Resilience & the Bible: How to Use Scriptures to Bounce Back From – Racism & Prejudice

My Interview with Women of Faith's Thelma Wells!

Thelma Wells 1

Hello World,

Today’ s post is the fourth installment of my 7-month interview series entitled “Resilience & the Bible” which is about how Scriptures can be used to bounce back from the trials we all have to go through from time to time. Once a month, I feature someone who has used Bible verses to bounce back! If you know of someone who has bounced back using Scriptures and would like to be featured on my blog, please e-mail me at

How to bounce back from racism and prejudice is the focus of this month’s “Resilience & the Bible” blog post. Since we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday this month, I thought it would be interesting to speak with someone who has been able to bounce back from racism and prejudice as Dr. King dedicated his life to challenging racism and prejudice. Thelma Wells, who is one of the core women featured in Women of Faith, an annual conference that attracts millions of women in cities throughout the nation, faced racism and prejudice when she left her nurturing although segregated community in Dallas, Texas. However, her experiences and the guidance of her grandfather and great- grandmother, who raised her, prepared her for future opportunities which included her first job, a career in banking and her speaking ministry. Women of Faith, which began in 1996, is now conducting its farewell tour entitled “LOVED: The Farewell Tour” and will stop in Atlanta tomorrow, Jan. 22nd and Saturday, Jan. 23rd.  Also, on February 18th (with an encore presentation on Feb. 20th), Women of Faith will be hosting a limited engagement theatrical event nationwide. This part documentary, part live-event will take audiences on history journey with never-before-seen interviews, hilarious out takes, and a time of worship.

Below is my interview with Thelma Wells.

What Scriptures have you relied on as you faced racism and prejudice and how have they helped you?

All of the Psalms, but particularly Psalm 23:1. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

When I was a girl, that verse helped me. The 23rd Psalm was taught to all children. In fact, I wrote a whole soliloquy on that several years ago and what it meant that the Lord is your shepherd. I wrote that because I needed more emphasis on that because life has been good to me, but it has also been sometimes an anxiety for me when I faced hard times like when I faced abuse or when I faced prejudice or whatever.

Also, Psalm 27:1. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

and Psalm 91:2 “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

I’m 74 years old, will be 75 pretty soon. And I have gone back to the Psalms and reading the Psalms that David wrote and others and talking about the hardship, or the prejudice or the fears and God is always our refuge and our strength. I was concerned about something several months ago, and I said, ‘Let me get back in the book of Psalms’ because David and the writers always go back to the Lord is our strength. The Lord is our comfort. God always stabilizes us in the midst of trouble, sickness or disease.

Tell me about the racism and prejudice you faced growing up in Dallas, Texas.

Well, as a child, we were segregated because we couldn’t live other places where people could live. One of the things that was so rewarding to me was that I lived in a community that really was a village. We had people in our community in Dallas, Texas that could chastise you, could love you or whatever. Now, the prejudice that I encountered was not being able to go to sporting events, or the Majestic Theatre which is in downtown Dallas. Let me tell you what my granddaddy did. Every week when I was about eight or nine years old, he would take me to the movies at Majestic Theatre, and we would have to sit in what was called the buzzard roost. The buzzard roost was where only black folk could sit. We got the stale candy. We got popcorn that was stale. We had to go in the back door and go up the back steps in order to see a movie. But my granddaddy would say to me, ‘Pooch, (that was his affectionate name for me), one of these days, you’re going to be able to walk through the front door of the Majestic Theatre and walk down front and center and sit on the front row.’ Do you know what? When desegregation started somewhere around 1964 or 1965, I walked in the front door and down front and center in that elegant Majestic Theatre. Even though my granddaddy was not there with me at the time, I kept thinking about him.

