Faith’s Pursuit is an inspiring true story about a young woman’s journey with God. As a little girl, she meets Him in the most unlikely place–her broken heart. He walks with her through her poverty and shame. When He calls her forth, she dares to follow and discovers that through suffering and redemption, God makes Himself real to anyone who has the faith to pursue Him.
Who is Deanna Slamans?
Deanna Slamans, M.Ed. is an author, conference speaker, curriculum writer, and educator. In 2014, she published the first Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum for Milton Hershey School (a boarding school for needy children located in Hershey, PA).
Deanna holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology. She is the author of Faith’s Pursuit and The House That Chocolate Built: Parenting at the Sweetest Boarding School on Earth, a story about her family’s career while houseparenting at Milton Hershey.
She has also been a friend of mine for more than twenty years. Deanna is a person I admire and one of the most sincerely joyful people I’ve ever met.
Join me now as she tells us about her experience surrounding the writing of her book, Faith’s Pursuit.
An Interview with Deanna Slamans
Summer: What was your motivation behind writing your autobiography? Why did you decide to tell your personal story?
Deanna: Several factors went into my decision to write my autobiography. The first one had to do with the fact that at that time in my life, I found myself reflecting quite a bit. There was some inner turmoil taking place, and this was the first time I felt the need to write what God was doing in me during that time. I grew up in a lot of trauma, and that turmoil was the catalyst to me finding my voice and expressing all of the pain I experienced as a young girl.
The second reason I decided to tell my story was to honor my mother. When I began writing my story, I was 35 years old. That is the same age that my mother committed suicide. It is difficult to describe, but I felt a tremendous amount of loss and abandonment during that year because I was growing older than my mother. I was beginning to outlive her. I had no reference point from which to exist beyond her, and it gave me a sense of helplessness. I was afraid to grow older.
The third reason I wrote my story was for my daughter, Korri. As timely as it was to begin telling my life story and the profound effect my mother’s suicide had on me at the age of 35, it paled in comparison to the fact that I was also a mother of a seven-year-old girl. My daughter was the same age that I was at the time of my mother’s death. I couldn’t ignore the fact that the deep longing for my mother at the age of 35, and raising my daughter were somehow intertwined. God was beginning to show me the myriad ways that He protected me and healed me during my growing up years. So as I began to write about it, His wisdom and His love for me showed up on the pages of the manuscript.
Summer: Describe how the writing process went for you. Were there any bumps in the road? Were some parts more difficult to write than others?
Deanna: Surprisingly, telling my story was not difficult because I was writing from a place of deep intimacy. I was surprised by how easily the words poured out of me once I began. What I was not prepared for, however, was reliving a lot of the emotions (and experiencing some for the first time), during the writing process.
Children who survive a parent’s death, or who grow up in extreme poverty, neglect, and abuse, develop coping skills to survive. Typically that survival comes at a cost, and for me, that cost was turning off my emotions to function. During my early childhood years and even into my late teens, I did not “feel.” Instead, I survived with my guard up, waiting for the next catastrophe. So I grieved during my writing. I can still remember the sobs that caught in my throat and my attempt to suppress them. Eventually, I just let them out. Often, my weeping was audible, so I made sure to write in private.
There were no real bumps in the road; however, when I wrote the book, I did not plan to publish it to sell on the open market. My goals were to pen my story and design a beautiful cover to gift to my daughter. But when some of the women in my Bible Study group asked to read what I was writing, I shared it with them. They convinced me to publish it, and they all ordered copies to gift to their friends and family. I was deeply touched and honored.
Summer: Has your daughter read the book? If so, can you describe briefly what her response was?
Deanna: Yes, I allowed her to read it when she was in the 8th grade as a homeschool reading assignment. During one of her literature classes for her co-op teacher, she was asked to choose an autobiography, and she chose my book. While she knew a lot of the fuzzy details about my mother (her grandmother), she did not know about many of the details surrounding her older brother’s early death shortly after he was born.
Much of what I share in the book about her brother Kobe, also had to do with carrying her as a high risk pregnancy, as a result. She always knew she was a preemie, but she did not know how much I grieved her brother, and how carrying her on bedrest for 6 months was such a hardship for me.
Summer: We have been friends for more than twenty years and I have always known you to be a joyful, positive person. How can you experience such joy after all you have gone through?
Deanna: The Bible says, in 1 Peter 3:15, to “Always be prepared to give an answer for the hope you have (in Christ).” I have always taken that verse seriously. In my time as a houseparent at Milton Hershey School, my husband and I helped to raise close to 100 boys. We’ve met many children and young adults who have experienced hardships, and the reasons some overcome their trials, and others do not, is how they view Christ. Is He for me or against me?
I used to think Christ was against me, and I am pretty transparent in my book about my doubts of His love for me. In particular, after our son died. I grieved the loss of him intensely, in part, because I had never truly grieve my mother’s death in the right way. I had simply pushed my feelings aside to survive. So when I was mature enough to confront God about losing my mother at 7, my grandmother shortly after, and not having my father in my life, it was an intense moment. And if anyone has ever had a true encounter with the Lord, they will tell you that it changes you.
Now knowing and believing what the Bible says about me, I have no reason but to have joy, even in the midst of suffering.
Summer: You and your husband were house parents at Milton Hershey for a number of years, which took up most of your time. What kind of work do you presently? Are you involved in any kind of ministry?
Deanna: Yes, we were houseparents for 15 years, and then I spent three years as an administrator at the school for K-12 students. I wrote the school’s first character education and leadership development curriculum.
After 18 years at Milton Hershey School, I retired and now I provide customer service support for my husband ecommerce business. I enjoy it because it allows me to be home with my kids and to travel with my husband. After helping to parent other people’s children for so many years, it’s nice to focus only on our family.
I am a freelance writer, often writing for non-profits about character education and the value of it in schools and families. I also speak and teach at women’s conferences all over the country, as well as serve on the worship team at our local church. I recently joined a non-profit board that is based in Haiti. My role is to learn about the Haitian people at the Haiti Partner’s Children’s Academy and if I can, I would like to assist the school as they focus on character development for their children.
Summer: You mentioned that initially your daughter was the intended audience for Faith’s Pursuit. Now that the book is available on Amazon what kinds of readers would benefit from reading it?
Deanna: A number of readers who find my book valuable are Christian women who have experienced loss. I have had women who are cancer survivors find encouragement in my book. Others have told me that they re-gifted my book to women who have lost a child. Still many others grew from the Biblical stories that are interwoven amongst the pages and feel that the Bible jumps of the page because of the ways I am able to relate it to everyday life.
Thank you, Deanna, for taking the time to answer my questions. I am looking forward to reading your book a know that I’ll be blessed and challenged by it.
To my readers, I think that Faith’s Pursuit will be an intense, yet worthwhile, read for anyone who has experienced loss, trauma or neglect. Joy is possible! And so is restoration. With God all things are possible!
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If you’d like to purchase a copy of Faith’s Pursuit, visit Amazon.
Get to know Deanna Slamans at DeannaSlamans.com.
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