Everyday Spectacular

Imperfections. Ramblings. Life to the Full.

Cookies

We just returned from a week’s vacation in Orlando with all these people.

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These people being my parents, my sister and her family, and me, Jeff & the kids. Yes, 11 of us in all.

During FLORIDA’S SPRING BREAK.

My prayer all week was, “Lord, give me strength.” 

Followed closely by, “And help me not to freak out at the Happiest Place on Earth.”

Because besides the fact that my husband is not in the above picture, neither are the over-100,000 other people that just happened to be at Disney World on the same day we were there.

Sigh.

Actually, we really had fun. Both my kids and my sister’s kids are at really fun ages (read, no nap times required) and get along really well together. Aren’t they so cute?!

Cousins

(My sister and I have decided that cousins are way more fun than sisters. Because although NOW I really love having a sister, we were not always so keen on the idea when we were younger. HA.)

Have I mentioned recently on here how my parents are so amazing? Well, they are. They footed the bill for about 95% of this wonderful vacation and I sincerely hope they know what a gift this was to be all together in Orlando for a week.

However, I may be able to save them some money next time around.

Because this happened….

On the last day of the trip I asked my son which one of the three Disney Parks we went to (Epcot, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) was his favorite. He took a minute to think through his answer and came up with this gem…

My favorite was Epcot. – Carter

Oh, and why is that? – Me

(insert drumroll please)

Because of the cookies you gave me in the Test Track line. – Carter

(Silence and an incredulous look from me)

Actually, I liked it all – Carter.

So, there you have it, folks.

Next time we will be going to the park down the road with a box of Enjoy Life Chocolate Brownie Cookies.

Vacation, done. 

Life update

2013 was a pretty hard year. I’ll spare you all the gritty details but can sum it up by saying that between Jeff’s Nan dying, Jeff’s dad moving to Vancouver, problems with our rental house in Florida, and our sweet baby girl being adopted (thus, leaving our home) at the end of November,  I was pretty emotionally done by December.

In fact, I tried to write my annual Christmas letter and when Jeff looked it over, he told me it was “depressing”. I told him that it would be the most honest Christmas letter floating around out there, but, good man that he is, he kabosh-ed it. I honestly couldn’t fix it, and so he ended up doing up a cool photo collage instead and that’s what we sent out.

(Also, you should know I plan to write a depressing letter EVERY YEAR from now on in order for Husband to continue doing the cool Christmas letter/collage. I know a good thing when I see it.)

Anyway, a week after our 19 month foster daughter got adopted to a truly amazing couple, we got a call from CAS for a little baby boy. “Here we go”, I thought. Then I only got to have that darling boy for a week, and he was moved on. I came to think of that little guy as God’s gift to me even for that week, someone to hold while my heart was literally wrenching out of my body.

And then he was gone, and our home was open. For a long time, in fact…7 weeks with no phone call from Children’s Aid. I am pretty sure this is practically unheard of. They are usually pretty desperate for baby homes.  I began to wonder if we had done something wrong and no one had told us. (Ok, not really, but the mind does start to wonder!)

When the calendar rolled over to 2014, I felt an almost tangible relief. If last year was a year of loss and release, surely this year would hold something else entirely. I felt hope, a sense that this new year would be drastically different than the one we had just journeyed through. I told God I would embrace the new season, whatever it would be. I meant it.

Then we got the call.

TWINS.

WOULD WE TAKE TWIN BOYS ABOUT TO BE BORN?

Ummmm.

God, REALLY?

After 4 days of discussions with Jeff, we were at an impasse. We were weighing out how our lives would change with 2 babies to care for. Did we want to change that much? Could we handle it? Did we WANT to handle it?

On the fifth day, Jeff told me he had a moment of clarity. Perhaps we were laboring over a decision that wasn’t really ours to make. Perhaps the fact that we know we are called to foster and the fact that our home was open and ready was enough? Perhaps these boys are supposed to be in our home?

