Thursday, January 29, 2015

Can suspense be mixed with humor?

Humor Among the Suspense

By James Callan

In the Crystal Moore suspense A Ton of Gold, things can get pretty intense at times.  I don’t think they rise up to thriller status, though probably close. But sometimes, when things are intense for a bit, your reader will welcome something a little lighter.  A little humor might come in handy.

One of my favorite characters is Eula Moore, Crystal’s grandmother.  She is seventy-six, lives alone in the middle of a forest and doesn’t let much upset her.  In one very intense scene, something happens that reminds her of a funny incident from years ago.  She tells those around her the story and thoroughly enjoys herself. But once they laugh about it, she can return just as quickly to the somber mood and difficult situation currently surrounding her.  The short scene gives the reader a break and by adding contrast, actually heightens the seriousness of Eula’s predicament.

Crystal is a very serious minded computer science researcher.
And many of the people in the book are not prone to humor. So, it’s important that someone can see the humor in things, even in frightening things.

At another point, near the end of a serious and deadly standoff with two henchmen, the sheriff yells to the thugs that he has two deputies with him and to come out with hands up.  Eula, inside with the bad guys, yells back, “I’m willing to bet my old corset you ain’t got two deputies with you.”  The situation is deadly, but Eula is willing to face it with a little humor.

I just finished reading a good suspense/thriller book.  It was well-written.  The characters were interesting. But they were all so serious, it was depressing.  I don’t think there was a laugh in the entire two hundred and eighty pages.  I enjoyed the book. But I found it tiring. There was never a light moment, a time for the mind to relax.

In my book Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel, I suggest that making the sidekick different from the protagonist is an advantage. This adds contrast, and probably many small instances of conflict, always a good thing in a novel.  If your main characters are very serious, create a sidekick who is a funny woman.  Or at least she can find something to laugh about in almost any situation. This contrast highlights the seriousness of the protagonist, and at the same time, gives the reader a break from too much gravity.

So whether it’s a mystery, a suspense book, or a thriller, take a little break every now and then and give the reader a cause to smile or maybe laugh out loud.  She will appreciate it. And it will tend to make the dangerous scenes seem even more frightening.

My next Father Frank mystery, Over My Dead Body, should be released at the end of April, 2015.  A Christian mystery, it follows the three main characters of Cleansed by Fire, the first book in the series.

Meet James R. Callan

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.

Amazon Author page:
Twitter:                                                @jamesrcallan

A Ton of Gold, (Oak Tree Press, 2013)
On Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions:

Monday, January 26, 2015


By Ada Brownell

During the Great Depression one of my husband’s sisters mixed cocoa, sugar and butter to add to a cake. A young woman knocked on their door and asked to use the phone. On the way to the phone, she grabbed the chocolate mixture out of my sister-in-law’s hands--and gobbled it up.

The visitor stood there, the empty bowl in her hand, staring.

“I…I…I’m sorry,” she mumbled, as if she were in shock.

“The poor girl must have been hungry,” my mother-in-law recalled.

A World War II vet we knew also experienced hunger.  Taken prisoner by the Germans, he escaped.  He traveled mostly at night trying to get back to American troops. Water wasn’t too difficult to find, but food was something else.  Hunger gnawed his stomach and mind as he traveled through enemy territory.

He lay on the ground resting one day when a rat, his curious little eyes and body pulsing with life, came to investigate. In seconds the soldier snatched the tail and ate the rat.

Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War II pilot who was lost at sea, in his autobiography tells how and he and his crew ate a raw seagull that landed on Rickenbacker’s head after they pulled the rafts
together for a prayer meeting. They used the insides for fish bait on their improvised pole, and the seagull saved their lives.

What kinds of things are you grasping to fill the God-sized hole within? Do you find sin, success, fame, money, empty relationships don’t satisfy your inner longings?

John Lennon, who sang with the famed Beatles, said “I knew there was nothing at the top, but it was fun getting there.”

Actor Errol Flynn who died in 1959, had his handkerchiefs and other possessions monogrammed with a question mark because he found no meaning in the life of fame, booze and women.

