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


What Tree are You?

If someone asked you what kind of tree best represents you, what would your answer be? Tall, straight and reaching to the sky like a mighty pine? Squat and thick with olive green foliage like a Texas live oak? Branched with diversity like a grafted fruit tree? Showy and spectacular like an ornamental cherry or pear tree? Or fruitful like a trustworthy apple?

Me? I’d be like most dogs. A mongrel. Past trials and testings have twisted branches and stripped them of leaves and fruit. I’ve never been able to grow straight enough for long enough to reach up an tickle the clouds. I attempt to live a Christian life as evidenced my the fruit listed in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Yet, sometimes I grow weary. Sometimes the fruit of the Spirit falls to the ground.

The tree of my life is bent, twisted, bare-barked in spots – a unique creation shaped by God. I am so thankful for that! Every bend, broken branch and naked barked limb wrote its way into the books God has given me to author. Bridge to Nowhere, Love’s Beating Heart, Shadow Chase, Heart Shadows and Until the Shadows Flee are all knobs on that tree. The soon-to-be-released Fear of Shadows was written by a childhood memory too painful and frightening to recall.

I like my shape! God created it for His glory. A tall pine tree pinching the sky stands in its own glory. I need God to clothe me with every measure of joy and beauty He can give.

You might want to thank God for your shape; your kind of tree. It’s unique. No one else can do a good job of being you.