Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween: What scares you?


By Ada Brownell

How often were you paralyzed by fear in your youth?

The first time I remember a snake of worry wiggling into my brain I was about age 4 and my sister told me Indians used to live on the same ground where my family lived.

But that wasn’t nearly as scary as the realities I lived with growing up during World War II.  I remember one summer night when the town’s sirens interrupted our evening, screaming the warning.  We didn’t know whether enemy planes approached in the night sky, or if it was a blackout drill.

Our large family scurried to turn out lights. We felt our way to the back porch where moonlight illuminated things around us and gave us a view of the sky.

My heart pounded as we waited quietly, listening. Sometimes I did hear airplanes. Perhaps they checked to see whether people obeyed the warning, but I was sure they must be bombers.

We had numerous blackouts after that.

Then came the years when the Soviet Union threatened with atomic bombs. Many new homes came with bomb shelters. We read about how difficult it would be to survive a nuclear blast.

Fear came, too, to many who expected our nation to be taken by communists, and preachers asked, “Are you willing to die for your faith?”

I had moments of paralyzing fear. My family of ten, however, beginning with my oldest sister, Marjorie, began to dedicate their lives to God shortly after I was born. Each of the older siblings and mom and dad quickly followed. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at age 5 and grew up knowing God loved me and had a plan for my life. There is a peace that comes with that beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7) and that made a difference for me, even during the most frightening times.

I discovered as an adult that no matter what you go through, God can speak, “Peace. Be still,” just as he did to calm a storm when his disciples were in danger of shipwreck (Mark 4:39). Jesus gave peace when I lost my parents and our daughter became a cancer victim. I’ve found supernatural comfort in crises with my own health, in times of financial worries, and when facing a tremendous challenges as a parent and in my years as a newspaper reporter.   

In my book for teens, Joe the Dreamer: the Castle and the Catapult, when Joe’s parents disappear he has moments of paralyzing fear. A huge man breaks into his house while Joe and his sister hide in the crawl space. They have to live with an unbelieving uncle who thinks Joe is mentally ill because he slips into the skin of Bible characters during his dreams and shouts out in the night.

 Yet, Joe has experienced supernatural peace, and tries to stay in God’s Word so somehow he’ll have faith for his parents’ safe return. He hooks up with a gang dedicated to solving and preventing crime. The teens use harmless things like a pet skunk, water, noise, sand, rope, and they are determined to find Joe’s parents despite knowing the enemy uses real bullets and won’t hesitate to kill.

But Joe has become the target of a radical group that hopes to erase Christianity from America.

Joe’s uncle sends him to a psychiatrist. It delights the doctor to put Joe in the juvenile unit of a mental hospital because the man leads the radical organization uses threats again Joe and his sister trying to persuade Joe’s father to give them a software program that could stop difficult-to-control seizures. He wants to change it so it will cause seizures in influential Christians.

 The group snatched Joe’s parents and keeps them imprisoned at a nearby castle, building a wall.

As with any Christian, Joe’s faith is tested. The book is available at http://buff.ly/XeqTvH


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Mosquitoes and a Show Dog


By Ada Brownell

No matter how old I get, I still make new discoveries.

A few days ago our son’s dog, Latte, died. He was 15.

He was one of those dogs with their hair hanging down around them like a stage curtain. Latte was so beautiful people often wondered if he was real. He looked like a stuffed dog you’d put on your bed for decoration.

Latte was a gift to our son and his wife. They had tried and tried to have a child. She had two or three tubal pregnancies, and one miscarriage. Our son, who has allergies, studied breeds to see which were best for people with allergies and I forget the breed Latte was, but he was special. He filled the empty arms of two people who needed love—and Latte filled their hearts with affection and joy.

Our son trained him with hand commands and showed him in dog shows for a while. Then they adopted two amazing children at birth, three years apart. Our children’s arms were filled, but they still had room for Latte. Latte was special to their children as well.

When we came to visit, he’d bark and make a pest himself until we stopped and said, “Hello Latte,” and gave him a few affectionate rubs.

After I heard the dog died, I shed the first tears I’ve shed for an animal and emailed our grandson. I told him some of the things I’ve learned lately.

