As I sit here contemplating how to begin describing how the vision for Trials and Testimonies came to me, I am astounded. Completely astounded at how intentional yet unpredictably wondrous God can be. I can hardly type I am so awe struck by His ways. His plan continues to daze and amaze me.
Allow me to take you down memory lane, back to 2010. I pulled up to our mailbox that sits atop our long winding driveway. I pulled the mail out and sorted through one envelope at a time. Junk. Junk. Electric bill. And to my surprise a letter! Letters are rare in these times but there it was, a letter from my friend and Mary Kay lady, Pascalle. Excited, I put my vehicle in park and tore open the envelope. On beautiful floral stationary her words began to transform my heart with God orchestrating each word in such a way I could physically feel a shift in my very being.
Weeks prior I had shared a very sacred dream with Pascalle. A dream where God allowed me access to see my Alex in heaven. I had been unsettled about the dream. Not about the gift or the access to heaven, but unsettled that I had prayed for such a dream and was granted EXACTLY what I had prayed for, just to betray my own heart. I had only shared with a few select friends and family, yet I felt compelled to share with Pascalle. (*this is a cliff hanger of sorts, it's for another blog post... I will post soon.) Let me get back on track, here...
Pascalle had shared this sacred dream with a friend who was grieving the loss of her beloved husband. She wrote to tell me that it helped her friend. I was overcome by this news. I lay the letter in my lap and cried out to God. Praising Him and thanking Him for using His gift, my dream, to help another grieving soul.
With tears clouding my vision I couldn't see a thing, yet elevated in front of me was www.trialsandtestimonies.com ( I am writing exactly what I saw).
I gasped, and quickly wiped my eyes. I started looking at every envelope in my lap. Where is it? Where is that written? I could not find it. Confused, I thought, maybe I heard it on the radio?
I hear a whisper in my spirit, "No you saw it. You did not hear it." Again, I look, thoroughly, at each piece of mail. I could not find it written anywhere.
I put the car in drive and flew down our driveway. My husband, Coby, was startled as I ran through the door. I must have sounded like a mad woman as I tried to explain what had just transpired at the mailbox. He managed to calm me a bit and suggested that maybe God wanted me to visit this website. "Put it in the search bar and see where it takes you." He offered.
I did as he suggested, typing in exactly what I had seen, but there was no such website.
"Buy it! Buy the domain name. It’s yours. God has given it to you." Coby said, with assurance. So I bought the domain.
After my purchase I looked at Coby with great expectations and in anticipation I asked, "Now what?"
My very brilliant and loving husband smiled, looked me right in the eye and said, "I don't know!"
He left the room, leaving me with a newly purchased domain and a dumb look on my face. I didn't have a clue what to do next.
I prayed. I prayed a lot. Asking for guidance. God was silent for months. He's like that sometimes. Well, a lot of time actually! I have found that is when He is up to something...
One day, cleaning out the console of my vehicle, God revealed His plan. As I sorted through the clutter that had consumed my console I came across numerous grocery receipts, bank receipts, torn envelopes, and pieces of cardboard. I had written on each and every piece of paper in there. I recalled doing this often. I would write anything and everything that spoke into my brokenness. Writing on whatever was accessible at the moment. I quoted scripture, my own thoughts, signs God had revealed, lyrics that brought me comfort, notes from sermons, and numerous other things that had spoken to me or helped me. I gathered my papers and brought them into my bedroom, laying them on my desk. I remember feeling overwhelmed, I can't throw this information away.
Just as that thought left me and before I could step away from my desk, I see a lone sheet of paper slightly to the right of my computer. It was the receipt I had printed after purchasing my domain name, months earlier. I sighed a bit and in half turn, I scanned the contents of my desk. It took a second, probably longer, but all of a sudden it was as if I saw God's hand slide across the contents. And then a soft whisper in my spirit, "SHARE! Share it all."
I had been encouraged, by close friends, to give my testimony many times during the first year after Alex's Promotion, but I was reluctant. I didn't feel at the time that I had anything to offer. God would prove me wrong... well not actually… I was partially correct... I had little to offer, but He who lives in me has MUCH to offer, through me. And so December of 2010 Trials and Testimonies was launched.
That year was what I refer to as my breaking point. Let me elaborate a bit here. A seed is hard. It has to be planted, (enter darkness). It requires water, (enter our heavenly Father). At just the right time, after the softening process it breaks open sprouting new life (my breaking point). I had struggled with anger toward God, for a season it consumed me. My world had been dark for too many seasons. My heart had become hardened by it. There came a day when I was spent. I was tired of the anger and the excess pain I knew it was causing. I was ready to get well. With God's softening season upon me I spoke these words to God, "If I have to stay here, one day longer without my son, You use me. Use me everyday. I don't want one day to be wasted. This can't be for nothing. I want to be useful, not useless. So You use me."
He began, immediately!
I soon felt the nudge to give my testimony. I felt prepared to testify of God's goodness and I was happy to do so. I was still very fragile and broken and I knew I could not stand in front of others and give my testimony, so I asked my new friend Jeff if he would bring his video camera and sit down with me. He kindly obliged. Jeff was gracious and helpful in indescribable ways. I was more scared than I can even express. I had no clue what I wanted to say. I was a bit of a mess, actually.
He brought his sweet wife Katy along with his camera to our home. "Katy doesn't know your story. Just talk to her." He offered.
We prayed before we got started and asked the Holy Spirit to show up. Forty-five minutes later Jeff said he thought he had what he needed.
I remember feeling disheartened as I went to bed that night. “That was awful.” I cried to Coby. “It’s useless and I’m sorry I wasted everyone’s time. I can’t do it again so we will just have to leave out a video testimonial for the website.” I felt I rambled and sobbed on camera for forty-five minutes. I fell asleep apologizing to God for messing up His story. I felt completely defeated. I felt ill-equipped and lacking. I had already forgotten about inviting the Holy Spirit, all I could think about was how "I" stumbled and cried and felt a mess.
A short week later Jeff called and said the video was ready. His mom would bring it to me. I didn’t tell Jeff, but I had not wanted to watch it. I already knew I blew it! I couldn’t bear to see it.
Before his mom got to the house, Jeff sent me a link. After telling my sister Missey about my fears she encouraged me to watch it. “You might not remember but you told me y’all prayed before you started filming. You said you invited the Holy Spirit to speak for you. Just see if He showed up.” She encouraged.
As I watched the video I can promise you this… I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. I have to give Jeff due credit, because he did a beautiful work, but it was evident that God directed Jeff through the editing process. God spoke through me and He used Jeff to orchestrate the ramblings of a very distraught mom to convey His promise in Romans 8:28.
What I envisioned the night after we shot the video and I what I saw the day I watched the video, reveals so much to me. I saw a mess through my eyes, but God, God showed Himself strong, faithful, and demonstrated His awesome power. I HOPE to ALWAYS see life through Gods eyes. It's more beautiful and worth living when I do. I am confident that in ALL things God works for the good of those who LOVE Him.
His plan for Trials and Testimonies exceeds our loss. I believe this is a site for others to share their trials. Our pain has a purifying factor in it. It does not come to pass without purpose...
If you have a Romans 8:28 story please feel free to share. I promise it ALL glorifies our heavenly Father.
grateful unto eternity, Tesi Pugh