Twenty – One Days

by Jocelyn Cannon on September 10, 2013


People tend to want to know what are we planning to do after England. We typically reply with the same answer, “Our ‘plan’ is to come home, but it’s up to God where we end up. Our family is ready to go wherever He directs us.”

Wherever He directs us.

One year ago, we were starting school, settling to a new schedule, just as every other average kid in an average family in an average American suburban home was doing. If you had told me that twelve short months later we would be doing everything but average…

I would have believed you.

The last few years, we’ve been watching “average” unravel. That’s a pretty long story. Every line of it points to a God of grace and goodness.

As a family, we had dreamed around our timeworn kitchen table of “radical things”. Especially when “average” got boring. (Let’s move to Uganda! Or, India!) Other times, average was so appealing. (That is way too hard and uncomfortable, so I’ll just stay here in my little bubble.) Sometimes we were joking, other times we were serious; but there was always that budding desire in the back of our minds. A desire to take up our cross and follow. Follow where? We never were sure about that part.

Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” [Matthew 19:21, NIV]

We respond, “Yes! I agree; we need to give our all to God, no matter what. I really like this idea!” We write it in our notebooks, highlight the verse, feel great about ourselves, smile, and go on with life. Is this grieving the Spirit of our Lord? Is our faith real? As a family, we have been tested in recent years. We certainly aren’t always all in.

We are learning that following God means everything – everything.

Even the Hard Things.

Things like selling your home

Or finally getting that “ministry job” yet seeing that it was a temporary plan

Or giving away the beloved family dog

Or battling the immigration paperwork into daylight hours

Or leaving behind best friends

 I remember the day I spotted the postcard lying on our kitchen island last winter. It was a glossy image of a big English manor house nestled in blooming countryside, addressed to us from Ellel Ministries – Pierrepont. I admired the dreamy pictures, read the brief inscription on the back, laid it back down and forgot about it. It was just mail, nothing special.

That postcard stayed on our island. A pamphlet came. Then a CD. Teachings and information about some program called NETS. The little pile traveled to my mom’s desk, then my dad’s, then back to the kitchen island.

I briefly wondered what the postcard meant, but life came and stole my mind away and I ignored it.

Nothing special or life-changing about a pretty postcard.

One day, my siblings were at school and I was in the kitchen chatting and working with my mom. I jumped up on the counter and sat there, legs swinging, laughing and talking away. A lull broke out in our conversation and my mom reached over to the island and held up the slightly wrinkled postcard.

“Do you know what this is?” she asked with a barely contained smile. A million guesses ran through my head.


“This used to be a boy’s boarding school located in Surrey, England. Now it is the campus for an organization named Ellel Ministries.  They have a one-year training program called NETS (Never Ever the Same). The next program begins on October 5th. Your Daddy and I have been praying about this and we feel God is leading us to fill out applications and submit them to NETS.”

A long, exciting conversation commenced as I pressed for details and together we dreamed up the possibility of moving our family of seven to a campus in England.

The days turned into weeks and the rest of the family’s reaction to the news was much the same as mine – excitement and anticipation coursed through the house.

Many factors remained in God’s hands though. Little factors like selling our house, purging our possessions, finding a nanny, moving in with someone for the summer, actually being accepted, and breaking the news to family and friends. Simple little factors like that.

Only God could do something like this. It’s hard to be patient and trust in the Lord. His plans are perfect, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy; and it wasn’t – I doubt it ever will be.

As my parents sent in the long applications to NETS, we prayed as a family. Each application sent cost $150. For a family who had learned what it meant to literally pinch pennies, this was a step of faith.

The day came when the official acceptance email was received. The shouts of disbelief rang through our house. Now England was a reality, a living breathing thing we could touch and feel. A long summer awaited us, one of the hardest ones for our family. There was so much to do, and all of it required trust – trust in the one who held our future in his hands. Together, we had taken the first tiny hurdle towards the predestined plan God has in store for us.

Looking back months later, I am awestruck by my God’s ability to work all things together. Even in our innumerable times of weakness as a family or individuals, He lifted us up and marked the path before us – a path that’s leading towards a most exciting time for our family.

