Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home, By Jen Pollock Michel

Keeping Place

Reflections on the Meaning of Home

by Jen Pollock Michel
Foreword by Scott Sauls

Keeping Place
  • Length: 237 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: May 09, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4490
  • ISBN: 9780830844906

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To be human is to long for home.

Home is our most fundamental human 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 Place offers hope to the wanderer, help to the stranded, and a new vision of what it means to live today with our longings for our eternal home.

"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

"Michel (Teach Us to Want), contributor for Christianity Today and Today in the Word, mixes theology and real-life scenarios to create a homey place of reflection. . . . Readers will appreciate Michel's section on doing work at home, which explores the ins and outs of daily life and how every bit of work helps to create a welcoming, comforting environment. Her examples are all engrossing and rich with parallels between biblical characters and today's hectic lifestyles."

Publishers Weekly, March 13, 2017

"Keeping Place weaves together a wide range of materials and supports, drawing from history, cultural studies, literature, and the Bible. It discusses crossing borders, immigration, and mobility, and considers each topic through the author's personal vignettes and published reports of other individuals' stories. All this theory wraps up in the book's second half, which includes a dash of do-it-yourself to help turn its big ideas into reality. While theory often sounds better that its iterations in lived reality, Keeping Place is cognizant of offering practices and ideas for truly building a better home. It considers the importance of neighbors, church, love, and marriage, among other aspects. There is a place for this book in the heart of a world so divided along national and international lines. Keeping Place stands ready to offer alternative sites within a world that often feels divided—places where home really matters, with the idea that everyone is welcome to find their own place."

Jeremiah Rood, Foreword Reviews, May/June 2017

"This well-researched title offers profound insights and makes connections most laypeople wouldn't. The author's extensive knowledge of Scripture is evident, and she strikes a readable balance of personal and historical anecdotes, biblical references, and thoughtful reflection."

Christy Pitney, Christian Market, May 2017

"This is a biblical theology, personal and personable, for those who might not think they can handle theology. It asks us to listen closely, to discern how our lives respond to God's homeward call."

Matthew Forrest Lowe, Faith Today, May/June 2017

"Well-researched, firmly grounded in a variety of disciplines; personal, yet universal in its themes and queries, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home, is a suitable companion for the journey of spiritual growth and meaning making that is at the heart of being human. Jen Pollock Michel's writing is clear and engaging and her tone warm and genuine. I highly recommend this book to anyone encountering their own questions about what it means to be at home—in a place, in a church, or in your soul."

Pam Kittredge, Englewood Review of Books, Eastertide 2017

"Through Scripture and story—hers as well as those from an array of sources—she shows how understanding the desire for home provides opportunities to fulfill the work of the church and reflect God's hospitality."

Linda Sladkey, Covenant Companion, July/August 2017


Foreword by Scott Sauls

Part I: The Welcome of Home
1. Nostalgia: The Longing for Home
2. Angel in the House: A Brief History
3. Taken In: The First Maker of Home
4. Border Crossings: On (Not) Staying Put
5. Perished Things: And Imperishable Home

Part II: The Work of Home
6. A Suffering Servant: The Labor of Love
7. House of God: The Church as Home
8. Love and Marriage: The Routine Work of I Do
9. Saying Grace: Feasting Together
10. Cathedral in Time: A Place Called Rest
11. City of God: Finally Home

Study Guide


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Jen Pollock Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Teach Us to Want and Keeping Place, both published by InterVarsity Press with video curriculum available from RightNow Media. She is a regular contributor for Christianity Today and Moody Bible Institute's Today in the Word. A wife and mother of five, Jen lives in Toronto, Canada.