Howard Hughes, once one of the richest men in the world, became a recluse later in life, seeing few people, rarely going out, and fearing germs. The film producer and director, as well as an aviator, found no peace from money and earthly power.
Satan lies to everyone and tries to make them believe they can find lasting pleasure in sin and success, but nothing fills the God-shaped void within us except our Creator and Redeemer.
The Bible says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

The prophet Isaiah wrote, and preceded the words with, “Says the Lord:”

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good. And let your soul delight in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to me. Hear and your soul shall live....” (Isaiah 55:1-3NKJ).

Good news for anyone who will answer the invitation.

     Copyright © 2015 Ada B. Brownell

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Que Sera Sera?

By Cindy Loven

Que Sera Sera?

I know I am dating myself, but when I was a child there was a show with Doris Day and she sang the song, Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be.
 How many times do we forget that God is in control? Today in talking with a friend, I just mentioned “it will be, if it is supposed to be.” But do we really mean that when we say it? Are we willing to take things to God, turn them over to Him and let Him do what He wills for our lives?
 Ouch, I am a fixer by nature. I want to fix everything, often even when it is not broken.  Plus I can't leave out the fact that I often like to try to pick up my troubles after I lay them on the altar.
 I am so funny, thinking that God needs my help. So how about you, can you live by the “Que Sera Sera motto? Do you let life be what life is? My goal this year is to try to let God be more in control of all my actions and emotions. If I want Him to be the Lord of my life, then I must let Him be, just that, the Lord of my life.

Psalm 91:2  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.

Author Cindy Loven, makes her home in Arkansas with her husband and son. Active in her local church, she finds herself busy, but loves reading and crafting, when she is not writing. She is the author of a children's book Dianna's Wings and co-author of Swept Away Quilts of Love. Both books are available on Amazon in ebook and print copies. Visit her amazon page at  also her Facebook page is

Book Blurb for Dianna's Wings:
Did you ever see a beautiful butterfly and wish you could soar on majestic wings? Dianna Dragonfly has. In fact she is convinced her life will be perfect if she only had butterfly wings. Trevor has to show Dianna that God creates us perfectly, each and every one of us. That we all have beauty within us.

Friday, January 16, 2015


 Seek & Who Knows What You’ll Find?

By Cathy Elliott

People ask what kind of research one must do in order to write crime fiction. Since my amateur sleuth is sure to become entangled in a murder with eventual police involvement, some crime scene research is needed. I am grateful for a wise Sergeant’s advice on all police procedures, including that today’s officers choose to eat salads and sandwiches over donuts. I like to keep current, so his counsel is appreciated. No clichéd policemen for this cozy author. My fictive Detective Brewster, Officer Threet, and Canine Officer Justice, all conform to proper procedures. Most of the time. Which makes them very real to me.

Cozies are a special genre of crime fiction. I think of them as kinder, gentler mysteries where all the bad stuff, the give-you-nightmares stuff, happens off-stage.  A favorite definition is, “Cats or quilts and not a lot of blood.” My new novel, A Stitch in Crime, has it all. A calico cat named Betty, fiercely loved and protected by our hesitant sleuth, Thea James. A quilt show with a quilt reputed to contain the secret to great riches. And blood? What blood?

Okay, maybe a little.

Some research is needed, of course, but not necessarily too much about crime. For this book, I had to do extensive digging to understand how to orchestrate a quilt show. Interviews with a chairperson and on-the-job training at a real show gave me lots of fodder to help make it authentic for the story. And since a major Gold Rush display opened at the museum during my quilt show, I needed to know what to put in the cases, reflecting the forty-niner days of old. More research.

But cozies, just like any book, are largely observations of life, tweaked, and written down. I am in constant research mode, studying someone who might show me that next response from Thea or from Gram or Mum. I feel like a detective, always watching, trying to find the treasure in someone’s dialog or gesture or dress. Something I can steal for my character to make her more real, more believable. So she will breathe through the pages into the reader’s psyche. She’s already alive in mine.

Cozies are also filled with quirky characters. My protagonist is a clumsy, ‘fraidy-cat who procrastinates even more than me. I discovered her flaws from among my family and friends…a little nail-biting from this person, a little bad cooking from another, a sprinkle of kindness from my mom and voila! It’s spunky, clog-wearing Thea James. In the flesh.

