Ten Books to Give for Mother’s Day
By Catherine K. Arveseth

Here’s my top ten LDS books for Mom – ranked from newest to oldest. With Mother’s Day less than a week away, maybe this will help you pick the right book for some of those special women in your life.

Dance with Them
Edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper

Hot off the press! This book is available for purchase through Segullah books. (Check Segullah’s website here) Written as a sequel to Soper’s first anthology, The Mother in Me (see below), this book is written for mothers with school-age children. If you loved The Mother in Me, you will find Soper’s second anthology just as poignant and moving.

Thirty stumbling mothers share glimpses of grace. That is the book’s subtitle. It’s for mothers who find themselves “stubbing toes and bonking heads amidst their best efforts and good intentions” writes Soper.

The pre-teen and teenage years are challenging. They require just the right amount of parent proximity. This collection of essays and poetry gives you thirty women’s perspectives on sweaty topics like independence, control, tolerance, intimacy, expectations, safety, trust, acceptance, boundaries, conflict, “and perhaps most of all” says Soper, “the difficult reality that both mothers and children must learn through experience.”

Soper and her staff of gifted writers propose that the key to navigating these years with success is to dance with your children. “When they push, you pull. Move with them. Make it a dance, not a tug-a-war” recounts contributor Sharlee Mullins Glenn.

Dance with Them reminds us that, as mothers, we must listen, feel, then move when the Spirit moves us. That is the beauty of the dance.

Hands-down, Soper’s book is my number one pick for mommies this year. Look for a full review on Meridian later this week.

Beloved Emma: The Illustrated Life Story of Emma Smith
By Lori E. Woodland and Liz Lemon Swindle

While serving a mission in Nauvoo I came to love Emma deeply. Yes, in some ways she was mysterious and full of contradictions, but who can contest that her life was loaded with devastating, heart-rending tragedy? I will forever revere her as “an elect lady.”

Woodland ‘s work, a collaboration with artist Liz Lemon Swindle, is an attempt to dispel myths and celebrate what first-person accounts tell us about Emma. She explores Emma Hale Smith’s trials and triumphs, sorrows and strength, fears and faith. Raised in a well-respected family, Emma gave up everything to marry a poor, uneducated farm boy. Her unwavering support of the Prophet Joseph through intense persecution and suffering is legendary, and although she lived in relative comfort and security in her later years, Emma’s life continued to be laced with heartache.

This well-documented narrative provides a personal glimpse into the life of a woman who remains one of the most misunderstood women in Church history today. With beautiful full-color illustrations by renowned artist Liz Lemon Swindle, the story is told using quotes from diaries and letters written by those who knew Emma. Readers will gain valuable insights into the remarkable life and character of Emma Hale Smith.

The Remarkable Soul of a Woman
By Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Who can forget the inspiring talk President Uchtdorf gave two years ago at the general Relief Society meeting? The one where he made us feel like a million bucks – like we were oozing with talent – like we had so much good to offer the world!

This little book is an adaptation of that talk, mingled with beautiful black and white photography.

At at time when change, challenges, and checklists seem to weigh us down, President Uchtdorf’s message can assuage the tired soul, move us to create, and fill us with light. “Through the things you create and by your compassionate service, you are a great power for good” stated President Uchtdorf.

I loved re-reading his talk in this format. It is the perfect gift for any woman on mother’s day.

The Promise of Enough
By Emily Freeman

In this wonderful book, illustrated by Simon Dewey, Emily Freeman helps readers apply the story of the loaves and fishes to their own lives. An intriguing step by step assessment – Freeman’s book is a spiritual journey towards understanding the doctrine of abundance. “Abundance is not defined by what we own. Instead, abundance is a way of life” writes Freeman.

Freeman identifies seven principles that will help us gain perspective on the concept of true abundance: understanding God’s will, recognizing your potential, giving all you have, letting obedience lead to belief, remembering gratitude, learning contentment, and trusting that Christ’s love surpasses all understanding.

Readers will discover “the promise of enough” and the miracle of “some to spare” within the everyday moments of our lives.

Filled with scriptures, anecdotes, poems, and analogies, Freeman’s book is rich with wisdom. A relevant and insightful book in times of financial turmoil.

