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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: Teach Us to Want

Thank You (Acknowledgements)

jenmichel@me.com

I'm sharing the acknowledgements for Teach Us to Want here, with the permission of InterVarsity Press. I want people to know the community that birthed this book. Indeed, it was a birth. By caesarean.

---

I was thirty-five weeks pregnant when the doctor performed the last of my ultrasounds on a Friday morning in the middle of January. “You’re ready to go anytime!” The twins were born the following morning, both fully cooked at five pounds.

Andrew slid first through the birth canal — before the doctor was fully scrubbed up. “Stop laughing!” he chided. But then the minutes ticked by, and the assembled team of doctors and nurses for Baby B stood silently by, listening worriedly to his heart rate. We held our collective breath when the pace slowed like a tired mule — thump . . . thump . . . thump. We exhaled relief when it galloped again - thump-thump-thump-thump. But an hour of listening, an hour of tense, quiet conversations between my obstetrician and the anesthesiologist (conversations from which I was unapologetically excluded), and finally Colin was born by C-section, the umbilical cord looped around his waist and over his shoulder, his little fingers clutching it with characteristic intensity.

* * * * *

The writing was cooked. And yet, it took a team of strong hands to deliver it.

First, I want to thank Tom Bennardo, pastor of Life Community Church, in Hilliard, Ohio. When, in 2003, I caught the wild idea to write and suggested to him a project I might undertake for the church, he heartily agreed. It was badly written, but Tom never let on. I am grateful.

In 2004, that devotional project provided a writing sample for the wonderful team at Today in the Word, whose Managing Editor, Heather Moffitt, has now been a longtime friend. Without the generous encouragement from the editors and readers of Today in the Word, this book simply would not be.

Still, a near-decade of devotional writing, and I lacked confidence and clarity for this calling. The good people at Grace Toronto Church provided the theological understanding—and community—I needed to reconcile the holy desires for art and worship. Thank you, Ian Cusson, for your important work with Grace Centre for the Arts. And thank you, Dan MacDonald and Kyle Hackmann, for the serious theological reflection you bring to our congregation each week. We are blessed.

Wendy, whom I met at Grace Toronto Church, has not only received many of my confessions: she’s also read many early (and bad) versions of this book. This trusted friend is also a fantastic writer, and I can’t wait for you to read her book.

It is my great joy that Katelyn Beaty agreed to write the foreword to this book, for it was her patient help, when I first began pitching Christianity Today, that provided much needed encouragement—to try and try again. Also, Chris Smith, author of Slow Church and Editor of The Englewood Review of Books, has been an invaluable friend and source of professional advice. It was he who made my introduction to Dave Zimmerman, IVP’s editor extraordinaire. When Dave agreed to review my proposal, and further, helped improve it, I received it as unexpected grace.

To me, each of you has been Christ. And he is the one I long to honor in these pages.

But before the list grows infinitely long, let me thank the people whom I cherish most, my husband and my children. Audrey, Nathan, Camille, Andrew, Colin and even now, James: you have eaten your fair share of store-bought rotisserie chickens in order that I might finish this work. I thank you for your patience and your full-hearted enthusiasm for this project. Ryan: as you are the man I most admire, yours is the confidence I most need. Thank you for your steadfast love these eighteen years. And whatever we agree together to call my writing life, with you, I look forward to calling it good.

Taken from Teach Us to Want by Jen Pollock Michel. Copyright (c) 2014 by Jen Pollock Michel. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515, USA. www.ivpress.com

My Radio Voice

jenmichel@me.com

I feel as if I can't show up here without first offering an apology. I haven't been around these parts lately, and I'm sorry for the unannounced absence from the blog. I promise to catch you up soon on all the activity of the summer. But to give you a quick idea of the insane amount of driving we did this summer, let me say that we nearly made it through the first five Harry Potter books on audio. I did want to pop in here today and let you know that when I was back in Chicago last week, I recorded a radio interview for Midday Connection, hosted by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira. We had a great conversation, and if you want to tune in, it airs today.

midday connection

You can listen live here at noon (CST) or find instructions for getting it on iTunes.

When you google yourself

Ben Goshow

I confess. I have done this on occasion. It turns up the occasional rant about something I've written, which is sometimes funny (and often not). Tonight though, I found my book on Amazon! It's available for pre-order. Now, let me admit that we writers are an insufferable bunch. I met the likes of me at a party last night, and twenty minutes into this author's self-absorbed monologue about her book and the writing of the book and the upcoming week of revisions and the "wish my editor has done more creatively to the content of the book," I was panning the room for escape.

(Is this what you think of me?) Nevertheless.

I have a book. On Amazon.

And pre-orders are immensely helpful to the company of the insufferable.

Thanks.

Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith (American friends)

Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith (Canadian friends)

Teach-Us-to-Want-small

I write about grace. (Try to live in it, too.) *Book update

jenmichel@me.com

I gave my husband a father’s day card for his birthday. Although he is a father - a wonderful father, this was not appreciated. I’ve since destroyed the evidence, can’t bear to hear him one more time refer to my kind and thoughtful card. I suppose I was hoping he’d ignore the rhyming references to “dad” and fail to notice the way I’d whited-out the “Happy Father’s Day!” and substituted in its place, “Happy Birthday!” (I may, in this particular instance, have underestimated the male powers of observation.)

I am a terrible wife. And I have reasons for being a terrible wife, although I won’t claim they are good ones. On the day of his birthday, I’d been writing. Most days now, I sit obediently at my desk for the quiet hours the children are in school, alternatively typing and wishing for something to say. Sometimes, if it’s going really badly, I putter in the kitchen, even put the dishes away.

On the day of said-birthday, I’d been betting on the idea that I had a birthday card already purchased for Ryan. But when it came time to look for it, I realized it was not a birthday card after all; it was a Father’s Day card.

That’s OK. Before getting the kids from school, I had already planned to stop by the cupcake shop. They’d sell birthday cards, right?

Wrong.

To make matters worse, the birthday card (Father’s Day card!) - which I did, I might add, lovingly inscribe to make up for my awfulness - ended up buried in the trunk of the car. (I confess: I was writing it at the school playground.) I couldn’t even find the birthday card (Father’s Day card!) in time for Ryan’s celebratory dinner (of leftover taco meat dressed up as nachos.)

I found it the next day, hand-delivered it with love.

(And you, too, wish you were married to me?)

I tell this story as preamble to a brief update on the book. How’s it going? Five chapters drafted, five to go. I think I’m finding my way into a better process, and I haven’t yet wanted to throw my laptop to the bottom of Lake Ontario. These are good signs.

Meanwhile, though, I’m giving my husband father’s day cards on the occasion of his birthday.

I wish it weren’t so hard to keep life in balance. But it is. And that's bids us towards grace.

“Grace is not only needed for the occasion of conversion, the moment we suddenly (or slowly) come to our senses and realize that we are spiritually bankrupt, having nothing to bring to God and everything to receive. Grace is also required for the long season of cultivated growth that follows. By grace we set out. By grace we are also sustained. Grace has as much to do about endings as it has to say about beginnings. It is a lifetime transaction.” (Excerpt from Chapter 3, whose title I still can’t land)

I write about grace - try to live in it, too.

 

 

 

I have a book contract

jenmichel@me.com

I have a book contract. And as I make phone calls and field facebook congratulations, I think of this: my father.

My father: the writer, the playwright and professor. The man who taught me to love word games and gave to me the beautiful and sacred heritage of loving language. Books.

My whole life, I have loved to read. It has been a stubborn consolation to lose myself in the pages of a book.

But writing a book?

No. This work belonged to others.

Only now, it doesn't.

One singular stroke of divine providence (yes, this, and only this), and the work of writing a book now belongs to me.

I am humbled.

Gideon-afraid.

Not at all sure how exactly the mechanics of writing a book and living a life actually work.

But I feel the steady pulse of faith. Drumming, thrumming, and I'll try to keep pace.

Giveaway winner is. . . (and third and final revision to back cover)

jenmichel@me.com

Thanks to everyone who commented on the two potential versions for the back cover of Found Wanting. Your feedback was immensely helpful, and I've tried to reflect much of it in the changes I've made below. As a writer, I know I certainly can't please everyone. (For more evidence of this, scroll through the 106 comments on my political piece from Her.meneutics.) I also know that I may not be ultimately responsible to write the back cover for this book - even to title it, for that matter. But whether or not this back cover copy survives, I'm grateful to have gone through the process of trying to narrow the scope of the book in a few, short paragraphs. And I'm glad to have given you the glimpse at what I'm attempting to do!

Now, onto our giveaway winner: thank you, Mike Venetis, for your comment and amazing marketing advice! I pulled your name this morning and will be sending you a $10 Starbucks card. (By the way, if Hurricane Sandy has taught us anything, it's the importance of emergency preparedness. Check out Mike's website for all you need when catastrophes strike: The Prep Room.)

And here's the third (and final for now) version of the back cover:

Found Wanting: At the Intersection of Faith and Desire

Is desire sinful? Is it selfish to pray for the things I want? Do my desires matter for following God’s will?

We’re confused.

Psychology’s newest experts are now available for hire: wantologists. They are certified to help clients identify what they want and how to get it. But can wantologists clear up the theological complexities of desire? Can they help us understand if desire belongs in a life of surrender?

Devotional author Jen Pollock Michel nudges us toward the risky business of wanting - and praying. Although she knows that life doesn’t always turn out as we want or plan, she believes our willingness to want from God enriches our implicit trust in Him.