When I graduated from high school, I did not realize I could go to a regular college. So I decided to take the street car and go downtown Dallas and go to this school that was advertised as a secretarial school. So I went down there. I had on my little blue dress with high-heel blue shoes. Girl, I was so cute I couldn’t stand myself. I got off the street car, walked over to this business college, walked in the door and when I stepped in the door, my excitement went to anger and hurt. I walked through the door there and the guy sitting there in the lobby said, ‘What are you doing here nigger?’ I said, ‘I came to enroll in school.’ He said, ‘Niggers don’t go to this school.’ I kept trying to talk to him, but before I could get out my sentences, he took me and pushed me out on the streets of Dallas, Texas. I was so hurt. I cried all the way home on the street car.

So my great-grandmother Sarah Harrell, who raised me, went to the woman she worked for and told her what happened. She was a very wealthy woman, and my great-grandmother worked for her as a domestic. She said, ‘Where does she want to go to school?’ The only college, other than the black colleges, that accepted black students was North Texas State College which is now the University of North Texas. She said, ‘Okay, let’s find out how much it costs.’ She said she would pay for me to go to college as long as my grades stayed above average and I did not get married. And she kept her word, girl. She paid my tuition and bought my books. And when I got married in 1961 when I was in college, it became my husband’s responsibility. I lived in the dormitories during the week in Denton 37 miles away and came home to Dallas on the weekends to be with him.

And living in the dormitories was another racial situation. Me and four other girls integrated the dormitories my third year there. They only let five of us do it because of our high grades. The other black students had to stay in campus homes outside of the community of the school. So they had five of us in one room with cots, and we were next to the boiler room.

I graduated with a degree in secondary education.

I think because of the positivity of my great grandmother and my granddaddy and because that was the way it was, I was not bitter about racism and prejudice.

What was your first job after you graduated from college?

I taught high school for about a year, but I couldn’t stand it. I just didn’t like dealing with high schoolers. So I was told there was a job opening for a black woman that was attractive and could type and had a college education. Because that was when they were talking about the quota system. So I went to an interview at the John Deere Company in Dallas, Texas with a gentleman. So he gave me this interview. He said, ‘Hi, You’re very attractive. Can you type?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What is your degree in?’ And I told him. He said, ‘Okay, you got the job.’ So I became the secretary to the parts manager. I was the first black person in the Southwest to get that kind of job at John Deere. They put me in the mail room, and in the mail room, there was this great big addressograph and I had to sit or stand there. That was not the job I was hired for, but I had to take the envelopes and mail around to everybody before they would give me a seat as a secretary.

Well, I was disappointed but not to the point that I didn’t know that I was going to win them over. As I was going around putting the mail on the people’s desks, I learned everybody’s name and position. The other thing I learned was that I was not dressing appropriately. I wore gingham dresses, and I discovered as I walked around that the ladies were wearing skirts and blouses. I had never heard of Girl Friday, okay? So I thought, I gotta change and get me some skirts and blouses.

Also, I also discovered that every Monday morning, the ladies would bring recipes that they had prepared over the weekend and share them. Well, I didn’t have no recipes. I would just cook, and I would taste and that was my recipe. So I joined a recipe club so I would have something to talk about on Monday mornings.

I knew I had to assimilate because they were already there. I was the only black person in the building for three or four years. I was the token.

How did you get in the banking industry?

My husband and I had been banking at this bank for years, and I decided I’m going to work at this bank, okay? And so I went to this bank and interviewed, and the man said, ‘What type of banking experience do you have?’ ‘Absolutely none.’ So he told me, ‘I don’t have anything for you, and I probably won’t have anything for you to do so you don’t have to come back.’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m coming back because I’m going to work at this bank.’ He said, ‘ No I don’t think so.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I will.’ So every week, I would call him. He would say, ‘I don’t have anything for you to do.’ I called him and harassed him so much until he called me one day and said, ‘Mrs. Wells, come on up here and interview with one of our officers.’ Well, I interviewed with this lady, and I knew she had no clout. She was probably not an officer. He was just trying to get me off of his back. So one day, I went up there and waited for him, and they told me he wasn’t there. I said, ‘Is he coming back today? I will wait for him.’ They said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Okay, I have nothing to do today. I will wait for him.’ And I sat and I sat and finally he had to come out of his office. He was there the whole time. I said, ‘I’m going to work here at this bank so you may as well hire me because I’m going to harass you until you do.’

