Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee from Getting Down with Jesus

My heart is stirred to pursue God more, as I read the words of Jennifer Dukes Lee at Getting Down with Jesus. She is a beautiful writer, and someone I am able to call, gracious friend. I count her as a gift. She is kind, warm and welcoming. She is lover of God and of people. I am blessed by every correspondence I have with her. I am humble by the privilege of interviewing Jennifer, and I am honored to share her answers with you. Jennifer also shares the most beautiful photos on her Facebook page, and follow her most encouraging tweets on Twitter

An award-winning journalist, Jennifer Dukes Lee used to cover crime, politics, and natural disasters. Now she uses her reporting skills to chase after the redemptive story of Christ. Jennifer, a former news reporter for several Midwestern metropolitan daily newspapers, serves as an adjunct journalism professor at Dordt College in Iowa. Her husband, Scott, raises crops in northwest Iowa, and together they are raising two girls on the Lee family’s century-old farm. She blogs about faith and family at Getting Down With Jesus. She is currently writing a nonfiction Christian book with Tyndale.


Michele-Lyn: How did Getting Down with Jesus come about?

Jennifer Lee: My blog was an experiment in writing and personal storytelling that began in 2008. I had been writing professionally since I was 16 years old, telling other people’s stories in newspapers and magazines. I had written thousands of stories over two decades of writing, had interviewed politicians, police chiefs and presidential candidates. I was never afraid to ask the tough questions of other people – but cringed at the thought of asking the hard questions of myself.

GettingDownWithJesus The blog was a way of doing the very necessary work of asking – and answering – those questions. Maya Angelou once said “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I carried the untold stories for years, and have really only begun the process of birthing them. The blog has been the midwife.

I don’t think I knew that’s what was happening when I published my first post, but very quickly, I realized that this was an important soul-work. I needed to wrestle and struggle and confess and listen and get honest with myself. I didn’t anticipate any of that when I started.

But one day, I sat down to write and was surprised by the joy of this: I had been falling in love again with the Savior, relearning the height and depth of God’s unrelenting grace. It floored me. And it drew me back to the computer keyboard again and again.

Michele-Lyn: Will you describe the moment you first believed you were a writer?

Jennifer Lee: I believed I was a reporter before I ever believed I was a writer. My older sisters tell me my favorite word while growing up was this: “Why?” I wanted to know the answers. To everything.

I carried a Sesame Street notebook with me, recording ideas and stories and questions. I settled on a journalism major at least three years before I stepped foot on a college campus.

But believing I could actually call myself a writer took much, much longer – even with external validation. In 2000 I was given the Gannett Corporation’s Outstanding Achievement Award for “best writing at a Division I newspaper.” When I accepted the award, I thought the judges had made a horrible mistake. I didn’t think I could write, not like the “others.”

Comparison is a writer’s enemy. And so is our need for validation. It shouldn’t take a plaque or an editor or a paycheck or a book contract to affirm us as writers. We don’t really need external validation to write; all we really need are some guts. When I began to believe that, I began to know myself as a writer.

Michele-Lyn: We know the Spirit of God is the source of all God-breathed inspiration, but what or who would you say is your biggest inspiration in your writing or blogging journey? Perhaps  your favorite author, and why?

Jennifer Lee: Oh Michele. A great question, but ah …  where to begin? Or end? I’ll offer a few.

Early on, I was highly influenced by Larry Fruhling and Ken Fuson, two of the finest journalists I’ve known personally. I read their work as a kid, and nearly fainted the day I found myself in cubicles next to theirs at The Des Moines Register. What made them good? They took risks. They broke rules. They could be milk-shooting-out-of-your-nose funny one day, and dead serious the next. They wrote the best leads. I devoured absolutely everything they wrote. They taught me that the best writers were first of all, very good reporters. That’s a lesson I teach my journalism students at Dordt College. I tell them that they may not use even one-tenth of the material in their notebook, but they need to gather it all anyway. Thorough reporting is the difference between a good story and a great one – even in blog posts. I preach the power of story, and the importance of creating visual scenes that play like movies in the mind.

Other authors have influenced me for difference reasons. For theology, I read as much of Tullian Tchividjian, Tim Keller, A.W. Tozer and Brennan Manning as I can. I think James C. Schaap is one of the finest writers around. And I find myself deeply and repeatedly moved by the poetic prose of Ann Voskamp.

Michele-Lyn: What is most important to you in your writing process and/or your writing journey?

