Monday, June 30, 2014

The Future: Lincoln Prayed for Peace; Roosevelt Asked God to Preserve our Republic, Religion and Suffering Humanity

Win a copy of IMAGINE THE FUTURE YOU as an audiobook! Comment on how God has been in your past because you put Him into your future to enter drawing. Deadline July 7, 2014

Abraham Lincoln 
A Prayer for Peace 

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continues... until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid another drawn with the sword... so still it must be said that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
-Second Inaugural address, March 4, 1865

Franklin D. Roosevelt 
A Prayer in Dark Times

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity...
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph...
Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom. And for us at home--fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice... Give us strength, too--strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

--D-Day, June 6, 1944 


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Presidents Prayed Because They Knew America Needed God in the Future

Win a copy of IMAGINE THE FUTURE YOU as an audiobook! Comment on how God has been in your past because you put Him into your future and enter to win. Deadline July 7, 2014

Thomas Jefferson

A Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, June 28, 2014



George Washington 

A Prayer for Guidance 

O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul....
Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends, and kindred.


George Washington

Win a copy of IMAGINE THE FUTURE YOU as an audiobook! Comment on how God has been in your past because you put Him into your future. Deadline to enter drawing July 7, 2014

Note from Ada Brownell from the beginning of Imagine the Future You:
Why bring God into a book about preparing for your future? Because the Creator is involved in the future of individuals, humankind, nations, the world, and will change things when we pray. From George Washington to George W. Bush (and I imagine Barack Obama), U.S. presidents prayed, especially in crises. God heard because America has been blessed. You can find and read many of their historical prayers today.
Parts of this book are to give you evidence for belief in God. Believing is a choice, but the much of the education and media in the United States is designed to keep you from believing in your Creator.
 God has been in your future from conception (See Psalm 139), loves you, keeps track of the hairs on your head (Luke 12:7) and will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He is most concerned about your future. He wants to give you abundant life (John 10:10), prepare the way before you, keep you and guide and lead you to heaven. But He will only come into your life if you invite Him (Revelation 3:20). With the Lord, you’ll have a blessed future, not only on earth, but for eternity.


A motivational Bible study by Ada Brownell

The intriguing thing about our dreams is we’re always the “Star.”  Comedy, romance, murder mystery, drama, documentary of a heroine—there we are in the middle of everything.
When we’re awake we also star in our dreams. Dream big and work toward your goals and you’ll write a story with your life that might amaze you.
Whether your story is a tragedy or a cherished classic depends on who you want to become and if you pursue your dreams.
If you continue to do or not do what you practice now, what kind of future do you imagine for yourself?
The decisions we make ourselves affect our future more than those made for us. We have control of our attitudes, our work ethic, our sense of wonder, our faith to believe in God and for great things. It is up to us where we end up in life and eternity.
This Bible study will help you discover evidence for faith; how to look and be your best; who can help; interesting information about dating, love and marriage; choosing a career; how to deposit good things into your brain you can spend; and how to avoid hazards that jeopardize a successful life on earth and for eternity, all mingled with true stories that can make you smile.

Review:  How I would have loved  to sit at Mrs. Brownell's knee when I was a teen. This wholesome book resounds with sage, Godly advice and could be picked up again and again as needs arise. Worthwhile for parents too. Much fodder for family discussion too!

Friday, June 27, 2014


By Ada Brownell


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Deadline for entries July 7, 2014

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King's Palace Carlsbad Caverns National Park Wallpaper
 Sixteen-year-old Jim White rode his horse through New Mexico’s desert in 1898, looking for cattle, when he noticed a plume of bats rise into the sky. He investigated where they came from and discovered Carlsbad Caverns, among the largest and most spectacular caves in the world.
The huge hole in the rocky hill from which the bats boiled drew Jim back a few days later. He brought a rope and tools he needed. He made a crude ladder, took his kerosene lantern, and carefully descended into the cave. The next day he returned to the caverns with a fifteen-year-old friend.
Extensive explorations began in 1901, and Jim White was there. He helped construct the first trails, stairs, and lights.
Jim had no idea that day when he mounted his horse he would discover one of the largest caves in the world. Like Jim, we never know what opportunities will come, but often they do appear because we’re looking for them or expecting God to lead us to them. I wouldn't be surprised Jim talked to the Lord out on the range. while he worked.
I don't know whether Jim White was a Christian, but the Psalmist wrote "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:16). So God knew Jim whether or not Jim knew God.
When our hearts are tuned in to the excitement and wonder of life, we expect good things in the future.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Even if I knew tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”[1]
Behind every apple you eat is someone who looked into the future with hope and imagination because an apple seed takes more than ten years to produce fruit.
Today is the time to work on our tomorrows. Will you be the person you dream of being—or someone from your nightmares?
You don’t need a fortune teller to reveal your future. The truth is, you are the person who determines who you will be, what your life will be like, and how your hopes and dreams will be fulfilled. Today is the time to imagine and to create an action plan for your future.