Well, he talked to a lady named Hannah Greenspan, and she was a Jewish lady. She was vice president of the bank, but she called me one day and said, ‘Would you come up here and talk to me?’ And I went and talked to her, and she said, ‘You’re hired.’ I was hired as a new accounts clerk. But guess what happened that time too? They put me in the mail room, girl! I was the only black full-time employee there.

Thelma Wells 2How did your banking position lead to public speaking?

The bank didn’t have an addressograph, but I had to walk around and give everyone their mail. And I learned the people’s names and talked to people too. I noticed something though. I learned that a lot of people didn’t know what they were doing either at the bank. In looking at the mail, I saw a lot of things coming back that were wrong, complaints, etc. So I was strategic again. I found out about the American Institute of Banking. I called a lady who was the president of the institute in Dallas, and I asked her if I could enroll in banking school and she said I could. I took every course I could take for four semesters. I started in 1972 and once I finished, I called the president and said, ‘Now that I’m finished, I want to teach banking.’ She laughed at me and said, ‘You just got out of these courses.’ But I did start teach banking.

While I was teaching, I discovered that people had low self-esteem, even the bank officers that I was associated with. They could do their jobs, but when I would announce that we were going to have test or look out for a pop quiz, they would almost have a coronary. And I noticed how they interact with other people. They could do it outside of the classroom but not inside the classroom because they didn’t want anyone to know they didn’t know anything. So I prayed. I said, ‘I said Lord, give me something that I could leave with these people on the last night of class that will give them the courage and the energy they need to love themselves.’ That was just an honest prayer, and I didn’t know how it was going to be fulfilled. A lady saw me wearing a bumblebee pin. It meant nothing to me except it was cute. She said to me, ‘Thelma Wells, every time you wear that bee, remember you can be the best of what you want to be!” That was it for me. I said, ‘Lord, thank you.’ So I created a 15-minute motivational seminar based on that, and people started asking me to come to their fraternities, sororities, churches, this, that and the other. And since 1974, I have been giving that speech although I’ve never done it the same way twice because I ask God to show me who is in this audience and tell me what you want me to say. I’ve done it all over the world. I did it last night for a Women’s Night Out retreat for 500 women.

How did you become a part of Women of Faith?  audience

I wrote a book titled Bumblebees Fly Anyway: Defying the Odds at Work and Home. A lady saw it in the window in Barnes & Noble. She said that she stood there and read the book, and they were looking for a black woman to speak for Women of Faith who had a story to tell. From reading that, she came to my office and asked me if I would be a part of Women of Faith. By this time, I was not in banking. I got out of banking in 1984. I started my own speaking company because from the bank, I had so many speaking opportunities. So I quit the bank. I became a part of Women of Faith in 1996.

How do you feel about this being the farewell tour of Women of Faith?

I have mixed feelings to be honest. Even though many of the women in Women of Faith, we are mature, we’re not ready to stop. However, the mixed bag is after 20 years, you need some changes. And the women that I know that are on the tour are absolutely phenomenal and so it’s time to pass the torch. And it’s okay with me because I’m going to do what I’ve always done. I will still continue to speak to people with God’s blessing, but I am going to miss my buds, my buddies. But we have been together on the phone and in different functions, and it will always be that way. Friends are friends forever when the Lord is the Lord of them.

If you are in the metro Atlanta area and want more information about Women in Faith in Atlanta which will be held at Philips Arena and to buy tickets, go to Also, the Women of Faith movie “WOMEN OF FAITH: AN AMAZING JOYFUL JOURNEY” will debut on Feb. 18. With lots of laughter and storytelling, this part documentary/part live stage event features never-before-seen interviews and behind-the-scenes footage that will feature some of the most beloved and popular speakers including Patsy Clairmont, Mary Graham, Jen Hatmaker, Nicole Johnson, Marilyn Meberg, Sandi Patty, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, and Thelma Wells, as well as music and performances from Christian contemporary artists who have appeared on the tour over the two decades. The presentation will also feature fun outtakes. The encore presentation will be held on Feb. 20. To order tickets go to

Below is the trailer for the movie:

For more Bible scriptures online, go to

Any thoughts?

