Tag Archives: perseverance

Tenacity: 5 links and a photo

It seems I’m not the only one thinking about tenacity lately (Wednesday’s post was The Tenacity of God). Here are five links worth following:

Mary Waind writes “If a tiny creature refuses to give up when he’s all but done for, Father, help me to seize the thing that’s come against me and fight in faith.” (Beech Croft Tales: Never Give Up)

Author Dan Walsh describes how we gain strength in the “wonderful exchange that happens whenever God’s children turn to Him in times of trouble, instead of turning to other things.” (Dan Walsh Books: The God Who is There)

Reba J. Hoffman reminds us that “Sometimes I won’t see His plan but when I can’t see His hand, I can trust His heart.”  (Magellan Life Coaching:  When You Can’t See His Hand, Trust His Heart)

Jenny Svetec looks at some of the hardships we face and gives us this encouragement: “Cheer Up, Jesus says.  I have overcome and so will you.” ( Jael’s Peg: Look Again)

And Marcia Lee Laycock shares some ideas to strengthen the perseverance of those of us who write. (Writer-lee: Of Muse Jars and Other Essential Things)

Freshwater turtle on a log

What better example of tenacity than a turtle?

The Tenacity of God

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
Jeremiah 31:3, NLT*

When I named this blog “Tenacity” I was thinking from my own perspective as a Christian, a human and a writer: so much of what we do is what Eugene Peterson calls “a long obedience in the same direction.”

It can be a slog, but something drives us to keep on, to refuse to quit. If we don’t do our part, who will?

We need tenacity in our faith, to keep believing and obeying in the dry times. To keep applying the lessons God teaches until we finally “get” them—or at least “get” one step and graduate to the next.

We need it in our relationships, in our responsibilities, our jobs.

Writers and other artists may need an extra helping of tenacity because so much of what we create is in our heads, and it battles with a slew of fears and inhibitions just to get out. Then we painstakingly shape it to the best of our abilities, learn more and reshape it again, until it’s ready to release. And then… we need to find a way to share it with the readers/ viewers/ listeners whose hearts we hope to touch.

Most of what I write, fiction and non-fiction, grows from a reliance on God’s character, His strength and His love. His desire to draw all people into relationship with Himself, no matter how much we resist and try to go our own way.

He can be trusted. His love doesn’t get tired of reaching for the wayward and the stubborn. The Bible warns that there will be a day when His invitation ends, but there’s still a bit of time.

God calls His people to be holy, because He is holy. Compassionate, because He is compassionate. Patient, kind, loving, merciful, just … because those attributes reflect His character.

Tenacity? It’s all about God, after all.

God of the highest heavens, who stoops to dwell in human hearts, You keep Your promises, You are patient beyond belief, You work to bring Your plans to fulfillment despite the knots we tie. Help us to be a people of tenacity because You are a God of tenacity. Draw us to Yourself, help us hold onto You as You hold us in the shelter of Your strong hand. And help us live confident in your everlasting love.

Matt Redman’s song, “Never Once,” declares the tenacity of our faithful God.

*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.

Perseverance: 6 Links and a Silly Song

Usually when responsibilities pile up and I feel overwhelmed, I burst into a plaintive quote from Dr. Seuss:

This mess is so big and so deep and so tall, I cannot clean it up, there is no way at all! (from The Cat in the Hat)

Last Saturday morning a couple of large household projects were weighing on my mind, and I tried to cheer myself up by turning it into a song:

MeSumo

Sumo, on my shoulders: I’m not happy.
Sumo, on my shoulders, makes me frown.
Sumo, on my shoulders, is so heavy,
Sumo, almost always, brings me down.

Sumo on my shouldersWith many apologies to the memory of John Denver, you can sing these words to the tune of “Sunshine on My Shoulder”. Indeed, that’s a much better song to sing, so go ahead. And no, I’m not embarking on a new career as an artist or a lyricist.

It’s true, though: things pile up in our minds and they do bring us down. And that’s not the way God wants us to live. I’ve been struggling with this lately, trying to be more faithful in my responsibilities without burning myself out. “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13, NLT*)” but I need to focus on one thing at a time and do that thing in His strength instead of on my own.

Sumo on my shoulders1

I believe God gives us enough hours in the day to do the things He intends us to do in that day. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that, to talk that Sumo off my shoulders. Lately I’ve found a lot of freedom in the Bible’s promise of wisdom for those who ask (see James 1:5 and my post “Is Your Loyalty Divided?“). God, I need wisdom to see what to do when, and to not think about the other stuff.

Here are six links I’ve found in the past few days that are helping me learn the lesson even better:

*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.

[Linking with Janis Cox’s Wednesday’s Word: Perseverance]

Friday Friends: Author Sandra Orchard

Sandra Orchard is a Canadian author whose debut novel, Deep Cover, releases in early September from Love Inspired Suspense.

