What inspired you to write Finding Grace?
I had recently finished writing Pawverbs for a Dog Lover’s Heart when my publisher asked if I would be interested in cowriting a book about therapy dogs. Having written 50 short stories about different ways people encounter God’s love through dogs, I was excited for an opportunity to dive deep into one story. And after meeting Larry and Susan Randolph and learning more about the Canines for Christ ministry they started in 2007, I knew I wanted to be a part of telling this powerful story. Finding Grace combines my love of dogs, my passion for showing how animals can point human hearts to Jesus, and my commitment to writing hope-filled, gospel-saturated stories.
Our theme this year is “challenges to humanity,” and one of those challenges is mental health. Why do you think therapy dogs have a positive impact on people struggling with physical, emotional, or mental challenges?
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding around mental health issues. As a result, those who are struggling with their mental health often feel like they can’t share their challenges with others. Or, if they do share, they are sometimes met with hurtful or dismissive responses, causing them to isolate even further. That is where therapy dogs can provide such a blessing and benefit. Therapy dogs don’t judge. They don’t say the wrong thing. They simply offer their presence—and a living, breathing picture of God’s loving-kindness.
Therapy dogs don’t care what we look like or how much money we have. They don’t make us feel like we have to smile and pretend everything is okay. And they aren’t bothered by our tears—or our lack thereof. Instead, they simply sit with us in the midst of our hurt, confusion, questions, and grief. They offer us a paw to hold, fur to burrow our faces into, and a kiss on our cheek—and it doesn’t hurt that they are really cute to look at.
Therapy dogs simply offer their presence, and in doing so point to God’s presence with us—his perfect presence that invites us to come as we are; that isn’t afraid of our emotions; that stays with us through the pain; and who sees us for who we truly are.