Resilience & the Bible: How to Use Scriptures to Bounce Back From – Losing Your Voice

A Christmas Post...

Linda Brown resize

Hello World,

Today’ s post is the third installment of my 7-month interview series entitled “Resilience & the Bible” which is about how Scriptures can be used to bounce back from the trials we all have to go through from time to time. Once a month, I feature someone who has used Bible verses to bounce back! If you know of someone who has bounced back using Scriptures and would like to be featured on my blog, please e-mail me at

How to bounce back from losing your voice is the focus of this month’s “Resilience & the Bible” blog post. At this time of the year, more than any other, music, whether Christmas carols, traditional hymns or funny ditties, can be heard everywhere! Those who are blessed with the gift of music, particularly singers, must really revel in this season…But what about those singers who have lost their voices? That is exactly what Linda Brown, who had grown up singing, faced in 2010. In fact, Linda taught choral music at Westinghouse High School and at the Pittsburgh Creative & Performing Arts High School. During her last year at the Performing Arts High School, the school was the site of the G-9 Summit, attended by world leaders. Linda wrote a song for the seminal event and was blessed to perform with First Lady Michelle Obama in the audience, accompanied by world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Linda relied on many Scriptures, but these three helped her the most as she went through this trial.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. Psalm 34:19

He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:20

How did you lose your voice? When did this happen?

I’ve been singing all of my life. I started as a little child singing so singing and playing the piano was something that I always did. Even as an adult, that continued. Even humming a lot. Even without thinking about it, I go through the house humming. So this started in 2007 and at that time, I had started a singing group “Voices for Christ.”  There were four of us. And I also decided I would join the Pittsburgh Bach Choir for one year. At the end of that year, I had already been experiencing trouble with the singing group, I was becoming hoarse often and my throat was getting tired very quickly. And then it progressed – not just discomfort but pain. So then I had to drop out of the Bach Choir, and eventually, I had to stop singing with the group “Voices for Christ.” And I was also teaching choral music so I needed my voice to demonstrate to students, and even there, I had to start using a microphone. I was often hoarse and sometimes I would lose my voice altogether. I didn’t have a cold though. That continued so then I started seeking out doctors. I went to some of the best laryngologists, voice specialists, in the country, and they didn’t know what the problem was. They ran tests. They gave me medicine. They weren’t sure what it was. They had me taking voice therapy so I would go to voice therapy for many months at a time.

How did your Scriptures help you to cope?

There were times when I started to wonder, “Well, Lord, how long,” and I would start losing my peace so Isaiah 26:3 helped.  With Psalm 34:19, we’re just gonna go through trials and tribulations, but we have that assurance that God will bring us through. He will deliver us. And for me, obviously, this was not the first trial so as you go through trials, we do get stronger and stronger. So I knew. God has a track record with me! I know what He had brought me through in the past so this time with losing my voice, as difficult as it was, I still had faith that He would sustain me and bring me through. According to Psalm 107:20, he is Jehovah Rapha. He is still in the healing business so I trusted Him to heal me. But there were times, I have to say, when I started to doubt that I would ever get through this.

What was the turning point?

This went on for three years, and finally one of the voice therapists said, ‘How long have you been dealing with this?’ I told her three years, and she said, ‘Three years is just too long. You need to just sing. Just start singing.’ It was something about that, and I had tried before but something about when she said that, I said ‘I’m just gonna start.’ And that’s how it began. Maybe it was something about the number 3. It’s a rebirth. God rose in three days. The number three is in different passages of the Bible that we can look at and certainly God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – the Holy Trinity. And my voice ended up being stronger than it was before that three-year period. Not all of a sudden, gradually.

