(Review) Three books by Ruth Chou Simons





Publisher and Publication Date: Harvest House Publishers. 2017.
Genre: Art. Christian devotional.
Pages: 224.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Christian readers who love art and devotional material.
Rating: Excellent.
Product dimensions: 8 x 1 x 10 inches .
Amazon link



garden of truth

Publisher and Publication Date: Harvest House Publishers. 2018.
Genre: Art. Christian Devotional.
Pages: 120.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Christian readers who love art and devotional material.
Rating: Very good. My least favorite only because it’s small (5.3 inch width by 7.1 inch length.) However, it’s a lovely book and compliments the trio.
Amazon link


Publisher and Publication Date: Harvest House Publishers. 2019.
Genre: Art. Christian devotional.
Pages: 224.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Christian readers who love art and devotional content.
Rating: Excellent. This book is my favorite of all three. It’s also the first one I bought which led me to buy all three.
Dimensions of the book: 7.6 x 1 x 9.1 inches.
Amazon link 

The Amazon links show illustrations of all the books.
All three are amazing.
They are beautiful to read all the way through from the first page to the last.

Beholding and Becoming addresses issues like:
God as the Creator,
learn to live the life we have,
our treasures,
the words we speak.

You can find the author @ GraceLaced. 





(Review) Anne Bradstreet by D. B. Kellogg


Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas Nelson. 2010.
Genre: Christian Nonfiction. Biography. Poetry.
Pages: 192.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: Readers of poetry.


The first thing I want to state about this book is it is a brief look at Anne Bradstreet’s life and poetry. Do you want to read more about Anne Bradstreet? I am currently reading another book about her and will post on the review soon. The title is Anne Bradstreet: The Works of Anne Bradstreet. Edited by Jeannine Hensley.
Christian Encounters is a series of nonfiction biography books on historical figures. Christian Encounters is published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing company. Examples of other books are Jane Austen, Sergeant York, Saint Patrick and John Bunyan.

Anne Bradstreet was born in Northampton, England, 1612. She had smallpox as a young girl. She’d been educated well. She married at age 16; and, two years later Anne, and husband, Simon Bradstreet, and other family left England for the new land of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The year was 1630.
Bradstreet was a poet who wrote for pleasure. She wrote to express herself and the world she lived in. She was a Puritan, and, through her poetry we understand how a Puritan woman felt about life. She is considered the first published female poet in America.
The book creates an appetite to read another book about Anne Bradstreet. This is why I ordered from Amazon the second book: The Works of Anne Bradstreet.
Anne Bradstreet, a Christian Encounter shares about Puritan life. Its culture, church service, clothing, medical treatments, law, and its philosophy in general. The book doesn’t share detailed information about the sea crossing. The emphasis is on after the arrival, the other places they lived and life in general for Bradstreet.
A few lines of her poetry is included. My favorite is To My Dear and Loving Husband. It shows Anne and Simon had a close and loving marriage. It was affectionate and tender.
An undated poem, Contemplations, focuses on the Creator God and His creation.
“I wish not what to wish, yet sure thought I,
If so much excellence abide below;
How excellent is he that dwells on high?
Whose power and beauty by his works we know.”
The book edits the poem. The original is 33 stanzas. To read the complete poem: Poetry Foundation.
Chapter eight in the book is about Anne Hutchinson. She was a rebel with an interesting history. In brief, this chapter explains her life and circumstances.
Over-all the book is enjoyable and an easy read. It definitely left me wanting more. This is a solid first choice, but not a final choice on Anne Bradstreet.

(Review) Safe and Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles by David Powlison


Publisher and Publication Date: New Growth Press. September 16, 2019.
Format: Kindle e-book.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Spiritual warfare.
Pages: 160.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Audience: Christian readers who want to learn how to combat spiritual battles.
Rating: Excellent.

For more information: New Growth Press.




Author Information:
David Powlison, MDiv, PhD, (1949–2019) was a teacher, counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He wrote many books and mini-books, including Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context, Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness, Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken, God’s Grace in Your Suffering, and Safe and Sound. David was also the editor of The Journal of Biblical Counseling.
Link for bio at The Journal of Biblical Counseling.

A video from one of my favorite interviews of Powlison. He is speaking on Borderline Personality Disorder.

Safe and Sound by best-selling author David Powlison guides readers to see the normality of their struggles with themselves, the world around them, and the powers of darkness.
Counselors tend to be interested in what they can easily describe: psychological dynamics, social influences, and physiological givens. But how does the uncanny power of darkness fit in with the more accessible factors in a person’s life?
By carefully unpacking Ephesians 6 with vivid case studies and biblical wisdom, Powlison helps readers humanize those struggles and bear the relevance of the love of God in Christ for those struggles.
In this helpful guide, Powlison addresses many questions with gospel answers regarding the reality of spiritual warfare, including “What is spiritual warfare?” and “How does Ephesians disciple us in spiritual warfare?”
Safe and Sound presents Ephesians as a book about our conflict with darkness—within ourselves, with other people, and with the spiritual forces of evil. Powlison demonstrates how the message of Christ’s triumph over all that is evil, dark, and deadly rings true, and how spiritual warfare is our participation in the Lord’s cosmic war with darkness.
To stand up against evil, Powlison encourages readers to pray pointedly and listen to Scripture intently, standing with other brothers and sisters in Christ and relying on the strength God himself gives.

