I’m an introvert. Ever since my toddler days, I’ve experienced individuals who tend to make introverts feel as if they are weird, wrong, or incapable. My preschool teacher used to address her concern to my mother that I would sit contently in the corner and work puzzles rather than interact with other kids—the horror! Even today, at age 47, still enjoying puzzles, if I explain to somebody why crowds exhaust me and I prefer solitude to a gaggle, or a few close friends to a drove, I hear the same phrase, “Keep working on it, you’ll get there.” My reaction is often silent, yet in my head I ask, “Get where? I’m already here.” There is such a misconception about introversion, even more so today in this extremely extroverted culture. Introversion is not a social anxiety or disease that one needs to get over or improve. It’s a personality trait. Introverts and Extroverts perceive, address, and pursue things differently. We may have the same goals or desires; we just speak different languages. To confuse things, some linger in the middle between introvert and extrovert. If you don’t know for sure, it’s worth figuring out. Daily life could be so much easier with a little understanding.
In terms of Christianity and the modern church, there is even black and white disparity for how we are expected to love and have community with others. There is a reason why there are so many spiritual gifts tests available. Heed them! Because God didn’t wire us the same way, so we shouldn’t be expected to operate in the polar opposites capacity if we weren’t naturally equipped to function in that manner. I do believe there are times when God asks us to go beyond our natural realm. He gives us what we need when we need it to fulfill that particular commission. But I feel an ultimate purpose for our lives is to see clearly by walking in truth, grow in how He’s gifted us, reach out to others in our specified manner according to our divine gifts and/or skill sets. Extroverts, to my understanding, are good at verbally reaching out by lively conversation and engaging with others, while introverts might discreetly send a card, email, or touching song link to the individual on his/her mind.
God most often calls me to deep waters to pray and intercede, meditate, worship, and write. Another person might thrive leading a room full of energetic children or hosting an event. I wouldn’t expect to stick a people-person in a place of solitude for a great length of time and watch them flourish. They’d get through the situation, perhaps, but it would be somewhat of an affliction. I’ve learned this through my son who, though we are very close, is my polar opposite. He’s as much an extrovert as I am an introvert (an INFJ, to be specific) and I’ve learned a lot by watching him grow. So…the same goes for an introvert when asked to do something out of an ordinary characteristic for them, which I’ve also had more of than a healthy share.
There is beauty in the diversity of gifts, which seem to conjoin personality traits. We are various parts of a body meant to work together as one. Introversion is not a disease, it is not fatal, it’s a part of the body, and it has its specific, healthy place in life and in God’s kingdom.
Romans 12: 4-8
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
For the first time, I’d experienced a debilitating writer’s block. Part of the problem was that I had too many things going at once. Spread in different directions, digging into numerous genres and projects, I was suddenly staring at the computer, numb, with no flow, zero movement. It’s as if I’d lost focus and motivation.
Meanwhile, several acquaintances asked what my current work in progress was, so I shared about my writing block dilemma. A good friend put a question to me bluntly, said, "In terms of writing, Tessa, if you died today, what would you want to be remembered for?" And just like that I gave him my answer. He said, "Then stop wasting time and get to work."
That verbal smack in the face was exactly what I needed (thank you very much). A reminder, a single push sharpened my focus, renewed clarity of purpose and aim when time is valuable.
This honing perspective proves a good application if you’re struggling with any vocational motivation, really. Use it as a kick-start. If you died today, what would you want to be remembered for?
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”—Colossians 3:23
While working on my current novel today, the plot took an unexpected turn. Here, I thought I was in control. Yet when my fingers typed and the change suddenly occurred, I shouted, “Why did I do that?” Now I have to reconfigure the outcome. More details to sort through and write. I had presumed I was home free and nearing the finish line. Stories sometimes have minds of their own.
Heritage is rich and fascinating. Even so, for many, there are hiccups along the way in the lines of lineage, things that don’t add up. My ancestry is shadowy at best. Stories and details are as sundry seasons. Turns out what I have come to believe about my genealogy might not be exactly what I supposed. Even the regions of believed origin have discrepancies. I recently took a DNA-based test, hoping to find genetic clarity. Instead, the results made things more befuddled than ever, and I received a revelation I’m not sure how to absorb. Although not unwelcome, the surprise makes me wonder about the accuracy of such tests since it is fresh news to me.
As I sat musing on this topic the other day, the question trickled out of my mouth, “Who am I, really?” and the moment was unsettling. In the next instant, however, the words from Hebrews 13:8 swept over me like a soothing zephyr. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Conditions can change. Sometimes the truth is challenging either to find or to hold. I may not procure coinciding answers, even about my maternal and paternal grandparents whom I never knew. I may never have pinpoint explanations for which there are probably reasons. Yet the Lord is constant and unwavering in a faltering human life. He changes not. I take comfort in that.
Romantic and lyrical Christian fantasy novella, Sea God's Siren, has been updated to a new version and rereleased as a second edition. If you like mermaids and mermen, sea stories and love, dive into the magical deep for a sweet, clean romance with allegorical elements. Available now for your Kindle.
The last merman pledges his forbidden love to a blind mortal.
An accident left Syrena blind and only the sea god, Dagon, can bring her healing. But the cost of abiding in his aquatic prison in exchange for sight proves more than she bargained for.
Wouldn’t it be neat whenever we sense a need for renovation to do a flip? I’m not speaking in terms of real estate. Sometimes I think I’d like to trade any bad, static experiences in life for good, seeking a fresh perspective. A few words sweep into my mind for how to get there. “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Romans 12:2) and, “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” (Romans 8:28). The motivation of flipping negatives for positives rather than flipping out holds a more promising outcome, for sure. On the other hand, the ability to appreciate the good things is oft times amplified by having encountered the bad. Yin and yang, as many would say. #iamonlyhuman
Here it is, the last day of January, and ever since the beginning of the New Year, I’ve witnessed many people talk about wrapping 2017 around a single word. What one word will be your emblematic motto?
