“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?”
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
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
For more information, go
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
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,
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 transgendertotransformed.com.
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?
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).
“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
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…
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.
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.
Whispering Truth to Children, Whitley writes, “They (children) can never get
enough reminders such as these:
are accepted and loved in this family no matter what.
made you on purpose for a purpose.
has given you special gifts and strengths to offer this world. You belong to
this family. You belong.
has a good plan for your life. He has countless plans for you.”
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 keepersministry.com.