Monday, February 20, 2017

Our Steps

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

"Word for the Year" seems to be the new  New-Year's-resolution trend. After some thought and prayer you select a word that becomes your inspiration, encouragement, or intentional goal for the new year. You may choose to journal on the application of this word as it pops up in your life. It's your word for the year.

Honestly... I've never had a word. I did try once. I thought and prayed about it but nothing ever came to me, so I just moved on. 

2016 was a long year for our family, and we were all too happy to kiss it goodbye. There was no turmoil, disease, or any great loss... so it feels dramatic to say this was a hard year for us. 
But the truth is, it just was. 

It was 365 days of an emotional roller coaster. Situations in every area of life. Some big things, some little things. A few public things, but more deeper private things. Big dreams, big disappointments,  big conversations, and big questions. Some days that left us angry, frustrated and confused... asking ourselves, "how on earth did we get here?!"

It was a hard year. 

And wouldn't it be  lovely if the changing year on a calendar would guarantee the change in seasons? Maybe our winter would be over and summer on the way... I don't know. 

But this year I have a word. Not an inspirational action or goal, but a word of faith from thee Word.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.           -Proverbs 16:9

And in the midst of "where do we go from here?"  conversations...

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
-Proverbs 3:6

My word is not one word, it is many. 

My word is- He is here.
My word is- He's is not asking me to solve it on my own.
My word is- He has not left me, he is leading me.
My word is- He has a plan in all of this.
My word is- place my plans on an altar of sacrifice at His feet and just seek Jesus...  and He will make my path straight.
My word is- the Lord determines my steps.

And with this word I can walk into 2017 in perfect peace. Isaiah 26:3

Friday, October 30, 2015

Our Girl

Our girl is getting so big. Yes her feet are bigger, her arms are longer, and she now needs 6 or 6x for her long almost-five-year old legs.... but what I really mean is she's maturing.
Wow. That's a word I didn't see coming for a while. Ten to twelve year olds mature while little girls just grow right?

Last week she had a friend's birthday party she was so excited to attend while over-communicating to us that we did not need to stay. This was for little girls. No parents. She must have verified ten or so times that we were going to drop her off and pick her up when the party was finished. She let us know that she would not cry for us or miss us, she would be "okay and have lots of fun". Hash-tag independence. Nick looked a little rejected, I figured she was tired of being with mom all week.

She also arranged (by herself) a sleepover at Grandma's house. When we got home that day  she marched right up the stairs and declared she needed to pack. And pack she did. About a week's worth of clothes and shoes for a one-night sleepover. When I started checking her suitcase she was exasperated that I would doubt her packing capabilities.

Last night she helped me with dinner. As she finished grating  the zucchini noodles she began telling me about when's she "big like you mommy" and gets married she will cook dinner for her husband "every night". I could just sob a moment. Why is my four-year-old thinking about marriage?

Then after church last night we made a quick store run. Just her and I went into the store together so she convinced me to let her push the half-cart because she knows how, and she would be good and real careful, and  promised to listen and obey. She was true to her word and  I praised her for doing so good, following me carefully and handling the cart well.
"I'm cool" she responds.
"Your cold, honey? I'm sorry" tugging her sleeves down further for her.
Sigh, "Nooo, I said I'm 'cool' because I'm driving the cart!"

Sigh. Our girl is getting so big.

And I don't know if I'm ready. Honestly.

Am I equipped for this? All the conversations, and training, and emotions, and life changes ahead? Have I been shaped for what's coming? I feel so inadequate for this critical task of parenting.

No, I do not have the answers for the 1,001 daily questions of life she brings to me...  Lord, give me Your  grace and wisdom to answer a few.

Soon her little girlish-ness will become adolescent. Followed by pre-teen and then teenage Hadley. And sooner still her teenage self will mature a young ... I can barely throw the word "woman" onto the end of that because I can't (or emotionally don't  want to) imagine life that far down the road when my little girl is a beautiful full-grown woman who makes her husband dinner ever night. Wow.

Will I have taught her enough? And well?

As life is rushing by us and I find myself wading through the waters of "what is important" versus "what's more important"... am I teaching her which is right? Do my actions and attitudes reflect the words I've spoken to her and the love of the Savior I'm leading her to?

Will she live her life to the expectations of friends/ family/society  or her own selfish desires? Or is she learning to seek first His Kingdom and the joy and peace found in using your giftings to the glory of God?

Am I teaching her do's and don'ts that she will one day abandon upon leaving the nest, or is she learning to love Jesus, and His truth, and that obedience is born out of a loving intimate relationship with Him?  Will she trust the Bible as her guide and the written answers she seeks rather than an obligation on the daily agenda? Which am I teaching her? What does she see in my expression and desire (or lack of)?

Will there be a time when she prays not only because it's what she's been taught, but because it has become second-nature to communicate with her Heavenly Father?  Will He be the first she runs to or her last desperate resort?

Our girl is getting so big.

And as she grows, developing into that STRONG and courageous girl God created her to be, I sometimes see tiny glimpses of what God has put in her for His purpose and His Kingdom. And in His absolute wisdom (albeit beyond my understanding and reasoning) He's asked me to be her mother and shape these virtues... because He's got big plans for our girl.

