Rainbows and Tears

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Most people love God’s colorful writing in the sky when rainbows stretch across the horizon touching the earth with ribbons of pigment. But most people sigh, grumble, and fume over clouds and rain—predecessors to vividly tinted sky.

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Just as one really can’t make lemonade without lemons—so, too, one can’t have rainbows without rain.

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Life is like that. Poverty, illness, injury, sorrow, death—life is filled with lemons and storms. No one likes hardship and pain. Yet, hardship and pain grow, strengthen, and develop us for success.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:3&4

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By Example

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Husband and fellow author Alan McKean and I strolled around the neighborhood. A neighborhood child ran up and asked, “What’s wrong with him?”

“What do you mean?” I asked her.

She pointed at Alan. “What’s wrong with him?” she asked again. “You’re holding his hand.”

How utterly sad that this child has apparently never seen a demonstration of love and thinks people only hold hands when they need help.

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Recently, I laughed at a video of a kitten watching its mother wash herself and attempting to imitate her actions. Even animals learn by example.

Children learn more from example than words. Research for my next Christian Cozy Mystery with the Fog Busters—amateur detectives young at heart and a bit older in body—took me to Peter Macnab’s “Tall Tales From an Island,” Mull in Scotland. It introduced me to pirate Alan na Sop who was viciously abused by his stepfather. He ran away from home, turned to piracy, and eventually returned home to be welcomed by his stepfather. When Alan realized his stepfather’s belated expression of affection was deceitful—aimed at cajoling him into killing a childhood friend so the stepfather could take over his friend’s property—Alan killed his stepfather and took over his family’s land. How much of the violence and robbery he committed after leaving home was a direct result of the example his stepfather had set for him?

Jesus said in John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” What did Jesus do? He loved us so completely and unconditionally that He died for our sins so we could follow Him to heaven. He told us that we were to love others as He loves us.

Love is always the right example.

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Joy, Real Joy

 

Dunoon, Scotland sponsored a great event this past weekend, the Cowal Highland Gathering. Tens of thousands attended to watch and participate in the dancing and pipe and drum band competitions. The event wrapped up with a parade down the main street in Dunoon and fireworks at Argyll Ferries.

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The event is so popular that Western Ferries operated a four-boat service with around 550 sailings over a five-day period, and Argyll Ferries operated a three-vessel service during the games on Saturday. It was fun. It was wonderful to see families celebrating together and neighbors greeting one another. I loved watching the dogs that attended the event, so proud to be there with their families.

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It was great fun—but not all of it was joy. Sadly, we watched a teen stumble up the steps to the main street, marijuana joint in hand, pausing to pass it around to his buddies. The kid was so wiped out that he couldn’t walk—he could barely stand. That is not joy.

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Psalm 16:11 says that the fullness of joy is found in the presence of the Lord. Jesus said that the secret of full joy is found in living for Him. The games were fun and entertaining, but those of us who met at New Life Christian Fellowship on Sunday after the games experienced real, lasting joy; joy so full and overflowing that we took it home with us.

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The Change Rose

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Another name for hydrangeas is “change roses.” Hydrangeas are small bushes in the southern U.S. where I grew up. In Scotland with all the rain, they can grow into small trees.

Size is not what earned hydrangeas they nickname “change roses.” They range in color from white, to blue, to light purple, to dark purple, to pink, to red. White hydrangeas lack color pigment and can’t be manipulated to change their colors. The color of other hydrangeas depends on the presence of aluminum ions in the soil and how the plant absorbs them according to the acidity of the soil.

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We are like hydrangeas. What surrounds us that we see, hear, and read changes the focus of our hearts and the direction of our thoughts. Immerse ourselves in negativity, profanity, and impure thoughts and we become soiled like a white garment before flood waters. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

 

IMG_3886The good news about being change roses is that we control the change. We have freedom to decide what we allow to enter through our ears and eyes and what we allow to come out of our mouths. Hydrangeas are static and have no choice but to absorb the soil around their roots and bloom accordingly. We can change our soil by moving: getting up to turn off the TV; refusing to allow negative or toxic people to rent space in our minds; turning a polluted conversation into a clean conversation, going for a walk to remove ourselves from human contamination.

My goal as an author and as a Christian is to keep the soil around my roots pure and bloom for the Lord.

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Ask for prayer? Go to jail. New wackiness for the U.S. Air Force

From Mustard Seed…as much as I miss my son, the late Major Luke Gaines Parker, I am thankful he’s home with the Lord and out of this insanity.

Mustard Seed Budget

Teichert attacked for Christian faith John Teichert

Attorney Michael Weinstein, who “trolls” open Christians on military bases, is now attacking Brigadier General John Teichert, newly installed wing commander at Edwards Air Force Base, because his personal website calls for Christians to pray at lunchtime for the United States.

Weinstein called for a military investigation of the “disgraceful, illegal and brazen promotion of (Treichert’s) personal flavor of his weaponized version of Christianity.”

Weinstein is the leader of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which contrary to what the name suggests suppresses — not defends — religious freedom. Weinstein’s complaint to Defense Secretary James Mattis supposedly represents 41 airmen from Edward’s Air Force Base in California.

michael weinstein military religious freedom foundation Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation

“General Teichert should be doing time behind prison bars, not commanding a Wing wearing a general’s stars,” Weinstein said, as reported on Fox News. Treichert is a “fundamentalist Christian tyrant and religious extremist predator,”…

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Mysteries

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I love mysteries. When I was a child, I read every Erle Stanley Gardner “Perry Mason,” and “Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine” I could find.

Recently I purchased a kindle book with an intriguing title, only to be disappointed that it wasn’t a mystery. I finished reading it and left a review for the author, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy mysteries.

