Perseverance: Keep Moving and Writing!


He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak … those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength … they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Is. 40:29-31 NIV)

My legs quiver as I step onto the sidewalk in front of my home. How can I launch out for a walk feeling so weak? I take a second step, determined to go forward with my plan to regain my health by exercising.

Obstacles. My motivation to exercise overpowers my temptation to stop. I gain strength in each additional step, as I begin my lesson in perseverance. But it will not be an easy journey. There are obstacles to overcome and goals to reach. Can I make it? 

Resistance. Exercise, like other worthwhile endeavors, demands strength and stamina. The first morning I attempt my new exercise program, everything within me resists it, like opposite poles of two magnets. I would rather do just about anything other than exercise. So, on my first day out, I let temptation win. I stay home, and I feel guilty the rest of the day.

Failures. By the next morning, my previous day’s failure serves as my primary motivating force. So, I lace up my walking shoes, purchased just for this occasion, and jog slowly out of my garage. My first goal has been accomplished. And the next thing I know, I’m crossing the street facing the next block.

Intimidation. Okay, this is going to be a breeze, I think. But by the time I turn the corner, another fear presents itself, as if to try to stop me in my tracks. An all-male construction crew building a house nearby alarms me because of the recent crimes in my neighborhood. I’m fearful of walking in front of them. But I hold my breath and walk on. I move this obstacle out of the way, as I change my route and proceed in another direction.

Distractions. As I walk uphill, I become short of breath. When I slow down to breathe, a gray squirrel catches my attention. He’s busy burying an acorn in my neighbor’s yard. I watch him as I walk by. When I look up, I’m already at the end of the street, about to turn the corner to complete another block.

Goals. I continue to accomplish small goals as I walk. In a short while, I’ve gone far enough, and I decide to return to my home. My mind is cleared by the fresh air, but my body is affected by the exercise.

When I arrive home, I’m exhausted, but surprisingly refreshed. As I sit down for a cool glass of water before I shower, I recall the distance I’ve covered. I feel good about myself, and I’m grateful that I resisted the temptation to quit.

Strength. I find strength as I face my weaknesses each day. In 2 Corinthians 12:8, Paul tells us that the Lord’s “power is made perfect in weakness.”

Writing. I’m forced to face my fears and weaknesses in many other areas of my life, especially my writing life. Writing for publication also demands strength and stamina. So, we can expect to face resistance, right? With each new project, goal, or idea, we’re reminded of some past failure, rejection, intimidation, or distraction.

Survival Tips. How do you endure setbacks in your writing life? I’ve learned a few survival tips on the walking trail and on my writing journey  And as I face my fears and take one step at a time by faith, I’m able to go the distance

And now, … one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received … Then the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:8-9 NLT)

Where have your faced resistance in your life? How did you overcome it?

YouTube/mrnmrsyounger (MercyMe – “Move”)

Voice Recognition

Photo/KarenJordan “… My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:26 MSG).

As I listen to the birds singing their songs every morning, I wish I could distinguish one bird from another. I identify the honking geese as they fly over the lake, and I hear the woodpecker as he raps for his meal. I can see the difference between a robin and a sparrow, but I can’t tell them apart by their voices.

My husband Dan can recognize the voices of several birds. He knows the robin’s sweet song, and he is familiar with the squawking blue jay. He can even point out the mimicking mockingbird. So, I’m trying to learn a few voice recognition tips from him.

I’ve also discovered a few tips for recognizing God’s Voice, since I struggle with the same issue in my spiritual life at times. Is this the voice of conviction or condemnation? Will I let faith lead me, or will I be confused and distracted by fear? Does this voice speak life or death to my heart? Does it give me direction or cause me to dwell on the impossible mistakes of the past?

1. Communicate with God. “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns” (Phil. 4:6).

First, I must remember to communicate with God. Sometimes I get so focused on the worrisome distractions around me that I forget the power of prayer and praise.

I’ve also learned that I can’t focus on many tasks at the same time. And if I try to multi-task, I don’t do anything well. So, I must find some way to silence all the voices around me, so I can hear God.

2. Examine God’s Word. Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me” (John 10:14).

What if you don’t think you can recognize God’s voice?

God’s Word promises, “(His) sheep recognize (His) voice. (He knows) them, and they follow (Him). (He gives) them real and eternal life … No one can steal them from out of (His) hand” (27-29).

