019: A View of Redemption with Fahren Johnson

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019: A View of Redemption with Fahren Johnson

When she was 23 years old, Fahren Johnson learned that she was born of rape to a mother who was institutionalized with severe paranoid schizophrenia. Her mother’s condition resulted in Fahren being a ward to the state with no contact to her biological family. From there, she bounced from home to home in the foster care system which eventually led to her being molested at a young age.

Years later, as she put the pieces together of her own story, Fahren learned that her adoptive mother Helen – who was her anchor and a pillar in the community – had also been a victim of sexual abuse. It wasn’t long before she started to understand her fears and became focused on putting an end to generational trauma from defining who she is or who she could become.

Now, Fahren is a Senior Program Officer with the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. She’s a speaker, musician, an author, and is passionate about anything related to community and youth development. She is currently overseeing the amazing Whole Child initiative which promotes long-term development and success to all children. She’s a mother of four and grandmother of three, and has had an incredible marriage to her best friend of over 25 years.

In today’s conversation, Fahren and Arwen talk about the importance of faith as an anchor and not being defined by your past, but using it to rewrite your story in the present and the future.

Overcomer Playlist Recommendation 

Pearls of Wisdom


“Make sure that you're putting in front of you the things that call you into your future.” - @LIFEwithArwen Click To Tweet “Love covers a multitude of many things.” - Fahren Johnson Click To Tweet “I'm not going to let something tell me I can't.” - Fahren Johnson Click To Tweet “If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.” - Fahren Johnson’s Mom Click To Tweet


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Connect with Arwen Becker



Arwen Becker: I recall in about mid-2009, this was the time Randy and I were facing the fallout from the great recession in our financial planning firm. I was also dealing with some major challenges with my best friend at the time. See, when I divorced at 24, I found myself without any friends because that's something I had left up to my then husband to handle. And so, I had never really learned these skills of growing good female friendships until I was in my late 20s.

And so, I ended up meeting this woman and I never realized that I could have this kind of friendship with another female gal. It was just a dream come true. The mistake that I had made though, was that I put all of my eggs into her basket. I just kind of like once I found her, I globbed on and I stopped building any additional friendships and I just continued to pour myself 110% into this one friendship. So, in 2009, when her life began to fall apart and I was really unable to fix it, it dramatically affected our friendship which ended up leading to a total implosion.

And so, in 2009, I called this girl that I had met at church and I found myself sitting in a Starbucks, just totally pouring my guts out to her and I barely even knew her. What I did know about her is she had attended the University of Washington, she ran track while I was playing volleyball there. We never met. I also found out she modeled with Seattle Models Guild, the modeling agency I was with as well. We were there at the same time for about five years and never met.

But it wasn't until my husband backed her as a guitarist as she was singing on stage at church. He said, “Oh, my gosh, you and my wife need to know each other.” And so, I kind of started paying attention to her. I saw her at church a lot and on stage and things of that nature. And I noticed that she had these qualities that I really admired in another woman. She seemed to have these strong, solid friendships with other women. And that was just something that I so wanted, that I really thought that this one relationship I had and it really did, but she had them with multiple people. And so, she seemed like a pretty good person to get some advice from.

So, here we were, we're in Starbucks. And towards the end of this three-hour conversation, I remember her saying to me, “Arwen, you don't need a lot of friends. You just need two or three pillar friends that you can always rely on.” And it hit me like a ton of bricks. And also, in that same instant when the words came out of her mouth, I secretively thought to myself, “I hope that she'll be one of my friends someday.” That conversation was over 10 years ago.

And Fahren and I have been building a pillar relationship since that time and she has been one of the most important and amazing women in my life. And you know, I'm really happy to also say that that friendship she was helping me work through more than 10 years ago, we were able to be restored in the years to follow which really proves also that forgiveness is extremely important.

Fahren Johnson is a Senior Program Officer with the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. She's a speaker, a musician, and an author. Her passion has anything to do with community and youth development. She's currently overseeing the massive and amazing Whole Child initiative that brings together the school in and out of school time, using the catalyst of social-emotional learning and really to be able to help support how young people K through 12th grade walk strong in their life, emotions, and academics. She's a proud mother of four, a grandmother of three. And if you see this woman, you will not believe she could be old enough to have three grandkids. She's absolutely stunning. And she also has a very inspirational marriage to her best friend of over 25 years.