Change your Questions, Change your Life
By Wendy Watson Nelson

I’ve never given deep consideration to the power behind a question and where it can lead us – especially if we learn to ask better questions. This book, however, got me thinking. It reads like a colorful and bright text-book, with points to consider and is extremely thought-provoking.

Wendy Watson Nelson explores this concept of “asking” with seven questions she believes can change your life.

1. What is on my premortal list of things to do while on earth?

2. What is the one question I most need to have answered from the scriptures today?

3. What are three words to follow for a great life?

4. Whose agenda is this supporting?

5. If I were to pray for and picture the Holy Ghost beside me, how would I manage this difficult situation?

6. How can I be more of my true self at the end of this experience?

7. What do I know to be true?

This book invites serious reflection and should be read with journal and pen in hand. Watson masterfully guides you along, helping you see why certain questions weaken our faith and others invite the spirit of revelation to flow freely. She also teaches how to interact with others by asking good questions – ones that will strengthen relationships, demonstrate compassion and express a desire to understand.

The wisdom of this process (and Watson’s book) is that Watson doesn’t supply the answers. Instead, she allows for the Lord to answer your questions. What could be more powerful?

Women of the Old Testament
By Camille Fronk Olson

I’m going to say a little bit more about this book if you don’t mind – because I am love, love, loving it! If you are looking for a complementary volume to your study of the Old Testament, this is it!

Each of Camille Fronk Olson’s books has impacted me deeply. But this book is unparalleled in the scope of its content and the beauty of its presentation. Olson, one of BYU’s most respected scholars, collaborated with artist Elspeth Young for this project.

Young was first inspired to paint biblical stories in 2002 while attending one of Olson’s classes at BYU. Together, with her father and brother, they have created some phenomenal artwork. Maps and sketches that support the text as well as full-color images of Young’s magnificent paintings depicting twenty Old Testament women Olson writes about. Young used the women in her life as models and has written about each painting in an appendix of the book.

Sometimes our lack of knowledge about customs, history, languages or geography can impede our understanding of scripture. This is where Olson offers an incredible amount of illumination. She places each woman in her cultural and geographical context, offering details about marriage customs, travel, family life, the work of women in those times. She makes the stories vivid and real while drawing readers to important points that teach God’s doctrine.

Women who usually linger in the shadows of the Bible are brought to life in this work. “Women were not invisible in those ancient days” writes Olson. So she focuses on many remarkable women who usually go unnoticed – like Hagar, Huldah, Abigail, and the widow of Zarephath. Chapters as also written about the revered and well-known wives of the patriarchs like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah. “No two are alike” observes Olson.

“Because no text (that we have found),” writes Olson, “has been created by a woman, we are left to find women’s voices amid the narratives and observations of men.” Many of these women are types of Christ. Many of them teach the important role of women and how God uses women to accomplish His purposes.

When we consider the scriptural message through the experiences of women, we find that many women should be added to our list of outstanding men as examples of people who inspire us to greater discipleship.

Olson’s dream for the book is to encourage all its readers to share insights gleaned through personal scripture study and develop greater confidence in studying the Old Testament. She says, “We must access their stories ourselves – not wait for them to be retold to us in a lesson.” Olson’s book is dedicated to her granddaughter Kate, and a new generation of women who will know and love the scriptures.

The Mother in Me
Edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper

Moms with a literary heart will find this book absolutely golden. Edited by Kathryn Soper, Editor in Chief of Segullah – a journal for Latter-day Saint women, The Mother in Me is a collection of essays and poems about growing into motherhood. Contributing writers are members of the Segullah staff – twenty-nine Latter-day Saint women from all over the states who write about the reality of mothering young children from pregnancy through kindergarten. They explore the complexities, hardship, humor and joy of family, self and faith.

Each essay or poem is intimate and personal in its perspective on motherhood. From miscarriage and infertility to the pain of stillbirth and the miracle of adoption, these women write openly and reflectively about expectations, disappointments, surprises and unconditional love – all wound together in the divine truth that motherhood matters. “Not just in the sentimental ways we talk about on Mother’s Day” writes Soper, “but in the gritty, lovely, everyday realities of life.”

These women write out of profession and passion. You will laugh aloud. You will cry pangs of understanding and cling to your children with changed intensity. The exhaustion of newborn nights and busy toddlers, the self-doubt as a first-time mother, and the ever-present dirt of domesticity – it’s all there. Intermixed with the exhilarating joy of one reciprocal connection – mother and child intertwined, dependent on each other.

