The South Gets it Right

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While researching for my next book I had the pleasure of walking in the steps of my childhood and revisiting a world that was so real and embracing to me that I forgot I’m currently living in Scotland. I went back to the South, read things only folks in the South say, and realized…they got it right.

What could be more descriptive than, “she fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.” And realizing that when “that possum’s on the stump”—that’s about as good as it gets.

How about, “He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.” Or, “He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams.” “I’m so poor I can’t afford to pay attention.” “It’s so dry the trees are bribing the dog.” “He’s as happy as if he had good sense.”

And on laziness, “They won’t hit a lick at a snake.” “He’s about as useful as a wheel on a mule.”

Not truthful? “You’d call an alligator a lizard.” “You talk with your tongue out of your shoe.”

“If that politician had a good idea it would die of loneliness.” “If his brains were leather he wouldn’t have enough to saddle a Junebug.” “He’s so dumb he could throw himself on the ground and miss.”

“I’m so hungry I could eat the north end of a south-bound polecat.” “I’m so hungry my belly thinks my throat’s been cut.” “That sticks in the throat like hair on a biscuit.”

“Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit.”

The South got it right.

And in the South, we praise Jesus.

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Have a great day, all of y’all. And if you want to read a Christian Cozy Mystery-Romance that reads as good as biscuits with gravy taste, visit me here:

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Victim

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Everyone is a victim in today’s world.
Victims become alcoholics because depression causes them to drink. They become drug addicts because of dysfunctional homes. They become sexually promiscuous because parents didn’t love them. They engage in porn because they have issues with their bodies.
I read a story about a young girl who bashed the police for not taking enough action to prosecute the perpetrator of “revenge porn.” The girl willingly took pictures of herself naked and sent them to a guy she met on the internet, but she said she was a victim because she trusted the guy and he posted her pictures online. The girl was incensed because the police reaction was—you shouldn’t have taken naked pictures of yourself and sent them over electronic media.
Exactly what my mother would have said. My mother wouldn’t have called me a victim—she would have called me stupid.
Common sense says that you are responsible for becoming an alcoholic. You are not a victim unless someone holds you down and pours drink down your throat. Stay away from alcohol. Don’t take that first drink.
Common sense says you are responsible for becoming a drug addict unless someone ties you up and injects you. Stay away from drugs. Don’t take the first hit.
Common sense says if your home life was a disaster, get an education and work to give your children the harmonious home you never had. Put the past behind you and build a future.
Common sense says that if your parents never loved you marry someone who does and lavish your children with love. Lack of discipline spoils children—not love. Put the past behind you and give your family the gift of a great future.
If someone willingly takes pictures of themselves naked and sends them to someone else—that person is foolish, but not a victim. You are only a victim if you are locked into a room or held at gunpoint by someone who takes pictures of you naked—like I was.
I could tweet #MeToo for sex abuse, dysfunctional home, and having issues with my body—but I refuse to become a victim. By the power and strength of Christ Jesus living inside me in the form of the Holy Spirit, I am a victor.
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
Victim or victor? The choice is ours.

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Weight Loss Plan

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Yeah, I’m a sucker for those commercials, too. “Lose weight by drinking this.” “Ten Secrets to weight loss.” “How I lost four stone (don’t ask me how much that is—I don’t do math) in one month.”

Most folks want or need to lose weight. It’s one of life’s mysteries, surely, that weight can accumulate and hide until suddenly one day a person takes a sideways look in a full-length mirror and says, “I’m fat.”

Fortunately, when an orthopedic surgeon figured out my body-weight index, I qualify for a knee replacement. I’m not too fat for surgery. But I need to lose weight…again.

The only weight loss plan that has ever worked for me physically is the unpopular and uncomfortable eat less, exercise more. It works—but it is never easy or enjoyable, especially the eating less part.

My Aunt Edris died young of an illness that doctors never diagnosed until her death. Cancer. After that, I obsessed over every lump, bulge, or pain I had, convinced that it was cancer. I even obsessed over other people who experienced unexplained pain. When my son was four and suffered from a mystery illness I was so convinced it was cancer that I quit my job and took him out to the desert so he could experience country living before he died. But when Luke died at age 37, it wasn’t cancer. It was an airplane crash.

I’m still working on the physical need to lose weight, but not the spiritual weight of fear, worry, or anxiety. The Bible addresses those. It’s easy to lose weight spiritually—just read and pray it away.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7.

Cast all your care upon God, for God cares for you. 1 Peter 5:8

Jesus said in Luke 12:29, “Do not have an anxious mind.”

Spiritual weight? No problem. Just read and pray it away. Physical weight? Eat less. Exercise more.

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Pain

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Unexpectedly struck with bone-on-bone arthritis after having lived an active life which has included painting signs; painting houses; climbing ladders to paint billboards; mixing cement; rock work, and walking and running long distances—I had to wonder why. I love God. Why so much pain?

I already knew that God never intended pain, illness, death, and sorrow to be in the world. He created Adam and Eve and gifted them with a perfect world. They would have lived forever without tasting the sour fruits of pain, death, illness, or sorrow if they had obeyed the one rule God gave them: do not eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

They ate the fruit. Sin entered the world. The first animal died. Years later, Adam and Eve died. Sin births death, illness, pain, sorrow.

Today I realized something else. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

If Christians were automatically protected from every adverse condition in the world—where would be the need for faith?

When we can praise God in every circumstance, good and bad, and recognize as Job did, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God,” we are exercising faith.

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Never Judge – Never

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Why is it so hard for me to learn to never judge? Never.

When news exploded with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s split from the Royal Family, I faulted Meghan for the enchanted wedding that almost all little girls dream about and living in a castle with lavish riches at her disposal—then walking out of the fairytale. My thought was—I hope people in the UK won’t think that all Americans are that selfish, self-centered and vacillating.

Then I read that Meghan had accepted a movie role and realized that God had gifted her with extraordinary good looks and talent, and that she was walking out her gifting. And I thought about my writing. It will never bring in lavish amounts of money, fame, and success—but it’s my gifting and I will continue to walk in it…even if I must walk out of situations to continue.

So instead of getting sucked into negative news again, I’ll celebrate the calling God gave me by introducing my newest book. And I will try not to judge so readily—really.

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Cordy arrives in Quartzsite, Arizona, from London, England, to decide the future of her aunt’s museum, a shrunken head that “speaks,” and to solve a 30-year-old murder—but she must not—simply must not fall in love again with her childhood sweetheart—because he might be the killer.

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Silent Alarm

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When I entered the bathroom of a restaurant the light automatically switched on. For a brief moment in time my presence mattered; just me being somewhere made a difference.

Later that day when I took our dog for a walk, I walked past a building with an alarm going off and red lights flashing over the door. No one came. Hour after hour the alarm rang and the lights flashed…and no one came.

Sometimes we just need to know we make a difference for one thing, or to one person. Sometimes our life derails, the alarms scream…and no one comes.

It is a comfort to know that no matter where in the world we live or what in the world we do, we matter to God. No matter what alarm bells shrill in our lives, God is never too busy to hear.

“Cast all your cares upon God, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

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Shadow Distortions

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Where we walk Savannah at night a street light hits a metal railing so strongly that it creates bars across the sidewalk—and they look real. I find myself stopping and looking ahead to make sure the path is not blocked, even though I know the shadows are mere distortions—illusions that lie.

Funny videos show small children and dogs playing with their shadows—attempting unsuccessfully to catch them. When we were kids, we loved shadow displays on the wall. But shadows aren’t real. The shadow of a car can’t run over anyone. The shadow of a wolf can’t bite. The shadow of a snake can’t constrict. The shadow of a knife can’t cut.

When I was a child I loved “The Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson. I still do. I love all his poems in “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,

And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.

He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;

And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

 

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—

Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;

For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India-rubber ball,

And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

 

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,

And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.

He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;

I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

 

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,

I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;

But my lazy little shadow, like an errant sleepy-head,

Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

 

Like Robert Louis Stevenson’s shadow that stayed asleep in bed when the sun was up, shadows vanish. They are not real. They cannot hurt.

Psalm 23 in the Bible says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” We need not fear death for two reasons; one, God is with us, and two, death is a shadow and shadows are illusions. They are not real. They cannot hurt us.

Death is like the period at the end of a sentence. It’s a stopping point in our lives before we move on to the next sentence, the next chapter, the next page—our eternal home in Heaven where God has written our name in His Book of Life.

A shadow did hurt me once. My spooky horse jumped over a red clay bank and his shadow hit the road before he did. He threw me and ran home in a fright, leaving me to walk two miles. That horse got spooked by an illusion. We have more sense. Shadows are not real. They cannot hurt us.

The shadow of death is a reflection of the light of Heaven on the other side.

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The Up Side of Down

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Because of bone-on-bone arthritis in my left knee I’ve been on crutches since June. Given that my waiting time for a knee replacement is still 11 months, we took to a ferry, three trains, and a taxi to get to York, England, to a private clinic for help. The first up side of crutches was at the second train station when I was in a waiting line for the women’s restroom. The line stretched down the hall. A station employee motioned me out of that impossibly long, slow-moving line—straight into the handicapped restroom. The up side of down.

Some folks say that since I’m an author I should write an autobiography. It would read like a bad comedy routine. In rainy, 30-degree weather, I wore a long skirt with a pair of shorts under it. My legs were bare. And cold. The idea was if something went wrong and I didn’t have time to change before my appointment, I could slip off the skirt and the doctor could examine my knee.

Alan and I get lost everywhere we go. We always leave early to give us time to get lost and found. This time, we didn’t get lost—the clinic did. We got to York, dropped our backpacks off at the motel, then called a taxi for the clinic. I had the address. I had the postal code. I had the phone number. The cab driver couldn’t find it. He was amazing. Because I was on crutches, he ran into every open business on the street I had as an address and asked if the clinic was there. No one had heard of it. He entered the post code into his cab and we wound up in a dark alley, a dead end with old brick buildings on either side. The buildings had no doors, no windows. So this amazing taxi driver started calling. He called the number, it went to voice mail…over again and again. Then he tried the second number, the one the first number gave for “immediate help.” There was an answer—a woman in Edinburgh whose job was answering after-hour calls for the clinic and taking messages. She had no listing for the York clinic.

At this point, Alan and I did what the Bible says to do, we thanked God. We explained to the taxi driver what we were doing and why. God’s Word says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” And it says, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.”

Perhaps the timing for treatment was wrong. Perhaps the treatment was wrong. For whatever reason, God stopped the appointment. So we are thanking Him.

Months ago our washing machine went on a rampage and dried all our clothes without washing them first. We thought we had rounded up all the dried, unwashed clothes and put them through another wash. Wrong. I pulled out the jeans I had packed in the bottom of the backpack and nearly fainted from the sour smell. There was nothing I could do except wear the jeans and hope the smell dissipated. We had a train to catch and the only alternative to stinky jeans was to wear the skirt again and get cold. I hate being cold.

We got to the first train station on time, but we couldn’t get to our platform. Because of my crutches, we took the elevator—again and again. Up, down, up, down, up, down. The elevator wasn’t labeled. We couldn’t find our platform. I finally ran down—clomped down—a worker. No, he said, the way to the platform wasn’t marked, but just follow this long tunnel down and it would get to the lift that would take us to the platform. So we did. We made it to the platform in time to catch the train, only to learn that the train we needed was on the other side and had been posted wrong on the electronic sign. There was no time to look for another lift. I clomped up two flights of stairs and across the walkway and we made it to the right platform.

It should have been smooth sailing after this—only it wasn’t. We didn’t have time to stop for lunch and still make all our connections to get Savannah out of the kennel before it closed. So…we skipped lunch until 7 p.m. Like I said…don’t look for an autobiography in the future. It would read like a bad comedy.

Merry Christmas, all of y’all! Happy Birthday, Jesus! Never forget that He is the reason for the season—and all things work to the good of those who love Him. So keep that smile!

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Expletives and Superlatives

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There’s a Texas expression that I’ve never uttered before in my life, nor have I ever used it in one of my books, nor did I ever expect to ever use it: He’s talking out of his butthole.

Because I write clean-reading Christian books, I disdain profanity. Nothing will make me abandon a book more quickly than excessive profanity. Writers should be creative. Instead of repeating the “F” word endlessly, what’s wrong with: profanity dropped from his lips like cigarette ash; he used words that would have shocked his mother; his foul language was so excessive that it fatigued his listeners; her anger made her abandon her last shred of Christian training as she launched into a tirade against her coworker, the air splintered from the impact of cursing…etc.

Few things anger me. This did. An “academic” professor attacked the root of the Christmas story. He said Mary had been raped because she never consented to her pregnancy. This highly esteemed professor has a platform for attempting to destroy the foundational faith of students entrusted to him and is too lazy to research and get it right.

God gives us freedom of choice. Not everyone is a Christian. There are many other religions in the world. Everyone, even an atheist, has the right to choose what he or she believes. But it’s shameful and unforgivable that an “academic professor” who supposedly is better educated and more brilliant than the average gets away with spewing unfounded derisive words as truth.

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” I don’t draw the salary that the university pays that lazy professor, but that sounds like consent to me. (Luke 1:38)

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior…For He who is mighty has done great things for me.” Luke 1:49.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be called the Son of the Highest…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31

The truth, the simple truth behind Christmas, the greatest love story ever written.

I’m trying. I’m really trying. But that professor’s words grate against my spirit and I can’t word it any better than my Texas friends: “he’s speaking out of his butthole.”

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Acres of Diamonds

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Acres of diamonds at my feet in the winter as each blade of crystallized grass releases myriad sparkles into the night. Dome of diamonds stretching across the summer sky at night.

Gold sun blitzing the sky during the day and gold traversing the sky at night.

Acres of diamonds, rivers of gold.

And yet…people lock diamonds in jewel boxes, hide gold in safes, and gather material goods to hoard in their houses. Instead of realizing that each day is a gift from God and holding it close…they hold gifts close and let God go.

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