In today's conversation, Fahren will share the importance of not being defined by your past but allowing it to rewrite your story of the present and the future. Fahren, thank you so much for coming on the show today.


Fahren Johnson: Oh, it's such a pleasure to be here. It's so weird to hear you speak and talk like that introducing me.

Arwen Becker: Well, you know, I love you so much, and these conversations you and I have had over more than a decade. I mean, we've really known each other for probably about 15 years but really solid friends for a decade and we've had some pretty deep and meaningful conversations. So, I just so appreciate you adding your voice to today's story and today's podcast. I know that you had brought a song before we launched into today, that you brought a song for our overcomer playlist. So, what's the song? And why did you choose it?

Fahren Johnson: This song is from my second album when I was in that world and that space a little bit of time ago, called This Way to Love. And I guess, for me, I chose that as a signature song because it really is, it takes love to pool and guide and direct and move and shift and mold for you to get to other side of anything. And so, since we're talking about overcoming not being defined by your past, like, what are the things that call you to future?

And for me, it's love does that, it covers a multitude of many things. The word says it covers a multitude of sins. So, for me, it's like that is a force and I want to be able to experience it, not just for myself, but I want other folks to understand what it means to be really led by love and follow love. So that's kind of why I chose that.

Arwen Becker: You've even mentioned over the years that there have been times where people didn't really know where you fit as a singer because you have such a rich, deep soulful voice. And as a woman trying to kind of fit in with other singers on stage, you didn't always have a place, but that's what made it so stunning and so unique because it was different and your voice, it's just amazing.

Well, I know that you wrote a book back in 2010 and it was about your own personal journey. It was called A View of Redemption. And I want to read what you wrote on the back of it as we launch into this conversation. I'm also finding myself 45 going, maybe I need some reading glasses because it’s really small. Okay, so bear with me. Let's see how we do this.

So, on the back, this is what it says, “How would you feel if you found out that you were conceived from a rape to a mother who was institutionalized for paranoid schizophrenia? Had no idea who your father was? The victim of sexual abuse at a young age? Became pregnant at the height of your college career, told to abort your child, and ultimately had to give up your college career? How could you possibly find your identity in such tragic circumstances? How could you possibly see the light after such trying ordeals? It is possible! A View of Redemption, My Story is the life story of Fahren J. She found, through Christ, that before she was even created in her mother's womb, he had a plan for her life. No matter what you have gone through in your past, or are currently going through, you can be redeemed. Join Fahren on this inspirational journey to redemption.”

You wrote this book, it came out not too long after you and I became friends and really started growing our friendship. And it's such a powerful, powerful story. So why don't you take us back and talk a little bit about that time period in your life and what it was like?

Fahren Johnson: Okay, let me pull myself together right now. I grew up in foster care and so, kind of the excerpt you read there just around being conceived, a lot of that I did not find out until I was a teenager able to make decisions. I was awarded to the state which meant I was unable to go back or not able to reconnect with my birth family. And so, prior to me turning 18, all I ever knew was foster home, bouncing from one place to another until I came into the home of a woman by the name of Helen Thomas and she was a pillar in her community and older women, loved community, loved seniors, loved youth, had other foster children in the home as well fostered, couldn't have children of her own, and found out much later that it was due to her being the victim of sexual abuse. And I didn't even know that until she passed and I had an opportunity to talk with her sisters.

But I wanted to start off that with saying, I didn't even know that my beginning looked too like that. And I was placed in the home of a woman who made sure what she put in front of me were things that would call me to my future because if I were to sit in the space of feeling abandoned or feeling as if I didn't have a connection or an identity, didn't know who my father was and wasn't raised with my birth mom, would have opportunity to see her every now and then, but even that was cut short just due to her mental illness.

So, that wasn't something that I walked into space knowing, you know what I mean? Does that make sense? Like, that wasn't what my eyes were seeing. Now, I've seen some other things and being affected by other things, being in foster care and the things that followed me. But I wanted to just set that anchor there because the key thing for me was that she anchored me and the identity she knew God had created for me, not what my beginning was or what I came out of. So, that was one thing, I never really had a chance to really think about that until I got much older.