[1] Frank Lutz, Words That Work (New York: Hyperion, 2007). 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Makes You Unique?

By Ada Brownell

Excerpt from Imagine the Future You

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As young people grow up, their choices begin to show. Their creativity, eye for style, and desire to be respected blossom in hairstyles, makeup, and clothing. Appearance also sometimes demonstrates whether you are a leader or a follower.

Many young women today would rather dress warmer (in cool weather or intense air-conditioning) and less seductively than their peers, but their self-images depend on guys devouring them with their eyes. A large number of young women don’t feel they have worth unless they have a boyfriend, and this starts about age twelve. Some will do almost anything to keep the guy, because they can’t deal with rejection—even from slime. Some attempt or succeed at suicide because of broken relationships that weren’t worth pursuing in the first place.

How did a girl’s self-worth depend on how she looks and whether a guy is leading her around as if she’s blind? Does she understand outward looks and most young relationships are temporary.

Furthermore, having relationships too early can risk your future, especially if you participate in premarital sex. Have you noticed how many entertainment stars are addicted to alcohol or drugs, apparently to kill the pain because despite all their “so-called beauty,” professional success, and going to bed with many partners, no one seems to make a commitment strong enough to love until death?

Every person is unique because we all are made in the image of God, but what makes us different from everyone else is not outward appearance. Humankind finally figured out it’s not the color of our skin that matters, but we still don’t seem to know it’s what’s under our skin that counts. Humans are similar to beautiful snowflakes. Not one is the same, but each has a beauty of its own.

For some reason, humans follow other people like sheep following other sheep, even if they have no idea where they’re going.
Sheep will blindly, habitually, stupidly follow one another along the same little trails until they become ruts that erode into gigantic gullies, says Phillip Keller, a shepherd and Christian author.[1]
Keller says, “Instead of being one of the crowd, I am willing to be singled out, set apart from the gang. Most of us, like sheep, are pretty gregarious. We want to belong. We don’t want to be different in a big way, though we may wish to be different in minor details that appeal to our selfish egos. But Christ pointed out that only a few would find His way acceptable, and to be marked as one of His would mean a certain amount of criticism and sarcasm from a cynical society.”
But it is the few—often even one person—who dare to be different who change the world for the better.
 When you are committed to God and do your best with your talents and follow His will, the things you do in your vocation can help many. Pastors, evangelists, and witnesses since the time of Christ tell the story of redemption, and missionaries literally change nations.

Give God your life, and discover what beauty He will unfold in you.

[1] Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at the Good Shepherd and His Sheep (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 65.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Win a copy of IMAGINE THE FUTURE YOU as an audiobook! Comment on how God has been in your past because you put Him into your future. Deadline July 7, 2014

By Ada Brownell

Habits are like the tree in Vashon Island, Washington, that grew around a bicycle until the bike became part of the tree. Somebody obviously leaned the bike against the tree when it was a small sapling. Now the bicycle is lodged into a large tree trunk five or six feet off the ground. It is impossible to remove the bike without destroying the tree.

Dr. Alan Friedman, a botanist at Marquette University in Milwaukee, says if an immovable object comes in contact with a growing tree, the growth that creates wood and bark will eventually cover the object. The only exception is a wire or rope put entirely around a tree, which will kill it.[1]

Habits are one part of our lives we control, but we can’t choose our parents. God made sure they love you by implanting love into their beings, although some moms and dads don’t show their love. But even parents who forsake their children love them, because many come back to them later in life and ask for forgiveness.

Habits entwine themselves into us in a similar way and become part of who we are. Some habits make us better people because they cause us to do good things. Bad habits wrapped into our character jeopardize our future.

Some people think if they have bad habits it's their parents' fault. Parents are involved all right but we can't choose our mom and dad. We do choose to copy good and bad behavior. It's our choice.

