Cassie's Story: In Her Own Words
Dena Johnson Martin Crosswalk.com blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos
- 2019 Nov 13
Hi my name is Cassie. I’ve written blogs for my mom before, and I decided I wanted to share some of my story with you today!
I was born into a very Christian family. My dad was a pastor and we obviously were at the church a lot, but what people saw on the outside was very different from what happened behind closed doors. My dad was having an affair on my mom with a lady in the church. My dad decided to step down from his job shortly before his secret was discovered. My family was broken. In a matter of days my family went from what seemed perfect to completely shattered.
My two older brothers and I started to go to his new house every other weekend, and those were always awful visits. My brothers protected me from lots of pain and verbal and emotional abuse, but I still remember him screaming and cussing us out for small things other parents wouldn’t even care about or sometimes for no reason at all. He wouldn’t feed us, and some weekends the most I would eat were granola bars my mom sent with us so we wouldn’t starve. The one that hurt me the most, was that he didn’t even call me by my name. He simply just called me “the girl.” It made me feel small and worthless, like I wasn’t loved. Even though he would tell me he loved me I didn’t want that kind of love.
Fridays and Saturdays at his house were not fun but then Sunday rolled around and he became a perfect Christian. After the divorce he found another job as a pastor and put on this facade that he was the perfect Christian role model. My brothers and I would just sit back and watch him pretend. I felt like I had no voice, and I felt so broken.
My mom was a superhero. Single mom raising three kids, never pretending to be anything she wasn’t, always trying to be strong for us. She may not have thought so, but she was and still is the strongest person I know. She always made sure we knew we were loved, by her and Jesus. She made sure we were fed when we went to see our dad, and she made sure we knew we could always talk to her, even though I never did. There are not enough words in this world to say how much I appreciate my mom.
One day in April of 2015 my brother Blake went to my dad’s house for the last time, which at first completely terrified me. Blake was the barrier between my dad and my other brother and me. He protected me from my dad and held all the burden on himself. So as you can see I didn’t want to go over there with just me and Cole, but because Blake made that decision and sacrificed his relationship with my dad, it opened a door for my brother and I to fix our relationship with him. When Blake left it made my dad realize that if he didn’t start treating us right, he would lose Cole and I too. I will never be able to explain how thankful I am for Blake’s actions. Shortly after Blake left, my dad got a girlfriend and really started to treat Cole and I like a father should. I thought I’d finally have the relationship I’d always longed for.
In March 2016, I called my dad. I never called him, but that day I did and I asked to go see a movie. The next night we went and saw Zootopia. I had such a good time, probably the best time we’d ever had. We made plans to go to the OU game two weeks later. A week before the game, on April 6th, 2016, I was in school eating lunch when my mom showed up. I was excited because I thought she was checking me out for lunch, but as she got closer I realized she was crying and immediately my heart dropped. She told me to get my stuff and wait outside the guidance counselor’s office. The next thing I knew I was waiting on my brother outside the counselor’s office. When my brother finally showed up, we went inside and my mom knelt down in front of us. Then my mom said the 7 words that completely flipped my life upside down and changed it forever.
“They found your dad dead this morning.”
Cole started crying immediately and I sat there in shock as heavy, hot tears burned all the way down my face.
The next few days were a blur. I remember walking into visitation, and I saw my dad’s identical twin and I told myself it wasn’t real. I sat down next to my uncle, and then I saw him. My dad was lying in his casket and I completely lost it. All these feelings hitting me. I cried for what seemed like hours, and then I cried some more. The next day at the funeral I cried some more, I remember going to see him at the funeral and looking at his hand. He had a big scar on his hand and I wanted to see if it was there and I didn’t see it. I thought, “I knew it. He’s not really gone!” But then I looked at his other hand and saw the scar, and I realized this nightmare is true. Then I hugged him begging God to let him hug me back, and he never did. I watched them put him in the ground knowing I might not ever see him again.
Going back to school was not fun. Because I live in a small town, everybody knew what had happened. As I walked into the school, a group of girls, only one being an actual friend of mine, gathered around me, telling me empty promises that they would always be there for me. Then they would never talk to me again. I’d always been a straight A student, but I didn’t want to try anymore. Thankfully my teachers didn’t make me do any work for a little bit.
Now I want to switch gears and talk about my relationship with God. The divorce was final a few months before my 5th birthday, and around the same time I asked Jesus into my heart. But at the time I was so young I don’t think I truly knew what it meant. I was baptized a little later, but again I don’t think I really knew what it meant. I went to church camp in the summers convincing myself I was a good Christian but I didn’t actually know what being a Christian meant. The summer after my dad died, I was 11 about to turn 12. I was old enough to attend Falls Creek (a Christian youth camp), and I wish I could tell you that I realized I wasn’t living like Jesus but I didn’t. I want attention. I wanted people to feel bad for me.
