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Love Can: Quina Aragon’s Story (Continued)

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
August 1, 2023 5:15 am

Love Can: Quina Aragon’s Story (Continued)

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 1, 2023 5:15 am

Children's book author Quina Aragon encountered profound hurt in both her past and present. But the God she came to know proved Himself more overwhelming—and inspiring—than her pain.

Show Notes and Resources

Connect with Quina Aragon at quinaaragon.com, listen to her on Spotify, find her on Audible and watch her spoken word videos on YouTube.

Find Quina on social media, add her on Insta and Facebook.

And grab Quina's book, Love Made in our shop.

Check out her other books, Love GaveandLove Can.

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Kids books and stories and even superhero stories are all about how you are the superhero and you have the superpower just within yourself, but we don't have that power to love like Jesus all by ourselves. Guess what Jesus promised his disciples before he left?

He said, I'm going to leave you with a superpower helper so that you can experience God's love for you and you could show God's love to other people, even when it's hard. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So not many kids can say this. Third grade, Mrs. Humphreys was my teacher in a little tiny little school in Finley, Ohio. You probably remember that school. You drove by it. I don't think you went to elementary school there, did you?

No. Furman Elementary. And I'll never forget this, every day she would have a Bible story that she would read in a public school to the whole class.

Oh, wow. That's before they took the Bible out of schools. Yeah, I don't want to tell them how old I am, but yeah, this is a long time ago. But it was your favorite time?

Well, I mean, recess was really the best because I could dominate on the playground. But no, I mean, I can remember and she had like a kid's story Bible and she would just sit in the front and open it up. And I'm not a churchgoing kid.

I mean, I'm from a broken home and my mom would try and take me to church and I had to go, but I didn't like it. But I'll never forget Mrs. Humphreys. She introduced me to the story of the Bible. You know what I remember? I remember giving my life to Jesus and opening the Bible and starting to read. I didn't even know Old Testament, New Testament. I didn't know it was divided into books, but I started to read. And I remember thinking, are you serious? Like, this is amazing.

How did no one tell me about this? You know, and so isn't that interesting? Our views of the Bible experience, some of our first days of reading the Bible or hearing it. Yeah, I mean, story is powerful. And today we get to jump into another story, the Bible story, but Kena Aragon story that we started yesterday. I mean, we got a lot of your story, but Kena, welcome back. Thank you. And we want you to keep going on your story. And if you missed yesterday, I don't want to recap it. I'm going to recap your whole life in one sentence.

Can't do it. You need to go back and listen. Well, you've given your life to him. You've surrendered your life to him. Did you assume like, okay, this is going to be great. And it was probably yes and no. I knew that God would do amazing things.

I didn't know what that meant. Really what I knew at that time, especially and even now is that I just want Jesus. I want him to be near and I want to be near to him. But even in the middle of that honeymoon period of first coming to know the Lord at 16, a father figure mentor passed away suddenly heart attack. Don't think he knew the Lord, but he was a big influence in my life. He taught me how to play basketball.

He was just a big deal to me. And then shortly after that, my parents got a divorce. Then we dealt with addiction in my family. We dealt with a friend of mine from my old basketball team dying in a boating accident. Drinking and boating and it was just back to back to back. When did you start writing poetry?

Oh, right after I came to know the Lord. So that was back like when I was 16, 17. So you kept writing.

I kept going. I did the poetry club at USF. I would do the open mic nights.

I would perform at churches if they wanted me to come and things like that. So I kept going for sure with those things in college. I didn't think about being published one day.

That wasn't really on my mind. I saw it as almost like evangelism, like, OK, I'm going to proclaim something, but through poetry. And so that that's what I did throughout college and after. And afterwards, around the time I met my husband, even a little bit before, that's when YouTube kind of, I sound so old now, YouTube became a thing. And so then it was like, oh, maybe you should put some videos out there. And so I started working with other creatives in my area and would create spoken word videos.

And so that's kind of how that got going. Can you give us like a paragraph written that's in your head that like this ministered to me as I wrote it? There's one that I still want to make a video for called Just an Arrow. It's something like, He had his eyes set beyond shadows and leaves, trees blended together, a dark forest filled with fog would not block his purpose for he had determined to never be filled with regret. And then it goes on about this warrior who anyways, I don't want to give it all away. It's a warrior who's going through a forest and he's shaping the arrow, but it's from the arrows perspective and how uncomfortable that arrow is in the quiver and how it's bumping against other arrows and how it's not understanding its purpose. But when he shoots it, it hits his target, living flesh, this person.

