P Choices: People or Phones

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It’s been wonderful beyond description spending time with people—meaning my family members in Tampa, Florida. This side of heaven, I can’t imagine anything sweeter—and now we are on our way to Laredo, Texas, to visit the rest of the family.

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Therefore, it wounded me watching a family at the table next to us at a local restaurant. Three adults sat on one side of the table playing with their phones. A toddler sat on the other side of the table—screaming. The child was crying so hard that her face was pinched, her cheeks wore white patches, and she was shaking. Not a single one of the adult women even glanced up from their phone screens.

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The child screamed so loudly that two elderly ladies in a booth across from the table motioned the waitress over and demanded to be moved somewhere else. And, still, the three adult women sat zoned out in front of phone screens.

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Psalm 127:3 says that children are a heritage of the Lord. Psalm 107: 41 says, “God sets the poor on high, far from affliction, and makes their families like a flock.” Those folks at the restaurant chose phone over people—over their own children and family. Tragic. Unbelievably tragic. Family is our only gift in this life that follows us into eternity.

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

Big Dogs, Small Dogs

scot-puppyFirst the disclaimer. I am not a dog expert, “dog whisperer,” or dog trainer. The dogs in my books like the lovely rough collie Shiloh in “Bridge to Brigadoon,” plus the equally lovely collie in “Bridge to Desert Desire” and “Bridge Back” are based on dogs that have owned me and buried their memories in my heart. That said, I had an epiphany this morning about big dogs versus small dogs.

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Small dogs are often fearless. They launch themselves at an “enemy” so much bigger than they are that it makes us laugh. Often, while they are tilting at canine windmills, bigger dogs are scrunching up to hide behind something too small when they perceive human displeasure directed at them.

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I believe small dogs are courageous because their human owners constantly lavish them with love and attention. A small dog can be held on a lap and cuddled. They realize they are the center of their human’s universe and that builds them up on the inside resulting in self-confidence.

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Bigger dogs don’t fit on laps after they outgrow the puppy stage. They get pushed off, ordered off furniture, stuck outside in the yard – and are often, perhaps, in trouble for being able to reach and destroy human belongings that small dogs can’t reach. Unlike small dogs, their self-confidence never gets bolstered.

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If this surmise is true, it should be a reminder to parents to love their children and lavish attention on them. Children can never be “spoiled” by too much love. Lack of discipline will “spoil” a child, but lack of love cripples them for life. We should love our children at every age, every stage.

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Now what does this have to do with Christmas? It’s just a reminder to love our family at Christmas and on every day of the year. Our days on this earth are limited. Our love shouldn’t be.

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http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

The good in Goodbye

One Meredith Wilson song in the 1962 film “The Music Man,” starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, is “Sincere.” Singing it, The Buffalo Bills lament, “where is the sin in sincere, what is good in goodbye?”

Goodbyes can be good.

This is the time of year in Fortrose-Rosemarkie, Scotland, when adult seagulls say goodbye to their young. Hearing the frantic, anxious calls of the abandoned youngsters rips my heart. The baby seagulls don’t understand why parents that have so lovingly cared for them suddenly leave and ignore their agonized cries. Big, fluffy, grey baby gulls walk along the edge of the water and sit on rooftops calling their absent parents. But this time, no matter how gut-wrenching the cries – the parents don’t respond.

I wonder if it is as hard on the parents to ignore the hurt cries of their young as it is on me. If so, they ignore the sharp, biting heart pains and distance themselves – using the wisdom God instilled in them – so the babies will be forced to exercise the feeding and flying skills that the parents have so diligently taught them. If they continued to care for their babies, the babies would continue to live on handouts and never learn self-sufficiency. A winged example of the popular cliché “tough love.”

All parents experience the hurt and learn the benefits of goodbyes when their children are still young. Goodbyes are a part of sending children to school to learn, sending them to visit grandparents and friends, sending them to summer camps…sending them away to universities, jobs, and distant locations. Without the goodbyes, children would never grow into their full potential and learn God’s will for their lives. Goodbyes can be good – but they still hurt.

The longest, hardest goodbye is when someone we love “dies.” It’s been nearly a year since my wonderful, talented son, USMC Major Luke Parker, “died” to this world. Perhaps my deep inner hurt and emptiness magnifies the anguished cries of the baby seagulls and makes me hypersensitive.

Everyone who has ever said goodbye to a loved one who departed from this world, however, has an advantage over those confused, lonely baby gulls. If we are Christians, we know that the separation is temporary. We will join our loved ones again in Heaven with Jesus lighting the way. What an awesome comfort! Death is not an end, it’s the doorway into eternity and the beginning of living a life without pain and loss.

As for the gulls…they are forced to use the life skills they have been taught. They will pass them on to their youngsters. But will they ever see their parents again? I hope so. I really hope so.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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