Prompt One: Write about a time you felt out of place, awkward, and uncomfortable.
Try not to focus on your feelings, but project your feelings onto the things around you.
Set your timer for thirty minutes and write away.
~By: A.J. Wagoner
*Do you sometimes feel out of place? Share your experience too.
A dream awaits the taking. My dream waits for the shaking. You see, I have a dream to publish a poetry book for the glory of God, my beloved Father and maker.
A Little About Me on My Birthday
Let me tell you my story.
My name is A.J. Wagoner, or Andrew Justin for those curious, and I live in Central Florida. I grew up with a great family and great friends, though I usually preferred being by myself. I went to Eustis High School and graduated from there in 2004, where I then went off to Flagler College in beautiful St. Augustine, Florida. In three and a half years I finished with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration to only find myself in a job market nearly non-existent.
Around this time, I found myself in a relationship with an amazing woman, whom I loved tremendously. I also attempted to stay in St. Augustine after graduation because of my love for the city. I found a job at Marine Supply & Oil Co. in the Lincolnville neighborhood taking care of inventory for them and the yard work. It was a lot of fun, especially since I started losing a lot of the weight I had gained while living in the dorms at Flagler. I went from 240 pounds to around 200 pounds.
In October of 2008 I lost that job doing inventory and ended up with two part-time jobs at the Premium Outlets off of I-95 in St. Augustine. These two jobs (one only lasted a month or so until they lost the hours) and my best friend paying me back helped me float and coast to the new year. My tax returns for 2009 helped me coast through the spring of that year, but by April and May of 2009 I had to come up with a decision, whether or not to go home for the summer to work at a camp I had worked for in 2006 and 2007. It was a tough decision, but I made the right choice in going back to work for Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, Florida. Thankfully, right around my house.
The end of that summer in July of 2009, the woman I was set in being the one, decided she wanted to go separate ways and so we broke-up. It was difficult and dark times for me followed. Before I get into that, i need to take you back to Freshman year of hish school. You see in early 2000 the new youth director at the church (First Presbyterian Church of Eustis) I had been attedning for two years took myself and a few others to Acquire the Fire (ATF) in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is here that i gave my life over to God and Jesus Christ, beginning a walk that would forever shape my life.
Fast forward back to the end of 2009 and it had been about nine years since that time i gave my life to Christ. Throughout that time I had learned more and more of what it meant to truly live as a Christian, to truly give your life to God; apparentlly though, I hadn’t learned enough. By this time, end of July 2009 when I went into the darkness, I was living a double-life: the great, kind-hearted guy who leads a small group and the other guy chained to the physicality of a relationship out of God’s will.
After getting back-in-touch with my cousin and moving back home to my parent’s house with my best friend, my cousin made a comment about going to Louisiana to work on his grandfather’s farm. I jumped ship and joined him in the dinghy for the trek in hopes that God would work on me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The two months in Louisiana ended up being some of the best times I had had in a long time at that point.
By the time I got home for the holidays, things had drastically changed in the house. Basically we will leave it short and just say by the end of the year we had seventeen people living in our house and it’s NOT a mansion. We also had one bathroom for the majority of the seventeen people. If you can say ridiculous in every language, then this is your chance. Seriously, it was ridiculous!
Anyways, in 2010 I began a graduate program at UCF for a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management. I also was able to receive an assistantship that paid for the semester and would allow me to gain experience working with nonprofit organizations. During the first few months of the year a lot occurred. I ended up learning about The World Race through supporting a friend from college on her journey, all while trying to stay afloat and get my work done when it needed to get done. The tension in the house grew exponentially, relationships were on strain and my entire world looked like it was falling apart. I drew in closer to God and learned more about His love and care. In the same breadth, the assistantship let me go and I went reeling.
I was in limbo to say the least after that. I didn’t know which way to turn and walk, let alone which way to even look, so I turned my eyes up and began asking even more for my Father’s guidance and direction. I got to finish the semester for grad school, but after that I probably wouldn’t be doing any more classes. So, as I ended up learning about The World Race, I began praying whether to join the journey or to join Campus Crusade International (a ministry I was familiar with from my days at Flagler). At a Kutless and Casting Crowns concert, God directed my path by telling me to join The World Race, and so I did.
I began the process sending in all the required information and the initial payments to seal the deal. I was a nervous wreck, especially when I had to tell my family about my decision. I did however and the summer began the process of raising the support necessary to go on this amazing journey. I needed $14,300 total for the whole trip and had about five months to raise the money. It was a stretch to begin with, plus everything at home was imploding around me, relationships were falling apart even with my best friend and cousin and I was at a loss for words. I pulled through and made it to training camp by the bare skin of my teeth, thanks in large part to my cousin.
Training camp for The World Race was an experience I won’t soon forget, especially since as soon as I met everyone from my squad I knew without a shadow of a doubt that these were my tribe or my family, the community that my soul had been screaming for. A community to challenge me and pull me into the greatness of God. A community to strengthen and encourage me in the dark moments of the soul as we begin a life-altering journey together. I went home after ten days with them and felt like I lost everything. It was intense.
The months following this time (August and September of 2010) I had a lot of work to do in raising support, getting the gear I needed, making sure I had necessary shots for overseas travels, and just getting all the “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed before our launch time in October 2010.
Fundraising…yeah it was a flop. I had about $1,500 to $2,000 of the necessary money to go. I still had a long way to go before our launch date. However, on September 15, 2010 as I was driving home from getting my typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations I got a call from my support coach asking if I believe that our God is a God of miracles. I responded of course with a resounding, ‘YES!’ She then told me that the office received an anonymous check for $11,000 with MY name on it. WHAT?! My God is definitely a God who provides and by the end of that day my trip was completely paid for.
Anyways, I will let you go to my other blog about my trip around the world. It is ajwagoner.theworldrace.org and it has all the information about the happening in the eleven countries I visited in the eleven months I was away, as well as all that I learned from God, about God, and about myself and the world. Ridiculous! Please go visit that blog when you get a chance. Thank you!
Now, it is October 4, 2011, my birthday and I have been home for one month now. It is still surreal and the chaos here at home is still here; however, I have learned a little bit more of who I am in Christ and I do not come back as a timid, fearful little boy, but as a strong and bold man of God. I will leave you with a sentence I wrote about myself containing twenty-six words of who I am:
“I’m a Christ-follower, God-lover, Holy Spirit filled man of God, who rests in being a strong, confident, loyal, trustworthy, honorable, fun, kind, lovable poet.”
Thank you for reading and my next post will be a little bit more on why I write poetry, as well as all about God leading me to the United Kingdom. May God be with you today and reveal more of His truth about Him in the Name of Jesus Christ.