I’m Jen, and I’m finding surprise in God’s story.
I’m the author of three books: Surprised by Paradox (2019), Keeping Place (2017), and Teach Us to Want, Christianity Today’s 2015 Book of the Year. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook, and you can also sign up to receive the monthly letter I send to my readers.
I’ve loved stories since childhood: the intrigue of my dad’s boyhood adventures with his dog, Chief; the friendship of books when I was—yet again—the new kid in town. I followed stories into university, then graduate school where I studied literature. After I became a mom (and then a mom four times again), I passed years with my children, crowded around picture books and reading good stories.
As a Christian, it’s always been the stories of Scripture that have interested me most: of Abraham and his doubt; of Hannah and her grief; of David and his failure. To think of Jesus, the still point of God’s turning story, is to recall the parables he told and the Passion he lived. Though many turn to the Bible for what to believe and how to behave, I’ve come to think that it offers us something even more expansive and beautiful and imaginative.
I think the Bible re-stories us.
What does it mean to be re-storied by the Bible? I think it looks like Abraham, obediently climbing mountains, feet dragging with both hope and dread. I think it looks like Hannah, praying indecently till someone takes you for a drunken woman. I think it looks like David, finding grace to catch you the moment you fall. Most of all, I think it looks like Jesus, Son of God, wending his way to a cross for an invisible joy set before him. To be re-storied by the Bible is to discover a God who, taken by many for missing, is the very air in which we live and move and have our being. To take this story seriously, both in the ancient stories of the Bible and as it unfolds in our own lives, is to trace twists and turns and find surprise.
If any of this piques your curiosity, poke around these parts to see what I’m writing. I’m the author of three books and a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats. If you’re interested in staying in regular touch, the best way is to sign up for my monthly newsletter, Postcript, which highlights what I’m reading and thinking about and doing in my very ordinary life. To my monthly newsletter subscribers, I also occasionally send bonus content. No gimmicks, I promise.
A little more about me:
Where I live: I'm an American living in Toronto. My husband and I and our five children moved here in 2011 planning on a two- or three-year adventure. We're still here and quite naturally finishing our sentences with "eh?"
What I do: In the daytime hours, when the house is emptied of backpacks and bodies, I write. I published my first book, Teach Us to Want, in 2014. I used to believe that desire was the thing to lead us off the proverbial cliff, but I’m not so convinced anymore. I suppose you could say that I’m believing the promise of the gospel a little bit more everyday. I published my second book, Keeping Place, in 2016. Living as an ex-pat for several years by then, it’s probably no surprise that I would write a book to explore the longing for home. My third book, Surprised by Paradox, releases in May 2019, and it traces four themes in the Bible—incarnation, kingdom, grace, and lament—as a way of discovering some of the surprise of God’s story. As part of my volunteer work with my local church, I am the lead editor for Imprint magazine.