Tuesday, February 23, 2010
To learn more about Jen, please visit her website here.
To purchase The Pastor's Wife, visit Cokesbury, Amazon, or ChristianBook.com
Thursday, February 18, 2010
As God works in both their lives, Nick and Maura start to believe they can repair their broken relationship and reunite as man and wife. But Maura has one more thing to tell Nick before they can move forward. It’s the thing that finally drove her to leave six years earlier, and the one thing that can destroy the fragile trust they’ve managed to rebuild.
Q: Jen, you know I’m a pastor’s wife, so I am always interested in reading about clergy couples. What made you want to write this book?
When I was working on the original concept for this novel, I thought about the pastors’ wives I’ve known over the years. They’ve handled themselves with amazing grace under pressure. But what if another woman couldn’t? What if a young woman thinks she knows what she’s getting into, but the reality of losing who she is and becoming a “pastor’s wife” is more than she can handle? What if some other tragedy pushes her over the edge? Would she run? And what would happen if she had to return to the scene of her heartbreak years later? All those questions eventually became The Pastor’s Wife.
My own minor brush with fame came on the day I was born. Michael Landon Jr. and I were in the same hospital nursery in neighboring basinets. My Aunt Karen nearly passed out when she realized proud father Michael Sr. was standing at the window next to her!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Image by jezobeljones via FlickrI once had an acquaintance who gave up Diet Coke for Lent, certain that if she drank anything but her favorite soft drink, God would give her a house. “If I stop drinking Coke, He’ll be happy with me,” she said.
To say that I wondered at her reasoning would be an understatement. And I jokingly wondered at her secret: if all it took to acquire a brand new home was to avoid diet soda, I was home free.
But seriously, who gave her such faulty information? She wasn’t a churchgoer, and she seemed to have no relationship with God outside of the idea that He gives people stuff if we first give up something at the prescribed season. Sadly, she isn’t the last person I’ve met who’s viewed God as a coin-operated Pez Dispenser. She was missing out on a lot more than a house. She was lacking the love, tenderness and mercy of our crucified and resurrected Lord.
The Season of Lent traces its origins to the earliest days of the church. Early Christians prepared for Easter by observing a season of penitence, reflection, and self-denial. For forty days (not including Sundays), Christians the world over still take the opportunity to refocus their lives on God, starting on Ash Wednesday.
Some Christians do give something up during this time: smoking, fatty foods, or even swearing. There’s nothing wrong with taking a season to refine our edges, but Lent provides the opportunity for so much more. Lent offers us a chance to shift gears, look in the mirror, and get right with God. Sacrifices, unlike the bartering system my acquaintance hoped for, are appropriate as a response to God’s numerous gifts to us, a reminder, however trifling, of the suffering He endured for our sakes when He hung on the Cross to save us from our sins.
This Lent I pray that we all take advantage of this time set aside to consider His sacrifices, to draw closer to God, and renew our relationships with Him. Use these forty days to pick up a new discipline. Try a retreat, or a quiet day. Pray through a devotional or the Daily Office. Give up Diet Coke -- or some other luxury you love -- as an act of adoration and devotion to God. Our Easter celebrations, I believe, will be all the more poignant and fulfilling after a period of penitence, preparation, and devotion.
Monday, February 15, 2010
While the easy-to-read New Century Version of the New Testament is accessible to young readers, the features in Revolve 2010 provide quite a hook. I appreciated how the quizzes and articles, though wrapped in hip packaging, move kids toward serving God. The memory verses seem carefully chosen to be pertinent to kids, and the spotlights on ministries will inspire kids to get active in serving others. Chad Eastman’s advice on boys is helpful, though your preteen may not be ready for some of it, so check it out first. Interviews abound with the Christian actors who give voice to the “Word of Promise Next Generation Audio New Testament,” including Cody Linley and Corbin Bleu.
I first learned of the Revolve Tour at a Women of Faith conference. While Revolve hasn’t reached my town yet, over 200,000 girls have attended these conferences since 2005. Like the tour, I believe Revolve 2010 can be a helpful tool in reminding girls of God’s bigger picture.
I'd better figure out if there's something like this for boys.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Image by f_shields via Flickr
If you've visited my post today over on Inkwell Inspirations, you'll know how much I like Jeremy Camp. I like his voice. His lyrics. His devotion to God. So you can imagine my excitement a few years ago when I took advantage of a bookstore promotion and landed some sweet passes to meet Jeremy Camp at his concert.
