About the Author

Michelle Ami Reyes, PhD, is an author and activist. Her first book, Becoming All Things, is the recipient of the 2022 ECPA award. Michelle writes at the intersection of multiculturalism, faith, and justice. She lives with her family in Austin, Texas.

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Reader Interactions


  1. I have found 2 tools that have helped keep me connect to my circle through the lockdowns. 1) I text What’s on ur heart today? Biggest concern? Greatest anticipated joy? 2) I then respond with a texted prayer specific to the burdens & joy(s) expressed.
    I’ve come to see that “How are you?” Is NOT a greeting phrase, but a commitment to action. If I ask I’m invested to listen, pray & encourage. It also opens the door to share Jesus with fellow believers & non-believers alike.
    Thanks for your post to spur us to action! Bless you richly!

    • Hi Ruth! Thanks for sharing these questions! I love the focused questions about concerns and joys. Sometimes my husband and I ask folks, “What were the thorns of your week? What were the roses of your week?” Similar idea. These kinds of questions really do open all kinds of doors and allows us to go deeper in our conversations with folks and, ultimately, as you mentioned, offers opportunities for us to point each other to Jesus in the highs and lows of our lives.

  2. I would a copy of your Bible book which coming out on February 15, Enpowered, the only thing I am senior citizen and can’t pay it. Gail Mattox, 2200 Kerwin Rd. #411, University Heights, OH 44118

    • Hi Gail! We’re so glad you’re part of our (in)courage community! Praying you have a wonderful day. Keep an eye out for more opportunities to win a copy of Empowered!

  3. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 KJV
    Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

  4. Very well said. We can’t control the circumstances that the pandemic has put on us. we can pray about what the Lord would have us to do. I am chronically ill–home bound before the pandemic hit!! My church is very good to reach out to me. During the pandemic at its height, I found that I was the one doing the reaching out and it began a pray ministry for me. That has really helped me through the rough days and nights. God is good. If you want to know the why’s and wherefore’s, you just need to go to Him. You may not get the answer you are looking for, but He will give you what you need to cope and get through each day.
    At the end of each day, if the house is still standing, and the kids are clothed and fed and no one is injured–your day has been a success—-my mom sent this to me years ago. I had been diagnosed with Lupus and had 2 young boys and their dad and I had to divorce. It was incredibly hard. This quote is from Ann Lander’s—many of you may not remember her–she wrote an amazing advice column in most daily newspapers. In today’s society we as women and mothers and wives have set the bar so high, that we can’t seem to function any other way but top speed. Take a deep breath and talk with your Heavenly Father. He will encourage you like no other!!! Yes, I do know depression. Thank God He is there for that, too.

    • I suffer with seasons of depression and anxiety. I’m in one of those seasons now and has lasted the longest,….8 months. I would very much appreciate your prayers. Thank you very much!

      • Hi Donna, I’m so sorry. You are loved. God loves you. You are not alone. Lord, in your mercy, comfort Donna with your presence and give her your peace that surpasses all understanding. May you bless her with all of your heavenly blessings. Bring godly men and women to her side, to live life with her, break bread, and encourage her in her hour of need. Donna, I’m glad to popped on this article and commented. I am so glad you are part of the incourage community!

    • Hi Betsy, thank you so much for sharing a part of your story. You truly encouraged me today. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and to be grateful for the little things. God is good, in our good times and hard times. He gives us what we need to make it through each day, and this often includes the fellowship of believers to encourage and edify us!

  5. This is so lovely, Michelle! Instead of waiting for my friends to check in on me, I’m going to check in on some other friends, who may need it.

    • That’s such a good word, Irene! Instead of waiting for our friends to check in on us, let’s check in on them! I think we’re all hurting in different ways right now. We need each other now more than ever.

  6. “How are you?” has become a Greeting, to the world.

    Many decades ago, I would respond to the people in Church, who asked that: “Do you really want to know?”! It repelled some people, because they only wanted to hear me to superficially say, “Fine”. But some people stopped & really engaged in a deeper conversation with me.

    I like your variations on the “How are you?”. I’ll try using them, in the future. Thank you.

    • Hi El, I hear you. I’m sorry you had those experiences. I’ve been in similar situations myself. We need to not only reach out to folks but commit to deep listening and engagement. Absolutely!

  7. I have suffered with depression and anxiety for the past 8 months. God has always brought me thru these bouts, but this one has been the longest. I would be so grateful for prayer. My husband and I are in our mid 70s and having my 41 year old stepdaughter and our 14 year old grandson living with us who are dependent on us is very hard. We live on our limited social security. I would appreciate your prayers. Thank you so much and God’s blessings to you all.

    • Dear Donna ~ I saw your reply on Michelle’s beautiful post and my heart immediately went out to you. You surely have a lot to deal with and I can understand the heaviness you are carrying along with your husband. So, I’m going to hold you in prayer just as soon as I finish this message. May God reach out to you in ways that you can feel His near Presence and may He envelop you with His divine hope. Sending love on the wings of prayer sweet sister.

    • Donna,

      Abba Father,

      Today I lift up Donna Burttschell. She has been suffering with depression & anxiety for 8 long months. You alone are the healer. Please help ease her pain & suffering. Give her the peace that surpasses all understanding. Please help & guide them as they have her step daughter & grandson living with them. Take away some of the stressors. Guide & direct their steps. Just comfort her & the family. Shower them all with your love & grace. AMEN!


  8. Michelle, I found your great post so well written and conveying timely needed encouragement for how we can care for each other. Thank you for sharing your insightful gift with us!!

  9. This is a wonderful column. For many people the question “how are you” is rhetorical and we don’t really want to hear and many of us respond ” fine”. Having the courage with God’s help, to ask that question and really listen to the response is so loving. Thanks for sharing.

    • That’s a great word, Carol! We need to ask the question and truly commit to hearing and caring what the other person has to say. Listening deeply is an art and deep expression of love.

  10. I rarely ever comment when I read posts here but this post spoke to me since everyone around me is walking through challenge after challenge – I am trying to figure out how to help others even while my own heart is broken in pieces. I don’t know how. I was sexually assaulted by a Christian. It changed me forever. I will never be the same.

    • Cici I hope you reported the assault to the police and that you have/are receiving the counseling you need to get through this. I also hope God will open the person’s heart to make them realize they did a hurtful act and to accept responsibility for it.

  11. Michelle,

    Life has been hard these past few years. With all that’s going on & the fast pace of life no one really takes time for deep conversations. God has given me the gift of encouragement. Working in a hospital-(Covid unit clerical) I take 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “encourage one another and build each other up” to heart. You will often hear me say thank you or job well done to others-especially EVS (cleaning), dietary, & central supply. I want them to feel like their job matters & they are seen by someone. I also want them to know that someone cares about them. They don’t have to do another year alone.

    Blessings 🙂

  12. I believe we will all have to adjust to a new normal for ourselves; in my case it is that I have been and will continue to do my elderly Mom’s grocery shopping for her. I also firmly believe that the things that need to be done will get done…maybe just not on our usual schedule (like keeping our homes dusted, etc.). I have definitely had times when I have been extremely frustrated but life goes on and God is still God and only He knows what life will look like when the Pandemic is over.