Hi my name is Winter Booth. I am married. I am a stay at home mom of 4 children. In the past 10 years I have worked for the local food pantry, share and care, northwest mentoring program, and currently volunteer weekly at the Pregnancy Center in Roseau. I wanted to share this info at the beginning so as I read my story you will be able to recognize where my heart for these ministries comes from.
I was raised in a single parent home. My dad was very absent from my life despite me desperately reaching out to him. I did manage to see him a couple hours each year. I was baptized as an infant in the Lutheran church in Warroad and attended sporadically. My personality has always been pretty black and white, not a lot of room for grey. I would always say when someone implied that they would see me in Heaven with, ‘you won’t see ME there’. Of course they would argue with me about how I would be there to which I would respond, ‘if you want to live in denial go ahead but I will not’. I am thankful that God had allowed me to see this one thing accurate in life before I got saved. There is nothing harder in my mind than convincing someone they need a savior when they think they already have one. So continuing on at the age 10 I was sexually abused multiple times. All of my life, I had felt somewhat responsible for what had happened until I had my own 10 year old daughter and was able to see things a bit clearer.
By the age of 17, I was pregnant with Maddie. My daughter watched my high school graduation. I found myself clinically depressed at the age of 18 with multiple other times of depression to follow. I had mentally closed up shop and it was very evident externally. At age 18 I was pregnant again. I was devastated. My thoughts were as follows: How would I tell my mom? How would I tell my friends? How would I financially care for two kids? The father of this child had no desire to be involved as was true of Maddie’s dad as well. Who would ever want me and two kids? I have never felt so alone. I was away from all of my family in another state and had no local friends. I couldn’t possibly give the baby up for adoption because I would have to live with the guilt of having a child out there that I wasn’t caring for or providing for. The thought of an abortion was terrifying as I believed that it was the ultimate sin and murder. I went to a pregnancy crisis center before I made a decision on what I was going to do. I think it is so important if you really want to make a difference on the abortion front to start at the local pregnancy crisis center. Most girls/woman with unplanned pregnancies stop at one of these before making their final decisions. Ministering to these vulnerable women on the front lines will do far more than parading down the street with a sign or protesting an abortion clinic. Despite this, I felt self preservation kick in and as I approached the local Planned Parenthood Clinic feeling desperate and scared, I made a decision to have an abortion. This one act alone has caused more guilt and remorse than any other action that I have ever taken and there have been many terrible regretful decisions to choose from. I sat in that clinic horrified that all of these woman sitting in the office didn’t look scared at all or even remotely saddened flipping through their magazines; some with husbands, boyfriends, mothers, and even fathers. I felt as I got up to go to the exam room it was the longest hall I had ever walked in my life. I laid on the operating table weeping. I went back to my apartment alone and wept even more.
The next two years of my life was a drunken blur until one evening I was broken and depressed; I lay on my floor and cried to God to help me. I called my mom and confessed what I had done two years previously and she came and moved me home with her. Nothing really changed when I arrived home. I was still very much involved with men and alcohol. As I look back I can see how God had started to orchestrate some things from that moment on my apartment floor.
I met a woman that was my boyfriend’s roommate that was heavy in to partying at that time. A couple years later ran into that same woman at a bar in town here that I worked at. I knew instantly she was different as she wasn’t drinking and I even offered to buy her a drink and she refused. I asked her what was up and she just smiled and said we would have to talk later. A couple weeks later I ran into her again, same thing, she was visibly different but still wouldn’t share. She called me a few days later and invited me to her place to catch up. I was so intrigued that I wasn’t going miss this dinner date. She shared with me how she had met Jesus Christ and how He has radically changed her life. She was the youth leader at this very church. I was pretty skeptical to say the least. Through the following months watching her life she testified on many levels that this was not just a passing phase and God had really met with her and was living inside of her.
One afternoon she was doing my hair as she was a cosmetologist as well as a youth leader. I shared with her my true perception of God. I asked tough questions about God being all knowing and all loving. She called her pastor to the salon where he answered my bitterly stated questions truthfully. He didn’t give me sugar coated answers just raw truth. The truth was painful. I felt that God could, should, and would not forgive the murderers of innocent children or those that had touched children in hurtful ways. Gus shared how God forgives all who ask and this frustrated me terribly that just anyone could receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. I spent many months pondering what it meant to be saved and counting the cost because it wasn’t as easy as I had originally thought back in the salon. There was a lot of asking for forgiveness I had to do not just of God but of others. This is not an easy task. Repenting is a hard thing. Repenting doesn’t mean you are sorry it is a lifestyle change. Webster says it is this: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life. In some cases that means giving back time to your spouse or kids that you stole or in my case giving back money to the bar owner I used to work for. I am an all or nothing kind of girl so I was not about to just willy nilly say a prayer and try to partially work it out later.
