the Stone and the Oak

A journey into bible education with the depth of the of the oak the accountability of the stone

The day I Zoomed with Bethany Kimsey, I was sick with COVID and quarantined in the smallest bedroom of the house (the preschooler’s room).  I sat there in his wooden-railed twin bed, appearing on the Zoom image like I had just done hard time in the state penitentiary.

There was something about Bethany’s big heart for the gospel and her charming Southern expressions like “it’s a real slippery pig” that made me feel like I was transported from my sick bed onto her porch with a glass of iced tea.

I expected that Bethany and I would talk about motherhood since Bethany is a proud mother of eight children (yep… not a typo)–and that we did. But I also left our conversation with such helpful and practical advice for how to handle the everyday challenges of a mother with the gospel as our guide.


“When I attended Baylor University, Louis Giglio (of Passion Church) was the college minister and was a huge proponent of life-on-life ministry in the discipleship sense.

Discipleship is something much deeper than just sitting at a Bible Study table.  At its core, discipleship is the act of sharing my life with you to the extent you are willing to hear, and you sharing your life with me to the extent that you are willing to share. 

The effects of life-sharing are support, encouragement, prayer-covering, wisdom, guidance, counsel, and an open invitation to ask questions. Living a life of discipleship means you are investing in–and actively pouring into–another follower of Jesus.

There are clear examples in scripture of what it means to walk relationally with one another like when Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess 5.11).

As I grew into adulthood and then parenthood, I’ve developed a passion to walk with other mothers in discipleship.  And I suppose the passion for motherhood makes sense– I have children ranging from 5 years to 21 years of age.  

And now, with 25 years of experience discipling women, I think that there are still many women out there who don’t understand true discipleship and so they don’t even know to hunger for it. It’s a shame because there is a huge need for this relational community concept especially in our current culture.”


“My heartbeat in whatever I do– whether it’s in my writing, my social media content, or my involvement at women’s conferences–I want these ladies to understand how to marry the good news of the gospel with their everyday lives.  From what I’ve seen, most of the women I disciple to have a good handle of Biblical knowledge, but the knowledge often sits stagnant and isn’t readily applied to their life circumstances. 

 In other words, young mothers know and understand the truth of the gospel but they haven’t allowed it to seep into their current experiences. 

And it’s understandable that there is a disconnect.  Where does the gospel come into play when my toddler is tantruming in the middle of the grocery store? Where does the gospel come into play when my teenager tells me that they don’t believe in Christ anymore?

Mothering is a holy invitation though it doesn’t always feel like it. 

Raising Christian children can often be misinterpreted as a bit of a checklist: make sure they know the Bible stories, make sure they go to church, etc.  And this, in fact, may be a byproduct of being American; we are conditioned to seek the end result and to get things done. 

What is the end result to raising children?  We hear ‘get them to 18 and get them out of the house.’  But that’s not what God intends for our parenting journey to look like.

I want to be able to reach our children in meaningful ways; you know, not just slinging a ‘Jesus Juke’ at them (i.e. Jesus teaches us to be kind to one another!  Knock it off!).  I am as guilty as anyone to slapping a scripture onto a problem without remembering the heart of the gospel.

It is much more important for us to walk side-by-side with our children through life and using the gospel as our guide through every sticky situation.  

I want women to understand that even in the most tedious, mundane situations like wrestling with a child over bedtime, we can remember the truths of the gospel to reframe our situations.”


“Our natural reaction to discord with our children is often, ‘You know better than this!’ or ‘I have told you this 14 million times!’”  Now, don’t be fooled into thinking that I am preaching from a high horse. I have messed up as many times as any other mom.  I have reacted out of my flesh.  I have weakened relationships.  I have condemned out of shame. It is but the mercy of our God who guides me every day. He is patient with me even when I mess up several times in a row.

Now, the unpleasant feelings in and of themselves are normal.  We are human. We give ourselves grace if we react out of our flesh.

But a better approach is to reframe through the lens of the gospel. Before I talk to my child, I 

need to do the 5-min bathroom reframe (Free PDF printable included below).

First, I separate us.  I put the child in a safe place where he/she can experience quiet (not the same as time-out; this is not a punishment), and then I do the same for myself.  I like to use my Master bathroom as a quiet space for a few minutes.  When we are quiet, we are going to have a much better chance of hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.

