Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Goal Line

I became a football fan in 1977 or 1978 and watched the Denver Broncos go all the way to the Super Bowl.
My middle daughter and I would yell during games until my youngest girl said, “If you’re going to carry on that way, shut the windows!”
I guess I thought I could help those players across the goal line.
My writing ministry should concentrate on goals, too. Sometimes I feel like a linebacker crunched a helmet into my belly and I’m on the turf. With experience, however, I’m learning my problem isn’t so much defense—it’s my offense.
First, am I suiting up properly in the whole armor of God with the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, shield of faith, Sword of the Spirit and my feet fitted with the cleats of readiness on my shoes? (Ephesians 6:11-18).
Second, am I talking to and listening to my coach? The Apostle Paul tells the Philippians he keeps straining to reach the prize, forgetting what is behind and pressing toward the mark. He’s talking about knowing God and attaining eternal life—but there is an underlying theme of ministry, too.
Third, am I looking at the “field” and using the tools available to reach the goal?
Basic is defining the goal. Am I planting, watering and picking beans or wheat? Different methods are needed for each harvest field. With my teen novel, the “Work in Progress,” a linebacker-sized problem stopped me and I lost yardage. I assumed it was a Young Adult novel, where it’s OK to have 85,000 words. The agent who is interested in my book proposal, however, says it’s “middle grade” genre and although I’ve cut 15,000 words, it needs to be 50,000.
Studying markets more might have prevented turning the field over to defense.
This year I intend to use strategy for other writing projects. I will study more Christian magazines, the Christian Writers Market Guide, look at more publishers’ websites. I’m already an avid book reader.
If I were a poet, I’d look at greeting cards, study their poems, look at poetry markets, contact them for guidelines, and send poems. (You never reach the goal unless you catch the ball and take the first step.)
But I need to look at what is in my hand. That’s what God told Moses when the Patriarch went before Pharaoh. Moses had a shepherd’s staff that God used dramatically to bring the Israelites to their goal . I have my teen novel, two non-fiction books almost ready for publication, and ideas and several articles on the bench.
Next, I’ll need to take the shortest route to the goal: Start with good ideas that fit the market; write with clarity; use facts, senses, illustrations, emotion, color, humor; construct concise active sentences that sing when read aloud; rewrite and edit.
Finally, I’ll participate in a critique group. Then I will be ready for the referee’s whistle and the handoff of the ball. Perhaps I’ll have winners!
You can win, too, at whatever God has called you to do when follow the play book, listen to the Coach, put on the uniform, and put your energy into winning the Ultimate Prize: Hearing Jesus say, well done!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

LEARNING TO TRUST by Jennifer Slattery


Must we always dredge through the depths before reaching the summit? Think back over your faith walk. When have you felt closest to God? When have you been most assured of His power? When traipsing along a sun-lit journey or plummeting into His strong hands?
I believe faith comes not from an abundance of blessings, but instead, from deep needs met by Provider God. Although I often wish I could skirt through life with impenetrable faith, surrounded by all I need and desire, it is through times of trial and times of want that I have learned most to lean on God. Sadly, it is often through times of difficulty that my lack of faith is most clearly revealed. But perhaps what surprises me most is the frequency with which I jump back on the fear bandwagon. Somehow when a new trial hits, amnesia sweeps my brain, and all those times God showed up in the past vanish from my thoughts. As if somehow this new event or tragedy overshadows the promises of God or somehow changes His divine, unchanging nature.
Had I been among the miraculously delivered Israelites wandering through the desert of Sin in Exodus 16, I fear I would have been the first to complain. I know what it must have felt like, waking up each morning, not knowing where you would go, how long you would travel, or where you would lay your head each night.
I imagine the most difficult day of all came when God asked them to leave the oasis of Elim, with its stately palms and twelve springs. What fear must have gripped their hearts as they knelt in the shade of a tree to fill their water vases, staring across the sun-baked earth before them, the elusive Promised Land beyond their view? As a mother, I wonder how it felt to gather up your children as they played among the lush vegetation, dipping their toes in the water, wondering where the next spring might lie.
It was at that moment, venturing out from the oasis and entering into the Wilderness of Sin, that God tested their faith. And for a while, they passed…until their feet grew heavy and the sun blazed high with still no provisions in sight. As they continued forward, dust clinging to their tunics, their children lagging beside them, nibbling fears took hold. How would they eat when not even the smallest rodent scurried before them? And where could they possibly find water when the earth below them cracked from lack of moisture?
With every step, the oasis with its cool water and lush trees grew smaller and smaller behind them. With each step their hearts cried out for mercy while their eyes searched the barren landscape for signs of aid.
Then, just when their fear reached panic level, God intervened, not by leading them to another lush oasis, but instead, by raining provisions down from heaven. Each day the Israelites were told to gather only what they needed. Each day, God asked them to let go of their safety net, to trust fully in Him. And each day, a few fearful Israelites hoarded more than necessary, only to find it full of maggots the next morning. With each fermented mound, God showed them again and again that He alone would meet their needs.
What about us? Are we frantically weaving safety nets in case God doesn’t pull through? Will it take a desert wasteland for us to learn to trust God to be who He says He is and to do what He says He will do?
Jennifer Slattery is a freelance writer and publicist who lives in the Midwest with her husband of 15 years and their thirteen year old daughter. She’s the marketing manager for the literary website, Clash of the Titles, writes for Christ to the World, Samie Sisters, and has written for numerous other publications. Find out more about her and her writing at and Find out more about Clash of the Titles, the literary website where authors compete and readers judge, at

