Everyday Spectacular

Imperfections. Ramblings. Life to the Full.


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.


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.



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.


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?)



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


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?


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…




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


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.


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.


An Observation

I just had two separate interactions with neighbors in which I was wearing my red comfy pajamas.

Yes, those neighbors came to my door, but I opened the door. Twice.

Apparently I have gotten myself to the place where I am ok to converse normally in fleece meant only for sleeping.

I am concerned.



I was having an amazingly wonderful day on Friday.

In fact, in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I was still in my red, comfy pajamas at 3:00 in the afternoon.

And I was actually feeling quite sad that I was going to have to put on jeans to go to the bus.

Then I got the phone call.

My dear friend, who shall remain nameless in case she wouldn’t want me broadcasting this story :), called, more panic-y than I’ve ever heard her, telling me she had somehow double-booked herself to speak that night at two separate women’s retreats.

And she needs to know…



Ok, sure.

But will I have to get out of my pajamas?

And of course, more importantly, do I have anything to share with these ladies?

So, I showered.

I prayed.

I went.

I felt nervous.

I ate a big meal.

I still felt nervous and now quite ill because of the big meal.

I spoke some truth.

God gets all the credit.

I came home.

And then I thought…What in the world just happened?!?!

And the only answer I could really give myself is this…I was available.

I have told the Lord over and over again, “I will do what you need me to do. I will go where you need me to go. Here am I. Send me.” (Isaiah 6)

And, sure, it’s really nice when God gives me lots of warning for what He wants me to do. But I’m thinking that I miss a lot of God-ordained opportunities when I say no just because it’s inconvenient for me or it doesn’t look the way I want it to look.

This time I am really glad that I said yes.

It gave God the opportunity to show Himself off in my weakness.

And it gave me the opportunity to get out of my pajamas.






You know those stationary bike classes for the super-hardcore-gym people that are all “Hey, I love to sweat for my sense of inner peace and harmony.” ?

Ok, so in case you haven’t been paying attention, I do not happen to be one of those gym people (in fact, if you must know, it’s probably been at least a year since the gym has even been graced with my presence) and so I can truthfully tell you that I have only ever observed these classes from behind a nice, safe, glass barrier. Thank God. They look sweaty and painful and awful and the instructor is always real loud and bossy.

Nope, not for me.

But I was thinking of those classes this week when I realized that I am feeling really tired.

Call it a vision, call it a hallucination, call it whatever you like actually, but I have been feeling like I am on a spin bike going really, really fast and THE CLASS NEVER ENDS.

And, well, I guess all I popped in to say in this small window before all the appointments and running around and cooking and cleaning up, et cetera, et cetera that I have to do today…

All I am wondering this morning is – Who is the class instructor I’ve been listening to?

Who has been barking orders at me, guilting me into pushing faster, upping my incline, denying me a break?

Oh, of course, it’s me. I am rather ridiculously hard on myself.

I am in the wrong class.

I am in the wrong room.

Here is where I really want to be…

Psalm 23:1-3 “The Lord is my shepherd;I shall not want.2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”

Anybody know where this class is? I could use a gym buddy.


I’ve learned that there is a certain part of the day that works best for trying to engage my son in good conversation…bedtime.

Now, this may be because he would like to prolong bedtime as much as possible (which I’m pretty sure is a passed-down gene through my side of the equation, so I can’t complain much), but I will engage his heart whatever the reasons behind him offering it up.

And, sure, there are nights that I am exhausted and just want him to GO TO SLEEP ALREADY.

But those nights that he is willing to engage and I am willing to engage, oh, the conversations that happen.

We got into quite a conversation about children in orphanages two nights ago, after he asked me, quite randomly, how much it cost to adopt a child.

We talked about the difference between fostering and adoption.

We talked of Children’s Aid and International Adoptions.

Carter told me he thinks I get paid a lot of money to foster, and he wanted to know what I do with all that money, because that money would buy a lot of beyblades and video games.

Well, Yes, Carter, it would. However, it would also buy formula and supplies for the baby, and a little left over which goes into the household budget. (Budgeting will need to be another lengthy discussion we have soon!)

I ended up telling him that he actually knew 2 children from an orphanage in Romania. (A wonderful family from our church that is a beautiful example of Christ’s love.)

He was wide-eyed and oh so curious.

We talked for a long time about the choices that we as families and individuals get to make.

We talked of fostering and the ways our family has decided to impact the lives of children.

We talked of God’s priorities and how we get to choose how we spend our money and our resources and our time.

It was so very good.

And then he was crying….tears in his eyes .

And I asked him what was wrong.

And he said he just kept thinking of all those babies in the Romanian orphanage.

So he prayed for them that night, a sweet prayer to Jesus to help those babies find homes.

I left his room with tears in my eyes.

And I can’t help but think that he went to sleep believing that maybe one day, he will be part of the change, part of living pure religion.

