Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Activities for Kids: 25 free or cheap fun ideas

Our grandson, Tyler (bottom second photo), playing at the park with friends


          By Ada Brownell

We raised five children on a skinny budget, but our lives were fat with fun. All it took was time and a joyful attitude. Fun just happens.
While you’re doing all these things, don’t forget the good times offered without cost by the church: Sunday school, children’s Church, Bible and training clubs, children’s and youth choir, Bible quiz, Vacation Bible School, youth services, parties, recreation trips, retreats, youth camp and other fun and fellowship.
Also, don’t forget to entertain friends, especially Christian friends who have children your kids’ ages, and share your fun!
Try these free or inexpensive activities.
1. Kick-the-Can and Hide-and-seek. (Find Kick-the-Can rules online).
2. Puppet shows and talent night. If no puppets are available, use socks. On talent night, children can sing with or without a CD. Use pretend or play mikes.
3. Visit a music store. Children view instruments to determine what they might want to play.
4. Story Building. One person starts a story, then another person takes it up and says, “But then….” The story continues for as long as the players want to continue. This is a great game in the car.
5. Tent creations inside or out using blankets and sheets over a table. That was one of our Jeanette’s favorites. Kids love it when a parent comes inside.
6. Office. Instead of throwing away old phones and laptops set up an office. My grandchildren got so excited when they “called” me and I answered with the name of a business. Kirk “called” me so much I gave the answering machine speech and the “beep.”
7. Cooking lessons or Pretend Restaurant. The children make place cards, set the table, and become waitresses.
8. A family bicycle trip.
9. Nature hike. Children can collect insects, rocks and pick wild flowers.
10.    Road building in a sand box or open ground.
11.    A trip to the park. Swings, slides and other playthings on the park playground are great but there's more. Take picnic and games such as badminton, basketball, football, baseball, Frisbee, croquet, tennis (use old balls and they won’t go to infinity and beyond). Find outdoor toys at garage sales.
12.    Trips to a lake that has boat docks. Kids love to walk on them, but you need to supervise closely.
13.    Trips to nearby free or inexpensive sights. Admission to national parks per car range from $4 up to $20 for Yellowstone and Yosemite. Carlsbad Caverns costs $6 for adults; no charge for age 15 and under. Many museums are free or almost free, as are visits to a model train store and Bass Pro, if you have one in your town.
14.    Gardening. Children always enjoy planting and seeing things grow.
15.    Projects around the house. Children enjoy rearranging furniture, helping to finish a basement, and painting.
16.    A trip to the library’s storytelling events, playing the library’s computer games, and checking out books and DVDs.
17.    Fishing. Children don’t need a license in most states.  All you need is a stick, string, a hook and bobbler, worms and you’re set.
18.    Water Games. Use clean spray bottles for a water fight at home, or let them run through the sprinkler.
19.    Winter games such as sledding and ice skating on well-frozen ponds.
20.    Beauty Salon. Get all the hair gadgets in the house, along with brushes and combs, and allow the children to give you a “hair-do.”
21.    Garage Sailing: A great place for children to buy a pile of stuff with their own money, even if it’s just change.
22.    Aerobics. Children stuck inside on a rainy day often need to do something with their energy. Move the furniture out of the way and lead them in exercises.
23.    Follow the Leader. This is a great game inside and out. My children always loved it, especially when I led them, backward and forward, into walking on a narrow edge, or around a curvy path where you jump things.
24.    Field trips to charities or a ministry. Invite other families to join you and make an appointment. Children never forget visiting a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen.
25.    Tour the local newspaper. Again, you’ll need to join with some friends and make an appointment. Children especially enjoy seeing the press run.

©Ada Brownell May 30, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014


                               By Ada Brownell

What could I imagine I would be like when I grew up?

Here I was, a scrawny freckled-face redhead, poor, wearing my brother’s hand-me-downs. My brother’s union-alls had a button up flap in the back that had to be unbuttoned by one of the big people in the family before I could go to the outhouse. I think I had a flower sack dress or two to wear to church.

We wouldn’t have had enough to eat had we not had a cow, a huge irrigated garden and raised chickens and pigs
When I started school, Daddy gave Mama permission to buy me three new little cotton dresses from Montgomery Ward. The new pair of shoes had to last until the next school year.

I always knew my parents didn’t have an extra penny, and being the eighth child I often felt a little guilty for barging my way into the already crowded house, among four sisters and three brothers who weren’t that excited about another mouth to feed.

