Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly
beyond all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works within us …
Oh my, yes … and do I have an example for you!! This week God supernaturally moved on my behalf and that of another one of His kids, turning something that could have been totally ugly into something so totally great that I still get goose bumps just thinking about it.
As most of you know, my new book A Heart Revealed is now out there in the marketplace or will be soon, so places like CBD.com and Amazon.com should be shipping next week if you ordered it through them. Unfortunately, Baker Publishing, mother company of my publisher Revell and Bethany House, experienced heavy book shipments with over 60 titles releasing in September alone, including Inspy icon Beverly Lewis, whose shipment numbers would boggle the mind.
At any rate, a few reviews started popping up on Amazon.com and CBD.com—mostly 5-star reviews—so I was cautiously optimistic, especially since many reader friends on FB were telling me that for them, A Heart Revealed either tied with A Passion Most Pure as their favorite OR was their new favorite of all my books. Ah … music to my ears!!
That is … until I hit a sour note. You see, I had almost no time to write on Cousins McClare this week, which always puts me in a glum mood. So when I saw a 2-star review on Amazon.com that not only indicated the reviewer was disappointed in Sean and Emma’s story, but also divulged the surprise plot/ending, I was on a free-fall from the sky into an ocean of self-pity. What did I do? True to my nature, I cried. Not once, not twice, but three times throughout the day, actually depleting my Kleenex box during a single waterwork session. True, it only had twelve Kleenex in it, but I assure you I used every single one—twice.
The second thing I did, which I always try to do, was praise God for the 2-star spoiler review and pray my heart out for the reviewer. I asked God to bless her and help me to forgive her. Over and over. And then over and over again. Because for some reason every time I thought of that spoiler review, tears would bubble up in my chest and I would feel depleted. Why? Well, as any Inspy author will tell you, there are a lot of sweat, toil and tears in every book, not to mention a mountain of prayers, and when you are a CDQ like me, you also bleed onto the paper, baring your soul and spilling your heart. Trust me, it’s not pretty. And since my books are thick enough to be used as a weapon, it takes me a year and a half of my life to produce a book with the writing, revising, editing, etc.
So, first off, I want to thank those dear friends of mine who prayed for me and left positive comments on the spoiler review—and you know who you are—because it helped me feel not so alone. And then the miraculous happened—your prayers kicked in and God took over. Let the goose bumps begin!!
That night Keith and I had a “tiny” tiff. “Julie, it’s not life and death,” he said, his patience thin after a day of me “wallowing” (his word, not mine). “You prayed about, now let it go and trust God.” Grrrrr … the man has lived with me for 33 years and thinks I can just let something “go”??? “Don’t you think I’ve tried?” I shout (yes, I really did), “but the self-pity keeps swamping me. Give me a break—how many people do you know who engage in spiritual warfare against self-pity and anger like I do?” I say, eyes blazing, “huh??” I stare him down, and then the man does what he does best—he pulls me into his arms and soothes, telling me it’s going to be okay and we need to just take it to the throne of God and leave it there. “Will you pray that tomorrow’s a better day?” I sniff, my voice so nasal I sound like a fog horn. “Sure, babe,” he whispers and then he does … right before kissing me good night and going to bed. 🙂
Uh … not so, me. There I lay in the dark, eyes beseeching the ceiling fan overhead while my prayers wing heavenward to the God Who has never failed me yet, big problems or small. “Forgive me, God,” I whisper in between my husband’s snores, eyes sealed tight, “for wallowing in self-pity and not trusting in You and Your insurance policy: All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Suddenly, as wispy as the air from the fan overhead, peace billows in my soul and the tension slowly seeps from my body.
And then I heard it. That still small voice that drifted in my brain like a feather on a breeze. “Go look in your newsletter address book for the name of the reviewer.” My eyes popped open and my breathing shallowed. The reviewer had she’d enjoyed my other books, so just maybe … Heart racing, I vaulted from the bed and tore downstairs in my nightgown and bare feet, hair flying behind me (it’s long now, remember?). Fingers trembling, I clicked on my address book, typed in the one-word name and held my breath. Bingo! Sweet mother of Job, there she was, blinking back at me along with the cursor, and hope buoyed in my chest. Thank you, God! I mean, really, with reader friends all over the world, what are the chances of me finding the e-mail of the reviewer I had prayed for all day? “Please, God,” I whispered, “give me the grace and wisdom to say the right thing.”