Jennifer Lee: My husband, Scott, has been a gift, both in the process and in the journey. He encourages me to write, and even as I answer your questions now, he is making dinner for the family. He reads my blog, and all of my chapters before I send them to my agent or editor. He is a discerning reader. He has given me courage to write, and then to release those words into the world. He prays for me, and when my self-doubting nature creeps in, he reminds me again and again that “God’s got it.” My girls, ages 8 and 10, are incredible encouragers, too – and budding little writers. My family is proof that God gives ridiculously good gifts.

Michele-Lyn: What is the most important thing you could say to a Christian blogger and/or writer, who is also a wife and mama?

Jennifer Lee: The most important stories are the ones you live. <–Tweetable, eh?  So, go laugh and love and cry and dance and plant carrots and pack picnics and rake leaves and write stories on real hearts – not as fodder for the next blog post, but as a way to make a life.

But also, if you are a writer, let go of the guilt. Allow yourself time every day to hone your craft, to work on a blog post, whatever. The dishes can wait.

Michele-Lyn: What would you say to the one who has a dream of seeing their own book published?

Jennifer Lee: Dream big. Reach high. And bow low before our God.

Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and pray for you. While in process, don’t neglect the people who need you or the God who loves you. Try not to be discouraged by everything you read out there, telling you that there’s no way you can get a book deal without a mega-platform. And if you don’t get the contact you had hoped for, it’s never been easier to self-publish a book. If dreams were never meant to come true, we’d stop having them. So dream, and believe.

Dearest Jennifer Lee,

Here is my wholehearted thank you. I am honored that you would joyfully agree to allow me to interview you. I was even more humbled by the answers that you took time to answer with such heart and depth. It was such a joy and pleasure to get to know a bit more. I am looking forward to reading your new book even more now. You are truly a gift to me, and the body of Christ. 

With love,


Dearest readers, do you have any questions you would like

to ask Jennifer, to continue this conversation?

We welcome you to, in comments.

  • Elizabeth Stewart

    Wonderful interview with one of my favorites! :)

  • Danelle

    I ached when I read the Maya Angelou quote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Yes, I believe I may always remember that. I am jotting it down right now Jennifer.
    Love you and love the encouragement and wisdom in this interview.

    • Michele-Lyn


      Yes, I agree. This was such a poignant and profound quote. I am glad you got a chance to join us in this interview. Jennifer is a blessing to so many :)

  • Stefanie Brown

    FANTASTIC interview!! Not only did I “tweet” quotes, I wrote several down to keep for myself.
    Great job. Great servant. Great God!

    • Michele-Lyn


      I loved this interview with Jennifer. I am so glad you were able to join us. I re-read her answers over and over :)

      Blessings to you, sweet friend.

  • floyd

    What a great interview and wise words. Thanks to the both of you for a job well done.

    • Michele-Lyn


      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Blessings to you,


  • Mandy

    Jennifer Lee, your words about dreams spoke right to me. Thank you for that summary on how and where to focus my attention and energy. Wonderful! Excellent interview, Michele-Lyn! Thank you.

    • Michele-Lyn


      I am so glad you were able to join us. I am even more glad about what you said, “your words about dreams spoke right to me.” Jennifer has blessed so many. I am grateful.

      Blessings to you,


  • laura

    Thank you, Michele-Lyn, for featuring one of my favorite people :). Jennifer, your grace is so evident here. You sure look like your Daddy.

    • Michele-Lyn


      I am so humbled and honored to have had Jennifer featured here today. I am also blessed by your visit :) Thank you for joining us today.

      Blessings to you,


  • Linda

    Thank you so much Michele. Jennifer is one of my writing heroes. Her writing is a reflection of a heart seeking after God. I want to learn as much from her as I can.
    Your questions were perfect. A great interview!

    • Michele-Lyn


      Thank you, I am blessed by your comment :) I see Jennifer the same way and I am so grateful for her willingness to answer my questions :) Glad you joined us.


  • Kris

    This was so wonderful to read ladies. Thank you so much for this breath of wisdom and humility and grace. I needed to read these words tonight!
    Love you both!

    • Michele-Lyn


      I have been re-reading her words over and over. They are so full of wisdom from the heart of a lover of God and people :)

      Blessings to you, my friend…

  • Kristin

    This was so inspiring and encouraging for someone who has a book inside her but still struggling at the “I’m a writer” part.
    Thank you for sharing yourself and thank you Michele-Lyn for interviewing her. So nice to sit and read from other Sisters in Christ as you both are :)

    • Michele-Lyn


      I am so glad you joined us! I agree, Jennifer’s words are so inspiring to me. I keep reading them over and over :)

      I am so glad you stopped by. Blessings to you,


  • Elizabeth, wynnegraceappears

    You two are a beautiful picture of the body of CHRIST working together. With and for and loving….one another. Supporting, encouraging and up-lifting ….one another. You two are a lovely team. Hands and feet of the One we serve.

