by Janis Van Keuren
Sandwiched between packing boxes while helping a recently widowed friend move, the only clear thought panting through my mind was, “Are we done yet.” Plopped on whatever stable object we could find, another friend from church began sharing about God’s comforting presence that she experienced during her husband’s passing a couple of years prior. Other stories flowed from the storehouses of her mind as we sat there. My hazy mind cleared and I began to envision the possibility of gathering these stories in some written form to reveal God’s compassions and encourage other women.
Accomplishing this writing process had to fit within my abilities. That meant blog posts or short stories for magazines. The one Sunday another woman from church spontaneously began describing how the Lord had guided her in caring for her elderly patients. More women and more stories felt like juggling apples. Gradually, I sensed the Lord’s direction to write a women’s devotional book. It was His chosen path for me. Yet my hesitations, other home projects, and simply not knowing where to start stymied me for another year.
Just before the pandemic hit last year, a writing coach and friend contacted me about taking her book proposal course that was beginning shortly. It was an online course with other writers in a small group where we would move through detailed instruction for ninety days. I gasped inwardly- ninety concentrated days of preparing a proposal. What about writing the book? You know, the book idea I was still ruminating over?
Finally, I began seeking the Lord about this whole crazy, and costly, idea. Each day, it seemed the Lord nudged me closer to the course. He used devotionals, posts on Facebook, and people’s stories. All the while, I continued to discuss the possibility with my husband. He would defer me back to the Lord.
One morning, the Lord wrote His direction clearly to me in the You Verse, Verse of the Day, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (I Peter 4:10)
Any doubts began to disperse. I signed up for the book proposal course. Almost, immediately, the pandemic began. That was one way to guarantee I’d be working at my computer for long hours each day. Additionally, I still had to find at least thirty women willing to tell their God-stories for publication in a book.
That proposal course with the teacher encouraging us and pushing us was just what I needed. I stepped out in areas I never thought I would. I called, texted, emailed women I considered friends and believers in Jesus. I reached out to writers and well-known authors for their endorsements of my book-in-process. But before I could do any of that, I had to come up with a title for my book, and the purpose of the book. I had to sell them on the idea of joining my project, my journey to help other women find God in their stores.
Digging through the grey matter, each of us in the course generated several titles for our in-the-works book, whittling the list down to a couple that settled in our hearts. Mine found its niche quickly. I returned to it again and again, refining it until “God’s Fingerprints on Women’s Hearts: Find His Touch in Your Life Through Women’s Stories” was set in dry ink.
Through the “God’s Fingerprints” book, I encourage readers to find God’s divine touch in their lives, too. God longs to meet us in our deepest needs, our most perplexing problems, our griefs that won’t be comforted. My hope is for women to discover that experiencing God’s touch is a divine invitation for all. Through the stories, the readers can visualize God’s hand moving through a whisper, a nudge a word of comfort, or a direction that impacts everyday life. God desires to be involved in our mundane moments as well as in our trials and joys. I hope readers will recognize that God is the God who sees, hears, and desires to reveal His compassions to all. (Psalm 86:15; Lamentations 3:22-25)
The most fascinating part of writing this book were the conversations with women either over the phone or in person. I laughed with some as they related how God moved. With others, I had the privilege of crying as they relived their wrestling with God in pain. Women desired to share their heartaches, their journeys, their prayers, trials with their children, God’s provisions and more. It drew me deeper in awe of the Lord with each conversation. I hope each reader can experience that same awe through my written words.
I feel like I’m still in mid-journey preparing their stories for agents’ and publishers’ eyes. Expressing these women’s experiences in words that convey their trust in God and the emotions that washed over me while interviewing them is a work in progress. I’m speaking with agents at the different writer’s conferences, realizing this is God’s process, not mine.
As I walk this path, I want to plant deep in my heart that He who began the work in me to write this book will see it through to completion. (Philippians 1:6)
BIO: Award-winning Writer/Editor with nearly 25 years experience as a journalist. As a freelance writer, Janis’ articles and devotionals have appeared in a variety of publications including a Guideposts Compilations Book, “Devine Interventions: Heartwarming Answers or Prayer,” “4 Tuscan,” “Evangel,” “The Vision,,” “A Christmas Anthology” by Donna Goodrich, and different publications. Janis can be found writing devotional inspirations for women at her new website, wwww.janisvankeuren.com. Her focus is to encourage women to find God’s fingerprint in their lives through other’s stories.