Water’s Edge by Robert Whitlow

Water’s Edge is about a lawyer, Tom, who’s father dies in a boating accident. He heads back to his hometown to close up his father’s law office, but encounters a designated trust account with almost 2 million dollars in it, but witth no definite owner.  Needing to return the funds to the correct owner Tom does some digging and ends up in over his head.

I didn’t really like this book. I was excited about reading a mystery, but there was little of that in the book. I pegged the bad guy quickly and wasn’t even surprised that there was a twist toward the end. The book dragged on. And I was ready for the story to finish long before it did. I was hoping for more, but I do not think this book did the description justice.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free as a part of the Thomas Nelson’sBookSneeze.com program, in return for my honest review. I review for BookSneeze®


Healthy Eating

Has anyone ever noticed that there is seemingly no spectrum of eating healthy? It’s almost as though you’re a 1 – eating crap… or a 10 – a vegan living on a raw food diet. Ok, ok, I know that’s not the case.

I have never been one who has paid much attention to eating healthy. I’m not really proud of that statement, but it’s the truth and it’s life. I have had people in my life who have gone from a “normal” diet, eating hamburgers, fries, pizza, with fruits and veggies sprinkled in to the very next day, seemingly, reveling in their asparagus and brussels sprout smoothie for breakfast gloating about how delicious it is on social media sites.

I am not that type of person.

I don’t think I have it in me to simply and completely walk away from the way I’m used to eating.

I want to eat healthier and I want my family too as well. So, I started implementing small changes. Ordering from a food co-op was the best thing I could have done. It has made me aware that there is an obvious and big difference in quality of meats. I am now pretty picky about the type of meat I choose for my family and am willing to pay the price. One also offers 9-grain bread. You have to buy 5 loaves at once, so I convinced a couple of friends to try it out with me and now I won’t go back. I hate it when we run out and miss out on ordering more. Beyond that the co-ops have given us new types of fruits and vegetables that weren’t on my radar before. I probably never would have bought cauliflower, but found out it is a favorite of my daughter. We just tried plums today and both the kids liked  it (after I forced them to try it!) 🙂

I’ve also tried to reorient how I have my kids eat. If they claim to be hungry, I will give them options of the different fruits and veggies we have. If they say they don’t want that, but want (insert unhealthy snack here) I say, “Well then, you’re not really hungry.” I want them to understand (and get into the habit) that when they’re hungry the best thing to do is grab fruits or veggies. Don’t get me wrong, they get treats, but I want snacking to be healthy.

I’ve also come to the dinner table differently. Just last night we had sloppy Joe’s with raw carrots and broccoli. (In the past I’d probably serve this with chips instead… so don’t judge me for the sloppy Joe. 🙂 ) Anyhow, my daughter didn’t want to eat the sandwich but ate a ton of carrots and broccoli. So, do I force her to take some bites of the sandwich? Really? If she’s happy with the veggies and can fill up, shouldn’t that be ok? So I didn’t push the issue. Today she ate the ham and cheese from her sandwich, but not the bread. Again do I push the issue? Should I make her eat a sandwich a normal way, or allow her to do it her way and so not love carbs as much as I do? I let it go. I’m not convinced I did the right thing in either setting, but I think it’s partly because I was raised in the culture pushing “clean plate clubber” membership. But, I want my kids to learn to stop eating when they’re satisfied.

Here’s my biggest frustration with all this. I’ve made some good healthy steps in the right direction. But when I try to look out there in the internet world about the next step to take, I’m off to asparagus and brussels sprout smoothie land where I don’t know what half of the ingredients are in recipes. To top it off, the recipes have about 100 ingredients and take about an hour of your time. I’m not ready for that. I’m just happy if I can get a meal on the table. I wish there was some type of transition-to-healthy-eating website that lead you through steps of things to add into and take out of your diet progressively. Or one that catered healthy recipes to busy moms that includes freezer meals and crockpots!

I’m happy to take tips, ideas, recipes, advice, amens! and encouragement. But please don’t expect me to being making the above mentioned smoothie tomorrow morning! 🙂

Sin is like…

Sin is like being born in house arrest. You have freedom. You can eat your choice of any ten different, delicious dinners. You have ten different solid gray-scale shirts to choose from each morning. You can go outside to swing or toss a ball around. You can see the sun and the sky each day.  This is not prison. You do not feel stifled at all. You have always felt free and safe. You know there’s an outside world, but it’s a frightening, unknown place. You’re convinced it has nothing to offer you and have been told that there are rules you must live by, which seems incredibly oppressive. You can’t imagine why anyone would chose to live under rules when you had complete freedom in your home.

Then one day your ball bounces over your fence and you walk down the street a little way to retrieve it. In your neighbor’s yard you notice a slide and you begin to become curious about it. But your ankle monitor doesn’t allow you to travel any farther. All of a sudden the next day, you’re a little put out by having to stay in your yard. You want to experience the slide. You begin to notice that you don’t have every freedom that you would like to have. The next day you decide to make a run for it. You run to your neighbor’s yard and slide down the slide. Of course the monitor goes off and a guard is at your side within minutes dragging you back to your house.

