Surprising Allen Arnold

The surprise on his face was priceless. As he walked into our house, he stepped into his story. Entering our home, Allen was greeted by “Ryder” the watchman character in his book (played by none other than David Hetzler).

The rest of us were dressed in Bohemian attire.

Over the summer The Jericho Girls read Allen Arnold’s book, The Story of With. On our last gathering before beginning our Fall study, Allen came to fellowship with us.

We started with our one-on-one discussion, which is where the miracle of connection happens at Jericho Girls’ gatherings. The question was posed: “What kind of life do you want—a safe, predictable one or a story filled with mystery that forces you to lean into God?” And the conversations began.

Next, the Bohemian fellowship rooftop celebration commenced. We asked Allen questions, shared how his book transformed our lives, and Allen spoke about his own self-discovery in the process of writing this book with God.

And I must share a few snippets of our conversations because it was just too precious and rich not to.

“Scars scare us. Yet trying to hide or forget the painful parts of our story takes away an essential aspect of our identity.”

“Our purpose is to not only do life with God but also with others. Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment. Love God, love others.”

“I lost my mom as a young girl and I had given up on God. Allen, your book helped me to rediscover my true identity: I’m a daughter of God. And I’ve been searching for this my whole life!”

“Allen, the most pivotal moment for me in your book was when you said, ‘Help people see their stories in new ways. You can’t rescue people from their choices. That is the Creator’s role.’ My sister struggles with mental disease. What was so freeing for me was realizing that I’m not called to fix her. I’m supposed to be a guardian and help her step into her truer story.”

“If the best we can do during challenging times is hunker down and hope for something better and easier, we miss living fully in every season of life. The time to trust and risk is now. Faith isn’t needed at the victory party after the battle has been fought. It’s needed in the middle of the “not yet.”

It was a night of tears, laughter, and heartfelt transformation. Each one of us inspired and ready to step into our own stories and begin to see them with a fresh perspective.


  1. Laura L. Padgett on August 28, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Yay!!! I loved this party, this group and the affirmation that we, as women, can be who and what we were created to be. We can build each other up and love on each other and ourselves. This is powerful work Dawna. Joining you in the intentional sending forth of the good news that God loves us and we can love ourselves and each other in freedom. Luv ya.

    • Dawna Hetzler on August 31, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Yes, yes and yes, Laura!

  2. Kitty Keefer on August 30, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    What a joyful night!!!

  3. Denise gerhardt on September 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    It was a wonderful time. It was amazing to be able to be surrounded by so much talent and wisdom and kindness.

  4. Denise gerhardt on September 1, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you for including me in the Story of With. It was an eye opener for me for sure. It feel so greatful to have been a part of such taltented wonderful people. What a fun and playful way to celebrate Allen’s book.

    • Dawna Hetzler on September 3, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      So glad you could be with us and are a Jericho Girl!