Risks and Rewards

Bandera, Texas rancher Maudeen Marks took risks. She was a single, never married cattle rancher. No, correct that quickly because Maudeen did not ranch cattle—she ranched Texas Longhorns.

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“I never married,” she told me, “because World War II started and all the strong men left to fight the war and never came home. It would take a strong man to handle being married to me.”

Strong man, because she was a risk taker. She continued her father’s legacy of raising pure longhorn cattle after her daddy died. She bought a ranch in the Texas Hill Country and turned it into a dude ranch. Guests were welcome—but they had to mingle with Maudeen’s iconic Texas Longhorn Cattle. Maudeen’s longhorns were recognized as the standard for breed purity. They were also her pets. It was amazing to see the petite rancher wander into a sea of imposing horns and disappear behind them as she hand fed treats to her cattle and scratched their heads.

Maudeen led trail rides well into her eighties. Her risk-taking garnered her rewards: being honored as Woman of the Year, being selected as parade marshal, being inducted into the Bandera County Museum as the woman who put the mark in remarkable.

A may come before R in the dictionary, but risk comes before award in life.

My new Christian cozy mystery-romance-suspense was inspired by Maudeen who would have loved to buy the State of Texas, fill it with longhorns and Texas Rangers, and hold nightly dances from windmill to windmill. She never experienced the joy of marriage and having children in this life, but she is dancing with Jesus in Heaven now and celebrating her eternal reward.

Twisted Perfection

Bandera, Texas, “Cowboy Capital of the World,” used to be called the place where misfits fit. It still is (as Three Prongs) in the Christian mystery-romance-suspense book Bridge to Nowhere, published by Sunpenny.

Ross was a deaf mute. He rode his tractor up to the main road and caught a ride into town, visiting with friends at the coffee shop. He talked with his hands and everyone understood him.

Harold Jenkins was so twisted and gnarled from birth that he frightened children. His hands were like claws and his arms were bent and deformed. His face looked like it had been trampled on and then half-eaten by a wild hog. He had a heart of love that made him beautiful. He loved Jesus and told everyone. He was a volunteer ambulance driver and firefighter.

Occasional unkind remarks claimed that Gerald wasn’t much smarter than a mop. But even those who questioned his mental capacity lauded him as honest and hardworking. He rode his bicycle into town each day and waited until someone hired him for the day. He was always positive and never complained, even when he was dying of cancer.

Lou Colburn was long labeled a “hopeless alcoholic.” Then he got saved and exchanged the bottle for Jesus. He led trail rides, entertained guests at a local dude ranch and eagerly shared his salvation experience. Lou had TEXAS written in gold across his teeth.

Three sisters. I’m the author of Bridge to Nowhere, Love’s Beating Heart, Heart Shadows, Shadow Chase and Until the Shadows Flee. I’m blessed to be married to author Alan McKean, author of time travel adventures The Scent of Time and The Scent of Home. I am also blessed to have an extraordinary son, Luke, in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Leslie P. Garcia is the author of Unattainable. She has four lovely, talented children – all teachers and coaches – and nine great, lovely and talented grandchildren.

Vicky Potter is a talented editor and animal trainer. Her dogs visit in nursing homes and children’s homes, bringing joy to the housebound. Her dog Lucius is a star now in the musical Annie.

Abortion advocates believe that children in the mother’s womb who might experience physical or mental problems should be killed. Scientists are taking two or three human eggs, removing genetic imperfections, and putting the eggs together to create perfect babies. Had they tested us three sisters in our mother’s womb, we might never have been born. All three of us inherited a genetic weakness in math.

And how much poorer the memories of Bandera without its “misfits” – who fit?

Today I was feeling honored and blessed by God for having been allowed to write the pro-life teen & up action, adventure, romance Love’s Beating Heart. I was thinking about a world in which only perfect people were allowed to live. (Yup. I’d be out!) Without the Harold Jenkins of the world, how would we learn that true beauty is on the inside, not outside? How would we learn to look past the face and see into the heart?

Without a Ross, how would we learn to really listen, even without words?

Without a Lou Colburn, life would be boring.

Without a Gerald, how would we learn that God creates gifts and places them inside each individual and a person doesn’t have to graduate at the top of the class to be a success.

Without people who are allowed to live in spite of their imperfections, would we learn kindness? Would we learn to be thankful for our own strengths? Would we have the chance to be a blessing to others by helping someone less fortunate than us? Every life is precious. Every life is a gift from God. A world of perfect people would be horrible and twisted…and incredibly sad and empty place.

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Orkney, Guns & Collies

Just got back from a lovely trip to the Scottish island of Orkney. Even though Orkney’s history was written in spilled blood from Viking longboat invasions along the coast, the island is quiet and peaceful now and you don’t need a gun.

My past was written in the western drama of Texas. My Christian mystery-romance-suspense book Bridge to Nowhere (Sunpenny Publishing) is set in the imaginary Texas town of Three Prongs, much like Bandera, “Cowboy Capital of the World” – a place where misfits fit. Guns are important to folks in Bandera. If you find a rattlesnake in your driveway, a wild pig killing livestock, or a rabid coyote chasing your dog – you’re gonna want a gun.

Fish Soup (Sunpenny Publishing) author Michelle Jayne Heatley, from Brixham here in the UK, inquired about becoming an honorary Texan. It was suggested that she get a gun, an answer she quickly negated. To folks in the UK, including picturesque Orkney, guns are not needed and are despised. They are not written into the fabric of the country.

I never owned a gun in Texas (but I can shoot one) for the same reason I don’t train collie dogs. You have to be smarter than the dog to train it. And if you’re using a gun for protection, you better be smarter than your attacker – or he will get the gun away from you and use it against you. Why make it easier for him? I know the sum of my intelligence. I failed high school math.

But not owning a gun doesn’t mean that I can’t protect myself. I have a mobile security company on the job. I own stock in the company. “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear.” Psalm 46:1. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

So I would encourage you wherever you are in the world to seek your protection from the Source of security Who will never let you down. You don’t have to be smart enough to train a collie or own a gun and you don’t have to live on an idyllic island like Orkney. Only one condition is demanded for 24/7 security…faith.Image