Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011, A Recap

 Inspired by my last years post... here we go:

Where we've been:
-Atlanta, for Passion 2011
-Spring Break tour: Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Oak Island
-the bathroom in the DC Airport for longer than I care to admit
-Virginia to see old friends
-Maryland to see beautiful people get married
-Chapel Hill a handful of times
-Patton Avenue
-St. Augustine
-Disneyworld (again)
-Disney Cruise

What we've gained:
-new friends
-a pretty polka dot bathing suit
-a lot of bird things

What we've lost:
-some gift cards
-some random socks

What we've learned:
-that we are not the most important thing
-that when your word for the year is "peace", the way you gain it is not necessarily the way you choose

What we've dropped the ball on:
-sending birthday cards
-sending thank you notes (this seems to be a theme)

What we're most thankful for:
-a chance to go to Africa
-our mariage
-the hope of new things in 2012

Happy New Year, friends.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


In the summer of 1992, a lady named Donna helped move along God's plan for my life.  At an event at my church, she asked what I wanted to do after high school/college.  I told her some thoughts I'd had (journalism-based) and said, "Oh, and I want to be a pastor's wife."  (I was dating a wonderful Christian guy at the time who was headed toward ministry... yes, I was just 16, but we had it all figured out, right?)  She stopped walking, turned, looked at me and said, "Why do you want to be the pastor's wife and not the pastor?"


That moment- in that very second- my heart leapt.  I knew she had spoken words that God directly wanted me to hear.  And that began my path into ministry.

When I arrived at UNC, I entered thinking I would be an Education major.  I knew by then I wanted to be involved in ministering to young people and figured I would have a back-up plan of public school teaching if the whole "church thing" fell through.  One of my mentors, Mary, advised me against having a Religious Studies major because- as she pointed out- I would get plenty of that in Divinity School.

Three majors later, I graduated with a degree in Religious Studies.  (Sorry, Mary... I was listening, I promise.)

The summer of 1996, I'd thought seriously about traveling with some IV people to Kazakhstan for a summer mission's trip.  Another of my mentors, Dan, was concerned that with my asthma as bad as it was, maybe going to Kazakhstan wasn't the best idea.  I ended up deciding to stay home that summer and intern with my Youth Minister, Jim.  Just before arriving home, Jim left that position... viola, I was the Summer Youth Minister.  Um, what?  How did that happen?  All of the sudden I was in charge of an entire youth group.

Know what happened?

I. Freakin'. Loved. It.  And... shockingly... I was good at it, too.

I was hooked.  I decided to try to get involved with the youth group of the church I attended at UNC- Carrboro Baptist Church.  One night in 1997 while I was recovering from a recent hospitalization, I answered a call from Jack, the pastor at CBC.  He wanted to ask if I'd serve as Carrboro's Summer Youth Minister, but they'd like me to start in January to help with the transition.

Are you kidding me?


I rolled into that office in January of 1998- months before the rest of my class began looking for jobs post-graduation... I'd walked right into my dream position.  And that whole "Summer" Youth Minister gig?  Four and a half years later I left that job when we moved to Winston-Salem.  My final business card (which had name changes as well as job changes- I added new titles and a new married name!) was "Becky Johnston, Minister to Students, Youth, and Children."  Anyone from birth to college was in my "area"... waaay too much for me to handle, but one of the most amazing rides of my life.  I sobbed on Match Day knowing I would soon be leaving that ministry... and sobbed even more as I drove away from HillSong (formerly Carrboro Baptist) on that day in June when we attended church there for the last time.

We began attending River Oaks in November of 2002 and by January 2003 knew we wanted to join.  We told our Small Group that first Sunday night that we loved River Oaks, but weren't sure we could call a church home that was in a town with so many colleges and no College Ministry.  They laughed.  Literally... laughed.  One of them said, "We've been praying for you!"  Apparently the pastor at River Oaks had recently asked another couple (John and Laurie) to begin a college ministry, but they wanted to wait until they had someone to partner with.  Um, we were those people.

Summer of 2003, we began the College Ministry at River Oaks.  Every season has looked differently... every "class" has been unique.  Every summer has been the best one yet... it just keeps getting better.

Which is why tonight at our Christmas party I sobbed like a baby when I told them we were stepping down from leading College Ministry.

Actually, that's only half true.  I sobbed and told them we were leaving... then... after an awkward pause... said, ".... because we hate you."  Then we laughed and I knew we would be okay.

We feel that the time is right for us to allow someone else the joy of loving these students.  But y'all... it hurts.  It hurts so much.  I have been so anxious about telling them for the last 3 weeks that I've had two stress-induced allergic reactions.  I have almost thrown up multiple times just thinking about it.  And tonight while we were doing the "Dirty Santa" game I wanted to run out of the room and call our Executive Pastor and say, "I didn't mean it!  We aren't stepping down!  We can't!!!  I just love them too much!!!"

God has clearly given us a heart for College Ministry.  Which is why stepping into the unknown feels so bizarre to us.  We know we are supposed to spend our time loving on people- and we know our immediate "job" is all about Foster Kids.  Beyond that, we don't know what's next.

