Moving Chair

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We first spotted it in the woods along a dog-walking path. A strange place to find a wooden chair from someone’s dining set, but the mystery deepened when the chair moved to the beach.

Being a writer, my head spun stories about the moving chair: a thief stole it and abandoned it when spotted. Said thief went back to retrieve the chair, but was caught again. Or perhaps one ex was getting back at the other by cleaning out the house, one chair at a time. Or an angry teen with a lazy parent moved the chair to make the parent question his or her sanity when things vanished. Being lazy, said parent would never go looking for the missing item. Or perhaps some kind person thought older dog walkers would appreciate a comfortable place to rest.

My favorite story is dedicated to the memory of Bandera County, Texas pioneer Edwina Boyle—because it mirrors her real life story.

An old woman lived in the woods near the beach. She couldn’t watch the sea from her house, but each day she walked through the woods to the beach. She threw stranded starfish back into the waves. She rescued baby seals. She carried injured sea birds home with her and nursed them back to health…until…until the day she suffered a stroke.

Usually a mild person, the old woman experienced anger when she heard negative, disparaging words about her condition. “It was a severe stroke,” the doctor said. “She’ll never recover. She’ll never walk again. She needs to go to a nursing home.”

Family members were just as pessimistic. “She can’t walk. She can’t even move her legs. There’s no choice. She will have to go into a home.”

The angry woman mounted a secret campaign against her bleak prognosis. She prayed, asking God over and over to heal her legs. Daring even to demand that God heal her! Every time she was alone, she concentrated all her thoughts and energy into making a toe move, then a foot, then a leg. One day before her scheduled hospital release, she slipped out of bed and teetered around the room.

Once home, the determined woman continued her self-imposed physical therapy. She propped her back door open and carried one of her kitchen chairs out to the porch. The next day, she carried the chair down the steps. Each day, the woman carried the chair further, sat in it to rest, then returned home. Before long, she was sitting in her chair at the beach reading moments of joy and fury from the voice of the waves. Neighbors stopped to ask her to forecast the weather because they knew the water talked to its faithful friend.

Writing is like that moving chair. At times, it’s hard not to listen to the negative, derogatory predictions for success. Rejections, lack of sales, bad reviews—it’s enough disappointment and broken dreams to send authors to retirement homes.

Don’t give up and surrender yourself to a retirement home. Keep moving the chair. Oh—and when it gets too heavy for you to carry, ask God to help.

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http://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

Try a Bit Harder, Work a Bit Longer…

With a bit of weeding, digging and replanting, the garden looked nice…except for the dead branches and trunks of a tree along the fence. Our chainsaw will cut butter, but not much else and there are no repair or sharpening services in our area. The handsaw cuts a bit better, but the dead tree trunks were huge in circumference and grown too close together to allow the handsaw to get in between them. With our limited tools, cutting that dead, tangled mess looked impossible.

Enter determination. The same, “try a bit harder, work a bit longer,” that carried me past the agony and despair of receiving 150 rejection slips on different books over the years to eventual success. I now have five published Christian, mystery-romance-suspense books, Bridge to Nowhere (Rose & Crown/Sunpenny Publishing), Love’s Beating Heart, Heart Shadows, Until the Shadows Flee and Shadow Chase. I knew I was a writer. God had put that burning fire in my bones and I could not contain it. But every rejection slip made me quit and give up…briefly – before I remembered to try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

So, too, with the dead wood in the front yard. First the clippers to remove the smaller branches. With scratched and bleeding arms and facing those huge trunks, I started to give up. Then I looked again at the bright green garden tossed with blooming flowers and mocked by one clump of ugly dead tree. The butter-cutting chainsaw came out. The butter-cutting-plus handsaw came out. Then help arrived in the form of my gifted, talented husband (also an author, The Scent of Time & The Scent of Home). He had been out visiting folks in the parish. Still dressed in his clerical shirt and collar (he’s a Church of Scotland minister) Alan began helping. Between the two of us and the two butter and better than butter-cutting saws, the dead wood came out. Try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

Taking out the dead growth was the right thing to do. Besides looking better, the open space allows room to finish edging in front of the beds and trimming the shrubs.But it wasn’t easy. It took trying a bit harder, working a bit longer.

Having five published books was the right thing to do. Without preaching, the characters and action in the books point to God. It is my prayer that they will help readers find their way to the Cross of Jesus. Love’s Beating Heart sends two teens on a wild river adventure to save Baby. The fast-moving adventure upholds marriage, homeschooling and pro-life over abortion. If it saves the life of even one unborn child, I have fulfilled my purpose as a writer. But success wasn’t easy. It took years to achieve and a lot of trying a bit harder, working a bit longer.

When you have a dream or a task that seems impossible, don’t give up! Try a bit harder, work a bit longer.

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