Friday, June 21, 2013

God Plans the BEST Vacations!

Wow! What a fantabulous time the Johnson Family had on our "Plan B" vacation! God always knows what is best...even when we can't see it at the time.

Some of our highlights include:

Kyla, Daddy, and I getting our boating licenses (after six hours of study)
Eating carbonated watermelon, tomatoes, mustard--you name it (the joy of using dry ice)
Hilarious times around the campfire
And reading God's Word while delighting in His beautiful Creation

I have not felt inspiration to write a blogpost recently so I shall keep the written words short. However, I have felt inspired to create a slideshow of our time in St. Joseph, Oregon. Seeing that a picture is worth a thousand words, I figure this video is equivalent to reading approximately 100,000 words--in six minutes! (That's pretty efficent). Anyways, I hope you enjoy this snapshot (these snapshots, rather) of our five days in paradise!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Change of Plans

When I was about six years old, I looked through Daddy's filing cabinet (I'm not sure why I was in there, but judging by my age, I wasn't supposed to be). I remember very little from my search, but one piece of paper I found will remain etched in my mind forever. The title read: "Johnson's are..."Below, in my father's strong, masculine handwriting, were lists and lists of words. My eagerness to try out newly developing reading skills, combined with my innate curiosity prompted me to read further.

"Hmmm..." I remember thinking. "I think I was adopted. If all these things are what Johnson's are, I definitely am not related."

What I saw as perfectionism, was actually my Daddy's early goals for character traits he wanted our family to be about. And being the thorough man he is, I am pretty sure just about every quality was on that list. One sentence burned into my mind, however. Johnson's are flexible. I could do the splits all three ways, but I knew Daddy wasn't talking about that. He meant being able to adjust, to adapt, to welcome change. Of course, I liked change--when I was in control. But when plans I had set my heart on got canceled? When God reminds me that his ways are not my ways? When  life throws a curve ball I wasn't expecting? Those are the times, when being flexible matters.

Recently, we have had an awesome opportunity to remind ourselves "Johnson's are flexible" and God's Will is always--without exception--best. Turns out, we will not be buying a motorhome, not traveling across the country this summer, and not leaving our home for six weeks. Instead we will be going on a family adventure (as of yet unknown)! So exciting!

I am totally thrilled to see what our family vacation is going to turn into. It's not what we've been planning all spring, but if I get to spend time with my family I am a happy girl. Besides, "Plan B's" tend to be exceptionally fun for the Johnsons (I think we do them more than plan A's).

Excited about the future!


Monday, June 3, 2013

"Our roots say we're sisters, our hearts say we're friends..."

 She says that she was given to me to save my life, and I say that I was given to her so she would have a life. Whichever the case, I couldn’t imagine life without Kyla. It didn’t start out so pleasantly at the first, they say. Being the jealous child that I was, I didn’t take kindly to Kyla being born. I am told that I got so frustrated I bit her--as a child, of course. However, I don’t remember ever harboring such malice towards my 16-months-younger sister; a.k.a. my best friend.

Ever since I can remember we have been best friends, competitors, and partners in crime. I shudder to think where I would be now without her blond, calm head bringing stability to my own cluttered, sporadic brunette.  I suppose I help her too…in my own way: I rock our boat and she steadies it; I rush headlong into trouble and she gets us out of it, both of us enjoying our part in the dance.
Competition. Ah! That word sums up a large part of my relationship with Kyla. Although level headed and cool, she has a fire of determination that makes me struggle for every inch of my title as older sister. Not that I’m still not older when I lose, but it just isn’t the same. I mean, I had a sixteen month head start!
When Kyla is not my competition, she’s my support team. Similar to my mother, Ky has always been there to back me up and cheer me on. I remember when I set out to do a training run for my first half marathon. I was eleven years old and had only run up to six miles, but now (in the heat of the afternoon) I was going to run nine miles. Ky faithfully spent her whole afternoon baking in the stifling sun while pedaling a bike alongside me at a snail’s pace. On her back was a sweaty backpack that held my juice and water bottles. She never told me she wanted to go home and play in the creek or moaned because I was wasting her afternoon. Ky simply cheered me on in her discomfort. For a ten-year-old girl to selflessly help her sister like that takes a lot of character. Then again, that’s what Kyla is made of.
"Your friend is the person who knows you
and still likes you." E.H. 
Her discipline and desire to know Jesus personally, has always challenged and blessed me. At eleven years old, I would get up early, in true Martha fashion, to get my school done early. Kyla would also get up sit at Jesus's feet. She has constantly encouraged me to be like Mary, and to prioritize a consistent relationship with the Lord. After all, He is all that truly matters in this world. Kyla's perspective has enabled her to enjoy a rich, real, relationship with our Savior, and to encourage those around her to do the same. How much she has lead by example in this area, even at a young age, Ky will never know. Thank you Kyla, for showing me what is really important!

