Monday, February 01, 2016

Meet a M.O.M.: Jaci Wightman, author of A Princess Story

I'm so excited to be bringing back my Meet a M.O.M. (mother of many) series of posts.  Today, I am doing an interview with Jaci Wightman, one of my first large-family internet friends.  She and I met way back in the early wild-wild-west days of the internet where Facebook didn't exist, blogs were only just starting, and people who were into that kind of thing hung out on forums.  She and I were part of a moms exercise check-in.  I'd just had my twins and was so happy to meet a mom who was a bit older but also had a lot of kids close together.  She was so kind and encouraging to me and gave me some awesome advice that I still remember.

We lost track of each other after some time, though I enjoyed getting the occasional Christmas card. Fast forward a few years and I was so happy to get back in touch with her.  Her kids are now mostly raised and she's started writing books. She even gave me an advance copy of her newest book, A Princess Story: The Real-Life Fairy Tale Found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have enjoyed reading it.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family. 

Well, I’ve been married for 25 years and I have 7 kids age 24 to 16. Right now, we have 2 high schoolers, 1 on a mission, 2 in college, and 2 who are married (and we’re expecting our first grandbaby in April!). I’ve always been a stay-home mom, so it’s been a big adjustment to go from all those years of happy chaos to just 2 teens now at home. But it’s really fun to watch my kids start to spread their wings and learn to fly on their own.

You had 7 kids in 8 years, most of whom are now mostly grown.  Can you share a little bit about that experience?

You know, it was never my plan to have my kids so close together. But the Lord had other ideas, and I’m actually really glad my husband and I followed His promptings to have our kids when we did. Yes, it was incredibly crazy when they were little (when our youngest was born, I had a 2nd grader, a kindergartner, and 5 pre-schoolers). But over the years I began to see how perfect His plan was for me as a mom. I can now say I’d gladly do it all over again because of all the growth and stretching and joy that’s come through having our kids the Lord’s way rather than my own.

As your kids got older, you started writing.  Can you tell us about your first book, Body Image Breakthrough?  What influenced you to write it?  What is the message you hoped to convey through it? 

It’s funny—in earlier years, I never saw myself as a writer at all. But I always loved to study and try to find answers to my questions. About 10 years ago, I applied that to my struggle with negative body image. I wanted to know how the gospel of Jesus Christ could help me with that particular problem. Through a great deal of study and prayer, the Lord taught me how to conquer all the negative thoughts and false beliefs I’d battled since I was a teenager. That healing process was so liberating, I wanted to share it with other women who were suffering just like me. So I got out my laptop and started to write. 

Your second book, A Princess Story, just came out.  Who is it intended for?  Why choose fairy tales to explain the gospel of Jesus Christ?

This book was born in early 2012 when I was called to be the Young Women’s President in our ward. I was looking for a way to make gospel principles more relatable to the girls, and one night as I sat watching Tangled with my daughters, I realized there was gospel symbolism woven all throughout the story. So I thought it would be fun to include it in one of my Young Women lessons. It struck such a chord with the girls that I kept building on those lessons for the rest of my time in Young Women. Eventually I realized it was another message I really wanted to share in book form. But A Princess Story isn’t just for Young Women or YW leaders. As daughters of God, we’re all princesses (no matter our age), so this really is a story that relates to each and every one of us. In fact, I’ve had many friends (even grandmas!) who’ve read it and found it applied very much to their personal lives. So I’d recommend it to any woman young or old who wants to know more about her own personal princess story.

As I've been reading your book, I love the easy conversational style that is so accessible for young girls.  I can totally see my twins, who are almost 12, reading this and gaining some great insight.  I loved your chapter on the dragon within each of us, as I felt it explained very well the natural man we all fight against.  What were your favorite parts of the book to write?  Can you share a few of your favorite paragraphs from the book?

Oh, wow, this book was so fun to write, it’s hard to choose a favorite part. I think one thing I enjoyed was being able to tie so many popular princess stories from today into the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the book I use Rapunzel, Jasmine, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Snow White, and even non-Disney examples like The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted. Most of us know these stories by heart, so it makes it easier to apply the gospel to our individual lives.

Maybe instead of including paragraphs from the book, I’ll show you the Table of Contents so readers can get an overview of what’s included in the story. Here are the chapter titles: A Peculiar Princess, A Notorious Villain, An Awful Monster, A Dragon Nature, An Awe-Inspiring Hero, A Dangerous Distraction, A Load of Lies, A Broken Heart, A Closer Look, A Great Exchange, A Baptism of Fire, A Princess Warrior, An Epic Battle, A Prince’s Kingdom, An Endowment of Power, and A Happily Ever After (you knew I had to include that last one!). In the book, I cover every part of a typical princess story, which just goes to show that we really are living out our own fairy tale, only in real-life instead of make-believe.

As a busy mom of lots of kids, how have you found the time to write and pursue your own interests as well as nurture your family?  What has helped you find balance during the various stages of your life?

 There’s one piece of advice I think is crucial for women in our generation who want to have it all and do it all. Yes, we want to learn and grow and try different things . . . but the key is that we don’t have to try to do it all at once. For instance, in my 20’s, I quit school after finishing my Associates Degree because we’d started our family and I wanted to stay home with our kids. But in my 30’s, the Lord opened the door for me to go back and finish my Bachelor’s Degree (I graduated in 2012 at age 41). I was able to accomplish that dream, but it came in a way that was right for me and my family. So I really believe it’s all about timing. I had some seasons when I didn’t have much time to pursue outside interests, but that was only for a while and I was willing to make the sacrifice for our family. As I was patient, I was able to add more to my life when the time was right. So I really believe if we’re prayerful, we’ll find a way to do the things we love and become who we need to become, but we must do it by following the Lord’s will and His timing.

Thanks so much for letting us get to know you better, Jaci! Where can we learn more about you or pick up a copy of your book? 

 You can visit for more info on both books and a link to my personal blog. And A Princess Story is available on in both paperback or kindle versions. Christina, my friend, thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your wonderful blog! It’s been really fun to stop by and chat about something I feel so passionate about.

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