Amy’s Story: A Leader Steps Forward

When I first started meeting with Jon, I didn’t think I would end up where I’m at today. As I type this testimonial, I’m waiting for my next class to start as I begin spring quarter in the School Psychology program at UW. However, two years ago, I was in a very different place.

Prior to starting my journey with Liminal Space, I was very unhappy with my job and had been for a couple of years. I was seeking more, but I didn’t know what that more was. I felt stuck. I didn’t want to jump into a new job again, not knowing what I truly wanted, so I stayed, hoping I would figure it out. But I was miserable. Every day at work felt like hell on earth. My friend who is a therapist knew Jon and recommended that I see him. It took me awhile to make that move. Stepping into deeper self-awareness and the unknown is scary. Then over the summer of 2015 my boss notified me that I was moving into a different role- a role I knew I wouldn’t like, so I finally decided to contact Jon. I knew I couldn’t stay at my job any longer and figuring out stuff on my own wasn’t working. I desperately needed direction as to where to go to next.

I didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted answers, but I realized there’s no easy way to find those answers without deeply engaging with my story. I remember one of the first exercises Jon had me to do was send a list of questions to those close to me. After reading through the answers, we found a lot of consistency. I was surprised to realize how much they saw me. Many of them spoke about me as a leader. But I had never associated that word with who I am. Yet Jon and others around me helped me see that being a leader has been a large part of my story. I had always believed that I belonged on the sidelines.

Throughout my time with Jon I was working in a job that had me sitting in a far corner of the office. The corner is also representative of the larger part of my story as it has been my default place of refuge. Yet, through my work with Jon, I realized that the seemingly safe corner also carries much harm. It has hindered me from seeking out my heart’s desires. It led me to believe that my story didn’t matter, and my desires were not worthy of seeking out.

Another powerful moment during my journey with Jon was sharing the stories that I wrote of where I envision myself in five years with my closest confidantes. I think Jon was giving me one last exercise to push me out of my corner. 🙂 It was a scary and transformative time. I had never felt so raw and vulnerable and so seen and known and accepted. I’ve never stepped into such an intentional time with my loved ones. It was very uncomfortable, yet, very good. This time helped me see that I’m not alone in this journey and no matter how much I try to hide, people see me. They see the good in me.

My time with Jon has encouraged and inspired me to tell the ghosts that are luring me to the corner to back off. I stepped into the courageous unknown by applying to the School Psychology program at UW. Returning to school had always been at the back of my mind, and I finally decided to make that happen. I was attracted to the role of the School Psychologist, because I love working with children. I also knew that I wanted to be part of another’s journey of discovering themselves, loving themselves, and to be part of tending to their hearts, as that has been lacking my in story.

Grad school has been a huge transition. I am truly, truly enjoying it. Something happens to you when you’re spending most of the day doing something that you love and enjoy, even when you have to write 10 page papers. I’m excited about almost everything that I’m learning. Imagining myself working in schools two years from now excites me so much. The ghosts in the corner continue to lurk. There are days when I feel alone and discouraged and wonder what I’m doing, but then there are days where I am energized simply by reminding myself how alive I feel right now and how different things are for me compared to a year ago.

Every year I come up with a theme instead of a New Year’s resolution, and this year I decided that it’s “ok to take up space.” I believed for so long that my story didn’t matter and that I need to be as small as possible in the spaces that I’m in, but I’m tired of the trajectory of that story, so I’m taking up space.

I shared this with one of my classmates who’s also Asian American and the youngest of us all. We were hanging out after class a couple weeks ago and I told her that I need to be a ‘woman of action’ and allow myself to take up space, so I’m going to set up a time to meet with my advisor and my mentor for the first time to inquire about summer and research opportunities. She also shared she hasn’t met with her advisor yet and was hesitant about it. She didn’t want to bother her so I encouraged her that it’s ok to ‘take up space,’ and soon after she set up a time to meet with her adviser. I did as well. Then last week we spontaneously decided to go to Spokane for a conference to listen to our professor speak, and the conference was great. We are both such courageous women of action!

David and Katie’s Story: Vocation as a Journey

We began working with Jon to explore vocational calling during the final year of Dave’s doctorate degree in clinical psychology. Then the real exploration began when Jon coached both of us as we were about to finish up a year long residency in Hawaii.

We knew that we wanted adventure to be a big part of our lives but weren’t sure exactly how that would look. One of our favorite exercises Jon had us complete was story writing. This drew out some of Dave’s self-doubts and Katie’s fears. Once they were on the table we could address them so they didn’t undermine God’s calling on our lives.

After working with Jon, we went on to live in Guam and serve Chamorro people. This adventure then led us to one of the biggest decision of our married lives: opening our home to foster children. We have since adopted the foster daughter we met while in Guam and are hoping to adopt our current foster daughter.

Liminal Space provides the key ingredients needed to navigate life’s future uncertainty. Rather than espousing a “pray and wait” approach, its all about “pray and actively discern”. Jon will provide you with the self-knowledge crucial to choosing a path, exercises to imagine a future, and encouragement to build motivation to pursue that future. We are extremely grateful to him.

Our most recent adventure has led us to open our own joint private practice therapy clinic in northern Utah (, which fulfills one of the dreams we conjured while with Liminal Space: working as a husband and wife team.

David Johnson, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Rachel’s Story: Purpose in Vocation

I’ve been working with Jon on and off for four years and it’s without a doubt one of the best investments I’ve made in my life.

