Crutch-free 2022

I’ve heard atheists say of Christians, “They are so weak that they need a crutch.”

As someone who has spent most of the past five years on crutches—I laugh. There is nothing easy about moving one’s body weight on a couple of sticks. It takes strength, determination, and grit.

My first experience motivating everywhere with crutches was prior to back surgery. Next it was a two-year wait for a knee replacement. Now it is recovery from hip replacement surgery. One of my nurses laughed at me for having my name written on my crutches. She didn’t understand that they were the dependable tools that enabled me to get up, get down, and move around putting one foot in front of another. They were my lifeline to freedom of movement.

Still, after my recent hip replacement surgery, I am looking forward to a crutch-free 2022. I think my sticks have earned a rest!

I’ve been asked what I’m going to do with my crutches when I no longer need them. I think I will keep them as a reminder to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Jesus has done so much for me. Yes, He is my Crutch. He is my Weight Bearer. Because He lives, I am not afraid to die. When a person does not fear death—there is nothing left to fear.

Because Jesus lives, I am unmoved by the fear-mongering over the pandemic. With Jesus bearing the weight, I can walk through life unafraid, leaning on Him when I need to lean, and letting Him pick me up and carry me when I am weary. Because Jesus is my Crutch—One whom I will keep not only through 2022, but through the rest of my life—I have peace and joy that passes all understanding.

Yes, I have a Crutch. And I am so proud of Him.

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Christmas In All Of Its Colors

My husband complains that it is hard to shop for me. I don’t wear jewelry. I don’t want more clothes. I am blessed. I have everything I need. My favorite gifts are rocks and chocolate—and I’m picky about the chocolate.

When son Luke was in USMC basic training in San Diego, a street vendor approached him with a tray of jewelry and said, “Son, buy one of these beautiful necklaces for your mother for Christmas. She will love you forever.”

Luke replied, “My mom doesn’t wear jewelry, sir. What she really wants is a bag of cement for her garden.”

My favorite thing at Christmas is giving. From working two and three jobs at a time as a single parent to other adventures in life, I’ve never had much money to spend at Christmas (or any other time of the year) to enable me to give freely. This year presents even less opportunity for giving, because while recovering from hip replacement surgery—perhaps going back to the cement and rocks?—I can’t drive for six weeks.

So this year, especially, I am thankful that Christmas is not about shopping. It is, however, about giving. It is about One Gift from God. All the colors of Christmas are written in these words:

“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke, Chapter Two.

This is Christmas.

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Leaving Leaves

Some people hate autumn because leaves falling off trees remind them of death and dying. I hate autumn because it leads to winter. I hate cold.

Some people wax poetic about the beauty of leaves changing colors. I love color and beauty, too, but what I love most about fall leaves is their passionate dance with the wind.

Leaves are born to a single tree in the spring. For the first half of their lives—they are stationary. They are held captive by the tree. Wind can tickle them and make them tremble or shiver—but the leaves can’t go anywhere. They are dependent on their attachment to the tree.

Fall arrives. The leaves turn lively colors and die. Trees release them. The wind catches them up—and suddenly—they are no longer “dead.” They have new life, new adventure, new purpose. Piles of fallen leaves warm the ground and protect it from winter cold. Creatures bury themselves under the leaves finding shelter and food. Eventually, the leaves decompose. They enrich the soil and coax new life into existence.

What a marvelous parallel to our lives as humans on planet earth. We live. We “die.” But, because of Jesus—we never really die. Our “death” is a freedom ride to eternity.

Jesus promised those who believe in Him, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

Built on Rock

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Happened upon a fascinating TV documentary about the Cape Romano Dome House along the Florida coast. What fascinated me was the aesthetic architecture with its dome shape and wide windows on all sides. I wanted to live there. Until I heard the rest of the story.

Sitting out in the water 300 feet from shore, the six self-sustaining white dome structures on stilts were constructed from sand and island shells in 1979 by retired oil producer Bob Lee. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom house was solar powered and gutters collected rainwater, which was filtered and stored in a cistern. The dome construction resisted hurricane damage—until Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Even Category 5 Hurricane Andrew with 175-mile-an-hour winds did not destroy Cape Romano Dome House. But erosion did. The house stood on the beach before Hurricane Andrew. Now it sits in the water, with only four of the six modules remaining. It was built on sand.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:24, “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them, will be like the foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell. And great was the ruin.”

Bob Lee’s vision of his dream home was brilliant. Viewing it makes the spirit soar. But the house was built on sand.

We face decisions each day about building our lives. We can build on sand—then something like Covid-19 comes along and strips away all pretense and lets us know that nothing on this earth is eternal—except God.

