Run Through Pain

Sometimes, we just need to run through pain.

No one knows this better than best-selling Author Bruce Van Horn whose book “You CAN Go the Distance” contains great advice on how to run a marathon and how to run life – even when it involves running through pain. Bruce ran this year’s Boston Marathon just a year after cancer surgery. Prior to that, he recovered from depression, a knee injury and foot surgery.

God gave us the gift of pain as an early warning system when we are ill or injured and need to rest. But, sometimes, we need to run through pain.

Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team. Albert Einstein never learned to talk until he was four and was told by a teacher, “You’ll never amount to anything.” Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job for lacking imagination and not having original ideas. Dr. Seuss received 27 rejection slips on his first book. Oprah Winfrey was cut from a newscast because she was deemed “unfit” for television. All these famous failures ran through pain and found success on the other side.

I didn’t feel like running a couple of days ago. When I first grabbed up my weights and headed out the door, my right leg hurt so badly that I almost turned around. I walked nearly two blocks before I could get my leg to accept the full weight of my body and start running. When I finished running through the pain, I had covered five miles and my leg felt fine. It hasn’t hurt since.

On the way to our Monday Night Bible Study, I got a dog bite on the back of my hand. It drew blood. By the time we got to our fellowship group, my hand was so swollen that it looked like it had somehow inhaled a tennis ball cut in half. I received prayer and the swelling left instantly as if Someone had pricked the tennis ball with a needle and deflated it. Someone had. His name is Jesus and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus is still in the healing business. What a great testimony to our group to pray and watch Jesus heal instantly. But for that testimony to be possible – I had to run through pain.

God created a perfect world and never planned for pain to be a part of it. When sin entered the world, it dragged a toolbox behind it filled with spiteful implements of torture: pain, illness, sickness, sorrow, anguish, disappointment, depression. Because God loves us so much, He sent Jesus to destroy those tools and give His followers victory.

But sometimes on the road to victory…we have to run through pain.


I Didn’t Want to Run Today

I didn’t want to run today. I never do. It’s hard.

Weight control and general physical wellness benefit from running – so I run. Today was no exception; I didn’t want to run. Blessings followed obedience.

First, I met an 88-year-old neighbor who had suffered a stroke. Immediately following the stroke, he wobbled when he walked. Post-stroke challenges were hard. Determined to recover, he set up his own physical therapy regimen – golf. Now he strides along with confidence. Using partly speech and partly sign language, he informed me today that he and his 87-year-old friend play 18 holes four days a week. It was cold and blustery today – but he looked as brightly happy as a spring daffodil.

Then I met a stranger pushing her dad along in his wheelchair and taking their dog on a walk. We stopped and exchanged greetings. As I ran on down the road I reflected on how good and kind people can be. The news is full of bad-sad stories including the threat of war in the Ukraine, child and homeless abuse; alcohol and drug addiction; crooked politics, and violent crimes. Yet, because God’s Spirit is stronger on behalf of good than satan’s is on evil, people reflect God’s mercy and grace.

My most inspirational running discovery was The Trees. Surely had The Trees been given a choice of where they wanted to be planted, they would not have chosen the rocky soil on the side of Moray Firth that is buffeted nonstop by wind and gales. Because the wind has rocked them over the years, The Trees have sent their roots down into the soil so deeply that they can absorb water and nutrients. Needles on The Trees are glossy green with vibrant health. The trunks are solid, twisted into artistic compositions that shout victory over hardship. The Trees have endured hardships.

Hardships are often God’s blessings in disguise. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.”

Some people think I’ve had a had a hard life: sexually abused as a child; nearly dying from two forced non-medically supervised abortions as a teen; running away from home and living under a bridge to escape abuse; being a single-parent and working two to three jobs at the same time; losing a husband to cancer; having my home and property stolen; and most heartbreaking – losing my awesome son, 37, in a plane crash. Yet God has used those trials to shake my roots – like The Trees – and grow me into His pattern, able to face the gales unafraid because I know God is in Control.

Childhood fears and memories inspired my newest Christian mystery-romance-suspense, Fear of Shadows. Sexual abuse and forced abortions inspired pro-life adventure-romance Love’s Beating Heart, which readers have called “inspirational” and “life-changing.”

Between now and March 8, Smashwords is offering both Fear of Shadows and Love’s Beating Heart – FREE.

