“Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.
That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything.
There is an element of mystery in this transaction:
You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings),
and I give you joy (regardless of your circumstances).”
— Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Ah, Thanksgiving … turkeys roasting, pies baking, families laughing and loving like one of those hearth-and-home Wal-mart commercials with the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. A day devoted entirely to be grateful for everything we have.
Only, sometimes we aren’t grateful for “everything” we have, at least I wasn’t this Thanksgiving.
Okay, I can hear the collective gasp right now. Julie Lessman isn’t grateful for everything she has???
Nope because there’s two things you need to know about me.
1.) I have blood in my veins.
2.) I am a brutally honest person.
You see, family is everything to me, and if you can’t tell that from my books, then I’m doing something wrong. Yes, families have problems and trials and OH, soooo much drama, especially mine. But deep down they love each other and can conquer all with a solid foundation of faith, right?
Yes, I still believe that, but unlike the picture-perfect Wal-mart commercial, it doesn’t always come easy. For instance, take this Thanksgiving I just celebrated with my family — in the midst of all the laughter and love (and there was plenty, trust me), there was also an open wound festering. A hurt someone inflicted on me that teetered on the precipice of taking me down. And it did. For a full 24 hours — darkening my mood, damaging my soul, and in the end, wounding the God I adore as much as it wounded me.
And then God reminded me of a lesson I learned OH so long ago when He first saved my sorry soul and gave me His first assignment:
Love your father.
Love my father? The same father who beat me and demoralized me and told me not to think I was anything special as a woman because “any whore can get them excited” ???
Yep, that father. Which is exactly what my new book, Isle of Hope, is all about. How I learned to do that through the grace of God and come out on the other side with more joy, peace, and freedom (he whom the Son sets free is free indeed) than I ever dreamed possible.
Because like our header quote above so beautifully states, we give God thanks in “everything” regardless of our feelings, and He gives us joy (and success) regardless of the circumstances.
He did it for me with my father, and he will do it for me with this new wound that’s been inflicted. I will thank and praise Him for this situation, fully trusting that He will turn it around like He always has before when I apply His precepts.
But it doesn’t end there, you know, with just giving thanks. Nope, you have to pray for that person who wounded you after you praise and thank God for them as well.
And then comes the reallllllly hard part — You have to put feet to your faith. That means loving them unconditionally like Christ did for us whether you like them or not, whether you feel like it or not. A kind word. A kind note. A kind action. A piece of duct tape on your mouth if you have to. And doing it ALL without expecting anything back from them, just out of sheer obedience to the God you love to show HIM that you actually DO! You may not be able to stand this person who’s hurt you at the moment, but you ADORE God, so do it for HIM. That’s called unconditional love, and that’s what Isle of Hope is all about.
But you know what the real irony is about this book? I get to apply it ALL OVER AGAIN to the very situation that wounded me this Thanksgiving. And I will … because I know first-hand that it works. because like Tess, the secondary older heroine in Isle of Hope says to the primary heroine, Lacey Carmichael:
“Just remember, Lacey …” Her gaze was suddenly somber. “It’s not about you, honey, it’s about your father. Allowing God to use you and your burgeoning faith to shine His light and love into the dark and desolate world of a man who is so very lost.” She blinked several times, dispelling a sheen of moisture as she stroked Lacey’s cheek. “And I promise you, darling, with everything in me, that through your hard-won obedience, God will heal you both in the process, unleashing untold blessings that will bring so much joy into your lives.” With a gentle pat of Lacey’s arms, Tess pulled away. “You’re welcome to come back after if you like, but if you decide to go home, I’ll expect a full report the next time you come for dinner, understood?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Lacey gave a crisp salute as she picked up the ice cream, her grin misty. “Wish me luck?”
Tess’s smile was soft. “Oh, honey, you don’t need luck if prayer and faith are involved …”
And you don’t! Just God, His Holy Spirit, and His Word.
So Happy Thxgiving, maybe a day late … but right on time for me to relearn a valuable lesson. And maybe … just maybe one you need to learn too.
THE ISLE OF HOPE PAPERBACK IS FINALLY HERE!!!
Yes, it’s true, you can now purchase the paperback for Isle of Hope, and trust me — it’s a whopper! And like I said on Facebook, if you don’t like it, you can always use it as a door stop! 🙂
SO … I would appreciate it GREATLY if you would spread the word about Isle of Hope, and if you purchase a paperback copy for yourself or someone else and would like to have it signed, just let me know, and I will send you a bookplate signed to you or whomever you give it to, okay? Here’s the link:
SALE ALERT!!! BOTH O’CONNOR CHRISTMAS NOVELLAS ONLY 99 CENTS DECEMBER 5-12 ONLY!!!
Yes, you heard me right. If you haven’t read Mitch and Charity’s novella “A Whisper of Hope” in the Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection OR my brand new novella, “The Best Gift of All,” which is Brady and Lizzie’s novella that’s part of the Home for Christmas Historical Collection, then NOW’S YOUR CHANCE! Because both novella collections (which also include novellas by other award-winning authors as well) will be ONLY 99 CENTS DECEMBER 5-12, 2015 ONLY!
And DOUBLE BONUS! Did you know you can get extra points in my Isle of Hope Contest for both the Christmas novellas too? Well, you can, so be sure to check out the CONTEST tab of my website for all the details and HAPPY READING!!
GIVEAWAYS OF ISLE OF HOPE!!
DECEMBER 1-7 for an INTERVIEW/GIVEAWAY ON ALEXIS GORING’S “25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS STORIES where there will be THREE drawings of your choice of e-books of my two Christmas novellas OR A Light in the Window. Here’s the link and hope to see you there!