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Q&A with Author Elyse Murphy

I first heard Elyse speak at the Horacio Printing Dreamers Summit. She was my favorite speaker that whole weekend. The things she shared touched my heart deeply. Elyse has a gifted way of connecting with her listener. That weekend, she announced that she was going to be releasing an Easter devotional in the spring published by Horacio Printing, and I knew I had to keep it on my radar. It feels like yesterday, but here we are. It’s spring. I have my copy of the devotional (I am so excited), and I gifted some copies. I hope you too will join us on this journey to Easter. Today, Elyse shares with us pieces of her beautiful testimony, an incredible family tradition you will want to adopt, and how she wrote For God So Loved and why you should join in on the journey toward Easter.

Thank you, Elyse, for taking time out of your super busy schedule to chat with us. It means so much. She shared so many gems and wonderful wisdom. I can’t wait for you all to read it, below. I hope this blesses your heart as much as it blessed mine.

Modern Witnesses (“MW”): Hi Elyse. Thank you so much for being with us, today. We are so thrilled to have you here. To start off, we want our friends to get to know you a bit better. Could you tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood?

Elyse Murphy (“EM”): I am from Australia, from the Shire, nothing to do with The Lord of the Rings, I promise, from a place that I am actually back at now. I have been in Los Angeles for about eight years, but back in Australia to spend Christmas and to get away from some of the COVID craziness. I grew up in Sydney, Australia, in a pastor’s home, and honestly had an incredible childhood. My family is very close, and we had a lot of fun. Ministry is fun, and my dad wanted to make sure that we had a really great example of people that not only loved God but loved each other. We made a lot of memories; did ministry together. I could not complain about my childhood, girl. I have such amazing memories as a kid and also memories, as well, of being a pastor’s kid– feeling like people were watching me; feeling like I was in that fish bowl that people talk about. Everyone has back and forth with childhood, but mainly good memories– good memories apart from feeling like I was being watched by everyone. But you know—pastor’s kid stuff.

MW: What do you miss the most from Australia, other than family?

EM: I would say two things—I know you asked me what I miss the most, but what I miss—two of the most things *laughs* would be the beaches, first of all. Santa Monica just doesn’t cut it. When I come home, and I am home right now, and I see Cronulla Beach– the water, oh my gosh. There is nothing quite like the nature in Australia.

And the other thing I would say is there is a camaraderie and a down-to-earthiness—it’s actually a term in Australia called “mateship.” When I went to LA, here’s how I describe it: I love LA now, it’s my home. But when I went to LA, it kind of felt like I was guilty until proven innocent, when I met someone. In Australia, you are innocent until you are proven guilty, in a sense, in terms of friendship. I hope that is making sense. But I think I miss that. Everyone is friends. I walk down the street and people automatically smile. You don’t have to smile first, in a sense. They automatically want to start a conversation while they are waiting in line for groceries or coffee, and so sometimes, I do miss that friendship and duh, the salt water. Always. I am a summer girl. I can’t help it; I am a beach baby.  

MW: What Biblical passage is inspiring you, in this season?

EM: I think right now in this season it would be Genesis 12, verse 1. God said to Abram– it wasn’t Abraham yet. He was still Abram. The Lord said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to a land that I will show you. And I think that is really inspiring me in this season because I kind of feel like him. I can relate to a brother because I feel like God has said, Leave your country, leave your people, your father’s household—go to the land I will show you. I feel like He did that 8 years ago. And now, I am in a season again where I am going somewhere I don’t quite know. I am not necessarily leaving a country, but I am moving into a new season. I’ve been in ministry my whole life—like I mentioned, when I was talking about how I grew up—from being a pastor’s kid, to being in Bible college, and now, a pastor. In this last year, leaving a full-time church staff, girl, that’s a scary thing to do. It’s scary when you feel like God asks you to get out of your comfort zone and move into something, and to stand on His word and to stand on what He has asked you to do, even though nothing makes sense. I mean, girl, I quit my job in the middle of a global pandemic, so, you know? But I really do feel like God asked me to do it, and He is moving me into a new season. And it’s inspiring me right now because that’s what He asked Abram to do. And if you look throughout the Old Testament, there are so many moments like that. He asked Joshua to do the same thing. He asked Moses to do the same thing. So, Abraham, Joshua, Moses, plus, plus, plus– if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me, too.

MW: What is your spiritual growth focus, at the moment?

