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Triumphantly Me
Chicago, IL
My name is Yolonda Johnson and I am learning to live after loss.
Interests: golf, philanthropy, reading, traveling
Recent Activity
As of late I’ve been thinking a lot about the narrative of a woman whom Jesus met at the well in Samaria (John 4:9). What interests me is the history of this woman’s relationships with men in her journey. The encounter begins with the woman initiating a conversation with Jesus, a strange man she meets as she is going to draw water from the well. Her initiation was counter-cultural for the period and the Jewish faith (John 4:27) yet she felt comfortable approaching a strange man. As the conversation ensues Jesus unveils that she’s had rocky relationships with men throughout... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2015 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
While talking with a friend the other day about a situation where one individual purposefully was attempting to sabotage the reputation, progress, and destiny of another, these words leaped from my mouth, "She was throwing him her bones and the entire time he was chewing on them, getting stronger". As I said them, I sensed in my heart that this was not a simple cliché but that a spiritual concept was being revealed. For hours I mused these words, drawing insight and strength on how one can totally change the outcome of difficult circumstances by feasting on the difficulty instead... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2012 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
Today, as I as I worked, a picture that sits on my desk caught my eye. This same picture has been on my desk for the past eight years so it has become a bit of a staple; it meshes into the organized chaos from which I work. Day after day, week after week, I view this picture with my eyes, but today it captured my heart. The picture is one of happier time for our family. It includes Raven, Simone, and one of their childhood friends. It was taken on Simone’s eighth (8th) birthday at the Aquarium in Chattanooga,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2012 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
My Life in The Sunshine Chapter One “Her Beginning” My pain I hurt. In fact, it is hurt that is motivates me to write. I hurt because I am sad. I hurt because I am angry. I hurt because I am lonely. But most of all, I hurt because my 18-year-old daughter, Raven, is in heaven and I miss her. She left me unexpectedly. Oh sure, we had several close calls during her four-year battle with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, but she always bounced back. She was a fighter who surely would recover from influenza. Not this time. The flu along... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2012 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
New Beginnings Church 6620 South King Drive Chicago, IL 60637 RE: Community Center Dear Pastor Brooks and New Beginnings Family, I write this letter in tears as I just finished listening to your interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show! I have known about your effort for several months to build a community center in the Chicago area. I am a Chicago native (my family are members of SBCOC for more than 20 years), although I currently reside in Atlanta, GA, I keep abreast of local Chicago news. I read the Tribune article earlier this year, which detailed your inspiration... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2012 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
This week in Sunday School, the lesson focused on meditating and praying through the Psalms. The Single’s Sunday School class is focusing on Singleness and Spirituality. Bishop Alvarado, who is currently teaching the Singles, taught us that praying through the Psalms helps one identify with the human struggle as we seek to draw closer to God. The writers of Psalms were raw and transparent in their expression and writings as they worshipped and beseeched God for faith, hope, deliverance, revenge, and a closer relationship with Him. The component of the Psalms that I find exciting is how we, as humans,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2012 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
The holiday season can be a difficult period for those who have lost loved ones. Whether the person left this year, or previous years, for some, the weight of grief is ever present and significantly fresh during this time of giving and celebration of family. This year marks the third year of Christmas festivities without Raven and my Dad. Thus far, the first year was the most difficult. I fought feverishly to avoid the depression, stagnation, and loneliness which accompanied my loss. Some days I won; others not so much. Interestingly, I approached the second year with overwhelming anxiety that... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2011 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
Yesterday, I had an amazing opportunity to share with a group of women at the Release to Soar Women’s Conference at Total Grace Christian Center, Decatur, GA. In the course, You Can Live Again, we had a candid, emotionally tasking, conversation on the possibilities for your life after loss. This morning, as I think of those women, one key point lingers in my heart, that is “How do you move on?” The answer to this question varies for every person. Sometimes the quest to seek closure in relationships causes one to dwell in a place of grief far too long.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2011 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
