June 8, 2020
This way or That way??
If you haven’t had a chance to read our blog post about Why JONO? Head back and give it a read...it laid the groundwork for this blog….or give er ;)
2 weeks BEFORE Johnny's passing…..
I was spending time with Jesus, and he said to me, “You are going home soon.” (Yep, He talks like that.) Home meant Cape Breton. Born and raised on the island I am no different than anyone else in my love for our Island, but I married a girl from away and we felt like we were in the right place at the time living in Ontario….BUT we both agreed/knew the “call” on our hearts was to be back in Cape Breton someday. That call/voice was the reason we were in Guelph, it was the reason we went to Africa, it was the reason we ended up meeting each other - it had and has guided every part of our lives up to this day. To be clear Jonny’s passing wasn’t our “call”, but it did start us down the path towards home.
I have tattooed on my arm “Face to Face” plus these words directly underneath it…
“We don't yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, Hope unswervingly and Love extravagantly. And the best of the three is to Love.“
The above words are from God to us (you). Literally.
The day that Johnny passed he did not die. He went on to see Jesus Face to Face and the above words became a reality for him. Jesus is a real person and God...not a far off concept that I tell myself is real to make me sleep better at night.
If you don't mind me being frank for a second - does anyone that knows me think that I would actually devote my life to something I wasn't sure was real...
I can hear the questions brewing: but what about all the sick and dying kids in the world, what about this pandemic, what about the massacre in NS a month ago, what about….I KNOW! I promise you for every question that you have about the legitimacy/goodness of God I have had ten! There are actually a number of ways to answer those questions from a Christian standpoint that I agree with, but I don’t like them. Even if I believe them to be true I still and will always have that question... Why is it this way…..BUT as real and legitimate as those questions are, so is his Love. I will never be able to shake the powerful, out of this world Love of God that literally pours into my life in such a way that no matter what questions/doubts I have, I can never say that His Love is not real, I can never say its not Alive and for us.
Understandably, this is a very hard concept/reality for many to grasp...impossible really. Hence, why I don’t bother stuffing my experiences into anyone’s face BUT He is real; I talk with him daily and He talks back, and has been by my side for the last 17 years as the most important part of my life. I don't by any means want to die or to leave this world anytime soon, but man I cannot wait to see Jesus Face to Face... and it all comes back to Love. He has walked us into a new reality concerning life and love, and it has only ADDED exponentially to our lives. And continues to until this “weather clears and we see face to face”.
Obviously, the depth of knowledge that I have as it relates to Jesus has grown with time (our relationship). I most certainly didn't start my friendship with Jesus this way and with this type of confidence. I was drawn by the undeniable reality of God's Love that seemed to surpass conventional knowledge and experience. It’s one of my clearest memories...I said “Alright, if this is real I’ll give it a go,” and I sought after Jesus and He didn’t/hasn’t failed to meet me every step of the way. I won't stop until I see Him Face to Face and I have no doubt Johnny will be waiting with Him. I will see Johnny again...OHH to be a fly on the wall for that reunion :)
I was asked once, “What did you do while waiting to get home from Ontario?” The answer: I sang worship songs to God for literally hours on end. It was the most intense experience of peace I have ever had in my life. The questions of “why” were very real, the pain was so hard and present, the anger was brewing, the hurt was overwhelming...but the Love of God had literally covered me like a tidal wave so powerfully that the only place that seemed right for me was a posture of worship for His present grace. I don’t share this as a picture of my own holiness, but instead as a picture of a God who cared deeply and joined me in my living room as a Father consoling his son for hours on end until I could be with my family.
So why all of that...I wanted to simply lay a small picture (seriously, there is sooo much more to it) of what it's like to Know God, not just believe, and how that relationship massively impacts our lives. Our decisions in life are made together as a couple, but also with a third person involved...always.
Our Decision to Move Home….
A week after Johnny had gone to heaven, I was sitting late in the evening on my parent’s lawn and Jesus simply said “It’s time.” I knew it meant it was time to come back to CB for good, followed by a peace in both my heart and Charisse’s heart that didn’t really make sense. Similar to what had happened while waiting to come home the day of Johnny's death.
We headed back to Ontario with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Folks back home were going to take it hard. We had Charisse’s family (an extremely tight awesome family), our friends, our jobs that we were both very attached to. When I told my mentor our decision, he respectfully and lovingly said, “I am going to challenge you on that,” and we committed to praying every week at a designated time as a group for a month about this decision. The board at the church asked me to take a month to consider my decision as well. A lot can happen in a month. From family calls to stay, friends messages to not go, the relationships at work all pushing us to stay, it was a hard month. It was a Tuesday afternoon as I drove to the church with my decision (which I was now doubting).
I screamed at Jesus, “TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”
As I approached the last traffic light before turning into the church I came up on a car that had an Ontario license plate BUT the outer rim of the license plate had a different message...it said…”Cape Breton Island on the Rise Again”.
I sat in both disbelief at what had happened and smiled with complete confidence in where we were supposed to go. God had spoken...and it was accompanied by that incredible peace.
Home Sweet Home
A few months later, we moved to CB and immediately jumped into what we thought was the right thing to do, but bombed quick! (God shut that door.) With a mixture of confusion and uncertainty, I went back to carpentry and got to work with/for my brother for a couple years. It was a great experience which I'll never forget and am forever thankful for. During this time the entrepreneurial blood in me got stirred. My grandfather, father, brother, uncles, cousins all have their own businesses. With an ingrained desire to work hard (thanks to my old man) and drawing a deep satisfaction from “working” (doesn’t really matter what it is) I came home and told Charisse one day that I wanted to start my own business...and she said, “OK...what”?
I didn't know.
The last thing I wanted to do was start something for the sake of starting something. I enjoyed carpentry and worked with a great group of guys so I was in no rush to figure it out but the desire was so real!
We have come to see that as much as we want to hear from God on “what to do” we also know He wants us to balance that question with what “we want to do”. God is ok with you coming up with your own dream and going for...if anything I think he prefers that! He simply wants to be a part of the ride!
I had for over a year at that point been training in high intensity workouts and was loving it. I talked about it with Charissey and friends, but in my typical dopiness didn’t see what was sitting right in front of me. One night Charisse came home and said, “Why don’t you open a gym?” (We can all thank Sarah Barrett for planting that bug.)
Instantly something inside of me lit up!
The next day I started dreaming and working. One year later we opened JONO Athletics.
Our "No Sweat Intros" are a great way to learn a little more about the gym and tour our facilities - without any commitment and without having to workout!