Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic brought life as we knew it to a halt. In a matter of days, businesses closed their doors, schools and churches moved online, and sporting events, concerts, and graduations were cancelled. Empty city streets replaced the bustle of Times Square, and no cars were to be seen on major highways. You might think that with everything at a standstill, life would get a lot simpler, but that was not the case. For most people, life got busier.
Many people reported that they were more stressed out working from home than at an office, and people with kids took on the dual role of being a teacher while performing daily job responsibilities.
Throw in the obvious stress of doing all of this with fear and uncertainty about a pandemic looming in the background and it’s no wonder that anxiety and depression have skyrocketed. Often, the way we choose to handle stress is equally destructive. Technology addiction, social media, and substance abuse are all examples of the toxic activities we use to experience relief.
Even under the worst circumstances, our culture is addicted to being busy—even when nothing is going on, we find a way to make sure something is going on.
This culture of busyness is what inspired Elizabeth Giger to release her first book, Beyond the Front Door: Cultivating Rhythms of Abiding in Jesus, an exploration of the spiritual disciplines of knowing God through stillness and intimacy.
I was honored to read an advance copy of Beyond the Front Door as part of Inkling Creative Strategies’ book review service. A musician, blogger, and homeschooling mother of “four intense girls,” Elizabeth’s clear passion for her Christian faith and sincere desire to mentor her readers are evident on every page.
The wisdom she’s gained through these disciplines is coupled with grace, honesty, and humility. She does not claim to have “arrived” or have all the answers, but frequently refers to her own ongoing struggles and her need for daily reminders of God’s presence in her life. Ultimately, she wants to teach those who share her faith how to experience this same peace in a time when it is desperately needed.
“I looked around our world and saw how sick everyone was in their busyness and how hard Christians were working to force themselves to be more like Jesus. I wanted my fellow Jesus-followers to know that they couldn’t 'try' themselves into knowing God, but only needed to practice being still,” she said of the book’s creation. As a writer, Elizabeth has been creating stories since childhood, including one of her early works, a first-person adaptation of the birth of Jesus from Mary’s point of view that she describes as “truly horrible.”
These projects, however, were mostly for her own entertainment and pleasure, and were not designed to be shared. That would come later, after a painful family situation made her realize the impact her work could have on readers.
During her sister-in-law’s battle with, and ultimate death from, breast cancer, Elizabeth began writing privately about what she believed God was teaching her family. With her brother and sister-in-law’s permission, she created a blog to share her stories as a way to encourage readers dealing with similar situations.
Elizabeth continues to publish the blog, Made Sacred, to this day. “It is the way I process ideas, share what I am learning, and practice my craft,” she said of its role in her work.
While much of her writing centers around the blog, Beyond the Front Door began when Elizabeth took part in a Masters in Spiritual Formation program. After the events of COVID-19, the book’s message took on a new urgency that led her to release the book independently. She held a GoFundMe to raise money for an editor and book designer, which was fully funded within a week.
As a person of faith, Elizabeth believes that God used the fundraising process to affirm her ministry as an author. “One evening I saw that I was only $15 short of my goal. I knelt before God and told Him that while I certainly could afford to make up that $15 out of our family budget, would He cause it to become fully funded as a sign of His approval of this work I was doing? When I woke up the next morning, I had received one last donation…for $25.”
Aside from being a dramatic testimony of her faith, the publication of Beyond the Front Door clearly demonstrates not only the challenges of independent publication, but the rewards of crafting a book that fits perfectly into the time and place where people will read it.
Elizabeth believes the message of taking the time to slow down and prioritize a relationship with God will be vital as COVID restrictions end and people have the chance to participate in many activities again.
At Inkling Creative Strategies, one of our core values is collaboration and the creation of community among writers. Elizabeth describes this community as “encouragement and support, help with solving problems, gentle critique when we’re getting something wrong, and pushing each other to get better at our craft.” Her ultimate advice to aspiring writers?
“Just keep writing. Even if it is shallow. Even if it is awful. Even if you only have 10 minutes at a time. Every word that you write helps you to hone your craft and make it more excellent for the glory of God.” Beyond the Front Door is available on Amazon.com, as well as the Inkling Creative Strategies bookstore, which showcases writing from authors in the Inkling family. For more from Elizabeth Giger, visit her blog, Made Sacred, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.