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Who is Chonda Pierce?
Who is Chonda Pierce? She’s a best-selling comedienne with an audience of 1.5 million nationwide. She’s worked with Billy Graham, wowed the Grand Ole Opry, made major television appearances, written eight books (four are children’s books) and has four gold-certified comedy videos. But more important to her is the fact that her shtick -- sidesplitting stories about real life, from babyhood to motherhood to grannyhood -- is as pure as Ivory soap. Pierce is more than happy to be the ‘queen of clean’ because her comedy serves a larger purpose, “The punch line is not the bottom line,” she says. “You’ve got to end up somewhere that counts.” “All my projects have Christian content. They all talk about what I’m learning about God and his love,” she says. “For example, Four-Eyed Blond was about mercy, to encourage people to lighten up on each other and themselves. On Her Soap Box was about the fatherhood of God. Be Afraid talks about the comfort of God when you’re frightened. And the latest, Have I Got a Story for You is about what sets Christians apart—the redemption of Jesus Christ. The crucifixion, the sacrifice…and how it impacts our lives today. That really is the greatest story ever told, and for once in my career, I wanted to make sure that I had articulated THAT loud and clear.” Then again, Chonda has never just been in it for the laughs. “Comedy is about so much more than exaggerating the truth or delivering a great punch line,” Chonda says. “It ultimately starts with the truth.” And leave it to Chonda Pierce, a 43-year-old mother of two to be the only one with the chutzpah to tell the absolute truth. “The Christian community takes itself so seriously.” Chonda continues. “And believe me there are a lot of things to be absolutely serious about. But comedy is one of the greatest gifts, one of the greatest tools – an emotion given to us by a Creator that planned on us using it from time to time! And if we can use humor to leave someone feeling positive about life, hopeful about the future and looking at a committed life as a Christ-follower then, ‘Why not!?’” “I don’t know where the title Christian Comedian came from.” Chonda snickers, “I’m a stand-up comedian. That’s what I do for a living AND I happen to be a born-again Christian. Something that the entertainment world finds downright scary!” Chonda laughs. Chonda began her interest in Comedy during a six-year stint at a theme park in Nashville, TN called Opryland, USA. “I was a Theater Arts major at Austin Peay University and went to the park to pay my college bill. I wound up in a show called Country Music, USA and didn’t know a thing about country music!” Furthermore, growing up in an ultra conservative Pastor’s home, Chonda didn’t know how to dance. A major requirement for theme park entertainers. “In order to keep my job I had to memorize a couple of pages of jokes form Grinders Switch, TN and impersonate Cousin Minnie Pearl. I was hooked! I loved the sound of an audience laughing more so than the applause after a song or dramatic sketch.” The journey from Opryland to present day filled the pages of two of the four books Chonda has written. Her autobiography has been written out in two different books focusing on several different episodes in Chonda’s life: Second Row, Piano Side (Beacon Hill Press) and It’s Always Darkest Before the FUN Comes Up (Zondervan). I was a teenager when life in my “seemingly” perfect southern preacher’s kid world fell apart. My older sister, Charlotta was killed in a car accident (she was 20), several months later my little sister became seriously ill and died in 21 days after being diagnosed with Leukemia (she was 15). During those grieving months Chonda’s father left town. “My father was bipolar and so to tell you the truth, his leaving was no real shocker – but his timing certainly left much to be desired.” Chonda’s older brother had already married and moved out of state which meant Chonda and her mother had to start all over again in a one bedroom apartment in Nashville, Tennessee. “We were broke, tired and beaten down. Let me tell you, you’ll find out if there’s a God when you have to share a bedroom with your mother!” Those were dark days indeed, but the FUN eventually did come back into Chonda’s life and she went on to marry her high school sweetheart, David Pierce. Chonda beams, “David is my partner in ALL things.” A successful writer in his own field, they have also co-authored four children’s books. “David and I write most all of the material on my comedy projects, in books but our most successful collaboration in our 21 year marriage is a daughter and a son!” Chonda resides with her family in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

I decided to make a website about Chonda Pierce because I think that she is the greatest christian comdey artist around. If you have not heard of Chonda Pierce then you need to check out some of her videos or dvds Or CDs.

Thank You,

Webmaster.


