A Hope and a Prayer Ready for Pre-Order!
21 Days of Prayer!
A Julie Lessman Non-Fiction? You Bet!
Excerpt for A Hope and a Prayer!
You may want to check out the following prior blog posts HERE:
So, What Have I Been Up To?
My Writing Tips in Sky’s the Limit Press Literary Journal
Steady-On Podcast Interview!
Recommendations for Authors Who Write Like Me
Cool Trailer/Video for my latest, The Secret of Emerald Cottage
Pix of Characters from The Secret of Emerald Cottage!
1st Chapter from The Secret of Emerald Cottage!
A Hope and a Prayer Ready for Pre-Order!
Yep, Hope Dennehy’s story is finalllllly here!
Book 2 in The Cousins O’Connor WW2 Series, A Hope and a Prayer, is coming to Amazon on October 1st and YOU can pre-order it NOW at a discounted rate HERE!
And, WHOA, BABY, let me tell you, it took a LOT of both “hope” and especially “prayer” to get to this point! What I had intended to be a spring 2022 release will now be a fall release because of reasons I discussed in my last blog, which you can read HERE under the So, What Have I Been Up To? header.
I don’t mind telling you that this was one of the most difficult books I’ve ever written, if not the most difficult book!
I think because I wanted to implement a difficult lesson that God taught me in the last year, that He is our All-in-All. He is our peace, our joy, our hope, and our strength, and we cannot run to anything else on this earth to provide those things.
Because He is also a jealous God.
Consequently, I discovered that if I run to or esteem anything before or higher than Him—be it family, friends, talents, money, success, movies, TV shows or other entertainment, sports, alcohol, or even innocent pastimes like books or music—I risk elevating that thing to a higher place in my life than Him. Risk running to it to lift me up, to encourage me, or to make me happy instead of to God. And I risk allowing that thing to have more control and influence over me and my actions than God and His precepts.
A difficult lesson to learn? Well, for me, kind of. But especially for the hero, Lieutenant Brendan O’Neill. But the good news? That lesson made it all the clearer for me—and to Bren—that God is absolutely crazy about us! Loves us SO much that He created us to be His family, made in His image and likeness. That’s why He sent Jesus to redeem us and why He blesses us with wonderful things like family, friends, talents, etc.—all true gifts from Him.
But when we run to or prefer the gift over the Giver, we run the risk of not only limiting God’s blessings in our lives or in the lives of those we love, but limiting a relationship with the very God who made us for Himself—to be His family—and in whom “we live and move and have our being.”
That is a lesson I learned recently and one lesson that the hero in A Hope and a Prayer—Lieutenant Brendan (Bren) O’Neill—has to learn too. A critical lesson that has opened my eyes to not only how very much God loves us, but how much He wants to bless us with good things. Because He IS the key to good things—not the good things themselves! He is the only key to more joy, peace, and hope than I ever dreamed possible, as Bren also eventually finds out. Although let me just say—”Lieutenant Love” is a hard nut to crack! But then, Lieutenant Hope Dennehy is just the one to do it.
Here’s the jacket blurb:
She’s in love with her best friend.
He’s in love with her cousin.
But when the war reveals a gift so rare,
Will they be saved by a hope and a prayer?
As Head Nurse at 2d Hospital in Nancy, France, Lieutenant Hope Dennehy is known for her healing touch, especially when it comes to mending the wounds and spirit of her best friend, Lieutenant Bren O’Neill. When Hope’s cousin breaks Bren’s heart, Hope is always there, helping to heal him with a friendship so anointed and deep, it threatens to break her heart too.
Flying high as a daredevil aeromedical evac pilot in the European Theatre, “Lieutenant Love” O’Neill crashes and burns when the woman he loves falls for another. Depending on the support and prayers of Nurse Hope Dennehy to save him, Bren re-evaluates his free-wheeling lifestyle when he witnesses the heinous atrocities of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Suddenly nothing in life is as important as taking care of those he loves … or is it? Battling demons from his past, Bren learns that only one thing can truly save him from himself.