So I wrote her a very nice e-mail asking her if she was the one who posted that review and if she did, would she prayerfully consider deleting the spoiler line or putting a “Spoiler Alert” at the top of the review. I told her I didn’t mind the 2-stars because that was understandable if she did not like the book, but that I had prayed and labored over this book for a year and a half to come up with a unique/surprise plot/ending and consequently, I literally broke down and cried when I saw all my efforts ruined by the spoiler review. Finally, I told her I would be happy to send her a check for the amount she spent so she wouldn’t feel like she’d wasted her money. NOTE TO READER FRIENDS: Do not try posting a bad review so that I will offer you money!!! It only worked once. 🙂
Okay, okay, maybe I did inject a tiny bit of guilt, but I’m not perfect for pity’s sake, just forgiven. And the rest of the story is nothing short of supernatural. Yep, you guessed it—this sweet, little thing wrote me back!! And not just wrote me back, but blessed the socks off of me with her incredible note below, which she has kindly given me permission to share:
Yes, that was me. I’m sorry I posted that review and I have deleted it. Please, don’t send me a check; I don’t consider my money wasted. My review was ill written because I wrote it right after I read the book, and I was just disappointed greatly in how it turned out. This is nothing against you as an author, because I have books from every author I love that I haven’t liked, and I loved all of your other books. The review wasn’t written to be mean, and I’m really sorry for any hurt I have caused. Please forgive my being inconsiderate. I’ll always be a loyal fan, and I am anticipating your next novel. Once again, I’m sorry.
Somebody pass the Kleenex, please, because I was crying again, only this time it was tears of joy at how God took a painful situation and used it to bless both parties. This woman and I have now become “buds,” and not only buds, but two people who have learned first hand—again—just how God causes all things to work together for those who love Him. And to further prove that God’s Word is true, I asked this new reviewer friend of mine if she would consider posting reviews on my other books (the ones she liked, and yes, I really AM that brassy!). And to show you the class of this young woman, she promptly proceeded to post 5-star reviews on every one of my books except AHR, for which she pulled the negative review. HOLY COW … talk about God doing “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think”!! And I gotta tell you—those precious reviews mean the world to me because of the miracle they represent in a world where temper and bitterness all too often prevails.
And so my dear reviewer friend, I would like to publicly thank you for your kindness, graciousness and sensitivity to God’s Word. Pease know that I am praying for God to bless you richly because He loves you … and now, so do I!
Hugs and more hugs, Julie.
OKAY … NEWSFLASH!! Vote for your favorite Julie Lessman hero and get a shot at a signed copy of A Heart Revealed or any of my other books at Relz Reviews. Simply vote, then scroll down to leave a comment and then look for the tally update in Rel’s last comment on which of my heroes is winning. Last I heard, Luke McGee had Collin McGuire by a mile, which is a first since Collin has won the last three polls that I’ve seen. Here’s the link:
THEN, don’t forget that Luke’s story in book 1 in The Winds of Change series, A Hope Undaunted, is FREE on CBD.com e-book, Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook and Sony E-reader for a limited time. Trust me, this is HUGE!!! Because what happens is that new people read one of my books, and a percentage of them (those crazy, over-the-top romantics who crave passion in their romance novels like me) will then go on to read the rest of the books, God willing!! So PLEASE pass the word and download it yourself if you can. You do not need a Kindle, Nook or e-reader to download it —you can download e-books on ANYTHING, including PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Cloud Readers, Androids, Blackberrys and Windows Phone 7, you name it!
FINALLY, I have the following blog/interview/giveaways going on this week, so leave a comment to enter the giveaways and GOOD LUCK!!
AUGUST 25 to SEPTEMBER 10, 2011
Join me at Casey Herringshaw’s blog, Writing for Christ, for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
AUGUST 29 to ?, 2011
Join me at OneDesertRose’s Blog for a Q&A session where a comment will enter you in a random pool giveaway for participants from several blogs to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
SEPTEMBER 3 to OCTOBER 1, 2011
Join me at The Owl Bookmark 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:
SEPTEMBER 6 to 10, 2011
Join me at Renee Chaw’s blog, Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot, for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
SEPTEMBER 9 to 30, 2011
Giveaway of A Heart Revealed at Radiant Light blog:
SEPTEMBER 12 to 17, 2011
Join me at Overcoming Through Time blog for a chance to win a copy of one of my books: