"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
May 20, 2015
Who's in Charge? New Books Remind Us
by Laurie Williams Sowby

Every once in a while, we all need some fresh perspective and a reminder of who’s really in charge as we grapple with the realities of life. Here are some new titles that may help readers approach challenges in different ways.

Lighten Up and Laugh is all about enjoying the journey. Humor columnist Kari J. Rich, self-described muumuu mom and drama mama, offers Musings of a Mormon Mom with personal tales of family life in all its crazy glory.

Topics range from newlywed spats to a 5-year-old’s “grand mal tantrum” to sending the firstborn off to college to dealing with an elderly parent, all in little vignettes that offer truth amidst the humor (Covenant Communications 2015, 160 pages in softcover, $13.99). It’s an insightful and entertaining read.

What parent couldn’t use a little more help? David A. Christensen, BYU-Idaho religion professor and dad to eight, puts his teaching and storytelling skills to work in Parenting Principles: 31 Teachings to Raise Children in Righteousness (Cedar Fort 2015, 170 pages in softcover, $14.99).

Using an engaging style and personal experiences to illustrate such topics as “Conspicuous Living” and “The Enduring Influence of Grandparents,” the author adds scriptures, quotes from Church leaders, and an inspirational parting thought.

Parents will find new tools and be reminded of their reliance on the Holy Ghost’s direction — for both themselves and their children. (My only complaint about this compact volume is the small book’s small print.)

I Can Do Hard Things with God presents Essays of Strength from Mormon Women, compiled by Ganel-Lyn Condie. This is not exactly light reading, opening as Condie relates how she came to terms with her sister’s suicide.

That is followed by lengthy, detailed first-person experiences from women dealing with the very real, very hard challenges of bipolar depression, a spouse’s mental illness, infertility, loss of a child, debilitating illness, divorce, bankruptcy, an autistic child, and other trials.

The overriding theme, however, is that God is with us in our adversities and sanctifies the struggle (Covenant 2015, 200 pages in soft cover, $15.99).

Stories of healing miracles under the hands of Matthew Cowley are almost legend, but author Breanna Bennett Olaveson gives them new life along with documentation in Mighty Miracles: Inspiring Stories of Elder Matthew Cowley, a Modern-Day Apostle (Covenant 2015, 107 pages in soft cover, $10.99).

Researching the stories has been somewhat of a passion for the author, who shares the exceptional experiences Cowley had as a young missionary and then mission president in New Zealand, and later as an Apostle.

Vignettes are drawn from personal accounts and correspondence. All demonstrate the role of faith and stand as examples of using God’s gifts to serve our fellow human beings.

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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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