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A Spiritual Awakening: Jo Ann’s Story

Written by Jennifer Penner

July 18, 2014

A Spiritual Awakening

“I’ve always had this longing inside me, for something deeper, even though I can’t quite describe what that is.”

I was just living a life of making sure I followed what my parents had taught me.

As a child growing up in the Philippines, Jo Ann Aguilar had a devout Catholic upbringing and learned key values instilled in her by her parents – among them, the importance of a God-fearing attitude. She actively participated in going to church, learning catechism, liturgical readings and similar activities.

“When I became a teenager, I was just living a life of making sure I followed what my parents had taught me – I finished my education, pursued a career in singing and modeling, and got married to my childhood sweetheart,” Jo Ann says. “We moved to Edmonton, Alberta to settle down, and then I started working in a different career and I also had my three children.”

LIVING THE LIFE

Even when Jo Ann prayed to God, her attitude was: I’m still in control.

Being a natural go-getter, Jo Ann was driven to accomplish a lot of things in her life, juggling a government job and being a mother of three boys, and a wife, in a new country. She made plans and set goals for herself and her family, realizing her dreams and navigating her own destiny – one step at a time. “I was living my life the way I was taught to – if I did good things, had goals and plans, then everything will turn out good.”

Even when Jo Ann prayed to God, her attitude was: I’m still in control.

But then something that Jo Ann never planned for happened.

Eventually, the stress, busyness, and responsibilities took a toll on her life. After 22 years of being in a relationship, Jo Ann faced the most difficult situation in her life. “When my husband got involved with his assistant, I couldn’t understand what was happening,” she says. Distraught, confused, and broken hearted, she left him; her world was suddenly rattled. “I ended up taking my kids and moving to Vancouver temporarily sort of as an ultimatum. But things never worked out between us.”

After splitting up with her husband in 2008, Jo Ann moved back to Edmonton to raise her boys with the help from her family.

RE-WRITING HER STORY


Jo Ann Speaks at a WHEN event
Jo Ann speaks at a WHEN event

As she began picking up the pieces of her life as a single mom with her own business, it was a conversation with her dentist, Dr. Onie Mateo, that started the journey of re-discovering herself — and fulfilling the longing she’d had for years.

“Dr. Mateo was talking about spiritual things, and then she told me about this Christian event with other ladies, and offered me a ticket,” she says. With nothing to lose, Jo Ann decided to attend the “Ladies Night Out” hosted by Women’s Heart Engaging Network (WHEN). Such evenings are designed to help women connect with other women, and provide the opportunity to hear about the extraordinary grace of Jesus Christ through the story of an ordinary woman.

“Something about that night was different,” she recalls. “I had never heard of a group in Edmonton like this before.” Shortly, she touched based with the coordinator, Eva Bagasao, who shared more information about WHEN, and invited her to attend a Discovery Group – where she could learn more about Jesus and how to connect her life to Him.

A DEEPER FAITH

When you’re born, you dream of a fairy tale, an idealistic picture in your head that you envision for your life

“At WHEN I really began reading the Bible for myself, talking about it with others, and applying it, my faith grew in a way I had never experienced before,” Jo Ann says. Currently, she meets with Eva for weekly devotionals and hopes in the future to be able to involve her non-Christian friends in a Discovery Group.

Today, this busy, hard-working, single mother of three has discovered the path to freedom.

“When you’re born, you dream of a fairy tale, an idealistic picture in your head that you envision for your life (your prince charming, etc.) You live life, but something happens and it turns out not the way you wanted. You realize you’re not in control, and you have to rewrite your story. But in the end, it makes you a stronger person. Now I have chance to do this through being part of WHEN and injecting the Lord into my life.”

Pausing, she adds, “This journey has completely changed me.”

If you want to know more about how WHEN connects women to Jesus Christ, including local events and Discovery Groups in Vancouver and Edmonton, please visit www.whenetwork.ca


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