I’m so delighted to introduce you to Jan Elder, the marvelous woman in this photograph. Jan is a spectacular writer—her book, Manila Marriage App, is fabulous—and she’s also a super-terrific person. Over the past year, I’ve come to know her well, and she is such a delight. She’s truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It’s with great honor that I welcome her to my blog.
Danele: Jan, I’m so glad to have a chance to interview you!
Jan: Thanks for having me today! Your blog has been a blessing to me.
Danele: I’m glad you’ve been enjoying it. I’ve been having a blast with my blog, and I love interviewing people. I’m really eager to learn more about you. Can you tell us when you gave your heart to Christ?
Jan: I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home with godly parents. My mom and dad prayed for all of us kids before we were born (I have one brother, Floyd, a missionary in the Philippines. and one sister, Diane, a church history professor.) In fact, my mom prayed for three “compliant” kids that would come to know the Lord early in life. When I was five, we moved and changed churches and it was only a few months after that when I felt God tugging at my heart in a church service. I can’t remember what the sermon was about (hey, I was five!) but I clearly remember pulling on my mom’s sleeve and asking her if she would go up to the altar with me. I gave my heart to Jesus then and there.
Danele: Oh, Jan, what a fun coincidence! I gave my heart to Christ when I was five too—but I didn’t come to my decision during a church service—I was sitting on a “time-out” stool in my kitchen. I was being punished for being very naughty, and the knowledge that I was a desperate sinner in need of saving was VERY evident, so I asked Jesus into my heart. It makes me smile now, but at the time, I was deadly serious, and God saw the plea of my little-girl heart and came to me in a beautiful way. I love Psalm 145:18, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him.” (That includes naughty little girls who are being punished for bad behavior.) Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Jan: Yes, I do. When I was thirteen, my church youth group hung out at a Christian coffeehouse. One night, I felt the Lord saying to me that I needed a deeper experience—a complete surrender of my life to the Lord, nothing held back. As I listened, the speaker read a passage of scripture that changed my life, Romans 8:38 -39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Danele: Wow, that’s a beautiful passage! Hearing it at that moment must have meant a lot to you.
Jan: Yes, it did. I battle with perfectionist tendencies, but I finally realized that Jesus had died for all of my sins, past, present, or future, and that nothing could separate us. Any missteps are covered and paid for by Him. I don’t have to be perfect because there’s nothing I can do that will make Him love me any less. God loves me just as I am, in all of my humanness. What matters is my relationship with Him. Nothing can separate me from His love.
Danele: I love how you put that! I struggle with perfectionism too, and it’s nice to know that we don’t have to be perfect—we just have to come to God. It’s such a comfort to know that God is always with us! Have you ever dealt with something that has made that knowledge especially meaningful to you?
Jan: Yes. I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life.
Danele: I’m so sorry, Jan! When I was ill, I battled depression too, and it can be extremely difficult to deal with.
Jan: I think, for me, it’s an inherited family/chemical thing because several family members, my father in particular, have the same issue. Going back to that perfectionist problem of mine, my mind whispers that since I’ve been a Christian for decades, I should be able to rise above this. It should be a matter of prayer, a matter of trusting in the Lord, perhaps a matter of faith that this “thorn in my side” would fade into the background and I’d be emotionally healed.
Danele: Oh, Jan, I understand that struggle. When I first came down with multiple chemical sensitivity, I worried that something was wrong with me spiritually. I thought that if I could just hit on the right combination of prayer and faith I would be instantly healed. But it didn’t work out that way for me. My physical illness worsened, and I ended up in quarantine. For a while, it really threw me for a loop, but I’ve learned that some people (like Lot) are delivered FROM the maelstrom—but others (like Noah) are delivered THROUGH the storm. It made me very angry that God didn’t instantly deliver me—but over the years I’ve learned that He had different plans for my life–plans that I’m just now understanding were for my good. But I will admit that when my illness first hit, I was confused about the delay in my healing.
Jan: God does heal, and of course, he wants His children to be whole. But I truly believe that sometimes God allows trials so that we can be a help to others. So many people have been in that same dark valley, but it seems that often Jesus walks with us along the journey instead of pulling us out of it.
