A (Kinda) New Thing

yolande22If you’ve been looking for me, I’ve spent the last two years building a new space for women of faith. It’s called Wit + Grace Magazine. I’m so proud of this new project and I pray that the stories inspire you to live a life of faith, purpose, and justice.

I recently did an interview about the magazine, which you can watch here:

Also, get your copy of our first-ever print magazine here. 

A Force to Be Reckoned With


*Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at the high school graduation for the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. Here is what I said: 

Good morning students, faculty, parents, family members, and guests. I have been given the extreme honor and privilege of speaking to you today to help celebrate these beautiful, talented, and precious young women.  Hopefully my words will encourage you all and help you graduate to the next stage of your life.

It was just a few weeks ago that I sat through my own graduation from Regent University filled with the same hopes and dreams for the next phase in my life and career.  To be successful at this stage in my life, there are three things that I needed to do.

The first thing that I had to learn to do was to let go of false identities. 

From the time that you were born, you were  assigned an identity or a label because of your race, gender, age, family history, and your socio-economic status. You’ve been called underprivileged, underserved, disadvantaged, needy, low-income, and as such, maybe you have felt less than, not good enough, deprived, inadequate or unqualified in some way.

But I am here to tell you as someone who is an immigrant, black and a woman, raised in a single-parent home that these labels do not define you.  (Please allow me to re-introduce myself …) Yes, you have to start re-introducing yourself to society as an overcomer, an overachiever, more than enough and more than adequate.

Every morning when I get up, I have to remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that I am not a mistake. I have a purpose here on this earth, which is to motivate and encourage young women to be all that they were made to be. Believe me, you have to know who you are, what you want to do in this life, and why you want to do it to succeed at the next stage in your life.

The second thing that you need to do is to surround ourselves with cheerleaders.  

Look around this room at your loved ones. Your parents, siblings, friends, teachers, mentors, are all here to celebrate you and your accomplishments today. But the celebration doesn’t end with graduation and so family and friends, you are still needed. When these young women start college, start a new job, or struggle to make friends and even when they make mistakes along the way, you are still needed. They need you to continue to cheer for them and call them regularly while they are away at school. They need you to help them navigate the first year of school, help them to focus on the important things, and hold them accountable for their actions.

Graduates, learn to celebrate others as you are celebrating your own accomplishments. Your fellow graduates are your sister friends who you will meet again five, ten years even ten years down the road and you will need each other then too. When I told one of my sister friends (Kendolyn), that I would be speaking here today, she said, “I’ll be there.” She showed up and is sitting in the audience today cheering me on. You will always need cheerleaders, positive influences and guiding forces in your life, no matter how old you are. So parents, faculty, and mentors, please keep showing up and cheering for these young women, and students, keep showing up and cheering for each other.

The third and last thing that you need to succeed at the next stage of life is GRIT.

GRIT is defined as the strength of character or a force to be reckoned with.

I came up with this acronym for GRIT: Grace. Resolve. Inner Voice. Tenacity. 

  • Grace: We need grace for ourselves when we make mistakes or when things do not go as planned. Grace helps you to cut yourself some slack and understand that you won’t get there overnight but you will get there. So don’t stop trying.
  • Resolve: defined as a firm determination to do something or to decide on a course of action. You have to resolve to be something whether you want to a lawyer, doctor, CEO, or President, you make the decision and then you do whatever it takes to get there.
  • Inner Voice: Your inner voice or spirit has to be louder than every other voice around you. So even when your cheerleaders are busy or you’re surrounded by a bunch of negative people, your inner voice will help you to remain positive and cheer for yourself when no one else can or will. Simply put, learn to encourage yourself and learn to listen to that still small voice that says, I can and I will.
  • Tenacity: is defined as extreme persistence . This is the essence of grit because it keeps you going and helps you to never, never, ever, give up on yourself or your goals. No matter how difficult it seems, remember that you made it here because you have character of GRIT.

I know that some, if not all, of you have GRIT because you are here today despite the obstacles you’ve faced along the way. So don’t stop now, continue to succeed at the next stage by letting go of false identities, surrounding yourself with cheerleaders and developing more GRIT.

As I close, I want to leave you with this quote from Marianne Williamson. She said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

So class of 2017, remember to stop playing small and let your light shine. Then you will truly be a force to be reckoned with!



I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with water. I love the ocean but I get seasick when I try to do too much. Last summer, I spent seven days on a boat in Croatia, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It was literally heaven on earth coasting along on the idyllic Adriatic Sea on a mini-yacht with new and old friends. Yet I woke up every morning on the high seas sick to my stomach as turbulent winds and currents threatened to capsize the tiny boat. I gripped the side of the bed in fear and cried out loud with the most Christ-like of intentions:

My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

This wouldn’t be the first time that God allowed a boat to go down in the Adriatic Sea. If he did it before, he’ll do it again. He’s the same God!

