"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
May 8, 2013
Good Gifts for the Woman in Your Life
by Laurie Williams Sowby

The only way you could do better than a good book for Mother’s Day is to give the woman in your life time to read it (that, and perhaps a box of chocolates). Here are some new books that speak to me as a Latter-day Saint woman. (See previous column, “LDS Women’s Voices,” for suggestions on LDS women’s history and essays.)

Boston area resident Whitney Johnson addresses every LDS woman’s conundrum of balancing family, church, and professional responsibilities and determining what takes priority and when, and she does it with flair and confidence in Dare, Dream, Do. The book’s subtitle, “Remarkable Things Happen when You Dare to Dream” has become her theme and “Disrupt Yourself” her mantra, not just when she speaks and writes, but also in her personal life.

Johnson herself has moved from piano performance to Wall Street institutional investor, to motherhood, each time disrupting her life only to discover and develop other gifts. She illustrates her points with the experiences and voices of a variety of other women who’ve disrupted the status quo (or had it disrupted for them) and found new avenues for growth and service.

The individual chapters can be read as time allows, although most of the women I know would not want to put this book down until they’ve absorbed all the inspiration it has to offer. Check out her blog at whitneyjohnson.com, then start dreaming! (Bibliomotion 2012, 254 pages in hard cover, $24.95.)

The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow deftly interweaves events in her life with short selections from her prolific poetry in an attractive volume. Historian Jill Mulvay Derr and editor Karen Lynn Davidson have joined forces to elucidate and celebrate the life of an early Mormon woman whom I’ve always regarded as my “patron saint” because of her outspokenness and penchant for writing. She’s become somewhat of a legend, her life paralleling events in Church history as they unfolded in the 1800s.

The authors, who earlier collaborated on a complete collection of her poems, present a more compact look at Eliza’s life, moving chronologically and illuminating her feelings with her own words. There were difficult times for the Church and for Eliza, and some periods of her life remain an undocumented mystery. Yet, despite the struggles and unanswered questions, what ultimately emerges is her indomitable spirit and unwavering faith.

The clear text is augmented by photos and historical scenes. Sources cited reflect the substantial scholarship that’s gone into this relatively compact volume. (Deseret Book 2013, 178 pages in hardcover, $27.99.)

For those who may not share my feminist proclivities or my discomfort in the kitchen, there are a couple of alternate offerings.

Six Sisters’ Stuff is a colorful, different kind of cookbook that offers ideas and simple crafts along with tasty recipes. The six sisters really are biological sisters, and they share favorite family recipes such as twice-baked potato casseroles, slow cooker meals, and food kids can help with, as well as fun stuff like “101 Fun, Easy, and Cheap Indoor Activities for Kids” and step-by-step directions for decorations.

The heavyweight paper cover has flaps that serve as bookmarks for this creative collection. (Shadow Mountain 2013, $21.99.)

Lion House Soups and Stews, new in the popular spiral-bound, handy-size series, is also a likely hit for anyone who enjoys the kitchen. Some 85 recipes — several updated and simplified from previous Lion House books — include all kinds of soups, stews, and chilis, as well as popular breads and rolls, compiled by Lion House baker Brenda Hopkin and executive chef David Bench. Some can be made in a slow cooker; many can be easily doubled or tripled. A bonus DVD has Hopkin and Bench demonstrating food prep and processes. (Deseret Book 2012, 138 pages, $19.99.)

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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