Think about this…

•March 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

If someone tells you to buy an expensive item, don’t you want to know if it worked for someone else? Sure you do. We all want proof that the item is what it says it is, so that we don’t get ripped off. People need evidence to go out on a limb to make big purchases.

Think about this: There are people out there who are hurting. People who aren’t quite sure that God is who He says he is. Now if you have personally given your life to Jesus, you KNOW that He is who He says He is. Wouldn’t you want people out there to KNOW it too?

We are called to go out and make disciples of all nations. That isn’t just the pastor or televangelist’s job. It is every believer’s job.

So what is the best way to get started? Share your testimony on how it works for you! Just like you would tell a friend about the newest gadget you just bought.

So maybe you think your story is boring because you haven’t gone through severe turmoil in your life? May I remind you that when you came to Jesus, that was a SUPERNATURAL event. The Holy Spirit was moving within you when you gave your life to Jesus. That was the most valuable moment in your life when you received Him, so wouldn’t you think a testimony to someone else would help them make that decision too?

So you think, oh…I can’t do that. My story is boring…or its just too personal. Or what would people think? Would I really want to share it? I couldn’t…well…could I?

If you have found healing in your situation through Jesus, there is someone out there who is stuck in the middle of theirs. They need to hear proof Jesus can bring healing today. Share what Jesus has done for you, even if it is just a few sentences, just like you would describe to your friend how great your new gadget is.

Please pray about sharing a short paragraph or full length story on Peace During the Storm. You can remain anonymous if that is what is holding you back. And if you don’t share it with us, pray for boldness to share it with someone else who you know is hurting today.

There is no story too boring. No story too crazy. Remember there is no story like yours…it is your personal experience that changed your life…and someone out there needs to hear it. Don’t deny them that.

Give people evidence so that they cannot deny Christ is real. Your story can give someone the courage to find healing in Him.

Submit your story to testimonies@peaceduringthestorm.com. It will possibly be shared here on FB, and also on the new website…that by the way is currently in the design process. :)

A friend’s testimony about her abortion…

•January 30, 2013 • 1 Comment

I’m not quite sure why God wants me to share my story, but I know He does. I know He has a plan and purpose for this and that makes it worth it.

My growing up memories start with my parents’ very loud and destructive fights. They had to get married very young and I remember hiding with my brother during their fights. They would scream at each other, break things, and the cops were called several times. My father liked to party a lot. Many times my mother would wake up my brother and I in the middle of the night so we could drive around to look for my dad at various parties to bring him home. My dad would also do drugs with his friends in front of us. Eventually, my dad stopped the partying and retreated to his pole barn constantly. He would come home from work, eat supper, and would go to the barn until late at night. He didn’t have much to do with us, and he barely said two words to us everyday. He had a short fuse and would get so angry at little things – screaming out terrible swear words! I was very quiet growing up and learned it was best to stay quiet and out of everyone’s way.

When I was about 15, I started hanging out with some new friends and eventually we started to drink. It was easy to get the alcohol and it soon became our weekend habit – to get drunk and look for the next party. As I drank more, I seemed to feel more confident and would talk and flirt with boys. I had never really had a boyfriend up to that point and pretty soon our weekends were always the same – we would get drunk, go to a party and make out with boys. That was our weekend ritual for a couple of years! Looking back now, I was looking for attention from guys. I liked to hear them say I was pretty and nice. I never heard my father say anything like that – he never told me I was pretty or even said that he loved me.

When I was 18 I found out I was pregnant. Even though my mother had brought us to church growing up, I knew right away what I was going to do. I didn’t tell the baby’s father and made an appointment at an abortion clinic. When I checked into the clinic they told me it would be at least a 3 hour wait but I could quickly get my mandatory “counseling” session done with right away. I went back to the “counselor” who quickly started to tell me that at 8 weeks, it was not a baby in me, just a blob of tissue. I quickly told her every child was a gift of God and I believed I was committing a sin, but that I was scared and had no idea how I would do this on my own! She told me I could go back to the waiting room and that it would still be about a 2 ½ hour wait. I went outside to have a cigarette and wept – thinking maybe I would just run away – trying to figure out how I could do this on my own. I was outside for about 10 minutes and they called me back – somehow my 2 ½ hour wait turned into 10 minutes. I think they were afraid I would leave.

