For the past week I have been taking the “Hinckley Challenge” to read The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ in 97 days. So far, I’m ahead of schedule! I have read The Book of Mormon many times in my life. My mother would tell her children scripture stories from the time we were born. At night before bedtime she would gather us together and read from the Bible or The Book of Mormon. She would share her feelings about the scriptures as she sat on my bed tucking me in for the night. She would listen to my troubles and worries and often say “This reminds me of the story of Nephi..”, or “Do you remember the story of David and Goliath?..”, or “How did Jesus treat people who made fun of him?..”, or “Esther had to be very brave just like that”…and then we would talk about those stories and what we can learn from them.
I remember my mother holding me on her lap as we sat in her large rocking chair and listening to her tell me stories about her life, and her faith. These were special times, and I treasure them. Mother planted the seeds of the Gospel deep into my heart. For many years my mother was raising three small children on her own. She went through a divorce when I was age 5, my sister age 2 and my brother a baby. She was blessed to remarry a good man when I was 10 years old. However, during those five years of struggle, Mom held our little family together with a strength beyond her own.
Mom made sure that every Monday night was Family Night where we would study scriptures, play games, tell stories, or go on bike rides & walks, (and of course, always have treats!). She taught us the commandments of God, and she took us to church every Sunday. We knelt in prayer every day together in the morning and in the night. She also took the time to kneel at our bedsides and teach us how to pray, and would often listen to our prayers or pray with us individually. I am forever in debt to her selfless service and tireless teaching during those difficult days. I know now just how tired she must have been every day attending college, worrying over finances, trying to find small work projects, and facing hours of homework each night after her three children were finally asleep. Yet Mom always placed her role as mother, teacher and spiritual guide to her children as her first priority. We lived in meager student housing during those years on the University campus. Mother had to take food stamps and church assistance. We learned that this was a blessing from the Lord which could help us temporarily in order to become self-sufficient. As poor as we must have been then, I always felt rich. We had a cozy apartment to live in, food to eat, and clean clothing to wear. Most important, I knew my mother loved me, and we had a church family who also loved and supported me. I was always treated as someone important and valued. Our home was joyful, and blessed.
We had two large and beautifully illustrated volumes of scripture in our home that I treasured. They were two of my favorite books. I would put one in my lap and turn the pages slowly and carefully. One book was an illustrated Bible and the other an illustrated Book of Mormon. Sadly, I’m quite sure those particular volumes are out of print by now. They were absolutely beautiful. The drawings were masterful and captured the imagination. I never tired of hearing my mother read the stories, and as I grew older, I was able to practice my reading skills with the book. I recall most of the pictures even now. I loved the page of Noah standing on a large pile of wood with outstretched arms warning the people that a flood was coming and that they needed to repent of their sins. The large skeleton of his ship being constructed could be seen in the background sitting in the middle of a dry desert. The crowd of people below him were laughing and mocking and pointing at him indicating that he was a crazy man. On the next page, the animals were being herded onto the boat two by two, while dark storm clouds were gathering in the background.
Next came the illustration of Noah’s boat surrounded by flood waters, lightning was slashing the dark sky, and people could be seen huddled on rocks facing their imminent doom as the waters were rising, with nowhere to go. Many bodies were already in the water desperately trying to swim towards the boat…but it was too late. The doors were closed. The people had procrastinated their repentance and they had mocked the prophets warning. The day of reckoning had arrived as they were told. As I studied that picture, I would imagine the cold water rising around them, sucking them slowly down. I would then imagine Noah and his family and the animals warm and safe and dry inside the boat which God had blessed them with. I decided that Noah’s group must have been very sad to hear the crying of the people outside. But the boat was shut up tight against the storm, and it could not be opened. I realized very young that in order to be safe, it was critical to listen to God’s prophets, and take their warnings seriously!
In the Illustrated Book of Mormon there were detailed pen and ink drawings of each character. Lehi, Sariah, Nephi and the rest of their family were depicted journeying from Jerusalem. There was the prophet Abinadi, who sacrificed his life because he would not deny Christ. The righteous King Benjamin who taught his people to serve each other was shown working alongside them in the fields. There was the prophet Alma who baptized hundreds, and rescued them from a wicked king, and The Sons of Mosiah who embarked on a courageous mission to their enemies. There was wise King Lamoni, and the faithful servant woman Abish…along with hundreds of others!
One of my favorite drawings was of the prophet Mormon, who tirelessly compiled all of the records kept over the centuries, and carefully engraved an abridgement upon thin sheets of metal bound together, often called the ‘golden plates’. Before Mormon’s death, he entrusted everything to his son.
The name of Mormon’s son was Moroni (always illustrated very muscular). He finished engraving the last pages of the book with his own words of faith and prophecy. After watching all of his people die in a great war, he wandered alone, hiding from the enemy. He saw in vision, our generation. He knew that we would be the ones to read the book which his father had abridged, and he was carrying and protecting. He wrote a promise to all who would read the book someday, that if they studied it prayerfully, they would know its truth. In approx. 421 A.D. Moroni buried the plates deep in the ground of a hillside called Cumorah.
