Tag Archive | Yolonda Tonette Sanders

“God’s Timing”


“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Nike popularized the phrase “Just Do It” when the company adopted it as a motto. Many of us have said those three words a time or twenty when speaking with someone who seemed to procrastinate moving forward on something. When we use the phrase, we’re really saying, “stop making excuses and get busy!”

Procrastination is not a word that people would use to describe me. It’s not even how I would describe myself. Yet, my most recent book project only came about because my hand was “forced.”

For at least a decade, I’d been thinking about putting together a one-year weekly devotional, but I put it off, thinking that I had too many other things on my plate. I wanted this to be a collaborative project, and I wondered how I would gather everyone together for the work. Eventually, I talked myself out of it. Years would pass before I gave it any more serious thought, even though the idea never left my mind.

In 2020, the devotional idea again gained momentum when I aimed to help an organization publish a devotional with its members. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out for several reasons, but the ball was already rolling, so I began creating the devotional as a Yo Productions project. The end result was a final compilation of works that outweighs my best imaginations.

I now wonder if the delays over the years and with the other organization were simply part of the process that propelled me to complete the project at this appointed time. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (NIV). When I finally began executing the plan for the devotional, things were delayed a year because of situations outside of my control. What I thought was a delay turned out to be “perfect timing!”

I’m sure that many others have such testimonies of things not happening when you wanted them to but happening at the time they were supposed to. Of course, real procrastinators will use God’s timing as an excuse to not do any prep work at all. As I look back on the years that I “put off” this project, I now see how God was preparing me. I wasn’t aware of such at that time, but now it’s plain as day through the connections I’ve made, things I’ve learned, and resources I’ve acquired to put the plan into action. While we can and should plan, we must also submit our plans to His will and give Him ultimate authority to do as He pleases when He pleases. His timing is always best!

Check out Connecting with Christ: 52 Weekly Devotionals to Nurture Spiritual Growth


“Go, Jesus!”


“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20, NJKV

When my son was in third grade, he played football for a league through one of the local recreation centers. The football team and the cheerleading squad would practice at the same time, and I would listen to the cheerleaders, smiling and bopping along while they did their chants. One particular cheer stood out to me. The girls would insert the name of each squad member, and then that particular member would respond. For example, if one of the girl’s names was Lisa, the cheer would go like this:

Squad: Show me whatcha gon’ do, Lisa. Show me whatcha gon’ do. Go, Lisa! Show me whatcha gon’ do, Lisa. Show me!

Lisa: I’m bad. I know it. I got the skills to show it.

I got a kick out of watching each girl say her lines with confidence (and some with much attitude). I would snap my fingers and bounce along as they continued the cheer, calling out each squad member’s name.

My son is now in his mid-twenties, and I still remember that cheer like it was yesterday. Sometimes, when I’m faced with a situation that I know only Divine power can fix, I’ll start bopping and doing a revised version of that chant. My version is below:

Show me whatcha gon’ do, Jesus. Show me whatcha gon’ do. Go, Jesus! Show me whatcha gon’ do, Jesus. Show me! He’s bad. He knows it. He’s got the power to show it!

I will say those words repeatedly, smiling each time. I appreciate that when faced with an obstacle, I don’t have to rely on my own power. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t tried to do something in my own strength a time or two hundred. This faith walk is a lifelong journey, and sometimes I have to re-learn to get out of the Lord’s way and let Him do His thing!

If you hang around me for any length of time and something happens that’s a testament to the Lord’s power and glory, you’ll likely hear me say, “Go, Jesus!” I am constantly amazed by Him and how He works in my life, even during difficult circumstances. The Lord is good, plain and simple. As church folk would say, “All of my good days outweigh my bad days!” (Oh, I know that somebody knows that song!) I hope that you will read Ephesians 3:20 several times and let the Scripture resonate in your spirit. If saying, “Go, Jesus” is a little too out there for you, then praise Him in whatever way makes you feel most comfortable!

