Book Report: The 19th Wife

I love the listmania feature at Amazon.com.  It allows you to make lists of your favorite things.  I keep track of the books I have read and books I may want to read in the future.  While browsing books all sorts of listmania lists are displayed along the sides of the pages.  These lists are great places to find new and interesting books.  It was on one of these lists thatI first noticed The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.  I added it to my Books I Want to Read (list 7 ).  Who knew if I’d ever actually get to it, I have so many books waiting to be read!  Lo and behold, a few short weeks later I was studying the shelves at my favorite used book store (where hardcovers are $1 and softcovers are $.50- can you say book lover heaven?) and there it was in all it’s hardcover glory- The 19th wife!  Was it even a possibility thatI left it on the shelf?  NO WAY!  Instead of adding it to my pile of books awaiting their turn I read it immediately.

The 19th Wife has two story lines, one is current and follows a twenty year old man who was kicked out of a polygamous sect when he was fourteen.  He returns home after discoverireng his mother has been arrested for the murder of his father.  His mother was his father’s 19th wife.  The second story line revolves around real life person Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young, one of the early leaders of the Mormon church.  Ann Eliza did write a biography, a scathing expose of the bebinnings of polygamythat was called Wife No. 19.   Ebershoff’s novel is a fictionalization of Ann Eliza’s book.  It has book chapters, interviews, wikipedia entries, rejection letters from the Mormon temple archives, letters from Ann Eliza’s son and excerpts from newpaper articles.  It is fictional but relies heavily on real life sources and appears to be well researched.  I have to confess I was fascinated by these stories.  Two thirds of the novel is dedicated to the historical aspect and one third to the current day story.  If I have a complaint it is that I wanted the stories to be fifty-fifty, an even split of pages alloted.   The historical started to become tedious and the modern day story needed more!  Overall a very satisfying and informative read.  Grade:  B.

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Drone to the Lord or Shout to the Lord?

Psalm 63:7
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Today I attended early church, yes people, Hildy went to early church!  I attended with a friend who is a morning person (let me insert a quick sidebar here that my ears were so happy because he can sing, he can really sing!) and out of the kindness of my heart I agreed to attend the early, traditional service if only we could stay for the contemporary singing at the beginning the later service, a request to which my friend agreed out of the kindness of his heart.

I have a staid, boring Lutheran background- dead of faith, dead of life, dead of relationship.  Music at Sunday services was liturgical or out of a hymnal.  Boring!  So imagine my delight to discover praise and worship during my college’s daily chapel services!  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  I was converted.  I only want to sing hymns at Easter and Christmas, that’s it.  Fast forward a decade or two and I find myself with a friend who grew up (I am assuming) with praise and worship music and upon stepping into adulthood has set those praise and worship songs aside and developed a preference for, gasp, hymns!

I should confess that I don’t hate hymns and in fact have decided that I actually like them, well, some of them.  I confess also that I hate the repetition of worship songs ad nauseam.  When I attend church with my mother, she doesn’t get sick but instead she whistles when she tires of the repetition, thus adding an additional, pleasant musical element to the worship time while still making clear to all around her that it is time to move on worship team, time to move on.

I tell you all of this to get to this fabulous joke sent to me today.  How perfect is this? (Obtained from Crosswalk.com You Make Me Laugh newsletter.)

Hymns vs. Choruses

An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

“Well,” said the farmer, “it was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns.”

“Praise choruses?” said his wife. “What are those?”

“Oh, they’re OK. They are sort of like hymns, only different,” said the farmer.

“Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife.

The farmer said, “Well, it’s like this – If I were to say to you “Martha, the cows are in the corn”‘ – well, that would be a hymn. If on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Martha, Martha, Martha,
Oh Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows
the white cows,
the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS
are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
the CORN, CORN, CORN.

Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well, that would be a praise chorus.”

The next weekend, his nephew, a young, new Christian from the city came to visit and attended the local church of the small town. He went home and his mother asked him how it was.

“Well,” said the young man, “it was good. They did something different however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs.”

“Hymns?” asked his mother. “What are those?”

“Oh, they’re OK. They are sort of like regular songs, only different,” said the young man.

“Well, what’s the difference?” asked his mother.

