No Fear…Absolutely

IMG_2367

There are no easy answers for why bad things happen to good people, and why a loving God allows them to happen.

There are a lot of chipper, upbeat standard answers that sometimes make those afflicted with pain and suffering angry. Sure, they may be true – but in the midst of pain who wants to hear: Everything that happens in your life is a consequence of the decisions you’ve made and your actions. True or not, I can’t imagine walking into a hospice ward to visit a person with lung cancer and saying, “Well, this is your fault for smoking.”

True or not, in the center of a storm of pain, hardship, and suffering – telling someone that God created a perfect world, which was ruined by sin, and that God never intended bad to enter His perfect creation is not much comfort. Action to help the person is needed more than all the glib clichés one can deliver.

Please, I welcome your prayers, but the following is Not a plea for sympathy. When my hip pain started a few years ago, I ignored it. I declared stoutly, “I don’t need to go to the doctor. Even if an x-ray shows a problem, I will never let anyone cut me open. So why go?” So I exercised, ran, and prayed the pain away. I was a Texan, after all, and just like my character Texas Miz Mike in my mystery-romance-suspense “Bridge” series, Texans stand up to crisis. They don’t back down even from rattlesnakes.

Prayer works. From the time I was a new Christian and God removed my warts, to the time my son was scheduled to have a metal rod inserted in his spine and God healed him instead, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever – and Jesus heals. Prayer works. But sometimes we don’t get the answer we want or expect. Sometimes God answers “No.” Sometimes He answers “Wait.” For me this time, God’s answer was “NO.” For whatever reason, God did not heal me and I became increasingly worse. By worse, I am on crutches. I can’t open my mouth to take a bite of food without throwing the utensil down and hollering in pain.  Sneezing, yawning, coughing – the pain is so intense that it would knock down an elephant. Fortunately, I’m a Texan.

22140941_1573099082713469_2582066240959656349_n

The MRI showed a “huge” bulging disc in my spine that presses directly into the nerve. Instead of my right hip, the pain has spread to both hips and makes it impossible for me to drive because I can’t lift my foot and press down on the clutch. Why do I have this pain? Why has God not healed me? I don’t know. I do know that the Bible says to give thanks in everything, because this is the will of God for me in Christ Jesus. So I give thanks. I know that everything works together for good to those who love the Lord. Everything. How is this horrific pain working together for my good? I don’t know exactly, but I have an idea.

No fear. The greatest fear a person faces in life is death. Once that fear is eliminated – there’s nothing to fear. I lost my fear of death when my 37-year-old son died in a plane crash four years ago. He’s in Heaven and I will get to see him again when I get there. Everyone must walk through the valley of the shadow of death to get to Heaven. But shadows aren’t real. They can’t hurt. Shadows are an illusion. No fear.

536469_325492654189580_99719090_n

However, I love mobility. I want to walk, run, swim, climb mountains – keep moving. Therefore…I was determined that no doctor, no surgeon was ever going to touch my spine. Until…the pain. It took severe pain to grow me past the fear of having surgery. My surgery is scheduled for next week and I would be jumping in joy – if jumping didn’t hurt so much and if I could lift my feet. I am thrilled. I am totally unafraid and totally ready to surrender my life, health, and spine to whatever surgeon God provides. Trusting God totally and totally without fear.

I can’t answer the question of why bad things happen, or why Jesus didn’t heal me this time as He has in the past. Mysteries belong to God, even though I write them in books. But this I know, pain has pushed me to grow beyond fear. Totally.

blog-3

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

Christmas shadows & Lights

For seven years of single parenthood, my son Luke (the late Major Luke Gaines Parker, Aug. 19, 1976-Nov. 17, 2013) and I lived in the Nevada desert. One of our favorite entertainments was holding sagebrush jumping contests – which I hasten to add, he invariably won!

Except the mountains changing colors as clouds pass over them, shadows in the desert are short. Rocks, sagebrush, Russian thistle (tumbleweed), rabbit brush – all cast short shadows and there are virtually no trees. When we moved to the Texas Hill Country, trees along the road threw shadows down and when those shadows hit the road in front of me when I was driving, I got dizzy. It was a silly thing and I couldn’t understand it until Mom’s Christmas present.

Because Mom never had much money to spend on us at Christmas, she came up with unique, affordable gifts like the scrapbook of childhood photos she compiled for each of us one Christmas. It must have taken her weeks of sorting through pictures to get all the photos in the right albums for the right children. Luke loved the pictures of his mom as a child. We were looking at the album one day when I focused in on a small wooden house splattered with shade from trees surrounding it. Suddenly, the picture reached out and grabbed me. I was pulled through the hall to the back door where – partly outside my range of vision – my father was beating something to death. I couldn’t see the victim clearly enough to identify it, and the unexpected image frightened me so badly that I snapped out of the trance. I tried to revisit that picture later when I was alone, but I never could get past the front door again. The image of him pounding something and blood everywhere had terrorized me.