If you have a fun way to praise Him, feel free to share!

Motherless on Mother’s Day


Dear Motherless on Mother’s Day,

This time of the year can be rough for us who no longer have our mothers with us. Seeing others making plans with their moms can evoke all kinds of feelings—jealousy, grief, sadness, etc.

My mom died on May 9, 2017. It was the Tuesday before Mother’s Day. The void didn’t really hit me at that time because I was still in shock. Plus, in the days immediately following a loved one’s death, we’re inundated with phone calls, texts, and visits. Grief is often truly felt in the days when everyone else’s life goes back to normal and those immediately impacted by death must learn to adjust.

I get it. I live it. And just when I think I’ve gotten a grip on grief, it throws me a curveball.

This past week, the grief about my mother’s death and the dread of Mother’s Day have been worst than in previous years. Maybe it’s because her death date and Mother’s Day are the same this year. Who knows? I could speculate all day long, but the bottom line is that things have been emotionally tough lately.  

Whether you’ve recently lost your mother or she died years ago, if you find yourself struggling on this day, I want to offer words that I hope will help you.

It’s okay to miss her. Deep folks like to comfort us with Scripture about how our loved ones are in a better place now. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). They mean well, but sometimes those words are just that . . . words. Of course, it’s good to have the assurance that our loved ones are with Jesus after they die. That doesn’t negate our feelings of missing them. Don’t feel bad or guilty because you do. My mom was sick and in pain. I am glad that she’s no longer suffering. Yet, I still miss her, and I refuse to feel bad about that.

Tell others how you are feeling. I struggled all week. Actually, the struggle began several weeks ago as I knew of this day approaching. The closer this day got, the worse I began to feel. I cried off and on all week, sometimes without warning. When I first recognized the struggle of this day, I shared my feelings with others and asked them to pray for me. Despite a very rough emotional week, the heaviness began to lift yesterday. Today has been filled with laughter and joy. No tears, although tears would have been okay, too! I know that the prayers of my family and friends got me through this moment. Don’t be afraid to tell people how you’re feeling. Compassionate people will not tell you that you should be over grief by now. They will pray you through it! Everyone may not understand, so seek God for discernment about those with whom you can share.

Reminisce. My mother has left me with plenty of memories. I think of things that she said or did, and I’m filled with joy, laughter, and life lessons. Let’s be real. All memories aren’t pleasant. There were times when she made me mad or hurt my feelings. I even cherish those memories because they are a testament to the unconditional love that she taught me. There are times when my mother worked my last nerve. (Best believe that she’s telling Jesus the same thing about me! Lol.) Nevertheless, there was something about the love we shared that overrode any less-than-pleasant experiences. No matter what, we looked out for one another.

I remember the day she died like it was yesterday . . .

“Hey,” I said to my mom as she lay barely conscious. “I hear that you’re about to go see Jesus. I don’t like that you’re leaving, but I’m happy for you that you’ll no longer be in pain.” I tried to keep my voice steady, although tears raced down my face. I told her a bunch of stuff, such as how it was an honor to be her caregiver, that the kids and I would be okay, and that I appreciate everything she ever taught me. “I love you, lady,” I said.

She opened her eyes. Although she couldn’t talk and I know she was in pain, she mouthed the words, “I love you.”

That was the last time she opened her eyes or attempted to say anything. Later that afternoon, she passed.

Four years later, I am still grateful for that moment with her. It gives me such peace to know that I did everything in my power to care for her. I appreciate my husband who never batted an eye or said a negative word when she had to come live with us. I am thankful for my children who adjusted without complaint. I am glad that she didn’t have to take her final breath alone. I was there along with other family members. As I reminisce about life with her, I think about her death. Although I don’t think I would have ever wanted to let her go, I am glad that she went peacefully in the presence of her family.  

I realize that every motherless person may not have gotten a chance like that. Maybe your mother passed suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe your relationship with her was strained, or perhaps you didn’t treat her as you should have or vice versa. If your mom wasn’t good to you, forgive her. If you weren’t good to her, forgive yourself. Such scenarios are sure to only exacerbate your grief. My advice to you is not to live in the land of woulddas, shoulddas, and coulddas. Ask what you can learn from past experiences to make your current and future ones better.

I am still learning from my mommy, and I always will. Sometimes when something happens, I think, “Wig would have . . . .” (Wig was her nickname.) I even find myself saying things that she would have said. Her fingerprint is very much imprinted on my life. I am who I am because she was who she was.

To the motherless on Mother’s Day, although your mother is not physically with you, part of her still lives on in you . . . you are her legacy! Continue to make her proud!

Jesus, I ask that You be with all who have a difficult time with the loss of their mothers. Only You know the depth of their struggles. Only You can help them through these tough times. Thank You for the gift of my mother. I know that You are caring for her better than I ever could. Give her a big hug and kiss for me, and tell her that I said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

The Wait

hour glass

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God.”—Micah 6:8, NIV

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” comes from Luke 6:31. In verses 27–36, Jesus is speaking about how we should treat our enemies. He says that we should bless them, love them, and give them the very clothing off our backs, among other things. Even when people mistreat us, Jesus says that we should treat them right. It’s easy to be kind to those who deserve it. The challenge comes when we must be kind to those who don’t. As I awaited the verdict of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, I wondered how I would react if the decision wasn’t one with which I agreed.

Would I be kind to Derek Chauvin if he was acquitted and somehow our paths crossed? I want to think that I would dig deep into my faith to treat him kindly if he was not held accountable, but maybe I’m giving myself too much credit. After all, I’m still bothered by George Zimmerman’s acquittal and his lack of contrition ever since. The nerve of that man to sue Trayvon’s parents after causing them so much pain irks me. Yeah, I think I would struggle a bit with kindness.

I couldn’t watch any footage of Chauvin’s trial. This season is already an emotional one for me due to my own journey of grief. I didn’t want to induce an emotional roller coaster by watching the ping pong match between the defense and the prosecutor. I knew the defense would make claims that would incite me. So, I didn’t watch, but every day, I checked the internet for the latest update. When I saw the announcement that the jury had reached a verdict, I was nervous.

In Micah 6:8, we learn from the prophet that the Lord requires us to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly.” One definition of justice by dictionary.com is “the administering of deserved punishment or reward.” I wondered what the jurors would consider just. Would they be fair, or would there be differential justice? I was literally sick to my stomach as I waited to hear the verdict.

As the judge began reading, I held my breath. Guilty. I cried. I screamed. I was relieved.

The verdict doesn’t stop the pain of George Floyd’s loved ones or those who mourn with them, nor does it erase the many other injustices that have taken place before or after George Floyd’s death. I’m optimistic that the verdict will bring hope for others who are dealing with injustices.

Meanwhile, those of us who follow Christ have Biblical charges, whether or not we like them. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that treating enemies kindly isn’t something that I can do on my own. Wanting justice is the easy part. Loving mercy for myself is easy as well, but not so much when it comes to others when I feel they have “gotten away” with something, especially something that has caused someone a lot of pain. How prideful of me, right? Guess I need help with walking humbly as well. I’m sure I’m not the only one. As we go through this journey of life together, let’s encourage and pray for one another. I need you. You need me. Together and separately, we need Christ!

Father, we are living in a hurting world. Evidence of brokenness is all around us. Sometimes it seems like evil is winning. The emotional fabric of our society is fragile. Although what we see can be discouraging, help us not give up hope and trust that You are and will always be in full control. May You grant wisdom, give peace, and bring healing as only you can!


The Divided Church

divided church

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand”—Matthew 12:25b, New King James Bible

“It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

The above words were spoken in 1963, and they still ring true in 2021.

It should come as no shock then that just because the calendar reset on January 1, our lives didn’t. We’re only halfway through the first month of a new year, and we’re still dealing with the same stuff we left behind on December 31. It’s a new day, but the same old problems exist. We are still a nation divided.