    • Jennifer Lee

      Elizabeth! So sweet of you to stop by. It’s pure joy to link arms with Michele today, and chat about writing. Thanks for joining in.

    • Michele-Lyn


      What a beautiful comment. You just drip grace and pour love with every word you leave here :)

      Thank you, my friend.

  • Carol J. Garvin

    I appreciated getting to know more about Jennifer via these questions… and am so glad to have discovered Michele-Lyn’s blog at the same time. Thank you both!

    • Jennifer Lee

      Hi Carol,

      We’re glad you stopped by. You’ll like Michele. She’s a beautiful person, gracious and encouraging, too!

    • Michele-Lyn


      What sweet and kind words. I am so glad you stopped by. Blessings to you,


  • Kelli

    Michelle, this is a great interview. Practical and inspiring. Thank you for choosing Jennifer — she’s gotta be one of the most encouraging personalities on the web in my book. :)

    And Jennifer. Hearing your heart here just makes me respect you all the more. Especially your advice about *living the story.* I have been guilty of confining my God to the screen and the keyboard, but recently, after “unplugging” for a week, I am remembering just how BIG He really is. And how loving people in real time is such good medicine to put my lofty theological feet back on the ground.

    Your words here are right on.
    Thanks to you both!

    • Jennifer Lee


      There’s nothing quite like unplugging to inspire our writing. Even more, to inspire real LIVING! This summer has been kind of crazy here. I needed to get some chapters done, but I refused to take away from time with the girls and Scott. So… I’ve had a lot of early mornings and late nights. That left a whole lot more room for picnics, bike rides, nature walks, fishing trips, and more.

      Glad you are here. xo

    • Michele-Lyn


      I am so glad you joined us today. We are all so very blessed by these words of wisdom Jennifer answered. I also just came off of a week of rest from blogging and social networking. My guideline is to take every 7th week off, just to make sure I give myself margin. Thank you for sharing with us.

      Blessings to you,


  • Jennifer @ You Are My Girls

    Oh, what a beautiful treat this was, to see you two together, sharing this treasured conversation. Thank you so much for this interview, both of you. I am so encouraged by your words here, Jennifer, regarding writing but also by your nudge to for us to not forget the heart {His heart in us asking us to live out the story He offers us} in every word we write. And I loved getting to know more about you! Bless you, both!

    • Jennifer Lee

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’m pressing in close to the Savior here. Got my forehead on his back, just trying to follow close. I can’t do this without him. There have been some really tough moments through this manuscript writing; I have to admit it. Times where I’ve been sure that I canNOT do this, when I’m certain I’m the worst writer EVER. But after stepping away from the keys a while (and perhaps allowing myself a good cry now and then!) I’m pressing on, and leaning in. I am modern-day proof that Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness.

    • Michele-Lyn


      Oh, thank you for visiting today :) I was also blessed by this interview. I keep reading her words over and over. Thank you for your love and support. I cannot wait to hug your neck :)

      With love,


  • Laura @ Pruning Princesses

    Two of my favorite bloggers in one place. Awesome. Thank you for the interview Michelle and the answers Jennifer. They inspire me to keep writing and the idea of letting the dishes go to hone my craft, I needed to hear that for I struggle with this balance. And really, I love connections. I had no idea Jennifer and I both had two girls the exact same ages. I want a playdate!

    • Jennifer Lee

      Laura! How wonderful! Yes, I want a playdate, too! Please??

      God bless you in your writing endeavors, Laura. Keep at it. You shine, girl!

    • Michele-Lyn


      Thank you sweet friend :) I am glad you came by today. I am glad you found encouragement from Jennifer’s words. I know I did :)

  • Jillie

    Hi Michele-Lyn…Thank you for this interview with Jennifer today. I learned a lot about another of my favourite bloggers. Jennifer…as one who has never really had a ‘career’ to speak of, I am impressed by your work-history. But what impresses me most is your ‘present occupation’—knowing Christ more and more deeply, day-by-day…and sharing this with us. Your honesty, your transparency, and your deeelightful sense of humour!!! I look forward to you every single day!
    And Michele-Lyn—you know I LOVE your mother-heart! And your deep desire to raise up your young ones to honour and bless God with their lives! No higher ‘calling’ than that!
    Can’t wait for your book, Jennifer!!!

