Sunday Bookends: Finished Books, More Cold Weather, Lighter Show for a Heavy Week

Welcome to my weekly post where I write about what I’m reading, watching, listening to (sometimes), writing, and what I’ve been up to lately. Spoiler alert: I’m not usually up to much at all, but sometimes I read some good books or watch a good show or two.

What I’m Reading

This week I finished two books (which is unusual for me). I finished ‘Til I Want No More by Robin W. Pearson early in the week and you can find the review for that HERE.

I finished Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin yesterday and I enjoyed it even though it was not the best “written” book. It read a little bit like a list of what Harriet did and said instead of a book. It was an interesting premise and story, though so I kept going simply because I wanted to find out if Harriet made it to her son’s in California.

The description of the book:
Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle—and her heart—are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture—God has a different plan.


I don’t know if I will review the book for the blog but it did give me some ideas for future blog posts about life, what our callings are, and the fact we often need to just go for it more in life than we do.

For this week, I plan to keep reading Sweeter by Jere Steele, an indie author I met on Instagram.

I also hope to start at new Longmire book by Craig Johnson (this is so different from what I normally read. I always imagine someone reading my blog would be like, “Really? You read light Christian fiction or Christian romances and then you read Longmire?” Yeah. I’m odd sometimes. I’m probably more comfortable with the Christian fiction, but I have a soft spot for Walt too, even if his partner has a pottymouth.). I’m on the second book in the series, Death Without Company.

I am also going to read some of How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps by Ben Shapiro to lighten up the mood a bit (har. har.).

My daughter and I are reading Stormy: Misty’s Foal by Marguerite Henry every night before bed. She’s so excited to hear the story she’s even started asking to go to bed early so we can read it. I read it to her from the Kindle.

And of course my son and I are still slogging through Lord of the Flies and getting more depressed by the minute as it reminds us of society today and how given similar circumstances we are very certain adults would slaughter each other the same way these boys are about to.

What I’m Watching

My husband and I started And Then There Were None, a mini-series from the BBC based on Agatha Christie’s book by the same name this week.

Actually, the book was originally called Ten Little Indians and before that it was called Ten Little N-Word. I kid you not. My husband found out that bit of trivia this past week. No idea how that lady hasn’t been canceled by the “woke mob” yet but glad she hasn’t been because her stories are very intriguing . The book was called Ten Little N-word because that is the name of a poem the book is based around. The text has since been changed to say the poem is called Ten Little Soldiers. I read this week that the idea behind the use of the word that we find very offensive in this country was used to convey that the British had a fear of other races and the unknown, not necessarily to show that Christie herself felt it was right to have a poem about killing black people. I have completely digressed, however, so back to rambles about what we are watching.

We took a break from the episodes because it is a pretty heavy storyline and we needed some lighter things to watch this week after stressful news in the world and at my husband’s job.

Lighter fare for our viewing pleasure included The Muppets, which are now on Disney Plus, Murdoch Mysteries, and Still Standing, which is a non-fiction show about small towns in Canada that are struggling financially but thriving on heart. I aslo started The Moonstone, another BBC Miniseries about a stolen jewel and Victorian people and swooning and yadda, yadda. It’s pretty good so far.

What I’m Writing

I am writing blog posts but haven’t shared them yet and I am also writing The Farmer’s Son for the blog and simply to write it. I’m also adding more to The Librarian and this week The Farmer’s Daughter releases on Kindle and Barnes and Noble.

What I’m Listening To

I listened to part of a sermon by Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas live last night and hope to hear the rest of it on the rebroadcast today.

I’ve been listening to a political/Christian podcast by Allie B. Stuckey called Relatable, but usually can’t get through it because all the political news is so depressing and overwhelming.

Music wise I’ve been hopping all over. One night this week my husband and I shared all the music we listened to in the 90s and early 2000s, which included a mix of Christian and Country music. We took turns casting YouTube videos to the TV while our son looked rather horrified at some of it.

Here is a sampling of a few of the artists we watched:

What’s Been Occuring

It has been another week of not leaving the house thanks to more snow and ice. We still have about a foot and a half of snow on the ground and received about six inches more this week, but not the 18 inches more we originally thought we might get.

The kids ventured out a couple of days to go sledding and attempt to build snowmen, but they ended up not staying out very long because the temperature was so bitter cold.

It is supposed to warm up some this next week so either this snow is going to melt off nice and slow or it’s going to fill up our basement with water. We will see which happens. All I know is that under the snow is probably four to five inches of hard ice so this should be interesting.

Hopefully it doesn’t sound like I am complaining about the snow and ice. This is the North and we know we will have tough winter weather at times. It has been difficult to have the snow around for so long but we are grateful we are better prepared for it than some, like those in Texas. Please pray for the people of that as they start to recover from the horrible cold and ice.

