Monday, February 2, 2015

Meet the Author -- Carol Heilman -- Win a Copy of Her Novel in the Monthly Give-away

Carol Heilman 
Our guest today is Carol Heilman. I enjoyed getting to know Carol last spring at the Carolina Christian Writers’ Conference. Carol is a coal miner's daughter who married her high school sweetheart. She lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband of fifty-plus years.

I hope you'll enjoy our interview.  Leave a comment below for your chance to win a copy of Carol’s delightful debut novel, Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbrier. I love the cover.

Carol, please tell us a little about your writing.

I began writing family stories, especially about my dad’s Appalachian humor, for newspapers and magazines. I read tons of books on writing, and enrolled in a few creative writing classes, but the most important step for me was joining a critique group. These fellow writers became my support and my cheerleaders who gently critiqued my work until gradually my writing skills improved. I think a good critique group is invaluable.

For you is writing a passion, a calling, or both?

Writing is an absolute passion. Just ask my husband who sometimes rolls his eyes at my enthusiasm.

What’s the best thing about writing a book?

Getting lost in the story and in the lives of the characters.

Is there one piece of writing advice you wish you’d had from the beginning?

You will learn more from your failures than your successes.

What is the most meaningful truth you hope your readers will glean from your writing?

Listen to our elders. Really listen. And become a voice for a senior who cannot speak for himself or herself.

What do you think the Lord is teaching you through your writing?

Patience and compassion. 

What inspired you to write this novel?

The story began as a writing assignment, a short story, inspired by my mother’s spunky spirit and my dad’s humor. The main character, Agnes, has my mother’s spunky spirit.

Tell us about your new book.

Set in a small town, AgnesHopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar, is about an outspoken widow who sometimes talks to her husband, Charlie, even though he died two years and three months ago. Here’s a description from the back cover.

Summer's steamy haze coats North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, but feisty Agnes Marie Hopper discovers the heat isn't the only thing causing her blood to boil. After a kitchen fire destroys her home, Agnes moves in with her daughter, Betty Jo. Three months later they come to an understanding. Neither can tolerate living with the other. So on a sultry August morning Betty Jo drives Agnes and her few belongings to Sweetbriar Manor, a local retirement home and a former house of ill repute.

With no intention of staying, Agnes devises a scheme to sneak out of the Manor and find another place to live. Before she can make her exit, she runs into her best friend from high school, along with some other quirky characters. With a nose for trouble, Agnes learns some of the residents are being robbed, over-medicated, and denied basic cable and Internet access.

Armed with nothing more than seventy-one years of common sense and a knack for pushing people's buttons, Agnes sets out to expose the unscrupulous administrator, protect her new friends, and restore Sweetbriar Manor's reputation as a "rewarding and enriching lifestyle." But the real moment of truth comes when Agnes is forced to choose between her feisty self-reliance and the self-sacrifice that comes from caring for others. 

Please share with us your favorite Scripture and why it means so much to you?

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.” 2 Samuel 22:17 (NIV)

If the Lord Jesus had not rescued me, I would have drowned. I was a young adult when I realized He loved me unconditionally, and at that very moment my bitter and rebellious heart began to heal and change. Now my heart is filled with His joy because I will always belong to Him.

Thank you Carol for sharing with us today.  Your novel sounds like a fun read.    

Readers, thank you for visiting Write Moments with God.  You can connect with Carol on the following sites:

I hope you will leave a comment (with your email address if I don't have it already) in order to be included in the random drawing for a paperback copy of Carol new book.  Please share this post with your friends. The winner will be announced on the blog, Monday, February 9th.  Blessings!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Battle We Wage with Ourselves -- Personal Responsibility in Conformity to God's Will

Picture from Google Images

While I read one of the devotions in My Upmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, a thought grabbed me. Here it is:

Ultimately, the battle we wage is with ourselves.

I meditated on that and realized that for those of us who desire to know God and draw close to Him in relationship, a battle rages in us with ourselves because God has ordained that we shall be conformed to the image of Christ.  

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29 (KJV)

This is not a passive transformation.  If it were passive, Jesus' sweat would not have been like great drops of blood as He prayed on the Mount of Olives.  (See Luke 22:44)

We have to bring our thoughts into conformity to God's will for our lives, and our actions will follow. This is something I must do; no one else can do it for me, and I can't blame anyone else when I fail to do the thing I know I should.

We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5 (RSV)

Cooperation with and dedication to God is required if I surrender my life to God’s will.

When we've gotten passed obedience to God out of fear, the love of God constrains us to obey His word.  When we see beyond the commotion of community and family living, we come back full circle to self -- me, myself, and I.

Take these as examples:

If I stay up late watching a marathon of TV dramas, rather than do a task the Lord has compelled me to do, who is to blame?

If I gossip about an injustice, who made me speak the words?

If I point out an unimportant flaw or fail to follow a special diet I need to follow (my body is the temple of His spirit), the fault is on me.

If ever I do blame myself for my lack of spiritual discipline ( i.e. shortcomings), some well-meaning soul, only a click away, will excuse me with soothing words of Truth mixed with enough worldly wisdom (sympathy and excuses) to lull me into passivity. So much of the content of Christian blogs and literature serves the purpose of encouragement and validation.  Much of my writing is of that nature.  And we need that from time to time.  The coffee klatch aura is appealing.  But can't it be a sort of spiritual kindergarten if we allow ourselves to stay there, babes in Christ?   

I have a responsibility to keep my thoughts and spirit in agreement with the Holy Spirit. I have a responsibility to fulfill all that the Lord requires of me, personally.  I know God has called me to write a second devotional, yet I keep laying it aside for other activities. 

I realize the fault is mine.  

The inspiration for my meditation was the September 9th devotion in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  Here’s a brief quote:

"True earnestness is found in obeying God, not in the inclination to serve Him that is born of undisciplined human nature.  It is inconceivable, but true never the less, that saints are not bringing every project into captivity, but are doing work for God at the instigation of their own human nature which has not been spiritualized by determined discipline."

"...not bringing every project into captivity..." that's the line that pricked my heart.

For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.  2 Corinthians 5:14,15 (KJV)

Picture courtesy of Google images

Thank you for visiting Write Moments with God.  I hope my reflections in some way are helpful to you in your walk with Christ.  Please share your thoughts if you think they can in anyway add clarity and truth to the meditation.  I like hearing from you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rain or Shine Live Life to the Fullest

Charming chirp-er courtesy of Eileen DeCamp

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (KJV)

The sun is shining.  Birds chirp outside my window.  If I didn't know better, I’d say spring has arrived.  The pleasant weather forecast makes me smile.  I’m grateful to God for the gorgeous weather.  When it’s sunny and warm, my mood usually is too. 

There’s no doubt, the weather impacts our moods.  I’ve read somewhere that women are even more susceptible to weather conditions than men, who more easily change their plans. (Readers, be sure to correct me if I’m wrong.) However, I am aware the weather can change at the drop of a hat.  Just as our “situations” can change on a dime.  Bad news can come unexpectedly.

As I enjoy this day, I want to thank God for all that He means to me, and all that He’s done that I might live abundantly as His child.  The simple pleasures, like a sunny day, a good night’s sleep, a hot cup of coffee, His peace--things I often take for granted--I want to be grateful to God for all that, all the time, and thank Him throughout the day for all His blessings, not the least of which is my access to His throne of grace, purchased for me by His son, Jesus Christ.

So, come rain or shine, sickness or health, no matter the time or circumstance, I will appreciate Him and who I am in Christ Jesus and enjoy His many benefits.