This book is meant to increase your faith. You’ll grow more certain of God’s generosity towards you. At the same time, you’ll understand your own tendencies to want - and pray - selfishly. In the final section of the book, you’ll explore the language of the Lord’s Prayer as a template of holy desire and a means for making God’s desires your own.

Teach us to pray, the disciples asked Jesus. And we ask: Teach us to want.

Back Cover Copy (Revised): Tell me what you think!

jenmichel@me.com

First giveaway EVER here on the blog: this is fun for me. I am grateful for the comments I've already received. You can still comment today on what might be the back cover copy for my book. (If you've already commented, you can comment again on the revised copy and have your name entered TWICE.) You're on your way to winning a $10 gift card to Starbucks. Here's take two of the back cover copy: tell me what you think!

* * * * *

Found Wanting: At the Intersection of Desire and Faith

Wantologists are psychology’s newest experts. They help clients identify what they want and how to get it. We’re paying them because we’re confused. And if average Americans are puzzled over questions of desire, imagine the bewilderment of Christians. Isn’t desire selfish? If I’m supposed to find and follow God’s will, can it matter what I want?

Jen Pollock Michel knows that life doesn’t always turn out as we want - or plan. She was 18 when her father died suddenly, 23 when her brother committed suicide. Years later, when she was the mother of three young children and planned for graduate school, Jen learned she was pregnant - with twins.  Her life, with its hatful of surprises, looks a lot like yours and mine. Whether we’d planned to be married, hoped to be parents, or counted on the next job promotion, we’ve met disappointment. Jen admits that life is beyond our control, yet she nudges us toward the risky business of wanting - and praying.

Of course not all we want is good. As a devotional author, Jen brings theological clarity to the complex subject of desire, helping us to identify potential missteps and misunderstandings.  In the final section of the book, she explores the language of the Lord’s Prayer as a template of holy desire and a means for making God’s desires our own. Teach us to pray, the disciples asked Jesus. Jen Pollock Michel adds: Teach us to want.

Back Cover Copy: I'm revealing details about my book!

jenmichel@me.com

I've been talking for months now about the book.  And I've decided that writing a book is a lot like pregnancy. There are months of invisible growth - of gestation  - that advance before anything is visible to others. You, the mother - the writer - are always conscious of how the baby - the book - is growing strong, taking on a movement all of its own. You share secrets - you and the baby, you and the book - that you cherish and nurture with silent awe.

Writing this book hasn't all been secret work. There are a small handful of friends who have been reading what I've been writing. I am grateful for them. And of course Ryan is always my best critic, and I trust him fully to tell me when something is unclear or cliché. He's generous with the tough stuff.

Although I haven't told you much about the book here - just sketched it in bare generalities - today, I'm posting what could be the back cover copy of the book. I want to know what you think.

A back cover, as I'm sure you know, should give a general sense of the book's topic and approach. It should also make you want to read the book.

And that's where I want to you weigh in.

Today, would you do two things for me?

1. Leave a comment here on the blog, giving me some feedback. Be as specific as possible: if you feel like I left out an important dimension of my book's topic, tell me. If a certain sentence packed a punch and grabbed your attention, show me which one. Don't be afraid to criticize. You're the real audience. 

2. Share this post with friends. People who don't know me and haven't been reading here may be my most objective critics. And certainly it can't hurt to gain more exposure as a writer.

I will be shameless and do something I've never done before. Because I'm sitting here in Starbucks (and this is the easiest giveaway I can think of), I'll pick a name randomly from the commenters at the end of the day tomorrow (Nov. 2), and send you a $10 Starbucks gift card.

That's just my way of saying thanks. Now, on to the real task at hand.

* * * * *

Found Wanting: At the Intersection of Desire and Faith 

“We spin, catch, break free, drown and surface, all the while driven by the fickleness of time’s wind and weather. Whatever awaits us tomorrow, it is quite possibly not a scene we have expected, nor an act for which we have prepared.”

Jen Pollock Michel knows that life doesn’t always turn out as we plan. Jen was 18 when her father died suddenly, 23 when her brother committed suicide. Years later, when she planned to begin a second graduate degree, Jen learned she was pregnant - with twins. Jen admits that life is beyond our control, yet she nudges us toward the risky business of wanting - and praying. She illustrates how exploring our desires can deepen our intimacy with God and inspire our participation in his kingdom.

Of course not all that we want is good. While many affirm that we have deserved everything we have wanted, Jesus has called his followers to carry a cross. Lose your life to find it. As a devotional author, Jen brings theological clarity to the complex subject of desire, helping us to identify potential missteps and misunderstandings. In the third part of her book, she explores the language of the Lord’s Prayer as template of holy desire and a means for making God’s desires our own.

Teach us to pray, the disciples asked Jesus. And Jen Pollock Michel adds:

Teach us to want.