Monday, August 22, 2011

Are You a Star? Guest today: Staci Stallings

Are You a Star?
By Staci Stallings
Our world today is obsessed with stars–celebrities who make a lot of money, gain a lot of fame, or otherwise dominate the chitter-chatter of masses. Many of us wish, even if fleetingly, that we could be a star, but most will never attain that “level” of “success.”
I found, however, a different and probably more important way to be a star this weekend. So if you’re interested or have ever thought it would be nice to be a star, here’s your chance!
Not sure where this thought came from other than “up there,” but I was thinking about how a year or so ago, my sister compared me to the Magi. I believe I wrote about that at the time–how she said I was a Magi because I was always looking for signs that would point me to God. I thought that was really cool at the time. This weekend, I had cause while thinking about that, to look just a little higher into the story.
I happened to be at my hometown church, which is always good for a few hundred incredible insights into life, and at my hometown, they have this HUGE creche inside the church. The trees are as tall as live trees, decked out in white lights with this star above it. Of course, Mary and Joseph have the Baby Jesus lying in a manger underneath. This year I had cause to think about that star. The one so long ago. The one that was there, shining in the night, guiding the Wisemen to the place where Jesus was.
You may have heard the saying, “Wisemen still search for Him.” Wise men still look for stars, just as I was those years ago when my sister dubbed me a Magi. But what about that star? Maybe it had a story too.
Now, I know, stars don’t have feelings and thoughts. They are put in the sky for a time by God, and for their time, they shine, then they burn out and disappear. (A bit like us, don’t you think?) But consider what if… what if… that little star so long ago DID have feelings and thoughts. What would they have been, since that little star was SO far away from the action and burned for much longer than most of us celebrate Christmas (at least a year by most accounts)?
It might have gone something like this, “This is pointless. I mean, when I first got here, it was fun, dancing around and everything. But now, all I do is shine and shine and shine in the middle of all of this darkness, and what has it gotten me? Burned fingertips that’s all. I’m not even making a difference. Look at all this darkness. It’s still here. I look out there, and there are other stars. Sure most aren’t as bright as me, but they aren’t doing much good either. I mean, look at ALL of this darkness. We can never hope to overcome it. What’s the point? Maybe I should just tell God I’m a failure and go home. I mean, how long can He expect me to keep this shining thing up? I’ve been out here night after night after night, and nothing. Sure, I heard the choirs of angels singing a couple times at first, but they haven’t done that in months. Now I’m just out here, all alone, shining for no one to even see. In fact, I bet those people down there on the earth don’t even know I’m here anymore…”
That’s the way we get, isn’t it?
Discouraged. Tired. Thinking whatever we’re doing is so meaningless as to be pointless.
We don’t often see and understand the real difference we are making… or could be making in the lives of others.
We don’t see those three Kings looking at our light and following our light to the Presence of Jesus in the world. So sometimes we’re tempted to give up, to go home, to tell God it’s too hard. But maybe we should take a few lessons from that little star about how to be a real star in this world.
First, the star recognized the Presence of Jesus, and the Presence of Jesus lit up the star’s life. Do we recognize the Presence of Jesus in our lives, or do we slog through the day with our head down and our bodies on auto-pilot, trying to just get to the end of the day or the end of the week? There is a better way. FIND the Presence of Jesus all around you and inside of you. Be a Magi. Look for it. The star found it and wanted to tell the world.
Second, let His light shine through you. That little star had the first burst of excitement, but after that, it needed God’s power to stay lit. Let God’s power light your life as well.
Next, remember that you never know who your light is leading. I guarantee you, no matter who you are or where you are, someone is paying attention to your light and your life. They are watching how you live and taking their cue from that. It may be someone you don’t even know. When people walk into your office, do you smile and greet them happily? Or do you grumble and wish they would go away and let you get some work done? There are wisemen and women out there, looking for someone to point them the right direction. Is that person you?
Are you a star?
You can be, but you have to recognize the possibility and then act on it. And when you get discouraged, always remember, just like that little star, God put you here for a reason. You may not know what that reason is, but I challenge you to shine as best you can and let God work out the details you can’t even see. The star did, and because of that, we still sing about that little star today. To me, that’s worth remembering!
A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. (Pick up the Price of Silence now for only $0.99! Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:
Books In Print, Kindle, & FREE on Spirit Light Works:
Spirit Light Books--The Blog:
And… Staci’s website