Unfortunately for me, I was reminded during my Bible reading of Paul’s journey to Rome in Acts 27. In this chapter, Paul’s ship sails through a turbulent storm on the Adriatic Sea, his shipmates threaten to throw him overboard but God intervenes and the ship is wrecked before reaching land.

What had I gotten myself into?? This turbulence wasn’t in any of the pictures on the website.

The turbulence lasted for what seemed like an eternity and then I heard hurried footsteps above me scurrying to regain control of the ship. Finally, the skipper in his cheerful Argentinian accent would yell, “It’s good” as he directed one of our shipmates to drop the anchor. Then suddenly all was right with the world – the boat stopped swaying, the winds silenced their howls and the sun took control of the day.

This happened almost every single morning for SEVEN days! However, how the day started was vastly different from its grand finale. The seas remained calm throughout the day, creating the perfect backdrop for an Abercrombie and Fitch ad – bikini-clad co-eds swimming by sunlight and dancing by moonlight. The anchor made all the difference. Once the ship was anchored, the boat was safe on the seas and by the shore.

Anchors are rather silly when you think about it. They are these oddly-shaped hooks that keep big and little ships from drifting. Whose bright idea was it to use a little hook to keep a big ship from floating? Historians believe that the first anchors were rocks tied to the boat to keep it steady. In Christian tradition, anchors were the first symbols used to represent Christianity, not crosses, according to Stephen Gertz of Christianity Today.

Let’s not forget that the author of Hebrews compares the hope that we have in Jesus’s death and resurrection to an anchor – firm and secure.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19-20

This is what keeps the Christian from drifting – the firm and secure hope that God keeps his promises. If he could be trusted to keep the promise of allowing the brutal murder of his own son, what promise would he not keep for you and me?

Plus, in Matthew 14: 22- 32, our Bible BFF, Peter, and the rest of the disciples are on a boat in the midst of the storm when they see Jesus. Jesus tells them to take courage and not to be afraid but Peter isn’t so sure, he wants proof before he can trust Jesus. He says, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus tells him, “Come,” and he does. Peter actually gets out of the boat and starts walking on water, but then the winds come, and he is afraid and begins to sink. He cries out, “Lord, save me.”

Immediately, Jesus reaches out and catches him saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Did you catch that? Jesus – his anchor – catches him and keeps him from drowning. This is the same guy whose name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter or Cephas, meaning rock. This same guy who started out as a fisherman would go onto to boldly proclaim the gospel of Christ until he was martyred for his faith. He did what we all hope to do: go from shaky to unshakeable.

Yes, these are some of the heavy thoughts that flooded my mind while I was lying on the top bunk of my bed in the tiny cabin that I called my home on the Adriatic. By the end of my trip, I knew that I wanted my own “anchor” to take home. I found the tiny gold anchor in a little jewelry shop in Dubrovnik. As someone who has been prone to a turbulent mind for many years, I wanted this anchor to remind me of the calming assurance of faith found only in trusting that God always keeps his word.

I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Like me, maybe you’ve been in a season where you’ve felt forsaken by God.  Perhaps, you’re in that season now and you feel wrecked by doubts and paralyzed by fears. In the Bible, in James 1:8, the doubter is called “double-minded and unstable.” In fact, James likens such a person to “a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (MSG)

Like, n-o-t-h-i-n-g, nada, you will not receive what you ask for when you doubt because it’s that destructive to your faith. In fact, the comparisons between doubt and water are numerous in the Bible and different versions use words like “uncontrollable” “unstable” “undisciplined” “destructive” to describe water in Genesis 49:4.

Let’s not be afraid of the future, of things not working out, of God not keeping his promises, instead, let us be:

Unshakeable: marked by firm determination or resolution; cannot be made weaker or destroyed

Unwavering: something (or someone) who will not waver (sway to and fro), wander, or go astray

Steadfast: firmly fixed.


“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58




The Art of Compassion



Refugees fleeing Aleppo, Syria. 


Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed by current events?  There is so much turmoil, pain and suffering happening around the world today and after a very bitter political election in the U.S., the marches, protests and debates are still ongoing. The thing that I have been wrestling with as a Christian is how I should respond to all of this pain.

You see,  I’m  an “empathy” person. The two StrengthsFinder  tests that I took a few years ago proved this.  Empathy – You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective.

The problem is that empathy isn’t always enough. That feeling or sentiment doesn’t always lead to action. For example, if someone commits an offense against me, I may be able to put myself in their shoes and understand why they did it, but that doesn’t mean that I feel led to forgive them or reconcile with them. Sometimes, my pride (an emotional state that’s strangely not found on StrengthsFinder) gets the best of me and keeps me from taking action.

