I am glad to introduce to you author, Bonnie S. Hirst, the woman who bravely faced the trauma of watching her daughter go to prison with a life sentence, and still found a reason to love God back for seeing her through her toughest season. Faced with raising her daughter’s kids, this and many other blessings, set Bonnie on a path to healing so much that she wrote her testimony, sharing it in her new book, Test of Faith: Surviving My Daughter’s Life Sentence, releasing September 24th. For Bonnie’s story and journey, take a look below.
Miranda ~ Hello and welcome, Bonnie! Glad to have you on TBAP today. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Bonnie: I am a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and friend. All of those relationships nurture me. I enjoy being outside, especially near water. I can sit for hours on our deck overlooking a small lake and watch hummingbirds flit between my feeders, or watch a squirrel scurry up the tree. One of my favorite pastimes is paddling my teal blue kayak on our calm lake. I often take pen and paper to write as I float aimlessly, surrounded by God’s paintbrush of nature.
Miranda ~ What led you to having a personal relationship with Jesus? Is there a particular redemption story?
Bonnie: My relationship with Jesus began my sixth-grade summer while attending church camp. I can still see the luminosity of the campfire as the dancing light outlined my camp friends. Swaying together as if one body, we sang, “Kumbaya, My Lord.” In translation it means, “Come by here.” On the last verse, I stretched my arms wide toward heaven, opened my heart, and invited God to enter my life. Warmth enveloped me. Unconditional love. From that moment forward, I knew He was with me. I knew I could rely on Him to answer my prayers.
Miranda ~ You’ve faced quite a tragedy. When your daughter first went to prison, in view of what you knew of God, how did you handle it?
Bonnie: I was in disbelief. How could the God I loved and trusted have ignored my prayers? I dove into the pity pit at home and then as reality set in…my daughter was in a maximum-security prison 300 miles away…I sank into depression. I continued to pray, but only half-heartedly. My belief system was shattered. Did I really think He would answer any of my prayers now since He had let both me and my daughter down? Six months after she went to prison, her two pre-teen children came to live with my husband and me. They were the saving grace that pulled me back to at least trying to function again. God had answered my pleas for help in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
Miranda ~ As time passed, can you say you found purpose in your pain?
Bonnie: That’s an interesting question. I had always believed that everything in life turns out for the best. During the time of my daughter’s arrest, bail time, and trial, I wasn’t able to see much good in anything. My ordered world had fallen apart and I was crushed. I now believe God continued to guide my steps even during that time. He guided me to ask our friends for help. Something I would never have done before my daughter’s arrest. Our friends sat with us during many pre-trial appearances and joined us on the wooden benches during the two-week criminal trial. They gave us their unquestionable love and support. God blessed us with a support system that helped us navigate those difficult times. We continue to enjoy the friendships we solidified during that time. By asking for help and accepting their love and support it became the largest blessing that came out of our ordeal.
Miranda ~ In retrospect, do you believe you could have done anything differently?
Bonnie: Hindsight is always better than when you are in the midst of trauma. If I had a replay, I’d hope I’d realize sooner how dire our daughter’s situation was. We should have lawyered up at the first contact with the detectives. Would that have made a difference? I don’t know. What I do know is that my heart tells me I possibly failed her as a mother in her early years. I should have verbally shared my love of God with her instead of being an armchair believer.
Miranda ~ In your new book, Test of Faith: Surviving My Daughter’s Life Sentence, due to be released this September, you chronicle a lot of events/experiences on a vulnerable level. What do you hope your readers will walk away with after reading Test of Faith?
Bonnie: My hope would be that readers will see that God guides our lives. Even when something terrible happens, it is our choice of how we will react/respond/heal from that trauma. Most times we can’t change what has happened, but we can choose to see God’s guidance along the way. It took me a while before I could acknowledge any blessings. I was fortunate to be surrounded with God’s nature. Just the act of appreciating a dew kissed flower, or a rainbow arching across the sky, helped me begin to heal. By changing the way I looked at things, my sorrow lessened. My daughter is still in prison. She has been incarcerated for ten years now, but I can still communicate with her. She has accepted Christ into her life and that blesses me tremendously.
Miranda ~ What would you say is your hope today?
Bonnie: My hope would be that we will win an appeal for her and it will allow her a shortened prison sentence. I also hope that my book will guide readers to ask for help when they are experiencing trauma. Shared burdens and prayers can be a lifeline. Acknowledge your innate power, and with God’s help, rise above what has happened. Intentionally seek out blessings in the midst of the chaos.
Miranda ~ What advice would you offer someone going through something similar as you have?
Bonnie: Continue to pray and believe that God has a plan. We aren’t privy to His plan and your life may not look like what you had envisioned. Try to acknowledge one tiny blessing in your daily life and see if it will begin to help you heal.
Tbis or That (The Fun Qs!)
Coffee, Tea or Mocha? Coffee and Mocha
Dresses or Pants? Pants definitely. I don’t own a dress.
Boots or Heels? Flip flops, tennis shoes, and loafers
Breakfast or Dinner? Breakfast
Music or Movies? Music, I love Celtic songs
Juice or Smoothie? Juice
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate, especially dark chocolate
About the Author
Bonnie S. Hirst is the author of Test of Faith: Surviving My Daughter’s Life Sentence (She Writes Press, Sept. 24, 2019). She loves feel-good movies and stories with happy endings. After a 35-year hiatus from writing during which time she was busy being a mom and grandma, she is enjoying connecting with other writers. When life tries to shorten her stride, she prays, cries, talks with her guardian angels, reads self-help books, and writes. She can often be found kayaking on a calm mountain lake. For more, visit her personal website.