"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
January 27, 2016
New Reads for Renewed Perspective
by Laurie Williams Sowby

It’s not too late to resolve to keep up with the 2016 Sunday school course of study, and Covenant Communications managing editor Kathryn Jenkins Gordon makes it a whole lot simpler (and removes the excuses) with The Book of Mormon: Complete Commentary in One Volume. Really. The entire text of the Book of Mormon appears in this oversized book of 630 pages, with insightful commentary, quotes by Church leaders, and additional scriptural references interspersed in lighter print (maybe a little too light for some people’s eyesight). The all-inclusive package is $34.99 in hard cover.

Scott A. Livingston, my stake president as well as a communications guy and writing instructor, has put down some deep but accessible thoughts on forgiveness and responding in a Christlike way when others mistreat us. Beauty for Ashes (Covenant 2015, 165 pages in soft cover, $11.99) takes a phrase from Isaiah 61 which speaks of giving beauty back when we are offered ashes.

The subtitle, Learning from Christ How to Endure Life’s Greatest Pains, Sufferings, and Sorrows, summarizes what’s between the covers: scriptural accounts, anecdotes from personal experience, and quotes by Church leaders and authors underscoring the everyday relevance of the Atonement. Sensible, touching, and replete with application, this well-written book is a testament to the transformative power of letting the Atonement work in our lives as well as the lives of others as we return beauty for ashes.

Much of the pain we face in life is not of our own making; often, we suffer the consequences of someone else’s actions or decisions. Misti Stevenson examines this truth in a very personal way in her self-published account, He Delivered Even Me—He Will Deliver Even You. The ponderous title is a hint of the lengthy and sometimes repetitious narrative. Stevenson details her own private struggles as a teenager with OCD, a condition brought on by a controlling mother obsessed with the appearance of perfection. Although it’s a pertinent issue and there’s no doubt the author needed to tell the insightful story of her journey through darkness into the light, it could be more compelling in a fraction of the 324 pages (2013, soft cover, $14.99).

More readable (and fun to read) is Wain Myers’ blog-turned-book From Baptist Preacher to Mormon Teacher (Cedar Fort 2015, 134 pages in soft cover, $11.99). Co-authored by Kelly L. Martinez, the well-told story recounts Myers’ boyhood “calling” to preach the gospel, but he didn’t find out where until his now-wife introduced him to Mormon missionaries many years later. A little past halfway through the book, Myers trades storytelling for preaching, which isn’t nearly as fun but still worthwhile. Myers is now living in Salt Lake City and serving in the presidency of the Genesis Group, a social organization to support Black LDS members and their families. (See authorwainmyers.com for fireside dates featuring the author.)

Another Latter-day Saint with an unusual story to tell is Al Carraway. The title of her book, More than the Tattooed Mormon, gives some idea of the content that underscores the truth that there’s much more to a person than what you see on the outside (Cedar Fort 2015, 150 pages in soft cover, $18.99).

With boldness and humor born in a blog, the author tells the story of her conversion in Rochester, New York, at age 21 and the social and family backlash she faced afterwards. But worse was the pain she endured after moving to Utah and being shunned by Latter-day Saints who couldn’t quite fit her into their own concept of a “good Mormon.” The tattoos didn’t help, but Carraway’s goodness and sincerity triumphed. “I don’t blog so people will know me,” she writes. “I blog so people will want to know God and know with confidence that God loves them.” Her positive attitude and bright spirit have made her a popular speaker among audiences of all kinds as she shares the truth that people can change and no one should be judged for what they once were.

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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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