My Thoughts:
I’ve met people who believe every bad thing that happens in life is because of spiritual warfare. This includes physical battles like cancer or other diseases. I believe bad things happen because we are imperfect humans and live in an imperfect world. But to go so far as to say all bad things are because of spiritual warfare, I’ve paused at that. This has been a good book to read. It’s good, because it’s made me think and consider something I may have been wrong about.
This is the first book I’ve read by David Powlison. I’ve read short books written by him. I’ve watched videos of him teaching on a counseling topic. The first thing I notice is his humility. He is also a person who is wise and purposeful about his speech. I admire people with these character traits. It makes me want to lean in closer to listen.

Some examples of points he made that were important:
•Every moment of our life is spent in a battle for lordship of our lives. Who we will serve?
•Satan’s attacks are untruths about God.
•The main Bible passage is Ephesians 6:10-20, but other passages are used. For example, John 8:43-44; 1 John 5:19; Ephesians 2:1-3; Isaiah 59; 2 Peter 1:1; and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
•Anxiety is a lie. A lie about everything that we perceive as something to worry about.
•Thankfulness and gratitude is at the heart of the counterattack in spiritual warfare.
•A chapter on the occult and exorcism. “A person’s sins are dealt with through repentance.” He disagrees about the use of exorcisms. He believes in focusing on the heart of the person.

This book is deeply personal for Powlison. During the writing of the book, Powlison knows he has cancer. He doesn’t know how much longer he will live. In fact, he died this past June. He expresses that he had moments of escapism and he’s tempted to be discouraged. When a person is transparent about their struggles, we identify with them in some way, because we all have struggles in this life. I’m thankful for this book. I’m thankful for authors who share their tears.




(Review) The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller

The Meaning of Marriage
Publisher and Publication Date: Penguin Books. First published 2011.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Marriage.
Pages: 352.
Source: Self purchase.
Rating: Good.
Audience: A basic book on Christian marriage with a brief look at singleness.


Timothy Keller

Goodreads page for Timothy Keller (list of books, bio, etc.)

If someone were to ask me to explain this book in brief, I’d sum up The Meaning of Marriage as a Bible based book that gives the basics of a Christian marriage. The topics in the book are things to work towards in a marriage. This book is not helpful for people who are having marriage problems. This is not a self-help book.
The Meaning of Marriage is explained as a series of sermons that Keller has arranged and edited to a book. His wife is a big help with sharing stories from their marriage. Kathy has written chapter six, “struggling with the difference in gender roles between men and women.” Page 192. This chapter is titled, “Embracing The Other.”

A complete list of the chapters:
One-The Secret of Marriage
Two-The Power for Marriage
Three-The Essence of Marriage
Four-The Mission of Marriage
Five-Loving the Stranger
Six-Embracing the Other
Seven-Singleness and Marriage
Eight-Sex and Marriage

My Thoughts:
Well, I have many thoughts. Before I begin, I’d like to share my age, how many years I’ve been married, and my thoughts on marriage.
♥Age 55.
♥Married 37 years.
♥Marriage is as diverse, complicated, and messy as the people who are living it. And it doesn’t matter whether the people are Christian or not. Marriage is hard.
One of the great things about being 55 is I’ve had enough life experiences, and have observed enough people, to realize I will never have a grasp on fully understanding people. It just cannot be done. This includes my own husband.
Recently, I surveyed me, friends, and family members who are married. All of the marriages have had struggles or they are currently struggling. Some of the problems are big, even life changing.
Some examples of problems:
♦Health crisis, this includes mental health.
♦Financial, this includes when one spouse cannot or will not work.
♦Drug and alcohol abuse.
♦Gambling. I’m referring to examples when the grocery or rent money is gambled away.
♦Abuse in all forms.
♦Disagreement over children from a previous marriage.
♦A spouse after several years of marriage declares they are gay or lesbian.
♦Criminal activity.
♦One spouse wants children and the other doesn’t.
♦A spouse refuses to have a conversation about real issues. They turn away and walk off when a deep conversation starts.
♦When one spouse abandons the Christian belief.
♦When a spouse declares they are done with sex.
♦Abandonment. This includes emotional abandonment.
♦Military deployment during a time of war.
♦Arrest and imprisonment.
♦Deception, manipulation tactics, and compulsive lying.
♦Death. And, the spouse who died left no money and no insurance policy, but they left big debts.
It’s exhausting to list all of those problems, because I know all of the people who have lived through them or they are currently living through them. In nearly every situation, they grasp with the question: what do I do now?
The biggest problem with The Meaning of Marriage is it does not address any of the above problems listed. It is a proactive book, with teaching material for living out a Christian marriage. The focus of the book is what the Bible teaches.
On the back cover of the book, Keller addresses his concerns about teaching a Biblical marriage versus what the world’s culture believes. This is a big reason why the book has been written, to combat the wrong beliefs from the world.
I’m disappointed the book only gives illustrations that are positive. Not all problems can be worked out and marriages end.
In all of the problems I listed, all of the people attend church regularly and state they are Christians. Where do they turn for help? Counseling (including the prices at churches) are $80 to $150 per hour session. Counselors do not always accept insurance. They accept cash. Most people do not have extra money for counseling. Maybe if they don’t buy groceries they can attend a counseling session?
The marriage plan that God created is beautiful. Marriage is important for a stable society and culture. Marriage is an important foundation for a strong family. But marriages are in trouble, both in the Christian church and in the world. I’d like to read books from Christian authors who address the hard problems.
Timothy Keller teaches: “The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once.” Page 44.
I agree with his statement. I also believe marriage is a picture of grace or at least it should be. What marriage has taught me is that I cannot endure without strength and power from God. I cannot make it unless I pray for patience and self-control. I cannot make it if I dwell on what might have been or in fantasies. I must live in the present, even if it’s painful.