On Sept 21, 1823 Moroni would return as an angel to visit a boy named Joseph Smith, who was the one God had chosen to translate the ancient plates into English. (Read Joseph’s personal account) Moroni gave the plates to Joseph in 1827. The book was published in 1830. To honor Moroni’s father, who had devoted his entire life to the abridgement of this extensive ancient scripture, it was titled The Book of Mormon.
Within my family’s illustrated copy of this book, there were a few color paintings included, which were very beautiful by artists such as Arnold Freiberg, and Minerva Teichert. The crowning page of the book was the illustration of Jesus coming to visit the people of the Americas. He is shown decending from the sky within a bright light, and the people looking up in wonder. They had survived 3 days of complete darkness and terrible storms and earthquakes, which was the sign that Christ had been crucified in Jerusalem. Now, as a Resurrected being, he was visiting his people on the American continent as promised for centuries. I would gaze at this picture over and over again. I imagined the fear that the mothers and fathers and children had endured during the earthquakes, and three days of darkness – which was described as so thick no-one could even see their hand in front of their face. Now, the hope and joy they felt at this moment. Jesus was there in person! He decended to earth, and he showed them the marks of the wounds in his hands and feet and side. He then called each person to come forward and touch these marks, and to be embraced individually in his arms. They bathed his feet with their tears, and he blessed them and comforted them. He healed their sick and injured, he taught them his gospel, and he organized his church.
On another page was a picture of all the little children being surrounded by bright angels, with Jesus in the middle cradling them in his arms and at his side. I imagined what it must have been like to be there, surrounded by those angels and to have Jesus holding me. My heart filled with joy. I knew that someday, I would also be embraced by Jesus. These precious books held the promise that our Lord, Savior and Redeemer will come to earth again.
The first time I read the Book of Mormon on my very own from cover to cover was when I was 7 years old. My Primary teacher at church gave me my very own copy, and she had signed her testimony inside the cover. She asked me to try to read it before my baptism day, which would be once I turned 8 years old. I remember the excitement I felt holding my very own copy in my hands. I eagerly started reading it. I enjoyed reporting to her each week what page I was on, and what story I was reading about. She would smile and give words of encouragement, or offer her thoughts. At that young age, I certainly did not understand all of what I was reading – however I did understand the importance of the book. I felt great love for the prophets who had written it anciently just for me to be able to read hundreds of years later. I had great love for the prophet Joseph Smith for sacrificing so much to translate it, and eventually enduring persecution and murder. I loved the stories. I felt the truth of the book. As I have grown and matured and re-read this book’s pages many times the importance, love and gratitude has grown, strengthened and deepened.
I had the opportunity to read The Holy Bible continuously through my life, and I read it from cover to cover during my High School years. Then, I did an intensive study-abroad program to the Holy Land during my freshman year in college. I had read this book of scripture many times throughout my life, however this time was an intensely powerful experience. There is nothing like reading about an event while sitting exactly where it happened! I literally walked where Jesus walked, and I felt his presence with me.
Places like the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Golgotha, the Mount of Olives, Jericho, Nazareth, Mount Sinai, the Red Sea, Egypt, the River Jordan…are not just words on a page any longer. They are all vivid in my mind and hold deep personal memories for me. I have joy in the gift and power of the Bible.
Once more I am embarking on a scripture journey. I am beginning with an intensive reading of The Book of Mormon, and then I will continue on with my scriptural studies which include the Bible. I have placed a small copy of The Book of Mormon in my purse. Since I take the bus to and from work now – I have nearly 2 hours each day at my disposal to devote to reading the book. One more reason to be thankful for the bus! (and indirectly, I suppose, thankful for high gasoline prices)! I am “feasting upon the word” each day, and loving this experience!
The Book of Mormon, like The Bible, contains a record of God’s dealings with a part of the House of Israel. The book begins with the family of a prophet named Lehi who leaves Jerusalem in approx. 600 B.C. and eventually journeys by ship to the New World – or what we now call the American Continents. A great civilization grows. Prophets among this society teach that a Messiah will be born in Bethlehem and that He would be the Savior of the world. They warn of destruction if the people do not repent and keep God’s commandments just as the biblical prophets were doing in the eastern continent at the same time, which we read in the Bible. In the Book of Mormon there is adventure and wars and miracles which span from aprox. 600 B.C. to 400 A.D. As I have mentioned, the wonderful event of Jesus Christ visiting the people in the Americas begins in 3 Nephi 9 . This ancient record was preserved and translated for us by the power of God. It is a treasure
Some of you have not had the opportunity to read this book of scripture in your lifetime yet. I hope that you will do so very soon. It was written for our generation. Many people sacrificed their lives so that you can read it! The Book of Mormon has been translated into several different languages. Chances are, your native language is available. Here is a link where you can request a free copy. You can read a short Introduction and Summary of the book in English HERE. Some of you have read this book before, but perhaps it has been a while. I encourage you to open the pages up again, or read on-line. Start today!
The Book of Mormon and The Bible have been the most important books in my life. Together, they stand as witnesses of Jesus Christ, and as powerful guides. Within their pages are stories of hope and courage. We can now read the words of prophets on two continents foretelling the birth of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Then, we read the fulfillment of those prophecies.
