Goodbye… For Now

My dad passed away on December 8, 2017 at 7:35pm. He was 69.

The timing of his passing showed how gracious God really is. My mom and I attended a fall banquet that he put together every year. He had started preparing for this year’s banquet when he was rushed to the hospital. It was part of his job and since he couldn’t make it, we were asked to come in his place. It was a beautiful banquet as they honored my dad. Then it ended and we had just stepped out to go home when we received the call. At the time, we were incredibly exhausted. We pleaded with God to take dad home soon. When it happened, we were both relieved and heartbroken.

God’s grace was in His timing that my dad passed away after the completion of the last thing he worked on.

Then three days later, I was back in Texas. What a bizarre time it was. I just saw my dad for a final time then I was back in class. Somehow, by God’s strength, I was able to jump back into it. Yes, I wasn’t myself. I hadn’t been myself in a long time it seems. Now I’m on a two-month mission trip traveling around the eastern coast of Florida living in a constant community. It’s very new and sometimes disconcerting considering the circumstances. Though God is with me through it all.

My heart is still grieving, though it’s quieter now and it doesn’t come out as often. The pain isn’t as fresh as it once was. I can finally see a glimpse of light at the end of the long tunnel.

It’s a time of healing right now and there’s a lot of healing needed. Witnessing a love one die is traumatic and only God can heal that. Just as before, clinging onto God is the only option for me. He has done so much in my life that I cannot turn away from Him. Yes, there are times where I want to quit everything and run away but God tells me to keep going. Plus, quitting would not honor my dad’s legacy.

Right now I am back home one more time for the memorial service and burial. We had the memorial service yesterday and just today, we buried him. With that final ending (for now), I feel a weight lift off of me, there was closure.

Now I can go back to my missions. It’s going to be okay.

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Tragedy

My heart hurts right now. I did not think I’d be in this position.

Let me back up for a second. The first 3 weeks of YWAM DTS have been truly amazing. It’s been challenging too but it’s also been great. I’ve learned a lot. Though I must confess, I’ve been arrogant over the first week. I felt that I knew what they were teaching, how could I possibly learn anything new?

Sensing the arrogance, I stopped myself and asked God to break me (A dangerous prayer). I needed to be humble.

A few weeks later, at the end of October/beginning of November, I got one of the worst calls of my life and my biggest fear was realized. My dad was in the hospital and my family wasn’t sure if he was going to make it. This was something that came into my mind the first week I started YWAM. My school leader share his experience in YWAM, a similar story to mine, and I remember thinking, “Oh God, please don’t let that be me.”

Now, I knew when I said yes to God in joining YWAM, this was a strong possibility. My dad got sick a lot over the past two years with hospital visits and there was a downturn in his health. For those who don’t know, about 11 years ago, my dad was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF). For nine of those 11 years, you would have never known. He was a champion. The only thing he really changed was no added salt and he started to walk daily. In those years, our relationship grew and he really became a rock in my life. In the two years leading up to now, I saw him grow weaker and thinner as he entered end-stage CHF. I subconsciously knew that he wasn’t going to be here for much longer. But I was in denial thinking that he’ll be fine or that he would be miraculously healed. It wasn’t until I came back home for Thanksgiving Break that I saw the reality.

In between the time I received the first phone call and Thanksgiving Break, I prayed for healing. I didn’t go back home. God told me not to. I was to stay. That was a time of mourning and heartache. I learned so much. God poured so much into my open heart and mind. My arrogance was no more.

Even though I asked not to, I became that person. The person with a serious family emergency that had to go home a day earlier. I’m still home helping my mom and family during this time. It is THE hardest time of my life. Watching a parent die is heartbreaking. There is no other words. And the grief is heart-wrenching and it comes at random times.

I’ve essentially become broken.

I don’t know why God allowed the timing of this to happen, but He did. And I have clung to Him so hard. There are times where old habits try to pop up and I’ve tripped a few times, but God is still my solid foundation. I can always rely on Him when my world’s been crashing down. There are times where I feel happy. Even though watching dad slowly fade away is heartbreaking, there’s also an undeniable peace. God is in the midst of this, watching over my dad and my family. His presence is strong in the hospice room and I feel like it’s a Holy place when I come in. It’s a special time in a believer’s life, for both the dying and the living. My dad gets to be the first one in the family to see Jesus. He’ll be in a place where his disease will no longer exist, no sadness or pain exist in Heaven. He’ll have his new body and he’ll be in the presence of God forever. It’s incomprehensible.

The grief and pain is still there. It still hurts. But I’m also rejoicing. Praise God! Thank You that this isn’t the end.

The race is almost over in his life and my dad is almost to the finish line but the reality is that this is just the beginning.

First 2 Days

I MADE IT! It’s hard to believe that the time is here. I can’t believe it. I am nervous and already had my cry. It was the tired and stress relief cry. It was all my anxiety and lies of the enemy that came fresh into my mind. It’s so good to cry. While those things still come to mind, they aren’t as loud as they used to be. I try not to dwell on them as much. I’m sure there will be more challenges. Right now, I’m way too excited to be here to make a proper adjustment. Just wait til 3 weeks from now.