 “We know you’ll hurt and you’ll miss Latte, but he gave you many wonderful memories. We still talk about our Macho once in a while. It’s amazing how God put the capacity to love into dogs, as well as cuteness. The Lord must have had lots of fun creating them and all the different breeds.”

I went on to say, “God’s creation is so amazing. I hate mosquitoes and the other day I was trying to kill one and it made me chase him down. If he hadn’t been in the house he’d have gotten away. But I thought about how tiny mosquito brains are and how they can see, know how to fly, buzz, eat, multiply, know they need blood in order to have healthy eggs, so they bite people. I don’t know why God made them except perhaps to be food for frogs.

“We think computers are amazing, but I wonder how they would compare to a tiny mosquito brain. Flies are even trickier than mosquitoes. They seem to know when I get the swatter out and they hide!

“For my next book I wrote about how amazing a peach blossom is. That little flower has life in it that not only will create a peach, if fertilized by bees, that peach will have a seed, and that seed could create a tree with several bushels of peaches—all with enough seed to plant a small orchard.

“The same God who made all those amazing things loves you and made you so you need Him. Jesus will help take the sorrow you have for Latte, and fill you with peace and joy once again. I don’t know if there are dogs in heaven, but animals are, because He’s coming back on a white horse. The Lord is amazing!”

Love you,


Thursday, October 11, 2018


B Ada Brownell

Christian writers wary of preachiness often avoid a gospel message in their writing. Many, however, don’t know what “preachy” is. When I first noticed editors’ guidelines advising against it, I feared they didn’t even want to publish anything with a scripture in it.

Then a secular writer, Frank Luntz, author of Words that Work, explained how to avoid being preachy: “Tell the truth,” he said, “but don’t do it in a condescending manner.”[i]

How important is truth? Should we “spin” it so it will be accepted? “Spin,” used so often these days by politicians and others is actually “twisting the truth” or walking around it, “avoiding the bullseye.”

 Sometimes telling the truth is difficult, in our writing and in life. We need to be dedicated to truth, even in the family.

I can’t imagine how Mary felt when she had to tell Joseph she was pregnant with the Messiah. She excitedly told her aunt Elizabeth, and rejoiced so much her words became the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). But Joseph considered breaking their engagement privately. Nice the angel also visited Joseph with the news of the Messiah, so he believed his virgin and quickly married her (Matthew 1:18-25).

The Apostle Paul usually offset hard truths with an opposite revelation: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

John, the disciple, who spoke continuously about love and penned John 3:16, didn’t hesitate to write hard truths: “If we say we have fellowship with him (Jesus), and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1John 1:6). But he adds, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:41). But went on to add the contrast of hope, “And these shall go away to everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (Matthew 25:46).

It might sound preachy, but it’s really not condescending. Truth is a light that can save a sinner from falling into the dark chasm of sin and eternal death.

Truth is water to the soul wandering in a dry desert of wickedness and unbelief.

The belt of truth is part of the armor God provides if we ask (Ephesians 6).

What is truth? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

The scriptures were “God breathed” and are the only effective pattern for living. The Word also is an example for our witness.

Yet for me, as an objective reporter (just the facts, ma'am), instead of the subjective journalist of today who puts the story through his mind and tells the reader or viewer what the news means, Truth is "just the facts, Ma'am," a quote from an old police show, and that's the way to objectively report..

 So for me, I’ll write the truth and hope I don’t do it in a condescending manner.

--©Ada Brownell

[i] Hyperion, New York, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Little Boy Inside: Creating a Hero--Guest post from Regina Rudd Merrick

By Regina Rudd Merrick

Respectful ~ Sensitive ~ Loyal ~ Confident ~ Tenacious

Tender ~ Handsome ~ Strong ~ Human ~ Focused on Jesus ~ Honesty.

These are a few traits that you think of when creating a hero, no matter what genre of Christian Fiction you’re reading or writing.

I agree with all of them. I can usually come up with an example of them.

But I’d like to add one more.

What is it about a literary hero that makes me turn to mush inside, that makes me want throw myself in his arms, and ultimately makes me laugh out loud with joy?


