Monday, January 28, 2013

COURAGE: Guest Carol Stratton author of Changing Zip Codes

CAROL STRATTON, wife and mother of four, from Mooresville, North Carolina, is a writer and speaker. Her articles have been published in national magazines.. Her devotional, Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, shares encouragement and humor learned in twenty-two moves. It’s available at: . Contact her at

Part of the proceeds of the book go to Family Life for scholarships for military couples for their Weekend to Remember.


I might mention I have a fund-raising event going on my FB page. I am asking people give me a birthday present on my birthday, Feb. 2nd (Groundhog's Day) The gift to me is to let me know a reader has made a contribution to Family Life for for military couples to be able to attend Weekend to Remember. Here's the link: I am matching anything donated. So far no responses but I really believe in what they are doing for the military . Military marriages have had a sixty percent increase in divorce in the last few years....that an increase.


Courage for the little things…

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right
hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13 NIV

Sometimes I feel like I have courage for the larger things in life, like surviving a car accident, giving birth to a premature son, or spending time living in a foreign country. It’s the little things where I fail, like fearing the walk into an unfamiliar church, unpacking and organizing a sea of
boxes in my family room, or getting oriented to a new town. Yes, can fly across the globe to a Bible college in New Zealand, but, “Please God, don’t put me on a freeway two miles away from
my new house!”

Our Heavenly Father offers courage for all situations. He doesn’t rate our need and say, “You’re on your own for this situation; it’s only a 2.4 on the fear scale and I don’t mess with such trivial situations.” What kind of God would that make Him? No, He loves us enough to subdue our daily fears. When we do our part and take a first step, He will watch our back and take away our fear, but we need to make the first move. In his book, The Neurotic’s Notebook, Mignon McLaughlin says, “Courage can’t see around the corner but goes anyway.”

Lewis’s outlook on courage is: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” If we are to be lean, strong men and women of faith, we can expect God to take us on some adventures where we know not where we are going. Courage opens the door and says “boo” to our fears.

What is your biggest fear about moving to a new area? Are you afraid your children won’t make friends? You won’t find a job? You will hate the weather? You’ll never see your extended family? You will never grow to love that dark galley kitchen? Look your fears straight in the eye and take one little action today to conquer them. God is great at matching our timid first steps and will be there to keep us moving forward.

Sometimes all we have is a community of two, but sometimes that’s enough…for a start.

Taken from Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted. This forty-day devotional for the uprooted, deployed, downsized, and displaced is published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. It is available in print and ebook through


“Carol Stratton has chosen to write to a topic that is addressed in few other
places: clinging to faith during times of change. The fresh daily format and
encouraging, biblical insights will encourage anyone who is struggling
through the idea of moving to a new location, as well as uplifting those who
are joyfully anticipating a move.”— Darla Knoth, Leadership Development/
Content Coordinator, National Women’s Department, Assemblies of God.
“After twenty-two moves, Carol Stratton is a relocation expert with a heart for
the newcomer. Carol’s warm and witty stories, based on personal experiences,
offer hope and encouragement to anyone faced with a move.” — Florence
Littauer, International Author and Speaker, Founder of CLASSeminar
“Having moved fourteen times, I find Carol’s devotional book both encouraging
and inspiring for anyone relocating. Filled with biblical principles, it keeps
the reader focused on Christ during the upheaval of change that comes with
moving. Her hands-on experience with relocating adds humor and warmth
that will capture the heart of anyone who goes through the transition and
adjustment of a move.” — Susan Miller, Founder and President of Just
Moved Ministry and author of After the Boxes are Unpacked
“Using wit, humor, and entertaining facts (even about Zip Codes), Carol
Stratton provides helpful tips, insight, and cheerleading for those who are
facing the “big move.” She proves that God is everywhere, even among
new neighbors, new coworkers, and new church members. Let her words
encourage you.”— Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, author The Power of Positive

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Blog hop interview
The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Harry Wegley, author of Hide and Seek, an espionage thriller, invited me to the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. He blogged about his debut novel on his blog – on Jan. 20. Here’s the link to purchase the book

Terrie Thorpe, author of Footsteps of Jesus, planned to join me,too, but had trouble getting all the connections. Check out her books anyway on Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Today, I'm blogging about my debut teen novel, JOE THE DREAMER: THE CASTLE AND THE CATAPULT The interview was prepared by THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP.


Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult

I was teaching an after-school and summers program for upper elementary and a few junior high students. During the summer, mornings were spent with devotions, intense Bible memorization, and faith-building teaching. I wrote the curriculum and I decided after a break for lunch and games, we needed relaxing time in the afternoon. But I still wanted to redeem the time. What I needed was a great fiction story full of suspense (a character with a problem) that would also tweak their interest in reading the Bible themselves (the character dropped into the skin of Bible characters in his dreams). I wrote a chapter one day and read it the next. The kids became excited and couldn’t wait for the next installment.


Teen/adventure fiction


Joseph Adam Jonas (when he was younger).

After Joe Baker’s parents mysteriously disappear, he finds himself with a vicious man after him and he wonders if God answers prayer.
I went with Amazon’s CreateSpace. My first book, Confessions of a Pentecostal, was published by the Assemblies of God’s Gospel Publishing House. Traditional publishers today seem to want to work with younger writers and I wasn’t getting any younger, so I went with CreateSpace. I also like the royalty offered by CreateSpace, which also published my second book, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal. Although I had some frustrations with this last book, when everything finally came together I have been quite satisfied with CreateSpace editors and designers.


I’ve dabbled with the book off and on for 20 years. Yet, I know I can write fast. Being a newspaper reporter teaches you that. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers’ Novel Track in January 2011 and with a goal of 10,000 words and 7,000 already written, I wrote a historical romance, The Lady Fugitive. In five weeks, I had 80,000 words and the first draft.


• Nightmare Academy by Frank Peretti, although my book is not speculative fiction. But it does have lots of suspense and ventures into danger and places the average teen wouldn’t see, such as a mental hospital’s juvenile unit. As a medical reporter, I’ve been in those.

• WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? A need for young people to increase their faith and know God.


• Robots, catapults, missing people, brain chips, spiritual conflict. Radicals who want to erase Christianity from the earth and plan to scramble the brains of effective opinion leaders, using Joe’s dad’s computer software knowledge, and using their captives to bomb places where Christians gather.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


1. Make a plan. Write a list of things you hope will be in your future, as well as character traits and abilities you would like to have.
2. Research what it will take to accomplish your dreams. Find how others achieved similar goals.
3. Assume responsibility for your future.
4. Work on your character. Discipline yourself to learning something new at least once a week, loving someone who irritates you, and doing jobs you hate. Avoid Satan’s traps and pray for the fruits of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace mentioned in Galatians 5.
5. Enlarge your territory by reaching out to people, volunteering in things you enjoy, and trying activities for which you might have talent to pursue.
6. Spend time every day reading the Bible, especially the New Testament and Proverbs, talking to God and seeking His will for your life.
7. Set realistic deadlines to accomplish some of your goals.
8. Monitor your success.
9. Don’t wait for perfect circumstances.
10. Have faith. Believe in yourself and the One who loved you before you were born and has a plan for your life (Psalm 139: 16).
© Copyright Jan. 2013 Ada Brownell

Monday, January 21, 2013

Questions for 2013--The standoff between Obama and Congress: Is compromise a righteous thing?

Who blinks first? Who caves? Is bending the will the only way to survive?
I try not to get too involved in politics, but I do have strong views about the huge problems our nation faces and they’re not going away.
But something worries me even more—the way Christians are compromising convictions, morality and even doctrine.
I heard this week that a well-known Christian missions organization is compromising with Islam in their belief about the divinity of Jesus Christ. (Muslims believe Jesus was a great prophet, but don’t believe He was God.)
Although some Christian business owners are refusing to pay for insurance that includes abortion, others are doing it without a squeak just like many so-called Christians watched silently as Jews were herded off to death camps.
But if my life would have been in danger, I might have done the same thing. I can’t judge the other person because I’m not sinless like God is. I can’t take care of the other person’s spiritual problems, either; my hands are full with my own.
There is value in being older and able to look back at temptations to compromise, and being able to rejoice because I “resisted the devil” as the scriptures say, and refused to bend.
After working out in the world I realized anyone who is willing can have an adulterous affair. All it takes is two people who are stupid enough to ignore that it can destroy your reputation, your career, your marriage, your family, your relationship with God and your eternal future.
The same thing is true with bending your will about staying away from mind-altering drugs and alcohol. These usually don’t affect a person as quickly as adultery, but they have the potential to do all of the above in the long run. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 20:2 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
Satan is said to walk about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) so we should be vigilant because the enemy of our soul has all sorts of devious things to try to make us compromise our faith—some not evil in themselves. Or he attacks with things we might not recognize as evil such as gossip or bitterness.
My Janette Oke calendar recently had this quote from her book, Once Upon a Summer: “Wrapping ourselves in bitterness is like using a blanket of poison ivy; it’s warm at first but painful in the end.”
All sin is like that. I’m reminded of this admonition to the Roman church: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans12:2 NIV).
I think that’s good guidance for 2013.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