And so, growing up in high school, junior high, I had my little typical girls stuff going on. I went through molestation earlier in my time, a lot of it is I wasn't always aware of it until I got into my teens when it finally did end. So, those were things that I was battling, but it was never the piece around like, I could never say like, the identity thing didn't jar me until later when I found out. And so, that to me was a foundation, it was anchor of like, she was putting in front of me, placing in front of me, here's what future could look like for you. And I didn't realize that that's what she was doing. I’m so young, so hindsight just thinking about that.

But when I did find out that, I mean, it opened up a lot of fear for me. I would say that prior to that, I'm a very driven person, you know that about me. I was even much more so pre-finding that out. Because again, I didn't always show up in that mentality of, “Oh, I was born of rape. I was born of a mother who had a mental illness.” And so, when I did find that out, then it opened up this space around, just this fear of, uh-oh, like, is that a hereditary thing? Because at the time, I didn't even have a full understanding of that, of what paranoid schizophrenia meant, what type of mental illness, none of that. I didn't research that. I didn't grow up learning that.

Arwen Becker: How old were you when you found this, when you finally found out more about your past history and with your mom? How old were you?

Fahren Johnson: I was 23.

Arwen Becker: Wow. Okay.

Fahren Johnson: …when I found out all of it. So, I knew when I met her that she, there was a mental illness. And again, I'm not trying to say like, you can look at someone and tell, you know what I'm saying? That there's something going on with them, but clearly, you could tell, but I have never been exposed to her like that. So, I never saw that like that. And when I was younger, I couldn't put that together. I just thought that was just a look or that was just who she was. Until then later, then they were able to tell me, my adopted mom and my grandmother and I have birth cousins, all of them were able to say, “Yeah, she actually has struggled with paranoid schizophrenia for a long time, institutionalized for a long time.”

But again, like, that wasn't something that I knew as I was coming up, I was anchored in something different, you know what I'm saying? Anchored in a very strong faith community, faith family, a community of all women. Adopted mom was much older when I came into the home. I was about three or four when I came into her home. And there were just some things that were pillars that when you walked in there, there was a sense of, like, here is what I'm standing on, I don't know. I keep reverting back to that because eventually, I'm a thread on how important it is to have someone in your life like that, that's a caring adult that believes you to, believes you until you get to that place to what they saw you as.

Arwen Becker: Right. And to be one of those for somebody else.

Fahren Johnson: And to be one of those. So, it was a struggle moment for me, particularly when I found out that I was conceived from rape because like, no one wants to hear that and I fought it for a long time. I tried to research. I tried to do genealogy trees and just everything. And at the time, my grandmother was still living and the one thing that she told me, she was like, Fahren, she was like, let the Holy Spirit reveal that to you. Let him ready and prepare you for that, like, don't go searching for that because there may be things missing. There may be some information missing that you don't have all the pieces to.

And this is my grandma, this is the woman who care for my mom, gave birth to my mom. My grandmother when she was pregnant with my mom, my mom's dad who my grandma was dating at the time, when they found out she was pregnant with my mom, that family picked up and just left her. She never saw them again. So, again, there is this deeper tragedies, you know what I'm saying? That I didn't find out about my birth family until I got much older.

And my grandma who was a very wise woman, love God in the word would always tell me, like, let the Holy Spirit reveal that to you. How's your relationship with God? Because that's where you need to anchor and she just would, again, and I don't know if that is and as I'm talking, I'm starting to think about some things, but I don't know if that was the age group because my grandma and my adopted mom were very similar in age.

And they both have a different approach with how they spoke life or death to things. And so again, there was this space where she was trying to say, trust God to give you answers to that, if you should have them. There might be some things that need to unhook from you and unshackle from you and let it, but don't go on trying to hold and dig and…

Arwen Becker: Right. Out of your own force, try to uncover things that you just might not be ready yet.

Fahren Johnson: Exactly. And I wasn't, you know what I'm saying? I’m young, 20s, going on my probably third shot at that point, tender, not in school, like so many other little things going on. So, I was not emotionally ready. You need to try to go down that and I just took her word at that, you know what I’m saying?

