Bending, Breaking, Shaping 2020

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Many people don’t like change. I’m one of them.

I don’t like change because I’m mentally lazy. It’s not as easy for me to learn as it is for other folks, thus once I have learned something – I don’t want to have to discard it and learn something new. Take math. No, forget math. I’ve never learned math to start with, and thus any changes to it won’t distress me. I don’t do math.

Quit math when letters came

Today I woke up to find that Windows had commandeered my computer overnight and changed everything. I couldn’t even get to my email. I hate change.

Then I got to our grocery store and diligently followed the one-way arrows around the store—and thus—there was no way to avoid the soap aisle. Some scent on that aisle commandeered my sinuses and I desperately needed to cough. I held back the cough for fear folks in the store would think I had The Virus. I nearly passed out in the checkout line from holding back the cough that was demanding release.

I hate change.

However, as an author, I do embrace language changes that make for more powerful descriptions. I thought of a few today. “Alec, you’re making me angry. Quit going all 2020 on me.”

The box dropped off the shelf behind me and hit the concrete floor scaring the 2020 out of me.

“Let me tell you something, sugar. You know I ain’t one for gossip and talking bad about other folks—but I gotta tell you—that gal is as messed up as 2020.”

By the time she finished settling her mother at the nursing home, picking up the kids from school, and cleaning up after the sick dog—she felt as if she had lived through 2020 again.

The divorce hit her like 2020.

His life shattered around him like 2020, leaving him to trip over emotional obstacles like sleeping dogs in a dark room.

God never causes evil, but He commandeers evil and transforms it into something good. So since we can’t escape 2020, we can bend it, break it, and shape it into a new pattern. All it takes is…accepting change.

But I still hate the new Windows on my computer and I still don’t do math.

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

The Up Side of Down

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Because of bone-on-bone arthritis in my left knee I’ve been on crutches since June. Given that my waiting time for a knee replacement is still 11 months, we took to a ferry, three trains, and a taxi to get to York, England, to a private clinic for help. The first up side of crutches was at the second train station when I was in a waiting line for the women’s restroom. The line stretched down the hall. A station employee motioned me out of that impossibly long, slow-moving line—straight into the handicapped restroom. The up side of down.

Some folks say that since I’m an author I should write an autobiography. It would read like a bad comedy routine. In rainy, 30-degree weather, I wore a long skirt with a pair of shorts under it. My legs were bare. And cold. The idea was if something went wrong and I didn’t have time to change before my appointment, I could slip off the skirt and the doctor could examine my knee.

Alan and I get lost everywhere we go. We always leave early to give us time to get lost and found. This time, we didn’t get lost—the clinic did. We got to York, dropped our backpacks off at the motel, then called a taxi for the clinic. I had the address. I had the postal code. I had the phone number. The cab driver couldn’t find it. He was amazing. Because I was on crutches, he ran into every open business on the street I had as an address and asked if the clinic was there. No one had heard of it. He entered the post code into his cab and we wound up in a dark alley, a dead end with old brick buildings on either side. The buildings had no doors, no windows. So this amazing taxi driver started calling. He called the number, it went to voice mail…over again and again. Then he tried the second number, the one the first number gave for “immediate help.” There was an answer—a woman in Edinburgh whose job was answering after-hour calls for the clinic and taking messages. She had no listing for the York clinic.

At this point, Alan and I did what the Bible says to do, we thanked God. We explained to the taxi driver what we were doing and why. God’s Word says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” And it says, “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.”

Perhaps the timing for treatment was wrong. Perhaps the treatment was wrong. For whatever reason, God stopped the appointment. So we are thanking Him.

Months ago our washing machine went on a rampage and dried all our clothes without washing them first. We thought we had rounded up all the dried, unwashed clothes and put them through another wash. Wrong. I pulled out the jeans I had packed in the bottom of the backpack and nearly fainted from the sour smell. There was nothing I could do except wear the jeans and hope the smell dissipated. We had a train to catch and the only alternative to stinky jeans was to wear the skirt again and get cold. I hate being cold.

We got to the first train station on time, but we couldn’t get to our platform. Because of my crutches, we took the elevator—again and again. Up, down, up, down, up, down. The elevator wasn’t labeled. We couldn’t find our platform. I finally ran down—clomped down—a worker. No, he said, the way to the platform wasn’t marked, but just follow this long tunnel down and it would get to the lift that would take us to the platform. So we did. We made it to the platform in time to catch the train, only to learn that the train we needed was on the other side and had been posted wrong on the electronic sign. There was no time to look for another lift. I clomped up two flights of stairs and across the walkway and we made it to the right platform.

