When Dawn Hogan walked into an Easter service at Ventura Missionary Church in April of 2017, she met the resurrected Christ, and she has never been the same. Those who knew her then attest to that fact, noting that she is lighter and a completely different person. That Easter Sunday was the beginning of a whole new normal.
What was the old normal like? Like all of us, Dawn’s life included trials along the way. It was one season in particular, though, that led to a downward spiral and a long walk on a dark path. Back in 2004, Dawn’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, and her marriage was struggling. She was still close to her husband, but they had separated because of the disharmony in their home. It was during this already difficult time that her husband was tragically killed in a car accident. Overwhelmed by this series of events and by the sadness and guilt that consumed her about what their daughter was going through, Dawn turned to alcohol to numb the pain.
David Hogan, who was already in Dawn’s life, was a tremendous encouragement to Dawn while she grieved the sudden loss of her husband. It was a time of bonding between them, and in 2005, they were married. However, both of them battled alcohol addiction, which along with other issues created strife in their marriage. They divorced in 2016.
But David began attending Ventura Missionary Church, and he stayed in communication with Dawn, telling her about the difference Jesus was making in his life. He also told her that he was praying for her. By that Easter Sunday in 2017, Dawn was ready to see for herself what her ex-husband was talking about.
When she walked through the doors of the church, Dawn immediately felt comfortable. She also felt a connection and knew that she was where she was supposed to be. She adds, “And, I never looked back!”
Week after week, in those first few months, Dawn says she would cry during the sermon. Rich truth was touching her soul. Regrets and guilt began to lift off her shoulders as she began to learn about and experience Jesus for herself. The fact that He died for her and loves her no matter what she’d ever done or will do revolutionized her thinking.
Connection with others on the faith journey became another key component of Dawn’s new life in Christ. She joined a small group that studied about what the Bible has to say about hope in late April of 2017. In the fall, she signed up for our Rooted Discipleship Experience. Rooted is an opportunity to gather together with a group of people to learn about and experience things like prayer and serving and much more. Dawn enthusiastically describes what being in a Rooted group was like, “It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I discovered we all have struggles, that what you see on the outside doesn’t mean people have it all together. It was so great to connect with people and not feel judged.”
Dawn talks about a night during Rooted when her leaders prayed over her. She says, “It was amazing. The strongholds of the guilt and sadness in my life were being removed, and there was this feeling of release.”
On November 18 of that same year, Dawn expressed outwardly the work that Christ was doing inwardly by getting baptized. In December, she began serving as a greeter, so she is often one of the first smiles people encounter when they arrive on a Sunday morning. There is a glow on her face that is further evidence of the transformation that is taking place in her life.
Perhaps one of the most surprising developments in Dawn’s new normal was when her ex-husband, David, became her husband again on New Year’s Eve 2017. David was also becoming a “new creation,” and together the Hogan’s are growing in Christ. When David and Dawn went into their marriage this time, they “made sure they did it God’s way.” They sought counseling through their pastors and read Christian marriage books. Dawn says she believes that God used everything they went through to “bring us to Him as individuals and then united us again and created a wonderful, strong bond and healthy marriage through Him.”
Dawn now walks daily with Jesus by praying and reading the Bible before she goes to work each morning. She says, “This sets my mood and begins my day in a grateful, positive way and helps me stay in line and pursue righteousness.” She also says that she has learned to turn to God rather than destructive substitutes when stress invades or hard times present themselves. She also still reminds herself that God loves her and died for her. It puts everything else in perspective.
Now married two and a half years, David and Dawn are grateful for their new normal. Not only does a relationship with Jesus ensure eternal life in heaven, it’s just a better way to live while on earth as well!