So that’s my week in review. How was your week? Read any good books? Watch anything good? Listen to anything good? Let me know in the comments.you can’t his

Book Review: ‘Til I Want No More by Robin W. Pearson

Book description:

When the man she loved years ago returns to town, one young woman’s complicated past rises again, threatening to expose her well-kept secrets.

If Maxine could put her finger on the moment when her life went into a tailspin, she would point back twenty years to the day her daddy died. She tells herself he’s the only person who ever really knew and loved her, and if he hadn’t left her behind, her future would’ve taken a different path. No absentee mother, no stepfather, no rebellious ripping and running during her teenage years. And no JD, who gave her wandering young heart a home, at least for a time.

But that’s over and done with. All grown-up now, Maxine has pledged her heart and ring finger to Theodore Charles, the man she’ll promise to love, honor, and obey in front of God and everybody. At least that’s what she’s telling anybody who will listen. The only folks buying it are the dog and the readers of her column, however. Her best friend and family aren’t having it―not even Celeste, the double bass–playing thirteen-year-old the community of Mount Laurel, North Carolina, believes is Maxine’s adopted sister. And apparently, neither is the newly returned JD, who seems intent on toppling Maxine’s reconstructed life. As her wedding day marches ever closer, Maxine confronts what it means to be really known and loved by examining what’s buried in her own heart and exposing truth that has never seen the light of day.

A Christian fiction novel with a poignant story of romance, a search for truth, and a journey to redemption. For fans of Chris Fabry, Lauren Denton, and Charles Martin.

Book review:

After reading A Long Time Comin’ last year, I had been anticipating Robin’s new book and it did not disappoint. Robin is a wonderful writer who pulls you right into her character’s world. This story is a story of forgiveness, not only for others but accepting God’s forgiveness and love for ourselves.

I enjoyed the story of Maxine.

Maxine, a columnist for a small Christian magazine, is supposed to be getting married, but she has a big secret and, at first, I found it insanely naive and selfish of her to believe she was going to marry her Theodore without him one day finding out a very, very big secret from her past. If she didn’t feel comfortable sharing this with him before they were married, then I couldn’t figure out how she thought she was going to have a strong marriage. The marriage was going to be built on a foundation of lies. But, of course, that’s the point of Maxine’s journey – learning to unravel the lies and pain and face them.

Maxine works through some of her internal struggle through the columns she writes for the magazine and as a writer myself I was amazed by how Robin managed to write several columns by Maxine in addition to the story. That requires a great deal of talent, in my humble opinion. Of course, a great deal of talent is indeed what Robin possesses.

Robin wonderfully described Maxine’s predicament and her reluctance to deal with it. The fact I feel so strongly about Maxine’s faults, for lack of a better word, is probably because, again, I see so much of myself in her. Feeling so strong about a character is a testament to what a strong writer Robin is. She really pulled me into Maxine’s journey.

I think Robin wrote Maxine as stubborn for a reason and it isn’t as if Maxine doesn’t redeem herself or that her character doesn’t develop throughout the book. She does both of these things, but not in a cookie-cutter way, which is much more realistic than many books in this genre.

Her character growth is messy, complex, and doesn’t have a cute little bow on it.

That’s real life and that’s what Robin writes so well.

I definitely recommend this book for its messages of forgiveness, redemption, and healing. I can’t wait to see what else Robin writes!Thank you for your review.

Sunday Bookends: Balancing Books and Feeling like we live in Antartica

Welcome to another Sunday Bookends where I share what I’m reading, watching, writing, eating, seeing, smelling — no, wait. Only what I’m reading, watching, writing, sometimes what I’m listening to and a little about what we’ve been up to. Feel free to let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments.

What’s Been Occuring

Aparently we are never going to have warm weather again. Or that’s how it feels right now, anyhow. I know we will eventually have warm weather, of course, but this has been one long winter.

Most of the 21 inches of snow that fell on us the week before last is still here and now they are calling for several more inches on Monday and Tuesday. We just got our driveway cleared from the last storm and now more snow is coming. I can’t even wrap my head around it. While the snow can be pretty, there has been anywhere from 2 to 24 inches of snow in our backyard since the end of December and at least a foot of it there since the beginning mid-January. There is so much snow that the deer are now coming into our yards to eat our bushes and trees.

We were able to get out of the driveway last week to go to my parents for a game night and the little supermarket downtown. Saturday my husband took me out for Valentine’s Day and we were able to get out of town and explore an area about 45 minutes away from our house. We had a late lunch at a restaurant we hadn’t been to before and then we – I can’t believe I am writing this but we went to buy cat food and cat litter at Walmart.

