Reflection and Renewal

The year 2010 is days from ending and I just am left feeling like something should be said for the end of a horrible, wonderful, trying and fantastic year. I have learned far more than the books I have had to read for school could have ever taught me. I began this year with trepidation and excitement for starting a new chapter in my life. Lily and I made a huge move into our own place. I decided to follow a long-held dream and start college once again. Those things in and of themselves were seriously life altering. Never in my life have I ever appreciated single moms the way I learned to this year being a full-time student, mom and trying to live life at the same time has been beyond challenging. My parents are angels I never realized how much they helped me with her till they were no longer just up the stairs to send Lily to.

This year has been full of trials and frustrations, victories and joy. In April I started working, on top of school and taking care of  Lily. I have felt so blessed to work with the people who I have encountered at Shepherds Fold. They are kind, sweet, uplifting , understanding and forever patient with my constantly changing schedule and I have truly found kindred spirits in my co-workers. I am blessed by them. Of course working creates more time challenges but truly it has been a blessing.

Mothering has been more of a challenge than I ever thought I have such a wonderful and amazing child, Lily is literally why I get out of bed every morning I have such a desire for all the good in the world to come to her. But, I battle the everyday, fits and sassiness that (hmm I can’t imagine where that came from) comes from a very independent 3-year-old. On occasion I have been at a total loss as to what to do or how to handle the behaviors. I have made a decision to keep spanking to a minimum. That creates a unique challenge to find ways to find consequences for discipline measures. But, what I do know is that my wonderful, beautiful hearted  girl deserves my best and to know the boundaries and ways that God would want her to live so, creativity is key and patience is needed. As a side note I was looking at her in her bed the other night and literally she took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. She is the most precious and beautiful gift I have ever been given and I praise God for the opportunity to be her mom.

In the midst of the craziness I met Gus this fantastic sweet man who has helped me see worth in myself and that love does not always have to hurt and be destructive to my heart. Of course I have had a battle within myself to learn how to be patient and understanding and not overbearing. But, I praise God for Gus and when I am with him or talking to him I glow and can’t stop smiling. My heart once again swells with the warmth of love. I truly never thought that after all that I have been through and done that I could open up and feel the kind of love, really from anyone that I wanted. But, God is good and heals even deep wounds. The scars are still there and give twinges of pain once in awhile but it is easier to come back from them now.

After two very rough semesters and many emotional ups and downs, financial concerns and personal and friendship crisis I feel stronger. I feel like the saying “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” is living out in my life and that all the troubles and trials have a purpose. A sort of clarification. I have a necklace that I bought for myself around my first mothers day it is a Butterfly (that symbolizes the courage to change) that says Embrace Life. It’s words helped in the inspiring of  the name of this blog and for the idea of  transition in my life. I have spoken in several blogs of integrity and that I have tried to make it my goal to live it out in my life. I think this next year will be a great continuation of that goal and all the benefits that come with it.

So here is to 2011 being productive, joyful, educational, full of courage, integrity and embracing all that life brings my way.

All Smiles on Christmas


A Very Johnston Christmas



My heart is pounding nearly out of my chest I feel like I am gonna explode, I can’t breathe, thoughts are racing through my mind and I can’t think clearly. I want to scream, burst out of my skin and to run to a place of peaceful bliss and never come back. I feel so inadequate so broken and insecure. I don’t know how to act how to manage all that I face. I am in a constant state of varying stages of coming completely undone. Prayers are pouring out of me is He listening am I too far gone?? Tears are streaming down my face and I have no idea how to make them stop, or why I feel like this. Overwhelmed, out of control and shameful, painfully aware that I don’t have any of the answers I need. Anger is welling up in me for all that I can’t control in myself and all around me. When the deck is stacked against me I feel powerless to move forward. Leaps and bounds forward all gone in a second.



What I am learning.

It is always hard for me to begin the flow of what I think needs to be said I mean really who cares anyway right? But, for me I have to care to care about me and my life and the lives of the people whose lives intersect mine. I think I have always had this thought in the back of mind that different means wrong and that because I am a Christian I have a right to be judgmental. I mean aren’t there absolute rights and wrongs? Certain things set in stone that make me right and everyone else wrong or just misled, right? And certainly chaos will ensue if these thoughts and beliefs are not voiced and brought to light in a way that all will understand how very wrong they are and everyone will fall over grateful for the insight and do exactly what I think is right, or do what God would want them to do. Hmmm, let me think to wield that much power seems a lot like how do I want to say it sacrilegious, prideful, arrogant and just plain old sinful.

