Thankful Hearts Giveaway: Janet W. Ferguson

November 22, 2016 Christian, contemporary, giveaway, Janet Ferguson, Thankful Hearts giveaway 93

 

th-giveaway-with-covers-large

Welcome to the last day of the Thankful Hearts giveaway! I hope you have been as blessed as I have to hear from the hearts of these 10 authors! Just as a reminder – You can keep up with all the posts in the giveaway series by clicking on the Thankful Hearts giveaway graphic in the sidebar. The Rafflecopter will continue accepting entries until 11:59 pm on November 25th to make sure everyone has a chance to catch up with each post!

Today, Janet Ferguson closes us out with a thankful reflection on grace for prodigals.

grace-for-prodigals

Grace for Prodigals like Me

I was a prodigal.

I had a good family. They taught me right from wrong and took good care of me, took me to church. My father was an elder. My parents supported my extracurricular activities… Still—in my late teens, I chose to wander a different path. It was the path culture sells through media and song, an alluring path, but one that ended with emptiness. I didn’t end up in a real pigpen, but more of a soul pigpen. I went to college, got a degree, worked at my job, and made friends. I knew and still believed in what was right, but I didn’t want to give up my control. I tried to “be good” here and there, by my own strength, but I was never willing to give up everything to Him.

The old expression held true. I had a hole in my heart only God could fill.

At twenty-six years old, I hit my knees and begged the Lord to take me back. I was finally willing give up everything: job, friends, boyfriends, location, everything… if only He would take me back. And He did.

My life changed dramatically but in small increments. I met and married my husband that year, had a child the next, and became a children’s ministry volunteer. A few years later, I led a children’s ministry, fully feeling inadequate, but relying on God’s strength. During those years, I began volunteering with our youth group. I could certainly relate to what they were going through, having messed up so often myself. After five years in paid ministry, I felt my time had ended there, but wasn’t sure what God had in mind next.

My husband said, why not apply for a job at the school because at least we’d have free insurance for me, ha! So I did apply at all the schools nearby. I ended up certifying to become a high school librarian. I worked at the large public high school with teens for seven years. Reading and searching for clean fiction became my passion. I read whenever I could and became part of our church’s Christian fiction book club.

Somewhere in those years, a story tugged at my mind and heart. A story about a prodigal who’d messed up a lot, but ultimately comes home. Life isn’t immediately perfect or straightened out for her, because there is some baggage you haul around after leaving God’s will, but the character struggles and stumbles along this time keeping close to her Father. That story finally became my debut novel Leaving Oxford.

While working on and rewriting that novel for four years, more prodigal story ideas kept barraging me. Those characters wouldn’t leave me alone. And maybe Someone Else. Because there are a lot of us prodigals around, aren’t there? Those other characters show up in what is now the Southern Hearts Series.

Over the years, I came to believe the story of the prodigal son was more about God than it was about the prodigal. The fact that our Loving Father is waiting, watching, and searching us out. He yearns to have all His children back with Him. In Luke, Jesus describes a scene where a father runs to his son when the lost child turns down the road to home, the father throws his arms around his son’s neck. He puts a ring on the son’s finger and throws a party to celebrate. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

There’s nothing you or I’ve done so bad that His sacrifice can’t cover. Nothing He can’t use for good when you finally give up all that control. All that baggage, let Him have it, use it. He is able. Trust me, I’ve been there…

So I write stories about prodigals because that’s what I know.

And I’m thankful, so terribly thankful, for grace for prodigals like me.

the-book

One of the books included in the Thankful Hearts giveaway is Janet’s newest release and the fourth book in her Southern Hearts series, Blown Together.

When love storms in…

Wealth manager Sam Conrad is accustomed to his domineering father ordering him around, especially at the bank where they both work. But when his father demands that Sam manage the inheritance of his bossy ex-fiancée, Sam has finally had enough. He leaves in search of a new life, and attorney Big Roy Bosarge from Mobile, Alabama, agrees to mentor Sam on his quest for direction. Sam didn’t expect to be thrown together with Big Roy’s eccentric and opinionated daughter.