Yet, that wonderful family helped me to catch an eye for the future at a young age. I watched the excitement in the house when my oldest sister, Marjorie, went to church with a high school friend and became a Christian. One by one all the older siblings, and finally my parents, accepted Jesus as Savior and I soon learned Jesus loved me, too, and God had a plan for my life.

God's love was a little secret I held close to my heart even while being ridiculed by other children because of my freckles and my red hair. The pretty little girls in frilly dresses never wanted to be my friend.

But all this time something wonderful grew inside me: an intense desire to learn in school, to know how to sing and play the piano (all my siblings were musicians), and tell the world the message of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world he gave his only Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Our family squeezed every drop of joy from each day, but we always thought about tomorrow in the backs of our minds. My siblings were all achievers. I saw myself playing the piano for church someday and singing in gospel groups like my sisters did.

I had no grandiose ideas about what else I would do, except someday I would meet my Savior and live forever because He died and rose again. I wanted to tell everybody.

I studied the Bible, listened to our pastor’s sermons and teachings, and found myself in my early teens teaching children, and then leading youth. I hadn’t expected  those opportunities. I prepared. God opened doors.

My writing career started like that. I had no idea I would become a writer, but I had something to say I thought needed sharing and discovered editors thought it was worth reading.

Working as a newspaper reporter showed me there still was much to share. In gathering news a journalist touches almost every aspect of society. We report on the achievers, reveal life’s disasterous complications, and what happens when wickedness grips the heart and threatens to blow apart the hope of the eternal soul.

My burden is for the youth of America. So much potential! So much opportunity! But Satan lurks everywhere seeking whom he may devour. 

How can I not show them the path to wonderful tomorrows? How can I not show them how to prepare for the exciting journey of abundant life? How can I not show them how to avoid those who would steal their faith, rob them of their health and talents, and destroy their loved ones and eternal future?

So, I have a book filled with practical helps on developing your talents, being and looking your best, making the right connections, guarding your name’s fame, and much more, with many inspiring examples and illustrations.

Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow, but we’re told to prepare for what is ahead. The theme of my book is close to Solomon’s advice quoted here from The Message: “Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels; soak yourself in the Fear-of-God That’s where your future lies. Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing” (Proverbs 23: 17.
©Ada Brownell May 2014

Imagine the Future You audiobook is available at  Free book with new Audible membership.
 Paperbacks and Kindle versions may be purchased at

Friday, May 23, 2014


By Ada Brownell

Perhaps we should teach our children spiritual things before birth.

In a famous experiment by Anthony DeCasper and colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, mothers read the Dr. Seuss story, The Cat in the Hat, at regular intervals while they were pregnant. Newborns selected the reading they liked by sucking on a non-nutritive nipple. After a few trials, babies cleverly sucked at whatever speed was necessary to obtain their mother's voice reading "The Cat in the Hat."

One of my children's piano teachers told me she worked on her doctorate in music while pregnant, and she practiced hours a day. After the little girl was born, she would scream at the top of her lungs, but when her mother played the piece she practiced so much, the crying stopped.

I played the piano often after our oldest daughter was born and she had perfect pitch.

Our youngest son, plagued by colic the first four months of his life, showed his preference for different songs while I rocked and sang to him. If he liked the song, he relaxed. If he didn't like it, he started kicking and fussing. I would change back to the former tune, and he'd relax again.

According to, babies can hear in utero at three months.

DeCasper says babies are learning their native language before birth, and they recognize Mommy's and Daddy's voices.

"A mother's voice reaches the uterus with very little distortion as the sound waves pass directly through her body."

Many people around the world may wonder at the depth and devotion of Muslims. In Islam the religious education begins at birth, according to Jean Holm, author of The Study of Religions.[i]

"The newborn baby has the 'call to prayer' whispered into his right ear and then into his left ear, symbolizing the fact that there is no moment in his life when he is not aware of religious truth," she explained. "When he is about four years old, he starts to learn the read the Qua'ran and to recite long passages from memory."

After I learned about an infant's cognitive abilities, I sang "Jesus Loves Me," to my newborn grandchildren and repeated John 3:16 in their ears.

But it's never too late to tell our children about Jesus. Their minds are open to new teaching all the time. We need to be sure it's the good things that are being absorbed.

Although I did more active teaching to my children after they were in junior and senior high school, we had our five children in church at least three times a week. During revivals, we might be in church every night for two or three weeks.

Usually I tried to counteract a school's atheistic teaching when the situation arrived. But when our youngest daughter was in high school, during our family devotions I taught from Josh McDowell's book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict,[ii] and I gave her and my husband a sheet of questions to answer as the lesson unfolded.