For several months I’ve been focusing on faith.

As with most people, I keep running into circumstances for which I need God’s help—and faith.

James tells me, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1: 2-3KJ).

So there is a purpose, after all, for my battle with believing for great things.

The writer of Hebrews has even stronger words about faith. “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: For yet a little while and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:35-38NKJ).

Hebrews 11 is the famous “Faith Chapter.” I do well with this verse: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (verse 3). To me that’s the only thing that makes sense out of the marvels of our bodies and the universe--and even what we know about the laws of thermodynamics. For instance, matter can't be created or destroyed.

I think about the story I heard about God and Satan having a discussion.

"I can do anything you can," the devil bragged.

"Okay," God said. "Make a man."

So Satan stooped and began scooping up dust.

God tapped the evil creature on the shoulder. "Use your own dirt!"

But I digress for a joke.

Faith is an amazing force. I look back at Hebrews 11:1 and stand in awe,hoping and wondering whether I have faith like that: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

That’s the New International Version. Here it is in King James: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

I pray for that kind of faith. I want that kind of faith. I need that kind of faith.

I could say to meet my needs and the needs of my family, spiritual, physical, financial and emotional. But there is something deeper and more important: “For without faith it is impossible to please him (God), for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

We have testimony after testimony of people who believed God, and I have testimonies of God’s mercy and faithfulness also. He has done great things. He has done miracles in our lives. Our children and grandchildren are serving the Lord and have His Word in their hearts. We’ve had miracles and healing, God’s leadership, faithfulness and blessings.

Yet, I don’t always have faith and not every prayer I prayed in faith was answered the way I would have liked.

I need strong faith for the miracles; and I need strong faith when things don't go as I’d like them to.

Yet, I feel I don’t see nearly as many answers to prayer as I should because of lack of endurance. I read one version that talked about “staggering at the promise.”

Jesus told the father of a child who needed healing, “If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

The father cried out with tears running down his face, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-23).

That’s my heart’s cry, too.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I was interviewing Dr. Joyce Brothers, psychologist and television personality,for the newspaper where I worked when she said something that caught my attention.
“Married people should thank each other more often,” she said.
Her idea was to stop nagging your mate to do a job that needs doing. “You ask kindly and, if or when the job is done say, ‘Thank you,’” Brothers said.
She emphasized that mates treated in this fashion will help one another more, and the atmosphere in the home will change for the better.
I tried her advice, and it works. No, it didn’t happen the first couple of thank yous, but when I showed appreciation, I got more help. My own attitude also improved.
God gave us similar advice in the Bible. The loving person is kind, joyful, patient, gentle, faithful and full of self control. These are all fruit of the Holy Spirit and need to be cultivated (Galatians 5: 22).
Let us not be among those who in the perilous last days are unthankful, Paul told Timothy. (2 Timothy 3:2).
Thanking one another with kindness is a step away from that crowd.
©Copyright Ada Brownell 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013



