“The ladder of success

is best climbed by stepping on

the rungs of opportunity.”

— Ayn Rand

Have I ever mentioned that I’m afraid of heights? Well, I am. A veritable baby when it comes to anything off the ground. 

Like the summer my 12-year-old daughter talked me into an innocent chairlift ride at the Lake of the Ozarks, billed as a “relaxing scenic adventure” over a pretty ravine of trees and wildflowers. Yeah, right. Pretty? Maybe, if I had kept my eyes open. Relaxing? Not even close for either my daughter or me, the poor, scarred child whose mother had a death grip on her, forcing her to sing Amazing Grace while I hyperventilated and muttered “In Jesus’ name” over and over under my breath. I wanted to throw up once my feet hit solid ground, and I vowed I would NEVER go there again.

So when I became an author, I knew I wanted to climb the ladder of success, but I wasn’t prepared for the nausea and dizziness that sometimes goes along with scaling the heights. Unfortunately, the ladder I was trying to climb was the world’s ladder — wobbly, rickety, and prone to crashing to the floor, taking me along with it.

That’s when I took a sabbatical in 2014, laying aside all those “rungs of opportunity” — be they pitching proposals to my publisher, entering contests, or living on the Internet to promote my books — to climb a different “ladder of success”: God’s.

And boy, oh boy, let me tell you, what a perspective shift!

I remember once when I became an on-fire Christian at the age of 23, I was struggling with a problem or decision that I don’t even remember now, but I do remember what God whispered in my thoughts one day when I was fretting about it. I was at a stoplight, probably crying, knowing me, not sure what I was going to do. “God, You gotta help me here, please — what should I do?”

The light turned green, and I made a left onto a pretty steep upramp to the highway, when all of a sudden I had this odd sensation that my car was lifting, lifting, lifting into the sky like it was going to fly. I can’t explain it, but this overwhelming sense of excitement, peace and joy filled my soul. That’s when I heard this Still Small Voice in my mind that said, “Look up, Julie, and raise your perspective to Mine. Don’t look at the problem. Look to Me, for My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

That’s the day I got my first glimpse at God’s “ladder of succes,” where climbing higher means raising our perspective to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) instead of focusing on our problems, decisions, or even dreams and desires. Because that’s the ladder to true success, and a perspective shift I have never forgotten. To this day, I think of that object lesson and God’s faithfulness every single time I go up that particular upramp, which became to me — in a sense — a stairway to heaven.

So, what are the “rungs of opportunity” on God’s ladder to success? Nothing so shallow as a new job, new book contract, new boyfriend, new car or anything else the world deems as success. Nope, God’s rungs include every problem, every heartache, every disappointment or failure we ever encounter, each designed by the father of lies to rip us to shreds. Only God views them way differently — each and every one as an opportunity to bless the socks off of those He loves. You … and me.

How? By PRAISING Him in the midst of our trials, shifting our focus and perspective from them unto Him because “He inhabits the praises of His people” (Psalm. 22:3) and praise looses His power in a situation.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened”  (Acts 16:25-26).

Did you see that? “Everyone’s bonds were unfastened.” Just like praising God in the midst of our problems will do for us.

AND by THANKING Him so He can “guard our hearts and minds.”

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:4-7

So next time a problem hits — be it trials and tribulations or just fiery darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16) such as jealousy, envy, bitterness, unforgiveness, carnaltiy, etc. — shift your perspective to Gods to see them as a “golden opportunity” to climb His ladder of success. Just like Mrs. Gerson taught Faith in A Passion Most Pure in the clip below, showing her how to scale heights like never before. And trust me from personal experience — these are one type of heights that will not make you dizzy.

Hugs and Happy Climbing!


A PASSION MOST PURE by Julie Lessman

“Do you know what I see, Faith?” Mrs. Gerson asked, leaning forward in her chair.

“No,” Faith responded curtly, “what do you see?”

Mrs. Gerson smiled a broad smile. “I see a golden opportunity, my dear.”

Faith stared at the old woman, and for the first time in her life, a hint of irritation rankled. “And what would that be, Mrs. Gerson?” Faith asked, tone clipped.