Yet, parents are stuck with their children, and their children are stuck with them. Your mother and father didn't have control over the genes you inherited, either. By the same token, they had nothing to do with the kind of atmosphere their ma and pa provided for them that influenced their behavior.

True genetics, culture, temperament, talents, education, beliefs, quirks, and hang-ups of the people who gave us earthly life affect us, but we can’t blame them if we end up a drunkard, too lazy to support ourselves, or in prison. No matter who we are, our background, what internal and external obstacles we face, we can scramble over everything in our way and reach a life of joy and fulfillment.


By making wise decisions every hour of every day. The wisest decision we’ll ever make is to believe the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, for He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. In comparing us to sheep Jesus said, “The thief’s (Satan’s) purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” John 10:10 NLT.

This not only means a satisfying life on earth, but for eternity. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

[1] Country Magazine Extra Collector’s Edition 5 (Harlan, IA, 1995).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why don't the Amish Play Musical Instruments?

A Plain Love Song
The New Hope Amish
By Kelly Irvin

She had to find her way to him…but first she had to find her way to God.

Adah Knepp wants nothing more than to make music. It’s all she’s ever desired—to sing and play the guitar and write her own songs. That’s a dream that will never come true in the confines of her strict Amish community. But then she meets Jackson Hart, and suddenly she sees the chance for a different kind of life…a real stage, a real guitar, and a real opportunity to sing her songs to a real audience!

But pursuing her dreams means turning her back on her faith, her family, and her community—and saying goodbye to Matthew, the gentle Amish farmer she can’t get out of her mind. Is it worth giving up the only home she’s ever known to pursue her dreams?

Kelly Irvin is a Kansas native and has been writing professionally for 30 years. She and her husband, Tim, make their home in Texas. They have two children, three cats, and a tankful of fish.  A public relations professional, Kelly is also the author of two romantic suspense novels and writes short stories in her spare time. To learn more about her work, visit


Releases July 1, 2014. To preorder go to

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
                                                            Romans 12:2

In A Plain Love Song, Adah wants nothing more than to write songs and sing them while playing the guitar. It gives her joy and fills her with a sense of accomplishment. As non-Amish folks, most of us would focus on the whys and wherefores of the Amish faith that say Adah cannot and should not do this. Playing musical instruments isn’t allowed. because the Amish believe it draws attention to the individual and her talent, leading to pride and taking the focus from God. But that’s not what A Plain Love Song is about. It’s about listening to God’s calling. It’s about knowing when to drop to your knees and say, “Your will, God, not mine.”

As Christians, most of us believe God has a plan for us, but how often do we want to tell God what that plan is? I know I do. I pray for certain things to happen, fully expecting God to make it so. I’m like a child at Christmas time, sitting on Santa’s lap, asking for the moon and stars. My writing career is a good example of this. When I turned forty-five I realized I had to move quickly or I would never fulfill my dream of being a published novelist. I spent the next seven years juggling a full time public relations career, two children, a husband, and a would-be career as a fiction writer. I wrote novel after novel, I secured a wonderful agent. I went to writing conferences. I wrote before work, at lunch, and at night. My manuscripts were submitted to publishing house after publishing house. Nothing.

I did all the right things. Except one. I never prayed to God and said, “Is this what You want for me? Show me. Tell me.” I didn’t listen. I simply demanded, begged, cajoled, and, yes, even cried.

Finally, at my wit’s end, exhausted and demoralized, I sat in my church pew one Sunday morning and I explained to God (as if he didn’t already know) that I couldn’t go on this way anymore. I needed to know what his plan was. Should I continue to try to get my writing published? Should I stop? Did he have another plan in mind for the writing talented with which he’d blessed me? I asked for a sign. Did he want me to do something else? Should I write main stream fiction? Should I write fiction at all?

Three days later, I got the call. That call every aspiring novelist craves. A contract offering for an inspirational romantic suspense novel to a mainstream publisher that specializes in library quality hardbacks for the library market. God said yes.

While I celebrate this season in my life and the opportunity to share stories with readers, I still have to ask myself the bigger question: what if He’d said no. What if no call came? What if the answer was that I should simply write for Him and no one else? Can Adah write her songs for God? Can she forego playing the guitar in public because her faith demands that she not draw attention to herself, but rather to the God who loves her and will take her to his home one day? Are we willing to give up a dream if it means we will draw closer to God?

