Hosted by Claire Musters


This month I’m reading… 

Emmanuel: An invitation to prepare him room at Christmas and always

Ruth Chou Simons (Harvest House, 978-0736984966) 

As Advent will start around the time this magazine will land on your doorstep, I wanted to share with you a beautifully illustrated Advent book – something slightly different to the norm.

Emmanuel provides four weeks of thought-provoking readings, inviting us deeper into the incredible truth that God is with us – always – and that, through our own surrender, we can grow in our relationship with him. The weeks are based around the following subjects: Our posture; God’s promises; Our response and Our messiah.

I love how Ruth starts the book looking at our posture – noticing how we are entering the Advent season, because posture has such an impact on how we receive. She encourages us to realign ourselves to the magnificent truth of the Christmas story so that we have open hearts towards all God has for us this Christmas – and beyond. This book would make a precious gift – for someone you love or for yourself.


Ruth you are an artist, author and speaker who loves to sow the word of God into people’s lives – as well as a wife and mum to six boys. How did your entrepreneurial journey begin? 

I believe God directs our seasons. After more than a decade of local ministry alongside my husband, who was a pastor of a church plant and a headmaster of a Christian school we helped to found, the Lord brought about a different season when my sixth son was born.

A decade in blogging turned into sharing words and art on Instagram, and organically sharing my work turned into a dream business of combining my love for God’s word with art. 

The blurb from one of your previous books, When Strivings Cease, says: “As a Taiwanese immigrant growing up between two cultures, Ruth was always on a mission to prove her worth, until she came to truly understand the one thing that changes everything: the extravagant, undeserved gift of grace from a merciful God.” Is that why you are so passionate about drawing others closer to Jesus?

For sure. Because my Taiwanese culture valued achievement and the new Western culture I was trying to fit into valued belonging and acceptance, I felt like I was in a constant tug of war. In general, I think we’re more enslaved to the pressure to perform and measure up than we realise.

Self-help books are plentiful and, while they’re sometimes helpful tools, they don’t often address the root problem. I long to see women freed from the lie that they secure worth through how much they achieve or earn approval. We’re made to find freedom in God’s grace.

As an artist, how does beauty draw you closer to God in your own walk with him?

Recognising beauty through God’s creation reminds me of his attributes – that he’s sovereign and in control. He’s the Master creative, and beauty teaches me to be in awe of him rather than anything made by my own hands.  

Each year, many Advent books are released – why did you feel drawn to creating your own Advent title, and what do you feel the highly illustrated nature of it adds to the experience for your readers?

I wanted to create an Advent journey that focuses less on how to celebrate the Advent season or Christmas, but more on how we can allow the Advent season to shape all the days following when we grasp the wonder of God with us, Emmanuel.

My desire for all my books, but especially in this one, is for the artwork to cause the reader to linger long, to consider the words and to let beauty accompany even more beautiful truths.


How did you choose the four elements to focus on for the four weeks’ readings and reflections?

I really just followed the rhythm I know my family and I need and have to wrestle with year by year. We can’t grasp the truth of God’s promises unless we realign the posture of our hearts. We must know the redemption story in order to truly respond appropriately to it.

At the end of each day’s reflection you also include ‘ponder’, ‘praise’ and ‘pray’ sections –why did you feel these were important element to have in the book?

We rehearse the truth as we meditate on the truth, sing the truth and speak the truth to God and in confession with one another.

What is your prayer for this book; what do you hope your readers will gain from it? 

My prayer is that readers (and the people in their lives) might encounter and trust in Jesus –God with us– and not hope solely in the nostalgia, magic or celebrations of the season. 


Ruth Chou Simons on: The books that have changed my life


Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick, because it taught me how to apply the gospel to my everyday life



The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer, which helped to shape my awe of God and the wonder it is to walk with him.



Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon shaped my love for devotional meditations that exalt Christ with depth.

Publisher Recommendation

Sally Welch was the obvious choice to write the Lent and Advent books for the Bible Reading Fellowship’s centenary year! As former editor of our New Daylight Bible reading notes and a committed pilgrim who has walked many routes in the UK and Europe, she’s a natural storyteller and guide, and her heart for all those on the journey of faith shines through her writing.

BRF’s centenary theme of ‘Sharing the Story’ was brought to life by Sally. In Sharing the Christmas Story Sally explores two questions: What is the Christmas story really about? and How do we share it? 

pp37_Dec2022_BookClub_Sharing the Christmas Story

Convinced that “the past is not for inhabiting but for learning from, not for seeking to reconstruct but for use as foundation stones for new and better”, her route from Advent to Epiphany follows the themes of promise, light, mystery, love, peace and hope. Within each week, the days are focused on the ways in which the Christmas story is shared: through prophecies, journeys, new life, signs, poems, stories and conversations. Each day offers a Bible passage, followed by a reflection and prayer activity, and material for group study is also included. Armchair pilgrimage at its very best!

Olivia Warburton is BRF’s Living Faith ministry lead and head of content creation.

Proudly sponsored by Bible Reading Fellowship