These Is My Words has sat in my to be read pile for a good couple months now, and I thought what better time to read a book set in the Southwest when you’re taking a road trip through the Southwest?
So I hunkered down in my seat that was covered with dog hair, and squished next to my little brother (which turned out to be not quite as bad a situation as I initially thought) and began this book.
These Is My Words in the words of its subtitle is “the diary of Sarah Agnes Prine.” This diary takes the reader through twenty years of Sarah’s life in the Arizona Territories and all the tumult and triumphs that accompany this life.
Sarah faithfully records her crossing of the Southwestern territories in a covered wagon west to east and back again, her romance with an army captain, her family, and of the emotions that come with everything life throughs at her.
I have mixed emotions about Mrs. Turner’s novel. There were some parts I enjoyed immensely, and some I didn’t exactly appreciate.
So here’s a “little” list:
- The story! The scenery! I absolutely loved reading about the pioneer’s sorrows and joys. This era in American history has a tendency to being romanticised and it was interesting to see the real rawness and grit of life in the Southwestern deserts. It wasn’t always pretty. But these people made the best of what God gave them and that deserves a round of applause.
- I’m a sucker for a good romance, not the cheesy gross kind, but the ones that show a genuine love between two people. Lots of emotion doesn’t hurt either. Sarah and Jack had deep deep love, respect, care, and friendship for and with each other. Their love absolutely stole my breath away. Here are two Bible verses that I think define marriage and love quite well. Passion: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.” (Song of Solomon 8:6) And here’s another about how marriage is a spectacular representation of Christ’s love: “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” (Ephesians 5:28-30)
3. Sarah’s voice. Sarah comes from a very unique background and has had no formal education. She learned to read in bits and pieces and writes rather simply in the beginning. The personality of this pioneer woman makes the whole book. Sarah is a feisty woman. Feisty and strong (like so strong, she runs a ranch by herself, which is no easy feat), but she’s also full of love and compassion. Sarah puts her family before everyone else. Sometimes that has consequences, but it’s an admirable quality in a person.
- As I said, the story and scenery in this novel are wonderful… for the most part. The rawness of Sarah’s diary is sometimes a little startling. While not all of it is bad, there are a few parts that sensitive readers wouldn’t take kindly too. For example, there is an instance when a group of girls is almost raped. Nothing is extremely graphic, but she tells it like it is. To a certain extent, I felt that some things didn’t need that kind of touch. That’s me though. Most of the time, I feel rather convicted reading something I know goes a bit too far.
- Which brings me to my next point. Sarah and Jack have an uncommon combination of passion and friendship in their romance. That passion takes them certain places. Some heated kisses take place. (Which is not wrong outside of marriage. Afterall, God made man and woman for each other, just read Song of Solomon. Passion is not necessarily bad, but unbridled passion is. God should be above even the greatest earthly love.) Again, there is nothing explicit, but I skipped a paragraph or two that my young eyes didn’t care to read. There is a scene where Sarah is extremely vulnerable and sleeps with Jack before they marry. Nothing happens. Still though, sleeping together before marriage is not something the Lord condones. “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (Ephesians 6:13b) The body was made to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, any relations outside marriage are a defilement to the Holy Temple of the Lord. God protects His people from unnecessary hurt when He tells us sexual immorality in wrong.
- Sarah again. She is rather rough around the edges and sometimes she says certain things that I don’t particularly agree with. However, I do admire her honesty. Sarah is no pretender. Well, except for when it came to realizing she loved Jack, but you’ll have to read the book for that.
Overall, I really did enjoy These Is My Words. I expected a more profound message to go with that title, but I didn’t find any grand ideas. Rather I found the amazing love the pioneers had for their loved ones, and their crazy determination to protect them. That is truly something as grand as the Southwest scenery.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (Ephesians 13:7)
Everything else is temporal, but God’s love lasts forever. Isn’t wonderful that He has given us the capacity to love too?
So, other than the stuff in the “bad” list, I would say These In My Words was a thoroughly captivating read.
(All collage images credit to Pinterest.)