Unending Devotion | Jody Hedlund Challenge Discussion

(The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year!)

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“If she had to leave an imprint of herself for all time, she wanted it to reflect the happiness of her life, not the heartache.”

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, which is why Jamie and I chose to start this series with Unending Devotion. We meet Lily Young, the heroine of the story, in her desperate search to find her sister who has been forced into prostitution. This novel brings to light the atrocities of forcing girls into selling their bodies.

Jody wrote in her Acknowledgments about the real people who inspired the despicable James Carr and the women victimized by his cruelty, Jennie King and Frankie Osborne. What is so inspiring about this story is her call to action. She urges readers: “May we rise up, stand tall, and fight against the injustices that still exist today.” May we truly stand up for what God has called us to do! (If you would like more resources and ways to get involved, please check out some of the works these organizations are doing: International Justice Mission, A21, End It Movement).

On a lighter note, let’s talk about the characters who grace the pages in this novel:

  • Lily- Our heroine is stubborn, passionate, and is willing to die for her sister. And she’s pretty gutsy, if I do say so myself!
  • Connell- He’s the boss of three lumber camps and pretty good-looking (hello, broad shoulders, green eyes, blond hair). But, he prefers to stay out of trouble when it doesn’t involve him.
  • Vera- she had the most awful coffee and the strangest concoctions, but the warmest heart
  • Stuart- didn’t he have the most well-intentioned yet misguided heart?
  • Oren- the rough-around-the-edges old man with a heart of gold. Loved him and his fatherly love for Lily.

What quote perfectly sums up what this book was all about? Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“As long as man lives and breathes, there will always be sin in this world and consequently injustice.”

“But that doesn’t mean we should give up, sit back, and do nothing.”

“You’re right. Nor can we fight against everything. We must instead discover where God wants to use us.”

Themes of courage, love, and learning God’s purpose are intertwined throughout the pages, and brought together by this beautiful quote.

“When things don’t turn out the way we want…about the only thing we can do is know God is still there piecing together all the scraps of the events in our lives the way He has planned…He sees the big picture even when we don’t.”

This quote is a beautiful reminder that God does see everything and we can put our hope in that truth.

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the book, it’s time to pass the discussion over to you, readers! Here’s a few questions to get the discussion started:

  1. What’s something you’ve pursued relentlessly?
  2. What is something you’re passionate about that God has called you to do?
  3. Who were some of your favorite characters and why?
  4. What quotes stood out to you while reading?
  5. Do you see yourself more like Lily, who takes control of the situation, or Connell, who is more reluctant to take a risk?

Answer a couple or answer them all! Let’s get this discussion started!

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36 thoughts on “Unending Devotion | Jody Hedlund Challenge Discussion

  1. It’s been a while since I read it, but I do remember that book.

    The heroine is definitely gutsy! I agree with you! I’m pretty sure I frequently found myself frustrated with her while reading as she would recklessly put herself in dangerous situations.

    I (definitely) don’t think I would do what she’s done but I absolutely understand the need to do something to fight injustice.

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    1. Hi Ganise! One thing I’ve learned is we often don’t know just how courageous we are until we’re put in a situation. And since most of us won’t be in situations like Lily’s, I try and remember being brave in the every day (standing up for something, being honest where no one else is, etc) – sometimes that’s just as scary 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Ganise and Jamie! I was reading a blog post the other day about the “American bubble” and how most of us don’t feel that we as one person can make that big of a difference in the world today. When I see problems in the news or around the world, I know I feel that way. I think to myself, what difference can I really make in that problem. Partly my attitude stems from living in our comfortable American (or Western culture) bubble of safety and prosperity.. After reading Kisses From Katie last year, however, I realized that maybe I can’t change the world, but that doesn’t have to stop me from helping and loving whomever God puts into my path each day (just like Katie did with her orphans in Africa). It was inspiring to read about how she just took one day at a time and did whatever task came before her, and in doing so, she began to make a big difference! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This reminds me of the book ” One Starfish at a Time” about adoption and fostering. They even adopted kids over 18 so they would have a family to come home to during college. They had people tell them they couldn’t save them all. Remember the starfish story?