~~Spotlight on the South~~

SPOTLIGHT ON COMEDIAN CHONDA PIERCE

I love to laugh, but I don't enjoy coarse comedians. Regrettably, it's often hard to find one without the other. That's not the case with Chonda Pierce. A native of South Carolina who cut her funny bone on the comedy of Carol Burnette, this blond dynamo is a speaker, comedian, author, singer, wife, and mother of two. She's also laugh out loud, feel-good funny!

I heard one of Chonda's tapes for the first time a few weeks ago and I was immediately enchanted by her distinctive southern drawl and entertaining wit. Now, I'm checking out her traveling schedule to see when I can see her in person. Ms. Pierce was barely into her routine before I recognized the people, the places and the memories of her stories. I'm pretty sure you'll know them, too!

Chonda grew up a "PK",(preacher's kid), in a dysfunctional family. (If you're thinking there has got to be tons of material there, you're right!) While there's nothing remotely funny about Chonda's past, this gusty lady has been able to take personal tragedies that would've crippled many people and use them instead to bring her audiences to tears of laughter. There's been many speaking engagements, songs, and books since Chonda's darker days. Through it all, from growing up sitting "second row, piano side", to appearing center stage with Garth Brooks at the Grand Ole Opry, Chonda Pierce has used the healing power of laughter to share God's message of hope.

"I'd like to say that God appeared to me and said, 'Go, ye, and be funny'," Chonda says. "But it was more than that. I believe we should all aspire to impact the world with what we do."

If you need a laugh--and who doesn't--do yourself a favor and get one of Chonda's tapes, or better yet, catch her in person. Oh, and if you see me there--wave! I'll be wearing my ATS shirt, so you can recognize me.

~Shellie

Click here to order: "On Her Soap Box, Audio CD"
Click here to order:"Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid, Audio CD"
Click here to order: "Second Row, Piano Side: A Chonda Pierce Book"

~Shellie

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The daughter of a Midwestern preacher, Chonda Pierce is a Christian comedian who developed a dedicated following in the mid-'90s through constant touring and appearances with Bill Gaither, both in concert and on television and videos. Her humor is a combination of storytelling, sketches and one-liners, all tied together with hope, inspiration and spirituality. Pierce made her major label debut with 1998's Havin' a Girls' Night Out; Yes and Amen followed a year later. Four Eyed Blonde appeared in 2001 and the comparisons to Carol Burnett began here. Playing up these similarities, Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid was a sketch-oriented album that showed a screaming Pierce on the cover.

A time to laugh

Christian comedienne, author and recording artist Chonda Pierce has endured more than her share of pain and loss but has found healing through laughter. Often compared to the queen of clean comedy, Minnie Pearl, Chonda appears regularly on the Grand Old Opry Stage in Nashville, Tenn., and maintains a schedule of 90 tour dates per year. Chonda spoke recently with Ashli O’Connell, assistant editor.

Evangel: How did your experiences growing up as a preacher’s kid contribute to what you do today?

Pierce: They contribute greatly. For one thing, a lot of those fun stories from church end up being great material. Preachers’ kids learn to sing in the choir, teach Sunday school and clean the bathrooms before we’re 4 years old. So being in front of people all my life was a great blessing.

Evangel: You’ve had your share of heartache, including your parents’ divorce and the deaths of your two sisters. Did you use humor as a coping mechanism?

Pierce: I can’t say that after the deaths of my sisters I just snapped and decided to cover everything up with humor. My father went through bouts of depression my whole life, even before my sisters passed away, so I had already known how to cover up difficulty. When my sisters died and my parents divorced, that hurt. So then I learned to cover up pain. And it made the recovery process even more difficult.

Ecclesiastes says there is a time to laugh and a time to cry. We have to learn when the right time is. When you don’t know when the right time is, you laugh inappropriately. No one can laugh all the time.

Evangel: How did you get your start in comedy?

More about Chonda

Age: 40

Husband: David Pierce

Children: Chera Kay (16) and Zachary (10)

Honors and awards: Winner of the Grady Nutt Humor Award at the 2000 Gospel Music Association awards; her performance video Having a Girls’ Night Out (Myrrh 1998) was certified gold.