If we examine our hearts closely and with brutal honesty, we will know if we’re following God’s calling or hoping He’ll give us what we want, like children on Christmas morning. By all means, ask God for your heart’s desire, but be sure to listen for his.


Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing Publishing. Her latest release is A Plain Love Song, set in Amish country in Missouri, which will debut July 1. It is the final installment in the series, which also included Love Redeemed and Love Still Stands.

 She is currently working on The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series, for Zondervan. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.

The Kansas native is a graduate of  the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter, mostly in Texas-Mexico border towns. She has worked in public relations for the City of San Antonio for twenty years. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and serves as secretary of the local chapter, Alamo Christian Fiction Writers.

Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, one gorgeous new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


By Ada Brownell
On Sundays during our reunions, the birds seemed to stop their singing and listened to us.
About regular church time, my siblings and the in-laws started unpacking instruments. An accordion, guitars, harmonicas, trombone, flutes, clarinets, and a couple of times in recent years, we had drums. We might have had a violin.
Jo Ellen often brought toy instruments for the kids and the children joined us.
 In places where we met inside and there was a piano, people took turns playing and sometimes played duets because we had so many pianists. Yet, many never had the chance. Not enough time for everybody.
In Yellowstone, we had fewer instruments, but Elinora always brought her accordion.
When service started, you'd think a small church had gathered with the 50 to 60 of us circled around on lawn chairs, logs and stumps. A few probably still sipped coffee.
After a few introductory instrumental songs, harmony echoed throughout the camp, a different type of music through the pines, glorifying the One who made us and all the beauty around us, but also for the Savior who was "God with us" and died for us, rising from the tomb letting us know we'll also have a grand reunion in heaven because of his blood and resurrection.
In Yellowstone, I especially remember times when campers from other sites came to hear the music. They leaned against trees, sat on whatever was available, or stood on the perimeter of our large circle.
Not trying to brag, but knowing almost every person in the family, even aunts and uncles could stay on key and most could sing harmony, I imagine we sounded like a choir singing the songs of the Redeemed. As the youngest, when I was growing up there so much singing in our house, especially from my four older sisters, I don't remember being unable to sing harmony.
At most of our Sunday get-togethers we also had testimonies about God's blessings in the past year. Usually one of us would stand and tell how God answered prayer, helped through difficult times, or poured out his blessings on us and our families. He brought many through financial or other challenges, and was with those who started businesses or went out in faith in ministry or other work not knowing what was beyond tomorrow, and God was there.
I told how the Lord helped our youngest son, Jaron Craig, through some harrowing times with asthma. At the time, Jaron was in the hospital on an average of every two months. But God brought him through and a strict allergy diet did wonders in helping him to stay healthy.
Several of the people standing around wept as we sang and testified.
Everette, who pastored in Montana, gave a short devotional  from the Bible with an inspiring and challenging theme.
Many of the strangers who joined us stayed to visit afterward.
I imagine everyone still remembers those who came near and drank from the rivers of living water, only obtained through faith.
Those times are among our sweetest memories.

©Ada Brownell March 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014


By Ada Brownell

Melodious laughter and the buzz of conversation halted. My brothers' dogs shot out of camp like horses at the starting line. Snarling at the barking animals was a grizzly.

Joe and Everette jumped out of their lawn chairs and shot after their dogs.
"Tippy Get back here!" Everette shouted

"Patches!" Joe yelled.

Joe and Everette, back from catching and cleaning fish, never thought about a hungry bear picking up the scent from their catch.

The hearts of women in camp shot to their throats, fearing one of the men would be attacked. Prayers shot upward between the wives urgent screams calling their husbands back, even louder than the men called the dogs.

Joe picked up a big tree branch, intending to fight the bear. He neared the animal, which was growling, mouth wide open, teeth shining, but the animal suddenly turned and ambled away.

"The bear had better sense than we did," said Everette later. "But with one swipe, that bear would have finished the dogs."

Fishing always was a large part of our reunions.

Joan and I decided we'd like to go fishing and hopped into one of the boats with the guys so they could bait our hooks. Not long afterward, Joan got one. She's sort of like me. Being the youngest of eight, I never had a pet in my life, so I was afraid of anything that wiggled. Well, Joan obviously was frightened of touching her catch, and she swung the end of her pole toward me. The fish flipped back and forth nearly slapping me on one side and then the other. I leaned backward and almost fell out of the boat.

