Tag Archives: Ginny Jaques

Rest or Rush? 4 Links that Resonated with Me

Photo of a peaceful bench in a park, with the words "Be still in His presence, and know that God is good."

photo credit: Janet Sketchley

It’s been a while since I’ve posted links to things I’ve read online that have encouraged or resonated with me. Apparently, there’s a name for this sort of post: curated content. I just call it passing on material that I think you might like.

I collected these links a year ago but didn’t do anything with them. It was good for me to go back and re-read these blog posts, because resting and rushing are timeless topics.

Here goes:

Ginny Jaques unpacks “four elements of God’s rest that can revitalize us and bring fresh excitement into our walk with Him.” Something About the Joy: Four Steps to Finding True Rest

To view it from the flipside, Carolyn Watts offers 3 Sure-fire ways to burn out.  (at Hearing the Heartbeat)

Brenda Wood asks us, Why Rush? (at Family and Faith Matters)

And Jeff Goins shares 3 Lessons We Learn While Waiting (an excerpt from his book, The In-Between, at Goins, Writer)

God Isn’t Finished With Us Yet

Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
Isaiah 59:1, NLT*

Last week I posted about the need to draw apart for quiet moments with God. As sometimes happens, God was speaking to my friend Ginny Jaques about the same thing: see her post, Meeting God Under the Fig Tree.

Where my need was to sit with God and be still with Him, remembering our relationship and His power, Ginny needed a “fireside chat” with Him to pour out her concerns for our culture, our world, and where it looks like it’s heading. (Do take time to read her post from the link above. It will encourage you.)

I carry the same concerns, about our God-ignoring culture and about the way even Christians don’t seem awake to the importance of living God’s way. We don’t dare go back to legalism, but often we as God’s people don’t look much different in our attitudes and behaviours than the people who don’t know Him. As if God’s call to holy living was only a suggestion, or His definitions have changed over time.

We need to live by God’s standards while being genuine and approachable. For some of us, that means remembering that Jesus is rightfully Lord of our lives and has a claim on our behaviour. For others, it means risking transparency so our non-Christian friends can see we’re different. For all of us, it means guarding our relationship with God and growing deeper in relationship with Him.

I love how creative God is in communicating. He used Ginny’s post to stir my thoughts about this and to bring me to a prayer of repentance for myself and for much of the North American church. Then He reminded me of today’s verse. It’s not over, and it’s not hopeless. In the long history of God and humans, this has happened many times. God can bring us back to where we need to be. He’s done it before, and His strength has not weakened over time.

God’s arm is still strong to save, and what is our proof? Our hope-anchor? Once He realigned my perspective through the verse, He brought me a song, “Thank You for the Cross.” It doesn’t end with us and our efforts. This is God’s work, and our weakness isn’t enough to eclipse His strength.

Mighty and holy God, it’s a good thing You know our weaknesses—and an even better thing that You are mighty to save and loving, to forgive. Speak to each one of us. Reveal anything that needs to change. We are very much works in progress, and we need Your help. Restore, revive, renew us and make us useful to Your Kingdom. Though we fail, let none be lost because of it. Have mercy on the hurting, and draw them to Yourself. Thank You for Your plan as revealed through the Cross, and for what You will do.

Here’s Kathryn Scott with “Thank You for the Cross.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Picks from 2013

My favourites from 2013:


Best of the year: also most satisfying series wrap-up:

Most satisfying mystery, and very close to best of the year:

Most can’t-wait-to-read-the-next-one mystery:

Most life-changing (fiction):

Most life-changing (non-fiction):

Most satisfying science fiction (and action):

Most satisfying fantasy novel:

Most satisfying speculative fiction:

  • Mask, by Kerry Nietz

Most satisfying historical:

Most laugh-inducing:

Most personally helpful writing how-to:


Most life-changing posts:

Review: Zinovy’s Journey, by Ginny Jaques

Zinovy's Journey cover artZinovy’s Journey, by Ginny Jaques (Millennium Journeys Press, 2011)

When the world ends…
Zinovy’s journey begins.