So, check out the excerpt at the end of this blog for a sneak peek and Hope and Bren’s story.
21 Days of Prayer—Aug. 7-27, 2022!
Twice a year, Keith and I embark on 21 Days of Prayer online with my daughter’s church, The Church of the Highlands, and I have to say, it’s one of the most powerful things we do each and every year.
And you know what? We absolutely LOVE it, and trust me, that’s saying something when we have to get up at 6:00 a.m. five days a week (and 9:00 a.m. on Saturdays) to watch a live 1-hour service that has changed our prayer lives! OR you can watch the recorded version anytime after 9:00 a.m.
I promise you that not only will it be the fastest hour you have ever spent, but the most beneficial in each of your 21 days. So if you are interested in learning more, check out this blog post I wrote about it HERE, and then here is the church’s link where you can find out all the details:
A Julie Lessman Non-Fiction? You Bet!
UH-OH, she’s venturing out of fiction!!
As mentioned in my last blog, I am writing a memoir-type devotional that I am loosely titling, A “Novel” Approach to Practical Christianity, which will begin with a short personal story from my life of how God taught me a particular spiritual lesson, and then the “novel approach” where I include a scene from one of my books where I actually taught the lesson to one of my characters, followed by a prayer, pertinent Scriptures, and takeaway.
Let me be the first to say that I don’t like reading OR writing nonfiction, but God kind of pushed me to the wall on this one with an interesting story you can read about in my last blog HERE under the So, What Have I Been Up To? header.
So, prayers appreciated that I get this puppy done by the end of the year! 😉
Excerpt for A Hope and a Prayer
Another reason I think A Hope and a Prayer was difficult to write is because I like feisty characters (Gabe, Katie, and Charity, anyone?), I guess because I’m one, too, so I know them well, which is why sweet, shy, and quiet Hope Dennehy was a bit of a challenge.
Yes, I’d done it before with both Lizzie O’Connor in A Passion Denied and Shannon O’Bryen in Love Everlasting, but Hope is definitely the quietest of the three. And yet, ALSO one of the godliest of my heroines, on par with both Faith O’Connor from A Passion Most Pure and Emma Malloy from A Heart Revealed.
But what surprised me the most was how much Hope’s spirituality and gentle character blessed me, so I hope she will bless you too. She certainly blesses Bren O’Neill in more ways than he ever dreamed possible!
Here is the prologue to A Hope and a Prayer—HAPPY SNEAK PEEK!
Therefore if any man be in Christ,
he is a new creature: old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17, King James Version
2d General Hospital, Nancy, France, January 1, 1945
“So help me, O’Neill, I will throttle you if you die!” The irony of her rare hiss of a whisper was lost on Nurse Hope Dennehy as she hovered near Lieutenant Bren O’Neill in the dimly lit surgical recovery ward. Breathing in the pungent scent of disinfectant, she sat glued to the edge of her wooden chair in the wee hours of the morning. His handsome face was as pale as the sheet draped across his heavily bandaged body while she gently grazed a thumb over the gauze on his arm, near as comatose as her best friend in the bed.
My best friend.
Tears burned along with the fatigue in her eyes. A dear, dear friendship that had slowly evolved when her cousin Gabe—the woman Bren had hoped to marry—broke off her relationship with him after she returned to the States. Still recuperating from a near-fatal sniper gunshot during the Liberation of Paris as well as the threat of a summary court martial, Bren had been devastated at the time, sinking into a depression that had worried Hope sick.
And so, she did what she always did when someone she cared about was hurting—she tried to alleviate their pain. A sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, a gin rummy game or two during free time … and prayer.
Oh, lots and lots of prayer!
To heal Bren’s heart, yes.
Her heart skipped a fractured beat. And to safeguard mine.
