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  • Tabitha Caplinger

Living Chosen with Jan Hemby

Growing up, I wouldn’t have described myself as the runt of the litter, but I was definitely on the small side. My parents recognized early on that I wasn’t going to be as tough as my two older siblings. For example, I wilted when the temperature outside rose above seventy-five degrees, my Scottish genes turning my face an unflattering shade of bright pink. My inability to tolerate the heat provided a get-out-of-jail-free card from gym class on numerous occasions, which was fine with me. Sports weren’t my thing. Whenever someone threw a ball in my direction, I’d either duck or run. (Common sense, right?) Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly the first one chosen when teams were formed at recess.

Whether it’s a group of kids selecting a shortstop for a pick-up game of baseball, or a bank executive hiring a regional director, the goal is to pick the most talented, the smartest, andat timesthe most attractive. That could be us, or a more qualified contender could come along placing us in the unchosen category.

God, on the other hand, tends to seek out the most unlikely candidate…at least in human terms. For example, Saul checked off all the boxes on Israel’s job application for a king, but it was David, a young shepherd boy, who succeeded in defeating their enemies.

I was sixteen years old and an emotional trainwreck when I accepted Christ's invitation to follow him. If He were looking for someone strong, capable, and put together, He wouldn’t have even glanced in my direction. But He saw me in my brokenness and said, “I pick her.”

A talentand task God has given me is writing books. I’ve always loved to write; I began penning stories and poems in elementary school. But my best work didn’t result from earning an “A” on an English class term paper, or even from winning a literary award. Instead, it happened when I experienced rejection from two publishers before a third accepted my first book. It happened when I received that first round of edits and saw more red ink than black! Then, I began to view correctionand even failureas necessary mentors that taught me to dig deeper, work harder, and develop a new level of dependence on God.

To “live chosen” means considering the notion that perhaps God’s love pursues us not despite our flaws and failures but because of them. For, as we reckon with our limitations, we learn reliance on God’s limitless power and provision.

Even though I’m (much) older now, I still wilt when the temperature outside rises above seventy-five degrees, my Scottish genes turning my face an unflattering shade of bright pink. And, if someone throws something in my direction, I’ll duck or run…just not as quickly as I used to! But, most importantly, I remain grateful to Christ for choosing that sixteen-year-old girl who was an emotional trainwreck…and changing her life forever.

Then again, He tends to seek out the most unlikely candidate. At least in human terms.


Two-time Award-winning writer Jan Hemby is a native North Carolinian who is proud of her small-town heritage. Her first novel, The Gates Manor Band, was published in 2016 with the sequel, Secrets and Surrender, debuting in February 2019. Her book, Burnt Toast: Devotions for Imperfect People, was released in February of 2018 and ranked number six out of the top one hundred new devotional releases on Amazon. It also received the silver medal in the Jenkins Group Illumination Book Awards’ 2019 Enduring Light Devotional Category. Jan’s first novel, The Gates Manor Band, also received the silver medal from the Jenkins Group Illumination Book Awards’ 2020 Enduring Light Christian Fiction category.

Jan is also an inspirational speaker who has been featured at numerous book clubs, libraries, churches, and civic organizations. She currently lives in Wilson, North Carolina with her husband, Billy. They have two grown daughters, Hope and Cara, and two grand-puppies, Gatsby and Daisy.

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