Within these sacred pages we read of Christ’s birth, his life, his miracles and his words, his suffering for our sins, his death and his resurrection from the grave. We read of Christ’s great love for all the children of the earth – and his visit and ministry to both the Eastern and the Western Hemispheres. Just as in Noah’s day, we are experiencing a dangerous flood which threatens to destroy us. This time, however, it is not a physical flood of water which covers the earth, but a flood of evil and temptation and confusion. The scriptures tell us that these are the last days of the earth before the Savior returns again. Will we be prepared? These books help us build our personal “ark” of protection around us, and find a haven from the turmoil. The words of God’s prophets are waiting for us to read and to hear, and to heed.
Your picture of baby MoSop and your telling of your mother holding you in a rocking chair while telling you stories brings back sacred memories for me. Some of my earliest memories are of mother rocking me to sleep at night while playing records of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I especially recall Finlandia by Sibelius. One of my favorites MoTab CDs today is Peace Like a River with the new rendition of Be Still My Soul. Those same memories of mother taking the time to rock me to sleep come back each time I hear it.
It was later in that same rocking chair or on a nearby couch that I first read the Book of Mormon with and to my mother. I was just learning to read and mother, as a new convert, had never read the Book before. We read it together for the first time. She had me skip “And it came to pass…” every time it came up because it seemed to interrupt the flow of the story. Ah, sweet memories of sacred music, mother and the Book of Mormon. You hit them all in this post. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading it.
Tim – thank you so much for sharing your own sweet memories and story.
Thanks for this excellent description of your love for the scriptures. It was good to read about your wonderful mother. A mother’s monetary value is meaningless in the big scheme of things. Her love of the scriptures is priceless and everything.
I’ve been kind of running ragged, and I just got around to reading this post. I think this is one of my favorites. Your testimony of these sacred books has given me some much-needed peace amd brought back some beautiful memories of our family scripture time when I was growing up. If I have accomplished anything good in my life, it is because my parents instilled in me a love of the Book of Mormon from a very early age, and I could never doubt its truth.
Once again thank you for an excellent opportunity for a non-Mormon to see what your life is like being raised in a Mormon home. As always your post is of exceptional quality. I find myself actually coveting the same ability for countless others from the diverse churches to be able to so clearly allow all of us to see how their living faith actually looks and feels like in human experience.
May the God of peace continue to use you as a musical missionary for the Mormon faith.
John Paul Todd
S. Faux, Sweet and John Paul,
I cannot thank you enough. It is comments such as these which fortify my faith, and make my blogging incredibly meaningful. I am truly humbled that each of you would take the time to read this (long) post, and found something of worth for your own soul. To echo John Paul – May the God of peace continue to bless all of us on our life journey.
Follow the link below to ebay, this may be the book from your childhood!
KIDS Illustrated Stories From The Bible
With love and blessings
I wrote about Mormon… and thought I would share. How do you go about using the pictures on your site. Is this considered for personal use? How about on a blog? I would love to have his picture on my blog…
Mormon- Quick to Observe
The plates had been hidden and reserved
And promised to me, for I was quick to observe
Yet, being but a sober child of ten
I was told to wait to see and engrave on them
And, now years later, I make a record
Of the things I have seen and heard
I have opened my eyes and ears to my day
And of God’s commandments, I have been quick to obey … (14 years later)
David A. Bednar,
Quick to Observe
Ensign, Dec 2006, 30–36
From a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on May 10, 2005.
All of us have learned important lessons from the central characters in the Book of Mormon. As we read about and study the lives of Nephi, Laman, Alma, King Noah, Moroni, and many others, we discover things we should and should not do, and we realize more completely the kinds of people we should and should not become.
In my study of the Book of Mormon I have been especially impressed with a particular description of Mormon, the principal compiler of the Nephite record. The specific depiction of this noble prophet to which I would direct our attention is contained in the first five verses of the first chapter of Mormon:
“And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon.
“And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age … ) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe;
“Therefore, when ye are about twenty and four years old I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; …
“And behold, … ye shall engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that ye have observed concerning this people.
“And I, Mormon, … remembered the things which Ammaron commanded me” (Mormon 1:1–5; emphasis added).
Please note that the root word observe is used three times in these verses. And Mormon, even in his youth, is described as being “quick to observe.” As you study and learn and grow, I hope you also are learning about and becoming quick to observe. Your future success and happiness will in large measure be determined by this spiritual capacity.
Please consider the significance of this important spiritual gift. As used in the scriptures, the word observe has two primary uses. One use denotes “to look” or “to see” or “to notice”—as we learn in Isaiah 42:20: “Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not” (emphasis added).
The second use of the word observe suggests “to obey” or “to keep”—as is evident in the Doctrine and Covenants: “But blessed are they who have kept the covenant and observed the commandment, for they shall obtain mercy” (D&C 54:6; emphasis added).
Thus when we are quick to observe, we promptly look or notice and obey. Both of these fundamental elements—looking and obeying—are essential to being quick to observe. And the prophet Mormon is an impressive example of this gift in action.