FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Love Can: Quina Aragon’s Story (Continued)

with Quina Aragon | August 1, 2023
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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.

Kids’ books and stories and even superhero stories are all about how you are the superhero, and you have the superpower 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 show God’s love to other people even when it’s hard.” -- Quina Aragon

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

The God that children’s book author Quina Aragon came to know proved Himself more overwhelming—and inspiring—than her pain.

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Love Can: Quina Aragon’s Story (Continued)

With Quina Aragon
August 01, 2023
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Love Can: Quina Aragon's Story (Continued)

Quina: Kids’ books and stories and even superhero stories are all about how you are the superhero, and you have the superpower 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 show God’s love to other people even when it’s hard.”

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife 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 or on the FamilyLife® app.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: Not many kids can say this: [In] third grade, Mrs. Humphries was my teacher in a tiny, little school in Findlay, Ohio. You probably remember that school.

Ann: Oh yes, totally.

Dave: You drove by it. I don’t think you went to that elementary school there, did you? Furman Elementary—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.

Quina: Oh, wow!

Ann: That’s before they took the Bible out of schools.

Dave: Yes, I don’t want to tell them how old I am. But, yes, this was a long time ago.

Ann: But it was your favorite time?

Dave: Well, recess was really the best because I could dominate on the playground.

But I can remember, and she had a kids’ story Bible. She would sit in the front and open it up. I’m not a church-going kid; I’m from a broken home. My mom had tried to take me to church. I had to go, but I didn’t like it. But I’ll never forget Mrs. Humphries, she introduced me to the story of the Bible.

Ann: You know what I remember? I remember giving my life to Jesus and opening the Bible and starting to read. I didn’t know Old Testament, New Testament. I didn’t know it was divided into books. But I started to read. I remember thinking, “Are you serious? This is amazing!”

Dave: Stories are powerful. Today we get to jump into another Bible story. But Quina Aragon’s story that we started yesterday. We got a lot of your story, but Quina, welcome back.

Quina: Thank you.

Dave: We want you to keep going on your story. 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.

Ann: You’ve given your life to Him; you’ve surrendered your life to Him. Did you assume, “Okay, this is going to be great”? And it was probably.

Quina: 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.

Even in the middle of that honeymoon period of first coming to know the Lord at 16, a father-figure mentor passed away suddenly [of] a heart attack. [I] 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 a big deal to me.

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 [from] drinking and boating. It was back to back to back.

Ann: When did you start writing poetry?

Quina: Right after I came to know the Lord. That was back when I was 16 and 17.

Ann: So, you kept writing it?

Quina: I kept going. I did the poetry club at USF. I would do the open mike nights. I would perform at churches if they wanted me to come and things like that. I kept going 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 evangelism; like, “Okay, I’m going to proclaim something, but through poetry.” That’s what I did throughout college and after.

Afterwards, around the time I met my husband, even a little bit before, that’s when YouTube—I sound so old now—YouTube became a thing. [Laughter] Then it was “Oh, maybe you should put some videos out there.”

So, I started working with other creatives in my area and would create spoken-word videos. That’s how that got under way.

Ann: Can you give us a paragraph written that’s in your head that “This ministered to me as I wrote it.”

Quina: 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.
Dark forest filled with fog would not block His purpose,
for He had determined to never be filled with regret…

Then it goes on about this warrior. Anyway, I don’t want to give it all away.

Ann: Oh.

Quina: It’s a warrior who’s going through a forest, and he’s shaping an arrow. But it’s from the arrow’s 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. Instead of killing the person the plot twist at the end is that it actually brings them to life.

It's this ministry of reconciliation that we’ve been given. We’re sent out as arrows but it’s very uncomfortable. Imagine yourself as an arrow being shot through. You’re all of these dizzying colors and all of this forest, the trees blending together, and fog. You don’t always understand what’s going on, and then God uses you. You’re [thinking], “What? How? In all of this mess and dizziness, how can You use me?”

There are so many pieces that God has given me oftentimes, like I said before, just coming out of where I’m at.

Dave: As we talked to you off-mike, 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.

Quina: Yes, I’ve had a lot of health issues the last four years chronic pain. I was an athlete never really any doctors checkup would be, “Yes, you’re good.” That’s what I was used to growing up.

Back in 2019, I developed ovarian cysts that were massive and would completely debilitate me. Back then, because endometriosis is often times not diagnosed and sometimes doctors don’t know even to explore that, I was told, “Take some Motrin and good luck.”