This continued for a while, and then July 15 I woke up with people surrounding my bed. I dozed off and then before I knew it, I was being wheeled into an ambulance. Finally, I found out that I had a seizure. To make a long story short a month later I had another and then another, and I just kept having seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy. This made my relationship with God even worse and I had all this built up anger towards Him. I didn’t understand why all this was happening, and at that point I didn’t even want to try. Seventh grade started and I was sad all the time, just feeling sorry for myself. I tried therapy but I didn’t like it. I fell into bad habits and just wasn’t a dedicated Christian, even though I tried to convince myself I was. I still went to church and put on an act just like my dad did. There was one night halfway through seventh grade when I couldn’t go to the church I had been going to for years, so I finally decided to go to church with my brother. I didn’t know anyone except my brother but he was too cool to sit with me, so I sat by myself in the back. That night as I sat there, I felt convicted. I can’t tell you the day and I can’t tell you what was said, but I can tell you I was changed and I haven’t been the same since that night. I realized how desperately I needed Jesus that night. Jesus saved me that night, and I was born again. I started to learn what being a Christian meant.
After seventh grade, my mom got engaged to a man who loved my brothers and I like his own, and I recognized that he was a big blessing in my life. After the engagement I went to a church camp called super summer. Super summer completely changed my life. It was a slap in the face and a big shove in the direction of Jesus. I learned so much about what being a Christian means. The summer came to an end and I was doing pretty good, but my last year of middle school was tough. My epilepsy medication caused me to not be able to remember anything, and my grades started dropping. Eventually I had to move out of the advanced math class and my self-esteem was really low. Thankfully, in January of my 8th grade year I switched medicines, and finished the year making my first B and C, but I was just so relieved that I’d never have to go back to middle school again.
The summer after 8th grade was the best summer I’d ever had. I went back to super summer and it locked me in on the right path, and taught me commitment to Jesus and how to get my priorities straight, I learned how to study my Bible, and at Falls Creek I learned how to Focus on Jesus. Shortly after camp I was called to vocational ministry! At the end of what seemed like an almost perfect summer, my best friend at the time just decided she didn’t want to be my friend and blocked me on just about everything. At first it hurt because I had done nothing wrong and my other friends would tell me the awful things she’d say about me that weren’t true, but I was able to forgive her. After she stopped talking to me, I found a new church because she was one of the only ways I could get to my current church and she didn’t want me around anymore. I then realized that God wanted me at a different church, and he very clearly told me which one. I went to the church that I was saved at 2 years before. I knew immediately that was my church. I walked in and multiple people recognized me. I’d never felt more welcomed, and I learned so much from just one night. After attending Woodland Hills for a few months I shared my testimony on October 22, 2018. I will forever remember that day as the day I was set free. I shared everything. Sharing my story made me truly understand that the truth will set me free.
After attending for several more months, I looked back on my life and I saw so much growth and spiritual maturity in my life. I’d never felt so much joy. The summer after my freshman year, I attended super summer once again, and I learned how to make biblical communities and how to reach out to those who need to feel the love of Jesus. Then at Falls Creek, I attended the daybreak session on Tuesday morning. It was all about missions. Going on mission trips had been something that I never really thought I would do. Brian Baldwin was speaking and I realized that this may be something I want to do. He shared a verse that I had never heard, it was the Great Commission, Jesus’s last command.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”"
The next day, my friend Emma dragged me to the missions building. I learned a bunch more about going on mission and being a disciple! After Falls Creek the Great Commission was something heavy on my heart, and I knew I just had to go on a mission trip! I had to share Jesus with these lost people! That same summer we got a new youth pastor. As I was getting to know him, he mentioned going to Calgary, Canada on a mission trip. I could probably buy a new car if I had a dollar for every time he talked about Canada. The passion he had for sharing God with others was so intriguing. When I got a text from GoStudents (a ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma) that registration was open. I was trying to decide which mission trip I should go on, and I saw Calgary, Canada. It was like God was nodding his head. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I am supposed to go to Calgary. This trip is scheduled for July, 2020, and I couldn’t be more excited!
Thank you for taking time to read my story. My prayer is that through everything I’ve walked through, God will do a mighty work in me so He can do a mighty work through me. I am so looking forward to going to Canada and sharing God’s love with the people of Calgary. I would love for you all to help me in a couple of ways. First, if you will pray for me and the team. Pray for us to share God’s love. Pray for God to prepare the hearts of the people we will reach. Second, if you feel led and are able, please donate to our mission trip. You can use my mom’s PayPal account (just designate it for Cassie’s mission trip). You can also read more about our plans at www.GoStudents.org page.
Thanks, and God bless!