Alligators Climb Fences

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You are sitting on your porch steps watching your toddler play with your dog and thinking all is right in your world when an alligator climbs the fence and plops into the yard. It happens.

Alligators crash into our everyday lives stealing our joy and smashing our peace. Hurricane Dorian just trashed the Bahamas. Evelyn Cartwright discovered she had an inoperable brain tumor. Alligators. They are everywhere.

As I write this blog, an alligator crashed into our lives and sent our seven-month-old rough collie to the vet to be on a drip today. And my knee hurts. No appointment with the orthopedic surgeon yet—nearly two months overdue. Alligators. They belong in swamps. They are destructive and deadly when they climb fences and drop into folks’ lives.

sav in ditch

No matter how much time, energy, and money we put into fence-building, and no matter how strong and high we build the fences—we can’t stop alligators. The biggest gator to climb the fence and crash into my life was on November 17, 2013, when my son USMC Major Luke Parker flew a plane from earth to heaven.

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We can’t stop tragedy, but God and His Word give us help, hope, and strength. “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter:12, 13. Even the Apostle Paul got bitten by gators.

My two favorite verses in the entire Bible: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and “ALL things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28)

When gators climb your fence and snap at you—rebuke them in the name of Jesus. Evelyn Cartwright did. She’s healed.

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

Sacrifice of Love

Luke's Bible

Love this Christian song, “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.” Believe me—reading the words are far more enjoyable than listening to me sing them.

Having a puppy in the house again after so many years reminds me of having a baby: the same lack of sleep, the same getting up incredibly early, potty training, picking up after, vigilant for potential dangers inside and out. It’s exhausting.

It’s also fun. While our rough collie puppy Savannah has brought an increased workload into the house, she has also brought increased joy and laughter. Love is worth the sacrifice—and love always demands sacrifice.

Media in the physical world likes to portray love free from danger, sacrifice, and commitment.  “Free” love doesn’t exist.

The greatest love story of all time epitomizes the foundation of love, a foundation that never shifts regardless of how society shoves and beats against it in an effort to bully it into their agenda.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for friends.” Jesus. (John 15:13)

Love is beautiful. Everyone needs love. Everyone wants love. Not everyone is willing to sacrifice for love.

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

“Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” from the Desert

As a single parent with a sick child, I couldn’t afford to buy a Christmas tree. I hadn’t been able to afford a turkey and all the fixings at Thanksgiving – we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Trees of any size or kind were rare in the Nevada desert, populated by sagebrush, tumbleweed, coyotes, horned toads, bull snakes, rattlers, and antelope. I loaded my seven-year-old son, Luke, and our dogs into the truck and drove out into the desert to find a Christmas tree. We drove up and down dry washes and on such faint narrow trails that it seemed inevitable that we were going to get stuck even more in the middle of nowhere than where we lived. Finally we climbed a steep, dusty hill and found a few scraggly mountain junipers crouched between rocks. Luke was thrilled!

Luke examined each tree critically, scrambling over rocks and climbing up steep ledges to view each tree from every angle. Then he picked his favorite and cut it down. We bounced back home over rocks and through dry washes and carried the little tree into our mobile home.

The tree trunk was as twisted as egg beaters and the branches not much better. It was difficult to keep the tree in the stand because no matter which way it was turned – it over balanced and fell. Finally, I managed to wrap towels around the trunk tightly enough to make it stand and Luke joyously dragged out decorations and glorified the juniper with lights, bulbs, and handmade decorations.

I fought back laughter every time I looked at that scraggly tree weighted down with twinkling lights and colorful decorations. It reminded me of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.

Enter Missing Dad who had hardly seen Luke after his fourth birthday and who had never sent a penny of child support. MD immediately declared the little tree was the ugliest thing he had ever seen and berated me for not having bought a real Christmas tree for my son. Luke left the room in tears and MD stomped out the door and drove off – forever, I hoped. Sometimes things are not forever. MD was soon back with a large store-bought, pre-decorated Christmas tree. He moved Luke’s tree into the corner and installed the “real” Christmas tree in its place. Then he berated Luke for not being excited about the purchase and for insisting that he liked his Charlie Brown tree better.

Fortunately, MD did not stay in our lives long. He never had. Still criticizing us for keeping Luke’s tree in the house when we had a “real” tree, and still criticizing me for not having purchased gifts to put under the store-bought tree (even after I explained I couldn’t afford to buy anything), he drove away. We watched him until he was out of sight and shared a sigh of relief.

Eyes sparkling, Luke turned to me, “Mom,” he said. “I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but now that he’s gone, can we have the real tree back? Please, Mom.”

So we stuck store-bought tree out back and hung popcorn strings on it for the birds. We put Luke’s “real” tree back in its place of honor in our home.

Love, not money, makes things real. Luke loved his “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_01458848_10200230217077597_1234715713_n