On a beautiful crisp morning, our family was walking along the rocky beach of Hope, Alaska. There were mountains surrounding us, sounds of waves echoing against the bank, and eagles soaring above us. There were millions of smooth shaped rocks underneath our feet that we could see for miles. It was a cloudy, rainy day, but it didn’t take away from the beauty that surrounded us.

In order to get to Hope, we took the only road that led in and out of this hidden town tucked away in the mountains. Hope is an old gold mining town with less than two hundred residents. There is only one store, one restaurant, and one post office in this small town. The only way to stay there is to either know someone or camp at the local campground.

Even though we call Alaska our home, there is still so much to discover in this enormous state. Everywhere we go, we always discover something new. It has been two years since our family was stationed here, but we have barely broken the surface of experiencing everything Alaska has to offer. We have learned to listen to what the locals tell us. They know hidden treasures that a tourist would never see.

How much better is an experience when equipped with information?

Before the trip to Hope, a local told us to look for heart shaped rocks on the beach. On our walk, we saw hundreds of them. Our children were so excited to collect them and put them in their bags. They even had a contest to see who had the best heart shaped rock.

I love all that God teaches us from the beautiful things He has created (Job 12:8).

As we were collecting these rocks, it made me think about all the stones I’ve thrown. It made me think about the woman who was almost stoned for committing adultery (John 8:1-11).

It made me question, what happens to the stones we throw?

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7 KJV).

“And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more'” (John 8:11 ESV).

Pondering my past choices of judgement or poor responses, I am convicted that I too have a choice whether to cast the first stone or to drop my stone and walk away—giving grace, just as Jesus did.

Oh how gracious is our Lord! He doesn’t agree with or condone our mistakes but knows there will be days when we fall short (Romans 3:23 ESV).

Walking along the rocky beach that day, amazes me how these rocks have been shaped into hearts over time from the storms and waves. These rocks showed me how our hearts are shaped as well. It was a visible reminder of how the stones we throw can accumulate and make our hearts become hardened (like Pharaoh’s, Exodus 9:12) or can remain tender when we choose to drop the stones and walk away in grace.

So, do we choose to cast our stones, hardening our hearts and making it difficult to hear God’s word (Matthew 13:15)?

Or do we choose to lay down our stones at the feet of Jesus—allowing Him to shape our hearts with each storm we go through?

As I was standing in the presence of the mountains, in my rocky mess, God reminded me of what He can do when I stand in His presence. He reminded me how He’s the one who shapes my heart into the best life ever in Him—using my ugly mistakes and storms, turning them into His most glorious plan.



Heather Gillis is a military wife to a wonderful husband serving in the USAF and mother of two beautiful children. Her passion is Women’s Ministry and loves serving and leading Women’s Bible Studies. To learn more about Heather and her ministry, visit www.heathergillis.com where she posts weekly devotionals.