He was scared. We both were. (ARE, actually…I think we are both still scared.)

And I loved him so much for saying what he did.

I called my worker the next morning and said, YES.  (And then, I WENT SHOPPING, because, TWINS!)

A week later, those precious angels were home with us.

Now they are four weeks old already, and I am so very glad we said Yes.

I already love them like crazy.

And after all….“Scared is the new brave” - Lisa-Jo Baker

What about you? Is there something you know God is asking you to do, that feels just a little beyond your capacity?

Trust

So here’s the truth of my life these days.

I have a wonderful husband of 14+ years, a growing-up-too-soon ten year old son and a mini-me six year old daughter.

I also have a bright-eyed giggling 18 month old daughter-for-now.

I haven’t talked much about our fostering journey here on the blog, mainly because, well, clearly I don’t blog much, and also because I am not always clear on how much I am allowed to share. There is certainly a mountain of confidentiality issues and I would NEVER want to violate the children in my care or their birth or adoptive families.

But this thing I am facing now is beyond anyone else’s rights/ privileges/confidentiality. This thing is personal.

This daughter I love, this baby I have raised since her birth is going to be adopted soon.

And not by us.

(insert actual heart-heaving here)

We have agonized over this.

God, please, please, please, PPPPLLLEEEEAAASSSEEEE, let us be the ones to adopt her. Give us a sign, any sign will do. Seriously, God, how about this? If I walk outside in the rain and get wet, we can keep her. Or how about if I go to church today and we sing that song about you making the orphans, sons and daughters again, we can keep her.

Ok, so I haven’t been quite THAT ridiculous, but if that is the “I’m-being-ridiculous-line”, then you should just assume I’ve been living in a place pretty darn close to there.

The short story of the past 18 months is this…

#1 We have fallen in love with this gift of a child in our home and

#2 We did not get the answer from God that we wanted. We have not had the necessary peace within to pursue adopting her. I don’t know why. I may never know why.

And my heart feels like it is literally ripping into tiny little pieces.

Oh, peace is tricky.

And grief is tricky.

And trust in God is tricky.

And she is still here, chewing on her favorite teddy bear and wearing her sunglassess and stealing our hearts.

For now.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is greater.”But I say unto you, they are inseparable.Together they come, and when  one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy,”

- Kahlil Gibran, as quoted in I Will Carry You by Angie Smith

 

Church of the Spilled Blood

I have mentioned that mom and I went to Europe in May. You’ve already heard my luggage woes, but there was so much more to the adventure than that.

When we were finally on our trip, I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around all of the history, the culture, the beauty of what we were seeing.

…Look over here, remnants of the Berlin Wall!

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…Sure, let’s eat reindeer for lunch in Helsinki!

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…Ahhh, I can’t believe we are standing right in front of original Van Goghs and Picassos and Rembrandts in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg!

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And the churches, oh, the churches…they are everywhere and they are amazing. The one I was most excited to visit is the Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, and it did not disappoint.  The entire inside is built out of teeny-tiny mosaic tiles. Here is what it looks like upclose.

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And here is what all those teeny-tiny tiles look like all together.

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It was breath-taking, beautiful, overwhelming. I kept thinking of the patience required by the artisans who created it in the first place. How were they able to take all those little bits of color and create such magnificent panoramas?

It wasn’t until I got home from our trip that the Lord reminded me that while it may be nice to visit The Church of the Spilled Blood, I AM THE CHURCH OF THE SPILLED BLOOD, every single day of my life. And you are too.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

God is the master artisan who is creating the mosaics of our lives. He is the one piecing it all together, all of our experiences, all of our heartaches, all of our joys…they really can come together to create something beautiful. Through the blood of Jesus, we get to be the ones who house His presence, allowing Holy Spirit to illuminate us from the inside out.

My pray for us today is simply this, that when others get around us, they would feel that they had visited the true Church, the one where Jesus is seen and Holy Spirit is felt.

