As the school year is coming to an end, us moms put on our Vacation Coordinator hats and busily begin preparing for “the best summer vacation yet!” Some of us have a few weeks to begin this yearly flutter of signing our children up for summer camps, missions trips, coordinating family vacations, summer school, etc. Others have a little over a month to fill our children’s summer vacation with fun memories of their childhood that we hope they will pass on to their children one day.
But in the midst of all this hustle and bustle, we must stop to ask ourselves, “What do I want my children to remember about their summer vacations? Do I want them to remember how fun it was, or how full it was?” That is, how deep, not wide. Then, we’re faced with the dilemma of having to choose between fun vs. spiritually edifying. But do we really have to choose? Can fun and spiritual depth coexist? Well, I believe it can, and this month’s cover girl proves it!
It’s my pleasure to introduce to you, Chonda Pierce. Our sister Chonda is a talented and hilarious Christian comedian who has authored six (6) books, produced multiple DVD’s of her performances, a gifted singer/songwriter, co-host of Aspiring Women , and co-founder of PKI – Preacher’s Kids International. In 2006, Chonda also helped found Branches Recovery Center which is “a Christian, faith-based center for emotional and spiritual restoration and recovery for those broken by addiction, depression and shame“.
I’ve been a fan of Chonda’s for nearly a decade, after I first saw her at a Women of Faith Conference. My favorite thing about her, believe it or not, isn’t that she’s funny. What I love most about her is that she loves Jesus Christ as Lord, and that is more than evident. I love that I can laugh with her, cry with her, worship in song with her, hear the Gospel and listen to her unashamedly claim her dependence, trust and devotion to our Savior. Every time I tell someone about her, or send them one of her DVD’s, I always say, “You’ve got to listen to this sister. She LOVES Jesus! Oh, and she’s also hilarious! And she’s got a great voice!” 🙂
I pray that you are truly blessed by her story and how God continues to be her greatest hero.
Sunny: Sister Chonda, I’ve been a fan for years! Recently, me and my three men (husband and two teenage boys), laughed, cried and worshiped with you as we watched “Stayin’ Alive…Laughing” DVD. In this DVD and your book, Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian’s Journey Through Depression (Simon and Schuster, Inc.) you lovingly and honestly share your battle with depression. You could’ve just hid this and said you were just taking a sabbatical or something. What moved you to share this very private time in your life with the public?
Chonda: I feel like in my life, silence is a bigger danger than depression. I spent my childhood keeping secrets. So I just set out to be honest and I think I was as surprised as anyone that my career stayed intact. It is a known fact that, spiritually and psychologically, anything that is dragged out of the dark into the light, no longer has power over you.
Sunny: Amen to that sister! What was the greatest lesson you learned from your bout with depression?
Chonda: That how I feel doesn’t change who God is. There are several folks in the Bible who many people believe suffer from depression, so I’m in good company. 🙂 I’ve learned that depression is a reminder to me to serve God; again because of who He is and not because of the way He makes me feel.
Sunny: You’ve got that right. When we read the accounts of many great men of faith i.e., Elijah, Jeremiah, Job, Asaph, etc., we can clearly see that depression is not unusual for a Christian, but is a norm for many who love God and experience the darkness and depravity of a world full of sin – especially within ourselves. In your book, Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian’s Journey Through Depression you said “Rehearse in the dark, what you learned in the light.” Would you please share with our readers, what you mean by this statement and how it helps you?
Chonda: That means on a good day when you are in God’s word, and you are feeling His presence and understanding that He’s in control, to rehearse as if those revelations are real, when you are in the dark; because the feelings in the dark are lying to you. But the fact remains that if you have felt God’s presence, you trust that it is real and is there with you in the dark, even though you might not “feel” it. There’s an old premise in performance that says “fake it ’til you make it” which tricks your confidence into believing that you are a seasoned professional. And though I don’t have a performance based faith, I do believe that your depressed mind can be trained into rehearsing what you have come to know as truth, rather than what you might be feeling at the time.
Sunny: That reminds me of a verse from Scripture [Hebrews 10:23] and a verse from an old hymn by R. Kelso Carter, ♪ ♫”Standing on the promises that cannot fail, When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail, Standing on the promises of God.” ♫ ♪ As always, I absolutely love the title of your latest DVD, “This Ain’t Prettyville” that was recently released on March 24, 2009. Can you tell us about this comedy bit, and why you felt this was an important topic to cover?