We see the division in Congress with politicians voting along party lines on issues instead of acting in their constituents’ best interest.

We see it in our neighborhoods where schools have gained reputations of being predominantly “white” or “black.”

Sadly, we also see it in our churches.

Now, let me pause for a second to say that it’s natural for people to join institutions in their local communities. If that community looks like them, then of course, a church will have a predominant composition. The appearance of a church’s membership isn’t my issue. It’s the divided hearts that concern me the most.

Those who represent God have gotten drawn into the blue and red debate, putting politics over the unity of their faith. Politics is being promoted from the pulpit along with the “Black” Gospel and “White” Gospel. There is an “us” v. “them” mindset, forgetting that as Christians, we are all an “us.” “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). It’s the Gospel, plain and simple.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage. If there is, please pray for me because I like the melanin in my skin and all the characteristics that make me a proud Black woman. I wouldn’t trade identities with anyone in this world.

I will also admit that it’s easy to become callous when witnessing so many injustices. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds . . . just typing it caused a flood of emotions. That’s how long Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck. The memory of that moment incinerates me, and without the intervening power of the Holy Spirit, it could easily fill my heart with hatred. However, that is not God’s way, so it can’t be mine.
If we have any chance of healing our nation, it must start with all of us in the church—Black folks, White folks, and everyone in between. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by a demon, He responded by saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matt. 12: 25b.) America is in need of a great healing, but we’ve gotten on the crazy train if we think we’re going to do this without God.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14

I know that everyone doesn’t believe in God or the authority of the Bible. This Scripture doesn’t call on everyone; it is a plea to God’s people. If those of us who claim to know Him will unify in prayer, we can make a difference.

Father, Thank You for how You uniquely made each one of us. Let our differences be an avenue for learning more about one another instead of dividing us. Heal the hurts that have been caused among Your people by Your people so that we can be instruments of healing for the world. Thank you for establishing governments for order, but let us not misplace hope in officials to do the work that only You can do. Only You can change hearts. Start with ours. Let our love for You unite us instead of allowing the prevalent sin of this world divide us.

Jesus, Help!


“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1, NIV

On October 19, 2020 around 7:15 a.m., it was dark and raining. I was driving on the highway listening to a podcast when my windshield wipers suddenly malfunctioned. The driver’s side wiper flew off and onto the road, and the other one stopped working altogether. One moment, I was in peace. The next, I was in a panic. There I was going between 60–70 mph, and I could not see a thing. The darkness, combined with the rain, prevented me from seeing the white lines on the road clearly.

“Jesus!” I screamed. “Help!”

I turned on my hazards and slowed down, inching over between the lights of other cars, praying that I would make it to safety. I finally got to a place on the freeway where it split, and I pulled between the two interstates, lacking confidence that I could make it all the way to the right shoulder.
Adrenaline pumping, I sighed. “Thank You, Jesus!”

I called for roadside assistance, then my husband and daughter. I also shared the experience with my prayer groups, expressing my gratitude for God’s protection, not only of me but also for others on the highway. I cried tears of joy and relief. My stomach was in knots. I was shaking, but I was safe.

There are so many things that this experience signifies to me. First, it’s a reminder of personal growth. I recall a time in my life when calling on the Name of Jesus would not have been my first choice of words. Oh, I would have had a four-letter expression of some kind, but I doubt that it would have been “help.” It’s amazing to reflect back on the old self and see God’s transformative power at work in your current life.

Second, the experience reminded me of how accessible God is via prayer. I didn’t have time for fancy words or a long introduction. He was present in my time of trouble and answered both my spoken and unspoken requests. That “help” encompassed a lot—help me make it to safety, help me not cause an accident, help calm my nerves, and more!