When a big, strong man starts to act like a little boy, it tickles me. I don’t mean when he is behaving in an immature fashion, but rather when those things above—respect, sensitivity, loyalty, confidence, tenacity, tenderness, good-looks, humanity, focus on Jesus, and honesty—all come together in an irresistible package that includes a dash of humility, a smidgen of insecurity, and just a little bit of selfishness.

These are the characters that are strong, but there is a chink in their armor. There is some area that hurts to talk about, and those they don’t want to be faced with, so they avoid it too long, and it turns into a bigger problem than it should have.

When we write about them, their eyes might dim with pain, or a crease appears between their brows that they didn’t realize was there. The women in their lives who love them are aware of this, and while they may momentarily regret bringing up the topic, sometimes they use it to jolt their hero into submission or admission.

This man is going to be loyal to their friend or to their lover come heck or high water. They have this little boy inside of them who not only rails at the unfairness of it all but also rails at any suggestion that they might not succeed. They will go above and beyond what is expected to ensure success in almost any area—including love.

So yes, I love a man who can be all the things listed above, and mix in a healthy dose of boyish good humor and unrealistic expectations that somehow turn into reality, and you’ve got a fan in me.

When I created Tom Livingston, the “best friend” character in Carolina Dream, I knew he had his own story, so in Carolina Mercy, Tom is the hero of the story.

He’s a law enforcement officer, a good son, an amazing friend, and takes care of everyone around him. But he’s not perfect. A little cowed, a little out of his element. The confident sheriff’s deputy is suddenly a little boy who doesn’t know what to do.

Here’s an example from Chapter 1 of Carolina Mercy:

“How’s Lucy?” Tom didn’t want to revisit the previous line of discussion if he didn’t have to.

“Wondering when you’re going to address the issue of not calling her since she’s been home. Eight months, I believe?” Sarah straightened and put her hands on her hips as she gave him a pointed look.
Jared arched a brow toward his friend. “Straight for the jugular. You can get away with a lot, but not if you’re messing with a girl’s best friend. Fair warning.” He reached for Sarah’s hand and kissed it. “I think I’m going to see if there’s any more of your mom’s potato salad.”

“Do you have to?” Tom blanched a little at the idea of being left alone with Sarah.
“You’re a big boy. She doesn’t bite too hard.” Jared’s wink through the screen didn’t make Tom feel any better. The slap of the wooden door was like a nail on his coffin. Which was a very bad analogy, considering the circumstances.

“Tom, I don’t want to butt in, but…”

He held his hands up. “Let me start over. Sarah, I didn’t want to lead her on.”

“What do you mean? She liked you, Tom. She really did. Probably still ds.”

“I liked her, too. Still do. But you know about my family. They need me. Mom . . .”

“Your mother, who I love dearly, would be furious at you for even thinking that her needs would keep you from finding the one God has for you. Isn’t that a little short-sighted?”

“But look at this place. I can’t compete with this.”

“Who’s asking you to?”

His thumb pointed to the doorway. “All those people in there.”
*Parts of this post originally appeared on Inspirationalmessages.com.

Book Blurb:

She’s always gotten everything she’s wanted. He thinks he has to give up everything.

Her best friend’s wedding is foremost on Lucy Dixon’s radar. Her biggest concern is once again meeting Tom Livingston, who has ignored her since an idyllic date on the boardwalk of Myrtle Beach the previous summer.

At least, it is her biggest concern until tragedy strikes. Where is her loving, merciful God, now?

When Tom Livingston meets Lucy, the attraction is instant. Soon after, his mother is diagnosed with an untreatable illness and his personal life is pushed aside. His work with the sheriff’s department, his family – they are more important. He knows about the love of God, but circumstances make him feel as if God’s mercy is for everyone else, not him.

Can a wedding and a hurricane – blessing and tragedy – bring them together?



Regina Rudd Merrick is a writer, church musician, wife, mother, former librarian, and grateful follower of Jesus Christ. Having lived most of her life in Western Kentucky, she dreams of the sound of crashing waves and sandy beaches. Married to her husband of 35 years, she is the mother of two grown daughters, and the keeper of a 100-year-old house where she lives in the small town of Marion, KY. She is the author of three books. Carolina Dream (Apr. 2017), Carolina Mercy (July 2018), and Carolina Grace (2019), in the Southern Breeze Series, and Carolina Grace.

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