Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MEET Author Ann Lee Miller. Get a free e-copy of Kicking Eternity

Note: Anyone who leaves a comment with an e-mail address (JaneReader[at]msn[dot]com) will receive a free e-book copy of Kicking Eternity. Those who don’t want to leave an e-mail may contact Ann for their free book at AnnLeeMiller.com.

Kicking Eternity—First Place Long Contemporary 2009 Romance Writers of America Faith, Hope, and Love Contest

“Ann Lee Miller writes stories straight from the heart with characters who'll become friends, remaining with you long after you turn that final page. You won't want to miss Kicking Eternity!”
--Jenny B. Jones, Author of the Katie Parker Production Series from Think and The Charmed Life Series, and other single titles from Thomas Nelson

Twitter @AnnLeeMiller
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Lee-Miller/356653761022022

Did you spend time in a convent?
I attended St. Hugh’s Catholic school in Miami, Florida, as a child, and once slept over at the convent with my best friend, Jody. Our favorite nun, bicycle-riding Sister Sheila, invited us, and we were atwitter with anticipation for a week.

The nuns had recently traded in their long-sleeved purple habits that covered all but their faces for mid-calf, three-quarter length sleeved white dresses. We had not quite recovered from the shock of Sister Sheila’s abbreviated veil that showed two inches of mouse-brown hair threaded with silver.
 Who knew she had hair?

Now we would find out if the nuns slept on boards and blocks of wood as we suspected, wore jammies, ate the host for dessert, or intoned the Gregorian chants for fun.

The day arrived. Sister Sheila whisked us into the inner sanctum of the convent, her sandals clicking across the terrazzo floor. I scanned the beige couches, white walls, silk flower arrangement on an end table. It looked— just like our houses, only tidier.

Jody begged for a tour, and Sister Sheila barked out a laugh and swung open the first door in the hall. “This is my room.”

Jody and I gulped a breath and poked our heads into the white-walled bedroom.

A crucifix hung over the dresser, but my eyes fastened on the twin bed draped in white chenille like the spread on my mother’s bed. Our air wooshed out simultaneously in the sunlit room.
A bit deflated, but optimistic, we scooted into our seats at the dinner table with six nuns we’d seen hundreds of times at school.

 They talked and laughed like normal people. Our chins sunk lower as no hosts or communion wine appeared at table. No chants were uttered.

After dinner and board games, Sister Sheila cheerily hummed as she made us beds out of chaise lounge cushions on the enclosed porch. After she said prayers and disappeared into her own room, Jody and I groused about the fact that we hadn’t spotted a single nun in her jammies. We plotted to take vows when we grew up. Then we’d know.

Though I gave entering the church five minutes serious consideration in my late teens, I married a Protestant pastor and raised four children. Jody became a business woman. Neither of us ever found out what nuns wear to bed.

How did Sister Sheila’s hair jolt you into becoming a writer?

Discovering that Sister Sheila had hair the year she taught me fifth grade English somehow gelled in my mind with all her positive comments on my papers. My parents marriage was in meltdown, and encouragement was a rare thing at home. Sister Sheila made me believe I could write. A dream was born.

How many years did your family live on the sailboat? Why did they?
My father spent several years building a forty-foot sailboat in our backyard. We launched it in the Miami River and lived aboard at Dinner Key Marina when I was eleven until I turned thirteen. At the time I didn’t realize how unusual it was to live on a boat and ride my bicycle down the dock each morning to attend school. All my friends at the marina did the same. After school every day, I tossed my books onto my bunk, shimmied into a swim suit, and jumped overboard.
Sailboats show up in all my books thus far. In addition to Kicking Eternity, The Art of My Life debuts in September, Avra’s God in December, and Tattered Innocence next March. The books are coming out close together because I’ve been writing for ten years and have a backlog of books now that I’m publishing.

How did you keep from drowning when your family had a spiritual shipwreck (Is that what it was?)
My mother was a devout Catholic, but my father was a new age thinker. Our spirituality was a bit sketchy at best. The shipwreck was my parents’ marriage which had never been happy in my lifetime. My deepest bond and my deepest wounds were from my father. The divorce when I was thirteen was a relief. It separated me from the source of my pain.

All the angst in my childhood made me hungry for God. I searched for Him from age sixteen to eighteen at mass, repeating memorized prayers, writing letters to Him, teaching catechism class. My RA in college had a deep friendship with Jesus that I instinctively recognized as authentic. It was through her influence and encouragement I stepped into a life-long relationship with Him.