Always on the lookout for things Thea might mess up, I keep my inner research light on at all times. Recently, I put cinnamon on my steamed veggies instead of seasoned salt, only realizing it after taking a big bite. Yuck!

But, on the other hand, Thea might do the same in a future adventure. Only she will be making dinner for her beau, Cole Mason. Perhaps she also invited the Mayor, hoping to impress.

Hmm, I wonder how that will work out? Maybe I should do more research.

BOOK SUMMARY for A Stitch in Crime:
Thea James thought working as co-chair for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza would be a natural extension of her antique business. But while organizing the busy week’s premiere events would make anyone frayed, she doesn’t expect a complete unraveling!
   At the opening soirée, local matriarch Mary-Alice Wentworth is knocked unconscious and robbed of her diamond brooch. Soon a rare quilt—the main attraction and a rumored key to great riches—goes missing. Those who signed up to help Thea are strangely no help at all. What more could possibly happen?
   Amid a cast of colorful characters and a tight schedule of garden galas, tea parties, and televised socials, everything is falling apart at the seams – and nothing is quite what it seems. Can Thea sew everything back together?

Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer in northern California whose cozy mysteries reflect her personal interests from quilting and antique collecting to playing her fiddle with friends. She also leads music at church and enjoys time with her grandchildren. Cathy’s previous plot-twisting works include A Vase of Mistaken Identity and Medals in the Attic.

Visit Cathy at:
·         Facebook – Author Cathy Elliott
Question to blog readers:

What is your favorite crime story and why? Please comment with your answer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Seven Ways to Look at Moving

                                        By Ada Nicholson Brownell

Our first move was when we were married less than a year. We landed in a cabin on top of Colorado’s Tennessee Pass. Since then we’ve moved more than 30 times.
 My most troubling "relocation" was Thompson, a town in the Utah desert, Population 100, three bars, and no church. My husband, a railroader, worked nights. We had a two-week-old baby; a dilapidated rental, no telephone; knew no one in town. Ninety miles separated me from my family and the doctor. The nearest city hid 38 miles another direction.
 Previously, we owned a cute little house in my home town, surrounded by friends and family. I was president of a thriving church youth group. After the move, my emotions went splat on the brick wall of seemingly impossible circumstances. Through God's grace I discovered moving isn't the end of the world. 
 Here are 10 ways I learned to accept change.
1.                  God directs my steps.[1] In Utah, I learned to be thankful for the railroad job and for new friends. While we lived in the mountain cabin, we made wonderful friends in nearby Minturn, Colo. In Thompson my husband joined the Thompson/Crescent Junction baseball team and that opened doors to make friends. When God sent a young Christian woman my age to town, we started a Sunday school. We lived in Thompson five years, and I look back on those years fondly.
2.                  I can keep old friends. We have friends scattered everywhere. We still have some from my home town.  We stopped in Thompson to see the Rogers about five years ago. Bonnie, from Minturn, Colo., and I have stayed in touch over decades. When I joined Facebook, other precious friends renewed acquaintance. I value these folks.
3.                  I can make new friends. Wonderful people who need somebody are everywhere. By being willing to move, my circle of friends exploded.  We moved to Missouri eight years ago.  I found I could make new connections even as a senior. Mothers of Preschoolers needed mentors, a children’s pastor hunted more teachers, a senior choir had openings, senior groups had activities. Making friends takes effort, but it’s worth it.
4.                  New challenges often create character. I’ve taught youth that everything we learn, accomplish or do that is a challenge grows us into better people. I learned when I changed my attitude about moving God directed my footsteps, renewed my mind and helped me to be a better person, wife and mother. Ministry is needed everywhere. When I grieved because I had to resign as youth leader to move, I looked back instead of embracing the future.  When I willingly jumped from a treasured place to migrate again, I learned soaring into the future is more fun that sitting in the nest.
5.                  Another place might open unexpected doors. I didn’t plan to be a writer or reporter, but while in the Utah desert with time on my hands, I began writing for Christian publications and worked as a newspaper correspondent. I later spent 17 years as a reporter for a daily newspaper. Would this have happened if I hadn’t left what was behind and pressed on?
6.                  We can enjoy a different location. Learning the attributes of a new place builds affection. This took effort. The second move to Thompson, my husband worked Sundays, so we drove 38 miles to Moab to evening church services— and made friends.  We discovered a ghost town a few miles up a canyon, and Indian hieroglyphs beside the dusty road. Near Moab was Dead Horse Point, a miniature Grand Canyon, and Arches National Monument.
In cities, we took advantage of tennis courts, parks, scenery, tourist sites, libraries and shopping. We decided to enjoy each new home town.
7.     We can blossom anywhere. Paul wrote, “I learned in whatever state I am to be content.”[2] When each move came, I learned to decide to be happy, allow God to use me, hang on to old friends and make new ones, look to the future, hunt for the good in a community, get involved, enjoy people and life where the Lord leads. That way each location became a haven for joy.