I spend a few moments sitting with the Lord to examine what is going on inside of me and how it might need to be adjusted. There is so much purpose in the pause.  There’s so much that God can do when we take that pause.

In fact, I created a reminder to myself for these very moments. I wrote out the process of the reframe and taped it to my bathroom mirror.

  • What am I feeling? (Anger and frustration with a defiant child)
  • What am I believing as a result of this feeling? (I’m not succeeding as a mother). Because we have an enemy who loves to condemn, this is a great opportunity for him to swoop in and try to tear us down further. Be wary of this.
  • What is the truth of God’s word? Lord, these children belong to you. (I have been issued an invitation to be the in-person conduit for Your will). My value does not rest on my child’s behavior. The gospel tells me that my value has already been determined at the cross. My identity is locked in as the daughter of the King. I have been redeemed and set free. My worth has nothing to do with how well I mother today. I need to parse out and own my part of the conflict. I need to repent of that sin.
  • What is the next right step? I open my heart and listen for direction, and I am often guided to good consequences and what steps need to be taken next.

This reframe can set our hearts free. A battle was just waged. The Spirit has helped me reframe what might have gone the enemy’s way.”

Feel free to download this graphic and add to your bathroom mirror just like Bethany has done.


“You know, we live in a culture that tells us that what we feel is our truth. But feelings come and go and don’t necessarily reflect our truths at all. So allowing the feelings to be processed is important, but our truth in the Lord is an anchor despite the crashing waves of feelings.”

It is sage guidance like this 5-minute bathroom reframe that mothers would glean from having a mentor like Bethany to disciple to them. Finding a local women’s Bible Study or MOPS group may allow you to either learn from someone further down the parenting road, or pour into someone who is not quite as far as you are.

Let us not leave alone the women who are in the throes of these spiritual and parenting battles. Strength in numbers, mamas.

Sometimes I wish I weren’t so achievement-driven. While I am a fairly motivated person, I also come down really hard on myself when I don’t think I have achieved enough.

Cue December 2021. I have been reflecting on the past year of the Stone and the Oak, and my first response was to criticize myself for all I didn’t do.

I set the lofty goal of reading half of the Old Testament in a meaningful way, and then… well, it didn’t happen in its entirety. I read all five books of the Torah along with Job, Hosea, and most of the Psalms, but I did not get to the history books of the OT that I had hoped.

We had an unexpected season of turning our home into a rental property and then moving into a rental of our own which was a multi-month endeavor.

Regardless, my inclination is to wallow in all that I didn’t achieve. In fact, I almost started down the road of beating myself up (figuratively of course) so I am here to intentionally catalog all that I did in fact do in the Spirit of the Kingdom this year.

I hope you see something here that is helpful to you in your current walk.

My Journey through the Bible

I wrote up a post for anyone struggling to read the Bible in a meaningful way. Not all Bible plans work for everyone. Here is what works for me:

Help with Bible Reading Plans

I did a little bit of investigation on one phrase in the Abraham and Isaac passage that I found to be poignant. Fellow Bible Nerds, have a look:

A Close Reading of The Abraham and Isaac Passage

I learned a lot as I worked my way through the Torah this year. Each image corresponds with a post on my Instagram feed:

Sips & Scripts

I had the privilege of Zooming with six incredible women of God from around the world for Bibles-open, mugs-full chats about what is on their hearts. I left each chat feeling equally impressed with my new friends and inspired to heed their sage advice.

Brenna is a sweet and enthusiastic young woman who speaks candidly on the topic of premarital sex. In our chat, she discusses her lack of information and guidance on sex and how informing our Christian teens about temptation and purity can equip them for sexual struggles. Click here to read my chat with Brenna.

Through the Joyful Life Magazine, I met Aimée Walker who I am proud to now call a dear friend. In our chat, she offers encouragement for discernment in our current season and obedience to what God asks us to do in it. Click here to read my chat with Aimée.

Another sweet friend made through the Joyful Life community, Vicki Bentley and I decided we are kindred spirits. In our chat, she offers four powerful steps in lessening anxiety when it hits. Click here to read my chat with Vicki.

Deidre is the sweetest mom of two little ones, and in our chat she reflects on the toughest 18 months of her life and considers what God is doing when he allows destruction. Click here to read my chat with Deidre.

