Rain…And Then Some

Joyful that it was out, I spun around to look into the sun…and found it was a streetlight. It was nine o’clock in the morning and so rainy and misty that all the street lights were still on. Rain. And. Then. Some.

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A worker was out diligently mowing a huge expanse of grass with a handheld weed eater. Here in Scotland, they call them strimmers. I was astonished. I had never seen anyone out mowing the grass before in the rain. Then I remembered: it rains here every day. Rain. And. Then. Some.

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Sometimes our lives are filled with rain—and—then some. Illness, pain, relationship problems, financial worries, tragedy…unremitting storms rock our lives and threaten to capsize our joy and scuttle our desire to keep on sailing.

When that happens, it is easy to distance oneself from God and question His existence. Why would an all-powerful, all-knowing, always-present God let bad things happen? Why would He allow bad things to happen to us?

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Rain. And. Then. Some. But every raindrop, every dreary day presents an opportunity to draw close to God and build our faith. Without storms to strengthen them, tree roots would not dig into the soil and tether mighty trees. If our lives were easy, filled with fun, sunshiny days, we would never mature and grow equal to the task of living full, abundant lives.

The same rain that makes us groan when we focus on our discomfort sends a shower of beauty across the land and provides life-giving moisture for all of God’s creation. Rain. And. Then. Some.

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

Bloom Where God Has Planted You

A clump of yellow primroses on a rock cliff caught my eyes today when I was walking. Flowers cheerfully blooming where God had planted them in spite of the improbable and impossible-looking location.

We Christians should take a note from God’s creation and bloom cheerfully where God has planted us. There are no perfect places on this earth and there are no perfect people in this life. Everyone has problems. Everyone has storms. Sometimes, the blame is on us. We make bad choices and suffer the consequences. Sometimes, a storm hits unexpectedly – sent by an enemy intending destruction. Sometimes, God sends a storm to teach us to push our roots of faith deeper into Him.

After losing everything he had on earth including his health through no fault of his own, Job was able to declare that after God had tried him – he would come forth as gold. Job claimed victory over the storms in his life and God rewarded him.

My two favorite Bible verses are: In everything give thanks and All things work together for good to those who love the Lord. These are victory-winning verses.

Thinking about those lovely primroses today reminded me of my two most recently published books, “Killer Conversations,” and “Bridge to Xanadu.” The characters in both of these books walked through storms. Instead of blooming where he was planted, the main character in “Killer Conversations” became a serial killer. Texas Miz Mike in “Bridge to Xanadu” learned to bloom where she was planted even when it was a totally new and unexpected place in her zany life.

My books are fiction, mostly mystery-romance-suspense although “Killer Conversations” is a psychological suspense. However, I’ve been through some of the same storms in my life that these characters have weathered in words. With the help of Jesus, I’ve learned to bloom where God has planted me. It’s been a hard lesson at times. Sometimes my roots have nearly slipped out of the Rock of faith holding them. Thankfully, Jesus is the Friend who sticks closer than a sibling and He never lets go, never leaves us, never forsakes us.

If your roots feel dry and unprotected during whatever problem or storm you are facing, stick them back into the Rock and bloom cheerfully. Your heavenly reward will exceed any possible earthly riches and God’s accounting is both perfect and eternal.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0primrose

God and Passwords

Why should I, a mere human, expect to understand the Great and Mighty God, Creator of the universe…when there are mere human existence questions which mystify me?

For example, living in Scotland. When friends invite us over for “tea,” I am greatly perplexed. Do they mean we should come to eat dinner with them? Or do they mean we should come over and have a cup of tea? It can mean either one. So I invariably have to ask. Sometimes asking is embarrassing because kind-hearted friends think I’m inviting myself to dinner and will quickly respond, “Oh, yes. Stay and have a meal with us.”

Panties. This might sound like a strange thing to be perplexed about but it’s something that has flummoxed me since childhood. Are panties worn under a nightgown or pajamas, or does one just wear the night attire next to the skin? It’s something my mother never told me. On the rare occasions when I slept away from home – like attending a summer camp – it was a question I couldn’t ask the other girls. My pride wouldn’t let me admit that I didn’t know the answer. The problem with being too proud to ask a question is that sometimes you go through life never knowing the answer.

Computer passwords. This throws me every time. When I visit a website and it asks for a password, I stare at it stupidly. How dare it ask for my password! I don’t give out my password to strange sites. Or…is it asking me to make up a password for that website? Sometimes I look at the website and declare, “If you’re trying to get business you should drop the password thing, because really – looking at what you’re trying to sell – it isn’t worth making up a new password and trying to remember it. Then I go away…still not knowing which password it meant.

So if I am too thick-headed to know the life answer to these three simple everyday problems, why would I expect to understand Mighty God, Creator and Miracle-Worker?

Some of our friends and family members are going through severe trials at the moment. They are lovely, kind, wonderful people who love God. Why are they suffering?

I don’t know.

We are in the middle of a storm that feels like the eye of a hurricane – except hurricane eyes are supposed to be calm and our storm isn’t even calm in the middle. Why?

I don’t know.

What I do know is this secret to the universe that unlocks every blessing of God and makes it available to us if we just exercise enough faith to believe and accept it: God is in Control. “ALL things work together to good for those who love the Lord.” Romans 8:28.

God may be a mystery. His way of working may indeed be mysterious. Yet He made it so simple that a child can understand it.

Trust. Just trust.

http://goo.gl/wmLNDy

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Welcome Storms in 2014

When tornado-strength thunderstorm winds batter the Texas Hill Country, massive live oak trees that have stood for hundreds of years uproot and topple. Here in the Black Isle of Scotland, gale force winds sweep from coast to coast constantly – seldom uprooting or toppling trees.

