Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Just Graduated College!!!!!!!!


Guess who graduated college last week?! Yes, folks, I stand (actually I'm sitting right now) before you a certified, papered, stamped, signed, English Major.

There are two kinds of English Majors: those who study Literature (by far the most common) and those who take the more time-consuming route and write their own version of English.

Now, naturally, English majors will study both of these subjects, but in different quantities. I know there is a lot we can learn from dead people--a lot--but I was never a historian (although I can now list our first five presidents in order), and I don't ever see this being my unique ability. All I learned from Charlotte Perkins is that I don't like yellow wallpaper, and Hawthorne simply elaborated on what the Bible already taught me--immorality brings death.  To top it off, forgive me if I am the only writer who does not pause at the sacred shrine of Shakespeare and bid respect to his glorified soap operas. In short, I find many "celebrated" authors a trifle scandalous and definitely not uplifting.

**Don't get me wrong, my love of reading has spawned my writing passion, and I hold many classic wholesome authors in high regard. Among these being, Alcott, Dumas, Dickens, Montgomery, etc.

I believed the idea of college is that you learn something (although sometimes I wonder if this is truly the case), so when faced with the options of learning about works that frankly shouldn't have been written, or learning about how to become a better author myself, I chose the latter option.

This brings me to a short deviation: English majors are faced with a difficulty. As soon as I mention my major, I find my speaking, my writing, and even my book choices under close scrutiny.

Goodness gracious, what a trial!

I find myself forgetting classic author's names, having to be reminded what on earth defined the Romantic Period (love? kisses?), and biting my tongue when I say "drank" instead of "drunk" or vice versa.

Then there's this blog . . . don't even get me started. I know I can spend weeks editing the grammar of a single post, but then, the task would be too large so I would never post. If you struggle to ignore the glaring grammar glitches (yes, successful alliteration), please view this as a public journal. You don't edit your journal, nor do I edit mine. Here it is. Raw. Full of mistakes. From the heart.
What we hope will be a Pyramid of Success (Johnson Cousins)
Ah! That brings me to another point.

So, you tell a well-meaning person you're an English major.

"How nice. Are you going to teach?"

"I was planning on it, but now I don't think so."

"Oh!" {surprised face} "Then what are you going to do?"

Well let's see. Maybe I'll write. Maybe I'll use this skill of communication to write letters, stories, to share what I learn, to journal my life for my future children (or lack thereof). Maybe I'll pursue writing the books I have wanted to write for the past few years. Maybe I'll use the statement "I graduated college" to calm any worriers who feel it is their duty to make sure every child on this green earth has a "good" education. The possibilities are endless. Really.

But about that "good" education.

College taught me a ton about making deadlines, writing . . . how to be a "good" tester (a.k.a. guesser) and a professor's pet.

However, self-discipline, making good grades, the value of hard work, creatively figuring out solutions, doing my best, and being efficient were taught by my parents. Sure, I applied these skills in college, but I had them pounded into me as a kid. I'm not saying I structured my time as well as I should have or never was pushed to excel by my professors--those things happened. But overall, if I have any good character traits, it's because of my parents and God's grace.

Oh yeah, about family. They have been an amazing support. My parents provided time to help me succeed, but also proved that "work fills the time allotted." They encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to quit, and encouraged me to take breaks and be a teenager when literature became to deep. And let's not forget, they paid for the whole kit and caboodle.

Kyla. Klarabelle (our milk cow).

Dear girls, 

I know every member of this family heard me rave on and on about Sigmond Freud's theories, famous statues, cellular functions, and stogy professors. But you both took listening to a whole new level. Kyla, you quizzed me on Steinbeck's life, the states of child development and everything in-between. Between squirts of your milk in our tin bucket, and lashes from your tail, Klarabelle, you listened as I told how I scraped by on a test, or "deserved" a better grade. I am indebted to you both forever. 

Your confidant

Sooo, there's a few things I should confess here. I wish I could say I'm a straight A student . . . but, I've nearly hit both extremes of the grading spectrum.

 I CLEPed all of my general ed, which means I basically bought a book, and took a two hour exam at a local college to collect credit. It didn't take me long to realize that these tests were pass/fail and your grade did not contribute to your GPA.

Cool, huh? I thought so.

I may have skipped the entire section of art in Humanities, and taken one week to study three grades of math I had never used (let alone pronounced). I may have studied for two days and passed Sociology with an "A," and studied for three months to pass Western History and Natural Sciences with only two questions of the 120 question tests to spare (that was an adrenaline rush).

I should have strove for excellence in every area. But, I look at it this way, I became great at going with my gut, closing my eyes, and picking the right answers. ;)

Well guys, this is a long, seemingly formless post. I have no thesis, my topic sentences are confusing, and my professors would roll over in their graves (if they weren't still living) to read my grammar. That's freedom. I'm a writer now, not an English student--although always a student of life--I can do what I want and call it "my style".

Here's to sticking with your goals and seeing them accomplished! Little steps go a long way, and years fly by! Let's make them awesome!


