Alligators Climb Fences

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You are sitting on your porch steps watching your toddler play with your dog and thinking all is right in your world when an alligator climbs the fence and plops into the yard. It happens.

Alligators crash into our everyday lives stealing our joy and smashing our peace. Hurricane Dorian just trashed the Bahamas. Evelyn Cartwright discovered she had an inoperable brain tumor. Alligators. They are everywhere.

As I write this blog, an alligator crashed into our lives and sent our seven-month-old rough collie to the vet to be on a drip today. And my knee hurts. No appointment with the orthopedic surgeon yet—nearly two months overdue. Alligators. They belong in swamps. They are destructive and deadly when they climb fences and drop into folks’ lives.

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No matter how much time, energy, and money we put into fence-building, and no matter how strong and high we build the fences—we can’t stop alligators. The biggest gator to climb the fence and crash into my life was on November 17, 2013, when my son USMC Major Luke Parker flew a plane from earth to heaven.

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We can’t stop tragedy, but God and His Word give us help, hope, and strength. “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter:12, 13. Even the Apostle Paul got bitten by gators.

My two favorite verses in the entire Bible: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and “ALL things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28)

When gators climb your fence and snap at you—rebuke them in the name of Jesus. Evelyn Cartwright did. She’s healed.

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https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Seeing the Wind

For some reason, people like believing impossibilities. For example, they say, “You can’t see the wind. It’s invisible. No one can see the wind.”

I can. I learned to see the wind from my seven-year-old son. We were living in the Nevada desert helping friends run a small gold mine. Luke kept insisting that he could see the wind and I kept parroting the impossibility. “Luke, you can’t see the wind. It’s invisible. No one can see the wind.”

Luke led me through the sagebrush to a vantage point that gave us a clear view over 40 miles of desert and described what he was seeing. Then I saw it too; the dips, swirls, circles and waves of wind playing tag with mountains and sky. It’s a gift from my son that I treasure.

Luke was told he couldn’t climb scrubby cedar trees in the Texas Hill Country because the branches would snap. Yet when we saved a baby possum, Luke climbed upside down in the cedar trees, going from tree to tree without touching the ground, teaching the baby to climb. Not a single limb broke.

When we moved back to the desert, Luke invented “wind surfing.” He tied ropes to the corners of a huge black tarp and let the wind skate him along the ground. One day a sudden gust picked Luke up off the ground, flew him into the window of the house next door, then whisked him into the plowed field behind.

Luke was told, “People can’t fly.” But he did, and with lasting benefits. The alcoholic next door was sitting at the table drinking when Luke flew past the window. The man gave up drinking. “I knew I had to,” he told us, “the day I saw a boy fly past my window.” Somehow…we kept a straight face and never explained about the flying boy!

Luke never believed impossibilities. He was told, “Your ears were damaged by severe ear infections. You can’t do music.” So he learned to play the trumpet and the piano.

Luke was told, “You can’t learn to fly an airplane. Your math isn’t good enough. You’ll never pass ground school.” He learned to fly a plane and flew from North Carolina to California. Then he bought his own plane.

Luke was told, “The Marine Corps will never accept you. You won’t pass the physical. You have scoliosis. You need a metal rod in your back.” Luke prayed and Jesus healed him. He was 37 and just short of retiring from the Marine Corps as a Major when his plane crashed.

My mystery-romance-suspense “Bridge Beyond Betrayal” is dedicated to Luke and includes the prophetic poem he wrote a year before his death. Not only is Texas Miz Mike’s son Ron loosely patterned after Luke (who always gave sound advice and was almost always right—even as a child), but Luke was a constant inspiration in negating impossibilities. Texas Miz Mike learned from his example!

When Miz Mike spots a dead body in the back of a pickup truck, no one believes her. She is told that people don’t tote corpses in the back of their trucks. When she identifies the dead man, no one believes her. His business partners insist he is alive. When energetic Doc is arrested for murder and the town celebrates, no one believes Mike that Doc is innocent. Mike must thrust aside her own dislike of Doc and prove that he is innocent.

Not even romance is safe from impossibilities. Mike and her cowboy hero are just about to get hitched when Doc teaches Mike to dowse for bones. Believing it is witchcraft, Marty is scandalized and breaks off their engagement.

When Mike gets locked in an office building with a nefarious night watchman, it is artist Frank—not Marty—who rescues her. That’s when Texas Miz Mike faces the greatest impossibility of all—choosing between two suitors…if she gets out of being arrested and survives the killer who is determined to make her disappear forever.

http://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Beyond-Betrayal-Mike-Book-ebook/dp/B00NP3RVB0/ref=sr_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411134397&sr=1-2&keywords=bridge+beyond+betrayal+stephanie+parker+mckean

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Dragon Sandcastles

One of the most original creations in the Rosemarkie, Scotland sandcastle building contest was a dragon sandcastle, complete with teeth, claws and spines along the tail. Now, several weeks later – it is completely gone, just a memory written in sand.

My son, USMC Major Luke Parker, spent a percentage of his adult life building dragon sandcastles. By that, I mean that he built a successful life here on earth. He purchased and restored two U.S. Army jeeps, bought a home, a new pickup truck with a sunroof, and had one of the only 19 remaining World War II German trainer airplanes, a Focke Wulf. When he flew his Focke Wulf home to glory on November 17, 2013 – he left sandcastles behind. Not even his beloved new pickup truck went to Heaven with him.

Luke would have been 39 this year on August 19, 2015. Those of us who loved Luke carry the memory of his smile in our hearts. We remember him and his kind deeds toward other people…not the dragon sandcastles he built and left behind.