So much of life is mysterious, especially in our human relationship with God. I’ve often asked God, “How do you do it? How do you give me ideas for books and help me write them?” Some might mistakenly claim that I labor under false humility. I don’t. God writes; I type. I have 19 published books.

My hope is that readers will enjoy “The Fog Busters—Old Bones Detectives.” Alec is nearly blind, John and Peg are nearly deaf, Morag is on a crutch, and the two youngest members of the amateur detective agency—Rory and Susan—are 60. The clean-reading, Christian cozy mystery is intended to entertain older readers, but the gentle humor should entertain readers of any age.

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When the Lord gave me the idea for the new mystery series two years ago, I made excuses for not writing them. I told God that I couldn’t write older Scottish characters because, having grown up in Texas, I wouldn’t understand Scottish-born people well enough to write convincingly. When I quit making excuses and started writing, the Lord took over.

“Black Pudding Murder” will be released soon. It’s been fun to write, but the real mystery isn’t in the book…it’s in how the Lord got involved to make it happen.

Jesus told His disciples, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.”  I guess even God is into mysteries.

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God Fixes Everything…

This is a great blog. On the strength of her other common-sense, God-dependent blogs…I’ve told her she should run for President.

See, there's this thing called biology...

“God fixes everything” is kind of a child-like phrase, but there is truth there. I think I become about six years old in faith sometimes, which is fine, which is a vast improvement over being a two year old. Two yr olds tend to just throw themselves on the floor kicking and screaming when their world falls apart.

Several years back I was working in healthcare and just became completely overwhelmed by this kind of unholy confluence between Obamacare, opioids, and addiction. I was watching us make people sicker. Kill them, even. People needed the Lord, they needed soul care, they needed love, and they were turning to Western medicine instead. So if your life has become unmanageable, we got a pill for that.

Opioids are kind of interesting, some people do quite well with them, they manage pain, they work as they are intended, but others become addicted quite…

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Hero Plant

After I took a photo of bright, cheerfully beautiful flowers—I met my hero plant. Here in the UK, rosebay willowherb gained the nickname of “bombweed” following World War II because it sent drifts of bright blooms and foliage over the scarred earth of bombed sites.

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Rosebay willowherb is a pioneer plant. It colonizes disturbed ground and even grows over oil spills. Besides establishing new vegetation in deprived, underprivileged ground, rosebay willowherb is utilized to make natural cordage and clothing. Its roots, shoots, leaves, and flowers are edible, used in candies, jellies, and even ice cream. The stems are applied to heal cuts and pull pus out of boils. It also provides nectar and pollen for bees and other insects.

This hero plant has another beneficial use; it spreads scenic beauty across the land. Its generous, flowing waves of bright color brighten the landscape.

Christians need to embrace the characteristics of rosebay willowherb. We need to colonize disturbed spiritual and physical ground and cover ugliness with Christ’s beauty. We need to exude loveliness like our Creator. We need to be a useful part of God’s kingdom. And we need to give freely, just as these beautiful flowers spread their joy generously.

“You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men.” 2 Corinthians 3:2. We need to become Bibles with feet.

God gave us a written example in His Word, and a physical example in a hero plant known as fireweed, bombweed, rosebay willowherb, or to me—hero plant.

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Chasing Butterflies

Husband Alan McKean (Time Travel writer https://www.amazon.com/Alan-T.-McKean/e/B00BR1PM5Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1532243381&sr=1-2-ent) and I took a Saturday drive looking for new photos. One place was especially beautiful; it was a flat, uninspiring stretch of gravel road with weeds on one side and exposed rocks at low tide on the other…but it had butterflies.

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Blackberry vines bloomed, shouldered by ranks of pert yellow and white wildflowers, and even some clumps of purple. Lovely white cabbage butterflies settled over the wild foliage like falling clouds. I wanted a picture.

My exercise for the day came from following those lively butterflies up and down the road in an attempt to get a picture. They were shy and easily startled by motion—which I suppose is wise for an insect that small. Long story short…I did not get a picture of the white butterflies.

That failure reminded me of all the white butterflies I’ve chased in my lifetime in the form of wrong relationships, wrong desires, wrong career choices, and wrong lifestyles. I am so thankful to God for the ones I never caught. Looking back, I can see the dangerous places I would have tread to catch a butterfly. God is too good to be cruel, too wise to make mistakes.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for all the butterflies I never caught either on camera or in my hand.

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“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to all; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to hear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.

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Risks and Rewards

Bandera, Texas rancher Maudeen Marks took risks. She was a single, never married cattle rancher. No, correct that quickly because Maudeen did not ranch cattle—she ranched Texas Longhorns.

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“I never married,” she told me, “because World War II started and all the strong men left to fight the war and never came home. It would take a strong man to handle being married to me.”

Strong man, because she was a risk taker. She continued her father’s legacy of raising pure longhorn cattle after her daddy died. She bought a ranch in the Texas Hill Country and turned it into a dude ranch. Guests were welcome—but they had to mingle with Maudeen’s iconic Texas Longhorn Cattle. Maudeen’s longhorns were recognized as the standard for breed purity. They were also her pets. It was amazing to see the petite rancher wander into a sea of imposing horns and disappear behind them as she hand fed treats to her cattle and scratched their heads.

Maudeen led trail rides well into her eighties. Her risk-taking garnered her rewards: being honored as Woman of the Year, being selected as parade marshal, being inducted into the Bandera County Museum as the woman who put the mark in remarkable.

A may come before R in the dictionary, but risk comes before award in life.

My new Christian cozy mystery-romance-suspense was inspired by Maudeen who would have loved to buy the State of Texas, fill it with longhorns and Texas Rangers, and hold nightly dances from windmill to windmill. She never experienced the joy of marriage and having children in this life, but she is dancing with Jesus in Heaven now and celebrating her eternal reward.