Kathryn Joy Johnson, child of the High King, child of Chad and Jenise Johnson, and child of learning with a Bachelor's of Arts from Thomas Edison State

P.S. Stay tuned for a new blog I'm starting!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Johnson's Take the East Coast

Hey Guys,

The slideshow of our trip is here!

A lot of you know that for the month of September, the Chad Johnson family took the East Coast by storm! You're right. We had a TON of amazing memories and we met many wonderful people!

We landed in Washington D. C. September 9th, and drove down to South Carolina for the NGJ Shin Dig! (To all my skeptical friends . . . you missed out. Gotta take risks. ;) What an awesome time we had fellowshipping with saints, playing volleyball, and making new friends!

After that week, we shot up to Virginia and soaked ourselves in 1700's culture. Can you say tours? We visited farms, museums, Montpelier, Monticello, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and much more. There was only one rule: walk until your legs ache like the dickens. Then go home. Each of us have learned more history in the past two weeks than we have learned in our lives. Just don't quiz me past the first five presidents.

Honestly, we were feeling so patriotic, I'm surprised we didn't turn red, white, and blue (Until we watched the hotel breakfast morning news, that is ;)

A highlight for all of us in Virginia, was spending the evening at the Cotton's home! About thirty people came over and we were able to enjoy a wonderful meal and good fellowship! Apparently, Daddy spent time with these friends thirty years ago when he came to Virginia with his family. (So, I'm planning on carrying on the tradition someday ;) It was so encouraging to be on the other side of the country meeting with fellow believers! We have such a common bond in Jesus Christ!

Other highlights included spending time with some other dear friends, visiting a few Amish families and going to a delightful Mennonite church! Everyone was so hospitable!

After a delightful weekend stay in a country home, we traveled northward and spent four days at our nation's capital--touring, going through security, and getting to see the old mixed with the new. At a couple museums, we watched IMAX films, but watching Bentley (4) experience 3D for the first time was better than the video. He would perch on the edge of his seat, reaching out to touch the "objects" excitedly.

"Woah! He jumped, startled. "That plane almost hit me!"

It was so fun to see things through the eyes of children.

Well folks, that's our trip in a nutshell!

Until next time,

Kathryn Joy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In Which we Talk about Bunk beds, Tough Mudders, and Katie's Breakdown

Based on True Story that happened last month...

Hot, angry, tears streamed down my cheeks as I quickly marched down the road away from home. The dark pavement matched my mood and the scorching 100-degree sun wasn’t making me feel any better. Mother’s failed attempt at comforting me still burned in my mind.

“Honey, maybe it’s just a hard time of month. You know? That’s why everything is a big deal right now.”

Why did she always blame it on hormones.

“No!” I shouted out loud in the stifling heat. “that’s not it! My life is just a mess and I am not motivated to do anything . . . ANYTHING!” I paused on the pavement, shocked to hear my voice so bitter—shocked to feel my nails biting into my palms. Was I going off the deep end? I wondered. Was I rebelling like all those “oldest” children I had heard about? One thing was clear. Something needed to change.

How you work best matters. Learn it.

Okay, so let’s jump back to the beginning of the week when life was going goodish.  I say “ish” because I was the product of Summertime—tan, a little soft from all those Jamba’s, and with some extra time on my hands. It was time to get off the party wagon and get motivated.

That attitude found me sitting on the couch, eyes glued to the Mac.

“This is it!” I shouted excitedly.

“What?” Mother raised her eyebrows.

“No, no. I’m serious! I am sooooo serious! Twelve miles . . . I need to get better at pull-ups . . .  we need a team . . .”

“What are you talking about, Katie?”

“Tough Mudder! I am doing a Tough Mudder!” The words rattled off my tongue as I saw my lack of motivation and weak body disappear.

“That sounds interesting, but you’d better talk to Daddy,” Mama cautioned.

“He’ll LOVE this!” I assured her.

A few texts later I had a bomber team together: my ripped uncle, two buff friends, Daddy, Kyla and myself. I had talked to everyone but Daddy.

Finally, Daddy was free from meetings. After my most convincing spill, I waited for his answer while reading everything about the Mudder Nation I could get ahold of. I read their blogs, watched their videos, knew their workout plans, success stories and stats. Finally it hit me that I was still sitting on the couch, not getting any buffer.

I took some motivational selfies and set off at a hard sprint to our 3-mile marker. After my run, I clocked how many push-ups I could do in a minute, stretched a little, and drank a glass of water. (Gotta stay hydrated.)

Dude. This is better than New Years!

Forty-eight hours later, I had completed the Tough Mudder a hundred times in my mind and was already imagining myself as a combination of cross-fit champion and Athleta model when Daddy game me his answer.


“No? No?” My voice shook as I watched my visions of podiums and mud puddles crumbling. “But . . . ,“ I  choked back tears. “You don’t understand.”  

An hour later, I came out of my parents room tired and drained with my fellow debater, Kyla. She kept right on with life. I didn’t.”

What was life without a Tough Mudder?

