Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Profitable exercise

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The promise: Do you stagger?

Ever found your faith shriveled and weak?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Chicken's Tail

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

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unemployed free lance writers? Advice from John-Boy Walton

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Swallowed by LIFE available now

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

God's Leading is Better than a GPS

Read Romans 10:9-15

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

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

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