Holding off Death

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We all do it: save that last bit of string in case we need it in the future; buy a new gadget and keep the old one for emergencies; store up extra provisions “in case,” and cram our cupboards, houses, and garages full of things that we may never use. We’re not good at letting go.

This “hanging on” tendency applies to life. We hang on to this life fiercely and protectively even though the Bible tells us that we are pilgrims passing through and this earth is not our home. “While we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6

I love praying for other people, but I wish I had the courage to be truthful. When I get prayer requests like: “Pray for healing for my mother who is 92 and has cancer, needs a heart transplant, and now her kidneys are failing;” “Pray for my son who has bone cancer. He’s already lost a lung and been through chemo twice. This time it’s not working and he’s in a coma”—I wish I could be honest. I wish I could explain that true healing will never be possible on this earth. We don’t belong here. It’s not our home. We’re merely passing through. “We are strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13. We are all in the process of dying.

We don’t belong here. We need to be willing to let go. Heaven is our final destination and home, a place too wonderful and marvelous for human description. “And God will wipe away every tear; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain.” Revelation 21:4. “They shall neither hunger anymore; the sun shall not strike them…for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

We don’t belong here. We need to be willing to let go. But I’m a coward. So the next time I get a message: “Pray for my sister who has had a liver transplant and now both her kidneys are failing from radiation therapy,” I will pray.

I will pray because God is a God of miracles. He holds our lives in His hands and He knows the number of days it will take us to pass through this land on the way home. I don’t know…so I must pray.

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

Death, the Lasting Adventure

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When I was 12, my spooky horse Allie jumped over a ditch to the road. His shadow hit the red clay dirt and he spooked. He leaped sideways bucking, threw me off, and ran home.

Allie was afraid of shadows. He thought shadows were real. He thought shadows would hurt him.

A lot of people are like Allie. They fear shadows. They think shadows are real. They think shadows will hurt them. We have either forgotten or chosen not to believe Psalm 23 in the Bible, “Yea, though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

Because people know I’m a Christian, I often get prayer requests. I’m thrilled to pray for others and I rejoice when God answers their prayers. But some requests are impossible for God to fulfill because they are not within His plan.

We plant “dead” seeds and marvel when bright, new, healthy plants spring up from the dead-looking kernels. God never wanted death to be a part of the world He created. He designed human bodies to heal and live forever. But when Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world. Because of that, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross in our place so we could live forever. Jesus didn’t just die—He rose from the dead to prove to us that we also can live again.

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After we “die” to this world, we live forever in Heaven with Jesus in bright, new, healthy spiritual bodies that will never suffer death, illness, pain, suffering, or sorrow. But first—we must pass through the shadow.

It’s alarming to get prayer requests from people who are afraid of the shadow and don’t trust God’s promise about what is on the other side. I don’t know what to say or how to pray when someone grabs my arm and pleads, “Please pray for Momma. She’s 92 and her kidneys have stopped working, and she has heart and lung disease, and now she has cancer.”

 

What I want to say, and should be honest enough to say is, “Sweetie, let go of your poor Momma. Let her go home to God. He will give her a new healthy body.” But I’ve discovered that folks who are afraid of shadows hate truth.

Death is an adventure. An everlasting adventure. Between us and that lasting adventure is a shadow. All of us must pass through that shadow to get to our new life and claim our new body.

Perhaps we should repeat often, “Death is a shadow. Shadows aren’t real. Shadows can’t hurt us.”

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

Life or Death?

What do you see when you look at overblown thistles? Life? Death?

I see life. The wind grasps each feathery seed and tumbles it into the air and away from the parent plant before dropping it on new ground. Not all of the wind-deposited seeds will grow into new thistles, but many will.

Prickly purple thistle became the emblem of Scotland during the reign of Alexander III (1249-1286). Norway’s King Haakon led his army in a surprise night attack in an effort to conquer the Scots. The surprise attack failed after the Norsemen removed their footwear for stealth – and stood on thistles. Their shrieks of pain alerted the Scots – who won the battle – which in turn won a victory of reverence for the prickly plants.