    • Jennifer Lee

      I was very career-focused, to a fault. But God works together all things for good. Even though I was an overworked, overwrought mess during those career years, I learned some valuable skills that I can use as I chase the redemptive story of Jesus Christ. I still love to tell the story; ’twill be my theme in glory!

    • Michele-Lyn


      Oh, what beautiful words of encouragement. You are always a blessing to me :) I am so glad you were able to take time to read the interview and get to know Jennifer a bit more. She is a blessing to me as well.

      Blessings friend,


  • Diana Trautwein

    What a lovely exchange of questions and answers. Thanks so much to both of you for giving us this gift!

    • Jennifer Lee

      Hi Diana! Thanks for being here, friend. I’d love to sit down and talk writing and photography and theology and life in general with you, Diana. I so appreciate your wisdom.

    • Michele-Lyn


      Thank you :) This was a gift for me as well.

  • Wendy @ E1A

    Love the quote Jennifer left: “Dream big. Reach high. And bow low before our God. — Lovely interview Michelle.

    • Jennifer Lee

      Glad you’re here, Wendy. We so appreciate that you’ve stopped by today.

    • Michele-Lyn


      Thank you, and I love that quote as well, and many others :)

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Michele-Lyn, thank you so much for drawing out the heart of such a wonderful writer, and Jennifer, thank you for sharing so transparently from the depths of your heart! It is always a joy to read about the journeys of other Christian writers. We’re all different, and yet share a love for Jesus, the living Word, and a desire to make Him known…..through the words He gives us to write. Your counsel is wise and sincere, and I rejoice that He has given you a place to share about Christ in your blog and soon in your upcoming book. God has given you a professional, “trained” background, and this is not the route He had for me. But the beauty is that we can each follow the path He gives us, personally, and the destiny is the same–sharing our words at the feet of Jesus. What a humbling, fulfilling place to be! And, Jennifer, I love that your husband partners with you in this journey. My husband, Michael, is my best editor! =] Thank you, both Michele-Lyn and Jennifer, for such a heartfelt interview. Your collaboration here, I know, will bless so many readers and writers, alike!

    • Jennifer Lee

      There are many routes to the One True Way. Mine was rather circuitous, to say the least. I’m grateful beyond words that my path eventually led me to Christ.

      And it’s been a delight to intersect paths with you, Lynn. I enjoy your encouragement, your writing, and your flair for life! So happy to hear that your Michael walks beside you in your writing life, too. What a gift. I know that a lot of women writers do not have that kind of support in their craft, so I definitely don’t take it for granted.

    • Michele-Lyn


      You have so many wonderful things to say here. Your comment is so encouraging and humbling at the same time. Thank you :)

      Blessings to you,


  • Nikki

    What a wonderful interview, Michele-Lyn. Thank you for sharing with us, Jennifer!

    I’ve been blogging less than a year and am still having a hard time figuring out how to keep living life while setting that same life aside to write. Determining my priorities and disciplining myself are two things I still struggle with…I had to read “The dishes can wait” about 10 times for it to sink in! (pun not intended, but it made me smile)

    Thank you…

    • Jennifer Lee

      Hi Nikki,

      When I started blogging, I decided early on to stick to a schedule. I started writing Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And that schedule stuck. I often put up a weekend photo post as well. A set schedule helped me find a place in my daily schedule for my writing, and became such a part of my daily routine, that it has never felt like a scramble to write a post. I tend to write first thing in the morning, before the kids get up, or after they’ve gone to bed.

      Also, if you’re looking for a great way to get a post done quickly, consider participating in Five-Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker at It is a wonderful exercise — so much so, that I often use it with my journalism students at Dordt College. It’s also a great way to get “unstuck” if you’re having writer’s block.

    • Michele-Lyn


      I am glad you were able to stop in and join us for the interview. I still have so much to glean from it. I have read it over and over :)

      Blessings to you, my friend.

  • SimplyDarlene

    Miss JDL – Oh, it’s so hard not to compare, but I fall into that trap so often that I give-up – start over – give up – start over A LOT. Yikes.

    Anyway, as always, you inspire and lead with Truth. Thank you for that.

    And miss Michelle-Lyn, thanks for hosting this interview.


