HER

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When I first became a Christian I bubbled over with love, joy, peace, and goodwill toward everyone. I thought everyone else was the same. Then I met…HER.

HER lives in Scotland. She hated me for being an American. She was still fighting against July 4, 1776 and American Independence. I was on the wrong side.

HER left me with lasting memories that I’ve forgiven, but haven’t forgotten. It’s a good thing. Every book needs a really nasty baddie to haunt the protagonist. To hold the reader’s interest, the author must hurl rocks at the protagonist and knock him or her down every time they get up again. HER taught me to lob rocks.

Before I met HER, I lived in a bubble. Truthfully, I sort of still do. I float through life glowing and joyful inside my bubble of protection and few things penetrate it. HER found a way to puncture it. So did HIM. But that’s another story.

The point is that as a writer, two of the most valuable people I’ve ever met are people who are antagonist, critical—walking negativity and poison. I love them both. I love them as a Christian because Jesus commanded His followers to love others—especially enemies because it’s easy to love friends who accept us, but dadgum hard to love those who hate us. And I love HER and HIM as a writer. I needed some jostling and pricking into the oblivion of my happy little bubble.

The Bible tells us “in everything give thanks,” and “all things work together for good to those who love the Lord.”

Give thanks for the HERS and HIMS in your life and for the rocks they lob at you. Each rock is an opportunity for growth. Pile them up and climb over a fence. Or just stick them into a book like I do.

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Garlic Salt

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My mother—who freely admitted she was no cook—used basically one seasoning in everything she cooked. Seasoning Salt.

Me—who also freely admits that she is no cook—use basically one seasoning in everything I cook. Garlic Salt. It’s a good thing I resort to garlic salt. I’ve never seen seasoning salt here in Scotland.

Because of panic buying due to Covid-19, our store has been out of garlic salt for weeks. So when I found garlic salt today at our store I danced in the aisle. I reminded myself of a character in one of my books.

Life is about celebrating the little things in life.

And remembering to thank God for them. “In everything give thanks.” 1 Thes 5:18

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Long Life

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Recent research proves that people in the U.S. who go to church live longer than those who don’t. No surprise. Psalm 119:50 says, “Your word has given me life.”

Worry, anxiety, and anger shorten lives. Jesus said, “Do not be anxious.” “Do not worry.” “Forgive others.”

Peace is a great life-extender. Philippians 4:7 promises, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Long life is not the reason to love God. The fact that God loves us is the reason to love Him. Every petal on every flower is a reason to praise God. Every day of sunrise and sunset is reason to serve God.

Church isn’t essential to love God—but it is essential to love God.

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Real Danger

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From the start I’ve known that the real danger is not coronavirus. The real danger isn’t about how many people get it. It isn’t about how many people die. It is about opening the door for political and police overreach of powers. That is happening here in the UK.

The Derbyshire police have issued citations to people for purchasing “non-essential” items at the grocery store. They told a store not to sell Easter eggs. They have informed people they are allowed only one hour of exercise a day. They have filmed dog walkers with drones. They dyed the Blue Lagoon near Buxton black on the premise that less attractive would keep folks at home.

The overreach of powers shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read the Bible from cover to cover. It’s right out of Revelation, the last chapter. It’s one step away from Chapter 13: God’s enemy satan exercises “all authority in the earth…and causes those who dwell in it to worship the beast…and he deceives those who dwell on the earth…and causes as any as will not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads that no one may buy or sell except the one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom…the number of the beast is 666.”

Scary times. Not because of Covid-19. Because of the overreach of police powers.

But there is a reason God has put 365 “fear nots” in the Bible, one for each day. Those who have read to the end of the Bible will know that Jesus won the victory. If we live and die in Him, victory belongs to us too.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God.” Revelation 21:4-7.

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Helpless

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She was 82 years old and started out every morning praying, “I am helpless except in you, O Lord.”