Third, it was an opportunity to praise Him. Sure, I could have been upset by the inconvenience of having to re-arrange my plans. After all, I had a ton of responsibilities for the week, and I’d outlined what I needed to do and when I’d planned to do it. However, I wasn’t the least bit upset. I was grateful for so many reasons. The situation could have been much worse, but it wasn’t. I got home safely, the wipers were fixed, and the next day I did all the errands I’d started the previous day.

The psalmist referred to God as a present help. Whether we need Him at the spur-of-the-moment or during a long, drawn-out trial, He is with us. I pray that You not only know that He is present, but that you feel His presence as well, and that it gives you comfort in whatever situations you may face.

Trusting God During a Pandemic

Trust in God written on desert road

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal”—Isaiah 26:3–4, NIV

Trust . . .

Such a simple word packed with a lot of power.

One definition of trust on Merriam-Webster.com is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”

I’ve been meditating on that word a lot lately. Recent situations have caused me to reflect on whether my actions indicate that I trust God as much as I say I do.

I sometimes have a lot of anxiety when it comes to finances. It’s not because there’s a lack. We’re not rich by any means, but we are certainly not in want of anything. We have healthy accounts, great credit, and more than we need to meet our needs. Yet, there’s a little knot in my stomach that I must continuously confront called fear. See, things haven’t always been so comfortable. In fact, 2006 and several years thereafter would bring some of the worst financial crises in our lives that we have ever faced. Although God brought us through that season, the memory of our troubles is still seared into my brain. What makes it really crazy is that the financial aftermath occurred after trusting God.

In 2004, I left a full-time state government job with the support of my hubby to focus on writing because that’s what the Lord said to do. I don’t have time to detail how I knew it was God, but it was, and the fact that my husband was on board was the ultimate confirmation. I made more than him at that time, so my not working meant that we were losing the higher income and all the benefits that came with it. Little did we know that life would punch us in the mouth, and as we were healing, he would lose his job.

While all this was taking place, I was still writing and signing publishing and other freelance contracts. However, being a writer can literally be a feast or famine world. The one consistent aspect of what I do is that the pay fluctuates from day-to-day. Nearly 15 years after my first book was published, that hasn’t changed. When aspiring authors seek my advice, one of the first things I tell them is that they have to love writing enough to do it for free because sometimes they will have to. For example, no one is paying me to write this post. 😊

Fast forward, I haven’t had a full-time job since 2004, but we have way more now than we had when I was working at my cushy state job. God brought us through that period and has blessed us beyond what I could even imagine, and our financial portfolio is better than it has ever been. Yet, there’s been a consistent knot in my stomach that has grown within the last few months.

This COVID pandemic has stirred up bad memories of economic downturns and anxiety, and I’ve found my financial decisions peppered with fear. Life didn’t stop because of COVID. College tuition still needed to be paid, cars still needed repairs, and home improvements still had their place on our priority list. We have two businesses, and while they have taken a hit during the pandemic, they haven’t gone under. Additionally, we’ve haven’t skipped a beat on contributing to our retirement and savings accounts, and we’ve made more than our fair share of discretionary purchases during the pandemic. (My husband said that I’m helping to keep Amazon in business. #retail therapy) Given the stability of things, I have to ask myself, what is the basis of my fear? Is it because there is that part of me that remembers the financial fire and how I wondered where God was during that time? Is it that I am scared to fully trust Him with that area of my life because subconsciously, I feel like He let us down previously?

I don’t know what’s behind my anxiety, but I know that I don’t like it. Even when we went through our financial crises, we never went hungry or homeless. Our children never lacked anything. James 5:16 says to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” So, here you have it, my big confession that financial anxiety is a sin of mine. I have not yet once worried about catching the virus, but I have had the “what ifs” swirling about other ramifications of it. I unashamedly ask for prayer. While you pray for me, know that I will be praying for you as well. I might not know you, but I am praying, in general, for all of us who know God to wholeheartedly trust Him throughout this pandemic. May the world see a difference in how we respond and know undoubtedly, that we are His.

In what areas of your life have you been holding back trust? Let’s take this faith walk together, believing that our God will supply everything that we need!

