“Children are great imitators.
So give them something great to imitate.”
Well, I did it—chopped 40,706 words from Steven’s story, A Love Surrendered and sent it to my editor by my due date of Monday night, at exactly ten minutes to midnight. Along with prayers, I might add, that she would have mercy over the 9,294 words I failed to trim from the requested 50,000.
I am happy to report that she agreed, and I am breathing a heavy sigh of relief. Trust me, this is the tightest story I have EVER written, without many words to spare, so hopefully it will be a very fast read as well. I’ll tell you one thing for sure, it will be a weepy one, so you’ll need to stock up on Kleenex! I’ve mentioned in the past I judge my books by how many Kleenex I go through when reading/editing them. A Hope Undaunted was a 12-Kleenex read for me and A Heart Revealed, a ten.
I’m not sure if it was because this is the last book of the O’Connor saga and I was just in a weepy mood or what, but I went through—and yes, I actually counted them—over 30 soggy Kleenex throughout the course of the book. Of course, that’s me—a weepy CDQ, but I suspect a few of you will be shedding some tears of your own once you get into Steven’s story where hearts get broken and mended on a regular basis. What can I say—I thrive on drama and angst. Oh … and passion, too, of course, of which there is aplenty in A Love Surrendered! You might say it’s my last hurrah before I tone down the passion and plots for A Cousins McClare, which will be a simpler, shorter series, certainly, but still packed with the Lessman drama and passion I so love to write.
Because, goodness, I do LOVE writing about families! Especially families that aren’t perfect, which is what a lot of my readers tell me they love about my books. God knows the family I grew up in was painfully dysfunctional and about as far from “perfect” as one can get. Believe me, I thank God every day—no, multiple times every day, seriously—for the amazing family He has given me today. Because you see, He has not only redeemed my sorry soul, but my sorry life as well. It’s like Steven O’Connor confides to his best friend Joe in A Love Surrendered, telling him he’s been doing some soul searching, hungry for the truth.
“What kind of truth?” Joe asks.
Steven lowered his eyes to scratch the back of his neck, not sure how to explain God was now more than a Sunday obligation to a former choir boy who’d never given him much thought. His gaze wandered into a stare. “I don’t know, the kind that unlocked the jail cell I’ve been in most of my life. That ruthless drive to achieve and vindicate a past that made me feel like dirt.” He glanced up, hungry to connect with Joe on a spiritual level for the first time in his life. They’d always been there for each other to listen and encourage, but they’d never scratched the surface of the truth that had set Steven free. The truth that God wasn’t just a “maybe,” but a living, breathing Savior who not only saved lives, but changed them for the better.
Changed them for the better … Yes, my family is amazing today, but trust me, not perfect by a looooooong shot. Oh, we look it to some people, I suppose—successful award-winning artist/designer marries a successful (in reader friends, if not sales!) award-winning author with two kids who love God, one slated to graduate from law school next year, the other an up-and-coming account manager for a lucrative firm, married to a doctor who just gave birth to possibly the most precious little girl on the planet. Ironically, as a hardcore realist, I had to learn there was no such thing as “perfect” before I could ever truly be happy.
Take my birthday, for instance—one of the best weeks of my life. But it could have been marred by a family situation that was far from perfect. What could possibly ruin such a joyous day, you ask? Well, my son forgot my birthday, the woman who not only gave him life, but taught him its rudiments, both practical and spiritual. From the moment my children were able, they learned to say please and thank you, write birthday and thank you notes, apologize when wrong and in the case of my son, pen reams of the most heartfelt and tear-jerking love letters to his parents that you ever saw.
So when my birthday came and went with no word from Matt or his wife, I’ll be honest—I was a tiny bit sad. And you know what? The devil wanted to ruin my day big time—and my family’s—with my anger and hurt. Only it didn’t happen because I learned a long time ago that no, family’s are not perfect. That only when we accept that fact and stop expecting them to be and stop basing our very happiness on a reality that doesn’t exist, will we truly understand that our true joy comes from Him and only Him. So I did what God’s Word has trained me to do—I let it go, the seed of anger that wanted to fester, repenting before God for even letting it stay a second or two. I prayed for my son, for God to bless him and help him get through this really arduous time in his job, the reason he forgot my birthday in the first place, no doubt. And I praised God for both this oversight on my son’s part and the countless blessings He has bestowed upon me. And, OH MY, what a happy birthday I had!
Four days later at church that week, my son handed me a small folded card before the service. “What’s this?” I ask, and my eyes instantly prick at the words “JuJu” on the cover. “This is from Rory,” my son says, referring to my six-week-old granddaughter, and in one tilt of my son’s sheepish smile, God redeems my birthday all over again with a note SO precious, I just had to share it with you today—further evidence of a truly amazing God who longs to redeem our pain if we only let Him by following His precepts instead of our own.
This is going to be a little awkward and uncomfortable, but let’s face the facts—my parents are inept morons. I mean, come on—why do you think I cry so much? On Tuesday of this last week, I tried to remind them it was your birthday, but they wouldn’t listen. I guess what do you expect from two people who made me wear this bow?
Anyway, my parents screwed up, and now I’m stepping in to take control of this mess. First and foremost, they need to be disciplined—you know, “spare the lungs, spoil the parents”? My first action was to poop in the bathtub for Daddy. My second was to pee on Mommy in public. My third action will be to require them to send you a new picture of me everyday for the next week. And my fourth and final action will be to make them take you out to a dinner on the night that is convenient for you. At this dinner, I will be an angel at the restaurant, but scream all the way home and refuse to go to sleep until 2:00 a.m.
This is my final ruling. I feel my discipline is strict, but fair. We all love you, and I will personally see to it that they never forget your birthday again.
Go ahead, tell me doing things God’s way doesn’t pay off, because I have a whole lifetime of things like this to prove you wrong. No, the path to happiness is not paved with gold or a good marriage or a Brady Bunch family—it’s paved with the blessings of God, not the least of which are pictures of one’s brand-new daughter from one of the best weeks of her life. 🙂
AND NOW, LET THE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING BEGIN!
You’ll have one less present to buy if you win one of my books at any of the following giveaways that will be ending soon!
ENDS TODAY AT 5:00 PM, SO DON’T MISS OUT!!
Join me at SEEKERVILLE when I talk about “Playing Favorites” and give a SNEAK PEEK at some snippets of Steven’s story, A Love Surrendered as well as give away winner’s choice of a signed copy of one of my books including my new release, A Heart Revealed at:
OCTOBER 11 to NOVEMBER 14, 2011
Join me at Book Reviews by Lady Katy blog for a Q & A session and a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
OCTOBER 31 to NOVEMBER 14, 2011
Join me at Debbie Lynn Costello’s blog, The Sword & the Spirit blog, for a chance to win a signed copy of my new release, A Heart Revealed at:
Happy weekend, all!