That might be a slight exaggeration, but, regardless, my motivation dropped to literally zero.

“Let’s pick another event instead,” Kyla shrugged as we walked in the cow from our field. “Something classier, like a triathalon.”

“No way. Unless it’s an iron man or something big—something that will hurt.” I stared off into the distance until the sharp sting of our Jersey’s tail brought me back to the clover field. Kyla’s eyebrows were raised in mocking disbelief.

“Are you kidding me, Katie,” she laughed. “You’re so out of shape, running three miles would be hard for you.”

Kyla may have been right, but despite her opinion, I didn’t work out for the next few days. At all. What’s new?

A couple nights later, I was laying in bed mentally kicking myself in the sweaty darkness. I kept getting distracted by Kyla’s soft snoring and Kelsey’s creaking bed.

“Get it together, Katie,” my brain said. “Grow-up and move on from your muddy images. You’re not only out of shape, but you’re behind in school. Focus on that.”

The little demon in my head whispered, “But you’re not motivated to do school because there’s no place to focus in this house.”

That’s when it hit me. The solution to the world’s problems (at least my world’s problems) came in the form of three stacked places to sleep. Yep—a triple bunk.

My brain started whirling out of control . . . faster and faster.

I’ll stack our beds, we’ll have more room, I’ll bring in a desk, build bookcases, and shelves . . .

I jumped out of bed at one in the morning and began scrolling through online bunk bed plans. I could totally do this. An hour later, I crawled back into my muggy comforters—mind racing. By mid-morning, I had built that bed 20 times in my head with a combination of online plans and my own personal touches. I even mentally delegated jobs to Kyla and Kelsey and prepared a proposal for my parents. Finally, blurry-eyed and mentally frenzied, I stormed the medicine cabinet for some relaxing herbs.

Mr. Sun found me hard at work the next day. I announced my plan to Mother at the breakfast table and, after some basic assurances, she was satisfied I could become a carpenter.

“Make sure you run it by Daddy though,” she smiled.”

“Totally,” I grinned. “He’s been talking about this for years but he doesn’t have the time. I will be a life-saver.”

Daddy’s work meeting went longer than expected, and by mid-afternoon, Kelsey and I had our old beds disassembled and wrapped. We were beginning to sort through the mountains of trash under our beds. I had measured multiple times, drawn plans of the bed’s every possible angle, made a supply list, and even an order of events.

That’s when Daddy came home to three beds sitting in the kitchen.

“What’s going on,” he asked sharply.

“We’re building a . . . “ I motioned to Kelsey to stop; she’s a “punch-liner” which isn’t usually very convincing.

“I’ll explain,” I called down from our room.

Daddy’s dark look wasn’t very encouraging, but I didn’t worry. Anyone would be frustrated if beds clogged their kitchen.

I launched into my spiel and presented the problem, then the solution. To back up my claims, I handed Daddy my stacks of drawings to show my dedication, commitment and competency.

Daddy raised one eyebrow as I rushed to explain my plans. I was surprised he didn’t ask me to draw blueprints for our home remodel right then and there. But the again, he was drawn in by my presentation. Daddy offered a few changes and went up to our war-zone to look around.

“Hmmm,” he nodded. “You’ve thought through this.” Things were looking good. He didn’t even acknowledge me when I said I wanted to travel to France for cooking school.

Then, disaster struck.

Being an extreme visionary himself, Daddy’s began suggesting more and more unique bunk-beds until my inner contractor became worried.

“I-I-I don’t want to build a crazy bunk like that,” I muttered.

“Well, I don’t think I want you building any bunk beds right now, Katie.”

“Nooooooo!” I wailed. Kelsey looked at me with a face that said, I spent all morning breaking down beds and uncovering Mt. Everest piles for WHAT?

Think it can’t get any worse? Think again.

Kyla came home from eight hours of work, ready for a nap, and saw her bed in a neat bundle of saran, bubbles, and paper. She took one look at our room floor (actually you couldn’t see the floor) covered in a sea of dirty clothes, papers, and unknown objects and screamed, “KaiTEEEEEEEEE!”

Mother pulled me aside and softly excused my behavior and disappointment with the muggy weather, my lack of sleep, and my hormones. “Ya know hon, I think everything is a big deal right now because . . . "

“I am NOT tired!” I burst into tears. I ignored the fact that Mother and Daddy had explained good reasons for why they didn’t support my past two ideas. “You and Daddy have crushed all my dreams! I have all the energy in the world and you won’t let me direct it anywhere!” **Relationship 101 . . .  never repeat those slight over-generalizations if you want a long, happy life.

That’s how I ended up on the road. Tired. Confused. And bawling like a baby.

Well folks, things do get better after a good nights rest (and a rational talk with the best parents in the world). The next day, Daddy sat Kyla and I down for a business proposal—it was not a contracting position—and tried to ignore the fact that Mt. Saint Kathryn had been active the past week.

“Alright, girls,” he began. “You’ve heard this before. I bit off more than I can chew, so I have two options. I can hire someone outside, or (do what I would WAY rather do) and work with my family. I think we can be an awesome team.” He smiled questioningly.