No one owns a monopoly on hardship. Life is challenging. When hardship knocks, remember that trials are often God’s blessings in disguise – and open the door.

Love’s Beating Heart:

Fear of Shadows:


Texas Grit

Dreaming and following your dreams is awesome, but success demands work, effort – and even a measure of true Texas grit.

For weeks now, I’ve wanted to get a picture of a house along the beach with the sun setting behind it, but it’s always been too clear, too cloudy, the wrong time of day, or I’ve been too far away. I wanted to capture the image for my sixth Miz Mike Bridge to Nowhere series. Sunpenny Publishing has yet to release the second one, but I’m working ahead to number six.

When Miz Mike leaves Texas to live in Scotland, she gets stuck in an isolated, lonely beach house. Even there – somehow – trouble finds her and she stirs up enough mystery, romance and suspense to entertain any reader – with a big dose of humor added.

When I went running today, I stuck the camera in my pocket. Since I’m running on a stress fracture, I stuck to the sandy beach. I turned around sooner than I usually do and headed home. I was too tired to run more. My foot was complaining. I hadn’t felt like running in the first place. Then I saw the sky. It was perfect for the picture I wanted…except.

Now to serve up the Texas grits – grit. To get to the cabin would mean turning around again and heading back down the beach, then cutting across a hard-packed path to the main road. Not only would it add about half-a-mile to the run I didn’t want to make in the first place, it would result in running on pavement – stress fracture and all.

I turned and went for it. Yes, my foot throbbed by the time I got home – but I had the picture. My entire writing career has been painful. Dream the dream, yes! Never give up on the dream. I didn’t, even after receiving 150 rejection slips (along with some checks!) over the span of forty-five years. Becoming known as “Author” Stephanie Parker McKean has taken work, effort – and even true Texas grit at times. Everyone brave enough to dream a dream must also be brave enough to make the journey to reach it.

Wise King Solomon got it right in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might.”




Grow Right

Weight gain is insidious. It creeps up with such stealth and subtly that the person gaining the weight doesn’t notice until – seemingly overnight – their clothes won’t fit. Or, at least, that’s what happens to me.

 For years now, I have refused to buy the next size up in jeans no matter how tight the old ones get. When the old ones get too tight, I start running again. But UK sizes are different that US sizes and when my old jeans wore out – I couldn’t find my size. Instead, I got the next size up. They were loose. They didn’t stay loose. I filled them. It was only after they became tight that I realized I had a problem.

 Another indicator was my blood pressure. It’s always been perfect. One day I took it and was so shocked by the numbers that I decided the cuff wasn’t working. I hid it. For the next two days, I surreptitiously checked my blood pressure without telling Alan. If he had known, he would have sent me to a doctor. I don’t do doctors or pharmaceuticals. So I started running again. Thankfully, my blood pressure is normal again and I’ve gone down two jean sizes.

Let’s get this straight. I don’t like running. I’d rather sit and write. I run because I have to run to maintain my weight without changing my diet. I try to eat healthy foods – but I’m not fanatical. I love chocolate milk. I drink a carton a day. There are two things I do enjoy about running; I love being outside viewing the scenery as I run past (I run very slowly, so I get a good look at it!) and I love the writing ideas that the Lord gives me. Most of my blogs follow a run!

We are in charge of our health and the size clothes we wear. Some people have legit health problems that make exercise impossible. But to a large extent, the lifestyle choices we make grow us into the people we become mentally, physically, and spiritually. Don’t want to be an alcoholic and die young of liver disease? Don’t drink. Don’t want to become a drug addict and wind up homeless with HIV? Don’t take drugs. Don’t want to get lung cancer? Don’t smoke. Don’t want to get obese? Don’t overeat. Do exercise. Want to keep our minds so pure that we don’t mind Jesus taking a peek? Don’t fill them with profanity, pornography, hate or violence.

Grow Right. Even when the entire rest of the world seems to be taking a different direction, go right. Let Jesus, not the multitude, influence what you say, think and do. Every time I see a tree with two forks or roads branching off in different directions, it reminds me that God wants us to go right and grow right.

 “Awake to righteousness, and sin not.” I Co. 15:34


Seagull parents & baby battery

Unlike the U.S. where most schools have running tracks, the sports field here in Fortrose, Scotland, is a grassy field. When I went running today, I got dive bombed by two seagulls. The birds repeatedly swooped down at head level and split the air with high-pitched shrieks and constant chortles, clearly angry. About halfway around the field, I discovered the source of their anger. Three babies were sunbathing in the grass and attempting short, floppy bursts of flight. The parents were defending their babies.