Sometimes all I can do is hang on to God’s promises—even when everything around me doesn’t seem to agree with His Word. Often my circumstances cause me to panic, because I can’t see how something can work out. My logic and my emotions resist the truth that I see in God’s Word.

3. Allow God to Examine Your Heart. I don’t want to pray about that! What if you really don’t want to pray about something? That can be a big red flag that we might have a little attitude going on.

I can remember when my kids would avoid talking about something with me—like a report card or a visit to a friend’s house. I would eventually force the issue if they continued to be silent, because I knew my kids well. If they were quiet, something was up.

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong-then guide me on the road to eternal life. (Ps. 139:23-24).

Photo/KarenJordan4. Embrace the Power of Christ in You.      Sometimes I become distracted from God’s voice by the worries and stresses of my everyday writing life. Yet when I choose to focus on God’s Word—listening for His still, small voice—I find rest and peace for my troubled heart and mind.

… Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. (Rom. 8:1-2 MSG).

Many times my prayer is for God to just show up. And at times, He shows up in the strangest places—like this morning, as I listen to the chorus of birds singing again. I realize that I still can’t tell one species from another. But in my spirit I know that I’m listening to a symphony of praise to our Creator.

“Let every living, breathing creature praise GOD! Hallelujah!” (Ps. 150:6).

What distracts you from hearing God’s Voice?

A New Year’s Revelation


“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help … Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought” (James 1:5-6 MSG).

“You know what killed that squirrel?” my husband Dan mused as we drove through our Arkansas neighborhood.

Duh, I thought, a car ran over him.

“Indecision,” he explained.

Dan always seems to think in black or white terms, no grey areas. “If you don’t like carrots, don’t eat them. If you hate working as a secretary, find another job.”

“Indecision?” I exclaimed. “Wait a minute! Are you comparing me to that squirrel?”

Dan and I are living proof that opposites attract in relationships, especially marriage. But after 41 years of marriage, I think I’m finally learning a few decisive tricks from my husband—like how to organize my office and how to follow through on my dreams.

Confusion. For example, every year I make several New Year’s resolutions. But I’m usually like my friend, the squirrel—before he became road kill. My mind darts around as doubts and fears plague me. Is this plan even possible? What about my failure to follow through on all those other resolutions? Will this just be another waste of my time and resources?

Matthew 6:27 asks, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Could my worry and indecision close the doors to many of my dreams and my plans?

Revelation. Jeremiah 29:11 promises, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” (NIV).

Can I discover God’s plans for my life as I seek Him in prayer? Could it be that simple?

God’s Word says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).

Resolution. What have I resolved for 2013? Well, I’ve decided to not worry about making another New Year’s resolution. In fact, I’m still not sure about some of those projects that I’ve been dodging. And I know that I can’t do anything about my failures in the past.

But I am certain of one thing–if I seek God’s Kingdom above all else, He promises to give me everything I need (Matt. 6:33).

Have you made a firm decision to do or not to do something this year? 

The Power of One Word

“… Words are powerful; take them seriously …” (Matt. 12:36 MSG).

I noticed a small typo within a comment that I had posted on a friend’s blog. Instead of the word “power,” I had typed “poser.”

A minor mistake? Not for a writer! And especially not in this case!

My tiny error distorted the entire significance of this scripture: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7 NIV).

One word shifted my focus and the potential attention of my readers. All I could see was my mistake. I lost sight of the message and power of God’s Word. And my readers may have missed the entire point of my comment.

How many times do we let one word spoil things for us? We speak a single word of profanity in the heat of an argument. Or we whisper a little white lie as we try to cover up a mistake. We often regret the unexpected consequences that result from our words. One negative comment or careless thought voiced in frustration or anger can blind us from seeing God’s blessings in a situation.

As a writer, I cringe when I discover one insignificant word choice that turns a powerful point into a grammatical disaster. And I wince when I read an offensive term that will repel an audience of would-be readers.

As a writing instructor, I notice many writers resisting the editing process. They focus on the goal of finishing their writing task, instead of fine-tuning their grammar and mechanics. They get offended if anyone calls attention to one tiny mistake or unclear point, or someone suggests meaningful change. Then, they get angry or depressed when they receive a lower grade for their work, or the piece is rejected for publication.

As a Christian, I’ve also experienced the power of God’s Word. One word of encouragement can pull me out of the deepest pit of despair. A single promise from God’s Word can offer hope to me, when my circumstances seem overwhelming. My simple confession of faith can produce peace in my heart and mind “which exceeds anything (I) can understand.” (Phil. 4:7 NLT).

