Book Review for March <3

Today is our book review day since it is the first of a new month, but I must acknowlege that it is also Holy Week. 

We enjoyed a beautiful Palm Sunday service as we visited church with the kiddos yesterday. The sermon was so timely and much to chew on this week. 

I probably should be doing a special series for Holy Week, but here we are with what I have. 

And so let’s dive into a review of the books I read in March:


Starting at the top, I was cleaning out a dresser I chucked things in when we moved (ahem, over six years ago…sigh…) and found a stash of books from our children’s book shelves that I boxed up when they left home. 

When we moved here, I unboxed them and stuck them in a dresser. You will be happy to know some have been donated, passed along and I kept a few to read and maybe share with the grands if they are ever interested. 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a book I never read as a child, though I must have purchased for the girls to read. I have mixed emotions and so first I will share the positives. 

I already shared in an earlier post how surprised I was by the harsh opening chapters that told of an unloved little girl who was nasty and spoiled by being given everything except love and discipline. 

I was equally appalled when I met her cousin, who was also neglected, undisciplined and entitled because of a perceived illness that all thought would soon end in early death.

However, as the story unfolds, both children learn to be kind and to want to grow and change. They both begin to understand how hateful they have been and how much better life is when you are not selfish. 

I also loved the beautiful descriptions of the garden, the English countryside, the Yorkshire people and the loving family who help these two turn their lives around. The simple Yorkshire family that befriends them seems to have roots in Scripture and those are positives that also highlight what I found concerning in the book. 

As I neared the end, the language for healing is “finding the magic” inside themselves. The boy, Colin, declares “I will live forever and ever!” once he discovers that he can put in the work to walk and run, work the garden and care about others. 

I kept hoping somewhere along the way they would discover the source of eternal life is not within our willpower or inner magic, but I never saw any indication of that. In fact, one character says the “magic” has many names and some call it God and some call it other names but it is all the same magic. 

This kind of smacks of New Age theology and it bothers me that I didn’t read this book with the kids and have a good discussion about who is the source of life and healing and wholeness for us. I know they knew, but I wish that we could have had that conversation. I did this with “A Wrinkle in Time” but failed on this one. 

The symbolism is definitely there and some hymns and Scripture references are tossed in, however, I googled what the book was about from the author’s view and others who have analyzed and generally the consensus is the message is one of the power of positive thinking and Burnett herself was a follower of New Thinking and Christian Science. 

The other thing that I would say is coming from the culture and time we live in and the obvious pain we are now aware of between races, there are references to the Indian culture that Mary had grown up in for nine years and the perception of this race by the Yorkshire people. 

While we have to view the book as the time it was written in and this is the way people thought, it hurt me to think of a young non-white child reading this book and trying to figure out where he or she fits in the story. Again, reading this with a child now would warrant a conversation about the long imbedded roots of fear of anyone who is different from us and how that eventually brings about much pain and conflict.

All in all, I am saving it in case Caroline ever wants to read – but of course have warned Rachel they need to read together and discuss better than her own mother did with her <3


The second book in the stack was gifted to me by my mentor, former French teacher and dear friend/sister, Cheryl. 

Keep a Quiet Heart is a collection of “newsletters” that Elisabeth Elliot sent out over a number of years. 

Can I tell you my first thought when I read that? It’s a thing. She just collected them all into a reading. The chapters are not consistent, don’t have a uniform appearance in length, style or subject and yet they spoke to my heart so often as she shared in full transparency her struggles with the same things I struggle with. Sounds like something I keep getting asked to do and think I have to meet publishing guidelines…hmmmm….

There are five sections and the first three are more dealing with walking out our Christian life in the every day. She shares about feeling angry, frustrated, misunderstood, taken for granted and when she has caused anger, frustrated others, misunderstood other and taken others for granted.