Or we can build on the Rock of Jesus where not even Covid-19 can steal from us. This life is not the end—it’s just the beginning. If we have God, we have everything we need.

Real Danger

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From the start I’ve known that the real danger is not coronavirus. The real danger isn’t about how many people get it. It isn’t about how many people die. It is about opening the door for political and police overreach of powers. That is happening here in the UK.

The Derbyshire police have issued citations to people for purchasing “non-essential” items at the grocery store. They told a store not to sell Easter eggs. They have informed people they are allowed only one hour of exercise a day. They have filmed dog walkers with drones. They dyed the Blue Lagoon near Buxton black on the premise that less attractive would keep folks at home.

The overreach of powers shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read the Bible from cover to cover. It’s right out of Revelation, the last chapter. It’s one step away from Chapter 13: God’s enemy satan exercises “all authority in the earth…and causes those who dwell in it to worship the beast…and he deceives those who dwell on the earth…and causes as any as will not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads that no one may buy or sell except the one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom…the number of the beast is 666.”

Scary times. Not because of Covid-19. Because of the overreach of police powers.

But there is a reason God has put 365 “fear nots” in the Bible, one for each day. Those who have read to the end of the Bible will know that Jesus won the victory. If we live and die in Him, victory belongs to us too.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God.” Revelation 21:4-7.

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The South Gets it Right

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While researching for my next book I had the pleasure of walking in the steps of my childhood and revisiting a world that was so real and embracing to me that I forgot I’m currently living in Scotland. I went back to the South, read things only folks in the South say, and realized…they got it right.

What could be more descriptive than, “she fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.” And realizing that when “that possum’s on the stump”—that’s about as good as it gets.

How about, “He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.” Or, “He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams.” “I’m so poor I can’t afford to pay attention.” “It’s so dry the trees are bribing the dog.” “He’s as happy as if he had good sense.”

And on laziness, “They won’t hit a lick at a snake.” “He’s about as useful as a wheel on a mule.”

Not truthful? “You’d call an alligator a lizard.” “You talk with your tongue out of your shoe.”

“If that politician had a good idea it would die of loneliness.” “If his brains were leather he wouldn’t have enough to saddle a Junebug.” “He’s so dumb he could throw himself on the ground and miss.”

“I’m so hungry I could eat the north end of a south-bound polecat.” “I’m so hungry my belly thinks my throat’s been cut.” “That sticks in the throat like hair on a biscuit.”

“Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit.”

The South got it right.

And in the South, we praise Jesus.

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Have a great day, all of y’all. And if you want to read a Christian Cozy Mystery-Romance that reads as good as biscuits with gravy taste, visit me here:

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Weight Loss Plan

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Yeah, I’m a sucker for those commercials, too. “Lose weight by drinking this.” “Ten Secrets to weight loss.” “How I lost four stone (don’t ask me how much that is—I don’t do math) in one month.”

Most folks want or need to lose weight. It’s one of life’s mysteries, surely, that weight can accumulate and hide until suddenly one day a person takes a sideways look in a full-length mirror and says, “I’m fat.”

Fortunately, when an orthopedic surgeon figured out my body-weight index, I qualify for a knee replacement. I’m not too fat for surgery. But I need to lose weight…again.

The only weight loss plan that has ever worked for me physically is the unpopular and uncomfortable eat less, exercise more. It works—but it is never easy or enjoyable, especially the eating less part.

My Aunt Edris died young of an illness that doctors never diagnosed until her death. Cancer. After that, I obsessed over every lump, bulge, or pain I had, convinced that it was cancer. I even obsessed over other people who experienced unexplained pain. When my son was four and suffered from a mystery illness I was so convinced it was cancer that I quit my job and took him out to the desert so he could experience country living before he died. But when Luke died at age 37, it wasn’t cancer. It was an airplane crash.

I’m still working on the physical need to lose weight, but not the spiritual weight of fear, worry, or anxiety. The Bible addresses those. It’s easy to lose weight spiritually—just read and pray it away.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7.

Cast all your care upon God, for God cares for you. 1 Peter 5:8

Jesus said in Luke 12:29, “Do not have an anxious mind.”

Spiritual weight? No problem. Just read and pray it away. Physical weight? Eat less. Exercise more.

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Expletives and Superlatives

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There’s a Texas expression that I’ve never uttered before in my life, nor have I ever used it in one of my books, nor did I ever expect to ever use it: He’s talking out of his butthole.