Storm damage forces lonely romance writer Elinor Bosarge and her hairless cat, Mr. Darcy, out of her Fort Morgan Beach cottage. She plans to take refuge in the boathouse on her parents’ estate, but finds the place already occupied by one of her father’s “projects.” She’s shocked her father would allow another young man onto the property after his last mentee robbed her family and broke her heart. And from the moment she meets Sam Conrad, they disagree about everything from her cat to how to best renovate a local nursing home.

Between her mother’s health issues and the hurricane brewing in the Gulf, Elinor feels like her life is being ripped apart. It doesn’t help that she’s falling for the man she’s determined not to trust. Sam finds himself drawn to Elinor, wanting to help her and this new family he’s grown to love. But can he overcome the barrier she’s built to keep him out? When the storm rages and the two of them are blown together, can Elinor find the faith to open her heart again?

goodreads button RIMSP amazon button RIMSP B&N button RIMSP

the-author

janet fergusonJanet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.

Connect with Janet on her website, on Facebook and Twitter.

giveaway RIMSP

Comment on this post by answering the question below and then head over to the kickoff page to claim the new entry for today!

Question for giveaway entry: Could you write a story of grace and prodigals too? How has God been faithful?

This is the last post in our Thankful Hearts Giveaway! Thank you so much for joining us each day – you have been a blessing to me!

 

Carrie

93 Responses to “Thankful Hearts Giveaway: Janet W. Ferguson”

  1. Becky Smith

    I could not write a story on prodigals, but I can write a story about God’s wonderful forgiveness and being valued by Him. I always liked the song that there’s not much to tell whenever I’m compelled to give my testimony…I just asked Jesus to save me when I was young and He did and He is! But I love all of the Prodigal stories! Thank you for these wonderful Thankful Heart stories and books! I have LOVED them!!!!

    • Janet Ferguson

      Hi Becky! I’m so glad you don’t have a prodigal background! Wandering off the path is not good or safe. I’m so glad you have been a part of our celebration here!
      Blessings

  2. Janet Ferguson

    Carrie, I’m so thankful for you, your hard work, and your love and care for your followers/readers/writers. You are a true gem. I’m humbled to be a part of this wonderful group of author and readers! Hugs and blessings!

    • Carrie

      Oh Janet, I’m so thankful for YOU and my followers and all readers & writers. This is such fun to do – living my dream, seriously. Such a blessing.

      • Debbie Grissom

        I have lived life as a prodigal. Unfortunately I’m not talented enough to write a story. But I’m so thankful for Leaving Oxford. I’ve been saved since I was 9 but as I got older I chose to do what I wanted, not God. Actually I couldn’t get pregnant and I was mad at God. Your book made me realize I’m not the only Christian that didn’t always live as I should. Thank you

        • Janet Ferguson

          Debbie, I’m so glad to hear from someone like me 🙂 It’s hard when we feel like life isn’t fair. It’s okay to take our complaints and hurts to the Lord! David and the prophets cried out to God. Jesus, too, when facing His crucifixion. He hears us. We don’t always get the answer we want, still, but He loves us. We have to trust that.
          I don’t know why you can’t get pregnant. It hurts. I don’t know why my mother, a good Christian woman got Alzheimer’s. This world is fallen. It’s not our home, but God is for us and He holds us in our tears.
          We are sisters! Hugs and blessings!

    • Winnie Thomas

      I second this, Janet. Carrie is priceless–such a help and encouragement to both readers and authors! And thanks, Janet, for sharing your thoughts and your experiences. Hugs to you both!

  3. Anne

    It would be difficult to write about prodigals, but I would write about thankfulness and gratitude.