Our children learned "Jesus Loves Me," as toddlers and the scripture, "God is love" in Sunday school. They heard the songs of rejoicing and worship in church, as well as our home. They played and sang them, and all live for the Lord today.

My latest book, Imagine the Future You, contains much of the teaching I gave my children and youth classes. The questions and answers are ready for family devotions on 13 different subjects that affect the future.

© Ada Brownell May 2014 

[i] 1977 Seabury Press, New York
[ii] 1979 Campus Crusade for Christ, Here's Life Publishers, San Bernardino, CA 92402

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


This is an excerpt from Imagine the Future You
Available in paper, for Kindle, and as an audio book
You can purchase paperback and Kindle copies at 

The audiobook may be purchased at 
By Ada Brownell

Three men. They rubbed shoulders in a palace and then in prison. Two weren’t worth mentioning by name. The other fellow’s name has been on people’s lips for centuries.
The butler and the baker had names, of course, but they were not included in the biblical account that tells us about them..
But we won’t forget Joseph. Today’s youth would have called Joseph “hot” in his youth. I despise the term myself, but you know by the way Potiphar’s wife flung herself at the young man his handsome face could put girls’ hearts in a flutter.
Some biblical scholars believe Joseph lived about four thousand years before Christ.[1] That’s a long time ago for his name to come up now. Even though Joseph has no last name, his name will never be forgotten. Joseph is on the minds and lips of many people even today because of who he was and what he did.
Who could forget the sound of Joseph’s weeping in the desert cistern as he heard his brothers planning to kill him and then deciding to sell him as a slave? His years in prison suffering because he wouldn’t tumble into bed with Potiphar’s wife, who then ripped her dress and accused him of rape? Or after Joseph’s promotion to governor, his heart-wrenching sobs when he recognized his brothers bowing before him asking for food in Pharaoh’s Egyptian palace?

Or can any Bible student forget how Joseph forgave those brothers and fell on their necks, weeping and kissing them?
And what Joseph said? “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”[2]
            Our tongues still speak Joseph’s name with respect because of who he was and what he did.

Joseph’s name remained on a small pyramid in Egypt, according to Bible historians and archaeologists, until Moses led the Israelites in their exodus. When Joseph knew he was dying, he prophesied God would take them from Egypt back to their own land, and when they went asked them to take his bones with them. The Bible says the Israelites took the bones back to Israel, and Joseph was reburied in Shechem. That’s where the Jews of modern times found a tomb they identified as Joseph’s in 1921. His name appeared on the tomb in the heart of Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria. But then on February 23, 2003, the carved stone over the grave was destroyed and the tomb vandalized and filled with burning garbage. In February 2008, vandals set burning tires inside the tomb. Yet, until September 2008, Jews journeyed to the tomb to pray, although Muslims have attempted to make it a holy site to Islam.[3]
Despite the damage to his tomb, Joseph’s name is remembered—not because it is so unusual, but because it belonged to an unusual man.
Where would you like your name to appear? How about the Lamb’s Book of Life? Different from some Who’s Who books, you aren’t required to pay a fee or buy that edition. An entry is no cost to you—but a huge amount already has been paid in blood for your name to be included. That’s called redemption because we were born into sin and the penalty for sin is death. But we can accept this gift with more joy than if our name appeared in lights or on a best selling book.
Jesus told his disciples to rejoice that their names were written in heaven.[4] The last book of the Bible, Revelation, has multiple references to the “Book of Life.”[5]
Revelation chapter 20 describes the vision the Apostle John saw of the Great White Throne Judgment: “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to things written in the books.”

[1] You can read about Joseph and his family in Genesis 30–50. Even the creation account didn’t use this much space!
[2] Genesis 5:19–21 NKJ
[3] David M. Rohl and Dr. Thomas S. McCall, Th.D., “Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest,” Levitt Letter, June 1999.
[4] Luke 10:20
[5] Rev. 3:5; Rev. 20:12; Rev. 21:27

Saturday, May 17, 2014


This is a photo of my grandson, instead of my daughter.