So I started singing, but I was still hoarse. It still hurt. And I was singing softly. That went on for a while, but my voice got stronger and stronger until I was able to sing enough to hear myself here in the house. And I will say this also, during that time of having no voice, my brother passed. And for the first time, I wrote a gospel song, and it was in memory of my brother. I had done some arranging before but for different kinds of music for my school choir but never gospel even though I was singing only gospel or classical music. I wrote the song for him knowing I couldn’t sing it. I had a friend who would come in from New York every so often. She is an excellent singer, and she happens to be a lyric soprano. So I wrote the song knowing it was for her voice. She is a soloist for Abyssinian Baptist Church, a paid singer there. She didn’t even realize I was writing a song for her to sing, but during one of her trips here, I mentioned it to her. I could play the piano still, and I would hear the song in my head but that was it.

How did your CD “Bread of Heaven” happen with the loss of your voice? Bread_of_Heaven_Front_Cover

So toward the end of that three-year period, God started putting songs in my spirit like five or six in a month. So I would sing them softly and put them on a recorder. I go back to listen to them sometime, and I’m like, ‘Oh my.’ My voice was so breathy and prior to that time, it was always clear. So some of those songs He gave me are on my album “Bread of Heaven.” And on that album, the song that I wrote for my brother is on there too. It’s called ‘Together In the Morning,’ and that particular song, the melody is much higher than all of the others because it was originally written for someone else to sing. I was thinking I’m writing songs and eventually they are going to go on a CD, and I know that I can’t sing on the CD so I’ll have to find someone to record these songs. Not my friend in New York because I only had that one song for her because that wasn’t the style I wanted for the whole CD. I kept thinking about who could sing the songs. But I wasn’t able to find anyone or God didn’t just put anyone in my path. So then it was, ‘I guess I’ll do it myself.’ And then I had to find a producer and that took another two or three years to find a producer. But then I did find someone through ‘word of mouth’ in Memphis, Tennessee although I live in Pittsburgh.

So I ended up going to Memphis, and I was really concerned that my voice would not hold up for the recording. And I think if I had known the extent of the recording, I would probably not have even tried it, but God knew I needed to do it. Because I love singing background and always have, I decided I would do the background for the recordings as well for all of them except for one. And recording background music in this case means I had to record the soprano four times, sing the alto four times, the tenor part four times and more times if you mess up so I didn’t know I would have to do that much singing – it’s called stacking the background – and of course, do the lead.

There was a difficulty in one of the recordings. I got sick all of a sudden one time and we had to record later in the day. But all through this, when I look back on it, the loss of my voice, the attacks we had in the recording, some of the equipment that the producer had never had problems with started having problems. I say it now, it was an attack, a spiritual attack. God was in control, but the enemy did not want to see this come to pass. But through prayer, and I had prayer partners praying for me back in Pittsburgh and leaning on my Scriptures, God saw me through the recording.

“Bread of Heaven” came out in 2013, and but this year, I remixed “He’s Faithful,” one of the songs on the CD. (Below is the remixed “He’s Faithful.” )

Why do you think God allowed you to lose your voice? What caused it?

singingI really can’t say. I don’t know what caused it. It wasn’t from using poor voice technique because I know about teaching voice and using the voice. These were questions that I would ask myself even when I was going through this three-year-period of having no voice. It was like, ‘God, what do you want me to learn from this?’ And I think one of the things was trusting Him to build more faith in Him and even patience. And at the same time, He gave me these songs which were and are to encourage people. And the feedback I get from this CD, it’s just amazing. Also, before I lost my voice, I usually sang background, but once God pushed me in this direction, He took away my desire to go back to the group I started. I always thought once I got my voice back I would go back to the group although they continue to sing today, but He pushed me into solo ministry.