You’ve now tasted a bit of freedom and begin to wonder what life is really like outside of your house. However, you’re beaten down and feel alone and scared. Not being content with your home any longer you begin to seek help and plead to be released from house arrest. Finally, you are granted mercy. You may have complete freedom to roam about the world, but your ankle monitor will remain on your leg. That’s ok with you, it hardly weighs you down.

You leave your house and walk past your neighbor’s house. You leave your street behind and finally your neighborhood. You are exploring the wonderful freedom that has been lost on you before. You realize that there are millions of different, delicious food options. You see people dressed in clothing of all different colors and styles. As you continue to travel you experience the snow in the mountains and the beaches in the tropics. Eventually, encounter the rules you were told of. However, even the rules seem to be in place as a protection for the people. For example: Rule #3 “Don’t jump in front of a moving train.” “Really,” you think, “that leads to death, why would I want to do that anyway?”

Along the way someone trips you, but you get up again. However, it begins to happen more often. You get tripped and brought down and you begin to think of the beautiful safety and freedom of your house. It was such a beautiful little cottage, with flower boxes in the window, luxurious green grass, and the most comfortable of beds. The comfort that it always gave you. Without even realizing what you’re doing your feet lead you automatically toward home. It’s been an easy trip with no one tripping you along the way. Ah yes. Life is just so easy at home.

As you walk up you begin to notice things you never noticed before. There are bars on the windows and several large, heavy locks on the door. The grass is brown and ugly. The ball barely bounces. The food you once found delicious is disgusting and leaves a stench throughout the house. The clothes in your closet are drab. The bed is hard and lumpy. You decide this wasn’t what you remembered or want out of life, but it’s too late. The home automation system has already locked you in for the night. Feeling helpless and hopeless you decide to sleep.

Waking up with the house bathed in morning light, it no longer seems so bad and you’ve once again become accustomed to the stench and taste of the food. “It’s not so bad here,” you decide. You easily slip into your old habits and routines. Then one day, as you’re sitting out on your swing you feel the breeze and it snaps you out of your daze. You remember the humid, salty, coconut scented breeze of the beach and you suddenly can’t remember why you’ve come back and certainly not why you’ve stayed so long.

You set out to leave, but it’s hard to do so again. You’re ankle monitor, which has never bothered you before, suddenly feels like it weighs 100 lbs but you drag your leg out the door. It’s a battle moving down the street.  The further you get from home the heavier the ankle monitor feels and weighs you down. The harder it gets to move. You give up and head for home. Again you find contentment in your old habits and routines.

After a while you begin day-dreaming day in and day out of the freedom you once knew. You decide to leave again. Once again the ankle monitor weighs you down, but you’re more prepared and more determined. It slows your journey until one day you realize it feels weightless again. You begin to revel once again in your true freedom. The more time you spend away from your  house the more and more realize that your house was the true prison and now you were experiencing true freedom. That even the rules that were put in place for your own protection and allowed for far more freedom than the oppression of the barred windows, drab wardrobe and tasteless, smelly slop you ate for food.

Even with this knowledge, your house still haunts your heart and yells out to you calling you home. You even decide to go home again. But standing across the street, you once again are shocked by prison-style house that stands in front of you. You break into a run to put as much space as you can between you and it. Every so often it creeps into your thoughts. But this time you have truth on your side. When you picture your house in your mind instead of seeing flower boxes you remember the bars. Instead of believing your bed is the most comfortable of feather mattresses you remember the hard lumps. Armed with the truth of your past imprisonment you began to become adept at pushing thoughts of your house away.

The thoughts and longings come less and less often the longer you’re from home. And one day you wake up and realize it holds no draw to you. You wouldn’t go back there even if someone paid you a million dollars. You swing your feet around the bed and place them on the floor and you’re astonished to find that your ankle monitor is not snapped. The lock has somehow come undone. Without hesitation you take the last piece of your life linking you to your past prison, drive down to the beach and chuck it into the vast ocean before you. You are free. Truly, completely, and totally free. As you sit down on the beach drawing your knees to your chest, you think back on your life and are astonished that you once thought your prison was freedom and that true freedom was a prison.

Sin, Life, and Fellow Christians

I believe in Lordship salvation. Which means that when one becomes a Christian we WILL see a change in the person’s life. There WILL be noticeable fruit. Living in Utah, one of the biggest criticisms from Mormons is that, “Protestants (for lack of a better term) think they can say they’re a Christian and turn around and murder someone and everything’s ok.”

It’s a part of the whole works vs. faith discussion.

And whenever we hear that argument we wish that easy believism would go die a quick death.

Lordship Salvation teaches what Paul does in Romans, “Should we go on sinning that grace may abound? By no means!” No, we shouldn’t go on sinning… but we also know we will.

The crux of the issue is the heart. When I sin is my heart saying, “Oh it’s ok God will forgive me again. After all I’m not that bad. ” or is it saying, “Why am I doing this? I know it’s not pleasing to God. Wretched man that I am, Lord forgive me and give me strength to overcome temptation.”

