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BOOK PREVIEW: Ruth Chou Simons’ ‘Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship’

BOOK PREVIEW: Ruth Chou Simons’ ‘Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship’

“You are in the process of becoming. Every day is an opportunity to be shaped and formed by what moves your heart… drives your thoughts… captures your gaze. Is it any wonder, then, that what you behold matters in your day-to-day?” 

Transformation that results from setting our hearts and minds on Christ in the midst of our daily lives is the theme of Ruth Chou Simons’ beautiful new book Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship.

Published by Harvest House Publishers, the book has a release date of Sept. 10, 2019

Ruth Chou Simonsis a bestselling author, artist, entrepreneur and speaker. She has a gift for intersecting daily life with word and paint. Ruth’s first book, GraceLaced, won a 2018 Christian Book Award.

It is Simons’ desire to guide the reader to “be transformed into God’s likeness by looking intently on who He is.” She quotes Charles Spurgeon as saying, “Nearness to God brings likeness to God. The more you see God the more of God will be seen in you.”

Based on 1 Cor. 3:18, Beholding and Becoming is a unique, creative coupling of natural world illustrations and deep spiritual truths. More than the writing and illustrating of a book, this is crafted with thoughtful intentionality.

Written in Simons’ gentle and calming tone, all 16 chapters, each with their own timely topic, is a duet of “beholding” followed by a practical “becoming.” 

I savored each chapter. Addressing areas such as success and failure, rest and the idolization of productivity, and words and speech, Simons teaches that “the most ordinary days become extraordinary places of transformation when we hope in Christ instead of our circumstances.” 

Each section is just the right length. It’s short enough to fit into a busy daily schedule but spiritually meaty enough for one to ponder throughout the day.

This is a book that can be read several times. I found myself lingering longer and reflecting on each spiritual truth due to the visual beauty of the artwork. The illustrations include hand-lettered Scripture, quotes, poetry and hymn lyrics. I especially loved the glossary—a unique expression of Simons’ personal reflections regarding the painted images. A full-color Guided Companion is also available and serves as an interactive journal with study questions and additional Scripture verses. 

Beholding and Becoming is good for the soul. If you are in a season where your soul longs to be refreshed and nourished, this book is for you! With an attractive hard cover, it will make a beautiful coffee table book or gift reminding the reader that what you behold matters!

For more information, go to

Book Review: Transgender to Transformed by Laura Perry

Book Review: Transgender to Transformed by Laura Perry

Many people might think they may never be able to understand or empathize with a person struggling with sexual identity. Thanks to Oklahoma’s own Laura Perry, that is not the case. In her brand new book, Transgender to Transformed,former transgender Perry gives readers a unique inside view into her life—her thoughts, emotions, physical and spiritual journey. 

Published in 2019 by Genesis Publishing Group, Ray Comfort sums up the book well with his endorsement on the cover, “This book offers a living hope and healing for those struggling to find their true identity, and encouragement for families who love them.”  Everett Piper describes the book in the forward as “a story about becoming a new creation.” 

Laura Perry’s struggles began early in childhood, and for nearly a decade she identified as transgender. The book chronicles her heart-wrenching journey of how she made the transition to being a man, and describes the inner turmoil she endured for nearly 20 years.

Describing her life as “trapped in a prison cell” and a “walking contradiction,” she shares not only her story but the insights, wisdom and lessons gleaned through the journey.  She writes about intense spiritual warfare and the demonic influence she endured. Chronicling her ultimate deliverance and transformation, she states, “Like a butterfly that has emerged from the darkness of its cocoon, so too had I emerged from the darkness of a life engulfed in lies, transformed.”

Perry offers hope, words of wisdom and practical advice to families with loved ones struggling with sexual identity. She notes, “I do want to encourage you not to give up on speaking the truth to your loved ones. All my anger towards them (her parents) was because of conviction” and “despite the fact that I had rejected God and all the truth I had heard growing up in a Christian home and attending a Christian school, it was not in vain. Everything I had learned had planted the seeds that were just waiting to burst forth to life.” She notes, “Remember that you (as parents) are not their savior; you can only point them to the Savior.” 

Perry’s parents’ story is equally intriguing, and Perry’s mother Francine speaks about their journey and the lessons learned. They prayed fervently and never gave up. The words of gratitude Laura writes to her parents in the Acknowledgments section of the book are very moving. 