Also, I eventually left teaching altogether at the end of the school year in 2010 because God put into my spirit that I was to do missions. And that was a powerful year because that was the year that the First Lady came to my school, but in the middle of that, God put in my spirit to do missions. And my husband was already pressing me, ‘Let’s go to Haiti.’ But I said, ‘I don’t want to go to Haiti.’ But two days after I left the school district, we were in Haiti. And he left his job three months before I left my job. And after we started doing missions, I saw the greater need. And I saw this CD could help fund some of the projects that we wanted to do and support other mission organizations. We then started our own non-profit organization Mercy Acts International. We go to different countries and see what the need is, come back here and raise money for the needs. I use money for the proceeds from my CD. Most of it goes to the mission field. I say most of it because my producer, who made a substantial contribution in the beginning of this project because he knew it was going to missions, I make sure that he is covered in terms of what comes in. That’s why I say most of it, but all of my proceeds go to missions.

Also, the first time we went to Haiti, I started a choir which had almost a 100 students that I worked with by the end of our time there. I used my voice without amplification. That’s God!

Below are three principles Linda used to go through this trial.

  1. Serve God regardless even when you are going through trials yourself. I could encourage others. I could still help a child or a family in need.
  2. Look at the areas where God is moving in my life, where God is blessing me. They outnumber what I’m going through regardless of how bad it can be. You can still look at areas where He is blessing you and be thankful. I thank God for my husband during that time who was so supportive. That didn’t have to be. I could have been going through it on every side.
  3. Recognize that God is still working it altogether for your good like in Romans 8:28. I said, ‘Lord I can’t see the good in this, but I trust you to work this out. Even if I don’t sing again, you have still blessed me greatly and I believe you still have work for me to do in other areas.’ Maybe God is blessing is other gifts that need to be developed. I already played the piano, but I started playing the piano more so I still had a connection with music.

Linda Ross Brown, a singer-songwriter and five-time Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee, received a bachelors of Creative Arts at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and two masters degrees, one in Music Education and one in Secondary Education, both from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Blending contemporary and traditional sounds, her debut CD Bread of Heaven, which is available on Amazon, provides something for every music lover. Most of all, there is an uplifting message on each and every track. Her Christmas album Linda Ross Brown At Christmas is also available on Amazon.

Linda and her husband, Rev. James E. Brown started Mercy Acts International in 2012. A non-profit organization 501(c)(3), the mission of Mercy Acts is based on the Gospel and compassionate acts of Jesus Christ. The goal is to provide nutritional food service programs, clean water initiatives, educational programs, and medical support to help foster the spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs of families. The organization shares the love of God by spreading the gospel and making available humanitarian services to individuals throughout the world including the United States and the countries of Liberia, Haiti and Zimbabwe.

For more Bible scriptures online, go to

Merry Christmas!!!

Any thoughts?





Resilience & the Bible: How to Use Scriptures to Bounce Back From – Losing Your Home

A Thanksgiving Post...

Hello World,

Kimberly Atkins headshot 1Today’ s post is the second installment of my 7-month interview series entitled “Resilience & the Bible” which is about how Scriptures can be used to bounce back from the trials we all have to go through from time to time. Once a month, I feature someone who has used Bible verses to bounce back! If you know of someone who has bounced back using Scriptures and would like to be featured on my blog, please e-mail me at

How to bounce back from losing your home is the focus of this month’s “Resilience & the Bible” blog post. I don’t know about you, but at this time of the year, the Thanksgiving season, I am especially thankful for my home, and I couldn’t imagine if I had no home, but that is what Kimberly Atkins faced in August 2005 as she, her husband and three children lived in New Orleans. Ten years ago in August was the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Kimberly credits three Bible verses with helping her to survive this storm, both literally and figuratively, in her life.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Psalm 91: 1-2

And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. 1 Samuel 1:11

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Please describe what happened when you and your family faced losing your home in Hurricane Katrina.

The storm hit Aug. 29. That was early Monday morning. My cousin who is a pastor in Cincinnati visited us about a week before Hurricane Katrina hit, and she saw a vision. She saw men who were boarding up the house, and she woke up the next day and said, ‘When did those men leave?’ Also in her vision, she saw, I guess they were angels pushing water away from the house. And when she shared that with us, of course, it was before the hurricane, we thought, ‘Maybe she’s going a little wacko.’ But we didn’t say anything because I respect her as a woman of God.

