Author Spotlight: Stephanie Morales-Beaulieu
We are pleased to introduce Stephanie Morales-Beaulieu. Stephanie recently published Anything But Ordinary: Finding Faith that Works When Life Doesn’t with us, which is now available for order through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Stephanie to share a little bit about her writing, and new book. But first, a little bit about her.
Stephanie Morales-Beaulieu is a lover of God’s Word and shares that passion online, from the stage, in her living room, and anywhere else God opens the door.
Through losing her dad and learning how to hold onto God’s promises came a passion to make the transforming power of the Word accessible to those new to it, overwhelmed by it, or longing to be changed by it.
Her first book, Anything But Ordinary: Finding Faith that Works When Life Doesn’t, won the 2022 Braun Book Award for Non-Fiction from Word Alive Press.
She is the creator of Bite-Size Bible Study® and has authored A Roadmap to Trials: Journey through James, Walk in Love: Ephesians, and most recently The Flourishing Life: The Parable of the Sower. She is a born communicator with a contagious love and enthusiasm for Jesus.
As a wife to Mike and mom of four littles, she shares from her wealth of relatable stories that will inspire you to see everyday life through the lens of truth. She is authentic and funny and you will wish she lived next door.
Stephanie and her husband are planting a church in Airdrie, Alberta. She is a coffee-sipper, brunch enthusiast, and crafter. When she’s not writing, you can find her building Duplo, visiting with friends, or playing a game with her family.
Her goal is that after you read Anything But Ordinary, you will not only be inspired to live a life of faith but also be equipped for it. To help, she is working on a new project that will help people process their problems through the lens of truth and to see obstacles as opportunities to trust God.
Q: How did your writing journey begin?
A: I started a blog called “Lessons from the Journey” to keep our community updated with my dad’s prognosis of ALS. It was emotionally exhausting and time-consuming for my mom to have to repeat every update over and over again. I had just learned about this new tool called blogging in my university class (it was 2008) and I told her I would start one to share updates and take the communication load off her.
It quickly became not only a place for ALS updates, but stories of how God was working around us. It was a place where I could process my pain and find the threads of truth that God was weaving into our story. It was a place for me to process and be reminded that there was still hope and joy in the midst of dire circumstances.
Q: What was your next writing step after “Lessons from the Journey”?
A: I basically hid from writing for the next few years. The blog felt simple. It wasn’t easy; it was emotional. But I never had to force myself to create content. I just had to capture the story.
After the funeral, I started to feel so much pressure to write for the blog. Suddenly, I was thinking about who might be reading my work and wondered whether what I had to say was “good enough.” The more paralyzed I felt, the more time passed between blog posts until finally it had dwindled down to almost nothing.
But I could never shake the nagging feeling that I had stumbled upon the thing I was made to do. I knew I was supposed to be writing.
Q: How did you break that season of writer’s block?
A: About a year later, tragedy struck when my husband’s friend lost his girlfriend very suddenly to unexpected health complications. Our friends were shocked, saddened, angry, and asking God, “Why?”
I found my fingers hitting the keyboard, unable to keep to myself what I knew to be true about God, his faithfulness, and suffering. All my fears about writing took a back seat to the need I saw and my passion for people to know what I knew—that God is faithful and we can trust him even when it hurts.
Over the next three years, my new blog was home to about two dozen posts. The cardinal rule of blogging—frequency—was never my forte!
Q: Where did the title of this book come from?
A: In early 2018, the title Anything But Ordinary dropped into my mind like a letter through a mail slot. I knew it was the title of a book and I knew it had come from the Lord, but I had no idea what that book would be about, and even less sure what I was supposed to do next.
Life was full. Between being parents to three littles and the teaching ministry God was growing, I didn’t have much time for writing. I often shared about my dad in writing or from the teaching platform, and when I did I always sensed that people leaned in. But the book title remained and I still hadn’t quite connected the dots.
