Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life Lessons from a Pumpkin: A Treasured Moments Devotional

BlogheaderHalloween psalm 51 1-2 

A Treasured Moments Devotional ~ May you find God's love, hope, peace, and encouragement waiting for you in each of these treasured moments I share.

You may be asking yourself, "What life lessons can a pumpkin teach me?" Actually, a pumpkin is a great witnessing tool that describes many of the important lessons God wants each one of us, from ages birth through old age, to heed and truly take to heart.

Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, children (and some adults, too) can enjoy the art of carving a pumpkin each fall. As you prepare to carve the pumpkin, think of it as a blank canvas: one that you will shape and mold into a new creation. Your pumpkin certainly won't look the same once you have finished the carving process. Much like a pumpkin, each one of us is a blank canvas for God to mold. He will take his carving knife and shape us into the person He desires for us to be.

Job said to God, "Your hands shaped me and made me... Remember that you molded me like clay." ~ Job 10: 8-9

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ [has reconciled themselves to God], the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!" ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Before you can carve your pumpkin, you must remove all of the nasty, dirty, gooey, yucky, insides or guts of the pumpkin. We have dirty, gooey, yucky stuff hiding inside of each one of us. Our dirty stuff is known as sin. Before God can shape us, He must first cleanse us from our sins. He lovingly does this through the blood of His beloved son, Jesus, who came to Earth in the form of man, was crucified for our sins, and died to redeem each and every one of us. To be cleansed of our sins, we must first believe in God, his Son, and be willing to accept this gift they have for us. Next, we must acknowledge and confess our sins to God and ask Him to shape our lives. He will guide us along our life's journey: teaching us, shaping us, comforting us, providing us wisdom and discernment through His written word and the Holy Spirit.

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." ~ Psalm 51:1-2

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." ~ Psalm 51:10-12

As you begin carving your pumpkin, you must cut a lid into the top. Think of the lid as an opening to your mind and ask God to teach you His ways. The best way to get to know someone is by spending time with them. Spend time with God. Converse with Him through prayer and meditation. Not only ask Him and petition for your needs but also praise Him for He is mighty, faithful, and merciful and thank Him for all that He has done and is going to do. Then, be still and silent and allow Him to speak to you through the Holy Spirit. Spend time reading His written word in the Bible. He had it transcribed so that you and I might know His words, His thoughts, His ways.

"How can a young person [anyone] stay on the path of purity [holiness]? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees." ~ Psalm 119:9-12

"Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." ~ Psalm 25:4-5

 Next, you will begin to give your pumpkin a face. As you carve out the eyes, the ears, and the mouth, reflect upon your own eyes, ears, and mouth. Do we sometimes see, hear, and say things that are wrong or hurtful to ourselves or others? Our eyes, ears, and mouth can be sources of our sins. We need to keep each one in check and turn control of them over to God. He will not only help us to guard our eyes from seeing things we shouldn't but He will also help us to see the people and situations around us as we should: through His eyes. He will help us to not listen to malice, hate, slander, and gossip for all of these things are sinful. He will help us listen to His voice, His truth, and the voices of His people calling out to Him. God will help us keep our tongues in check. Our words are very powerful. They have the ability to hurt or to heal. Choose your words wisely: heal, edify, encourage one another with your words. 

"For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear." ~ Matthew 13:15-16

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." ~ Ephesians 4:29

 "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." ~ Proverbs 12:18

Once you have finished shaping your pumpkin, it is ready for the finishing touch to be added. This is when a bright burning flame is added to the pumpkin so it can shine forth and reflect the light from within. Jesus is the bright shining flame that is burning brightly inside of each and every one of us who loves Him. We need to make sure that His light, truth, and love are shining brightly from within us so that all who look at us will see Him in us, through us by our words and actions, and at work within us by continuing to shape us into the person He desires us to be. Therefore, let the light of Christ shine brightly through you! Plant some pumpkin seeds of faith, hope, love, and kindness as well. Nurture the seeds, protect them from harm: sin, lies, hate and be prepared to reap in the harvest God will provide!
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6

Dear Father God, We thank you for Your goodness, mercy, and grace. Thank you for loving each and every one of us. We praise You, O Lord, as we see the splendor of Your hand at work as the colors change and autumn settles over our world. Father, please help to cleanse our hearts, minds, and souls. Shape each and every one of us into the person You desire us to be. Be our guide along life's journey and grant us Your wisdom and discernment along the way. God, help my thoughts to be pure, kind, and pleasing to you. Shield my eyes from sin and evil, Father, and help me to see people and situations through Your loving and compassionate eyes. Lord, open my ears so that I may hear even the whisper of your voice in the wind. Help me not to listen to gossip, slander, or malice but to only reflect upon things that bring You glory, honor, and praise. Father, I know my words have the power to hurt or to heal. Help me to choose my words wisely, to be an encourager, to provide words of love and comfort. May my lips rejoice in You always and bring You glory, honor, and praise! God, I am You vessel. Let Your light, goodness, mercy, and love shine brightly through me. May my words and actions reflect You and be pleasing unto You as well. Help me to see those people You put into my path and grant me opportunities to plant seeds and reap a harvest for You. I ask this all in the name of Your precious son, Jesus, Amen! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hope through the Eyes of a Child: A Treasure Moments Devotional

The first installment in my new Treasured Moments Devotional Series. May you find God's love, hope, peace, and encouragement waiting for you in each of these treasured moments I share.