[1] Psalm 37:23KJV
[2] Philippians 4:11 KJ

Sunday, January 11, 2015


           By Ada  Brownell

            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 the feathers, 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.
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).


Friday, January 9, 2015



Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award.

Her ten titles are with Heartsong Presents and she’s contracted for five more. Her books are available at,,,, and Learn more about Shannon and her books at and check out her real life romance blog at


She's beginning a new chapter in Aubrey, Texas, away from her abusive ex-boyfriend. As she picks up the pieces of her broken life, Tori's surprised at the helping hand the church's new song director, Brant McConnell, offers her, and at the warm emotions he inspires.

Brant is drawn to Tori. And as their friendship grows, so do his feelings for her. But Tori is still hounded by her past, and the walls she's built around her heart are high. Can he convince the wounded beauty that he's exactly the kind of man she needs—and deserves?


By Shannon Vannatter

By now, most people have made their New Year’s resolution. Some have already failed. Mine this year—to get back into my exercise routine be more punctual. As I write this post, the new year hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll let you know how I’m doing in the comments.

Since writing is a very sedentary profession and I’m not the type of person who likes to sweat, I’m happy to sit my days away. But I know that’s not healthy. Last year, a writer friend’s blog inspired me to treadmill at least ten minutes, five days a week. By planning to only exercise for ten minutes, it turned out so doable, I often walked twenty or thirty minutes. But on days when I was in a time crunch, I did the ten minutes. It worked all the way up until September when I went to the ACFW Conference in St. Louis.

Even though the hotel had a free workout room with a treadmill, I didn’t make time for it. I figured I walked the hotel for more than ten minutes each day just going from class to class. I’m certain I did, but it was enough to get me out of my routine. When I got home, I was exhausted and brain fried as usual after a writing conference. I never got back into my routine. Obviously, it doesn’t take much to rattle my resolve.

The other thing I resolved to do—be on time. I long to be a punctual person, but the clock and I have long had a battle and it usually wins. I look at the time and think, Wow I’m doing good. I’ll be ready in plenty of time. I look at it again seemingly minutes later and I should have left five minutes ago.

Last year, I was only late a handful of times. As opposed to most of the time in the past. So this year, I’ll continue to improve on my punctuality.

I always make a spiritual list to improve each year. This year’s list:

  • Spend more time in prayer.

I try to pray throughout the day. Whenever I think of someone I know is struggling. Whenever I hear an ambulance go by. Whenever I see someone less fortunate. When my son was conceived, I came up with a really intense, thorough prayer covering his entire life. I prayed it each night. Over the years, I’ve gotten lax. I want to get back into my nightly routine.

  • Read the Bible every day.
Several years ago, my husband and I went to a revival. The preacher asked for a show of hands of people who read their Bible every day. I couldn’t raise my hand. I started reading at least a chapter every night that very night. If ever asked that question again, I wanted to be able to raise my hand. I’ve never been asked again.

But I still read nightly. I chose night because reading doesn’t make me sleepy. It does relax me and what better thing to do before going to sleep than read the Bible. When I finish Revelation, I start over in Genesis. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read through—probably about ten. Sad since I’m almost fifty. But I didn’t start until I was in my thirties. Sometimes, I read two or three chapters. But I intentionally go slow, so it sinks in better.