Danele: I think that’s so true. Before I became ill, I would look with compassion on people who suffered from chronic illnesses and depression, but deep-down I always felt that if they would just focus on the Lord, their problems would fade away. I’ve asked the Lord many times to forgive me for that arrogant attitude. I’ve learned through bitter experience that your physical state doesn’t necessarily indicate your spiritual state. It’s so easy to sit in judgment, but it’s so dangerous to do. When I was going through my ordeal, I clung to John 9:3—the verse in which Jesus explained that the blind man’s handicap wasn’t a punishment for sin, but that it was actually going to be used to manifest the work of God. John 9:3 became part of my prayers. If I had to suffer with illness and depression, I wanted it to end up bringing glory to God. I didn’t want my pain wasted.
Jan: I hope my trials give me more grace, more kindness, more compassion for what others are going through. It’s not about me. It’s about letting the Holy Spirit work through me to be a blessing to someone else.
Danele: Jan, there isn’t a shadow of a doubt that God is using you to be a blessing to others. You have blessed my life in so many ways! I’m so glad that you’re not only my friend, but also my sister in Christ. You’ve been such an encouragement to my faith! Now, I know that you have some wonderful news, I’d love for you to tell us about it.
Jan: I have a fantastic praise report to share. A few weeks ago, my husband, Steve, had a heart attack. We work at the same place and a co-worker came to me and said that I needed to go check on him. He was not feeling well at all. (Steve says she “ratted him out”—grin.) Good thing she did because after describing his symptoms I knew he was in definite need of a hospital visit, and he even let me drive him which says something about his sorry state.
Danele: That must have been very scary!
Jan: It was, but to make a very long story short, after I drove him to a hospital, they quickly gave him a blood thinner and admitted him after it was determined that his “enzymes were up.” I was able to stay the night in his private room on cool chair that turned into a bed. The next day he had a heart catheterization which showed only minor damage, PRAISE THE LORD, and he didn’t need a stint, etc. Now he’s on five medications, but no surgery. The take-away warning for everyone is that my husband didn’t have early warning signs of heart disease. He doesn’t drink, has never smoked, he’s not overweight, his cholesterol is good, and his blood pressure is textbook perfect. What wasn’t good is his family history–his father had his first heart attack at the same age. We’re considering this experience to be a wakeup call for both of us and we’re going to be making some lifestyle changes.
Danele: What a frightening experience!
Jan: What I am especially grateful for is that during this whole experience, God’s presence kept me calm. He somehow made it very clear to me that Steve was going to be all right. Even during the heart catheterization where they were checking for blockages with possible surgery involved, my heart was peaceful. And what does Steve say about this ordeal? He mentioned that he didn’t want to leave me, but since he knew without a doubt that he is going to heaven, he wasn’t worried either. We’ve been married for twelve years and I am counting on many more!
Danele: I’m so glad that your husband is okay! I’m also glad that God gave you peace. I don’t know how people get through things without the presence of God. God is such a comfort in times like that. Now, Jan, I know that you’ve just released a new book. I’d love for you to tell us about it!
Jan: My second book, A Semi-Precious Christmas, was released just a few days ago on December 1, 2015. It’s part of Pelican Book Group’s Christmas Extravaganza–a dozen or so Christmas novellas published every year.
Danele: How exciting! Can you give us a hint about the plot of A Semi-Precious Christmas and also a link where we can find it?
Jan: Sure! Here’s the premise of the story: On a bright, crisp December morning, jewelry store manager, Peridot Keaton-Jones, arrives at work expecting to find her beloved uncle, Marty. Instead, she’s greeted by the muzzle of a gun pressed to her temple. When thugs threaten her life and steal thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, Peri can only pray her uncle is late for the first time in his life…Christopher Lane is a TV news cameraman in the right place at the right time. He witnesses the heist, calls the police, and offers help when Peri needs it most. She can’t deny her attraction, but is he really her hero, or is he just after a story? And with Christmas right around the corner, can Peri and Chris avert a holiday disaster? http://www.amazon.com/Semi-Precious-Christmas-Holiday-Extravaganza-ebook/dp/B0175P1RDQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446428578&sr=1-3&keywords=jan+elder
Danele: That sounds really good. I really enjoyed your first book, “Manila Marriage App.” I’ll look forward to reading more books by you! Jan, thank you so much for being on my blog today. It has been such an honor to talk with you!
Jan: Danele, it’s always a privilege to spend time with you and your readers!
Friends, Jan Elder, is such a delightful person. If you would like to learn more about her or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!