Sacrifice of Love

Luke's Bible

Love this Christian song, “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.” Believe me—reading the words are far more enjoyable than listening to me sing them.

Having a puppy in the house again after so many years reminds me of having a baby: the same lack of sleep, the same getting up incredibly early, potty training, picking up after, vigilant for potential dangers inside and out. It’s exhausting.

It’s also fun. While our rough collie puppy Savannah has brought an increased workload into the house, she has also brought increased joy and laughter. Love is worth the sacrifice—and love always demands sacrifice.

Media in the physical world likes to portray love free from danger, sacrifice, and commitment.  “Free” love doesn’t exist.

The greatest love story of all time epitomizes the foundation of love, a foundation that never shifts regardless of how society shoves and beats against it in an effort to bully it into their agenda.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for friends.” Jesus. (John 15:13)

Love is beautiful. Everyone needs love. Everyone wants love. Not everyone is willing to sacrifice for love.

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Always Adventure

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Nothing and no one ever replaces a friend or family member who transfers their address from Earth to Heaven. We didn’t want another rough collie to replace Angel Joy—there is no replacement for her—but we did want another collie.

Our choice was a rescue collie. There were none. So we looked for collie puppies, which were scarce.

We knew God had selected the right puppy for us when we visited her in Edinburgh, held her, and told her she was Savannah. When we left, I said, “Savannah,” and out of all the puppies—she was the only one to look up.

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Collecting her meant a ferry ride in such high winds and wild sea that they brought in big-boy ferry. That meant climbing up two flights of wet metal steps to get to the deck. It also meant getting soaked from the thrashing rain-snow mix. After disembarking, it meant taking a bus to Edinburgh. We wound up with a bus driver who was apparently adverse to windshield wipers. By the time he finally found the switch for the wipers, the windshield was so fogged up that the view was still obscured. The race-car-want-to-be driver had two mottos: never leave a vehicle unpassed, and test the brakes often.

We should have expected to get lost. Alan and I are directionally challenged. We got off the bus in plenty of time to meet the sweet lady who was going to take us to get our Savannah. Alan picked out that name and we both love it. To save money, we decided to walk the short distance from the bus stop to the park-and-ride instead of taking the tram. Rather than following the tram man’s directions, we followed the signs. We turned one street too soon and had to follow it to the end, back up again, then around the other side until we finally found the park-and-ride—which was huge. We had to walk to the back of the parking lot to get to the tram terminal. We got a lot of exercise. A. Lot.

Then we waited and Sweet Lady never came. We were getting desperate when she finally showed up. She wasn’t late. She wasn’t in the wrong place—we were.

After we put Savannah in the box for the trip home, Sweet Lady dropped us off at the tram terminal. Tickets come from boxes on stands. But we didn’t know how to get the tickets, so we watched trams passing us on both sides while we stood beside the tracks fiddling with said box on stand.

alan taking pic of Savannah

Once we finally got on the tram, we got off one stop too soon. That meant repeating the whole process while carrying puppy-in-a-box. When the tram dropped us off at the train, we discovered it ended at the wrong train station in Glasgow. That meant carrying puppy-in-a-box several blocks and down several streets to get to the right train station. Did I mention that we got a lot of exercise? A. Lot. Being on the right train was not the end of our adventure. We still had to catch the ferry back across the water, then carry poor-puppy-in-a-box in the car to our house. By the time we got home it was 8:30 p.m. We left home at 7:30 a.m., and hadn’t eaten since 11 a.m.

We didn’t notice until we were almost home with her that one of Savannah’s eyes is blue!

Lesson learned from this adventure: God cares about the little things in our lives that make us happy. Psalm 68:6 says that “God sets the solitary in families.” He did that, both for us, and for Savannah.

Savannah at home

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Loving Rocks

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I love rocks.

I’ve loved rocks since I was a toddler. This I know because one of my earliest memories is my mother’s command to put the rocks down and quit carrying them around before I drop them on my toes. Which I did. But silently, no matter how much it hurt, because Mom also said, “Don’t come crying to me when you drop that rock on your toes.”

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Scotland is intriguing for rock lovers, with amazing rock walls which date back to the 17th century. They were built by hand without masonry cement, without modern tools, and on every landscape gradient. They were built with rocks gathered from the fields, not quarried or cut. Hundreds of years later, they stand.

