Idaho author, Janet Thompson, was gracious and answered some questions about herself, her life, and her latest book, the third in her Dear God series, “Dear God, He’s Home” that I reviewed in the column on Sept. 1st. Below are her answers that will allow you to find about a little more about her.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I am a Christian author and speaker and my ministry is About His Work Ministries. I am also the wife of my helpmate, Dave Thompson, mom to four married children, and Grammie to eleven sweet grandchildren. My passion and tag line is to help Christian women: Share Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.
My first career was as a Registered Dietitian, so we eat healthy and organic. Then I obtained an MBA and worked in sales and management. Since I love to learn, I went back to school for a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary and went into full time ministry starting and leading the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.
I feel I am using the gifts God gave me for writing, teaching, training, coaching, editing, mentoring and encouraging women in their Christian lives.
2. What inspired you to write this book?
Dear God, He’s Home! is the third in a “Dear God” series. The first was Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. I am a breast cancer survivor and had the opportunity to write the book I wished I had going through my own cancer journey. The second in the “Dear God” series is Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey. I was told I would never have children and my daughter and step-daughter both struggled with infertility, so I wrote a book to mentor the many women struggling to become mothers.
Each of the “Dear God” books mentor women who are on a journey I’ve been on myself. I know the loneliness and need for support and understanding that isn’t always available, so I write to mentor and encourage these women. The best compliment is when someone tells me it was if I was sitting right beside her as she read my books.
Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man came from going through my husband’s layoffs, home office, disability, and subsequent retirement, and knowing first-hand how challenging a stay-at-home man can be to a marriage. I understand the stress it puts on a relationship. Couples like my husband and me, and those who share their stories in the book, who have experienced and survived the stay-at-home transition, can reach out to offer seasoned encouragement, tips, and prayer for couples currently going through it.
3. Why is this story/message so important to you?
In Dear God, He’s Home!, I chronicle the difficulties and joys my husband and I encountered during the various seasons of him being a stay-at-home man. A husband suddenly home 24/7, regardless of the reason, strains the best of marriages. As in all my books, I offer various perspectives from other women who are willing to share their stories to help others going through something similar.
With masses of baby boomers entering retirement, younger workers still reeling from economic recession, and droves of military being brought home, increasing numbers of women are suddenly finding themselves living with a “stay-at-home man.” Further, situations like the trend towards virtual home offices, illness, or other life changes bring even more men home.
Whenever I mention the title of this book, wives smirk with raised eyebrows and knowingly remark, “Boy, do I have a story for you!” “I need this book.” “I know someone who could use this book.” Or “I’m going to need this book soon, write fast!”
When I sent out an email or Facebook request for stories of women with a husband home due to retirement, illness, disability, out of work, home office, the military . . . whatever reason…the stories flowed into my inbox and my ears. I knew this book was needed and would fill a void.
I also noticed that whatever circumstances brought a husband home, most couples admit they didn’t prepare for a time of being together 24/7! Regardless of the reason for this season, wives of stay-at-home men experience similar difficulties, hardships, and blessings.
The wife may also feel like her workload is increasing while his is decreasing, especially if she is still working or has to go back to work to support the family. The dismal prospect of him expecting lunch every day was lamented by the majority of wives.
At the same time, he’s also trying to find his space in what used to be her space and that can lead to crowded space. Military families call this the “reentry phase” or reintegration—fitting back into “normal” home life and society. In Called To Serve, Lt. Col. Tony and Penny Monetti quote one returning solider who said he felt like “a background wall in his own home.” An apt word picture for any stay-at-home man.
The home balance of authority feels off kilter when a husband is home. My hope for Dear God, He’s Home! is to help other couples restore the balance that my husband and I have come to enjoy.
4. Do you have any other projects you’re working on right now?
Yes, I’m writing How Good is God? I Can’t Remember…Creating a Culture of Memories which will be out next year, and I am working on a creative non-fiction book.
5. When and how did you become interested in writing?
Seventeen years and seventeen books ago, I started a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. The ministry was very successful and other churches started calling me asking what we were doing. I knew I couldn’t tell them in a phone call, so I wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry DVD Leader Kit, which is published by LifeWay and has sold over 100.000 copies.