  • Commit more fully to our church and congregation. Yes I’m the pastor’s wife and I’m there every time the doors are open unless our son is sick or I’m dying. But I used to visit our members more often. When someone was sick, I made soup. After I got published and started living on deadlines, I let some things slip. I’m planning to step up my game this year.

Tell me about your resolutions. Did you make any? How are you doing on your resolve? All comments will go into a drawing for my latest release, Rodeo Family.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


2015: Contentment and the Sense of Well Being

By Ada Brownell

It might sound odd, but my sense of well being is connected to accomplishing priorities, organization and order.
No, I don’t think I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, a psychiatric illness, such as plagued the television fictional character Monk.
Furthermore, I believe a  family’s sense of well being is affected by order as well, and many women
don’t understand how easy it is to accomplish priorities and achieve order.My children are grown now, and I have great-grandchildren. But I learned through having five children that working only a few extra seconds and minutes each day accomplishes small goals does wonders for the household atmosphere.
Imagine the difference in how you feel if before you jump in the shower you “take five,” and read a scripture and pray for blessings upon you and your family. In fact, you can even pray while you’re in the shower or driving to work. Here’s a list of other things to do that will change the atmosphere in your home, especially for working women.
1.       Make the bed when you get out of it (your husband might help)...........................3 minutes
2.       Pick up dirty clothes and put into hamper...............................................................2  minutes
3.       Wipe down the shower ............................................................................................3 minutes
4.       After putting on makeup, put away everything on your vanity and clean the sink and mirror .......................................................................................................................................3 minutes
5.       While you dress, figure out what you’re having for dinner. You can put frozen meat, seasoned and ready to go in the oven set on time bake. Or put dinner in a crock pot, or stick potatoes in the oven set on time bake. The main thing is to think about dinner in advance and cut preparation time when you get home. You can even give the children chores to have completed by the time you get home ....................................................................................................................up to 10 minutes
6.       Never stand waiting while you microwave water for tea.  I can clean out the dishwasher in just a little longer than the time needed to heat water.....................................................about 2 minutes
7.       Tackle small cleaning jobs when you notice the dirt ..........................................10 minutes
8.       Fold and hang laundry directly from the dryer.............................................5 minutes per load
9.       Keep a running grocery list on the refrigerator and write down any product you regularly use that is running low  or you need........................................................................10 seconds for each entry.
10.   Pay bills when they arrive in the mail and balance check book regularly .........5 to 30 minutes
11.   Work on your inner person every day, studying God’s Word, reading good inspirational books.
12.   Fill your children’s love tank before you do anything else after work. Look at each of them in the eye, give them a hug, ask about their day, and tell them you love them. Then you can start preparing dinner..........................................................................................................2 to 5 minutes per child
13.   Work on your marriage. Take time to sit down beside your mate, watch a game or movie, and verbalize thankfulness for little things ................... ............................................5 minutes and up
14.   End the day thanking God for His blessings and tell him about your needs, believing He hears and answers prayer.................................................................................................5 minutes and up

Monday, January 5, 2015



By Ada Brownell

Like a sky full of migrating geese the world heads into 2015. Do you know where you’re heading and where you hope to end the journey? Here are some ideas.

1.      Have a sensible destination and know how to get there.
2.      Take it one wing flap at a time.
3.      Disregard discouraging winds and keep going.
4.      Allow others to help, but don’t be afraid to take the lead.
5.      Rest and take nourishment when necessary.
6.      Stop to help others
      7.  Listen to the honking and understand the meaning. The Holy Spirit speaks, leads, and when hidden your heart, God’s Word will be your GPS.

8.      Add your voice loud and clear, using available techniques.

9    9. When you reach a destination, make a new home, enjoy, but keep in mind it’s temporary. Then are more skies to conquer.

