The First Chapter: An Introduction to Yield

It’s Friday, 13th August. I’m not superstitious, but it doesn’t feel like a good day.

Face to the heartless hardwood floor; I am too distraught to lift my head.

My barely 4-year-old daughter has been in surgery for six hours—yes, six. And we are still waiting.

A brightly coloured cross of Jesus sits on a white-clothed table in front of me.

The hospital’s Faith Centre is a welcome reprieve from the pale lifeless walls, fluorescent lights, and bustle of the cafeteria.

“I’ll go this time,” I croak out to my husband, James, sitting head down, praying.

As I peel myself off the floor and make my way through the heavy sliding door, past the Reception Desk, to the elevators, I feel at least a weak sense of purpose.

I travel this well-worn path to calm my nerves. My destination? The cafeteria display screen.

Meticulously arranged, colour-coded strings of reference numbers bounce across the monitor like in an airport departure terminal.

As in an airport, I nervously wonder when I will be reacquainted with my family —my sweet girl. The last time I saw her, she was being wheeled away at 8:30 am. Stomach sick, I fought back my tears to no avail.

Now, I scan feverishly for my little girl’s unique ID.

The update? “Currently in Theatre”.

Amid the chaos, I methodically record the time and her whereabouts. It gives me some semblance of control while I feel like a passenger in a slow-motion vehicle rollover.

This whole day feels surreal—time taunts me like a trickster by seemingly standing still. Why is this happening? How will we overcome this?

I feel numb yet wired.

There’s nowhere else to go that makes sense. So, I walk back to the elevator, past the Reception Desk, open the heavy sliding door and kneel face-down on the floor again, to wait.

There was a time when this wasn’t my reality—none of it was.

Rewind eight months. It’s 5:45 am on a Sunday morning in January.

A soft twinkling alarm awakens me. I wriggle out of the covers, careful not to wake both my husband and my 2-year old son, who found his way into our bed during the night.

Tights, socks, shoes, shirt, jumper—check.

I walk out the door and up the long gravel driveway to a quiet street still in slumber. In five minutes, I’m deep amidst the trees. The road is distant, and I can only faintly hear the neighbouring dogs barking.

I’m alone—it washes over me. And it feels so good.

But I know I’m not truly alone.

“If we allow it,” James told me years earlier, “solitude will teach us that we’re not alone.” Ever the poet, I never forgot those words of his—and the meaning was never lost on me.

Even by myself, I am never genuinely alone. God is always with me—comforting me, protecting me, loving me.

As I walk further, burnt orange clay collects on my shoes. I attempt to scrape it off on a nearby rock.

Blue sky above, the gum trees all around me seem eternally unfazed. They don’t appear to notice me, let alone worry about me or anything else outside these woods.

I sit on a fallen log, hollowed out from years of lying dormant. Looking out and down, I see the glistening turquoise river—arghh, my sanctuary. I’m home.

Next, I open my notes. And I ask sincerely, “Why is it so easy for you to love?” and then I wait for a response.

Years earlier, I heard a preacher say that everyone can hear from God if they ask sincerely and listen patiently. So, I decided to try. “What’s the worst that could happen,” I thought.

To my surprise, an answer appeared immediately.

And like a text message chat between father and daughter, I asked questions, listened for replies and documented them excitedly until my stomach started to rumble. Then, I skipped home for breakfast, determined to come back and listen again soon.

I didn’t know then how much I would need those times sitting on a fallen log to process the pain that was just around the corner.

Just after my little girl turned four, she was diagnosed with cancer in her spine and abdomen. Invasive surgery was the only chance.

I clung to that space in nature. That sanctuary, beneath gum leaves, became a holy place—a meeting place of wonder, awe, curiosity and healing.

Throughout the year, exquisite and personal messages pierced my heart.

Words like:

“You have no idea of your infinite worth.”

“I won’t get tired of you ever, my dear.

And “Love is a powerful fuel.”

I was out there most mornings, scraping clay off my shoes, whether bleary-eyed or with a bounce in my step.

This book spans twelve months—one calendar year—from January to December. It’s a diary of questions and answers, covering love, loss, healing, guilt, forgiveness, salvation, honesty, acceptance, sex, marriage and death.

On the other side of the most brutal year of my life, I’m grateful.

My daughter, who we feared may die, is alive and thriving. The lengthy and delicate operation to remove the tumour from my her body was successful. She is officially cancer-free.

At the start of each year, I ask for a word or phrase to capture the essence of the year. This year’s phrase was “the year of the encounter”. An understatement.

I am no scholar, theologian, or pastor. I simply know I fell in love with the God that I met each day in the forest, and I wanted to meet again and again.

On day two of what would become the hardest year of my life, I didn’t know that solitary nature walks would offer me such uninterrupted solace and peace. Words like, “There’s no using me up,” gave me hope when things went dark. And responses like “we are much more similar than we are dissimilar” left me captivated.

I know it sounds odd and maybe even presumptuous to say God spoke to me after asking questions. It sounds outlandish even to me. Yet, this book is not a statement of beliefs. It’s what I heard when I asked simple, often obtuse, questions.

Through my conversations, I became struck by God’s deep well of unconditional love. No matter how much I questioned, doubted, or feared, I was met with kindness. The God I met was not cruel, distant, or needy. But a loving Trinity—accepting and wholehearted.

I hope this book brings you face-to-face with your image of God and stretches you to let in more grace, forgiveness and love.

I believe God is ready, eager, and waiting to meet with you in your sanctuary, wherever that is and doing whatever you do.