Another new friend through the JL community, Carina Alanson, details her own struggle to find clarity in purpose and to discern her calling in Christ. Now, she offers a course to help others, like herself, determine their purpose and callings. Click here to read my chat with Carina.

Christian speaker and mother of five, Erica Renaud, discusses her upcoming book on developing prayer in children and offers some practical tools for getting started. Click here to read my chat with Erica.

HIS Wear

His Wear is a response to Luke 9.26: (Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory). Our response is that we are His— we are His creation, His disciples, and His loved ones— and we are not ashamed to claim this identity.

To read more about the development of His Wear, click the image:

Christian clothing line “His Wear”

The beautiful photos for the line are taken by the amazing Ashley of Ashley Norton Photography (click here to be sent to her website).

And if you’d like to browse the shop, click here. In fact, for being a blog reader, use the code STOAKED20 for 20% off!

DIY projects & The Joyful Life Magazine

In 2021, The Joyful Life Magazine brought me on as a blog contributor to their DIY section. I wrote up five seasonal DIY posts and was able to have two articles published in the print magazine.

My favorite part? Getting to know so many different Christian writers and creatives. I absolutely adore working with my DIY partner, Loralie Hoffort, who is a very talented photographer.

I will be continuing my partnership with the JL for 2022!

Collaborations & Guest Posts

Last but certainly not least, some of the most impactful experiences of the last year grew out of collaborations with fellow women of God.

Guest Post on Marnie Hammar’s Site

I contributed a story on hearing the voice of God in Marnie Hammar’s Hear Him Louder series. Click the image to read how God spoke to me in the midst of crippling postpartum anxiety (and then check out the rest of Marnie’s powerful series).

Help for Christians with Postpartum Anxiety

Guest Post on Twyla Franz’s Site

I was invited by Twyla Franz to add a post to her gratitude series: Begin Within. In it, I ask the question: can gratitude lessen anxiety?

Interviewee on The Devoted Collective Podcast

Aimée Walker, founder of the Devoted Collective, asked me if I would come on to the podcast to speak about being a Christian with mental illness. I said yes in a heartbeat and was able to have another friend, Ellie DiJulio, as my co-interviewee. Click the image to give it a listen:

A podcast episode on being a Christian with mental illness

Contributor to the Prayers for A Generation Book

Aimée Walker does it again! In addition to launching The Devoted Collective, Aimée compiled a book on prayers for our children. I am honored to have a prayer for spiritual armor against pornography included in this beautiful bound collection. Click the image to check out the book:

Prayers for our children collected in the new book, Prayers for a Generation

Co-host of The Dawning of Indestructible Joy Book Club

My dear friend Ann-Marie and I co-hosted an advent book club in which we guided readers through John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. It was a joyous collaboration!

Let there be no confusion: we do not get into heaven by works. There is no earning our way into heaven— that ticket was bought by Jesus alone. I could have done none of the above and still— I will find my home in heaven by the grace and mercy of God.

However, as a follower of Jesus, I believe my spiritual gifts should be used for the Kingdom. We are saved by grace through faith in order to do good works for the Lord.

But in terms of taking stock of your year, I hope you’ll learn from my mistake and focus on what you did do rather than what you didn’t do.

All the best of God’s blessings for you in 2022,


This is Erica.

Her drink is a maple syrup latte with extra whipped cream. 

And you know you’ve got a couple of moms together on Zoom when one utters “So… my kid threw up like six minutes ago. He’s in the bath now, and I can hear him making animal noises, so we are good for a little while.”We moms are used to fitting our ministry work into the small little pockets of time that we can, and it doesn’t always go exactly as planned. But God sees our efforts.

Erica is a mother of five who is currently writing a manuscript for her upcoming book about praying with children. Her working title is Pray With Me: Help Your Children Engage in Authentic and Powerful Prayer. So we made the most of our sick-kid-in-bath time, and tackled the topic of developing prayer in children.


I asked Erica what led her to write a book on praying with children and she responded that it was a combination of things. 

“I spent years in children’s ministry, and I discovered that kids didn’t seem to understand the power of prayer nor how to engage in prayer in a meaningful way.

Also, I am a speaker, and I am asked to speak on praying with children more than any other topic. So this tells me there is a demand—a hunger—out there for parents to help their children engage in prayer.