“I swear you’re my guardian angel, Hope, you know that?” he’d said more than once over the past year. And every single time had caused her to smile over what a captive audience he’d been, confined to a hospital ward until he could return to duty as an aeromedical pilot. But it certainly seemed as if she might be his angel, her endless prayers most likely the reason he was still alive after risking his own life to save a fellow evac buddy. A feat of heroism that would earn him yet another bronze star or air medal to add to his collection.
Hope glanced across the ward to where his close friend, Lieutenant Michael Graves, was sleeping like a baby with nothing more than a grazed shoulder and broken arm. Bren had borne the brunt of enemy fire when he’d tackled his friend to the ground, taking the bullets meant for him. Eyes moist, she turned her gaze back to her best friend. But then, that was Bren. The wild daredevil who didn’t seem to fear danger, especially when it meant giving his all for a friend.
Like he so often did for her. Emotionally, if not physically.
Their time together had served both him and the casual friendship they shared well, deepening into the closest relationship she’d ever had with a man—or anyone, for that matter—outside of her family. He’d even allowed her to pray for him on occasion—that the frequent letters he wrote to Gabe would somehow change her mind from friendship to more—although it was clear spirituality wasn’t his suit. But her heart had rejoiced when he’d begrudgingly attributed his light sentence from the court martial—a week in the brig—to her intervention with the Almighty.
“What am I going to do without you, Dennehy?” he’d asked more than once prior to his transfer over 400 miles away to the Air Holding Unit at Toul, France, evacuating wounded from the Battle of Hürtgen Forest east of the German border.
“Get into more trouble, I suppose,” she’d teased, but she couldn’t help but wonder the same for herself. Naturally quiet and shy, Hope had always thrived on both Gabe’s and Bren’s passion for life, reveling in their fun and fervor. Their engaging personalities had always been like a light to her soul, painting her world with beautiful colors. Her heart squeezed over the memory of the day Bren had finally left last October, a day of gloom and drizzle, leaving her skies gray and bleak ever since.
Gently sweeping back his dark curls from his damp forehead, she was almost ashamed at the joy she felt inside to be able to nurture him once again, both as a patient and a friend. Which is why, she decided as she attempted to cover his six-foot-three frame up with the too-short blanket, she had no intention of leaving his side until he woke up from his surgery, safe and sound.
“Best to keep a close eye on him,” Dr. Martin had said after Bren’s difficult surgery, where they’d almost lost him a second time from a critical chest wound sustained during the Ardenne’s Offensive. As an evac pilot, Bren had been in the thick of that major German offensive to push the Allied front line west from France to Belgium. Dubbed the “Battle of the Bulge” by the press, it was a campaign that had almost ended his life. Moisture pricked Hope’s eyes.
And our friendship.
Issuing a low groan, she laid her forehead on Bren’s arm, so tired she could fall asleep right here and now. But she couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Because even though she was off-duty and should be sleeping herself, as Bren’s friend, she wanted to be there when he awakened. The post-operative hours were the most critical, she knew. He needed careful monitoring. For his pulse, his respiratory rate, systolic blood pressure. A keen eye on his temperature and level of consciousness, as well as pain assessment or any deterioration in his condition. Expelling a silent sigh, she sat up to check her watch.
“Ahem.” Her friend and fellow nurse Cindy Hyatt prodded her way in between Hope’s chair and Bren’s bed, arms locked in a stern fold as she gave Hope a menacing lift of her brow. “You’ve been here long enough, my friend, and need your sleep, so go to bed—now!”
Offering a weak smile, Hope peeked up, well aware Cindy could be pushy when she wanted. But what Cindy didn’t know was—contrary to popular belief—so could Hope. At least when it came to people she loved. Shimmying back into her chair with the faintest square of her shoulders, Hope met her friend’s gaze directly, some of her exhaustion dissipating with the barest lift of her chin. “We both know Doc Martin said it was a difficult surgery and that Bren would need ‘round-the-clock care,’ so as a nurse and his best friend, Nurse Hyatt, I’d like to sit with him till he wakes up.”