Parenting Success

Tonight was a bit of a rough one.

Imagine both kids crying in their rooms over mistakes made and dealt with today.

Imagine one of those kids telling me he figures he must be pretty close to the end of his second chances with Jesus.

Imagine the other telling me she doesn’t know if she can find peace to sleep because she’s so mad at herself.

Imagine me trying to speak grace into the turmoil, teaching truth, extending forgiveness, wrapping love, singing peace.

Imagine my momma heart crying right along with them.

Growing up can be so hard. I remember learning these lessons as a kid, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to be the parent.

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I did have a bit of a success moment yesterday though. Let’s dwell on that, shall we?

I was at the grocery store with Mykah and heard this gem pop out of her mouth….

“Mom, what’s a pop-tart?”

Success, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it…that my kids will know grace, love and forgiveness but not pop-tarts.

Traveling

My mom and I just returned from a cruise in Northern Europe. We had been planning and dreaming and booking day tours and researching cities and getting REALLY EXCITED for months.

 

I was to fly out of Toronto on a Thursday night, meet up with her in Chicago and fly over to Copenhagen together that same night where we would then have a day to explore the city before leaving on our cruise on Saturday. However, it was a tight connection time between my flights, and thanks to an unexplained hour long wait on the runway at Pearson, I was late for the next flight.  I was disappointed but figured we would get another flight out, no problem.

 

OYE. It was a problem.

 

The customer service (ahem) lady we dealt with informed us that she could not get us in to Copenhagen until SUNDAY. Sorry, but that’s the best she could do.

 

In my nicest I’m-a-Jesus-lover-but-still-really-upset-voice,  “Ummm, no, listen, lady, that is not going to work.”

 

At 2am, after 4 hours, much anxiety and several other representatives later, we closed down the customer service counter but we were finally booked on flights that got us to the cruise with less than an hour to spare.

 

Oh, but my bag decided it was going to have its own sort of adventure and went AWOL.

FOR FIVE DAYS.

(I don’t think I have to say much more about this, right? You just groaned out loud, right? You just imagined trying to outfit yourself for your cruise from the cruise gift shop, right? Enough said.)

 

We had an absolutely fantastic time on our cruise and in the countries we visited…Germany, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Oh, the history, the cultures, the food! Oh, the castles, cathedrals, and cobblestoned streets! Not to mention that being with my mom is one of my most favorite things, and that not having to make and clean up breakfast, lunch and dinner for my family for 12 days is a vacation all by itself.

 

But, what I’ve realized is this…the best stories we have to tell from our trip are of all the moments that didn’t go as planned and the ones we never could have planned for…the hilarious photos we took of each other, the random people we met, the Ballet-night debacle, the Russian meatloaf, the Swedish marathon, and the Helsinki port-o-potty to name a few. Oh, and the shopping I will get reimbursed for because of the luggage delay, WAHOO!

 

And, it’s got me to thinking that life is a lot like this too.

The best stories of God at work are usually the ones where He is moving in unexpected ways.

 

Sometimes it’s in the delay. Remember Mary, Martha and Lazarus in John 11?  It was obvious to everyone but Jesus that he was late…unacceptably, unforgivably late. Yet Jesus tells the disciples that he was glad that he wasn’t there, so that their belief would increase. The long-dead being brought back to life does tend to increase the faith level.

 

Sometimes it’s in the change of plans. Remember young Mary receiving the news that she has been chosen to bear the Son of God? (Luke 1) She had certainly not signed up for this, and yet she embraced this radical life-detour.

 

Sometimes it’s in the inconvenience. Sometimes it’s in the awkward moments. Sometimes it’s those blessings-in-disguise. But always, always, Jesus is trying to get us to see from His perspective.

 

I want to encourage you today that if the journey you’re on right now looks different than what you think it should look like, don’t lose heart. I’m pretty sure if you look hard enough, you will find joy ready to burst onto the scene….sort of like how I felt on day 5 when my luggage finally arrived.

