Victim

seagull eating crab
Everyone is a victim in today’s world.
Victims become alcoholics because depression causes them to drink. They become drug addicts because of dysfunctional homes. They become sexually promiscuous because parents didn’t love them. They engage in porn because they have issues with their bodies.
I read a story about a young girl who bashed the police for not taking enough action to prosecute the perpetrator of “revenge porn.” The girl willingly took pictures of herself naked and sent them to a guy she met on the internet, but she said she was a victim because she trusted the guy and he posted her pictures online. The girl was incensed because the police reaction was—you shouldn’t have taken naked pictures of yourself and sent them over electronic media.
Exactly what my mother would have said. My mother wouldn’t have called me a victim—she would have called me stupid.
Common sense says that you are responsible for becoming an alcoholic. You are not a victim unless someone holds you down and pours drink down your throat. Stay away from alcohol. Don’t take that first drink.
Common sense says you are responsible for becoming a drug addict unless someone ties you up and injects you. Stay away from drugs. Don’t take the first hit.
Common sense says if your home life was a disaster, get an education and work to give your children the harmonious home you never had. Put the past behind you and build a future.
Common sense says that if your parents never loved you marry someone who does and lavish your children with love. Lack of discipline spoils children—not love. Put the past behind you and give your family the gift of a great future.
If someone willingly takes pictures of themselves naked and sends them to someone else—that person is foolish, but not a victim. You are only a victim if you are locked into a room or held at gunpoint by someone who takes pictures of you naked—like I was.
I could tweet #MeToo for sex abuse, dysfunctional home, and having issues with my body—but I refuse to become a victim. By the power and strength of Christ Jesus living inside me in the form of the Holy Spirit, I am a victor.
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
Victim or victor? The choice is ours.

angel & cross close up
https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Pain

c water best 2

Unexpectedly struck with bone-on-bone arthritis after having lived an active life which has included painting signs; painting houses; climbing ladders to paint billboards; mixing cement; rock work, and walking and running long distances—I had to wonder why. I love God. Why so much pain?

I already knew that God never intended pain, illness, death, and sorrow to be in the world. He created Adam and Eve and gifted them with a perfect world. They would have lived forever without tasting the sour fruits of pain, death, illness, or sorrow if they had obeyed the one rule God gave them: do not eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

They ate the fruit. Sin entered the world. The first animal died. Years later, Adam and Eve died. Sin births death, illness, pain, sorrow.

Today I realized something else. The Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

If Christians were automatically protected from every adverse condition in the world—where would be the need for faith?

When we can praise God in every circumstance, good and bad, and recognize as Job did, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God,” we are exercising faith.

IMG_4119

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

Acres of Diamonds

DSCF5310

Acres of diamonds at my feet in the winter as each blade of crystallized grass releases myriad sparkles into the night. Dome of diamonds stretching across the summer sky at night.

Gold sun blitzing the sky during the day and gold traversing the sky at night.

Acres of diamonds, rivers of gold.

And yet…people lock diamonds in jewel boxes, hide gold in safes, and gather material goods to hoard in their houses. Instead of realizing that each day is a gift from God and holding it close…they hold gifts close and let God go.

DSCF6124

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

Misplaced Planet

moon fortrose 2

The headline first thing in the morning made me want to go back to bed, cover up my head, and let the rest of the world go by. Being claustrophobic and unwilling to cover up my head at any time—I stayed up to vent in this blog.

“Our Planet is in the Wrong Place.” Really? The Lord God Who created heaven and earth, who hung the earth on nothing, and who put everything into orbit made a mistake? I don’t think so.

Atheists and scientists endeavor to explain the creation of the world through various theories that deny “in the beginning God,” but they come up empty. A watch is made with a pattern, skill, and purposeful action. Put the parts into a box and they simply won’t assemble themselves no matter how much pressure, time, or exertion goes into waiting for them to evolve. Blow a watch up with a big bang and good luck finding the pieces.

Our collie puppy is ten months old. She’s a beautiful dog and has all the right parts—except one. Her pancreas is too small. She has Epi, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and because she has that she must take enzymes every time she eats for the rest of her life. Just one malfunctioning body part and our collie pup’s life hangs in the balance. If just one part of the anatomy is vital to the survival of a life, how can anyone imagine that life just happened with no intelligent design or Designer. “In the beginning God created” explains how we got here on this beautiful planet that has a perfect orbit and is the perfect distance from the sun for life to exist.