Oh, for human parents with the love, compassion and action to defend their children with the courage of those gulls. I must have outsized and outweighed those parents 50 to one, yet they were fearless when confronted by what they perceived as a threat to their young. Every human parent should follow the example of those gulls.

Miz Mike, in my Sunpenny-published Christian mystery-romance-suspense Bridge to Nowhere, is Texan to the core – and kind. Her kindness evaporates when a kidnapper snatches her youngest grandson. When the kidnapper is finally captured, Miz Mike is on the culprit like ticks on a wild deer. A human version of protective seagulls.

If seagulls, deemed “nuisance birds” by some, can be such loyal parents, why can’t humans? The label of “child abuse” shouldn’t exist because there should be no child abuse.

Abortion is the ultimate form of child abuse. Action-centered, caring individuals flock to good causes: saving marine life; supporting no-kill shelters for dogs and cats; running retirement centers for horses; protesting the slaughter of wild animals to feed the fur industry; saving whales, trees and spotted owls. But where are those same compassionate activists when unborn children with beating hearts are impaled, sliced and diced and tossed into garbage cans like debris? Why aren’t some of these animal-loving humans speaking for unborn children who can’t speak for themselves? Why aren’t they demanding that unborn children be given the choice of life?

Love’s Beating Heart, a parallel adventure, paints a pro-life choice that allows readers to decide the abortion VS pro-life issue. Teen Natasha North is pregnant. Her stepfather threatens to kill her if she doesn’t get an abortion. Not sure that abortion is right, Tash and her best friend Dena run away. Hiding sends the teens on a wild river ride on a flooded Texas Hill Country river. Meanwhile, Dena’s older sister Cat escapes from an abusive boyfriend and is rescued by a Christian family. The more Cat helps Dallas homeschool the children, the more Cat decides the Creekmore family suffers from religious insanity…and yet…she would like to replace Dallas as Sky Creekmore’s wife. Love’s Beating Heart is non-stop action, adventure and suspense, with the sweet spice of romance tossed into the redolent mix. Called “inspirational” and “life-changing” by readers, Love’s Beating Heart was written to paint the possibility of adoption as a loving option. The regret and guilt that frequently stalks women who have had abortions are twin giant joy killers. The inspiration for Love’s Beating Heart? As the Bible says, “ask the birds of the air, they will tell you.”

As human parents, the choice is ours. Are we seagulls or baby batterers?

                                                                       baby gulls



Real Time Tortoise & Hare Story

I’ve always loved the Aesop’s Fable about the slow tortoise beating the boastful, confident hare in the race because the hare stopped to snooze. The other day, I experienced my own Tortoise & Hare moment.

I’m a slow runner. People watching me “run” might even call me a fast walker! But I can keep going for 4.2 miles, an accomplishment for someone over 60. Still, I’m slow.

Dressed in baggy jeans and sweaters – resembling no doubt a lumpy sock puppet – I went running. She passed me in a flash. She wore trendy, skintight running clothes and looked like a model that had been pulled off a magazine page and prodded to life. Feeling old and slow, I kept running.

At my turnaround point, there sat trendy glamor girl, talking on a cell phone and drinking a bottle of water. Feeling rather pleased with myself, I passed her. I ran down to the end of the trail, turned around and passed her again. By the time I had finished my two miles and was making the turn up toward the house, I saw her in the distance, her effortless, graceful run defeated by the slow-moving sock puppet who never stopped.

Life is often like that. I remind folks often not to give up on their dreams. I had 150 rejection slips before becoming a successful writer. Some of the publishing companies who rejected my manuscripts now follow me on Twitter! My published books include Bridge to Nowhere, by Sunpenny Publishing, and Love’s Beating Heart, Shadow Chase, Heart Shadows and Until the Shadows Flee. The newest mystery-romance-suspense book, Fear of Shadows will be out soon, and Sunpenny has committed to another Miz Mike “Bridge” series in the near future, Bridge Beyond Betrayal. So no matter how slow you think you are in life…never stop. Never give up.

Or as Hebrews 12:1 states, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Running with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, guarantees victory every time!

tortoise blog