What I really want is to be moved with compassion. The word compassion means to suffer together and is the active desire to alleviate another’s suffering[2] It is defined as the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to HELP.  It isn’t just an emotional feeling but a motivated response or action.

Even though Strengths Finder doesn’t list compassion as one of its core strengths, the Bible consistently lists it as a core strength and character trait of God. One of my favorite Bible passages is Psalm 103. It’s a beautiful verse that speaks to the character and identity of God the Father. When I am struggling to remember who I am, this verse reminds me that I am  I read this verse consistently when I was struggling with my identity as a Christian. It reminded me of God’s character and my identity in Christ. This passage also uses the word compassion four times to define the character and heart of the Father.

verse 4: who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

verse 8: thLord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

verse 13: As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

It also says this about his character:

verse 6: The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

So when I think about the character of the Father, I am reminded of his compassionate response to the suffering and injustice of the world, he didn’t build a wall or a door but tore the veil to his kingdom by sending his son to die on a cross. Essentially, his death took down the curtain that separated God from man, the good news was no longer just for the Jews but for all men.

Because Jesus found his identity in his Heavenly Father, he showed the same compassion for others when he was presented with their suffering and pain. He reached out and helped the woman with the issue of blood [Mark 5: 25 -32], revived a dead girl [Mark 5:35-42], and healed the man with leprosy [Mark 1:40-45] and the paralyzed man [Mark 2: 1-12]. Plus there are countless times in the Bible when his compassion for the lost, diseased, outsiders in his generation got him in trouble with the religious rulers.

So what does compassion look like in today’s world?

It looks like Bono and the ONE campaign, which was highlighted in this article by Fortune Magazine. The magazine tells the story of Bono’s plight to get lawmakers to approve AIDS funding in the 1990s. Some of the lawmakers cited religious reasons for not approving AIDS funding. Bono used the Bible to teach them compassion.

Writer Ellen McGirt says, “he quoted Matthew 25, which talks about suffering. ‘There was nothing about judgment there,’ says Bono. ‘How could addressing this disease not be at the center of Christ’s mission? That’s where we ended up.’ Helms welled up, offered a blessing, and got to work. Not only did he change his mind on AIDS funding, but he lobbied the White House himself.” The funding was approved as a result.

It looks like you and me standing up against injustice. We may have different causes that tug at our heart but the truth is still the same, “How could addressing _________ not be at the center of Christ’s mission?” 


Right now, the causes that I feel passionate about are the treatment of immigrants  and those who are denied equal rights based on race and gender.  While empathy for these groups come a little easier for me as a black, immigrant woman,  I don’t want to just have empathy for those who are like me, I want to be moved with compassion for the plight of all who are oppressed. I don’t want to look away anymore. I’ve seen too much.

“Now that I’ve seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead.” – Brooke Fraser 

I pray that as Christians we will be filled with compassion for those around us. I pray that we will respond to the suffering of others with prayer and action. I pray that we would get our motivation from Christ and not just religious leaders and those in authority. I pray that when we are confused, we will turn off the television, social media channels and open our bibles to read the word of God. I pray that we will always fight for those Jesus came to save:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” [Luke 4:18-19]

I pray that it starts with me. I pray that it starts with you. I pray that this is the year of the Lord’s favor in your life and in the world around us.

Here are some organizations and resources to get us started: *


World Vision

International Rescue Committee

Save the Children

Bowery Mission

A21 Campaign

International Justice Mission

Resources and Articles 

NC Religious Coalition for Justice for Immigrants 

Equal Justice Initiative 


Christianity Today 

Desiring God




*Please note that most of the organizations listed above are faith-based organizations. Please feel free to add other organizations or resources in the comment section below.









In Memoriam


“The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

A memorial is an object that serves as a focus for memory of something, usually a person who has died, or an event. The purpose of a memorial is to help you remember and to pay honor to a meaningful person or event in your life. Some memorials are built after tragic events like 9/11 to remind us not only of the people who died  but also the circumstances of their death.

A few years ago while studying the book of Joshua, my friend Joe Terry (great bible teacher!) pointed out the benefits of building memorials in our lives. In the beginning of this book, God directs his people to build a memorial to Him after they crossed the Jordan river:

“Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe,  and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” (Joshua 4: 2-3)


“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’  tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7) 

God directed his people to build the memorial so that future generations would remember all the things that he had done for them. It’s the “Never Forget” sign for those who would come after them. God wanted them to remember his faithfulness. It was also a sign that their old life was gone and that He was bringing them into a new season with new promises.  From that point on in their lives, nothing would ever be the same again.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times in my life when I’ve resisted change because of fear of the unknown. Yet, I’ve come to realize that change is necessary for growth and that for me to give birth to a new thing (dream, goal, season), something must die. There is no life without death.  In the spring season, new life begins and is nurtured to its full capacity in the summer and then bears fruit in the fall. And winter, the season of stillness and death, is necessary for the cycle to continue because it’s the death of the old life that brings us to the new life.