Friday, August 19, 2011


This is an interview with me that Tom Blubaugh, author of Night of the Cossack, published recently on his blog,

Tom: Ada Brownell is an excellent writer with a long history of publishing. It's my honor to interview her.
Do you have any advice for writers out there?

A beginning writer needs to study what makes writing powerful. After that think, watch, listen, read, write ideas and unique thoughts down, then plan. Sit at the computer, write and rewrite. Finally, send the manuscript out using a marketing plan that includes more than Plan A. Forget that work and start another article or book.

Can you tell me a little bit about your newest book?

My current work is an inspirational historical romance, The Belle of Peach County. A 17-year-old elocutionist and singer runs away from her abusive uncle, but she is caught in a perilous web. Could the peddler who constantly appears be a venomous spider in her life?

The story emerged from a few things I knew about my grandparents. It’s completely fiction, but my grandmother was an elocutionist and some relatives say she had to run from the abusive uncle with whom she lived after her parents died. My grandfather traveled about the county showing one of the first Passion of the Christ picture shows created. His father, in the meantime, a widower at age 60, married a woman in her 20s so he would have a cook—and was beaten to death by her lover. My grandfather wanted the man who killed his pa brought to justice.

Tell us one interesting fact about you that your readers would find interesting, and maybe even surprising.

I could share about my high-heeled shoe sticking on the volume pedal when I was playing quiet background music on the organ at church and I nearly blasted the people off the pews. Instead, writers might be surprised to learn I completed The Belle of Peach County during the American Christian Fiction Writers Novel Track in January 2011. I had about 14,000 words to start with and by the first week of February I had 82,000 and the last chapter. I’ve edited the book four times, and some chapters many more times than that.

When did you first discover you were a writer?

I started writing at age 15 by submitting ideas for youth services to a magazine for youth leaders. I was youth president at our church, although the age went to 35. Not long afterward, I sold my first article to The Pentecostal Evangel and someone made it into a tract.

I then sold an article featuring my mother’s Sunday school methods to David C. Cook’s “Leader.” I received $35, quite a bit for that time, so I sold my accordion, bought an electric typewriter and enrolled in a writing course. I also became a newspaper correspondent, which emerged into a career. Although I took 20 years off to raise our five children, I worked as a staff reporter for 17 years, mostly at The Pueblo Chieftain, before I retired. I still occasionally write an op-ed piece for the newspaper.

I sold free lance articles to Christian publications all my adult life and in 1978 my book, Confessions of a Pentecostal was published by Gospel Publishing House. It is out of print now, but used copies are sold online and I’m in the process of updating it and making it into an e-book.

I have chapters in five other books: 50 Tough Questions (Gospel Publishing House, 2002). What I Learned from God While Cooking, (edited by Cristine Bolley) Barbour Publishing, 2006 ; Cup of Comfort for Cat Lovers and Cup of Comfort for Christians (Adams Media 2008 and 2006); and Restored (Women’s Aglow Fellowship, 1978).

In addition to my historical romance, I’m marketing two non-fiction books and a teen novel.
What is your accomplishment you are most proud of?
Probably my newspaper career, but also an article I wrote, “How can I get control of my anger?” The article is a chapter in 50 Tough Questions and has been reprinted numerous times, including a Spanish language publication for youth and a Malawi Christian newspaper.

Do you have an all-time favorite book?
I am an influencer for some members of American Christian Fiction Writers and most of them are five-star books (as is Night of the Cossack). My favorite fiction genre is historical romance and Prairie Rose by Catherine Palmer is my all-time favorite. I’ve had the trilogy for years and every once in a while I get it out and read it again.