Zinovy Kozlov was a successful assassin. Then he was running for his life. Now the earth itself has changed and his enemies are dead or out of reach. As he tackles the physical pilgrimage to the one remaining city on the planet, he doesn’t see that he and his companions are on a spiritual journey as well.

Zinovy’s Journey is “a speculative novel in three parts: The End, The Journey, and The Beginning.” It offers a little bit of just about everything: action, intrigue, suspense, a spacewalk, relationships, revenge, philosophy, end times, a whole new world, and surprises at every turn.

Author Ginny Jaques has envisioned a richly wondrous world set during Revelation’s thousand-year reign of Christ, and I’m sure the real thing will be all that and more than we can imagine. Reading about it made me wistful.

The author has chosen to interpret biblical references “as literally as possible in creating the setting, because that approach made an interesting physical backdrop for Zinovy’s journey.”

People have many different expectations about the end times, and if you read this novel checking it against your own understanding you’ll probably find differences. But you’ll also miss the story. Readers who take it as fiction and not doctrine will engage the universal story of human choices on the journey to a relationship with God.

One of the many things I appreciate about the novel is it doesn’t end with Zinovy accepting Christ. That happens in the middle section, and then we get to see his struggles as he learns what his choice means – and what it costs. For a rational man like Zinovy who has always dismissed Bible stories as fables taught by his mother, the path to faith is indeed quite a journey.

I found the pace slower in The Journey section, because there’s a lot of philosophical discussion among the travellers. Readers who enjoy deep thinking will be satisfied, and the characters touch on all the heavy-duty spiritual questions. To the characters, it’s not slow; it’s a necessary part of working through their concerns. And the action never stops, it just happens between conversations. There’s still danger lurking.

The characters came alive to me, especially Zinovy, Sara, and the boy Caleb. The day after finishing the story, I caught myself wondering what was happening in their world now. It was a bit disappointing to remember I couldn’t pick up the book and read more!

Zinovy’s Journey is Ginny Jaques’ first novel, and I really like her writing style. The novel is available through the Zinovy’s Journey website, where you can also view the trailer and read a sample chapter. Those who’ve already finished the book are invited to visit the About the Novel page for background information and deleted scenes. You can also read my interview with author Ginny Jaques.

Author’s Warning: Some scenes in this book contain violence, strong language, and religious ideas.

[Review copy from my personal library.]



My friend Jan Cox has dubbed this the Year of Trust.  I’m focusing on relentless gratitude, and there’s a definite cross-over. Gratitude to God reinforces trust in God.

Here are some links I’ve found helpful:

Carolyn Watts’ posts at Hearing the Heartbeat often bless me.  Here she offers a simple reminder of what trust can look like.

At Something About the Joy, Ginny Jaques shares Four Things About God that Make Life So Much Easier.

At Dreaming Big, Heather Boersma encourages us to let our words affirm our dependence on God and speak life, not death. That sounds like trust to me.

At Promises for All Who Are In Christ, Natalie Gidney lists several promises from God that define who we are in Christ. Good to memorize for when the doubts fly.

And Janice Dick reminds us of God’s protective hold on us.


My friend Jan Cox has dubbed this the Year of Trust. I’m focusing on relentless gratitude, and there’s a definite cross-over. Gratitude to God reinforces trust in God.

Here are some links I’ve found helpful:

Carolyn Watts’ posts at Hearing the Heartbeat often bless me.  Here she offers a simple reminder of what trust can look like.

At Something About the Joy, Ginny Jaques shares Four Things About God that Make Life So Much Easier.

At Dreaming Big, Heather Boersma encourages us to let our words affirm our dependence on God and speak life, not death. That sounds like trust to me.

At Promises for All Who Are In Christ, Natalie Gidney lists several promises from God that define who we are in Christ. Good to memorize for when the doubts fly.

And Janice Dick reminds us of God’s protective hold on us.

Friday Friends: Ginny Jaques, author of Zinovy’s Journey

Ginny Jaques is a Canadian author whose debut novel, Zinovy’s Journey, released in October 2011. I first read the opening of an earlier draft of the story in an online contest put on by Marcher Lord Press. Readers were the judges, and the winner got published. I don’t remember who won, but I was disappointed when this story about a guy named Zinovy didn’t make it. I really liked the author’s style.