So I’ve learned to build memorials to certain seasons in my life so that I will never forget the lessons that I learned in that season, and so I can also remember God’s faithfulness. Here are three reasons why memorials are important:

  1. It helps you to remember things as they were: When you look back at a season or event, one of two things happens – you either remember only the good things or you remember only the bad things. If you only remember the good things then you think that you made a mistake in leaving. This can lead to depression in new season.  If you only remember the bad things that happened, then you may enter the new season filled with bitterness and the inability to forgive.  You have to remember the good and bad, and thank God for the lessons learned.
  2. It helps you to move on: When you put a “Never Forget” sign on the door to an old season, it helps you to remember why you had to leave the old behind. This can mean leaving a certain city, ministry, job, relationship or old way of thinking.  Maybe you thought something about yourself for a long time that just isn’t true anymore or maybe you thought something about God’s nature or character that also is not true. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt and they thought that God had forgotten them, but here He was, leading them across the Jordan river, asking them to remember that he had brought them out of that old life to something greater.
  3. It prepares you for the new season: When you remember things as they were and move on from the past, you are able to bring your whole self into a new environment. The self that you bring is stronger, more alert and better prepared for the battle ahead. You realize that it won’t be easy, that there will be new fears, new struggles and #newlevelnewdevil in this new land, but you’ve learned how to fight better and how to trust God more.

These some of the reasons that God asked his people to build a memorial before bringing them into the promised land. Have you ever felt the need to build a memorial in your own life? One way that I build memorials in my life is by journaling. I write down my thoughts, feeling, hopes and dreams in each season so that I can accurately reflect on the past.  If you have another way that you “memoralize” events in your life, let me know in the comments below.








A thousand times: YES!

So what’s the question again? I don’t know … and that’s okay.

I’m someone who always needs to know where I’m going at all times. If I don’t know, then I’m not going. It’s just that simple. Some would call that wisdom, while others would call that fear. The truth is, it could be either of these things. The only way to determine the truth is to determine who requires your YES. If it’s someone you don’t trust and who you have a bad history with, then of course, it would be wise to say no.

But what if the person is completely trustworthy? If time and time again, they have kept their promises and you have never been disappointed with the outcome.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” — Deuteronomy 7:9

If God is leading you then YES is the only reasonable response to his proven character of love, faithfulness, truth and redemption. So choose to say YES in spite of the questions, the doubts and uncertainties. It’s the best YES you’ll ever say.

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” — Isaiah 41:3

YES, I will follow you.

YES, I will go wherever you send me.

YES, I will love even when it’s difficult.

YES, I will …




Flashback post of the week: Getting There!



Peace … Be still.


Peace.  This word has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s like a gentle whisper in my spirit.

Peace… Peace … Peace … 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27 

Yeah, ok great … but sometimes I need multiple reminders, so I look at different versions to see how a passage of scripture applies to my life.

“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” – John 14:27

As my current roommate can attest to, I’m not the person usually filled with peace in a given situation. I’m usually the one screaming “WHYYYYYYYYYY” (among other things) at the top of my lungs. On the other hand, she’s normally the one saying, “No worries,” while pouring me a cup of tea to calm me down. So you can see why God would pair me with her during this season of my life. God is really that good. He sees what you need in a given situation and gives it to you — yes, the gift of peace is a real thing.

The truth is that we usually lack peace because we feel alone, abandoned, crushed and utterly in despair. But the Father who satisfies our desires with good things will not leave us this way! It’s a promise that we can stand on in times of trouble. In our culture when someone dies, we say “R.I.P.” or “Rest In Peace,” but the reality is that these people are more at peace than those they leave behind. The people that need the peace are the grieving family members and friends. Rightly so, they feel abandoned and bereft. The family of victims in Charleston, South Carolina probably felt this way. How could they not, they had just lost their loved ones to a senseless tragedy in the middle of church, a sacred place of trust and hope. Yet, with a heart of peace, they told the killer — “We forgive you.”

How do you get from a place of abandonment to a place of peace and wholeness? If you try to get there alone, it won’t happen. You can’t do it without the gift of the Holy Spirit. Anywhere you are going, you have to take this gift with you so that you can stay in peace and wholeness. After living in this season of uncertainty for the past few years, I am finally able to grasp what peace really is.

You see, anxiety, trouble and fear stems from a place of self-reliance and trust. If I have to fight my own battles, of course I’m going to be scared! I don’t know what lies around the corner – my opponent may be bigger, stronger and equipped with weapons of mass destruction.


When I allow the Holy Spirit to fight for me — WOW — I can’t lose!