“But Daddy,” I groaned.  I had explained it to him before. I couldn’t work because I was too busy with school. (In reality I was too busy surfing the web for races and bunk bed plans, but the load of school I was putting off made me feel like I should be busy doing school.)

Three and a half hours after Daddy’s motivational job offer, I was finishing up a work project before dinner. The next morning, I was up at 5am exercising, spending much-needed time in the Word, and working before I milked Klarabelle. I felt great!

Today, I finished a week I started confused and frusterated, with 5 hours of work, 3 ½ hours of school, and a work out. I even made dinner (if you know me, that’s saying a lot).

“Kyla,” I sighed tonight as I brought in our cow. “I am so stoked about working-out and I’m not even training for anything! I got more school done in the past week than I have in the past two months, and I took stress off of Daddy (instead of creating it for him). I earned money, don’t even want to surf the web and am finally not overwhelmed!”

Kyla shook her blond pony tail and laughed, “That’s what I told Mama when you were freaking out. You do best when you have too much to do. Otherwise, you’re like a little kid—when you aren’t busy, you get into trouble.”
The Johnson Family and our Cousin's, the DenDulks, are pumped about Learning how we work best!!! (Actually, we are excited about the fair, but if I said that, this picture would seem out of context…)

Moral(s) of the story: Learn HOW you work! While not everyone is as obsessive as me, we all can be frustrated when we aren’t living up to our potential. I felt overwhelmed yet under-motivated when I was doing nothing. Now I know, due to an emotional obstacle course that would put Tough Mudders to shame, when I feel that way, pile on the work.

Secondly, when you need motivation, just do something small. You don’t have to build a palace or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Motivation is like a snowball; it grows fast but you have to start somewhere.

Third, and perhaps most importantly: ASK DADDY FIRST. In other words, don’t get too far ahead before you have done your research and seen the doors open.

Good luck learning how you work BEST!!!

**It is highly suggested you have amazing, mature, and almost-perfect parents, siblings or a spouse when learning this lesson.

Friday, June 20, 2014


Life is flying past and I am not putting it down on paper. So here's some snippets of our lives in a nutshell.

For those of you who don't know, Kyla, Kelsey, Baylor and I have joined the workforce. Baylor is in high demand with all the neighbors and he is becoming broad-shouldered, buff, and very, very, tan. From yard work and tractors to troubleshooting irrigation and pump problems, Bay does it all. If you need help--well, it depends on what kind--I would suggest giving him a call.

Kelsey, is staying true to her areas of expertise. She is a cook at our town's historic Balch Hotel, a piano teacher, and a "lark-angel"(her new nickname since someone told her she sings like a meadow lark and an angel). Between leading worship and playing for some of our High school's programs, Kelsey has no trouble getting students--every mother wishes their child could play like Kels. =) Oh yeah, Kelsey is also in the middle of recording a phenomenal CD (and I'm not just saying that because I am biased). Stay tuned! (No pun intended.)

Kyla was the first of us girls to have a job interview, the first to work outside the home, and the first to fill a half gallon full of quarters (I was beginning to feel like she was taking over my ice-breaking job). She has been working at Grinders Coffee in The Dalles for about seven months now and has given all of us kiddos good reputations. Of course, we aren't all as amazing as Kyla, but when people suggest that we are, I roll with it. Ky has people driving through the shop with job offers, but she loves where she works (for an awesome christian couple that goes to our church), and what can beat serving Stumptown?

I am having a blast working for my father and trying my best to help him stay sane. Part of my job entails being a project manager for our farm--renting equipment, taking numerous trips to Bryant Pipe:

("I need a thingy that bends like this, has a screw on one end, and a smooth part on the other end. It goes into those metal watering pipes that go deep in the ground so they don't freeze…" "Oh, a frost-free hydrant and a street L.")

Needless to say, I am learning a lot…and our dump trailer and I have become the best of friends. We get into trouble and we get out of it--together. The other part of my work, entails helping Daddy launch The Dream Manager Program for Azure Standard and CDC. That has been a growing process as well, and I am so blessed to have such an amazing man as a father, teacher, and boss.

The younger children have been loving bouncing on our new trampolines and playing in our dream-come-true: a pond!!! At the past few homes we have moved to, Daddy and Mother would pick out the place where we wanted a pond…one day. Now, with a 320D, our talented operator, and God's provision, we have gained permission from six different agencies and dug a 14-foot-deep hole in the ground! Although it's not completely landscaped, most of us are sunburnt and waterlogged from pretending we're fish. I see waterslides, rope swings, and zip lines in the future!

You'll have to come check it out.

Of course, there's a lot I'm leaving unsaid. It's hard to cover a couple months in only a few hundred words. This slideshow of our family's spring and early summer will fill in most of what I missed. =)

Blessings to each of you!