Defeating Hopelessness


“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”—1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV

Sometimes I struggle with what to say to others during this COVID-19 crisis. People don’t want to hear “don’t worry” when they’ve lost loved ones due to the virus, may be sick themselves, are unemployed, or quite frankly, scared about all the possibilities. News reports that the worst is yet to come and the ever-increasing number of cases, legitimize people’s cause for concern. And, if you’ve watched the Netflix series Pandemic that eerily foreshadowed the destructive impact of a novel virus outbreak, then you know that the projected loss of lives could be in the millions. Despite all of this, my naturally optimistic nature won’t allow me to panic.

It’s not because I’m trying to be extra deep or that I’ve donned a “Super Christian” cape. Those who know me know that’s not how I roll. It’s not because my loved ones are in a bubble, far removed from the crisis. Nope. Quite the opposite. My husband must still go to work Monday through Friday and interact with others. My son continually reports to the Naval base. My father and uncles are part of the vulnerable population. I have loved ones in nursing homes, with weak immune systems, or other health issues. The business my husband and I own has seen a dramatic shift in revenues because of everything that’s happening. So, nope, I’m not calm because my life is unaffected. I’m calm because I cannot afford to let fear and worry overtake me. My mental and emotional stability rely on me digging my heels into the only thing that has gotten me through tough times—my faith.

In the Hunger Games movie, President Snow is quoted as saying, “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.”

While I don’t have the “right words” to share during this time, I pray that I can encourage each of you not to give up hope. Hope is dangerous, but not in the negative way that President Snow mentioned in the movie. He wanted to contain the people’s hope to keep them in line with the oppressive order that he’d established. Likewise, if we lose hope amid this pandemic, the enemy will keep our minds in bondage and consumed with fear. We’ll lose sleep, the quality of our relationships will diminish, and we’re more likely to become depressed.

Even more powerful than hope is love.

Paul wrote,  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13

COVID-19 is the perfect opportunity for those of us who know Christ to share His love with others. We can show love in many ways. For example, by sharing our goods with others in need instead of hoarding them, we not only behave differently than those who are fighting in the store over toilet paper, but we would also emulate the behaviors of the very first church members in the book of Acts.

“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44–45).

I doubt any of us are to the point of being willing to sell everything we have to give to others. Okay, maybe you are, but I’m not. (Stretch your hands my way!) The point is that they gave unselfishly, and their generosity was motivated by their love for Christ and one another. In whatever way you can look out for others during this time, please do it. It can be a phone call, an email, an encouraging word, or helping out with food or supplies. Do it genuinely and with love. Your actions may be the thing that helps someone else believe.

So, while I don’t have the answers to what’s happening, I choose to share with you what I have—faith in a sovereign God, hope that He will produce something good from this outbreak, and a love for Him and others that I hope will be contagious.

Trouble Doesn’t Last Always . . . For Real, It Doesn’t


“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”—John 16:33, NKJV

Ever thought, New year, same stuff!

We like to think of January 1 as a fresh start, but some issues tend to follow us into the new year. It can be frustrating and cause us to wonder if situations will ever improve. I can think of people who, for years, have experienced a bad marriage, wayward children, financial difficulties, grief, illness, depression, and much more. These issues seem more than temporary setbacks. They have gone on so long that they appear to be more of a lifestyle. For those in such situations, it can be easy to lose hope of things ever getting better. Even when there is hope, sometimes things don’t improve (e.g., sick people die), and then one may wonder where was God or why He allowed such things to happen to those who trusted Him.