It should have been smooth sailing after this—only it wasn’t. We didn’t have time to stop for lunch and still make all our connections to get Savannah out of the kennel before it closed. So…we skipped lunch until 7 p.m. Like I said…don’t look for an autobiography in the future. It would read like a bad comedy.

Merry Christmas, all of y’all! Happy Birthday, Jesus! Never forget that He is the reason for the season—and all things work to the good of those who love Him. So keep that smile!

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

Mysteries

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I love mysteries. When I was a child, I read every Erle Stanley Gardner “Perry Mason,” and “Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine” I could find.

Recently I purchased a kindle book with an intriguing title, only to be disappointed that it wasn’t a mystery. I finished reading it and left a review for the author, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy mysteries.

So much of life is mysterious, especially in our human relationship with God. I’ve often asked God, “How do you do it? How do you give me ideas for books and help me write them?” Some might mistakenly claim that I labor under false humility. I don’t. God writes; I type. I have 19 published books.

My hope is that readers will enjoy “The Fog Busters—Old Bones Detectives.” Alec is nearly blind, John and Peg are nearly deaf, Morag is on a crutch, and the two youngest members of the amateur detective agency—Rory and Susan—are 60. The clean-reading, Christian cozy mystery is intended to entertain older readers, but the gentle humor should entertain readers of any age.

fog from ferry 2

When the Lord gave me the idea for the new mystery series two years ago, I made excuses for not writing them. I told God that I couldn’t write older Scottish characters because, having grown up in Texas, I wouldn’t understand Scottish-born people well enough to write convincingly. When I quit making excuses and started writing, the Lord took over.

“Black Pudding Murder” will be released soon. It’s been fun to write, but the real mystery isn’t in the book…it’s in how the Lord got involved to make it happen.

Jesus told His disciples, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.”  I guess even God is into mysteries.

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https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

From Texas to Scotland with Love

Imagine exchanging everything you know and love within a 24-hour period of time: going from a 100F summer to a 59F summer; exchanging Mexican food for fish and chips; switching from driving on the right side of the road to the left; leaving the safety and comfort of traffic lights and stop signs for confusing roundabouts; searching for light switches in bathrooms—because they are on the outside; getting either scalded or splashed by water because the faucets are on separate sides of the sink and the cold water is unexpectedly powerful; discovering that shower curtains are barely needed because the water only sprays within a small, weak circumference, and learning words you’ve never heard before—havering, scunnered, puddock (frog), puggled (tired out), shoogly, stushie, manky, dreich, breeks, glaekit, toerag, dauner, drookit, blether…it can happen. If you love someone enough, it can happen.

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God blessed me with a Scottish husband, Reverend Alan McKean, in 2011. That took me from sunny South USA to the cold and cloudy Scottish Highlands. It’s been quite a trip! Even after I learned that “pavement” means a pedestrian sidewalk (after getting yelled at by an irate bus driver because when he told me to get on the pavement I obediently stepped down to the asphalt in front of the bus), and even after knowing that biscuits are cookies and scones are biscuits, and words have extra letters in them (program is programme), it is still daunting at times. The cold never leaves and summer never comes. There are no dill pickles. Nestle House chocolate chips must (like dill pickles) be shipped in from the U.S. and forget ice tea; it simply doesn’t happen.

Steph & Alan w books

Scotland is a lovely country with awesome scenery in every direction. The people are great. I wouldn’t want to offend them because they are convinced that no one else in the world is like a Scottish Highlander…but one reason I love them so much and feel so welcome here is that they are a bit like Texans. They don’t say “howdy,” “y’all,” “fixinto,” and ain’t, and they are too reserved to go in for hugs unless you really get to know them—but they are warm, friendly, and independent. Great folks.

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So…it had to happen. A Texas writer in Scotland? Scotland got into the books. Two of the Texas Miz Mike mystery-romance-suspense books are set in Scotland. “Bridge to Brigadoon” finds Miz Mike on a vacation on the lovely Black Isle that is neither restful nor predictable. And the newly released “Bridge Back” has Miz Mike coming back to Scotland to marry…but with the differences in language, climate, and culture—will the wedding take place? Not to mention the mystery that threatens her life.

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Funny? Gut-bustingly funny! From start to finish, “Bridge Back” is a hoot. It’s even fun for me to read…and I wrote it.

The Bible guarantees that laughter is good medicine. So if something has you down and a chuckle would lift you up, give “Bridge Back” a read.

And, thanks, y’all!

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

 

Loof Lirpa & Money in the Bank

While my brothers and sisters were honor roll students, I was a mediocre student, predictably in the middle of my class. Sadly, my high school math average is – F.

However, I loved writing. Writing was the only occupation I knew where you got paid to lie. As a fourth grader, my first check as a writer was for $5 from a magazine that bought my story about the enormous snapping turtle in our pond. There was a snapping turtle. It was a whooper – just like the whooper about how much of a whooper the thing was!