By Ada Brownell

I inserted the tiny spoon filled with cereal into the baby's mouth. Her tongue squished the soft oatmeal around. She puckered and swallowed. Big brown eyes lit with interest. Then she shuddered and her face pulled into a series of disgusted, unhappy expressions.
Similar experiences occurred with our other four children the first time they tried solid food. I think it's interesting how we react to different types of food, beginning with infancy.
Most babies gag and spit out the first solid food, but soon tiny fingers pick up Cheerios and insert them into their mouths.
It's interesting to understand that our food choices, even as child, are influenced by our culture. If we were born into a poor Oriental family, we soon would like rice, whereas American children often don't eat rice until they are much older. If we lived in an African slum, we’d be grateful for slimy oatmeal gruel in a dirty bowl.
In some parts of the world, you’d think putting live bugs between two slices of bread was a special treat, even though bugs crawled around on your fingers as you ate them. In other countries you’d eat dog and monkey. In times past it was quite common for Americans to eat cow and pig brains and kidneys. They made “head cheese,” which was a jellied meat product made from the head of a calf or pig. You can still buy pickled pig’s feet. Using everything possible became popular in a economically poor society that didn’t waste anything. In hard times, people also ate squirrels and turtles.
A man who escaped from the enemy during World War II told me he ate a rat in order to survive.
Such things make me nauseous. But lately I've thought more about my spiritual food. Should I only read the Word that encourages me—sort of dessert sweet to the taste? Is it O.K. to look over the Lord's table and pick and choose the parts of the Bible I like and refuse the sections that give spiritual growth and health?
Untasty words abound among the spiritual bread we're provided. For instance, in Revelation 21,  the sweet morsels are mixed with the bitter: "To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the water of life… but the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolators and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Revelation 21:7-8).
I go through times where I partake of the Word, studying subjects or books of the Bible learning and growing, but then comes a time when I only read a scripture or two or a devotion.
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church, "I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready" (1 Corinthians 3:2). Another version talks about spiritual "meat" instead of milk. Interesting that three ounces of lean beef has 23 grams of  protein, 243 calories (food energy, and numerous other important vitamins and minerals). Eight ounces of whole milk has 9 grams of protein 160 calories.
A child who drinks only milk will be anemic.
So I need to get into the Word and eat heartily, and pray for spiritual health.
The Psalmist said, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11).
In the natural, food storage is wise. My parents, who went through the Great Depression, always had about enough canned goods to last two years. I know I also should stock God's Word away in my mind for future use.
©Copyright Ada Brownell 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Win Tumbleweed Weddings: Is Waiting a God Thing?

Donna Reimel Robinson is a member of JOY Writers, a local critique group, as well as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). As a pastor’s wife, she plays the piano for their church
and teaches a Jr. High Sunday School class. In her spare time, Donna enjoys sewing and working jigsaw puzzles. She and her husband have four grown children and ten grandchildren (with another on the way!) They live in Denver, Colorado. Visit Donna’s website at

God’s Ways
One of the many ways God works is to make His children wait. Human beings tend to be impatient, but God is very patient. A couple years or more is nothing to the Lord.
In the Bible, Abraham had to wait twenty-five years before his promised son was born. The Psalmist David was anointed as the future king of Israel, and yet he had to wait, hiding from King Saul, before he could sit on the throne. An old Israelite named Simeon waited all his life for the Messiah to be born.
I first felt the tug to write novels back in 1986, but my first book was not published until 2009. That was a long time to wait! (You can read about my writing journey at my website. Here’s the link:
But waiting was good for me. The Lord is more interested in people’s character than their success. Waiting all those years gave me time to hone the craft of writing, as well as taking care of my husband and children. It also made me learn to trust God, knowing His plan for me was best.
Are you going through something right now, and you wish the Lord would hurry up? Don’t be discouraged. God has a plan for you.
Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” (KJV)

Book Giveaway!
For a chance to win my book, Tumbleweed Weddings, please leave a comment below along with your e-mail address. God bless you!

  Donna Reimel Robinson is a member of JOY Writers, a local critique group, as well as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). As a pastor’s wife, she plays the piano for their church and teaches a Jr. High Sunday School class. In her spare time, Donna enjoys sewing and working jigsaw puzzles. She and her husband have four grown children and ten grandchildren (with another on the way!) They live in Denver, Colorado. Visit Donna’s website at

God’s Ways
One of the many ways God works is to make His children wait. Human beings tend to be impatient, but God is very patient. A couple years or more is nothing to the Lord.
In the Bible, Abraham had to wait twenty-five years before his promised son was born. The Psalmist David was anointed as the future king of Israel, and yet he had to wait, hiding from King Saul, before he could sit on the throne. An old Israelite named Simeon waited all his life for the Messiah to be born.
I first felt the tug to write novels back in 1986, but my first book was not published until 2009. That was a long time to wait! (You can read about my writing journey at my website. Here’s the link:
But waiting was good for me. The Lord is more interested in people’s character than their success. Waiting all those years gave me time to hone the craft of writing, as well as taking care of my husband and children. It also made me learn to trust God, knowing His plan for me was best.
Are you going through something right now, and you wish the Lord would hurry up? Don’t be discouraged. God has a plan for you.
Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” (KJV)

Book Giveaway!
For a chance to win my book, Tumbleweed Weddings, please leave a comment below along with your e-mail address. God bless you!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We Can't Give Jesus Our Burdens Unless...