Thinking of someone so young and successful leaving this life suddenly and unexpectedly is a good reminder to examine the building materials in our lives. Are we building permanent structures…or sandcastles? When we invest our time helping other people, we are building with enduring blocks. Our works will follow us to Heaven and Jesus Himself will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

When we invest our time and energy into acquiring better homes, better vehicles, fancier clothes, and more possessions – we are building with sand. When we stand before Jesus, sand will run out of our fingers and vanish and we will have nothing valuable to place at our Savior’s feet.

While Luke did acquire a lot of possessions that got left behind, he also built enduring structures into the lives and hearts of those he knew. I have no doubt that while his dragon sandcastles down here slip away, Jesus has already told him, “Well done, faithful servant, and has accepted the gifts Luke placed at his Savior’s feet.

Build with rocks, not sand. Do something kind. Love someone who is unlovely. Help someone who is helpless. Give to someone who is without. All these things will follow you to Heaven, eternal rewards that no one else can steal or claim. Rewards that you can cast at the Savior’s feet as he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Dragon sandcastles are but for a moment. The love of Jesus endures forever.

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

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Broken…

Broken, shattered, splintered, smashed, disintegrated, destroyed – my exploded world on November 17 last year when my son USMC Major Luke Parker died in a plane crash at age 37.

A newspaper reporter interviewed me about my newest Christian mystery-romance-suspense book, Bridge Beyond Betrayal. “I see that the book is dedicated to your son and includes the prophetic poem he wrote a year before his death. You seem to have been close to your son. How did you get over losing him?” she asked.

I haven’t. I didn’t. I won’t. Memories play over in my mind like a DVD with no off switch. His smile. He always had a smile – even in photos his buddies took of him in war zones.

His faith; praying for a truck as a four-year-old because we were without transportation and I lacked enough faith to pray – the Lord gave us a truck the next day. The time the truck got stranded in the Nevada desert and Luke prayed, then insisted that the man who came out of nowhere to help us was an angel. I disputed that. Until we attempted to take a thank you card and some home-baked cookies to our rescuer. We never found him, nor did we find a house, a driveway, or even a dirt trail that explained how he had reached us.

His kindness. Luke’s animal rescues included a one-legged raven; a three-legged dog; a one-eyed possum; and a mentally challenged possum that lived in the closet and used a litter box because it wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to get out the open door. His people rescues. The way Luke stood up to bigger and older students who bullied younger students.

His determination. From starting out in life with hearing loss, a speech impediment and learning disabilities, Luke went on to learn and excel at everything that he wanted to do; playing a trumpet, playing a piano, scuba diving, rock climbing, training horses, flying airplanes, restoring WWII jeeps. He got a college degree in spite of his weakness in math. He went into the US Marine Corps as enlisted and worked his way up to major.

I’m most proud of Luke because his men in Iraq wrote in the newsletter that they respected his Christian example and added, “No matter what we do, we can’t make Captain Parker curse – not even when we hide his gun.”

I’m most proud of Luke for refusing to drink with other recruits in basic training. Already drunk, they threatened him with a knife. He crawled into his bunk, pulled the sheet over his head and ignored them. When he woke up in the morning, his mattress was slashed all around his body.

I’m most proud of Luke for the worn, highlighted, underlined Bible that went everywhere with him.

I’m most proud of my son for walking with God. And because he walked with God, I know he is not dead. He left the USMC to report to duty in Heaven under his Commander for all eternity – Jesus.

So, no, newspaper lady – I’m not over losing my wonderful son. But I will not sorrow like those with no hope because I know Luke lives still and I will see him again. Jesus is in the business of fixing the broken and restoring wholeness to shattered lives and hearts.

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

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The good in Goodbye

One Meredith Wilson song in the 1962 film “The Music Man,” starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, is “Sincere.” Singing it, The Buffalo Bills lament, “where is the sin in sincere, what is good in goodbye?”

Goodbyes can be good.

This is the time of year in Fortrose-Rosemarkie, Scotland, when adult seagulls say goodbye to their young. Hearing the frantic, anxious calls of the abandoned youngsters rips my heart. The baby seagulls don’t understand why parents that have so lovingly cared for them suddenly leave and ignore their agonized cries. Big, fluffy, grey baby gulls walk along the edge of the water and sit on rooftops calling their absent parents. But this time, no matter how gut-wrenching the cries – the parents don’t respond.

I wonder if it is as hard on the parents to ignore the hurt cries of their young as it is on me. If so, they ignore the sharp, biting heart pains and distance themselves – using the wisdom God instilled in them – so the babies will be forced to exercise the feeding and flying skills that the parents have so diligently taught them. If they continued to care for their babies, the babies would continue to live on handouts and never learn self-sufficiency. A winged example of the popular cliché “tough love.”

All parents experience the hurt and learn the benefits of goodbyes when their children are still young. Goodbyes are a part of sending children to school to learn, sending them to visit grandparents and friends, sending them to summer camps…sending them away to universities, jobs, and distant locations. Without the goodbyes, children would never grow into their full potential and learn God’s will for their lives. Goodbyes can be good – but they still hurt.

The longest, hardest goodbye is when someone we love “dies.” It’s been nearly a year since my wonderful, talented son, USMC Major Luke Parker, “died” to this world. Perhaps my deep inner hurt and emptiness magnifies the anguished cries of the baby seagulls and makes me hypersensitive.

Everyone who has ever said goodbye to a loved one who departed from this world, however, has an advantage over those confused, lonely baby gulls. If we are Christians, we know that the separation is temporary. We will join our loved ones again in Heaven with Jesus lighting the way. What an awesome comfort! Death is not an end, it’s the doorway into eternity and the beginning of living a life without pain and loss.

As for the gulls…they are forced to use the life skills they have been taught. They will pass them on to their youngsters. But will they ever see their parents again? I hope so. I really hope so.

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

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