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

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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Christmas shadows & Lights

For seven years of single parenthood, my son Luke (the late Major Luke Gaines Parker, Aug. 19, 1976-Nov. 17, 2013) and I lived in the Nevada desert. One of our favorite entertainments was holding sagebrush jumping contests – which I hasten to add, he invariably won!

Except the mountains changing colors as clouds pass over them, shadows in the desert are short. Rocks, sagebrush, Russian thistle (tumbleweed), rabbit brush – all cast short shadows and there are virtually no trees. When we moved to the Texas Hill Country, trees along the road threw shadows down and when those shadows hit the road in front of me when I was driving, I got dizzy. It was a silly thing and I couldn’t understand it until Mom’s Christmas present.

Because Mom never had much money to spend on us at Christmas, she came up with unique, affordable gifts like the scrapbook of childhood photos she compiled for each of us one Christmas. It must have taken her weeks of sorting through pictures to get all the photos in the right albums for the right children. Luke loved the pictures of his mom as a child. We were looking at the album one day when I focused in on a small wooden house splattered with shade from trees surrounding it. Suddenly, the picture reached out and grabbed me. I was pulled through the hall to the back door where – partly outside my range of vision – my father was beating something to death. I couldn’t see the victim clearly enough to identify it, and the unexpected image frightened me so badly that I snapped out of the trance. I tried to revisit that picture later when I was alone, but I never could get past the front door again. The image of him pounding something and blood everywhere had terrorized me.

So my newest book, “Fear of Shadows,” was born from that Christmas gift and from the horrendous memory that almost surfaced.

My father was an atheist. He was a cruel wicked man who obeyed no law – God or man-made – except his law: “What’s good for J.L. Potter is good.” As a result, he committed shockingly evil crimes during his lifetime and was one of the first 51 people in the U.S. to die from a newly discovered disease that hadn’t even been named yet. We know it now as AIDS.

“Fear of Shadows” is a Christian mystery-romance-suspense book written from my imagination, not a true story. They say that fact is stranger than fiction. It is a fact that when I was five, my father loaded me, his mother, a Great Dane dog, my grandmother’s dog, and two cats into a wood-paneled station wagon and drove away from California in the middle of the night. He left my sister, my brother, and my pregnant mother behind. We camped out in the then-untamed Florida Everglades swamp along a lagoon with venomous snakes and alligators. We ate bread and peanut butter, and pancakes that my grandmother cooked over an open fire, every day…day after day. All these years later, I still can’t eat pancakes. My father claimed he was looking for work. Perhaps he wanted to herd alligators.

So…who and what was his victim? I don’t know. But I think you’ll enjoy the story that this experience wrote for me. God Bless you and Merry Christmas.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/387341

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Prophet on Fire!

Bible prophet Jeremiah faced constant ridicule, mocking, and cruel physical treatment including imprisonment and incarceration in a muddy dungeon for his faithful witness and warnings about how lifestyle choices earn God’s blessings or God’s wrath. Jeremiah became so fearful, bitter, and hurt by ill treatment that he decided to quit preaching God’s Word – but he couldn’t.

“His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones,” Jeremiah lamented. “I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.” (Jeremiah 20:9) So the weeping prophet kept preaching.

I feel somewhat like a prophet on fire! I’ve been holding back on introducing my newest Christian mystery-romance-suspense, Fear of Shadows, until it is actually released. But it should be released sometime this week and I simply can’t hold back. It’s like a burning fire shut up in my bones and it’s begging for release. Also, we will be gone and away from a computer for a week – so here’s a synopsis of Fear of Shadows.

I was about to loose my virginity against my will in a moldy smelling house with plaster falling off the walls, critters crawling up through holes in the floor—on a torn, stained bed with no sheets and rat droppings bouncing around me when I moved. I deserved better than this. I deserved the right of choice. I deserved the right to the joy of making love for the first time with someone I loved. I deserved to give myself to a man for the first time in a clean bed with clean sheets.

Self-sufficient Texas Eugenia Thornhill espouses many rebellions including giving a man—any man—authority over her heart, or her life. She hates the mother who named her “Texas” after her birth state instead of loving her enough to give her a real name. She hates the mother who ran off and left her young child with a cold, emotionless father.

Texas likes to brag that she’s not afraid of anything—not even spiders or snakes. Her boast proves empty when she meets childhood friend West Strom and realizes that she is deathly afraid of shadows, but clueless as to why. Time and again she shatters their nascent romance by mindlessly shrieking and running out of her childhood home, fleeing the shadows that terrify her.

Pranksters also seem intent on sabotaging the relationship. A dead raccoon is hung on the refrigerator, a rock is thrown through the window, furniture is trundled around the room in total disarray, then righted again before West arrives to investigate.

Texas is tricked into holding a séance. West, a strong Christian, is appalled that Texas is involved in witchcraft. That almost ends their friendship.

But the most destructive force entering her life proves to be the seemingly harmless fun of frequenting a Texas dancehall with Thornhill Ranch manager Jason Peace. She finds herself accused of murder and forced into hiding. When she escapes and clears her name, it only adds to the dystopia at the ranch.

Texas exhibits her paintings in a feminist art show in San Antonio and meets her mother. Her mother apologizes, but does not explain her abandonment. When they say goodbye, Texas is saying goodbye to a stranger.

West arrives to rescue her from what Texas has realized is a nefarious art exhibit revolving around hate and discord. But even though West gives Texas a kiss that stuns her with its passion, how many times can her childhood hero rescue her from her foolish choices and paralyzing fear of shadows?

When Texas finally solves the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and learns the truth about her fear of shadows, it is a truth that threatens to destroy every single person she loves.

So, hope Fear of Shadows makes it out this week and hope you’ll buy it and enjoy it! I’ll be sharing the link when we get back. Meantime, you can probably find it surfing the web. And – hey – thanks!

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

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