Conception P. Manfil lived in a discarded wooden crate someone brought her from a freight train. She had bought property in Kingman, Arizona, sight unseen and moved there when she retired. When she arrived—she found she had bought an empty lot two miles from town. No water. No electricity. No neighbors.

For twenty years, Conception lived in her crate in the desert. Her only visitors were the prairie dogs that came in through her screen door. She shared her food with them.

Every day, Conception walked two miles to the nearest store to get water and carry it back to her house. Then arthritis hit. It was painful to walk and she hobbled—but she kept walking. Her Social Security checks were just a bit over $100 a month. She couldn’t afford transportation.

Every day, Conception prayed, “I am helpless except in you, O Lord.”

One day a salesman from the local newspaper stopped by. “I love your paper,” she told him. “I get it once a month when I have enough money left over from my Social Security at the end of the month to buy it at the store—but I can’t afford a subscription.”

He left. He came back. He asked if he could take some pictures. “I don’t have any money for pictures,” she said.

“It won’t cost you anything,” he said.

An amazing thing happened. A well driller stopped by and drilled a well. An electrician came and installed an electrical connection and lights. People showed up at Conception’s door with groceries, a refrigerator, clothes, a stove, dishes—and more gifts than Conception’s small crate could hold. Then a house builder arrived.

God had sent help to the 82-year-old woman who was helpless except in Him.

Coronavirus or not, God can do the same for us. We are all helpless except in the Lord Who made heaven and earth.

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Works for Me

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My reaction to the Coronavirus is unpopular here in the UK: I’m angry over the mass hysteria and the media who created it, and at the same time, thanking God for sending a message to the entire world—“Hey! This is God. Remember Me?”

God is either in control, or He’s not in control. Prayer either works, or it’s a waste of time. Jesus is either the Healer, or He is not. Common sense like hand washing is common sense. But drastic measures like isolating millions of people is seeking a human solution rather than turning to God—and that’s lunacy.

Not that I have a problem with self-isolation. I’m a hermit. If it weren’t for my stomach and the lack of internet service, I would live in a cave in the desert. But I enjoy good food and writing is my life. I couldn’t exist without it.

My reaction to the Coronavirus is to quote two of my favorite scriptures: “In everything give thanks,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18, and “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Oh. And I just released another book. Works for me.

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The Positive in the Negative

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With all the hype, fear mongering, and panic buying caused by the Coronavirus, one thing is positive. With prime ministers, Hollywood stars, and sports figures getting cases it underlines human sameness and frailty—and the need for God.

World leaders get Coronavirus. Rich people get it. Famous people get it. No amount of power, riches, or fame stops the Coronavirus.

Same with God.

World leaders need God. Rich people need God. Famous people need God. No amount of power, riches, or fame deletes the human need for God. We all need God.

“Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.” Psalm 108:12

“My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He who keeps you will not slumber. The LORD is your keeper; He shall preserve you from all evil.” Psalm 121

And of course the Psalm so many are quoting now, Psalm 91: “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver you from perilous pestilence. You shall not be afraid.”

Do not fear. Everyone who is reading this survived Y2K.

God is the positive of every negative.

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Not Worried

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I lived through Spanish Influenza when I was four. My sister Leslie and I were so sick with exodus from both ends that we lived in the bathroom.

My horse kicked me in the face. I spent my birthday and Christmas in the hospital. I’ve been thrown from horses. Once our pony bolted, tossed me over his head, and landed on me. Leslie was happy. I protected Smokey from broken legs.

I’ve survived a poisonous snake bite and an attack by an African lion. I ran across a fallen log over a creek not realizing a black bear was under it. I nearly fell into a rattlesnake den when I was hiking. I escaped from growling Texas feral hogs that threatened to attack.

I survived child abuse, rape, and two forced backwoods abortions before I was fifteen—both of which put me in the hospital after I nearly bled to death.

I spent seven years as a single parent working up to three jobs at a time. I traveled from coast to coast in a pickup truck with all my belongings in the bed. My son Luke and I climbed up on top of the mattress on top of the load to sleep at night when we stopped at rest areas. I couldn’t afford a motel.