    • Jennifer Lee

      Hey sweetie,

      Press on in that writing journey of yours! So fun to chat with you on the phone today! xo

  • Sarah

    I love how she calls her blog the midwife. It’s a perfect description.
    Also, the quote from Maya Angelou is perfection and exactly how I think many of us bloggers feel. It’s tough to dig that deep and be that personal, but it’s more than worth it!
    Thank you for sharing this! It’s super encouraging, ladies!

    • Jennifer Lee

      Good morning, Sarah …

      Yeah. That quote from Maya Angelou is just right, isn’t it? So glad that you’ve found the freedom in your own writing to dig deep. May God bless you as you craft stories, in His name.

      With gratitude,

    • Michele-Lyn


      Oh, thank YOU for the encouragement. And Jennifer’s words of wisdom, what a blessing! I will be referring back often. Thank you for joining us :)

  • Deidra

    Jennifer is wonderful! And she practices what she preaches. She lives life fully. I love to watch her on her journey. And, I’m grateful for permission to let the dishes go…

    • Jennifer Lee

      Hey Deidra! Thanks for popping over and hanging with us a little while, friend. P.S. ~ I miss you already.

    • Michele-Lyn


      I am so glad you joined us here today. It just warms my heart to read your affirmations. I have yet to meet Jennifer in person, but I know that I would find her just as you say. I am so grateful for the blessings of online community. My heart is full :)

      Blessings to you,


  • Michele-Lyn


    As I re-read this post, as a reader, I am in awe. I am humbled all over again that you graciously accepted to be interviewed, even in the middle of writing your manuscript. The stories you tell on your blog, and the way you share your relationship with God and your family with us, is such an inspiration to me. I liked you from the very first moment I visited your place. I am growing to love you, more and more. I am so excited for what God is doing with your life, and going to do. You shine bright for His glory. You are a gift. I am inspired by you, and I am blessed to call you friend.

    With love and gratitude,


    • Jennifer Lee


      You are a gift. Thank you for thinking to ask me over. I so appreciated your questions, and the opportunity to share here together.

      You are dear to me, you know it? You inspire me with your love and life poured out for Him. Keep shining!

      Love, Jennifer

  • Shelly Miller

    Thanks for your wisdom Jennifer and for asking the questions Michele-Lyn. Enjoyed the interview immensely. We’re all real people on a real journey that is unique to each one of us, that’s the comfort I have in your words.

    • Jennifer Lee

      Hi friend … So sweet of you to join us Shelly. The being “real” has been made easier because of this encouraging blog community, you know? I’m a little more than halfway done with my manuscript, and I don’t think that I could have been nearly as vulnerable and “real” on those pages, if I didn’t first have the love and acceptance of friends out here in the blogosphere who walked with me through some very soul-baring writing in these last couple years. This has been a gift. ((YOU)) have been a gift. Much love…

    • Michele-Lyn


      Thank you for the kind words. I am so glad that you joined us today. :) I am blessed too, by Jennifer’s answers today. They have inspired and encouraged my heart. Glad that I could share them with you!

      With love,


  • ro elliott

    what a sweet surprise…two of my favorite people right here together…Jennifer…I enjoyed hearing more about your life…and background and all that led you here. I love…dream big…bow low… oh yes, always no matter what we are shooting for:) thanks michele for hosting Jennifer here…you know how I feel about you too…precious. blessings to you both.

    • Jennifer Lee

      Good morning, Ro!

      So glad you could join us.

      The bowing low… Yes, writing is an extension of worship, really. I want to honor Him with my life and with my words.

      Love, Jennifer

    • Michele-Lyn


      Such sweet love you always leave here. Thank you for your blessing this morning :) And isn’t Jennifer such an inspiration? I am so blessed to have you join us :)

  • Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    I finally, FINALLY, slip out onto the internet highway to visit dear friends, and Jennifer isn’t “home”! I’m so glad I followed her path of bread crumbs here, though.

    Such encouragement here in these words, drawn by well-crafted questions. Thanks, both of you! You’ve blessed me here, this Monday morning.

    • Jennifer Lee

      Good morning, Sheila! I’m glad you took a detour to find me. :) And isn’t this just the loveliest place to rest for a few minutes? I love Michele-Lyn, and it’s nice to gather here at her place.

      Yes, Michele-Lyn had some great questions. So fun to share the journey with both of you … finding that the bread-crumbs lead to Bread of Life! Grateful for you, Sheila.

    • Michele-Lyn


      Thank you for the warm introduction. It’s so very nice to meet you. YOU bless me here today. And what a blessing Jennifer is, as she shares her life journeys with us.

      Blessings to you,