I love the title Kicking Eternity, maybe partly because my latest book is Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal. Your blurb is fantastic. If your books are as well written they’ll be a pleasure to read. How long did it take to write the blurb?

I am glowing from the compliments.  Blurbs are so, so difficult to write. They’re like writing poetry—all that work and so little to show for it. This is why I’m a novelist and not a poet! Sometimes it takes me an entire week to write one. The blurb for Kicking Eternity came together in a couple of days carrying it around in my purse and chipping at it every spare moment. Honestly, I felt like I had divine help.

Your blog is full of action verbs that spark emotion and evoke feeling. Does this come from your teaching talents?

I put a lot of energy into snagging just the right verb whenever I write. A good verb can save me from using a handful of unwanted adverbs.

What do you hope your readers take away from Kicking Eternity?

I hope my readers are encouraged to seek out God’s dreams for their lives, then courageously trust God by stepping into those dreams.

Here's more about Ann: Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.

Friday, May 25, 2012


FREEZE LEFTOVER ROAST OR TURKEY GRAVY to add to soups or stew for enhanced flavor.

DON'T THROW OUT LARGE ZUCCHINI. Grind or shred the extra zucchini from your garden. Freeze it in small containers (frosting containers are great) and add to soup. The zucchini adds nutrients as well as helps thicken the broth. You can't even tell it's in there.


               We had a rule in our house everyone goes to church. The lives of our children revolved around the House of God, and although they now are married and have their own families, the Lord is still Number One in their lives.
Yet, one day when our middle daughter was probably in Middle School, she dug in her toes and said she wasn’t going. At first, I tried to persuade her. But she was stubborn and wouldn’t budge.  We were ready to go out the door.
I was praying about what to do when suddenly the fire hit the dynamite. I exploded.
I put my purse and the Bible aside and sat down, kicking off my high heels. “Well, all right. If you want to go the way with the devil we might as well all go. We'll live like the ungodly do. Your Dad and I can get a divorce, we can start getting drunk, spend our money on cigarettes, use foul language and see how you like it.”
Shocked, she ran up the stairs to her bedroom and came back in a couple of minutes ready to go. She’s been in church since.
I wouldn’t recommend that to other people, yet when one of my teen granddaughters was losing interest in church and asking to stay home, I told her the story about her mom. The teenager acted more interested in the things of God since then.
 But I also told her why we go to church. When we follow Jesus there is joy unspeakable and full of glory, as the Bible describes it. Then I told her what Jesus tells us, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow springs and rivers of living water” (John 7:38).


1.      Choose a denomination that preaches the gospel, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
2.      Choose a church that has children or youth your children’s ages
3.      Choose a church with discipleship and fun activities for all ages, and then make sure your kids are in       Christian education classes and other small groups
4.      Make having your child in extracurricular activities such as youth group, parties and camp a priority, even when you have to take them there.
5.      Help your children get acquainted by opening your home to church youth their ages for a Sunday afternoon, a cookout, movies night, game night or similar activities.
1.      Teach your children the Word and doctrine at home.
2.      Be a positive example, and pray over them, their possessions and everything they do.
3.      Share your own Christian testimony.
4.      Share the importance of being in church and its value for now and eternity.
Make a rule everyone in the house goes and tell them it’s because you love them too much, and God loves them too much, to let your child miss heaven and go to hell. Then add that God doesn’t force them to love Him, and you can’t force them to love God. The final decision of where they go for eternity will be their choice.

©Ada Brownell

Monday, May 21, 2012


Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Check out Staci's brand new release...

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman's fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can't control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have...

To Protect & Serve
The Courage Series, Book 1

To save other's lives, they will risk their own

Buy it on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Protect-Serve-Courage-Series-ebook/dp/B008391QB2/ref=sr_1_22?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337091378&sr=1-22

Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook:

"To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff."
-Cindy Reiger

ESPECIALLY NOW: Guest Post from Staci Stallings

There are times in life that stress isn’t even the right word. I was having one of those moments. My wonderful, awesome brother had been taken to the mental hospital, and nothing was making any sense in what had once been what I considered my life. I had thought of many ways my life might go. This was not one of them.
For anyone who’s ever had a close family member fall prey to mental illness, you know that when things get out-of-whack in their world, yours starts making less and less sense as well. Things you took for granted are no longer reliable. Things that seemed so obvious before suddenly look totally different, and there is no way to get them into logical order.
I knew Raef had been struggling. I had known for quite some time. But the mental hospital? That just was so out of anything I could’ve imagined so as to be surreal. But he was there, and not going was out of the question. Now I didn’t know how in the world I would ever be able to walk into that place—what would I say? What could I say? What would it be like? What would he be like?
In the midst of the swirling questions, I reached for the One constant in my life—my Savior and Friend. “God, I don’t know about this. I really don’t. How am I supposed to trust you even now?”
It seemed such a simple question, and it had an even simpler answer.
Patiently, lovingly the answer came back to me. “No. Not even now… especially now.”
Since that day I’ve had a lot of Especially Now moments.
There are many things I do not understand about this life—why things happen, why they happen to who they happen to, what we do when horrible things happen to wonderful people in our lives. What I do know is that in those most confusing of moments, we have a friend who is holding out his hands and whispering, “Trust Me… especially now.” (2007)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012



Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, will be free for the Kindle verson May 18-20. The link: http://amzn.to/Jnc1rW

Mysteries of Life

In the morning, take a good look at your egg before you fry it. The mystery of life lies before you. If the egg was fertilized, before you broke it there was enough information there to boggle your mind.

God put DNA into the clear and golden slime of a chicken egg that blueprints the breed,  the ability to eat and digest food, the machinery to make more chickens, what color the feathers will be, how big the chicken will grow, the cluck and the crow, and beady little eyes that see—all sorts of wonderful things, just as he put amazing things in the eggs that became you and me.

Life. What a mysterious gift.

We see life everywhere, but we have difficulty grasping what it is. Scientists appear to have found ways to define death; they have more trouble with life.

The abortion rights and pro-life groups are at loggerheads over when life begins—whether it’s when the egg is fertilized with the sperm, when the egg attaches to the uterine wall, at a certain trimester, or at birth.

I interviewed the director of an agency that dispenses morning-after pills who said a woman isn’t pregnant until the fertilized egg attaches to the womb. The morning-after pill causes the woman’s uterus to shed its lining, preventing a fertilized egg from attaching and living. Abortion advocates say because the egg isn’t fastened to the womb, it’s not an abortion. Yet we know through in vitro fertilization, which I'll discuss later, a fertilized egg is a living person.

Other developments surround life. Human pregnancy was reported from artificial insemination in 1799. In 1952, frogs were cloned from tadpole cells. In 1970, mice embryos were cloned, then other cloned animals soon followed. Sheep embryos were cloned in 1979 and cattle in 1980. An adult sheep, Dolly, was cloned in 1997.

Cloning is the process of making an identical copy of something asexually with DNA fragments, cells, or organisms. In 1993, George Washington University researchers cloned human embryos, but there are no documented cases of a living human produced through cloning.

Test-tube babies, though, are somewhat common today. The first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978 in Britain. A frozen embryo from test-tube fertilization produced a girl named Zoe in Australia in 1984. In 1986, surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead, who agreed to have an embryo implanted in her uterus so that another couple could have a child, refused to relinquish the baby girl and sparked a landmark court case.

In vitro fertilization is common today for infertile couples who can afford the expensive procedure, and often the births are multiple.

 All this work with living cells, yet humankind has not been able to adequately explain life or create it. We always have to start with something living, such as sperm and eggs, a seed, tissue, or a cell.

            According to Pasteur’s law of biogenesis, if ‘life comes from life,’ then life’s information must come from its parent’s information.

            “Biologists have long sought the laws that govern life, but it is only now that we see the molecular detail that these laws have appeared. What we discover is not a naturalistic phenomenon, but intelligent design,” says Alex Williams of Creation Ministries International in his article, “How Life Works.”

            The Bible says, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). 

According to the Stanford School of Regenerative Medicine, the human body is estimated to have about one hundred trillion cells, a living community, with each individual cell having an assigned place to occupy and a specific role to play. Eventually something happens, even with all those living cells, that causes a person to die. Without life, every cell in the body dies and decays.

Death came because of sin (Genesis 3), but God promised a Redeemer. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That’s why I wrote the book, Swallowed by LIFE. “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 5:3–5 NLT).

Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26).

Do you believe?


Monday, May 7, 2012


The year was 1918. Rita Shepherd hurried down the dirt Iowa road carrying her heavy suitcase.

Joe Nicholson dropped his shovel beside a post hole. “That must be the new schoolteacher! I’m going to offer to carry her load.”

His friend let out a low whistle. “That redhead is a looker. I’ll do it.”

The young men argued and then flipped a coin. Joe won.

He enthusiastically courted the teacher for several weeks and then discovered there was a beau back home.
“It’s either me or the other guy,” Joe demanded. “Will you marry me or are you going to choose that twerp back home?”

Years later, Joe told Rita, “God planned for us to be man and wife way back when I was in Kansas and you were in Iowa.”