Arwen Becker: That says a lot. I mean, that says a lot about who she was for you to be willing to, I mean, you have to earn that. I mean, you have to earn speaking into somebody's life in that way to where they'll actually stop something that they feel they're being so drawn to, to try and uncover the why and the end of the information behind it and just to be able to say, you know what, now is not the time. Don't try to strain and striving, try to uncover something that you just might not be ready, you have revealed to you, yet because you had… I mean, this was a couple of things down the line of some really severe stuff that you had already been through in your life.

I mean, having been sexually molested from some of the other boys that were in your adopted mom's home. And then also, you were in your second year of college when you got pregnant. And you were facing this decision, I think the school basically had said, “Hey, we've got you set up for an abortion. Let’s go ahead and go in and get that handled. And go back to your career.”

Fahren Johnson: I was battling that and that was another, as I think about it, like man, if I didn't have some type of foundation underneath me, like, I felt like that might have just took me out too because a lot of my identity was in sports. I wasn't always the most verbal person. I didn't like speaking in front of people, not at that time, but I loved individual sports. I loved volleyball to a certain extent if I could hit. I didn't do well in basketball, but I did really well in track. And so, I really love, like, things that I was able to push myself and say, you remind me. I mean, we're totally athletes because you act out more now than I do at my age, but like, there's something about that competitive thing around my… I'm not going to let something tell me I can't.

And so, that was always something that was, again, founded or strengthened in me from the time I got into my foster adoptive mom’s home. And if I didn't have that, I would have been shook by so many life things, life stresses, life challenges, life tests, and those things when you have to make a choice between school and having a baby, like, never in your life do you have to make a decision like that.

Arwen Becker: And it wasn't, you're making a decision, like, Oh, well, I'll just take night classes and do that. You had a full ride scholarship. You had your school paid for. Everything was going according to this great plan that I'm sure you had mapped out, that you were going to see this four-year career in track and what that was going to look like, and then coming to that moment. Can you tell us? I know you and I have talked quite a bit about it, but what was that moment that that you decided to not take the appointment that they had scheduled for you to abort the child and instead end your career at the U and made the choice to go raise this, which now stunning, beautiful woman?

Fahren Johnson: Oh, man, that was a tough moment, I remember. So, the day that I found out I was pregnant, and I won’t disclose the name of the clinic, but all the athletes go to it. I'm sure folks will know. But when I did find that out and they handed that card to me, like, I really was just looking at it like, okay, like, I'm going to let so many people down. That was the moment where it was like, there were so many people that believed in me. How could I find myself in this space? I looked at that abortion card and my mind just started going down that line.

And that was a very lonely moment for me because even at that point, at that time, Ernest and I weren't sure. We were still fresh in our relationship. And so, I was thinking around, thinking about, like what, was he running? I didn't want to tie him down. I definitely wanted to finish school, but there was no mentorship for me around that. The mentorship was here, go to this place, we’ll make sure that you’d get taken care of, that was my mentorship. There was no one that I could connect to, to say, “What are my options?” And we'll get to that later on down the line when we start talking about mentorship because it's so key.

But it was a hard moment, and then I went home. And here's what's so crazy, I pretended like I was the nurse calling from the clinic to my mom. Arwen, I don't know why I did that. It was just the weirdest. I'm like, “Why did I do that?” But I called and I was like, “Hi, Ms. Thomas,” trying to disguise my voice. And I know, she knew.

Arwen Becker: Of course, she did.

Fahren Johnson: I know that my voice is very distinct and I’m sure she knew that right, but she played along with it. I was like, “Your daughter has something she wants to tell you, but I wanted to give you a call first, just to give you a heads-up.” And so, my mother, she just played along. She was like, “Okay, well, I will look forward to hearing from Fahren when she gives me a call,” but she knew who I was.

And she's going to support her. I'm not sure what other… Even she was asking like, what were some other options, she's asking me because I’m the nurse. So, now, I'm like, “Oh my gosh,” like, I just need to hurry up and get off the phone. So, I ended that conversation. And it was not until, like, maybe a year after my daughter was born, where she came back and she was like, “I knew that was you.” But she was like, that's how you needed to process that, that information, that was for you.

Arwen Becker: I didn't know that part of the story.

