Everyday Spectacular

Imperfections. Ramblings. Life to the Full.

Archive for the tag “family”


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



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


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.


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?!


(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.





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?


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



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


My parents are ridiculously generous towards us. I tell them often, you don’t really have to be so amazing towards us, but they love to be a blessing. So, by now, after years of this spoiling, I have decided to just graciously, humbly accept their gifts.

The latest blessing was a Spring Break trip for the four of us Johnstons with the two of them, the doting grandparents. We flew down to Miami and then did a four night cruise on the Carnival Destiny. Jeff and I love cruising. LOVE IT. But we have always cruised without the kids, and so I couldn’t wait to take them on their first cruise. And I have to say, it was more amazing than I had even hoped for. Not only did we get to spend time with my parents, but the kids were extremely well-behaved, and they adored everything about the experience, especially their beds that had come down from the ceiling and the towel animals.

The cruise stopped at the port of Cozumel one of the days and we went to swim with the dolphins. This is one of those experiences that just sounds so unbelievably COOL, but yet had previously been on my “Something-I-will-only-do-if-one-of-my-children-is with-me-And-probably-only-if-someone-else-pays-the-fee” list.

(What? You don’t have one of these lists?!?!?)

It was my lucky day. I had both of my children with me and my money got to stay in my wallet, so dolphin-swimming it was.

Carter and Grandpa went first and we watched as they did all sorts of tricks with the dolphins. They even got to lay on a small boogie-board and then the dolphin pushed them back to the rest of the group. My face was in a perma-grin watching my son fist-pumping excitedly over and over.

When it was time for Mykah and I to get into the water, I was praying she would be ok. She tends to need some time to warm up to new experiences and people, so this was quite a bit out of her comfort zone. And let’s be honest, any time I have to get into a swimsuit, I am quite a bit out of my comfort zone too.

We were in a group with only one other lady and we were given a female trainer who took us to spend time with a baby dolphin, Donna-hey (okay, that’s probably not how THEY spell it, but that’s the best I can do!)

I’m thinking thoughts of “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Embrace every single minute of this. Share this special moment with your daughter to the fullest.”

Then a little while later as I am standing on the slimy platform in the water amidst small swimming fish, holding up Mykah because she couldn’t comfortably stand up, “Ok, this was not exactly what I was expecting.” But we shook Donna-Hey’s fins and kissed her and offered up our cheeks for her return kisses. Mykah was pretty quiet, but I could tell she was proud of herself for what she was participating in.

And then the TRUE once-in-a-lifetime-experience occurred.

Donna-Hey was upside down so we could see her underside again.

Our trainer was distracted by something momentarily and had turned away from us.

“Ummmmmmm….excuse me,.” I say while waving my free hand that was not wrapped around Mykah’s waist. “Is that what I think it is?”

Oh yes.

Our sweet baby dolphin was POOPING.

And then the trainer just smiled apologetically while swishing and swirling “it” around in the water, not 12 inches in front of us.

Now, I ask you…How many people do you know that can say they paid to watch a dolphin poop?


You now know one.


Giving up the ghost, er, dog

There are many, many things that I do well.

Thrift-shopping and drinking un-godly amounts of coffee come to mind.

Apparently I can now officially add something new to my list of “Things I’ve tried to do and failed miserably at”.

I cannot be a dog owner.

Or I should say that I can not be a dog owner while I am also a parent. I just can’t seem to find peace with it all.

Here’s the facts: We got a puppy, Harley, on Halloween. He is a beautiful golden retriever / lab mix and will be an absolutely wonderful adult dog, of this I am sure.

Here’s the rest of the facts: I am not really a dog person.  It’s been a long 3 months.

On Sunday this dog will be “relocating” to live with Al, my father-in-law. We are keeping Harley in the family, we can visit him and Al can do all the work of actually being Harley’s owner. He can walk him daily, feed him lots, fight with him over slippers and shoes, worry over his walls and furniture being eaten, and clean up the hair tumbleweeds that materialize everywhere. As an added bonus, I will no longer have to mend my children’s war-wounds that Harley seems prone to inflicting during “play” time.

(I sure hope Al doesn’t read my blog. Oh, wait, he is a retired man with no internet….see why he NEEDS a dog!)

I am just a teensy bit relieved.

Ok, no, I am A LOT relieved.

Thank you, Jesus, for answering the prayer that I was too scared to pray.

Oh, and, Jesus, if you could help Children’s Aid to not read this blog as well, I would be so appreciative. We are getting so close to having our home officially opened for foster-ing and I really don’t want them to think I will do the same thing with their precious babies.

Babies are still definitely on my “List of things I do well.”