Pierce: A theme park in Nashville called Opryland USA was here for years and years and was one of the best places for a teen-ager in Nashville to get a good job ÃÆ’¢â‚¬” a clean place to work, reasonable hours, good pay. I tried out for one of the shows. The first year I didn’t make it. I found out later it was because I was too skinny ÃÆ’¢â‚¬” oh, how I’d love to have those years back.

So I auditioned again the next year, and I got hired. The only way I could keep my job was to impersonate Minnie Pearl, because it was the one job in the show that would excuse me from the big dance number, which I was terrible at. And so in God’s providence I got a part in a show where five times a day, seven days a week, I had to make people laugh. It was at a time when I didn’t feel like life was very funny.

Evangel: So this job began a healing process for you?

Pierce: You know how you just float along in a fog or a haze just trying to get through the days? That’s what grief does. It just hangs like a cloud for a while. And in that cloud of grief, in order to make a living and to pay my college tuition, I got a job making people laugh. I got to experience firsthand what it means in Proverbs that laughter doeth good like medicine. It was medicine for me first. It changed everything ÃÆ’¢â‚¬” from not only a healing process that began but also an eye-opener to performing. I found that I loved hearing people laugh much more than the applause after I sang. I fell in love with comedy.

Evangel: Tell me about your relationship with Minnie Pearl.

Pierce: Miss Minnie was a fan of the young people at Opryland. She would encourage them in their performance interests. One day my boss said to me, "Sarah Cannon would like to meet you after the show. She thinks you did a good job." At the time I didn’t even know that Sarah Cannon was Minnie Pearl.

She thought I did a pretty good likeness of impersonating her and had a good sense of timing, so I started getting a little extra work impersonating her on the side. Down through the years, I would do events with her, and we had a little routine going.

The Holy Spirit really used her to speak to me. One night backstage she asked me if I liked this kind of thing, and I said, "Yes, ma’am, I do. I really like this."

And she said, "Well, honey, you’ll never really know what laughter is until you make peace with God and know Him first." I’m certain that as a godly woman she could sense the anger and the bitterness and that cutting edge that sometimes you get when you’re unhappy.

Evangel: What is life like in the Pierce home?

Pierce: My son is a big cutup and seems to know no strangers. My daughter is more serious. She takes after her father. I grew up in a Nazarene church, and my husband grew up Southern Baptist. Now we go to a Pentecostal church. We have a diverse life. I’m real excited that, because the Holy Spirit is such a part of our lives, our home doesn’t have a whole lot of sarcasm in it. That’s a sweet, sweet reprieve. I remember how lonely it can feel when you’re using laughter in an unhealthy way.

Evangel: To what do you attribute the rise of comedy as a ministry venue?

Pierce: The term Christian comedienne raises eyebrows for people who need to give Christianity a new look and another chance. For those of us who need a new way to evangelize, comedy is appealing. It’s appealing even nationwide. Just like the rise of sitcoms on TV. That is the nationwide appeal to humor. I’m really grateful and excited that the church embraces this idea as well because who should be happier in the world than us? We know how the story ends; we’re heading home. Now it doesn’t mean we don’t have problems and we don’t grieve or have struggles, but in our spirits we’re free.

Evangel: Anything else?

Pierce: My pastor and my mother have been two of the most incredible people at teaching me to be salt and light in a dark world. As a comedienne and a Christian entertainer, I get more work in the corporate world and on national TV because the world is generally pretty sick of the vulgar stuff. My pastor has been good to help me accept the role that God has given me to be salt and light in an odd way. It’s a precious gift that I don’t take for granted.

___________________________________________________________

Celebrity Interviews: Laugh, Live and Love: Chonda Pierce


 

By Charles White


 

The Christian Online Magazine -

Faith is a powerful thing. It is often the only thing that gets us through the difficult times in our lives. This is true for Chonda Pierce. As a teen, her life was littered with one major tragedy after another. It would have been easy for her to give up and turn to drugs, alcohol or suicide to dull the pain. Instead, she turned to her faith.

Chonda Pierce was born in Covington, Kentucky. Chonda’s early years are a patchwork quilt filled with memories of cities that she called home. It wasn’t until she was fifteen that her family moved to Tennessee and put down roots.