EM: Actually this happened during 2020… I’ve always been really disciplined in reading my Bible and having my daily quiet time with God and still try to be. But what I realized very quickly during the quarantine, during when the pandemic of COVID hit, was that what used to work, won’t work anymore. And it was this feeling that whether it was in my work life or in my friendships or– people will relate, any area of our life, what used to work no longer works. And in terms of spiritual growth focus, I had to come to terms with the fact that the new wine that God was bringing is coming in a new wine skin. And so, the spiritual growth focus has been to allow God to bring me the new wine skin and not ask for new wine in an old wine skin because that’s more familiar, because that’s more comfortable. The growth focus for me right now is not being comfortable.

“[T]he spiritual growth focus has been to allow God to bring me the new wine skin and not ask for new wine in an old wine skin because that’s more familiar, because that’s more comfortable.”

MW: I read on your site that you love memes. Do you have a favorite meme, right now?

EM: This one:

MW: What would you say are your top three essential things? (It can be anything, i.e., something you always carry in your purse or never leave the house without)

EM: I can get through literally anything if I have Jesus, my girls, and my phone. I don’t know if I need to explain it anymore. Jesus, obviously; my girls, and that really represents my community, my family, my relationships—the people that know me. It’s a very small circle, and the circle is getting smaller. Now, if you want to be looking at three essentials that aren’t peoples, then my phone would definitely be one of them, I would also say my wallet and probably my AirPods—or maybe my joggers (sneakers). The things I always carry in my purse, you know, phone, wallet, maybe my Beautycounter lip gloss or my Beautycounter concealer, honestly. I am obsessed.

MW: You host and co-produce “On a Lighter Note” with LightWorkers. What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work with LightWorkers?

EM: I think getting to hear people’s stories. I’ve always wanted to help people tell their story, and I’ve loved hearing people’s stories, even before I was ever asking people questions for a living in LightWorkers; I’ve always been so interested in people’s stories. I always found myself in the conversations that were at the deep end of the dinner table, if that makes sense. And when you find yourself at the deep end of the dinner table constantly, you can usually pride yourself on—you can usually assume that you are a story person. I think that the rewarding aspect has been to hear so many perspectives. I get to talk to people from all walks of life and all perspectives, and all themes and thoughts and experiences that I would never have gotten the chance to talk to either, without it. I think that’s the most rewarding aspect, and then letting other people in on that. Everyone loves being a fly on the wall, and I love that we give people an opportunity to do that.

“And when you find yourself at the deep end of the dinner table constantly, you can usually pride yourself on—you can usually assume that you are a story person.”

MW: You are a writer on your own website, and you also contribute to other sites, such as Propel and She Rises. Do you have a ritual or anything you do before sitting down to write? How do you get the inspiration flowing?

EM: I always think that starting to write and training ourselves to be a writer, it’s not natural, right? Anyone that is– God bless you, but that’s not me. Just like you can train a baby to sleep, you can also train an adult to sleep. I am going somewhere with this– go with me. My best friend Katy is a sleep trainer for babies, and she says that it starts with the five senses: touch, sight, taste, hearing and smell. I believe the same is true with writing, so I always try to have five senses that lock me into my writing zone. So, when it’s looking, when I open my laptop, when I open that blank Word page, I am looking at something that has inspired me that has gotten me ready to write; my hearing, I always put on instrumental music, I have such ADD, I am sure you can tell, that if I have music with lyrics, I always get distracted. Then, I have a diffuser on that I can smell, and then usually got something like a coffee—coffee is usually what does it in the day, a glass of wine at night—my taste buds. At the moment, I am writing the proposal for my second book, so at the moment, my feeling, I have a sweater that has the book title that I am imagining for my book on the front of the sweater, and so that’s what I feel, too. The fact that I am training myself in all five senses—that is my ritual.

MW: I feel, as a writer, that we often write and reflect for ourselves; to help ourselves process things and concepts. Is there a piece you wrote that you knew you had to write, and it was mostly for yourself?

EM: My immediate thing is, right now, the proposal I am writing about my divorce and about a lot of different themes that I can’t wait to say more about– I just can’t right now. But honestly, that really is the thing for me that I am writing. If I can be really honest, and I don’t know how to really these days be anything else, I think that I am always writing for me, because I figure that if I am writing for me, then I am writing for someone else, too. What I have realized in the past few years is that I am not alone in how I feel. And there is always someone out there that relates, even the messy parts, but especially the messy parts. Especially the parts that you think are just relating to you or you are the only one going through it. Usually, those are the ones resonating the most with people. When I wrote my Confessions of a Church Kid, there were definitely a couple of confessions that I wrote that really were about me, and I would also say that there are some pieces sitting on my computer in a file called ‘Confidential’, and those are definitely about me. I’m trying to figure out whether I will publish them, but also, sometimes you just write things for yourself and that’s ok. I would say basically anything that I post on Instagram has come out of a reflection that I have been writing about. It may seem a little bit more sanitized on Instagram, but it has come from a really real place in my writing.

