Excesses

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The man was about the size and shape of a refrigerator, except with extra padding in front—padding that pushed him away from the table and his food. Like the man, his food was considerable: a full Scottish breakfast (bacon, sausage, black pudding, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, an egg, and toast); a bacon and egg filled bun; two bottles of Pepsi; two cappuccinos; two desserts.

It was the man’s business. It was the man’s body. It was his money. His bill for one meal was as much as ours for two. Moving seemed to be a problem for him, even though he looked like he was in his early forties. He grabbed and pushed everything he could get his hands on to haul himself out of his chair and get to his feet. When he moved forward, he limped on both legs as if his knees hurt. Some folks have medical conditions that contribute to obesity. The man was probably hungry and with a body that big, it must take food fuel to move it. Still, I thought part of his overweight problem might be the excesses; a filled bacon and egg roll on top of the full breakfast, the two desserts, two bottles of pop and two cappuccinos.

When do our excesses become someone else’s business? When do we not have a right to our own bodies and to treat them however we want?

The Biblical answer is that we do not own our bodies. God does. God created us. Then He purchased life for eternity for us through the death of His Son Jesus. We are twice owned by God. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19.

“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 are you.” 1 Corinthians 3:17.

Because sin entered the world through Adam and Eve and sin brought death into the world, we all begin the journey toward death at our births. God didn’t want this or intend this—His plan was always eternal life. That’s why our bodies have great capacity for healing. But old age and death approach as steadily as a fish being reeled in on a rod until the net slaps under it and catches it. None of us can halt the day of our death, but we can fight against the excesses that destroy our bodies, the temples of God; gluttony, alcoholism, drug use, smoking. We can’t stop the reel and escape the net—but neither should we willingly leap into it.

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Bye Butterflies Bye

sunflowers and butterfly laredo december

The butterflies are gone.

The bees are gone.

The sun is gone.

Heat is gone.

The land languishes

Waiting for the ambush

Of cold and snow

And the melting

That will send spring again.

This is the time of year I feel morose. I hate winter. I hate cold. Snow has no appeal for me. This is the time of year I embrace suffering rather than hope; find negativity more natural than optimism.

I have no right to feel that way. God made both summer and winter and had reasons for creating both. Some people love winter and cold and tramping around in the snow, or hooking up with skis and winter sports equipment. And some folks hate summer and hot temperatures as much as I hate winter.

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I haven’t found a cure for my winter dread, but reading Ecclesiastes helps. King Solomon was the richest, wisest man in the world. He wrote, To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted.

Winter is a time of plucking up. A time of dying. Butterflies are gone. Bees are gone. Sadness would stay, except I’ve read the next book in the Bible, Song of Solomon. The winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Spring will come again.

The Bible promises: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22.

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Misconceptions

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Many people believe it—but nowhere in the Bible does it say that Adam and Eve ate an apple. They ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Many people believe it—but nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. It says the Lord prepared a big fish to swallow him. Scientists out to shoot holes in the Bible have conducted studies to prove that a person could not be swallowed by a whale and survive. And yet—surely the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth is well able to prepare “a big fish” to swallow Jonah.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere.

Christmas cards portray bright fields of snow and evergreen trees decked with white—yet in many parts of the world—it never snows.

I got a bad review on one of my books from a reviewer who said, “We don’t have street vendors in the UK.” I based the character on a street vendor in Inverness, Scotland. The reviewer lived in England.

I got a bad review on another book from a person who said if I wrote about Texas, I should learn about it first. I was born in Texas.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere.

We all look at the world through the eyes of our experiences. If one has never read the Bible and relies on things other people have said—fruit becomes an apple and prepared fish becomes a whale. If one lives in northern climates, one will expect the whole world to have snow on Christmas. If one lives in England instead of Scotland, one may believe the UK has no street vendors. If one lives in tornado alley in north Texas, that person would not know about the plethora of wildlife in the Texas Hill Country.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere. We can do our part by focusing on bigger issues than fruit, fish, or real or imagined mistakes in books.

Kindness is a good starting place. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Kindness is love in action and leaves no room for misconceptions.

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Dog Sickness

Savannah at home

From the time we brought her home when she was eight weeks old our rough collie puppy has won the hearts of strangers. Now she expects everyone she meets to say, “You’re gorgeous.” “What a beautiful dog.” “I love your dog.”

Savannah looked gorgeous on the outside. She still does. But she was sick on the inside and no one knew—not even the first vet who examined her and said, “What you have here is a beautiful, healthy collie puppy who is a perfect weight. Don’t worry.”

She might have been a perfect weight when he saw her, but she was not healthy and there was cause for worry. She had quit eating. Everything. He saw her before she started losing weight.

The second vet investigated more closely. Blood samples, x-ray. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and three medications. After six days of starving herself, Savannah finally started eating. Everything.

Each day we meet folks who look fine on the outside, but who have mental or physical illnesses on the inside. Some suffer extreme pain. We can’t see their pain, so when they are unkind  we blame them, not their disease.

 “Do not look at his appearance, or at his physical stature…For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

When someone is unkind to us, we need to look deeper.

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School Daze

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Four years old and burning with envy—although I couldn’t name the emotion at the time—to see the older kids walking to school every day while I had to stay home. So I followed them.

Clueless, I ended up in a line in a hallway with a teacher walking along the line asking each child for milk money. Until she came to me. She stopped in confusion and asked me who I was and what I was doing there. I thought that was a rather silly question from a teacher at what was obviously a school. “I’m going to school.” I got sent home for another year.

We had moved by the next year. I was excited to catch the big yellow bus outside my house and ride to school on the first day. On the second day—I hid from the bus. If I had known about math—I’d still be hiding.

Much of what I “learned” in school was misinformation. My first grade teacher criticized my coloring. “Tree trunks are brown,” she said, “the sky is blue.” She had never been to the Texas Hill Country where tree trunks are grey. She had never been to Scotland where the sky is seldom blue.

We were taught that North is straight ahead, East is right and West is left. We marked it on maps. So when someone gives directions and says, “turn North on the next street,” it’s confusing. If North is straight ahead, why turn?

Then math. We were taught counting: “one-two-three-four-five.” I once had to pay back my employer for the extra hour I had marked on my timecard. My hours were from nine to noon. Count yourself: 9-10-11-12. I was getting paid for four hours. Everyone else was getting paid for three.

What to learn out of all the “facts” the world presents is confusing. Separating “truth” is like holding a raw egg in your hand to keep the yoke while the white runs through your fingers.

Thankfully, there is one infallible Book, one Everlasting Teacher—and we all have access. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:3.

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Just One Tooth

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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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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.

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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.

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