          “…The hopelessness of the youth’s plan became clear to me and I countered, “But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference.”

          The youth paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, “I made a difference to that one.”

          I try to remember that!

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      2. Hi Jamie! I just wanted to say how much your comment resonated with me. It truly is in-the-moment when we discover just how much courage we have (or the courage God has given us for that moment)! I think it’s important to remember that it’s okay to be scared, but to push through our fear to stand up for what is right.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Ganise! Wasn’t Lily’s courage stunning, though? Yes, I think she overdid things a lot before looking for help, but then again, that was the arc of her character growth throughout the story. She was still gutsy at the end, but it was balanced by her reliance on God to direct her steps.

      I think the reason she was so willing to put herself in danger was because she wanted to rescue her sister. So she fought against the injustice that had entangled her sister. Even though each of our callings are different, when we discover the calling God has placed on our lives, may we all live it out passionately and wholeheartedly.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ganise! I’m so glad you joined us!

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  2. I’m glad I decided to participate in this month’s challenge. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, and Cassie, you’ve asked some really great, thought-provoking questions. I’ll take a stab at answering them, and I’m looking forward to seeing how others will answer.

    1 – something I’ve pursued relentlessly… finding God’s will for my life. At first I hesitated to say that because I thought it might sound like I was putting on airs. LOL! But the thing is, whether I consistently remember to listen for God’s will or not, and whether I’m on the right track or not at any given time, that desire to be in His will has been a driving force for pretty much as long as I can remember.

    2 – something I’m passionate about that God has called me to. That’d definitely be writing. I’ve enjoyed writing stories since I was a little girl, but it was a very (almost embarrassingly) long time before it really clicked that this might not just be a passion, but also a calling that could be used to glorify God. Now I’m enjoying writing even more, and have two manuscripts getting close to ready for sending out to prospective literary agents. 🙂

    3 – favorite characters. Lily was definitely admirable, and Oren & Vera were each charming in their own way, but I think Connell was my favorite. I found him quite likeable and his heart was definitely in the right place, even if he was a bit slower to action than Lily might have liked.

    4 – favorite quotes. The quote you identified as one of your favorites, about discovering where God wants to use us, was one of my favorites too. I actually included the same one in my review of the audiobook that I posted on my blog this morning.

    5 – Lily or Connell. I found myself relating a little to each of them. I liked Lily’s passion for fighting injustice (though, like Ganise said, I was frustrated with her recklessness), and I preferred Connell’s approach (once he decided to act) of carefully assessing the situation and developing a strategy to minimize the risks while still achieving the objective. Honestly, I thought their different strengths made them a great team.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you joined in as well!! Enjoyed reading your thoughts too! Way to go on writing – that’s so exciting and I’ll be praying for your publishing journey 🙂

      Oh and I will say I loved them as a team as well – they balanced each other out so fabulously!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Karen,

        Thank you so much for reading (listening!) to Unending Devotion! And also thanks for sharing your answers to the questions! I enjoyed hearing about your pursuit and your calling. How exciting that you’ve finished two manuscripts and are getting ready to start sending them out! I wish you all the best as you begin that new adventure! It’s all too easy to put our calling/passions off until a future date when we might have more time or energy. But I’ve learned that if God’s calling me, he’ll give me the strength to carry it to completion! And of course a little coffee doesn’t hurt either! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Karen, your answers are so thoughtful and eloquent! #2- I know what you mean. It took me a long time to figure out that what I love could be what God has for me, too! That is such a God thing– to give me passion for something and make it into a calling on my life. Wow. That’s awesome.And congrats on your manuscripts– what an exciting time in your life!