Yes, that was part of our Valentine’s Day date. This shopping trip for necessities was promptly mocked by The Boy who texted to me (after I told him where we were):

“Ah yes Walmart the most romantic place in the world. It’s the only place where you can find scented candles right next to the guns. Waiter: here are your Walmart specials pulls out Twinkie’s and a half warmed up frozen pizza.”

He’s quite funny and we’re hoping that he’ll be a famous comedian one day and puts us in a nice nursing community. You know, if the world allows us all to have humor again.

What I’m Reading

I’m almost finished with ‘Til I Want No More by Robin W. Pearson, which I am really enjoying, even though Maxine (the main character) was really driving me nuts in the first part of the book. When you read it, you’ll know what I mean. This story of redemption is very complex and a little heavy at times, but Robin is such a wonderful writer, it makes it all easier. Plus, we get to see Evelyn again from Robin’s first book A Long Time Comin’. The two books are not connected, other than Evelyn and Maxine being friends and both facing difficult secrets in their lives they needed to address.

I will probably finish Harriet Beamer Takes A Bus in the next couple of days as well. This book is so charming and sweet, I don’t want it to end, but luckily I have discovered that there is a sequel.

Little Miss and I just finished Misty of Chincoteague by Margaurite Henry last week and have moved on to Stormy, Misty’s Foal.

The Boy and I continue to suffer through The Lord of the Flies (good book, but a bit depressing with all the craziness going on in today’s world). It’s taking us a while because he has chapter questions and quizes every two chapters and I am really not in any rush to read it since I know how it ends.

What I’m Watching

I’ve been watching McLeod’s Daughters, an old Australian show on Amazon. It’s essentially a soap opera set out in the bush of Australia but without graphic sex or violence.

My husband and I are also watching Lovejoy, an older British show about an antique dealer who often gets wrapped up in some sort of criminal situation when trying to sell or buy antiques. It is much more interesting than I just made it sound. I promise.

We continue to watch Wanda Vision (a Marvel show on Disney), which is getting better each week.

What I’m Writing

Last week I wrote about censorship and freedom of speech;

Some random thoughts

And, the second part of chapter 1 for The Farmer’s Son.

I’m also finishing up edits on The Farmer’s Daughter and it will go live on Kindle on February 23rd.

What I’m Listening To

I am try to listen to more sermons and will continue that this week. I listened to a good sermon by Holly Furtick from Elevation Church, which I missed Sunday because I watched Robert Morris from Gateway Church. Here are links to those sermons in case you need some spiritual guidance or Biblical thoughts to chew on this week.

I’m also trying to make more time for podcasts and this week I hope to listen to more of Relatable by Allie B. Stuckey and The Babylon Bee podcast.

So that was my week in review. How about you? What have you been reading, watching, listening to, or doing? Let me know in the comments.

Randomly Thinking: My Capitalization Issue on Here, Cold Weather, Bob Ross, and The Urban Dictionary

Here are a few of my random thoughts from the last couple of weeks. Enter at your own risk.

***

Have you noticed from time to time the titles of my blog posts in the WordPress Reader are capitalized weird or not at all? Maybe you haven’t, but I have and it’s driving me nuts. The reason the capitalizations sometimes aren’t right in the reader is because when I write my headlines they are in all caps in my editor (due to theme I have chosen), but when they appear in the reader they are not in all caps. So there are times I try to capitalize a word in my headline within the post editor but it appears as all caps to me so I don’t see the error until I publish it and view it in the reader.

Does that make sense? Does anyone besides me care? No. Probably not, but it really drives me crazy because I look like I’m even more incompetant than usual when that happens.

***

You know what else drives me crazy about the new editor on here? I can’t find a spellchecker and the Grammerly app I have installed on my browser doesn’t work in it either. So, yeah! I now have all kinds of typos on my blog posts. I’ve tried copying the posts and putting them into Grammerly or ProWriting Aid but it’s very time consuming, so most of the time I just let the typos ride. It’s not like I’m writing for a major news publication where they never have typos. Ha. Ha. (Who wants to attend the “pubic meeting on Monday night in the high school”?)



***

Someone on a MeWe (a social network) asked if my kids and I would be interested in being penpals with her kids as part of a homeschooling project. I agreed and about a week later we received three letters in the mail. I thought only my children would be receiving letters but then I ended up receiving one to me as well, which was really cool. I used to write letters back and forth with my maternal grandmother and I really miss that. The woman who wrote me said she misses the old days of writing real letters and I have to agree with her. We’re so used to instant gratification now we don’t know how to be patient for a letter.

This was further proven by my children asking if her children had Discord screennames or play Minecraft or “Why can’t we just call them instead of write a letter?”

I told them I’m teaching them patience and we all worked on letters to mail out. Of course, thanks to the two feet of snow we received, we had to wait until the end of the week to get the letters mailed out, but we did get them mailed out.

***

“We are losing our minds because they aren’t in our heads anymore. They’re in our phones.” Quote by my dad.