She covers prayer, gratitude, discovering God’s will, dealing with unanswered prayer or an answer you weren’t expecting. So many things and yes, always with the goal of having a quiet heart.

A quiet heart is a heart that listens, waits, seeks, and is nourished in God’s word and prayer. 

The last two sections deal with the conflict of the above walk in a culture that increasingly moves away from God. She speaks frankly on several issues and since I am like-minded, I agree but I am sure others would be in disagreement with her.

Her final section on the Christian Home would definitely not be well-received in many places in 2023…and I am sure were balked at when this was published in 1995. But she speaks from Scripture and I found her words convicting and encouraging. 

I loved the book, marked up many chapters and will be returning to it again for devotional reading and inspiration to be more intentional in developing a “quiet heart,” and guidance in what to do when I fail time and again. I am thankful she admits it was always a work in progress for her as well. 


The last book in the stack is so visually beautiful, I had to stop reading sometimes and just absorb the art work. 

But I would go back to reading because the words were as beautiful as the delicate paintings of Ruth Chou Simons. 

I was gifted Beholding and Becoming:The Art of Everyday Worship by one of the brightest rays of sunshine God ever placed in this world for us to enjoy. A widow who misses her beloved so much that every mention of his name is accompanied by her brilliant smile and her precious tears. He is as much with her every day as if he were still walking among us. 

She had been gifted the book by another dear friend of both of us and she decided I needed a copy. 

I am so grateful.

In the book, Ruth takes various topics and covers them from the viewpoint of “Beholding” …looking at a topic and finding God’s character and what He reveals in His word or sharing our human nature on a topic and then…

“Becoming” …. How that is worked out in us as we “preach to ourselves” what God says about us. 

Every so often she has a page with suggestions for new ways to practice these teachings interwoven in a beautiful picture. 

Here is an example:

BeholdingGod’s Transformation in Rebuilding – in this chapter, Ruth shares about remodeling and DIY projects. She talks about how they considered doing a “painted granite” countertop. How this would look like granite, but would not have the value of it or the durable quality of this material. From there she shares about the Pharisees and Jesus and how he confronted them with looking good on the outside without changing on the inside. 

Before you reach the Becoming section in this selection, she offers some practical suggestions that would bring “renewal” to your physical home:

  • Restore and refinish something discarded
  • Throw out and let of of things you’ve outgrown
  • Fix something without complaint but with thanks

Then she ends with BecomingSeek Treasure that Won’t Fade or Rust. Here she talks about how we are treasure seekers every day. Every day we go after what matters most to us. Look at the things you are spending your time and money on and you will see what “treasure” is shaping your heart. 

I want to point out that the exercises listed would be done with a heart attitude geared toward focusing on transforming something that was considered worthless but isn’t, purging what no longer belongs to your season, and replacing complaining with gratitude. All these actives renew us on the inside. 

I hope I picked a good example, I really think this is the nicest book. Pretty on the outside, a true treasure on the inside. Lovely to put on your coffee table and pick up to read and refresh your mind throughout the day <3

So…what are you reading lately? Would love to hear. 

Blessings on your day and here are the links for the books:

The Secret Garden (probably could borrow from library or me if local) https://www.amazon.com/Secret-HarperClassics-Frances-Hodgson-Burnett/dp/006440188X/ref=asc_df_006440188X/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312674805003&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2804283774702237341&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9022536&hvtargid=pla-332268959713&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=65038952147&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=312674805003&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=2804283774702237341&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9022536&hvtargid=pla-332268959713

Keep a Quiet Heart https://www.amazon.com/Keep-Quiet-Heart-Elisabeth-Elliot/dp/0800759907

Beholding and Becoming https://www.amazon.com/Beholding-Becoming-Art-Everyday-Worship/dp/073697492X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1ZV9NXTY175JE&keywords=beholding+and+becoming&qid=1680536863&s=books&sprefix=beholding+and+bcoming%2Cstripbooks%2C109&sr=1-1

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