The Shack

Effie's childhood home, Des Moines, IASpoiler Alert” This is an opinion piece. (Above: Effie’s childhood home in Des Moines, IA)

The Shack

When The Shack by William P. Young was first self-published and became a Best Seller, I heard of some readers remarking as to its spiritual and entertainment value. Other religious leaders, like Chuck Colson, however, called the book out for its “low view of Scripture.” Here’s what I think…

Effie’s Literary and Biblical Views of The Shack

  • The repetitious literary device of flash forward and flash backward was confusing. It caused a pause for the viewer, interrupting the flow of the story.
  • The major character, Mack, was never sorry for killing his own father.
  • Mack was punished (though not his fault) for his daughter’s tragic death.
  • The woman (later we learn that she is God) who fed Mack cookies and milk did nothing to protect him physically from more beatings. She should have called the police.
  • The church deacons didn’t intercede for the boy or his mother after learning about the beatings. Them saying, “It’s okay” is not okay.
  • First mention of “the shack” is when Mack is about age 30 when a letter from “Papa” (God) invites him there. So, is God masculine (Papa) or feminine (the same woman who gave Mack cookies)? Inconsistency.
  • Why in the world would a middle-aged father tell his little girl, Missy, about human sacrifice, tears, a waterfall of father’s tears? Where does Missy come up with these profound questions? Unbelievable.
  • At the exact same time that Mack saves his other two children from drowning, Missy is kidnapped. Really!
  • Missy’s clothes found soaked in blood by FBI and police. Mack’s wife says it’s not his fault. The guilt is layered.
  • Apparently everything to this point only happened in Mack’s head while he is knocked out after he slipped on the ice getting the letter from “Papa.”
  • Sometime between Mack with his three kids and his fall on the ice, a funeral occurred. Really!
  • Mack hears voices…Missy’s voice on his way to the shack. Is there a psychologist in the house?
  • Inside the shack he sees a “murderer” and screams at him.
  • Outside the shack he sees a friendly man; even though, that man has a gun pointed at him. How many times have you invited a gunman into your house to warm himself and talk to someone inside? Really!
  • I did like the scene where the snow disappeared as he walked along and the path and woods are beautiful. The shack becomes a large beautiful home. The symbolism works for me. This earthly home for Christians will someday become a heavenly and eternal home.
  • Enter the representations of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit. Biblical issues here. God and the Holy Spirit are portrayed by women. The trinity is interrupted by Jesus being a man in the movie. I’m surprised that the author/producer didn’t show Jesus as a woman—heresy!
  • God (aka “Papa”) says Mack couldn’t handle a father right now so gave the feminine version of God. This indicates that God is like an earthly father; when in reality, it is supposed to be the other way around. Earthly fathers should emulate God. Wouldn’t the loving characteristic of God the Father have been more beneficial…and truthful?
  • God doesn’t judge based on our clothes or appearance. Trivial.
  • The idea that Mack had been punished enough is not biblical. We have consequences, true. God does punish sin and that’s why Jesus went to the cross. He took our punishment for all who believe. No one needs to choose one of our children to die or offer to die instead. Jesus accomplished the task already. God doesn’t choose any to go to hell. He did all he could do to keep everyone out of hell, the place designed for the fallen angels. Believe.
  • So, in the end, the audience discovers that Mack was hit by a semi truck and never made to the shack. All is well and they return to a happy life.

Here’s my assessment, I would have preferred a non-fiction version of The Shack, the metaphor for a life built by guilt and pain. Fiction should read like non-fiction, believable. As hard as I tried, I could not willingly suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the movie.

Did you like it? Why or why not? How do you view the trinity? Next time, I’ll conclude with the song lyrics for “This Ole House” by Stuart Hamblen.

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To Write or Not To Write Letters

Since I was a little girl, I watched my mother write letters at the main Post Office in Des Moines, Iowa. Back then we didn’t have zip codes or forty-nine cent stamps, not that those things matter. The letters Mom wrote were in cursive and sent to those she cared enough about to take the time and effort to let them know. Mom took the city bus, because she never drove a car.