Janet: Welcome, Ginny, and thanks for taking time to join us. I don’t remember how we eventually connected, but I’m glad we did—and glad Zinovy’s full story is now available.

Ginny: I don’t remember when we first met either. It’s funny how you meet people in situations that you don’t know are going to be significant, so you don’t mark the date on your calendar! I know it was through the Marcher Lord Press contest Jeff sponsored in 2009.

Janet: Tell us a bit about Zinovy’s Journey.

Ginny: Zinovy’s Journey is a speculative novel about a Russian cosmonaut who is preparing to shuttle down to Cape Canaveral from an international space station when the earth below is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. He’s used to being in charge of his life, but now he’s caught in circumstances that are totally beyond his control. The book chronicles his journey toward acceptance of the truth that he cannot be his own god, and the realization that there’s Someone else, who’s been walking beside him all the time, who is much better qualified to fill that position in his life.

Janet: Where did the story idea come from?

Ginny: The idea came out of one of those “What if. . .?” questions that sometimes send writers off on interesting journeys. I thought, what if, when Jesus comes back to establish His kingdom on earth, there are people away from the world at the time? What would they see, from wherever they were? What would they do? The opening conflict, and the beginnings of a plot scheme developed naturally from that point on.

Janet: Was the Marcher Lord Press contest the manuscript’s first exposure?

Ginny: Yes, the MLP contest was Zinovy’s first exposure. I’d pitched the manuscript to a few editors before, but Jeff was the first one who really listened and expressed an interest in the idea. I had scheduled an appointment with him at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Denver, mainly to get advice about who else I might approach. He’d just introduced the MLP contest, and invited me to submit. It was the beginning of the boost I needed to go for publication.

Janet: You chose to self-publish Zinovy’s Journey, with skilled advisers at every step of the way. What sorts of things would have gone wrong if you’d tried it on your own?

Ginny: I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do this on my own. There were just too many things I didn’t know. I knew some things I’d need, like a book cover, and typesetting, but I had no idea where to begin looking for them. Jeff Gerke was encouraging about the manuscript from the start, and he kind of fell into the position of my self-publishing consultant. I’d e-mail him with questions and he’d send back the answers, along with encouragement to go ahead and try things myself. He was literally a God-send.

Janet: I think the biggest danger of self-publishing is not knowing what questions to ask. Well, second-biggest. The biggest is thinking one’s work is perfect as-is and deciding one doesn’t need an editor. You successfully avoided both. Having gone this route, do you expect to do the same with your next novel? There will be a next one, right?

Ginny: Yes, you’re right. If you know the questions, you can find the answers, but if you don’t even know the questions you’re stuck. But it’s gotten easier to self-publish knowledgeably, even since last year when I began this project. There’s so much information out there now.

As for the “perfect as-is” manuscript, it doesn’t take much probing to discover that your work isn’t perfect. If you can’t see it, there will always be people eager to show you!

And about a next novel, no, I don’t have plans. I’m still recovering from this one.

Janet: Recovering. I hear you. What got you started writing?

Ginny: Actually, it was this story that got me started. Unlike other authors, I’ve never had a driving ambition to be a writer. Writing is such hard work, and I’m not highly motivated to do hard work! I would never have done this if the story hadn’t just insisted that I tell it. I’m ashamed to say that, but it’s the truth.

Janet: Writing is definitely something where you have to be motivated or you’ll never get to the end of the first draft. Okay, I’m going to ask a question I personally hate answering. Feel free to pass. What’s the novel’s theme? Or what one key thing do you want readers to take away when they’re done?

Ginny: The theme. Hmm. There are several, but the central one probably has to do with personal freedom—the freedom God grants us to choose our own eternal destiny. We can’t control our circumstances, but I do believe we are in control of how we respond to them—how we allow ourselves to see God in them. I want readers to come away from the story realizing that they have the option of responding to God’s love, and that the choices they make regarding this opportunity are of eternal significance.

Janet: May they see the choice and choose carefully! I know the novel’s just released, but what has reader response been like so far?