Janet: Welcome, Sandra, and thanks for taking time to join us. Was it only last year you were a finalist in American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis contest for unpublished novels?

Sandra: That was actually in 2008. It led to a number of requests by editors, but no sale. 

Janet: It’s a pretty prestigious contest. Well done! And congratulations on your first novel! Tell us a bit about Deep Cover.

Sandra: Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Sweet Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick–he never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he’s back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny’s uncle. The man’s crimes led to Rick’s partner’s death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is in the middle of it. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment…and risking both their lives?

Janet: Where did the story idea come from?

Sandra: I wanted to explore the complexities of trying to make a relationship work while living a dual life, compounded by the dangers the undercover life poses to real relationships, as well as to explore the question: Is it possible to be a man of honour and live a life of lies? The Bible says, do not lie. Undercover cops play a vital role in bringing criminals to justice yet they’re faced with the need to lie day in and day out. How does a believer reconcile the two? The original title for the story was Shades of Gray, because Ginny is a black and white kind of person, while Rick lives in shades of gray. But if he’s going to win the girl, he has to realize that there’s no room for shades of gray in his heart.

Janet: The cover’s very attractive—looks like an ocean shoreline. What’s the setting?

Sandra: The series takes place in a fictional town called Miller’s Bay on the shores of Lake Erie in the heart of the Niagara Region of Ontario Canada. The view of the lake is used a number of times in the story to deepen the emotions of the characters. I love the mix of ominous looking clouds and rough waters, with rays of light reaching down. And if you look closely, you’ll see a dove. The dove is a recurring symbol in the book of God watching over them.

Janet: I see the dove now, and I’ll be watching for it when I read Deep Cover. The next title in your Undercover Cops series is Shades of Truth, due out in March 2012. Are you already hard at work on that?

Sandra: I handed in revisions on that manuscript June 1st and am now hard at work on revisions to the third book in the series. That one’s tentatively called Dose of Deception, and it will release later in 2012.

Janet: Good, more books to come…. The Novels page on your website gives sneak peeks at your upcoming Undercover Cops novels, but it also lists two unpublished manuscripts: Escape to Terror won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier (unpublished) award, and Murder by Marigolds which is looking for a publisher. They’re all intriguing, and I hope we’ll get the chance to read them some day.

I’m impressed by the endorsements you’ve received from respected writers in the Christian fiction field. What’s the path to publication been like for you?

Sandra: Writing is an emotional rollercoaster ride, from the thrills of editor requests and contest wins to the disappointment of rejections and criticisms from readers. But God always gave me just enough encouragement to persevere. I have met so many wonderful people, made dear friends, learned tons about writing, people, and life. While in the throes of wondering if I’d ever sell a manuscript, I longed for validation for the tremendous time and effort I was pouring into my novels. But I am so glad that God made me wait for that first coveted contract. I still have much to learn, but I am far better equipped to meet the challenges of writing to a deadline now than I would’ve been if I’d sold my first manuscript.

Janet: That encourages me as I continue waiting for a publisher. God’s timing is everything, and there’s definitely lots to learn. Back to Deep Cover, what do you want readers to take away when they’ve finished the book?

Sandra: Everyone is in a different place physically, emotionally and spiritually and what each of us get from any book we read will be as different as we each are. What drew me to inspirational fiction was the hope I felt in seeing characters grapple with a lot of the same kind of issues I was facing in my life and experience victory. Some stories cause me to rethink how I look at things, or give me hope that circumstances will improve, and some prompt me to make changes in my life, while some are simply a few hours of pleasant escape. I would be thrilled to know that in some small way my readers are touched by the experiences of Rick and Ginny.

Janet: Are you a writer who likes to immerse herself in details of the setting while incubating the story idea?

Sandra: Setting is one of the most difficult things for me to write so I probably don’t do this enough. But I did go sit by the lake to watch and listen and inhale the scents, while brainstorming metaphors that related the setting to the characters emotions. Restaurants are another great place where I find myself absorbing story ideas. People do a lot of quirky things in restaurants. <grin>

Janet: In your research, what’s the weirdest bit of trivia you’ve picked up?

Sandra: I’m not sure it qualifies as weird, but while doing research for my murder mysteries I discovered a lot of cool ways to kill people that are difficult to trace. Hee, hee, hee.

Janet: I’ll try to stay on your good side! Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Sandra: Hebrews 10:35-36 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Janet: Definitely a good verse for perseverance! What do you like best about the writing life?

Sandra: I don’t have to drive to work.

Janet: What do you like least?

Sandra: The criticisms.

Janet: What do your family think of your writing?

Sandra: They are incredibly supportive. My youngest daughter (18) is a writer, too, already published in magazine articles and short stories. She’s a wonderful critiquer. My eldest daughter helps me with my website. And my son and hubby don’t complain about the dust bunnies or late dinners when I get caught up writing a scene. In fact, when my hubby is home during the day, he’ll always make me lunch, and when I’m really caught up in writing, he’ll offer to order a pizza for supper. <grin>

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?