My husband and I already had the concert tickets. Oh boy, did we have tickets. Center section, aisle seats – the better to get a good angle on everything onstage. I had nothing to do but prepare to meet my favorite Christian artist (squee!).
I’d never met a celebrity like this before. Since I didn’t want to look like a yokel or a stalker, I rehearsed what I’d say. I didn’t eat anything with garlic for a week. I brought a Sharpie and my CD with me to the concert, ready for autographing. I wanted to be the essence of cool, a fan greeted and then quickly forgotten rather than someone whose image he might not ever get out of his brain: a creepy woman with bad breath, space issues, and nothing to autograph but the back of her checkbook register.
We arrived early, as instructed, to meet Jeremy before the show. Unfortunately, the people at Will Call knew nothing. I was fated to become a stalker after all, hunting down black-clad employees (his people? Or the venue’s?) for information. Turned out Jeremy was sick as the proverbial dog. He didn’t want to disappoint anyone, but he might not be able to greet the pass-holding fans after all. We’d have to wait until after the show to see how he was feeling.
Poor Jeremy. And poor husband of mine, who had to comfort me with a non-stop stream of “there, there,” and “it’s not over yet” sentiments while suffering his own distractions. He’s a pastor, and as this concert fell on a Saturday night, he was looking at a night of little sleep before a big Sunday at church. Big Sunday. He had a lot on his plate and on his mind.
My husband likes Jeremy fine, but he likes me a lot, so he didn’t say a word about his Big Sunday, although he probably struggled the whole night between going over his sermon, watching the clock, and praying for God to bless our time and help us focus on Him during this Christ-focused concert.
The concert ended, and I hunted down the man in black who’d told me to hang on to see how Jeremy was doing. Turns out there were about 50 of us with passes, and after the house lights came up our little group of pass-holders gathered in the theater to wait. We could hear girls screaming outside for Hawk Nelson, the opening act, as they went out to their bus, but after a while their cries faded. And still we waited.
I knew my husband was tired and thinking about the next morning, so I offered for us to go home. He’d have none of it. He grinned and squeezed my hand and reminded me how cool this was. And that’s where this story changes, because the thing I remember most about meeting Jeremy Camp was the sacrifice my husband made to make it possible for me. He waited with patience, calmed my nerves, and when Jeremy came out to meet us, my husband gave up a chance to do anything more than shake Jeremy’s hand so he could take pictures of me posing with my favorite Christian artist. Then, bless him, my sweet husband rehashed the whole thing with me over and over during the ride home: how Jeremy really didn’t feel well and I hoped we didn’t catch his cold; how excited Jeremy seemed when I told him my favorite song on his new album was “Give Me Jesus” and then how stupid I then felt for complimenting him on a song he didn’t write; and how we walked away feeling like we’d met a brother in Christ, for no matter how much his virus was bugging him, he still treated us with kindness and enthusiasm, exuding a love for the Lord and His people.
I took away more than Jeremy Camp’s cold that night (yep). More than his autograph, too. I was reminded of one more thing I love about my husband: his eagerness to make me happy. I can’t look at the photos of me with Jeremy Camp without remembering the awesome guy who sacrificed a lot to take them.
After a lot of thought, I decided not to publicly share the pictures my husband took of me and Jeremy Camp. There are folks in the background whose permission I can’t seek before posting, not to mention Jeremy Camp's, but ultimately, I determined that the photos are something I want to keep private. They're a special memento of that night, and my husband’s love for me.
Instead, here's a short video of Jeremy in concert, singing "Give Me Jesus." Enjoy.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Rejection, unemployment, flying, death, disappointing God, losing your family …. Whatever your fear, Max Lucado has probably addressed it in his newest release, Fearless. And he tells you where to address your gaze, coaching the reader to live free of angst through faith in Jesus Christ.
One thing I appreciate about Lucado is that he doesn’t roll his eyes at any of the fears he describes. He doesn’t undermine the power our fears have over us, nor does he belittle the fearful. However, in no way does he indulge our fears. Rather, he provides Biblical truths, statistical evidence, and anecdotes (both personal and historical) to remind us that God is bigger than any problem, disaster, or loss. He challenges us to trust God, allowing faith to rule our lives rather than fear.
The book is easy and quick to read, yet manages to contain powerful insight into Scripture. I also used the discussion guide at the end for further study, and found it helpful. Overall, I enjoyed reading Fearless and appreciated the change reading this book brought to my perspective.
In compliance with FTC standards, I must note that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for my review.