When I was with her, I stood and looked up at a glass top table in art deco style. The atmosphere inside the post office was friendly, brisk with business people frequenting the main lobby. It wasn’t a place to stand and chat; like the libraries of that decade; it was quiet. Men and women were composing “gifts from the heart.”

Appropriately enough, I launched my letter writing campaign, of sorts, in April–National Letter Writing Month. When you visit my website: or go to YouTube you will be inspired to write a long overdue letter.

On my website, I offer stationery packets that can be ordered and paid through PayPal. I hope you will like my YouTube video, Face Book page, and everywhere else you see my name in electronic media.

The images below are from a postcard showing the old Des Moines Post Office.

Would you like to see letter writing revived? Why or why not?



Posted in Childhood, Effie, family, Family History, Gift Giving, Iowa, Memories, Penmanship, The Palmer Method of Handwriting, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment

Prop 205–Marijuana: No Fun In Arizona

Who Wrote Arizona’s Initiative to Legalize Recreational Marijuana? It wasn’t anyone who cares about children, society, employers, or highway safety to name a few. If you think well-intended policy …

Source: Prop 205–Marijuana: No Fun In Arizona

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Prop 205–Marijuana: No Fun In Arizona

Who Wrote Arizona’s Initiative to Legalize Recreational Marijuana?

It wasn’t anyone who cares about children, society, employers, or highway safety to name a few. If you think well-intended policy makers at the Arizona State Capitol wrote the 19 pages known as Prop 205, think again. It was written by the marijuana industry. Unlike Colorado that is scaling back and adapting their law, if approved, Prop 205’s resulting law cannot be changed. The marijuana industry is taking advantage of Arizona’s 1998 Voter Protection Act. Legalization of recreational marijuana in Arizona cannot be changed. For more information, go to

Recreational Marijuana is No Fun!

Prop 205 allows highly concentrated marijuana edibles and candies without limits on potency. Children are targeted with packaging that looks like Butterfinger and KitKat and gummy bears. Did you know that one cookie contains 10 times the amount needed for a high and one gummy bear is equal to six to 20 servings? In addition, ingested marijuana takes longer for the dopamine to be released and the effects last longer than smoked marijuana’s one to three hours. This is how over dose occurs. When there’s a delayed euphoria, users eat more and more. When the effect hits, it is a powerful reaction, potentially deadly.

Research shows that a child at the age of 13 years and seven months has already smoked “weed.”  One in six are addicted at that age.  Now, many not only smoke and are vaping with 70 – 85% THC content, but can eat, drink, or inhale pot with little knowledge of the harmful consequences, including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Impaired Memory
  • Disorientation

Without a doubt, cannabis has psychological and physiological effects on the human body. The brain, sense of perception, immune system, drop in blood pressure, and increased heart rate are only a few ways the body changes. Feelings of panic, anxiety, and fear are additional negative effects. Yet, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is only one of about 400 different chemical compounds in the plant. In 1972, THC levels were less than 1%, but now as high as 18%.

For children still developing physically, mentally, socially and emotionally, marijuana has a critical impact. Decreased brain activity in areas of the brain that control learning and memory functions are a harmful result. Long-term effects include inability to think clearly and an inability to remember things.  Teens with on-going use lost an average of eight IQ points—not to return.

The Marijuana Industry Gets Rich

So, why are children targeted by packaging that appeals to their age group? When a child becomes addicted, he is a customer for life. The industry makes tens of millions of dollars over a period of years on children. The marijuana industry doesn’t care that your child or grandchild is harmed; it is getting rich.

While the industry is making mega bucks, the heavy users of their product more often report:

  • Lower satisfaction in life
  • Poorer mental health
  • Reduced physical health
  • Greater relationship problems
  • Less academic success
  • Career failures

Finally, they report that marijuana use came before the use of other drugs. So, who is profiting? The industry…plain and simple. Who is losing? Arizona’s citizens and families…devastated and heartbroken. Responsible Arizona citizens will be faced with picking up the social consequences of marijuana use, of THC. Case in point, doctors in hospital emergency rooms in Colorado treat patients for over toxicity…over highs…psychotic break! Yet, there are more pot shops in Colorado that Starbucks and McDonalds combined. Money, money, money!