The young man said, “Well, it’s like this – If I were to say to you ‘Martha, the cows are in the corn’ – well, that would be a regular song. If on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense
Hearkenest they in God’s sun or His rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.

So look to the bright shining day by and by
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn
Where no vicious animals make my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.’

Then if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn.

The Great Comedian in the Sky

One of my favorite things about God is His sense of humor- it’s a beaut!  All you have to do is take a look around your life and see all the funny creatures, people and situations with which we are surrounded.  I imagine my favorite pastime in heaven will be hanging out with Jesus and some of my most beloved ones having a good chuckle, some hearty giggles- all of us laughing till we cry, pee our pants, and ache from the sheer pleasure of laughing together.  I am in full agreement with Jane Austen’s fictional character Elizabeth Bennet when she said. “I do so love to laugh.”

I’ve been doing some wistful thinking lately- you know the kind were reality is light years away but somewhere inside is a little part of yourself that wants the wistful thought to be a reality, if not an absolute.  Just the other day, shortly after having a paragraph of these thoughts,  God used a phone call to make it abundantly, tragically apparent how silly these thoughts were and for a moment reality left me bereft, but then I saw the comedy of error.  I laughed and thanked God that He chose a gentle loving way to show me how comically out of touch my thinking was.  I love that God made me laugh instead of cry.  God is good all the time…all the time God is good.

Caution conviction: right, left and straight ahead!

I think God is trying to tell me something.  I may have been ignoring Him.

I have been listening to sermons while at work lately.  It helps a day filled with mindlessness fly past.  Mostly I have been listening to Irwin McManus from Mosiac, a gigantic multi-cultural church in Los Angeles.  He is a charismatic teacher who preaches straight from the Bible.  I also go to a weekly bible study titled Believing God, at which we view a video message from Beth Moore.

The funny thing is I have been getting convicted at every turn.  Doesn’t matter what the topic of the sermon is, it cuts right to the core of me.  My spirit is sitting up and paying attention.  I think that I am not living rightly in ANY area of my life.  These sermons are all different topics!  In the past when God has wanted to get my attention He has had bring the same topic to me from several different areas enabling me to easily grasp what it is He is communicating.  But what am I to do with stuff from all across everywhere?  That is why I think He is telling me my whole life is being lived wrongly, selfishly, unGodly.  Uh, now what?

Claustrophobia 101

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Boxwork (thin blades of calcite that project from cave walls and ceilings, forming a honeycomb pattern) is abundant in the Wind Cave.

I’ve been thinking again about things I learned on my recent Black Hills vacation.  I do believe I’ve found a small little lesson tucked away in the Wind Cave.  Get ready for some sage advise from one very wise woman…

Do it afraid.  (Stop rationalizing and just do it already!)

Here’s what I mean…

We were visiting Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, So. Dak.  I was in the lodge sitting outside the restrooms waiting for my sister when across the room I spotted my mom at the ticket counter purchasing, what I suspected were cave tour tickets.  I had just spent a few minutes perusing the information board about the various cave tours and there was only one tour I could recall any information about…the four hour crawling tour.  Oh no!  As  I rushed to find out what she purchased all I could think was she didn’t, tell me she didn’t!  (I have to point out the ridiculousness of my thoughts here, a four hour crawling tour?  Really?)  The tour tickets she purchased were for the walking tour.  3oo steps down approximately 20 stories with about a half a mile of walking.  Still I felt immediate trepidation.  How tight is the cave?  Would I fit?  300 steps?  Up or down?  Dark?  How dark?  I had 30 minutes of thinking and wondering to do before the tour started.  After a while I decided I needed to distract myself or maybe I’d chicken out, so, I decided to tease Charlie and I told him Mom bought us all tickets for the crawling tour and I was worried about how I was going to crawl around in a cave for four hours.  He provided no distraction as his only response was “Really though, I don’t want to go in there.”  I just had to stop perseverating on this- the tickets had been purchased and I was going.

God timed this perfectly!  If I would have had the chance to discuss this tour with everyone I probably would have begged my way out of it.  And it was the coolest part of the trip (figuratively and literally as it was 58 degrees in the cave!) It was scary, awesome, incredible, amazing, dark, deep, exhausting and exhilarating!  What a blessing I would have missed!  Who cares if I was dripping in sweat by the end of 300 stairs and half a mile walk?  Who cares if I thought I was going to die from exhaustion for an hour after emerging?  Who cares if my body ached for three days?  I went 20 stories down into a cave!  I went into a cavern where I experienced the deepest dark my eyes have never seen!  And, I discovered I am not claustrophobic!