Although Chonda had finally found a permanent home, trials and tribulations continued to plague her and her family. Just a teenager, Chonda’s world came crashing down. When Chonda was only sixteen, her older sister, Charlotta, died in a head-on collision on a rainy day. Shortly after her sister’s death, Chonda’s father, a preacher who had struggled with a severe bipolar disorder for most of his life, packed his bags and left his wife, his children and his ministry behind.

Faced with this terrible tragedy and abandoned by her father, Chonda’s family tried to put the pieces of their life back together, but things just got worse. Several months after the accident that took her older sister’s life, her family got more bad news. Chonda’s fifteen-year-old sister, Cheralyn, was diagnosed with Leukemia and died a month later. Devastated and broke, Chonda and her mother were forced to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Looking back, Chonda realizes that there is only one reason that she was able to get through the trials and tribulations that marked her teen-age years.

"It had to be God," Chonda admits. "I can’t find any other explanation. You know, I heard the story behind the old Hymn: It Is Well With My Soul. A man wrote those lyrics as his ship passed over the very spot where his wife and children had drowned earlier. I hear the stories of others that emerged from such tragedy and I wish I could sit and ask them: ‘How’d you make it through that?’ I’m amazed."

"I do wish I could say I sailed through untouched by the difficulties of pain. Honestly? I’m still re-learning lessons that the pain and dysfunction of my past tried to leave pinned on my heart. I do know that there were times I seemed to float by almost supernaturally – at other times I stomped through the days kicking and screaming the whole way. Only God can blanket your life so that the scars that cover your knees from falling down over and over are washed away and you’re jumping for joy again. Now, when my boat floats by the spot where life’s pain began, I’ve discovered -- I AM the song that emerged. And I thank God for that every day."

Eventually, her life of pain changed to one of joy as she fell in love and married her high school sweetheart, David Pierce. From this union came two beautiful children and twenty plus years of love, commitment and joy.

"My greatest blessings in life are David and our kids," Chonda states. "I love David – we met when we were sixteen. We were sweethearts! But I’ve learned in knowing him for all these years -- love is one of those emotions that fluctuate almost as much as my weight! What remains a constant for us is respect. We have the greatest respect for one another. I know what David has been through and seen what God has done in his life. He has been a part of my life through the ups and downs – and I believe he has a healthy appreciation for the miracle God has worked in my life as well! When it comes to our kids we each feel such gratitude that God would entrust us with life. Two lives."

Although she married her high school sweetheart, Chonda had another love: Comedy. Chonda began her love affair with comedy while working for Opryland USA. A theater major at Austin Peay University, Chonda took a job at the park to pay her tuition. During her six-year career with the Tennessee-based theme park, Chonda was asked to perform in a show called Country Music, USA. Being from the home of a conservative pastor, Chonda didn’t know how to dance and was forced to find another way to fit into the production.

"I wound up in a show called Country Music, USA and didn’t know a thing about country music," Chonda explains. "In order to keep my job I had to memorize a couple of pages of jokes form Grinders Switch, TN and impersonate Cousin Minnie Pearl. I was hooked! I loved the sound of an audience laughing more so than the applause after a song or dramatic sketch."

The rest, as they say, is history. Now, Chonda Pierce is a well-recognized name in Christian Comedy. She has worked with the legendary Billy Graham, performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, written eight books (four of which are children’s books that she has written with her husband, David) and has four comedy videos that have been certified gold.

Most recently, Chonda Pierce has been instrumental in organizing the Christian Comedy Association, an organization that boasts over 200 members and counting.

"I am a huge fan of Christian Comedy," Chonda relates. "There are more of us than you might think! I have recently been part of organizing the Christian Comedy Association. You see, in the past we have been pegged to be "less than professional" or not-quite-as-funny as the "other comedians".

Sadly, I think that’s been true at times. I know it’s been true of me! Church comedy was safe for a long time! People would laugh out of kindness and the stories and jokes were always about the visiting evangelist or the preacher! And if you had a tender "testimony" to wrap up the night – then maybe people would overlook the bad performance! But not anymore! You can’t fill a concert hall up with folks and give them something less than what their dollar and their time from home deserves – no matter how "Christian" you are! You better be funny!!!

