As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25
As a teenager in high school, I never imagined how some of my Christian friends would continue to help me grow in my faith for decades to come. The story behind how one of my girlfriends has encouraged and stretched me may be of interest to some of you. At the very least, I pray it challenges and inspires you to be intentional about developing and maintaining Christ-centered relationships in your own life.
I went to high school in Southern Ontario. I have lived in Minnesota now for over 27 years. Three years ago I received an email from a high school girlfriend I had seen only a couple of times since graduating and then singing in her wedding. She told me she was going to be in town for a few days and wanted to get together. I was thrilled!
After a couple of mysterious emails back and forth, she admitted her reason for being in Minneapolis was because she was a finalist at a national Christian fiction writers conference. I had no idea she was writing fiction and she had no idea my husband and I were about to release our first book. And so began to unfold a new era in our relationship.
During the last three years, Sandra Orchard (her pen name), and I have been exchanging numerous emails. We have prayed about life, agents and publishers together. We have commiserated about writer’s block and the challenges of squeezing writing time into a mother’s day. We have strategized book-marketing ideas and pondered the pros and cons of blogging. The topics of our conversations have covered the gamut of life, work and ministry and always been saturated in a mutual sense that our relationship and work is a reflection of our love for Jesus and our passion to share Him with others.
When Larry and I appeared on 100 Huntley Street in Toronto, Sandra brought two of our precious high school classmates and all three grinned at us from the studio audience. Later that weekend, her church was one of those in the area that hosted us for a speaking event. Everyone should have a cheerleader, coach, friend and prayer partner like Sandra.
Sandra released her first novel last month and I wish I could tell the world to go buy it. (In some way, this blog post is my small contribution to that effort and a way to thank Sandra for being among my dearest and most long-standing friends.)
Deep Cover is only Sandra’s first novel. Her publisher has already purchased two more — with one scheduled for release next fall and the third some time after that. Such a commitment to a writer speaks volumes of their confidence in her talent and messages!
I read Deep Cover a few weeks ago and could hardly put it down. I’ve been restless to tell you about it ever since! This story is true to its label “Christian suspense romance.” Sandra does a fabulous job of developing characters and portraying realistic and creative adventures. I was impressed with how much “homework” she must have done in order to capture the essence of main character Rick Gray’s life as an undercover cop.
But what touched me the most was Sandra’s portrayal of Ginny, the heroine of the story. Ginny is the older sister of a young women with cognitive disabilities and the daughter of a recovering alcoholic. Ginny bears much responsibility as it relates to caring for her sister and she does so with great compassion, commitment and love for her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
It has hard for me to read about Ginny sometimes as I found myself projecting my own daughters into that role with their sister Carly. As Larry and I are feeling the ticking of life’s clock, our hearts ache at thoughts of how Carly will be cared for when we are gone. But I think they ache even more at the idea that two of our daughters will, in some way, share a heavy burden for most or all of their lives. Yet even as I watched Ginny function as caregiving sister with joy, I knew that Alex and Erin would also consider it a joy and privilege to be Carly’s sister despite the burden it will often be.
It is the mark of great storytelling when we can readily place ourselves in the spot of fictional characters and have that experience move us, shape us, and enlighten us. Deep Cover helped me think through some things I don’t ordinarily spend much time thinking about. More than that, it got me praying more about things that need to be taken to Jesus.
I’m so thankful Sandra’s book did that for me.
I hope you’ll look her up and buy her book. Deep Cover has a lot of important things to say to people in a variety of life circumstances. And besides that, it just plain entertaining reading! And who doesn’t need a great book to snuggle up with now and then?
Deep Cover will be a book you’ll want to take to the sofa next weekend and stuff into someone’s stocking this Christmas. Click here for a direct link to Sandra’s book at Amazon!