Ginny: Reader response has been encouraging. Surprisingly so. I’m pleased that people of both genders and all ages have reacted positively to the book. Even people who are not religious appreciate the story, which pleases me even more. It’s a Christian story, bottom line, but non-Christians have always been my target audience.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Ginny: I’ve always loved the song, “Trust and Obey.” I think it totally sums up the way we should live our lives. It’s the way I’ve tried to walk on this writing journey, just taking one step of faith at a time. I don’t think there is any other way this book could have happened.

Janet: What do you like best about the writing life?

Ginny: Tee hee. See comments above, under what got me started! The thing I like best about the writing life is when the manuscript is done and I can quit. It’s kind of like banging your head against the wall. More positively, I suppose, it’s the sense of satisfaction you get from the finished product. And a chance to curl up with someone else’s good book instead of having to work on your own.

Janet: Ah. “It feels so good when you stop.” I get it. What do your family think of your writing?

Ginny: My family has always been supportive of my writing, but it’s been tough love. They are my most honest critics. It’s probably a good thing that none of them read the whole thing before it was published. I might still be revising! My husband has been very patient with the process, and he fed and clothed me while I wrote. I couldn’t have done it without him.

Janet: Writers are told to read widely and voraciously. I think that’s one of the perks of the deal. What are you reading these days?

Ginny: I read a variety of books. When I’m writing, I try to read authors whose writing styles I admire, because I tend to mimic the style of the writing I’m reading. But now that I’m through writing, I can play around a bit. I just finished Decision Points, George Bush’s autobiography. I wanted to get his perspective on his presidency and it was a great read. Right now I’m reading Helen of Troy, a historical novel written by Margaret George, a delightful writer I met at the Surrey International Writer’s Conference in October. I’ve got a stack of books by my bed and I’m working my way down.

Janet: What do you like to do to get away from it all?

Ginny: I love to go to places that are warm and sunny. We usually go to Los Angeles in the spring to visit relatives, and I soak up the sounds and sights and smells of California. I’m originally a California girl, so the nostalgia is an added bonus.

Janet: What’s the most surprising/fun/zany/scary thing you’ve ever done?

Ginny: I honestly never have done anything surprising/fun/zany or scary, other than self-publish this book. Unless you count spending 20 years as a high school substitute teacher. That might qualify. I’m actually a very boring person. I suppose it’s not very good marketing to say that. Zinovy is much more interesting than I am, though.

Janet: That’s probably true of most writers. We’re alive, but our characters are a bit larger than life. Who wants to read about “normal”? And as a writer, I think taking on the whole independent publishing thing is pretty scary. [Substitute teaching sounds downright terrifying to me. I remember some of my classmates!] I’m curious what prompted a female Canadian author to choose a Russian man as her protagonist. Zinovy’s story could be anyone’s story, from anywhere, and we’re so overloaded with North American protagonists. He makes a refreshing change.

Ginny: I chose a Russian male to be the main character in the novel because I wanted someone who had no Christian background. It intrigued me to think how strange the new world would seem to someone who had no concept of the Kingdom of God. I figured a Russian KGB assassin would be about as far away from that kingdom as anyone could get. I’ve also never really seen myself as a Canadian writer. I’ve lived half my life in the U.S. and half in Canada, so I have more of an international perspective. That worked well for this novel. I agree that Zinovy is really everyman/everywoman. We all are on a heroic journey, looking for God, whether we know it’s Him we’re hungry for or not, and that kind of journey isn’t restricted to national boundaries.

Janet: Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Ginny. May the LORD continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life. And may He use Zinovy’s Journey to get many readers thinking about their own life choices.

Ginny: God bless you too, Janet. You’re a gift, and I’m so glad God gave me your friendship.

Janet: Someday we will yet meet in person!


Zinovy's Journey cover art

When the world ends…
Zinovy’s journey begins.

To view the trailer for Zinovy’s Journey or to read a sample chapter, visit the Zinovy’s Journey website. And here’s a link to my review of Zinovy’s Journey.

To learn more about Ginny Jaques, visit her at Something About the Joy and Something About the Writing Journey.

Listening to God

I’ve been trying to be more intentional about listening to God, on the premise that He’s communicating a lot more than what I’m hearing: not necessarily detailed instructions or revelations, but gentle course corrections or quietly saying “I love you.”