So, does one word matter? God’s Word answers this question. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).


Have you experienced the power of one word?

Facing a Fickle Crowd?

When Jesus finished telling these stories, he left there, returned to his hometown, and gave a lecture in the meetinghouse. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise, get such ability?” But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “We’ve known him since he was a kid; he’s the carpenter’s son. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers James and Joseph, Simon and Judas. All his sisters live here. Who does he think he is?” They got their noses all out of joint.

But Jesus said, “A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family.” He didn’t do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference. (Matt. 13:53-58 MSG)

Do you ever want to run and hide from criticism or rejection? If you’ve ever spoken to a crowd, taught a small group, written for publication, or communicated your faith in any way, you may have faced a fickle crowd. And you might identify with this story from Matthew 13.

I noticed a few helpful truths in this passage.

  • Jesus used stories to communicate.
  • People praised Him at times.
  • People also criticized Him.
  • Jesus stayed in tune with His audience.
  • Jesus moved on, when criticized.

Facing criticism and rejection. Reading the account of how Jesus handled this crowd reminds me of an event from my past.  

When my close friend, Sara, invited me to her Sunday School class, I hesitated, uncertain if I would fit in. But since her friend, Glenda, taught the class, I agreed to visit.

Hoping I found the right place, I slipped in the door and scanned the room for a familiar face. No one seemed to notice that I had entered. I found a seat close to the door, in case I needed to make a quick exit. I fiddled with my purse, hoping my insecurity would not be obvious.

I got up the nerve to survey the room again, and my eyes met Glenda’s cold stare. I looked back down at my purse, pretending to search for something, as I questioned myself. Am I in the right place? Is this a closed group? Have I done something to offend her? Maybe I’m reading her wrong.

As I fought the urge to escape, I gripped the edge of the cold, metal seat and leaned forward just as Sara walked in the door. Her warm smile calmed my nerves. And as she sat down in the empty chair next to me, I found the courage to stay.

Pleasing people? After several painful interactions with Glenda over the next few months, I listened to some sound advice from my husband Dan: “Some people just aren’t going to like you.”

What seemed to be common sense to Dan, took me by surprise. Up to that time, I believed that I could always find some way to make people like me. I had been successful at pleasing people most of my life—until I met Glenda. She decided that she wasn’t going to like me. Why? Who knows? I could do nothing, but forgive her and move on.

Facing a new year. I realize that I will always face fickle crowds. And I am still tempted to try to make them like me. But the Bible assures me of God’s unconditional love.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

I also hope to remember the example that Jesus gives us in Matthew 13 the next time I face a fickle crowd. So, as I prepare to meet the challenges of a new year, I plan to …

  • Continue to tell the stories that matter most.
  • Offer thanks for the praise I receive.
  • Ask for God’s help to deal with criticism.
  • Stay in tune with my audiences.
  • Move on, when criticized.

 What helps you, when you face a fickle audience? 

It’s A Christmas Parade!

As our treat to our wonderful WaterCooler Readers, we thought we’d do another blog parade. Each of our authors below is blogging about their Writer’s Wish List. Hmm . . . I know I’m intrigued to see what’s on these lists. Funny? Quirky? Serious?

I don’t know . . . you’ll have to click on the links to find out!

1. Lucille Zimmerman
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2. Janalyn Voigt
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3. Kimberly Vargas
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4. Cheryl Ricker
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5. Jordyn Redwood
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6. Melissa K. Norris
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7. Gillian Marchenko
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8. Dr. Rita Hancock
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9. Karen Jordan
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10. Kelli Gotthardt
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11: Jan Dunlap
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12: Cindy Dagnan
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13: Anita Brooks
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Merry Christmas!!

A Lesson from Nature: First, Do No Harm

Just ask the animals, and they will teach you.
Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.
Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you.
Let the fish in the sea speak to you.
(Job 12:7-8 NLT)

Observing the wild animals near my home in central Arkansas this past summer reminded me how powerful maternal instincts can be in animals and in humans. And as I watched a doe with her fawn in my backyard, I shot  several awesome pictures.

I also spent several days with my daughter when she faced emergency surgery. As she recovered, I helped her care for her four small children.

First, do no harm. As a writing instructor, I’m often reminded of the Latin phrase Primum non nocere, which means “First, do no harm.” I’m well aware of the risk that my intervention might do more harm than good to the writer and to her work, as I wield my red pen. I also see the value of this truth in other areas of life.