Johnston Christmas Letter 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

LIFE – Hmmmm, where to begin? Our lives are so full, and we continue to thank the Lord for the opportunities we’ve been given. The church continues to grow in many ways. We were able to add a youth pastor to our staff this past January (Woohoo!) and a junior high ministry to our weekly programming as well. I am still heavily involved in the women’s ministry and have been thrilled with the response to our weekly Bible studies. Jeff continues to lead and shepherd the church with excellence, and we are so thankful to be serving among such an amazing group of people. http://www.kvcommunitychurch.com

I am excited to say that our basement will be finished this year. And, yes, that’s a faith statement, but Jeff has been working diligently to get this completed. We cannot wait to have a finished rec room and office down there. I can feel my productivity increasing just thinking about it, and we’ll have more space for the toys that seem to keep multiplying!
We did a bit of vacationing this year which we love…In May, my mom and I took an AMAZING trip to Europe where we visited Italy, Greece and Turkey. Even now, months later, I find it difficult to describe everything we saw! Let’s do it again, Mom! Then in August, our family was blessed to be able to vacation here in Ontario with dear friends of ours from Florida. We loved staying at the Great Wolf Lodge and doing Canada’s Wonderland until we dropped from exhaustion. Let’s do it again, Tremels!

LOVE – (our children, of course!)
Carter is 8 now and is ignoring my desperate pleas that he stop getting older. We are still waiting for him to lose his baby teeth, so at least his teeth are listening to me! He continues to read incessantly, and will play his DSi as long as he is allowed (and sometimes more, ahem.) He is in Grade 3 this year and is realizing that school is getting harder each year. He is having to work on his organization skills for sure! He loves having sleepovers with his best friend, Spencer and it is so fun to watch him interact with all his friends… He is pure LIGHT to us.

Mykah is 4 ½ and not so little anymore. She is unbelievably helpful and would be happy to cook all the meals around here. Daily I hear, “What are we making today, mom?”. She took her first dance class this fall and loved it, especially her dance outfit. She started Junior Kindergarten and goes to school Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Monday, which she really enjoys. It’s official that I’ve been training her well – she asked me recently, “Why can we go to Target again?” (Oh, I LOVE IT!!!!)… She is pure JOY to us.

We got a puppy! His name is Harley and he is a golden retriever/chocolate lab mix. While he is a wonderful dog, I am still trying to figure out how we went to the church for our annual Fall Festival and came home as dog-owners! (Pray for me!) Carter now says, “Every day is the happiest day of my life” (How can we NOT keep Harley after that?!). Mykah says “We love Harley, but we are still getting used to him.” (Did I mention she often sounds like me?!)

We are also almost through the quite lengthy process of becoming foster parents with the Children’s Aid society here in Hamilton. We will be taking in babies and toddlers (one at a time!) and are looking forward to sharing the gift of our family with children in need. Apparently our new family motto should be “Let the chaos in!”  You can keep up with us throughout the year at http://www.everydayspectacular.com – my irregularly updated blog.

We are trying to live this Scripture, one that we also pray for you… “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

At Christmas and always, we pray God’s richest blessings over your life!
Love: Jeff, Carrie, Carter & Mykah Johnston…and Harley


I have wanted to be married for as long as I can remember. I would not have necessary told you that before I got married, so as not to appear too desperate, needy or dependent on a man for my own happiness. But, alas, I have always pictured myself as married with 2.5 kids, a dog, and a house. The picket fence has, however, always been optional. (And, just a thought, if you have a third child, how do you decide which one you should split in half to complete the 2.5 dream?)

Have you ever read the little book called Corduroy by Don Freeman? It’s been around a long time, since 1968, in fact, but still in print and loved by children everywhere. I read it to Carter again today.

Here’s just a brief overview in case you’ve never read it or if it’s been a long time…

This adorable bear stands on the toy shelf waiting for someone to purchase him, unaware that his suspenders are missing a button. The day he realizes his button is gone, he goes in search of it.

He ends up on the store’s escalator saying, “I think I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain”.

And when he arrives upstairs in the furniture department, “I guess I’ve always wanted to live in a palace.” He doesn’t find his button and ends up back on the toy shelf. The next morning, he is purchased and goes to live with a darling girl that sews a new button onto his pants and has a little bed just for him to sleep in.

“This must be home,” he said. “I know I’ve always wanted a home!”

Something happened to me last night, a re-aligning of sorts. And I guess I feel a bit like Corduroy today. I often do a lot of thinking and guessing, usually second-guessing myself. “I think I would like to be doing THIS” or “I guess I would like THIS.” But the questions I am asking myself today go a little something like this…Now that I actually have what I always wanted, am I enjoying it to the fullest? Am I remembering how blessed I am to be married to Jeff? Am I showing my children today how very special and wanted they are? Am I making my home the kind of place it should be?

Is it possible to be living the fairytale life and to stop seeing it in that light?

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: