Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Profitable exercise

In this day of aerobics, weight lifting and jogging, I’ve pondered why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Bodily exercise profits little” (1 Timothy 4:8KJ).
Then I got to thinking about it. It makes no sense to wave my arms around and kick the air for 30 minutes when dust is hiding everywhere, dirt streaks the windows, and clutter threatens my every move.
Instead, I found it more profitable to reach and stretch, reach and stretch, reach and stretch moving the vacuum sweeper back and forth; bend and stand, bend and stand, bend and stand, picking up toys, unloading the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, loading the washing machine, unloading the dryer, bend and fold, bend and fold.
I lived in homes with stairs most of my life and when I was delivering laundry it was better than a stair stepper at the health club.
But, let’s be honest here. I did like to jog, walk, swim and play tennis. After the five children grew up and I started getting pudgy I increased activity. Paul’s admonition to Timothy, however, was still not far from my mind. Almost as soon as I started my early morning jog, my body would go on automatic and I could forget the motions my feet were making. I could whisper praises to the Lord with my running shoes hitting the pavement. I could petition God for needs, especially for the family. I made use of that time for spiritual benefit.
This extra prayer brought wonderful answers.
I learned I could pray, work on a Sunday school lesson, memorize scripture and outline books or articles, discover the dimensions of my fiction characters and figure out how to get them out of crises, while my hands and feet accomplished other things—whether fixing dinner, washing dishes, vacuuming, making beds, jogging or riding a bike.I often keep a pad and paper nearby.
Today, outside of work around the house (see how much motion you get from painting), most of my exercise is walking. But I still often pray or mentally work on things I need to think about whether I'm walking on the track at the fitness center, in the mall (not shopping) with my husband, or around the neighborhood.
Thinking time should be profitable time. In Philippians 4:8-9, the Apostle Paul told the Philippians church about thinking profitable thoughts. We need to feed our mind good things, then ponder them, meditate on them, and allow them to bear fruit.
If we read the scripture about exercise in context in the New International Version we understand more about what the Apostle was talking about when he discussed physical and spiritual fitness. He says, "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales; rather train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 5:7-8)NIV).
We have other promises about gaining spiritual strength such as Isaiah 40:29-31: "He gives power to the weak,and to those who have no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Now that is profitable exercise!
-- Ada Brownell’s latest book, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, is available at http://amzn.com/1466200936

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The promise: Do you stagger?

Ever found your faith shriveled and weak?

Recently I've been praying for some specific needs, then wondered whether I'm up to fulfilling everything I feel God called me to do.

I've studied Hebrews 11, known as the Bible's "faith chapter," diligently.  But then one day I backed up into Hebrews 10 and found some things to which I should pay attention.

Beginning at verse 19 is advice to persevere. "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful," we're advised. After prompting us to turn our backs on sin, remember what Christ has done for us and to continually meet together with believers (attend services) we are told, "Do not throw away your confidence: it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

I was reminded about what I read about Abraham. Although the man had waited--what seemed like forever--for God to fulfill his promise and Sarah tried to help God out, we're told, "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God" (Romans 4:20)

Another scripture tells us to "not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galations 6:9).

The light dawned on me that the way to avoid staggering and fainting is to be strong and healthy spiritually. I do that by hearing the Word, believing the Word and then I can share the Word and believe God for great things.

I also know faith is an act of the will. I need to quit staggering and take the leap.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

OPPORTUNITY: BEFORE IT MELTS

               We came home from a Sunday evening service after a snowstorm sprayed our hill with glimmering icy beauty. The air was fresh and invigorating.

               “Let’s go sledding!” I said as everyone got out of the car.  It was a ridiculous suggestion for a mother with five children who should be getting ready for bed.

               Yet, we grabbed warm clothes, sleds and hit the hill.  Flakes were still descending, but darkness wasn’t a problem.  Streetlights shone from above and the white earth glowed in response.

               Since I was supposed to be the grown up, I tugged sleds to the top for the smaller ones, while the children flew down the slick slope, frigid air kissing their pink cheeks while squeals of joy trailed each descent.

               Even when the sleds returned to the garage and the children crawled into their toasty beds, the aroma of joy lingered about our house.

               The next morning, the sun ruined the slope before we had breakfast.

               I’ve learned life sometimes is like snow.  Opportunities to share my love, joy, faith and abundance won’t always be there. I have to prod myself to seize the moment. Often I’ve failed, but I’ve enjoyed the wonder of grasping a tiny block of time and making good things happen I had no idea would result.

               Sometimes I don’t know if anything good happened from what I shared—but I always know opportunities are like the snow.  We have to get to them before they melt.
         


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Chicken's Tail

When I was growing up, our family went to church most Sundays knowing dinner was still running around in the chicken pen.
            Whether we got out at noon or 1 o’clock, the family tackled the necessary chores to put dinner on the table. Dad or one of my brothers caught the chickens. Mom put water on to boil and went to the cellar for vegetables and fruit.  My older sisters, four of them until they started getting married, peeled potatoes and helped prepare other side dishes. Dad or a brother killed the fryers, dunked them in boiling water, plucked them, and over an open flame burned off pinfeathers.
          Mom washed and cut up the chickens, immersed them in flour, salt and pepper, and slithered the pieces into the frying pan.  The aroma filled the comfortable two-story house.
          As the youngest, I helped set the table and fill the glasses.
            Often friends, relatives, preachers or missionaries joined the 10 of us for dinner. After someone prayed, Mom glanced around at each child and said, “FHB.” Translation: “Family Hold Back. Don’t take all the food before our guests have some.”
            Since I was the youngest, I usually got a meaty “wishbone” which you don’t see when you buy a cut-up chicken today. Mom always ate the chicken’s tailpiece.
           “I like it,” she’d say with a smile.
            It was a bony piece, and none of us liked the idea of eating the “last piece over the fence.”
            Years later, after I became a mother, I understood why Mom loved the tailpiece. It was because she loved us and wanted us to have the meatier parts.
            Sacrifice is just part of love.  Jesus gave us that example when he sacrificed Heaven and came to earth to suffer and die so that we could have eternal life.  “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
            I’ve always been a little like the chicken’s tail piece—last in many ways, and not the most beautiful and desirable.  But Somebody loves me anyway.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unemployed free lance writers? Advice from John-Boy Walton

        John Boy Walton sat on the back step of the two-story house, still in shock from what his writer-professor told him that afternoon. The words kept ringing in his ears. “Only a handful of writers make a living at their craft,” the wise man revealed.   “If you plan to be a writer, you still need another vocation."
       John Boy scrawled “10,000” in the sand between his feet as he recalled something else he read.
      Jim Bob looked down at the number, then stared at his big brother. “What’s that mean?”
       The wanna-be writer looked at his little brother. “I heard today 10,000 writers are unemployed in our nation.”
       “Didn’t you tell me writers are their own bosses and work for themselves?” Jim Bob asked. “If writers are their own boss, how can they be unemployed?”
        A smile wiggled its way to John-Boy’s mouth. Perhaps his future wasn’t as dim as he had begun to believe.
        I need to think about that. How am I doing as my own boss? Am I sometimes acting as if I’m unemployed? Or am I on vacation? Or do I look at the clock, head for the computer and put my time in—as any employee would do for his boss? Or do I put in my time like I would as the owner of the business?
        What about that short story, the poem, that novel in your head that hasn’t even been offered to the world?  What about the op-ed piece for the local newspaper? The blog? How can your business grow if the doors are closed all the time?
       Bosses pay attention to time and I’m reminding myself of that. The spiritual harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few—and we’ve been called to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that Jesus  commanded. Furthermore, He promised to be our mentor, promising, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
        I'm going for it!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Swallowed by LIFE available now

My new book, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, is now available on Amazon.com at http://amzn.com/1466200936

Did you know science shows we’re more than flesh and blood?
Discover the amazing facts in my new book, Swallowed by LIFE.
“Swallowed by Life,” is a term from scripture: “While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life” ( 2 Corinthians 5:4 NLT).
The book is written for those who are curious about the eternal, religion classes, individuals who fear death, the grieving, support groups, people with chronic or terminal illness and those who give them counsel. Each chapter has a question and answer section.
Swallowed by LIFE is available now at Amazon.com. It should be available soon on other outlets, including the CreateSpace e-store.

Monday, December 5, 2011

God's Leading is Better than a GPS

Read Romans 10:9-15

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalms 37:23KJV).

Thompson, Utah, a dusty windswept town in the Utah desert, boasted a population of 98 when we moved there. Thompson had no church, three bars, and the two grocery stores were in the bars.
             Although we drove 40 miles to church on Sunday, my husband and I were lonely. We didn’t fit in Thompson. I wondered why God directed us to such a place.
            I was discouraged. I’d been the youth leader in my home town, and we had been having marvelous services. I’d pray and cry out to God, “How did we miss your will, Lord, by coming to this place?”
            We escaped when my husband bid on another railroad job, but not long afterward, we were back in Thompson. On the railroad, if somebody wants your job and has the opportunity and the seniority, he bumps you. Thompson was still dusty, the town’s residents still congregated in the bars, and I was still lonely.
            My husband began playing on the Thompson/Crescent Junction baseball team, and we finally met nice folks who just needed to know Jesus and God began to do a work in me. Their children were familiar with worldly ways, but unfamiliar with God and His love. I told the Lord if He would send me a helper, I’d start a Sunday school.
          Within a week, a Baptist lady about my age, a good Christian, Doris Louton, who knew how to teach and do crafts, moved to town and we started Sunday school in the schoolhouse.  Children came and learned Jesus came to earth, died and rose again so they could live forever.  The kids accepted the gospel joyously. On Easter, several parents came.
           Thompson is where I began writing for Christian publications and newspapers, too.
           We moved in about a year, and no matter where we lived, I prayed for my Thompson children, that others would minister to them during their lives and that they would hold on to Jesus.
           Although I complained at first, when I obeyed God and did what He wanted me to do there, I never regretted God leading me that special place in the desert.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to always remember if you direct my footsteps, it’s better than a GPS.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Sometimes the feet God wants to move are mine.
                                 
PRAYER FOCUS: People near my home who have never heard the gospel.
©Ada Brownell, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Interview with author Lillian Duncan: faith mingled with ...murder and mayhem.

Why do I interview novelists on my encouragement blog? One reason is because our society needs good clean entertainment that also often provides spiritual encouragement as well.
I reviewed Lillian Duncan's book, Pursued,  on several online websites and gave it five stars. Now she has a new book coming out in a few days, Deception. So I've interviewed her to find out what makes her tick.
Here are the cover and a blurb about the book:
Twins are supposed to have an unbreakable bond, but Patti and Jamie have serious relationship issues. They haven’t spoken since Jamie ruined Patti’s upcoming nuptials years ago.  When a niece she knows nothing about telephones, Patti must unravel the yarn of Jamie’s life and her mysterious disappearance.Detective Carter Caldwell takes his job seriously, and it's his job to keep Patti and her niece safe. But Patti is determined to help find her sister. As the investigation grows more dangerous, Carter begrudgingly admits the safest place for Patti is at his side. Each step in their journey leads them closer to the truth but pulls them further down a road filled with danger and deception, where each will battle for survival and the lives of countless Americans.
ADA:   I like your signature tag, Faith mingled with …murder and mayhem.  I saw that in your first book, Pursued.  How did you happen to write these types of books?
 LILLIAN: I write the kind of book that I like to read. I love mysteries and suspense but mainstream novels in that genre became so full of four- letter words and explicit sex scenes, I stopped reading a lot of them.  So, when I started writing, it was natural for me to write action, mystery, and suspense.
ADA:    Tell us about your new novel, Deception. Is it the same genre?
LILLIAN: Deception is a suspense novel with a romantic subplot, but it’s not considered romantic suspense because it’s more suspense than romance. I hope that makes sense.
ADA: What is your background in writing?
LILLIAN:  I’ve been writing for 16 years. I have four published novels, all have some form of action/adventure and suspense in them.  My fourth novel, Pursued, was released in July after a five year break from my third release.
ADA:  Your ultimate goal?
LILLIAN: To write stories that entertain Christians and non-Christians as well.
ADA:  Your biggest challenge?
LILLIAN: Marketing.  I’m a bit on the shy side and do not like the marketing aspect that comes with being a published writer.  I’m starting to get the hang of it, though!
ADA:  Your ultimate satisfaction?
LILLIAN: I’d be thrilled to have one of my novels become a best seller...but I’m just happy writing stories that get published and my readers enjoy.
ADA:  What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
LILLIAN: Start writing NOW!  Don’t wait until you learn what you think you need to know before you write.  If you are a life-long reader (and most fiction writers are), then you will have an instinct of what to do. Not that we don’t need to learn more but the best way to become better at writing is...to write!
ADA:  Are you a full-time writer?
LILLIAN: Well...if you count the hours I put toward writing in a year’s time, then I’d say yes, I am. If you mean do I have another job that helps pay the bills, then no I’m not a full-time writer. However, I am semi-retired which allows me plenty of time to write.
ADA:  How do you fit writing into your life?
LILLIAN: I don’t fit writing into my life. Writing is a big part of my life and most of my other activities get fitted in around my writing.  My husband knows that I’m going to go up to my office and write for a few hours on work days and that I’m going to spend at least 3-5 hours there on non-work days and he’s okay with that.
I wouldn’t be a writer right now without his encouragement and support.
ADA: Where can your books be purchased?
LILLIAN: they can be found on most of the major online bookstores—Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also on my publishers website at www.whiterosepublishing.com 
Lillian Duncan lives in Ohio Amish country with her husband, four parrots, one Jack Russell, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Whether as a speech-language pathologist, an educator, or as a writer, she believes in the power of words to change lives, especially God’s Word.Lillian believes books can be entertaining without being trashy. She writes the types of books she loves to read, suspense with a touch of romance. Her newest release is PURSUED and her fifth novel, DECEPTION, will be released on December 30th . Her website is: www.lillianduncan.net and her blog is www.lillianduncan.wordpress.com.  Follow her on Twitter at @LillianDuncan.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Suspense for Christmas?

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12487542-the-christmas-witness" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px">The Christmas Witness (Love Inspired Suspense)http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iLsbInkZL._SX106_.jpg" />The'>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12487542-the-christmas-witness">The Christmas Witness by Susan'>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4053429.Susan_Sleeman">Susan Sleeman

My rating: 5'>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/240656424">5 of 5 stars



When suspense novelists sit down to write a book, they put their main character in a terrible predicament and then make things worse.
The character tries to escape or hide, but then his plan only complicates things.
On and on the story goes with one problem developing after another, each worse than the last. Writers use anything that prickles or unsettles. That is a surefire way to lure the reader into the next scene/chapter.
That’s the case with Susan Sleeman’s The ChristmasWitness The inspirational romance drops us in Megan Cash’s life after the man she testified against in court is released from prison, planning to make good on his threat to kill her.
A former FBI agent comes back into Megan’s life. Although he feels he should be her protector, she’s not crazy about him hanging around. Yet, she needs help.
Megan’s daughter suffers from cancer and the ex-con uses the little girl to try to get at her mother. Then he asks for a bundle of cash to leave her alone.
But, as in typical suspense novelist fashion, things keep going from bad to worse.
I recommend The Christmas Witness for folks who enjoy a book that grabs them and won’t let go and who also enjoy a spiritual uplift.




View'>http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4403337-ada">View all my reviews

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The greatest thing to learn about writing

A famous Christian novelist recently told a friend she loves to sit in basic writing classes because she often picks up tidbits on the craft. The woman who shared this with me said she sees some of the top writers in our industry sitting under the teaching of others when she attends conferences.
     Just as we never “arrive” in our Christian walk here on earth, it seems we never know all we need to know about putting words together so they impart knowledge, bless or entertain, call souls to Christ or greater living.
     I’ve been free lancing since age 16. I knew little about the craft when I started, but ideas that I felt needed sharing kept popping into my head. I also had a “fire shut up in my bones” that compelled me to share the gospel.
      A couple of patient editors became my mentors.” If you could shorten this article a little”; or “Add anecdotes to this one and we can use it.”
      In the 1960s I landed a job as a newspaper reporter in a city of 100,000 without ever taking a journalism course and worked three years until we had our third child. I stayed home with the children, added a couple more, and continued to free lance for the next 20 years. But I knew I wrote with an incredible deficit, so I took nine English credits from the University of Colorado Extension Division. I’d completed a course in writing for Christian publications not long after I started selling free lance, and later completed a novel writing course.
       The day came when we needed more income to send those five children to Christian colleges. During a time when we had two children in higher education, I enrolled at a nearby state school, took out the highest amount in student loans, applied that to the children’s tab, and started. I completed a four-year degree in 2 ½ years, taking 22 and 24 semester-hour credits a semester, motivated to get out before I was old enough for Social Security.
        When I graduated , the same newspaper I worked for in the 1960s created a reporting job for me.
I worked 17 years as a journalist, and during my adult life I’ve had few years I didn’t have at least one free lance article published.  I’ve had one book, several chapters in books, and more than 250 articles and stories published in religion publications.
        Since I retired I’ve written two novels that I am now marketing and a non-fiction book, Swallowed by LIFE, will be on Amazon in December.
      Yet, the publishing industry has changed. A writer may crash into defeat in one area, but find opportunities from here to cyberspace.
      Constants, however, do not change. The Christian writer has a dimension beyond the secular, and simple things like showing instead of telling and active verbs still improve our work.
      Don’t forget one of the greatest things you’ll learn about writing: You’ll never be a writer unless you start with the first sentence, keep going until you complete the last sentence, then send it to the publisher you had in mind when you started.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Win spiritual warfare with giving thanks

Gratitude changes my attitude.
Sometimes I forget when I pray, seeking God for specific needs, that I should be thankful first. The Apostle Paul instructed us “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).
He precedes that statement in verse 4 with “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.”
I am amazed sometimes at how many things I have to be thankful for. There is no way I can name them all, but at the top of the list is God’s mercy, love and caring. I’m so thankful Jesus came to give us abundant life here and for eternity.
I am thankful for my husband and family and that they have the Word of God planted in their hearts. We’re not a perfect bunch, but we are so blessed with children and grandchildren who love and serve Jesus.
I’m thankful for America and freedom.
I’m thankful for friends, those I know personally and those I’ve interacted with online. I pray for friends I see often who have needs, but also pray for others I seldom see and those I haven’t seen who check out my blog from the United States and about a dozen other countries.
I was amazed when I looked at my blog’s stats and discovered I have hits from all those nations. I thank God for all of you who connect here. I hope you are blessed and encouraged in the Lord.

Here are a few scriptures on gratitude:

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

“I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8).

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).

“But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

“Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever” (Revelation 7:12).

Although Thanksgiving might not be a holiday in your nation, may God grant every one of you no matter where you live, a grateful heart. In his instructions in Philippians Paul said when we enter the gates to speak to God and are thankful, “The peace of God, which passes understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book I reviewed for Jenny B. Jones: There You'll find me

Finley Sinclair is searching and she hopes to find what she needs in Ireland.
Unlike so many of her friends and other young women, Finley isn’t hunting for a man to make her complete. Her goal is to become a student at the Manhattan Music Conservatory, but first she must write the ending of an original piece of music, perform well at the audition, and come to grips with the death of her brother, Will.
Will visited Ireland before his death and left a diary and photos about his experiences and travels. Finley wants to follow his footsteps and most of all, find the cross in one of the photos.
I liked Finley from the first page of the book despite her obsession with exercise and her fascination with trying to eat healthy. Finley had her eyes on a goal, and despite the need for a counselor in her past, appears to know how to go around obstacles, avoid distractions and cover the distance to success. Yet, a piece of her is missing because she believes God is ignoring her.
So when the teen idol Beckett Rush enters her life she’s the only girl around who doesn’t fall at his feet and pant.  True, he has an awesome smile and is quite handsome when he’s not dressed as a vampire. But Finley is not impressed. Her lack of interest catches his eye and he figures out how to get to know her.
Finley has no time for an egotistical male, but the movie star gets a room at the Bed and Breakfast where she’s staying. She needs a tour guide and he needs a assistant to help him.
While Rush keeps hanging around, Finley becomes an encourager to an old bitter woman dying from cancer, while battling her own mammoth problems. Will the teenager find peace, comfort and victory over her eating disorder? Is the vampire actor as normal and genuine as he tries to appear?  Or is he a playboy that often wears makeup and costumes?
As usual, Jenny B. Jones writes a wonderful story for young adults.
Not all of Finley's problems are completely solved by the end of the book, but the reader suspects this strong character that Jenny B. Jones has created will be victorious.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest: Chad Young, author of Authenticity

“Good News, Good Deeds”  by Chad Young
 “Recognizing that my calling had been given by God, James, Peter and John – the pillars of the church – shook hands with me and Barnabas, assigning to us a ministry to the non-Jews, while they continued to be responsible for reaching out to the Jews. The only additional thing they asked was that we remember the poor, and I was already eager to do that.” (Galatians 2:9-10 from The Message)
****
        I find it interesting that the leaders of the early church assigned Paul the task of reaching out to the Gentiles both by sharing the gospel and by remembering the poor. Sometimes the church does one or the other really well, but it often fails to do both. We can help the needy with physical needs without sharing the good news that Christ died for our sins, but we aren’t addressing their deepest spiritual need for a relationship with God. On the flipside, if we share the gospel but don’t help the poor, we don’t truly love people the way God intended.
       This past summer, I led a mission project in Charleston, SC.  Each Saturday morning, I was joined by 70 college students as I attempted to minister to families in low-income areas of Charleston.  We handed out free groceries, cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, and played with the children from the neighborhood. Anytime one meets someone with needs far greater than their own, the experience is memorable.  On one occasion, however, one of our helpers, “Bill,” a rising sophomore at the College of Charleston, made a comment that really impacted me.
         When Bill introduced himself, he said, “I’m an agnostic, and I’m trying to learn all I can about all of the religions so I can make an intellectual choice regarding which religion is true. This is my fourth week coming out here with you guys. I came to help the poor, but I really like what you are doing. It seems that Christianity involves putting your faith into action. I plan on continuing to be involved.”
        When we put our faith into action, others take notice. This is the kind of faith we were created to have, and this is the kind of lifestyle many people like Bill are searching for. Why do you think the Jerusalem apostles stressed that Paul “remember the poor” (2:10)? Does your personal life reflect the importance of this?
        Spend some time reflecting on this passage and confessing any sins these verses reveal in your life. What are changes you need to make in how you spend your time or money? Thank God that he’s always provided for you – beyond just your needs. Ask him to guide you and direct you on where you should invest your time and finances. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)


About the Author:
Chad Young is the author of Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony, Superficial World, available at Amazon.  As Campus Crusade for Christ’s director for the South Carolina Lowcountry with a scope of 25 college campuses and 70,000 students, Chad resides in Charleston, SC, with his wife Elizabeth and their four young children: Wyatt, Clark, Evelyn and Josilynn. He holds an undergraduate degree from Clemson University and a graduate degree from Georgia Tech; Chad worked in the paper industry for 6 years before going into full-time ministry. He has served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 9 years and has also written a discipleship training manual. He has a passion for helping students learn what it means to have an authentic relationship with Christ.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sample news release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Former medical reporter addresses
Mysteries of eternal life in new book

 Nov. 5, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, MO—Thousands of U.S. citizens suffer from terminal and chronic illnesses at any given time.
        Just as we know leaves on a tree will one day flutter to the ground, we all know our days on earth are numbered. But what then?
        Ada Brownell thought she knew all the answers until she and her husband lost their 31-year-old daughter to cancer. Did she believe what she thought she did?
        That question haunted her until as a medical reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado and a student of the Bible, she searched for evidence that we are more than a body.
She discovered science reveals death is swallowed by life continuously, our body constantly dying cell by cell and regenerating. She looks at how we began as single fertilized cells and we were the same person in the womb we are today. We can gain weight, have parts cut off or a surgeon could take out our hearts and replace them with someone else’s and we’re still who we’ve always been. Even parts of our brain can be removed or affected by disease, stroke or injury and we’re still the same person we were.
           Brownell found more evidence that we are more than flesh, and that brought her to the soul and our spiritual side. Then she wrote the book, Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal.
            She uses illustrations from physicians, patients, people who were near death or thought to be dead and were resuscitated, plus quotes from some of today’s renown regenerative medicine scientists.
            “Swallowed by Life,” is a term from scripture: “While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life” ( 2 Corinthians 5:3-5 NLT).
           The author is an award-winning medical and religion writer who worked 17 years as a journalist, the last seven years reporting on discoveries about the Human Genome; neurology; mental illness; cancer; disease prevention; treatments; medications; and other medical news. In addition to her newspaper writing, approximately 250 of her articles and stories have been published in religion publications. Her book, Confessions of a Pentecostal, was published by the Assemblies of God and she has chapters in five other books.
Swallowed by Life will be available on Amazon.com about Dec. 1, 2011.
For a review copy, more information, an interview or to schedule a speaking engagement, contact her at ada@adabrownell.com

HOW TO WRITE A NEWS RELEASE

I was a daily newspaper reporter who received dozens of news releases every day. Here's some of the advice I gave Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers recently.

NEWS RELEASES
· Use a professional-looking letterhead.
· Insert the date
· Contact: Name
  Address
  Phone
  E-mail Address

· If you are promoting a book and free review copies are available upon request, say so. You also can send out news releases in advance for speaking engagements.
· Write your headline. Mine would say something such as:
   Former medical reporter addresses death, resurrection
   and the eternal in new book, Swallowed by Life
   Pick out the most important nugget about the book for the headline.
· Use a dateline (Place of origin. Some might actually include the date). The date line is all caps: SPRINGFIELD, MO—
· Start your lead, literally your hook, right after the dateline. If you are speaking or doing a book signing, use that in your lead and maybe even the headline. If you have connections to the community, such as being a native, graduate of area schools, etc.
· If possible, it should be one page in length.
· Use pertinent information such as your summary sentence that describes the book, and about a paragraph of other description.
· If it’s non-fiction, add a few facts and quotes to support your book’s thesis.
· Add a short bio on your background in general and success as a writer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Copyright Oct. 1, 1011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Interview with novelist Erica Vetsch, a wonderful writer

Erica Vetsch - Stories that Testify to Love Ada Brownell Blog Interview:

1. How did your style and voice develop with such rhythm, music, and clarity? Are you a musician? I can’t claim to be a musician, though I took piano lessons for ten years or so as a kid. My writing style and voice developed over the course of several years of writing fiction and a lifetime of reading fiction. I didn’t realize my voice had become distinctive until one of my crit partners judged a contest I had entered. (She didn’t know I’d entered, and I didn’t know she was judging.) She was able to identify my writing without my name being on the document. That’s when I knew I’d found my voice.
2. Does vivid description come naturally to you, or have you studied techniques and worked at it? Description is the part of fiction writing that comes the easiest for me. The techniques I have to employ and the work I have to put into it are all on the side of not putting too much in and allowing the characters to interact with the setting instead of just describing everything in great detail. I have to remember that I’m not writing a history book, but rather a story.
 3. Do you need to constantly watch in order to show instead of tell, as you do so beautifully, or is that just the way you write? This takes constant vigilance, though it comes more naturally now. I tend to do more telling in my first draft, then go back and try to take it out and show instead during the editing process. I watch for my ‘telling words’ like felt, wondered, watched, thought, was, etc. Being careful to show instead of tell also helps with the description, because I think about what the character is thinking, seeing, smelling, touching, and incorporate that into the narrative.
4. What method do you use to develop your characters? I am a plot-first novelist. My stories are usually sparked by reading history books or biographies. Then it is a matter of discovering which type of person would have the most difficulty overcoming the story problem. One resource I love is: The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines. This book helps me identify my character’s personality type and how that type interacts/reacts to other types. 
5. What prompted you to write a western?  Some of my historicals have been set in the American West, like A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas, some have been set in the Colorado Rockies during the silver boom there. Another series takes place in 1905 Gilded Age Duluth, MN. My voice and my passion seem best suited for historical romance. I love the research, the richness of the settings, and weaving true historical events and people into my stories. As to visiting Dodge, I haven’t been to Dodge, even though I am a Kansan, born and raised. I have spent time in Old Abilene Town and in the Cow-Town Museum in Wichita, as well as several other western frontier town museums.
6. What are your next projects and goals? I’m currently working on a new “Bride” book titled A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA set to release in November of next year. It’s a World War One era story about a Harvey Girl working in the El Garces hotel in Needles and the man the town has dubbed a coward because he hasn’t enlisted, but whom my heroine finds herself falling in love with anyway.
7. Tell us more about who you are and how you became a writer—condensed version. As I mentioned above, I’m a Kansan, born and raised, and I now live in Minnesota with my husband and two children. I’m a homeschool mom with one high school student and one in college. I’ve always been a voracious reader and constant daydreamer. A few years ago, I started writing fiction, first for my own pleasure, then in pursuit of publication. In 2008, I was awarded my first contract while at the ACFW conference. My first novel released in November of 2009, and since then, a dozen more books have followed. A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas is my first trade-length novel.

About the Book: Hoping to leave the shadows of her shady yesteryears behind, Adeline Reid is focusing on her photography career. But when her ex-boyfriend’s compatriot in crime shows up in Dodge City her entire past is threatened by exposure. Can Addie keep her secrets while helping to catch a killer? Deputy Miles Carr’s investigation into a shopkeeper’s murder leads him to Addie’s door. Will his attraction to this female photographer keep him from catching the true culprit? Or will Addie lead him off course in more ways than one?

 Author Bio: Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas

Here's a review of a Christian historical romance I read recently:

A BRIDE’S PORTRAIT
By Erica Vetsch

This interesting book might take place in Dodge—but it’s not “Gunsmoke.”
The setting is not the Long Branch Saloon, with its “attached” brothel.  Much of this book takes place in a photography studio, the sheriff’s office, the mercantile, and the Wild West’s streets.
The leading man does carry guns on his hips, and he’s a deputy working for the legendary Bat Masterson. Of course, the leading lady is the photographer.
But another deputy, a gal that works at the mercantile, a slick handsome gambler that says he works for the railroad, also play a big part.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a western like this written by a blacksmith, but a female wordsmyth who creates a symphony with words while she wraps the reader around her plot’s baton?
Erica Vetsch’s words have cadence, rhythm, harmony, melody, percussion—words that sing.  Vivid description,  memorable characters, but also heart ache, secrets, murder, fear, greed and the fruits of the Spirit mingling to bring out truth and victory over evil.
The whole book has a voice and style I enjoyed.  The characters are so believable I probably will think of them when I pass through Dodge again.
Here are a few samples of Erica’s writing:
Page 15: The smells of ink and beeswax furniture polish drifted over her. Everything in this bank bespoke of prosperity, from the shiny  woodwork to the burgundy velvet wallpaper to the gleaming brass hardware. A row of teller windows took up the left-hand wall. Patrons stood patiently in line waiting for their turns, and Addie took her place at the tail end.
“Lord, please let the bank manager understand….”
Page 47: Miles’ chest squeezed. Just because something was legal didn’t make it right. The gambling, drinking, and immorality of Dodge City flew in the face of everything his newfound faith and God’s Word told him.
Page 255: Miles stared down at the unconscious form now sprawled across the bunk in the first cell. “I’m surprised you stood it for as long as you did. He had no call to say those things about Fran. He’s sloppy drunk, and he’s mean afterward.” And more slippery than a pickled onion.
This is one of those books that caught me in its pages and I found myself reading late into the night and once during a meal.
I love this era, and I enjoy good writing. I definitely will be interested in reading more of Erica Vetsch’s books.
NOTE: I was provided a review copy of this book.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

NEVER GIVE UP

Comments after Friday night's championship game:
"This is why you keep batting," said David Freese who delivered the winning home run in Game 6 on the Cardinal's last strike. Freese was named most valuable player after Friday's win. "Sometimes things don't work out, you get injured, you do stupid stuff,but you try to stay on path.
"You surround yourself with guys like we have on this team."
"We just kept playing," commented Lance Berkman.
Albert Puljols: "The fans never gave up."
Yadier Molina: The pitcher, Chris Carpenter, had a little trouble the first few innings and Molina told him, "You've got plenty more."
The team was ectastic because Texas had been a formidable foe.
What kind of encouragement do we receive from God's Word to keep pressing on to fulfill our calling?
"Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world" Revelation 3:9-11 NLT
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us" Hebrews 12:1-3NLT
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" Galatians 6:8-10.
 

Friday, October 28, 2011

What we can learn from Freese

On Thursday night it was a tied ballgame in overtime, the last out for the St. Louis Cardinals and the last strike for David Freese. The Texas Rangers stood ready to snatch the 2011 World Series from their grasp.
The Texas pitcher grasped the baseball and prepared to send St. Louis to the outfield. The ball, exceeding the speed limit on most freeways, headed for the plate and Freese's bat connected, arching the ball high above the field, over the wall and into the grassy area beyond.
Freese ran the bases and the St. Louis players and fans went berserk with joy. After a season of wins and disappointment and barely making it to the playoffs, they were within one game of being the champions.
They didn't quit. They kept believing they could do their best. Albert Puljols pointed up to give God the glory when he did well.
Most of the players embarrassed themselves every once in a while with a foolish error. But they didn't become professional baseball players by allowing their goofs to knock them off course. They alway kept trying.
Seventy years ago, on Oct. 29, 1941,Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited England's Harrow School.
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense," Churchill said.
Things were looking up a bit for Britain. The German World War II bombing blitz on London was over. They needed some encouragement.
Even today, we can use encouragement as well, but we also need to make up our minds to never give in to adversity.
* Never give up on freedom in our nation.
* Never give up on your loved ones.
* Never give up on doing your best.
* Never give up living for the God who loves you. Keep your heart's door locked to Satan.
* Never give up on believing God will take care of you, bless you, use you, and lead you.
* Never give up praying and reading God's Word.
* Never give up looking up--for the Lord Jesus to come and catch away the church.
Never, ever, give up. You never know when the swing of your "bat" (the talent you hold in your hand) will be a home run.
Never, ever, give up being on the winning team that defeats the enemy of their souls, and will make Heaven their home.
Never give up.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Guest post from novelist Staci Stallings

Ever Faithful

By Staci Stallings 

            For many years of my life, I wanted to be successful.  I put a lot of effort into that endeavor.  I worked and worked and worked.  If I joined an organization, I had to be president because I wanted the organization to be successful and I wanted to be seen as a success in the organization.  Success was my goal.
            After I started writing, I turned my success-orientation toward God. I wanted to be a success for Him.  Somehow I thought that would prove to Him I was worthy of His love and gain me a place in His kingdom.  I wanted Him to love me, and I thought the only way He would love me was if I was a success. Sad how some of us get so mixed up like that.
            It took seven years of writing, three years of publishing, and a gentle re-direct from God for me to see how wrong I had been the whole time.  As always, I had been working and working and working, trying to get the publishing and marketing to work out.  I put an enormous amount of time and effort into that endeavor. Still, things were not pointing toward me being a success.  Even when I had successes, they were too small for me to acknowledge, and so I called them failures and resolved to do better.
            When I finally woke up to see that what I was doing was not what God required of me—that He didn’t require me to be a success for Him to love me—that was truly a revelation.  In a very real way He saved me from me!
            Since then, lesson-by-lesson, I have learned to let go of doing it myself and to let Him take over the controls of my life.  Not always easy for a control-freak, but by far the easier way to live once you get the hang of it.
            The other night in a sermon, God spoke to me in a way that made me smile.  The pastor said, “God doesn’t require you to be a success. He only requires that you be faithful.” Well, that’s about as direct a message as you could get.
However, would I have heard those words ten years ago? Probably not, but they sure resonated with me the other night.
            The amazing thing is that a friend of mine and I have been talking about this very thing—being faithful.  She said, “What I am learning is that God doesn’t even require us to be faithful because our faithfulness is imperfect. God simply wants to show us His faithfulness.”
            Wow!  Not only do I not have to be a success to gain God’s approval, I don’t even have to be perfectly faithful to gain God’s approval!  The more I thought about this, the clearer it became.  Over and over and over again, God has shown me, “Staci, even when you fall, even when you’re discouraged, even when you feel like a failure, even when you’re scared, I am here—loving you, cheering you on, giving you Me.”
       With that understanding, how then, I ask you, could I ever feel like a failure? How could I ever think I was anything less than a success?  And it has nothing at all to do with me. It has nothing to do with my performance, my plans, my control, my abilities, my knowledge, my understanding.  It’s all about Him.
     His performance, His plans, His control, His abilities. His knowledge, His understanding, His wisdom, His love, His mercy. His faithfulness. In a very real way, all He asks of me is that I take a step back from me, look to Him, and marvel at His faithfulness.  He is ever faithful to me. Not sometimes faithful. Not faithful when it’s easy or convenient. He is EVER faithful!
Just as He is ever loving.  He is.  And if I let my worth be based not on me but on Him, then I’m already a success.
Isn’t He the coolest?

Copyright Staci Stallings 2006

 A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from.  Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again.  Every title is a new adventure!  That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. 
Find Staci on the 'Net:
Facebook Author Page at:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-Light-Author-Staci-Stallings/266593276699576
 Staci's Bookshelf:
http://stacistallings.wordpress.com/
Spirit Light Books--The Blog
 
http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com/
Or...
Follow Staci on Twitter @StaciStallings
 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Need help

Two-year-old little Layla often says, "Need help."
She does it when she can't turn the door knob to go out into the yard. The little tyke did it the other night when company was in the house for dinner, the dog was in his kennel, but the door she liked to open in order to let her playmate out was turned to the wall.
"Need help," she said, turning to anyone in the room who would come and let the dog out.
Today we need help. I guess we've always needed supernatural help. but today we who live in the United States notice it more than perhaps our generation has any other time. Mexico has had 20,000 people killed near our border by the drug cartels. Iran is busily building nuclear bombs with a dream of wiping us and Israel off the map. Islamic terrorists hope to get our citizens a few at a time with a bombing here or there or to take down another plane or three.
Enemies outside our borders are devising ways to ruin America--the only place in the world where people want to live so badly we're thinking of building a fence to keep them out--in contrast to the countries who built walls to keep people in.
But we have problems at home also with too many unemployed, houses being repossessed, our economy in danger of collapsing, and thousands of unruly folks demonstrating in the streets.
We NEED HELP.
Many of us, like the Psalmist David, discovered our help comes from the Lord. Much of the church is praying for our nation. Yet, we don't need to worry about the politicians--although they need our prayers--but we need to pray for the church, and ask the Lord to make our hearts right. God said, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:13-15).
I pray for our leaders, but I also acknowledge that I am nothing but dust, and I seek God's forgiveness for all my sins.
We need to put God first in our lives once again, and walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. "Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:6-8).
Need help. The Lord has helped people who asked for His mercy in the past, and He will do it again.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1-3).