 

Travel on, friends. Travel on.

 

 

 

 

Tooth Question

2 quick things…

1. My son has discovered my blog.

(Hi, Carter, for when you read this!)

I am nervous. Truly I am.

He did give me permission to continue to write about him and Mykah though, so I guess I will work through this in time.

2. My son lost one of his front teeth last Thursday.

He is nine and a half. It’s about time those front ones came out.

The tooth fairy did not come that night.

My son lost the other of his front teeth last Friday at school.

That night he had to write a special note for the tooth fairy that said something along the lines of “Dear Tooth Fairy, please leave me some extra money as I have now lost two teeth and then literally lost the second one.”, which he put with tooth #1 in a baggie under his pillow.

The tooth fairy did not come that night either.

She finally showed up sometime SATURDAY MORNING.

My mind is just boggled.

When I was a kid, this never happened.

Is anyone else having trouble with the “collector-of-the-teeth-and-the-leaver-of-the-money” lately?

Any good theories on this?

(See, Carter, I care that you are reading my blog and thought we should discuss with the kind people on the internet the deep dilemmas in our household these days.)

Thanks for your help everyone!

Laughingstock

“Don’t tell my friends that I watched My Little Pony with you or I will be a laughingstock.” – from my 9 year old son.

“Don’t tell anyone that I played with the baby’s toys or I will be a laughingstock.”- from my 6 year old daughter (obviously borrowing the term from her brother!)

My kids are apparently now at the ages where the opinions of their peers are starting to impact their own responses. I had been secretly hoping for a few more years of bliss, holding off junior high and high school “issues” until, well, junior high and high school.

It saddens me to see this now. Do my kids really need to be thinking about altering their behaviors in order to fend off ridicule? In Kindergarten? REALLY?!

 I struggle with this. On the one hand, I so desperately want them to be confident in their own selves, in their own ideas, in their own beliefs and values. I want them to learn to stand up for themselves, to realize that they have just as much a right to their opinions as the perceived perceptions of their friends. On the other hand, I fear that they won’t be able to really know what they believe until they are tested and forced to process it in their actual lives. This processing is necessary for their growth, even if it’s just SO HARD for me to watch and parent them through.

But, if I had a third hand, I would use it to say that it saddens me even more to see how much like ME and my own thinking, this “laughingstock” fear really is. I suspect I am well past the age where I should care so much about the perceived perceptions of people around me. Yet I fear that many times I am so concerned about not offending anyone, that I choose to hide my true self, bury my actual feelings, and present a cleaned-up, inoffensive me to the world.

“Better not tell my neighbors that I love Jesus…that might sound weird. I will just talk about going to church instead.”

“Better not show my flaws to those church ladies…I shouldn’t still be struggling with that sin.”

“Better not take a public stand on issues of morality…I don’t want to upset anyone.”

But there’s Romans 12:1-2 to consider…. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I find I have such a hard time with these Scriptures because I simply don’t like the idea of being a LIVING SACRIFICE.  That sounds uncomfortable and more than a little painful.  I seem to have the idea that since I live in this great country of Canada where I lack for nothing, I really shouldn’t have to subject myself to suffering for any reason. Pain, um, NO THANKS.

And yet when I read Matthew 5:10-12,  “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”….  it makes me realize that I’ve got it all wrong. Perhaps in trying to live an inoffensive, free of friction, devoid of conflict life, I am missing the point entirely. Where in Scripture do I see the call of Jesus to be synonymous with living an inoffensive, free of friction, devoid of conflict life? (Oh, how I wish I could find this!)