I’ve always had a Biblical verse as the theme for an oncoming twelve months, never a single word. After pondering, I finally deliberated that my word is Onward. I don’t have new plans for this year, per se, but I have pre-set plans that, unless the Good Lord deems otherwise, I intend to accomplish. So…onward I go. My word just happens to coincide with my verse for this year: “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3
To help inspire me, I’ve posted near my desk a recent drawing my son did. It’s a ten-second sketch, but speaks volumes of how he sees me. How I interpret, anyway. In the rough outline, I see most of all, diligence. Diligence is a part of my name…literally, my birth name means diligent harvester. And back in the day, a few I’d toured with didn’t call me “Tenacious Tessa” for nothing. All of this is a part of me still, and accompanies my present word for a 2017 focus, Onward.
Another word has snuck up, however; more like hammering me in the head everywhere I turn. That is, Meekness. It’s a word definition I seem drawn to, yet hear very little about in this day of narcissistic society. The world tends to interpret meekness as weakness or wimpy. Truth is it takes more strength to hold your tongue when you want to give a what-for, to exhibit kindness regardless of circumstance, and to portray leadership partnered with humility, a humble leader, putting others first. When I recently heard a sermon by Mark Hoffman/2RC on the topic of meekness, I learned a perfect definition for the word. Meekness is “Strength under control.” That is definitely something for which I wish to wrap not only my year but also my entire life around.
Okay, so maybe I have two words this year. To sum it up, I strongly desire to have a year of pressing onward with meekness. How about you? What might be your word?
One of my personal favorites in The Brother's Keep novella series, Wind's Aria, has been rereleased and offered at a lower price. So, if you have not yet read this story, grab yourself a copy. You won't be disappointed if you like romantic, lyrical, allegorical fantasy. This also happens to be novella #1, the launch in the 8-novella series - so, it's a good place to start. Here is a recap of the overview:
Elected as the Songstress, Aria takes her place on the sacred platform to sing before every dawn. As long as she does so, peace and abundant life belong to her people. One morning, amidst a strange wind that brings with it a curse in its eerie howl, Aria loses her ability to make music. But the encroaching death that transpires isn’t her biggest tragedy. It’s that she adores the cause of her blunder, for he’s a magnificent winged creature who’s stolen more than her voice.
Get your copy on:
As I grew up in a home that was both Jewish and Christian, observance of the winter holidays proved interesting to say the least. It wasn’t unusual in our house to have a Christmas tree with a Star of David at the top, or a Chanukah menorah alongside a manger scene. We made Chai cookies (that’s Chai, the Hebrew word-symbol meaning life pronounced like “Hi” – not the spiced tea) alongside gingerbread men. I cherish that world, my world, the one I grew up in, because of the beautiful memories, symbolism, and great offbeat humor shared among family.
Today, I still put up a tree and a Magen David; yard lights, although they are Biblical Blue (techelet) and white. We light the menorah. I sing my favorite carol, Little Drummer Boy, while playing a game or two of Dreidel because it teaches my kid about giving charitably – and hey, I also like eating chocolate gelt, just like I like eating candy canes.
I’ve always valued the expression “Happy Holidays” because with my background it’s inclusive of both Christmas and Chanukah. It strikes me as a very sensitive way to wish someone well during the winter. “Merry Christmas” is warm and meaningful, too. Yet when it comes to the once-a-year hyperdrive cavalry expression, “Jesus is the reason for the season. Take Christ out of Christmas and you don’t have a holiday!” I’d say every day; every breath we take is reason to esteem faith in the Son of God. Each day we live is cause to celebrate in whom and what we believe, but hopefully with increasing gentleness, humility, and grace.
As you do what you do this season, I simply and joyfully wish you, with warmth and respect, a Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas – or as we say in my crazy household, “Happy Christma-kah.”
Love in Yeshua (the Jewish way to say Jesus),
Want to let you all know that my contemporary romance set in Africa, Warm My Heart, is now also available on Kobo. Kobo primarily serves the Canadian and French markets, as well as its partnering countries. I’m excited to expand and offer my books, one at a time, into other venues (more to come, soon). Therefore, if you don’t utilize Amazon Worldwide for your book purchases, Kobo is another worthy option.
Here is a recap of this missionary romance, Warm My Heart (Hearts in Africa series #1):
SARAH finds herself heading into the bush of East Africa as a short-term missionary to the Maasai, a trip she initially took in an attempt to get over a broken engagement. Her trust in men forever marred, she is challenged when she serves under her team’s magnetic leader, Mitch.
MITCH finds a home in Africa, but is driven to serve God out of a guilt-ridden past. Hiding from wasted years spent carousing and chasing women, running from his weaknesses, he is stopped in his tracks when he meets the beautiful “Miss Sarah.”
Forced to serve together, they struggle through their crippling issues of trust and guilt. In the process, their faith is challenged. Together, in a harsh and often dangerous environment—including tribal skirmishes—they examine themselves, and learn that it takes more to survive than just a profession of faith. It takes the abandoned day-by-day trust in a living God. Sarah and Mitch become a sweet solace for each other and reach an understanding. They believe they belong together. But when the hindering issues of the past resurface stronger than ever, with a secret rising up to stand in their way, they find it difficult to carry on. Can they retain the power of love between them when they have so much to overcome?
*Also now on Barnes & Noble!