Just One Tooth

sand castle ruins

Yesterday I had a tooth pulled. Just one tooth. I felt pale and wan all day—over just one tooth.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Like everything else in life, it’s written in the Bible: “the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies according to the effective working by which every part does its share…” even one tooth.

It made me think about how important one person is to God—just one person. Not every person knows God. Not every person lives for God. But regardless of our wayward wanderings, God always knows where we are and He always loves us—every one of us.

It hurt my body to lose one tooth. Just one tooth. Imagine how much it hurts God to lose one person. Just one person.

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

Don’t Own It!

Insanitybytes brilliant as always: If God didn’t give it to you – let go of it!

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

fingers hand reaching Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

I hope this doesn’t sound like a sermon, because nobody should ever be forced to endure one of those…..Ha! Just kidding.  🙂

In all seriousness however, I have to keep hearing this message myself because culture is so pervasive and so influential. So, don’t own it, don’t adopt it, don’t claim it if it doesn’t belong to you. If God didn’t give it to you, it doesn’t belong to you. I’m talking about things like fear, anxiety, depression, stress, attention deficit disorder, anger, and just about anything else negative that we regard as an affliction.

It may be ON you, but it isn’t OF you.

This is especially true as we bring more awareness of mental health into our culture, because there seems to be this real push to claim our afflictions almost like trophies of shame. Hey man, I earned this anxiety.

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Sustainable….

Another great blog by INSANITYBYTES. Let the green beans go!

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

Just for the record, I have an exceeding dislike for that word, “sustainable.”  It is a green word, organic, glutin free, not tested on animals, vegan. Anything “sustainable” must be virtuous and good, so we slap “sustainable” on just about everything we wish to sell.

However, it’s still the most suitable word for what I wish to speak about, a word that means, “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level,” or “able to be upheld or defended.” Some synonyms are well founded, justified, sound, reliable. Those are words that mean, it’s still going to be around a few years from now.

I’m in a strange position right now, every area of my life, culture, family, community, work, church, needs to change. It either takes some genuine hubris, or some genuine wisdom to declare such a thing. I’m going to declare it just the same.

It needs to…

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Imagination

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Somewhere on a lost camera card is a picture of a small overturned rowboat. I thought it looked lovely and desolate along the shore, wild flowers crowding around it and a vast expanse of water framing it, so I took a picture.

Someone else looked at that overturned boat and imagined something quite different—history—the beginnings of Scotland when Vikings roamed the seas and pillaged the land. Now where I merely saw an overturned boat, a Viking ship rules the shore.

Imagination.

We kids grew up in rural Georgia with a deserted house between our school and our house and when we walked that mile—we ran madly past that landmark because we knew it was a criminal’s hideout. We never saw him, but we knew he was there. Just like we knew the old man at the end of the road was rich and had a hidden stash of money even though he ate a can of sardines for every meal; and that we heard a werewolf in the woods; and that the house on another long, red clay road was haunted, and that the snapping turtle in our pond weighed 45 pounds.

Mostly, my family grew up without a TV. When we had a TV, my mother dictated what we watched and scary programs were forbidden. We mostly watched dog and horse shows, along with occasional westerns. I never saw “The Beverly Hillbillies” until I was an adult, and then I bought every episode I could find.

Books took us kids on journeys the TV couldn’t since we seldom had a TV. I rarely got to watch. I was always grounded because of failing math grades. So I sat in my room with an open math book in front of me and scribbled stories in my notebook. I graduated and went to college with a failing average in math following me and dropped out before I had to take math. Instead, I got a job at our local paper where most of the stories I wrote were factual and business and human interest profiles, but where I had my own column to fill up every week.

Imagination.

I love all of Valerie Poore’s books, but her fiction-based-on-fact “The Skipper’s Child,” and “How to Breed Sheep, Geese and English Eccentrics” are two of my favorites and I think of them often. https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Poore/e/B008LSV6CE?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564986036&sr=1-1

There are so many other wonderful authors. I think of Tonia Parronchi’s “The Song of the Cypress” and “The Melting of Miss Angelina Snow.” https://www.amazon.com/Tonia-Parronchi/e/B00GNTVLG4?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_fkmr0_1&qid=1564986138&sr=1-1-fkmr0

I think of my husband Alan McKean’s historical time travel novels. https://www.amazon.com/Alan-T-McKean/e/B00BR1PM5Y?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564986333&sr=1-1

And my sister’s romances and poetry book, Leslie Garcia: https://www.amazon.com/Leslie-P-Garcia/e/B00B6LK4AI?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_7&qid=1564988961&sr=1-7

Then there’s Victoria Benchley: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=victoria+benchley&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

And Michael R. Watson: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-R-Watson/e/B001KHVLMI?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564990058&sr=1-1

And Victoria Simcox: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Simcox/e/B005HFJL8K?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564990126&sr=1-1

Two fabulous authors who spin imagination into captivating stories are Caleb Pirtle III and his wife Linda. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=caleb+pirtle+iii&i=digital-text&crid=2LW9MQ0NMEBN0&sprefix=caleb+pirtle%2Cdigital-text%2C278&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_12

Sisters Vickie Jackson and Loretta Jackson are imagination building experts with their thrilling mysteries.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Vickie+Britton&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Mystery lady Lauren Carr’s imagination is legendary, as are her bestselling books. https://www.amazon.com/Lauren-Carr/e/B001JP4F0Q?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564986833&sr=1-1

Sharon Connell: https://www.amazon.com/Very-Present-Help-Sharon-Connell-ebook/dp/B0776FZV3Y/ref=sr_1_1?crid=26MH2A02LISNJ&keywords=sharon+connell&qid=1564987328&s=digital-text&sprefix=Sharon+Con%2Cdigital-text%2C236&sr=1-1

Joy Ross Davis: https://www.amazon.com/Joy-Ross-Davis/e/B00BNKKR90?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564987386&sr=8-1

Murray Pura: https://www.amazon.com/Murray-Pura/e/B002IU3O6C?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564987431&sr=1-1

Author Beth Haslam writes non-fictions about their move to and life in France, but her books are filled with humor and colored with imagination. https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Haslam/e/B00RY1OF5Yref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564998530&sr=1-1

Too many others to list, but they all have one thing in common—imagination. The same gift from God that turned a rowboat into a Viking ship. The same character of God that is noted in the first sentence of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

viking innellen

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564987694&sr=1-1

Not Perfect

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We live in Dunoon, Scotland, with good neighbors, friendly folks, a great church, a wonderful pastor, wife, and congregation—and plenty of walking places including along the banks of the Firth of Clyde where the wind whips the salty water and air into a fresh smell that thrills the soul. Walking the back streets of Dunoon in the afternoon is like stepping back in time to an Andy Griffith show: neighborhood children playing together and riding bikes on the sidewalks while the aroma of moms’ cooking steals out of open windows and hangs in the air.

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But Dunoon is not perfect. It’s not just the marine climate, cool temperatures, and scarcity of sun that mars the perfection of our retirement home—it’s that age-old spoiler of all good things—sin. If you lift up the outer edges of life here you see that just like in the rest of the world some people struggle with life-stealing addictions. There is a police station in Dunoon because there is crime, just as there has been on the earth since Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the one tree in the entire Garden of Eden that God commanded them not to. Sin never stays small and manageable—it grows and morphs into a monster that kills, steals, and destroys.

Enter Treasury. That’s the world I created from the Bible for my Christian Fantasy, “Voices in the Wind,” which has earned an orange flag as a bestseller and already has one 5-Star review now—mere days after its release. Treasury is such an alluring place to be that I run there at night and hide in its beauty if I have trouble getting to sleep. Treasury is much like Heaven—yet it is not perfect. Rhoda lifts up the curtain of rain and finds herself in Treasury, but must prove her right to stay there by crossing a divide, climbing Verboten Mountain and engaging huge Bullet Train Ants, enormous serpents, armed warriors, and Dino Birds in her bid to stay in Treasury and marry her soul mate. But Rhoda’s cruelest enemy proves to be human.

Treasury is not perfect. Only Heaven, created by God, is perfect. The Bible assures us that once we get to Heaven we will have new bodies and there will be no more sorrow, tears, pain, illness, or parting. Nothing that defiles will be admitted to Heaven. So if you haven’t already joined the throng for Heaven, come on aboard. Believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved. He is driving the train.

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

When to Clap

val and me amsterdam

Recently bestselling author Val Poore (https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Poore/e/B008LSV6CE?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564318680&sr=1-1) wrote a brilliant blog on the differences between UK and US language. As a new to the UK dog owner, I decided to highlight some interesting canine differences.

Folks here don’t ask to pet your dog, they ask to “clap” it. The first time I heard that I was horrified. What loving pet owner wants a stranger to hit his or her hands together against your poor terrified puppy?

One doesn’t walk a dog on a leash here. It’s a lead. You don’t bathe your dog, you bath it. You don’t feed it supper, you give it tea. You don’t tell your dog “no” when it picks up unsavory morsels, you tell it “leave.”

I’m sure there are many other differences, because after all—babies in the UK suck on dummies, not pacifiers. They don’t wear diapers, they wear nappies. All drinks that aren’t tea or coffee are lemonade. I don’t know what lemonade is called. Bangs are “fringes” and in polite company you don’t say “poof.” But I’ll leave that one for readers to figure out.

The love for furry family members is the same in both countries. So is kindness. And God’s unfailing capacity for miracles. We took our six-month-old rough collie Savannah to North Berwick for dental surgery. We had to walk back to our B&B, a distance of about a mile. We didn’t realize when we left the clinic that Savannah hadn’t fully recovered from surgery. She suddenly plopped down on the grass, stretched out on her side and could go no further. I had already been carrying the 40-pound dog on a knee that requires surgical repair.

savannah in grass 6 month

Enter human angel. God sent him. He appeared out of nowhere and told us that the clinic had released Savannah too soon and she would never be able to walk as far as our B&B. He called the vet clinic and told them Savannah was coming back for a couple of hours. He even offered to carry her. My Texas stubbornness kicked in and I assured him that I could carry the 40-pound pup back uphill to the station. I’m on crutches now.

savannah from weeks to months

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

Languages, Lost, Learning

AR best

We just returned from an Andre Rieu concert in his hometown of Maastricht, the Netherlands. The concert was phenomenal.

We got lost getting in and out of our first hotel—not once, not twice—but every time. It had four corridors on our floor and only one of them led to a tiny, old fashioned two-person elevator. Since an x-ray proved extensive damage to my left knee even if the pain didn’t, taking the lift instead of four flights of stairs seemed prudent. Change the equation to include our unfailing ability to get lost…and I’m not sure the elevator was the best choice.

Blame the train for the next drama. Heading back to Amsterdam there was an announcement over the speakers in Dutch. Only in Dutch. Then the train stopped and everyone got off. Everyone but us. Finally, a kind English-speaking fellow traveler stuck her head into our empty carriage and said, “You have to get off here and take another train.”

So we did. Again an announcement. Again only in Dutch. The train stopped. Everyone got off. Just as we were stepping off the train, a low-flying fighter zoomed over the station with deafening noise. My heart thumped. Were we in the middle of a war and no one told us? How would we know? We couldn’t understand a word of Dutch.

This time, I spotted a train conductor and chased him down…yes…it hurt. He said there would be another train in 38 minutes. Wait where we were. Not even five minutes later, he shouted at us and pointed. Our train was boarding and it was way up the track from where we patiently stood. Again the running on sad knee. We made it…but it was standing-room-only and no one could move, much less sit down. So a two-hour standing train trip with a barrage of Dutch that we couldn’t understand. We still didn’t even know if we were at war.

It gave me new compassion for people who immigrate to another country and don’t know the language. It gave me new compassion for babies who—regardless of their native language—start out in a world of confusing sounds and words that they don’t know. It gave me new compassion for puppies, who like babies, must learn every new word.

We stepped off the train in Amsterdam and quickly got lost at the back of the station when we tried to find a cab. We also nearly got run over by scores of racing bikes. We didn’t know that the red paved paths around the city were bike lanes. Bikes outnumber cars by millions, the taxi driver said—when we finally found him. Amsterdam was built for bikes. We saw one mom with two children and a basket on her bike and another child skating behind holding onto the bike. We saw bikes delivering hot meals, carrying rolls of carpets, carrying huge plants. We saw bike riders holding umbrellas as they rode one-handed. We even saw riders using no hands, just their knees as they raced by at incredible speeds.

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We took a canal tour and saw people living on houseboats and barges. It was a trend hippies started back in the 1960s. It became so popular that now only wealthy people can afford to live on the water in Amsterdam.

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My favorite part of the trip, besides seeing Andre Rieu, was meeting River Girl, Val Poore, an awesome bestselling author who writes about living and remodeling barges with such humor and talent that she makes even plumbing interesting. Being on the canals and watching the bikes race bike reminded me of her unique and beautifully written book, “The Skipper’s Child,” which is now also in Dutch. https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Poore/e/B008LSV6CE?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1563827204&sr=1-1

val and alan

And the event on the train reminded me of Jesus. How could we understand God’s Heavenly language without earthly tones had not Jesus come to this earth as a Man and taught us? Now we have the Bible in a language we can understand and it continues to be printed in languages for every nation of the world. God’s Book. A Living Book. A language to share with the entire world.

leaning buildings

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

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.

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

Butterflies and Changes

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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.

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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

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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.

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