One night after a concert not long ago, someone suggested to Shannon Perry she should become a speaker. Shannon’s response was swift; “Thank you, but I’m not a speaker. I’m a singer.” A few months later, Shannon found herself with a lot of time on her hands while her husband endured chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Finding herself camped out in hospital waiting rooms, Shannon decided to start jotting down some topic ideas for a conference. And the “If the Shoe Fits” women’s conference was born.
“For four months following David’s surgery,” says Shannon, “I carried my computer to the hospital and silently cried out to God to fill my heart with ways I could help others and keep the focus off myself and my circumstances. I had plenty of time to pray, study and write the notes for each of the topics I felt God was giving me. This conference became a healing agent to me as I walked through the fears and all of the other ‘unknowns’ that cancer brings.”
After Shannon became a speaker, a conference attendee suggested Shannon write a book to which Shannon replied, “Thank you, but I’m not a writer.” A few months later, Shannon became a regular contributor for one of the largest Christian websites in the world, Crosswalk.com, as well as a writer for EverydayChristian.com and TheWestSideStory.net. She also contributed articles to magazines such as Christian Voice and Christian Women of Today. With some extensive writing experience under her belt, Shannon just released her first book entitled Grace in High Heels: Real-life Reflections of Humor, Hope and Healing. Mixing her trademark funny stories with Scripture-based lessons, Shannon’s storytelling style might be compared to one of her heroes, the late best-selling author and Women of Faith conference favorite, Barbara Johnson. “I loved Barbara’s books when I was younger,” she says. “She did such a wonderful job of taking some of life’s most horrible moments and somehow managed to find the humor in them. One thing I have learned in my life is having a good sense of humor can make those ‘bad hair days’ seem a little less harrowing.”
In Grace in High Heels, Shannon shares a lot of her own personal “bad hair days.” Additionally, her “If The Shoe Fits”conferences and the songs on her CD, The Real Thing (produced by renowned LifeWay songwriter/producer Paul Marino) also give voice to many disappointments and triumphs that Shannon has experienced over the years. But this ex-school teacher minces no words or feelings as she shares intimate details of her life with her audiences -- her childhood struggle with weight issues; how she was single for most of her life and cried out to God for a mate and to be a mom; living through broken relationships; finally finding a husband and then walking with him through cancer. She finds that women especially relate to her journey. With topics such as “Goody Two Shoes” and “Lacing Up the Tongue,” and song titles on the CD like “Bad Hair Day,” Shannon’s combination of speaking and singing has become an instant hit with women’s groups.
“One thing I hear a lot from women is ‘thanks for being real,’” says Shannon. “I prayed that God would make me transparent with others because for so many years I allowed fear and insecurity to rule me. I did not trust that I was ‘good enough’ for God to use me, so I played the ‘good church girl who had all the answers.’ But the truth is, God is calling out to be our strength, and if we think we are enough, we have no need for a Savior. I no longer hide my weaknesses because in my weakness, He is made strong.”
Shannon earned her Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in counseling and taught in the public school system for over 14 years before entering into full-time ministry. She has previously-released projects with both Daywind and Benson Records which garnered radio airplay on the national Christian charts. She has performed with the Houston Symphony and had the distinct privilege of performing at Carnegie Hall. Shannon has ministered with best-selling authors Karen Kingsbury, Jan Silvious (Women of Faith), and Christy Award winner, DiAnn Mills. She has been a featured soloist at the J&J Music Conferences in Houston, Texas, and led praise and worship at numerous women’s conferences and for the national LifeWay conferences held annually in New Mexico and North Carolina. She recently sang the national anthem for 70,000 fans at a Houston Texans’ NFL game. But for Shannon, her desire to combine her love of teaching and singing into an event that will encourage women of all ages is finally come to fruition.
“Far too many women are buying into lies these days,” she says. “The enemy tells us-- ‘you’re fat, ugly, short, tall, worthless’ and the list goes on-- so that we are stuck, not growing, and live in the same rut for many years of our lives. My prayer is that these events would help women find truth for their lives so that they not only leave the conference changed, but their marriages, children, families, friends, church and world are changed because they are finally set free to live the life they were called, anointed and chosen to live.”
Though Shannon will say she’s not a bible study writer, she is currently working on a small group curriculum to coincide with her “If The Shoes Fits” conferences. She has also developed a conference specifically for teenage girls entitled “Don’t Flip-flop in Your Walk with Jesus.” And while she will also reiterate she is not a TV show host, she is working on a pilot for a television show dedicated to helping women find their purpose.
“It’s been an amazing ride so far,” laughs Shannon. “After I quit teaching, I didn’t know what God had in store for my life. But I am learning that saying ‘no’ to things along this journey has only led to more open doors. Now, I get up every morning and say out loud every day, ‘I am not a millionaire!’”
In spite of her frequent reluctance to navigate uncharted waters, Shannon does keep one thing in focus regardless of the medium she uses. “If the women and girls I minister to are looking to me to give them what they need, we are all in serious trouble,” Shannon admits. “While I can attempt to present the truth of the Word so that it is palatable, real and understandable, I cannot change lives. That is God’s job, and I know that through His power, the truths presented in these conferences can have an eternal impact. But if I ever try to do all this without Him, well then, we’re all better off to stay home and bake brownies. And did I mention? I am not a cook.”