
found myself identifying Biblical events and people who coped with anxiety, and I discovered a great deal of research on cognitive behavioral therapy that included the use of gratitude journals.
I locked myself in my weight room, put on shooters’ ear muffs to drown out any noise, or
anchored myself to my “prayer chair” with my computer to research, write, and rewrite after my oldest son proofed and edited what I sent him. And I prayed every step of the way!
What advice would you give to writers who have an interest in devotional writing?
I advise writers with an interest in devotional writing to read devotionals and attend writing
conferences if possible. The SCWC was phenomenal! I have attended other conferences and encourage writers to find conferences to attend. Revival of dreams takes place in the midst of solid instruction and new relationships.
Research the market to see if your ideas are on the shelves. If there is an idea growing, let it!
Do not let fear or doubt control your pen. Devour the works available, stretch yourself, and challenge yourself to learn from those who know how to do what you want to do. Successfully published writers want to help others achieve their goals and see their dreams come true. And pray. Keep praying.
We'd love to know more about you. Tell us a little bit about your life outside writing.
I live in Abbeville, Alabama with my husband Jay in our log home we built after we retired. I walk on floors I put down, sanded, stained, and sealed. Almost all of the logs, the doors, and walls have my handprint.
Our blended family includes six adult children and eleven grandkids with two more on the way. We have 75 cattle, most of which our grandchildren have named (Cinderella was born last week.), our donkeys Rhonda and Holley, our horses Thunder and Lightning, and Betsy the bird dog. I’m learning to train and work with a cow dog so I’ll be ready when just the right one ends up at the J&N Ranch. I make jelly and my label is “Dances with Briars” because that’s what I do when I pick blackberries.
I have had the privilege of serving as an educational consultant for school systems and as a
mentor for new principals. I love teaching adult Bible study, serving in our Celebrate Recovery as the assimilation coach, reading, and going to Troy University sporting events.
I answer to “Nonnie,” “Donnie,” “Bandada,” and “Bweedada,” when my grandblessings charge into the house.
I am thankful I get to encourage others with this book, and if you read it, you will see of all things making my thanks living lists, I am most thankful for grace.
Would you like to be featured on the SCWC blog? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.