Image (5)

Two crazy unprepared kids. December 18, 1982. 


(Review) A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Love, Hope and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson

A Serial Killer's Daughter

Publisher and Publication Date: Thomas Nelson. January 29, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. True Crime. Biography.
Pages: 336.
Source: I received a complimentary ebook copy through NetGalley/Thomas Nelson, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Okay.
Audience: Readers of true crime who don’t mind Christian language per Bible verses and belief.



Article from People magazine about Kerri Rawson’s story.

Author Info:
Kerri Rawson is the daughter of Dennis Rader, better known to the world as the serial killer BTK. Since her father’s arrest, Kerri has been an advocate for victims of abuse, crime, and trauma, sharing her journey of hope, healing, faith, and forgiveness. She lives with her husband, two children, and two cats in Michigan.
Facebook page: Kerri Rawson.
Kerri Rawson

Further links on BTK:
Investigation Discovery

On February 24, 2005 Dennis Rader was arrested for murder. Between the years 1974 and 1991, Rader murdered ten people. The murders were both adults and children. Rader had a wife, daughter, and son. He had a job. He had a home. He lived a double life. There were a few glimpses of that “other” person in the home with his family.
Kerri Rawson has written a biography of her life with Dennis Rader.

My Thoughts:
Thomas Nelson is the publisher. This is Kerri Rawson’s first book. I’m sure Thomas Nelson had an editor work with Rawson, but the book is her lone words.
This point is important, because often with a first book by a new author, a more experienced author will work alongside to help tell the story. When the inexperienced author writes their biography the reading can come across choppy or remote. Add to this mixture, through most of the book Kerri Rawson is in shock. She bounces between, “Oh my God!” and “he is my dad…this can’t be true.” At times, I felt yanked along like a pet out for a dangerous walk. On the other hand, Rawson’s story is organic and raw.

This year I’ve read true crime books for the first time. It has been important for me to read a book written from the perspective of the criminal’s family. It’s rare to find a book or article written from this perspective. I now realize, a serial killer’s family does not want to be found and interviewed. A Serial Killer’s Daughter gave me an idea of what they go through: news media who peak through windows, telephone constantly ringing, family members homes are watched, interviews by law enforcement, and warrants for search and seizure. A serial killer’s family become victims too. It is a death to the life they “thought” they had. It is a death to privacy. And, it is a death to the relationship they had with the family member who is the criminal, perpetrator, and murderer.

Through the entire story I looked for how Kerri felt. Further, how does she feel about how she feels? The book is more about what is happening and less about how she feels. These emotions were hard to find. Later in the book she explains her, “life feels like a lie.” She expresses words like, “numb,” “shaking,” and a “stinging” feeling “in brain.”

I believe the book centering on Kerri and how it relates to her dad as a serial killer should be in the book. It’s unnecessary to give an entire descriptive bio of Kerri’s life. For example, Kerri describes in detail about how she fixed her hair and what clothes she wore.

It is so interesting how Kerri has brought along her father (so to speak) in telling her story. For example, she explains how her father did things, how he taught her to deal with strangers, etc. Can someone explain this one?
Kerri felt they had a close relationship before his arrest. It must be painfully difficult, awkward, and confusing to try and understand and define life as Dennis Rader’s daughter.

I bought the documentary through Prime Video, BTK: A Killer Among Us. Kerri Rawson is interviewed for this documentary. In addition, family members of the victims are interviewed. The law enforcement who were apart of the investigation are interviewed. This is a well put together piece about the BTK. This documentary followed by reading the book clarified some things. It’s a brave act for the victims families to come forward for interviewing. Heartbreaking.