Joe and Rita were my parents.

Daddy usually was a man of few words, but when he did speak, wisdom filled his conversation. Because he had a “can do” attitude, he could repair or build almost anything, and even during the devastation of the Great Depression and the Kansas Dust Bowl, he figured out how to care for his family.
He shot three geese with one bullet. He dammed up the creek in drought and irrigated his garden. One cold winter when they had nothing in the cellar, Daddy cut ice from the creek and stored it in the cellar. The next summer, grasshoppers swarmed in like clouds, devouring crops, even eating onions out of the ground. The family cow still had milk and they had chickens, so the chickens ate grasshoppers and the family ate chicken and ice cream.

Mama was resourceful, too, and she was the perfect mate for Daddy. Yet, she had fire and spunk in her that made her ideal for the mother of the eight of us—six of us redheads.

Mama had been to college—unusual in the early 1900s, and being educated added to her life and ours. Daddy might have had a hint of what it means to be married to a redhead before, but when as a newlywed he started partaking now and then from his boss’s illegal liquor still, I imagine that’s when he realized he married a spit-fire.

Following Joe on his way to the field, she located the still in a shack by the lake. She’d heard of temperance leader Carry Nation’s style, and picked up an ax. Grabbing liquor bottles and dropping them in gunny sacks, she cleaned out the shack. She stuck a few bottles up the chimney and dragged one sack full of bottles into the lake as evidence for the revenuers. The bundles she hit with the backside of the ax until every bottle was broken.

When the bootlegger discovered the devastation, he knocked on my parents’ door. Mama answered.
“I’ve been expecting you,” she said. “Sit right over there. You ought to be ashamed for producing something that takes food out of children’s mouths, clothes off their backs, money out of a father’s pockets and sense out of their heads.”

The man didn’t know what to say, but the next day Mom and Dad had to run or be killed. They ran, sleeping here and there, and encountered body lice and had to burn all their clothes.

Years later, Mama met the former bootlegger unexpectedly in another town. It was too late to cross the street to avoid him.

“Young lady,” he said when his eyes caught hers, “you ruined me financially, but it was the best thing that happened to me.”

Mom had a way of getting to the root of problems. She parented with gentleness and love, and she and Dad disciplined with firmness and consistency. We knew what was expected.

Although Mama always believed, when I was a baby (the eighth child), Mom had an experience with God that added power to her life beyond temper. The Holy Spirit so anointed her words, although she has been in heaven for 50 years, my siblings and I can still hear her quoting scriptures: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” “Love your neighbors as yourself.” “Those who won’t work, should not eat.” “Honor your father and mother…that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

You might expect Solomon’s writing from Proverbs to also be included in what she taught: “Wine is a mocker; strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise,” and the motto on her wall, “Only one life; ‘Twill soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

A mother’s words written on our hearts by the chisel of the Holy Spirit remain for recall. I wonder what words I’ve said my children will remember.
©Ada Brownell 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012


Professor Otto Kaiser from Global University is my guest today. Here he shares how heresies and persecution helped the early church to grow. It's part of the next blog post about the early church, but I used it in two installments. The next blog actually should have been listed first. Will it take persecution for today's church to touch those around us? According to Acts 1:8, after we are filled with the Holy Spirit we should BE witnesses. No one is excluded.

Heresies within the early Christian Church and persecution without became factors in the initial rapid growth of the early Church. In His private teaching with His disciples, Jesus said to Peter, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). Jesus made this promise that the Church could not fail. Thus, heresies and persecution could not stop the growth of the Church.

Instead, heresies and persecution helped in the rapid growth. Heresies forced the apostles and early church fathers through the Holy Spirit to establish the Church on the solid foundation of the Word of God at church councils. Church growth research has proven that churches and denominations with a strong doctrinal base will grow faster, last longer, and withstand greater outside pressure or persecution than churches with a weak or loose doctrinal structure.

Early church persecution automatically eliminated lukewarm leaders in the early church who were not totally committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Lukewarm leadership would have been open to “every wind of teaching” and cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). In contrast, the totally committed would trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit and would establish themselves on the solid foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20).

Through persecution, Christians were brought into contact with others who would not otherwise hear the Gospel. Because of persecution in the Jerusalem church, Christians scattered everywhere; and wherever they went, they preached the Word and won others to Jesus (Acts 8:4). Because of persecution, Philip went to Samaria and through the power of the Holy Spirit started a church (Acts 8:5-25) and later Philip witnessed to the Ethiopian eunuch who later started the Coptic Church in Ethiopia and Egypt (Acts 8:26-39). Through persecution and related court trails, Paul and other Christians had opportunities to witness to leaders who would otherwise never hear the gospel. The Holy Spirit used heresies and persecution to establish and grow the Church.


