He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
—How He Loves, by John Mark McMillan
Have you ever had a single phrase circle in your head for a solid week? You know, kind of like an “ear worm,” only it’s not a song? Well, that happened to me this last week with two words that brought me SO much peace and SO much joy and yes … tears … that I’m actually tearing up all over again just at the thought of them.
Boy, I’ll bet I’ve got your attention now, don’t I, waiting on baited breath—or not—to see what two words transformed my week??? Well, as a romance writer, these two words are a favorite of mine for sure, but no more so than in the last seven days when the Holy Spirit kept whispering them in my ear.
Love Affair … Love Affair … Love Affair …
No, I’m not talking Rhett & Scarlett here, Marcy & Patrick or Collin & Faith, although those relationships certainly bear many of the marks of the type of love affair I’m talking about—passion, tenderness, sacrifice … passion … 🙂
You see, I’m getting ready for the ACFW Conference next week (American Christian Fiction Writers) here in my hometown of St. Louis, so the fact that the conference is actually IN my hometown has put a little more on my plate than usual prior to a conference, increasing my stress level, which always makes me cling to God all the more. First of all, I am co-teaching a workshop with Ruth Axtell Morren called “A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss,” which, of course, is a play on the lyrics from the song in the movie Casablanca called As Time Goes By, by Herman Hupfeld that goes like this:
You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply …
As time goes by.
—As Time Goes By, music and words by Herman Hupfeld
Sigh. Kisses have to be one of my all-time favorite subjects … but I digress. Now, this is not the first time I’m teaching a workshop, BUT it’s the first time I’m teaching one at ACFW, which is comprised SOLELY of my peers, so if that’s not intimidating enough, try 165 of them staring at you, expecting Ruth and I to tell them something they don’t already know. Yeah, right!!
Then add to the mix that I am hosting a dinner party for The Seekers the night before as well as housing five wonderful women in a house that needs to be cleaned, scoured, and primped and menus planned, bought and prepared for 16 people PLUS get my own bags packed to stay at the Hyatt for the conference, an ordeal in and of itself. Keep in mind that I am a CDQ who has MSD (Martha Stewart Disease where, yes, I will actually put mints on the pillows …). Throw in the minor fact that my new book just released this month and it’s NOT a pretty picture for my family, who would dearly love to leave town.
Soooo … during times of stress like this, I tend to focus on God all the more, of course, and as usual, He does not fail. Through it all, He has covered me in His peace and calm (yeah, I know—hard to believe for a wired individual like me!). Ironically, it was during a relaxing four days at The Lake of the Ozarks last week with my husband’s cousin and his wife (Hi, Karen — we had a blast and wish we could do it all over again …) that the words “love affair” especially resonated with me. Whether sitting with my feet up out on the screened-in deck of our condo, overlooking the lake or skimming across the water in Mike’s boat, those precious words kept lighting on my mind like a caress from God. Because it was during this relaxing, non-stressed time that I realized to the core of my being that my love affair with God is what keeps me afloat in good times and bad. There is a scene in my new book, A Heart Revealed, that describes what I’m talking about when I say a “love affair” with God. Emma is trying to explain it to her young neighbor (who, I am happy to say is named after my dear friend Casey Herringshaw, who won my newsletter contest to have a character named after her in this book). Here is what Emma says while she and Casey are playing Dominoes, which is exactly how I feel a love affair with God should be:
“You know how you feel when you’re with Johnny, as if you’re going to bubble over for the love he brings into your life?”
Casey nodded, a blush blooming on her face as she released a lovesick sigh.
“Well, it’s the same with me,” Emma said in a matter-of-fact tone, fingers flitting across the sea of tiles to turn each of them face down.
Ridges formed in Casey’s brow. “I don’t understand. Rory hurt you and now you’re alone.” She squinted, as if trying to comprehend. “Do you mean love for friends?”
“Yes, affection for you, Mrs. Peep and others, certainly, but that’s not the love I mean.”
“What, then?” Casey asked, the innocence in her face plucking at Emma’s heart.
Emma paused, fingers lingering on a tile. She glanced up with a tentative smile. “The kind of love that has the passion of a lover and the faithfulness of a friend, Casey—God’s love.”
Casey’s eyelids lowered as she shifted in her seat. “But we can’t see or feel God, Emma, so how can you feel his love? I need more than prayers to a God I can’t touch, see or hear—I want to hear words of love, see kind actions, feel hugs and kisses …”
“We all do, because yes, we’re human beings. But we were made in God’s image.” Drawing in a deep breath, Emma leaned back in her chair, her eyes tender. “Which means, Casey, like Father, like daughter. You want to be loved? So does he. You want to be touched? So does he. You want to feel the rush of a kiss or the warmth of a hug?” Tears pricked Emma’s eyes. “So does he, Casey. Which is why I rushed to him when Rory hurt me and my family betrayed me. And you know what? I found a God whose arms were open wide and whose heart leapt with joy when I called his name. As protective as a mother and as jealous as a lover, this was a God who wanted me for his very own. Me—Emma Malloy! To touch, to bless, to fill with his pleasure.” She swallowed hard, her gaze locked on Casey’s. “Until I overflow, spilling his love on all those around me—treasured possessions of a passionate God.”
Love affair. Each of has one with the God of the Universe, but not all of us are aware of it. He craves our love, our time, our clinging to Him in good times and bad because we are the “apple of His eye,” as Zechariah 2:8 so beautifully eludes to: “for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye …” As wonderful as that first kiss made you feel, the warmth of a loved one’s embrace, MORE SO is God’s love able to sustain and fulfill, so don’t miss out! If you don’t feel it, know it—ASK Him to show it to you. Ask Him to open your eyes to this love affair that is as close as your next breath and as life-sustaining as the next beat of your heart, because I promise you—if you tap in to that kind of love affair, your heart will be stolen away forever.
And speaking of heart’s being stolen away forever … I thought it would be fun to include a pic from a car show my hubby and I went to with Mike and Karen. We had a BLAST, even though I know NOTHING about cars and can barely tell a VW bug from an SUV. BUT … I was beyond tickled by the Model T’s and older cars I saw because I could almost picture Charity hiding in the back seat when Mitch took Kathleen home in A Passion Redeemed! 🙂 Sooooo fun!!!
Good News!! The reviews from A Heart Revealed have been rolling in, and I am SO thrilled that about 80% of the reader friends who have contacted me say that A Heart Revealed is now their favorite of all of my books, so YAY!! I want to remind everyone who reads it that I am running another newsletter contest where anyone who posts a review on Amazon.com, CBD.com, Goodreads, B&N or anywhere else, gets a point for every review posted. It only has to be a line or two saying you liked the book and a 5-star review if you can honestly give it that, then even just one review posted enters you into a drawing for a signed copy of Steven’s story, A Trust Restored when it comes out next year. The persons who come in first and second in posting the most reviews will get a character named after them in Steven’s story and the top winner will also get a $50 gift card. So if that sounds like something you’d be interested in, just sign up for my newsletter at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/ and post a review or more and let me know by forwarding me the links. BUT … if posting reviews is NOT your thing, PLEASE do not worry about it, okay? This is only for those people so inclined.
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. 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 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 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. Be sure to leave a comment on each blog throughout the week, from Monday 9/12 through tomorrow, 9/17, to increase your chances of winning :
SEPTEMBER 20, 2011
Join me at Austenitis blog for a chance to win a signed copy of any of my books including my upcoming release, A Heart Revealed at:
Have a BLESSED weekend, and next weekend I hope to announce the winners of my contest to promote Pam Hillman’s Stealing Jake e-book.