Today, Nealy speaks to us about Sunday night prayer calls, the novella she is writing, her season of loss and what it has taught her, and some amazing books to add to your list.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I consider myself a Midwest Jersey girl. I was born in Illinois about a month early during a blizzard. Since day 1, I guess you could say, I’ve been impatient. Sometimes, that’s my biggest weakness, and sometimes (though most often not) it can be a strength.
When I was seven, my family of four—mom, dad, and younger brother—moved from Bolingbrook, Illinois, to Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, then back to Naperville, Illinois, when I was seventeen.
My brother and I grew up in church. Our parents were very active in church; thus we were very active in church, and we spent almost our entire weekends at church. I accepted Christ as my savior in seventh grade. And though I continue to stumble from time to time, I’ve never looked back nor abandoned my relationship with Him.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: My inspiring biblical passage of the moment is Philippians 4:8. This is my daily challenge to myself: No stinking thinking.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: My spiritual growth focus at the moment is trying to live Philippians 4:8. I struggle with being my own worst critic and talking to myself way harsher than I’d ever dare talking to anyone else. I recognize that this is how the enemy tries to get to me and render me ineffective. So, I combat it with Scripture and prayer and God’s promises over me, even when I don’t feel it.
Profession: By day, I am a marketing and communications specialist for a nonprofit. Outside of that, I run my own copywriting and editing business, Purple Inked, and am a published women’s fiction and inspirational nonfiction author.
How do you incorporate your connection with God into your daily, secular work? Everyone who knows me, knows that I am a Christian. While I respect other people’s beliefs and their freedom to believe in God or not, I do not shy away from what I believe and voicing publicly who the Lord is in my life. Every day, I challenge myself to show God’s love toward everyone I encounter, and I pray to live out the day in His anointing. I don’t always succeed, but I keep trying.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? The title of my memoir would be “I’ve Got Something to Prove” because I always feel like I do. I’ve always been the short, quiet, awkward girl with a bit of a Napoleon complex. I get underestimated often. But I’m pretty strong and scrappy. *laughs*
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I honestly can’t remember when I first encountered God. Growing up in church and with a mom and grandma who always had us in the Word and praying, I can’t remember a time not believing in God. Even as a small child, I remember staying awake in my bed talking to Jesus as if He were my friend on the playground.
“Even as a small child, I remember staying awake in my bed talking to Jesus as if He were my friend on the playground.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Honestly, the season I’m currently in is a very difficult one for me. About four years ago, things were amazing. I had a well-paying job, I was living on my own, I had great credit, I’d won a short story contest, I’d started my own side business, and I’d decided to start the process of preparing to adopt a child. Then in an instant, I lost my job and things began to spiral to the point where I could have very well wound up homeless if it weren’t for my mom.
Today, I am still making my way out of all of that, and it is beyond frustrating. Yet, God has taught me so much. In this season, I have fallen and failed and have had my heart broken more than I’d care to confess to anyone but God. But in this season, I have grown so much. I have truly experienced God’s grace and love. I am learning daily to surrender my will for His perfect one. And He’s growing me to finally be a little patient. He is so good.
“In this season, I have fallen and failed and have had my heart broken more than I’d care to confess to anyone but God. But in this season, I have grown so much.”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I read several books at a time. Each of them is different and gives me insight. For nonfiction, I’m reading and being inspired by Dalia Franco’s One Proposal, Michelle Obama’s Becoming, and Lisa Bevere’s Fight Like a Girl. And for fiction, I’m reading The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.
Top three essentials: My Bible, my cell phone, and lotion. I can’t function with dry skin.
How did God speak to you recently? God is always speaking to us. Sometimes, it’s a small whisper, and sometimes it’s through someone or something. Most notable this week was hearing Him through the Sunday sermon about the power of the tongue, which was echoed and confirmed the next day in my daily devotion. Too often, I fall victim to the unkind words I say to myself and about myself. He reminds me that I am His and am beautifully and wonderfully made—all 5’2″ of me!
“Too often, I fall victim to the unkind words I say to myself and about myself.”
Hobby: Boxing, shooting, and crafting.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: My top three tips for staying strong spiritually are the following: Stay in relationship with God all the time. Talk to Him and engage the Holy Spirit as you would your bestest friend. 2) Be quick to repent and accept His forgiveness. 3) Trust God’s promises and love for you even when you can’t feel them. Know that the devil regularly manipulates our feelings.
Favorite person in scripture? David. He was so flawed yet on fire for God and blessed.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? God loves each one of us so much.
How do you leave your mark on your community? I leave my mark on my community by staying involved. I sit on my local library board and am involved in several community groups and at my church.
Favorite holiday? Christmas, hands down.
A goal you have? My big goal this summer is to finish and publish my novella. It is women’s fiction, adapted from a screenplay I wrote years ago.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My family has always been so close and everything to me. My parents, however, divorced a little over a decade ago, and it’s been hard to maintain traditions. One tradition my mom, a few cousins, and I have been able to keep for the past ten years, however, has been our Sunday night prayer calls. They are the best, and it’s cool to see how faithful God has been through them.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? When I get to heaven, I can’t wait to ask God why He created sinuses. No joke.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I am very passionate about the need for singles ministry in the church and adoption.
What does your morning routine consist of? I am not a morning person. I hit snooze as many times as possible. But once I finally get up, I try to do my morning devotional and Bible reading and journaling. I say try because it’s all dependent on how late I’ve slept and am in jeopardy of being late for work. I then check social media, get dressed, make my morning green shake, and head to work.
What is on your nightstand? My nightstand is adorned by my Bible, the stack of books I’m currently reading, a lamp, globs of pens, a bottle of lotion, and a box of tissues.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is simply accepting Christ as your Savior and being in relationship with Him.
Until next time, keep witnessing!