Well isn’t that a super arrogant statement. “I can’t lose.” – What does that even mean? It means that God is faithful and He works everything together for our good. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! He works it all together for the good of those that please Him.  It means that you’re not fighting alone and the one fighting for you has already WON. He is victorious and when you align yourself with him and his plan for your life, it makes you victorious.

God’s peace means accepting the victory even while the battle is still raging. There is nothing too hard for him. You’ve got to place your trust in Him and believe in faith for what you have asked for.

“Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still! And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” – Mark 4:39-40 

Faith precedes peace.

A Better Plan …


“For as long as I remember, writing has been my voice when I felt mute.” 

With those words, I began my graduate school application essay for Regent University a few weeks ago. I was a few days away from the deadline and wasn’t even sure I would get all of my documents in on time. I had only decided to apply to graduate school in October on a whim.

October was a very frustrating month for me. Every possible thing that could have gone wrong, went wrong for me. I was right in the middle of a product launch at work and spent early mornings in strategy meetings with my team and long days schmoozing with clients. I was also leading the Communications Team at church and working on several side projects.  I was busy and burned out. What else is new, Yolande? Well, one by one, members of my Communications team decided to quit, all within the same week. They all sent their resignation letters via email and while some were very polite, others were not.  I was shocked, stunned and hurt. What ensued were endless conversations about my failings as a leader, friend or both. I had been too busy to check in and make sure they were doing ok and now, for some, it was too late. As the week drew to a close, I received another email, this time from a friend, with similar sentiments about my team and my motives in gathering stories/testimonies.  I felt like I had failed at the very thing that I felt called to do. I wanted to quit. It was also humbling to see and hear what people really thought of me.

It was at this moment that Romans 8:26 became very real to me. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Wordless groans. I had no words for the things that were happening around me. I was being accused of things that I’m sure I didn’t do. My character and motives were being questioned and I felt powerless. I started writing, first in my journal, prayers and petitions to God. Where my voice failed, my pen was steady and confident.  I felt like David must have felt in writing the Psalms. Partly trying to vindicate myself from wrongdoing, partly blaming God for letting this happen and then finally repenting and giving honor to God for His grace and mercy towards me.

Writing was my therapy and I felt God healing me from the pain of the moment as I poured out my thoughts to Him. Then I began scheduling meetings with my team members and friends, finding solutions to the things that had gone wrong, finding healing for those relationships as well. I continued to write, I was on a roll at that point. All I wanted to do at that point was write and become a better writer.  I felt prompted to look at Grad School applications for Communications. The obvious first choice was NYU and I started my application right away. Then I got to the question, “What other schools are you applying to?” I hadn’t even thought of another option! Hmmm…Ok so I quickly googled Master of Communications Degree programs and Regent University popped up! Wait… Regent is all the way in Virginia, right? I had considered applying a few years back but I wasn’t ready at that point to leave NY for Virginia Beach. It turns out, Regent has an online program specifically for Communications and Arts. Ok, maybe this could work.

It was all a blur from that point on. I went to the Regent University website and looked around a bit. Then, about two weeks later, I was reading my devotion in the morning and again felt prompted to go back to their website. This time, I requested more information about their Communications and Arts programs. That same day, I received a call from one of the Admissions Counselors at Regent. I was on the phone with this woman for at least 45 minutes and the best thing about it was that it ended in prayer. She prayed for me and my decision to apply to the Communications School, which at the time, I was going for Strategic Communications. After she finished praying, I felt compelled to look at the other tracks within the Communications school. It was as if “Journalism” had a huge bullseye sign on it, I kept coming back to it, over and over.

Back in October when I was questioned about my leadership and my motives when it came to writing and telling stories, my only defense was “This is what I have been called to do.” I felt it so deep down in my bones. I could not run away anymore.  “But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9)

I spent most of my Thanksgiving break working on my application and finished most of it by the December 1st deadline. A week later, I received a call from another admissions counselor, Kelli, who had read my essay. In it, I had mentioned my six month fellowship to Rwanda for Communications and Media, back in 2011. Kelli told me that she had always had a heart for Rwanda and wanted to talk to me more about that experience and my application. We spent an hour talking on the phone. Throughout that phone call, God kept confirming to me that this was his plan for my life. Every experience, every step of obedience, every prompting no matter how crazy it seems at the time, it all unfolds a part of His larger plan for our lives. There was not one thing that was wasted along the way. The things that seemed insignificant or trivial or frustrating at the time, they all had the purpose of propelling me into this moment – into my destiny.

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.” Abraham … Sarah … Isaac … Jacob … Joseph … Moses… Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets …“God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” Hebrews 11 

2014 has taught me that lesson. His plan is better than mine. I’m so thankful that He takes my mess, my failures and my shortcomings and makes it into something beautiful. My story isn’t my own, it’s a part of a larger story. Stories that need to be told, voices that have been mute for too long. I want to tell those stories.

