Persevering – in Grace

Even though the class was a disaster, I still regret quitting high school physics. I wish that I had hung in there with my little TI-30 calculator and all the boys who wore theirs in “denim-look” vinyl cases hanging off their belts or bulging from their shirt pockets — not because I suddenly care about the trajectory of a cannon ball fired at a forty-five degree angle.  It’s because I believe that I would be a different person today if I had persevered in the hard discipline and allowed the dreaded “B” (or less!) to sully my G.P.A.

Annie Downs knows what it’s like to look in the mirror and see a quitter.  By grace, she is also learning that to hang-in-there-in-hope is the path to joy.  Looking for Lovely is the record of her journey in joy’s direction, in which she explores the connection between suffering and transformation and the truth that beauty lives in the spaces that may look like “rain, confusion, hurt, and ugly.”

Looking for life’s loveliness may involve suffering.  Annie’s search felt, at times, like a training regimen in which she built strength and endurance, only to realize in the end that the muscle most in need of conditioning was “the one between her ears.”

Part of our search for hope is the process of learning to ask, and Annie reminds believers that the life of faith involves an awareness that God made us on purpose, and He has called us to a life of courage.  Whatever rope He calls us to climb, beauty will be “the knots in the rope” that keep us holding on.

It’s clear that Annie has spent some time pondering the past and all the changes she intends for the future resulting in a Spirit-fed resolve to mine her pain for every nugget of Romans 8:28 beauty:

“My capacity to see beauty has increased in a much bigger measure than the pain I felt.  My ability to feel the depths of something good was strengthened by my choice to feel the depths of pain.”

The Romans 5:5 hope that does not disappoint comes through embracing (glorying in!) the tribulations that produce perseverance.  Annie also reminds her readers that a pause is not the same as quitting.  In fact, the pause “can actually be part of the victory.”  She shares serial metaphors of her own paused-ponderings in which sushi rolls, nail polish, and Zumba classes all point believers toward healthy habits and grace-oriented priorities.  When we pause to look for the lovely that lives all around us, there is strength to be found in the reality that it is God who is at work behind the scenes, orchestrating the search and strengthening our hearts and minds for the journey.


This book was provided by B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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32 thoughts on “Persevering – in Grace”

  1. Persevering in the hard and being met with His grace — that’s what we lose when we give up too soon, God’s grace to help us finish strong. Thank you for the inspiration, Michele! : )


  2. Hi Michele,
    I read Annie’s first book but haven’t gotten to this one yet so I appreciated the words you’ve written to recommend it! And I can relate to your story about physics class in high school — I avoided all things math or science and sometimes wished I hadn’t!


  3. Such inspirational reminders to find that grace and hold onto hope. I’m with Susan Chamberalin Shipe…..sometimes I feel too old for her books. Maybe I’ll give one a try!


  4. Oh my, Annie is such a sweetheart. She was kind to me (from a distance) several years ago and her one simple act continues to bless me…

    I loved the sentence:
    “When we pause to look for the lovely that lives all around us, there is strength to be found in the reality that it is God who is at work behind the scenes, orchestrating the search and strengthening our hearts and minds for the journey.” YES and hallelujah!


  5. Sounds like a great book. I especially liked “When we pause to look for the lovely that lives all around us, there is strength to be found…” This is so true. Thank you for sharing.


  6. I downloaded but have not yet read…gifted to my 25 years old daughter though and she has been energized by it. Great review…I’m even more excited to get busy reading now


  7. I enjoyed this review because this book is already on my “to read” list for the summer. It was also with joy that I read the paragraph sharing Romans 5:5 as I read that very verse earlier this morning. I love when God works this way in my life, repeating the reminders I need to hear. Wonderfully written review!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Michele, I read her blog sometimes…thanks for sharing about the book. It must have a great read.
    Did you get my email? sent it yesterday…I hope it finds you less busy *winks*

    Have an awesome weekend friend.
    God Bless

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another great review, Michele. I recently read a Facebook status of a former student dealing with some problems in her life. I think this book would be perfect for her. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.


  10. I enjoyed your review. I listened to the audio book of this recently and really liked it too. There’s definitely a lot of value in persevering, and when we look for lovely, even in difficult situations, we can always find reasons for hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Michele, this sounds like a book I’m going to need to put on my reading list. Thank you for the review and thank you for linking with Grace and Truth last week!

    Liked by 1 person

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