Perhaps in the same way that I cannot shield my own children from ridicule (short of sequestering them in their rooms forever!), I should stop trying to shield myself. And perhaps in the same way that I am trying to teach them to use ridicule as a basis for firming up, not belittling their own opinions, I need to not be afraid of having my own beliefs questioned. I need to remember that opposition to my views does not negate my opinions and in fact, can help me to better define my own beliefs.  From a place of grace and humility, I need to learn to stand up for truth as I perceive it to be, regardless of the estimations of others. I want to embrace the various pain of being a daily, living sacrifice in order for Jesus to be seen through my life. I want to know Christ and to not only identify with His victories, but also to identify with His sufferings (Philippians 3:10), which probably means I might actually have to face into some sufferings, some ridicule, some pain myself.

What about you? Are you ready to pray with me today?….

Jesus, help me to be willing to be a laughingstock, a living sacrifice, for you. Help me to stop trying to avoid ridicule from those you would like me to be affecting for you. And help me to  stop insulating myself from the pain that you just might have a purpose for in my life.

Ego Boost

We held our annual business meeting at Kingsview last night.

(And perhaps I should not broadcast this next statement for fear of ruining my chances at winning the title “pastor’s wife of the year”, but #1 oh wait, I don’t care, and #2, there is no such thing, so whatever. There you have it…)

In general this is not my most favorite night of the year.

I have attended these meetings for years in churches I have “membered” at. I have attended these meetings for years in churches I have “pastor’s wife-d” at.

I recognize the importance of these meetings.

It’s vital to present the annual ministry reports and the annual financial reports. It’s imperative that new board members are elected and to provide opportunities for members to ask questions as to the state of the church and the accounting notes.

I also recognize my lack of enthusiasm for these meetings.

Historically in churches I have attended, these meetings are, quite simply, quite honestly, BORING.

And I just don’t understand this.

WHY, OH WHY, must they be? Why can’t these meetings be upbeat and exciting? Certainly there can be challenges in our churches, certainly there are setbacks and sour moods and not-so-wonderful reports that must be reported, but shouldn’t we also find reason to celebrate what God has done over the past year?!

I am happy to say that this has become a bit of a theme for the Kingsview annual business meeting.

It can still be a bit stiff and formal at times. This is still the one meeting a year that I hear things like “There is a motion before us. Does someone second the motion?”.

But we also try to highlight how amazing God has been to us over the past year.

And there is smiling and cheering and celebration.

And I really feel you must know something else. The minutes from the previous year;s meeting were officially accepted last night. These minutes were included in the packets that were given out and available for all to read.

I kid you not, this gem was hidden within….

“9. Carrie Johnston is incredibly good looking, as specifically declared to the group by her husband. Carrie introduced the names of the new members to the KVCC congregation. ” …

SERIOUSLY.

So, I just wanted you to know that it’s official. I am incredibly good looking, as stated by my husband, as typed up my dear friend, Lis who took the minutes of last year’s meeting and as AFFIRMED BY THE ENTIRE MEMBERSHIP last night.

Thank you, Kingview, I couldn’t ask for a better church, and I look forward to next year’s annual meeting with you.

I seem to recall my husband declaring last night something along the lines of  “anything positive you feel about me is because of my wife”. I sincerely hope we get to accept that statement as part of the minutes next year!

Amusement

I realized lately that I am becoming EVEN LESS LIKE the Proverbs 31 woman…
Ever seen this jewel? VS 21 “When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.”

Because let me tell you…WHEN IT SNOWS, I HAVE MUCH FEAR!!! AND I REALLY DON’T CARE WHAT COLOR MY FAMILY IS WEARING, as long as they are wearing it out the door, to the school bus and over to the school.

OF course, the kids see it all a bit differently, don’t they?

“A storm is coming! Snow is coming! A snow day is coming!”…I imagine the happy cries ringing out through Winona Elementary yesterday.

Carter informs me that he and many of his friends are wearing their pajamas inside out, because that is how they will get their snow day.

OOOKKKKKKKKKKKKKK, sure. Why not?

But then he prays this and I realize he knows all along that there is nothing magical in turning your clothes inside out….

“God, I would like to pray for a snow day tomorrow. And I hope you get a good laugh seeing all the kids with their pajamas on inside out, and decide to give us a snow day.”