God is so good that sometimes He doesn’t allow us the freedom to wiggle away from challenges that step us out of our comfort zone.  I’m grateful that He knows me so well, so thoroughly, so completely, that He provided me this opportunity that I would have denied myself.

Simple Lesson

My mom, Linda; sister, Sunshine; and Shiney’s boyfriend, Charlie spent 6 days driving to, wandering around and returning from the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.  We hit all the local sights:  the Bandlands State Park, Mount Rushmore National Monument, Needles Highway, Custer State Park, Wind Cave State Park, The Crazy Horse Monument, Deadwood and Devil’s Tower National Monument.

I’ve been wracking my brain to find a life lesson from this vacation but I have been coming up empty.  Really, it shouldn’t be this difficult.  Don’t we have lessons to learn every day? I haven’t found any deep lessons yet but maybe the lesson isn’t such a profound one, instead, a simple one that I find recurring in my life of late: don’t give up on your dreams.

Charlie is 44 years old. It has been his dream since childhood to see Mount Rushmore. Well, he did it, he finally got there! His pure, absolute joy at seeing those stone faces was a delight to witness. It was genuine and heartfelt. He was excited so deep in his spirit it shone out of his face and tinged his voice with amazement.

If Charlie can achieve his dream, why can’t I? (Or for that matter, why can’t we all?) Why have I decided that none of my childhood dreams are worth having much less pursuing? Why have I let cynicism and hopelessness rule me? My brain knows this comes straight from the pit of hell, so why can’t I deny these thoughts? I suppose my experience tells me otherwise…but, wait, didn’t I create my experience?  I believe I had a fair amount of control over my life experiences through choices, attitudes, activities, friends, feelings.  So it would seem then that my experiences have been skewed by my faulty perception of reality.  Ephesians 3:20 says “now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.]”  This is an accurate reality.  God has a plan for me that exceeds even my own dreams!  I need to prayerfully alter my skewed experience and get it realigned with the word of the most loving God.  Only then can I achieve my childhood dreams and beyond.


Charlie at Mount Rushmore National Monument.  As soon as Mount Rushmore came into view we stopped along the highway at the first available pull out.  This was Charlie just minutes after getting his first glimpse of the faces.

Vacation Photos!

Below are some photos from my recent vacation to South Dakota and Wyoming.  Captions are under the photo and may contain links to the National or State Park mentioned.  No stories about the trip yet, I have a couple of things I am fleshing out but until those stories are perfected the pictures are all you get!

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Grasslands as far as the eye can see.

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Yellow Mounds, Badlands National Park.


Night time lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Monument.

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 Mount Rushmore in the distance.

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Forest fire damage in Custer State Park.

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Hildy, Linda, Charlie and Shiney at Rod and Gun State Campground  in the Black Hills National Forest in Spearfish Canyon, SD.

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Desolate landscape (and cattle!) in Wyoming.

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Devil’s Tower National Monument.

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Games with friends.  Linda, Lori, Shiney, Charlie, Levi, Kayla, and Katie.

Musical Genius

I am not a music whore.  I don’t live for the next great artist, song or album.  That said I enjoy music, most types of music.  Leave out twangy country, angry rap and destructive death metal and I am good!

I find that I go back to the same “comfort music” again and again.  In fact, I do this so much that I forever ruin wonderful songs.  I ruin them because I listen them to death, they get stuck in my head for days, and then I can never again listen to them without them becoming enslaved in my thoughts.  I was told a surefire way to remove  songs that are stuck on mental replay is to hum the theme to The Smurfs cartoon and, surprisingly, this frequently works, but not always.  In the most recent example I can cite I was forced to endure Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape for an entire weekend.  I hear those woo hoo’s in my nightmares now!

Music runs the gamut of all emotions making it easy to find music to match your mood or to coax you into a different mood.  Since I love laughing it seems apropos that some of my favorite songs make me laugh out loud, or at least smirk a little!  Songs like Banjo Boy, from Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband; Gimme Three Steps, from Lynard Skynyrd; Mood Rings, from Reliant K, The Spiderman Theme brilliantly performed by Michael Buble; The Barenaked Ladies singing If I Had a Million Dollars; Chris Rice singing the Cartoon Song; or Carmen poking fun at soap operas in the Soap Song.

