My Brave Story- Tana Johnston

I've known my friend Tana for a long time! We did Little Britches and high school rodeo together. I always admired her as a serious athlete. She had this infectious smile and laugh, but man, could she kick some butt in the arena!!

I was so excited to connect with Tana again after college at our home church. I didn't know her testimony until reading her Brave Story, but I have to say that she still challenges me today even out of the arena to go further and deeper with God. She's a woman who has had major ups and downs and has learned to trust Jesus through them and to let Him take her messes and turn them into something beautiful.

I pray that Tana's Brave Story challenges you, puts you at the feet of Jesus and gives you hope that all you have to do is ask for Him. He's already there waiting on you, just reach out for Him.


Standing on the shore…

The first time I ever stepped out in faith was a cold and snowy night in February, 2008.  I was stepping away from a broken relationship.  It was the first time I had fallen to my knees and cried out to God.  A God who I knew in my heart was there, but that I had no relationship with.  He was this huge, far off “thing” that I had been taught about, but never had entered into relationship with. 

“God please help me” came from a voice in the still darkness of the house that night that I realized later was mine.  From that moment on, I had such a peace over me that words could not explain.  Not peace over my broken relationship, but peace that I knew I would never walk alone again. 

He calls my name…

God had been pulling at me for quite some time, but I was too caught up in fixing things by myself and too independent to ask for help.  But on that cold and snowy night when I was the most broken, God spoke to my heart.  He was not condemning me about my past or judgmental of my behavior.  He was full of kindness, full of love, full of grace.  His open arms gave me strength and healing. 

He was full of kindness, full of love, full of grace. His open arms gave me strength and healing

Stepping out into the waves…

I had to choose God.  I had to decide in that moment if I was going to trust Him and His plan for my life or if I was going to stay broken.  

Don’t look back…

I was fearful of so many things… What would my parents say?  What would people think?  How would I explain my failure?  What were others saying?  Questions full of fear and rejection flooded me.

Being broken was completely new territory for me.  I had thus far in my life had it pretty easy.  I was a good student and school came easily to me.  I had played basketball and volleyball at a high level and had much success.  I had spent numerous hours in the arena roping because I was determined to be the best.  I had gone to college on a full ride rodeo scholarship and my parents had given me every opportunity along the way to be successful in whatever I chose.  Life had always been about me and what goal I was trying to accomplish.

Reaching for His hand…

For the first time, I was broken and in unknown territory.  How did this happen?  The questions tormented my mind and my soul.  I had let my emotions and my fears consume me.  And that’s where I met Jesus.  He took me in and showed me how loved I was – exactly where I was.  At the time, I had a hard time understanding this but I trusted Him and I pressed in and the deeper I dug into His word the more I read about His loving kindness, the more I believed it and the more I felt it. 

There are always consequences to our actions and it took some time to walk out the mess I had created.  But with each day I grew stronger and more faithful and felt more loved.  Even though it was tough and full of pain I didn’t have to walk it alone.

Take hold…

Looking back over the years I have learned that God is so faithful to His people.  He is right there, loving us exactly where we are in our biggest messes and our deepest sin.  He wants us to grab hold of Him, to trust Him, and to lean into Him because His desire is to grow us, not leave us in the mess. 

Since then life has happened through a different set of eyes for me.  I married an amazing man after God’s heart in 2010.  He leads our family with Godly wisdom and encourages me to walk more like Jesus every day.  In 2013 we found out we were expecting a baby, which was a surprise.  But when I was 21 weeks we learned the shocking news that there were two.  We were shocked, scared, and overwhelmed all at the same time.  We had just settled into the idea of two babies when my water broke at 31 weeks and the babies were on their way.  We were blind to what was coming in our near future… Once at the hospital the doctor sat in a chair across from my bed and explained to us what the process would probably look like having them that early.  I still didn’t fully understand.  My mind was so confused.  As the day progressed my contractions became closer and closer together much to the hard work of the doctors to get them to stop.  They were trying to delay the labor as long as they could, but nothing worked.  At the risk of losing Qwade (baby A) they did an emergency C-section to get both boys out at 9:30 PM that very night.  Both boys were intubated and rushed to the NICU.  Right there, I remember telling God I didn’t know how we were supposed to do this and He whispered in my spirit not to worry, that He was right there.  The next several weeks were filled with ups and downs, good days and bad days.  Lots of sleepless nights and care times every three hours.  A long seven weeks later we got to bring our babies home for the first time. 

We have had multiple health issues with the boys, hospital stays, and walked through some tough things, but looking back over the past three and a half years at what God has done in our family is without words.  He has never abandoned us.  He has used the hard times to refine us and to make us more like Jesus.  He has been faithful every step of the way, through every circumstance He was and still is working all things out for the good.  (Romans 8:28)  I am confident that He isn’t finished yet, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

And now, God is calling us to a new faith journey to open a coffee shop, The Rustic Cup.  My dream is that the shop will be a place where all can come to experience an atmosphere full of Jesus.  A place full of love, kindness, comfort, and grace.  A place where we can all pause in our brokenness and meet with Him.  To call out to Him.  To press into Him with our whole heart.  To share life…



Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3: 12-14 NIV