Friday with Friends–Guest blog by Connie Stevens
I am so happy to bring you this guest blog by my good friend and prayer partner, Connie Stevens. And believe me, Connie walks the walk. She is a true prayer warrior as you will see in this story below. Warning: you many want to have a hanky ready!
Answered Prayer by Connie Stevens
When I asked God to use my book, it was a prayer He answered almost immediately…
One week before Christmas this past December, I received a case of author copies of my debut novel, LEAVE ME NEVER, from Heartsong Presents. My excitement level was through the roof as I held my first book in my hands. Flashbacks of my writing journey that had brought me to this moment tiptoed across my mind, and I sent a prayer heavenward asking God to use this book.
I gave a few copies to friends and family and they shared in my excitement. But I had to come back down to earth. My holiday list of things to do still waited for my attention so I prepared to run several errands. I remember once, when attending a writer’s conference, someone said to always carry a few of your books with you because you never know when God will give you an opportunity to network with someone who can help you promote your book, or use the book to introduce someone to Christian fiction. So I stuck a book in my purse.
Since it was just one week before Christmas, every place was crowded, the lines were long, and patience seemed in short supply. My last stop was the grocery store. The girl who checked me out looked and sounded tired and discouraged, so I smiled at her. She tried to smile back but her effort appeared forced. I asked her if she was ready for Christmas. When all she did was lift her shoulders, I felt a nudge from God. This girl’s response wasn’t simply due to weariness and aching feet. Her very demeanor suggested an ache in her heart as well.
As she finished checking out my groceries, I asked her (a bit apprehensively) if she liked to read. She gave a half-shrug and said, “When I have time.”
My soul whispered a prayer that God would use me to minister to this young lady, but how could I do that with a line of people waiting behind me? I pulled the book out of my purse, handed it to her and said, “Merry Christmas. This is my debut novel.”
Again, the forced smile and a mumbled thank you. The bag boy tucked the last bag into my cart and turned it toward the door, waiting for me to join him. I saw the cashier out of the corner of my eye turn the book over and glance at the back. As the bag boy and I reached the door, the girl called out behind me. I turned. She had tears in her eyes as she held up the book. She tapped her finger on the back cover. “Is this what this book is about?”
I smiled (much bigger this time and not the least bit apprehensive) and said, “Yes.”
You know how sometimes you “lock eyes” with someone and unspoken communication zings back and forth between you? I saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes and this time her smile wasn’t forced when she said, “Thank you. Merry Christmas.”
The first line on the back cover of my book reads, “Does God keep His promises?”
I needed a tissue before I could drive home.
The image of this girl and the tears in her eyes has lingered in my memory. Since my book didn’t officially release until three weeks later, this cashier was among my first readers. My heart was arrested by that term—readers. As Christian authors, the reason we write goes beyond entertainment. Our writing is a ministry. We never know who will be impacted by a character or a plot that draws that reader in and points their heart in the direction of Jesus. Praying for my readers has become a new passion.
Connie Stevens lives in north Georgia with her husband of thirty-seven years, John. One cantankerous kitty—misnamed Sweet Pea—allows them to live in her home. Some of Connie’s favorite pastimes include reading, browsing antique shops, collecting teddy bears, and gardening. She also enjoys making quilts to send to the Cancer Treatment Centers Of America. LEAVE ME NEVER is Connie’s first published book. Her second book, REVEALING FIRE, releases this spring, which will be followed by a third release, SCARS OF MERCY, this summer. All three books are published with Heartsong Presents, division of Barbour Publishing. Visit Connie’s website and blog at www.conniestevenswrites.com and look for her on Facebook.
What a beautiful story, Connie, and a HUGE answered prayer. Rose was right. Needed a hanky ready.
Rose, I love your website makeover. And the cover of your debut. Can’t wait to meet you again tonight at our meeting/dinner. Thanks for hosting Connie. I loved her story.
Connie, that;s what we all hope for, our words being used to bring hope. Praise God!! And what a beautiful confirmation that you were faithful. It’s also this kind of testimony that encourages me when I wonder about the timing of getting a contract. If you had gotten your first contract earlier, you probably wouldn’t have connected with her like that. For one, you would have been out of books. :) God’s never early and and He’s never late. He’s an on time God!
The last line of Connie’s post really showed what a loving spirit Connie must have and why the Lord is surely blessing her writing. “Praying for her readers.” There can never be too many prayer warriers in our world.