Our planet is in the wrong place? No, but some people’s heads are in the wrong place.

img_2443

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

Rock-Eating Dogs

savanna after surgery

Politics aside (we were just kids), my sister and I were appalled by something President Lyndon Johnson used to do; he picked his beagles up by their ears. I use that memory in my newest cozy Christian mystery, “Herding Bats.” Also the frustration of dealing with dementia. But back to President Johnson’s dogs.

If he were still alive today, I would have to apologize to President Johnson for my harsh judgment of him for allowing his beagles to eat rocks. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine anyone letting their dogs eat rocks. Now we have a rock-eating dog.

Our blue merle rough collie puppy started eating rocks, a symptom we have since learned of Epi, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Savannah will have to take enzymes with her food for the rest of her life. Her rock eating spate thankfully stopped after the enzymes started.

I don’t know why the Prez’s beagles ate rocks. But I do know that I was stupid and judgmental, a habit just as ugly, dangerous and damaging as eating rocks. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” James 4:12 warns . I hadn’t read it when I was a kid – and sadly – I tend to forget it now as an adult. But having a rock-eating dog has humbled, taught, and reminded me. God has a right to judge. I don’t.

HerdingBats_CVR_SML

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZN6CX71/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=herding+bats+stephanie+parker+mckean&qid=1572217110&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Excesses

DSCF7258

The man was about the size and shape of a refrigerator, except with extra padding in front—padding that pushed him away from the table and his food. Like the man, his food was considerable: a full Scottish breakfast (bacon, sausage, black pudding, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, an egg, and toast); a bacon and egg filled bun; two bottles of Pepsi; two cappuccinos; two desserts.

It was the man’s business. It was the man’s body. It was his money. His bill for one meal was as much as ours for two. Moving seemed to be a problem for him, even though he looked like he was in his early forties. He grabbed and pushed everything he could get his hands on to haul himself out of his chair and get to his feet. When he moved forward, he limped on both legs as if his knees hurt. Some folks have medical conditions that contribute to obesity. The man was probably hungry and with a body that big, it must take food fuel to move it. Still, I thought part of his overweight problem might be the excesses; a filled bacon and egg roll on top of the full breakfast, the two desserts, two bottles of pop and two cappuccinos.

When do our excesses become someone else’s business? When do we not have a right to our own bodies and to treat them however we want?

The Biblical answer is that we do not own our bodies. God does. God created us. Then He purchased life for eternity for us through the death of His Son Jesus. We are twice owned by God. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple are you.” 1 Corinthians 3:17.

Because sin entered the world through Adam and Eve and sin brought death into the world, we all begin the journey toward death at our births. God didn’t want this or intend this—His plan was always eternal life. That’s why our bodies have great capacity for healing. But old age and death approach as steadily as a fish being reeled in on a rod until the net slaps under it and catches it. None of us can halt the day of our death, but we can fight against the excesses that destroy our bodies, the temples of God; gluttony, alcoholism, drug use, smoking. We can’t stop the reel and escape the net—but neither should we willingly leap into it.

catfish

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

Bye Butterflies Bye

sunflowers and butterfly laredo december

The butterflies are gone.

The bees are gone.

The sun is gone.

Heat is gone.

The land languishes

Waiting for the ambush

Of cold and snow

And the melting

That will send spring again.

This is the time of year I feel morose. I hate winter. I hate cold. Snow has no appeal for me. This is the time of year I embrace suffering rather than hope; find negativity more natural than optimism.

I have no right to feel that way. God made both summer and winter and had reasons for creating both. Some people love winter and cold and tramping around in the snow, or hooking up with skis and winter sports equipment. And some folks hate summer and hot temperatures as much as I hate winter.

blog coidence

I haven’t found a cure for my winter dread, but reading Ecclesiastes helps. King Solomon was the richest, wisest man in the world. He wrote, To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted.

Winter is a time of plucking up. A time of dying. Butterflies are gone. Bees are gone. Sadness would stay, except I’ve read the next book in the Bible, Song of Solomon. The winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Spring will come again.