  4. Debbie Clatterbuck

    God has been faithful by gracing me with two beautiful daughters and two equally beautiful granddaughters. They are all my life and I wouldn’t give any of them up for anything, except my God, of course. Hopefully, that won’t be required of my while I’m alive.

  5. Heidi Robbins

    I’m not a writer, but I so enjoy reading stories of prodigals returning to the fold, since it gives me hope that God could save my children if they ever made a choice to go down the wrong path.

  6. carylkane

    I am grateful for His Grace. I too have veered off the path. Each day I seek a deeper relationship with Him. I know that He is leading me step by step home.

    Janet, thank you for writing prodigal stories! May the Lord continue to pour out His blessings upon you.

  7. Jen

    Janet, I love that you’ve pointed out that the story is more about the Father than about the son… and I think it’s so interesting that actually both sons in that parable were sad, miserable people. They both tried to gain the inheritance without a real relationship with their father. It didn’t work out well for either of them. Praise God, He loves us still.

  8. Andrea Stephens

    Personally, I never turned my back on God, I strayed to the farthest edge of the path a little bit but found my way back. Free will, needing to figure things out on my own, only to realize I could not. Could I write a story? no, I’m not a writer. I could tell you of the Grace and Faithfulness I have experienced many times over. I have a cousin that is a true prodigal, his is not my story to tell but he is a true example of the prodigal returning to the loving arms of our Saviour. He is a living miracle.

    • Janet Ferguson

      Andrea, I’m so glad you never strayed too far! I’m so glad you are willing to share about Grace and Faithfulness! I love that your prodigal came home.
      Blessing 🙂

  9. Winnie Thomas

    Janet, thanks so much for sharing with us. It’s been a fun few days of enjoying the thoughts of authors and readers. Thanks to Carrie for hosting this for Thankful Hearts giveaway. It’s been very interesting and enlightening. Hugs to you both and to all the authors and commenters! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  10. Jocelyn

    Writing a story about a prodigal would be difficult. Especially since it hits close to home. But by God’s grace, the thing I am learning is to be patient. It can sometimes feel so hard to love that person who has turned their back on God. But God never lets go of His children, even if they let go of Him.

  11. Rebecca Maney

    I don’t exactly have a prodigal story, but my life did hit some bumps along the way when I was younger, and actually those experience gave me wisdom and strength that I did not know I needed. For that I am very thankful.

  12. Sonnetta Jones

    Yes, I can. In my 20+ years as a Christian I have wanderer and God has brought me back time and time again. Sometimes it is not physically wandering but mentally. God has always proven himself faithful.

    Sonnetta_jones(at)hotmail(dot)com

  13. Pam K.

    I wouldn’t be able to write the story. However, my son is a prodigal. I keep praying and have faith that he will eventually listen to God and return to Him.

    • Janet Ferguson

      Pam, Saying a prayer for your son. Praying that the Lord will put the right people in his life to lead him and prick his heart. Praying his path will be blocked to evil, but will lead him home. There is hope! I made it. I have kids in their 20s, so I must remind myself of this daily. It’s tough out there.
      Hugs

  14. Marilyn

    I don’t have a prodigal.God has blessed me with a loving family and friends. Thanks for the giveaway.
    Marilyn

  15. JACKIE MCNUTT

    I have been a Christian for many years now, and anytime I stray off that path God has been faithful to draw me back.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  16. Kelly Blackwell

    I don’t think I could necessarily write a story about a prodigal, but I certainly understand what it is like being in the prodigal’s shoes. I was very devoted to the Lord in my early teens up to 19. I should say that I still loved the Lord, but church hurts (we people sure know how to hurt one another) were all I needed to move farther away from where I should be. I spent a long time living deep out in the world and really felt lost as I looked for love but found none that actually filled the void. More often I was left feeling emptier. That God shaped hole was magnified by a daddy shaped hole too.