After it was done, I felt so empty inside. I remember going home and having a constant fear. I was sure I was going to hell. I was scared of my dreams and afraid of the night. But not until I had children did I realize all that I had lost! Every August 20 I weep for what I lost and what I did. My baby would be 20 years old now. I wonder so much about this child. I wonder if it was a boy or girl and I would love to see him/her interact with my children I have now. But most of all I ache to hold him/her and say how sorry I am!

I tell this story for a few reasons:

If you are a parent, especially if you are a father with a daughter…
I beg of you to tell your children how much you love them and how special they are! Do not assume they know! Tell them traits they have that you think are wonderful, take them on little “dates”, love them – it is never too late to start. Don’t make them look for those things from someone else! I don’t want to seem like I’m blaming what I did on my parents or others – believe me, I made my own choices and only I am responsible for that! But if I can prevent it from happening to someone else that would be great!

For the young person out there who might be lonely or feels unloved, who might be looking for love and attention from a girlfriend/boyfriend, alcohol, drugs or whatever it may be…
Trust me those things will only satisfy you for a short time and then you will feel empty again. The only way to feel completely whole and loved is by God’s grace, love, and mercy. It might be a hard concept to understand, but only God can fill the empty areas in your life. I strongly encourage you to read your Bible daily, get a good devotional book, and pray constantly to God. He wants you to talk over EVERY detail of your life with Him and get to know Him! Maybe find a trustworthy older mentor to confide in. Maybe a pastor, youth pastor, someone from church, etc. God loves you so much. He thinks you are to die for! And He strongly desires a relationship with you!

To the woman who might have had an abortion like me…
I want you to know I understand your pain and guilt. It’s hard not to feel guilty because I know I brought this pain on myself. It is the consequence of my own sin. Last year after Sanctity of Life Sunday at church, my son asked me what an abortion was. When I told him what it meant, he said to me “I’m so glad you didn’t do that when you were pregnant with me!” It broke my heart in two! We will have sad moments like that our whole life, but I want you to know how much God loves you. He doesn’t want you to live under condemnation. If you sincerely ask Him to forgive you, He will and not only does He forgive you, but He will remember it no more! God loves you so much and has a great plan for your life!

For the woman who is facing an unplanned pregnancy…
You may feel overwhelmed, frightened, or confused about what to do next. Who can you tell? What are your choices? What if you are not ready to be a parent?

Whatever choice you make will affect your life and your baby forever. This will be one of the most important/difficult decisions of your life.

Before you make the choice of having an abortion, seek out alternatives. There are plenty out there. There are hotlines, pregnancy resource centers, counselors, adoption agencies, financial/medical help…the list goes on. You have plenty of options and resources available to you to help you get through this pregnancy and beyond. Options that will help you make the right choice for you and your baby. Options that will not result in the pain that follows an abortion.

If you don’t know where to turn, there is a nationwide (USA) crisis pregnancy line that is available 24 hour/7 days a week. Talk to someone who cares about you and your baby. Call 1-800-BETHANY.  http://www.bethany.org

Did you know YOU have a story to share?

•January 16, 2013 • 1 Comment

I went through my Facebook friend list last week. I found that there were almost 100 people who have affected/inspired my life in one way or another because of trials/storms they have been through and God has helped them overcome them. And those are the stories I know about. There are many of you that have been through private trials that you haven’t had the courage to share. Things no one knows, or things only a few people know about. Or maybe I met you after the trial took place or it happened during a period of lost connection with each other and we just haven’t gotten on the subject yet. Well, now is the time to get on that subject.

My point it we all have a story to share. But how many of us are willing to acknowledge publicly that our God is the one who made our survival possible. He gave provision. He provided a way when there was no other. He provided strength. He provided hope. He provided healing. He provided forgiveness. He provided peace.

Many people have talked to me about my story and have said that they never knew that I went through various issues, but was thankful I had the courage to share it. It impacted people in various ways. After the fact I was glad I shared, because it opened up many conversations with people and inspired them to find healing for themselves.

