A Birth of Faith with Julie Lessman

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.

 Here is a part of the scene from A Hope Undaunted:

 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.

Dear God, can it really be this easy?

 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:

http://greatchristianfiction.blogspot.com/2009/05/passion-denied-julie-lessman.html

 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.

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38 thoughts on “A Birth of Faith with Julie Lessman

  1. Wow, I am sure this next series will be incredible as your last one. I think it was the series of the year for me. It was one that I did not want to get up off the couch until I had finished it!
    martha(at)lclink(dot)com

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  2. Bless you, LINDA, for giving your copies away, and to an ailing neighbor, no less!! You are a real sweetheart. And thank you SO much for spreading the word — word of mouth is everything in this business, so I truly appreciate it. Good luck in the contest!

    Hugs,
    julie

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  3. Hi, Julie! Once again, thank you for writing with “a passion”. You write from the heart and stay true to your inner voice. Human spirituality is both mental and physical. You reach out and touch our hearts and souls in places we aren’t aware of ourselves : )

    Happy Holidays!

    Please enter my name in the drawing.

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

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  4. CHERIE … thanks for stopping by and for your support — MUCH appreciated!!

    A NOTE TO ALL WHO LEAVE COMMENTS FOR THE BOOK GIVEAWAY: I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS IN ORDER TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF YOUR CHOICE OF DAUGHTERS OF BOSTON BOOKS. BE SURE TO LEAVE IT IN A PHISHING-SAFE WAY SUCH AS JULIE(AT)CHARTER(DOT)NET. THANK YOU!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  5. MYRA … Thank you SO much for stopping in!! And how timely because I JUST finished Autumn Rains YESTERDAY and absolutely LOVED IT!! Now I see why it beat me out in the Golden Heart in 2005, girl. Made me cry … uh, your book, not the contest loss … 🙂

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  6. Ah, Julie, as always I cannot WAIT for your next book. You’re work is truly an achievement. God bless you.
    Great interview Pepper. My turn is coming. Chance are no one’s gonna tear up when my post goes up. 🙂
    Mary

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  7. Julie thanks for letting us all know about this! I would love the chance to win a passion redeemed. I have the other two, but I don’t have that one. I was so sad I didn’t win the last one, but hey someone had to win it. Everybody needs the chance to read your wonderful books! I still can’t wait for your next book. I wish it was already out, but like I said before it is totally worth the wait!!!!!!!! Also I totally loved the scene from the book! I had never thought of it that way before, thanks for giving me a new look on the subject! Hope everything thing is going great! Good luck and GOD BLESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Your fan ~Kayla

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  8. MARE!! You already know I feel EXACTLY the same about yours. In fact, I just started Cowboy Christmas last night after I finished Myra’s Autumn Rains, and already I am hooked! And why would you want anyone to cry when your post goes up anyway? You’re SO darn good at making people laugh, I would just stick to that. Although … I have a shed more than a tear or two reading your books, my friend! Thanks for taking the time to drop by, Mare.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  9. Well, it’s not that I don’t WISH I could make people cry in a lovely sentimental post on Pepper’s blog. It’s Christmas after all, nothing says Merry Christmas like someone cried their head off.

    I’m just saying, that’s not my gift. I’ve heard of people crying over my books and my response is always, “Seriously? Where?”

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  10. Julie, thanks for the glimpse of Faith leading Katie to faith. The scene feels real because it was…in your life. 🙂 That makes it all the more precious. I love your books and can’t wait to read A Hope Undaunted!

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  11. KAYLA!!! I knew I could count on you! Thanks for taking the time to come by, and let’s see if we can’t get A Passion Redeemed on your bookshelf, girl! Good luck in the contest.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  12. MARY … Okay, sweetie, here’s one. I can’t give you the page or actual scene, but when I was reading Calico Canyon, you hit me over the head with a spiritual truth in a scene between Daniel and Grace at close to the end of the book, and YES, it brought tears to my eyes. So there! 🙂

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Ooh, Jackie!new victi…er…reader of Julie Lessman. You are in for a treat, lady. If you don’t win the drawing, it’s definitely worth the cost. Julie didn’t win ACFW Book of the Year Award for nothing. Fantastic read…and you’ll get hooked from the first book (even if you don’t read them in order…shhhh, but don’t tell Julie I wrote that) 😉

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  13. Wow, Julie snaps her fingers and the floodgates of ACFW opens. Yipee! Visitors. I’m a good ol’ southern girl, and I do so LOVE visitors. Time to pull out the iced tea and cookies 🙂 Sorry I’m late – LOOOONG day with grad students.

    Julie, as you well know, any visit from you makes me smile – though I haven’t teared up yet…today – but give me time.