Honestly, I am pretty sure God and I both had a good hearty laugh over that one.

But, alas, no snow day today.
I don’t think Carter appreciated what I imagine God’s answer to be …”Thanks for the laugh, you special boy. I would have loved to have given you a snow day, but for some reason, there were parents all across the city asking that school be open, and I want those parents to believe in miracles too!”

Regardless, I think perhaps I may want to amuse God with inside-out pajamas tonight. My boy has some great ideas.

Purpose

Life never stops around here. Not that I would want it too, because, er, well, the alternative is quite morbid.

I thought I would let you know that in the midst of the craziness, Mykah has figured out what my purpose on this grand ‘ol earth is…

See, I’ve been using words with the kids like, “God created you with so many wonderful gifts” and “I can’t wait until you discover what God made you for.”

I’ve been really trying to speak LIFE into my children. I want them to know that they are special not just because I say so, but because God created them on purpose, with purpose.

WELL, Mykah casually mentions to me yesterday, “Mom, I think I know what God created you for.”

I was instantly floored and really happy…She’s listening! She’s processing! She’s even diagnosing others now!

Me – “What do you think I was created for, Mykah?”

Mykah – “For cleaning.”

 

We obviously need to work on discernment next.

Resolutions

So, Happy belated 2013 to you all! Did you make your resolutions yet? Did you write them down? Did you know that goals written down have something like a bazillion-ish more chance of happening than those just in your head?

Now, I don’t tell you that so that you’ll start thinking I’m some sort of life coach or expert list-maker and goal-achiever. No, I actually told you so that I could brag a bit. And, to give you a bit of hope that dreams, er, resolutions, really can come true.

Yep. See, I had this little resolution in my head to lose some weight this year, say 5ish pounds to start. (Anybody with me on this?)

NOW, YOU SHOULD KNOW, I DID NOT WRITE THIS DOWN. I DID NOT TELL ANYONE. IT WAS GONNA BE A SECRET RESOLUTION.

YOU SHOULD ALSO KNOW THAT I WAS SIMULTANEOUSLY PLANNING ON CANCELLING MY GYM MEMBERSHIP ( IF I COULD REMEMBER WHERE SAID GYM WAS, OF COURSE.) THUS, THIS WAS ALSO GOING TO BE A MAGIC RESOLUTION.

And, I am pleased to report,  it’s already happened. My secret, magic resolution. I did it! I lost 5 pounds!

How????

I got the flu!

Now, let me talk you through this. I could not get out of my bed for 3 days. I could not care for my children. I could not go to my husband’s grandmother’s funeral. I shook with chills. I sweated.

I honestly thought I might be dying. I am ashamed to admit I was going over my life insurance policy in my head, reassuring myself everyone would be ok if I did die. 

The flu made me a crazy person. I was having a one-woman party in crazy town.

But when it was over and I stepped on the scale, over 5 pounds lighter, and I thought… “Hmmm, that just might have been worth it.”

But, now that my resolution is checked off my secret mental list, what am I gonna do the rest of the year?

Tradition

Every year since we got married in 1999, I have done a Christmas letter, which makes this year #14. That’s a lot of updates.

And really, my husband has to convince me to do it every year because I am now in the habit of trying to talk myself out of writing it and sending it, because, REALLY, DO I NEED ONE MORE THING TO DO IN DECEMBER!?!.

But, it gets written and I still send a bunch out in the mail, but, ya’ll, postage is a wee bit more than it was in 1999 and well, I know more people now too. Plus, someone in Japan and someone in England reads this blog and I wouldn’t want them to feel left out.

So, I give you in blog-y form the 2012 Johnston Christmas letter…

Merry Christmas 2012!!!

It really is the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it? No? Well, then do tell me at what other time of the year I can substitute egg nog for cream in my coffee and wear crazy elf hats out in public?!

2012 has been another incredibly FULL year for the Johnstons. Between the church, the kids, the house and the “everything else”, we have been going full steam ahead all year long. We did quite a bit of renovations and upgrades to the church building this summer and Jeff’s basement reno was completed this fall…Wahoo to both!

Probably the biggest news of our year is that we officially became a Foster Family, and in April we welcomed our first foster baby girl into our lives. Even now I cannot describe the feeling of bringing home someone else’s baby from the hospital, of being entrusted with a life that we did not conceive or birth in the physical. This child has been such a blessing to our family and has taught us how to love beyond our natural capacities. We don’t know what the future holds for her, but we do trust that the God who formed her, who assigned her to us for now, will continue to work out His plans for her life. She is such a little angel!

And speaking of God’s formation of kids, ours have grown so much this year…

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Carter is 9 now, is in grade 4 and continues to amaze us with his vocabulary and sharp wit. He still enjoys anything electronic and video game related and is saving up for an IPad. Mykah is 5,  is in full day senior kindergarten and is reading like you wouldn’t believe! She loves school as she is able to spend lots of time creating art, her favorite thing!  We made some pretty major dietary adjustments over the summer and our house is now dairy-free and gluten-free (well, at least when the kids are around J). They have adjusted well, and I have been shocked by reports of them even reading food labels at their friends’ houses! They are also loving their new “roles” as foster brother and sister and the baby absolutely adores them.

We would love for you to  keep up with us throughout the year at www.everydayspectacular.com and www.kvcommunitychurch.com

At Christmas and always, we pray God’s richest blessings over your life!

Love: Jeff, Carrie, Carter & Mykah Johnstonand Baby

Immanuel

Matthew 2: 13 – 18

“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

So, that’s the portion of Scripture my son and I read last night.But we read it in The Bible Story (http://www.amazon.ca/Bible-Story-Complete-10-Set/dp/B0007FAVXO/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1355434300&sr=8-12) and something about the re-telling, the explanations for the children pierced my very soul.

How is possible that all these years of reading these Christmas stories and I’ve never really seen THIS… “kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under”

Of course, I’ve thought of Jospeh’s dream and the angel’s warning, and of the wild fleeing through the night to Egypt. I have thought of Jesus’ escape, but never of those families that did not know to flee.

All those murdered babies. All the weeping, the mourning.

Not such a Merry Christmas for those mommas and dads.

So I was wondering how to explain this to my wide-eyed nine year old.

And then, to be perfectly honest, I was wondering how to explain it to myself.

Why was there no angelic visitor to warn the families whose babies died that night?

Life is really hard? Unfair?

Sometimes bad things happen to good people?

Sometimes the angel doesn’t come?

God had another plan?

I honestly don’t have the right answers for this.

And yet, I have found myself thinking over and over this Christmas season about the name of Christ…Immanuel, GOD WITH US.

And perhaps it’s good that the Christmas story is quite messy. It feels a bit more like real life that way.

Bad things do happen. It rains on the just and the unjust alike. We all go through situations that seem unfair, wrong, all messed up. We wonder where God is in our pain, in our mourning, in our questioning.

He has provided the ultimate answer…He is God with us.

Maybe you feel hounded by your own crazy Herod right now or maybe you’ve outrun him for the time being, but this much I know…God is with you, right where you are, right now.

Oh, thank you, Jesus.

Itchy

Let’s try an experiment, shall we?.

I will say just one word and then you will scratch your head.

Ok, here’s the word = LICE.

Now, you scratch.

See, it worked right?!.

Apparently there is a bit of an infestation of little creepy, crawly creatures at my kids’ school right now. There have been notes home and articles in the monthly newsletters and even texts from a friend whose daughter brought the critters home.

(Scratch. Itch. Scratch. Itch.)

So far we are in the clear.

But I just wanted to share with you another one of the joys of having children in school with other children.

And just in case you are wondering, even this is not enough for me to consider home schooling.

We will overcome.

 

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