Kathryn Joy

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Squaw Valley Ski Bums

I have not written in a long. Long. Time. (periods added for emphasis, not grammatical correctness.)
That's the biggest problem with procrastination: the longer you put something off, the harder it is to do. However, there is WAY too much to say, so I am going to attempt to throw off writer's block and put down some of these memories.

March has been the best month of my life. I am prone to say things flippantly, but I am serious and thoughtful about this. Never have I felt so much peace and contentment, been so fulfilled and productive, or so happy about the future. I can't really pin point an exact reason, but I am just soaking up this blessed time--aware that trials won't hold off forever.

As some of you know, we left the last week of February to Tahoe City--two cars, a trailer, tons of snow gear and a bunch of die hard skiers. Due to snow conditions, we hadn't skied much the past couple years and we had kind of forgotten how much we loved to ski . . . we did remember that it was something to be excited about. We forgot it was addicting.

The first couple days, snow fell slowly and surely--4'' here, 8'' there.

 Despite Tahoe's horrible snow year, we managed to have 6-7 powder days (which totally made our passes worth it). When the snow stopped, we practiced synchronized skiing, like Daddy used to do with his siblings. Total blast. Since we wear matching jackets, people kept asking if we were a team, and soon we knew every regular on that mountain!

It was awesome to feel like a local.

We eventually tried the park. Can't believe we left it alone for so many years! A bunch happened there that I cannot put into words.

My feeling of ecstasy as I landed my first 360. Karaline's excitement at making the landing on her first 25 foot table. Kelsey's terrified face as she watched the large landing fade away before she dropped 20 feet onto hard snow. Daddy and Kimmy's grins as they learned the rails. Kyla's rapid fist pumps after her successful grabs.

And then, there was my stomach churning as Baylor launched upside down and . . . stopped. He learned a lot from the mistakes he made on his first backflip attempt and his broken collar bone reminds him to pick a better jump next time.

It was such a blast to ski hard in the morning, rat packing down chair lines and trying to follow Daddy's lines down "bump runs."I don't know what it is about skiing with your family, but it's amazing--a feeling I don't ever want to forget.

"This puts life into me!" Daddy shouted.

Anything for Daddy… ;)

In the afternoons, the older kids, Daddy, and Mother would ski with the younger half. I felt like a proud parent (actually, more like a proud sister) as I watched Bentley laying down carves and Barrington and Kinsey race down the hill. Those kids have no fear.

That scares the rest of us.

Our time was even more rad when our longer-than-life-friends (our parents were friends before they were married), the Williams, came to Tahoe for their ski races. These guys are the real deal and skiing with them made us feel that all the skill we had gained was nothing. As always, we had a great time learning from them and fellowshipping. Our Uncle Tim, Aunt Brenda, and all my darling red-headed cousins stopped in as well and we had a wonderful Sunday strolling by the lake, building rock sculptures and chatting while eleven kids splashed like crazy in the small Jacuzzi. When Brendan Stevens came and hung out we had a blast skiing, snowball fighting, and sharing a massive burger (that fed 14 of us) . . . the "GNAR BURGER." Good times.

Okay. So just one more highlight: the moonlit snowshoe trip with my parents and us four oldest. It was quite the trudge on the way up a small ski mountain, but on the way down we flew. Bay discovered that by sitting down we could haul down the freshly groomed runs.
The problem was stopping.

Screaming and laughing we'd race until it felt like our snow pants were melting, then we'd dig in our ski poles for all we were worth--and keep going, and going, and going. As most of you know, Daddy is a dare devil (with wisdom) and he lets us take risks, but I had never seen him get mad about us doing something crazy until we skidded out of control down that hill. It was thrilling, terrifying, and memorable all in one. We enjoyed counting our bruises the next day.


Before Tahoe helped us understand helmets are a crucial part of one's ski gear. 
Wow, guys. So this is the fourth weekend in a row I have tried to post this. If this seems disjointed, that may be why. =)

To sum up, our ski trip was pretty much--no definitely--the best thing that ever happened to me. Our family drew SO much closer as we learned new skills together, challenged each other, and pushed each other to new heights.

Family is amazing ya'll.

I am beyond blessed to have parents that leave the status quo in the dust, and beyond beyond blessed to get to live with my best friends every single day!!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Entrepreneurial Escapades (by: Kelsey)

So, some of you guys know my sister Kelsey is an amazing musician. Some of you know she is stellar at ping pong. Some of you know she's a great cook, has fantastic humor, and is a killer athlete.

But did you know she is an extraordinary writer? (I know, she's good at everything. . .)

This past year, I have had the privilege of being Kelsey's English teacher. It has been so rewarding to watch her grow and develop her skills in written communication. Full of raw talent and humor, Kels makes my job super easy and makes me look like a pretty good teacher.

 Anyways, last week, I asked my class to write a 500-800 word story about an experience they had. When Kelsey read hers I just knew I had to share. I laughed when she told me about her experience last summer, and I laughed even harder when she described it on paper. Below is her finished draft, along with some insight  from Kels on being an entrepreneur.

She's hilarious.

 Entrepreneurial Escapades 

            “Today is the day I go from being a pauper to a prince!” I announced at the breakfast table one sunny summer morning.

            By this, I meant that today would be the day I would start my milk business. I was as confident as David facing Goliath and as inexperienced as a bird that has not yet left the nest. After breakfast, I eagerly went “all out” and made some of my world-famous-Kelsey-original-chocolate-chip cookies, determined to make the day a success.

            “Load up!” I called to my two little siblings, whom I recruited for the sole purpose of adding the “cute factor” to my operation.

            Rummmmmmm. Our truck engine rumbled to life and off we roared. I was prepared to conquer the world—so I thought.

            Thump, Thump, Thump.

            I boldly gave the door three hearty whacks with the dingy, brass knocker. Impatiently, I waited with pitcher in one hand and a plate of uncovered cookies in the other. My two siblings stood timidly behind me. The whole idea of selling milk to strangers was still a little daunting to them. Finally, someone opened the door.

            “What do you want?” crabbed an overweight, pajama-adorned woman.

            I noticed the cupcake design on the flannel pajama bottoms.
            “I’m here to offer you some of the best raw cow’s milk in Wasco County. No hormones, Klarabelle is grass fed, non-GMO, not treated with rBST and the best thing about it is it’s 100% organic. Good for you and good for the planet!” I crowed.

            The lady appeared unmoved by my thrilling speech even though I offered her my most salesman-like smile. She must have been kind of interested though, because she grudgingly called one of her grungy children to come taste it.

            “Here you are!”  I said enthusiastically, thrusting a half filled paper cup of the liquid toward him. I watched as he took one swallow of the milk and made a face like I’d given him poison. He muttered one word “Yuck!”

            His cupcake-clad mother grunted, “Not interested,” and slammed the door.

            Needless to say, I didn’t make the sale.

            Stop number two, three, four, five and six generated similar results but my hopes were still as high as a soaring eagle. I comforted myself with the saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” or in my case, fortune was not made in a few hours.

            Sticky summer smells wafted to my nose, reminding me of a hamburger cookout. Flies buzzed around my head, and the now warm jug of milk, as I approached my seventh house.

            Knock, knock, knock! I was cordially greeted by a woman who looked like she was attempting to be Ms. America—forty years too late. She was all sparkles and glam—the full package, complete with face-lift, hair extensions and fake nails. I knew at first glance the idea of raw cow’s milk would sound a little too natural to this fine specimen of cosmetic confection . . . hmm, I mean perfection. Nevertheless, I gave her my sales pitch.

            My suspicions were confirmed when she replied in a sugar coated voice, “Not today, honey.” The flutter of her long, false eyelashes and gushy smile made me sick. It was my turn to mutter “yuck” as I turned away.

            Six discouraging stops later, I was beginning to wake up to reality. Things weren’t working out the way I had hoped. As I marched down Main Street to my last stop, a friend drove by and waved. I felt kind of dumb trudging around town with my cookies, milk, and two siblings. Especially when all I had to show for my effort were some tired children, a few less cookies, and what I thought at the time: wasted sweat and energy.
            However, I was still persistent. A little too persistent. I’m sure I knocked on some back doors when the front ones didn’t open. I also applied my knocking abilities at one unlucky individual’s door for at least a minute and a half before a very disgruntled old man answered my call. He looked as big and angry as a bear that has just come out of hibernation.

            “Would you be interested? ” I asked sweetly before giving him my spiel.

            What a spiel it was! I had it down by this time and it rattled off my tongue as smooth as butter.

            “No thanks, kid!” was the angry reply.

            He slammed the door and I imagined him ambling back to his den to finish the nap I had obviously interrupted. Slowly, I trudged back to the truck discouraged, and broke as ever.  In the truck cab, my two weary followers and I sat in stony silence, mourning the loss of prosperity.

            Suddenly, I shattered the silence with an explosive laugh.

            “What’s your problem,” muttered Barrington sullenly.

            Grinning at my surprised siblings I chirped, “No worries guys. There’s always next time. Wanna cookie?”

             As I thought about the day’s events, I decided I could look at my first entrepreneurial escapade in two different lights. I could see it as a complete failure, or I could see it as a learning experience (the later being the wiser of the two options.) Even though I didn’t succeed in recruiting one customer to my cause, I learned many wonderful life lessons such as putting my best foot forward, investing in presentation, and putting myself in a larger market where I had a better chance at being accepted. This little adventure has just added more fuel to my entrepreneurial fire, and only deepened the desire I already had to succeed.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

What do you think of when you think of Valentine's Day?

Love, chocolate, roses?

For me, many images pop into my mind. I think of those over-achieving grade-school years, where Kyla, Kelsey and I decided to make valentines. The first three took about four hours--glittery, lacy, works of art. The next five minutes were spent haphazardly hacking out twenty-seven construction paper shapes (faintly resembling hearts) and writing "Happy Valentine's Day" till my hand was forever cramped around my pen--desperately wishing I didn't have so many friends.

Then, of course, I think of love. An overabundance of love.

