Saturday, February 26, 2011


Philip and I were asking Luke about his Spring Break plans to travel to Mission Arlington with the Jr. High youth ministry. He agreed that he would like to go especially if Philip went as a sponsor.

I reminded Landen that the high school had a similar trip planned for next month. He grumbled, "Yeah, I wanted to go until I heard it was all about singing and stuff."

Philip and I were puzzled.

Until I realized Landen has seen nothing in writing about the High school trip. He has only heard it announced:

"High Schoolers need to sign up soon for 'A Choir - The Fire'."

[IBC high schoolers will be attending 'Acquire the Fire' in April. Landen now plans to happily join them.]


Mari Alice and I were at my bathroom counter getting ready for our family night out. As I dried her hair, I reminded her of some manners concerning the adults we planned to join for dinner.

cdj: "Mr. & Mrs. King. That is what I want you to call them. Ok, Mari?"

4yo: "Mr. & Mrs.?? Why is there a Mrs.?"

cdj: "What do you mean?"

4yo: "Why is there a Mrs.?"

[At this point, I turned off the blow dryer in order to REALLY focus on this confusing conversation.]

cdj: "Mari, what are you talking about?"

4yo: "I thought it was two guys."

cdj: "Why would it be two guys?"

4yo: "Didn't you tell me Uncle James lived with the kings?"

cdj: "Yes. Mr. and Mrs. King."

4yo: "So, they're not real kings?"

[I'm not sure if Mari has imagined JW in a mansion with Elvis and MJ all this time, or if she assumed James and his roomies walked around wearing regal robes of velvet with glittery crowns. But in that moment, Friday's dinner plans became far less majestic, and slightly more mundane to the princess with the not-so-royal uncle.]

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

For No Particular Reason

So last night Philip and I cooked dinner TO.GETH.ER.

Seventeen years of marriage, and I dare say this has seldom happened. [read: never]

We were outside playing baseball. Yes, WE. All Johnsons.

From the pitcher's mound, Ashlin asked, "Are you making pancakes for dinner, Mom?"

From deep center field, I was about to give the affirmative, when the really cute catcher/hitting coach piped in, "No, I am making pancakes for supper."

Well, then.

After our team scored the go-ahead run, we called the game, put away the gear and came inside for showers. While Philip began mixing the sandy, whole-wheat batter and waited for the griddle to heat, I chopped some vegetables for my famous "junked-up eggs"...scrambled eggs with spinach, potatoes, onions, peppers, ham and cheese.

After a lengthy, potentially stressful discussion about serving sizes and measuring options, I offered my blanket statement of submission, "Whatever you decide will be great!"

Anytime he asked me another question, I just hit rewind and play, "Whatever you decide will be great."

We silently worked side by side until dinner was served. The freshly bathed kids joined us at the dinner table for the second breakfast-at-night in eight days.

Over dinner, we pondered all the people and places on the earth where Christ is not known. We discussed our all-time favorite flavor of chips. And we all did our best impression of "Daddy when he drives." Hilar.

Clean kitchen. Two episodes of vintage Cosby. Bedtime for all.

Thank You, God, for my sweet, beautiful family. You love us well:)

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Philip remarked at dinner that my Valentine's flowers were wilting.

Ashlin offered scriptural truth while Luke saw the opportunity to slam.

Ash said, "Well, you know...they're dead. They were dead when they arrived because they were cut from the vine. Even though they were pretty, they were dead."

Luke pounced, "They were dead when they headed up our driveway. Here, under Mom's supervision, all flowering plants wither and die."

And there you have it. Happy Springtime, Y'all!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I remember with a giggle how my dad would step away from a Thanksgiving table. He'd pause in the doorway, rub his belly, and smirk, "Well, folks, another turkey has entered the ministry!"

What a goofball.

But he was right. His entire life was a ministry. Not just because the vocational box he checked on the census was beside the word "Minister". Not just because the employer listed on his tax form was a "church". He was a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ every day in many ways.