Friday, September 2nd, is the second anniversary of Raven’s departure to heaven. It also marks the second year of my journey to experience life through the lens of turning tragic and life changing events, into triumphant, victorious living. You see, five days before Raven’s death, my father, Mr. Henry Baker, passed away. Nine months prior, my marriage of 20 years ended in divorce- this, my friends, is compound tragedy! In the months after these events (even now) during moments of grief, it is difficult to ascertain who or what I am grieving- my daughter, my father, or my marriage. Two... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2011 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
Tears, tears, tears are flowing down my cheek. I am not sure of the exact reason for the tears; only that somehow they relate to missing my Rae. Recently, several co-workers have given birth to beautiful children. Keo has Evelyn, a beautiful six-week-old girl who was born prematurely and has rebounded well. Evelyn’s 8lbs now and healthy, a long way from the 4lb preemie who needed a little extra tender loving care. I held her on Monday, stared in her eyes and beheld her long stretch as she maneuvered to view all the strange faces looking upon her. Maybe this... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2011 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
One of the byproducts of tragedy is often it affects our ability to believe again. This concept is supported in one of my favorite bible stories about the man who brings his demon possessed son to Jesus (Mark 9:14-29). The father, in his desperation, approached Jesus to help him with an issue which plagued the child from a young age. I imagine the father sought help from many other sources throughout the years only to be disappointed with the results. His disappointment is resonant in his response after Jesus asks “Do you believe” (9:24). The father answers, “Yes, I believe,... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2010 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
Yesterday, I attended the 2nd Annual Yolonda & Raven Johnson Legacy Luncheon at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Children’s (CHOA) is our wonderful family who cared for Rae during her four-year battle with JRA. My older sister, Dr. Toni G. Alvarado’s foundation, My Sister’s Keeper ( hosts this event in honor of Raven and I. Their purpose is to provide a wonderful meal and time of refreshing for the families in the Intensive Care Units at CHOA. As anyone who has cared for an ill loved one knows, recognition of these special days can be forgotten or delayed at the height... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2010 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
I woke up this morning feeling pretty good and singing, "Breathe into me Oh, Lord', composed by Fred Hammond. As the melody of the song poured from my lips, I felt my spirit and soul settle into a heavy disposition. I became puzzled at the shift in my mood and countenance; then it dawned on me, "This song reminds me of Raven praise dancing as a little girl". Immediately, my mind and soul were transported back to our home in Phoenix. I envisioned the bright sunshine and beautiful spring/summer days and Rae working to diligently (she was six years-old) choreograph... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2010 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
It has been some time since I posted an entry on the blog. I have been busy working. The Lord granted me the pleasure to write a book, co-authored by my daughter, Raven. The book is entitled, My Life in the Sunshine, which is a short memoir about Raven's love of writing and how she used it to process life, her illness, and death. As stated in the pages, of My Life, writing has become my outlet to remember and release her to eternity at the same time. I pray within its pages some mother, daughter, husband, or child, anyone... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2010 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
I am learning the importance and value of memory. While it is more pleasurable to remember the good things in life, our pleasant experiences, I contend that it is equally as comforting to remember challenges and hard places. So often, when loved ones leave for eternity, those left behind find it difficult to talk or openly dialogue about the departed. I did not want this legacy for Raven or any of my family members. Therefore, I have aggressively set in action moments to remember and honor Rae while simultaneously helping others. On November 7, 2009, my family and friends participated... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2010 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
Excerpt from my journal: October 7, 2009 It is still so hard to wrap my mind around Rae being gone. Her presence was so large and consuming. I talk about her like she is still alive---in spirit, she is. I just wish I could hear her voice, or a crazy, corny joke, or listen to a quirky, random thought (check out her blog: I will not pretend that we did not have our issues. Raven consumed so much of my life; at times I resented her illness and sometimes her. I loved her tremendously but Rae had a way... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2010 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
Except from my journal: October 3, 2009 I have decided to journal; of course, I am inspired by Raven. Thanks Rae! I have resisted the discipline of journaling for many years. I often thought it is too touchy/feely. But in this season of isolation, writing and journaling have become therapeutic. All day I have been in Jacksonville, FL. As I lay in my hotel bed, pondering the day, I feel completely content. It has been a long season of constant change. In fact, I feel like I have been in a 12 year battle-constant warfare! But here I am, divorced,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2010 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
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Posted Dec 31, 2009 at From Tragedy to Triumph's blog
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