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”


There’s something I just have to talk about today, and it can be a controversial subject to be sure. But I am not going to start some huge “pros and cons” conversation or try to make anyone feel the exact same way as I do about it, okay?

Let’s be adults and talk for a moment about this idea of home-school.

Now, I know quite a few moms and I follow some blogs of moms that home- school their kids. I admire these moms, I really do. They are passionate women who believe deeply that it is their God-given responsibility to teach their children at home. I hear their stories and their lesson plans and wonder if I have somehow missed my life’s calling.

I have also been a part of several conversations outlining the benefits of homeschooling and the horrors of today’s public school system. These discussions can be good, but again, can leave me feeling like perhaps I have been a bit cavalier about the choice of where our children will learn algebra and the fine points of grammar and vocabulary. (Side note: in my initial writing of that last line, I spelled grammar wrong…which honestly just makes me laugh.)

Should they be learning the periodic table around our own kitchen table?

Have I chosen something “lesser-than” by choosing to publicly educate my kids?

Am I shirking off something meant for me to shoulder?

If their education should be THEIR highest priority, should it also be MY highest priority, my sole responsibility?

These are thought-provoking questions to be sure.

But I just feel like it needs to be said that I HAPPILY do not home school my children.

Sure, I feel the occasional mommy-guilt. You know, the guilt that tells me that there are scores of women out there doing more for their families than I am, that a good mom would want to be with her kids EVERY WAKING MOMENT.


But, I make a repeated decision to tell that voice, that mommy-guilt voice, to go sit in her room until she can come back and play nice.

This is the right choice at this time for our family.

How do I know?

I’m so glad you asked. I actually have that answer.

It came to me just this past week, as the bus pulled away from the stop with my little darlings tucked safely inside on their way to a day full of learning, adventures and their friends.

I know that home-schooling is not for me because of the sense of euphoria that swept over me on my walk home. I am really and truly happy that I don’t have to home-school them.

Yes, the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us…I know that I could probably figure out a way to home-school, but in this case and in others, it doesn’t mean that I have to do all things.

I love my time with my kids and I do teach them all the time. I engage with their spirits. We talk. We discuss. We do life together.

But I do not home-school my children for their sake and for mine.

I’m happy. They are happy.

I get to just be mommy, and that works for all of us.

Thank you, Jesus, for the teachers that will teach them this year at school.

Thank you, Jesus, for all the time we will spend learning together at home.

Happy home-school and school-school year everyone! Blessings on you and your choices!


I’ve been thinking a lot lately of Eve in the garden. (Oh, Eve…the only woman I know who can claim she was ever naked and unashamed.)

 Have you read this passage lately?…

Genesis 3:1-6 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”  The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”

My eight year son, Carter, recently lamented to me, “Mom, Eve ruined Paradise for EVERYONE.”

(Clearly he was feeling included in the “everyone”. )

He went on to imagine what would have happened if Eve had never sinned. Likely Carter’s vision of Paradise has something to do with all day video game marathons and gorging on whatever he wants to eat, but I digress.  I tried to reason with him that if not Eve, surely one of Eve’s kids or their kids would have been the Paradise-killer, but no, he was not to be dissuaded in his disgust over Eve’s poor choice.

I’ve come to realize that we can all stand in judgment over Eve or we can realize that Eve is a pretty good replica of the struggle that each of us women face.

What was Eve’s deal anyway? She had been blessed by God, filled with purpose, walked with God, was a recipient of the provision of God for her needs and, of course, she had been hand-delivered to her spouse. She had no “Jones’“ to keep up with, no one to compare herself to or compare her husband against, and never once had to complain about having nothing to wear. She was innocent to sin, living in blissful paradise. She lacked absolutely nothing.

Eve proves that you can have the blessing of God on your life and still struggle with temptation and sin.

So she enters into conversation with a talking snake, and perhaps even that we could chalk up to naïve curiosity.  But the snake very quickly gets her to doubt some foundational aspects of God’s character. He basically tells her that God is a liar, and she starts wondering if perhaps God has been holding out on her all along. The Bible tells us that when she SAW…, she took it and ate it. She was deceived when the lies of the enemy were able to distort the truth that she knew, the very truth that God had already revealed to her. She rationalized, “What’s the big deal? It’s just fruit. It looks good. I bet it tastes good. This here chatty snake sure sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. What can it hurt?”

Oh, Eve. I feel your struggle. I live your struggle. I can be my own worse Paradise-killer.

You see, the issue for Eve wasn’t the fruit itself…And it almost never is for us either. The fruit is about “another way”, a self-way, independence, doing what feels good or feels right at the time.

The flirtations, the gossip, the back-biting, the sarcasm, the rebellion, the over-eating, the anger, the passive-aggressive behavior, the fill-in-your-sin-of-choice-here, is so often about filling our FELT NEED in OUR OWN WAY. And each time we do we are biting into the fruit of self-will all over again. Like Eve there is so much to enjoy and yet we fixate on that which is just out of reach.

