The summer is in full swing, it seems. And the calendar says it’s JULY! So I decided to share some thoughts about reading. I LOVE TO READ (in case you were wondering). I’m always reading several books at a time. Different times of day, different locations. And some I listen to. I read “serious” things in the morning. I read The Book of Mormon every year and love and cherish that book SO much. I “rotate” the other Standard Works, and I’m currently reading The Old Testament. I don’t think I’ve read it “clear through” more than about 7 times. Sometimes I smile – like when I read of the brothers, Huz and Buz (Genesis 22:21; I think they’re twins. I can’t help smiling!). Two other names that make me smile are sons of Benjamin: Muppim and Huppim (Genesis 46:21); maybe they’re also twins? Or this wise counsel (which I used a lot as a missionary): Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing (Deuteronomy 14:3).
OK… I assure you that I don’t read the scriptures just so I can find things to smile or laugh about. I’m reminded of so many incredible stories and examples. I’ll share just one here. It’s the reunion and reconciliation between Jacob and Esau after Jacob has served Laban for around 20 years. This is in Genesis 33. Jacob is nervous. He divides up his family and prepares MANY gifts for Esau. What happens next is a beautiful example of forgiveness and kindness. Esau sees Jacob and asks “What do you mean by all these gifts??” Jacob says he’s hoping to find grace from his brother, his twin. Verse 9: Esau: “I have enough, my brother; keep that thou has unto thyself.” Oh my . . . isn’t that beautiful! That touched me so deeply! To have enough – to know you have enough – is a gift, isn’t it. A spiritual gift. It’s like a thought I’ve shared quite frequently: “It is probably a better blessing to want less than it is to have more.” Another way to say it: “It’s a better blessing to need less than to want more.” Anyway, Jacob shares this after Esau’s sweet response: (Verse 10) “Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then [please] receive my present at my hand; for therefore I have seen thy face as though I had seen the face of God [!], and thou wast pleased with me.” He urges Esau to accept the gifts (Verse 11) “Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” (They both feel and say that they have enough and to spare – see Doctrine and Covenants 104:13-18). Jacob then urges Esau to take the gift, and he does. And they get ready to depart. Verse 12: “Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.” There is this acknowledgement: “the children are tender” and “the flocks and herds” have young … if they travel too fast, all the flocks will die. So: “you go first,” and then, in Verse 14: “I will lead softly” . . . . Oh, I just LOVE so MUCH of what is recorded in the Old Testament! And, of course, in ALL scripture!
Another book which I’ll probably finish today is The Crucible of Doubt by Fiona and Terryl Givens. Oh, I love the way they write, the way they share. I learn and feel so much! Another book by the two of them is one I love as well: The God Who Weeps. I recently finished The Contrite Spirit by Bruce and Marie Hafen, and what a beautiful book! It gave me SO much to think about. Also All That Was Promised, about the building of the St. George Temple and the settling of that area in the 1800’s. SO many sacrifices! SO many miracles! (I highly recommend the books I’m mentioning). I’ve begun one of my favorite books for the 5th of 6th time: The Infinite Atonement by Brother Tad R. Callister. If you’ve not yet read it, please consider doing so. The Atoning Sacrifice of the Savior is central to everything else about His gospel.
I’m reading a book by Marilyn Green Faulkner which is absolutely wonderful. It’s an amazing “mix” of humor and thought-provoking truths. The User-Friendly Book of Mormon. It has just recently been published, but some of you may have read it or heard about it. It’s delightful and delicious! “Timeless truths for today’s challenges.” On the back cover: “You’ve never read the scriptures quite like this. Ancient prophets can help with modern-day dilemmas, told through entertaining parables such as “Nephi and Netflix,” “Isaiah goes to girls’ camp,” “The brother of Jared’s guide to dating.” She writes about the Liahona and asks “How can I get one of these?” Don’t get the idea that this is a “funny book.” It’s NOT. (And don’t get the idea that she even knows I’m writing about her book!) But she has the ability to be creative in sharing truth and inviting us to love and search The Book of Mormon even more than we already do. Great insights are shared, there are many references, and she leaves space for the reader to add “Your stories and thoughts.” She asks many questions, like “Are you a spiritual geriatric?” “What’s a parent to do?” “Can we have it all?” “What do we expect from a prophet?” She shares many thought-provoking ideas, such as “The difference between God and Santa Claus,” “Control versus Influence,” “Your wrestling match with God,” “Be careful what you wish for.” I think you’d really enjoy this book. And MANY OTHERS TOO!!!
As I mentioned, I read “serious” things in the morning, including scriptures and the Ensign. In the evening I like mysteries and all kinds of other books to get my mind ready to settle down and sleep (ha). (Sometimes I choose a real “page-turner,” and I keep saying to myself “just one more chapter!”) The difference between now and when I was a child is that I don’t have to use a flashlight and read under the covers….
HAPPY SUMMER READING TO YOU!!