… Have you watched as deer are born in the wild? Do you know how many months they carry their young? Are you aware of the time of their delivery? They crouch down to give birth to their young and deliver their offspring. Their young grow up in the open fields, then leave home and never return. (Job 39:1-4)

I captured a video of a doe hovering over her fawn in my backyard. But I watched from a distance to avoid disturbing their peace. During the hottest part of a summer day, the doe nudged her fawn along the property boundary of my backyard.

I peeked out the window several times that day, and I noticed the ears of the fawn twitching under the brush. I didn’t realize until later that evening that the doe was just a few feet away out of my view behind a tree, watching over her spotted little one.

What did I do to help this doe protect her fawn? Nothing. Any movement toward her would have been perceived as a threat by the fawn and her mother.

As I tiptoed out on my deck later that day to capture this scene on my camera again, the doe did not run away. She turned her head toward me with her ears perked up and tail twitching. She stomped one hoof and snorted to see if I would move. But while she was watching me, she kept a watchful eye on her fawn. And the fawn stayed close to her mother, watching her body language for direction.

Watch my words.
 I understand that my presence disturbs the peace of a doe with her fawn. But often, I’m not aware of my unwelcome intervention, even with my own family. I may believe my helpful advice is needed and even expected. But sometimes my unsolicited verbal support may do more harm than good.

As I related my observations of nature to my own life experiences, I recalled the many times that my own mother gave me unsolicited help or advice. Most of our conflicts came as we faced our unreasonable expectations of each other, our undefined boundaries, or our personal limitations.

Will I ever learn this lesson and stop reacting with my emotions when I see a need with my own adult children? I hope so. But often it takes a crisis to get my attention.

How many of us does it take to put together a toy basketball goal?

Reap a harvest of blessing. As I celebrate this season, I’m grateful for the beautiful examples of God’s creation all around me—the landscape, sunrises and sunsets, and even the wild animals. But I’m most thankful that God continues to reveal the truths I need, so my words and actions can be a blessing, instead of a curse, to my family.

Observing my children and the lessons in nature around me, I’m reminded once again that sometimes it may be best to choose not to do something, or do nothing at all, than to risk causing more harm with my actions or words.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Gal. 6:9).

Have you ever chosen to do (or say) nothing at all, rather than cause harm by doing (or saying) something?


Finding Rest in a Storm

For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. (Psalm 32:7 NLT)

As the autumn winds whispered through our oak trees, dropping the leaves across our yard, my husband Dan mentioned that we probably wouldn’t see any squirrels playing in the trees that day. “In fact, if the wind is blowing when you want to go squirrel hunting in our area, you might as well stay home,” he said. “A squirrel will not move far from his nest on windy days, so you’ll have a hard time bagging any.”

Squirrels. A squirrel knows when he needs to be still and rest—not because he’s tired, but because that is when he is most vulnerable to predators. When the wind is blowing, a squirrel can’t hear the other sounds around him—his instincts are blurred by the wind-tossed branches and leaves rustling.

Dan said the same rule applies to deer hunting in our part of the state. Deer tend to not move around much when they cannot use their God-given senses to protect them from predators.

Storms. I continue to learn spiritual lessons like this one from nature. When a storm is blowing all around me, I need to be still and wait. It can be dangerous to sail into a storm.

I’ve lived in Texas and Arkansas all my life, and we’ve survived many storms—tornados and hurricanes. It’s difficult to prepare for any kind of storm. I’ve run away from hurricanes, and I’ve hidden in our “safe place” during a tornado. But I’ve learned that I can’t stop storms from coming my way.

Shelter. How can I apply this truth to my writing life? I hope to remember this truth the next time that I face serious setbacksparalyzing problemschaotic confusion, or even aggravating attitudes. I can’t stop them. But I can choose to find a safe hiding place.

Learning to find a place of rest in the storms of life isn’t always easy. I’m tempted to keep trying to protect myself. But once again, God reminds me that He is my true refuge during the storms of life. And I’ve found His Shelter to be a great place to rest.

Where do you find shelter on a stormy day?

Writing Life Survivor Tips

Photo/KarenJordanHow do you endure setbacks in your writing life? If you’ve embraced writing for publication, you’ve probably faced discouraging obstacles in your journey.