Everette tried to teach me how to cast on the Yellowstone River.

"It's simple. Just do it like this," he said, throwing my line into the tumbling water. "Oh, I already got a fish," he added. "Reel it in."

He kept demonstrating casting, and each time a fish caught the bait. I became proficient at reeling trout in, but never did learn to cast correctly.

During some reunions we swam in lakes, pools, and enjoyed the water, but not in Yellowstone. Some years we were fortunate the snow melted in the park before we gathered near Father's Day.

We played volleyball, Frisbee, table games, hiked and went sightseeing.
Kids painted rocks, played hide and seek, shared their toys and imagination with their cousins and other relatives. They also participated in many things adults did. A few could catch fish better than you know who.

At one reunion, I decided to let our youngest son, Jaron, fish in one of those ponds where you pay by the inch for the fish you catch. He had never been fishing and since I couldn't coach, I figured it would be a miracle if he caught one.

I stood by the lake talking with relatives and turned around.  He had a whole pile of trout that were about 18 inches long. When I got my eyes back my head, I discovered my brother-in-law helped him.

I gulped, paid for the fish, but didn't know what to do with them. That reunion my husband couldn't get off work. I didn't know how to clean them. So, I gave the trout to my stepmother, who was delighted at the gift. Didn't take her long to get them in the little freezer she had in her camper.

Oh, what good times! What great memories.

©Copyright Ada Brownell June 17, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Reunions: Forget cooking over an open fire



By Ada Brownell

A foggy mist dangled over Yellowstone Park, yet laughter tumbled through the pines, to the geysers, and rumbled over the lake and along the river as the Nicholson extended family, about 50-some, joined for a reunion.
Most of the guys threw lines from a boat in the lake or from the bank of Yellowstone River. The gals, well, my three sisters-in-law, cooked breakfast over an open fire.
I don’t think they realized it, but all of them, being campers were prepared, had their menus, and went to work. They knew if they wanted to eat any time soon it was up to them.
Now my four sisters and I weren't lazy. We come from a long line of work-a-holics. But some of us have a problem. We don't prepare meals well when we people talk to us. If guests arrive early at our houses, it is no telling how long it will take or how the food will turn out.
 Marge was great at entertaining, but she was no camper. Clara was getting the hang of cooking outside, but I think she did best when she was in charge. Erma was a good cook, an occasional camper, but she wasn't an early riser. She wouldn't venture outside until every hair was in place and her makeup applied. Joan and I are no good in the outdoors.
She and I, germafobes and clean-a-holics, couldn't seem to keep our campers clean. Every time someone stepped outside and came back in, we cleaned the floor. The tiny kitchen with kids and husbands coming in and out on the two-foot-or-so walkway made it almost impossible to prepare anything. I don't think I had an oven.
The smell of coffee permeated the campground. If I remember right, whoever brought the big coffeepot forgot the innards. My sister-in-law, Millie, simply dropped the coffee grounds into an old nylon woman's hose, tied a knot and dropped it in the pot.
"They put a dirty sock into the coffee!" Earl, Erma's husband yelled. The boys laughed and joked about that warning for years to come.
I imagine my sisters and I helped some with the cleanup, although I'm not sure. I do know when all the family gathered at Mom and Dad's house I did plenty of dishwashing. As the youngest of the eight siblings, they didn't even figure out I could cook until I was about 40. But they knew I could wash dishes.
That was the job Mama always gave me. I washed. Joe dried and in between he snapped me with the wet dish towel. I never could figure how to snap him back very well.
Yet, there wasn't a lot fussing among us. Truth be told, I think my sisters-in-law were quite happy with doing the cooking at our reunions, although later on we went to pot lucks since the tents disappeared and almost everyone had a camper or motor home.
These days we rent a room in a motel and eat out. Yet, planning reunions where we'll rough it a bit at a camp where we rent rooms with an indoor bathroom and shower. The food? I'm still wondering about that.
Some families argue and fight when they get together. Laughter, stories from the past or present, and singing punctuate our conversations. Only one time did someone shout out in anger, and that was when an uncle couldn't hear above the racket when he took an emergency telephone call about his son's health.
But everyone quickly understood. All was forgiven as we stopped to pray for our ill cousin.
Love binds us together.

