Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review: Emily Freeman's Written On Our Hearts

Sitting down to write about this book, I have to wonder...how to write about this book? How to explain what it has meant to me?

I have to admit--I have a dichotomous relationship with the Old Testament. There are a lot of things that just don't make sense to me in the Old Testament. Sometimes I find my mind "checking out" because I'm not quite following the point of it all. I feel lost because I don't understand where they're coming from--my culture, laws, and customs are so different from theirs.

But there are some amazing things in the Old Testament as well! There are fabulous stories and moving poetry. Tales of heroism and faith. I had a desire to understand this set of honored scripture better, so when I was offered the chance to read Emily Freeman's new book, Written On Our Hearts, I snatched up the opportunity.

Here's the description from Deseret Book:

Official Book Description:
If you have ever found the Old Testament intimidating, you're not alone. The less-familiar history, themes, and language, coupled with the length of the book, make it a difficult read for many. But author Emily Freeman loves the Old Testament, and as she shares some of the wonderful things she has learned in her study of this book of scripture, you will find yourself coming to love it too.

Written on Our Hearts is not a commentary or an intensive doctrinal study. Instead, Emily writes about the stories of the Old Testament, stories of trusting and overcoming and enduring and believing. Within these stories are all kinds of applications for the challenges we face today.

"There will come a moment in your life," the author says, "when you or someone you love will struggle with a challenge so great you will wonder how you will make it through. In that moment you will long to better understand the Savior's role as the Deliverer, and to do that you must go to the book of scripture that describes that role the best—the Old Testament."

Discover the delivering power of the Lord yourself in the pages of this book—and experience the scriptures in a new, more personal way!

My Thoughts:
Because I was doing this review and I have several books coming up quickly on my schedule, I thought I'd just take a couple of Sunday afternoons and read the book in its entirety, front to back, and tuck it away on a shelf. That plan could have worked, but within the first couple of pages, I discovered I needed to treat this book a little differently. There really was no chronological story line, but there were characters to get to know. There was no dry historical background to fill in the gaps of my understanding so that magically it would make sense in my life; instead, there were present-day applications that made sense in a personal way.

I'll give just one example, early on in the book. You might have noticed that my blog has to do with diabetes occasionally. I found that Emily Freeman and I have something in common--a son with type-1 diabetes. One of the serious worries she had about her son has been on my mind as well. Listening as she explained how the Spirit whispered to her an application of the scriptures I hadn't considered has eased my own fears. And this book is full of pin-pricks of light, connections I made with the author, and moreover with the scriptures themselves.

I found that instead of drowning myself in stories about the Old Testament, I could sip from its pages as I needed to. Each chapter is but a page or two with real-life experiences and insights. I discovered that using it as a companion to reading the scripture passages, aided in my understanding.

It's not a book I've finished yet, but it is one I will always treasure. Like a glass of water, I will sip from it, enjoying each drop as I read the Old Testament and seek for my own modern-day understanding of what our brothers and sisters went through so long ago as they awaited the arrival of their Savior and I await His coming again.

Emily Freeman's book, Written On Our Hearts, is available at eret BooDesk in hardback and ebook versions.