And, of course, my own personal relationship with God fuels me to help my children develop that kind of prayerful relationship. I want my kids to know that prayer isn’t just a ritual. Prayer guides our every move:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying ‘This is the way; walk in it

Isaiah 30.21, NIV

Prayer has the power to change events on earth.”


“Our prayer lives are a lot like roots to a tree. Hidden. Not always elegant. But they are what make a tree sturdy and stable. The time we spend alone with God is what makes us sturdy and stable and helps us produce good fruit.

I have a core verse for my prayer life and for my book project, Jeremiah 17:7:

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water. It sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green, it has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

This kind of trust doesn’t happen overnight. This kind of trust is grounded—it comes from regularly trusting Him, from knowing God, from relying on God over and over again.”


“One of the most important practices for developing prayer in children is modeling prayer in the home. Consider how we model our belief in the power of seatbelts; we refuse to drive without them buckled. This kind of belief modeling helps our kids understand that seatbelts are valuable and important to us. So, we show our kids that we are called to sit before God’s throne and petition him to help with problems on earth by letting them see us pray—by inviting them into our prayers.

Right now, my brother-in-law is in a medically-induced coma.  And yes, we are helping the family physically.  But more than that, we are actively and continually praying for them, and our kids are part of this.  

We teach our kids to pray as if we hold the outcome in our hands, but we also maintain that God is the one who answers prayers in His own time and manner.”


“My young son came down all dressed up to go to grandma’s house.  I asked him why he thought he was going to grandma’s house.  He told me that he prayed for four sleepovers at grandma’s, so he got himself ready for them. This promoted a conversation about the nature of prayer.

There isn’t going to be one easy answer when kids ask why their prayer wasn’t answered.  It will take multiple conversations about God’s sovereignty, and how God’s timeline may be different from the one we expect, in order for kids to understand that prayer requests are not like asking a genie in a bottle.  Just because the conversations may not land the first time does not mean we should give up on them.

But we shouldn’t shy away from the fact that we don’t always know why our prayer goes unanswered. There is still a mystery to the way God runs his kingdom.”


“I am a big fan of teaching kids to pray within a structure. One might object that we should be able to pray whatever we want, whenever we want. While this is true, I hypothesize that we adults don’t actually vary our prayers very much. We have probably a dozen or so templates of prayers that we vary. Giving kids a structure for praying actually allows them to relax into the process a bit more and not freeze up without knowing where to start.

So, for getting kids started with prayer, I like the acronym PRAY:

P praise– we adore and worship Him

R repent– we confess our sins

A ask– we request he help us

Y yield– we yield ourselves to Him and listen for His promptings

The original ‘Y’ stands for ‘Your will be done,’ which I still encourage my kids to end with, but I changed the Y to ‘yield’ in order for the kids to leave a space for God to speak to them.”


“I make sure my kids know that God won’t automatically start speaking to them every single time they get to Y; he speaks in different ways and in moments that we can’t control. Sometimes, he speaks to us through a memory or a feeling.

Like unanswered prayers, the topic of hearing the voice of God is a very difficult concept to teach children. But again, we parents shouldn’t avoid trying to explain it just because it is complex.

Lean into the tough conversations, parents.”


I asked Erica what she is most excited about in terms of her new book. She broke it into two parts: excitement for her family and excitement for the reader.

“For me personally, I am excited for something in my ministry to benefit my children. I am a public speaker, and I used to host a radio show—neither of which brought in tangible benefits for my family. Though first books don’t pay all that well, I am hoping this book may become a stepping stone to other opportunities. Of course, they understand that ministry is service and that I don’t do it simply to receive something in return. But I have been putting so much of my time and myself into these endeavors, and there really hasn’t been much that has directly benefited my family so far.

For the reader, I am excited for my book to offer tools and inspiration for mothers to start the practice of praying with her children. Praying with kids not only makes important memories, but it offers these sweet kids a chance to know Christ for themselves.  

Knowing God and discerning His voice has never been more important than now– we exist in a culture that is very messy and moving further away from Him.”


Erica’s book will come out in April 2023.  Make sure to give Erica a follow, so that you can follow her journey through writing this incredible book.

To follow Erica on Instagram click @erica.renaud

To follow Erica on Facebook click @EricaRenaudSpeaker

Visit Erica’s website: click

I, for one, am so grateful that I found Erica and her beautiful mission of prayer.

with His love,


This is Carina.