Jesse & Mayor Wally Nichols 2005

Jesse & Mayor Wally Nichols 2005

Cartels, Law Enforcement, Homeowners, and Employers

Cartels won’t go away. Remember, this is a “cash only” business. See any opportunity for profit and tax evasion here?

Law enforcement will have no way to identify the level of impairment. Unlike the alcohol level of .08 as a means for measuring unsafe Arizona drivers, marijuana levels cannot be accurately measured due to the amount of time THC remains in the system. You could conceivably convict a drunk driver in a fatal accident, but a high marijuana user could go undetected and unable to be prosecuted. By the way, only 131 out of 42,000 are in jail for marijuana.

Homeowners may be living next to a grow home of up to 18 legally protected marijuana plants. Six plants for each spouse and a caretaker could be in the yard or on the patio. When you get to know your neighbor, you may want to sell your home…it may become stigmatized and lose the value you worked a lifetime to enjoy. Who knows?

Employers, in addition, cannot do anything to employees who recreate with marijuana. Workers in dangerous jobs, like electricians, pilots, city bus drivers, fire fighters, and any number of other positions requiring skill and safety are exempt from the pink slip. Prop 205 would allow for impairment without personal responsibility or consequence. The writers of this reckless proposition don’t care…it’s all about the money they will make, regardless of the lives it will ruin. Their lives will be enriched.  They don’t care about Arizona citizens. 

Do You Care Enough To Vote “No” on Prop 205?



Just Vote No Arizona

Center for Arizona Policy

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Posted in Arizona, Childhood, Constitutional Rights, Ethics and Morals, family, Houses, Life Chages, marijuana, patriotic, Prop 205, Real Estate, Uncategorized | 1 Comment


res-to-ra-tion (res’te r ashen) 1. Action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition 2) to return to a former or normal state.

When I looked up the word “restoration” on the internet, I got links to hardware. Surely other things beside cabinets are restored, made new again. Take furniture, cars, houses, computer files, photos, even people, for instance. They can all be restored. So can heaven and earth! 1-IMG_0233

Let’s see what restoration looks like in different contexts. First, how can we repair, fix, mend, or refurbish that which is broken? We check for imperfections. The dining room table has a scratch and broken leg. The barn-find Ferrari is rusty from being exposed to the weather, and the patina on its cracked leather upholstery is dull. This old house “ain’t” what she used to be; the foundation is slanting and the doors are ajar; the computer files are lost; and personal relationships are strained. Our world is polluted with toxic air and water.

Understandably, our things, or objects of affection, are important up to a point. Furniture serves a utilitarian purpose. Cars, houses, and computers, whether common or costly, are necessary in urban society. Some would argue that television, cell phones, and McDonald’s fast food are all essential to living.

This is not a conversation about the worthiness of anything in particular. The topic is about broken things, places, and people. What needs to be fixed? Look around your house. Get a glimpse of your community. Take a mental walk down a deep thinking path to persons in your life. Everything lookin’ good?

If not, restoration is possible. You don’t need a grocery list of what to do. Recognize the problem and begin the repairs.

On the spiritual side of this, I was a broken girl at age 13, carrying sinful scars of an otherwise good girl.

Effie Groves, age 12 Des Moines, Iowa

Effie Groves, age 12
Des Moines, Iowa

I needed something or someone to heal the imperfections. When I walked down an aisle at Grace Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, besides the pastor, a loving heavenly Father greeted me. He took away my sin.  I was made new (not yet perfect) from the inside out! Any occurrence of a soul being transformed is the highest form of restoration. I am still amazed at God’s marvelous grace.

For your own research, read the following passages on restoration: Gal. 6:1; II Tim. 3:16-17; Ps. 23:3; 2 Cor. 13:11; and Gal. 6:1; Isa. 65:17; Rev. 21:1. Yes, someday God will even restore heaven and earth…and here’s the best part…we won’t think of the old ones anymore! That’s heaven.