I believe that God has raised up a transformed and courageous Laura Perry “for a time such as this” and that God will use her as an ambassador to a community that desperately needs to hear the truth.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know her and her mother Francine. I write about my visit with them here

Laura’s countenance is marked with a unique peace and contentment. Her transformation is so radical that it can only be explained by the intervention of a faithful, loving and powerful God. Her life proves that there is hope.

She sums up her message, “While surgeons can reshape appearances, they can never duplicate the intricate internal function that God designed.”

Transgender to Transformed is well-written and easy to read. I felt like I was sitting across the table from her, sharing a cup of coffee while listening to her tell her story. Perry writes quite candidly, with vulnerability and raw emotion. Her passion and love for those dealing with this issue and their families is evident.

I recommend the book to anyone struggling with gender dysphoria, those seeking help in dealing with loved ones who are transitioning, and anyone desiring insight into the mind of a transgender in order to better understand and love them. 

Perry shares her story at churches and conferences, in articles and various programs. For more information about Perry and the book Transgender to Transformed, as well as Perry’s blogs, go to  

How a Minister’s Wife Determines Her Role in Ministry (Part 2)

How a Minister’s Wife Determines Her Role in Ministry (Part 2)

In light of the three considerations of calling, season and context for ministers’ wives, which could be found here, there are also some considerations to take into account.

Change is constant

Just when you think you’ve found your niche, it may all change! The church is growing and changing, and we also grow and change. Your season will change, and the context of the church will change.

God often calls us to shift where we’re serving to use us in different ways. Expect it! Oftentimes, in church plants and growing churches, leaders need to be identified and developed. Train up leaders then pass off responsibilities to them.

As the church grows, you’ll have to release some responsibilities—you may like that idea, or you may not. Your role in a growing church will change, and it’s important to be flexible.  A former pastor of mine jokingly talked about the Beatitude that Jesus forgot, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.”

Marriage, family and home are a priority

With the advances of women in leadership roles, this is very important. Your husband and family are your primary ministry. You are the only wife your minister-husband has and the only mother your preacher kids have. I believe that the best thing you can do for your church is to be a great wife to the pastor. The age-old wise advice of keeping priorities still applies today– God, husband, children and then ministry and work!

In The Church Planting Wife, Christine Hoover wisely addresses church planting wives, but her advice applies to all:

“Being the helpmate to a church planter (minister) does not mean that we are helpmates to the church. We are not married to the church. We are not the pastors. We are not on staff. We are not on call for the people of the church. We are not the catchall person for ministries or tasks that need a leader. We are not the ones who meet every need or fulfill every responsibility. Our attention goes first to our relationship with God and then to our husbands, children, homes and then to ministry and work outside the home…if we become a helpmate to the entire church, we will not be available to our husbands and children—the people who need us most. Being the helpmate to the church planter (minister) does not mean that we are as equally responsible for the church’s success or well-being as our husbands… our burden should be for the spiritual, physical and emotional health of our husband as he carries the burden for the spiritual, physical and emotional health of the church.”

What are some things your husband needs that only you can provide? Perhaps listening as a confidential sounding board, providing a home that is a safe haven, building rest and fun into the schedule, helping maintain health or providing intimacy?

Guard against exhaustion

Many ministry wives are exhausted. In an attempt to not be selfish, we run the risk of neglecting to take care of ourselves. While we are called to live sacrificially, the goal is to finish our lives well.

Taking care of ourselves is like stewarding our gifts. Guard against getting physically, emotionally and spiritually depleted. It is wise to take a long-term view. Ministry is a marathon not a sprint.

If exhausted, we run the risk of discouragement, bitterness or burning out. Exhaustion makes us vulnerable to temptation. Don’t let yourself get so busy or tired that you can’t love people, listen and be present.

Can you sustain your current pace and lifestyle for another five years? Ten? What are some things you can do to replenish?

Perhaps guard your quiet time, cultivate dependence on God, schedule some alone time for you and your husband and take care of your health? Encourage your husband to take his day off and take your vacation. Even if it’s a staycation, go visit other local churches.

In light of your calling, context and season of life, how can you make the best contribution in your church right now? Whatever it is,

“…work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).

How a Minister’s Wife Determines Her Role in Ministry (Part 1)

How a Minister’s Wife Determines Her Role in Ministry (Part 1)

“Megan Minister’s Wife” sits on the front row of her church on Sunday morning, deep in thought. She attempts to worship, yet she can’t help but reflect on her ambiguous role. In spite of giving her all, she is painfully aware of the fact that she is not measuring up to what is expected of her by the congregation and herself.

