It’s Not the Bombs

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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.)

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 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.

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Epiphanies

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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.

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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

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

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You CAN Go Home Again

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Gifts

We have just celebrated Resurrection Sunday. The best gift ever given in the world is the gift of God’s Son Jesus Who came to earth to die in our place so our sins could be forgiven and we could spend eternity with Him.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends.” Then He died for us.

No gift in the world will ever top that gift. But the gift from my daughter-in-law today is a priceless treasure. My son Luke (USMC Major Luke Parker) was promoted to Heaven on November 27, 2013, following a plane crash. Delight sent me a video of Luke playing the piano and entertaining their daughter, who is now an award-winning dancer.

Thank you, Delight.

And thank you, God, for the gift of my son Luke, even though I didn’t get to keep him long enough.

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Opioids and the Affordable Care Act….

She is right: inightful and gut-twisting, “More people have now died from drug overdoses in just one year than were lost in the entirety of the Vietnam War. So, so many deaths, collateral damage from this broken system.”

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

person holding sunflower Photo by wendel moretti on Pexels.com

I really struggled when we started talking about passing the Affordable Care Act. I actually read the whole thing, all 700 pages. Now you know why I am quite crazy, I have never recovered from inflicting that document on myself. Our congresscritters were far wiser, most of them refused to even read it.

I wrote a lot of letters, I went to town hall meetings, I tried to reason with people. Perhaps it was just common sense or a prophetic eye, but I knew the issues, the cause and effect was going to be just devastating for so many people. And here in the midst of my little blue dot, all of my concerns just fell on deaf ears, in fact I was kind of dismissed as a hater of the poor.

I remember standing up at one meeting and saying, “but I am…

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How Does God Do That?

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Sometimes when I’m extremely tired and have life bullets zinging off me in a crazy pattern that doesn’t seem to make sense I have to dig deep into my store of faith to keep believing in God. I spent the first 20-plus years of my life thinking I was an atheist and when I got saved and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my mother thought I was unbalanced and emotionally unstable.

Mom viewed everything strange in life as “coincidence.” Her favorite catch phrase when I tried to share something remarkable God had done in my life was, “That’s coincidence.”

God loves me so much that when I’m digging deep within my heart to rediscover my roots of faith—He sends me a Godincidence. He does something that only He could have done.

We live in a small house built on grounds where a gospel church used to stand. The church has been gone at least 10 years. Today we got a large envelope addressed to “Gospel Hall.”

We had no idea who to contact about the mail, or what to do with it. When I took our 11-week-old collie pup on a walk, she walked further than she usually does. On the way back I spotted an orange cat in a back yard. I stopped to show Savannah the cat. “That’s a cat,” I told her. As I stood there, a woman opened a second story window to throw birdseed down into her yard. She asked about Savannah’s name and age, and said she was on her way to the Gospel Hall in another village. I told her about the envelope I had received just a few hours earlier and she was as astonished as I was. We made plans to exchange the envelope. A Godincidence.

Why is it a Godincidence? I don’t usually walk Savannah at that time or in that direction. I had never walked her that far before. Had the timing not be orchestrated by God, I would not have been standing there at the precise moment the homeowner opened the window to dispense birdseed. Had we not spoken to one another—I would never have known she went to the Gospel Hall, and she would never have known that I had the envelope. Only God could have worked out all those details.

How does God do things like that? I don’t know, but I know He does. And knowing it’s a God thing holds my roots of faith firmly in place when the gale force winds of adversity strike.

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Headless Chickens & Collie Pups

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Once a year folks flock to Fruita, Colorado, USA, to participate in a fun-filled festival celebrating a headless chicken named Mike. Really.

The Olsen family chose Mike for a dinner date for their family in September, 1945—but Mike survived the execution attempt. One of Mike’s ears was cut off and his brain stem was left only semi-attached. Mr. Olsen took pity on the headless chicken and fed him milk and water with an eyedropper. Mike learned to walk without eyes and without a head to help him balance. He wandered around the yard attempting to peck for food with his neck.

Mike traveled the country for the next 18 months and earned $4,500 a month in appearance fees for his family—more than the average U.S. citizen earned. Mike was featured in Time and Life magazines.

After Mike succumbed to a blot clot, he was immortalized by his home town in the annual Mike the Headless Chicken Festival—which is held every year in May.

Losing his head changed Mike (losing our heads changes us too!), but Mike was still a chicken. Even without a head, Mike scratched in the dirt and pecked with his headless neck because he was a chicken. God created him as a chicken and even without a head—Mike was still a chicken.

We brought home a rough collie puppy three weeks ago. She didn’t bark. Three weeks and never a bark. Because she isn’t old enough yet for her second set of puppy shots, Savannah has been isolated. She is not around other dogs and doesn’t hear them bark. We were overjoyed thinking that we had a quiet collie dog who would never disturb the peace barking. She barked today.

God created Savannah as a dog, and dogs bark. Even without the example of other dogs, Savannah learned to bark. Being isolated did not keep her from becoming what God created—a dog.

Mike and Savannah are good examples of the foolishness of people thumbing their noses at God and saying, “I don’t care what kind of equipment I have between my legs, I’m going to choose my own gender.”

A headless chicken is still a chicken.

An isolated collie puppy is still a dog.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27.

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Without Anesthesia….

Thanks to Insanity Bytes for this beautiful blog. Guard your heart like God guarded Adam.

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

Not sure who I’m talking to here, myself perhaps, but one of my favorite sayings is, “living through someone’s addiction is like going through surgery without anesthesia.”

In other words, it hurts, it is excruciatingly painful and really traumatic. Addicts are semi conscious, they are medicated, but those who love them are often wide awake and feeling every little thing.

I had a great revelation once about guarding my heart, about coping with the pain of watching someone slowly kill themselves. When God decides to take out Adam’s rib, He causes him to fall into a deep sleep. This was centuries before anesthesia was even a  concept, and yet God in His mercy did not want to traumatize or distress Adam. He kindly put him into a deep sleep and woke him up to a beautiful woman.

That really is the Lord’s heart for us, to wipe away every tear…

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Religion Made Me Feel Bad?

Another brilliant blog by “InsanityBytes.” No one can make us feel bad about ourselves unless we give them permission.

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

truthI need to push back just a tiny bit here. I’ve recently had several conversations with people who say, “religion made me feel bad about myself.” Or “why would I want to live in perpetual guilt, shame, and condemnation?”

Let me tell you, if you’re living in perpetual shame, guilt, and condemnation, you’re in the wrong religion and you’ve missed the entire message of grace, the gospel, the good news.

And that happens too, that is real enough. There are some appalling things being preached in the name of Jesus Christ, some toxic people within the church as a whole, but that is actually few and far between. That is not the norm, and the reason why we are so often outraged about it is because we know it is not the norm, it is a perversion, a distortion.

Religion made me feel bad about myself. Does anybody ever say…

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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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