Miracle Flea

Les with kids

My sister, internationally bestselling author Leslie Garcia, has been slowly going blind for more than a year while she worked on organizing her insurance, help at home, and an eye surgeon so she could have cataracts removed from both eyes. She was basically totally blind in her left eye and had such limited sight in her right eye that she had a hard time discerning whether a large object was a horse, a car, or a semi-truck. She gave up driving. Sometimes when she put up groceries, things that should have gone into the refrigerator wound up in the kitchen cupboard with napkins and potato chips.

Finally, she had surgery on her left eye. And saw a flea. It was a miracle. For a person too blind to tell a horse from a truck, being able to see a flea again was a miracle.

That’s how we are with God sometimes. We want the big stuff. We forget flea-sized miracles. Every breath we take is a miracle. Every step we take is a miracle. Waking up to a new day is a miracle. But we get so focused on watching out for horses, semi-trucks, and cars—that we miss the fleas.

“In everything give thanks,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Don’t forget the fleas.

th

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Butterflies and Changes

05_16_19_aac8614ec76cce583b055e6b3834d6d4

Yeah, I get it. Without changes, there would be no butterflies. But I strongly disagree with Robin Sharma who said, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and glorious at the end.”

My comics are gone and that’s a change and that is not glorious – it’s disappointing.

First thing every morning I add my four favorite comics to my breakfast bar and Diet Coke to get the day off with a smile and a chuckle. Sometimes even a belly laugh. First the comics disappeared off Yahoo. Change. Not good. Then I found another site with my favorites. Now it’s news. Change. Not good. Regardless of whether the news on the site is real or fake, I miss my smiles, chuckles, and belly laughs.

04_25_19_56a6d413a01e32faacd50b5ee2572580

To get myself in a better frame of mind, I’ve read inspirational quotes about change. Nido Qubein said, “Change brings opportunity.” Good for him. But I wonder if he had to put two pairs of glasses on to read his witticism. Change. Not good.

For a writer, some changes are great. No more hammering out books on typewriters with stiff keys committed to catching fingers between the pads. Instant communication with editors, etc. Being able to change stories and move sentences and characters around without ripping pages out of the carriage and throwing them on the floor.

But vanishing comics? That’s a change too far.

sunflowers and butterfly laredo december

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

When Bodies Fall From Planes

536469_325492654189580_99719090_n

It was a tragedy and a shock when a body fell out of a plane and into a garden as a plane was landing in London. It must have traumatized the homeowner and neighbors, and how tragic for the stowaway and his family.

Life is like that sometimes: pianos fall out of the sky; bodies fall out of planes; joggers get killed by bears; hikers fall off mountains; doctors come back with a cancer diagnosis—the world wakes up to hear that a terrorist attack brought down the Twin Towers in New York City. The unexpected happens.

We laugh at superstitious people refusing to leave their beds on Friday the 13th—but sometimes that seems temping regardless of the day or date. Perhaps that’s because I’m getting older and need two pairs of glasses at the same time to read small print.

Yet…God is in control.

I think I would stay in bed and isolate myself from the world were it not for what Jesus said in Matthew 10:29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin, and not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”

God is in control. He knows. He understands.

The unexpected can be joyous. My son Luke finished a marathon in New York. A sparrow flew down to his shoulder panting. Luke shared water from his water bottle with it and after a few minutes the little bird regained its strength and courage to fly again.

When we let go of the unexpected and let God handle it—we can regain our strength and courage.

God is in control.

DSCF5680

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

It’s the Little Things

DSCF5676

People celebrate big events in life; the acquisition of a new car or a new home, a pay raise, a vacation. But it’s the small things in life that count.

Feeling your nose starting to run and reaching into your pocket—and yes! You have a tissue.

Taking a photo of something unique or important that you will never see again—and the picture turns out.

Dropping a lid on the floor and it lands the right way up.

Getting an unexpected extra hour of sleep in the morning and not being late for anything.

Having a flurry of soap bubbles rush up from the sink when you wash dishes.

Finding the keys in the first coat pocket you search.

Discovering a beautiful flower blooming in a rock wall and knowing that—with God’s help—you can overcome your problems.

New homes age, new vehicles get dents, pay raises are spent, vacations end. But I always smile when the lid lands the right way on the floor, or when brightly colored soap bubbles burst into the air when I’m washing dishes.