Her drink is a decaf black coffee (french-pressed).

Though my internet refused to be helpful during our Zoom chat, Carina and I still got a chance to connect and learn about one another. From the moment I clicked onto her website and saw a gorgeous photo of an autumn leaf, I knew we were two peas in a pod (or, rather, two acorns on a stem).

What I knew about Carina, prior to our chat, was that she is a regular contributor and devotional writer for the Joyful Life Magazine—where we were introduced. What I didn’t know about Carina was that she once was a licensed professional counselor and spent years as a mental health therapist.

So she and I have yet another thing in common: our schooling and training led us to careers that were right for a season in our lives, but that God has called us in slightly different directions since then.

And so it is with a rucksack full of personal experience that Carina dedicates much of her online presence to helping others discern their callings in Christ as well.


“My passion for helping people with their callings came out of my own personal experiences. 

In my career as a counselor, I felt unfulfilled in many ways. I pushed aside the dissatisfaction for a while, thinking, Maybe this is just how it is—maybe serving God is meant to be a sacrifice and I’m not necessarily supposed to feel super passionate. 

I pressed on in my job to the best of my ability, but one day I was talking to God about the discouragement I’d been feeling and the struggles I’d been having with my career, and I just got really honest with how I’d been feeling. And in the midst of that conversation, I had an epiphany—I realized that God was telling me that I wasn’t meant to be a counselor. It was such a relief ! 

But then I started wondering: If I’m not a counselor, what am I? I started asking myself, What is the raw material that makes up who I am? What am I naturally interested in and gifted at? Through that process, God made it very clear to me that He was calling me to be a writer. I had dreamed about being a writer for a long time, but I never thought it was practical, so to realize that’s what God was actually calling me to do was very exciting.

When we invest time and schooling into something, we can often get trapped there; it can be hard to let that go. But if God is calling us to something new, He will always make a way. And while we will all likely experience difficulties in each of our callings, I do believe that God wants us to feel fulfilled and full of life, and He can help us find fulfillment when we pursue whatever it is He leads us into.”


“I think it’s easy to feel like our purpose is something big and outside of us, something that’s somewhere over the horizon and out of reach, and that, if we’re lucky, one day we’ll find it. But I’ve found that it’s much simpler than we think. Our purpose is rooted in who God created us to be, and because of that, we can express it wherever we are, no matter what season we’re in. And we usually don’t have just one calling but rather several. Sometimes we have callings that last a lifetime, and sometimes callings are only for a season.

 To help explain purpose, I like to use the analogy of a tree.

Think about a tree in its most basic sense: a tree has roots, a trunk, and branches with leaves. The three parts are distinct but interlinked.”

What is my purpose? The tree analogy can help us understand it.

“The roots represent our relationship with God: our ultimate purpose. We were created first and foremost to have a relationship with Him—to experience His love and to love Him back. This is the foundational purpose of our lives, similar to the way roots create the firm foundation of the tree.

The trunk represents the core of who we are—our individual gifts, personalities, and interests. The second part of our purpose is to be an authentic expression of who God created us to be. So for me, that might look like expressing myself through writing or through art. 

The branches and leaves represent the act of sharing who we are. As Bruce Wilkinson says, “If the God of heaven loves you infinitely and wants you in His presence every moment, and if He knows that heaven is a much better place for you, then why on earth has He left you here?” We’re here on this earth for a reason—to love God and be who He created us to be, and also to share His love with others. So I want to use my writing, my art, whatever it is, to love others and share God’s love and hope with them. 

As I mentioned, calling is often seasonal. Just as the branches and leaves of a tree look different in different seasons, so our callings are probably going to look different in our different seasons of life. For example, I believe God has called me to write books, but just because I have yet to publish a book doesn’t mean I can’t share my writing now. So, in the season prior to my book publishing season, I can still share my writing and encourage others through devotions, blog posts, articles, and courses, etc.”


“I created a course called Your Creative Best, which is based on Paul’s letter to Galatia: 

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Galatians 6: 4-5, MSG

And that’s what this course is all about—it’s about helping people explore and discover who they are and what God might be calling them to do in their current season. 

Currently, the course is set up on my website as a stand-alone e-course in the sense that a reader can purchase, view, and work through the course on their own. But I’d love to do a live version of the course again.”