***

Watching television with my husband is always interesteing becuase he usually looks up all the actors and at some point during the series or movie to tell us what else they’ve been in. Then he tells us who out of the cast has died and sometimes even how they died (it’s usually some tragedy like drug overdose). It’s a lot like riding around our two county area with my dad except he points to houses or empty fields and tells us who use to live there and that they are all dead.

A couple of weeks ago he drove us to pick my son’s friend and during the three mile drive he randomply pointed at houses, or some empty field and said, “So-and-So used to live there. They’re dead now of course.”

By the end of the drive we all felt like we had been to a wake.


***

I think it’s sad when you click on the profile of someone yelling at you on Instagram for your political views and all they have listed in their profile is their pronouns, race, and political party. Seriously? Those things are what are important to you in life? If you only identify yourself based on sexual identification, race, and political affiliation I feel seriously sorry for you because you’ve placed your faith in all the wrong things.

***

Saturday night everyone’s bedroom doors were open when I sat down to read my daughter her bedtime stories: Sparta: Rise of a Warrior Nation. At least that’s what I loudly announced I was going to read to see if my son heard me.

He did.

“You’re reading her what?!”

I assured him I was actually reading her Paddington but if he wanted I would come in and read him the book on Sparta. He said that wasn’t necessary. Oh well, maybe another night.

***

Our two cats occassionally get along now, unless we notice they are getting along. If I point out that the older cat isn’t chasing the baby and reach for my camera to document the moment, the older cat jumps up and slaps the kitten the head and walks off.

***

There was a depressing and disgusting news story that broke in our area this week involving a public official. He always gave me the creeps but I had never imagined he’d done what he’s charged with. I just figured he was swarmy politically and ethically. My husband’s co-worker mused how the wife of the man is always quiet and seems to blend into the background. I guessed it’s probably because she’s abused by him and was made to feel she must be submissive and stay behind the scenes.

“Yeah. You’re probably right,” my husand said. ” Of course, we all know that wouldn’t be you. You’d be more likely to just step up and say something. You don’t stand in the background. I mean, let’s face it. We know who wears the pants in this relationship.”

I didn’t know how to take that so I kicked his butt and told him to go cry in the corner like the little baby he is. Then I told him as soon as he’s done wiping his snot we’re going to dinner at whatever restaurant I pick.

That less section is, of course, a total fabrication. I believe what my husband meant is I wouldn’t allow myself to be emotionally, and possibly physically, abused and would have kicked that man’s butt before I let him make me stand in the background with my mouth shut and my head bowed, pretending our family was normal when it was not. At the same time, neither of us are really judging this woman. We have no idea what she went through and she’s as much of a victim as others in this particular case so that was the part of it all we couldn’t laugh at.

***

I am very certain that once while watching Bob Ross painting I told my son he had died years ago. Very certain.

However, the other day I ordered a Bob Ross watercolor book for my daughter and while looking at it my son, a fan of Bob Ross Positive Energy Drinks, told me about all the other Bob Ross-related products available.

He said, “He knows how to market himself.”

I said, “Well, no, actually, his family really knows how to make money using his name. Since he’s been dead for years.”

My son looked grief-stricken. “Bob Ross is dead?”

I said, “Uh..yeah. We’ve discussed this. You even showed me that video one time of some animator who had created a scene with Bob Ross and Fred Rogers together in heaven.”

“Well, yeah, but I just thought –”

My son’s face fell.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Is this like when I told you there was no Santa Claus?”

Him, “There’s no Santa Claus?”

(He didn’t really say that last line. What he really said was, “Yes! That’s what this is like!”)

Honestly, I know we talked about Bob Ross being dead because I even showed him a video about what happened to all Bob Ross’s paintings after his death. Sometimes I think The Boy simply plays too many video games and it has melted his memory.

***

My son’s friends looked up their names on Urban Dictionary. I’d never heard of it before and a lot of the inforamtion on there features “no-so-nice” language, but I did look up my name for fun and found one clean description, which was a little accurate, but not completely:

“If you’re friends with a Lisa – consider yourself lucky! Lisa’s are intelligent, intuitive, and a true friend. She will always check in on you at just the right moments, and has a way of putting out all of your fires with a few thoughtful phrases of advice. The kind of advice that validates your feelings while still holding you accountable for your own actions. She has high level of patience, but don’t take her kindness for granted; she will put you in your place if you do!! She’s beautiful on the inside and out, witty sense of humor, and an all around genuine person.Lisa will call you out on your crap (Word changed to protect the innocent).”

That last sentence is especially true. *wink*

***

So those are a few of my random thoughts for this week. What are some of yours? Share them with me in the comments!

Socially Thinking: The perils of censoring what we don’t agree with

Cancel culture.

