Stronger Together

It’s Not Black or White

Since I can remember, I have had a deep love for my African American sisters. When I am with them something comes alive in me and I feel vibrant and full. There is a strength in their spirit that I just adore. I love their soulful spunk, their drive for success, their power and readiness to fight for what they believe in and their rhythm to the music.  They have a warrior strength about them and a unified legacy that cannot be broken. I admire the African American race. Is it their beautiful dark skin, their boldness and ability to stand up for themselves, their uninhibited worship or maybe how they freely express themselves and don’t seem to care what others think. They have endured a history of fighting for their worth and value largely because of the color of their skin. Where would we be without these strong, relentless women? They are a gift to us with boldness, beauty and courage. 

As friends we talk about culture and stereotypes and how black and white cultures may look different but inside we are all just human; women on a journey through this life hungry for love and value and royal identity. We admire and respect each other and get a lot of laughs too. That is what makes us better. I admire them because they know who they are and are not defined by labels or adversity or their curves. They vocalize their strength in a way I can’t and speak truth without apology or meekness. They give glory and praise to God in an uninhibited and powerful way that has been monumental for me to learn as I grow in my depth with God. I have been changed by it.  It is just the way they were made and that beautiful brown skin that blesses my  white soul. A few of my coworkers who have become lifelong friends and mentors to me have challenged me to do the same. They have taught me to stop comparing myself and stand tall; press into the pain but not let it define me. They have proclaimed what God says about me and  laid vision and goals in front of me that I only imagined from afar. They think I’m crazy because I’m always changing my hair styles throughout the work day while their hair stays perfectly sleek and in place all day long. We ask questions about white and black stereotypes to glean understanding with respect that no one culture is better than anyone else- like the way it’s supposed to be. We trust each other, we laugh and hang out together and we fight together on the same side as sisters in Christ, stronger together. This is the Gospel. This is how it’s supposed to work no matter what condition the world is in. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) 

(Note: This blog was written before the horrible deaths of our African American citizens. May we all be moved to change and see skin color for what it has always been- a beautiful display of God’s blessing and strength to our land. By the goodness of God may healing and newness emerge. )

Sandra Coates Sandra Coates Sandra is a RN and works with women in unplanned pregnancies. She is also a pastor’s wife, women’s ministry leader, speaker and model. She is passionate about every woman knowing her God given beauty and living confident and free. Read more about Sandra.
Reading time: 2 min

Waiting Around: Ugg or Ahh!

COVID-19 has changed our hustle-bustle world into waiting rooms and isolation chambers. Thankfully, most of us have smart phones, and virtual connections help a lot. Even more thankfully, most of us have families, and maybe we have’t spent this much face-time with them since we were little kids.

Even so, the whole world seems to be waiting around. All of us are wondering: will life ever be “normal” again? More likely, we’re facing a new normal, so we need to look for the meaning and purpose in it. Being flexible is the name of the new normal game. But what do we do in the meantime…?

In the Bible, God talks about waiting a lot. His stars like Abraham and Sarah, Zachariah and Elizabeth, Jacob, Joseph, David and Abigail did a whole lot of waiting on God to move– and their circumstances to change for the better.

But here’s the thing about waiting. It’s not about doing “nothing”. It’s not about entertaining ourselves (which can be the same thing as doing nothing).

Waiting is active. Waiting is planning. Waiting is connecting. Waiting is like halftime at a football game, and we’re the players. We rest. We re-energize. We talk to our team. We listen to our coach (God, parents, leaders).

We strategize about what we’re going to do in the second half… in order to win. If you like football, you may notice that the teams with the best halftime routines… often stay or step ahead to pull out the victory.