What I love love love is finding just one phrase from a song that is completely, totally,  outstandingly brilliant!  It jumps right out and grabs me by the, well, by the something or other.  Here are some of my favorites in a quiz format-  see how many of the songs you know.  Don’t worry, I’ll throw in some easy ones!

1.    My Maserati does 185, I lost my license, now I don’t drive.

2.    ‘Cause every time I see your bubbly face I get the tingles in a silly place.  It starts in my toes, and I crinkle my nose, where ever it goes I always know that you make me smile.

3.    Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get

4.    Lately I’ve been running on faith
What else can a poor boy do?
But my world will be right
When love comes over you

5.    When I get older I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag

6.    Every gambler knows that the secret to surviving
Is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep

7.    I never knew you, you never knew me,
Say hello goodbye,
Say hello and wave goodbye

8.    You’re the cutest thing that I ever did see
I really love your peaches wanna shake your tree

9.    If beauty is all in the eye of the beholder then I
wish you could see the love for you that lives in me

10. Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, “I just don’t care”?

11. While peace like a river runs into the setting sun, mercy painting the sky

12. I feel wonderful because I see the love light in your eyes.
And the wonder of it all is that you just don’t realize how much I love you

13. My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.  My God, My Savior has ransomed me.  And like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love amazing grace.

14. Born alone, die alone and I’m just sittin’ here by the phone waiting for the Lord to send my callin’.

15. Who can say if your love grows,
As your heart chose?
Only time…

16.  Lazarus……….Jesus?
Lazarus……….Jesus?
Lazarus……….Jesus!
Lazarus, COME FORTH, I command you, Come forth

 NO PEEKING!  ANSWERS BELOW! (Each song title is a link to a YouTube video for the song and the number following is the time stamp location of the key phrase in the video.)

1.    Joe Walsh, Life’s Been Good  1:54

2.    Colbie Caillat, Bubbly  :23

3.    Eagles, Desperado 1:13

4.    Eric Clapton, Runnin’ on Faith :35

5.    K’Naan, Wavin’ Flag #1 1:12, Wavin’ Flag #2 1:00

6.    Kenny Rogers, The Gambler 1:18

7.    David Grey, Say Hello, Wave Goodbye 1:42

8.    Steve Miller Band, The Joker 1:12

9.    Geoff Moore, If You Could See What I See :37

10. Pink, Glitter in the Air :48

11. Nouveaux, Simply Beautiful :54

12. Eric Clapton, You Look Wonderful Tonight 2:05

13. Chris Tomlin, Amazing Grace 1:15

14.  Everlast, Saving Grace 1:16

15.  Enya, Only Time :24

16.  Carman, Lazarus 5:18

So, how’d you do?  Aww, who cares, it was fun anyway, wasn’t it?

Puhleeze, Quit Already!

Mark 15:4-5

So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”  But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Navigating the waters of office politics and be enervating and frustrating.  With ignorant speech and haughty demeanor a lone individual can, in the blink of an eye, destroy the esprit de corps within a workplace thus providing a perfect opportunity to exercise your spiritual muscles.  Over the summer my department had several unpleasant encounters with a nasty individual who is firmly emplanted within the company.  He attackes liberally with intent to demean,  he is sarcastic and unprofessional and he has been allowed to maintain this attitude for more than thirty years!  So, how can we tolerate this individual who accuses and points out errors in companywide harrangues?  Well, if we want to be like Jesus, we say nothing.  We choose not to defend our reputation.  Ugh, how hard is that?  How much do we want to get angry and respond in kind?  Is it really possible for me to say I love you, which I don’t want to say, instead of shove it where the sun doesn’t shine, buddy, which is what I really want to say?  Do I really think I can respond like Jesus did and choose to remain silent when my reputation is being publicly battered? Well, yes, I can, but I surmise it will take a bit of smashing down of the old flesh nature.  Even so, I am determined that the next time I have the opportunity I am going to choose to respond as Jesus did and say nothing, maybe even extend myself and offer kindness or even, blech (sorry, excuse me, I’m choking over the word,) offer love.