As usual, it’s my pleasure and honor to welcome Seeker Diva and Author extraordinaire, Julie Lessman to visit today. Julie gives ‘passion a purpose’ in her historical novels, which pulse with as much romantic tension as Hollywood – except her variation of romantic tension is inspirational and ends with happily-ever-after.
Julie’s debut novel, A Passion Most Pure, won this year’s ACFW’s Book of the Year Award and introduced the hilarious and intense O’Connor family to the world. (I have a new copy of this book on my ‘reread often’ shelf with a lovely note from Julie inside. She’s sweet as apple pie a la mode – truly)
But don’t let the sweetness fool you, her writing grips you, takes you on an emotional roller coaster, and finally spins you into the arms of the hero (or heroines as the case may be) beaten, bruised, and oh so ready for a happy ending 🙂
If you haven’t read one of her novels – go…buy one now. Amazon is open 24 hours a day 😉
One thing I appreciate most about Julie’s books (besides the FABULOUS kissing scenes), is the way she weaves faith through the fine details of the novel. God isn’t tagged on at the end of the story, His active role in each character’s life threads from scene to scene.
To learn more about Julie’s books and her NEW series coming out in 2010, visit her website at: www.julielessman.com
**** So, are you ready!! Julie’s giving us a ‘sneak peek’ into her new novel, A Hope Undaunted – so get ready to have your appetite whetted and a loooong wait too. Her newest book will be out in September 2010 – so far away…sigh.
Here we go: The Christmas Question:
Of all the novels you’ve written, do you have scene featuring someone’s ‘birth of faith’ (conversion, recommitment, etc) that you found particularly touching or fulfilling to write? why?
Yes, Katie O’Connor’s “conversion” in A Hope Undaunted, which is book 1 in the Winds of Change Series due out September 2010. The reason this scene is so special to me is that it includes two real-life situations from my own life.
One was the moment of my own personal conversion, when this woman at work (now a dear friend) who witnessed to me at the age of 23. I flat-out told her I was agnostic and she needed to give me something physical to do to believe in God, because I just couldn’t buy it. She told me to go home and ask him in to my heart whether I believed or not, and that He would prove Himself to me. So I did. I looked up at the ceiling of my bedroom that night and said pretty much what Katie says in the scene below, a pivotal moment that changed my life forever.
Secondly, there was this time when I had an opportunity to talk to an atheist coworker of mine about God. I remember telling her quite clearly that “one of us is right and one of us is wrong.” I went on to say exactly what Faith says to Katie below, presenting my case to this woman who didn’t believe in God. Today, that woman does believe in God, and I like to think that somehow, someway, I helped to sow the seeds of her faith.
Faith grabbed her hand and held on tight. “Katie, I’m so sorry. But all the more reason to cling to God, because you have nothing to lose right now and everything to gain.”
Katie pulled her hand away and closed her eyes, her voice dead. “I don’t know, Faith. I know God is real to you, but to me, it’s always been more of a fairy-tale. You have faith in him, but I don’t. Sometimes I even wonder if I believe in him at all. I pray, but I feel like he doesn’t hear my prayers, like they’re long-distance and lost in the shuffle. I don’t feel any closeness with him, any desire to pursue him.” Her shoulders slumped forward, weighted with despair. “I guess the bottom line is …” she said, a knot shifting in her throat, “I’m just not sure he exists.”
Her sister’s tone was gentle. “It doesn’t matter, Katie, not one little bit. All you have to do is ask him to reveal himself to you, to prove that he’s real and that he loves you and has a plan for your life. Just the frail consent of your will to invite him into your heart is all it takes. And you can have a living, breathing relationship with the God of the Universe, overflowing with a love and passion as real as anything you ever felt for Luke. Go ahead, Katie, do it! And if you do, you have my word—your life will never be the same.”
Katie’s eyes widened as she stared, her sister’s gaze aglow like a beacon of hope. She swallowed hard, knowing full well that no matter any storms in her life, this was the sister who carried a reservoir of peace wherever she went. The sister who had scaled every mountain, weathered every storm with her resilient faith in God. Katie blinked. Could it actually be real?