As the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry began to grow and expand around the world, I began speaking and training churches on starting their own mentoring ministry. Listening to the issues the attendees were struggling with, I realized there were other women, including myself, going through similar life seasons.
The heart of mentoring is one generation teaching and training the next generation the things they have learned. So I looked at my own life and realized I could mentor others through my books and Bible studies if I was willing to be open and vulnerable and share the hard times and how I had made it through with God’s help—and I could encourage other women to do the same.
6. When you’re not writing, what would we find you doing?
I love to take walks in the mountains where we live, try new recipes, figure out what to do with the harvest from my husband’s garden, play with my grandkids, read, play Words with Friends, and spend time with my husband.
7. What book are you reading now?
Since I’m going to write creative non-fiction, I’m reading The Perfect Storm which was recommended as a good example of this genre.
8 What does your writing process look like? Do you sit down and spill it all out or is it in bits?
When the weather is nice, I start the day with a brisk three-mile walk. Then back home for coffee, breakfast, and quiet time with God and reading my Bible. Next, I turn on the computer and deal with any immediate emails that need responses, check Facebook, and try to be ready to write by 10:00 am.
On a writing day, I write all day. I might take a break for a quick lunch, but right back to writing. I write until around 6:00 pm. If I haven’t taken a walk in the morning, I ride the elliptical in the garage for 40 minutes to an hour. Make dinner, take a shower, and enjoy the rest of the evening with my husband.
9. What kind of environment do you work best in?
I am one of those authors who need it completely silent with no background noise, not even music, and I love a beautiful view with lots of windows. When we were looking for a new house, the leading criteria was a writing room with an “ah ha view.” In Dear God, He’s Home!, I write about the critical transition this was for my husband Dave and me when he retired and was home 24/7 while I am writing at home. He didn’t realize how much solitude I needed, and I didn’t realize he didn’t know how to let me have it. Working out this dilemma makes for a good, and sometimes humorous, story.
10. Editing: on paper or on a screen?
Both! You see things in print that you don’t see on the screen and vice versa. I do my first round of edits on the computer, then print out and edit with a red pen in hand, then back to the computer and continue this process until the printed out manuscript has zero red marks.
I also think it’s important to have an extra set of eyes, so my husband and a good friend also read and edit for me. Dave reads a printed versions, my friend uses tracking on the computer. When I’m finally ready to send it off to the publisher, they will have numerous editors review it, then they’ll send it back to me to review and I see things they didn’t see.
The biggest problem with authors who self-publish so readily today is thinking they can edit their own work—something no author can do adequately.
11. Favorite current TV show?
Duck Dynasty has become a favorite because Korie Robertson, Willie’s wife, is the daughter of the Howards, my publisher for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer and Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. So it’s fun to watch with that connection and the show also has a great message of a family playing together, working together, having fun together, and loving Jesus.
12. If you could co-write a book with any author (alive or dead) who would it be with and what would the title be?
I have actually never co-written a book and I think that would be very difficult to do. Both authors would need to be on the same page—no pun intended—and authors have such distinct, personal styles. I know authors who have done this successfully, but I don’t think I would be one of them.
13. Where do you call home? If you could call anywhere else home, where would that be?
Up until 2 years ago, I was a native Southern Californian. I never imagined myself living outside of California. But God had different plans and uprooted us, much like Abraham and Sarah, to a place where we knew no one and knew very little about the area—Garden Valley, Idaho. It has been the perfect fit for us—beautiful, quiet environment for me to write and my husband to take up gardening, help with my ministry, and get involved in our new church, Crouch Community Church. And unknown to us, it is a retirement community, so we have many new friends who welcomed us into the community.
Three of our grandchildren only live an hour away in Meridian, Idaho so it’s fun having them come visit us in the mountains and going down the hill to watch them in sports.
However, my heart calls me to Montana around the Big Fork area. We would have moved there in a heartbeat, but felt we should live somewhat near family and none of our family live in Montana.
14. Do you prefer an E-reader or a good old fashioned book?
I have a Kindle and I like being able to download free books, but I prefer a paper book, especially if I am doing research.
To read a snippet of Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man: http://tinyurl.com/dxb4whq
To watch a book trailer: https://vimeo.com/61224653