Bloom Where You’re Planted, by Mary Rodman
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
In most cases, giving a book the title Bloom Where You’re Planted would come off as being a tired cliche with no more relevance to the book except as a reminder that it would likely contain a lot of unwanted advice and hectoring. In this particular case, it gives one of the more important clues as to the perspective of the author as a farmer’s wife and that also helps to solve the mystery of why this odd and quirky but mostly enjoyable devotional has not been published while a whole host of mostly terrible devotionals has . In looking at this book, I could see a few reasons why this book likely was seen as a bit of an odd volume–it doesn’t have a famous author, it doesn’t have a standard number for devotionals (40, 52, 365), it has some odd elements like a couple of poems and even a recipe for peanut butter cream pie (which sounds amazing), and it is written by someone who had a messy divorce and remarriage situation, is married to a farmer, and vacations in rural flyover locations around the United States. None of this makes the book any less enjoyable to read, even if the author is not appealing in all aspects–her family life is problematic, she talks too much about her dog, and she is not well educated in biblical law–but the book itself manages to work as a devotional that is also somewhat of a memoir.
There is an irony in the title, or rather, a tension. On the one hand, the author speaks in this devotional about celebrating what God can do in our lives wherever He places us, and the author clearly wishes to convey to the reader that she is blooming right now, but there is also the sense that the author’s view about grace is colored by her own experiences. She wants to believe that she does not have to obey the “old laws” including those laws that would have made her conduct with her first family entirely unacceptable. This is an entirely predictable motive, if lamentable. What one gets in this book is a set of devotionals that is not numbered, where no scriptures are given but where plenty are cited, where the author asks a lot of insightful questions and has points to ponder, and where it is clear that the book was written by someone who wanted to share their lives, including the many mundane details of life like pruning bushes and waiting for the rain to come so that the crops could grow. These may not strike some readers as very exciting, but given my own background coming from a farming family, I could entirely relate to this odd grandmother writing out her life and seeking to give insight to others, and I found much to like about this book even despite its flaws.
And ultimately, this book strikes me as a devotional that I would highly recommend for middle-aged rural women who enjoy reading devotionals. I don’t happen to know how large of an audience that is for reading, but this book is longer than many of its kind, it is very personal, and it is such an honest portrayal of what seems to me like such an odd person that I think the book simply has to be appreciated for what it is, even if it could use a bit of cleaning up with an editor. There are far too many devotionals being published by people whose writing is boring, predictable, and tedious, that something so out of the ordinary and lovably odd deserves to be appreciated. This book likely took the author a long time for her to write, and it is certain that it was a labor of love on her part. It’s certainly worthwhile for the recipe, its poems and photos, and odd connections to God’s ways like playing a game of daily fetch with your adorable dog. What’s not to like about a book that talks about the joys of rural life and vacationing outside of America’s large coastal cities? The world has more than enough devotionals from urban hipsters–this book manages to provide something new in a genre where that is an immensely difficult task, simply because the author is herself.
 See, for example:
But first a good one: https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/12/13/book-review-how-to-raise-children-for-christ/