As if she sensed the shift in Katie’s thinking, Faith placed a palm on top of Katie’s hand, warm and stable, cupping it, shielding it, like an anchor of hope in this storm of her soul. “Katie,” she whispered, “you say he’s not real to you, that you’re not sure he even exists. But right this minute, one of us is right and one of us is wrong …”
Katie looked into her sister’s face, as if compelled to listen by some strange force that pulled at her with a tentative thread of hope.
Wetness shimmered in Faith’s eyes. “If it’s me who is wrong, then I have lost nothing. Because even if I have believed in a lie or a fairy-tale, then that lie or fairy-tale has given me more joy, more hope and more strength than anything I have ever encountered. But if it is you who is wrong, Katie, I tremble to think that you will have lost everything—his joy, his peace, his hope …” Her voice softened to a bare whisper. “His salvation.” She straightened then, her manner as sure as the conviction in her tone. “I repeat, Katie, one of us is right and one of us is wrong. Do it now, I beg of you—invite him into your heart. Because truly, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Katie stared while seconds ticked by like heartbeats, thundering increments of time in a reality she could feel, see, touch. She was a realist, a woman bent on the law, with a penchant for facts, statistics and tangible proof. How could she lay all of that down to embrace an intangible God? A God her family had embraced all of their lives, depended on, lived for … while she herself had stood in the wings, master of her own future. She closed her eyes, grief piercing anew. A future that now lay in shambles at her feet. She swallowed the pride in her throat. Nothing to lose …
And then out of nowhere, Emma’s words that day in the store haunted her thoughts, and in a catch of her breath, Katie’s heart began to race.
“Whatever your hurts or fears or scars, Katie—call on him. He’s waiting to love you like you’ve never been loved before.”
“I don’t know, Emma, it all sounds wonderful, but God … prayer, well, I’m just not sure that it’s real.”
“I understand, but hear me, please … you won’t know till you try …”
Till I try … Katie’s breathing accelerated, and all at once, in the thud of her pulse or the trail of a tear, her decision was made. Gripping her sister’s hand like a lifeline in a stormy sea, Katie lifted her face to the ceiling while water seeped from her lidded eyes. Her voice quivered, but her resolve was sure. “God, Faith says you’re up there, that you care for me and have a plan for my life. If you are … and I’m not just talking to a ceiling … will you show me? Reveal yourself to me, your love, your purpose for my life. Please, God, come into my heart and make me the woman you want me to be.”
She opened her eyes then, and somehow the room seemed different. The same ivy wallpaper covered the walls, and the lace-curtained windows still wore pretty green ribbons tied back in a swag. The scent of rosewater hovered in the air, and Miss Buford—the porcelain doll from her youth—still perched on her vanity like some regal judge presiding over her bench. And yet, in the beat of Katie’s heart, everything had changed. She closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of her freedom, tears escaping as surely as her heart had escaped its gloom.
Pepper here: Wow. Beautiful. I guess trying to find a pirated copy or something wouldn’t’ be very Christian of me, so I’ll have to wait like everyone else for September and keep rereading Faith, Charity, and Beth’s stories over again to get ready for Katie’s story.
Thanks so much for being here, Julie. As usual, your words inspire, not only spiritually, but I have a sudden urge to go write with added ‘passion’ on my own novel now 😉
To read a review of A Passion Denied follow this link:
God’s words of faith for today
Luke 2: 8-12
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The BEST birth announcement of ALL time didn’t happen to a king in his palace, a wealthy ruler in his courtyard, or a brilliant scholar in his stately halls, but to a bunch of lowly shepherds out in the fields. Why? To begin the lesson God continued to teach throughout Jesus’ life on earth up to today. God looks at the heart.
He revealed himself to those who would be willing to give up everything, even their livelihood, to seek out this marvelous news of a Savior. Isn’t that great?!? God doesn’t view us as other people do, he views us through the veil of love – in fact, he loves us so much, he doesn’t want to keep us out in the field with the flock, he encourages us to run to his side, adore him, worship him and bask in the wonder of his glory.
He didn’t wait for us to come to Him – because He knew we’d never find the way. He came to us first and called us to run to Him.
God with us. Immanuel.