Christian Devotionals

Contributor Spotlight: Get to Know Alia and Bonnie


We gather at this virtual table because of you — you, beloved friend and cherished daughter of the King.

Your life is significant. Your story matters. We go first in sharing our stories because that’s the best way we know how to invite you into community and cheer you on in the good, hard, painful, joyful, gritty work of womanhood. We’re so grateful you’re here!

Shining a spotlight on our fabulous contributors is just another small way we hope to serve you, to help you know you’re not alone. This week we’re delighted to help you get to know Alia Joy and Bonnie Gray. They are real and raw, broken and beautiful phenomenal women of God — probably a whole lot like you. Pull up a seat and spend a little time together. We pray your heart will be (in)couraged!

Meet Alia Joy

Tell us a little about yourself.

I belong to a family of nomads and roots that go deeper than blood or coordinates. I belong to the rag-tag and the downtrodden and the never-enoughs. I belong to the abundance and the redeemed and every measure of me that has been paid for. I belong to a legacy of faith.

I belong to the grateful and forgiven.

I belong to freedom.

I am the daughter of a book lover and a storyteller and in that birthing, I belong to writing’s call. It whispers to me that I belong to an anthology of justice and faith and so many broken stories needing told to be made right. I belong to the narrative and the truth, the glory, and the joy, and every word penned sounds like ransom has come.

I tell my stories and hope you’ll find yours in the words I share. I used to write to know I was not alone; now I write so you know you’re not either.

How long have you been an (in)courage contributor?
I’ve been with (in)courage since 2014, so it’s been five whole years now!

What’s your favorite thing about (in)courage?
My favorite thing about (in)courage is the community. Both the writers I’ve gotten to know over the years and the readers who show up every day not just for us, but for each other. I love how they take it on themselves to connect in the comments and intercede for other readers even when I haven’t been able to reply yet.

What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about the imago dei being recognized and affirmed in everyone, about equity, justice, and shalom. I’m passionate about advocating for a better understanding of mental illness, especially within the church. I’m passionate about people knowing how much God adores them. I’m big on creativity and what life looks like when we live with wonder as creators while staying fluent in the language of hope. I’m passionate about tacos, kimchi, sushi, pie, and most meals served over rice. I’m deeply passionate about my family and throw pillows and blankets. My kids are convinced my obsession with them is actually an attempt to turn our entire house into a giant bed. I mean, they’re not wrong.

What personal project are you most excited about right now?
My book, Glorious Weakness: Discovering God In All We Lack, just launched, so I’m excited over that! I’ve been astounded at God’s mercy and tenderness poured out in the release of this book. Before it even launched, God’s goodness was so evident that I knew before a single book sold that it was all worth it — Jesus is worth it. For many of my readers, they know the laboring of this book has been incredibly hard, but it’s solidified my resolve that God’s strength is always most present in our weakness and His glory is most evident in the areas where it would seem dissonant. Death to life, poverty to riches, ashes to redemption, broken to whole, last to first. The absurdity of God’s upside-down Kingdom is breathtaking.

I’d also love to do one-on-one or small group writing coaching focused entirely on the craft of writing. I love to see people come alive creating. I’m still pondering how I’d make this happen.

What is your favorite…

  • Way to start the day: I love when I wake up before the alarm. Then, it’s coffee and quiet. My absolute favorite is Saturday when Josh is home from work because he’s a morning person and I love waking up with him. He always brings me coffee in bed on the weekends.
  • Thing to wear: Pajamas, dresses with pockets, and my swimsuit. Pajamas because it’s the height of comfort, dresses with pockets because pants are mean but I still want to put my hands somewhere and I have stuff to carry — I’m very marsupial-like in this way. And my swimsuit because that means I’m swimming in a lake or river or ocean with my family, and that’s my favorite thing.
  • Sweet treat: homemade blueberry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream or pistachio gelato
  • Salty snack: seaweed and rice, potato chips with Toby’s jalapeño tofu dip, jalapeño poppers made with bacon and sriracha, salted nuts. Oh, and sweet potato fries but only if they’re crunchy not soggy.
  • Hot drink: coffee, earl gray tea with milk and vanilla and my mom’s homemade chai are my faves.
  • Thing to do with friends: a table with good food and deeeeep talking about all the things with spurts of gut-busting laughter in between. I’m a fan of road trips with friends.
  • Way to recharge: binge watching Netflix with my kids and laughing, sleep, reading, solitude and quiet, sitting in my mom’s garden in our rocking chairs, summer days in a hammock with a good book, date night, even if it’s nothing more than locking the door, holding hands in our pajamas and hanging out. Listening to sad songs, dancing to happy ones, and singing cheesy song lyrics at the top of my lungs with the windows rolled all the way down with my daughter.
  • Thing that makes you laugh: my kids make me laugh more than anything else. They have perfect comedic timing and are witty and brilliant in all the right ways. Can you tell I’m a proud mom?