I picture waking-up, expecting a normal day, to notes with Mother's handwriting and treats posted where we do our chores. Sleepy-eyed, wandering into the kitchen and seeing a cheerful banner, our infamous red table cloth, fancy breakfast, and a sparkly valentine at each plate. Mother's handiwork.

I picture the giant bouquets of roses Daddy buys Mother. The unique cards, sweets, and experiences he surprises her with. Then too, the many years of valentine cards I have received from the one who has my heart. Daddy has always made each of his girls feel so loved on this special holiday, right down to the roses or chocolate bar we share.

But this year, something was missing.

Here I am, the recipient of devotion, yet how am I sharing the love I have to give? I am a girl brimming with grace and God's love, so why am I not sharing it?

Forget that. This year, I decided, was going to be different.

It was different! Oh, how delightfully, beautifully different!

Getting Ready to "Show the Love." (We have so many pictures in front of our staircase. It's just so picturesque you know? (Side note: Kinsey has turned smiling into a science…apparently she has the same feelings about that subject as I do.)
Valentine morning was spent in a whirlwind of glue, glitter, stickers and the smell of something chocolate wafting through the air. By the time Kelsey slid the melting fudge brownies out of the oven and I had completed my duties as scribe (yes, my hand had a cramp), there were five fat stacks of carefully crafted valentines.

Let's just say, that in this case, beauty was in the eye of the maker.

Bentley's valentines looked liked the remains of a third World War. He was so pumped about his chaotic mess of black and red. Kinsey's had every sticker in the neighborhood overwhelming one small heart, and a couple of the older girls could not get enough glitter.

Later that afternoon, cellophaned plates of brownies, valentines, and ukuleles in hand, ten of us piled into our six-seater truck ready to embark on our "Show the Love Tour." At our first stop, we piled out looking like a lost circus or carolers that forgot what time of year it was.

Creak. The door slowly opened.

"Happy Valentines!" We chorused.

Ah. I fear we startled our poor elderly neighbor. After quickly explaining our presence, the kiddos swarmed through the door and crammed into the mobile home's tiny entry. All except Bentley, that is. After shoving his valentine into Violet's face, he ran into the living room and plopped himself on the couch--watching TV.

While Kimmers and Kloe played and sang a duet on their ukes, I had flashbacks to Mother and Daddy making us older ones sing at random times  in hotels or restaurants. Now, here I was, pushing the younger girls outside their comfort zones. Funny how time changes things.

Our little tour was short and sweet. We visited three widows and a few other neighbors who have blessed us a lot over the past few years. It was such fun parading around town surprising neighbors and reminding them they are loved. There are very few things more enjoyable than making someone's day, and this was one of the best Valentines I have ever had!

To all my siblings…Thanks for being the most gung-ho troopers ever. I know wearing an itchy dress and tramping around the rain isn't everyones' idea of a good time. I know it's hard getting woken up from your nap and being told to be a cheerful ball of love. I know jumping on every bandwagon your  sister tells you is "a great idea" isn't easy. But you guys do it! I am so grateful we find joy in squishing into cars and breaking out of our comfort zones together. I love you.

Happy Valentines!

Kathryn Joy

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy 2014 From the Johnsons

Just another Sunday in Dufur.

Happy 2014, Dear, good friends,
It's that time of year, where we take out our pens.
And in effort, to share a bit of God's grace,
We've penned a fine poem, (rather long, in this case).

Livin' in Dufur has not been a bore,
We've been traveling so much we're barely there no more.
From CO to AZ and all in-between,
"Jump in the van! There're things to be seen!"
All of us Kiddos are still growin' strong,
Even Kordelia is comin' along.
She toddles, and teeters, tells us what to do,
Comin' June, she'll be turnin' two.
Bentley's up next, that little scamp,
At four-years-of age he light's our world like a lamp.
With smiles abundant and yackative mouth,
He cuddles and jabbers, and does school with Kels.
Kinsey's a wonder, at six years old,
She's confident, smart, and tremendously bold.
Helping, and playing, an inquisitive mind,
"Can I smother, Kordi in love? Would she mind?"
Who is the boy with the freckles and grin?
Playing the fiddle and feeding the hens?
Barrington, Barrington, Baylor's right hand,
At the ripe age of 7, he's becomin' a man.
Kloe's the artist, the rest of us try,
Nine in November, boy does time fly.
She delights us with twinkly eyes and sweet face,
Serving and loving with fairy-like grace.
Kimberly Paula, keeps us all on our toes,
Climbin' 100 foot trees (no joke)…goodness knows.
Slacklinin', rope swings, athletics galore,
Piano and schoolwork, busy with chores.
Who's the queen, slender and tall?
That'd be Karlaine, 12, knitter of all.
With schoolwork in hand, she organizes the day,
Everyone loves her creative way.
Who's the man? Runnin' the farm?
Chadwick Baylor, 14, buff arms.
Protecting us womenfolk, raising cattle,
Chopping wood, everything aeronautical.
Just like Daddy, Bay was born to fly,
With all his study, he'll soon be up in the sky.
Sixteen-year-old Kelsey, where to begin,
She's cooking and driving, and racking up wins.
A volleyball hitter and ping-pong fanatic,
She works hard, plays piano, and is superbly spasmodic.
Kyla is seventeen going on twenty,
Baristain' it up and is bringin' home money.
Cello's fantastic, so was being a setter,
Takin' third at State has never been better.
Katie's 19, still pluggin' away,
Lookin' forward with joy to graduation day.
Writing papers and music, an idea machine,
Teaching Math, English, and Fiddle and lots in-between.
As for our parents, well, they're doin' fine,
Goin' to Hawaii, then Arizona for some special time.
Daddy is flying, and bringin' home dough,
Learning to relax and slow down. You know?
Filling each of our love tanks is never easy,
But we think he's first rate (at the risk of sounding cheesy).
Mother's still vibrant and full of life,
Loving her children, being a supportive wife.
Taking cooking classes to improve her already amazing skills,
She still loves singing, and spending time with her girls. (and boys)
All in all, 2013 has been grand,
Best wishes to each of you, Woman and Man.
May this year be filled with blessing and fun,
Praise be to Jesus, GREAT things He hath done!