10.Don’t allow a warm cozy climate to distract you from goals in your Christian walk, talents and ministries. Eventually you’ll fly back into blizzards, strong winds that can discourage, but never quit.. Mount up on wings and the seemingly impossible can be achieved.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Why I still believe God heals


                                    By Ada Brownell

Christians often struggle with why some are healed and some are not. Many Christians are confused by that mystery and the church sometimes staggers under a spirit of unbelief.
I’ve entered that valley, too, but as a Christian and retired medical reporter, I still believe in miracles.
 My faith journey began as a child. My friend, Velda Jean Bailey, was stricken with leukemia. My brother-in-law told me about her condition.
      “The doctors say Velda Jean probably has only two or three weeks to live.”
A woman in my home church tearfully requested prayer for my friend.
A few days later, Velda’s grandfather had been praying with her when her mother saw a change come over her daughter.
“She looked as if new blood were going into her veins,” her mother recalled.
 Velda’s symptoms disappeared and the parents asked for new tests. Diagnostics revealed Velda was completely healed. She was alive the last I heard—25 years later.
 Our daughter, Gwen, didn’t need tubes surgically inserted into her ears after she went forward for prayer. Our youngest daughter Jeanette s elbow was healed so that it no longer slipped out of the joint.
Years later, our granddaughter, Melissa, suffered from croup,  Our son, Gary, and his wife, Janice, were moving and due to be in Tulsa, so they left anyway. Gary drove the truck and Janice followed in the car. I and Janice’s mother went to our knees in prayer.
Snow fell so fast as Janice followed the truck the windshield wipers wouldn’t work. Janice had to stick her head out the window in order to see, bringing the cold air in on Melissa and her little brother, Justin.
When they arrived in Tulsa safely, Janice called us.
“How is Melissa?” I asked.
“The croup is gone. She’s not sick anymore.”
I’d heard sometimes cool moist air helps chest congestion—but cure a fevered child with croup?
We’ve had numerous times when physicians thought a member of our family was in trouble physically. A few years ago, a medical test showed Gary had only 40 percent kidney function, but after prayer, a specialist found nothing wrong. Gary never had kidney problems again.
At about age 30, Gwen had symptoms of multiple sclerosis. After prayer and many tests, physicians said she was fine—and she is fine, 10 years later.
Our six younger grandchildren are miracles, and I believe it’s because God answers prayer. Complications during their mothers’ pregnancy could have endangered four of their lives or their future, but God intervened. Two other grandchildren came to us through the miracle of adoption.
With five children, and now grandchildren, we’ve had so many medical problems changed from serious to insignificant after prayer I can’t list them all. Yet, Carolyn, our oldest daughter, died at age 31 of an aggressive form of lymphoma, and our son, Jaron, has suffered from asthma since age 2. 
But I still believe for Jaron’s healing and know God heals. His health is improving, and in 2014 when doctors suspected he had leukemia because of constantly elevated white blood cell counts, when we prayed diligently, tests showed no leukemia and his blood became normal. 
I’ve been a student of the Bible almost all my life and although answers to why some are healed and some are not is a mystery, the Word explains a great deal about healing and miracles.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
1.            All humankind is destined to die because of sin. God told Adam and Eve if they ate of the forbidden tree, they would die. Satan, the liar, said, “You won’t die!  He just wants to keep something good from you!”  (my translation) Adam and Eve ate and became mortals. We, as their offspring, inherited the curse of sin. Read about it in Genesis 3.
            I like the way the King James Version explains in Romans 8:22 how our mortality affects us:  “We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
  1. Healing is in the atonement. Centuries before Jesus came Isaiah wrote, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5). Peter quoted the verses and said, “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
  2. Our Savior knows what is to suffer. They plucked his beard and tore flesh off His back for our healing. Yet, even before pain gripped His body, Jesus had compassion and healed many among the multitudes that followed Him.
3.            An atmosphere of doubt interferes with God’s Spirit working among us. Jesus Himself couldn’t do many miracles in Nazareth because of a spirit of unbelief (Matthew 13:57-58).  In Luke’s description of the Lord’s visit to His home town, Jesus told how many lepers in Israel needed healing, but only one—Naaman—was healed. The heavens were shut up to many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, but because of unbelief Elijah was sent to only one--the widow of Zarephath.
            It isn’t that Jesus doesn’t have the power for miracles among a throng of doubters, but we often absorb the unbelief.