Today, it’s sunshine.  My cup is full.  Later today when I hug one of my children, my cup will overflow.  Gratitude fills my heart.  I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I know God will be with me.  His goodness and mercy shall follow me.   I thank God for that assurance.  (See Psalm 23)

 Stained glass window in the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Keeping a Divine Perspective on Goals, Earthly Ambitions, aka Our Plans

Photo courtesy of Google Images
Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Matthew 24:46 RSV

We've seen articles galore on resolutions and goal setting in the last few weeks. I wrote about resolutions in my devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea.  So, I don’t want to give you more of the same. Instead, I’d like to focus on keeping a divine perspective.

To me, goals sometimes seem more like earthly ambitions. I've had to think about this point. I've concluded:

The important thing is to have a godly perspective on our plans.

How do we do this?

Pray.  Prayer is the first step in the work of goal-setting.  As we talk it all over with God, bringing our plans before His throne of grace, daily, we will get the mind of Christ on the matter. The Holy Spirit within us even helps us pray. 

We can ask God in prayer how each goal affects our relationship with Him first, and then with our loved ones?  Does the goal glorify God?  Ask, does this goal serve a good purpose in my life? in His Kingdom? Prayer will help us achieve the right balance.

We want God’s will for our lives, so we ask “according to thy will”, let it be done.

God has created each of us with talents—our unique gifts and abilities.  We are expected to cultivate those, not bury them (Matthew 25:14-30), and use them to serve God.  Ask, do my goals serve to cultivate my unique talents? Am I using them for God’s glory?

The fruits of our talents should be kept in proper perspective, lest they become worldly or tend toward selfish ambitions (vainglory). In addition to that, it’s wise to do what we can to develop talents in line with goals without breaking our backs or our bank accounts.

The biggest obstacle to achieving goals, from my experience, is self-doubt which translates into fear, causing hindrances and missed opportunities.  However, if we've set our goals in cooperation with God, we know we are in His will. Then, our confidence is in God and we can rely on Him to enable us to do what we need to do.  We’ll have His blessing to pursue our goals, with humility, in full cooperative with Him, to do our unique part in His kingdom work and to finish the task He has given us.

 [Jesus said] I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do. John 17:4 RSV

Amazing photo courtesy of Aaron Baron
Thank you all for visiting today. God bless you today and always.  God's speed accomplishing your goals.  I appreciate hearing from you, so please share your thoughts below.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Your Legacy of Love, Early Impressions, and Lasting Gifts

A Playground in Quebec City ~  I visited in June 2011.

And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15

By default, I half listened to the television that was on in the waiting area where I sat.  A young 90 year old man was introduced by the host to the applause of an enthusiastic audience.  I was impressed by his healthy alertness, vitality, and cheerful responses.  I sat a little straighter and tried to hear what he had to say.  He didn’t appear to be a day over 75.  And then, he referred to his dear mother departed, and smiled as he spoke of her.  I didn’t hear much after that because I became lost in the wonder of such an old son still sensing his mother’s love and recalling her words which lived on in him.

A couple of days later, I heard another interview.  A middle aged sports icon spoke of  his grandmother’s instructions which still guide him today. I thought of the verses in Paul’s letter to Timothy.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 2 Timothy 1:5

Matthew Henry wrote this in his bible commentary:

“Thus pious women may take encouragement from the success of Lois and Eunice with Timothy, who proved so excellent and useful a minister. Some of the most worthy and valuable ministers the church of Christ has been favoured with, have had to bless God for early religious impressions made upon their minds by the teaching of their mothers or other female relatives.”

These words touched my heart. Maybe it was because I was spending a wonderful holiday with my children and grandchildren. Maybe it was because the Lord has been calling me to prayer, for the hurting and homeless, the fatherless, those who are alone and suffering, and in particular for the unborn and children, everywhere.

While some might say it’s an accident of heredity what we ourselves got handed in youth, we all have a personal opportunity to impact a life for good by our words and actions.  We all have a responsibility to do all the good we can do. And we can impact the life of a child. We don’t have to look very far.