Where can we find you?
My website is My blog is

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Prophet for This Generation

Worried about our nation, recently I prayed, “Lord, raise up a prophet to this generation.”
Yet, I didn’t see anyone rise up who could reach the millions who have never heard the true gospel or experienced or witnessed His mighty power at work—especially the youth of our country.
Last night I sat in a Wendy’s restaurant watching a frustrated young man continually dial someone on his cell phone and no one was answering. He left no voice message—just kept someone’s phone ringing. He dropped his head to his arms on the table. I couldn’t tell if he was tired or crying, but he rubbed his eyes on his sleeve before he lifted his head and went back to dialing.
Lord, if his girlfriend is dropping him, help him not to go over the edge and commit suicide. I knew from my work as a newspaper reporter that often happens.
I wondered if the teenager had been taught about Jesus. I thought how wonderful it would be if some great individual would preach the Word and reach thousands of young people like him.
I felt a prompting in my spirit. “You are the one.”
A favorite scripture ran through my mind as my husband and I ate. When we were ready to go, the guy sat there, still upset. I walked to the edge of his table and spoke quietly. “Are you O.K.?”
He nodded. “I’m just waiting for my girlfriend.”
I noticed a clear garbage bag filled with clothing on the floor beside him. “You look discouraged. Remember Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.’”
He smiled. “Thank you.” I thought I saw relief on his face and light come on in his eyes.
We parted. I have no idea whether he’d heard the gospel before and a mother somewhere was praying. But I’ve come to realize the Lord raises up prophets for every generation. This is the way He builds His church. He told the 500 people gathered on the mountaintop as he prepared to ascend according to Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses.” Matthew tells us he said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
That’s our commissiom, too. I don’t know if my witness made a difference in the youth’s life, but it might have. I’ve discovered every one of God’s children is asked to answer the call to reach out to the lost, and I am called to “go.” His power will help me “be” a witness.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

America's financial meltdown

The United States has been teetering on the edge of financial disaster some say for years, but the bottom seemed to drop out after the bombing of the World Trade Centers and the resulting wars. We have one toe on the edge, but we aren't finding a secure place on which to stand.
The other day I heard someone say the government should call for a day of prayer for our nation because of the economy. I believe in our leaders gathering people to pray, but the logical thing to do is for churches to call Christians to their knees.
If I were a pastor, I'd open the church every day at least for a few hours for prayer. After all, the Lord said if HIS people will humble themselves and pray, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways He would hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land (Second Chronicles 7:13-15).
Yet, there are important things we as a nation should remember and do. Here are a few interesting scriptures, some which pertain to Israel but we know they also apply to a certain extent to nations which follow the Lord.
"For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you" (Deuteronomy 15:5-7).
"If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth" (Deuteronomy 28:1-3).
Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed” (Isaiah 61:8-10).
"And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 3:11-13).
From "The Message" Paraphrase: "Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews by faith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed in you" (Galatians 3:6-8).
"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,and to the Lamb'” Revelation 7:8-9).
From "The Message" Paraphrase: "If you forget God, your God, and start taking up with other gods, serving and worshiping them, I'm on record right now as giving you firm warning: that will be the end of you; I mean it—destruction. You'll go to your doom—the same as the nations God is destroying before you; doom because you wouldn't obey the Voice of God, your God" (Deuteronomy 8:18-20).
"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" Psalm 9:16-18).
Teh bible also says nations will be blessed when they support Israel.
The United States has been greatly blessed by God. But like the Israelites in Old Testament times, we tend to wander away from God and go into rebellion. We've killed 45 million of our babies. We've become just as Paul told Timothy people would become in the perilous times near Christ's return. ""For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3).
We can repent, love God and others, and turn to the Lord with all our hearts. Let's expect His blessings once again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Comic Book Collection

