Interview and Giveaway with Author Stephanie Shott!!!

Stephanie Shott is one of my most favorite people and I am honored to have her return today as a guest on my blog. Stephanie is a Godly woman with a gift of explaining the Bible in a way that is easy to understand.

Stephanie is here today to share about her new book and also to share her touching testimony. I know you will be blessed by her words.  While this is a longer post than usual, I didn’t want to leave out even one morsel of Stephanie’s story! When you begin reading, you’ll see what I mean!

In addition, Stephanie is also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. So, be sure to leave an Stephanie an encouraging comment for a chance to win. As with all of the giveaways on my blog, you don’t have to be a subscriber to enter, but those who are subscribers get an extra entry. 🙂

So, without further ado…here’s Stephanie!

Hello Stephanie.  Welcome back to my blog. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.  I’m married to my best friend, Donald – mom to two adult sons, Karl and DJ – mother-in-law to Kristina – abuela (Grandma) to Kaitlyn Jewel. My hubby and I are empty nesters and to be honest, I don’t like it one little bit. I wish someone would have told me you have to give them away after you’ve raised them! 🙂

But I really want to talk about what Jesus has done for me, so here’s a little bit of my back-story…My life didn’t begin with a well planned pregnancy – my mom was raped and I was the result. I was adopted by two wonderful parents. So, I was born “Baby Salvatore” but I left the hospital four days later as “Stephanie Tyler.”

I had two wonderful parents who loved me as their own, but from the age of 3 until the age of about 12, I was repeatedly molested by two different people in my family.

At 17 I was pregnant – then married. At 19, I was divorced and a single parent. I spent the next four years as the poster child for the ‘Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” During that time, I met Donald in a bar. He was the drummer in the band and we were in love. I became pregnant again and we decided to get married in January of 1987

In October of that same year, God saved me and radically changed this girl with a bad past and a bleak future.

Since then, He has opened doors of ministry that were way beyond my wildest dreams and definitely beyond my own abilities!  In my journey with Christ, He has taken me from speaking to classrooms to speaking at conferences and from local ministries to international missions. My journey hasn’t been an easy one, but God has given me an opportunity to use the broken pieces of my life to encourage others and to glorify Him.

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing that with us.What a wonderful testimony of how God can use all of us, no matter what our past held. I am excited about your recent release titled Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters. Please give us a short blurb about your book. We are all trying to figure out how to best live this thing called life. We want our lives to matter. We want to know that there was significance to our existence.

Ecclesiastes:Understanding What Matters (Following God Discipleship) (Following God Through the Bible Series)

Understanding What Matters Most is a six week journey through Ecclesiastes giving the reader an opportunity to personally sift the gamut of life experiences and define their lives by what matters most. With questions designed to examine the heart and inspire application, this ladies’ Bible study will ignite intentional living and give significance to the days we are given under the sun.

Your book sounds like one we should all have on our “keeper shelf” to refer to time and again.  So…what made you choose to write a study on the book of Ecclesiastes? It’s funny, but writing a book wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t begin writing it with the hope that one day it would be published. Understanding What Matters Most was birthed from my own place of need during a time when God had called us to the mission field and my 19 year old son didn’t feel led to go.  My maternal heart began to wrestle with the details of the call – Who was going to take care of him if something went wrong?  What if he got hurt?  What about our parents?  I tried desperately to make sense of that which didn’t make sense at all.

That’s when the Lord gently led me to Ecclesiastes and gave me a bird’s-eye view of Solomon’s own attempts to make sense of the details of his life.  After he ran the gamut of life experiences, he understood what matters most.  I knew I needed that kind of clarity.  Not only for the circumstances surrounding our call to the mission field, but to help me walk through life knowing how to chose to live a life of significance regardless of my circumstances. 

My study of Ecclesiastes gave me the tools I needed to filter the essential from the non-essential in light of eternity. 

When God put it on my heart to send it to a publisher and they said yes, that’s when I knew  He wanted to use it for more than just notes for a conference. It changed everything! I began to write with readers in view and began praying for those who would read a book I never intended on writing.

What was your inspiration behind your book and what do you hope readers will take away from the study? When God began to expand my ministry borders and place writing in my lap, I knew it was an extension of His call on my life to communicate Him and His Word to women.

Ecclesiastes is an interesting book. Many avoid it because they feel it’s too pessimistic or because they just don’t feel they can really understand it. But it’s a book that gives clarity to the days we live under the sun. It helps us define our lives with significance.

I hope women will walk through this study together in a small group or Sunday School class so they can encourage and challenge each other along the way. There are so many truths wrapped up in those 12 chapters of wisdom Solomon wrote so long ago.

***1. Since we’re all trying to figure out how to do this journey called life, and we’re trying to understand how to properly view the events that come our way, Understanding What Matters Most was written equip each reader with necessary tools to filter everything they face through the lens of what really matters most. Ecclesiastes really helps us understand how to make decisions and deal with our circumstances based on what is and what is not important in light of eternity.

***2. I hope that readers will grasp the concept of eternity and the reality of our ultimate day of reckoning. I pray the awareness of that reality will help them live in light of that day.

***3. That readers will see the grace of God at work in Solomon’s life and understand that same grace is available to us.  Solomon was the wisest man to walk the planet earth, yet he blew it big time!  But the lesson here is that God still used him even after he failed.  I hope readers never forget that God is so much bigger than our failure – that as long as we have breath, He still uses us.  He will not forsake us, even when we blow it.

Wow, Stephanie! I love your heart for sharing God’s grace. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?  Philippians 3:7-14 have been my life verses for years. Not long after I became a Christian I read through that power-packed Pauline epistle and found those verses beautifully tucked in the pages of Scripture.

They remind me that nothing can be compared to the privilege of knowing Christ; that nothing is more important than my pursuit of knowing Him and making Him known; and that no matter what my painful past may whisper to my heart…no matter how things shake out in this life – that my job is to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In other words, what are your hopes, dreams, and goals? Oh wow! That’s a loaded question! Because we serve a big God, I tend to vision big! I desperately want my life to be about making Him known and I readily walk through every door my precious Savior opens. 

I know God has called me to serve Him through serving women in the Word – by communicating His truths whether that is through speaking, writing or one-on-one, hands-on ministry. I believe every encounter He gives me is an opportunity to convey His hope, His peace, His salvation and His sovereignty to women everywhere.

As a woman who has walked through my own painful past, I want women to know they are never too bad, too broken, too battered, too unlovable, too unforgiveable or too anything else for God – that He has a plan for their lives that far exceeds anything they can plan for themselves – and that He wants to make beauty out of the ashes of their lives.

I’m not sure what that will look like in five years, but I’m praying for my project that is sitting on a publisher’s desk right now to make a significant impact on the lives of women, not only across this country, but internationally, as well.

If you were given a million dollars to start a charity, what type of charity would you start and why? Because I’m also a missionary, I’ve seen many worthy charitable organizations impact the living conditions of people in the United States as well as around the world.

But while our heart-strings are pulled to make things better for people, if the foundation of our service is not motivated by our desire and a strategic plan to share Jesus with them, we are only making them comfortable on their way to hell. Because of that, I would love to start a mission organization that equips, trains and prepares missionaries while, at the same time, connecting them with local churches who can partner in the Acts 1:8 call to be witnesses to our own Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias and to the utter most parts of the earth.

When I first read your comment above, I was so convicted. You are so right, Stephanie. We so need to focus on making an eternal difference, rather than just a temporary one.

So, what’s next on your writing agenda? I’m working on the study of Philippians and on the project I mentioned earlier. Speaking, writing, doing ministry with my husband and a full time job keep me busy beyond my 24 hour schedule – but my study of Ecclesiastes has been a huge inspiration to make each minute count for eternity. So, I’m doing all I can while I can.

 Where can readers connect with you? (website, blog, twitter, FB, etc.)

 Website: http://www.stephanieshott.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephanie-Shott/1303068879

Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephanieshott

Thank you, Stephanie, for being a guest on my blog. God’s blessings to you and your family.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about my story with you! You are a huge blessing, Penny!

Don’t forget, readers, that Stephanie will be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. Subscribers receive two entries, so be sure to leave an encouraging comment for Stephanie! The giveaway ends October 27, 2011.

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35 thoughts on “Interview and Giveaway with Author Stephanie Shott!!!

  1. I was just thinking the other day that Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) should do Ecclesiastes, since they did Isaiah last year. Now here you have a study on it. Would love to win. It’s a hard book to understand for me. Please enter me. Thank you!

    • Linda ~ I’m so glad you stopped by and commented! It’s funny, but Ecclesiastes used to intimidate me. But when I began to study it, I realized that Solomon wasn’t as pessimistic as I once thought…and living our lives for eternity isn’t some distant and difficult concept. He really just filtered the daily experiences we all deal with through the lens of eternity and showed us that making our eternities intentional is not so much in the grand things, but in the simple dailies of our days! And it is such a grand adventure to serve the Living God! 🙂

      • Hi Steph! It is always an honor to have you on my blog. Your testimony is making such an impact for Christ and your book is awesome!!!! Thank you for being my guest and thank you for inspiring me!

  2. What a beautiful testimony Stephanie. I never really thought about looking at Ecclesiastes like you just explained. As another note, God worked has worked on my heart through Philippians, one year in particular. Every study I signed up for in that year (without knowing the topic) ahead of time was focused on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. What a blessing you are to other women. Thank you for spending some time w/ Penny.

  3. What a blessing you are, and if I think so, how much more God thinks it!!!!
    Just want to encourage you to keep on keeping on for the King and His Kingdom!

    Many Blessings and Smiles:)

    I subscribe:)

  4. What an incredible testimony Stephanie. Thank you for being so honest and for your stand about kingdom work. I just walked in from our denominational meeting where I heard a sermon talking about the same thing…Our work MUST be to bring God glory and to share the Gospel so that heaven will be full with believers. Penny, thank you for the insight to share your wonderful friend and her testimony with us! teelayoung at hotmail dot com

    • Hi Teela! Don’t you love how the Lord seems to have His people on the same page! I love how you said, “so that heaven will be full”! What a task the Lord has entrusted us with! May we walk worthy!

  5. This sounds like an excellent Bible study. It’s a subject that’s been very close to my heart lately – life can have such ups & downs – keeping the right perspective takes work.

    • LadySaotome ~ You’re so right about how life is full of ups and downs! Perspective definitely determines so much about the way we act and react to things…and it definitely takes work to maintain an eternal perspective. That’s why I really want to encourage us all to make our eternities intentional! We will have forever to be glad we did! 🙂

  6. Wow, I had tears in my eyes the entire time I read this interview. To see God’ hand on Stephanie’s life like that, right from conception. We have such a loving God. And what a witness, your testimony about following him wherever He leads. He is using you now and I’m sure he has “more than you could ask or imagine for you”…so keep dreaming big and following God! I’ll be following your website so I can see what God is going to do!

    Oh, and I posted about your giveaway at Winning Readings.

    • Thank you so much, Megan, for stopping by to leave Stephanie a comment. I, too, had tears in my eyes when I read her testimony.

      Thank you also for posting about the giveaway on your blog. That was very sweet and so appreciated!

    • Megan ~ Thank you for the tender and encouraging words! I’m so thankful God redeems us from the pit and makes all things new! I remember hearing a recorded message in which Corrie Ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still!”

      How true that is! And how wonderful to be the recipients of oh-so-great a love that is deeper than our deepest need and greater than our greatest sin!

      Can you believe He saves us, makes us His own and then allows us to be part of what He is doing on this planet! He really wows me!

      And Megan, thank you so much for sharing my Bible study on Winning Readings! What a extra blessing!

  7. You have quite a testimony, Stephanie. Thank you for sharing it! It is always so wonderful to see how G-d works in our lives and makes us who He wants us to be. Your Bible study sounds awesome!

  8. What a vibrant testimony to the saving GRACE and POWER of our Lord Jesus – what a blessing to read how God not only changed her life but gave her a ministry unlike what someone else might be able to do – Thank you, Penny for sharing this great study and featuring the author who’s lived it first.
    Praying for you both!
    Journeys To Joy

    • Hi Joy ~ Thanks for the encouraging words. God really does heal the broken hearted and make beauty out of ashes! I’m so thankful He changes us and defines our lives by His own purposes! What a glorious God! What a wonderful Savior! 🙂

  9. Stephanie, Thank you for sharing your story. I was touched deeply. How wonderful it is that we have such an amazing God who loves us so much that he comes to find us no matter where we are. I have gone thru some incredibly rough times in the past 4-5 years when I have felt SOO far away from God. This book seems like it would be something that may help me in a lot of ways. Thank you for giving us the chance to win a copy.

    Blessings,
    Nancye Davis

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

    • Nancye ~ Thank you so much for such kind and encouraging words! When I read your comment, it brought tears to my eyes. I have been there. Maybe not in your exact shoes, but in shoes that fit a woman who feels almost like a hollow shell in need of just a whisper from God. It’s painfully silent. But God breaks His silence, sweet friend and when He does, you realize He has been there all the time. He has never left you. He will never forsake you. He loves you with an everlasting love and and nothing can separate you from that unconditional, sacrificial love.

      So, please know you may ‘feel’ far from God…but He is with you…and He may choose to speak peace to your storm or peace to your heart in the midst of your storm. Either way – He speaks peace!

      Fix your eyes on the skies, sweet friend and fix your heart on eternity! Seek Him above all else and don’t let anything distract you from living for the most High God.

      Blessings to you!
      Steph
      Phil 3:7-14

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