And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever endured a storm? Growing up in Illinois, tornadoes were a common threat. Thankfully, we were never hit by a tornado. And now, living in Florida, we have hurricane season each June to November. A few times, we evacuated to avoid a hurricane, but thankfully, we have never experienced the full effect of a hurricane. These are natural storms. However, some of us, probably ALL of us have survived personal storms.
In 2001, I faced a very dark and scary storm that about destroyed me. A storm which I didn’t see coming and one I don’t talk much about. After 13 years of marriage, I became a single mom of 3 precious children, ages 5, 8 and 11; unemployed, uncertain of the future and over a hundred miles from family. This was the most difficult storm that I have ever encountered.
In the midst of this storm, God truly became the husband to the husbandless and father to the fatherless. The Lord was my strength and refuge, an ever-present help in times of trouble. To survive, I cried out to Him day and night and experienced His faithfulness and nearness. He surrounded me with a supportive family and an amazing group of friends.
One particular day, I was reading Mark 4:35-41. Jesus had been teaching to a crowd all day near the sea of Galilee. When evening came, Jesus told the disciples that they should take the boat to the other side of the sea. Several of the disciples were fishermen. When they set sail, they left all the people on the shoreline. As they were crossing the lake, a great windstorm, fierce gale of wind or violent squall quickly arose and their boat began filling with water as the waves began crashing down upon them. The disciples were afraid! They had never experienced the fierceness of this kind of storm and they knew they were going to perish (Luke 8:23). Jesus was in the boat….but….He was asleep!
The disciples woke Him by saying, “‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm….” (Mark 4:38, 39).
Wow! Peace, be still! When I read this, I felt such comfort as I realized that Jesus knew I was in the storm. He knew that I was being challenged and He knew that I was afraid! And because He was in my boat, I could go to Him; I could cry out to Him and ask if He cared that I was perishing and He would offer peace - even in the midst of the fierce storm that was trying to capsize me. That was and is such a comfort to me - and hopefully to you, as well. Whatever we face - we can cry out to Him! He may calm the storm immediately or the storm may continue raging around us and He will calm us. We can continue seeking Him in the midst of every storm!
Since then, I’ve realized that when I don’t have peace, I need to examine myself - maybe I am in the wrong boat, or maybe I have pushed Jesus out of the boat and am trying to navigate my life all by myself. Jesus is the source of peace. Years ago, I read this bumper sticker, “Know Jesus. Know Peace. No Jesus, No Peace.”
Last night, the father of one of my closest friends “went to sleep.” Earlier in the day, I visited with them in her home and read a verse that she had written on the wall: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). My friend and her family are definitely grieving; however, they will experience a “great peace” because Jesus is in their boat, they are calling out to Him and they have loved His truths. “Great peace have those who love Your law. And nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165). Whatever storm we are facing, we can…and will experience peace when we seek Jesus.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.