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Since Laughter Is the Best Medicine

We all need a laugh, perhaps particularly now that we’re officially approaching the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day… They’re all associated with fun, family, friends and laughter.

And stress, stress, stress and more stress.

Enter Judy Giddens Sheriff, author of Not Your Typical Pastor’s Wife, a collection of true stories that could make Eeyore laugh. Or at least smile big.

Judy's willingness to not only share but also take great delight in life’s unexpected hiccups is just too entertaining for words.

I was fortunate enough to “meet” Judy and her writing in an editorial capacity. After working with her directly, I couldn’t help but be impressed and offer her an Innovative Editing Author of the Month spot. But that’s not the only way to get featured.

If you’d like to take your shot at the spotlight as well, all you need to do is reach out.

This platform is all about supporting and promoting writers with worthwhile messages to share. So let’s spread the written word!

November’s Author of the Month: Judy Giddens Sheriff

Genre: Memoir/Humor

Age Appropriate: All

Bio: Judy is a retired educator with a Ph.D. in Christian Counseling who does extensive counseling with people who are going through separation and divorce. Judy teaches divorce recovery workshops and is available for group seminars on the subject. She enjoys speaking at women’s conferences and has been the keynote speaker on numerous occasions.

She is also an accomplished musician and has served as church organist, pianist, and choir director. Judy and her husband, Richard, both natives of North Carolina, enjoy singing as a ministry outreach. She has two children and four grandchildren.

Jeannette: Judy, your new book, Not Your Typical Pastor’s Wife, is one of the funniest memoirs I’ve ever had the privilege of editing. It’s so engaging and entertaining that I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

So how about this… Let’s hear why you were never the "typical pastor’s wife" type.

Judy: Oh, for so many reasons. But one in particular is that I would make close friendships with many of the folks in the congregation, whereas many pastors' wives don't feel they can connect. I've always been a friendly and outgoing person, and it just comes naturally for me to make friendships.

Also, I find humor in most everything in my life. It keeps me happy and ready for the next escapade.

Jeannette: “Escapade” sounds about right. If I didn’t trust you completely, I would swear you made up some of the stories you include in your narrative.

Was it just extreme talent that got you into so many entertaining episodes?

Judy: Like I said before, I find humor in so many things in my life. It’s something I consider to be a true blessing from God. But I think more people could find humor if they just looked for it.

Admittedly, it also just seems that funny things always draw me in. All the escapades mentioned in Not Your Typical Pastor’s Wife really happened, and I was right in the middle of all them.

Jeannette: Well, I thoroughly enjoyed being invited into those stories. And I also loved the honesty you showed throughout your book.

In our social media-driven world, there is a literally sickening amount of fakeness. But you come right out and admit your flaws as if you’re an actual human being.

It’s so refreshing! Did you ever go through a phase where you tried not to be yourself in order to impress people? Or are you just singularly awesome at being who God created you to be?

Judy: Well, saying I'm “singularly awesome at being who God created me to be” might be putting it a bit over the top. But yes, I'm just me!

Many times, when my husband and I had to attend some function that required a rather serious nature, I would tell myself that I’d be different. I'd enter the room, be reserved, and quiet…

Didn't happen! Ever. The minute my feet hit the door, I was just Judy… giggles, smiles, and whatever else might happen.

Jeannette: And plenty certainly did happen, “giggles, smiles” and all. Is that your main goal in writing and publishing Not Your Typical Pastor’s Wife: to help others laugh as well?

Judy: First of all, I love to write about real-life experiences. After I wrote my first book, Living on Faith and Baked Potatoes, friends and family encouraged me to write another one. That’s when I realized it was time to tell my own life experiences that were just too precious to keep to myself.

I want my readers to understand that God has given us a sense of humor and that we should find the funny side of life's events. I'm so glad He gave me that wonderful gift of laughter, and I share it all the time.

I also want readers to zero in on the last portion of my book, where I talk about our walk with the Lord and the importance of love, patience, forgiveness, hope, joy, and praise.

Jeannette: This is going to sound a bit off topic, and I won’t waste your time explaining my bunny-trail connection. But the way I’ve seen it for a long time, being a pastor or pastor’s wife can be a lonely job.

Are there any insights you can give to Innovative Editing readers who might go to church and have a certain image or expectation of the leadership there?

Judy: Being in the ministry, my husband and I understood that there were many pastors and wives who, for various reasons, chose not to get close to their congregation. Richard and I chose not to be those types of leaders though.

We loved our congregation and felt like the love was reciprocated, which made it easy for us to feel close to one another. I would suggest that pastors and their wives engage themselves with the flock and experience the love we felt with ours.

There were times I felt alone, yes, because my husband had to devote 100% of his time to those who needed him. But I was never lonely because of God's presence in my life, which sustained me on many occasions.

Jeannette: Wow. That was not the answer I was expecting, but it’s very thought-provoking at the same time. I’d love to explore it further, but since Innovative Editing is about writing and not about pastoring, I’m going to stave off my curiosity for the time being…

From the book-marketing side of things, you’ve had a few in-person authorial appearances. How do you look for those, and how do you land them?

Judy: Individuals who read my first book would contact me and ask if I would speak at women's conferences, which then provided me opportunities to sell my books, which continued to spread the word to others.

Sometimes, I’ll also contact different bookstores. If they agree to carry my book, they’ll ask if I would have a book-signing for them. Even so, I would probably say that speaking at women's conferences and other civic events has given me the greatest opportunity to market my book.

Jeannette: Great insight! And on that note, I’ll leave readers with this last thought: If you want an awesome opportunity to smile, you’re going to want to check out Judy’s books.

The first one, Living on Faith and Baked Potatoes: One Christian Woman’s Story About Divorce and Recovery can be purchased here.

And the utterly hysterical Not Your Typical Pastor’s Wife is available right here.

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