And instead of killing the person, the plot twist at the end is that it actually brings them to life. And so it's this ministry of reconciliation that we've been given and we're sent out as arrows, but it's very uncomfortable. Like imagine yourself as an arrow being shot through and you're just like all of these dizzying colors and all of this forest, the trees blending together and fog and you don't really always understand what's going on. And then God uses you and you're like, what?

How? Like in all of this mess and dizziness, like how can you use me? And yeah, there's just so many pieces that God has given me. Oftentimes, like I said before, just coming out of where I'm at. Even as we talk to you off mic, we know you've walked through some things in the last few years.

Talk to us about that because Jesus has met you in a way that's been powerful, but hard. Yeah, I've had a lot of health issues the last four years, chronic pain, and I was like an athlete. Any doctor's checkup would just be like, yep, you're good. And that's what I was used to growing up. Back in 2019, I developed these ovarian cysts that were massive and would just completely debilitate me.

And back then, because endometriosis is oftentimes not diagnosed and sometimes doctors don't know to even explore that, I was just told take some Motrin and good luck. And here's an emergency bill. I was dealing with that.

I would say 2019, John and I, my husband and I would say we've just been in the furnace since then. We experienced his aunt and uncle being deported unjustly after being here in the States for about 20 years. They were pastors and ran a soccer company in Tampa. I mean, they were just a big part of the community. So we experienced that trauma and then my grandmother dying, who was the matriarch of my family.

And then my health just started to decline with the cysts, but not really getting the help that I needed medically. But you had a daughter in the midst of that? Yeah.

Yeah. She was what was she like three. So I mean, she might not remember all of that.

But what she would remember was really when she was about four beginning of 2020. I went to go speak at this Bible conference thing. It was out of the States. So I called my husband at like 1 a.m. in extreme pain, pelvic pain. And should I go to the ER?

Should I wait it out? It kind of died down. So I went back to Tampa, back home, and we went to see my gynecologist. And I specifically asked for this one woman who had treated me really great when I was pregnant. And we get there and she had a family emergency.

So she wasn't there. So they were like, but we have this one this male doctor. I was like, I don't want a male doctor.

No, but I was like, well, we drove all the way here. Turns out in God's providence, he specializes in endometriosis. He's like world renowned for as a surgeon, as a specialist in endo. And he was the one who really spotted that and advocated for me. And boom, immediately had surgery and then got diagnosed with stage four endometriosis, which I didn't even know had stages back then.

But it does. And stage four is the worst. And so I had the worst you can have even after surgery. You know, we were dealing with infertility before that and after so secondary infertility.

And we were told after the first surgery, it kind of clears things out so that hopefully you can get pregnant again. And we kept trying and trying and nothing. So that was very, very, very difficult. A lot of grief, that long stretched out grief and anxiety around that within that same year had another cyst that was even larger. So then had that go back into another surgery was told you might have ovarian cancer.

Thank God I didn't. But immediately had surgery then. Meanwhile, all my friends are, you know, on their second, third, fourth baby.

And so dealing with that. And then then the third surgery came a year later. And before that third surgery, my back gave I was actually writing I was in the middle of writing a book for Moody Publishers on the love of God. And I was enjoying myself, too, because I was studying. Oh, man, this is so cool. And I love what I'm writing.

I love what I'm learning. And mysteriously, just in the middle of the night, this pain came from the back of the mid mid back area wrapped around to my ribs to my chest. And then it traveled up to my neck to where every time I would inhale, it felt like someone was stabbing my lungs. And I was so confused because I had not done some crazy exercise or anything like that.

It was just a regular day. And I had to go to the ER and they this was during kind of COVID protocols. So my husband was with me in the ER when they were like, it's good you came because your heart's producing excess troponin and there could be some cardiac issue going on.

Also, there might be a blood clot. Also, have you do you have a living will like have you signed it like it was just boom, boom, boom, my body shaking. I'm just thinking, am I going to be able to see my daughter ever again?

Will she ever see me again? And then they're like, we're going to bring you upstairs and your husband can't come. So we're just going to monitor you and do all these tests. And so that brush with potential, you know, death was was really traumatic and really big for us as a family in 2021.

And really, I thought that was gonna be like a two week thing. It ended up being in short a year and a half, almost two years of debilitating back pain. Like on a good day, it was four out of 10 pain. On a typical day, it was about six or seven out of 10 pain. And on my worst days with flare ups, it'd be eight or nine out of 10 pain. I'm taking way too many meds than anybody should be taking and trying to find your mom. Yeah. And then going from doctor to doctor and being told Have you tried yoga?

Yes, I'm trying that. So something way more severe, just the results not being is very mysterious chronic illness with the back going into last year 2022. My health was just in shambles. And we were just not able to carry the load of trying to bring my daughter to school trying to just do regular life stuff.