But if I attempt to shoulder this burden... responsibility... BLESSING on my own...  I. Will. Fail.

So tonight I am encouraged and placing my trust in these promises....

He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
    He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
    He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
Isaiah 40:11

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
Psalm 37:23

Direct your children onto the right path,
    and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Proverbs 22:6

 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17

Monday, February 2, 2015

Almost 30

A view from Summer's End farms- Fall 2013

Last week I turned 29.

In my mind thats just the same as 30. I round up; I can't help it.

But even just getting close to the big 3-0 has me thinking. Reflecting.
Wow, what a difference 10 years can make.

When I was coming into my 20's I felt like I had to prove to the world that I knew what I was doing and I wasn't just some kid.

However, as I approach 30, I confidently confess that I am still just a kid and honestly have no idea what I am doing. I do not have the proverbial "bull" by the horns.

Every day I somehow mess it up; do it wrong; wish I coulda woulda.
Thank goodness His mercies are new every morning.

I consistently fall short. I drop the ball.  I am weak.
Yet faithfully, His grace is sufficient for me.

I absolutely, 100% do not have it all together. And in those naive moments when I begin to think I've got it all under control the walls of my life and the structure of my little kingdom start to crack and crumble- because He loves me enough to humble me. 

So at the age of almost-30, I am aware more than ever that I need Jesus. Bottom line.
If anything gets accomplished, its by His grace. And should I witness or take part in anything great, its only a demonstration of His power and the working of His Spirit.

And His faithfulness... well, now thats something I can bank on.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Let's Catch Up- Part Two

So last time we chatted I left you hanging. For a long time. 
Just keeping with the consistency of a bi-annual post. ;o) I will work at getting better at this.
Because I don't keep a journal- so this is where I sit down, document life, and remember even the little moments.

September was a month of traveling for us. A two day mountain-resort business trip, two family vacations (one with each side), and a couple of check-ins at the beloved farm.
Summer's End Farms- Sept 2014

Riding through cherry orchards on the gator.

October was spent preparing for our baby boy, anticipating his arrival, and ignoring any pressures of those trying to hurry him along. Excited as we were, we were not in a hurry. Our goal was to savor these last days with Hadley before life changed and changed big.

As we came down to those last days surrounding my due date, we began taking daily/nightly walks as a family. And on a friend's recommendation I began taking evening primrose oil and drinking more raspberry leaf tea. Anything to get my body ready and a step or two ahead.

The last saved picture I have of myself pregnant before my phone was stolen.
Taken October 3rd- 37 weeks pregnant.

My due day came and went, as I knew it would, and then on November 1st he came.
More sweet and beautiful then I could possibly have dreamt or asked for, our son.

Parker Reed Johnstone

Soon I will sit down and share his birth story with you. Before I forget the little details.

Happy Friday to you and yours!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Let's Catch Up- Part One

I cannot believe it is now September and this is the first post of 2014 for this blog. Life has been busy. Very busy.

I feel like I am always saying that. But really it's true.
In fact, I'm pretty sure this has been the busiest year of our almost ten-year marriage.

Why so busy?

Let's catch up!

First of all-
We ended last year and started this one with a big winter renovation project. An old farm house with few windows and no siding.  {Did I mention we co-partnered with my parents and bought a cherry farm? The story of that will be its own post later}
So while the men worked away: measuring, sawing, nailing, and cutting holes in the walls (and all in frigid temperatures) Mom and I stoked the fire, prepared meals, and kept a pot of hot coffee brewing. Oh and we were the errand gophers.

During- A friend, my father, my father-in-law, and my Nick

Looking better

And in the midst of all that, another big thing happened. 

During a visit to the farm, I kept complaining about the smell of the heat and iron coming off the wood stove. It was overbearing and giving me a headache.

I also had some tooth pain, but forgot my medication at home. On the way back over the pass (homeward bound) Nick suggested that before I take any medicine I should take a pregnancy test- especially since I seemed to have super-sonic smelling senses again.

Soon as we were home, I took one. Then another. Then one more. I couldn't believe it!

I called Nick upstairs with an urgent holler. As he came up the steps and around the corner the first thing I said was, "You are not going to believe this."

We had been wanting baby no. 2... and although we were no longer doing anything to prevent pregnancy, neither were we actively "trying". We were a perfect balance of shock and excitement! 

Our little guy at 20 weeks
As I write we are currently 33 weeks along; 7'sh more weeks until we meet our baby boy, Parker Reed.

More about the rest of what we've been up to coming...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

All About Thanksgiving

This year was our first to host Thanksgiving. It happened by default really.
After an incredibly busy summer and fall, we were determined to stay home and do nothing. Nothing can be done anywhere, but its done best when  in your own home, sleeping in your own bed, with the liberty of choosing whether or not you will live in your pajamas that day. Yep, that kind of nothing.