When the pandemic hit, suddenly everyone had time. It felt like time to write the book. I had outlined what I thought was the entire story on the flight home from a speaking engagement before the world shut down. But every time I sat down to write, it felt like pulling teeth. It took me about two weeks to realize that Anything But Ordinary was my dad’s story—and from that point on, the book began to pour out.
Q: What did the research process look like for a memoir for someone who has passed on?
A: The research process was comprised of conversations and interviews with my mom, my dad’s family, his close circle of friends, and anyone else who God prompted me to talk to. It involved sifting through old notes and emails. I knew that many people held the pieces of this story. I had to collect them and figure out how they fit together.
The way God connected me to some people and parts of the stories is almost a book in and of itself. God knew all along who I needed to connect with in order to tell this story. And of course, he’s so faithful.
Q: How long did it take you to write this book?
A: I started it at the end of October 2020. I first tried Bob Goff’s writing advice to write one thousand bad words per day. But that felt like a lot, so instead, I tried to spend one hour per day. I tend to get bored with routine, so I changed it up many times. I stalled out on a few occasions, but I finally gave myself the deadline of my dad’s heavenly birthday. I was thrilled to cross the first of many finish lines on August 17, 2021.
I sent the book out to a few early readers to get feedback. I got great reviews, but the two readers who were in the professional writing world said something along the lines of “Great first draft. There’s still lots of work to do.”
The problem was, I didn’t know how to do that work. Coming from limited experience, proofreading blogs and Bible studies, and quite honestly always finding errors in my blogs after I had published them, I knew this was out of my wheelhouse. But I wasn’t even sure where to find help.
Many prayers went up and many months passed. In the spring, a friend encouraged me to enter the Braun Book Awards, and afterward I was so honoured to have help in finally getting the book across the finish line. From writing to publication was about two and a half years, but living the story has really taken fifteen years.
Q: Why should people purchase and read your book?
A: In a world of shrinking attention spans, a compelling story can still capture and hold us. If you’re feeling discouraged by life’s difficulties, struggling with your humanity and feeling alone in it, thirsting for a genuine encounter with God, or yearning to know that perfection isn’t required for you to make an impact, then this story offers you hope.
The book serves as a powerful and much-needed reminder that inspiring faith is often the soil of impossible struggle, and when life isn’t working you can hold onto the God who always is..
Q: What are two things you most want readers to walk away with after having read the book?
A: I want you to know that you’re not alone in the hurt you’re feeling and facing. When you’re hurting, you need hope and help. This book offers both. I hope that if you start the book feeling discouraged, you will finish feeling encouraged. I hope that if you start feeling like you’re the only one, you’ll finish knowing that you’re not alone. I hope that if you start thirsty for an encounter with God, you’ll finish having experienced him on the pages. I hope your faith is encouraged by the hope and help you find in this story.
Q: What advice would you offer to new writers?
A: You don’t need to be an expert. Simply share an experience. Where have you tripped up and what has God taught you? What do people often ask you about? What do you find yourself talking about? What stories are you telling over and over again? Stories stick. Write from your life. Those are the stories that move people. So just write. The world needs to hear your story.
Just do it. There’s so much good advice out there, whether it’s a thousand words per day, one hour per day, five hours per week, one hour at the desk where you don’t have to write but can’t do anything else… No matter how you do it, just do it.
Get it done. Stick to whatever your plan is. Turn off distractions. Throw on some instrumental music, set your timer, and write.
Get better at it. Once you’ve started writing, you can worry about how to make your writing better. I joined a writers' community several years back and learned so many helpful tools about self-editing that made me write better. Invest in your craft and hone your skills.
Lean in. Press into the healing journey God wants to take you on. Writing can be so therapeutic. Be willing to simply do whatever God tells you. You’ll be a better writer for it.
Love the people you’re writing for. Care more about the people you’re writing for than the success of your writing.
Don’t be afraid to go slow and grow slow. There is so much pressure in our world to go big or go home. Keep it simple for yourself: show up and go slow.
Find Stephanie Morales-Beaulieu online via: