It’s the Little Things

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People celebrate big events in life; the acquisition of a new car or a new home, a pay raise, a vacation. But it’s the small things in life that count.

Feeling your nose starting to run and reaching into your pocket—and yes! You have a tissue.

Taking a photo of something unique or important that you will never see again—and the picture turns out.

Dropping a lid on the floor and it lands the right way up.

Getting an unexpected extra hour of sleep in the morning and not being late for anything.

Having a flurry of soap bubbles rush up from the sink when you wash dishes.

Finding the keys in the first coat pocket you search.

Discovering a beautiful flower blooming in a rock wall and knowing that—with God’s help—you can overcome your problems.

New homes age, new vehicles get dents, pay raises are spent, vacations end. But I always smile when the lid lands the right way on the floor, or when brightly colored soap bubbles burst into the air when I’m washing dishes.

Little things. It’s the little things in life that count.

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God Returns

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I was at a “hole-in-the-wall” bank getting money out when I spotted a homeless person. I thought to myself, “I have a little bit of change I can give him.” The Lord said, “Give him a ten.”

So instead of getting out the 40 I had planned, I got out 50, and walked over and gave him the 10, then went into the store. Let me explain that I never, absolutely never put loose money in my pockets because I carry so many other things in them: camera, doggie bags, tissues, keys, billfold, glasses case. So I never stick money in my pockets in case I accidentally pull it out and lose it when I’m getting something else.

I got into the store and couldn’t find my customer card, so I reached my hand into my pocket and pulled out a 10.

When I was in Texas at a book signing the Lord told me to bless two different people at two different times by giving each of them $100, so I did. Just before I boarded the plane for my flight back to Scotland I was handed two separate cards which I opened on the plane. Each one contained $100. It’s impossible to out give God.

“Do not be deceived. God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7.

I am no one and nothing special. God has no favorites. He put laws into the universe and His laws are unchanging. People attempt to amend morals and convictions for society and some believe in their power to accomplish that.

But God never moves.

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Punks, Partisan Pastors, and Politics

As always, InsanityBytes gets it right, so I am sharing the blog: “We aren’t here to give glory to the masses, seeking the favor of people, we are here to give glory to God.”

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

For those blessed to be living on the side of a rock in a beautiful lighthouse far, far from people, Sunday Franklin Graham called for a day of prayer for President Trump. Needless to say this set off a bit of a firestorm, a bright orange firestorm with a bad comb over. To stoke the fires and fuel the controversy a bit more, President Trump visited McClean Bible Church, where Pastor David Platt then prayed for the president on stage.

So now Franklin Graham is in big trouble from the masses, as is David Platt. Not sure we really need the “m” on that word “masses,” but whatever.

It’s really a non story, as in we always pray for our leaders. If you don’t like your leaders, you pray twice as hard for them. Like, “Lord, bless this fool with some wisdom.” Bit tongue and cheek there, but it’s true…

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Stubbornness

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God has blessed us with a lovely, intelligent rough collie puppy. She has only one flaw—stubbornness. When she doesn’t want to go the way we are going it evolves into a tugging match and ends up with me dragging her.

It seems cruel to drag a puppy across the street or down the sidewalk—but when the light changes and cars are coming from both directions, or when there are workers ahead with dangerous equipment—dragging is a kindness that saves her life.

Stubbornness is an admirable trait in a writer. With 150 rejection slips from publishing companies in the U.S. and U.K.—I kept writing. With 40 years of disappointments and agony, I kept hitting the keys. My new Christian Cozy Mystery “Croft Murders,” featuring Mike the Headless rooster, Fiona the pouting rooster, and croft owner Nora whom someone wants to kill would not have been published without stubbornness.

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Nor would I be working on another book after the first review on “Croft Murders” was a three-star from a reader who said I didn’t know enough about Texas. I was born there and moved from Texas to Scotland eight years ago. Texas is indeed “a whole ‘nother country” with every climate and eco system imaginable. The tornado stricken, flat, snowy panhandle; the lovely Texas Hill Country with its plethora of wildlife; the nearly desert environs along the Mexico border; the east Texas piney woods and oil wells, and the west Texas mountains and Big Bend State Park. The reviewer apparently didn’t know much about home of my heart, the Texas Hill Country, because everything I mentioned about Texas in “Croft Murders” reflected a true experience.

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Savannah and I have worked out a compromise. As long as she’s in no physical danger, and as long as it’s not extremely important to go to any one particular place—I put the leash on her and follow her. Now before anyone reaches the conclusion that I’m a coward, or have never trained a dog before, I would just like to justify that compromise by pointing to…writing. Yup, all of y’all, writing.

The characters in my books come alive and take over the plot and action. Without dropping a spoiler about “Croft Murders,” before the characters took over, I planned a completely different outcome for Nora. Therefore, I can justify my decision to “go with the flow” where Savannah is concerned. I’m used to being dragged around.

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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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