Update: Today, I got my official acceptance letter to Regent University’s Master of Arts in Journalism Degree Program!!!! I even got a partial academic scholarship!! God. Is. Faithful!



“It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us.” – Pride and Prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my favorite book. I love it because it is part love story and part social commentary. Here is the short version of the plot: the 19th century British social scene is turned upside down by the interactions and ultimately the marriage of two members of the lower class Bennet family to two aristocratic gentlemen, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Before the union takes place however, there are a series of misunderstandings that are formed between the members of each class towards those of the opposite class based on each person’s own pride and prejudice.

This story speaks volumes to me because it shows me that we can all misjudge another person or a particular situation.  Consider this, we are all guilty of letting pride and our own pre-judgments control our lives. It’s called confirmation bias.

Confirmation Bias is a scientific term that refers to a type of selective thinking, “whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs.”

Simply put, we learn how something works and then only look for and notice data or find information that suggests our preconceived ideas are right. The bible has a verse for this: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) We literally look for confirmation of our thoughts about God, people, love and the world. If our thoughts are good, we will look for and confirm the good in God, people, love and the world. However, if our thoughts are negative, we will look for and confirm the negative in God, people, love and the world.

Example: Someone says to me, “I had a horrible experience with a black/white/Asian guy today in which he stole from me and lied to me.” What I learn from this person is that black/white/Asian people are thieves and liars so in my interaction with the next black/white/Asian person I come across; I will look for those qualities. If I find them, it confirms the initial statement and then a bias towards black/white/Asian people is formed.

This can also be applied to relationships. Let’s say I had a bad relationship in which my boyfriend was a liar and a cheater. I then enter the next relationship looking for signs of lying and cheating. If this happens, it confirms to me that all men are liars and cheaters and can’t be trusted. It will be difficult for me to trust anyone in a future relationship.

Here’s another scenario: I meet a guy that I’m attracted to. I hope that the feeling is mutual so I begin to look for signs of mutual admiration from the other person. A longing look, a deep embrace or a kind, affirming word can all create the illusion that my feelings are reciprocated even if they are not. My beliefs or hopes have created a bias whereby I ignore all of the signs that tell me that these feeling are not reciprocated.

And all of this is rooted in pride. Pride gives us an inflated sense of self. We then put our own ideas and thoughts, including the negative ones, above all things including the truth.

That’s very dangerous because our ideas and thoughts determine our destiny.

That’s why Paul exhorts us un Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” 

Our thoughts and ideas will give us peace. But only if these thoughts and ideas are noble, pure, and admirable. And I’m not just talking peace of mind; I mean peace with others as well.

Have you ever seen a person conflicted and without peace? They are controlled by negative thoughts. They think that “others” are against them and wish to do them harm so they look for and confirm only the actions that support their bias.

But Paul states that the “God of peace” will be with us.

Let’s put God back into the equation then! Let’s set a “God bias” to counteract our preconceived one. If we really and truly believe that God is for us, that he loves us and forgave all of our sins, we will look for and confirm his love and forgiveness in everything we do, in every interaction we have with others and every negative thought that comes across our mind.

Here’s how it works:

Confirmation bias #1: “Other races can’t be trusted.”

God bias: “God created me as well as everyone else on the planet. He loves us all and wants us to live at peace with one another. I can live at peace with other races because God is in control, not me.”

Confirmation bias #2: “I was hurt badly in my last relationship and I’m afraid to enter into a new one.”

God bias: “If I trust that God has the best for me, that also includes the best for my relationships. I will trust Him to lead me into the right relationship where He is at the center of it. I will trust Him and not the circumstances of my past.”

Confirmation bias #3: “I really like this person so I’m only going to focus on what I want to happen.”

God bias: “If I trust God, then I will trust his plan for me. Lord, help me to see the truth in every situation knowing that you have a great plan for my life even if I don’t get what I want.”

Trust God. We can’t trust our thoughts, we can’t trust our feelings but we can trust the God of peace to work everything together for our good. That’s called faith. Faith is defined as the confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person, idea, thing or deity (God). This belief does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. So when all else seems to confirm a negative thought, belief or action, let your faith guide you to the truth.

MSG: “You’ll do best by filling your minds and mediating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst, the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” 


In a city of 8.3 million people living with mistakes, struggles and regrets, there is a generation rising up that says, “I want to BE who God has made me to BE and DO everything that He has called me to DO. I want to live a life with NO REGRETS.”

Sarah’s Story: Sarah is a phenomenal woman who is living a life with no regrets. See her story here and join her and 1000+ young adults at the largest young adult gathering in Brooklyn for Compel Night.

Thou Shalt Laugh!