The Bible promises: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22.

DSCF5374

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

Misconceptions

birds on concrete at kirn

Many people believe it—but nowhere in the Bible does it say that Adam and Eve ate an apple. They ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Many people believe it—but nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. It says the Lord prepared a big fish to swallow him. Scientists out to shoot holes in the Bible have conducted studies to prove that a person could not be swallowed by a whale and survive. And yet—surely the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth is well able to prepare “a big fish” to swallow Jonah.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere.

Christmas cards portray bright fields of snow and evergreen trees decked with white—yet in many parts of the world—it never snows.

I got a bad review on one of my books from a reviewer who said, “We don’t have street vendors in the UK.” I based the character on a street vendor in Inverness, Scotland. The reviewer lived in England.

I got a bad review on another book from a person who said if I wrote about Texas, I should learn about it first. I was born in Texas.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere.

We all look at the world through the eyes of our experiences. If one has never read the Bible and relies on things other people have said—fruit becomes an apple and prepared fish becomes a whale. If one lives in northern climates, one will expect the whole world to have snow on Christmas. If one lives in England instead of Scotland, one may believe the UK has no street vendors. If one lives in tornado alley in north Texas, that person would not know about the plethora of wildlife in the Texas Hill Country.

Misconceptions. They are everywhere. We can do our part by focusing on bigger issues than fruit, fish, or real or imagined mistakes in books.

Kindness is a good starting place. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Kindness is love in action and leaves no room for misconceptions.

bandera horse statue

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

Dog Sickness

Savannah at home

From the time we brought her home when she was eight weeks old our rough collie puppy has won the hearts of strangers. Now she expects everyone she meets to say, “You’re gorgeous.” “What a beautiful dog.” “I love your dog.”

Savannah looked gorgeous on the outside. She still does. But she was sick on the inside and no one knew—not even the first vet who examined her and said, “What you have here is a beautiful, healthy collie puppy who is a perfect weight. Don’t worry.”

She might have been a perfect weight when he saw her, but she was not healthy and there was cause for worry. She had quit eating. Everything. He saw her before she started losing weight.

The second vet investigated more closely. Blood samples, x-ray. Irritable Bowel Syndrome and three medications. After six days of starving herself, Savannah finally started eating. Everything.

Each day we meet folks who look fine on the outside, but who have mental or physical illnesses on the inside. Some suffer extreme pain. We can’t see their pain, so when they are unkind  we blame them, not their disease.

 “Do not look at his appearance, or at his physical stature…For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

When someone is unkind to us, we need to look deeper.

savannah in grass 6 month

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

School Daze

trees hugging

Four years old and burning with envy—although I couldn’t name the emotion at the time—to see the older kids walking to school every day while I had to stay home. So I followed them.

Clueless, I ended up in a line in a hallway with a teacher walking along the line asking each child for milk money. Until she came to me. She stopped in confusion and asked me who I was and what I was doing there. I thought that was a rather silly question from a teacher at what was obviously a school. “I’m going to school.” I got sent home for another year.

We had moved by the next year. I was excited to catch the big yellow bus outside my house and ride to school on the first day. On the second day—I hid from the bus. If I had known about math—I’d still be hiding.

Much of what I “learned” in school was misinformation. My first grade teacher criticized my coloring. “Tree trunks are brown,” she said, “the sky is blue.” She had never been to the Texas Hill Country where tree trunks are grey. She had never been to Scotland where the sky is seldom blue.

We were taught that North is straight ahead, East is right and West is left. We marked it on maps. So when someone gives directions and says, “turn North on the next street,” it’s confusing. If North is straight ahead, why turn?

Then math. We were taught counting: “one-two-three-four-five.” I once had to pay back my employer for the extra hour I had marked on my timecard. My hours were from nine to noon. Count yourself: 9-10-11-12. I was getting paid for four hours. Everyone else was getting paid for three.

What to learn out of all the “facts” the world presents is confusing. Separating “truth” is like holding a raw egg in your hand to keep the yoke while the white runs through your fingers.

Thankfully, there is one infallible Book, one Everlasting Teacher—and we all have access. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:3.

IMG_4121

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