©Copyright Ada Brownell 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Prescription for Success

By Renee Blare
Hello, Ada! Thanks for having me on your blog. I’m so excited to be here. As you know, I’m a pharmacist and love to blog myself. I also write. In fact my first book, To Soar on Eagle’s Wings will be released in March of 2015 by Prism Books. After many years, I can actually say I’m an author…success!

Success…what a word. If I marked my worthiness from worldly benchmarks, I could say I’m already successful. After all, I’m a full-time pharmacist of sixteen years, wife to the same man for twenty-four years, mother of one awesome son… oh, and I own a house. Debt, the true test of the world.

But how do I truly measure success? What’s my tested prescription? Did I mention I love the Lord? That everything I do begins and ends with Him.

I start the morning with the Father. My quiet time with the Father fortifies my heart and mind, preparing me for the day ahead. I bury myself in His Word, sometimes for five minutes…sometimes for thirty. (You may catch a glimpse of what I’m reading on my Facebook Page or Google+ since I share a verse from my reading each day.)

I believe His Word is more than a history book. It’s a guiding light for each step I take on this journey called life. It provides comfort, direction and inspiration along the way. In those sad, painful, or confused moments, the Lord reveals Himself through His Word. Even when my body lets me down, Jesus gives me the strength to run the race. (Read about it on my blog, Inspirational Moments; Celebration.)

I pray… for everything. I hit my knees in fellowship and petition for many reasons, sometimes without uttering a word. Nothing’s too big or small for my God. Prayer like breathing, is my lifeline. And my soul hears the Lord even in the still, small silence.

Now we can’t forget my third element to success, Ada… fellowship. With who, you ask? Christians! Now, notice I didn’t say ‘successful’, ‘positive’, ‘helpful’, etc. No, I said Christians…no conditions, no requirements. So what if they aren’t perfect. I’m not either. My husband and son can attest to that. I offer unconditional love and support, not ridicule. If I happen to see something not quite right, I’ll mention it. Not out of judgment but out of love. After all, Jesus told me to. Success as Christians in this world depends on honesty and support from each other. This mercy is desperately needed in times of distress and trial to nurture and replenish the energy stores to get through each week. Who else can we to turn to except each other?

My last element in the prescription for success is faith. Not the weekly climb-into-your-car and-go-to-church kind of faith but the slip-on-your-cloak-and-wear-it-every-day kind of faith. Faith is vital. It gives me strength and keeps me going in the face of all trials and tribulations. And believe me, I’ve had my share. We all have. God teaches us that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, and I’ve learned even less doubt causes an avalanche, smothering the seed-sized faith in despair. Guard your faith. Protect it from doubt and proclaim what you believe at the top of your lungs…whenever you need it and feel God’s strength and promise flow in your veins.

After many years, my prescription has yielded success in marriage, work, and family. Recently, as I said before, I contracted with Prism to publish To Soar on Eagles’ Wings. A story about a young schoolteacher and a game warden in the Snowy Range of Wyoming

Spring’s in the air. While the sun shines in Timber Springs, wet snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The preacher’s daughter decides to be shed all pretense…and change her life forever. He talks with the wisdom of the Lord but rejects the future. She wants to soar with the eagles. Can she convince him they’re worth the risk?

Here’s a small excerpt of the first chapter. I hope you like it.
The bell rang on her last class of the day. Rachel stretched in relief.
“Enjoy your Spring Break, guys. I'll see you in a week,” she called over the hustle of the room. “Don't forget to turn in your essays on Photosynthesis before you leave.”
Groans met her belated announcement, and the students scrambled through their gear. One paper after the other landed on the desk as the kids filed by her.
“Bye, Miss Fizz.” Cheerful farewells accompanied a few hugs with the start of a long week of relaxation.
Well, no rest for the weary. Rachel shuffled the cluster of papers into a pile and cleared her desk in preparation for the upcoming break.
“What are you shaking your head about, Pip?” A rough voice drifted into the room.
She jerked around, the pencils slipping from her fingers. “Michael?”
Diving for the doorway, she threw her arms around her twin. She couldn’t believe he was here, in Timber Springs…in her classroom.
His arms tightened for a few seconds, but then he pulled her hands away.
Rachel wiped at her face with shaky fingers. “Does Dad know you're in town?”
Michael clipped into the room and shook his head. He traced a square tile on the floor with his shoe. After a minute of stone silence, he lifted his head.
She’d been prepared for anguish or anger. A shiver slid up her spine at the icicles staring back at her.