4.            Our personal faith is affected by what our minds feed on. Romans 10:16-18 tells us faith comes through hearing the word of God. Much of the church today attends services an hour and a half a week. We complain about 45-minute sermons and have no time for prayer in the altars, but spend several hours each day watching TV and we’ll sit outside in a snow storm for three hours to watch a football game. Romans 8:1 (KJV) indicates when we allow our flesh to take charge of our minds; it interferes with walking after the Spirit.
5.    We build our faith remembering miracles God has done.  In every church and prayer group I’ve attended “these signs, including healing, have followed them that believe” (Mark 16:17). One time I was asked to speak about prayer to the youth group. Instead of speaking, I a half dozen people with testimonies of God’s intervention in a crisis.
             The father of a large family who worked on a highway crew urgently prayed because rain was forecast and he couldn’t work in the rain. Rain followed the paving machine all day, but it never rained where they worked.
             Several told of miraculous healings—two where doctors had given no hope. One woman told how God turned away a forest fire racing toward their house as she and the children stood at the window praying and repeating Psalm 91. I later wrote their testimonies for The Pentecostal Evangel in a story, “What Prayer Can Do.”
            Yet, a serious diagnosis such as cancer of the pancreas strikes faith-paralyzing fear.  I believe part of that is Satan’s “spin” on truth. Like every expert of propaganda, he uses a smidgeon of truth in his destructive lies. While treatments have advanced, cancer of the pancreas has meant almost certain death. But Gospel Singer Jimmy Blackwood, son of James Blackwood, was healed of pancreatic cancer in 1984. I interviewed him about it for the newspaper where I worked. Jimmy is still singing.
6.    We have a drought of God’s power because we don’t seek the Gifts of healing, faith and miracles. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard people praying for, seeking after, and having hands laid on them to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. God gives the Gifts to those for whom He has a specific purpose but He also tells us to ask for them (1 Corinthians 12). Jesus said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
7.    Lack of fasting and prayer affects spiritual outcomes. In Ezra’s time they fasted and prayed for God’s protection over their families (Ezra 8:20-22). The disciples couldn’t cast out demons because they didn’t fast and pray before they went out (Matthew 17:20-22). We’re told God is able to do more than we can ask or think, but it is according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:19-21). According to the Word, prayer and fasting increases that power.
8.    Although we know our sin doesn’t cause most sicknesses, sin could cause us to be sick or even die. Paul wrote, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judge ourselves, we would not come under judgment” (1 Corinthians 11:29--31).
When, however, some people witnessed the healing of a blind man and asked who sinned, the man or his parents, Jesus said, “Neither, but that the works of God might be revealed in him” (John 9:1-3).
9.    Some people aren’t healed or delivered because of “the greater good.” For instance, when our oldest daughter was near death from cancer she left a witness. Four people gave their lives to Christ and others recommitted themselves to God. When people experience a death close to them, they realize their own mortality and the need of a Savior.
  1.  Often God uses faith and works and we should give Him credit for these miracles. James said, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claim to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? … Faith, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” James 2:14-16). I was prayed for several times because of knee pain. When I had knee replacements, the pain disappeared. Medications along with God’s mercy have helped Jaron live triumphantly with asthma for 40 years. I consider that a gift from God.
             I believe the knowledge of physicians today is given by the Lord and furthermore, it is a sign of Christ’s coming. God told Daniel,  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).
            On the medical beat at the newspaper where I worked, over and over I was told how physicians couldn’t do much for diseases and medical conditions until the 20th Century. The most important things that changed health and longevity, according to physicians I’ve interviewed, are clean water, immunizations and antibiotics—but God also has given wisdom for marvelous diagnostics, medications, and treatments.

  1. Sometimes healing doesn’t come because we’re being tested, as Job was.

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7NKJ).
  1.  God’s sovereignty means He always has the last word. God has the last word in everything, including how many days we live. We have promises all over the Bible about healing which we can grasp and believe, but we have to put the whole Bible together for correct doctrine.  It should give us comfort, and not fear, to know everything is in His hands. “This is the assurance that we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
            But His “last words” to His children always are words of love (See John 3:16).
Note: An edited version of this article appeared in the summer 2013 online edition of Enrichment Magazine.