Even in the face of loss, heartache and endless work, these women have found beauty. Their prose and poetry capture the unpolished dynamic flow of motherhood, the delights and sorrows, as well as the development of soul that happens along the way. The more you read, the more you will want to carve out time to preserve your own memories and mothering moments.

A Mother’s Book of Secrets
By Linda Eyre and Shawni Eyre Pothier

This fabulous mother-daughter team (Linda – mother of nine, Shawni – mother of five) share wonderful ideas on making motherhood magnificent and meaningful. Their book is brimming with joyful moments, laughter, a healthy number of reality-checks, and hands-on tested advice. Included among the story-telling and “secrets” are enchanting full-color photographic portraits taken by Shawni. Pothier’s work is captivating, her use of light and perspective stunning. I loved the undiluted joy in each image, the faces of her own children (both happy and sad), the love of family, siblings, and parents – raw and full of emotion. Her work radiantly captures the creativity and magic of childhood.

This book is pefect for Grandmothers. They relate so well to Linda’s perspective (now a grandmother) and love the photography. My Mother raised us (her six children) with the Eyres in tow, reading every book they wrote, implementing a myriad of their suggestions, teaching us joy, and giving us all she had with Eyre encouragement ringing in her ears. For this reason, she poured over A Mother’s Book of Secrets, and loved every page.

Pothier takes her mother’s advice (which is excellent), but molds it to meet the needs of her family, knowing her husband and children may need a variation on a certain theme or a more individualized approach. This makes the book particularly real and applicable.

The book is organized into five parts: Look for Light in the Trenches, Have an Organized Offense, Analyze, Kids are Like Puzzles, and Give Ownership. As I read, I grasped onto a number of good “secrets” I wanted to implement.

Pothier’s youngest daughter Lucy was recently diagnosed with a rare syndrome called Bardet Biedl, which, among other things, will cause blindness between the ages of 9 and 15 unless new research finds a way to intervene. In her behalf, the authors, will donate all royalties from the book to the Foundation for Blind Children and other research organizations that are working on her issues. To learn more about the “I love Lucy” project, click here.

By Maria Covey Cole

I have nothing but praise for this book. For an in-depth review, click here. Cole made a contribution of inestimable worth by identifying the quality most women are looking for but do not realize is there for the taking. Her book is about being content “with the things the Lord has allotted us” (Alma 29:3). And finding that contentment in motherhood. She writes,

Over the course of many years and many conversations, I have found that the subject of contentment is near and dear to the hearts of women – especially mothers. Yet this feeling tends to elude us all too frequently. Often, women don’t articulate the feelings of discontentment they may have but rather allow them to simmer beneath the surface until they finally boil over in frustration. To make it okay to talk about finding contentment validates these very real feelings…and indicates two things: (1) One has to look for contentment; and (2) Contentment is there for the finding (2).

Contentment is for all mothers, especially those with young or teenage children. It was spilling over with such strong, sound and selfless thought, I’ve shared it with my sisters, mother, and friends.

I am a Mother
By Jane Clayson Johnson

This was my first favorite mothering book. The first piece of literature I read that encouraged women to own the role of mother without apology. Jane Clayson Johnson, respected journalist and previous co-host for “The Early Show” on CBS wrote
I Am a Mother, soon after her decision to leave CBS. It was a decision that surprised her colleagues in New York and half of America. She left the world of journalism to become a mother. In this book, Johnson, now married and with two children, talks about something that every mother needs to know – that motherhood matters. She calls upon her own experience to enlighten and encourage mothers. Hers is a voice we need to hear – someone who had all the choices most people only long for, and opted for what she considers the most important thing.

So much of our society is about measuring success,” she said. “I closed that deal, won that case, got that contract. If we can’t measure it, we can’t value it. As a mother, you can’t see the results of your work for years. So much of it is intangible, but that does not mean that it is any less important than any kind of job or title of any kind. With this book I wanted to put my stake in the ground to say mothering matters. It is more important than anything else we’ll ever do as women.”

This book changed my perspective on mothering in a huge way. It changed how I conversed about it with others, how I felt about myself, and made me embrace my children with greater joy and gratitude.

Click here to read more about Johnson.

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