There is a phrase I am sick of hearing. Like if I hear it one more time, I’ll vomit.

The thing is, there has always been a type of cancel culture. People have always tried to bury books, phrases, movies, and even people they didn’t agree with.

What’s different in 2021 is the mainstream acceptance of such practices.

Almost every day I read a story about this person or that person calling for the “cancelation” of not only ideas, or books, or movies, or TV shows, but of people.

It’s hard not to want to remove a person from society when you believe that person is saying something that can harm people, but it’s not our decision to remove a person. That’s up to God and sadly there are a lot of comments on the internet about permanently removing people from the world who we don’t agree with. One step down from homicide (which luckily isn’t the norm, yet), is the call for silencing opinions or thoughts that differ from our own.

Most of us can agree that murdering a person who disagrees with you is morally unacceptable, but more and more people are developing the belief that silencing thought, such as those presented in the form of the written or spoken word, is morally acceptable. That doesn’t sit well with me.

What bothers me more than calling for books or shows to be canceled, or even people to be canceled, is the call for history to be canceled.

There is a lot of history most of us would prefer not to remember: slavery (in all countries, but for Americans, slavery in our nation), the Holocaust, the atom bomb, the Trail of Tears, and the treatment of the Indian and South African people by various nations, to name a few.

I don’t like a big part of our history but if we don’t remember it, we will repeat it.

If we had pretended the Holocaust had never happened, isn’t it possible that another group of people would have perpetuated the same hatred all over again? Those who want to stop it also wouldn’t have any past reference on how to fight against it, or the signs to watch out for.

And slavery. My gosh. If we pretend that never happened, won’t we then have to pretend we learned nothing from it — like how it is abhorrent of humans to act like we have the right to enslave another person, or an entire group of people, based on our prejudice against them?

Statues are being torn down, books are being banned, voices are being silenced, and sometimes history books are even being rewritten. Offensive language is being eradicated from classic books because “words offend people.”

Yes. Words offend people. That’s life. People get offended. It happens every day. And most of those people get offended and move on with their lives.

Over the last several years, I’ve made choices for my children to shut off certain voices or take away certain television shows based on what those voices say and shows present. This was a personal choice to protect the minds of my children. Unlike others, I didn’t demand for the voices I objected to to be silenced. I encouraged others to walk away from a streaming service I felt was harmful to our children and others, but I didn’t start a petition or organize a protest to completely shut down the entire service.

I suggested others make up their own minds about the service and while I sometimes glared at people who kept the service despite my warning, self-righteously judging their choice (yes, I freely admit I do this, but it’s usually a brief judging and I quickly get over myself), I didn’t demand they align their beliefs with mine. My reasons are very personal, and I can’t discuss in detail what those reasons are because it would mean revealing secrets that aren’t mine to reveal.

My husband and I simply decided to not give money to a company that goes completely against our values in most of their programming.

My question is why others can’t do the same?

There are a myriad of books out on the market that contain words, scenes, and discussions that I don’t agree with, but I’m not calling for those items to be canceled or banned. It’s hard for me to even write that because there are so many books or movies I want to steer people away from—books and movies that promote wrong ideas, that perpetuate violence against people based on their sex, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

The issue with canceling those books or movies, however, is that we then cancel the thoughts of the people who wrote them. While we might not like their thoughts, we need to know the thoughts of the people who wrote them so we can teach our children to stay away from those ideas.

One thing that comes to mind when I think about how so many in society today want to “hide away the bad things of the world” is how we I used to calls at the newspaper I worked at asking us not to publish certain police briefs.

“People don’t need to know about drug deals, overdoses, rapes, child molestation, domestic incidents,” some would say. “It’s depressing. Depressing news just makes us more depressed.”

Depressing news absolutely makes us more depressed, but that doesn’t mean those depressing things aren’t happening simply because we don’t hear or read about them.

If we don’t know these issues are going on, then how do we help the people who are suffering from them? Societal issues will not disappear simply because we don’t talk about them anymore.

A person is welcome to tell others why they won’t buy or read a book, but demanding others not be able to see the material is where we step into the territory of destroying free speech. Again, this is hard for me because, like I mentioned above, there are some really vile, twisted, messed up movies and books out there that I would prefer people didn’t see. I believe some movies, books, or other media cross the line into endangering people, especially if they involve child pornography or encouraging sexual assault of men, women, or children. Then we need to consider some sort of guidelines, maybe even along the lines of removing them from places where they are easily accessible. Freedom of speech really does only go so far in those cases.

The cancel culture (which can be found in both liberal and conservative circles) have gone so far as to have news channels calling for cable networks to take off other news channels, with both news channels pointing at each other and calling each other liars. Neither channel is worried about so-called lies being spread. They want to stomp down “dissenting opinions.”