    Now I celebrate almost 10 years in ministry and am so happy to be redeemed and fully loved by the Lord…who of course never stopped. 🙂

    • Janet Ferguson

      Kelly,
      We have so much in common. And your writing is beautiful. You may a story in you ❤️ I’m so happy you are in ministry now!!
      Hugs & blessings

  17. Julie Jobe

    I think we’ve all been prodigals at some point in our lives because none of us are perfect and we all need His grace. Some of our stories may not outwardly show the prodigal times because we didn’t necessarily act out, but on the inside our hearts were not right even though we were “acting” the right way on the outside. I know that I can identify with the prodigal’s story and the welcoming arms and loving pursuit of the Father. Thank you for sharing this. It’s always helpful to be reminded that nothing is too big for Him to cover if we just let go and return to Him and let Him do it.

    • Janet Ferguson

      Julie, I love your comment! Yes, all of us fall short. Now that on the right path, I still make mistakes and bumble around at times. Okay, often… I still need forgiveness. I’m glad His love is big enough. Thank you for these words of wisdom 🙂
      Blessings

  18. Will G

    I couldn’t literally because I’ve never been a good writer … God has been faithful by continuing to provide. My wife had quit her job for good reason without having another job and we would have slowly had to pull from our savings to continue to make our payments and He provided her with another job completely unexpectedly all with very little time in between jobs!

    • Janet Ferguson

      Will, That is hard. It’s scary when life throws us those curve balls. I love your testimony here that He was faithful! Glad it worked out with the job!!
      Blessings

  19. Robin Patchen

    “I came to believe the story of the prodigal son was more about God than it was about the prodigal. The fact that our Loving Father is waiting, watching, and searching us out. He yearns to have all His children back with Him.”

    Well said, Janet.

  20. Annie JC

    No. I can not write a story, but I know of stories of the prodigal son returning to God. God’s faithfulness knows no bounds. He has been faithful in so many ways, especially when we are lost.

  21. Bonnie Roof

    Janet, you sang my song in your post, LOL. My story is very similar to yours- born and raised in the church, so to speak, I became a Christian as a pre-teen. But somehow, I didn’t grasp or accept the concept then of yielding control of my life to Christ or the fact His plan for my life was the only way to true, permanent joy in life. It took a number of years, pain, unhappiness, and lessons hard learned before I was willing to acknowledge that “my way” wasn’t working. He faithfully protected me and provided for my needs during those years of wandering – patiently waiting to provide the peace, joy, and spiritual closeness I now have and which only come through following Him.

  22. Melissa Romine

    I don’t have a prodigal story. I used to think I didn’t have a testimony that anyone would want to hear, but it occurred to me that God’s faithfulness and love is what kept me from being a prodigal.

  23. Patty

    I wouldn’t consider myself a prodigal, but have siblings that one might consider prodigals. We continue to love them and trust God to bring them back at some point!

    Janet, are you familiar with the song ‘When God Ran’ by Phillips, Craig & Dean. Check it out if you are not.

    • Janet Ferguson

      Patty, So glad you aren’t a prodigal, and I pray for those in your family who may be drifting off the path. I love your faith!

      I will definitely look up that song. I may have heard it, but my brain’s getting a little old, ha! Thank you!!

  24. Donna B

    Thankful for God’s faithful love and grace! Thanks for this giveaway and all of the wonderful interviews. Thanks to Carrie for all of her hard work putting it all together!

  25. Beth Erin

    Our family didn’t go to church during my childhood but I was blessed to be surrounded by friends from Christian families and even attended VBS many times. The first time I asked God into my heart, I was around 8 years old but I wasn’t baptized until God grabbed a hold of my heart ten years later. I can’t say I don’t have regrets from those years in between but I can see that God’s hedge of protection was around me.

  26. Rachel

    I could write a story on Gods grace. When I was out of a job God ALWAYS provided for us! God is good all the time 🙂

Leave a Reply