Overcoming tragedy was a challenge Yolanda Winston of Fort Smith has had to face — not once, not twice, but multiple times. A local wife, mother, veteran, motivational speaker and newly published author, Winston is quoted in her recently published book, “Word of God in Motion: One Woman’s Struggle to Save Her Family After Great Tragedy,” as saying it has been her “lifelong dream to overcome life’s trials and tribulations and give God the glory.”
Her book and its companion journal, “Word of God in Motion: Keys to Unlocking Your Hopes and Dreams,” were published and released in October. Winston’s book and journal are now available for sale at Amazon.com.
A vehicle accident claimed the life of Winston’s 5-year-old son, Marquis, in 2011. Marquis was thrown from the car his dad, Winston’s husband, was driving when the wheel separated from the vehicle. A recall was later issued.
Winston dealt with the tragedy by faith, she said. For many years, her husband, on the other hand, dealt with the death of their son with “drugs and alcohol.”
Amidst the tragedy, Winston faced personal challenges, but she put her trust in God, she said. When her own life was “falling apart,” she asked God how she was supposed to trust him. When Winston said she had reached “the breaking point,” she was “mad at God,” and she asked him why her life was “so broken.” God gave her the strength to trust him, she said.
In 2015, Winston’s mom was diagnosed with stage IV rectal cancer, which had metastasized to the liver. Winston was “15 years strong in the military” at that time, and she “dropped everything (to) take care of (her) momma,” she said. For six months, Winston cared for her mom, who lived two hours away.
Royal Neighbors of America awarded Winston a $200 grant through their Difference Makers Fund for her 501(c)(3) Carepacks for Cancer Caregivers Inc., to create care packages for caregivers, she said. The organization was “birthed out of” the pain she had endured.
The mission of the Fort Smith based nonprofit is “caring for those who care for others,” according to cancercarepacks.org. Assistance can be obtained by contacting the foundation at (479) 310-5651, through email at [email protected] or by using the request form located on the organization’s website.
The assistance affects both the caregiver and the patient, Winston said. However, she has not identified any organizations that offer help specifically for the caregiver, the “one doing a lot of the work,” she said. Winston wants “to honor those people who take time out to care for others.” Her goal is to provide tangible things, like weekend getaways, hotel expenses, gas cards, etc., for caregivers of people with stage IV cancers, she said. She wants to encourage caregivers “not to forget about themselves.” Currently, she is seeking sponsors to enable her in “taking a really difficult time and making lemonade out of lemons,” she said.
A March 2017 writer’s workshop Winston attended in Fort Smith taught Winston how to set goals, she said. Surrounding herself with positive people was also promoted through the workshop. Assistance overcoming adversity as she worked on the book she had been writing was another benefit of the workshop, and she learned how to meet people professionally and get her book published, she said.
Winston attended the workshop with “a draft and a dream,” she said. There, she met her future publisher, Iris Williams, owner of Butterfly Typeface Publishing in Little Rock. It was as a result of the workshop that her “draft” was later completed and her book and journal became a reality.
Through journaling, Winston said she found her own personal relationship with God. She conversed with a minister from Alaska on a six-hour flight after she had asked God how she could witness to other people amidst her own challenges. “As he was talking, I was jotting notes,” Winston said.
The notes Winston recorded during the flight helped her break Scripture down “like you would for a third grader,” she said. The journal encourages reading Scripture; praying for knowledge, wisdom and understanding; personal application of the Scripture passage; and expressing the desired outcome, she said. She also encourages being persistent, no matter how long it takes, she said. “God will give you an answer.”
In her book, Winston shared how God brought her through pain and adversity, she said. Three degrees — an associate in health services management, a bachelor in business management and a master in human resources development and training — did not prepare Winston to overcome adversity, she said. Winston shared her story hoping to help someone accomplish their dreams and goals, endure their circumstances and “deal with adversity.”
“Even though I’ve struggled, I know you can make it,” Winston said. She encourages others that when “it gets hard” and you are lonely, “try to keep a positive attitude.”
“No matter what you face, there is a way to overcome,” Winston said.