book review, loss, women, writing

The Polygamist’s Daughter By Anna LeBaron: A Book Review

 

Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome.                                           –Birdee Pruitt from Hope Floats

I had a great childhood. It wasn’t Beaver Cleaver, but it was idyllic in the crazy, eccentric, lower middle class, country hick sort of way. I think back on family camping trips and Christmas cookie making with a homesick nostalgia that sometimes aches even now in my mid forties.

Anna Lebaron’s childhood, going on at roughly the same time but on the other side of the country, was nothing like mine. Quite frankly, there aren’t very many people in the world who could say they had a similar childhood. I can’t say no one, because as she begins her memoir, “At age nine, I had 49 siblings.” Anna was not alone in this world, but her childhood was far from safe and secure. Growing up the daughter of notorious polygamist Ervil LeBaron, she lived a life that was marked by regularly moving to avoid the authorities, often leaving behind her few possessions, and being reared by various family members that rarely included her own parents. In her memoir, Anna shares about going hungry, being forced to work long hours at family owned businesses, and even being promised in marriage as a young child to an adult member of the cult.

As I read The Polygamist’s Daughter, I found myself drawn into this world of violence and twisted faith that I could not comprehend. Through each move and struggle Anna experienced, I found myself in shock and disbelief. I kept stopping to look something up on the Internet in order to learn more about her father, the cult, or the events mentioned in the book, such as the 4:00 murders.

Anna’s gripping story is far more than a tale about a broken childhood. Anna’s story is a tale of courage and faith. She tells of her escape from the polygamist cult and her coming to a true faith in Jesus Christ. She shares about her journey of healing and the hope we can all find in Christ.

Those of us who have experienced tragedy or loss, whether from childhood wounds or in our adulthood, will appreciate the hope that Anna offers. My favorite line from her book is, “But sorrow always accompanied the joy, inseparable twins at every event.” Recovering from the pain that life can bring often means that we live in a place where the joys and sorrows of life often collide. Anna allows us to walk with her on her own healing journey, and we can all find hope along the way.

I truly enjoyed reading this memoir. I read it more quickly than a typical book as it was difficult to put down. While not the most polished of writing, and a couple of times the timeline seemed a little disjointed, the story read like a suspense novel. I was engaged and emotionally drawn into the story from the start. Anna skillfully shares her story and invites us into her healing journey. I recommend this book to anyone who love stories of faith and courage.

The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron releases March 21st and is available for pre-order at http://annalebaron.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Tyndale.

I received an advanced reader’s copy for my honest review.

 

Standard
Bible Study, Christian, writing

A Little Bible Math

Time for a little math. I have just completed writing out the book of Mathew. In my paper Bible the book of Matthew covers 32 pages out of a total of 1072 pages. The book of Matthew takes up 1/33.5 of the entire Bible. I filled up 1.5 composition books. Based on the current rate, it will take me approximately 51 composition books to complete this project. It took me 2.5 months.  It will take 84 months to complete or 7 years. Considering I chose a 5 year Bible reading plan that is 6 days a week and I intend to write 7 days a week, and I began this during the summer when theoretically I have significantly more free time, I would say I am going a lot slower than I would have expected.

The good news is that I intend to still be a Christian 7 years from now, so I’m sure I won’t mind taking that long. I definitely can find enough shelf space for 50 notebooks. I still hope to be more faithful in my study, and I suspect that the writing plan breaks the chapters up differently based n the book. Todays venture into 1 Samuel had me writing more than the typical day in Matthew. I like the focus on manageable pieces of the story rather than a set number of verses.

Small sustainable life changes are the best kind of changes. Slow and steady wins the race. Run the race with endurance.

Standard
hannah more, slavery, social justice, writing

Why Hannah More?

The problem with many of our heroes is that they are people we could never be. They are “other.” There is something about them that while we respect and wish to emulate we can never really be due of some circumstance out of our control. It was like that for me and William Wilberforce, the great champion of abolition in 18th century England. He was a wealthy politician; he was powerful and influential. This is not only a bit foreign to me, but honestly not something I would wish to be if I could be. Then I read about his friend, Hannah More. The realization came as I read through the pages of Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior. Here was a woman who changed the world, but who did it in a way that I could grasp. I could see myself in her. She was a teacher, a writer, a mentor, all things that I am. In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s she was not only stirring the hearts of the people of England to fight the slave trade, but to care about the education of poor children, the treatment of animals, and even international issues like the the burning of widows in India. She wrote and people listened. She never gave up fighting the injustices in her society. Her tenacious spirit and passion were birthed from her deep faith in Jesus Christ. Surrounded by a crowd of supporters, this woman who felt deeply changed the world with her faithful devotion to God by being the voice for those who could not speak up for themselves. Finding Hannah More was like awakening to possibilities I had never imagined. It was like God whispering to me that her work was unfinished and I could champion their cause. Not me, us. We could do it together.  So let’s begin.