      #3 I love what you said about Connell’s heart being in the right place and his actions coming later. That’s so true. I was admittedly frustrated with him at times for not taking said action, but he had his own journey to go before he could act on things.

      #5 I agree with you again! Surprise! They really did work quite well as a team, didn’t they? They balanced each other out- Lily’s fire and Connell’s strategic mind. Perfect 🙂

      Oh, and I will be by soon to read your review! Can’t wait to read more of your thoughts on the book!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yay for discussion! Here’s some more I’ll add 🙂

    I would say something I’m passionate about it making a difference. Helping raise awareness about social justice issues as well as using the resources I have to make a difference too. Another would be story. I love reading fictional ones and hearing people’s real life stories – we can learn so much from each other ☺.

    I’m a fan of Connell too. I think because he was honest in why he didn’t just jump in with Lily’s crusade (it was refreshing) and I think there are many people like that in real life. Plus he is a great example of how the Lord works and turns your heart. He’s never done working on us (amen to that!)

    I would say I’m more Lily (and have gotten into some mishaps because of it!). Lessons learned, lessons learned ☺

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    1. Hi Miss Jamie! My wonderful, co-hosting friend! 😉

      Just want to say I think you’re awesome and you are going to do some amazing things with your life. Your friendship has inspired me. 🙂

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  4. I’m one of those people who likes to play it safe and maintain peace as much as possible, so while I largely agreed with what Lily believed, I cringed at her methods. A lot. And while she might not have felt much embarrassment for herself, I totally had her covered, wanting to apologize to the other characters for every brash thing she did. As you may surmise, I connected significantly better with Connell. And I can understand his struggle with complacency; it can be really hard to rock the boat when you know there will be significant consequences. Which is not to say you shouldn’t take a stand – but that initial step can be hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rachael! I had to laugh when you said about having Lily covered as far as being embarrassed for her! I understand what you mean about not wanting to rock the boat in order to keep the peace, but I think it’s important to know when to take that step out and stand up for your beliefs and the things you’re passionate about. It’s definitely difficult to take a stand, but it’s also develops our character and our integrity in the long run. Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts on Unending Devotion. I’m so glad you read and participated! 🙂

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    2. Thanks for stopping by – it’s been so much fun discussing and chatting about Unending Devotion! I couldn’t agree with you more – the first step is always the hardest! But man – is it worth it when we do! 🙂

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  5. Jamie, I LOVE your answers!! They made me smile! I have a background in social work and was a social worker for a number of years because of my desire to be Jesus’s hands and feet. I think that’s why so many of my heroine’s have a heart for helping the poor, hurting, and lost. I also think that’s partly why my stories have a bit of a grittier texture. I like to deal with real issues and problems that people experience. I try not to shy away from difficult topics (even if they tend to make us slightly uncomfortable). As I write from a historical perspective, I’m always reminded that those issues are still alive today. That there are still people hurting, in bondage, and needing to be rescued every bit as much as those hurting women of the past.

    Thanks for hosting this discussion!! So fun!! 🙂

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      1. You’re so welcome, Jody! I’ve had such a great time so far, and the year’s only just begun. Jamie and I are pretty excited to share your books every month!

        And thank you for stopping by and interacting with everyone! I love seeing you around, and you’re welcome here anytime!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Just one more reason why you’re one of my favorite authors! 🙂 I love that you aren’t afraid to tackle the hard issues – it’s inspiring!

      I thought the same thing recently (about people still hurting and still battling issues) after watching Selma recently. But I’m thankful the Lord has given me a voice to use. 🙂

      And you’re so welcome! I’ve been loving the discussions!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s been about a year since I read Unending Devotion. The story has stuck with me though.

    Lily was so brave (and sometimes reckless) as she relentlessly searched for her sister. I think I’m more like Connell. I’m easy going and methodical. However, if it was my loved family member in that situation, I like to think I would be more like Lily in her willingness to take big risks and maintain the well thought out game plan of Connell.