I’ve also faced a few stumbling blocks in other areas of my life, such as my health. After every health or family crisis, I struggle to get back on track with my exercising and walking program.

I discovered my desperate need for exercise after a minor foot injury last summer. As I climbed the very first hill on an asphalt trail near my home, my heart raced. I resisted the temptation to sit down at first. And by the time I made it to the top of that hill, I felt like I’d been walking over an hour. As I plodded on, in pain, the trail leveled. But I continued to struggle with each new hill.

Since I carried my camera, I paused several times to capture an interesting shot along the way. I only intended to walk for about 30 minutes. But when I checked the time, I discovered an hour had passed.

I learned some things about myself on the walking trail that apply to the other areas of my life, including my writing life.

  1. Recognize limitations and needs. I must allow myself the freedom to take breaks when I need them. I can cause more damage if I don’t stay off my feet with a foot injury. And in the waiting rooms of life, rest often provides what I really need the most.
  2. Keep going. Don’t quit when the journey gets tough. I need to remind myself of that truth, when the walking trail or the pace of my writing efforts becomes difficult.
  3. Set goals. It helps to have daily goals, even if I miss the mark or go beyond my goal at the end of the day or the project. When I planned to walk 30 minutes, I discovered that I could endure for an hour walk. If I forget to set some measurable goals in my writing life, I fail to recognize my progress.
  4. Enjoy the journey. When I walk, taking my camera along to capture a few of the scenes helps me enjoy the sights along the way and forget about the effort it takes to go the distance. In my writing life, connecting with other writers brings new friendships, insights, opportunities, and encouragement. Plus, choosing my topics and commitments carefully engages my creativity and serves as a motivating force when the writing process becomes overwhelming or difficult.
  5. Reward yourself along the way. The benefits from my walks and my writing life enhance other parts of my life. Of course, as my health improves, other areas of my life benefit, too. Also, my new photography interest contributes to our family albums, and my nature shots add some great content for my blog posts. My writing successes also increase my self-confidence and encourage me to keep going when the journey makes me weary.

What helps you survive your writing life when the journey gets difficult?

Writing Life: Taking Time Out

A high-altitude tyre blowout and series of unf...
Photo credit: Motographer

When you have a flat tire, you must stop long enough to change it. (Dan Jordan)

When life sends us a “flat tire,” it forces us to take the time to stop and deal with it. If we don’t, it might destroy the tire and the rim. Then, we will have an even bigger problem.

Flat tires. The “flat tires” of life are different for each person. You may discover another problem with your car, like a strange knock in your car’s engine. Or you might find a virus on your computer. But you’d better not ignore them.

My husband manages a lot of the business problems at work. And when people get computer viruses, they often tell him that they don’t have time to deal with them. But he usually goes straight to the root of their problem. He reminds them that if they don’t stop and take care of the virus issue, eventually it will corrupt their work and shut their computer down.

Health.  It’s hard to just stop what you’re doing at times, right? Even if you experience a health issue, like chest pains, a back injury, the flu, or an allergic reaction to something? In fact, I almost killed my husband with my guacamole once—he had an allergic reaction to some overripe avocados. So, we both had to stop in the middle of our dinner to deal with his unexpected breathing problem.

I’ve learned that I can’t ignore symptoms of health problems, especially as I’m getting older. But even if you have a newborn infant, you can’t ignore some symptoms. My youngest grandson experienced a bout with the RSV virus. I’m so grateful that his mom didn’t ignore his first symptoms—he might not have survived without her intervention.

Spiritual. You can apply the same truth to a spiritual problem. Sometimes, I refuse to stop and seek God for guidance. But God’s Word encourages us, “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God … above everything” (Psalm 46:10 MSG).

Work. So, when I complained about some work-related problems to my husband recently, he just repeated his “famous” statement to me. “Karen, when you have a flat tire, you must stop long enough to change it.”

Honestly, I had ignored Dan’s advice earlier, and my “flat tire” had put me out of commission for awhile in my work. And for me as a writer, that meant totally laying down my work and seeking God for new direction. But I still struggled with the decision, since I knew that I couldn’t explain my decision to everyone. “What would people think? I’ve made all these commitments!”

Then, I remembered a promised from God’s Word:  “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met” (Matthew 6:33 TNIV).

I hope you remember to stop and check out the “leaky tires” in your life. Don’t wait, like I did, until you’re stranded in the middle of a busy highway, without a car jack or any help in sight.


Do you see a problem that you need to take care of today?