So…I am asking again, and will keep asking (persistence pays off…lol) to pray about writing your story for my blog Peace During the Storm. You don’t have to do it this second. I trust God’s timing to nudge you when the time is right. Pray about it and if God is leading you to help someone who will read your story, then please send it to me at testimonies@peaceduringthestorm.com. You can remain anonymous if you would like. It doesn’t matter what you have done or what you have been through…YOUR story WILL impact someone and give glory and thanks to our God who has redeemed you!

If you need prayer through the writing process, let me know. It won’t necessarily be easy going through it all, but if you need emotional healing, this may help aid in the process. It did for me. When you feel the nudge to write and you know there is no selfish motivation for doing it…you better get to writing. That is Him telling you it is your time to share! :)

Emily Huizenga’s Story…

•December 4, 2012 • 1 Comment

Growing up, I was always one of the shy, quiet kids. I did have a couple of shining moments in junior high, like when I won the school spelling bee (my winning word was casserole), and reciting the Gettysburg Address word for word in about 30 seconds in front of my entire history class. There’s where my memories of having confidence stop. High school is when my memories of low self-esteem and anxiety begin. I had my first panic attack when I had to talk in front of people. I don’t know why it happened. I didn’t like it. I was embarrassed, and I did my best to avoid situations where there was the potential for it to happen again. I know I missed out on a lot of opportunities because I was afraid, but life was easier that way.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Things began to change for me in the fall of 2009 when I started going to Corinth Reformed Church. God began to work in my life in so many wonderful ways, and one of the areas was my fear. I wanted to get involved and get to know people and take advantage of opportunities where I could grow in my faith. This meant stepping out of my comfort zone, which made me very nervous. I attended a couple of women’s bible studies to begin with. I really didn’t say a whole lot at either one, but just the fact that I went was a big step for me. I was also part of a life group. The night before the group started I was so nervous that I almost changed my mind and decided not to go. I did go, and it ended up being such a wonderful experience for me. The next year when life groups met again, I was co-leading one!!

I also took over as the volunteer coordinator for when our church makes a pancake breakfast at Degage. That meant leading a group of volunteers and saying the prayer before breakfast in front of about 150 people. I never thought I would be the one standing in front of all those people with a microphone in my hand saying a prayer. I was definitely nervous the first time, but I prayed that God would give me the courage to do what He had called me to do, and He did. That was in May of 2011. I had no idea then that just five months later I would be doing something even bigger than that.

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

In October of 2011, I attended a women’s conference at our church. On the last day we brought our struggles to the foot of the cross to give them over to God. I laid down my feelings of inadequacy and my fear. I told God that day “if you want me to talk in front of people I will.” Two weeks later He was giving me the opportunity to do it. I was thinking, “Wow God you sure didn’t waste any time.” My first chance was talking in front of a small group of women at bible study to share about a service project. That same day I also got an email from the pastor asking me if I would talk in front of church on Sunday about my experience at Degage. I thought he had to be joking. Why would he ask someone like me, whose biggest fear in life is public speaking, to do something like that? I told him I would see how Thursday night went, and if that went well, I would speak on Sunday morning. Thursday night went great. I told myself, “talking in front of 13 women can’t be that much different than talking in front of 1,000 people right?” So that weekend I wrote my speech, practiced it in front of whoever would listen, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed. I reminded myself that I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. I was so nervous that weekend and on Sunday morning, but I got up on the stage and I DID IT!!! And it was absolutely one of the best days of my life. To accomplish something I never thought I could do, and being totally reliant on God for the help to do it, was INCREDIBLE!!

If you would have told me three years ago that I would be standing in front of church talking, I would have said “no way, I don’t think so.” Looking back I see that God was using all those smaller experiences to prepare me for that Sunday morning at church. I have learned that being obedient to God can be scary at times, but when we are faithful, He enables us to do what it is He calls us to do. I still get nervous when I know I am going to be in a group of people or doing something I haven’t done before, but I remind myself that if we supply the willingness, God will supply the power. I am excited to see what God has planned for me next!

Share YOUR story to help others…

•December 2, 2012 • 1 Comment

I am going to share what is going on with my blog Peace During the Storm and I ask for your prayers while I navigate through this time.

Last week Sunday, God emphasized to me that Peace During the Storm is no longer going to be about me and my story and how God has changed me. It isn’t going to be about me teaching things that I have learned. It isn’t going to be about me at all! It is about YOU and most of all HIM!

This week I asked for people to start submitting their stories. I had some interest and have posted one testimony already. (If you haven’t read it yet, check out Jody Branderhorst Wood’s testimony. God has done an amazing transformation in her life!)

God has given me the vision of making Peace During the Storm a place where people can eventually read hundreds of testimonies (who knows maybe more?!?!) on how God has helped them. This is to become a site dedicated to glorifying God and to build people’s faith. Faith is built by hearing what God has done in people’s lives, so share the work God has done in yours by submitting your story! You can prevent someone from making the mistakes you have and also give him or her the faith to let God be in control of their situation. What an unbelievable gift to give someone!

Here are some examples of the types of testimonies that could be used to encourage someone in a similar situation (certainly not limited to these subjects):

  • Addictions
  • Abuse/neglect
  • Self esteem issues
  • Marriage problems
  • Death of loved one
  • Infertility/pregnancy loss
  • Anxiety/fear
  • Failed/lost relationships
  • Financial provision
  • Protection from harm
  • “Idols” in your life
  • Envy/jealousy/coveting
  • Parenting issues
  • Dysfunctional families/family members
  • Unwanted pregnancy/abortion/adoption
  • Pride
  • Identity issues
  • Health issues
  • Sexual issues – (addiction/rape/fornication/adultery/pornography/homosexuality/etc.)
  • Deliverance

God put it on my heart to purchase the peaceduringthestorm.com domain this week, and I will start to create the website soon. It may take some time while I see how God wants it laid out and its full purposes (and updating my website building skills as its been awhile…lol), but the planning process has officially begun.

So I need two things:

  1. First of all I need prayer that I discern exactly what God wants Peace During the Storm to be.
  2. Second I need TESTIMONIES. YOUR STORY. This can’t be done without your story! This will be a group effort! There is something God has helped you with. It can be a short paragraph or several pages if necessary. Editing help is available if you need it. Your story just needs to glorify God, be your story and not someone else’s, and be completely 100% true. Transparency is key…state your true situation and emotions.

Please note that you can remain anonymous while sharing your story. You can eliminate your name, or just use your first name if you wish. I don’t care…change up the names if you feel you need to for protection/privacy sake. This site is about God getting the glory He deserves for moving in your life, and helping others in theirs.

If you wish to submit your story, you may send it to testimonies@peaceduringthestorm.com (note email change) or message it through the Facebook page. Please do not post directly on the timeline, as everything needs to be reviewed first.

If you have any feedback (good or bad), send me an email or leave a comment on the Facebook page.  And PLEASE share this blog with your friends/family/church and encourage others to share their stories to help others too!

Jody’s story…

•November 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

An AMAZING testimony by Jody Branderhorst Wood:

I was born and raised in a Christian home by parents who sacrificed to give me a Christian education, take me to church every Sunday (even when gone on vacations), have devotions with me at every evening meal and any other thing that I could be involved with the church. I was baptized as an infant and made profession of faith when I was between 12-14, but by no means was I truly saved. I think I thought I was okay. I knew I did bad things, but eventually when I “grew up” I’d become like my parents.

At the age of 13 is when I started my slow trend towards utter defiance towards God. I gave my virginity at this age. I knew that sex was to be within the bounds of marriage, but I justified it to myself that I loved this “man”, and it was ok because I was eventually going to marry him. I was also very deceived that if I gave myself to someone, marriage would eventually follow and that the “man” would stay with me because I was giving him what every man wants from a “woman”.

I didn’t get into a whole lot of trouble during my junior high and high school years, but I believe it’s because God protected me from the temptations at that time. I did continue to have sex with some of my boyfriends, I would drink if given the opportunity, and I smoked pot for the first time during my high school years.

It wasn’t until after I graduated that I really started to decline. Being 18 I had more freedom, and I was also making connections with people who readily supplied me with alcohol, weed, and an occasional dabble with LSD and Ritalin. I drove while intoxicated with no thought to others or myself. I lived for myself and for my pleasures.

Around the time of my graduation, I met the man who was to become my husband, Josh Wood. We were bad together, by this I mean we both loved to party. I think it was 1998 when we became engaged, but as our wedding day approached, I was flirted with by another male while at a bar and decided I wasn’t ready for marriage, so I postponed the wedding. Josh and I stayed together, and around December of that year, I found out that I was pregnant. We were married on March 6, 1999. Through all this time I was still partying, not as much while pregnant, but I didn’t give up everything completely, namely weed.

Our son was born in September of 1999. Josh and I worked 3rd shift together and kept to our partying ways. We would go through spurts of trying to go to church every Sunday and try to “clean up our act”, but it never lasted.

After our first anniversary, I left Josh due to the fact that I had a couple of other relationships with other men. I blamed Josh for my needing these other relationships. We did try counseling at a Christian Counseling Center, but the counselor actually sided with me. He even told me I should fight for custody and leave the state because Josh was dangerous.

During this time, Josh and I hated each other. Before we had gotten the courts involved, I tried to dictate when he could see our son. On one occasion I told Josh to have him back later, and he walked away and told me he’d see me after the weekend. I tackled Josh, who then called the cops, and I was taken to jail for domestic violence. I hated Josh so much during this time that we wouldn’t even communicate with each other directly. I thought many times about how life would be so much better if he were dead. I even asked around, plotting to have an “accident” happen to him.

While we were separated, I continued in adultery, by now with a different man, and I still liked to drink, but I mostly liked to get high. I even liked getting high so much, that I showed up at my trial for domestic violence, pled guilty to avoid Josh, and when asked by the judge if I would drop dirty had to answer yes. I was sent immediately to jail. I had to stay there until I could drop clean and was then put on probation. That didn’t stop me from smoking. I would just buy some “cleansing” products that helped me to drop clean.

As the time for our divorce to become final drew near, I began to think of how my life would be. I would be working in the factory because I loved my job; maybe I would own a trailer in Hudsonville, and hey, maybe Josh could come over for dinner sometime so our son could feel like a family. What?! That didn’t make sense. We couldn’t even tolerate each other. I decided to tell Josh that I wanted us to get counseling again, so we could at least get along for our kid’s sake. He agreed and set up an appointment for us with a pastor at a church.

I still remember that night very clearly. The pastor told us to come to the service, and he’d meet us after for counseling. We went and sat through the service, and afterward my nephews and niece (from Josh’s family) came running up to me with open arms exclaiming “Aunt Jody!” I was so surprised by this reaction. They should be shunning me. We then met with the pastor, and he plainly told us that he would not counsel us to be friends, that divorce was unbiblical. God cut me right to the heart that night. He turned my heart of stone to a heart of flesh. I bawled because I knew it was truth, and it felt so good to know that truth. When I say “know that truth”, I always knew it was what the Bible said, but now it was real in my heart. No more excuses for my sins. Josh and I went to Perkins after that meeting and had pie. We sat on the same side of the booth with our arms around each other, back together. The next day, I called my lawyer and called off the divorce, 2 weeks before it was to be final!

I began living for the Lord. I read, and studied and became involved with my new family, the body of Christ. I was baptized as a believer on May 26, 2002. Since then, God has blessed me with 4 more kids and a husband who loves me, despite all of my ugliness, past and present!

It hasn’t always been easy, but that shows me that God isn’t giving up on me and is continuing to conform me to His image. I hope that my testimony will not give anyone cause to sin, but that God would be glorified. It’s only by His grace, His sacrifice on the cross, that I am saved, clearly nothing I have done! Praise be to Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord!

Share YOUR story…

•November 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I have gotten in a couple of testimonies already! They are awesome!

I will start posting them in the next day or two. I pray that they inspire YOU to share your story on what God has done in your life! I would like to make this an ongoing thing, so if you want to share a few different stories from your life, feel free! You never know who will be touched by your story. I found that to be true as I shared mine. :)

Please share this page with your friends and encourage them to share too!

If you are interested in sharing, please see the previous post on how to share your story.  :)

 
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