Chonda: It was the natural progression with the work I’m doing to manage depression, understanding myself based on the wrong and the right information from childhood, media influences and life’s circumstances. It helps us to remember to embrace the “real” in each of us.
Sunny: Truly the “real” is always more powerful than how we happen to “feel”. As you stated, how we feel from moment to moment isn’t always true. Well it’s so obvious our Father God ain’t through with you yet sister! 🙂 I see that the Lord has recently given you a host spot alongside Shirley Rose and Michelle McKinney Hammond on the talk show, Aspiring Women which airs every Monday at 10:00 a.m. EST on Total Living Network (TLN). How did this come about?
Chonda: I had been a guest on their show many times through the years. I fell in love with their enthusiasm to share stories of people’s real lives, ups and downs. So they asked and I said, “Sure, why not?” Aspiring Women has given me a great place to broaden my communication skills.
Sunny: I noticed your husband David also has a new, nationally released book (March 17, 2009) entitled, Don’t Let Me Go (WaterBrook/Random House Press). It covers the 3 year journey David took with Chera while climbing 4 mountains and running 2 marathons. This sounds so interesting! I’m curious, what is the main theme of this book and why was David inspired to write it?
Chonda: The main theme of the book is that we learn as much in the valleys as we do in the mountain tops. He just wrote it as a gift to Chera – didn’t know it was going to be a book. You can get more information at DavidWPierce.com and he would be more than happy to talk with you about his mindset while he was writing it.
Sunny: Well, I did visit David’s sight and I encourage others to visit as well! The short video he shares about the book, what he and Chera experienced and a snippet of what he learned was very inspiring. I love this quote from David’s site: “Although this is a book about pain and perseverance, disappointment and victory, it is mostly what a father learns about his daughter—by watching her character, both in the valleys and on the mountaintops.” Personally, I’m so inspired, that while I only have boys, I’m going to get the book and read it because I believe all us parents would benefit from watching our children’s character and learning more about them.
In 1993, you worked with Second Row, Inc. to found PKI – Preacher’s Kids International. I love the purpose of this ministry: “The purpose of PKI is to provide ministry and support to the families of preachers, missionaries, evangelists and other Christian professional ministers. Our immediate focus is the adult children of those families — offering celebrations and recovery through counseling, group interaction, retreats, and seminars.” Why do you have this ministry and why call the place for your retreats the “Funny Farm”?
Chonda: We always wanted to do something to give back to the people who are walking the same journey I had walked in my childhood. I remember so many “have to do’s” as a preacher’s kid: you have to show up to everything, have to go early, have to stay late, have to dress a certain way or be in a certain place, all because you are a preacher’s kid. So I created a place where kids could say, “Look what I get to do, because I’m a preacher’s kid!” And why the Funny Farm? Because we like alliteration! And it’s a catchy title. And there are some funny things out there – videos, books…and I mean come on; I’m a comic, with a farm, hello?! 🙂
Sunny: Sister Chonda you crack me up! What a wonderful ministry for PK’s! And yes, I never thought about that, you are a comic, who owns a farm…so I suppose, naturally, it would be funny. 😀
In closing, would you mind sharing with our readers a Scripture or passage (and/or song) that our gracious Lord is using to minister to you right now, and why?
Chonda: I love a song by Shannon Wexelberg called the “The Story.” It’s off of her Story Of My Life CD. I first heard it about a month ago and it spoke to me of the importance of talking about your lives. It just hit my heart. Below is the Scripture God is using to minister to me right now; and in light of everything I’ve shared so far, I believe the reason why it ministers to me, is obvious. 🙂
It is the Spirit that gives life. Flesh doesn’t give life. The words I told you are spirit, and they give life.
Chonda, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit with us and sharing your heart. I’ve truly been encouraged by everything you’ve shared and I am inspired to slow down, smell the roses and be grateful for all the things our Father God teaches us in the “light” so that we may rightly apply His truths in the darkness.
If you’d like to be blessed with stories of God’s faithfulness, great singing, solid/biblical truths – while laughing, please be sure to visit our sister Chonda at:
And as if Chonda’s visit with us here at CWO wasn’t enough of a blessing, she’s graciously offered us TWO autographed copies of her latest DVD, “This Ain’t Prettyville”. I’ve already watched it (more than once ;-)) and have been so encouraged, amused and blessed! You’ll love her opening song and will probably shout a loud “AMEN!” like I did. 🙂
We have used the online randomizer tool, and chosen two winners from our list of commenters:
Congratulations to: Aubrey Miller and Cathy Davis