posted on February 22, 2012

One of the things I observed shortly after meeting Melody, back in our college years, was how determined a person she was. She would go into a practice room at Moody (that’s where we met), a small, stuffy, uncomfortable room, and work on a piece of music for hours at a time. She would forget about other, seemingly important, things and just keep working. Things like: Food, who needs food? Rest and relaxation, what will that accomplish? Giving up is not in her dictionary. I noticed this in Melody first in her approach to music, but I see it all the time in other areas of her life. For example, she is currently preparing our financial reports for the accountant. This has got to be one of the most tedious, time-consuming, life-sucking activities on the face of the earth. But she keeps at it, checking, and double-checking the numbers to make sure they are correct. She will occasionally ask me a question or ask for help with the next group of receipts and I’m pretty much fried after 10 minutes. How does she do it? To me, this is one of Melody’s defining (amazing) character traits. I have learned from her, and hopefully I am not a bum to the degree I might be without her.

I’ve made some (random) observations about this character trait, tenacity, in Melody and others:

  • There is something to be said for finishing what you start.
  • If you set a goal, and you’re on a roll, that’s great. But if you set a goal and accomplish it despite setbacks, that really says something.
  • As a culture, and as individuals, we give up too easily… and we whine about it (I just had to sneak that in — I am not a fan of whining).
  • Tenacity can take you where talent cannot. Plenty of talented people out there fail for lack of determination.
  • Tenacity sounds like a negative thing, like a bad habit just hanging on, but it really is a good thing, a mark of character.
  • Sticking with something is a mark of character, but it also builds character.
  • Excuses and tenacity don’t get along very well.
  • Indecision and tenacity don’t get along very well, either.
  • God does not, nor will He ever give up on us.

I’d like to encourage you to follow through on your goals and promises, and not give up. Finish what you start, and if you need a real-world example, just stop by. If you are wrestling through something in this area, let us know so we can pray for you and help.




Compelled to Create

posted on October 12, 2011

Do you feel compelled to create? I do. Are you an artist, a photographer, a musician, a builder, an accountant, a lawyer? Wait a minute, you say, an accountant? A lawyer? Friends, all of us have been created in God’s image. God is THE creator. Just look around. Would you have come up with an aardvark or a giraffe, or molten lava that will some day form a mountain? Creation is so varied and complex, it is mind boggling. And we were born to create. Yes, even us accountants and lawyers. You see, accounting is what we do, law is what we practice, but human is what we ARE.

Our culture, on the other hand, pushes uniformity and standardization. Yeah, you can go into a Starbucks and have a coffee made your way, I suppose, but there are only so many ingredients on the menu to choose from. It’s humorous, even, when I hear people who say they are trying to be themselves … just like everyone else. Corporations develop products that appeal to very discrete and measurable market segments in order to get the biggest return on their investments.  Henry Ford may have developed the first automated assembly line, but he was not the first to realize the efficiency of a batch process.

Here’s the deal: we can create amazing things. We should create amazing things (maybe even not so amazing things). We MUST create. I guess I am realizing the only difference between the artist and the non-artist is that the artist has the courage to step beyond personal insecurities and cultural expectations and do something that may be ridiculed or even outright rejected. Or, maybe there is a greater risk for the artist in all of us if we fail to create. When I try to put my guitar down or when I disregard a sudden inspiration for a lyric, I feel I am not living life to the full. Is there something you should get at, not because it will bring you money, or fame, or power? Is there something you need to get at simply because you were born for it? I suggest you get at it.

Here’s one other thought: every work we do is a derivative work. What I mean by that is, no matter how creative we are, we still look at things from the perspective of being part of creation, not above it, as is God. God created ex nihilo (out of nothing). We create using the pieces He put in place. That could feel confining, but I prefer to look at it in these terms: the closer I get to my Creator, the more I know about Him, the more I understand how He works, the greater influence that will have on what I do. I may even come up with an idea no one else ever thought of.

My suggestion: paint a picture, write a song, invent something. Do a one-off. Create something completely unique in a grossly inefficient manner. I’d like to hear how you feel about it.


Upcoming endeavor Performance on August 21, 2011

posted on August 11, 2011

Please mark your calendars and make it a point to come out to hear endeavor perform (along with several other local bands/artists) on August 21, 2011 at Stade’s Farm in Johnsburg, IL. endeavor will perform a rock and blues set starting at 2:10 p.m. Stade’s is located at 3709 Miller Road, McHenry, IL 60051 (http://www.stadesfarmandmarket.com/directions.php). The complete lineup of bands and artists can be found at http://www.zealworshipteam.org/praise/

A Set List From Heaven?

posted on August 8, 2011

Please mark your calendars and make it a point to come out to hear endeavor perform (along with several other local bands/artists) on August 21, 2011 at Stade’s Farm in Johnsburg, IL. endeavor will perform a rock and blues set starting at 2:10 p.m. Stade’s is located at 3709 Miller Road, McHenry, IL 60051 (http://www.stadesfarmandmarket.com/directions.php). The complete lineup of bands and artists can be found at http://www.zealworshipteam.org/praise/

Let’s see if words can adequately express something very cool that happened in putting together the set list for the event. If you asked me a year ago to do even an hour’s worth of music, we would have been hard pressed to do so. At our album release party in September, we performed for only 40 minutes. For Stades this year we put together a preliminary list of 13 songs and on our first day of rehearsal really clicked on almost all of them. That was both great and not so great. Great because we were really clicking as a band, but not so great because 13 songs is more than an hour’s worth of music and we will only be performing for about 35 minutes. How do we whittle down a great set list of 13 songs to 7? To make it even more challenging, I asked the other band members which songs they felt we could eliminate and nobody really wanted to get rid of anything. I agonized and took out three songs. We still had to get rid of 3 more … aargh. Finally I ushered Melody and Nathaniel into the kitchen and proclaimed we would not be leaving until the list was finalized. We went back and forth for a long time, held a mini vote, but generally struggled. When we were done, 7 song sheets were laid across the counter.

Here’s the cool, I mean very cool part. When I picked the song sheets up one by one, I realized they followed a beautiful and cohesive order. What I mean is, they tell the story of the gospel from beginning to end. The first song, “No Alibi,” confronts men as sinners and how they will have no alibi that could convince God to save them, apart from a relationship with the Savior. The last song in the set is called “Well Done,” those words every believer longs to hear when he stands before God in the final day.

Is this set list from God? I think so. I would not be so bold as to say the set list, or even the songs, were written by God. The scriptures alone hold that place. But I will say the songs were inspired by the gospel, and the amazing salvation God has given us. And it sure seems God, by His Spirit, orchestrated the choices in this set list to something beyond us as a band.

Do you have unbelieving friends? Bring them to Stade’s. The event is free. More importantly, the gospel is free, and, I hope clearly evident in a simple set of songs.




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