I want to introduce you to my step-daughter, Crystal, who is the wife of a minister and the mother of six children ages 1 through 9 and my precious granddaughter, Karagen, who is her eldest daughter. Karagen is valiantly fighting cancer with dignity and grace at age 9 and through her suffering is teaching us all some very valuable lessons about faith. Crystal recently shared a perfect example of Karagen's faith on her Facebook wall. I want to share them with you in the hope that they will inspire you and help your faith to grow deeper as well. "Maybe everyone has already figured this out, but Karagen NEVER complains. She inspires me! And every night she STILL prays for her loved ones. I don't know why God has allowed her to have cancer, but He has a bigger plan and His little girl has suffered so patiently. God uses broken things (people) and God uses suffering....only He can bring good out of something bad!" Dear one, know that you are also God's precious child! Believe that He loves you immensely! Trust that He will bring something good out of whatever trials you have been facing! The Bible is filled with stories of the imperfect people God utilized to bring about His will. He can use each one of us as well, just as we are, if we are willing to allow Him to be our guide along life's journey.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17 (NIV)

If you have a prayer need, I'd be honored to pray for you. Please feel free to send me an email.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Riveting, Poignant Stories Filled with Suspense, Love,and Hope

Have you ever read a book that has kept you awake late enough to see the first rays of the sun begin to peek through the sky because you just didn't want to put it down? Keeping Guard and The Last Target by Christy Barritt were both riveting and kept me wide awake well past the time I should have been sleeping. Christy writes poignant stories filled with dynamic characters, gritty suspense, love amidst the chaos, and hope: the hope that comes from God. It is my honor to introduce to all of you talented Christian author Christy Barritt. 

Who is Christy Barritt?  
I’m a girl who loves God, who loves my family, and who loves writing. I feel so blessed that I’m actually able to make a living doing what I love to do. I’m usually perky, sometimes too sensitive, always singing without realizing it, and fiercely protective of the people I love.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I have two little guys at home, so I love spending time with them. Right now, we’re learning music for the children’s Christmas musical and church and I absolutely adore doing that. I’m also a music lover. I play the guitar and sing. My family loves taking walks together, playing with our dogs, and traveling.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your characters?
Everywhere, really. I love watching people, and I really love unique people. I’m constantly storing away information that I want to use one day in one of my characters. Inspiration is everywhere!

Of all the characters you’ve created, which one do you identify with the most and why?
I’d have to say that I love Gabby St. Claire, the protagonist from my Squeaky Clean mystery series. After three books, I really just feel like I know her so well—she’s like an old friend now! But I love her spunk, and her quirks, and the way she speaks her mind. I love that she struggles and that she’s not perfect.

What is your newest release?
My newest release is Ricochet, and it’s part of the Love Inspired Suspense line. The book takes place at a Christian summer camp. My main character, Molly Hamilton, had some of her best memories while at summer camp as a teenager. After false allegations are made against her, she returns there to work as a nurse for the summer. She doesn’t know that her ex-boyfriend—the man who broke her heart—is now the camp’s director. Crazy things are happening at the camp and danger always seems to lurk nearby. Together, Molly and Nick are determined to save the camp—but first the must save themselves!

I spent many, many summers at camp as both a camper and a counselor, so I had lots of experiences to draw on for this book. I had a great time writing it. Who doesn’t love a good camp story—especially when there’s danger involved?

Who is your favorite author and why?
I love Linda Hall. I think she’s such a subtle writer. I get to the end of her books and think, Wow, I never saw that coming! That says a lot because, as a writer, I’ve trained myself to look for certain patterns in stories (which really kills some of the fun sometimes!). But Linda always surprises me.

How did you get involved in writing?
I’ve always loved to write. Seriously. I remember being in elementary school and writing stories about Myrtle the Turtle. In high school, I wrote two or three books (that will never, ever see the light of day!). I went to school to study communications. I knew I couldn’t simply get a “job” as a novelist, so I became an assistant editor at a Christian publishing house. I kept writing and writing and writing in the process. Eventually I got my first contract.

What do you enjoy most and least about the writing process?
I enjoy starting new books the most! I really do. Starting a book is so exciting. I love thrusting my characters into the middle of crazy, intriguing situations. I have to say that I enjoy editing and revising the least—however, I do like how editing and revising truly makes the book shine. In the end, all that hard work is worth it when you read the final product.

