Author Interview with Elizabeth A. Johnson

I’m excited to welcome my friend Elizabeth Johnson to the blog today to answer some questions about her new book Touching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical SufferingTouching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering by Elizabeth A. Johnson, blogger at DogFur and Dandelions (which I’ll be writing more about tomorrow, and sharing a giveaway).

Touching the Hem Elizabeth A JohnsonWhat led you to write this book?
Short version or long? The short version is: I was diagnosed with a serious long-term illness in 2007, which is treatable but not curable, and will affect me for the rest of my life. Suddenly, sickness and healing wasn’t something that happened to “someone else” – it became very personal, and I went searching for resources to help me respond biblically. I didn’t find much specific to sickness, or written from a strong biblical perspective, and so I decided to study it out for myself. That study turned into Touching the HemTouching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering by Elizabeth A. Johnson, blogger at DogFur and Dandelions, a biblically-centered resource for anyone dealing with serious physical suffering.

How did you come up with the title?
Mark 5:25-34 shares the account of a woman who suffered a long-term illness. She had spent all her resources in search of an elusive cure, and yet was continually growing worse. One day, Christ was traveling nearby, and she went out in faith that a simple touch could provide the healing she sought. So she reached out and simply touched the hem of His robe. And because of her faith, she was healed from her disease and her story was recorded for all future generations. Her story inspired me to write this book. Her struggle with a long-term illness is so familiar, and her faith is an example to all of us!

What is your writing environment? Laptop or longhand? Quiet room, coffee shop, music or silence?
I do most of my writing on my laptop at our kitchen table, with a wonderful view of sky and trees. But my ideal writing environment is actually the library! I do quite a bit of research, and love having easy access to so many books and huge tables to spread out across. And quiet is definitely a must (although the coffee shop aroma would be welcome too!).

What’s the one big takeaway you want people to have after reading your book?
Know God’s Word. It contains everything we need for life and godliness – every answer for uncertain situations, every instruction for life’s challenges, every encouragement for difficult circumstances. Know God’s Word, and you will get to know Him and the abundant life He offers, even in the midst of trials and tribulations.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an author? Or, do you remember how your interest in writing began?
I’ve always loved to read and write, though I never really dreamed about becoming a published author! Growing up, my best friends were books and journals. I always loved writing school papers, and finally started sharing my devotional essays and poetry with non-profit publications in high school. But it wasn’t until I started blogging at DogFur and Dandelions that God began directing me towards writing an actual book.

What books have most influenced your life most?
The Bible, first and foremost. No other book is alive and eternal like the Word of God!
A Place of Quiet RestA Place of Quiet Rest: Finding Intimacy with God Through a Daily Devotional Life by Nancy Leigh DeMoss by Nancy Leigh DeMoss — really influenced my daily time with God and I highly recommend it.
Hinds Feet On High PlacesHinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard by Hannah Hurnard, Stepping HeavenwardStepping Heavenward: One Woman's Journey to Godliness by Elizabeth Prentiss by Elizabeth Prentiss, In His StepsIn His Steps by Charles Sheldon by Charles Sheldon — three fictionalized accounts of the Christian’s journey which have made a huge impact on my life.

Do you have any other writing projects in process?
Does it count if it’s only in my head? ๐Ÿ™‚ I do have some ideas for another book – studies of Bible characters who faced physical suffering – but I haven’t done anything more than brainstorm just yet.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Knowing where to stop! There’s so much material available for research, and I could have gone at least another 200 pages. But I didn’t want this book to be exhaustive, and so I had to draw the line somewhere. Did I leave out something relevant? Probably. But I planned, and studied, and prayed over what I should include – and that’s exactly what it has.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think I stumbled onto my dream job along the way. I love studying the Word, and I love writing about it. I could do that for the rest of my life, and never grow tired of it!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks for reading! I pray that you would be encouraged, strengthened, and drawn to a more intimate knowledge of God through these words. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you! Email me at, or find me on Twitter or Facebook!

Want more about Elizabeth or Touching the HemTouching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering by Elizabeth A. Johnson, blogger at DogFur and Dandelions? Come back tomorrow, and also visit Elizabeth’s book site and Facebook page.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the author for review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


  1. Thanks so much, Sheila! You’re awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hey, Sheila, I didn’t want to mess up the giveaway comments by asking a question on the giveaway post, so I skipped back here.

    From your comment that you personally prefer books to cite the ESV or NIV translations (me too!), I assume this one does not? What translation does it use?

    The topic sounds interesting, and it sounds well written, but I don’t want to take a giveaway chance away from someone for whom it might be more applicable at this time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It uses the KJV. I think I originally said that in the post and then it got edited out!

      And thanks for leaving the entries open for someone who might need/want it more right now. That’s really considerate of you. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I went back and checked and didn’t see that it said, but I was also reading on my phone so sometimes I miss things.

        Blah. That’s what I figured from your “leans conservative Evangelical” comment. Sigh. Not the time or the place for an anti-KJV rant! I’m still putting this on my “read eventually” list, but that is disappointing.

        Thanks, Sheila!

        • You didn’t miss it – I’d unintentionally edited it out so it wasn’t there.

          I wouldn’t let it keep you from reading the book – nothing is written that is dependent on the KJV wording, and there aren’t any claims about its supremacy to other versions (as I’ve seen on some sites and articles).

          • That’s good! I wouldn’t not read it for just that reason. I just find the language transitions jarring more than anything, and since I know there are people who make those sorts of claims, I can’t help thinking about that. That and I just don’t get the point of using archaic language just for the sake of archaic language. If you’re so attached to early-seventeenth-century English, write the whole book in it so I can get into the flow (like reading Shakespeare) rather than having to switch back and forth.

            I have weird linguistic pet peeves. I really am not trying to be critical of your friend or her book! It’s only on my “read eventually” list rather than higher up because I’m pretty young and stubbornly healthy. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Sorry, Katie, I missed your last comment (and it won’t let me nest any more under it).

            I completely understand what you mean about having to switch back and forth. That’s why it jumped out at me, because it is like I get my brain used to reading modern English, and then have to switch. However, none of the included passages have any super archaic terms (at least that I noticed) – it was more things like “dwelleth” instead of “dwells.” Easy enough to follow, so I wouldn’t let the translation keep you from reading it (and I don’t think I’m just saying that because of being friends with the author) in the future.

            I do think if you read the book now, it’d probably be something that you’d not get as much out of. But if you read it when you weren’t stubbornly healthy (love that phrase!), you’d appreciate it so much more. So, yes, if I were in your situation, I’d also keep the book on my radar to read in the future when it might mean more to me, instead of reading it sooner and not finding it all that relevant.

    • Katie, can I jump in here? I grew up with the KJV, but I love (and use) other versions too. I only used it in this book because I thought it might be more widely accepted. I also wasn’t sure which publisher I’d end up using, and some are rather conservative with their translation preferences. However, my personal favorite translation is ESV, and I’ll probably use that in any future books!

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