So my newest book, “Fear of Shadows,” was born from that Christmas gift and from the horrendous memory that almost surfaced.

My father was an atheist. He was a cruel wicked man who obeyed no law – God or man-made – except his law: “What’s good for J.L. Potter is good.” As a result, he committed shockingly evil crimes during his lifetime and was one of the first 51 people in the U.S. to die from a newly discovered disease that hadn’t even been named yet. We know it now as AIDS.

“Fear of Shadows” is a Christian mystery-romance-suspense book written from my imagination, not a true story. They say that fact is stranger than fiction. It is a fact that when I was five, my father loaded me, his mother, a Great Dane dog, my grandmother’s dog, and two cats into a wood-paneled station wagon and drove away from California in the middle of the night. He left my sister, my brother, and my pregnant mother behind. We camped out in the then-untamed Florida Everglades swamp along a lagoon with venomous snakes and alligators. We ate bread and peanut butter, and pancakes that my grandmother cooked over an open fire, every day…day after day. All these years later, I still can’t eat pancakes. My father claimed he was looking for work. Perhaps he wanted to herd alligators.

So…who and what was his victim? I don’t know. But I think you’ll enjoy the story that this experience wrote for me. God Bless you and Merry Christmas.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/387341

Image

Prophet on Fire!

Bible prophet Jeremiah faced constant ridicule, mocking, and cruel physical treatment including imprisonment and incarceration in a muddy dungeon for his faithful witness and warnings about how lifestyle choices earn God’s blessings or God’s wrath. Jeremiah became so fearful, bitter, and hurt by ill treatment that he decided to quit preaching God’s Word – but he couldn’t.

“His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones,” Jeremiah lamented. “I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.” (Jeremiah 20:9) So the weeping prophet kept preaching.

I feel somewhat like a prophet on fire! I’ve been holding back on introducing my newest Christian mystery-romance-suspense, Fear of Shadows, until it is actually released. But it should be released sometime this week and I simply can’t hold back. It’s like a burning fire shut up in my bones and it’s begging for release. Also, we will be gone and away from a computer for a week – so here’s a synopsis of Fear of Shadows.

I was about to loose my virginity against my will in a moldy smelling house with plaster falling off the walls, critters crawling up through holes in the floor—on a torn, stained bed with no sheets and rat droppings bouncing around me when I moved. I deserved better than this. I deserved the right of choice. I deserved the right to the joy of making love for the first time with someone I loved. I deserved to give myself to a man for the first time in a clean bed with clean sheets.

Self-sufficient Texas Eugenia Thornhill espouses many rebellions including giving a man—any man—authority over her heart, or her life. She hates the mother who named her “Texas” after her birth state instead of loving her enough to give her a real name. She hates the mother who ran off and left her young child with a cold, emotionless father.

Texas likes to brag that she’s not afraid of anything—not even spiders or snakes. Her boast proves empty when she meets childhood friend West Strom and realizes that she is deathly afraid of shadows, but clueless as to why. Time and again she shatters their nascent romance by mindlessly shrieking and running out of her childhood home, fleeing the shadows that terrify her.

Pranksters also seem intent on sabotaging the relationship. A dead raccoon is hung on the refrigerator, a rock is thrown through the window, furniture is trundled around the room in total disarray, then righted again before West arrives to investigate.

Texas is tricked into holding a séance. West, a strong Christian, is appalled that Texas is involved in witchcraft. That almost ends their friendship.

But the most destructive force entering her life proves to be the seemingly harmless fun of frequenting a Texas dancehall with Thornhill Ranch manager Jason Peace. She finds herself accused of murder and forced into hiding. When she escapes and clears her name, it only adds to the dystopia at the ranch.

Texas exhibits her paintings in a feminist art show in San Antonio and meets her mother. Her mother apologizes, but does not explain her abandonment. When they say goodbye, Texas is saying goodbye to a stranger.

West arrives to rescue her from what Texas has realized is a nefarious art exhibit revolving around hate and discord. But even though West gives Texas a kiss that stuns her with its passion, how many times can her childhood hero rescue her from her foolish choices and paralyzing fear of shadows?

When Texas finally solves the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and learns the truth about her fear of shadows, it is a truth that threatens to destroy every single person she loves.

So, hope Fear of Shadows makes it out this week and hope you’ll buy it and enjoy it! I’ll be sharing the link when we get back. Meantime, you can probably find it surfing the web. And – hey – thanks!

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

Image