Because I write clean-reading Christian books, I disdain profanity. Nothing will make me abandon a book more quickly than excessive profanity. Writers should be creative. Instead of repeating the “F” word endlessly, what’s wrong with: profanity dropped from his lips like cigarette ash; he used words that would have shocked his mother; his foul language was so excessive that it fatigued his listeners; her anger made her abandon her last shred of Christian training as she launched into a tirade against her coworker, the air splintered from the impact of cursing…etc.

Few things anger me. This did. An “academic” professor attacked the root of the Christmas story. He said Mary had been raped because she never consented to her pregnancy. This highly esteemed professor has a platform for attempting to destroy the foundational faith of students entrusted to him and is too lazy to research and get it right.

God gives us freedom of choice. Not everyone is a Christian. There are many other religions in the world. Everyone, even an atheist, has the right to choose what he or she believes. But it’s shameful and unforgivable that an “academic professor” who supposedly is better educated and more brilliant than the average gets away with spewing unfounded derisive words as truth.

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” I don’t draw the salary that the university pays that lazy professor, but that sounds like consent to me. (Luke 1:38)

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior…For He who is mighty has done great things for me.” Luke 1:49.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be called the Son of the Highest…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31

The truth, the simple truth behind Christmas, the greatest love story ever written.

I’m trying. I’m really trying. But that professor’s words grate against my spirit and I can’t word it any better than my Texas friends: “he’s speaking out of his butthole.”

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Importance of One

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I admire bestselling author and blog writer Valerie Poore for many reasons, one of which is her fascinating and enduring books, which can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Poore/e/B008LSV6CE?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1574431296&sr=1-1 Another reason I admire her is the frequency and dependency of her blogs. Fulltime teaching, writing, historic barge repairs and retrofits, terrible, depressing weather—nothing stops her from gifting her followers with a blog each week. She announced this week in her blog that she’s taking some well-deserved time off, but will be back.

Me? I sit back and wait for a blog to fall on top of me before I hit the keyboard. Sometimes it happens once a week. Often it happens once in a while. What fell on me this week was the importance of one person. One person can make a difference.

While I was researching facts about Quartzsite, Arizona, for a book that will be released in January, I was astonished to run into Hi Jolly again. I first met him at the Frontier Times Museum when I was doing research for an article in a local Bandera, Texas, newspaper. He was a camel driver brought to the U.S. from Syria in the 1860s to head up the government’s failed experimental Camel Corps during the Civil War. Camels’ hooves proved too tender to traverse the rocky ground of the west, especially the Texas Hill Country—and they spooked horses. It was considered excellent when they spooked Indian horses—but less excellent when they spooked Army horses. Hi Jolly died in Quartzsite in 1902. A rock pyramid topped with an etched metal camel marks Hi Jolly’s grave. One person.

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So, too, with J Marvin Hunter, a hero of mine. I met him again this week when I was researching Mason, Texas, for a future book. I fell in love with J Marvin Hunter when I researched the Frontier Times Museum in Bandera, Texas, and ran my hands over the rock walls he built himself using unique and unusual rocks that he found and those that admirers brought him. Hunter published Bandera’s newspaper for many years while also publishing the Frontier Times Magazine, and writing and publishing books about infamous western outlaws. He wanted to build a museum to safeguard and share the many unique items in his collection—including a shrunken head from Ecuador, a shrunken dog from Ecuador, a two-headed goat, 400 bells from around the world, some worn by elephants, a battle to the death between a rattlesnake and a roadrunner, and the head mounts of two deer with interlocking horns that died battling one another—but money was scare during the depression, so he wrote and published books to finance the building of the museum, which today boats of more than 40,000 exhibits. One person.

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Then there is Jesus. Jesus who gave up His home in heaven to live here on earth and touch us with His saving mercy and grace. Jesus. One Person.

We can’t all write books, drive camels, build museums—and none of us can be God—but we can all make a difference.

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Criticizing Criticisms

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There are a few comics that I read every morning for a light, funny, uplifting start to the day. Usually.

Today I made the mistake of glancing at the comments. Every comment under every comic was a criticism. On one comic, someone had ridiculed the way the ant was drawn. On another comic, someone had said that babies kicking inside their mothers would not make the noises the cartoonist had drawn as a way to illustrate how lively the baby was. Really, folks? Did those derogatory comments make you laugh and give you a happy start to your day?

Not everyone is a Christian, so not everyone makes Jesus Christ their example. All who heard Jesus wondered at the “gracious words” that He spoke, words filled with power, spirit, and life. Not criticism.

The book of Proverbs is full of advice about how we should use our tongues: A man shall eat well by the fruit of the mouth; A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast; A word spoken in due season, how good it is; Death and life are in the power of the tongue; A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

Why is it easier to criticize than to praise? It shouldn’t be. It really shouldn’t be.

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