By Ada Brownell
My father always told me not to go near the river. I didn’t until one winter when I was about 12 years old, my friends suggested we go ice-skating there.
I declined at first, but soon grabbed my skates.
The river was probably a mile or so from my home, but I didn’t mind the walk in the near zero temperature. These girls didn’t usually hang out with me, but they knew I could skate and invited me.
Tranquil water had frozen in a little tributary of the mighty Colorado, and we skated and skated. Suddenly we noticed it was about dark.
Quickly we put on our shoes and started toward home. My feet were beginning to feel numb and soon they felt like they weren’t even part of my body – only heavy bricks.
My friends lived closer and soon they were home. I had to keep walking.
As soon as I reached the house, I ran to the bathroom, took off my shoes and placed my feet in very warm water. My feet turned black and began to swell.
With tears on my cheeks I had to confess I had disobeyed. I learned I had frozen my feet, but thank the Lord, they didn’t require amputation. For days, though, I couldn’t wear my own shoes because my feet were too swollen.
No, I didn’t fall through the ice as I could have if I’d ventured out on the river, but I learned a hard lesson. Parents do their children a favor when they care enough to tell them to avoid risky activities and teach them to obey.
My Heavenly Father had me in mind when He said, “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Ephesians 6:11).
The Lord did us a favor, too, when he told us the consequences of sin: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23).
Knowing that should give us good sense for walking into the future. I plan to remember to resist the devil when he comes lying and disturbing my faith, or trying to lead me astray because the Bible tells us if we resist, Satan will flee from us.
In these days when wickedness is touted as righteousness and righteousness is maligned as wicked, we need extra power and the whole armor of God to keep our eyes on Jesus. When we’re committed to Him, we’ll walk in victory.
©Ada Brownell 2012

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I’ve been tied up lately with work on my new teen novel, Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult. I hoped the Amazon link would be up today, but perhaps tomorrow. I apologize for neglecting my blog.
Anyway, this post continues a new emphasis for January only: GO INTO THE NEW YEAR WITHOUT FEAR. But I probably will have guest writers on other subjects, too, so keep checking us out.
John, my third cousin, roared down the road in his motorcycle when a drunk pulled into his path from a bar. The impact threw John into the air. He landed upside down in the bar’s parking lot, skidding across the pavement on his helmet.
He escaped serious injury because of the strong protection on his head.
More than one life has been saved because of a helmet. Perhaps that’s why our spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6 includes a helmet. We need the helmet to protect an important aspect of our journey with God.
The Apostle Paul, the author of Ephesians, tells us we need armor like a helmet so we’ll be able to stand against the “wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
That’s New King James. The same scripture in The Message described our battle like this: “This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”
So whether we lived in the First Century when Paul wrote this warning or if we live in 2013, we shouldn’t go out into the world vulnerable to the enemy’s attack.
What is the helmet and how do we get it?
Ephesians describes it at the “helmet of salvation.” Romans 10: 9 tells us “If thou wilt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Salvation is “being saved.”
Because of sin, all humankind is destined to die. But Jesus came to save us from that destiny. The Father promised it in Genesis 3:15 right after sin entered the world.
So if we’re “saved” we have a helmet of salvation. The helmet can guard our hearts and minds; it will protect our capacity to believe, resist the devil, grow spiritually, and be thankful for God’s love and mercy.
Each of us knows how important our brain is to everything about our bodies and the ability to think governs every area of our lives.
So, I recommend this helmet. Salvation changed my family and brought wonderful things into our lives. It changed me and gave me abundant life.
But I must not forget our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We need more protection and I’ll talk about that later.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


This post continues a new emphasis on for January only: GO INTO THE NEW YEAR WITHOUT FEAR


A new year. New opportunities. A clean slate. What will I do with it? What will you do with it? Worry, lose faith or grow spiritually?

Every year brings challenges. What challenges should I take on?

One challenges is anxiety about what might come. Today a news channel reported a Gallup poll saying 65 percent of the people believe there will be more difficult economic times in the United States in 2013.

Our local television station forecast milk prices as high as $7 a gallon unless Congress does something about it—I believe extending farm subsidies. Although we escaped the fiscal cliff, taxes are taking huge bites from the income of people who create jobs, and most people see their health care costs rising, while we’re warned health care probably will be rationed—especially for senior citizens.

While all of this is going on, the news keeps flashing the rapidly increasing numbers on the U.S. debt clock.

Should I worry? Or should I trust God, and get to work on what my hands find to do, praying, living, and doing—fulfilling my responsibilities and doing what I can to bless and win others to the Lord Jesus Christ that they might have eternal life.
But how can I do that with the world trying to steal my faith, the faith of my children and my grandchildren—continually dangling sin before their eyes, making most think it’s no big deal.

