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.

Fiction Friday: The Farmer’s Son Chapter 3 Part 1

I was too wrapped this past week with last minute changes and corrections to The Farmer’s Daughter before publishing it next week to sit down and work on The Farmer’s Son much this week. Hopefully, I’ll have more time this upcoming week. I did have this short part I could share.

To catch up on the rest of the story, click HERE. If you were a reader of The Farmer’s Daughter on here , I’m offering a limited amount of ebooks for free. Let me know in the comments or via the contact form if you are interested.


The day Jason came into the store after he came back from college, Ellie couldn’t take his eyes off of him.

Had he been working out? Even more than before he left for college?

She shouldn’t be looking at him, right? Was she lusting? They’d just talked about this at Bible study.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes briefly, then opened them again to take in the full view of him.

She wasn’t lusting. She was simply . . .she pulled her lip between her front teeth, then released it again . . . admiring God’s handiwork.

She’d seen Jason over Christmas break a few months before, but his biceps seemed even larger, even more well-toned now. There were light brown whiskers along his jawline and that coupled with the faded blue jeans, a nicely fitting gray T-shirt and a blue and white checkered flannel shirt gave him a rugged, should-be-on-the-front-of-GQ vibe.

Standing across the store, close to the new display of spring flowers, he was talking to his Uncle Walt, one hand on his hip as he gestured with the other.

Ellie was mesmerized.

She felt like she was in high school again, wishing he’d look her way, flash her one of his drop-dead gorgeous smiles.

A customer had stepped to the counter, stepping into her line of sight, blocking her view temporarily.

After the customer left, Jason was gone. Disappointment settled like a hard rock in the center of Ellie’s chest. It really was like high school again.

“Hey.”

She’d gasped and turned, almost slamming into him as he stepped from the back office area.

“Sorry.”

He’d smiled. That smile. The smile she’d wanted to see.

He leaned one side against the doorframe, crossed his arms across his chest, “Didn’t mean to startle you, but didn’t want to miss the chance to say ‘hello’ either.”

Warmth spread from her chest to the top of her head, and she giggled.

Good grief. This was ridiculous.

She’d dated Jason from her senior year of high school up until two years ago. It wasn’t like he was someone she didn’t know. She knew him. Very well. And she wanted to know him very well again.

They’d started chatting until another customer came and then he’d left, saying he’d stop by again the next day.

He did stop by the next day.

And the day after that until he finally asked if she’d like to go to the movies.

She’d agreed and their relationship was on again, almost as if they hadn’t taken that two-year break starting at the beginning of his junior year of college.

“You all there, kid?”

“Hmm?”

Ellie looked up from the cow’s udder she’d been cleaning, pulled out of her memories.

Her dad grinned.

“I told you Patrick will be here soon, so you don’t have to help if you have somewhere to be.”

“Oh. No. It’s no problem. My mind just wandered a little.”

“To anywhere important?”

Ellie laughed softly. “Just  . . . life stuff, I guess you’d say.”

Thomas Lambert nodded at his daughter, but his brow furrowed as he looked at her. “Hey, are — uh — things okay with you and Jason?”

Ellie stood and faced him. “They’re fine. Why?”

“No reason. I mean, you’ve just seemed quiet since you came back from your date with him the other night.”

Ellie wiped her hands and stepped around to reach for the milking attachment. “Actually, it was a nice date. I think I’ve just been working a lot of hours between the two jobs lately, plus trying to keep up with the ladies Bible study I’ve been teaching. I’m probably spreading myself a little thin.”

Her dad started preparing a cow across the aisle for milking. “At least you’re recognizing it this time. You’ve always pushed yourself a little too hard.”

“Someone has to since Judi never does,” she mumbled and immediately regretted it.

She couldn’t advise the ladies in her study to speak in love if she didn’t do it herself.

Her dad sighed as he worked. “Ellie, hon’, you need to let your bitterness against Judi go. It’s going to eat you up inside.”

Ellie nodded and kicked at the ground with the tip of her boot. She knew he was right, and she’d tried many times to let it go. She needed to keep trying.

She was grateful when a truck pulled up in front of the barn, interrupting their conversation. Patrick was the high school student her dad had recently hired and this wasn’t his truck, but she could see him in the passenger side. She tipped her head to see around the glare of the sun, curious who was behind the wheel. When she spotted the driver, her heart sank.

Oh. Perfect. Just perfect.

The driver stepped out of the car and touched a hand to the brim of his baseball cap. “Mornin’ Ellie. Thought you’d be at the school already.”

Did all the Tanner men have that same smile, same rugged jawline, sparkling green eyes, and naturally flirtatious charm?

It seemed so.

“Brad.” Her dad stepped into the sunlight and reached out, taking Bradley Tanner’s hand. “What brings you out today?”

Bradley jerked his head toward Patrick. “Pat’s truck broke down and I spotted him up the road here, so I gave him a lift.”