Twenty-one days.

Twenty-one more days until we board a plane away from “familiar”, away from our home in Greenville, away from our beloved church, and away from the comfortable bubble we’ve lived in. Are we nervous? Yes. More than you could know. But we can trust, because our God is BIG.

BIGGER than us.

Thank you Abba, thank you!


  1. You know, I thought seeing this would remind me of how sad I will be when you guys leave, but my heart hasn’t stopped racing for you guys and how excited I am for you all!! As much as I will miss each and every one of you I have absolutely loved seeing firsthand the work of God in your family and can’t wait to see more! I love you!

  2. You are right our God is BIG and He is already there, going ahead of you and making your paths straight! We love you guys! Enjoy the adventure.

  3. Jocelyn, This is great! I have been and will continue praying for you and your family. You know we already feel somewhat a part of this adventure since you’ve shared part of you with us already! I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for all of you :-)

  4. Such a wonderful, touching and well-written “story”! It’s hard to be sad when this is such a wonderful and God-ordained adventure. I can’t wait to follow your blog!!! It’s an honor to pray for each of you. Just know your Gigi will miss you and loves you with all my heart. Keep writing, Sweetie!!!

  5. Wow. Beautiful words Jocyln. I know mom and dad are proud. I am amazed at this story. I guess we all keep on learning to trust God. Some of us may have become a little slow like me. But finding myself to learn to trust again. Was hoping to catch y’all before you leave. But it does not appear that will happen. Especially with y’all trying to get your ducks in a row. Best wishes to you all. Hugs

  6. This is beautiful, Joc! It’s so eloquent and striking that it surprised me for a second. I love the way you presented your points and the vivid imagery you used…and of course, the subject…I will miss you guys a lot after you being such an important component of our lives, but I’m so glad you’re walking in step with God’s will and taking a new adventure- you guys will have many stories to tell!
    Love all of you guys! :)

    1. Love you to Richlan! Thanks :) It’s kinda funny because I didn’t think that this post was my best writing… the majority seems to posses a different opinion though! :D

  7. Can’t wait to see where God takes you in this year!! Praying and sending love from home. :) I’ll miss you but I’m so excited for you! You’ll come home changed in the most wonderful way…you’ll see. :)

  8. I love you Jocelyn! It’s so cool to see how God has been doing His work. Sometimes patience and elbow grease are required to get the ball rolling, but I truly believe that this is God’s plan. Stick it out, girl. Praying for you.

  9. Hey Jocelyn! I’m super excited to see how God’s going to use you and your family! I think it’s really cool that ya’ll are taking this step of faith. I’ll be praying for you guys alot!

    Your article was so beautiful and well-written. Fantastic job! Keep writing! =) love you girl!

  10. Having stepped out to go to Mongolia, and then later to England, I know exactly the kind of feelings racing through your hearts right now–the excitement, the nervousness, the anticipation, the hesitation, the PEACE–and you communicate it all so well, Jocelyn. It is so clear that the hand of God is guiding you–both corporately as a family and individually. May the Lord do great and might work in and through you all this coming year!

  11. Jocelyn,
    This reminds me of leaving for Africa from North Dakota when I was 8 years old. We didn’t have a house to sell, or many possessions, but it was certainly a radical step into the unknown for all of us. My father was going to become the President of a Bible College in South Africa on a small residential campus. I can’t even begin to calculate the benefit that we all derived from our years in Africa. I am still reaping those benefits today. I am so excited for all of you!! With your wonderful ability to describe the process, we will all be able to stay in touch with what you are doing. You are so right!! God is able to give you everything that you need to accomplish His will in your lives, and He has BIG plans for you.
    Much love and prayers,
    Aunt Darlia

  12. Jocelyn, I look forward to staying connected with you and your family as God continues to direct your paths. To move a family of seven is a leap of faith. We will continue to keep you in our prayers as your year progresses. Praying that God will give you clear direction for the following years to come.

    Much love and admiration,
    Aunt Joan

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