Cindy nodded over her shoulder to two other nurses on the night shift. “That’s right, Nurse Dennehy, and as the nurses on duty, we are the ‘round-the-clock care’ tonight, replaced, I might add, by fresh and rested nurses such as yourself on the 0800 shift.”
Squatting to face Hope head-on, Cindy gently jiggled Hope’s knee, the sympathy in her eyes pricking moisture in Hope’s own. “He’s going to be fine, Hope, difficult surgery or no. And with the boatload of prayers you prayed for him, no doubt, how could he do anything but recover? For crying out loud, you’re St. Hope, after all, the nurse with healing in her hands, remember? But I’m afraid neither you nor your hands will be much good unless you get some sleep.”
“But I want to be here when he wakes up—” Hope said again, not comforted at all by the nickname the other nurses had given her when the patients she prayed for often made miraculous recoveries.
“And you will be,” Cindy assured with a somber smile, “because Doc Martin prescribed a hefty dose of sodium amobarbital, so our boy won’t be waking up anytime soon, I promise.”
Hope blinked, Cindy’s words registering in slow motion. “He did?” She rose to look at the chart at the end of his bed, her eyes so blurry, she could barely read it. “Where?”
“Right here,” Cindy said, tapping the faint scrawl that Hope had failed to recognize as Dr. Martin’s illegible handwriting. “Said he wanted Bren on a steady dosage for a few days to keep him calm and still.” Her mouth tipped up on one side as she studied the sleeping pilot with a reputation for charming every nurse at 2d. “Obviously he knows our boy as well as we do.”
“Oh. I didn’t realize that.”
“Yes, I know, because you were not on duty when Doc wrote the order after surgery, sweetie—we were. Which means we are his round-the-clock care, not you, all right?”
Giving a limp nod, Hope issued a weary sigh as she moved to take Bren’s pulse. She caught her breath when Cindy grasped her by the shoulders, her friend’s tone much softer than her hold. “Go to bed, Hope,” she whispered. “You’ll have all day tomorrow to spoil him to your heart’s content.”
“I don’t spoil him—”
Cindy arched a brow that defied Hope’s resistance, and she sighed again, well aware that Cindy was right. She did spoil Bren. Just like she’d spoiled her cousin Gabe all of her life, the best friend who had come to their family as an abused orphan at the age of eight. From the start, Hope had seen right through Gabe’s hard exterior into a heart that had been wounded almost beyond repair.
Almost. A faint smile shadowed Hope’s lips. One quiet word that held the promise of God in a Scripture near and dear to Hope’s heart: Love never fails.
Glancing at Bren, Hope felt a tenderness surge she couldn’t seem to help. From the first moment he’d flashed that heart-melting grin so many of the nurses swooned over, somehow she’d sensed a deeply wounded soul beneath that handsome demeanor. Like Gabe, he hid it well with a charismatic and devil-may-care personality. But Hope’s sixth sense had pierced right through his rakish façade into a heart she suspected needed God’s love and healing as desperately as Gabe’s had. A weary breath seeped from her lips in reluctant surrender. “Okay, maybe I do, but he’s been through a lot, Cindy, with two near-death surgeries and a broken heart, you know?”
Cindy’s face softened. “I know, sweetie, and he’s very lucky to have a friend like you.” She glanced down at the sleeping pilot, his dark curly hair all askew while his muscular chest rose and fell in soft rhythm, those deadly dimples lost in repose. “With a heartbreaker like Bren, most women are looking for way more than friendship because even in a dead sleep and wrapped in gauze, the man’s still gorgeous.” She sighed as she pushed another stray curl off his forehead. “But you?” She turned to offer Hope a gentle smile. “You genuinely care for him as a friend, Hope, and nothing more, so he’s a very lucky guy because frankly, I don’t know how you do it. Now scoot.”
With a tired nod, Hope bent to give Bren’s hand a soft squeeze before she eased by her friend with a smile of thanks, thinking she couldn’t agree with Cindy more.
Because frankly? She didn’t know how she did it either. She cast a final glance over her shoulder, tenderly mixed with a silent prayer.
Except for the grace of God.