I know this is certainly an over blown scenario and unrealistic. But, I think my point comes across very clearly. I have no right to be that judgmental and frankly am in no position to even think that I am living the kind of life that would have to be exemplified to carry such weight. The only one who gets to do that is Christ.

Here is what I am learning, life is hard, my preconceived notions and judgments haven’t gotten me far and living a life full of such things is extremely un-fulfilling. And I was and am extremely judgmental. I am especially, extemely judgmental in regards to myself. I am as some may know a full-time college student, single mom and part-time employee, as well as a daughter, girlfriend, sister, granddaughter and friend. And this year has been really GOOD and really BAD. I am currently just about to finish my third semester in a college I thought I would never attend. And this semester I have been DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION!!!!! It is not a 100% my fault but it is 99%. I have terrible boundaries, time management and sometimes very little motivation. But, there is a silver lining…I am learning. I am learning to be an advocate for myself and others, to accept failure gracefully, to realize that I can get out of bed and start new today. I have strengths that were hidden to me in the past. Did anyone know I could say no?? I didn’t I was faced with a situation the other day and everything in me was willing to just go into default mode and do the wrong thing but, I pulled my head together and said NO!!! Holy Shit I did it. I even had the beginnings of a hard conversation I have been needing to have with my Heavenly Father. I yelled at Him told Him my heart and said I was just plain unhappy. How absolutely wrong of me right? NO I am communicating I am starting the conversation that deals with my disappointment and frustration in how all of this (ugg) life has turned out. I am facing reality that no one is gonna be what I NEED them to be. For they too are unfinished products. I have held so tightly to the idea that if I just got everyone to see me how I wanted them to that magically they would see the “REAL” me and all the hurt and pain and mistakes of the past would magically slip into the abyss to never be seen again. Strange how things like that are not realistic. The one I needed to see the real me was ME. Many hours, days, years of tears have been shed in my life. For losses I have suffered for pain that has been inflicted on me and by me, for lost time and forgotten moments.  I am trying to face all my faults to be realistic about them and to work on overcoming those I can. I am very hard on people and have very high expectations, but feel that no one should have the same expectations of me. What kind of friend, sister, mother, daughter, girlfriend does that make me? A selfish one. I am in my first Social Work class and through it I have been learning to shed my own predisposed notions and look through the eyes of persons I laid heavy judgment on in the past and to see them in a way I have never thought was possible. I hold very strong opinions about drug abusers, homosexuality and at risk populations such as homeless persons or persons who battle poverty. Wow, I am looking in the mirror and seeing myself in the addict, the poverty-stricken and the homosexual person that feels displaced misunderstood and lost. I can’t see a doctor because I have no money to do so, I even wonder sometimes where toilet paper will come from,  I am a very serious food addict and like a homosexual person have always felt ostracized by the community at large for being different. Praise God for perspective for an independent mind and heart. My liberal heart is beginning to bleed through and it feels good. Ah which reminds me of one of my other strong opinions politics. How dare a Christian such as myself hold liberal beliefs and be ok with it. Well, lets clarify I hold conservative values in the sense that I believe in modesty, honesty, forgiveness and all that aligns with the faith that I hold so dear, and also that the Bible is the written word of God. God inspired teaching that is meant to shape us into who and what He has destined for us to be. I also believe that we are meant to love our neighbor as ourselves and that no sin is great than another. A homosexual person is no more a sinner than someone who commits adultery or is a pathological liar. Sin is a human condition. Though I have absolute right to my opinion I do not have the right to beat someone over the head with it or the right to try to cram it down their throats. Life is about opportunities, creating relationships with people who are different from ourselves to learn from them and hopefully, maybe to let them learn from us. Even if what they learn is what not to do. I am gonna keep my heart and mind open and try to shed the judgment that has plagued my life, love liberally, give as much as I can and try to forgive like Christ has forgiven me. And continue to try to see others how God sees them as His children that deserve all the same forgiveness, understanding and love that He gives me.