“I think that I am always writing for me, because I figure that if I am writing for me, then I am writing for someone else, too.”

MW: On February 2nd, you had an Easter devotional that launched, called For God So Loved, printed by our friends at Horacio Printing. Tell us about For God So Loved— what inspired it, and what can we expect from this journey with you?

EM: I sure do, and I am so excited! I do have a devotional, all started from an Easter week that I did with my friend Hannah Brown. All the Americans will know she was a Bachelorette in the past, and she called me the week before Easter and said, Hey, do you have anything? I really want to do something for my people on my platform for Easter. I had just literally been doing a study on the week of Easter. I was so interested in, you know, we celebrate Easter Sunday, Easter Monday for Australians, and Good Friday a lot, globally, right? But what was happening in the lead up to that, right? What happened on the Sunday that Jesus rode on a donkey? What happened on that Monday? What happened on that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday? So, we did a study. So, I was like, Hannah, I’ve got this, do you want it? And I was prepared to just give it to her, you know? And she was like, No, I want you to help me do it on a live. We did 8 lives, I think it was, and after that, people just kept asking me. I was like ok and so I pitched it to my friends at Horacio. Girl, I hadn’t done anything, and they said, Let’s do it. Can you email it over by Friday? thinking that I had already written it all. I was like, Absolutely. And that plunged me into a deep diving cycle, which I am sure you relate to, for the next five days, but I got it done. I sent it, and I’m so, so, so excited about it. I really think that this is the time for it. After a year like 2020, with so much death and so much sadness, so much loss, we are all holding some ruins in our hand. I am really praying and believing that this journey will remind us that God is the God that takes ruins and makes them a resurrection story. It wasn’t just Jesus, though Jesus proved it to us that it could be done. The Bible says that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us, so if that is true, then the ruins in our hands can be the resurrection in our heart if we’ll just give them to Jesus. I’m really expecting that for people, and if anyone is reading this, they need to get on board. Join the fam!

“It wasn’t just Jesus, though Jesus proved it to us that it could be done. The Bible says that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us, so if that is true, then the ruins in our hands can be the resurrection in our heart if we’ll just give them to Jesus.”

MW: As you were writing this devotional, did you see Jesus in a different light at any point or learn something new about Him?

EM: I’d say I less learnt something new; I’m learning something new about Him all the time, but as I was writing it, it was less about what I learnt new and more about what I unlearnt. More about what I came back to, and I think that’s the beautiful thing about something like lent, which is a practice often in Catholicism, but I’ve talked about it in the devotional, where you give up something. I think, often, it’s actually the subtraction of something that reveals God more than it is the addition of something. So, I really found that learning about lent, pulling back, coming back to basics kind of took me back to that first love which Revelation talks about, so yeah. It was a pretty cool process, me and Jesus in that week of crazy writing.

“I think often it’s actually the subtraction of something that reveals God more than it is the addition of something.”

MW: You said something that stuck with me in one of your videos on your YouTube channel (Setbacks Q+A, Part 2): “When you realize that you don’t have what it takes, you can finally let go and trust a God that does and that has proved it to you in the past and promises that He will prove it to you in the future.” Each year, Passover and Easter tend to show up on the calendar in lockstep. Both interestingly symbolize Jesus’s sacrifice and the liberation and redemption of humanity. What is a “Passover” moment in your life that you look back on in tough times (a moment when He proved Himself to you)?

EM: Whoa, what a beautiful question. I love that you watch my YouTube; that’s so fun. A Passover moment I think that honestly, there’s three that stick up straight away—and I love that quote, and I firmly believe it. Is that weird that you say that you love something you said? I often say that because I believe that I don’t take ownership over my words and that may sound super spiritual to someone, but I do believe that God speaks through me so often and any of my tight circle will tell you that sometimes we are having a conversation, I’ll say something, and we’ll all look at each other and say, Someone should write that down because that wasn’t Elyse talking.