The real challenge is to make a room full of people laugh WITHOUT using a dirty word, without pumping them full of alcohol – now that’s an accomplishment! Truth is, I became interested in comedy long before I became a dedicated Christ follower. Now comedy is just a tool… it’s what I use to be able to earn an audience’s trust so that I can tell them about the One that created the laugh in the first place!"

With the success of her videos, an audience of 1.5 million nationwide, and her hilarious new project, Have I Got A Story For You, Chonda remains humble and realizes that being able to do what she loves is a huge gift.

"I’m learning every day that my life as a performer is a gift– a gift I am extremely grateful for but keenly aware that it just might be the gift that doesn’t keep on giving! In other words, when the very way that you pay the bills depends upon the personal opinion of others – you may want to be careful with how "important" you think it all is!

Frankly, not many of us are very "important" in the big picture! But comedy is important to me! Maintaining a sense of humor, enjoying a laugh, chuckling at something my kids did – those are the tender moments that give us a small Heavenly glimpse of what eternal bliss might be like!"

If Chonda Pierce had the chance to look back and share some of the wisdom that God has granted her throughout the years, what would it be? Simply put, live Christ-Centered lives.

"Spend as much time on your heart as you do your head.  Work on your relationship with Christ as much as you do your craft and goals in life. Everything we do and everything we are is a by-product of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The challenge in life is not the kids, our jobs, our relationship – the challenge is in our humanity and not allowing THAT to get in the way of knowing Christ!"

Life is filled with so much darkness, that it is sometimes hard to see the light. To help us through the tough times, God has given us an amazing gift: laughter. Laughter is God’s foghorn that helps us to look beyond the pain and see the reward that God has promised: eternal bliss with our Heavenly Father. When the darkness seems unbearable, listen for God’s foghorn amidst your life and remember the promises that God has made to you.

Copyright 2004 by Charles White (Person 2 Person Ezine)

Laugh, Live and Love: Chonda Pierce

by

Charles White

___________________________________________

 

Faith is a powerful thing. It is often the only thing that gets us through the difficult times in our lives. This is true for Chonda Pierce. As a teen, her life was littered with one major tragedy after another. It would have been easy for her to give up and turn to drugs, alcohol or suicide to dull the pain. Instead, she turned to her faith.

Chonda Pierce was born in Covington, Kentucky.  Chonda’s early years are a patchwork quilt filled with memories of cities that she called home. It wasn’t until she was fifteen that her family moved to Tennessee and put down roots.

Although Chonda had finally found a permanent home, trials and tribulations continued to plague her and her family. Just a teenager, Chonda’s world came crashing down. When Chonda was only sixteen, her older sister, Charlotta, died in a head-on collision on a rainy day.  Shortly after her sister’s death, Chonda’s father, a preacher who had struggled with a severe bipolar disorder for most of his life, packed his bags and left his wife, his children and his ministry behind.

Faced with this terrible tragedy and abandoned by her father, Chonda’s family tried to put the pieces of their life back together, but things just got worse. Several months after the accident that took her older sister’s life, her family got more bad news. Chonda’s fifteen-year-old sister, Cheralyn, was diagnosed with Leukemia and died a month later.  Devastated and broke, Chonda and her mother were forced to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Looking back, Chonda realizes that there is only one reason that she was able to get through the trials and tribulations that marked her teen-age years.

“It had to be God,” Chonda admits. “I can’t find any other explanation. You know, I heard the story behind the old Hymn: It Is Well With My Soul. A man wrote those lyrics as his ship passed over the very spot where his wife and children had drowned earlier. I hear the stories of others that emerged from such tragedy and I wish I could sit and ask them: ‘How’d you make it through that?’  I’m amazed."

"I do wish I could say I sailed through untouched by the difficulties of pain. Honestly? I’m still re-learning lessons that the pain and dysfunction of my past tried to leave pinned on my heart. I do know that there were times I seemed to float by almost supernaturally – at other times I stomped through the days kicking and screaming the whole way. Only God can blanket your life so that the scars that cover your knees from falling down over and over are washed away and you’re jumping for joy again.  Now, when my boat floats by the spot where life’s pain began, I’ve discovered -- I AM the song that emerged. And I thank God for that every day.”

 

Eventually, her life of pain changed to one of joy as she fell in love and married her high school sweetheart, David Pierce. From this union came two beautiful children and twenty plus years of love, commitment and joy.

