Mysteries

fog from ferry

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.

TX longhorn

“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.

Painting Anger

The man got into the car next to mine and shouted at his wife, “News flash! The car won’t star without the keys.” It wasn’t the words—it was the anger and hate in his voice that stunned me.

The car started, the windows rolled up, and I heard two angry voices above the engine noise. Sometimes having impaired hearing is a blessing—I couldn’t catch the words, but there was no mistaking the strident note of anger. Fear shot through me. I was afraid they were going to attack one another with deadly intent.

The car, engine revved and angry voices assaulting sound waves, nearly hit me as I walked through the grocery store parking lot. I didn’t get the license plate number. I was too busy jumping out of the way as the car ate the side of the curb and squealed around the corner.

That made me wonder; what does anger look like? How could I paint anger? I would paint this.

TX author

Yup. Me. I’ve guilty of the sin of anger. I have yelled in anger. I have even yelled at my husband in anger. My husband, author Alan T McKean, is probably the one person in the whole world who is least deserving of anger or of being yelled at. In all the years we’ve been married he has never raised his voice to me; never criticized me; never treated me spitefully or with less than respect. Before I had my spinal surgery, Alan helped me get up from the toilet, get in and out of the shower, get dressed. Yet, I have yelled at him.

Why? Why would I yell at such a priceless gift from God? As with all life’s questions, the answer is in the Bible. “No man can take the tongue. It is an unruly evil full of deadly poison…The tongue is a fire.” James 3:6&8.

I’m going into firefighting mode before the landscape of my life and marriage looks like this…

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Thistles, Statues & Vikings

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According to legend, the Scots won the last battle against invading Vikings on October 2, 1263 in Largs when invaders sneaking on shore to slaughter the sleeping Scottish army stepped on thistles and yowled in pain, alerting their victims.

True or false, thistles have been a symbol of Scotland for more than 500 years. And Largs is home to the Pencil, a 65-foot rounded stone tower constructed in 1912, as a memorial to the battle of Largs.

Largs is also home to 16-feet-tall “Magnus,” a statue presented to Largs in 2013 to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Largs.

Visiting the tourist-driven seafront village reminded me that life is full of thistles that prick us, memories that overpower us, and giants that threaten us.

Thistles in our lives can be good—no matter how sharp their prick. Thistles remind us of Romans 8:28 in the Bible, “All things work together to good to those who love the Lord.” Walking on thistles is sometimes the road to victory.

butterfly thistle

Like “Magnus,” giants come into our lives in the form of major illnesses, job loss, death of loved ones, or broken families. It is natural to cower before giants. They are huge. They are crushing. But we have the same promise today that David gave his son Solomon in 1015 BC, “Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Memories, like giants, can be crushing. But we have God’s promise in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

We have victory in treading over thistles when we put on the whole armor of God including the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. We have victory over giants when we call in reinforcement in the person and presence of God. We have victory over memories when we control them instead of allowing them to control us.

Victory or defeat. The choice is ours.

5 Viking

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Change vs Same

I hate change. I’m one of these strange individuals who will buy a new purse because the old one has worn out—and continue using the old one that’s falling apart for weeks. Or perhaps I’m just lazy.

An anonymous statement I read recently softened me toward change: without change, a caterpillar would never become a butterfly.

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I am incredibly thankful for the change in weather recently in Dunoon, Scotland. Scotland usually doesn’t get summers—just a few days that are a bit warmer. But for the past few days the sky has been blue instead of grey, the rain has quit falling, and the sun is out. It’s actually hit 80F, the warmest temperature I’ve experienced in Scotland for the past seven years. People are walking around with big smiles and sunburns.

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Change is always good when a person’s life changes for the better. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17. What could be better than a person’s life changing as the chains of addiction, anger, bitterness, and hopelessness fall off and shatter?

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To celebrate having a real summer here in Scotland, I’m going to embrace change. But I’m hanging on to my old purse.

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Iron and Clay

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“Iron does not mix with clay,” the Bible warns in Daniel 2:43, a statement that really convicted me yesterday when I heard someone I love adopt my sarcastic attitude and tone of voice about a person in my past who behaved appallingly. Just as iron does not mix with clay, neither do yesterday’s hurts and insults mix with the joy of today.

Christians simply cannot afford to nurse bitterness. It rubs off on those around them and is a terrible witness. The world hates, accuses, mocks, and ridicules those with whom it disagrees. The world doesn’t know better. The Christian does. We have a Guidebook, written by God.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21.

Personally, I need to guard my mouth and make sure that I am speaking life, because its fruit is sweet. Besides; clay and iron do not mix.

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Anthony Bourdain

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

For those who don’t know, Anthony Bourdain was an author and a TV host who dealt with food as cultural harmony, food as empathy and unity. He traveled about the world introducing us to different cultures, different ways of life, and presented our commonality as humans. We all eat, right?

I enjoyed Anthony Bourdain’s work and often saw the connection, the relationship, the profound concept behind the Lord’s invitation to His table, communion, our spiritual connection that takes place when we sit down as saints together. Anthony really helped me to value and appreciate the gift Jesus gave us in the last supper, the ritual, the significance, the way He knew that even thousands of years later His people would be partaking in a meal together in remembrance of Him. Communion is so much more than “a meal,”  and bread is not just “bread,” but I do so love how those common symbols…

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