Standard
ministry, social justice, writing

What Does a Calling Look Like?

It’s been years. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect the first time I felt this sense that God had something different for me, something new, something a little frightening was when I had three small children. That wasn’t the reason for the feeling, I just have a few vague memories of the old church building which gives me a reference point. I had this unsettled feeling and I was drawn to the stories of Peter walking on water and diving overboard. Water. I didn’t know what it meant. I prayed. I waited. Nothing. Time passed and the stirring increased. Things I had been holding on to I slowly began to release.  “I don’t want to move, God.”  “Okay, I’ll move, but not too far.” “Okay, I’ll move, but not out of the country.” “Fine, I’ll leave the country, but they have to speak English.”  “I don’t care where you send me, God, if you’ll just TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO!” The years passed like this, with no revelations or guidance. I continued on the journey, always learning and growing, but never finding. I had my heart broken and the ministries I once had seemed to be taken away one at a time. It hurt immensely, yet in the turmoil I felt this sense that after all this time God was going to finally reveal to me “The Plan.”  But He didn’t. I cried. I sobbed. I was broken. Life went on just as it always did, and I adapted. I wrestled with God and in the end I was left with a limp but not a calling. I’m not entirely sure if I think God is giving me a calling, but then there is this thing. I’ve had ideas before; I’ve “done ministry.” I’m not really sure if this is any different. I’ve been involved with other things where my gifts and passions seemed to come together. So I look at this new thing equally with hesitancy and expectation. Could this be what I have been waiting for? Or could this just be another thing? The idea formed as a twisting turning thought from a myriad of places. There was the biography I had wanted and purchased for Thanksgiving break, but didn’t finish until Christmas break. There was the book that Amazon recommended, by an author I had never heard of, and I opted to take a chance on it praying it would be better than the last book Amazon thought I would like (the one that told me I needed to spend the first 20 minutes of my day with God, then take an hour walk for my physical well being all before leaving for work at 6:45 am). Then there was my advisory council of beautiful women (and my husband) who said pretty much, “What the heck are you doing? STOP IT! ALL OF IT! Give up every single thing in your life except for the family God has given you and your job.” They were right. They knew it. I fought it. It was inspired. How does one discern the difference between a calling and my own conception? Did I just dream up an idea from the bits and pieces of things I was reading about, or are these the threads of my life coming together into the tapestry that God has specifically planned for my life? My heart is already full with the perfect job for me and a family that consumes my heart and much of my time.  Is this the right timing for this dream? Can I fluctuate between feelings of “This is it!” and “I don’t want to,” and it still be from God? Can I rest in the idea for a little while before embarking on making it a reality or is that untrue to a calling I have been waiting  years on end for? Is there a calling for everyone, or is our calling just what we chose to do as we live a life that makes the deliberate choice to follow Christ? I am in the process now of laying out my soul once again. I wrote the fragmented pieces of this idea down and then laid them out for my husband over fast food. Ironic, sharing a vision that has taken a decade to form over fast food. I held my breath and asked, “What do you think?” And in that moment, all that I love about him was present as he held my dream with care and gave me a vision for how to make it a reality. Taking a pen and scribbling notes on my embryonic treatise, he gave me permission to be this person, to take on this monumental task, to become. While I was still swimming in uncertainty he was buying domain names, God bless him! Then I made a second draft, and by that I mean a 20th draft, but the second one I would let someone see, and I sent it to my council of beautiful women. They are the accoutrements of God! They are also my therapists and my voice of reason. Then I set up a meeting with my pastor. And now I wait. I wait on the responses, the meeting, and the moment. I feel a peace in my soul that I haven’t felt in a long time, even with the toggling between the many questions and feelings. I think this is what resting feels like, maybe even a calling.

Standard