“My greatest blessings in life are David and our kids,” Chonda states. “I love David – we met when we were sixteen. We were sweethearts! But I’ve learned in knowing him for all these years -- love is one of those emotions that fluctuate almost as much as my weight! What remains a constant for us is respect. We have the greatest respect for one another. I know what David has been through and seen what God has done in his life. He has been a part of my life through the ups and downs – and I believe he has a healthy appreciation for the miracle God has worked in my life as well!  When it comes to our kids we each feel such gratitude that God would entrust us with life. Two lives.”

Although she married her high school sweetheart, Chonda had another love: Comedy. Chonda began her love affair with comedy while working for Opryland USA. A theater major at Austin Peay University, Chonda took a job at the park to pay her tuition. During her six-year career with the Tennessee-based theme park, Chonda was asked to perform in a show called Country Music, USA. Being from the home of a conservative pastor, Chonda didn’t know how to dance and was forced to find another way to fit into the production.

“I wound up in a show called Country Music, USA and didn’t know a thing about country music,” Chonda explains.  “In order to keep my job I had to memorize a couple of pages of jokes form Grinders Switch, TN and impersonate Cousin Minnie Pearl. I was hooked! I loved the sound of an audience laughing more so than the applause after a song or dramatic sketch.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Now, Chonda Pierce is a well-recognized name in Christian Comedy.  She has worked with the legendary Billy Graham, performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, written eight books (four of which are children’s books that she has written with her husband, David) and has four comedy videos that have been certified gold.

Most recently, Chonda Pierce has been instrumental in organizing the Christian Comedy Association, an organization that boasts over 200 members and counting.

“I am a huge fan of Christian Comedy,” Chonda relates. “There are more of us than you might think! I have recently been part of organizing the Christian Comedy Association. You see, in the past we have been pegged to be “less than professional” or not-quite-as-funny as the “other comedians”.

Sadly, I think that’s been true at times. I know it’s been true of me! Church comedy was safe for a long time! People would laugh out of kindness and the stories and jokes were always about the visiting evangelist or the preacher!  And if you had a tender “testimony” to wrap up the night – then maybe people would overlook the bad performance! But not anymore! You can’t fill a concert hall up with folks and give them something less than what their dollar and their time from home deserves – no matter how “Christian” you are! You better be funny!!!

The real challenge is to make a room full of people laugh WITHOUT using a dirty word, without pumping them full of alcohol – now that’s an accomplishment! Truth is, I became interested in comedy long before I became a dedicated Christ follower. Now comedy is just a tool… it’s what I use to be able to earn an audience’s trust so that I can tell them about the One that created the laugh in the first place!”

With the success of her videos, an audience of 1.5 million nationwide, and her hilarious new project, Have I Got A Story For You, Chonda remains humble and realizes that being able to do what she loves is a huge gift.

“I’m learning every day that my life as a performer is a gift– a gift I am extremely grateful for but keenly aware that it just might be the gift that doesn’t keep on giving!  In other words, when the very way that you pay the bills depends upon the personal opinion of others – you may want to be careful with how “important” you think it all is!

Frankly, not many of us are very “important” in the big picture! But comedy is important to me! Maintaining a sense of humor, enjoying a laugh, chuckling at something my kids did – those are the tender moments that give us a small Heavenly glimpse of what eternal bliss might be like!”

If Chonda Pierce had the chance to look back and share some of the wisdom that God has granted her throughout the years, what would it be?  Simply put, live Christ-Centered lives.

“Spend as much time on your heart as you do your head.  Work on your relationship with Christ as much as you do your craft and goals in life. Everything we do and everything we are is a by-product of our relationship with Jesus Christ. The challenge in life is not the kids, our jobs, our relationship – the challenge is in our humanity and not allowing THAT to get in the way of knowing Christ!”

Life is filled with so much darkness, that it is sometimes hard to see the light. To help us through the tough times, God has given us an amazing gift: laughter.  Laughter is God’s foghorn that helps us to look beyond the pain and see the reward that God has promised: eternal bliss with our Heavenly Father. When the darkness seems unbearable, listen for God’s foghorn amidst your life and remember the promises that God has made to you.