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Marriage is hard work. Fostering kids is challenging. Combining the two could be overwhelming, especially when both begin at once! I am happy to have Jennifer Rodewald back to visit with us today about her newest novel, Finding Evergreen. (If you missed my review, you can find it here.) Whether you have fostered kids yourself or not, you’ll likely enjoy this encouraging story! Before we visit with Jen, let’s take a closer look at the story.
Married within a year of meeting, Ethan and Brandi add a foster daughter to their newly established family. Their story is enchanting—inspiring. Except when the fairytale fails. The stresses of unmet expectations and wounds from their pasts knife into their marriage, severing what they believed would be forever.
Hope for a broken marriage. Healing for their wounded spirits. It would take both to find evergreen. Are they brave enough to try?
Welcome back, Jennifer! Let’s start with a few fast favorites. What is your:
Favorite color? Green
Favorite season? Spring and Fall
Favorite writing snack? Chips
Favorite movie? The Magic of Ordinary Days
Favorite vacation destination? The Mountains
Favorite ice cream flavor? Bunny Tracks
We’d love to hear more about Finding Evergreen. What inspired you to write this series or this novel in particular?
This series grew from one stand-alone book to a set of three, and the inspiration was the question “how far does the Hand of grace reach?” To the alcoholic? Yes. His grace redeems him. To the woman with a dark past she doesn’t want anyone to know about? Yes. He knows, and He lovingly redeems.
What about to the Pharisee? Hmmm…
That answer doesn’t come off the cuff quite so easily for me, and I’ll be honest, though the research for Red Rose Bouquet shredded me more than probably anything I’ve dug into yet, the desperation for the answer to the Pharisee question was deeply personal.
That does hit some deeper issues we might not want to truly address. And yet you do so in a way that encourages us to take a closer look! Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?
I am a foster mom—relatively new to that world as we’ve only been foster parenting for about a year and a half. We have so much yet to learn, and the curve on that job is steep. So much of what Brandi struggles with involving foster-parenting was real-life for me. Not So-J and her anger and rejection per-se but the behind the scenes, not-really-kid issues stuff. Meetings. Phone calls. Questions. The subtle feeling of not being good enough or that your judgements are constantly under scrutiny. Those things are straight from my life, and I’ll be honest, it can be seismic at times.
That’s a huge undertaking, and yet what an opportunity to make a difference in those kids’ lives! What do you hope your readers take away from Finding Evergreen?
That we are deeply, recklessly loved by the God in heaven who is able to redeem all people. Maybe, I hope for something more personal than that. I am praying fervently that my readers end this book saying—believing—I am loved.
Also, I have this tender place in my heart for kids, and that longs for the Church to take a new, fresh look at foster parenting. I’m just going to post a graphic taken from a CNN report published in 2014 (read the article, too. And also, this link). These are some staggering, heart-breaking statistics, and I am forced to ask myself, and in turn, my sweet readers, whom I love, with total humility in my heart: Who are the orphans and widows in your world? Dear Church, are we practicing true religion as defined by James? Just a question, and I leave it here to ponder and pray about.
This graphic is from CNN’s 2014 report “We Are Abandoning Children In Foster Care.”
In our culture, it’s easy to choose not to look at those issues and leave them for someone else (the government?) to deal with… Have you given any of your own personality quirks to your characters? If so, would you be willing to share about it/them?
There is much of me in Brandi. So. Much. This was a raw, honest book to write, not because it is autobiographical—it isn’t. It is fiction, not my life story. But because Brandi was very much a mirror for me, and that was hard to stare at. It was also pretty scary to publish, because I know that she’s not super likable, and I know what it feels like to read one-star reviews on my work. I know that Brandi’s edges are sharp, and that presenting her in that kind of unfiltered honesty is a little jarring—and a wide invitation for some harsh criticism. The struggle with perfectionism, and the striving and demanding that comes with it. That’s me. The problems with facing failure—and the fear in admitting when she’s wrong. The Pharisee attitudes. That’s all me, and owning that publicly is a pretty vulnerable place to land.
Very much so. Yet she’s a character that I suspect many can relate to, if they’re willing to be honest. She’s real, and sometimes the truth of reality is uncomfortable… Aside from reading and writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?
I love gardening and landscaping, and currently I am having a blast working part time at a local greenhouse. Beyond that, the current hobby on demand is watching track—because all three of my girls run. 😊
How fun! What accomplishment means the most to you?
My mom just texted me last week after she finished reading Finding Evergreen. She said, “well done.” I have no words… <3
I love that! Authors are busy people. How do you juggle all of the demands on your time, so that you can maintain your sanity?
Not very well. 😉 Currently, I’m on an extended writing break. I’m not sure how long it will last, and I’m not sure what project I’ll dive into next (I have a few in the back of my mind). For now, I am embracing life beyond my laptop, and it’s been nice.
It’s nice to know there is life beyond a screen! 😉 Can you share (briefly) about something you feel the Lord has been teaching you recently?
From this book, and the studying I had to do to write it: We love in truth when we come from a place of knowing that we are loved (Eph. 3:17-19). And also, He loves the older brother too (Luke 15).
Such sweet encouragement. Thanks for taking the time to share with us today, Jennifer!
Your turn! I’ve asked some tough questions lately, so let’s do an easy one. What’s your favorite season?
More about Jennifer:
Jennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. The draw to fiction has tugged hard on her heart since childhood, and when she began pursuing writing she set on stories that reveal the grace of God.
Jen lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.
She would love to hear from you! You can find her at:
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also by Jennifer:
Childhood sweethearts reunite, but Andrew is not the boy he had been, and Jamie hasn’t changed. Their connection, however, outlasts time and offense.
Loyalty, love, and then betrayal….For Jamie, one thing becomes clear: Andy needs a savior, and she cannot be it. Will Andrew allow the hand of grace to redeem his legacy of addiction, or will he and Jamie remain the casualties of heartbreak?
Left wounded by a marriage cut short, Suzanna Wilton leaves her city life to start over in a tiny Nebraska town. Her introduction to her neighbor Paul Rustin is a disaster. Assuming he’s as underhanded as the other local cowboys she’s already met, Suzanna greets him with sharp hostility.
Though Paul is offended by Suzanna’s unfriendliness, he can’t stop thinking about her, which unsettles his peaceful life. A hard-fought friendship slowly kindles something more, but just as Paul’s kindness begins to melt Suzanna’s frozen heart, a conflict regarding her land escalates in town. Even in the warmth of Paul’s love, resentment keeps a cold grip on her fragile heart.
Will Suzanna ever find peace?
Sarah Sharpe has grown up as a carpenter’s daughter, knowing only the rough and work-heavy world of her father’s blue-collar profession. Abandoned by her mother as a baby, she’s lived twenty-one years content to drive nails at her dad’s side. Following her father into the world of construction was a natural path, and she took it without a second thought. But a harsh comment about her “butch” appearance sends her on a search for identity.
Enter handsome and easygoing Jesse Chapman, the roofer she meets on her first foray into volunteer work for Homes For Hope. In every way, the quirky man is her opposite—confident, a people kind of guy, and most importantly, happy. His likable qualities continue to draw her in, and for some reason he keeps coming back to her. But they can’t be more than friends—he’s made that crystal clear. Except for a handful of times…and the confusion is driving her crazy.
Sarah’s quest for self-definition becomes more tangled than she ever imagined, and she discovers that the journey will take her deeper than clothes and makeup. Filling the void in her heart becomes an obsession she cannot escape. How far is she willing to go to discover who she really is?
Finding Evergreen Giveaway:
Jennifer has graciously offered to give away a Kindle copy of Finding Evergreen. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.