Death creates life. Or as the Bible states, “What you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain – perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body…So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.” (I Corinthians 15:35-42)

Vegetation produces blooms, then seeds. The blooms must die first to turn into seeds. The seeds must die before they can be planted and burst into new life. When trees fall in the forest, they decay and enrich the soil contributing to new life. The cycle of life and death repeats endlessly with death feeding new life. The greatest example of this is the life, death, and life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His death on the cross brought life and eternity down to earth for all of us because he rose again from the dead. He lives! Because Jesus lives, we will live again.

We have no need to fear death. Death is an illusion. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sing of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:53-57)

Heralded by dying leaves falling off trees and flowers dying and drying into seed, Fall can make us melancholy unless we remember that death creates new life.

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

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Bye-Bye Baby

Spring is here! Folks are thinking about flowers and babies. Appeals arrive daily to save badger babies, elephant babies, endangered species, whales, dolphins…even trees.

The majority of people who rescue stray dogs and cats; scream for laws to free whales and circus animals; demand a stop to the slaughter of badgers and dolphins – are okay with killing unborn humans. Defenseless little boys and girls – especially girls and especially black. Abortion is murder. It stops a beating heart.

It is ironic that it is illegal to kill baby eagles, but it is legal to kill unborn children who are created in the image of God.

Some of the same people who run campaigns to save trees, go green to save the planet, and give personhood status to chimpanzees say that parents should get to decide whether their children live – right up to the time of birth.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution promises every person the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Unborn children are defenseless victims of a political system that listens to the green color of money rather than the agonized shrieks of the country’s most defenseless citizens who are ripped apart inside the womb and flushed down the toilet.

Unborn children are not a part of their mother’s bodies. They have their own DNA from conception. Life begins at conception. Unborn children have beating hearts at 21 days; fingerprints at nine weeks; can feel pain at 10 weeks; smile at 12 weeks; and are fully male or female at 16 weeks.

To make the “choice” of abortion palatable (babies are given no choice), different labels are applied. A baby is a “fetus.” Murder is “abortion.” Pregnancy is “terminated.” The Bible says that God forms a child in the womb and calls him or her into His purpose. Abortion has murdered generations of unique God-created individuals. Some might have found a cure for cancer, invented safe traffic-hopping cars, found the key to ending world poverty, or built a system of lasting world peace. We will never know. We do know that a dearth of children living to become productive, working adults is undermining tax and retirement programs.

The real horror is that abortion is murder. God will not hold a country guiltless for slaying innocent children. Labels don’t change facts; they play to emotions. If it’s not a baby, the woman is not pregnant. A woman’s right to choice ends at her body; the baby is NOT her body.

Smell flowers, enjoy spring. Pretend babies are trees and save them.

Read “Love’s Beating Heart” and let it sing into your spring.

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If This is all There is to Life, Why was I Born?

With Easter Resurrection Sunday approaching, it seemed a good time to ask the question: if this is all there is to life, why was I born?

I don’t count my life as a total failure. My dream has always been to be an author and I have six Christian mystery-romance-suspense books published and another one featuring sassy Miz Mike – Bridge Beyond Betrayal – being released this summer by Sunpenny Publishing.

Yet, I’ve never had as much money as other people have; I’ve never driven as new a vehicle as most people do; I’ve never lived in as grand a house as many people do; never been able to spend lavishly on Christmas gifts for other people at Christmas, or buy expensive gifts for others during the rest of the year. Because I haven’t been able to afford it, I’ve never been on a cruise; never gone to Disney Land; never taken a vacation to Greece or Rome or some other exotic place. So if this is all there is to life, why was I born?

I’ve had problems, trials, troubles, heartbreaks and sorrow. Having two abortions forced on me to hide the crime of constant childhood sexual abuse inflicted on me; escaping that abuse and living under a bridge; being cold, tired, hungry and despairing; spending years as a single parent and working two to three jobs to make ends meet; caring for a husband who died from cancer, and the most recent tragedy – the loss of my 37-year-old son in a plane crash. So if this is all there is to life, why was I born?

First of all, I don’t have a patent on hardships. My landscape is not the only one darkened by life’s storms. Job 5:17, written in 1520 BC, states, “A man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Job would know. All in one day he lost everything he possessed on earth, including his children. All he had left was his wife. She told him to curse God and die. Job replied, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”

I am fortunate to have a loving, supporting husband in fellow author Alan T McKean (time travel series The Scent of Home, The Scent of Time) who stands beside me under the darkest clouds as a bright light and never tempts me to tempt God.