When I started with him, I just thought I needed a new job. But, honestly, I needed a new approach to life. At the time I was jumping from one job to another hoping and praying one would ‘stick.’ So when I found out about Jon’s work, I decided to see what it meant to ‘transition well’ – what did I have to lose?

Working with Jon was an investment I chose to make. And not just a financial one. It was an investment in vulnerability, time, creativity and yes, financially too. But those all culminated in one big investment: an investment in myself. And that was priceless.

Within the first few meetings with Jon, we discovered that my corporate job was the exact opposite of my personality. I thrive on community, relationship building, and hospitality, and I was in a corporate soul-sucking environment that did not foster any growth in those areas. If I continued to do it alone, I’d have a resume the length of my arm and a nice paycheck, but no true purpose.

Through our time together, and the exercises Jon gave me, I slowly discovered myself and where God had specifically gifted me. Jon pushed me to discover the true side of myself. My dreams weren’t laughed off, but instead my wonderment was encouraged and my uncertainty was thoughtfully investigated.

My journey with Jon helped me fulfill my dream of living abroad. I quit the corporate world and went out on my own. As a freelance writer and professional resume writer, I’ve been able to be a digital nomad and work from various countries throughout the world. I can fully say 100% that without my work with Jon, I would not have had the guts to do move overseas. I would have continued to push down that dream, just telling myself it wasn’t practical. That it was silly.

But Jon taught me that pushing down my dreams isn’t practical either — they’re a part of who I am and to say no for too long is draining and debilitating.

Even now, as I approach a move back to the States, I value the work I’ve done (and continue to do) with Jon – he pushes me to stop and think about what I’m going through rather than rush into rash decisions that I may regret later. He lets me (forces me) to ‘sit with it’ for a while. And when it comes to transition, sitting with it can be one of the best things I can do.

All of this is to say that Jon is incredible in his work. By allowing him to lead me through this journey, my life is forever changed. I know that sounds super dramatic, but I fully mean it — he pushed me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. He was open and honest and expected the same of me. I encourage anyone who’s asking the tough questions but never really finding the answers to seriously consider the work of Liminal Space. It’s an investment in many ways, but ultimately it’ll be a priceless experience that will change the way you look at yourself, the world, and your Creator.

Jon is truly using his God-given gifts to help other find theirs.

Michelle’s Story

CAPTUS-22I was introduced to Jon DeWaal and Liminal Space when I took a Vocation class at The Seattle School. I loved the class and the way Jon and his associate helped me think about the potential to create a career that included my personal dreams and goals (like incorporating food and cooking into group therapy). I was in the middle of a divorce after being married almost 32 years. I hadn’t worked since I’d had my first child when I was 24. I was taking one step at a time, one class at at time, and my confidence was shaky. My career had been raising my four children and I was now in my mid-50’s with no real work experience, needing to support myself. At the end of the quarter, we were given the opportunity to apply for a scholarship for ten sessions with Jon at Liminal Space. I applied for and won a scholarship.

Jon encouraged me in our early sessions to think about my goals for business growth, professional growth, and personal growth. I was so full of doubt that I spent a lot of time telling him my fears and insecurities, not just about school and work, but also in my personal life. After each session I left feeling more hopeful and confident. I was seeing a therapist at the time but found that Jon was helping me far more to become the person I wanted to be. I talked with him many sessions about what I was going through in the divorce process, or with my kids, or in my internship, and there were lots of tears. He helped me realize this was all a part of building my vocation – knowing myself at a deeper level and being able to name my strengths as well as my weaknesses.

One of the most impactful sessions was when Jon loaned me The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. He asked me to read a section about a character named Puddleglum who was not a very confident person but who exhibited immense courage to fight an evil spell, even though it was painful for him to do. It was exactly what I needed to read and to embrace, as I had begun to realize my focus as a therapist was going to be on domestic violence and trauma. I didn’t feel brave or confident, but Jon helped me see myself as I was – someone who did have courage and who was willing to put myself out to help my clients recognize the subtle and not so subtle dimensions of domestic violence, abuse, and trauma. I gained confidence as I volunteered at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, teaching Domestic Violence 101 and 102 and meeting one on one with incarcerated women who had experienced domestic violence. I also spoke at a fundraiser for Northwest Family Life in front of 200 people. I never in a million years thought I would speak publicly!

After graduation, my desire was to start my own private practice. Jon was instrumental in helping me decide what my website should include, how to find office space to rent, how to advertise and build connections and how much to charge. I had so much self-doubt, but he changed that. For example, he convinced me that my age was actually an asset, not a detriment. He helped me identify my strengths and gain self confidence. He connected me with a wonderful person who helped create my website and design my intake forms. Having him support me each step of the way was instrumental in my success.

I started out thinking I might have 3 or 4 clients per week, but very quickly I was seeing 12 to 20 clients per week. I had a hard time charging enough for my services, but Jon helped me think like a business person, not just a compassionate therapist. He asked me to name what I wanted and needed to make financially my first year. I gave him a number and laughed because I thought it would never happen, but it not only happened – I made more my first year than the goal I had set for myself. Most importantly, I love my career and I have “grown up” into the person I never thought I could be. An added bonus is that I have been able to encourage others who are just starting out as therapists, or who are in the middle of an unexpected life event like divorce. I love that my story can give others hope.

I would encourage anyone who is feeling stuck or hopeless in the middle of a life transition they never thought they’d go through to not try and figure it out alone. Don’t limit yourself – transitions are a time to discover things about yourself you never imagined. I highly recommend Liminal Space as part of your journey!