Eve, if we could go for coffee I could tell you all about how I know what it’s like to get the end of the tasty fruit and be left holding nothing but a dirty core in my hand. I know what it’s like to realize I need quite a few fig leaves to cover up my shame. I understand regret. I’ve done more than my fair share of hiding, hoping God would just stop seeking me out already.

And yet, there He comes, doesn’t He?

The absolutely scandalous news of the gospel is that God still comes after sinners, while we are standing there trying to cover ourselves with foliage, thinking that perhaps it might be enough. God shows us that it is only His blood that truly covers. In the garden, God killed an animal(s) for skins to cover Adam and Eve. This event foreshadows the death and resurrection of Christ which is the only thing able to cover up our sins today.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

A few brave questions to ask yourself today:

In what ways have you been “eating the forbidden fruit” and then trying to cover it up?

In what ways have you been listening to the lies of the enemy?

In what ways have you stopped listening to the truth of God for your life?

In what ways do you need to allow God to cover you again?



We only have so much time each day.No matter how you describe it… one day or 24 hours or 1,440 minutes or even a whopping  86,400 seconds…it all boils down to this:

There is only one me and only so much time and I have to figure out how to do what I need to do and what I want to do and not go crazy. Help me, Jesus.

Or maybe that’s just my struggle.

Anyway, back in April the Johnston family added a stranger’s baby into our already very full lives. And becoming a foster family is absolutely the best decision we’ve made in a uber-long time, but it’s still a bit busier having three kids than two kids, know what I mean?

And then in July we saw a naturopath because we absolutely did not want to put our son on a specific medicine that might help him with his focus issues at school.

The naturopath said, essentially, “Take supplements and go gluten and dairy free and you won’t need to put him on medicine.” Which, of course, can be translated as “Spend a lot of money on small pills and then forcefeed them to your children and CHANGE THE ENTIRE WAY YOU EAT.”

I just might have panicked, you know, for like a day or two. But I’m a parent and thus will do about anything for my kids. So now, for solidarity’s sake, we are all gluten free and dairy free and are all pill-poppers. (Except for when the kids are in bed and Jeff and I break out the ice cream. Shhh…don’t tell!)

I’m now cooking and baking with ingredients I’ve never heard of before. Amaranth? Guar gum? Sorghum flour?

So that’s been fun.

This week I went to pull out meat from our deep freezer to thaw for dinner, and IT WAS ALL ALREADY THAWED.

Goodbye, old deep freezer, goodbye.

Last night I pulled out the load of whites that had been in the dryer and everything was graffitied with red, yellow and green. Apparently 3 crayons were lurking in a pocket unbeknownst to me and the heat of the dryer melted them over EVERYTHING.

Anyway, all I am trying to say is that the more that gets added to your life, the more crazy it gets, whether through additions of your choosing or through circumstances that you could not even have imagined, you get to choose your response.

On the day of the freezer fiasco I read Ann’s words….”And nothing can overwhelm me — like grace can overtake me.” http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/08/when-you-are-finding-it-hard-to-keep-up-chased-by-grace/ 

And I felt it down deep in my soul. Grace. Jesus. Salvation. Peace.

I choose to see Jesus in my everyday. I choose joy. Gratitude. Laughter. Freedom. Sanity.

“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”   Psalm  94:18-19 

And, somehow, His support, His consolation is always enough. Always.

In what ways do you need Jesus to breath His peace into your anxiety-ridden, overstressed soul?


For your momma-soul

A dear friend sent me this song this morning, and it really encouraged me. Perhaps you could use the reminder too?…

Mind Control

My kids have this disease where they get OBSESSED with one particular movie and then they watch it over and over again. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, this is their obsession, but my disease. Seriously, I end up shaky, with a headache and against my will, find myself quoting entire scenes to myself as I try really, really hard to ignore the TV. I’m thinking about asking my doctor if there is a pill that will make this just all go away.

Anyway, lately the show of choice is Disney’s Kim Possible. I got the entire first and second series for free with my Disney points. (Did you know each Disney movie hiding out in your house has a code inside that you can collect and redeem for free stuff? It’s sort of like buried treasure, but not quite as glitzy.) At the time of my redemption, I was feeling quite proud of my thrifty-ness, since Amazon was selling these series for around $100. Lately, I have just been looking for my headache medicine.

There is this one episode where Doctor Drakon steals a mind control machine and is able to make everyone do what he commands. Of course, he’s the bad guy and in the end, the day is saved and mind control is a thing of the past.

BUT…here’s what I was thinking about at 3:30 this morning when I was up feeding the baby….wouldn’t it be so cool if each parent in the world was given a mind control machine that only worked on their own children?

You know, for emergencies only.

Like, for later today when my kids go to put Kim Possible, episode 359 into the DVD player.


Then suddenly, they “decide” to make me a coffee and rub my feet and sing my praises instead.

Either, I am a genius or I need more sleep.



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