A couple times in my life, my dad held day jobs outside the church. From my adolescent vantage, there was not a big difference. He was the same. Jovial and endearing toward strangers, passionate and probing about the truths of God, and willing to be used in any capacity to which the Lord called him.

Back in elementary school - when he had been a pastor my whole life - I remember taking the distinction quite personally. A group of friends were discussing some dastardly deed, and the statement was made, "Well, we know you won't, Cari. You're dad's a PREACHER!" I immediately assured them that they were only half right. "I wouldn't do it if my dad were a banker or a garbage man either!"

I vividly remember explaining to those kids that the decisions I made were not based on what my dad did for a living. I told them I tried very hard to make all my decisions based on what might make God the most happy. I suppose it was the first time I used words to share my faith. (Well, there was the time in Kindergarten, shortly after I had been saved, where I unashamedly proclaimed to the other five year olds that disobeying one's parents was indeed a sin.)

I don't remember being taught this idea of integreating faith and discipline or ever questioning it. But confusing messages of protocol floated all around. I knew of people who were "called into the ministry". Mainly boys. The few girls who felt this call -and said it out loud- were surely heading for the mission field. Where else would there be an acceptable position of service?

My first summer at youth camp, I "felt a call". I was terrified. I did NOT have one single vibe in my soul toward foreign cultures. Now what? Was it real? What do I tell people? "I've been called to missions?" What does that really mean? After much editing, I remember saying, "I feel like God is setting me apart for something important that He wants to do through me." (That was my story and I was stickin' to it!) I simply had not heard a model for the verbiage to articulate what was truly happening in my spirit.

Honestly, the best I could figure, I was being called to [marry a] minister. I knew second-hand the pressure and privilege lain at the feet of a pastor's helpmate. My youthful perspective allowed my mind to entertain such a notion as rational closure.

Years passed. I read the Bible. I enjoyed worship. I made good grades. I kept taking piano lessons. I kept singing in church. I kept trying to make my decisions based on God's glory. I kept a journal.

As I studied music education at college, I prepared to manage a classroom, but hoped to joyfully manage a thriving household someday. As I spent time with gentlemen, I would occasionally and quite secretly think back to that July evening in the camp tabernacle and wonder if I was "within the will of God".

More years passed. New university. New major. New guy. I met the "one for me". Luckily -in terms of aligning my life with teen aged interpretations of divine callings - he was a "ministerial student". Whew! That was a close one.

We married. I worked for my Alma mater until we found out we were going to be parents. Though we had no financial foundation for my transition home, God blessed us with common resolve and uncommon poverty and provision.

A couple years later, my husband came to me and said, "I need a change. I feel like God is leading me to step away from youth ministry. I want to encourage and meet the needs of men. I don't know what that looks like, but I feel really strongly."

Even though this new direction would leave us homeless since we were raising our sons in a parsonage, not for one moment, did I hesitate. Never did I ask, "So, you're leaving the ministry?" He read his letter of resignation from the pulpit a short time later and then we continued to worship with that body. Although, we did have to actually drive to church.

We immediately began hosting a mens' prayer breakfast in our home on Wednesday mornings. Philip didn't get paid. He had no title or position in the church. He didn't turn in receipts. He just ministered to a group of men once a week before going to work at a power company.

Ironically, that same year, I was approached by our pastor. Our worship leader was scheduled to be out of town the week of Christmas. He wanted to know if I could put together a special communion service. That project led to many more opportunities and eventually a permanent position on staff as the worship leader.

Funny story: When we received the invitation to the Association's Staff Appreciation Banquet, it was addressed to "Ministers and Wives". I snickered at Philip and said "Can you be my wife for this event?"

In my new roll, I received a paycheck. I had a title and a position in the church. I kept mileage and turned in receipts. But really, I just ministered to the people with whom I much the same way I minister to my kids and neighbors and friends every day.

Let me say, I believe God ordained men to be leaders. I look at my time as a staff member as a specific calling for a specific season in a specific gifting for a specific flock. If there had been an available man willing to serve, I would have cheerfully returned to my seat on the seventh pew, and submitted to his matter his skill or ability.

Today, many years later, Philip still works as an electric lineman, and I "joyfully manage our thriving household", (dreams really do come true:). Within the church body, he teaches and oversees and greets and serves. I share my love for worship with the next generation and I use my love for writing to encourage women.

Beyond the walls of the church house, we try to shine for Jesus. Philip does a ton of ministering from the cab of a lineman's truck, across the booth of the local diner, or in a dugout. Most of mine happens as I walk and talk and teach and train. We tell our story. We share with others. We give our time. And we raise our kids to do the same.

We are ministers of the gospel of Christ every day in many ways.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Like it Is

Here is a conversation that Mari Alice and I shared between the back booster and the driver's seat on our way to the park this morning.

"So, Mom, when you were a tiny baby, Grammy was your real Mom?
And Papaw Ward was your Dad?
And now YOU're the Mom and she's the Grammy and Papaw Ward is in heaven?
So someday when me and 'Lizabeth have babies, what will you be?"

"I'll always be your mom."

"Yeah, 'cept you'll be really old!"


"We never know the love of our parents for us till we have become parents." - Henry Ward Beecher

"The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age." -Lucille Ball

Thursday, February 17, 2011


"This is the greatest night ever!" exclaimed Mari Alice Monday evening.

Considering my infamous aversion to restaurants on holidays, Philip and I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day at home with the kiddos. I asked the kids what would seem special to them. They agreed a breakfast feast would hit the spot.

We made sausage pinwheels and scrambled eggs plus blueberry AND lemon poppy seed muffins. Frozen fruit and decaf completed the deal.

The bouquet of BEAUTIFUL flowers that Philip sent earlier in the day crowned the center of our spread. Stargazers, roses and daisy-ish flowers in deep burgundy hues blended perfectly with the dining room. (happy!) Landen had worked a preschool party during the afternoon and brought home the spoils: baloons filled with helium, cupcakes with sprinkles, and candy-filled goodie bags.

Folks rode bikes and played baseball until dusk, then we ate. Since we had been separated: boys and girls all weekend, there were plenty of stories to share. The dinner table was alive with laughter and love.

I bought Philip his very own copy of "A Knight's Tale" so that was a solid consideration for evening entertainment. However, we also discovered that all 8 seasons of "Cosby" are on our Netflix instant queue. Since girls' bedtimes were approaching and the fellas were still recuperating from the D-now, AND we agreed that something suitable for everyone would be best, we opted for the pilot episode of "Cosby"...when there were only 4 kids and Theo was "Teddy". So funny to watch.

Then it was "all kids to bed" and the darling and I enjoyed two more episodes. My all-time favorite scene is when Theo thinks he can make it in the real world and when he's at school, they clear out his room and his whole family goes deep into character to teach him a little lesson about the real world.

Lily Farquar (played by Theo's mom) welcomes him into "Furniture City" where the bed from his room is for sale for $200.

Theo: "I don't have $200"
Lilly: "Well, you are in LUCK because Heeah, at Fuh-ni-chah Cit-ay, we accept all major credit cards."
Theo: "I don't have a credit card."
Lilly: "Well, you are in LUCK because Heeah, at Fuh-ni-chah Cit-ay, we accept personal checks."
Theo: "I don't have a checking account."
Lilly: "Well then, you are about to LEAVE Fuh-ni-chah Cit-ay!"


All-in-all our Valentine's Day celebration was perfect. Netflix had delivered, Landen had brought sugar-laden loot, Luke & Mom had cooked a fantastic, dinner, and the girls all received a stuffed animal AND a photo frame from the most handsome man in their lives: Daddy, who had come home and did NOT get called out to work. As a lone ballon clung to the vaulted rafters of the living room, and everyone giggled and took turns giving bullrides and airplanes in the middle of the rug, Mari was overcome with joy.

"This is the greatest night ever!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Ok. It's time to get real. Again.

Where shall I begin?

I'd better just say it. I have reached the old level of unhealth. Over the last year I have allowed my lack of resolve and apethitic laziness to rein in my evidenced in snug jeans and the gasping and panting that occurs when I exhert myself in anyway.

Brutal. All the fruit of my hard work a few years back. Gone.

This is the part where I begin to rationalize my failure with exaggerated excuses. I say, "I was pregnant for the better part of one year and then I was nursing and sleep deprived for another." After last fall, I was able to add yet another medically documented pitfall to the list. "I didn't move for a month, and now my back hurts when I do too much. My knee goes numb everytime I start to walk."

blah blah blah

A few weeks ago, I started reading "Made to Crave".

It got a little personal in terms of admitting my weaknesses, so I was happy to be distracted by Priscilla Shirer's "Jonah". The first couple pages really set the tone for "receiving God's interruptions" as divine appointments and opportunities for obedience. Immediately, I began to wonder if I would get anything out of this study. "Well, I certainly don't struggle with rebellion and disobedience." I soothed myself with oblivious pride.

I asked the Lord. "Do I? I don't really, do I?"

long pause.

I asked the Lord, "I don't want to be prideful. Show me where I'm rebelling."

long pause.

two-word whisper: "Your health."

Rebellion? Um. I prefer words like: struggle, weakness, failure, will-power, discipline, emotions, determination. I am a victim here. Not a rebel.

The Lord patiently and gently guided my thoughts.

I know what the Lord desires for my "temple" or "vessel". I have read scripture and books and taken classes and watched videos and been in support groups.

I can do this. On a couple occasions, I have lost substantial weight and felt great in so many ways. Last month, I had two really good weeks of walking and eating sensibly and one morning, I just said, "No. I don't want to do this," and then I ate a big bowl of cereal and sat on my rear.

If I know the right and good thing to do and do not do it...I have rebellion in my heart.

Not good. Not good at all.

Dang it.

It is so much easier to be a victim. Or even just a sinner who struggles with gluttony or slothfulness. But to refer to my behavior as rebellion against God somehow takes it to a painfully new level.

So that "Father - daughter" conversation happened a week or so ago. I tried to pray and fast. That lasted about 5 hours. I knew I should repent and tell my family and perhaps a couple friends, but I did not want to. I did not want to. What is that? My new favorite sentence??

Yesterday's weather was warm and muggy. I faced the frightening notion that I will soon be unable to hide in a hoodie. As I thumbed through my calendar, I realized that I am scheduled to turn 40 in exactly 6 months. I wondered, "What will get my attention?" "What will motivate me?" (I'm searching for something other than pleasing the One True and Just God????)

Gee, I'm a loser.

So today, I open my email, and there is a summons by Philip's company for a health screening. They wish to weigh me, measure my body mass, check my blood pressure, and cholesterol, and blood sugar. Then "counsel" me on strategies to improve my health. Fabulous.

Tonight, I confessed my rebellion to my husband. He compassionately agreed that he "needed to get his heart right too". We have enjoyed the benefits of unconditional love and affection. Now it is time to activate a bit of tough love and truthful spurring toward greatness.

And now I've been absolutely honest here in bloggerville. I am stuggling. I need prayer. I am a rebel. I don't want to be anymore. I want to be more. More active. More fit. More energetic. More righteous. More pleasing to my Maker.