Fahren Johnson: And I didn't even think in that morning when I woke up after doing that, calling my mom, pretending like I'm the nurse, talking to her. And that morning when I woke up, I just heard, and at the time I've been in church, I wasn't real. What's the word? Like hooky spooky spirit. I believe that there is a holy spirit voice and I believe that and so, when I woke up the next morning, I heard, it was not audible, but I could hear it and it was like, “You have this baby girl.” And that was just what it was, it was just it.

I got up, or that day or after I call my mom pretending I was the nurse, I called my friend, Katie, my girlfriend, Katie. And you've met Katie and we were roommates. And so, I called her because she was going to be the one to drive me to the clinic to get the abortion. I was setting that up. I was telling her, “Don't tell Ernest.” I was just like trying to, that day, I just went down this whole plan on what I was going to do and then, got up that next morning. And I know it was my mom's, the way she allowed me to process that, again, and I'm thinking about this now and like, that was the Holy Spirit just prepping me, getting my heart ready to wake up and say, you know what, like, other opportunities will come. I didn't understand that at the time.

Arwen Becker: Wow. And to make such a life-altering decision. Three or four years before you would find out what had happened to your mom and your initial beginnings.

Fahren Johnson: Exactly. And then I think about that and I think about a woman who greatly suffered from a mental illness, like she was in and out of institutions, institutionalized four times at a time, moments at a time. My grandma was always her caregiver and for her to be in that state and to still decide to not abort me in the tragedy of the conception, like, that was her body. Even in her mental space, she was strong enough still in her thoughts to say, like this child’s life.

Arwen Becker: Matters.

Fahren Johnson: Right? Even in that, so that's the piece to me where, as I got older, those threads of just, God reminded me that you belong to me. And so, when we talk about, like, not being defined by your past, it's those threads of, what's the word like? Those moments that thread you to the why, to your purpose, to why you're called, to why you're calling to a specific family, to why you're calling to a specific passion, to why your calling to specific things is all tied to that.

And so, I mean, in my mind when I think about just, and you know me been through some crazy stuff. I’ve been through some victorious stuff too, and there's just no way that trying to stay in a space of, oh, woe is me, look how my beginning was, I can't say that. It's so far from me because God has been so good in my life, good in my family’s life and helping me to reconnect to who he created Fahren to be. It was not the circumstance.

Arwen Becker: I mean, that's been one of the biggest things about my relationship with you individually and that I hear just like you do, a lot of people talk about a woman being raped as a valid reason for abortion, but you are this living, breathing example of a woman whose life was brought forth in such a terrible way, but God had such an amazing mighty plan for you. And you've not only lived through that and yet, you have four beautiful children who all have a heart for community and for outreach and for families and for God. And then you've got these grandkids who are growing up in that and you have a man that you have been married to for a quarter of a century, I like to say that, who walked that journey with you too.

And just such a beautiful example of how God can take something that can start in such an ugly way and yet, we see it in one way and he sees it in something totally different. You're a breathing example of that.

Fahren Johnson: I mean, these people ask, like, how do you have patience? It's like, well, you can't just ask for patience, you have to put it in a space that's going to challenge you to be patient. Flex those muscles. And it's the same thing when it comes to how do you get to the other side of this or to the other side of things. And for me, it's like, three specific things. It's like, first, spiritually, there's work that you have to do; physically, there's work that you have to do; emotionally, there's work that you have to do to get to it. It's not just one. It's braided. It takes a lot, especially when you're tied to what people say was your past and you're trying to move and grow and you can’t always stay connected to those things that are negative or things that are going to come and cast fear or doubt or things that will just cause you to give up or faint away or grow weary.

And so, for me, like, you have to strengthen your spirit, man. You got to strengthen your body and do the things, discipline yourself to do the right things for your body, so you can live long. And then, you got to think about those things that help bring anxiety or things that you're worried about or things on your heart and mind, like, that's mental health, like we got data. Those three things or spaces that you always got to constantly check and balance with as you move and grow. And even more so today in the times that we're in, how important those three things at the same time are and it's not just one thing more than the other. And folks know this about you because this is who you are and what you example as well around mind, body, and spirit, and desires and goals and the importance of working all those pieces together to get to the goal.

So, that's piece where I just say, Ernest has been, you said briefly around breaking generational curses, and if anything that I know about my husband who also comes from really not knowing who his dad is in his life, his dad left when he was nine and he’d never seen him again. Men in his life weren't there and he made a choice when he was young before we even thought about meeting each other because at first, I was not interested. But before we even thought about meeting each other, he had decided as a young teen that he wasn't going to be all over the place with other women and kids here and there. When he was, he is going to take care of his kids.