What advice would you offer an aspiring author?
Don’t give up. I’ve seen a lot of good writers get started, but at the sign of that first rejection they walk away. Rejection is a part of the process. You have to get used to it. I still get rejected today, even though I have 15 books either published or contracted to be published. Stick with it. The more you write, the better you’ll get.

What story ideas would you like to explore in the future?
I have several books that I really want to work on. Some of the ideas that really fascinate me often revolve around people who are placed in gut-wrenching situations. For instance, I met someone the other day. She was in her early thirties. Several years ago, her husband and baby were killed in an auto accident. All I could think about was, how does a soul recover from something like that? How do you find hope throughout that pain? I like creating characters with tragic backgrounds, putting them in a situation where they have to face their fears, and then seeing what happens from there.

What has God been teaching you lately?
So much! I’ve faced some challenges in the past year that really knocked me off my feet. I felt very betrayed by some people who I’d considered friends. God is teaching me to put my total confidence and faith in him, though. He’s shown me that he’s faithful and that he takes care of me and that he has a plan for my life.

Where can readers learn more about you and your books?
I’m pretty active on Facebook. Sometimes I’m on Twitter and Pinterest. I update readers on my writing at: While you’re there, sign up for my newsletter!

Thanks so much for the interview, Kelly!

It was my pleasure, Christy. Thank you for joining us today. Thank you, readers, for stopping by my blog today as well. May you all have a glorious day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gritty, Realistic Suspense and Tender Romance Mixed with God's Redeeming Grace: The Perfect Recipe for a Great Read

Anyone who knows me well knows that my favorite genre is inspirational romantic suspense. I often lose myself in the thrill of the action, searching the clues to find the perpetrator, and watching as a tender romance develops in the midst of all of the chaos. Add in the messages God inspires the author to place throughout the book on topics such as His redemptive grace or forgiveness, and which He uses to touch my heart, and you have all of the components I anticipate in a great read. Today's author weaves these components into her stories and creates amazing books that keep me riveted to the very end. It is my privilege to introduce you to one of my favorite Christian authors. Please welcome my friend Robin Caroll! 

Who is Robin Caroll?  “I love boxing. I love Hallmark movies. I love fishing. I love scrapbooking. Nope, I've never fit into the boxes people have wanted to put me in.” Born and raised in Louisiana, I’m a southerner through and through. My passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. My mother, bless her heart, is a genealogist who instilled in me and my sisters the deep love of family and pride of heritage—two aspects I’ve tried to weave into each of my novels.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What’s free time? LOL I enjoy reading, scrapbooking, and watching movies.

Of all the characters you’ve created, which one do you identify with the most and why? Hmmm…that’s hard. A little bit of me has snuck into each of my characters.

Where do you get the ideas for your novels? Everywhere….news, television, even snippets of conversation eavesdropped on a recent flight. lol

What are the major themes of your newest release? Forgiveness.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book? I did a lot of research in the legal system and prison systems. Sentencing guidelines. 

What is your newest release, To Write a Wrong? In Angola State Penitentiary, a man is serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. Riley Baxter is an eager reporter desperate for a story to make a name for herself. When she stumbles upon the daughter of the incarcerated man, Riley sees a little too much of herself in the teen, and vows to help prove her father’s innocence.

At the same time, Hayden Simpson has his hands full with keeping his little sister in line, worrying about his job as Police Commissioner, and dealing with his past emotional baggage. The last thing he needs is someone blowing the lid off his emotional bucket. But when Riley Baxter storms into his life, struggling to understand why God would let bad things happen to good people, Hayden has no choice but to follow his heart.

Now, Riley and Hayden must work together to uncover the truth of the past . . . before someone shuts Riley up for good.

Who is your favorite author and why? Stephen King because the way he creates characters is nothing short of brilliant.

How did you get involved in writing? I’ve always written…in journals, short stories, poems….even as a child.

What do you enjoy most and least about the writing process? Most is the brainstorming process…I LOVE that part. Least? Hmmm….not having control over how to get the book into readers’ hands.

What advice would you offer an aspiring author? Study, learn, attend conferences and don’t give up!

What story ideas would you like to explore in the future? I’m very excited about broadening my genre to include young adult mysteries. Stay tuned for info about that!

What other projects are you currently working on? I’m writing a book for a Guidepost series….my book will be the second in the series, and I’m having a great time working on it.

What has God been teaching you lately?  That despite my efforts, I am NOT in control.

Where can readers learn more about you and your books? Website:  Blog:  Facebook: and my author page on Facebook: and Twitter:

Thank you for visiting with us today, Robin. If you haven't yet read one of Robin's books, I strongly encourage you to. While I love having her books on my home bookshelf, you can also sample her writing by checking one of her books out from your local library. Thank you for stopping by my blog today. May God bless each of you richly.