Scripture tells us that it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45, NKJV). The NIV uses the terms righteous and unrighteous. The point is that no matter who we are or how much we love God, trouble comes our way. Gee, thanks, God. While that Scripture in and of itself may not be encouraging, many others provide comfort. For example, while confirming to the disciples that there will indeed be trouble in this world, Jesus says, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

While writing, I’m currently in a storm myself, one that pierces my heart like none other. Yet, I have peace. No sleepless nights. Minimal tears. Lots of prayers. For me, it is incredibly comforting to know that all is in the Master’s hands. I also know that I could lose my peace the moment that I take my focus off of God and His word and put it on my situation. So, I try to keep looking up instead of looking around. Here’s what I know:

  1. This thing will end. How it ends is totally up to God. (Of course, I’m fighting the temptation to give God my unsolicited advice of what He should do and how He should do it. Lol.)
  2. I am growing through the process. I am not the same as I was when it first began, and I won’t be the same as I am now when it ends. This is a character-building experience that has the potential to change me for the better if I surrender to the process.
  3. No matter what it looks like, God is in control. I could drop the mic right here because the best part of it all is knowing that God’s got this.

As you journey through whatever current storm life has brought your way, try not to be overwhelmed by your circumstances. Yes, it may be a new year with the same stuff, but we also have the same God with the same power with the same authority to get us through this as He has gotten us through many things previously. Rest in the fact that you do not have to journey alone. Not only has God gone before you, but He’s also currently with you. Each day that passes brings you one day closer to the end of your storm as everything has a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Stay encouraged!



“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” — James 5:16, NIV

Many of you may be familiar with the acronym P.U.S.H., which stands for pray until something happens. Last night as I laid in bed, I thought about the power of prayer and how much prayer has changed my life. I reflected on many prayer requests that I’ve had over the years—some that have been answered and some on which I am still awaiting manifestations. Some prayers were easy to communicate (e.g., bless this food that I’m about to receive) while others took more oomph out of me (e.g., help me to forgive). I’ve even prayed about what some would consider minor issues (e.g., my Bluetooth not working in my car) and major things (e.g., healing of someone with cancer). Whether big or small, easy or hard, I am confident that God hears our prayers (1 John 5:14).

One key that I’ve learned when praying is to be transparent. My prayers are raw. I hold nothing back from God. I recall a time when I felt pure hatred building in my heart for someone. As a believer, I know that God calls us to love everyone, so the fact that I was hating this person convicted me. So, I prayed. And, honey, my initial prayers were nothing nice. They started out something to this effect:

God, I don’t want to pray for this person. I’m only doing it because You tell us to pray for our enemies. I don’t mean anything I say. I don’t want you to bless her. I don’t want you to save her. I want her to burn in hell for what she’s done.

Ouch! That definitely wasn’t Christ-like.  It was brutally honest. There was no need to pretend that I felt otherwise. God already knew, and for Him to turn things around, I needed to confess the ugliness that was inside of me. The rest of the prayer was something like this:

I know that these feelings are not representative of who I am in You. Jesus, I need You to soften my heart. I want to love as You love. I want to forgive as You forgive. I want others to see me and see You in me. God, I cannot forgive her on my own. No matter how I feel about her or what she’s done, You love her, and I need to love her, too. Please help.

I prayed nearly every day and before I knew it, I started meaning everything that I said about God blessing and saving her. I don’t know if she ever gave her life to Christ or what she’s doing nowadays. The only thing I know for sure is that God completely changed my view of her. Whenever she crosses my mind now, I will say a brief prayer, “Lord, I pray that she knows You and has allowed you to heal her from her pain.”

While God does not always answer prayers in the way we want Him to, He will always use prayer to instill His fruit in us. The person giving her life to Christ is not under my control or even His. She has to make a choice to do so. Nevertheless, God used that situation as a character-building experience. I, too, had a choice. Had I not surrendered to Him, I would have continued down an emotionally destructive path.

When we pray, the external situation may not change, or it might take time to do so, but change can begin in you immediately. Prayer can renew your faith, give you a different perspective about things, and fill you with internal peace amid chaos. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” James 5:16b. Prayer works! So, P.U.S.H.—pray until something happens. That something may come packaged differently than you expected, but if you believe in God’s Word, then you can rest in His sovereignty.

If there are prayer requests that you’d like to share, please do so. I’d be honored to pray on your behalf.