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. Colossians 3:14

And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 2 Peter 1:7

Now that is a wonderful gift, a blessing to you and to future generations.

My grandchildren reading.

I’m happy to be back with you today after a wonderful break during the holy season. It was also a great time for me to focus on home and family. I’ve been counting my many blessings, and you, my friends and readers are named among them. Thanks for visiting today.

God bless you and keep you. Invite Him to walk along beside you in 2015. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

GOD is always working in ways we cannot see...

My grandson baby Charlie's first trip to the beach ~ summer 2014

Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7 NIV

Psalm 139 is one of my favorites and I highly recommend that you read it especially when you need a comforting reminder that God has His eyes on you.  He is intimately acquainted with all our ways, and He cares for us.

A week or so ago I looked up the phone number for a business owned by an acquaintance who lives in another town. We aren’t social media friends and have no mutual friends. Nevertheless, I’d thought about her for days and considered giving her a call.  So I placed a call to her business, hoping she would be in.

Imagine my surprise when I connected with someone in the shop who seemed excited when I spoke my name.  

“Oh yes, hold on just a second,” she said. “She’s been trying to reach you.” 

When my acquaintance came on the line, she explained to me how she had been praying I’d call. She said that she and her business partner were even at that moment talking about me when the phone rang, and that he said, “That’s her calling right now!” 

We were delightfully surprised and we laughed and praised God for His amazing ways. (She couldn't find my contact information and needed to speak to me about a matter.) We marveled about that experience happening the way it did. 

I also wondered ... how many times are we the answer to someone’s prayer?  

And thought about how God is always working in ways we cannot see, on our behalf.

For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11 KJV

How often we question “why” and want to know the beginning from the end.
Isn’t it really enough to know the One who knows all things and is everywhere, who hears us when we call, the One who knows the beginning from the end, and loves us with an everlasting love?

O for grace to trust Him more … let that be our prayer.

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! Psalm 139:17

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If this is your first time visiting Write Moments with God, welcome and be blessed. I have prayed for you. And to all of you who read this blog every week, thank you so much for your friendship and encouragement. I want to let you know that I will be taking a few weeks off from writing for the blog to prepare for Christmas and to work on some other important projects. God bless you and keep you. And Lord willing I’ll be back very soon.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hard Times and Hard Places

Brick walkway in  Magnolia Cemetery ~  courtesy of Betty Talbert Parker

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. Psalm 34:19 NRSV

A friend is going through hard times. She’s recently lost a loved one; her children have moved away leaving her with feelings of abandonment; she is suffering with health issues aggravated by stress and grief; and to seemingly add insult to injury, she suffered a freak accident which has spoiled her holiday plans. 

My heart goes out to her.  But words of encouragement and acts of kindness can only go so far.  I cover her with my prayers and trust in God for her.

And the truth is, we all experience times like this, when we feel alone, our hopes and dreams shattered. When hard times come, we run the risk of sinking into self-pity, falling into despair.

But, we, the righteous, have this promise:

For though they fall seven times, they will rise again. Proverbs 24:16 NRSV

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:8 NRSV

We must hold on to this promise.

Daniel believed this. I love the story of his faith. (See Daniel 6:16-24) He was punished for trusting in God and specifically for praying, which defied the king’s orders.

Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!’  Daniel 6:20

And Daniel spent the dark night sitting amongst the lions in the bottom of that deep pit. But the next morning, to the king’s joy and the glory of God, he was found alive and well.

So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:23b

Let's pray for one another, that our faith will stay strong through the hard times, and pray for God’s mercy and grace to be poured out on those who are suffering. For in time we shall see the victory, for we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. (SeeRomans 8:35-39)

Magnolia Cemetery ~ courtesy of Betty Talbert Parker
Thanks so much for visiting.  I pray for all of you who read this blog and pray you find some encouragement here.  Many Blessings for you and yours at this Thanksgiving time.

Special thanks to Betty Talbert Parker of Thomson, GA for allowing me to share her pictures.