Duress has provided the impetus compelling Scottish trees to grow into defiant survivors impervious to life’s storms. Scottish trees stand intransigent and victorious, feeding on the fury of the wind to send roots deeper into the soil.

That’s a good illustration for the New Year. Welcome life’s storms as challenges forcing growth and change. Storms may seem like furious, unrelenting events over which we have no power, and which will rob us of victory or success, but the power of life’s storms and our resulting defeat are both illusions.

The Bible promises that our weakness is an opportunity for God to present Himself strong and victorious in our lives. God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you: My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

The world has coined two clichés: what doesn’t make you bitter makes you better and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Storms have peppered my life over the years. As a child, I lived in a cowshed with no indoor plumbing facilities. After escaping childhood sexual abuse and two forced non-medically supervised abortions that nearly killed me, I lived under a bridge. As a single parent, I worked two and three jobs to make ends meet and slept in the back of a pickup truck on top of our belongings when moving from job to job. I spent over a year in an open-ended garden center with no indoor plumbing, bathroom or kitchen facilities, and wildlife coming in and out freely. I had my property stolen by underhanded legal proceedings. All on the same day; our sheepdog died, my mother died and I couldn’t attend her funeral because my husband was sent home in an ambulance to die, and my truck caught on fire in downtown San Antonio. Just over a month ago, I lost my only son in a plane crash. No one is immune to storms. We have two choices when storms hit us; suffer and grow bitter, or grow and become stronger.

Storms have strengthened my writing, too. From the time I was eleven, all I’ve wanted to do is write. Fifty years of rejection slips, disappointments and closed doors have strengthened my resolve into a wall that simply can’t be battered down. I’m thankful to have six published mystery-romance-suspense books, but even if I had never had one book published or one copy sold – I would keep writing. Storms have driven my writing roots so deep that they can’t be uprooted.

May your 2014 be full of calm, peace, love and joy and as few storms as possible. Should a storm find you in 2014, embrace it as an opportunity to grow stronger roots. My prayer for you: “That God would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in your inner parts.” Ephesians 3:16.

When I feel faint, I look again at this picture of a little tree determinedly growing out of the top of a fence post. If it can bloom where God has planted it, so can I!

Link to all six of Stephanie Parker McKean’s Christian mystery-romance-suspense books: http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Twisted

Perhaps because it was an unusually difficult day – even, twisted perhaps? A serpentine limb along the beach captured my attention. I stopped to look at it, marveling that one limb could have suffered enough injuries to cause it to fold and unfold through the vegetation around it without breaking into pieces. And, yet, this twisted and re-twisted limb was alive, thick and solid, with vibrant green leaves dressing it in showy splendor.

 

Are we not like twisted limbs? Most of us can empathize with this storm-lashed tree that has healed after each North Sea onslaught that left it broken and frayed. Just as punishing winds and water-flung fury strengthened the limb, transforming it into a unique, interesting mini-portrait of Jesus’ creative wonder, we illustrate the same elements in the character growth of our lives.

 

Had we never been injured, how could we find compassion to help something else that had been injured? Had we never known pain, how could we understand another’s pain? Had we not been grieved, how could we comfort? God is too good to be cruel, too wise to make mistakes. Every bashing, thrashing storm that God has allowed to blow into our lives has brought something new and miraculous with it. Every turbulent wind has whisked away something old, unlovely and unprofitable.

 

Because I once lived under a bridge, painting signs in exchange for meals and washing in frigid river water in winter, I understand struggle and hardship. God allowed the storms in my life to blow away self-centeredness and blow in ideas for my Christian mystery-romance-suspense “Bridge to Nowhere.”

 

Because I was sexually abused as a child and forced into two abortions as a teen to hide the abuse, God used that storm in my life to blow away my atheistic vision and bring in new vision that enabled me to write the pro-life adventure-romance “Love’s Beating Heart.”

 

What gift is God attempting to send you through whatever storm blows through your life today? Don’t be afraid to be twisted. You could be one of the best portraits God ever painted.

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Sand and Storms

Where we live, the sand along the beach is wet, smooth and flat—until gale force winds blow.

 Strong winds change the sand, swirling it into patterns and pushing it up around rocks and pebbles. When this happens, the beach changes. Interesting patterns and textures emerge, replacing the mundane scenery with sand pictures and a kaleidoscope landscape of infinite variety.

 Our lives are much the same. Left in peace and comfort, the pages of our life turn in humdrum sameness. Nothing new, nothing scary, nothing unsettled. But when the winds of adversity howl around us, the landscape of our lives suddenly change. Like seagrass along the shore, we must dig roots deeper, strengthen fiber, stand resolutely against the storm. When the wind hushes to a whisper and the sand quits blowing blindingly, we have grown. We have changed. We are stronger.

 We could live out our lives in comfort and peace if storms never battered us. But we would be like weeds growing up through mulch—protected—but with shallow roots that hinder maturity.

 God-sent wind and storms should not alarm, frighten or discourage us. Just as God promises in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love the LORD.”

 Nor should man-made storms alarm, frighten, or discourage us. God does not send every storm that comes into our lives. Sometimes storms are a result of sin—ours or others.

It was not God’s plan that I should have been sexually abused as a child and forced to flee home and live under a bridge. It was not God’s storm that forced me into two abortions that nearly killed me. Yet God took the broken reeds left behind by those human storms of sin and depravity and strengthened them into a deeply planted life. He built new structures on the tragic and hurtful experiences of the past to bless my future. God’s blessing explains the success of my two “inspirational” and “life-changing” books, mystery-romance-suspense Bridge to Nowhere, and pro-life adventure-romance Love’s Beating Heart. Neither of those books would have been inspired by calm comfort.

 Welcome storms into your life. You never know what blessings they will blow into your life.

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