Thomas nodded. “Thanks, Brad appreciate it. How is it going? Back for a visit?”

“It’s going good. Back working at the farm.”

“Permanently?”

“Yep.”

Ellie laughed softly. “Discovered city life wasn’t for you, huh?”

Bradley grinned, slid his hands into his front pockets. “The city couldn’t handle me.”

Ellie had already turned toward her car, so she knew he couldn’t see her when she rolled her eyes. She waved over her shoulder. “See you boys later. I’ve got a shift at the store.”

“So, I’ll see you later?”

She glanced at Bradley as she slid behind the steering wheel and cocked an eyebrow.

“I’ll be there later with some deliveries,” he said, with a grin she knew too well. “I’ll see you there.”

She shut the door with a curt nod and a forced smile, started the car and pulled away quickly.

Bradley Tanner.

Jason’s cousin.

Back in Spencer Valley for good.

“Just great,” she grumbled as she hit the dirt road leading to town. “Just what I need.”

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.

Fiction Friday: The Farmer’s Son Chapter 2 Part I

I didn’t take as much time as I would have liked to work on The Farmer’s Son this week but I came up with a lot of ideas and Ellie shared a lot more about herself with me so I can flesh her character out in the future. If you want to read previous installments of this story, you can find the links on a new page I’ve set up HERE.

The first book in this series, The Farmer’s Daughter, is up for pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and releases on February 23. If you were following that story here on the blog and would like a free copy, please send me your email address via the contact form and I will send you a copy via Bookfunnel.

You can read the first two chapters of The Farmer’s Daughter HERE.


Chapter 1

He remembered well the feel of his grandfather’s large hands around his, rough and calloused. Grease and mud stained his grandfather’s knuckles, lines of age stretched across them, patterns telling the story of a long life lived fully. The fingers of the elderly man completely enveloped his much smaller, child hands.

“Put your hands here.”

His hands moved Jason’s smaller ones to the top and left on the steering wheel. “Yep. Right at the 10 and 2.”

Jason looked at his grandfather. “10 and 2?”

“Yep. Just like on a clock. That’s the position you put your hands in.”

“Oh.”

“This is a big machine, Jason. We have to respect it. We treat it right and it will treat us right. And we always practice safety. Right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, right now, until you’re old enough to control it, you can only ride this with me or your daddy, okay?”

“Yes, sir.”

“See that tree over there?”

“Yes, sir.”

“We’re going to steer our tractor that way and dig up our soil in a straight line to prepare it for the planting.”

Jason had nodded, a curt nod of affirmation, his jaw tight, his eyes looking straight ahead.

Even as a child he’d been serious, focused on the job to be done. Farming was serious business. His grandfather had taught him that. His father had taught him that. And now he was learning it on his own.

There was no room for error, but there were also no guarantees. The life of a farmer was at the whim of nature, the rise and fall of the milk market, the unknown variables that left them never sure what might hit them next.

That uncertainty was exhausting at times, but Jason wouldn’t have it any other way. Not even now, a year after he’d lost his grandfather to heart failure and the burden of running the business was on the shoulders of him, his father, and uncle.

Well, and Alex.

Jason couldn’t deny how much an integral part of the business his best friend had become since he’d moved in with him five years ago.

The only thing Jason didn’t like so much was the way Alex had been looking at his sister lately. It wasn’t the same look he’d given girls in college, no, but close. The pair of them had joked with each other in the barn almost from the first day Alex had come home with Jason and even more so when Molly had stopped taking classes at the local community college and been home more, working in the barn and the family’s country store. Lately, though, that teasing had become tinged with — Jason made a face as he looked out over the field behind the barn, disgusted at the thought — sexual tension.

The “s-word” was one word he’d never wanted to say in the same sentence with his sister, but especially with Alex in there too. Alex had been a partier in college. A partier, a flirt, someone who liked to date women and leave them. Jason didn’t really believe Molly would have any interest in Alex, who she’d often described as obnoxious and overbearing, but if she did, he was definitely not going to be a fan of that development and might even strangle Alex.

It was true, Alex was more than a friend to him; he was like the brother he’d never had, but if he made a move on Molly? Jason wasn’t sure he could stomach it.

“Hey. You zoning out?”

Speak of the devil.

Jason yawned, stretched his arms up and out to his side. “Yeah, I guess. Just thinking about how the corn doesn’t want to grow right now and we need to get that loan paid off and —”

“And you’re overthinking again, bud.” Alex punched him in the arm. “Come on. One thing at a time. You’re starting to sound like your dad.”

Jason grinned and nodded. “Yeah. True. I’m also starting to sound like a woman. Worrying all the time.”

Alex winced. “You better hope Molly doesn’t hear you talking like that. She’ll kick your butt.”

Jason turned and headed back toward the open barn door. “Well, if Molly was a woman, I’d be worried about that.”

“I heard that, Jason!”