Little things. It’s the little things in life that count.

hard places

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

God Returns

rock

I was at a “hole-in-the-wall” bank getting money out when I spotted a homeless person. I thought to myself, “I have a little bit of change I can give him.” The Lord said, “Give him a ten.”

So instead of getting out the 40 I had planned, I got out 50, and walked over and gave him the 10, then went into the store. Let me explain that I never, absolutely never put loose money in my pockets because I carry so many other things in them: camera, doggie bags, tissues, keys, billfold, glasses case. So I never stick money in my pockets in case I accidentally pull it out and lose it when I’m getting something else.

I got into the store and couldn’t find my customer card, so I reached my hand into my pocket and pulled out a 10.

When I was in Texas at a book signing the Lord told me to bless two different people at two different times by giving each of them $100, so I did. Just before I boarded the plane for my flight back to Scotland I was handed two separate cards which I opened on the plane. Each one contained $100. It’s impossible to out give God.

“Do not be deceived. God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7.

I am no one and nothing special. God has no favorites. He put laws into the universe and His laws are unchanging. People attempt to amend morals and convictions for society and some believe in their power to accomplish that.

But God never moves.

sunflowers and butterfly laredo december

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Punks, Partisan Pastors, and Politics

As always, InsanityBytes gets it right, so I am sharing the blog: “We aren’t here to give glory to the masses, seeking the favor of people, we are here to give glory to God.”

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

For those blessed to be living on the side of a rock in a beautiful lighthouse far, far from people, Sunday Franklin Graham called for a day of prayer for President Trump. Needless to say this set off a bit of a firestorm, a bright orange firestorm with a bad comb over. To stoke the fires and fuel the controversy a bit more, President Trump visited McClean Bible Church, where Pastor David Platt then prayed for the president on stage.

So now Franklin Graham is in big trouble from the masses, as is David Platt. Not sure we really need the “m” on that word “masses,” but whatever.

It’s really a non story, as in we always pray for our leaders. If you don’t like your leaders, you pray twice as hard for them. Like, “Lord, bless this fool with some wisdom.” Bit tongue and cheek there, but it’s true…

View original post 458 more words

Stubbornness

savannah 2

God has blessed us with a lovely, intelligent rough collie puppy. She has only one flaw—stubbornness. When she doesn’t want to go the way we are going it evolves into a tugging match and ends up with me dragging her.

It seems cruel to drag a puppy across the street or down the sidewalk—but when the light changes and cars are coming from both directions, or when there are workers ahead with dangerous equipment—dragging is a kindness that saves her life.

Stubbornness is an admirable trait in a writer. With 150 rejection slips from publishing companies in the U.S. and U.K.—I kept writing. With 40 years of disappointments and agony, I kept hitting the keys. My new Christian Cozy Mystery “Croft Murders,” featuring Mike the Headless rooster, Fiona the pouting rooster, and croft owner Nora whom someone wants to kill would not have been published without stubbornness.

CroftMurders_CVR_SML

Nor would I be working on another book after the first review on “Croft Murders” was a three-star from a reader who said I didn’t know enough about Texas. I was born there and moved from Texas to Scotland eight years ago. Texas is indeed “a whole ‘nother country” with every climate and eco system imaginable. The tornado stricken, flat, snowy panhandle; the lovely Texas Hill Country with its plethora of wildlife; the nearly desert environs along the Mexico border; the east Texas piney woods and oil wells, and the west Texas mountains and Big Bend State Park. The reviewer apparently didn’t know much about home of my heart, the Texas Hill Country, because everything I mentioned about Texas in “Croft Murders” reflected a true experience.

me pccs rope best

Savannah and I have worked out a compromise. As long as she’s in no physical danger, and as long as it’s not extremely important to go to any one particular place—I put the leash on her and follow her. Now before anyone reaches the conclusion that I’m a coward, or have never trained a dog before, I would just like to justify that compromise by pointing to…writing. Yup, all of y’all, writing.

The characters in my books come alive and take over the plot and action. Without dropping a spoiler about “Croft Murders,” before the characters took over, I planned a completely different outcome for Nora. Therefore, I can justify my decision to “go with the flow” where Savannah is concerned. I’m used to being dragged around.

prickly pear bloom heart

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

It’s Not the Bombs

Blog destruction

When I was a kid, a siren would sound and we would scramble under our desks to protect ourselves from bombs. I did what I was told. I had no idea what a bomb was or what destruction it would cause. I know about destruction now – and it’s not from bombs.

