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

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

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

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

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

Importance of One

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I admire bestselling author and blog writer Valerie Poore for many reasons, one of which is her fascinating and enduring books, which can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Poore/e/B008LSV6CE?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1574431296&sr=1-1 Another reason I admire her is the frequency and dependency of her blogs. Fulltime teaching, writing, historic barge repairs and retrofits, terrible, depressing weather—nothing stops her from gifting her followers with a blog each week. She announced this week in her blog that she’s taking some well-deserved time off, but will be back.

Me? I sit back and wait for a blog to fall on top of me before I hit the keyboard. Sometimes it happens once a week. Often it happens once in a while. What fell on me this week was the importance of one person. One person can make a difference.

While I was researching facts about Quartzsite, Arizona, for a book that will be released in January, I was astonished to run into Hi Jolly again. I first met him at the Frontier Times Museum when I was doing research for an article in a local Bandera, Texas, newspaper. He was a camel driver brought to the U.S. from Syria in the 1860s to head up the government’s failed experimental Camel Corps during the Civil War. Camels’ hooves proved too tender to traverse the rocky ground of the west, especially the Texas Hill Country—and they spooked horses. It was considered excellent when they spooked Indian horses—but less excellent when they spooked Army horses. Hi Jolly died in Quartzsite in 1902. A rock pyramid topped with an etched metal camel marks Hi Jolly’s grave. One person.

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So, too, with J Marvin Hunter, a hero of mine. I met him again this week when I was researching Mason, Texas, for a future book. I fell in love with J Marvin Hunter when I researched the Frontier Times Museum in Bandera, Texas, and ran my hands over the rock walls he built himself using unique and unusual rocks that he found and those that admirers brought him. Hunter published Bandera’s newspaper for many years while also publishing the Frontier Times Magazine, and writing and publishing books about infamous western outlaws. He wanted to build a museum to safeguard and share the many unique items in his collection—including a shrunken head from Ecuador, a shrunken dog from Ecuador, a two-headed goat, 400 bells from around the world, some worn by elephants, a battle to the death between a rattlesnake and a roadrunner, and the head mounts of two deer with interlocking horns that died battling one another—but money was scare during the depression, so he wrote and published books to finance the building of the museum, which today boats of more than 40,000 exhibits. One person.

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Then there is Jesus. Jesus who gave up His home in heaven to live here on earth and touch us with His saving mercy and grace. Jesus. One Person.

We can’t all write books, drive camels, build museums—and none of us can be God—but we can all make a difference.

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

Criticizing Criticisms

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There are a few comics that I read every morning for a light, funny, uplifting start to the day. Usually.

Today I made the mistake of glancing at the comments. Every comment under every comic was a criticism. On one comic, someone had ridiculed the way the ant was drawn. On another comic, someone had said that babies kicking inside their mothers would not make the noises the cartoonist had drawn as a way to illustrate how lively the baby was. Really, folks? Did those derogatory comments make you laugh and give you a happy start to your day?

Not everyone is a Christian, so not everyone makes Jesus Christ their example. All who heard Jesus wondered at the “gracious words” that He spoke, words filled with power, spirit, and life. Not criticism.

The book of Proverbs is full of advice about how we should use our tongues: A man shall eat well by the fruit of the mouth; A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast; A word spoken in due season, how good it is; Death and life are in the power of the tongue; A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

Why is it easier to criticize than to praise? It shouldn’t be. It really shouldn’t be.

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

Misplaced Planet

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The headline first thing in the morning made me want to go back to bed, cover up my head, and let the rest of the world go by. Being claustrophobic and unwilling to cover up my head at any time—I stayed up to vent in this blog.

“Our Planet is in the Wrong Place.” Really? The Lord God Who created heaven and earth, who hung the earth on nothing, and who put everything into orbit made a mistake? I don’t think so.

Atheists and scientists endeavor to explain the creation of the world through various theories that deny “in the beginning God,” but they come up empty. A watch is made with a pattern, skill, and purposeful action. Put the parts into a box and they simply won’t assemble themselves no matter how much pressure, time, or exertion goes into waiting for them to evolve. Blow a watch up with a big bang and good luck finding the pieces.

Our collie puppy is ten months old. She’s a beautiful dog and has all the right parts—except one. Her pancreas is too small. She has Epi, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and because she has that she must take enzymes every time she eats for the rest of her life. Just one malfunctioning body part and our collie pup’s life hangs in the balance. If just one part of the anatomy is vital to the survival of a life, how can anyone imagine that life just happened with no intelligent design or Designer. “In the beginning God created” explains how we got here on this beautiful planet that has a perfect orbit and is the perfect distance from the sun for life to exist.

Our planet is in the wrong place? No, but some people’s heads are in the wrong place.

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Rock-Eating Dogs

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Politics aside (we were just kids), my sister and I were appalled by something President Lyndon Johnson used to do; he picked his beagles up by their ears. I use that memory in my newest cozy Christian mystery, “Herding Bats.” Also the frustration of dealing with dementia. But back to President Johnson’s dogs.

If he were still alive today, I would have to apologize to President Johnson for my harsh judgment of him for allowing his beagles to eat rocks. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine anyone letting their dogs eat rocks. Now we have a rock-eating dog.

Our blue merle rough collie puppy started eating rocks, a symptom we have since learned of Epi, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Savannah will have to take enzymes with her food for the rest of her life. Her rock eating spate thankfully stopped after the enzymes started.

I don’t know why the Prez’s beagles ate rocks. But I do know that I was stupid and judgmental, a habit just as ugly, dangerous and damaging as eating rocks. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” James 4:12 warns . I hadn’t read it when I was a kid – and sadly – I tend to forget it now as an adult. But having a rock-eating dog has humbled, taught, and reminded me. God has a right to judge. I don’t.

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZN6CX71/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=herding+bats+stephanie+parker+mckean&qid=1572217110&s=digital-text&sr=1-1