A minister’s wife finds herself in a unique position. She’s not on staff, but she’s more than a lay person. She’s in leadership, but she has no job description. She’s expected to be competent in a variety of areas of ministry but often with no training. In addition, she must deal with her own expectations and church members’ preconceived ideas of what a minister’s wife should be and do. 

There is a trend toward a new model for ministry wives, especially in church planting circles. Compared to 30 years ago, there is much more freedom for women to pursue their passions, take leadership positions and use their gifts, and many churches are recognizing and embracing that. Women are pursuing seminary degrees and taking theology and leadership courses. If handled Scripturally and with the proper balance, this adds value to the church and their husbands’ ministries.

For centuries, ministers’ wives have had role-related concerns. For years, I have searched for some sort of job description, but it does not exist. There is no biblical model, and thank God for it!

Christine Hoover with Grace Covers Me Ministry speaks of some general principles that can be applied to each unique woman: Calling, Season and Context. As they intersect, ministers’ wives can find freedom to fulfill their unique role and contribution:


What are your spiritual gifts, abilities and personality? What are you drawn to, and what do you like? What do you see within your church that God has you there for? How do you bring value to the ministry? What is the dream God has placed in you? Be yourself—not someone else. You have the gifts you need to do the job God wants you to do.


What season of life are you in? What are the ages of your children? Are you caring for babies? If so, your time will be limited, and that’s OK. You’re right where you need to be. Are the kids in school? Do you homeschool? Are you employed? When do you have blocks of time? All these factors will determine what you do and how much you can do. Remember, seasons are just that—temporary.


What is the current stage and setting of your church? What is your husband’s position, and how can you support him? What does your church need from you within the framework of your calling and season? What’s unique about the city or town in which you live? What circumstances do you deal with in your family? In nearly 35 years of ministry, my husband and I have served in three different pastorates: a church plant in a suburb of New Orleans, a young church in Stillwater, and a traditional church in Oklahoma City. Looking back, my service aligned with my calling, season and context.

There is great freedom when you give yourself permission to be you and rest in your calling, your context and season of life. Don’t be miserable. If you are miserable, your family and church will know it, and it will have a negative effect on your husband.

When we’ve determined and accepted the calling, context and season, it eliminates the temptation to compare ourselves to other women or other churches. God has made you unique. Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others who have a different calling, contextand season. We do ourselves a disservice when we compare ourselves to each other.

Have you thought about your unique calling? What do you see within your church that God has you there for?

To be continued…

Book Review: ‘Daily Grace-Practical Tools & Prayers for Moms’ by Stephanie Whitley

Book Review: ‘Daily Grace-Practical Tools & Prayers for Moms’ by Stephanie Whitley

Just in time for Mother’s Day is the release of the brand new devotional guide Daily Grace-Practical Tools & Prayers for Moms by Stephanie Whitley. This 64-page, soft-cover book is a collection of 55 brief devotions geared to mothers who are in the child-raising years. Each devotional topic includes practical tools and advice, a prayer and applicable Scripture verse.

Whitley is a native Oklahoman who is a student of parenting and passionate about encouraging mothers. A contributing writer for the Oklahoma-based Keepers Ministry, it was her popular social media posts that inspired the idea for the book. Whitley has been married for more than 20 years and has four boys.

Written in the first person, Whitley writes as if she’s affectionately writing to a friend. She covers a variety of topics including Recognizing a Child’s Gifts, Protecting Family Schedules and Parenting Strong-willed Children. My favorites were Surviving the After School Shuffle, Handling Difficult Stretches and Whispering Truth to Children.

In Whispering Truth to Children, Whitley writes, “They (children) can never get enough reminders such as these:

  • You are accepted and loved in this family no matter what.
  • God made you on purpose for a purpose.
  • God has given you special gifts and strengths to offer this world. You belong to this family. You belong.
  • God has a good plan for your life. He has countless plans for you.”

It is evident that Whitley has spent considerable time and prayer deliberately weighing and recording positive approaches to parenting in the Christian home. Mothers will be encouraged and equipped as they glean from the wisdom Whitley has gained through her own day-to-day practice.

Since 2001, Keepers Ministry has been encouraging women to understand the value of their role and to help them walk in contentment while carrying out their calling as found in Titus 2 and Proverbs 31. For more information, please visit