And I didn't know. This is something that I did not share in the book, but Ernest, prior to meeting me, all of the females that he was with, that were of child he had, they all aborted and never told him. So, he never got a choice to decide. He never got a choice to say, “Man, are you sure you want to do that, because I really believe in life?” Because he believes in life. And I didn't find that out later until my girlfriend, Katie, told me. She was like, Yeah, like, with other females and they got pregnant and just never told him that they had an abortion. They just went and did it.

It was kind of her talking to me around like, “Don't be that chick either.” You know what I'm saying? Like, at least talk with him and include him, and Ernest has been in the space since, he has not left. So, that again talks about that breaking that generational curse, even when it just seems like just a crazy situation.

Arwen Becker: Well, especially because like you said his dad left when he was nine and he's never seen him again. I mean, the amount of us who, when we have one parent who exits the scene, we don't have even a bad example to look at. We have no example. And so, you start making up crazy things as a kid and a teen as to what you think is appropriate behavior because you don't know. It's like you're watching this play unfold in front of you and then, one of the actors just gets off the stage and you're like, “Wait a second. Wait, I don't know how this ends. Good or bad, I don't know how it ends.” And so, for him to have made that decision and knowing a lot of his past too and what that looks like, it says so much about him as well as, gosh, I mean, the amount of…

Fahren Johnson: As the anchor, as the part of my life journey, and that's the other piece, like that was God had that plan already, that was pre-planned that that was going to show up the way it did in my life and that he was going to connect me to someone who could now pull and help me thread some things, process things, work through some things.

Arwen Becker: It's amazing. Well, so what would you say is, we're kind of wrapping up, I mean, there are so many pieces to your story and I mean, you and I could go down a lot of different trails, but as you look back, I mean, certainly, I guess I would say one thing that I heard and then I'd love to hear it, two or three things that you really pulled from that, but one of the things you said and if I'm stealing one of yours, I apologize.

To really make sure that you're putting in front of you the things that call you into your future, you were talking about that with your adoptive mom and really speaking who you were going to be, not who you currently were or what you had been in the past and not putting that label on you, as a “I was a kid conceived of rape,” “I was a kid who was sexually abused,” “I was a kid who had to give up her full ride scholarship offers to keep a baby,” and those could have been your identity, but that's not the identity that you chose. And having that spoken from an early age from your adoptive mom, I just think was really, really powerful. So that was one of the things that I gathered from you, but what would you say for you?

Fahren Johnson: For sure, mentorship, up and down, to be in a space to be able to support folks who are growing and becoming, and to always have someone that you can reach to that help you continue to grow and become, finding good spaces where you can connect with caring adults. Obviously, you know that my heart and passion is all around young people. How do we help them become their very best version of themselves? And they just continue to just get to the next level of that version of who we are, but they can't just do it without some support, without some wisdom, without some accountability.

And so, that is the piece where it's important for me to let every female know. It doesn't matter if you're 50 years old. It doesn't matter if you're 15 years old. It doesn't matter if you're 8 years old. It doesn't matter if you're 100. Like, everyone has someone that can speak into their life and help call things forward from them. If they believe in them and know their giftings and passions and desires and hopes, like you got to have that. The other piece is just being anchored and rooted in your source. For me, that's like, like you said, there's no being on this earth that can handle me, know me, work with me, put up with me, love me for that. I have trips sometimes.

And so, I'm anchored in that, that he always has a way of bringing me back to a place and he’s like, “Okay, Fahren, you know it was wrong for saying that to Ernest the other day,” like go back in there and handle that. Go back and take care of that. And for folks who don't have that, then they continue to just kind of flail around and they try to anchor to things that's not going to give them that peace, that wisdom, that joy, that strength, those things.

So, again, those are my top two areas of just being anchored in God, having strong mentorships, great relationships. We talked about it earlier. I have a lot of acquaintances, but I can count my very best on my hand, folks who I know that if I call them, there is like really no judgement about anything. Now, will I be challenged, because I don't just want to be with a friend that tell me everything I want to hear all the time because that's not going to grow me and strengthen me? But I put some folks if you do have to get on me, I respect your opinion.