Let’s be honest, all the mainstream media is full of lies now. Journalists are so lazy they either only get half the story or make up stories to sell papers or make money from views and clicks. By the way, when they only get half the story, they rarely take the time to find out the rest. That would take effort and time away from their tweeting and posting photos of themselves on Instagram in their latest pair of Ray-bans.

In a recent Sunday Bookends blog post I shared I was picking up a book by Andy Ngo (last name pronounced ‘no’) about Antifa, simply because it is being boycotted. Antifa, for those who don’t have time to investigate politics, is the so-called “anti-fascist activist group” burning down cities on the west coast who have actually become the fascists. They prefer to be called anarchists, I believe.

What I didn’t explain in the post is that I don’t know if everything Ngo has written is true, but deciding that should be my decision, your decision, whoever’s decision. It’s up to us to do the further research, to investigate if what we are seeing, and reading is true. I have doubted Andy’s stories, even some of his videos, but then I looked into stories from people who were with Antifa and left before they became more violent, or others who have also researched Antifa, and their observations do align with Ngo’s many times.

I feel that Antifa’s efforts to ban Ngo’s book by protesting outside bookstores is wrong as much as I would feel that someone protesting to ban a negative book on anything is wrong. There have been thousands of books written slamming Jesus, my savior, and while I abhor some of them, I have never sat outside a bookstore and screamed at owners and employees demanding the books to be removed. There have been books written about the state of journalism today that I know are outright lies (like the idea that “journalists” today are objective in any way, shape or form), but let people publish them and let the public decide if what they write is true or not (insider tip: they’re not).

This week I started loading my Christianbook and Amazon cart with books that people are now demanding be removed – books that have the “n” word, or speak poorly of any ethnic community, or refer to homosexuals in what some feel is a derogatory manner. I don’t know if we will get so far that those books will be removed from retailers, hidden away to pretend life is rosy and perfect all the time and no one ever called a black person a derogatory term, but I’m buying them up in case they are.

I want all that language in those books that people say is bad, even though I don’t like them. I want those scenes of black face left in. I want those racial stereotypes left in. I want those sexist remarks or terms left. The creator wrote them, for whatever reason, left them in, portrayed them, and there was a reason for that (maybe because the creator was racist or sexist. I don’t know). I want those works of fiction, of non-fiction, or those movies left intact so I can discuss with my children why those were put in in the first place, why they were wrong or right, the motivation of the author or creator to put them in and what the mindset was at the time they were written or created. I believe every person has the choice to read those books, see those movies, make up their own minds about them, even if I strongly disagree with what is in them. That’s what freedom is about.

Books challenge our thinking. Movies challenge our thinking. That’s what they do and should do.

Language or depictions in them might make us uncomfortable but, hey, guess what, so might anything in life. We can’t remove everything from life that makes us uncomfortable or offends us, so why should we remove it from our art?

Incidentally, books I am picking up right now that many are calling for being banned are Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor (which was one book that opened my eyes when I was a child to the horrors of racism and segregation), To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and 1984 by George Orwell. We are currently reading Lord of the Flies, which I know some have called to be banned in the past. (Personally, I am banning The Awakening by Kate Chopin from ever being read in this house because I absolutely hated reading it for my Senior AP English class. No other reason. Just because it was torture for me to read.)

I don’t know why we all can’t just seem to realize we can use the parts of books and movies we don’t agree with to educate our children, and others, that these are not the right words to use or the right way to talk about people, or the right way to treat people. Or we can decide not to read or show these books to our children until we think they are old enough to understand them and put them in context.

Instead, people want to erase the nastiness from the world and pretend it never happened.

We want to pull ourselves into sanitized bubbles but, I’m sorry, that’s just not possible. Once sin entered the world it was here. It is here, and no amount of stomping our feet and plugging our fingers in our ears is going to stop it. The only way to stop it is to educate ourselves about what is out there and then combat it by speaking out in love about what we think is wrong.

That speaking out in love thing? Well, that’s another blog post for another day because that one is sorely needed, but rarely done and, sadly, can be easier said than done.

Sunday Bookends: New Books, More Snow, and comedy clips

What’s Been Occurring

After last week’s snow that buried us in another two feet of snow, the kids and I were stuck in the house all week, unable to completely clear the driveway of snow and ice and afraid to back the van out of the garage. My son went out everyday and shoveled, especially since the wind was blowing and causing snow drifts throughout the week.

I tried Mama’s Empty Nest. I tried to focus on the beauty of the snow! I promise! But all the shoveling and wind and blowing snow and the ice. Oh, the ice! Now, honestly, I did see the beauty in the snow and the kids did have a little fun in it (though not a lot because the windchill on this hill was so horrible), but next time we get snow, I hope it will be a little bit less.