The old woman’s smile remained unwavering. “Why, an opportunity to put God’s Word to the test, of course! A golden opportunity, my dear.” Mrs. Gerson hovered on the edge of her seat, her face aglow with the same excitement Faith had once known herself. “You’ve always encountered problems with your sister Charity as long as I’ve known you, and you were always faithful to return love for the pain she inflicted. But this …” she said, stretching her hands out in front of her, “this, my dear, is the answer to your prayers. It’s the way home, the resolution! You have an opportunity here to take the narrow path Jesus spoke about, and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that you, Faith O’Connor, will choose life!”

Faith bristled, wondering if Mrs. Gerson had always spoken in riddles like this. What on earth was she rambling on about? “I’m afraid I don’t understand your point.”

Mrs. Gerson ignored her terse tone and smiled, picking up the Bible next to her chair. She held it aloft. Reluctantly, Faith reached for the book, surprised that her heart jumped as she touched its leather binding. 

“Open it to Deuteronomy 30:15, please,” Mrs. Gerson instructed.

Faith sat back in the chair and flipped through the pages of the book she’d read so often, up until a week ago. She found the passage and read it aloud.

         “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

in that I command thee this day to love Jehovah thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that thou mayest live and multiply, and that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it.  But if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days in the land …

 Faith’s voice trailed off, and Mrs. Gerson lifted her face, her eyes glowing. “Read on, Faith, the next paragraph, please.” 

Faith rolled her eyes and puffed out of sigh.

         “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed …”

Faith couldn’t go on. Her tone balked as she slapped the book closed. “These are just words, Mrs. Gerson. I don’t even know what they mean.”

The old woman bent forward, teetering on the edge of her chair, her eyes shimmering with joy. “It means, my dear, that every moment of our lives we have the opportunity to reap blessings from the hand of Almighty God. It means you have a choice in your future, Faith, that every decision you make shapes the course of your life, whether there will be joy or sorrow, blessing or curse. He’s begging you, Faith––He begs each of us––to choose life! Choose His way, the way of forgiveness and prayer. In the face of pain such as you’ve encountered, my dear, the choice is clear. You can choose to hate your sister and Mitch and hold on to your bitterness, or you can choose to forgive and be set free. If you choose hate, your heart will grow hard and cold as I suspect you’ve already seen, and you will be destroyed. God is very clear about that. But, if you choose life––His way and His precepts––you choose blessing, not only for your own life, but for the life of your children after you.”

Faith shook her head. “I can’t forgive them; it’s too hard.”

Mrs. Gerson chuckled. “Skip up to verse ll, my dear.”

         Faith scowled as her fingers slapped through the pages once again. When she found the verse, she cleared her throat. “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not too hard for thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”

Mrs. Gerson’s face was rapt with excitement, and Faith’s eyes blinked wide. She slumped in the chair and pushed the hair from her face, the Bible splayed in her lap. Could it really be that easy to reap the blessings of God? With all of the hurt and hate within her, was it really within her reach to forgive? It was not an impossible thing to do––He was saying it right there in His Word. It was not too difficult or beyond her reach. No, His Word, which commanded her to forgive and love, could be in her mouth if she spoke it, and then in her heart to perform it. It was simply a decision, a choice, one that God himself begged her to make. And all because He wanted to bless her. 



Favorite Novel I’ve Ever Written!

If you haven read book 1 in the Winds of Change series, A Hope Undaunted, now is your chance! Because I promise you that the passionate and tumultuous story of Katie O’Connor and Luke McGee is one you won’t soon forget.

Honestly? I love this book SO much I reread it every single year, so what does that tell you? If the gal who loves passion, drama, angst, faith & family in large doses rereads this O’Connor novel more than all the rest, you probably should too! 😉 Here’s the link — PLEASE spread the word!!




Have You Read Isle of Hope or A
Glimmer of Hope

Because if you have and posted a review on Amazon or Goodreads, you can get points in my newsletter contest to have a character named after you in my next book and a signed copy, so PLEASE let know if you do, okay?


Most people don’t realize how critical good reviews are to authors, but because so many potential readers base their book-buying decisions on the number of good reviews posted, that’s the best way to bless an author you love. So please consider posting a short 1- or 2-line review for the books that you love, whether they or mine or those of another author you enjoy. Thank you!



The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity. Ayn Rand
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aynrand163085.html?src=t_ladder
The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity. Ayn Rand
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aynrand163085.html?src=t_ladder
The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity. Ayn Rand
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aynrand163085.html?src=t_ladder
The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity. Ayn Rand
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aynrand163085.html?src=t_ladder