And I know, I've watched the fruit in your life. Some of the best financial wisdom you could have ever given me was, “Fahren, if you have money to give it, give it. If you don't, don't.” And that helped me in so many ways even when it came to timing, Arwen. And so, it's things like that where it's like what if I have, I'm going to give. I can't give it financially, I'll find different ways to be able to do it. But if I don't have it, I don't have it and not feeling pressured. And that was one of the best pieces of financial wisdom that you could ever have given to me because now, when my grown kids call me and they need something, if I got it, you got it and then don't worry about it. But I'm not going to not pay my light bill, so I can make sure you got tickets to go... It’s different things around just making the right type of easy financial decisions, just think like that.

Arwen Becker: Well, you beat me to ask you my three rapid fire questions. So, it sounded like you gave the first one, which was the best piece of financial wisdom.

Fahren Johnson: Oh, okay. There you go.

Arwen Becker: That's great. I didn't even remember giving you that piece of advice. So, what would you say is a book that you would recommend and why?

Fahren Johnson: Right now, How to Be Antiracist. It's by Ibram Kendi, just amazing writer, civil rights activist, professor. It's a book that you read from the black culture, black community, black folks, like speak like the whole piece, but it really is geared towards folks that aren't black and want to figure out how do they support Black Lives Matter? How do they support racial equity? How do they incorporate that into who they are and the work that they do and their missions and visions?

And so, I would just recommend that right now, especially in the times that we're in. And racism has to go, I say that constantly. It must get out of here. And we have a lot of young people who are definitely not going to just go back to normal, to the way old thinking. And so, I just recommend folks, particularly in our age group that are in our 40s and 50s and we're trying to figure out, like how to get wisdom around this in front of young people, but how to start with ourselves and first understanding it. I just think that it's a great read for anyone who's trying to just say, Man, like I noticed this important work. I'm just not sure as a white person how I need to show up.

Arwen Becker: That’s good.

Fahren Johnson: I feel like that would be a good read.

Arwen Becker: Perfect. I love it. And then, where would you end with a favorite quote?

Fahren Johnson: Geez. A quote my mom is telling me all the time when she was little or when I was little, she says, “Fahren, if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.” And I just continue to remind myself of that every time I look around in our nation and what's going on locally, COVID response and inequities and all kinds of things, that I always will stand up for something if there's no peace to it or no justice to it or there's hate trying to divide it. I'm going to always try to step in that space and stand for justice and truth and equity and equality for people.

And when you don't have that, I think I talked a little bit earlier on being anchored, that's that one thing to being anchored in what you're called to. I just constantly am reminded by that quote and I'm not sure where she got that. I just hear her say it all the time when I was young and that’s just something that resonates with me.

Arwen Becker: So, how can our listeners get a hold of you?

Fahren Johnson: So, I can be reached at LinkedIn. My name is spelled F-A-H-R-E-N Johnson, Fahren Johnson. So, you can reach me on LinkedIn. I do a lot of work with young people and leadership development. So, if you want to follow some of that work, you would go to Seeds of Peace-Pierce County on Facebook. And then, the Expanded Learning Opportunity work, we call it Whole Child, child-centered work, going to do with community partners and nonprofit organizations, funders. Organization is Expanded Learning Opportunities-Pierce County. So, Facebook, Expanded Learning Opportunities-Pierce County, Seeds of Peace-Pierce County, and then LinkedIn is another way to reach me.

Arwen Becker: Perfect. Well, you are a blessing to so many people and so many people in your community and the kids and families. And you have really taught me that you've got to meet the basic needs of kids first for them to really be able to walk in their gifting.

And so, for all of us to remember that there are a lot of kids out there that need this kind of support and attention and mentorship and any of you listeners that have a heart for serving kids and communities and understanding how schools and communities integrate, this is why you want to follow Fahren because she wants to make sure it's not just the school is prepared, it's not just that the families are prepared, but it's the integration of the two which makes the communities change, which rises up something or it raises up those pieces and pulls it all together in a really meaningful way that truly changes.

Fahren Johnson: Yes, absolutely.

Arwen Becker: All right, my friend. I love you, I love you.

Fahren Johnson: I love you, I love you.


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