Sandra: I got a Kindle last year for Christmas and I love to read books on it. At 44 my eyes aren’t reading the small print in books as well as they used to. Every week I download the latest “free” offerings that appeal to me so I’ve found myself reading a much wider variety of novels than I used to. I do love the fast pace of Love Inspired Suspense, and am thoroughly enjoying the historical line. Generally, I like to read novels that have a little more going on than just a straight romance.

Janet: What are you listening to?

Sandra: I can’t write with music playing in the background so I don’t listen to much. The one exception is a Robert Alexander CD I picked up called Happiness. It has easy-to-listen-to piano solos that I don’t associate with any lyrics so they don’t distract me. I find them very soothing.

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

Sandra: I love to go to the lake. There’s something about the smell of the air and the sound of the waves lapping on the shore that soothes the soul.

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

Sandra: At university, my roommate and I snuck into the room of one of the men in the same dorm as my now-husband and magic-markered tops on a poster he had on the wall of women riding bikes topless. He was so not impressed!

Janet: Not “deep cover” but cover of a sort! Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Sandra. May the LORD continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.

===

I caught up with Sandra for a chat at Write! Canada this June. Thank you to Ray Wiseman for taking our photo. Stop by Sandra Orchard’s website to learn more about the author. You can also find Sandra at her blog, Conversations About Characters, or on Facebook.

We Can’t Do It On Our Own

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1;2-3, NIV*

This is faith making a difference, and it’s something each Christian needs to have in his or her own life. As Paul goes on to say, it’s not something we do in our own strength: we need to receive the gospel “with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (1 Thess. 1:5a, NIV)

It’s God in us who makes the difference.

Although individuals need to have a personal and vibrant relationship with God, Paul is speaking here to a group of believers operating as a whole—functioning as the body of Christ.

Could Paul write these words to churches today? Certainly to some, but not to all. Praise God for those congregations where His power and love are on display. And rather than judging or criticizing those where not much activity is visible to our eyes (which aren’t all-seeing!) let’s pray for growth and empowerment.

Father, I pray for Your global church and its individual congregations, that Your gospel would truly come with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. Revive us where needed, forgive where needed, and teach us how to live in unity. Grant us faith in You to produce work, love for You and for others to prompt our labour, and hope in Jesus to inspire our endurance.

Canadian singer-songwriter Brian Doerksen articulates our need in his song, “Hear Us Call”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

All I Have to Give

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41-44, NIV*

This verse has been with me all week, and I love how Jesus sees the heart and understands the whole story. I’m sure anyone else watching this lady drop in her two coins made two assumptions: 1 – two tiny coins have no value, and 2 – this was all the extra she had to give.

Not so. Jesus said she gave everything she had to live on. And He said it was of great value. That means the attitude behind it was pure. We don’t know what she was thinking, but it obviously wasn’t “let me throw away these worthless bits of metal and go home to die alone.”

Somehow, she was trusting God to meet her needs, and she was loving Him enough to offer all she had. She knew it had no external value, but God could use it if she simply gave.

Today is a low-energy day for me. Not a down day, just let me crawl back to bed. I have nothing to offer, at least nothing that looks to have any value. But I’m inspired by this poor widow who also had nothing to give.

On an alert, energetic day, do I really have much to offer the King of the Universe? Perhaps today it’s just more obvious.

Father God, nothing we can give would enrich or assist You in its own right, but Your grace invites us to offer ourselves with persistent, persevering, patient trust… and with willing hearts. Thank You for giving us value and purpose. Please take our offerings, feeble though they may be, and use them—use us—for Your kingdom. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Our song this week is by David Crowder, sung here by Passion: “You Alone.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Joy in Trial

Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4, NIV*

I’ve read these verses over the years and always thought the “pure joy” at trials was for a level of spirituality I hadn’t yet reached. The Apostle James could do it, and probably folks like Billy Graham and Mother Theresa, but not me, not yet. Then I noticed something new: there’s no period after “trials of many kinds” – there’s a comma, an explanation.

James isn’t saying “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials.” He calls us to consider it joy because behind the trial is a test of faith. And it isn’t the pass/fail kind of test to disqualify us. It’s the kind of test that proves our faith is real and strong. It’s the kind of test that will strengthen and develop us.

So… we can consider it pure joy to see that God is using the circumstances of our current trials to prove the strength of the faith He has given us, and to develop perseverance within us. He’s completing the work He begun in us, and in that we can be joyful.

Father, You are so good to us. Thank You that nothing comes to Your children without being filtered through Your fingers. Thank You that what the enemy of our souls means for harm, You can work to good. Please strengthen our faith, help us trust You, grow us in perseverance. Because of Jesus. Amen.

This week’s song is Michael Card‘s “Joy in the Journey.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.