Two days before the hurricane, I had an eerie experience. I had a feeling something was going to happen, but I had no idea what it was. I had no idea there was going to be a hurricane that was a category 4 storm. I had an agitation in my spirit. I thought it could be the group of kids that my son was hanging around. I couldn’t sit still. I was on edge. And I saw my neighbors plowing down the street with loads of plywood. I thought, ‘Well, what is that for?’ I’m from the Midwest, but apparently, they were from the area and knew what to do when there was a warning of a hurricane.

It was also really interesting because my niece was scheduled to have a wedding in Cincinnati during Labor Day weekend which would have been the weekend after Hurricane Katrina, but we had to evacuate because the mayor of New Orleans said to evacuate. We evacuated on Aug. 28th early Sunday morning. And so as we were preparing, I felt compelled to get my garments for the wedding in Cincinnati because I was in the wedding and take them with us. My husband said, ‘You don’t have to take those. We will be back.’ I said, ‘No, I just sensed that I needed to grab them.’ My girls were in the wedding too so I got their dresses, shoes and jewelry. I just felt like we wouldn’t be back. Sure enough, about 5:30 a.m. that morning the 29th, the storm hit, and by then we are at my mother-in-law’s home in Birmingham, Alabama. And we were watching the storm, and we didn’t know what to think. Probably a week later, I had tons and tons of friends who were calling me because they were worried. Cell phones weren’t like they are now, and people couldn’t get through to me. The path of the storm mirrored the path of our evacuation so once we got to Birmingham, we saw trees that had been uprooted. I mean huge trees. And my father was calling my sister saying, ‘They haven’t gone far enough. They need to go to at least Tennessee.’ And if you go back and look at some of the news records during that time, you’ll see there was some devastation even in Alabama and in Georgia.

What did you think about your home and everything else as you watched the news coverage?

As I watched the coverage, I was pleading the blood of Jesus over our home. Actually before we left, I remember going outside in our driveway and just like Jesus, I spoke to those winds. I rebuked the winds. I believe we have power in the name of Jesus. I invited God to sit on our window sills, our roof and to protect our home.

And as I watched CNN, I was amazed. I was thinking about my church members. I was thinking about the kids that my children went to school with. I thought about my friends and where we had just gone to dinner a week or two before. And I knew they were closer to the storm because they were in the central part of New Orleans. And I just wandered would everything be okay. It was so devastating to see people holding the signs and looking for helicopter rides to safety. I was totally numb because I was thinking about the people. I couldn’t believe it. It was literally unbelievable. We were glued to the TV.

How did these Scriptures help you to cope?

In Psalm 91, these scriptures help center me on that space in my home that I basically created as an altar where I can go before the Lord and spend time with Him and become intimate with Him. And when I am in that secret place, I have oneness with God, I am encouraged and I am built up. That is a Scripture that I take with me. I share it with my children. It was a scary time. I mean there was an opportunity to be fearful.

And in 1 Samuel 1, it is Hannah saying, ‘Lord help.’ She went to the Lord, and she laid out on the table, ‘here’s my affliction. I need You to remember me. Don’t forget me.’ And I remember having a conversation with God before the hurricane hit. I went into my bedroom closet, and I said, ‘Lord, please, if everything else is destroyed, please spare my photos because those photos can’t be replaced.’ We have three kids so we had a lot of boxes. And I remember having that conversation with God. I guess it was just an act of faith in itself to leave them, and I trusted that He would protect them. Looking back, I guess I could have just grabbed them and thrown them in a big garbage bag. It was a unique and different experience, and I just didn’t know what to do. That’s why I was just encouraged by this verse to go to God and say, ‘Help me, help me in my affliction.’ Also, during that time, I had been diagnosed with a medical condition for which there is no cure. It was a trying time – a perfect storm. No pun intended.