We tried a science experiment I saw on Instagram the one day and it was an utter failure. We were supposed to build a snow volcano and I was supposed to put a bowl in the middle for the baking soda, food coloring, and vinegar so it would overflow down the sides. Instead, we just poured it in the snow and, of course, it melted the snow and left a pool of red in the snow. It ended up looking like a murder scene.

After the experiment, The Boy lifted his sister and tossed her into the snow, like big brothers do, which resulted in her yelling in anger and frustration because she doesn’t have any snowpants right now (she grew out of hers). My 6-year-old stood in the driveway, her little fists clenched, and yelled (so the whole neighborhood could hear), “Thanks to you I’m going to get hypothermia!”

Spoiler alert: she didn’t get hypothermia and she wasn’t even that snow-covered. In my defense to the above photo, I didn’t know she was legitmately crying when I took the photograph and her crying stopped within seconds after I took the photo so she was more indignant than anything else.

We’ve also been having sleep issues with Little Miss. She used to never wake up in the middle of the night but now she wakes up, wants me and we have to listen to Frank Sinatra until she falls asleep. The issue with this is that I can’t go back to sleep after this – either because of itching from dry skin or a stuffy nose, so I’ve been having some really rough days of struggling through with very little sleep. I really hope this is a phase she’s going through that she breaks out of soon because I feel pretty useless most days even without the lack of sleep.

What I’m Reading

The snow delayed the arrival of a paperbook copy of ‘Til I Want No More by Robin W. Pearson but when it finally came I dove right in and haven’t been able to put it down since.

Here is the description:

When the man she loved years ago returns to town, one young woman’s complicated past rises again, threatening to expose her well-kept secrets.

If Maxine could put her finger on the moment when her life went into a tailspin, she would point back twenty years to the day her daddy died. She tells herself he’s the only person who ever really knew and loved her, and if he hadn’t left her behind, her future would’ve taken a different path. No absentee mother, no stepfather, no rebellious ripping and running during her teenage years. And no JD, who gave her wandering young heart a home, at least for a time.

But that’s over and done with. All grown-up now, Maxine has pledged her heart and ring finger to Theodore Charles, the man she’ll promise to love, honor, and obey in front of God and everybody. At least that’s what she’s telling anybody who will listen. The only folks buying it are the dog and the readers of her column, however. Her best friend and family aren’t having it―not even Celeste, the double bass–playing thirteen-year-old the community of Mount Laurel, North Carolina, believes is Maxine’s adopted sister. And apparently, neither is the newly returned JD, who seems intent on toppling Maxine’s reconstructed life. As her wedding day marches ever closer, Maxine confronts what it means to be really known and loved by examining what’s buried in her own heart and exposing truth that has never seen the light of day.

I’m also continuing Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin, which I’m really enjoying.

Here is the description for that one:

Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle—and her heart—are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture—God has a different plan.

What I’m Watching

This week I watched a couple episodes of Murdoch Mysteries, an episode of Lovejoy, and then I watched some favorite comedy clips, including this one from John Branyan (which I find to be brilliant):

The Boy and The Husband have also been watching Wanda Vision, which is a show from the Marvel Universe (that’s comic book language for anyone unaware of what Marvel is).

So that’s my week in review. What was your week like? What have you been watching, reading, listening to or doing? Let me know in the comments.

The Awkward Day My Dad Showed Me Where He’s Going to Be Buried

I wrote this post 7-years ago. I don’t know why, but I wanted to share it again today. Certain conversations with my dad lately reminded me of this one. I don’t think I ever shared this post on this particular blog so – yeah, you’re welcome for this one.


A walk in the local cemetery is always a source of great joy in our family.

Not really, but we can pretend.

It seems like sometime around Memorial Day every year Dad and I end up at the cemetery down the road from his house, looking at the gravestones of dear departed relatives, most of which died before either of us were born.

The trips used to be a chance for Dad to tell me about the people buried there and how I am related to them. Always interesting, but the older my dad becomes the more morbid and depressing these trips become.

I’m also suspecting that some kind of internal switch has been switched off in Dad’s head the older he becomes because on our most recent trip he decided to regale my son and I with the story of how one of our relatives departed this earth. My son is six.

“That’s cousin So-And-So. She burned up in a barn fire.”

“Um…yeah…Dad…maybe not now…” and I jerked my head toward my son whose mouth was hanging open.

My Dad didn’t catch the head jerk. He squinted his eyes at me and looked confused. “Huh? No. I said she burned up in a fire. In a barn.”

Apparently being subtle wasn’t going to work here.

“OK. I got that but maybe saying it in front of the six year old wasn’t the best move,” I said and stared at him for a bit.

“Oh. Yeah. Ok.” He shrugged and kept walking.

Before long we found some ground under two big trees, away from some other stones.

