I am thankful for you! Whether you are a reader of my books, my blog, or I have met you at a conference, you are a blessing to me! This article is from Today’s Christian Living, July, 2017
Clues Leading To My Conversion
In girl Meets GOD Lauren Winner looks back on how God wooed her and says:
Surely any idiot should have been able to see from the second chapter that it was Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with the rope.
Before kindergarten I wondered, “Who made my hand?”
I melted every time I heard “O Holy Night”.
I wondered how my professor at Northwestern University could rip apart the Bible and not be afraid of God.
When my “fanatical” sister Sally arrived to tell me about Jesus I wanted her visit to end, but a freak October blizzard hit Indianapolis and she stayed and preached three more days.
Sisters: l to r, Bonnie, Dee and Sally
How amazing that He chose me before the foundation of the world. It is just that it took me twenty-one years to catch on.
Steve was such a gift to me. He prayed over me, believed in my ministry, and even, as he lay dying from a terrible cancer, said, “You will fly so free.” I surely don’t want to fly without him, but I am learning to live what I teach. Christ is enough. I miss Steve more than I can say, but I am so very thankful for the years we had. My book, The God of All Comfort, tells my journey through the river of grief and into the arms of God. I feel my last two books, The God of All Comfort, and Idol Lies, are my best — because suffering has brought me so much closer to the Lord.
I am blessed by my children, their spouses, and my fourteen grandchildren. In the summer of 2010 all of the above girls gave birth to little girls. And since then there have been three more, including a new grandson named after my late husband, Steve.
I grew up in a loving family in Wisconsin. Since Steve has gone to be with Jesus, I have returned to this little village on the thumb of Wisconsin where I’m involved in planting an Evangelical Free church called The Orchard, which is a home church, playing pickleball and talking about Jesus on the sidelines, and thanking God each day for the amazing beauty of this place and how perfect it is for a writer who longs for quiet and inspiration!
Growing up, I lived in West Bend, Wisconsin. Both my parents were also writers and my dad told me I might not be as pretty as my sisters (What?) but that I could write. He made fifty copies of a book I wrote when I was eight called, “My Dog Chloe. “
Believe it or not, I was a theater major at Northwestern University. (My mother wanted me to marry a movie star.) The theater major didn’t stick, nor was my mother’s dream fulfilled — but God in His grace allowed me to meet Steve, who would put his trust in Christ the same time I did — the 2nd year of our marriage.
When Steve was in residency, I was leading an evangelistic Bible study for residents’ wives and couldn’t find a good guide. So, I wrote Proverbs and Parables for The Fisherman Bible Studies, which was one of the first series of Bible study guides. Luci Shaw, the editor, insisted on “no editorial content.” Let the student dig himself and ask questions! Don’t give answers. When I couldn’t resist giving a few editorial comments in my friendship guide, Luci told me to go write a book on friendship! I wrote The Friendships of Women. When Focus on the Family called and wanted to feature it, I was over the moon. That was the beginning of my writing career 30 years ago.
I spent seven years working with Kathy Troccoli on our trilogy of Falling in Love with Jesus — writing, speaking, enjoying her friendship. We are very different and stretched each other, which was good for us! Personally, I am thankful to God for having Kathy, who has been single all of her life, teach me more about approaching Jesus as my Bridegroom. God knew that Steve would die at the end of my ministry time with Kathy, and this was His preparation for me, to trust Him as my husband.
About ten years before Steve died he led us into a more deeply gospel-centered theology, for which I am so grateful. I knew the gospel was the way into the Kingdom, but I had not fully realized that the gospel has power for every day of my life for transformation. After Steve died, I asked Cook, who had some of my older Bible studyguides, if I could revise them all to reflect how I had grown, and they graciously allowed me to do that.
Suffering has caused me to press into the Lord like nothing else, and I feel the four books God has allowed me to write since Steve’s death are my best. They are:
The God of All Comfort (Finding Your Way into His Arms)
Idol Lies (Facing the Truth about our Deepest Desires)
He Call You Beautiful (Seeing Jesus in The Song of Songs)
The Jesus Who Surprises (Opening our Eyes to His Presence in All of Life & Scripture)
If I were to sum up my theology I would say:
I am more depraved than I ever imagined, and the fact that Christ had to go to the cross for my sin humbles me.
I am also more loved that I ever dared believe, and the fact that Christ went to the cross exalts me.
This is the gospel — the promise, the hope, the power. It transforms me every day of my life and helps me let go of the things that get in the way of
His presence, His peace, His power.
I am involved with Discipleship Unlimited, a prison ministry that has reduced the recidivism (rate of return) of women in prison to 4%! I have come to realize that the church in America tends to be shallow, and it is probably because we are so very prosperous. The women in prison always make me feel lukewarm, and do more for me than I for them. The publisher of my last two books Waterbrook/Multnomah, is being so supportive of getting my materials into the hands of women in prison.
For the last decade, I have posted an interactive Bible study on my website. https://www.deebrestin.com I post a new study each week. Never would I have dreamt it could lead to such rich fellowship, but it has — and I often give links to messages from The Gospel Coalition, Tim Keller, Mike Reeves, or other godly pastors. I am Reformed in my theology but minister to women from every denomination. If we believe the gospel, the truth that God send His only Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins and that our only hope is in Him, we have so much more that unites us than divides us.
I appreciate you and thank God for you.