Psalm 121:1-2 are my mom’s favorite verses. I was really clear on where my help comes from because at that point, I really couldn’t even describe what I was feeling so Scripture really helped me get through it. Despite the circumstances, my help is in God.

What happened after the storm ended?

Once we understood the extent of the devastation, we knew we needed a more permanent solution than to stay at my mother-in-law’s home for a week. So we moved back to Cincinnati back into my parents’ home. The kids slept with grandparents. The two younger kids. And my son and I slept on my couches. I mean we just kind of made do. I wasn’t working at the time so my husband came to Cincinnati and just stayed with us a couple of weeks. Then, he had to go back to Louisiana. He worked at a Folgers plant in New Orleans, and he had to help get the plant up and running again. And that was an ordeal in itself. When my husband went back to our town, he said it looked like it was war torn. He said he had never seen anything like it. Power lines were down. Everything was flooded. Our church was flooded. Our first lady of our church. Her Porsche was floating in water. Our children’s schools were flooded. All of the infrastructure was gone. There were no grocery stores. There were no ATM machines. There were no banks.

How were your children affected?

Our son was more resilient than the girls. I remember taking the kids to a school in Cincinnati for the first time, and one of our daughters was just screaming. It was just the new surroundings and not understanding why we couldn’t just go back home. The school system gave us donations because we just had the bare essentials. We had to start all over with new school supplies, not having birth certificates, all of the critical things we needed were in Louisiana. We had a wonderful woman named Pam Abrams who adopted us. I remember the first dinner that she served us. I mean the love and the reception from the community was just awesome.

When did you find out what happened to your home?

About couple of weeks later, we found out our home had been spared. I mean we had some damage in the back and maybe a couple of shingles were gone, but that was it. I remember my husband telling me that when he went to our house, he saw a water mark on the house that was about seven feet in height. Our yard was flooded. Debris was everywhere so you could tell that water had surrounded the house, but it wasn’t damaged inside. We thought about the vision my cousin had about the men boarding up the house and the angels. It was just a miracle that we give God all of the praise and glory for!

You and your family moved back to New Orleans in 2006 but then permanently relocated to Cincinnati in 2007. Why?

It was very slow in the whole rebuilding process in New Orleans, and I had tried to get on at the Folgers’s plant in New Orleans but I didn’t get the job. So I felt like it was God saying to move back home. Also, I know my mother was praying for me to come back too because she wasn’t comfortable with her daughter living on the Gulf Coast anymore.

As it is the Thanksgiving season, how do you feel now every Thankgiving knowing that you have been through this ordeal?

I am very grateful, and now I see Thanksgiving as just not an opportunity to stuff myself with carbs, but I actually see Thanksgiving as a time to bless others. I have a friend who has a son with an illness, and I called her a couple of days ago. I said, ‘Let me know how I can help you.’ And she said, ‘You know if you could make a couple of sides for me and bring them over, I would really appreciate that.’ That’s just an example of something I do to not focus on my problems and focus on the needs of others because someone did that for me 10 years ago. And I want to make sure I give back.

Kimberly Williams Atkins is an author, Bible teacher, and inspirational speaker. Her articles have appeared in Applause! Magazine and The Albany Journal. A survivor of a debilitating disease with no medical cure, Kimberly boldly proclaims God’s healing power, love, and glory. For over 20 years, she has served as director of women’s ministries for her church and passionately ministers to many women who are rejected and abused.

In her recently released first book Empowering Women To Walk In God’s Glory: A Practical Guide for Real Life Situations,  Kimberly helps women find the path for 9781512708868_COVER.inddwalking in God’s glory. Thanksgiving is a great time, Kimberly says, to consider and learn about God’s glory, because when we understand His tremendous power that works on our behalf, we cannot help but be thankful as we ask for His help. To enter a random drawing to win a free copy of her book, click HERE to subscribe to my blog and receive an email whenever I post AND leave a comment on this post! I will choose the winner next Wednesday!

Kimberly is a senior manager for a Fortune 100 company. She and her husband, Brian, have three children and live in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information about Kimberly, go to

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Any thoughts?