Risking Rest

Embracing God's Love Through Life's Uncertainties


In a world where uncertainty looms large and trials test the very essence of our beliefs, Carolyn Watts invites you to accompany her on a journey through the labyrinth of faith. At the heart of this captivating memoir lies the profound question that tugs at the core of our existence: Can we truly trust the boundless love and goodness of God, even when life seems to be falling apart?

Spanning continents and emotions, Risking Rest follows Carolyn’s unwavering commitment to faith in a good and loving God as she navigates the tumultuous waters of medicine, obstetrics, and a life-altering journey to Afghanistan. But it’s her grappling with illness and the shattering of her carefully constructed world that truly puts her trust to the test. Is her foundation strong enough to hold in the midst of chaos? Can she find a place of rest in God’s embrace?

As you journey alongside Carolyn, her experiences become mirrors reflecting your own moments of doubt, vulnerability, and resilience. As the pages unfold, you will be captivated by her struggle to believe in her worth beyond her roles. With her, you’ll discover yourself safely carried by God as an unborn babe and “midwifed” by the One who carefully tends new life. You’ll discover that same One wooing you, longing to share with you his life, love, and work in the world. You’ll find yourself carrying Christ’s life within you, your role to offer space, and then to cooperate with the rhythms of labor. In embracing her vulnerability, Carolyn unveils a profound truth – that resting in God’s love is the foundation of engaging in His work.

Mockup Carolyn Watts


Sharon Garlough Brown, MDivSpiritual director and author of the Sensible Shoes Series and the Shades of Light Series.
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“A wise and insightful book.”

Carolyn Watts knows well the landscape of loss and trauma, not only through her work as a doctor in remote villages in Afghanistan but in the depths of her own soul. In this wise and insightful book, she poses the question, “Is it safe to trust the love of God, even in the midst of our suffering, sorrow, and the fragility of our humanness?” With scars that reveal the glory and faithfulness of a good God, Carolyn answers with a resounding yes. Carolyn extends a gentle invitation for readers to join her in the journey of discovering just how safe it is to risk resting in the love of Jesus."
Jean Chamberlain, MD Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McMaster University
Founding Director of “Save the Mothers”
Member of the Order of Canada.
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“Walk with her on this journey into unexpected rest.”

"We have all seen the images on television: the mountains of central Afghanistan where the medical and human resources are few but the needs are immense. Dr. Carolyn Watts digs deep for her last drop of energy as she cares for yet another mother who stands in the doorway of the young physician’s ill-equipped hospital. She was trained for this and called to this needy part of the world. But like her patients who so easily bleed without proper health care, Carolyn also starts to bleed, to lose her vitality and strength. Risking Rest: Embracing God’s Love Through Life’s Uncertainties is a stirring reflection of her own voyage from heroic caregiver to one who required care for her own body and soul. Walk with her on this journey into unexpected rest and gain from her experience of receiving surprising grace and healing through the love of God."
Darrell Johnson, MDiv, DDivPastor, preacher, mentor of preachers, teaching fellow at Regent College, and author of eight books including The Glory of Preaching and Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey Through Revelation.
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“Captivating, life-giving, and powerfully encouraging.”

"Few people have been taken to the deep places Carolyn describes in this book, and few people have encountered God the way she has. Her insight into the gospel is captivating, life-giving, and powerfully encouraging. It needs to be proclaimed—widely! God has given Carolyn a wonderful capacity to describe events and people. Reading what she dares to share with us is, at times, an intense experience, but it left me stunned by a fresh realization of Jesus’s passion to come to us, to carry us, and to be carried in us.'
Loren E. Wilkinson, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Interdisciplinary Studies and Philosophy
Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
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“All who read it will be more open to the God who is wooing us.”

"This remarkable book is an adventure story, a love story, and a series of profound meditations on the miracle of conception, gestation, and birth. Carolyn’s years as an obstetrician in a remote village in the Afghan mountains provide the adventure. But at the heart of the book is the longer love story between God and Carolyn. In her account of the Creator’s self-giving love, Carolyn draws regularly both on her knowledge of pregnancy and childbirth as well as on her knowledge of Hebrew and Christian scripture. At the very center of the Christian story is God’s choice to become a foetus and to experience the pain and joy of human life, beginning with the messiness of birth. Only an obstetrician could tell this story about God’s labor pains, and ours. But all who read it will be more open to the God who is wooing us."
Susan S. Phillips, Ph.D.Sociologist and spiritual director, Christian spirituality teacher at the Graduate Theological Union and Regent College. Her books include Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction and The Cultivated Life: From Ceaseless Striving to Receiving Joy.
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“The storytelling is riveting. This book kindles hope.”

"Drawing on her expertise as an obstetrician and spiritual director, Dr. Watts illustrates the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth as they are, metaphorically, lived out in both our ordinary lives as well as in the extraordinary circumstances. Called to care for people in intense need, Carolyn Watts’s life testifies to the good news: we are welcomed by God in the fullness of our needy, broken, repentant, wonderfully created, and grace-blessed humanity. The storytelling is riveting. This book kindles hope."
Maxine Hancock, Ph.D.Professor Emerita, Spiritual Theology & Interdisciplinary Studies
Regent College, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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“Carefully crafted, open-hearted writing.”

"Carolyn Watts's reflections on her journey into a deeper trust in God will challenge and encourage you. She walks with the mystics in finding that disappointment and loss can become the doorway to a richer knowledge of a trustworthy God. This book leaves us wanting more: more of God, a more restful faith, and more of Carolyn’s carefully crafted, open-hearted writing."


Carolyn J. Watts, M.D., MATS (Regent College), worked as an obstetrician in Afghanistan for four years before illness ended her medical career. Now a spiritual director and writer living in Vancouver, B.C., she delights in offering grace-filled space where weary fellow pilgrims can rest in God’s love.

Her writing has been shortlisted for the Castle Quay Best New Canadian Manuscript and awarded the Luci Shaw Creative Writing Prize, the Harvey-Mackey Award for Journalism, and the Word Guild’s Best Blog of 2021. Connect with her at www.hearingtheheartbeat.com.