I think the assault on faith in America is the most serious thing we face. Nwew rules to prohibit Christian influence and practice everywhere, and too many people not understanding the danger of it. Anyone who desires an abundant here and eternal life beyond the grave for themselves and their loved ones should be alarmed!

What to do? Go to our knees. Get in the Word of God, studying not just one scripture at a time, but whole books, especially the New Testament, but we also should balance it with some from the Old, starting with Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.”

Faith comes through hearing the Word. For starters, I will read Philippians 4 again where it says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understand will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus…. The things you’ve learned and received and heard and saw in me, do….I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me….And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

It’s all there in chapter 4. I plan to read it, believe it, and practice it.
With the Apostle Paul I say, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

A peek into Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult

Teen novel by A. B. Brownell set to be released about Jan. 15 on Amazon

Joe Baker looked at the kitchen window again, hoping headlights would turn in to the driveway. Instead, an image moved on the other side of the glass. A tremble ricocheted from Joe’s chest to his fingers and toes. A hotdog chunk he bit off almost lodged in his throat.
“What time is it?” Brown hair framed the scowl on Penny’s slightly freckled face as she sat across from him at the glass-topped table. “I’m worried about Mom and Dad.”
Joe swallowed. Tangy mustard taste lingered on his dry tongue.
“They’re probably fine,” he choked out. He dropped what was left of his bun on his plate and ran over to see if a friend peeped at them. At first, Joe’s tan face, thick mop of black hair, and frightened brown eyes reflected in the window. He leaned closer. A bald head he’d never seen before glistened. Huge eyes glared from the other side of the glass. The man’s drooping jowls jiggled as a hand tried to push the window open.
“Get out of here!” Joe yelled, blood and panic pulsing through him as he flipped the blind shut and pulled his cell from his pocket. He dialed 911.
“A man I don’t know is peeking through our windows, and our parents aren’t home,” he told the dispatcher. He couldn’t keep his voice from trembling. “I’m fourteen, and my sister is ten.”
He was telling the dispatcher the address and giving other information when Penny jumped up from the table. “Oh, bother! You’re just playing with the phone and trying to scare me.”
She lifted a slat in the blinds and looked out. Her scream almost made Joe drop the phone.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


This post starts a new emphasis on for January only:

The Way I like to Celebrate New Year’s Eve—and no hangover!

I wonder if people drink on New Year’s Eve because they need to have their senses dulled to face another year going into the unknown. (If it doesn’t dull the senses why is it a crime to drink and drive with a certain blood level of alcohol?)

I’ve never understood people who drink intoxicating beverages. In my first stint as a reporter I rubbed shoulders with some people with brilliant minds, but at one get together of the staff I watched one of these academically sharp individuals change in one afternoon until he acted as if he were mentally challenged. He could barely get a sentence together, mispronounced words, and was wobbly on his feet.

If it tastes anything like it smells on their breath, I don’t think they go after it for the taste. We know many take a drink in the early evening and call it “happy hour.” Others take it to help them “relax.”

One fellow told me he didn’t know how I could have fun without drinking. “I’ve had a lot of fun in my life,” I told him, “And when it was over, I knew I had it.”
I could have added I didn’t have a hangover, either.

Mama was one of those Cary Nation type people and she broke up an illegal still in her youth all by herself. Then she and Dad had to run for her lives.

So it was no wonder I was raised on Solomon’s words, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:2).

In contrast to a drinking any sort of brew, I face the New Year as I’ve always done—asking God to be with me and each one of our family, as well as friends and acquaintances—and taking promises from God’s Word about the future.

For instance, yesterday, Jan. 31, in my daily calendar by author Janette Oke the scripture was, “Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of –infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desired, thoughts, or hopes” (Ephesians 3:20TLB).

Now taking that scripture and believing it is the way to start a new year.

There are other wondrous ways to ring one year out and another in. I grew up in a church where people washed one another’s feet and prayed for the person as they worked. We called these services Watch Night Services and in most churches we had singing, rejoicing and testimonies for what God did in the past year. Often we’d break for food and fellowship.

Then as the clock approached midnight, often a wonderful soloist or duet would sing, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Then we all fell to our knees thanking God for his previous blessings and asking him to lead, guide and bless our lives another year.

To me, that’s the way to really celebrate on New Year’s Eve.