Too Late

For weeks every time I took our collie Savannah on a walk we passed a beautiful vine dressed with bright red leaves hanging over a wooden fence. Every time we passed it I thought, “That’s lovely. I need to take a picture.” Then I kept walking because…it was raining…or the camera was in the other coat…or I was in a time crunch.

Today I passed that once glorious vine—and the leaves were gone. Only one leaf remained on the twisty branches, only one leaf flaunted its bright color and beauty against the fence. I was too late.

There was a couple in one of my husband’s parishes. The wife spent the days of their marriage flogging her husband. If he did dishes—she did them over because he didn’t do a good enough job. If he vacuumed the floor—she did it over because he missed spots. They lived in one of the best houses in the village and had all the furnishings and conveniences that anyone could want. He even rode the bus to work so she would have the car during the day. Still she complained: he didn’t spend enough time with the children when they were young; he didn’t help her enough around the house; he wasn’t romantic…he was a total failure as a husband. She should have married a classmate who had become a physician.

Sadly, she was a Christian. But since she didn’t apply Biblical wisdom to her marriage, she remained miserable and transferred that misery to her husband. One day, however, she got her Bible out and read it deeply. She turned to Proverbs because she thought Proverbs would be easy to understand. One verse lacerated her heart: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” She thought about how she had snapped at her husband that morning for spilling toast crumbs on the tablecloth and hanging up the towel in the bathroom crookedly. She decided to change.

She baked his favorite cake—a Victorian sponge—and prepared his favorite meal—mince and tatties. She donned her best clothes and prepared to meet him at the bus stop close to their house. She hurried to the stop. He got off the bus…staggered…and fell across the curb dead. He had suffered a heart attack.

As a writer, I would want to change this ending. I would want the wife’s sudden turn to sweetness to last and bring sunshine and roses into the last and best years of their marriage. I would want forgiveness, healing and growth. But…this is a true story. It was too late for a happy ending.

Ecclesiastes 3 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted…a time to laugh; a time to mourn…

Yes, indeed. There is a time and a season. But there is also a time when it is too late.

So love your family and your pets today and everyday and never let them doubt how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate them. When that last leaf falls from the vine…it is too late. Stephanie Parker McKean: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Riches in Waiting

savannah 1

Yesterday was a wild day, mostly spent on two different buses or at the bus station in between buses as we traveled from Dunoon to Glasgow, from Glasgow to Edinburgh, and then made the return journey.

First the purple, a deep vibrant purple more intense than a lavender field. A woman at the bus station was wearing it. She was tall and it reached from her neck down to her purple boots, so there was a lot of it. And her hair was purple—except where dark roots nudged through the head bouquet. The purple woman has absolutely nothing to do with this blog, except that some things once seen can’t be unseen and when I close my eyes, the inside of my eyelids are swathed in purple.

bunch purple

Then the revolving glass door. I ran into it. Twice. The first time I almost panicked because the people in the other two sections of the glass door had a way out, but I was in the middle of a glass tunnel with no escape route. That just reaffirmed what I already knew: I am not and will never be a “city” person. I belong in the country with birds, wildlife, trees, grass, wildflowers—even purple ones.

Finally, we arrived at our destination, after a short ride scrunched into the backseat of a car so tightly that no one could even fasten their seatbelt. And we met Savannah. We picked up the tiny merle rough collie puppy and told her we would be her new parents soon and that her name was Savannah. When we left, I called, “Savannah,” and out of the mix of swirling, climbing collie puppies, she was the only one who looked up. She looked up at us and watched us until we were out of sight. Some things are worth waiting for, worth an all-day bus ride, worth getting trapped inside revolving glass doors, worth purple on the inside of the eyelids. Savannah is one of those things.

“Those who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

savannah 2

To everything there is a Season

More than 2,000 years ago, King Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” He added, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.”

Fall foliage reminds me these Bible verses. Trees take turns dressing in their fall flowering of red, gold, streaked and spotted colors. It is, as some have said, as if God individually paints each leaf and takes turns striking each tree with a swath of His glory. The result is bright cheering beauty to break a drab and dull world preparing itself for sleep.

Sometimes we want to rush our goals and dreams in life, and who could blame us? Life on this earth is short. The Bible equates it with a grass blade that soon withers; a vapor; a flower bloom that fades. Not happy thoughts – if we believe this life is it. But the same Bible that describes the brevity of life also promises that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ gains entrance into eternal life with Jesus in Heaven.

As much as we want to press ahead with our plans, we need to remember that God is in control. He holds our lives in His hands. He knows the number of our days. Sometimes he withholds the answer to a prayer; a promotion in our career; recognition that we’ve earned because He is too wise to make mistakes and too good to be cruel. God knows that waiting will either bring us something better than we could ever ask or think, or will build us into the kind of person that He wants us to be. So if the wait seems long, remember that God is painting the leaves one-by-one.

I don’t understand why as a writer it’s taken me forty years to build a successful life as an author when some people as young as 14-years-old break into the publishing industry. I don’t need to understand. That’s God’s look out. What God requires of me is faith and gratitude. It’s been a long wait, but I think the five Christian mystery-romance-suspense books and the one pro-life adventure-romance have benefited by the wait. (The newest, “Fear of Shadows,” will be out this week!)

Like fall leaves, God has painted my books one-by-one using the colors mixed by a waiting heart.