Our seventh grade history teacher assigned us homework over the weekend, a two-page story on the explorer Loof Lirpa, who had discovered America before Columbus. I promptly forgot the assignment until Monday morning when I heard complaints and groans from students who hadn’t written their two-page paper because they couldn’t find information on Lirpa. No problem. I sat down at my desk and zipped out two pages feeling snug that for once – just once – I would be ahead of my class instead of behind them.

Our teacher asked how many people had completed their homework assignment. I proudly raised my hand. I felt like a champ when he invited me up to the front of the room to read my two-page report on the famous explorer.

Then he wrote Loof Lirpa on the board. Under it, he wrote “April Fool.”

Later, when I was a brand new Christian and a single parent, our church scheduled a special offering for building repairs. I desperately wanted to give generously to the project, but I knew that I only had $25 in the bank until my next check – a week away. However, when I sat down and carefully added and subtracted everything, I found an extra $100. Elated, I wrote out a check to the church for the extra $100. A few days later, checks started bouncing. Sure, my math was bad. Sure, I failed math in school. But I had checked and rechecked…and the money should have been there.

I marched into the bank with my check book to show them the deposits. They agreed with me and stopped all the bouncing checks and put money from the bank fees back into my account. They kept my check stub so their financial wizard could solve the conundrum. By the time they found the problem, I had received my paycheck and was in the clear…because the $100 really wasn’t in the account and never had been in the account. One of their cashiers had written a $10 deposit so sloppily that – even to the bank – it had looked like $100. The church got their offering, I got a week’s interest-free loan and no bank charges…God has a sense of humor!

Perhaps the reason I’m so excited about my next Miz Mike Christian mystery-romance-suspense “Bridge Beyond Betrayal,” is that it’s funny. I love humor. Bridge Beyond Betrayal is scheduled for release by Sunpenny Publishing Group on June 30. I can’t wait! I’m going to read it all over again just to get a good laugh!

Hope a lot of folks will buy Bridge Beyond Betrayal and join me in laughter. Besides, I can’t keep adding to the Miz Mike series if the books don’t sell. Even with my limited math skills, I understand that.

Writing, I love it! What other occupation pays liars?

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

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God’s Marvelous Sense of Humor

Folks often ask how someone from little ‘ol Bandera, Texas, “Cowboy Capital of the World,” and Scottish Pastor Alan T McKean found each other across an ocean and 3,000 miles apart – and got married. Especially since I can get lost in a shoebox.
The Lord has a marvelous sense of humor. Nothing demonstrates it more than putting two directionally challenged individuals together. We went for a walk in a wilderness park once and wound up on an eight-mile trek because we couldn’t find our way back to the parking lot. We finally got directions from fellow hikers so we could reclaim our vehicle before dark.
After our car was crushed by a taxi in Glasgow recently, we took a bus into Inverness to look for a new vehicle. We had a list of dealerships and addresses in one hand and a map in the other. We confidentially set out on foot to find a new car. Out of a list of seven different places, we never found even one. We got home to find a car in our driveway and keys through the letterbox. While we were on an impossible mission to find a dealership, wonderful Christian friends had decided to give us one of their cars. I can picture God chuckling as He watched us study the map and set off first in one direction, then in another, only to wind up back at the bus station again.
For nearly two years, we’ve made a mile-plus, twenty-minute hike up a steep hill to get to our dog’s veterinarian, because we can’t figure out how to get there in a car. Between the parking lot and the vet’s office, there are several roundabouts and a lot of one-way streets. Signs are small and lettered in both Gaelic and English, which makes them so cluttered that I can’t read them fast enough to react. When you hit a roundabout in the wrong lane and are fenced in by vehicles in every lane around you, you must simply keep driving around and around until you can move over and get off. I have on occasion wound up going back in the same direction from which I had just come! Many streets aren’t marked. When they are, the small signs with faded letters are perched up on buildings, eye level with giraffes.
On our most recent journey to the vet, Angel Joy had to be tranquilized for a procedure. The vet recommended picking her up in the car, because she would be too groggy to walk. We tried. We even bought a new map. We spent hours walking down every road that connected into the one we took to the vet’s office so we could find the right roundabout to take with the car. Finally…still on foot, we spotted a pedestrian trail up a steep hill that looked like it headed in the right direction. Out of sheer desperation, we took it. Five minutes later, we were staring at the vet’s office in amazement! We walked our mostly-recovered Angel Joy down the hill to the car.
God has a great sense of humor. When things get whacky in your life, enjoy a good laugh with the Creator of the universe – Who also invented humor!
And if you need direction in your life, turn to God. Unlike us, He never gets lost!
http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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