That’s us. Victorious. So… consider a few suggestions for current waiting time:

  • Appreciate your family! Show them how much you love them. (Too many people don’t have what you’ve got.)
  • Clean out your closets and drawers. Reorganize. A fresh start feels amazing.
  • Sort through pictures and videos on your phone. Discard. Group. Have fun.
  • Check up on family and friends regularly, especially those you think might be lonely.
  • Read. Paint. Draw. Study. Journal. Exercise. Write down your goals and plans for the next 6 months.
  • Pray for yourself. Pray for others. Read the Bible. Try a new devotion app and see if you like it.
  • Right now, the internet is FULL of webinars, live entertainment and virtual meetings of every sort. Free. Fun. Comforting.

Whatever you do, be productive and be thankful. So many people are experiencing far worse tragedies than social isolation. We are blessed and must continue to count thank God for every circumstance, great and hard—including this COVID-19 pandemic.

Carey Lewis Carey Lewis Carey Lewis is the founder of a world recognized talent development ministry, called Actors, Models & Talent for Christ (AMTC). From 1982-2018, AMTC scouted, coached and launched thousands of performers into film, fashion, music and theatre. Carey has won two Lifetime Achievement Awards for her contributions to the cause of Christ in arts and entertainment. She speaks, counsels and writes daily devotions geared to the media generation, and those called to influence it with light, love and truth. Check her out at or
Reading time: 2 min

Ya’ll, let’s talk about a topic that most people do not necessarily like to talk about…Anxiety! I know that A LOT of us experience it on a daily basis but there are some that don’t or are new to the feeling. I guess, I can say that I am very familiar with Anxiety, I have battled with it for as long as I can remember. The worst part about Anxiety is that I don’t always know when it is going to hit, but when it hits me, it literally “HITS” me! It is that elephant sitting on my chest, can’t catch my breath, room shrinking around me feeling….. It is rough! I can be sitting at home alone and just think about something sad or stressful and that emotion floods over me, or I am walking around Busch Gardens with my family and it feels just a little too crowded… and I start to panic! I don’t remember when it all started, all I can seem to piece together is that it started with little things; stress, the need to fit in, comparison to others and then those things grew! Plus, life gets bigger and when life is bigger, your stresses just grow with it.

So with all the stress and fear in the world right now, how do we even stand a chance? How does someone like me who stresses about the smallest things stand a chance? We are truly living in the unknown. We don’t know what is going to happen next, and being someone that suffers with OCD, that does not cut it for me. I try to stay positive and try to remain thankful for what I have. I focus on that fact that all of this craziness is really not affecting MY family drastically. I mean, I am getting more time with my husband, more time to let my son move at his pace with school work. I am able to finish projects that I would normally be “too busy” for! I am thankful for those things, but then……. I turn on the TV, or pick up my phone to check and see what “new thing” I am going to have to share on Facebook, and I am hit with the devastation that is really going on in the world! So I start to feel guilty, I start to think, “Wow! You are just living in a bubble and you should do more!” And then, the elephant shows up to plant his big ole’ tush on my chest, and the room (that is a relatively good size) suddenly feels like a coat closet. I lose my positivity and my thankfulness and I am in a dark place! I try to change my perspective, so I look up the CDC website and I am met with “Ways to Cope With Stress”……. Their list starts like this: Take deep breaths, stretch, eat healthy and drink plenty of water. As I am reading this list, I still can’t help but think about the person that doesn’t have a job to provide for their family, or the nurse, who happens to be a single mom, who is juggling her busy schedule and putting herself in harm’s way and still trying to homeschool her kids. I think about the poor 2020 High School Senior that will not have a prom, graduation, or experience any of those important milestones that we all remember so well, or not so well… (I had a terrible prom)… never mind, I digress. I think about my dear friend who just had to lay his father to rest without being able to have a memorial service or even be in the hospital with him during his last hours on this earth. I’m sorry CDC, your list is not working! So what do we do? If you are predisposed to anxiety and depression like I am or even if you are not, and are getting your first taste of it now, what do we do? What is the answer, and what does it all mean?