I’ve always admired the Proverbs 31 woman. She has long been the ideal for every Christian woman because of her virtue, diligence and God-fearing qualities. There are so many things about this woman that stand out but really my favorite thing about her is found in vs. 25b “she laughs at the days to come.”

Do you know how difficult it is to laugh at the days to come? When your heart has been broken, when your kids are disobedient or when you lose your job, crying seems to be the appropriate response. Proverbs doesn’t say that the Proverbs 31 woman lived an easy life nor does it say that she was apathetic to the people or needs around her. I think that the Proverbs 31 woman has a little secret.

In verse 25a, it says that, “she is clothed in strength and dignity.” Now I love clothes and one of my favorite stores is Zara, a trendy European store that has penetrated the NY market in recent years. They sell just about everything, from dresses to shoes, t-shirts and even baby clothes, but strength and dignity? Not available in stores.

Where did she get her strength and dignity? Where do you find “strength” and “dignity” for sale? In the Greek…..ehhhh…the Dictionary defines strength as the “power to resist attack, strain or stress; durability.” Durability or rather the word durable is defined as “capable of withstanding wear and tear or decay; lasting, stable.” So this woman is not only clothed in something that is attack, strain and stress resistant but wear and tear proof! That’s some good fabric! Well what about dignity? Dignity is defined as “nobility or elevation of character; worthiness.”  The definition goes on to state that dignity is the quality or state of being worthy of esteem and respect, inherent worth.” She knows she’s worthy. Her worth is ingrained in every fiber of her being. That’s her secret to laughing at the days to come, she knows that she’s worthy of esteem and respect and will accept nothing less than the best, even when facing the worst circumstances.

In the book of James it says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NASB)

So yes, this woman has had trials but she’s still laughing at the days to come because her faith has produced endurance or durability, that’s where she gets her strength. And she is complete, therefore not insecure, not worried or fearful, that’s where she gets her dignity.

I want to make this the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt laugh at the days to come! There’s a really simple formula to doing so even when your past or present circumstances dictate tears instead of laughter.

Step one: Put your faith in Christ as He alone has the power to make you attack and stress resistant as well as complete, worthy of esteem and respect. That’s really all there is to it. No other steps just put your faith in Christ and not in your circumstances.

Are you ready to laugh at the days to come?

Check out the many positive health benefits of laughter.

Photo credit: Tara Nicole Dorsey (2011)

PURE Escape – A Recap


“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.”

Psalm 107:2

I had the privilege of attending PURE Escape – A Women’s Conference, in Tarrytown, NY this past weekend. The focus of the event was on the theme of “Story” – women telling their stories. PURE, was founded by Melissa Harrison, a broadcast journalist with a passion for connecting people to one another to help them reach their greatest potential for personal growth and social change. Held at the beautiful Tarrytown Estates and Conference Center, this conference surpassed all my wildest expectations with the caliber of the speakers, attendees and conversations.

To jumpstart the morning, worship was led by the very talented Susan Pettrey of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Then a panel of previous conference attendees spoke about the impact of attending PURE and why they keep coming back year after year.

This was followed by a brief testimony by Elizabeth Sanders, a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, on the heartbreaking loss of her young child after being diagnosed with severe brain deformities. The pain of the loss was evident through her tears but Elizabeth still managed to smile as she recounted the peace that she felt in trusting the Lord in spite of her circumstances.

Alexandra Kuykendall was the first featured speaker of the day. Alex works with MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) and is the author of “The Artist’s Daughter – A Memoir.” Alex, a tiny woman with shoulder length black hair stepped up to the podium and began reading from a book of prayers. She then uttered these words: Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.”


These words echoed throughout the room. “What is a story”, she asked? “A story is about a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.” A excellent communicator, Alex’s salient points were:

  • Most stories are about people searching for or finding something that was lost.
  • The greatest story ever told was about a man named Jesus who said I am God and I have come to find you.
  • Themes are the threads that are coming through the story of your life.
  • What are you searching for?

Alex’s own story concerned the theme of Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving? Raised by a single world traveling mother and an absentee artist father, Alex grew up believing she was not loved or worthy of love. If she was, then why did her father always leave her? She became a perfectionist who strived to prove her worth by getting good grades, winning awards and being the good girl. She also looked for affirmation and affection from the men in her life, leading to unhealthy relationships. The pattern was always the same: Men leave.

Even after marrying the man of her dreams and giving birth to her first child, the question still haunted her, “Am I lovable?” She was looking for validation everywhere but it wasn’t until the death of her father and the questions that arose about his will and her inheritance, that it hit her; the burden of proof was no longer hers. She had already been validated and assured of her worth and value by her Heavenly Father.

Ephesians 1:11 says “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.”