Click here to explore Carina’s eCourse.


I asked Carina what her “leaves” look like during this current season.

“My current season feels like a recalibration. I’ve needed to pause certain goals, like writing my book proposal, while I address some more pressing family and home issues.

I’ve also been trying to make more time for rest. God does call us to do good work, but He also doesn’t want us to strive in our own strength, and He still wants us to rest and take care of ourselves. I read An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling this past spring, and it really encouraged me to slow down and trust God with the journey I’m on. I really believe God has called me to write this book, and while I certainly have a role to play, burning myself out is not the way to make it happen.”

An Unhurried Life, by Alan Fadling

“As far as what’s next, one thing I do think God is prompting me to do sometime in the next six to twelve months is to create a new course based on my book idea. This will help me serve people now while I grow my email list, and it will also help me refine the idea for the book as well.

Whatever I do, I always try to keep in mind that our purpose is always rooted in our relationship with God . That must always come first. I try to remember that God doesn’t call us to do things for Him, rather He calls us to do things with Him. It’s all about relationship.”

It takes bravery to listen to God’s directions and make sacrifices in order to follow them. Saying “yes” to God sometimes means abandoning some of our culture’s notions of “success.” But I know that God is watching Carina use her spiritual gifts for the Kingdom, and I believe He will one day say to her “ well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

with His love,


To connect with Carina:

This is Deidre.

Her drink is a medium roast coffee (with a dash of heavy cream on special occasions).

And how fitting that Sips & Scripts involves two people sitting down for a chat with mugs when Deidre’s blog is named “The Second Cup.”

When I asked her about the name “The Second Cup,” she offered this explanation:

“You know in your quiet time with the Lord in the morning when you’re reading your Bible and you finish that first cup of coffee but you’d rather stay with Him than start the day? 

Or when you are catching up with an old friend at breakfast and the conversation is so good you just need to keep asking for warm-ups?”

Deidre’s “second cup” symbolizes the deep stuff. It is the unhurried, intentional presence given to something – or someone – of importance. 

Deidre and I were essentially strangers when we set up this chat, having only connected briefly through the Joyful Life Magazine’s contributor group. But I can tell you that by the end of the chat, if we were in person, we would have stayed to enjoy a second cup.

This is not to suggest that we didn’t have a conversation about tough issues— we did. But Deidre was able to cradle the conversation about suffering with such hope and with such grace that it didn’t feel unbearably heavy.


“The last year and a half has been tough, with one difficult thing after the other, it seems. When our first child was only 6 months old, and we were finally beginning to come out of the newborn stage, we found out that another baby was on the way. I was just starting to adjust to being a new mom and caring for an infant. I remember crying to my husband, ‘I feel like I will never feel rested again.’

I struggled with a lot of emotions after that, and looking back, I wonder whether I was just downright exhausted, or if I had some postpartum or prenatal depression. 

In the midst of this pregnancy, the pandemic and lockdown hit. I’m a Title 1 Teacher who provides math and reading interventions to elementary students. So, like every teacher in our nation, I had to quickly adjust to a completely new way of educating. While it was the best option available to us during the pandemic, it’s not natural for kids that young to be educated on Zoom. Being home with a baby, dealing with pregnancy sickness, and teaching online full-time was certainly a challenge. 

When our baby girl Vivian was born in August, it was a very bright event in the midst of a grey season. My mother-in-law came to stay and help us for a week after Vivian was born, and it was a time that I cherished. But only a month later, she received a diagnosis that we would never expect: a tumor in her brain.

During her time receiving treatment, and later in hospice care, our little family spent many weekends traveling up and down the state of Maine to visit her. My husband and children ended up getting COVID during this time, and we had to cancel a much-anticipated vacation as a result. 

And just last month, my mother-in-law passed away. 

Although it’s been a heavy season, it’s been a catalyst for my contemplation about God’s goodness.”


“In thinking about the search for God’s goodness when it isn’t easily recognizable, I am reminded of a feeling I get when reading the Old Testament. There are some passages where our loving God is hard to understand–when he expresses his wrath by destroying entire nations of people or makes seemingly impossible commandments- and I have a hard time coming to grips with this. Not only does it make me uncomfortable and confused, it also creates an internal struggle because I want to be sharing the approachability and compassion of God– especially with people who don’t know Jesus yet. I fear these passages will make them turn away rather from God than press into him.