I struggled when I moved to Winston with not having a title of "Minister".  I struggled with not having a business card that linked me to the people I loved.  Now I begin the struggle of stepping back from a ministry while still being in the place where that ministry happens.  I've been "doing" ministry for almost 14 years now.... so how do I cope with not "doing" it in the same way?  I can't handle the thought of not getting to lead College Ministry for the Annas, the Carolines, the Maddies, the Nates, the Daniels...

... then I take a minute to think about the Leslies, Heathers, Grahams, Alicias, Jeffs, Ryans, Chrises, Stephanies, Sherrills, Brents, Beccas, Danielles, Michelles, Lauras, Ashleys, Christines, Adralyns, Kellys, Michaels, Bens, Adams, Katies, Caitlins, Lukes, Devins, Andreas, Pauls, Kristens, Brads, Alexs, Stevens, Lizs, Alexises, Annas, Charleses, CourtneysRoberts, Merediths, Seths, Treys, Loreans, Kenans, Beckys, Amys, Daniels, Todds, Tabithas, Joshs, Carlys, Brittanys, DeeDes, Gavris, Noahs (yes, even Noah), Rachels, Lindseys, Kelseys, Davids, ... oh, y'all... I could go on all night.  (And, yes, I'm aware I've left some important people off... you get what I mean, right?  Lots of students... including you-the-one-I've-left-off-unintentionally....)

My heart hurts to think of letting go... but my heart is so full from God's blessings to me in the form of these students over the years.  It is so, so good.

Ministry will look different when we no longer have our home full of College Students on Sunday nights.  I don't know what it will be like... but I am so thankful for what it has looked like.  Catchphrase, forks, Barenaked Ladies tickets, Nertz, weddings, nose piercings, inappropriateness and all.

It is well with my soul.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tiny Smores Cookies

This summer, my old roommate posted this recipe for Smores Cookies.  E and I made some, then decided I'd freeze half of the dough for later.  Last Friday night I pulled out the dough and decided to "do" them a little differently.

I put the dough in mini muffin tins....
Added a Hershey kiss...
 Baked for the first 8 minutes, then added half a marshmallow...

Baked the additional 4 minutes... then woo-hoo! Smores Mini-Muffin Cookies!

I am so not a food-blogger, but this was so cute and easy it was worth sharing...  Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

21 questions with E

So, Pinterest is killing me.  I tried to stay away, but couldn't.

This morning, I found this gem and decided to try it out with Elizabeth...
1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
"I love you."
2. What makes Mommy happy?
3. What makes Mommy sad?
telling lies
4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
tickling me
5. What was Mommy like as a child?
I don't know.
6. How old is Mommy?
7. How tall is Mommy?
I can't tell.
8. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
be on the computer
9. What does Mommy do when you're not around?
write in her journal and read her Bible
10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
for love
11. What is Mommy really good at?
writing and painting
12. What is Mommy not very good at?
telling lies
13. What does Mommy do for her job?
14. What is Mommy's favorite food?
15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
loving her.
16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
the Good Queen in Snow White  (please note, the Good Queen is dead.)
17. What do you and Mommy do together?
18. How are you and Mommy the same?
love each other- a lot of love stuf
19. How are you and Mommy different?
we don't eat a lot of the same foods
20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
because she says it over and over again... it's annoying
21. Where is Mommy's favorite place to go?
everywhere with me.

Most of those are well said... and some of them make me want to reevaluate my life.  But she's right... I love my girl!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Family Dinner

I try to be mindful of being one of "those" bloggers... you know... the ones that tell all the amazing things their families do... where they only post pictures of clean houses, made beds, healthy dinners, amazing vacations, gorgeous children, organized projects.  I mean, y'all know that's how I roll, right?  So why rub it in your face?

Or... that's not my life at all... so why only show you the super amazing moments and hide the hard things from the world?

But, tonight I'm gonna tell you about one of the good ones.  If you've had a crappy day and stumbled upon my blog to feel better about how my life is such a train wreck... move on.  Tonight all is well.

I've mentioned before that there are moments that I *know* Dan is just who God wanted for me.  (And, to be totally honest, in moments I need people around me to remind me that he is.  Keeping it real...)  A few months ago as he was determining what was next for his career, he opted to go back to a 4-day work week.  Yes, it's wonderful.  Yes, we enjoy that extra day with him around.  Yes, having a 5-day work week pay check would be nice... but this is where we are.

Part of his decision to have this schedule was for us to make the most of every moment of our world- including deciding how such a schedule could affect our entertaining.  He asked me if it would be okay with me if, since he would have Fridays off, we could commit to making Thursday nights "Family Dinner Night".  His thought was that each Thursday we'd invite another family to join us for dinner... not a dinner party, not a spotless home, not a fancy meal... just a family dinner.  In hopes to better get to know our friends better.  In hopes to enjoy real community.  In hopes to use our home and our love of entertaining to enjoy those around us.

Since his job began 5 weeks ago, we've only had 2 Family Dinners.  Book Club was one Thursday, Thanksgiving another, and last week we were just too exhausted to make it happen.  But tonight we opened our home to some old friends... meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli, rolls, sugar cookies and hot chocolate... birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, a choking child, a little girl's dress that wouldn't stay up... nothing formal, nothing fancy, nothing life-changing... but, y'all... it was good.

This brings our family such happiness.  It's what we're good at... and we hope to get the chance to enjoy a meal with you all sometime soon.

We'll just deal with the dishes later...