When I'm having chronic fatigue and chronic back pain, and then I developed these cysts even though I'm on meds for that and had three surgeries at that point. We were just like we need to move like we need to move back home. And so we came back to Orlando and I had my fourth kind of final Lord willing surgery where they had to remove pretty much everything ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus, all of that hope it's okay that I'm being very transparent.

But that was last September. That was a massive decision because obviously we would have liked to have, you know, if it were up to me three, four kids, I love kids. I mean, I write kids books.

I love kids. But yeah, in God's providence, that's just how how it happened. And the surgery was successful. But now I'm working through the hormonal changes immediately puts you in menopause at age 33.

And so I jokingly say to my aunt who's like about to hit menopause, I'm like, if you need any advice, let me know. How did you end up writing these three children's books in the midst of all that? I think the first one is really special because that came from a time in prayer. I was pregnant. And that love made. So back then when I was pregnant, I didn't know I had any issues.

I thought I was just regular healthy person. Our pregnancy was a surprise. So it was very shortly after we got married and we were like, well, wait two years. Boom, you're pregnant. I wrestled with that. I'm not ready.

I don't know if I'm mature enough to be a mom. And so I wrestled that. And then I had my this health issue in my pregnancy where I would bleed. And so we thought we lost the baby.

We didn't. After all that, I was praying and thinking about the Trinity. And I was just thinking about God being the Father, Son and Spirit.

And this, not just like the intellectual exercise of thinking about that, but just really delighting in the fact that God has lived in a community of love from before the foundation of the world. Like that blows my mind. They were in relationship. In relationship. Yeah.

Yes. And God is love as the scripture says. And so thinking of creation as this overflow of joy within the Trinity, within the Godhead that has overflowed so that the creatures of the world and humans especially can experience that love and be kind of brought into that, enveloped into that love. And so as I was praying about these things in my brain, it connected somehow to marriage and pregnancy. And how would I explain creation to my daughter?

How would I explain the image of God to my daughter? And out came this poem in my journal. It's beautiful.

Thank you. So I had a friend who was pregnant at the same time as me in my neighborhood and at my church, and she asked me to do a poem for her baby shower. And I was, I don't have a poem on kids because I've never had a kid, so I can't do that. So I told her no. And then the same day as her baby shower, I wrote this poem. And so I texted her and I was like, do you want me to just like read it for my journal? Like I haven't memorized it.

She's like, yeah, that's fine. So I did it and the whole room's like crying at the end. So then I'm thinking maybe there's something to this piece. So I asked my animator friend to make a YouTube video out of it. I did the voiceover.

He did the animation. And then that's when it really gained traction and got picked up and eventually got published. I can't wait to read this to our grandkids. It gets beautiful. And I love the concept of it, the illustrations.

I feel like there aren't a lot of children's books that are reflecting the beauty of this kind of relationship. Yeah, I gotta be honest. When I picked it up, I thought I won't read the whole thing. I'll skim it. I read the whole thing.

And I read all three sitting there on the couch. And you know, hearing your story now, here's my thought. It may be totally wrong. You can't have biological children, but God's given you the gift of producing children really through these books.

I mean, it's not over. You're going to continue to birth in a different way. Beautiful children are going to be impacted all over the world by what you write.

I'm guessing there's a lot more to come. Amen. Thank you. Thank you for saying that. Tell us about Love Gave, which was the second one.

Okay, yeah. So Love Gave basically just continues that storyline of the Bible in a simplified way, but in that same lyrical style, that same sort of Trinitarian lens of love. And it explores the problem of sin. And it uses this friendship paradigm to say, hey, God made us to be friends with him, but our sin gets in the way of that so that we can't be friends.

Why don't you read a couple of those pages right there? So each book starts out the same and the same line for all three books. Before God made the heavens and the earth, he lived in perfect joy. He delighted in himself, one forever existing perfect being, Father, Son, and Spirit, all one. And then each book has a different line right after that. So in this case, in Love Gave, it's in Love God made everything, even you and me.

Now, he made us to be his friends, but we have a big, big problem. Do you know what it is? And then that gives kids a chance to go, oh, it's this or that. It's this big word sin.

And then it goes into Adam and Eve walk away from God in the Garden of Eden. And so it introduces sin as this problem that keeps us away from God that we can't be friends with him because kids, you know, this kid I just met on the swings, he's my best friend now. You know, everything's about friendship at that time. It's the gospel.

Yes, and it is. And the gospel is a story of friendship. It talks about sin, but then it also brings in Jesus as this friend of sinners and this friend of children that he received them as they were and that what we can do to be friends with God now is really based off of what God did for us. So it's this idea that love God is love and love love so much that love gave us Jesus. So that's another line that's sort of repeated in all three books that God is love and love love so much blank.