“We have been given an inheritance of forgiveness, love and grace,” said Alex. “Yes, you were found before you knew how lost you were. Embrace your story, pain is pain and joy is joy. Follow the threads that God is placing on your heart because no one else has walked your walk. Recognize that you are in the middle of your story and it is open-ended.”

After Alex spoke, we took a break for lunch. I was sitting at the lunch table talking to the group that I came with when suddenly someone grabbed at the empty seat next to me. When I looked up, I saw that it was Michelle Burford. I was ecstatic because I had been looking forward to meeting and speaking with Michelle at the conference.

Michelle is a seasoned writer and storyteller. She calls herself the ‘”story surgeon” based on her ability to craft page-turners and compelling narratives that sell. As we began to chat, parts of Michelle’s story began to unfold. She had signed up for the Peace Corps following her college graduation, but then got hired as an editor for Single-Parent Family Magazine. Michelle then worked out an arrangement with her boss to take the Columbia Publishing Course, a crash course in book and magazine publishing by Columbia University. She was then hired by Essence Magazine and after working there for two years; she spotted an ad for a new magazine by Oprah Winfrey. Michelle with God’s guidance and her own self-professed  “doggedness” secured an interview with Oprah and went on to serve as a Founding Editor for the new magazine.

Doggedness is defined as “a steadfast adherence to an opinion, purpose, or course of action in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion.” It’s a stubborn and obstinate tenacity that refuses to give up despite the circumstances or the opinions of others. As I listened to her speak, I was inspired by her doggedness and her confidence not only in her work but also in God’s plan for her life. It was this same doggedness that helped Michelle to land many ghostwriting jobs and then co-author Olympic Gold Medal winner Gabrielle Douglas’ story, “Grace, Gold and Glory”, Toni Braxton’s memoir, “Unbreak My Heart” and Michelle Knight, one of the Cleveland kidnapping victims’ story, “Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed.”

Following lunch, I sat in two breakout sessions, “Writing Your Story” was led by Michelle and the following session, “Divine Delays” was led by Courtney Garrett, a bible teacher and Director of Women’s Discipleship at Grace Bible Church in Houston, Texas. Courtney spoke about trusting God’s timetable after waiting years for a mate then battling with infertility and her son’s subsequent medical problems. Here are the most salient points from both sessions.


  • When writing a book, try to narrow down the theme of your story to eight words. Ex: Gabby Douglas: Triumph over tragedy, poverty to Olympic gold.
  • Books have an enduring quality that magazine articles and blogs do not have, there’s a hunger to have one’s life story in hardcover format.
  • When crafting good content, think about a scene, does it move the narrative forward in some way. Ask yourself, if I knew nothing about my story, would I want to read this blog, scene etc.
  • Be willing to have someone else markup your story, give up your insecurities about your writing
  • It’s important to really master your craft. Recommended reading: How To Tell A Story – The Secret To Writing Captivating Tales by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost
  • Do things that no one else will do.
  • Doggedness. I may not be the best writer but I can be better than I was yesterday
  • Confidence comes from doing. Don’t wait to feel confident. In order to get a series of successes, you have to have a few failures.


  • If you are a Christian, God is writing your story and you are not living Plan B.
  • Psalm 62:5 – My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him. (AMP)
  • When you wait, you have to wait with confident expectancy and continue steadfastly
  • God does His best work in our hearts in these seasons of waiting
  • When questions begin to surface like “Is God good?” “What if this is not a part of God’s will for my life?” “Do you love me Lord?” – learn to say, “God you are good and everything you do is good. No good thing will you withhold from those who walk uprightly. He loves us with an everlasting love”
  • Lazarus was Jesus’ friend and he still waited four days to raise him from the dead
  • John 11:4 – “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Many people believed in Jesus as a result of seeing Lazarus raised from the dead. God was glorified through this.
  • Jesus wept. When we are going through valleys, we desensitize Jesus, we don’t believe that He enters into our pain but He weeps with us.
  • What do we do when we wait? We cry out to God and ask Him to reveal Himself to us. We flood our minds with God’s promises. Recognize when the lies come. Worship and serve others while waiting.
  • We have to learn to cooperate with where the Lord has us. Choose not to be bitter. Surrender our hopes, dreams, and plans. Live with confident hope.

Following dinner that night, we closed out the evening with a testimony by PURE founder, Melissa and a time of prayer. Melissa’s story is so compelling and captivating that you have to read it for yourself. Marie Claire published the shocking story of Melissa’s mother’s murder at the hands of her brother and his friend. Her journey from grief and loss to reconciliation and forgiveness can be found here: A Family Affair – Marie Claire Magazine.

Overall, the PURE Escape Women’s conference was a truly unforgettable experience. Women from all over the country converged at the Tarrytown Estates to share their stories of pain, loss, redemption, hope, joy and God’s enduring love for them.

Do you have a story that you would like to share? Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.

Check out I Am Second to hear more stories.