The end.

errr....(for like the millionth time) The Beginning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Titus Too

"Likewise, teach the

older women

to be reverent in the way they live,
not to be slanderers or
addicted to much wine,
but to teach what is good.



can train the

younger women

to love their husbands and children,
to be self-controlled and pure,
to be busy at home,
to be kind, and
to be subject to their husbands,

so that no one will malign the word of God."
-Titus 2:3-5

Thank You, Lord, that I am both an older woman and a younger woman. I suppose always have been:) Thank You for designing women's ministry based on relationships, experience, wisdom, and total surrender to Your calling. Help me know the privilege of learning from older, wiser ladies. Help me rise to the calling of being able to offer wisdom and encouragement to younger women so that we all might attain the abundant living You've planned for us.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY Wednesday, February 9, 2011...

Outside my window...C.O.L.D.

I am summer stays with my Gramma Iona in Iowa. Avon bubble baths and bedtime back rubs. Cribbage, Croquet, and Chinese Checkers. Fruit juice served in tiny pastel Tupperware. Fireflies and rhubarb pies. Good times:)

I am thankful for...electricity. I take it for granted on many levels. Father, forgive me...and THANK You!

I am creating...lyrics. Sporadically.

I am watch "Leverage" with the hunkster in a sec.

I am reading..."Made to Crave" and I just finished "Radical" last night. Almost ready to begin it again.

I am hoping...that my brothers and mom have safe travels as they return from Gramma's memorial service.

On my mind...How spoiled rotten we are as a culture. I fear we may be missing the "real deal".

From the learning rooms...Mari knows "o'clock" plus "thirty" on her clock. She is reading and writing better every day. Huge fun! Ashlin is battling through the 2nd grade "sloppy-speedy" work phase. Ardyn is trudging along on her remedial schedule....she should be creating valentines but she is sadly still weaving Thanksgiving place mats. Luke is on fire in History, but still challenged by his love/hate relationship with Language. Landen is hip deep in linear equations and a bunch of other stuff that pales in comparison to the torment of y-intercepts and slopes.

Noticing that...The outside temps are trying to sneak indoors.

Pondering these words... "Is the distinction between living for Christ and dying for Him, after all, so great? Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first? To live for God IS to die daily. It is to lose everything that we may gain Christ." - Elisabeth Elliot

From the kitchen...With ice in the forecast, I made sure we had some cooked beans and boiled eggs to choke down in case the power went out. But as the impending "winter weather event" fizzled down to a damp chill shortly after all church activities had been cancelled, Ardyn stepped up and offered to order pizza for our unexpected family night. PLUS!

Around the house...Girls are in beds. Boys are in their room. Philip is previewing the D-Now dvd's and I am blogging while Oscar snoozes in front of the crackling fire.

One of my favorite things...clothespins. seriously. Chips, stacks of tax forms, frozen veggies, skirts on hangers, sheets for tents, book marks, hooking a dishtowel behind a toddler's neck as a makeshift bib. I could go on. (When I graduated high school, my Papa Hank monogrammed an entire package of clothes pins with a sharpie for me to take to college.) There are still a few floating around here:)

To participate or simply enjoy more daybooks, visit The Simple Woman.

Show & Tell

Voddie Baucham: Table of Nations

In an inadvertent observation of Black History Month, Philip and I listened to this last night. There are certain sensitivities I've possessed for years, but this sermon provides scriptural foundation, historical documentation and purposeful articulation upon which I can more firmly stand and live and love.

It is a little over 45 minutes in length, so brew some coffee and find a comfy seat. The website also offers the sermon's transcript for folks like me who receive information best visually. "Plus!"


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Dawn's Early Light

Monday morning, Mari came to my bed before anyone else was awake. She lay there silently for a few moments and then in a quiet whisper, she confessed, "Mom, I have an issue."

I turned toward her and asked, "What honey?"

She repeated, "I have an issue, Mom."

I giggled to myself and waited for her to explain.

She continued, "I have an issue, and I need a tissue, AND that rhymes!"

I cracked up laughing and handed her the box, 'cause that girl is hilar!