We Acknowledge We Have Them

By K.D. Harp

Life has hurled enough stones my way that like you, I've had a few cares. Because of them, I better understand the unimaginable support one can get from a Spirit who cannot be touched, but can touch our hearts. While people complained about 'stolen' baby names, the luxury car they couldn't afford, or the sprain they got trying to make middle-aged bodies play young people's games, I endured personal betrayals ranging from simple defamation to outright abuse, over a decade of infertility, and three early miscarriages; all situations that break marriages and people. I've had cares.
Thanks to God, here I sit, still married, and while a bit dinged, unbroken.
The beautiful thing in these struggles has not been what so many in the faith do. I didn't try to rationalize bad things into something spiritually pretty. The beautiful thing is enduring ugliness and pain, and clinging ever harder to God's promise throughout the process. And when a trial is past, the greatest gift on the sunny end of a struggle is: knowing when the going gets awful, we can't help but stick to God, even when we don't understand, even when it's not our will.
"Write something encouraging," Ada Brownell advised. I can't think of anything more encouraging than this for getting through the day by day of living on this earth.
So why do people of faith not only refuse to cast their cares, they don't even acknowledge them?
Look at Death. You can't break sod on a new grave without someone pulling out a "Death where is thy sting?" quote as a spiritual challenge to anyone openly mourning. Their message is clear: You should only be happy for dear Sister Beloved who is now with the Lord. If you aren't so full of joy like me about where they've gone, then something's wrong with your faith.
Oh yeah?
Then why is it written "to everything there is a season, a time to rejoice, a time to mourn?"

That's Old Testament, they might argue. We live under a Risen Lord.
We sure do. And, we're to follow Him, right?  So why did the Son of God, who knew He could conquer death, let his friend Lazarus die, and bring him back from the dead, after he wept over him before witnesses?
I mean, come on. Jesus knows He's going to heal his friend. He of all people knows about Eternal Life and what we have waiting for us on the Other Side of mortality. He should be happy for his dead friend, right? He can just walk up and declare Lazarus was only sleeping and have him join him for some water turned into wine.
If there's anyone in this town that doesn't need to mourn Lazarus, it's Jesus.

But He does.
Shortest verse in the Bible: Jesus wept.
Since He knows He's about to heal His friend, logically the only reason He did this is to offer a role model for us. It's OK to weep. (At least, it's OK to Jesus).
"Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you." This is not a spiritual Band-Aid for emotional boo-boos. It isn't a kiss-and-make-it-better promise. This is instruction from God the most High.
Talk to me. Tell me what's on your mind. Share with me. Having acknowledged it, let it go. Give it to me. Surrender control of the situation.
But we can't surrender if we won't admit it exists.
"Cast your cares," He says.
Acknowledge Christian life isn't all the sunshine and roses so many wish it to be. You don't have to deny it hurts. He knows. We don't have to spirit speak our way out of admitting that while a miscarriage may have prevented someone living a life with mental or physical deformities, it still hurts. Being judged and rejected unfairly may be God's method of getting you or a loved one out of harm's way, but it hurts. The death of a Godly person means they're finally where they've wanted to be for a long time, but they're not with you now, and that hurts.

Lazarus is going to be dead until I resurrect him a few seconds from now. I think I'll cry.

Why would He do that?
Cast your cares. All of them.
The most Godly people aren't the ones rejecting loss believing this somehow pleases God. It's not the ones refusing to admit while death doesn't have the sting of damnation any longer, it does still have a sting of loss. They're the ones who will weep, like Jesus did, and they love God despite their loss and pain, like He did. 
When we've been there and done that, it affirms our faith like no season of sunshine and rainbows ever will.
How's that for encouragement?

An inspirational suspense novel by K.D. Harp

Lt. Col. Boone Ballestra's finally found the courageous woman of his combat weary dreams.
(Too bad he’s gotta dump her to save her from his sister’s Mafia in-laws.)