I think it is easy to get caught up in the need for an explanation, but the truth of it is, we are not meant to know. Bridging the gap between that sickening feeling of anxiety is not always easy but I don’t think we are meant to have all of the answers. We have Jesus! Jesus is the only answer that we really need! In Phillippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” In this scripture we are given clear instruction to pray about what is on our hearts that is causing us to worry, but then leave it there. In the famous words of Elsa, “LET IT GO!” This is not our battle! It is a battle that has already been fought and won for us! We already have salvation. We have no need to worry nor to fear the best or worst outcomes. We have Jesus! We have eternal life.

So, in closing, all I can do is encourage you to have hope! Hope in what is to come and faith in what has already happened. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Additional Resources

Anxious for NothingCalm My Anxious HeartFreefall to Fly
Ashlee Hawley Ashlee Hawley
Reading time: 4 min
The Angel of The Lord

I used to have nightly panic attacks. In the shadows, small worries became giant monsters. When I joined Jesus, He fought for me… and He taught me how to fight for myself and others. I’ve yet to master fear’s ultimate solution (fearing God)… but I’m getting closer. Because fearing God leaves no room to fear anything else.

Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.
1 Samuel 12:24 (NKJV)

Do we remove fear by casting it out? Or possibly, we’re to move beyond it, as in rising rising to a big occasion… which might earn us the title of hero. The greatest warriors choose this step. Nevertheless, fear continues its pursuit.

Even when fear seems far away from us, it slinks back to mock our feeble courage.

So what’s the ultimate solution? First consider:
Any kind of removal leaves a void, and every kind of void begs to be filled. Therein, fear creeps back when we’re not looking.

So what is fear’s ultimate solution? Certainly God. More to the point, it’s fearing Him… not men. Only fearing God can fill the dark hole in which our anxieties like to live.

The Commandment to fear the Living God orders us to a reverential awe, which is the least and the most we can do. In this amazingly productive fear, fears of lesser things loose their grip on us. That black space is filled with a brilliant light.

We’re not scared of people or bad outcomes. We’re not scared of living or losing big. We’re not scared to follow God’s calls to us…


Additional Resources

Anxious for NothingCalm My Anxious HeartFreefall to Fly
Carey Lewis Carey Lewis Carey Lewis is the founder of a world recognized talent development ministry, called Actors, Models & Talent for Christ (AMTC). From 1982-2018, AMTC scouted, coached and launched thousands of performers into film, fashion, music and theatre. Carey has won two Lifetime Achievement Awards for her contributions to the cause of Christ in arts and entertainment. She speaks, counsels and writes daily devotions geared to the media generation, and those called to influence it with light, love and truth. Check her out at or
Reading time: 1 min
Come out of hiding

Stop running to other things to find security. Run to the Father. There will always be the “next thing.” If only I had that hair, that guy, that friend, if only those people stood with me when I needed them most. If only I had “that” then I will finally be secure and fulfilled All these things are temporary: our hair falls out, make-up washes off, breakups happen, friends walk out or betray you and people are fickle. None of these things where made to satisfy us- that’s God’s job. God made our core to be love and GOD IS LOVE. To try and find satisfaction in anything else other than the one person that’s has created our core will never satisfy. We were made to be filled by Him and only Him. Isaiah 40:8 says “The grass withers and the flowers fade but the word of our God remains forever.” and in that Word of our God, there are some sweet, sweet promises that will change your life.

One of my favorite songs is called “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger- It says “I loved you before you knew it was love and I saw it all. Still I choose the cross and you were the one that I was thinking of when I rose from the grave. Now rid of the shackles my victory is yours.” He dies so we don’t have to live in lies. He left our insecurities behind on the cross, so it’s time we do too. “Now rid of the shackles. My victory is yours.”

Sweet one- It’s time to claim and live in the victory He died to give us.

Ruthie Coates Ruthie Coates
Reading time: 1 min