The church we attended was in cold country. A big coal stove stood in a corner in the back and before services the pastor started a fire in it.
No insulation or sheetrock covered the walls. The 2-by-4s were uncovered. The hardwood floors installed years before were bare and dirty. They’d never been sanded and varnished.
When we moved there I was astounded at the neglect.
We became close friends of the pastor and his wife and when they went on a vacation, I threw out an idea to the youth group. I was president and in those days the age went to 35 so most of the church was in on it. We would finish the church! Give and work and surprise our church shepherds.
Sheetrock was delivered and men brought hammers. Women helped tape, mud joints, and paint. A big rental sander sped across the floors. Everyone grabbed gunny sacks and filled cracks. Then we cleaned and varnished and put a warm new rug in the altar area.
Since we had so many workers I suggested the men build a cabinet around the parsonage kitchen sink. I was sure it must be cold to stand there, and it was ugly with the bare pipes showing. The parsonage was in the back of the church.
Suddenly everyone invaded our pastors’ privacy. I thought it was OK because we cleaned from top to bottom. But then, a man walked through the kitchen carrying a trunk.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Throwing these comic books away.” I was only age 17 and the man was old enough to be my father.
“Are you sure you should do that?”
He ignored me and out he went.
I knew our pastor valued his comic book collection. Many were still in cellophane. He knew someday they would be worth big bucks.
Suddenly, my ego about what a great thing I suggested smashed like snow under a boot.
When the pastor and his wife returned, they were surprised at what the church had done in their absence. They seemed astounded and pleased, but I felt rotten about the invasion of their home and their loss of a valued possession.
We moved away soon and so did the pastors. They visited us a time or two, but we lost touch. The comic books haunted my dreams for years and every time I heard a news report about an old comic book being sold for thousands of dollars, guilt gripped me.
Forty years later we reconnected and first thing I did was apologize about the comic books. After all, the renovation was my idea.
Our former pastor gladly extended his forgiveness. Yet, as we became close again I observed our the family’s finances had always been tight. It saddened me.
Then I remembered what a wonderful attitude the pastor and his wife had. They didn’t become bitter and were rich in things that count: Their own salvation, rewarding ministry, and four children and a number of grandchildren all serving and working for the Lord.
The comic books probably would be worth a fortune now. I still feel throwing them away was a mistake, but our precious friends are blessed after all—and I am blessed knowing them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Here's a good book

Wings of Promise (Alaskan Skies #2)Wings of Promise by Bonnie Leon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska, but never thought I’d take a tour like Bonnie Leon created in Wings of Promise.

Forget IMAX. The tour with Kate brought me on a tour of the wilderness, showed me the Northern Lights, and flew me over snowy mountains in her airplane. We delivered the mail, even a litter of smelly pigs, and often brought the doctor to ill natives. We flew low over the trees searching for lost polar bear hunters, and made several treacherous landings on the ice—and I didn’t even get motion sick.

People joined us along the way. Paul, the doctor she loves who breaks up the romance because he lost his first wife and thinks because Kate is a pilot, he’ll lose her. Michael, her friend who loves her fiercely and wants to marry her. Lisa, who seems a perfect match for Paul. Then there’s her irritable boss, and someone I hope we don’t meet who is putting water in her fuel tank.

This is the third book in Bonnie Leon’s Alaskan series. The author is an accomplished novelist and Wings of Promise keeps you reading as you discover Alaska, danger and romance with Kate.

I wondered how the novelist was able to put us in the airplane with Kate, and go through so many intricate flying maneuvers without being a pilot herself. Turns out one of Alaska’s flying champions, Gayle Ranney helped make the scenes in the book possible.

My applause to them both. I loved the journey.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Worldliness is an Attitude

The young man came to interview me last Thursday night on my beliefs about worldliness, and as you know, uneasiness settled over me.

I figured out the problem: My ideas were all over the place. I had a pile of good scriptures, but I hadn't organized my thoughts and what I believe.

I kept working on it, studying the Word, and praying. Then it all came together.

Worldliness is our attitude about life.
For example, would we rather be in God's house than a sports stadium?
If we are not worldly, we will give joyfully God's 10 percent and perhaps more.
if we are not worldly, we will spend at least some time in ministry and take advantage of opportunities to witness.

Our motivation in what we do is behind worldliness. If we love God with all our soul, mind and strength, obey His Word and love others, it changes what we do and our attitudes toward it.

The Christian life is serving God, walking after the Spirit instead of our flesh (Romans 8:1KJ). Our primary motivation won't be seeking after acceptance and admiration of others.

With TIME, our attitude changes so we'd rather be in God's house than in a sports stadium. Not that there is anything wrong with sports. I'm a fan myself. But Jesus needs to be first. We gain faith by "hearing" the Word, and we need fellowship with believers. We need the intimate worship experience that comes only in God's presence where two or three are together and He is in the midst of them.
No matter what the activity is, if we put it before the Lord, it's worldly. It could be as simple as a farmer who won't take Sunday off because he wants a great crop. If we honor God first, usually He supplies our needs.

With MONEY, if our attitude about it goes haywire, it's worldly. If we are consumed by saving it to the suffering of our family, our attitude is wrong. If we spend it so freely we have so much debt it affects our marriage and witness, we are worldly.

With TALENTS, if we are consumed with desire to be admired or we seek acceptance excessively, we are worldly.

I'm often amazed at how decisions affect us spiritually. Who we are depends on our daily decisions. Our character is impacted by our affections--what we feel is important--and so is our relationship with God.

Walking after the Spirit instead of the flesh helps us bring our affections into the right place where God can bless us and use us for His glory. This is where we find contentment.

When our desires and motivations are right, we don't have a problem with worldliness.

If you're interested, the interview went well.