More recently I underwent major spinal surgery.

I am not afraid of Coronavirus.

While 125,000 babies are being murdered in abortions daily around the world—I refuse to worry about Coronavirus.

There are 365 “Fear Nots” in the Bible, one for every day of the year.

“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you.” Psalm 91.

Coronavirus does not scare me.

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Hospital Stay

As a Christian, my two favorite Bible verses are: in everything give thanks for this is the will of Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thes 5:18) and “ALL things work together for good to those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28).

As a writer, my two favorite Bible verses are: in everything give thanks and ALL things work together for good. For a writer, every new experience is a series of words waiting to be written. My two-day hospital stay is no different.

While waiting for a knee replacement, I discovered my blood pressure was high. So I began walking about a mile, and up the 39 steps that lead back to our house—on crutches. After three days of that, my left side was sore.

A few days later I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to go to the bathroom and could barely move. Once there, I couldn’t sit down on the toilet. I yowled every time I tried, even when husband Alan came to help. Somehow, Alan finally got me down…then I couldn’t get up. I sat on the seat from 5:30-6:30, before calling 111, the medical emergency number for Scotland. They said they had no staff available and I should call friends and neighbors to get me off the toilet seat. Really?

We finally called our pastor and his wife from “New Life Christian Fellowship.” We will be forever grateful to them. Jenny and Alan got me up and transferred to Alan’s desk chair. But I was still in too much pain to move and screamed in agony when I tried. Jenny—having been a nurse—called 111 again. She was informed that no ambulance would be sent and that I should call and make an appointment with my general practitioner. I couldn’t have made it to an appointment even if I scheduled one. I could not move. Any attempt to lift, move, slip, slide, or dislodge my left foot led to roars that would have startled an injured grizzly bear. When I finally got my GP, she dispatched an ambulance.

NEVER take the next moment for granted. I went to bed expecting to get up out of bed, take a shower, and head to my computer to work on my next book.

NEVER fail to express love and appreciation to those closest to you. You have no guarantee of your next moment of health, your next breath.

The EMTs injected me with 10 units of morphine before moving me. At the hospital, from approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., I attempted to make conversation work. No one seemed to comprehend that the reason I couldn’t move my left foot was because the pain incapacitated me. They had never experienced anyone in as much pain who had not been in an accident or broken something. X-rays showed no fractured ribs. It appeared that the pain was caused by bruised ribs and pulled muscles from overuse of crutches. But before that became clear and I was given a huge injection for pain, an enthusiastic physical therapist was sent to get me mobilized so I could go home. He told me to walk “just a little” from the bed to the dresser across the room. He didn’t understand that I couldn’t. I could not lift my left foot. I told him, but he didn’t understand. He put his foot behind my left foot and when I lifted my heel a few inches, he pushed his foot under my foot and attempted to slide my left foot forward when I moved my right foot. Major failure. My left foot was wired to the floor. The bear yowl I let out startled everyone within earshot. With him pushing and me leaning on a walker, I progressed three steps in 15 minutes. Enthusiastic therapist decided I really could not move my left foot and I should return to bed—but I couldn’t get back. I finally twisted my right foot around enough, threw myself over the walker, and propelled it with my right foot.

Lesson learned: Just because you are talking, don’t assume communication. People who have never experienced what you are experiencing won’t understand no matter how many ways you say it or how many times you say it.

I was admitted to the hospital. I was somewhat anxious when I was wheeled into the “Hospice” ward. On reflection, I shouldn’t have been stunned. I did sound like a dying cow.

I’m home from the hospital now.

There are jokes about hospital food. Meals at Cowal Community Hospital in Dunoon, Scotland were lovely. The EMTs were awesome. The doctors were competent and caring. The nursing staff was friendly and helpful. Patients were made a priority, not just a job.

In everything give thanks. I got an idea for a blog. All things work together for good. I can get up and down from the toilet seat again.

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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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