    Something I’ve pursued relentlessly…several times I’ve made a decision to do something, such as give up fountain drinks or run a race, I’ve hung in there even when the going got tough and held on for the goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Staci! So glad you came by to add your thoughts! Well said- if it was my family in an awful situation like that, I would do anything to help. I love my family so much, it would be hard NOT to do anything!

      I hope to see you again in February with Rebellious Heart!

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      1. Hi Jamie! It’s been about three years since I last ran one. I still run some, but haven’t trained for anything in quite some time. Perhaps it’s time…:-)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Ladies! Yesterday, I finished reading UNENDING DEVOTION. Thank you so much for hosting this Hedlund Reading Challenge. It’s a great way to introduce readers to new-to-them authors. 🙂

    This quote gives me great hope:

    “When things don’t turn out the way we want…about the only thing we can do is know God is still there piecing together all the scraps of the events in our lives the way He has planned…He sees the big picture even when we don’t.”

    Jody, thank you for addressing this topic. You have me listening for my own whisper of spring.

    Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Caryl! We’re so glad you’ve come to participate, so thank YOU for coming and sharing your thoughts! I’m so happy the book gave you hope. That’s always a sign of a great book. 🙂

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    2. Yay! So happy to see you here and so glad you have joined in! That was one of my favorite quotes too – it’s so encouraging to know that God sees the bigger picture. Amen to that truth!

      I love these books, so I’m glad so many people are joining in!! Have a great rest of the week!

      Jamie

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  8. I will take any excuse to re-read a Jody Hedlund novel – thank you so much Cassie and Jamie for hosting such a fun challenge!

    And now to add my two cents to this discussion 🙂

    1. I would say that I pursued my college degree(s) relentlessly. I was never one who wanted to go to college but when I did, I decided that I would do whatever it takes to finish and finish strong because I wasn’t a quitter. I got my Associate’s Degree in two years and then got my Bachelor’s Degree two years after that. Even though I was not passionate about school, I was passionate in finishing what I started which gave me the motivation to finish school – even when it was tough.

    2. I’m passionate about being a nurturer. It is my deepest longing to become a mother and hopefully someday soon I will be blessed with that job. However, at this time, I find myself drawn to nurture others. Whether it’s my adorable nephew, a youth group small group, my sisters, etc. I love being there for others and encouraging them and just loving on them.

    3. Honestly I loved Connell’s mother. Connell brought a prostitute and another girl accused of being his lover and she still welcomed them into her home and loved on them. I desire to be more like her and not looking at a person’s past and judging them but looking at someone and seeing their potential and then helping them achieve that potential.

    4. I like to keep a book full of “book quotes” but unfortunately I didn’t get around to writing any of these down since I was so engrossed with the novel. I guess I’ll just have to read it again 😉

    5. I am definitely a Connell. I like to play it safe so you won’t see me out of the rocks and taking too many risks. There will be times that I can act like Lily and take control but for the most part I like to be a follower and play it safe. As other people have mentioned, I love how Connell and Lily were able to balance each other out in that aspect.

    Looking forward to reading and discussing Rebellious Heart! Thanks again to Jamie and Cassie for such an awesome idea of creating the Hedlund Challenge!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Leah! Thank you for sharing your heart in your comment! Connell’s mother was a great character. She had so much love to share with Lily and her sister and that was truly beautiful. I’m so glad you mentioned her.

      So glad you joined us!

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    2. Yay!! So glad you are joining us on this challenge and I agree, I love re-reading Jody’s novels 🙂

      What a great example about finishing college! It’s been so long since I was in school ;), but now that I think about it, I pursued mine pretty non-stop as well. Good memories too 🙂

      I love that you have such a heart to nurture people – it’s such an important role and blessing (however that looks for people). I love it!

      Thanks again for joining in – this first discussion has been awesome and I can’t wait for the rest of them!!

      Like

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