I think about three things, first off, when I moved to LA, I took that step of faith, and yes, I had a job, but I literally knew two people, I knew my pastors, and I knew no one. God proved Himself faithful, and I built a life. And then I got married, and it ended in a heartbreaking divorce that I never saw coming. And yet another Passover moment in my life was the healing that took place, the revelations that took place, and what God gave me in place of my marriage.

The wholeness He gave me, the healing He gave me, the identity He gave me; the confidence and daughtership He gave me through my divorce. I wouldn’t go through it again, but I am really grateful for it now because I see that in the place of the divorce, God gave me a daughtership that He’ll never take away from me, similar to when Noah had finished the floods and all that kind of stuff. God had said that it would take a certain amount of time, and it ended up being three times what He said it would take, which is like God, right? He tells us how long it will rain for, but He doesn’t tell us how long it will take for the water to sink into the Earth so He can open up the ark, isn’t that right? We know what is coming, but we don’t know the ramifications of it.

I think that God was really kind in giving me an identity and a beauty in that moment, and the fact that I can now talk about my story without smelling like smoke— I think that is a Passover moment. And then, finally, I’d say that a small moment is when I came back to LA, He gave me an apartment that was literally a miracle story. I shouldn’t have been able to afford it, and I shouldn’t have even known about it. It was never gonna go on publication, you know with apartments.com and stuff like that. Literally, my yoga teacher had heard that I was looking for a place and after yoga one day said, There’s a place that I know, come. It was across the road. I ended up becoming a yoga teacher at that studio, so it was just so great. A little place in Sherman Oaks with a little Jewish family that owned the complex. I had a one-bedroom apartment that is so beautiful that has so much character and has been my home. And even though it looks like I’m moving out this year to something more awesome, so there are no complaints, not at all, but for these last three years, it has been a place of healing and visiting and a place of encountering God and the Passover moment is this for me. It is less about God passing over me, and it’s more God revealing His faithfulness. And like I said in the video and like I always say, He was faithful yesterday, and He’ll continue to be faithful tomorrow.

“I think that God was really kind in giving me an identity and a beauty in that moment, and the fact that I can now talk about my story without smelling like smoke— I think that is a Passover moment.”

MW: Twenty-twenty was a wild, unexpected ride. What was the most important lesson you took with you from 2020?

EM: New wines come in new wine skins. We have to stop asking God for the new wine skin and expecting it to come in the old wine skin because that was familiar, because that was comfortable. If I learned anything in 2020 it was that everything can change in a moment and nothing is sure except for Jesus. Simple.

MW: What are you currently reading?

EM: I guess the Bible doesn’t count, right? I had the audible book of Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection on my phone for a while, plus the book in my bag, just finished Braving the Wilderness. I am getting onto that one [The Gifts of Imperfection], tomorrow. Literally, before I started answering these questions I was like, I need to get on that Brené Brown book. So, this is a confirmation of that. Currently reading, I don’t know, but as in 12 hours, I promise, I’ll be reading it.

MW: Who is your favorite person in Scripture?

EM: Jacob is my guy. As an Enneagram 3, a hardcore people pleaser, Jacob is my guy because he had that encounter with God. He started off shady as heck, but God met him where he was at. And I think the really beautiful thing that I love about Jacob is even after God had given him his new identity, God said you will no longer be Jacob you will be Israel– the beautiful thing is that he still went back and forth between Jacob and Israel, as God referred to him in the story, as the story continued. I just relate to that, you know? The old Elyse is gone, and I am a new creation, but sometimes, she pops up again. I know I am saved, but sometimes, I am sassy, so sometimes I think that when it comes to Jacob, that’s my guy.

MW: We love hearing about and discovering traditions around here, as we are a global community. What is a special tradition you and your family engage in or keep?

EM: Oh, I am in good company, then. Our family has a lot of traditions. The one that comes to mind is MMMT, The Murphy’s Marvelous Mystery Tours. As kids growing up, like I mentioned before, growing up, my dad was always trying to create memories in ministry and make it fun and show us how fun life was. Always in January, we would take either the month or at least three weeks off and together as a family, my brother, my sister, my parents, we’d go on vacation together, and we never knew what the adventure would bring. I was always the planner, so I would jump on the bed in the morning and be like, What are we doing today? My whole family’s very spontaneous. There would be days when he would on a Monday morning say, All right, you aren’t going to school today. That wasn’t all the time. It was a couple of times a year, but we called them Murphy’s Marvelous Mystery Tours, and it was the moments that I guess my dad just knew we needed a family day. We needed time to just take a breath out and just be. I am always grateful for that, and definitely a tradition that I will be keeping in my family. It’s those special moments. Murphy’s Marvelous Mystery Tours.