Most encouraging, this is not all there is to life. Jesus, the Son of God, was born to a human in human form so that He could experience everything we do as non-deities and set the example of resisting temptation, loving one another, and obeying God. Jesus came to earth to die. After healing multitudes of people from multitudes of illnesses, diseases, injuries and infirmities, He allowed Himself to be lifted up on a cross to die that we might live. Nails didn’t hold Jesus to the cross, love did.

The story doesn’t end there. After three days – after going to hell and wresting the keys of death and hell away from satan – Jesus rose from the grave victorious! Because He lives, we know that we will live again. Death is an illusion. Death is not an ending – it is the beginning of eternal life with God.

Victory in Jesus!

Bring on the sorrows, trials, problems, temptations, illness and hurts. They are temporary. Jesus is eternal.

I’m glad I was born.

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

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Death, Dying and Shadows

Having just said goodbye to my 37-year-old son, U.S. Marine Corps Major Luke Gaines Parker, (Aug. 19, 1976 – Nov. 17, 2013), I feel qualified to write about death, dying and shadows. Death because a memorial service was held for Luke; shadows because they are illusions.

Luke was born hyperactive before it became a buzz word and was diagnosed with learning disabilities, all of which he overcame. When Luke wanted to learn something, he did. He learned to whitewater raft, rock climb, scuba dive, play a trumpet and piano, fly an airplane. When he wanted his own plane, he found and purchased one of 19 remaining Focke Wulfs in the world. He worked his way up from learner, to instructor, to an instrument rating. He performed aerobatic maneuvers at air shows and wrote smoke messages in the sky.

As a Marine, Luke worked his way up from enlisted to Major. He served six tours of duty in war zones – saw many of his Marine Corps buddies die – and returned home from Iraq with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, which he overcame. But this isn’t about Luke – it’s about shadows.

Shadows are illusions. Shadows aren’t real. They can’t hurt you. People can make shadow animals on the wall – even sharks and wolves – but the shadow critters are harmless. They can’t bite.

Death is unpopular. It gets bad PR. People think of death as an end. It’s scary. They see death as the worst thing that can happen. Death is not the end of life; it’s the beginning of eternal life. Death is what we label the passage from this earth into Heaven where there is no more death, dying, sorrow, illness, pain or sorrow. Death stands between this restless world and eternal joy.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen. Today at a nursing home, I saw the worst; lonely people with no one to visit them or care; people whose bodies and minds have worn out ahead of death’s arrival. Some screamed and cried for help because imaginary fiends – real to them – bit and crawled under their clothing. Some slumped over in their chairs, lacking strength to straighten up. Some sat, head lolling, drooling, useless arms ending in claw-like appendages that had once been functional hands.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen. Today at a prison, I saw hopelessness in eyes once bright with wonder; human bodies held captive in cold metal cages, trapped in a dreamless land of no hope, no future.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen. Today I saw a drug addict with bleeding gums and pussy sores on his face sitting in the cold rain, shivering, and talking to invisible companions as he held a paper cup and begged for money for his next fix.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen. Today I saw an alcoholic mother in an uncontrollable spate of weeping because her young daughter had run away from home and she had sobered up enough to realize that it was her neglect and abuse that sent the young girl rushing out into a dangerous, uncertain future.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen. Today I saw an abused child with cigarette burns and bruises on his thin arms and face and shattered trust written across his face because the parents who should have loved and protected him had turned on him with anger and hate.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen. Jesus asked, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” If this life is all there is to life – then death is indeed an enemy and the worst thing that can happen.

Luke lived his 37 years to the fullest because he walked with God. Even when other people around him did, Luke never drank alcohol or used profanity. He attended church, read his Bible, and was a great father to his young daughter. Within three days of his death, I received 850 messages expressing sorrow and commending his life – because it was a life lived with God. He flew his beloved Focke Wulf through the shadow of death into the arms of Jesus.

Do I miss my son? Dreadfully. Am I incapacitated by grief? No. Death is a shadow. Shadows are harmless, powerless illusions. Death doesn’t deserve such a bum rap. There are many things in this life worse than death.

Link to six Christian mystery-romance-suspense novels: http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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