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I’d like my life to be like a Scottish rock wall and leave something enduring behind. But nothing I accomplish will cleave to history with the tenacity and durability of Scottish dry stone walls.

When my temporary life on earth ends, I will join the Rock of Ages in Heaven. “The LORD is my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength in whom I will trust…I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised.” 2 Samuel 22:47.

Jesus, the Rock of eternity, the whisper of the next breath.

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Riches in Waiting

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Yesterday was a wild day, mostly spent on two different buses or at the bus station in between buses as we traveled from Dunoon to Glasgow, from Glasgow to Edinburgh, and then made the return journey.

First the purple, a deep vibrant purple more intense than a lavender field. A woman at the bus station was wearing it. She was tall and it reached from her neck down to her purple boots, so there was a lot of it. And her hair was purple—except where dark roots nudged through the head bouquet. The purple woman has absolutely nothing to do with this blog, except that some things once seen can’t be unseen and when I close my eyes, the inside of my eyelids are swathed in purple.

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Then the revolving glass door. I ran into it. Twice. The first time I almost panicked because the people in the other two sections of the glass door had a way out, but I was in the middle of a glass tunnel with no escape route. That just reaffirmed what I already knew: I am not and will never be a “city” person. I belong in the country with birds, wildlife, trees, grass, wildflowers—even purple ones.

Finally, we arrived at our destination, after a short ride scrunched into the backseat of a car so tightly that no one could even fasten their seatbelt. And we met Savannah. We picked up the tiny merle rough collie puppy and told her we would be her new parents soon and that her name was Savannah. When we left, I called, “Savannah,” and out of the mix of swirling, climbing collie puppies, she was the only one who looked up. She looked up at us and watched us until we were out of sight. Some things are worth waiting for, worth an all-day bus ride, worth getting trapped inside revolving glass doors, worth purple on the inside of the eyelids. Savannah is one of those things.

“Those who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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Blogging Valentine’s Day Style

I love you concrete not strong as God

I admire “River Girl” bestselling author Valerie Poore who faithfully pens a blog a week no matter how difficult and chaotic her life is—thanks for the inspiration, Val.

My writerly goal is to pen a blog a week. Once a week is perfect. When blogs come through one or more a day, they pile up in my email until I have time to read them.

A blog a week hasn’t happened this year. Excuses I can find: medical issues; burnout after writing six books last year; heartbrokenness, heartsickness and disbelief at the U.S. allowing abortion up to birth; fatigue from unending grey skies, rain, and cold temperatures here—laziness. Excuses aside, the truth is…that I’ve run out of ideas.

Not so for Valentine’s Day. It’s already been written for me. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13. Jesus willingly dying for our sins so we can go to Heaven is the greatest love story ever written. No book written by human hands can match it.

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I love my son Luke who has changed his address from earth to heaven. I love my granddaughter Dulcinea. I love my husband. I love many friends and family members. But my love can never match the unequalled love of Jesus who loves all of us enough to have suffered the death we deserve and called us to follow Him to Heaven.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, all of y’all. Y’all need Jesus.

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Attacking Livelihoods

Insanity Bites is so right. Been there. Totally in the mix. She really should run for President.

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

clear glass ball on brown sands Photo by Nuno Campos on Pexels.com

I need to vent some frustration here, to lament the state of my neck of the woods because it’s aggravating and it all makes people’s lives so much harder.

So a livelihood is simply, “a means of securing the necessities of life.” We want to enable people to have the means to provide for themselves because it’s good for individuals and the community at large. People who have jobs and own small businesses are invested in their communities. They care about things, like the well-being of their customers, like safe roads, like property values, like their future labor force.

Why this state insists on constantly trying to tear people down and make life impossible is a great mystery. Not long ago some brilliant soul decided, you know what we need? To regulate taxi cab drivers right out of existence. Before that it was waitresses…

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Worth the Fight

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My newest book, “Pirate Hole Murders,” should have been out two weeks ago. Wait. Wait. I hate waiting. Most people do.

Finally the imminent release day…more waiting. Because I had shared five Facebook posts with strong language about New York’s evil abortion law allowing abortion up until birth, I got locked out of Facebook. Facebook supports liberal agenda and is hostile toward conservative and Christian values. Google too, which is why I use Yahoo as much as possible. Google worked the lockout with Facebook, and all but the most recent emails disappeared.

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The impasse lasted nearly two days, and because of the difficulty of retrieving cover art from the missing emails publication of “Pirate Hole Murders” was further delayed. But when it was released, it made it to #15 on Amazon’s UK site immediately.

Some things are worth fighting regardless of the consequences. Abortion is one of them. I am honored to have been singled out for my stand against abortion. And had my Facebook and email accounts remained locked, “Pirate Hole Murders” would still have been released in spite of additional waiting because it had prayer support. Ultimately, God is in control. He is from everlasting to everlasting and is immune to time.

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God creates us. God hates murder. Psalm 139:13 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” No one—no sex, no religion, no culture, no one—has the right to murder the humans God creates in the womb where they are the most defenseless and deserve the most protection.

When the lockout of Facebook was lifted, the first thing I shared was another post against the evil of the new NY law. Some things are worth the fight.

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Don’t Ask…

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When you see a grown woman at a bus stop undressing and dressing a Barbie doll repeatedly while she waits for the bus –don’t ask.

When you pack your bag for your trip and put one cold Diet Coke in it and get to your destination to find three Diet Cokes – don’t ask. Just say, “Praise Jesus! Thank You, Lord.”

When you watch out the back window of your house and see a distant vehicle on a distant hill stop while two stick figures disappear into the heather between two boulders with a stick figure something and eventually return without it—don’t go looking for the hidden trail up the mountain to discover what just happened. It might be nothing. It might be something. Let your imagination fill in the blanks. If anyone else is looking out their back window—you are a mere stick figure to them.

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The world is full of mysteries, and some are given to us to know and understand. How a dried up brown seed sprouts into a tall green plant. Or a tree. How a wrinkled crawly caterpillar turns into a colorful butterfly and soars.

Jesus said in Matthew 13:11 that His followers had been given the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.  1 Corinthians 13:2 warns that if we understand all mysteries and knowledge and do not love others—we are worthless. There are at least seven other verses in the Bible proclaiming God’s ownership of mysteries. Perhaps that’s why I love writing mysteries so much.

But I’m still not going to climb that hill.

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Happy 2019

Slipping in here a few days late to wish everyone a Happy, Joyful, God-Blessed New Year.

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So many people make New Year’s Resolutions, and that’s a good thing. Keeping them is especially good. Yes, I would like to exercise more this year and lose more weight, but that’s always my goal. Now that it’s been a year since my back surgery, I’m cleared to start running again.

As a writer, I can’t ignore that part of my life when planning for a new year. I wrote six books last year and I honestly don’t intend to write that many this year. The new series takes a lot of research which translates into a lot of time. I’m hoping to have the third “Fog Busters, Old Bones Detectives” out sometime in January.

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As a writer and as a person, the most important goals I can set for 2019, or any year, are found in the Bible, specifically in Philippians, Chapter 3: That I may know God and His power; That I may press on; That I may forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead, that I may press toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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That about sums up my 2019 goals. As an author, my inspiration comes from God.

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Whoever you are and wherever you are reading this, may God light your new year with beauty, bounty, and joy. Happy New Year!

sunflowers and butterfly laredo december 

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What I’ve Missed Most

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Spending time in the U.S. again, both in Florida and now in Texas, gives me a new foundation for making comparisons between Scotland—where I’ve spent the past seven years—and America. What I’ve missed most…

Family.

A plethora of churches, every denomination and non-denomination; plenty of “God Bless America” banners, and “Merry Christmas.”

Blue Cheese Dressing. For seven years, salads have never tasted this good.

Buffets. All you can eat from a colossal assortment of restaurants.

Free refills. On beverages at restaurants, along with wait staff who return several times, always with smiles and offers to top up iced tea, coffee, or sodas.

fruit tree TX

Outdoor Christmas decorations replete with Nativity Scenes and awash with colored lights on houses, trees and along yard borders.

Sun and warm weather. Wearing shorts and a T-shirt in December.

Steak. Huge, affordable, tender steaks.

Houses of different colors. Here in Laredo, Texas, houses follow the rainbow. Outside colors include lilac, pink, turquoise, blue, purple, yellow, orange, magenta, lime green, red-brown, gold, Jesus Is Alive Green…house colors are only limited by the owner’s imagination and preference.

Cactus. Of all shapes and types—growing in yards and rock flowerbeds.

Wildlife. Including reptiles like turtles, snakes, and lizards.

Family. I’ve missed family most. Blue Cheese Dressing isn’t even in the running…really.

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