My guest today is Professor Otto Kaiser, a professor at Global University. This history of the early church will be in two installments. Enjoy! -- Ada Brownell

The conquest of the world by Alexander the Great was a significant factor in early church growth. The Greek language and culture was enforced throughout the world as a result of the conquest making one language through which the Gospel could be spread. The Old Testament was translated into the Greek language, thus making the OT available to Gentiles. This Greek translation or Septuagint became the Bible of the early church.

The conquest of the world by Rome was also a significant church growth factor. For its troops to travel, Rome constructed a network of roads throughout its empire. Missionaries used these roads to travel and spread the Gospel. Also Roma Pax provided worldwide peace and safety for missionaries to travel both by sea and land. Rome eliminated pirates on the seas, highway robbers on the roads, and tribal terrorism.

A most significant factor for early church growth was the Diaspora of the Jews. Through the different conquests of the Holy Land by Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, the Jews were scattered all over the then known world. Two classes of Jews existed at the time of Jesus and Paul: Hebraic and Hellenistic Jews. Hebraic Jews lived in Palestine, especially in and near Jerusalem. They were extremely legalistically biased against Gentiles. Most Jews looked down on Gentiles, calling them dogs. The twelve disciples were Hebraic Jews.

The Hellenistic Jews lived mostly outside Palestine throughout the Roman Empire and many had business relations and friendships with Gentiles. Paul, Barnabas, Stephen, Philip and others were Hellenistic Jews. Beginning about 300 years before Christ, the Hellenistic Jews would invite Gentile business associates and friends to visit their synagogues to hear the learned lectures of the rabbis.

The Gentiles were attracted to Judaism for four significant reasons: (1.) Judaism was the only religion with high moral standards. All other religions had very low moral standards, and the physical act of prostitution was a part of their public worship ceremony. (2.) Judaism was the only monotheistic religion. All other religions had many gods who raped goddesses causing new gods to be born. (3.) Judaism promised a coming Messiah or Deliverer. At that time, over half of the population in the Roman world were slaves; and a promised deliverer was good news to the slaves. (4.) Likewise, Judaism was the only linear religion reaching toward a climax at the end of human history with eternal rewards and punishments. All other religions were circular around the cycle of nature; spring, summer, fall, and winter.

At the time of Paul, about two million Gentiles were in the process of conversion to Judaism. Most did not want to undergo the bloody surgery of circumcision in order to become full proselytes to Judaism. Those not submitting to circumcision but interested in Judaism were called God-fearers in the Book of Acts. A large amount of the early church Gentile converts had been God-fearers and were already knowledgeable of the Old Testament and were awaiting a Messiah. The Holy Spirit had sovereignly prepared the Gentiles to hear the Gospel.

The Hellenistic rabbis justified their preaching and converting Gentiles to Judaism using Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 60:3 and other OT prophecies. Whenever Paul came to a new city, he would go to the synagogue; there he would find the Gentile God-fearers who were attracted to his message. Paul did not demand circumcision, which was also good news to the God-fearers. Now you can understand the vicious hatred of the Jewish leaders toward Paul for stealing their Gentile converts, with their financial income, from their synagogues. God was in control of human history for the sake of the Gospel (See Galatians 4:4).

Later in church history, another factor in church growth was the monastic missionaries who took the Gospel and evangelized new territories: Saint Patrick of Ireland, Saint Colombo of Scotland, Saint Boniface of Germany, etc. The Holy Spirit confirmed their preaching with signs, wonders and miracles.

Other significant factors were the spiritual power encounters between the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of demons in signs, wonders and miracles. Apart from Gentile God-fearers, most Gentiles were under the control of folk or animistic religions. When they saw and experienced the greater power of the Holy Spirit, they were delivered from demonic powers and accepted Jesus Christ.

Permit me to recommend the following two books on power encounter for your reading and library:

Love, R. (2000). Muslims, Magic and the Kingdom of God. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.

McCurry, D. (2001). Healing the Broken Family of Abraham. Colorado Springs, CO: Ministries to Muslims.

The above two books may be ordered from Gabriel Publishing, P. O. Box 1047, Waynesboro, GA 30830-2047, 706-554-1597 or from Assemblies of God Center for Ministry to Muslims, 2032 East Kearney, Suite 205, Springfield, MO 65803, 417-866-3313.