Alex elbowed Jason, lowered his voice. “You know she has supersonic hearing.”

Molly peered around the door of the barn and made a face at Jason. “You know I can take you in a fight, so you better watch it.”

Jason laughed, but knew Molly could beat him in a fight. No, she wasn’t bigger than him by any means, but she was quick, shifty, and tough.

Despite seeing her as tough, Jason had agreed with his dad that they were better off not telling her about the overdue loan. The one that could mean losing the business, or at least part of it, if it wasn’t paid off.

They weren’t telling her yet anyhow. Or Jason’s mom, Annie. Or, for that matter, Aunt Hannah or Aunt Laura.

The women would be told when the men had a better idea how they were going to pay it off before the deadline at the end of the summer. His dad and uncle would be meeting with the bank the next week, and everyone would know more then.

They had taken the loan out to keep the business afloat after hardships over the last few years. The brothers —  Jason’s father and uncle — had hoped to pay the loan off at the end of the summer, but with a poor harvest the year before, that plan had fallen through. Now the bank was calling in the loan and Jason’s father Robert had warned him of the possibility the family would need to sell off part of the land or equipment.

Jason knew that hiding it all from the women in the family would probably be seen as sexist to some, but he also knew his father and uncle had only been trying to shelter the women from any more stress.

Losing Jason’s grandfather, Ned, the previous year had knocked the family off kilter, and they were still trying to claw themselves to the surface of a new normal.

“I’m off to the store,” Molly said, walking from the barn. “You men going to be okay without this ‘manly woman?’”

Alex leaned back against the barn door, folded his arms across his chest, and Jason caught him looking Molly up and down as he smirked.

“I think we’ll manage okay,” he said.

An uneasy feeling settled in Jason’s chest, but he brushed it aside.

Alex and Molly were always joking and that’s all this was. Another joke.

He bumped Alex’s shoulder with his on the way back to the barn. “Come on, loser. Let’s get back to work.”

Alex pushed himself away from the wall and followed Jason. “Everything go okay with Ellie last night?”

Jason sighed, a weird sound coming from such a masculine figure. “Yeah. Sort of.” He glanced at Alex while he loosened a bolt on the engine. “She thinks I proposed.”

Alex lifted an eyebrow. “Thinks you proposed? Um, I might need a little more of an explanation on this one. Usually, a guy proposes, or he doesn’t.”

 “Well, I was going to propose, but I needed to talk to her about something first and then she brought it up and then she just thought — It’s too confusing to explain.”

“So, you’re engaged.” Alex reached for a pitchfork. “That’s great, right? Why don’t you look happier? Don’t men usually look happier when they get engaged?”

“It is. I guess. It’s just . . .”

“You’re nervous about getting married?”

“A little but it’s not that. It’s just, I’ve never told Ellie about what happened in college.”

Alex spoke through a yawn, his expression clueless. “What happened in college?”

Jason starred at him for a few moments with raised eyebrows. Alex continued to look blank for a full minute, then his eyes widened in realization. “Wait. You mean what happened with Lauren Phillips? You never told Ellie about that?”

Jason shook his head. “I was really embarrassed, man. That experience was a low point for me, and it wasn’t even —ugh, just never mind. The point is that I never told Ellie because I was embarrassed and because I didn’t know how she would feel about it.”

“But you guys weren’t even dating then.”

“I know, but it still was wrong, Alex. That’s not how I wanted my first time to be. I wanted it to be with someone I loved. Someone I planned to spend my entire life with. And yeah, I know it sounds lame, but I wanted it to be with someone I was married to.”

Alex shrugged one shoulder and smiled. “Yeah, it sounds a little lame, but it also sounds really sweet and romantic.” He made a face and shuddered. “Yuck. Dude, I think you’re rubbing off on me with all your sentimental crud. Next thing I know we’ll be watching chick flicks together.”

Sleepless in Seattle isn’t bad.”

Alex held up his hands. “Jase, I am not watching chick flicks with you. Calm down. Don’t start making a list in your head.”

Jason leaned back against the edge of a stall, one arm propped up on the metal frame, looking at the ground, thinking.

Alex cleared his throat. “Jason, you know Ellie loves you. She’s going to understand. Just talk to her.”

Jason nodded, but didn’t look up from the dirt. “Yeah, I hope she does.” He lifted his gaze to look at Alex, his eyes glistening. “Because if she doesn’t . . .” He shook his head, swallowed hard, and looked out at the fields across from the house. “I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Alex pounded him gently on the back. “Don’t even think that way. Come on. Let’s get to work. It will take your mind off things. Plus, the more stressed you are, the harder you work, and I’ll have less to do.”

Jason shook his head and laughed softly. He knew Alex was trying to cheer him up, in his own way, and he was grateful for it, but he also knew he could only distract himself for so long. He’d have to face the music with Ellie sooner rather than later, and he’d better start thinking about how he was going to do it.

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.