Kyla and I can both talk and listen at the same time. Some of our best conversations are in front of the bathroom mirror. We blab away, brushing our teeth, laughing and listening to the other’s comments. Neither of us mind being talked over, though sometimes the noise level in the bathroom reaches record highs and Daddy has to remind us that the kids are trying to go to sleep. We share everything together, over and over again. I wonder if Kyla gets tired of hearing how I want a Ford coupe ’67 mustang with stripes or weary of listening to obsessive amounts of whatever I am learning in school. If she does, she never lets me know (well, there are exceptions). Instead she reminds me, again, of that funny conversation she had with so and so and how she loves mangos. I never get tired of hearing from her, and we chat every chance we get. How, I wonder, did I ever deserve such an awesome friend?

Another significant way Kyla blesses me is with her listening and advice giving abilities. She’s there when I’m convinced "this is the only moment that matters," there to remind me of tomorrow. She’s there to tell me I had a bad idea and there to tell me when I’m brilliant. Ky’s there to listen to me rant about human failings, there to remind me that all humans fail. I don’t know what I’d do without my sister. Even my writing would suffer. Whenever I need to write an essay or create an intriguing plot line for a story, she’s there to listen and give advice. Of course she complains first, but eventually she comes and helps me sort my thoughts. Together, we have created some amazing ideas.

Nerd vs. Jock day for the Volleyball team...of course,
we went with what we knew =)
Some of our ideas weren’t as great as others, and there were some real humdingers, but they kept us engaged and fueled our imaginations. Our musical invention was one of the flops. You see, we had just read about Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb. We were inspired. Ky and I knew better than to try to transform the world with one object, but we decided a new musical instrument would help us break into the inventing industry. The question was--which musical instrument to invent? We could stretch some leather over a trashcan, but those were already called drums, and a guitar was too hard to create (not to mention that it was already invented). Finding some rubber bands and a piece of blue plastic with plastic spikes poking up, we decided we had our tools. It didn’t take too long to stretch the rubber bands from spike to spike, but when we were finished it looked like the inside of a piano and the rubber bands made no noise. Unfortunately, we did not have the patience of Thomas Edison or this world would have been a better place. As it was, we merely created a carbon footprint with our snapped rubber bands and useless plastic.

Kyla and I do play instruments that actually make music, and there have been some trying times in our relationship because of it. Back when we all played the fiddle--whew, that was bad. No one quite understood us when we said playing the fiddle was dangerous. Kyla, Kelsey and I were about eight,      nine, and ten when we began learning the fiddle. The trouble was, we all had to practice together and when I was talking Kyla wouldn’t quit playing. I’m sure she thought I’d never stop talking, or maybe she just wanted to throw her weight around. Either way our music “practice” always ended up in a fight. It would start out with me serenely reminding the girls not to talk while I explained how our practice was going to go. All went well, usually, until after the first song. Kels and I would stop playing and she would listen to me tell Kyla and Kelsey what they could do better next time. Kyla would keep playing.

            “Kyla,” I’d warn. “I already told you not to play while we are talking.” I meant “while I am talking and you are listening,” but that didn’t sound quite right.

Kyla would ignore me and continue playing and playing and playing. She should have known as well as anybody that I’m not fond of being blown off. Smack. I’d hit her with my fiddle bow. Crack. She’d
wallop her bow down hard and I’d block with my fiddle. Kels would start hitting whoever she thought was more in the wrong, which varied from time to time. I’d eventually run for cover. Kyla would get the last hit; I would get the last word, and we’d both tell Kelsey to “Shush!” Now, we get along much better and together Ky, our younger sister Kelsey, and I have written quite a few songs.

Ky was an angel, unless provoked, and I tried my best to be one. We dressed up and sang together in church, we played the harp at weddings, and we even took sewing lessons. Here was one area where Kyla was the hazard and I was the saint. Oh, that girl hated to sew! She would cut crooked, sew worse, and always succeed in clogging our bobbin into a nasty tangle. Ky would talk me into doing her sewing homework for her and I’d oblige her, simply so the dress wouldn’t look so poorly made. Looking back, it is the least I could have done for my sister who had done so much for me. At the time however, I’m sure I felt like a martyr. Either way, we quickly learned that Kyla’s strengths were out of doors, and she shouldn’t be cooped up for long. I, personally, was glad there was at least one area where my sister lacked the patience of Job.

One time, Kyla and I weren’t allowed to be angels, even though we wanted to be. Instead, we were forced to be sheep. We were in a Christmas play together, and I still wonder why Mother signed Kyla
Sisterhood at it's finest
and me up to be sheep and Kelsey got the part of an angel. While Kelsey glided down the aisle in her lovely dress and feathery wings, Ky and I sat on stage in our sweaty wool suits and face paint that made my skin itch. I kept twitching my nose to stop that infernal itching, while Ky scratched under her suit. I guess that made us look all the more like sheep. At least Mother had the wisdom to keep us together. I’d rather be a miserable sheep with Kyla than a glowing angel by myself, even if I did have to scratch next to that handsome rooster. (It’s impossible to look attractive in a sheep suit. Sigh.)

 Kyla and I have been through many adventures together, and I am eager for many more. At times I lead and she follows, and at other times the smartest thing I can do is follow her example. My sister has been the greatest support, friend, comfort and companion in my life. I gratefully praise God for giving me Kyla. If I could change any part of our relationship, I wouldn’t. I look forward with anticipation to what the next few years have in store.

I love you sis! Happy 17th Birthday!


I look forward to continuing to walk through life with you...