“I bought two plots here years ago,” he said walking around the spot and making gestures with his arms in the pattern of lines while he looked down. “I think it was….” He stepped over a couple of places. “Right here.”

He stood looking at the ground a few moments. I shifted nervously next to a gravestone dated 1863 and hoped he would suggest we head back home now and end this awkward moment.

“Yeah. I think it was here. Not really a lot of space. I guess they can have my feet face the roots of these trees I helped plant when I was in Boy Scouts. Then my old body can feed the tree as it decomposes.”

The next time he suggests we visit the local cemetery I am going to emphatically say “no.”

Faithfully Thinking: Here is Your Reminder To Close Some Tabs

I looked at my computer screen the other day and I had six tabs open on my browser.

I was switching back and forth and my brain was trying to switch at the same time. It was really causing me a lot of stress. A lot of self-inflicted stress.

In a few hours my brain was mush, my thoughts were jumbled, and I was feeling jittery.

As I started to physically close the tabs in my browser, a thought hit me.

We need to close a few tabs in our life the same way we close them in our internet browsers.

Sometimes we need to shut off the news, shut of the TV, shut off the radio, and close the lid of our laptops. We need to turn off the phone, with only emergency contacts alowed to call us.

Then we need to walk away.

That’s right.

Walk away.

Walk way literally or figuratively. Either way we need to find silence, calm, peace and that might mean shutting off more than our devices. We may need to shut off the many voices in our minds shouting for attention.

Only when we close the mental tabs – one by one – can our brain find peace.

Sometimes we can’t close the tabs.

The windows popping up are out of our control.

Broken down cars, sick family members, finances, people we know passing away.

Those are the tabs we have to deal with, yes, but there are many times when we open more windows than we need.

Things like researching more than we need to about a variety of issues (health, politics, homeschool materials, recipes, diets, books, movies, etc.) being glued to social media, constantly updating news feeds, inserting ourselves into another person’s personal business, watching stupid shows, taking on more in life that we can possibly handle, saying ‘yes’ when we should say ‘no’.

It is the extra tabs we’ve opened on our own that we need to close.

Closing those tabs can be as easy as closing our eyes, taking a deep breath, letting it out slowly, and focusing on what is happening right now, in the moment. Shut off the television, the devices, remove ourselves from the craziness of our households for a brief time and find a quiet place to regroup. Regrouping could involve listening to a sermon and taking notes without distractions, listening to music or simply sitting in the silence and listening for God’s voice. That last one is a little scary, right? Sitting in the silence? Alone with your thoughts? Yikes. But being alone with our thoughts is often what is needed to slow our thoughts down.

Here is a tactic I learned from Emily P. Freeman (author of The Next Right Thing) to keep myself “grounded” to my surroundings:

Close your eyes and say outloud or to yourself your name, what day it is, what year, what time, where you are, what you hear, smell, feel around you, and what is the next right thing you need to do out of that that whole list that is swirling around in your head. Then take a deep breath, hold it a few seconds, and let it out again.

Example: “My name is Lisa Howeler. Today is January 28, 2021 at 3:06 p.m.. I am at home in my living room. The sun is bright and warm on my face even though it is cold outside. I can hear the television and smell woodsmoke from my woodstove. Right now I need to cook dinner. I will worry about the rest of my list later.”

Repeat it all more than once if you need to.

This helps — when I actually do it. Don’t be like me and just tell people to do this. Actually do it yourself.

You can do this.

And so can I.

Right?!

I’m going to go close some more tabs and I encourage you to do the same. Let me know in the comments below which tabs you closed in your life.

Photos of the Week: A Whole Different World

This intro is a re-share from part of my Sunday Bookends post.


When we moved to this rural Pennsylvania county last year, I told my husband how it was like living in an entirely different world. I grew up two miles from the county line and we could drive from our house to this town and it would be dry with green grass in our little village and a foot of snow in this town. I’d said it before and I don’t think he believed me until we moved here. Honestly, I don’t think I believed me until we moved here. It shouldn’t be any surprise to me that there has been snow on the ground here since Christmas Day (the week before 24 inches was dropped on us) but when my husband said the other day that the town he works in, which is only about 20 minutes away, doesn’t have any snow, reality hit me hard. I knew winters here would be a challenge and they are, but, hey, at least the snow is pretty. I don’t actually mind the snow that much, but the ice and the bitter cold temperatures? I could do without them. On Thursday of last week, the high was 16, the low 3. On Friday the high was 19, the low 3. Temperatures warmed up some for Saturday, with a high of 27 but Saturday also came with a Winter Storm Warning for Sunday through Tuesday. And here we are now: under several inches of snow and ice (the ice from last week) — again.
But, hey, I could live in Manitoba. Or I could be in the Northern Territory of Canada and never see green again! Winter will soon pass and while we won’t miss the cold, we will miss the pretty snow.