    Mary, I’m sure of one thing. I sure do laugh when I read your books…often, like a woman who knows how. 😉 It can be quite embarrassing at times too – especially in the middle of waiting rooms at doctors’ offices 🙂 You’re not supposed to be laughing in those places…well, unless it’s certain types of doctor’s offices I guess.

    Janet Dean is visiting tomorrow with a giveaway too – so make sure you stop by for that.

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  14. VIRGINIA!! So sorry I skipped over you, but I LOVE your statement that “Human spirituality is both mental and physical.” Amen to that, sweetie, which is why you and I like the same kind of books, eh? Thanks SO much for stopping in, and I wish you the best in the contest.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  15. JACKIE!!! Oh my, we can’t have that, girl! Beg, borrow or win the first book in the series, A Passion Most Pure because contrary to Pepper’s very sneaky comment, this is definitely a series best read in order due to a number of big twists and turns. Good luck in the contest, because I would love to see the book in your hands.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  16. PEPPER … “Julie snaps her fingers”??? Yeah, right — are you on cold medicine or something?? 🙂

    Can’t believe you work all day, come home to cook and tend to a family of five kids and a husband and you STILL have time to write and have a wonderful blog. I am in awe.

    Thank you for hosting me today. Cannot wait to read the blogs for the rest of the week and next.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie,
      I think it’s the cold medicine that keeps me sane 😉
      Thanks for being here and bringing your followers too.

      Blessings to you and your word-weaving future. I plan to follow you along so I can keep my inspiration flowing.

      Pepper

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  17. I’ve read “A Passion Most Pure” and would love to read the other books in this series. Please enter me in your giveaway. Thank you! I really enjoyed Julie’s interview, its a nice way of getting to know an author of such wonderful books.

    Christmas Blessings,
    Sandee

    Muzzley56[at]aol[dot]com

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  18. Am I too late? I’ve been having trouble with my email and just now read the thing. These are great books! gasweetheart211[at]netscape[dot]net

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  19. Hey Pepper and Julie! Great post today. I love it when Julie talks about faith. She’s so passionate about it, and Julie doesn’t get excited for nothing. lol

    Later guys!

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  20. I read -“don’t let her sweetness fool you” and fell off my chair.

    Have you met Julie? That’s her in person. You don’t just meet Julie. YOU MEET JULIE.

    She writes what she is. Passionate. About life, about writing, about her fans, about her friends, about her family, about God …ABOUT EVERYTHING.(no particular order)

    What a blessing this lady is!!!

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  21. Julie babe, God created the word passion just for you!

    Pepper, Julie wonderful post AND message today! I may be late to the party but I’m glad I didn’t misss ALL the fun : )

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  22. SANDEE … you made it!! Thanks for taking the time to swing by and good luck in the contest because you’ve got two more books to read in this series, girl, so we have to get you busy.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  23. PAMMY!!! I always love to see you on the blogs because neither of us are on the loop much, so I get a kick when I see your name. Thanks for taking the time (which you don’t have!) to drop in and say hi.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  24. Okay, TINA, like Pepper, I got through this day without tears UNTIL I read your comment. OMIGOSH, what a truly wonderful thing to say to a drama queen! I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, my friend, that the accolades are mutual. You are one of my favorite people. Thank you, thank you for the blessing of your friendship.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  25. Hey AUDRA, better late than never, my friend, and I’m just glad to see you here — THANK YOU! And thanks for your sweet comment, too — passion is a priority with me, for sure. In fact, I was kind of blown away at the ACFW conference when I was in the Karen Ball seminar and they awarded the attendees with a fiction degree and a special beautiful rock emblazoned with a special word just for that recipient. Guess what my rock said??? You guessed it — PASSION!! Talk about the luck of the draw in a room of over 50 people. 🙂

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  26. Wow, Julie. I’m breathless after reading that. So powerful! Thanks for giving us a peek.

    Pepper, thanks for sharing this today. I can’t wait for the book!! (But don’t enter me. I’ll be getting a copy.) 🙂

    Missy

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  27. MISSY … Thank you SO much!! Breathless is good, whether it’s romantically so or spiritual! 🙂 Sooo glad you dropped by — ALWAYS a pleasure, my friend.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  28. Oh Julie,
    Thanks so much for being such a presence today. Your comments, your excerpt – all of it was wonderful. I can’t imagine what you’ll pick for my Valentine’s Day post 😉

    Is it fine if I post the book winner tomorrow? It’s getting late over here on the east coast and that will give a few more people time to respond…by 11:00 your time? 😉

    Blessings to you and thanks again,
    Pepper

    Like

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