book review: foundations by ruth + troy simons

FoundationsCover

If you don’t already follow Ruth Chou Simons on social media, you should. In fact, I’m not even sure what you’re waiting for! Aside from her art being an absolute feast for the eyes, the content below it is a banquet for the soul. God-honoring words pour forth, the reader becoming the beneficiary of God’s work in Ruth. I never leave her page without a healthy dose of encouragement!

This is why, when Ruth and Troy (her husband) cast the net for their launch team, I jumped in. (I even reactivated my Facebook for the occasion, which is a big deal!) What are they launching, you ask? Their newest book baby, Foundations: 12 Biblical Truths to Shape a Family.

Now that my husband and I are parents, I think a lot about raising children who, by God’s grace, love the Lord and are obedient to His commands. I think on what family devotions should look like in our home, what it entails to teach our son about God and about honoring Him with our lives. It’s such a personal thing; the tools that work for one family might not work for the one next door. As I’ve read through my advance copy of Foundations, I have tried to imagine this book being used in a variety of scenarios: big families, small families (like ours), using it with children who are in various stages of development . . . I’ve even pondered if I could have used it as a resource in my middle-school classroom. And you know what? I can’t imagine a scenario in which this book can’t work.

The Simons, using the wisdom God has given them in parenting their six sons, have created an exceptional resource for families (or teachers!). Here’s what to expect when you get your copy.

What to Expect

This beautiful and perfectly-sized book (it is a comfortable fit in your hands) comprises 12 resolutions, biblical truths that are imperative for walking the Christian life. They aren’t grouped this way, but I found the resolutions to fall into three categories: loving and honoring God, loving your neighbor, and fighting sin. It is incredibly clear when you move from one resolution to the next, as each section is marked by a wonderfully earthy green cover page, complete with the resolution to be explored in that section and the watercolor art we know and love from other GraceLaced offerings.

Each resolution has five brief, but meaty, devotional readings, for a grand total total of 60 readings. I admit that, at first, I was skeptical that much could be accomplished in the small space allotted for each reading, but I shouldn’t have doubted the Simons! They start each reading with an anecdote that presents a metaphorical circumstance, something most people–even children–would have encountered in some way. This bleeds seamlessly into the related spiritual issue, which is stated clearly in a way that most readers should easily understand. After examining the outflow of the issue (I’ll give an example below), the reader is fed truth to set them on the right path.

By way of illustration, let’s look at one reading from this resolution: “Set your mind where Christ is and on all that is good and true.”

The reading begins by discussing the perils of riding your brakes (they’ll eventually fail). Anxiety, the topic at hand, is parallel to riding your brakes, in that worry doesn’t lead anywhere constructive. The Simons address why anxiety is a problem: what we fail to believe about God when we worry and what the consequences are. Then they give Scriptural evidence that we are commanded not to worry, and they offer encouragement to trust God instead of leaning on our own control of a situation.

Yes, there is that much meat in a devotional that takes about two minutes to read! But it doesn’t end there.

Each reading is accompanied by three things:

To Dwell On: This is a succinct sentence that drives home the main idea as clearly as possible. (As a teacher, I gave this quite a few praise hands!)

To Discuss: These are two easy-to-understand questions that prompt introspection and lay the groundwork for heart-care. (After all, God is not concerned with outward appearances, but is concerned with the heart.)

To Memorize: Finally, there is a short Scripture verse that is related to reading and meant to plant the word in your heart through memorization.

How to Use this Book

Once I stopped reeling at the sheer volume of truth in each short reading, I realized something else: You can use this book in any way you choose. Whether you are just starting family devotions or you are seasoned experts, this book can be folded in. This book could easily accompany other family worship resources, and finding both classic and modern hymns to accompany the readings would be a piece of cake. A few ideas (not an exhaustive list!):

Use one devotional per day, for 60 days, as a way to start the new year (or a new life season).

Move intentionally through one devotional per week, meditating on the truths therein, journaling about it, and working on the memory verse for seven days. This would make the book last longer than a year, as there are 60 readings.

Camp out in one resolution each month, making the book last exactly a calendar year. (Personally, this is how I plan to utilize it when I read it for a second time, as it would helpfully come alongside a Bible-in-a-year reading plan. When the year ends, start again!)

Align the resolutions with a school-year calendar and use it as a mealtime conversation starter or a character-building curriculum (if you teach in a school that supports that, which I did).

Or . . . you could do whatever you want and works for your family! Take as much or as little time as you’d like and structure it in a way that suits you best!

The Bottom Line

I’m a huge fan of all things GraceLaced, and I think you will be, too, if you’re not already. This latest volume is beautiful in many ways, but especially in the truth it conveys and the enjoyment fostered by the work of Ruth’s artistic hand. Foundations releases on March 3, and I encourage you to grab your copy today!

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P.S. — As is customary, Ruth and Troy are offering FREE pre-order bonuses! Click here, then click “Bonuses” to check them out!

 

 

 

 

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