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Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home Paperback – May 9, 2017
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"Keeping Place is a lovely reflection on home―from our spiritual longing to the nitty gritty of keeping a house. As Jen takes us through reflections on her life and other people's stories, through literature and Scripture, I was grateful to delve deeper into the role of place in many aspects of our lives. In a transient time, this book is a welcome invitation to consider how we do life with each other and with God." (Kent Annan, author of Slow Kingdom Coming and Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle)
"Jen Pollock Michel takes us through the Scriptures as she explores the stories of God's people displaced, wandering, and longing for home. She captures the tension in all of our hearts: we are longing for something more, something permanent, and something better. We are longing for home―a place. Jen gently encourages us, reminding us that though we are longing, God has given us a home to tend to, people to love and care for, and a table for feasting and sharing. Ultimately, she points us to the only one who can fulfill our every longing―Jesus. Our home is in and with Christ, and one day we will be with him forevermore. Until then, Jen helps us learn to keep place." (Trillia Newbell, author of Enjoy and Fear and Faith)
"With her signature depth and grace, Jen Pollock Michel casts a vision of home as both a human desire and a heavenly promise. She calls us to build imperfect dwellings alongside our loved ones in this life precisely because we are destined for a perfect dwelling in the life to come. Women and men alike will find joy in her vision of keeping house. This is a book that invites you in and lets you stay awhile, and I'm grateful for it." (Katelyn Beaty, former managing editor, Christianity Today)
"It is one thing to write truth, and another to write it beautifully. 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. We are seekers of home by design, and our homesickness is no accident. Exploring the rhythms of plenty and loss, worship and work, routine and rest, Michel exhorts us, male and female, to be faithful homemakers until such time as we inhabit our true and final dwelling place. In a time when transience and individuality mark the lives of many, she offers here a worthy meditation for the people of God." (Jen Wilkin, author of None Like Him)
"Jen Pollock Michel has a unique gift of making theology come alive. She weaves a rich knowledge of Scripture with her own compelling story, offering us a fresh perspective of a God who is the maker and keeper of place, the creator who cultivates the space where we find ourselves and the eternal home we long for. Her perspective is original, fresh, and unexpected." (Micha Boyett, author of Found)
"What an amazing book this is! Jen Pollock Michel takes us on a journey through Scripture, church history, and the many places she has called home as she paints a picture of God as the ultimate Homemaker. Keeping Place stirs and prods us to consider our contributions to establishing a sense of home in today's world, even as we ache with homesickness for the New Jerusalem God has promised." (Trevin Wax, managing editor, The Gospel Project, author of Counterfeit Gospels)
"Rife with scriptural acuity and sumptuous prose, Keeping Place has become my favorite read of the year. Michel's command of both tradition and the hunger of our age is at once refreshing and comforting. She invites us to embrace the shadow of something more that lingers at the edge of hearts, elucidating how the journey homeward happens only together with those here now and those gone before. Keeping Place rivals and bests most contemporary meditations on desiring the kingdom, and Michel has continued in this second book a trajectory of some of the finest scriptural grounding and pastoral care in print today." (Preston Yancey, author of Out of the House of Bread)
About the Author
Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Teach Us to Want and is a regular contributor to Christianity Today and Moody Bible Institute's Today in the Word. She earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in literature from Northwestern University, and she belongs to Redbud Writers Guild and INK. Wife and mother of five, Jen lives in Toronto, Canada, and is an enthusiastic supporter of HOPE International and Safe Families.
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In her new book Keeping Place, Jen Pollock Michel helps me understand why. We’re all homesick. “Home represents humanity’s most visceral ache — and our oldest desire.” Since Eden, we’ve never really been home. But our places still shape us. We serve a homemaking God, and the church is called to follow his example.
A BOOK FOR MEN AND WOMEN
Some men might bristle at the thought of reading a book on home. Jen recently had coffee with a young woman who said she looked forward to her book on “homemaking.” “I wondered later if she imagined a book of recipes, table setting ideas, and the best way to organize a linen closet,” Jen notes.
This isn’t a book about housekeeping, at least in that sense. It’s a book about our longings for home, as well as the role that God has given us in this world. It helps us understand the story of Scripture through the lens of place and home.
I wouldn’t have thought I would be interested in reading a book on home, but I’m glad I did. It helped me understand my own longings for home. It deepened my understanding of the theology of home, and helped me understand God’s care for our places, as well as the church’s role to be housekeepers in the world.
Jen has a keen theological eye. One of the reasons I appreciated this book is because it’s so theologically rich. My copy is dogeared and marked, and I plan to go through again and index some of the insights I gleaned. In almost every chapter I found myself thinking that I’d never quite seen things that way before.
It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve begun to think about the importance of place, guided by The Imperfect Pastor and The New Parish. Jen’s gone even deeper. She shows us how this theme is key to Scripture. She teases out the implications for how we live as individuals, families, and the church. We need a theology of home, and Jen’s done us a great favor in guiding us.
It’s rare to find a book that’s theologically rich and beautifully written. Keeping Place is both. Jen shares from her experience, interweaves her insights with church history and Scripture, and does so with style. One of the reasons my copy is dogeared is because she manages to express truth so beautifully.
I’ve said similar things, but never as beautifully as this: “When heaven meets earth, earthly marriage will cease the moment Christ raises his glass and drinks to his bride, the church.” Seriously. I could read that sentence for days and still marvel at both the beauty of the sentence and the truth it expresses. I’m grateful that Jen has worked so hard to not just express truth, but to express it beautifully.
I haven’t yet watched the DVD video series that goes with the book, but it looks like a great teaching companion. I’m looking forward to using it.
Jen’s pastor calls her “one of the fine voices emerging in our generation.” I agree. I’m grateful for Jen Pollock Michel, and I’m going to read pretty much anything she writes. Keeping Place is a book that deserves to be read and treasured. Just don’t ask to borrow my copy unless you promise to give it back.
In Keeping Place we begin to understand why we long for home so deeply. Not just the houses we grew up in, the people with grew up with, but far deeper and wider, into nostalgia, grief, women's rights, church, marriage, sabbath rest, and heaven.
I have many ideas scribbled in the margins of my copy of Keeping Place. I need to spend much more time praying and writing about them. For now I can only imagine writing them in a journal, it will be so personal:
1. What roots have I dug up and transplanted at my 11 different addresses? What have I left behind? What have I lost? What can be found again to make my current Home thrive?
2. Can Home be more than one place? - Will my kids say they are from Georgia when they go to college? Or will they always say they're from Wheaton, Illinois? Have I finished grieving my (almost 2 years ago) move away?
3. Can I honestly say the Lord is my Home? That all my stuff, my identity, my love, and my service all fits into and under my relationship with the God who loves me?
4. How can I make Homemaking more worshipful as a creative, steadfast, and welcoming woman with generous service and firm boundaries? What new things can I try? What old things could I stop?
I enjoyed quietly reading Keeping Place by myself, carefully answering the study questions in the back, and praying through the tough answers. It also would be great for small groups, with or without the DVD.