It Has Happened

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It has happened. Trees shivering their leaves off limbs and me shivering right along with them in empathy, sympathy—or just because I’m cold.

I hate cold. I hate being cold. I hate winter. I have always hated winter. There are very few things in this life I hate: fire ants, scorpions inside the house, winter, being cold.

All three of my winter memories are bad. When I was eleven, I took three cute brown and white puppies home without asking my parents first. I expected my parents to see the puppies, fall in love with them, and agree we could keep them. They didn’t. I had to take the puppies back, walking several miles through snow in canvas shoes with holes in them and wearing no gloves. I suffered severe frostbite on my toes and fingers. To this day my fingers quit working when it drops under 75F, and since it is nearly always cold here in Scotland, I spend part of my working day at the computer sitting on my hands to warm them up.

My second winter memory is worse; cutting, stacking, and carrying ice-crusted logs into the house for the fireplace—without gloves. Our family was too poor to buy gloves. Have I mentioned about my hands? Pain as severe as slowly freezing human limbs is hard to describe—and even harder to forget.

The third winter memory is taking Luke to cut a live Christmas tree when he was four. He had the necessary outfit: snow boots, snowsuit, coat, and gloves. Being a single mom supporting her child—I did not. This was deeper and colder snow—if that’s possible, and we were in it for a long time while Luke searched diligently for the perfect Christmas tree. Me—wearing canvas shoes and blue jeans—by the time Luke found his tree I would have gladly settled for a tin can and a twig.

The good thing about being a writer is that it’s okay to stay inside working—until life intrudes and forces you outside. Then it’s still winter, I’m still cold, I still hate the winter.

Psalm 74:17 says of God, “You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter.”

Since God made winter, He has a purpose for it. That means my job is to be happy for those who enjoy the winter and follow the advice in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks.”

So I am thankful. I am thankful that winter ends.

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Things I Love, Things I Hate

I hate cold, I hate winter, I hate snow – I hate Santa. That sounds more like an opening line for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” than my usual upbeat, positive blog, yet all these statements are true.

Grasshopper cover #3

I hate snow because it’s cold and I hate cold and being cold. Probably dates back to childhood, surviving in sub-standard houses, some of which had no heat. Then cutting and gathering firewood in the ice and snow with no gloves or warm outer garments. As for Santa, he gets bashed because if you teach children Santa brings them gifts and then they learn it’s not true, will they believe in God?

Thanks to all of you who read my blogs. I love and am thankful for each one of you. And I’ll forget about stacking icy firewood with raw bleeding hands and take a positive turn.  I’ve just released a new mystery-romance-suspense book, “I’m the Grasshopper.” Releasing a new book always raises my cheerful volume, even in the cold, cold winter.

Newspaper staff writer Stacy Estes has never forgotten the fate of her childhood pet – a grasshopper – when it encountered a spider. Her failed romances make her view herself as the grasshopper and men as spiders. She. Is. Done. With. Romance.

Stacy is a runner and hider. Until she trips over a body at her grandmother’s house and goes from reporting the news to being the news. Stacy fights to keep her secrets intact, including her physical disability, especially from the first love of her life who has moved back to the community. Lost treasure? Gold mining in Texas? Flying saucers on her grandmother’s hill? And what about the men who go into the Comanche Cliff store – but never come out again? Mysteries entangle and endanger Stacy. When a local poacher is jailed for murder, Stay’s life unravels.

Her investigation into the murder victim on her grandmother’s property takes her to the strange world of boanthropy, where people believe they are cows. It sends her into a confrontation with satanic worshiper “Snake.” And she is slated for the next sacrifice.

“I’m the Grasshopper” is a great Christmas read, clean enough that the kids or Grandma can pick it up and read it, yet packed with excitement, adventure, mystery and love. Stacy has a physical disability, but does that make her a “cripple,” as a heartless co-worker labels her?

To give credit where it belongs, the Bible promises in Romans 8:28 that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” Being in extreme pain and on crutches for months gave me the idea for the story and characters. God is always faithful to His word. I’ve since had successful spinal surgery, so it will be a very Merry Christmas for me.

To all of you reading this blog, have a Very Merry Christmas and a Deeply Blessed New Year. Thanks for being there! God bless.

Grasshopper cover #2

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Why Winter?

Here on the Black Isle of Scotland, everyone is rejoicing now that the sun is staying visible longer and snowdrops are pushing timid white heads up to look around while royal purple crocuses snap to attention along the sides of narrow lanes. Winter is fleeing, following the freezing breath of snow and ice into last year’s memories.

Some people hate winter. I’ve always hated winter. I hate being cold. I used to mix cement and build with rocks in 100-plus degree temps in south Texas. Ironic that I should now live in Scotland where it rarely makes it to 70 degrees even in the “summer.”

Winter brings cold temperatures that kill people, animals and plants; traffic-snarling storms; massive banks of snow that must be moved, and increased heating costs. So, why winter?

Psalm 74:17 says that “God made summer and winter.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Winter provides a Sabbath for the land. Most people get at least one day a week off work to rest. Rested employees are less likely to have accidents or get sick. Manufacturing equipment that shuts down for at least one day a week is less prone to malfunctions. Jesus said that people were not made for keeping the Sabbath to please God, but rather, that the Sabbath was made for the benefit of people to give them rest.

I had a lovely rough collie named Scot in the southern U.S. Scot visited nursing homes. He made friends with everyone and everything he met including deer, a wild rabbit, a feral cat, a baby bird, a turtle, a possum, cats in the neighborhood. He was so friendly that even small animals were unafraid of him. Scot got protothecosis; there is no treatment, no cure, and it is 100 percent fatal. Dogs in Scotland don’t get protothecosis. It’s too cold for the cannibalistic algae. Nor are there mosquitoes, fire ants, venomous spiders or a plethora of other aggravating and dangerous insects. This is a winter land. Winter provides surcease.

Tulips must be kept cold to burst into energetic flames of spring color. Peach trees need numbered winter days of extreme cold to ensure a plentiful summer harvest.

Like God’s creation of nature, our personal lives cycle through seasons, from joy to despair, from busyness and fullness to emptiness and boredom. Why winter? Sometimes it takes a cold, barren winter wilderness experience to turn our hearts fully to God. To make us appreciate the benefits He daily loads into our lives. If every step of our path through life was lined with fabulously blooming flowers, we would quickly turn aside to grass.

Before we lament the winter wilderness experiences in our lives, we should read about history’s first recorded Christians in Acts 5:40-41. “They called for the apostles and beat them…and the apostles departed, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name.”

These early Christians rejoiced in winters – trusting that earthly hardships were short and nothing to be compared to the eternal blessings of Jesus.

We should enjoy spring and let the winter go – but when it comes around again – we should embrace it like an old friend who is walking us into the kingdom of God.

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