Don’t get me wrong— I love the Old Testament—but when I am reading it, I tend to gloss over the parts of God as the source of destruction because I don’t like them. 

I also had the habit of manipulating these parts to make them more palatable, trying to convince myself that the author didn’t really mean that or that the given passage doesn’t apply to me or that it isn’t really true.  But I’ve made a commitment to myself not to do that any longer.

This year, I’ve challenged myself to read these passages with eyes wide open and instead of dismissing them; I ask God: ‘How does this part of scripture reflect your goodness, even though I interpret it as something bad? How do these parts exemplify your good character?’

I’ve been trying to look at the last 18 months in the same way. 

Instead of glazing over this last year and assigning it a cliche (what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger), I am challenging myself to dig into my trials and instead ask the question: ‘How do the events of this past year reveal Your glory and goodness, God, even though I don’t like them?’

“I ask God: How does this part of scripture reflect your goodness, even though I interpret it as something bad? How do these parts exemplify your good character?”


“Last night, I was thinking about the idea of finding God in the heaviness when I opened my Bible to the date in my reading plan and it fell to this verse:

I form the light and create darkness

I bring prosperity and create disaster

I, the Lord, do all of these things

Isaiah 45.7

My former reaction would be to ignore the parts of the verse that describe God as the source of disaster.

But in my effort to lean into the confusion, I started giving it more thought.

Darkness and disaster? Doesn’t that come from the enemy?

So I stopped to ask the question ‘Why? Why do you create darkness and disaster, God?’

As I read on, the next section answered my question:

Your heavens above rain down my righteousness, let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it. I, the Lord, have created it


He follows the section on disaster with a reason for creating adversity: salvation and righteousness spring up from the disaster site.

With this verse in mind, I began to reflect on the bad things that happened in the last year. Was God using these obstacles to cultivate righteousness in me? 

Everything I went through this last year has been so challenging that it has forced me to release the idea of control. It has forced me to abandon comfort. Very few of my fleshly desires were met. 

And as an end result, I have given over so much of myself to the Lord. I have relied on him, and trusted him, and followed him more.

To reiterate— I am human and would never elect to suffer. How many people prefer to be uncomfortable, or grieving, or exhausted?

God removed stillness from my life and comfort from my flesh, but would I have abandoned them willingly? Not likely.

My discomfort creates a dependency on God that I would not have otherwise known.”


“And now I can share my experience. My trials have opened up connections with people that may not have otherwise existed. And some of these people have been nonbelievers.

People can be won to the Lord by observing our peace in these trials.

Take my mother-in-law for instance: during her entire battle with cancer, she was joyful. She would say: ‘This is a win-win situation. Either I am going to be healed and so many people will see that God performed this miracle, or He will call me home and I will be in heaven with Jesus. Win-win.’

Her suffering became a testimony for others. She used her situation to talk to many people about Jesus.

Does He allow disaster to make soil for salvation?

Based on my mother-in-law’s story, how we react in adversity might just be the seed for someone else’s salvation.”


“God sees things much more intricately than we could possibly see them. I’ve always known that, but now I understand it differently.

The book of Job has always been one of my least favorite books of the Bible. I’d rather not spend time meditating on such suffering.

But I became interested in the book of Job in an unlikely way— through Johnny Cash. I’m a Johnny Cash fan, and I love his book Forever Words—a collection of his unpublished poems and song lyrics. Cash was really interested in the book of Job and became an amateur scholar in the book of Job later in his life.

The book of Job reminds me that our human brains see very little of God’s masterful plan.

It reminds me that when I ask the question “Why, God?’ there is not usually an answer that will satisfy us in our limited scope. 

So I let go of needing all of the answers and remember that He always knows what He is doing. And I remind myself that it is not my job to explain God fully because no one can.”

I love Deidre’s revelation that our God is He who allows the living to die in order to create richer soil for new growth. 

And a comfort to me when I experience suffering is that our trials refine us to be more like Him. If there were only goodness and light in the world we would never have the occasion to grow; we would never need His strength in supplication.

In her 18 months of difficulty, Deidre has become more dependent on Jesus than she has ever been in her life. And as life eases up, she looks forward to connecting with other mothers or those grieving losses and offer her experience as a testimony to the goodness of God in all circumstances.

with His love,


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