So in love gave, it's that love gave us Jesus, that all we have to do is believe in him and trust in him to be friends with him again. And then this last book, of course. You're going to have to read them all? No, but I can do story time. I know.

But I love this one. A story of God's super power helper. Yes. Yeah. So love can and that kind of continues the biblical story from there.

I'm trying to give you some music to let you do your thing. Love can introduces the power of the Holy Spirit using that superhero superpower theme. I love the superpower of love.

Yeah. But it's a little bit subversive in terms of the way that the culture, our culture thinks about superpower. So most kids books and stories and even superhero stories are all about how you are the superhero and you have the superpower just within yourself. But love can is trying to tell kids, listen, we don't have that power to love like Jesus all by ourselves.

We need a superpower. Guess what Jesus promised his disciples before he left. He said, I'm going to leave you with a superpower helper so that you can experience God's love for you and you could show God's love to other people. Even when it's hard, even when you have to wait in line or you have to share your toys or you have to forgive when that boy said something mean to you.

And for grownups, we need that reminder as well that this parenting thing, this mentoring thing, this whatever season of life we're in. We don't have the power just from our own resources to be able to love like God or to love like Christ or even to experience the love of God. But love, love so much that love came to live in us. That's the line in love can. So good. That we can love too because of God.

And actually, really quick, the title for this last one, I remember before I knew I had to write a third book and I wanted it to be about the Holy Spirit. I wasn't sure. I was like, love does, love doesn't. And my it was the day that my grandmother passed away. My whole family was there in hospice and my cousin and I pulled away to get a breather at one point, my older cousin, Marusha. And she said, what about love can?

And I was like, of course, all the light bulbs went off in my head and I was like, yep, that's it. And so it's just amazing how death and pain was juxtaposed with the birthing of this idea for this book, that love can. Kina, you are remarkable. And I think it's a great reminder for all of us that even in the midst of our pain, our journey, God still is using us.

He'll make a dent where we're sent. And I love that you haven't given up, that you've continued to persevere, that you've continued to follow Jesus even when it's been difficult. Like you've had a rough road at times, as we all do at times. But thank you for giving us your heart, for giving God all of your gifts so that he can use them. You're remarkable. Wow. Praise God. Thanks to the Holy Spirit. Thank you, guys. Thank you. You know, I heard this phrase a long time ago when I was first struggling with chronic pain in my life.

I have a degenerative disc disease where I have a disc that pushes on my sciatic nerve and creates radiating pain down my right leg. But as I was wrestling with that, I heard this phrase, either read it or maybe heard it in a sermon that said, Don't waste your pain. And that really stuck with me. And I found that as I was trying not to waste my pain, that wasn't only just for me and my spiritual benefit and my relationship with God, but it was also for how God could use my pain to bring life to my story and the story of other people as well. As I began to talk about my pain and share about what I was wrestling with, I found that it brought life to others as they wrestled with their pain. The end of Genesis proves to us that even though there are horrible things in the world, God can use them for good. That doesn't mean that he approves of the pain. In fact, he hates the pain more than I do. But he's still able to use it in my life and in the lives of others.

I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Kena Aragon on Family Life Today. I really love this conversation, and Kena has written a book for kids called Love Can, a story of God's superpower helper. We don't talk about the Holy Spirit enough, and this book definitely does that. It explains to kids who the Holy Spirit is, and it's not just for kids, it's also for parents too. So you can pick up a copy of that book, Love Can, at familylifetoday.com, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329.

Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Alright, question for you. How have you seen loneliness rising around you, like right there in your community?

And what if there's something that actually you could do about it, not just like other people could do about it, but you? Well, we make it easy to connect deeper with God, your community, and your spouse through Family Life's convicting laugh-out-loud vertical marriage from Dave and Anne Wilson. Because yes, you might be just the person God wants to lead a small group this fall. So you'll find transformative discussion questions, actionable vertical moments for deeper spiritual intimacy, plus a video-based study with zero-liter prep. We'd love to hear that.

And just the right amount of easy application homework. So you can find and preview Family Life's small group studies, all of them, in today's show notes, and get 25% off for a limited time. And you can also partner with us here at Family Life to make those studies possible, and donating to make them happen. You can become a partner now at familylifetoday.com, or again, give us a call at 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. You can also drop us something in the mail.

Simply send your donation to Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. Now Dave and Anne Wilson are back again tomorrow with Kena Aragon, where she talks about five ways that Christian parents can help their kids find Jesus and grow in Christ. That's tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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