The Chad Johnson Family

Kathryn (19)  &  Kyla (17)
Kelsey (16)

Chadwick Baylor (14)
Kimberly (11) Karaline (12) Kloe (9)

Christian Barrington (7) Kinsey (5)

Conrad Bentley (3)
Kordelia (Kordi) 18 months

Chad and Jenise (ages N/A)

**Copyright. All rights reserved by "Kathryn & Kyla Creative Genius Inc." 2014.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Back to Blogging! =)

Hey, it's me again--Katie.

Yes. The Johnsons are still alive.

It goes without saying that I have not felt much inspiration to write, recently. To be more specific, I have not been inspired to blog. This is partially due to experiencing memories instead of writing about them. In part, a result of all my "writing time" being spent filling up journals as I sort my thoughts.

To be sure, I have had plenty of those. As the New Year rolled around, I watched blogposts pop up right and left, detailing inspirational goals and strategies for this fresh new season in our lives. I tried to write my own, yet I just couldn't find the right words.

As I looked back on December, November, then this whole past year, thoughts swirled through my head like a churning, Midwestern snowstorm. Still caught up in the flurry of 2013's ups and downs, mountain-top experiences and dark valleys, I could barely see clearly to make decisions in this bright, clean New Year. So, I set blogging aside and wrote in a more private fashion.

While I processed and examined life in general, I read through this blog and was so encouraged by God's faithfulness. I am still quite unsure about what this year holds, but I now have the clarity I so desperately wanted at the beginning of this year. God is in control and I cannot wait to see what He has in store for me!


Sometimes a New Year can be kind of daunting, you know? Like a fresh sheet of paper, void of words, just waiting for thoughts to overflow into inky characters. Sometimes we cling to what we know, where we are comfortable. In an effort to not "mess up" we never take those first steps.

But this year, like many of you, I am challenged to break the ice in some fresh ways.

As the oldest child, ice breaking has not been optional. I am an ice breaking machine. And often, anytime I am breaking the ice for ten cheerful followers, my parents are breaking the ice alongside me. It's been a position that I wouldn't trade for the world but, as can be expected, there have been a few frigid moments.

All that to say, I don't just want to break any old ice, I want to be purposeful about what I am putting my hand to do. 2013 flew by. 2014 will be gone before I know it. What do I really want when this year is done?

Obviously school is a priority. It's time I finally put my hand to the wheel and finish what I started. But, life is more than a degree. I want more than a sheet of paper at the end of 2014. Why do I want my degree anyways?

Working out, stretching, eating right, these are all good goals. But why? So I can pull out the splits at some opportune time, or know that I have a six-pack?

Finding creative ways to make money. Well, that's a necessity…if I want a car. Why do I want a car?

Why am I doing what I'm doing? Why am I pursuing these goals? Why am I spending this year's precious moments in these particular ways?

Eventually, the Lord opened my eyes to why each of these things are important. Not because I need to feel smart, or look good, or have a fat wallet. It is because each one of these areas provides me with a key.

Invaluable keys.

Keys to open the only two doors I really care to open. Keys to the only things that really matter in this world.

Experiences and Relationships.  

At the end of this year, the only things I will hold in my hand and heart are the experiences I have had, and the people I love. That's why I do the things I do. So I can expand my horizons, and have unique memories with the ones who color my world.

How simple is that?

However, it's a tougher goal than it sounds. So often I can get hopelessly caught up in groping for a key, that I miss the doors of opportunity already opened to me. I can't go on a bike ride with the kiddos because I am working out. Are you kidding me? That's why I need to stay in shape. I can't help the girls with math because I am busy studying to be a teacher. Really?

This year, I challenge you. Slow down. Take time to revel in those sweet moments and treasure those fading sunsets. Don't forget why we do the things we do, or what really matters in life. Because, after all, we never know how long these moments will last.