Just being here reminds me that the Lord is faithful in His promises even when I wasn’t faithful time and time again. It’s a little embarrassing how long it took me to get that He wasn’t going to let me down. I was angry at Him for life circumstances and yet He still said, “Wait, I’ve got this.” because He knew better than I. I am so thankful to be here and I don’t want to waste a single minute.

I don’t have much of an update but I do have prayer requests.

  • Pray for me as I’m learning about who God is and His heart. To be honest, I already know some of what we’ve learned and felt prideful about it. I caught myself several times already in class today thinking, “yeah yeah, I know this…” I’ve had to quiet my thoughts. “Yes, you do already know this but what else can you learn?” Sure enough, I learned a few new things.
  • Pray that I can find the quiet moments when I’m busy doing “work duties”. Pray that my work duties partner will also find the quiet moments. Yes they make us work. Honestly, it’s something that I need to learn. Yes, I’ve been in the work force but there is something to be gained in the doing manual labor.
  • Speaking of manual labor, pray that God will give me supernatural strength. Being anemic, I need every strength that’s available for this season.
  • Pray also for opportunities to reach out to people and that I’ll be bold. There are times where I want to speak but I’m scared.
  • Pray for the girls and guys here. Most of them are fresh out of high school and college and a lot of them are on their own for the first time. Pray for comfort and peace. It’s a scary but necessary step.

Thanks for your prayers and support. I still need it. If anyone want to support me, you can email me at johnsona88@gmail.com for more info.

From Houston to Tyler

One and a half weeks after announcing that I was going to Houston, I got an update on the situation. Hurricane Harvey flooded out our building. Now, the team will move to the main base in Tyler, TX. Since then, I am actually more excited.

Despite the desire to go into a large city, I remained hesitant. I hesitated that I could do it and worried if the sudden change from Smalltown to Megacity would be good. While I was excited to do something drastic and new, I think what I really need is a time away to reflect and hear from God. Suddenly I got an email saying that they changed the plans. Like a breath of fresh air, I felt so lightweight. God knew what I needed more than I did.  Maybe one day I’ll get my wish of living in a large city but for now this is good.

So here are some of the details:

On October 1, I travel to Tyler, TX to begin my classes. We will have lectures and training. For some people, they learn practical skills on the base that will help them minister to others internationally. As for my school, the focus is on large megacities. Since we can’t be in a large megacity during this phase, I imagine we’ll travel a lot. We will help with some of the recovery in Houston among other things. During this phase, 3 months, we will learn some fundamentals of what it means to be a Christian, be strong in your faith and how to reach out to others.

After the 3 months, we will travel to a city to apply what we learned in the classroom. This is still an unknown because the location is picked during the lecture phase. From my understanding, it will be a busy but blessed time. And I am praying for divine appointments. I want to see people encounter God and I want to encounter God like never before.

It is time for a new season of life and I’m praying that it will change my life. I sat too long on the sidelines (literally) waiting, scared that it might be a mistake and that it isn’t for me. Anxious thoughts and fear plagued me for too long. This is a huge risk for me because I normally sit in the background, quiet and unassuming. I don’t like to draw attention to myself (yet, I have this blog, haha).

At any rate, pray for everyone on the team. Pray that the finances will come in for everyone including myself. Pray for those in Houston, Florida and the Caribbean who were affected by the hurricanes and flooding. Pray that they will feel God’s love and comfort.

If you want to know more about this or help me with finances, please contact me: johnsona88@gmail.com.

 

One Door Closes…

Becoming Surefooted is a blog that chronicles my own personal growth. Well, I just achieved a major milestone in my life and I am celebrating it despite the circumstances. The circumstance is being back on the job market; but the milestone is having a new found confidence. I’ve prayed and hoped for this “can do” attitude for many years. Yes, it’s very hard going back to the job hunting, but I won’t let it defeat me. While I don’t know where I’m going to end up, the person who just sat there waiting around is NOT me anymore. In fact, I have a new end goal.

A while back I had another goal which was to travel and possibly joining YWAM. While I still want to travel, God hasn’t given me any peace about joining YWAM just yet. This new end goal is career-focused. I’m feeling pretty confident in this. Now, I understand that this may just be a feeling and feelings fade. I just hope that the fire doesn’t fade. Yes, there will be more setbacks and discouragements, that’s life. Hopefully I will respond the same way when I said goodbye to my previous job. I smiled and said thanks for the growth.

For the record, this confidence doesn’t fully come from me. I need to thank God for building this fire in me. He promised to give me a future and I believe it… for the first time since college.

~AJ

Hinds’ Feet

This week I’ve decided to start my second attempt at reading “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. This book is a big inspiration for this blog.

The story is meant to be an allegory for a personal journey to “becoming as surefooted as a deer”. It follows a character, Much-Afraid, and her journey through the mountains and to the “Realm of Love”. During my first attempt at this, I didn’t finish because I got distracted. It was during a difficult period where time was devoted to escaping reality rather than facing it. This is a daily struggle. However, this concept and verse always stuck with me. So I decided to try reading it again and complete it.

Given the blog’s name, I thought posting about the readings would keep me accountable.

Here goes nothing…

hindsfeetpassage


I John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”