However, I’m also beginning to understand that until a person is convicted by the Holy Spirit about their individual sins, as brothers and sisters in Christ we need to be more patient.

My thoughts on this have come from personal observations and after reading “My Ex-Gay Friend,” a New York Times article about Michael Glatze. Once on the forefront of the gay-rights movement, he had a health scare and became a born-again Christian. In the article Michael talks about how his first year as a Christian he gravitated toward liberal Christianity, which finds no sin in a homosexual lifestyle. However, the Lord convicted him. He left his homosexual lifestyle and has since become a heterosexual.

I mention this article, because I was struck by how my conservative Christian background would have responded to him in that first year of his Christian life. Believing that living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin, I would have been uncomfortable with him declaring Christ’s name and not willing to walk away from his boyfriend or his work as a gay-rights activist. Some people would call me judgmental. And while I do believe that there is a place for judgement to be made within the brotherhood of Christianity, I also am seeing the need to be quick to listen and slow to speak.

I think sometimes we need to be reminded that God interacts and grows each of us differently. Each of us have different battles to fight and have been given different strengths and weaknesses. Some are given a special sensitivity to sin, I think. They, especially, need to learn to be patient and loving with new and old believers alike.

As we notice the sins of our fellow Christians we need to recognize a few things:

1. They may already be aware of it and fighting it, but with little noticeable (from the outside) progress.

2. They may be struggling with a different sin and don’t feel like they could win a war on a divided front.

3. They may be defensive about it because they like their sin.

4. They may not even recognize their action as sinful.

With the third reason, I believe we still need to be slow with this person. Badgering them into recognizing their sin is not loving or helpful. I do believe there are times when we are to shut our mouths and open our prayer journals, if you will. While we are given the mandate in Galatians 6:1 to restore those who are caught in transgression, we are also told to do it with gentleness.

With the forth reason, I think it imperative that we clear in our explanation as to why the action is sinful. Showing scriptural references and indulgent in our explanations. We also need not be disappointed or frustrated if they don’t heed our advice immediately. We  just need to be patient as this different kind of seed that was planted will, more than likely, eventually flourish in the fertilized heart of a believer.

So, be encouraged my family in the faith. If you notice a brother in sin, encourage them to become more like Christ, but be gentle; be quick to listen and slow to speak. If you are approached about your sin, be humble, be encouraged by their love and concern for you. You also, be quick to listen and slow to speak.

John, My Little Five-Year-Old

My son John turns five today. His birthdays are always a time of unbelief. How could I have a FIVE-year-old? Where did the time go?

He’s a precious little boy with a tender heart and a big belly laugh. He LOVES to play games. Any kind of games: Board games, computer games, group games. He has become very competitive with Lydia but has also learned to strategize so that he can win. He has his own logic…

My little five-year-old

“Why is your race car in the refrigerator?”

“Because I want it cold.”

I mean, who can argue with logic like that?

His best friend is Tyler, but also loves to play with David, James, Jonah, and Chloe. He loves their little sisters too… the babies. He loves babies and has told me on a few occasions that we need to have a baby in the house. He is a good big brother and he’d be the best big brother to a baby! He’s so gentle and loving with them.

He is a superstar at memorizing verses and catechisms. He loves to sing songs and make up new ones. He can read and is very proud of himself, and often asks what words say on signs around town, while we’re driving in the car. He is very happy and bubbly and gets excited over everything.

He loves planes, trains, and automobiles! 🙂 As well as dinosaurs and Toy Story. He gives good hugs and kisses and tells us that he loves us. He loves to draw and learn to write. He especially loves his Bobby! A new love is learning to fish with daddy, which had him practicing day and night with his Buzz Lightyear fishing pole in our back yard and off the front porch!

Sitting in his window

He had his first birthday party with friends. He wanted a DINOSAUR party with a dinosaur cake. So, that’s what we did. A deal on a bounce house and snow cone machine rounded out the fun. He had the BEST day. While munching on his cake he exclaimed, “This is the BEST birthday party ever!” Which of course made my heart melt and my lips smile. At the end of the party, we all got a super duper surprise because Omi and Papa surprised us!

He is my sweet, precious, effervescent, energetic, full-of-life, caring, loving, little FIVE-year-old boy.

Lilies in the Moonlight by Allison Pittman

Lilies in the Moonlight by Allison K. Pittman is about Lily Margolis, a poor, flapper from small town Pennsylvania who, through a series of events lands face first in the garden of the Burnside family, one of the richest families in Pensacola. Cullen Burnside, is scarred both inside and out by not only his time in World War I but also from regrets in the way he treated his father, in which he was never able to reconcile before his father’s untimely death. We watch as a tentative love forms between Lily and Cullen, and how each gives the other new life.

I thought this book was excellent. Set in the 1920’s, it’s a fun era, that is untapped (as far as I know) in the Christian historical fiction genre. Lily is fun and playful and her character becomes more loveable as she becomes less entitled. Cullen is dark and depressed but as the pages turn he begins to show a side full of laughter. I love books that draw me in. Ones where I find myself anticipating the next time I’ll be able to pick it up and continue the story. This was definitely one of those books!

Disclaimer: I have received this book for free through Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.