Have you every restored anything tattered or torn? How did it turn out? If God has restored your health or soul or both, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

All the best,


PS  Visit my website:  Need help buying or selling your Arizona house? I can help. ~~EG



Posted in Bible, Iowa, Judeo-Christian, Restoration, Soul, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Christmas Gift Giving

Ken & Kathi's Pella, IA tree

Ken & Kathi’s tree in Pella, Iowa

Note: This is a guest post written last year by my son, Ken Gross. Any feedback, I will forward on to him. 1-IMG_0273 

Christmas 2014 Thoughts

The spirit of Christmas has been spoken of often, but do we consider what that means?  I was thinking of the tradition of gift giving and was inspired to write these thoughts down after reading someone else’s musings on Christmas.

I believe the heart of Christmas is in gift giving.  I believe the essence of Christmas can be summarized in one simple thought.  A gift was given so that what was once impossible, is now possible.

We all have been given many gifts beginning with life itself.  Beyond that we have gifts that are wrapped up in who we are.  We call some of these gifts by other words such as talent or ability.  I think of creativity in the different arts as a gift.  The ability to be a wordsmith and craft a phrase, just so.  The ability to take a picture, capturing light in a way that provokes thought or emotion.  Sometimes we are given gifts that are in disguise and harder to see such as compassion for our fellow human beings.

We make decisions every day about gift giving.  It may only come to the surface at Christmas time, but it is there in the background all year long.  We make decisions about what we keep for ourselves and what we will give away.  I believe we are all called to gift giving.

We have a responsibility to unwrap the gifts within ourselves and to give them away, but gift giving comes at a cost.  It takes it’s toll on us mentally and emotionally.  Sometimes a gift of great cost is rejected.  Sometimes a gift given is misused.  Gift giving is a risky thing, risky if we focus on ourselves and not the receiver.  A gift given in the spirit of Christmas does not consider the risks or what the giver looses.

Will you chose this Christmas to give from the gifts that you were given?  Will you unwrap the talents hidden inside you and take a risk?  Will you endure the cost of gift giving, such as rejection and miss-use.  We face decisions, small and great throughout the year that hinge on that simple Christmas thought, will you give a gift that in someone else’s life, will make what was once impossible, possible.

Colossians says that we who were once enemies of God can now be called friends through the gift of God, Jesus Christ.

You have the power of a gift.”  ~~Ken Gross; Williams, Arizona

Thank you for reading. Visit Effie Alean Groves Gross on Facebook or at

Posted in Christmas, Gift Giving, Iowa, Memories, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tiny Houses

Tiny Houses are BIG! They can be under 300 square feet or a little larger and sell for $15,000 and up. This relatively new trend appeals to young and old alike. Just check marketing ads, even Craig’s List and you’ll find a variety of styles and accommodations. Tiny House Nation TV Show is exposing the charm and challenge of living small.

Residing in the Scottsdale area and selling real estate where houses are often 4,000 square feet or more, I can’t quite understand the appeal of tiny houses.  Nevertheless, the concept brings back memories of my childhood. My very first favorite book was The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. She wrote of four orphaned children who created a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar. Their living space was approximately 40 feet by 8 feet, or 320 square feet…hmmm. So, tiny houses are not such a new idea.

Like the novel’s characters, today’s owners of small quarters need to be independent, tidy, organized, creative, hard workers, and amicable. Ranging in age from 14 to 6 years, the four boxcar children possessed all of those qualities.

“Spoiler Alert.” The children’s grandfather offered a $5,000 reward in the 1942 edition to locate his lost grandchildren. After they were found and moved in with him, the boxcar (tiny house) was moved to his backyard for the children’s enjoyment.

Unfortunately, not all thoughts of boxcars bring back pleasant memories. Hobos and the homeless certainly have a different perspective. Holocaust survivors ache with painful memories of being herded inside where inhumane conditions took their neighbors and relatives to death chambers.

So, what is your first thought when you hear the term, “Tiny Houses” or watch a television show tempting you? Would you make a boxcar your home? Why or Why Not?

Thank you for reading. Please visit my website: http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome and visit the virtual tour of my latest home listing at MCO Realty listing at $927,500 with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms…NOT A TINY HOUSE!



Posted in Childhood, Children's Books, family, Jewish, Memories, novels, Real Estate, Tiny Houses, Uncategorized | 1 Comment