What’s your favorite place to connect online?
Twitter (@aliajoyh) — because the focus is on words and conversation. Well, if you’re doing it right, it is. I am a reluctant user of Instagram and Facebook.

What does it mean to be fluent in the language of hope? In this video conversation, Alia is beautifully real and inspiring as she talks about the true nature of our deficiencies. You’re going to love this sneak peek into her new book Glorious Weakness.

Meet Bonnie Gray

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am the author of Whispers of Rest, spiritual life mentor and speaker, who is a Chinese-American girl, born in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Because journaling has always been my safe and happy place, words are where I connect most intimately with Jesus. Books have been my best friends, so it felt natural to fall in love with God as a little girl, by hearing Him speak so personally through the beautiful narratives of story and poetry in the Bible.

I’ve been through many life transitions. I grew up graduating with a degree in computer engineering and worked as a high tech professional in Silicon Valley. I also served as a missionary overseas and ministry leader, creating communities of faith.

I met the love of my life, hubby Eric, later in life, and now we have two boys who are ten and thirteen.

When my kids were little, I entered a season of healing from anxiety triggered by emotional PTSD from childhood trauma. I went on a powerful journey to learn how to really rest and create space for my emotional and physical wellbeing by incorporating soul care, inspired by Scripture and scientific research, so I could detox from stress and take better care of myself with God’s love. I am now a nature lover. I love hiking, peppermint tea, the mountains, the beach, and all things beautiful and quiet because all of life is a living prayer.

How long have you been an (in)courage contributor?
I am very blessed to be one of original team of writers to join (in)courage when it began, ten years ago this August! I started blogging the same year my younger son and (in)courage was born. God works in mysterious ways!

What’s your favorite thing about (in)courage?
I love that (in)courage started with a brave vision of faith that was honest and heartfelt to connect women who love Jesus. This is the heartbeat of this space: sharing real stories of real women in this age of social media noise.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about spiritual mentoring and soul care. I love mentoring women to rest and nurturing them, so they can learn ways to create space for emotional health and to experience God’s love more personally in everyday life. I love guiding them to create new rhythms of rest and prayer to detox from stress, take better care of themselves, with spiritual practices and self-care, to shine as God’s beloved.

It’s so important to experience God’s love in practical ways and grow in our inner spiritual life, shaped by each of our unique stories and gifting. We need to stop trying to fit cookie-cutter molds, move faith from the head to the heart, and that’s what I love inspiring women to do!

What personal project are you most excited about right now?
I’m working on creating new online studies to help women rest and experience more joy and peace. I’ll be starting Rest & Soul Care Online Community Groups to encourage and disciple women to take better care of themselves and nurture them spiritually, and I’m also starting a new online study on how to study the Bible to hear God personally. You can sign up here!

I’m also working on a new Find Your Spark Series for my podcast Coffee Break For Your Soul. Life can feel overwhelming, and I’d love to cheer you on with a story to help you blossom and a Bible Verse to lift your heart. Subscribe here!

What is your favorite…

  • Way to start the day: I love hiking a light trail in the morning after I drop off the kids at school. It’s me-time, an easy way to hear God speak among the trees and mountains. With the sky above me, my day feels right, soaking in beauty in nature. I’m ready to pour out, having fed my soul, which I can return to throughout the day if I feel stressed.
  • Thing to wear: A smile and my soft white summer cotton dress.
  • Sweet treat: Strawberry pastry.
  • Salty snack: I love all kinds of chips.
  • Hot drink: Peppermint tea or a soy-cappuccino with honey.
  • Thing to do with friends: Going out for dinner or meeting up for coffee and a pastry.
  • Way to recharge: Hiking, journaling, taking a bath, a good book, one-on-one time with a friend.
  • Thing that makes you laugh: Popcorn party with my kids and dates nights with my hubby.

What’s your favorite place to connect online?
Please join me on Instagram! Social media can be so noisy for the soul, so I love sharing inspiring quotes and beautiful photos of nature that help calm and spark joy to the soul.

You can also connect with me on my blog. If words are also your soul’s love language, I love writing quiet letters to refresh your soul by sharing my journey and my stories. Sign up for my blog newsletter, as I share devotionals, soul care tips, prayers, and helpful scientific studies paired with Scripture.

How do we make time for soul care in our fast-paced world? Bonnie’s joy and passion as a spiritual rest mentor shine through in this encouraging conversation. Watch this video and then check out Bonnie’s new ebook, You’re Worth Loving, and sign up to learn more about her upcoming online course, “How to Study the Bible to Hear God personally.”

And that’s a wrap, friends! It’s been so fun getting to know all our (in) contributors in a deeper way. If you’ve missed any past spotlights, you can find them all here.

I love @incourage’s #ContributorSpotlights! Come get to know @aliajoyH and @TheBonnieGray! Click To Tweet