Dave: Oh, really.

Quina: And, “Here’s an emergency bill.”

I was dealing with that. I would say—2019, John and I would say, my husband and I, would say we’ve just been in the furnace since then. He 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. They were a big part of the community.

He experienced that trauma. Then my grandmother dying who was the matriarch of my family. Then my health started to decline with the cysts. But not really getting the help that I needed medically.

Ann: But you had a daughter in the midst of that?

Quina: Yes, she was—what was she? Three, so she might not remember all of that. But what she would remember was when she was about four beginning of 2020, I went to go speak at this Bible conference thing. It was out of the state so I called my husband at one a.m. in extreme pain, pelvic pain: “Should I go to the ER? Should I wait it out?”

It died down so I went back home, and we went to see my gynecologist. I specifically asked for this one woman who had treated me really great when I was pregnant. We get there and she had a family emergency so she wasn’t there. They said, “We have this male doctor.”

I said, “I don’t want a male doctor.” [Laughter] “No.” But I said, “Well, we drove all the way here.”

It turns out in God’s providence he specializes in endometriosis. He’s world-renowned as a surgeon as specialist in endo. He was the one who spotted that and advocated for me. 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.

Even after surgery—we were dealing with infertility before that and after, so secondary infertility. We were told after the first surgery it clears things out, so that hopefully you can get pregnant again. We kept trying and trying and nothing so that was very very difficult, a lot of grief, long stretched out grief and anxiety around that.

Within that same year [I] had another cyst that was even larger so had to go back into another surgery [and] was told, “You might have ovarian cancer.” Thank God I didn’t, but immediately had surgery then.

Meanwhile, all my friends are on their second, third, fourth baby, so dealing with that. Then the third surgery came a year later. Before that third surgery, my back gave out. I was in the middle of writing a book for Moody on the love of God. [Laughter] I was enjoying myself, too, because I was studying and thinking, “Oh man, this is so cool.”

Mysteriously, in the middle of the night this pain came from that back of the midback area, wrapped around to my ribs to my chest, and then it traveled up to my neck to where anytime I would inhale it felt like someone was stabbing my lungs. I was so confused because I had not done some crazy exercise or anything like that. It was just a regular day.

I had to go to the ER. This was during COVID protocols, so my husband was with me in the ER. They [said], “It’s good you came because your heart’s producing excess troponin. There could be some cardiac issues going on. Also, there might be a blood clot; also, do you have a living will? Have you signed….” It was just boom, boom, boom.

My body was shaking. I was thinking, “Am I going to be able to see my daughter every again. Will she ever see me again?

Then they said, “We’re going to bring you upstairs and your husband can’t come. We’re going to monitor you and do all these tests.”

That brush with potential death was really traumatic and really big for us as a family in 2021. Really, I thought that was going to be a two-week thing. It ended up being short of a year and a half almost two years of debilitating back pain. On a good day, it was four out of ten pain. On a typical day it was six out of seven out of ten pain, and on my worst days with flair ups it would be eight or nine out of ten pain. I was taking way too many meds than anybody should be taking trying to find.

Ann: And you’re a mom.

Quina: Yes; then going from doctor to doctor and being told, “Have you tried yoga?” “Yes, I’m trying that.” [Laughter] “This is something way more severe.”

The results not being—it was a very mysterious chronic illness with the back. Going into last year, 2022, my health was in shambles, and we were not able to carry the load of trying to bring my daughter to school and trying to just do regular life stuff when I’m having chronic fatigue and chronic back pain. Then I developed these cysts even though I’m on meds for that and had three surgeries at that point. We said, “We need to move; we need to move back home.”

So, we came back to Orlando, and I had my fourth final—Lord willing—surgery where they had to remove pretty much everything. That was a massive decision because obviously we would have liked to have, if were up to me, three, four [children]. I love kids. I write kids’ books. I love kids.

But in God’s providence that’s how it happened. The surgery was successful but now I’m working through the hormonal changes that immediately puts you in menopause at age 33.

Ann: How did you end up writing these three children’s books in the midst of all that?

Quina: I think the first one is special because that came from a time in prayer. I was pregnant.

Dave: This is this one, Love Made.

Quina: Yes, Love Made. Back then when I was pregnant, I didn’t know I had any issues. I thought I was just a regular healthy person. Our pregnancy was a surprise. It was very shortly after we got married, and we said, “We’ll wait two years.” Boom! You’re pregnant.

I wrestled with that. I [thought], “I don’t know if I’m not ready. I don’t know if I’m mature enough to be a mom.” I wrestled with that. Then I had this health issue in my pregnancy where I would bleed. So, we thought we lost the baby, but we didn’t.

After all of that, I was praying and thinking about the Trinity. I was 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. That blows my mind.

Ann: They were in relationship.

Quina: —in relationship, yes! God is love, as the Scripture says. 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 brought into that, enveloped into that, love.

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.

Ann: It’s beautiful.
Quina: Thank you.

I had a friend who was pregnant at the same time as me in my neighborhood and at my church. She asked me to do [write] a poem for her baby shower. I said, “I don’t have a poem on kids because I’ve never had a kid,” so I told her “No.” Then that same day as her baby shower I wrote this poem.

I texted her and I said, “Do you want me to just read it from my journal. I haven’t memorized it.”

She said, “Yes, that’s fine.” I did it and the whole room was crying at the end. Then I was 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 voice over; he did the animation. That’s when it really gained traction and got picked up and eventually got published.

Ann: I can’t wait to read this to our grandkids. It’s beautiful. I love the concept of it the illustrations. I feel like there aren’t a lot of children’s books that reflect the beauty of this kind of relationship.

Quina: Yes.

Dave: I’ve got to 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. I read all three sitting there on the couch.

Hearing your story now, here’s my thought. It may be totally wrong. You can’t have biological children, but God’s giving you the gift of producing children through these books. It’s not over. You are going to continue to [give] birth in a different way beautiful children that are going to be impacted all over the world by what you write.

I’m guessing there’s a lot more to come.

Quina: Amen. Thank you. Thank you for saying that.

Ann: Tell us about Love Gave, which was the second one.

Quina: Love Gave 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. 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.

Ann: Why don’t you read a couple of those pages right there?

Quina: Of course. 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.

Then each book has a different line right after that. 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?

[Laughter] Then that gives the kids a chance to say, “Uh, it’s this and that.” Then it’s this big word, “Sin.” Then it goes into Adam and Eve walking away from God in the garden of Eden.

It introduces sin as this problem that keeps us away from God [so] that we can’t be friends with Him. Because kids think, “This kid I just met on the swings, he’s my best friend now.” Everything’s about friendship at that time.

Ann: It’s the gospel.

Quina: Yes, and it is. The gospel is the 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.

It’s this idea that God is love and Love loves so much that Love gave us Jesus. That’s another line that’s repeated in all the books that God is love and Love loves 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.

This last book, of course, Love Can.

Dave: You’re going to have her read them all?

Ann: No, but I—

Quina: We could do story time.

Ann: I know, but I love this one: “A story of God’s superpower helper.”

Quina: Yes; yes. Love Can, and it continues the biblical story from there to say—

[Guitar Playing]

Dave: [I’m] trying to give you some music to let you do your thing. [Laughter]

Quina: Love Can introduces the power of the Holy Spirit using that superhero superpower theme that—

Ann: I love the superpower of love.

Quina: Yes, but it’s a little bit subversive in terms of the way that our culture thinks about superpowers. Most kids’ books and stories and even superhero stories are all about how you are the superhero, and you have the superpower within yourself.

But Love Can is trying to tell kids, “Listen, we don’t have the power to love like Jesus all by ourselves. We need a superpower helper.”

Dave: Preach it.

Quina: “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 can 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 says something mean to you.”

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 loves so much that Love came to live in us.” That’s the line in Love Can; that we can love, too, because of God.

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 [thinking], Love Does, Love This.” It was the day 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.”

Of course, all of the light bulbs went off in my head. I said, “Yes, that’s it.” So, it’s amazing how death and pain was juxtaposed with the birthing of this idea for this book that Love Can.

Ann: Quina, 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 us a dent where we’re sent.

Quina: Yes.

Ann: 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. You’ve had a rough road, at times, as we all do at times. Thank you for giving us your heart for giving God all of your gifts so that He can use them. You’re remarkable.

Quina: Wow! Praise God. Thanks to the Holy Spirit. [Laughter] Thank you guys. Thank you.

Shelby: 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. 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.”

That really stuck with me. I found that as I was trying not to waste my pain it 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 Ann Wilson with Quina Aragon on FamilyLife Today.

I really loved this conversation. Quina 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.

You can pick up a copy of that book, Love Can, at, 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.”

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Now, Dave and Ann Wilson are back again tomorrow with Quina 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 Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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