MW: What is something you would like to raise awareness about?

EM: I think that’s it’s very easy for us to let go of a lot of movements, these days, once we post about them. I’ve been guilty of that, absolutely. I’ve been guilty of that. Something that shifted for me in 2020, and it was a Zoom room that Christine Caine put together, after Ahmaud Arbery died and right before George Floyd died, the day before, I think it was. We got a Zoom room together of 50 of the most influential women in America, which only Christine Caine can do. And we had a very honest and confrontational conversation about racial injustice. That started me reading a lot of books, White Fragility being one, and I think just because the momentum seems to have died down a little bit doesn’t mean that it’s something that I can take my awareness off of. And if last year has taught me anything, it’s that our world runs in cycles. But if Jesus can use me to stop some cycles and deal with some things, then I am all about it. Just because people aren’t posting as much with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter doesn’t mean they don’t matter. And I know this upsets some people, and I have had a lot of DMs in the last six months, after I’ve posted things. When can you get back to being happy? When can you get back to talking about things of life, Zoe life? Someone said, John 10:10, God’s come to give us life, but until all life matters, I can’t and a lot of people I know use their own hashtag of #alllivesmatter, but all lives don’t matter until black lives matter, and I will ride on that. I will die on that. I will keep fighting for that, and it’s not my white guilt. It’s not anything other than realizing that I have a white privilege, and I need to use it. So, whenever someone asks me a question like that, what do I want to raise awareness about for me right now, it’s still the same thing it has been for the last six months. I’m not running away to a new awareness while it feels that we are still not aware of that.

MW: What does your morning routine consist of? 

EM: Coffee, until I have coffee, I do nothing. *laughs* I wake up in the morning—morning routines is something I am obsessed with, morning and evening routines. Winning your day starts with winning your night. My dad has this thing called ‘Own Your Morning,’ and I am really trying to get on it. Morning routine when I am on it: up at 6:30, spending time with Jesus, having coffee, duh, all throughout that; going for a run or doing a workout and then getting into my day. So the morning, as soon as I wake up, if you wanted to get really detailed, a glass of a water, while the coffee is brewing. In Australia we have this thing called Berocca, which is basically a fizzy drink that has a lot of electrolytes and vitamins in it that I take, and it kind of just helps wake me up. When I can’t own my morning, I want to. When I can, when it’s up to me– well actually that’s not true. When everything is going great, and I wake up to my alarm, because we are all messy, and we’re all imperfect, I am up 6:30, 7 o’clock I am into my Bible with Jesus, and about 8 o’clock, I am going for a run and getting into my day.

MW: If you had to define Christianity in a sentence, it would be:

EM: Following the One that first found me.

To go on the Easter journey with Elyse, you can find For God So Loved, here.

For more Elyse, follow her on:

Instagram: @elyse
Facebook: @elysemurphyofficial
Twitter: @elysemaree_

Elyse Murphy is a writer, speaker, and influencer who is committed to using her platform to have authentic conversations and share meaningful moments that inspire people to live up to their God-given calling. She’s an over-sharer and a people pleaser and will probably get distracted mid-conversation, but she’s doing her best to live a healthy life (body, soul, and spirit) and point them to Jesus… And she’s ok if that’s a little bit messy. In fact, these days, she kind of likes it messy. In a world that is desperate to be seen, she’s on a mission to be known. And she wants to take everyone with her.

She grew up as a pastors kid in Sydney, Australia and, after graduating from Hillsong Leadership College, wrote her first book Confessions of a Church Kid. The book is a memoir about the good, the bad, and the ugly of growing up in church, and is now being updated for republishing soon. The candid conversations continued (and her passion to have them) when she moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to pursue ministry and found a whole new world of life and its lessons along the way. She’s currently in the process of writing her second book as a result.

As she’s continued to do what she’s always done, inspire people in their life and challenge them in their faith, her influence has expanded into media. Elyse is now the co-producer and host of “On A Lighter Note” with LightWorkers and works with media outlets to create content that will help people find hope and have honest conversations about faith, health, and relationships. She’s also currently working with Christine Caine and Propel to launch Propel Girl.

The method has changed, but her message is still the same: Your mess isn’t too messy for His grace.

“Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!” Jude 1:2

Until next time, keep witnessing!

XX

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