The past few years we've spent Thanksgiving away with Nick's parents and sisters, renting vacation homes in the snowy woods. We figured since we would be in town this year that meant Thanksgiving dinner would be at Mom and Dads. Well, as it turns out- Mom and Dad had tickets to visit our older sister (or should I say the grand-kids) in Tennessee... leaving us (my younger sister and brother-in-love, Nick, Hadley, and myself) to fend for ourselves!

We started with, "We're just going to keep it simple. Easy. Relaxed." To me this meant visions of Mexican food, hot cocoa, and staying in our pajamas all day... maybe combing our hair and brushing our teeth, I mean after all - we're not cave-people!

But nostalgia got hold of us as we began discussing menu options, and we agreed that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be best.

And then my OCOOC (obsessive-compulsive-out-of-control) personality got the best of me, and before I knew it was saying things like, "Wouldn't it be fun to make it all from scratch?" 

First, let me explain to you WHY that idea is crazy:

Fact One: I have never baked/roasted/smoked/deep-fried a turkey in my life.
Fact Two: I have never assisted someone in roasting a turkey.
Fact Three: I have never even helped in the preparation of said bird... no, I lazily watch from the couch in disgust and horror.
Fact Four: I don't stick my hands inside of animal carcasses. It creeps me out. In the eight years of our marriage Nick has had to remove the giblets and neck from every chicken I've roasted.
Fact Five: I have never made Stuffing, pie crust, or yeast rolls that didn't come from a box or the frozen food section.

Now, before you get all judge-y... I DO cook. Pretty well in fact, or so my family thinks. And every now and then my almost 3 yr-old tosses me a, "Good job, Mama!"
We just don't have holiday feasts at our house every week.
So for a job this big I went to the queen of the kitchen (and my favorite food blogger) the Pioneer Woman. She got me started in the right direction by sharing her Thanksgiving week schedule. It didn't seem so frightening once I realized you could prep and bake leading up to the day.

Monday-  Hadley and I made pumpkin puree from two small pumpkins. And that was about all we got done that day.
Tuesday- We cleaned the house and made the pie crusts.
Wednesday- We make the turkey brine, cleaned the bird (I did it. Nick held my hand but I did it. Gag) and began brining the turkey. Then Nick took Hadley to work with him (my hero) and I began prepping all the veggies for the stuffing, cubed the french bread, and bake the cornbread in the skillet (Also for the stuffing) and then onto the dough for the yeast rolls.  Then I started in the pies : Pumpkin, Pecan, and Chocolate. And then I spent the evening cleaning up the royal mess I had made. But it was delightful.

Thursday- Got up at 4:30, clean the turkey and stuck 'er in the oven. Then went back to bed. And guess what, our turkey was done by 9:30... since when, the in the history of ever, has that happened?? Over-achiever.  We turned the oven on warm, to keep our turkey cozy, and waited for Tara and Miko to arrive.
Somewhere in here I set the table.
Soon as Tara and Miko arrived, Tara started peeling, and dicing, and chopping, and boiling like a beast. She was responsible for the mashed potatoes and bacon green beans. I stuck the stuffing and rolls in the oven, then sat back and watch liked I was working hard. Nick jumped in and made the gravy.
Best.gravy. ever.

I must say it turned out to be the most unbelievably easy Thanksgiving dinner, which was not at all what I had anticipated. Usually the cooks come to the table crazed and exhausted, so I was very thankful to enjoy our holiday down time even leading up to dinner.
And the foods of our labor.... slurp.

Thank you Pioneer Woman for sharing your cooking wisdom.
Thank you, Tara, for those mouth-watering bacon beans and dreamy garlic mashed-potatoes.
Thank you, Nick, for standing by my side to make sure I didn't faint on the turkey, and that delicious gravy. You are my knight. And know that now I will probably never attempt gravy since I have you. ;)
Thank you, Miko, for capturing the day, enjoying the food, and being graciously vocal about it. And the laughs.
Thank you, Turkey, for not coming out of the oven looking like a burn victim.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Monster Cookies: not new to Pinterest, but new to us!

A couple days ago I received a text from my older sister, "Have you ever had monster cookies?"

Being the cookie fanatic that I am, I did a quick recipe search.

They should call this the "Every Cookie" cookie. Its basically a peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal, M&M, Peanut M&M cookie... all in one. Yes. Its intense. Its delicious. Its a diabetic-coma experience.

Here is the recipe we used with our own edits and instructions.

Monster Cookies
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup White Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Butter (Softened)
  • 1 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 3 cups Quick Oats
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Peanut M&M's
  • 1 cup Mini M&M's
  • 1/2 cup  Milk Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer- beat sugars, butter, and peanut butter. We used a natural peanut butter that was very creamy, which made our cookies gooey and soft. Regular peanut butter will work fine.
  3. Slowly mix in eggs one at a time and vanilla extract.
  4. Add oats 1/3 cup at a time, baking soda, and flour 1/3 cup at a time until fully combined.
  5. Stir in all M&M's and chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop out with 1/4 cup measuring cup, and roll into a ball then flatten with hands until about palm size. 
  7. Placed on lined baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes- till the outside looks done but the center is still gooey. After removing from oven, leave cookies on the warm baking sheet; this will help the centers to bake a little more.
Makes about 16 jumbo cookies. 

Happy Baking!


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