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photo of JoannaJoanna Quintrell's Journey Story

My earliest memory on my personal spiritual journey took place on Easter Sunday when I was 8 or 9 years old, living in Quebec, Canada. During church that morning, I experienced something I had never felt before. From this vantage point, I realize that I felt the presence of God for the very first time, though I did not have the words to explain it at the time!

All I knew was that God was real- He was with me. And the feeling continued well past the end of the church service. My heart was filled with joy and I just had to do something to respond! So I gathered together my younger brother and my cousins, and led them out into the nearby woods. It was a glorious day- a fresh-fallen snow blanketed everything, the sky was blue, and the whole earth seemed to sparkle.

I longed to respond to the Love and Presence I was experiencing, but had no idea how. So I led us all in the only thing I could think of that had some sort of "spiritual" feeling to it, and we all made angels in the snow! I smile now to think of the childlike faith that sprung up that day in my heart and how it's first expression came in trying to lead others to connect with the Holy as well.

It's been many years since that Easter morning and there have been plenty of hills and valleys and unexpected turns in the road. I can see from here that He never left me, though I certainly spent a lot of time forgetting about Him and doing my own thing. In fact, it wasn't until I was 17 and living in Southern California during the Jesus Movement of the early 1970's that I was again powerfully affected by Christ’s presence and love during a youth-oriented gathering. It was them that I made the decision to give myself and my whole life to Christ and my new life began…transformed by the love that had come to me.

I discovered that "new life" doesn't mean "easy life", yet the Spirit continued to work in me. I grew in my faith, got married at the age of 20, and a few years later faced the crisis of divorce and single parenting. I'll never forget how scared I was to have a little two-year-old boy (Jeremy) to love, protect and care for when I was so broken inside and so alone!

Yet I wasn't really alone. For 6 years we experienced God’s day-to-day care and comfort- providing for our physical needs and gradually healing our broken hearts. He was my faithful Father and Friend through that dark valley! My faith in this loving, forgiving and ever-present God continued to grow as He continued to reveal Himself to me for who He really is.

When Jeremy was 8 years old, after moving to Santa Rosa, California, I married my "treasure", John Quintrell, whom God had brought into our lives two years before. God is indeed the God of new beginnings! Although the challenges of forming and sustaining a stepfamily were many, we continued to experience His faithfulness, care and help along the way.

In 1986, we found our way to a little church of about 150 people, meeting at that time in the aerobics room of the YMCA. Here we found our spiritual "family", and we began to get involved in various kinds of ministries within the church. Eventually, I was asked to join the staff of the church, and I was thrilled to have the privilege of serving the Lord and His people.

As time went by, I became busier and busier DOING for God, and I didn't notice for a long time that I was spending less and less time BEING with God. In 2001, I found myself in a spiritual crisis... by this time, I was a pastor and yet I was so dry and thirsty in my own relationship with God that I felt lost and depleted. Again, God was faithful to help me to see the truth about the state of my inner life, and He led me to the resources and people that I needed to find my way "home" (to His heart and mine).

These past few years have been a time of learning how to tend to my inner life with God and how to stay connected to His heart no matter what is going on around me. I have found that He is always there to quench my spiritual thirst with His love and grace.

In 2007, I began to realize that Christ was inviting me to go into the community to implement the vision that He had given us in 2003, and so now I am on another adventure! It is my passion to share with others who are finding themselves thirsty on the journey and to encourage and help them to experience the Living Water that He provides!

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Joanna Quintrell currently serves as the Executive Director of the Journey Center. Her career path began with becoming a registered nurse in 1976, then a certified Lamaze childbirth instructor and coach in 1978, and eventually a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in 1989. She is a credentialed pastor and a spiritual director. Joanna and John have been married since 1985, and Jeremy is also living in the Sonoma County area.

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