When I was a kid, our parents would send us out into the yard to dig bomb shelters in the Georgia red clay banks surrounding our house. They weren’t really worried about bombs – they just wanted to keep us occupied. But I know about destruction now – and it’s not from bombs.

Addiction costs the US an estimated $559 billion a year, with $193 billion of that being from alcohol. It costs the UK an estimated 21 billion pounds a year, with 100 billion of that being from alcohol.

But the real cost of addiction is hidden: shattered families, abused and neglected children, abused and dumped pets, vehicle crashes, murder. An alcoholic with a long string of previous arrests shot my brother Greg to death when Greg was 21. (Greg with our pet lion, Eb.)

GregEb (2)

 An alcoholic who already had two DUIs crashed into our truck, totaled it, and caused permanent spinal damage to my cancer-suffering husband. A drug addict ran up so much debt against my property that I lost it. All these incidents dropped off the string of statistic-takers’ figures: hidden costs of addiction that cause lifelong hurt and torment for overlooked victims.

The solution is simple. Learn and accept these truths from the Bible and teach them to our children: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians)

Would you stick a cigarette into Jesus’ mouth? Would you hand him a beer or pills to pop? If you are wise enough to realize that God would be offended by these things – keep garbage out of your own mouth and set that example for your children. It’s not the bombs that destroy our lives. It’s the addictions.

blog destruction swingset

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Epiphanies

tree for blog on hardship

Epiphanies can happen anywhere, which is why the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines them as “sudden” striking understandings of something. My newest epiphany hit when I noted a towering tree with scared bark as I walked our dog. Irregularities made the tree unique, beautiful and strong.

God did not send storms to shake the roots of that tree and to twist and mar the bark, but He allowed the storms to mold the tree into perfection and beauty. So, too, with our lives. God doesn’t make bad things happen to us. But because this is a sin-sick world, bad things happen.

CroftMurders_CVR_SML

Fleeing sexual and physical abuse at home, I ran away and lived under a bridge in the Texas Hill Country, painting signs for meals. I never went hungry. When flash floods came, I had to drive my pickup truck out from under the bridge and live in it on a back street. Those early hardships molded my life as a writer. I will be releasing book number 23, a Christian Cozy Mystery-Romance this week. God’s word never fails, is never wrong. God uses the worst part of our lives to build the best. “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” Romans 8:28

home under bridge

No shakes, twists, mars, or scars are wasted in God’s perfect purpose for our lives.

aspin tree & purple

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

You CAN Go Home Again

bandera horse statue

Thomas Wolfe was wrong – you CAN go home again – if “home” is Bandera, Texas, “Cowboy Capital of the World.” The hard part is getting there.

Take the couple on the plane next to me with the sanitary wipes. So diligent were they at wiping down everything around them that I thought, “If they know I let dogs kiss me on the face – they’ll spray me with something.”

Airport signs. The one for my gate pointed straight up. “Heaven?” I wondered. “I would love to see Luke again.”

Picking up my bag in Newark to go through customs and recheck it, I followed the signs to the elevator, but a live person turned me away at the top and sent me back down, over two elevators, and up a different elevator. That led to “Priority” whatever, and the workers standing behind desks doing absolutely nothing gave me a major eye roll. I’ll have to remember that when I’m writing my next book. People really do roll their eyes.

horses and wagon main street

A lovely friend whom I hadn’t seen in 42 years met me at the San Antonio Airport. I was afraid we wouldn’t recognize each other, but we did. The only problem…she couldn’t find her car. Perfect! I’m not the only directionally challenged person in the world!

bandera welcome sign

Once in Bandera I felt like I had never left. After having been gone for nine years, folks said, “Hey, nice to see you. I haven’t seen you in a while. What ‘ya been up to?” No clue I had been gone.

texas hill country gate and view

Main Street seemed cleaner and wider. There were new buildings. Some old ones were gone. Hair was a bit whiter on some heads and some folks walked with a cane. But the Bandera spirit of friendliness and welcome remained changed.

prickly pear bloom and bite out

Everywhere I went in Bandera, folks talked openly about God. They prayed before meals and included the U.S. and the President in those prayers. Never heard a word of profanity while I was there. Home.

deer calm

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1