The Lord has blessed me in so many ways. I credit him for all my success. And as long as I keep my eyes on Him, my faith in Him, Fellowship with Him and His, and fed by His Holy Word, I continue to call myself a success.
What makes you a success?

Thanks for letting me come to your blog today, Ada. I enjoyed it. You’re a true angel.

In Christ,

Renée Blare

From Ada:

How do you describe success?  We'd love to read your comments.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FATHER'S DAY: A Good Father is an Amazing Man Among Men

  By Ada Nicholson Brownell
 Daddy usually sat in the fourth row on the left side of the church, his thinning black hair with a tiny bald spot making him easy to identify from behind. If he clapped his huge hands singing the songs he loved, you didn’t notice because it was a reverent, subdued clap.
He served on the church board, easily approached people, but usually said few words.
Mom sat beside him, her hair the color of flames, and a personality to go with it. She taught Sunday school, served as Sunday school superintendent, and when she sang and clapped, joy flashed around her.
When he grew up, I don’t think Dad attended church much. Mom had been raised by godly parents, but the trials of life and providing for their large family took a toll on them.

Our family experienced the Great Depression and the Kansas dustbowl, but Dad always found a way to feed his children. During a severe drought, he dammed the creek and figured out how to irrigate his garden. Mom and Dad bartered some of their bounty of vegetables so my oldest brother, Virgil, could board in a nearby town and attend high school.
Dad went duck hunting one day, but had ammunition for only one shot. He waited until three ducks lined up in his sights and got all three.
One winter because they had no food to put in the cellar, Dad cut ice from the creek and stored it in the empty underground cave. When a plague of grasshoppers came through, Dad raised chickens. The chickens ate grasshoppers. He still had a cow, so all summer the family ate chicken and home made ice cream.
During those lean years during the winter the family needed fuel to heat the house and cook. A big tree stump was near their home (I wasn't born yet) and Daddy decided to blast the stump apart and use it for fuel. He know how to make home-made dynamite and when he was pounding it into the stump, it blew up. A huge long splinter went straight through his eye. He was blind in that eye the rest of his life.
Mom’s sisters lived in Colorado, so my parents decided to go West. Dad loaded a dilapidated truck that he somehow kept running, piled on a few possessions, seven children, and his wife, who was expecting me.
The local church heard a big family moved to town and  started praying for us. My brothers’ and sisters’ friends at school invited them to a little white church in Fruita, Colo. Marge was the first to go, and Mom was horrified Marge wanted to go to the “holy roller” church.
“Let her go,” Dad said. “I’ve heard they teach children to obey their parents.”
One by one the older children accepted the Lord as Savior; then Daddy did, too.
I didn’t know Daddy before he came to Jesus, but what I saw afterward was impressive. Yes, Mom became a fireball for the Lord, but Dad was equally committed. He was a man like the Apostle Paul described when he said, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6). At home, Daddy was the same strong man who attended church. When he said something, you’d better listen because he spoke with wisdom-- and what he said, he meant..
He weighed what we children asked to do, and when he said no, that was the end of it. There was no begging or bargaining.
Although he squeezed his money, he tithed faithfully. When he bought 100 pounds of sugar, he gave 10 to the pastor. He divided other blessings, too..
Despite being late to serve the Lord, he expected his children to live for God, do their best at anything they tried, and he never called us “stupid” when I, at least, occasionally was stupid.
"Don't ever go near the river," he warned. The river was pretty close to our little farm, and I didn't go near it. But when we moved to our big two-story house in town it was much further. I was older and more daring, too.
Well, I went ice skating with my friends on the river. I knew my toes had frozen because I couldn't even feel them as I walked home. I didn't say a word to anyone when I walked into the house. I put them in hot water, They turned black and swelled. Then I couldn't keep the secret because I couldn't wear my shoes. Only through a miracle, I still have feet.
In our family devotions, Mom did the reading while Dad sat on the sofa listening with us. She read Ephesians 6 often because we all could use the guidance there, and Dad took it to heart, including the command  for fathers to provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:3-5).
All eighty of us had deep respect for our parents.
Daddy worked many hard jobs to support his family, the last years delivering gasoline to farmers. But I wouldn’t be more proud of him if he were president of the United States.

©  Copyright Ada B. Brownell 2014