It just amazes me how so many woman are stepping out and sharing their "Brave" stories with us! The people who walk around you daily are going through different seasons of life's circumstances and standing on God's Word and the victory that Christ has already won for us! This story from Jodi Saunders is one that I knew bits and pieces of but never knew the whole picture! It is so neat to see how God placed all the pieces together. Jodi has stepped out to share very vulnerable moments in her walk with God from being pulled out from the bottom to where God has her know!
I’ve never really considered myself as being brave. That is why I am totally humbled to get to share my story with you. One time, I was snowmobiling and a friend said “Jodi, you’re either really brave or really stupid, I don’t know which."
I can remember God pursuing me and trying to get ahold of me since I was about 13 years old. I grew up in a very “religious" denomination, but I didn’t know a whole lot about an actual relationship with Jesus. One time, a nun sat me down and explained how much Jesus loved me and about the journey's that He would take me on in my life. I gave my life to Him that day. Well, through the teenage years, boys, broken hearts, rebellion and partying, I lost track of that. When I turned 18, I jumped on a Greyhound bus with 2 suitcases bound for Colorado to live out my dreams. Brave or stupid?
I was reintroduced to the love of Jesus about the time I found out that I was pregnant with my 1st babies...twins. I was living with my boyfriend when a lady I worked with invited us to her church. I loved the simplicity of the message the preacher gave and I could feel the tug on my heart. Once again, I invited Jesus into my heart. But, the people there told me that I needed to break up with my boyfriend stop playing pool and start going to Bible study. I wasn’t ready for that, so again, I walked away.
Then, when my youngest child was only a week and a half old, other friends invited us to their church. I truly committed my life to Him that day. You see, my marriage was abusive and in shambles. I had 3 babies under the age of 3 and I was a mess! I needed Jesus to save my marriage. Little did I know, I needed Him to save ME! Well, my husband really had no interest in living for God. We fought constantly and over the next few years, the marriage deteriorated even more and eventually resulted in divorce.
Here I was, a single mom with 3 kids, abandoned and rejected. Now what? You survive. During this time, the church where I had gotten saved closed down because the pastors felt called to another state. Again, abandoned. I felt like a baby bird being shoved out of the nest but I didn’t know how to fly! Now what? You survive. Soon, my kids began going to spend weekends with their dad. I was soooo lonely when they were gone! So, I started going out with friends. It started with once a month but before I knew it, I was out partying every weekend. I couldn’t handle the loneliness and emptiness of my home.
About a year later, I met a guy. I thought for sure he was “the one." He treated me great, treated my kids great and soon we were engaged. But, there was a problem. He really didn’t believe in Jesus. God wanted better for my kids and I. Before long, that guy just up and left, no explanation, no nothing. Not only was I abandoned, rejected and devastated again, but so were my kids. Now what? I couldn’t survive this.
I ran away from God. I was so hurt and angry and blamed Him. I partied even more. I couldn’t see that He had better plans. I saw no hope. One day, only about a month and a half later, I came to the end of myself. I couldn’t go on in this pain. I wanted to check out. I had suicide notes written to my family and friends, but couldn’t write them to my kids. So, I laid in bed for 2 days crying out to God to just take me out. I didn’t even have the guts to do it myself! Finally, I called my pastor. He told me that I had to talk to God. I said, "I can’t, I’m mad at Him!" He said, He knows, just talk to Him. So, I sat on my bedroom floor and simply said, "God, you know what I’ve been doing is wrong, I know what I’ve been doing is wrong, make a way out!" This song, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship" started rolling through me. I sat there singing and crying for about 45 minutes. Then God told me to call a friend. I argued, I didn’t want to, but He kept insisting and I said, "fine." My friend invited me to this place called Cowboy Church. Reluctantly, I went. The 1st song they played that night was “Heart of Worship!" God had me right where He wanted me. I surrendered my life to Him, once and for all!
I wish that I could tell you that everything was roses and rainbows after that. I honestly can’t. A few weeks later, I was praying, crying out to Him and He gave me a vision. I saw His hand reaching down to me and He asked, “Will you trust me?" I said, "yes, Lord." A short time later, I felt like God was calling me into ministry. I thought this meant going to ministry school! Woohoo! Ok! Here we go! So, I quit my job and tried to sell my house. Brave or stupid? Yeah, about that. See, I didn’t know anything about His timing, or waiting on the Holy Spirit, or anything like that. I fell flat on my face but God is faithful. He picked me up and dusted me off and began teaching me. I knew He was calling me to something bigger, He had something for me! He kept giving me visions and promises. I kept following. I served at my church any opportunity I was given. I served at a local rodeo Bible camp. My Pastor always says, “if you help another man fulfill their vision, God will give you a vision of your own." There were many times I stumbled and fell, many times where I missed it. Many times where I wanted to quit, to just give up. There were even times of rejection, abandonment and even betrayal from those I trusted. There were times of seeing other’s dreams and promises coming to pass. I would cry out wondering what was wrong with me? When will it be my turn God? I knew I couldn’t quit. I had come too far to turn back now! Eternities were at stake! He kept reminding me of His promises, of the visions He’d put in my heart.
One night, after an incredible message from Pastor Lynette, God woke me up around 2:00 in the morning with another song rolling through me. This time, it was “Flower In The Rain." Here I am again, willing to be opened up and broken like a flower in the rain, tell me what have I to do to die and then be raised, to reach beyond the pain, like a flower in the rain? He began downloading this incredible vision for a single mom’s outreach ministry. He began showing me about the 1st single mom in scripture, Hagar, she called Him, “The God Who Sees." At that moment, I knew He had seen my struggles, my pain and He heard my cries! He showed me that a lot of what I’d been through was not so much about me, but for the ones He would send me to! Mind you, I was still at single mom myself, struggling financially, trying to raise teenagers and in my mind...still a mess! Brave or stupid?
I had to trust Him for everything! From believing that this could even be real, or that He wanted ME to do this, to believing He would provide everything! The fear of failing, fear of rejection from those I would share this with, and fear of falling flat on my face again was so overwhelming! I kept hearing Him ask me, “Will you trust me?" So, again I said, "Yes, Lord!" I had learned to seek and wait on His timing. I had learned to listen to the Holy Spirit. I had learned to take steps of faith, not giant leaps, but steps. The years of struggle and pain had produced a tenacity, perseverance and trust in Him. He showed me every step to take and in every step He was there! In 2014, we had our 1st ever Flower In The Rain event. I think there were more people that showed up to serve than actual single mom’s there! Brave or stupid? There were 2 single mom’s that recommitted their lives to Jesus that day! Even those that were just there to serve got ministered to. We were able to bless another single mom’s ministry with what we didn’t use. God is faithful!
Shortly after the event in 2014, I met and began dating the man of my dreams! The one that God had promised. In March of 2015, we were married. God’s presence was so evident at our wedding! This man is so amazing and more than I ever dreamed possible! 11 ½ years I was a single mom, learning to trust God, seeing His promises and visions coming to pass and seeing the impossible made real! My husband and I are continuing to be overwhelmed by God’s promises and He is continually expanding our vision! We recently held our 2nd Flower In The Rain Mother’s Day outreach, and have also added more outreach events such as Valentines Day Roses, Back to School Bash and school supply drive. God is truly “The God Who Sees” and we know that “With God, ALL THINGS are possible!"
Thank you for letting me share!
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