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Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home

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Home is our most fundamental longing. And for many of us homesickness is a nagging place of grief. This book connects that desire and disappointment with the story of the Bible, helping us to see that there is a homemaking God with wide arms of welcome – and a church commissioned with this same work.

“Many of us seem to be recovering the sacred, if ordinary, beauty of place,” writes author Jen Pollock Michel. “Perhaps we’re reading along with Wendell Berry, falling in love with Berry’s small-town barber and Jayber Crow’s small-town life. . . . Or maybe we’re simply reading our Bibles better, discovering that while we might wish to flatten Scripture to serve our didactic purposes, it rises up in flesh and sinew, muscle and bone: God’s holy story is written in the lives of people and their places.”

Including a five-session discussion guide and paired with a companion DVD, Keeping Placeoffers hope to the wandered, help to the stranded, and a new vision of what it means to live today with our longings for eternal home.

Reviews, Interviews, and Endorsements for Keeping Place

Publishers' Weekly: ". . . Her examples are all engrossing and rich with parallels between biblical characters and today’s hectic lifestyles."

Christianity Today, "God is a Homemaker Who Does 'Women's Work'" — An Interview with A.J. Swoboda

The Gospel Coalition: ". . . From various angles she evokes the reader’s longing for home, a place of welcome, safety, honesty, and shelter, but she won’t allow us to invest any home on earth with hope that can only be secured by Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s good that you want to go home, she assures us. And yes, the Bible promises us we will get what we want. But not in this place, not until Jesus returns or calls us home."

Preston Yancey, author of Out of the Hosue of Bread: “Rife with scriptural acuity and sumptuous prose, Keeping Place has become my favorite read of the year."

Jen Wilkin, author of Women of the Word: “With the skilled and hypnotic prose I have come to eagerly expect of her, Jen Michel invites us to consider the sacred space of home and the sacred duty of its keeping."

Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith

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As Christians, we’re squeamish about desire. Isn’t wanting sinful and selfish? Aren’t we supposed to find and follow God’s will rather than insisting on our own?

The story of each person is a story of want—desires unmet, hopes dashed, passions pursued and ambitions fulfilled. Our wants cannot be ignored. But when desire is informed by Scripture and re-formed by our spiritual practices, it can root us more deeply in the fundamental belief that God is good and generous and can invite us into active kingdom participation.

Jen Pollock Michel guides us on a journey of understanding who we are when we want, and reintroduces us to a God who gives us the desires of our hearts. That same good God calls us into a new reality in which we seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and we discover our disordered desires burned away while our truest longings are happily fulfilled and purified. The disciples asked Jesus to “Teach us to pray.” This book asks, “Teach us to want.”

Reviews, Interviews, and Endorsements for Teach Us to Want

Christianity Today: "Throughout the book, Michel's voice is both intelligent and warm. Her sources are as varied as Leo Tolstoy, conversations around her own dinner table, Elizabeth Gilbert, and the Psalms. But what else is life made up of than the books we read, the meals we eat, and the Bible we study?"

Books and Culture: “In this compelling book that masterfully interweaves juicy personal narrative, scholarly research, and solid biblical exegesis, Michel builds a case for the importance of examining desire’s many facets.'”

Englewood Review of Books: “Michel tackles the tangled intersection of longing, ambition and the life of faith . . . She traces out how sin has made ruin of all our wants . . . but reminds us that this is not where the story ends.”

The Gospel Coalition: “Not content to offer a rake when a shovel is needed, Michel is intricate in her examination of the human heart and its many facets―our fears to want, our disordered desires, our kingdom longings, our opportunities to surrender, our practical needs, and the boundaries that rein in our desires.”

Mark Buchanan, author of Your Church Is Too Safe: "Jen Pollock Michel fuses three things that make her book essential reading: deep insight, raw honesty and radiant prose."

Rebekah Lyons, author of Free to Fall: "As women, we often feel the urge to hide our longings, especially in the church. Through her own story of fear, loss and God's goodness, Jen stirs us to recover and reshape these desires in light of the kingdom of God."