Halloween night of 2002 I pulled behind Riverside Gas Station and asked Jesus to come into my heart and be Lord of my life. It was just Jesus and I, the way I thought it ought to be. I was baptized as a believer in Jesus Christ a few months later at Woodland Bible Church. I feel the time I spent weighing the cost in the previous few months really benefited me in the coming year. I was aware that after you come to know the Lord life was not gonna be easy street. I only had one thing that Jesus really freed me from besides Satan himself without any effort from myself. I had the filthiest mouth. Every other word was the ‘F’ bomb. I used to try to not swear for a whole day and the next words out of my mouth were obscene. From the moment I asked Jesus into my heart those words were gone. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot to you but there was no way in my own strength I could have done this without him. I never thought about swearing anymore. I didn’t have to try to watch my mouth around people. Those words were literally gone. Now all the other things/troubles that Jesus talks about in life didn’t hold off long and they weren’t just miraculously just going away, they were work. In Luke 19:1-9 when salvation came to Zacchaeus’ house he said he was going to pay back anyone he had cheated. I went to that bar owner that I had stolen from with a check for $1000. It was so difficult to look a man in the eyes that trusted you and say I stole from you and if you want to press charges I totally understand. This man who is not saved showed me amazing mercy and kindness but most importantly forgiveness. I knew that I couldn’t right all my wrongs physically but purposed that I would do whatever the Lord led me to do in the area of repenting of my past. It meant I had to walk away from most of all my friends that were gonna hinder my walk with Christ. This was such a struggle to leave so many that I had shared so much of my life with. Even though it hurt to walk away, I have seen God’s promise in Matthew 10:39 come to pass. It says, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”. I really did lose MY life when I found Christ.
That summer my grandma that was like a second mother to me died from cancer. I had never prayed for God to end someone’s pain but in her last moments I was pleading with God to take her home. My dad died a couple weeks later and this opened an emotional trunk that I had sealed up many years previous. 2 years ago I lost my best lifetime friend. She was a 31 year old wife and mother of 2 adorable children. No one loses this woman in their life and is not completely broken. God has definitely shown me thought these three losses that life is fragile and that I wake up each day only because God has willed it.
When God gave me the amazing gift in my husband I then became very aware of my pride, selfishness, insecurities, and lack of self worth. This really took a toll on the first years of our marriage. God was really mirroring His love for me through Gus and I was not the most accepting because I felt so unworthy. Our marriage since has gotten tons better through lots of prayer and patience from my husband and the slow painful process of dying to my flesh on a regular basis. All that being said please take note that God didn’t not promise that once you get saved your life will be easy street. He says that you WILL have trouble but when those troubles came for me I now had a hope and a reason to press on.
This is my story. I really want you to see how God used all these past things for His Glory. God used me to plant a seed in that bar owner. God has used me to give hope to teenagers with unplanned pregnancies. God has used me to feed the hungry. God has used me to comfort the fatherless. God has used me to give hope to those struggling with sexual abuse. God has used me to show people in this community that their prayers for me were not in vain. God has used me to show this community what a life truly redeemed by Him looks like. I very much have the same personality that God gave me but my life and eternity are forever changed by Him.
All this being said I want to leave you with a couple thoughts that may initially hurt but hear me out. There is nothing lucky or unlucky about your life. Your life is not/was not left to chance. Everything that has happened to you has either been the will of God or out of the permissible will of God. In Romans 8:28 it says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him”. I also want to say to you that nothing, not choices, nor circumstances are outside of God’s redeeming power. It is in the tough times in my testimony that it may seem that God is nowhere to be found that He now seems to shine the brightest. God did not allow the painful things in your life to happen to you so you would not bring him glory. Don’t let one thing that you have gone through be in vain. We must go back and claim every moment of our pasts for the glory of God. It is not enough to just diffuse those hard moments but we must use them. If you live your life, I mean really live your life to bring God all the glory alone, and then all those hard times will have been worth any amount of turmoil in the moment to bring Him the great glory as I hoped to have done today.