Hugs & home-baked cookies sound good to a Marine back from OPS, but Boone’s got nothing but a note from his sister putting him on deck to fetch his 4 year old niece ...20 minutes ago. A lifetime of cleaning up family messes makes this no surprise, but lead-footing it into camp just in time to stop the child’s Mafia Grampa
from abducting her IS. The toxic in-law plans to stop Boone’s sister from testifying against his murderous son by making a pawn of his innocent grandchild. Fortunately camp director Brianna Parrish confronts the mobster, or spunky Savannah would be lost to them forever.
...It's not exactly how Boone planned to impress the woman who helped him watch over his sister while he served his country. Back home and in control, he has no intentions of relying on outsiders again, but his sister goes missing and Boone discovers knowing 100 ways to subdue an adversary is useless when it comes to your basic preschool princess wrangling. Brianna's gifted insights however, console his traumatized niece, and decode parts of Boone he's kept camouflaged from the world (and himself.) She even teaches the man with a boatload of concerns to 'cast his cares' on God, which sounds just dandy, until Brianna foils the mob’s plans one time too many and puts herself in their cross-hairs.
Boone pushes away the love he’s lacked all his life in order to keep Brianna safe. It's the perfect plan, (if only she were the kind of gal to abandon the people she loves). When she doesn't, Brianna’s marked for death.
Boone will trade his freedom for Brianna’s in a heartbeat---
----which it just might cost them.

Available in Paperback, large print, Kindle, Nook and Kobo formats.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


                                                      By Ada Brownell

Recently I heard a singing group from Evangel University and some members gave powerful testimonies. One young man barely escaped an abortionist’s scalpel when his 15-year-old unmarried mother discovered she was pregnant. But she met and was counseled by a wise Christian woman and this boy and his twin brother were saved from death.
Another young man testified about his first visit to church at age 11, when his dad decided to get married. His father didn’t show until they were about to give up. A few days later, they found out why. Police came to the home and arrested his dad because had committed armed robbery just before the ceremony.
Not wanting to live with a stepmother, the boy phoned his grandmother, a Christian, and grew up under her influence and eventually gave his heart and life to Christ.
Both of these young men are preparing to become worship leaders.
American children and young people today are at risk more than any time in history. Not only do many have parents who’ve never heard the gospel or rebelled against it, the youth are subject to wickedness and brainwashing unequaled in our nation since the Pilgrims landed in 1620.
I was somewhat surprised several years ago when our youngest son, attending a Christian college, thanked me and my husband for staying married. “Most of my college friends are from broken homes,” he said.
As a newspaper reporter and free lance writer, I’ve interviewed the angry unmarried teen moms, grieving women who’ve had abortions, kids in trouble with the law, parents of suicide victims, and juveniles in mental hospital wards. I’ve interviewed experts on many angles of the problems, including sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and drug addiction.
Of course, I’ve also written about the achieving, well-balanced, often Christian youth who turn away from such things.
Yet, I can’t forget the heartaches that affect too many youth today. More important, I need to remember this generation of youth struggles for faith in God—partly because they don’t know enough about Him.
I’ve worked with youth much of my life and written for Christian youth publications. My book, Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, is a story about youth who struggle, but also some who believe they can do anything through Jesus Christ. Most of the problems happen to Joe, but he has a group of friends—actually the Gallant Guardians--dedicated to God and committed to preventing and solving crimes using ordinary, harmless weapons.
Will they find his parents and stop the radicals, even though the dangerous group dedicated to erasing Christianity from America uses robot guards and real weapons?
I also have a motivational Bible study, Imagine the Future you, that youth and mothers and fathers find strengthens their faith. Intertwined with ideas and knowledge about how to a success, is how your life can be satisfying and joyful through eternity if it is built on faith in God. The book takes on the secularistic, atheistic view taught in our schools and shows with evidence why it is in error and faith in God makes sense.
Do you have a mountain of problems? See how Joe found the answer to his.
Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult.     Would you like to know more about why faith in God is the only logical answer to who we are, why we are here, and where we’re going? Imagine the Future You.
            Both are available in paperback or for Kindle at Amazon Ada Brownell author page: Imagine the Future You will be available as an audiobook later this month.

The books also are available at Barnes& and listed on GoodReads.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Love: Boundaries of the Heart and book, Heaven's Prey

Heaven's Prey by Janet Sketchley:

A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.

Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?

Some people warm our hearts every time they come to mind.
I have an acquaintance who's a farmer, and her heart is as large as her land. Just thinking about her spreads a warm smile across my face. We're not close, and we don't know a lot of details of each other's lives although we've prayed for one another. We haven't bonded through adversity or spent a lot of time together, but my spirit recognizes something good in hers.
At first I wondered, does the rural setting make a difference? Is that why we city folk seem wound tighter and pressed in?
Of course not. The size of a person's physical property—or bank account—or daily planner—doesn't determine heart size.