Over at Something About the Joy, Ginny Jaques has some thought-provoking posts on the subject.

  • It’s Not About Sofas” particularly challenged me, with the idea that maybe what God has to say is something other than what I’m listening for—and what if I miss it?
  • An Amazing Truth” warmed my heart with the efforts God makes to remind us of His love.
  • And “A Whisper in the Wind” finishes the series with some thoughts on “But how does God speak? Is it always specific?”

At Free 2 Soar, Stephanie Nickel talks about the different ways God may speak in “Ears to Hear”.

In the busyness leading up to Christmas, may we hear God whisper, “Be still, and know that I am God.” And may we obey, to the renewal of our spirits and to the blessing of those around us.


I get excited every time I go on a spiritual retreat, because God always tells me something. The message is often a surprise, sometimes painful, and always requires work on my part.

But it’s so precious to experience personal communication with Him, to sense He knows and cares about my needs. He understands.

At previous retreats, there’s been one clear moment when my spirit “gets” what God wants to say. This time it came in hints and clues, pieces. A trail to follow. It started with my friend Mary Waind’s post at Beech Croft Tales, before I even zipped my suitcase.

As I mulled over this matter of releasing control, I realized when I refuse to let go I’m surrendering to fear. I’m still not in control, and instead of giving the situation over to the One who wants to give me His best, I’m actually letting the enemy, the one who wants me to be afraid, take over. (read the full post here)

I thought about Mary’s words all the way to the retreat. And should not have been surprised to discover this was one of the recurring themes of the weekend.

Control, and the need to quit grasping for it. The need to trust God, who really is in control and is quite capable, thank you very much. To take down the walls we put up that only block what God wants to release.

After an enlightening weekend, the theme’s next instalment came from Ginny Jaques’ Something About the Joy:

I want the peace that comes from knowing God is sovereign, even though I’m not in control. (read the full post here)

Then what should appear in my in-box but the current issue of Sheila Wray Gregoire’s Reality Check newsletter?

Sheila says most times we’re in full control-freak mode it’s because we’re afraid—and she challenges those in the fallout zone to “bridge the sanity gap” by understanding the root cause and by helping, instead of pulling away.  The article is meant to help husbands understand their wives, but it got me thinking.

I’ve been taking note of these nudges to quit trying to control the universe, and making some subtle progress. But I also need to cut some slack to the controllers around me. Not to start doing everything their way, but to stop, pray and wonder what’s really behind their actions. And to respond in light of that.

How can I respond in a way that doesn’t compromise me but doesn’t threaten the other person? Is it a minor enough issue for me that we can simply do it her way? Can I at least remember that in protecting herself she’s not personally attacking me?

There are plenty of times when we try to control out of fear—fear that we’ll lose something precious, that we’ll look stupid or be hurt.

God understands our weaknesses and our fears, and we can trust that no matter what, He will be there. He will be enough. We can encourage one another to let down those walls.

There are other control battles that come from our own selfishness, or from the belief that if we don’t do it ourselves, it won’t be done right…. He wants to pry our fingers loose from these walls too.

For me, control links with resisting, holding back, protecting self and trying to force others. It’s trying to be author, puppet-master and stage-manager. Quite the opposite of trusting God’s sovereign authority.

What I’m hearing is that the call is to trust. To remember God’s sovereign power, to go out through my self-built walls to where Jesus wants to use me.

The result is release.

Any more words to share on the subject?

Oh, and here’s a song that echoes the whole “letting go of control” idea: Olivia Newton-John‘s “Have You Never Been Mellow“.

Friday Findings

I did a guest post this week at Under the Cover of Prayer, called “Believing Prayer“.

And I’ve been musing about being quiet… still… refocusing priorities. About listening to God. Here are some inspiring posts that are shaping my thoughts:

  • From Ginny Jaques’ Something About the Joy blog: “Shift“.
  • From Belinda Burston at Whatever He Says: “Living Room“.
  • And a beautiful song by the group Selah, “Unredeemed“. Many thanks to Susan Stewart, also at Whatever He Says, for introducing me to it in her post, “Trust Him With the Pieces“.