But the question reminded me of Jabez in the Old Testament, praying that God would expand his territory.
"Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request." (1 Chronicles 4:10, NLT*)
The prayer of Jabez is not for everyone. Some love it, some try to use it for gain. What if this is another facet of that expansion?
What if we prayed like this?
"Enlarge the boundaries of my heart territory, Lord. Stretch them to be where You want them to be. Throw open the borders of my heart and let me not cause others pain."
When we recognize God as our boundary—our shield and strong tower—we don't need to erect our own barbed-wire walls tight around our hearts. We can trust that God has set our boundaries in pleasant, expansive places.
What could this look like in our lives?
*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Janet Sketchley bio

Janet Sketchley's debut novel, Heaven's Prey, is a story of suspense and redemption. You'll find her Christian living articles and book reviews at, plus a true-life story in the award-winning anthology, A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. Janet lives and writes in east-coast Canada.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

MOTHER'S DAY: Mama was a fiery redhead

By Ada Brownell

      The year was 1919. Rita Shepherd hurried down the dirt Iowa road carrying her heavy suitcase.
      Joe Nicholson dropped his shovel beside a post hole. “That must be the new schoolteacher! I’m going to offer to carry her load.”
      His friend let out a low whistle. “That redhead is a looker. I’ll do it.”
      The young men argued and then flipped a coin. Joe won.
      He enthusiastically courted the teacher for several weeks and then discovered there was a beau back home.
      “It’s either me or the other guy,” Joe demanded. “Will you marry me or are you going to choose that twerp back home?”
      Years later, Joe told Rita, “God planned for us to be man and wife way back when I was in Kansas and you were in Iowa.”
      Joe and Rita were my parents.
      Daddy usually was a man of few words, but when he did speak, wisdom filled his conversation. Because he had a “can do” attitude, he could repair or build almost anything, and even during the devastation of the Great Depression and the Kansas Dust Bowl, he figured out how to care for his family.
      He shot three geese with one bullet. He dammed up the creek in drought and irrigated his garden. One cold winter when they had nothing in the cellar, Daddy cut ice from the creek and stored it in the cellar. The next summer, grasshoppers swarmed in like clouds, devouring crops, even eating onions out of the ground. The family cow still had milk and they had chickens, so the chickens ate grasshoppers and the family ate chicken and ice cream.
      Mama was resourceful, too, and she was the perfect mate for Daddy. Yet, she had fire and spunk in her that made her ideal for the mother of the eight of us—six of us redheads.
      Mama had been to college—unusual in the early 1900s, and being educated added to her life and ours. Daddy might have had a hint of what it means to be married to a redhead before, but when as a newlywed he started partaking now and then from his boss’s illegal liquor still, I imagine that’s when he realized he married a spit-fire.
      Following Joe on his way to the field, she located the still in a shack by the lake. She’d heard of temperance leader Carry Nation’s style, and picked up an ax. Grabbing liquor bottles and dropping them in gunny sacks, she cleaned out the shack. She stuck a few bottles up the chimney and dragged one sack full of bottles into the lake as evidence for the revenuers. The bundles she hit with the backside of the ax until every bottle was broken.
      When the bootlegger discovered the devastation, he knocked on my parents’ door. Mama answered.
      “I’ve been expecting you,” she said. “Sit right over there. You ought to be ashamed for produces something that takes food out of children’s mouths, clothes off their backs, money out of a father’s pockets and sense out of their heads.”
      The man didn’t know what to say, but the next day Mom and Dad had to run or be killed.
They ran, sleeping here and there, and encountered body lice and had to burn all their clothes.
Years later, Mama met the former bootlegger unexpectedly in another town. It was too late to cross the street to avoid him.
“Young lady,” he said when his eyes caught hers, “you ruined me financially, but it was the best thing that happened to me.”
      Mom had a way of getting to the root of problems. She parented with gentleness and love, and she and Dad disciplined with firmness  and consistency. We knew what was expected.
      Although Mama always believed, when I was a baby (the eighth child), Mom had an experience with God that added power to her life beyond temper. The Holy Spirit so anointed her words although she has been in heaven for 50 years, my siblings and I can still hear her quoting scriptures: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” “Love your neighbors as yourself.”  “Those who won’t work, should not eat.” “Honor your father and mother…that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
      You might expect Solomon’s writing from Proverbs, “Wine is a mocker; strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” and the motto on her wall, “Only one life; ‘Twill soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
      A mother’s words written on our hearts by the chisel of the Holy Spirit remain for recall. I wonder what words I’ve said my children will remember.
©Ada Brownell 2012


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Fay Lamb: Finding the Spark to Bring a Novel to Life

By Fay Lamb

Short summary for Fay's latest book, Libby:

Libby Overstreet can’t see herself as anything but shy and socially awkward. She’s nearing thirty, and she’s never even been on a date. Then she meets the man of her dreams, but Libby knows he would never be interested in a wallflower like her. All she wants to do is to buy that garden nursery on the outskirts of town and settle down with the life she has always dreamed about. Evan Carter has been watching the sweet woman in the coffee shop for weeks when his friend tells him that the object of his affection plans to buy a garden nursery and needs Evan’s expertise as an architect/contractor. When they meet, Libby is more enamored of Evan and even more convinced that he would never look at her as anything but a friend. However, that’s far from the truth. Evan would love to get to know the innocent beauty God has placed in this path. Trouble is, he fears that a lovely flower like Libby will wilt under the sins of his past, and he’ll do everything in his power to keep that from happening.


By Fay Lamb 

When a writer gets serious about her career, she seeks advice. One of the first rules she will learn is rather vague and open to interpretation.
“Write what you know,” the experts say.
I believe that the true meaning is must more complex than this expression.
Yes, we should write what we know firsthand or have been able to research extensively, but knowledge in fiction without passion produces dry words if they are not accompanied by passion. Firsthand knowledge about something isn’t always required to spark a passion for it.
I live in a town that sits directly across from the Kennedy Space Center. This place is rich with space exploration history. If someone asked me to write an historical novel about this history, I could do it. I know quite a bit about the history, but I lack a passion for the subject. There are authors out there who are ardent about this area and its history. I’d rather leave the telling of that story in their capable hands.
Yet, even writing what we know and/or have passion for still doesn’t plumb the depths of the meaning behind “write what you know.”
When I decided to write contemporary novels set in this familiar area, I really didn’t have the desire to put any of my characters to work at the space center. Why? As noted, I lack the passion for that career. Instead, I took two gals and moved them out of my hometown and into Orlando, Florida. One works in in a profession that I know inside and out. The other? Well let’s just say it’s a good thing dreams come true at the end of the story and not the beginning. While the girls live in Orlando, their pasts are firmly set in my hometown. In my writer’s mind, I pictured Orlando as a representation of the present and the future while my hometown represented the past and what needed to be overcome.
All of the heroines in The Ties That Bind series have issues that mirror my own experiences. In Charisse and Libby, the stories are very different, but we do discover that both girls were abandoned by their fathers. While Charisse’s story centers on forgiveness and moving on from the past, Libby Overstreet’s past has crippled her. She lacks self-esteem, and she has a disabling fear of rejection that keeps her from experiencing the awesome gifts that God wants to bestow upon her, including the love of the man she has asked God to allow to cherish her and the business she dreams of owning.
Like both heroines, I experienced firsthand the abandonment by my father. His departure left me with several issues I needed to face, and you’ve guessed it, Charisse and Libby face those same problems. Overcoming the negative emotions and the impact that abandonment places upon a child, even when that child is an adult, is something I’m very passionate about. But it is the emotions and not necessarily the issues that will connect a reader to the story. Knowing and conveying the emotions that are born of issues in our lives can touch an individual reader in ways an author cannot begin to imagine. That touch might possibly lead them to the One who can heal the pain. Having felt those emotions deeply, I try to allow the reader to feel the trauma of a father’s abandonment. Those feelings sent me to the Lord to seek relief. There, I discovered that while my earthly father might not have been perfect, my heavenly Father is, and His arms are all that I need. Not only am I able to convey the bad emotions, but I am able to relay the good feelings that come with learning the truth of the situation.
“Write what you know …” A better translation is “Write where your passions take you.” When our passions resonate with a reader, that is the spark that brings a novel to life and might possibly bring new life to the reader.

Fay Lamb’s emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has recently contracted with Write Integrity Press for three series. Stalking Willow and Better than
Revenge, the first two novels in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series is currently available for
purchase, as are Charisse and Libby, the first two releases in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series. Serenity is the third series contracted, and Storms in Serenity is slated for release summer 2014.
Fay is a past-secretary for American Christian Fiction Writers. She served for four years as the moderator for ACFW’s critique group, Scribes. For her volunteer efforts for ACFW, she received the Service Members Award in 2010. She was also a semi-finalist that year in the ACFW Genesis Contest. Fay was influential in the creation of the Central Florida ACFW Chapter known as Sonshine Scribes. She is a past-president and will serve as secretary in 2014.
Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and six grandchildren.

Links for the book:

Links for Fay: (Fay’s website and blog: On the Ledge) (Fay is the Tactical Editor, sharing self-editing tips) (Fay’s Twitter address)