what have we been doing

 

 What have we been doing ??

 

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I’ll try to sum up the time from the F.E.W Conference, to last week in just one sentence. Okay? Here go’s. We met the CLIFTON’S!!!

Satisfied? No? (I didn’t think you would be.)

The relationship between us and the Clifton’s started last year in November during the F.E.W Conference when our family sat across from theirs during the Saturday lunch period, although Daddy doesn’t remember much of this time because his neck was hurting him. (As a result to it getting broken twenty some years ago.) Hence he was not one of the fortunate people to met the Clifton’s last year, though he may remember sitting behind them and having Mr. Clifton (Who we now affectionately call Uncle Tim.) comment on Hope’s big blue eyes and bigger smile. Smile

It was our misfortune to not meet Seth last year, who didn’t attend, but I distinctly remember Uncle Tim placing a cookie under my plate for “a science experiment”, Aunt Anita sharing about Abigail Fleshman’s dying testimony, being impressed and desiring a closer relationship with sweet Esther, and laughing privately at Noah’s bright yellow shoes. (Yes, Noah I put that in for you.)

This year on the other hand though, I met Mr. and Mrs. Clifton at the front registry and Aunt Anita remembered me, and for Uncle Tim all I had to do was tell him about his cookie experiment. Smile Then I asked where Esther was and Uncle Tim said she was socializing in the other room and that they had brought Seth with them,  “the one who ran away.” (You’ll have to ask Seth for the whole amazing story!!) That was the first that we had heard of Seth, although the family had heard the e-mail Uncle Tim sent out when Seth went missing, and we all remember praying for that young man.

I found Esther talking to Jessica Neely and I want to say I probably effectively interrupted that conversation!!! (I’m sorry!!) I had to ask if my letter had gotten through to her, (because I had misplaced her address and then found it again) and she replied that she had but that it came around the same time that their family had the flood. “So you probably thought we had died, because, I thought you mentioned the flood in your letter.” I replied that I had, but I didn’t believe them to be dead, just trying to get things back together again.

We ended up sitting behind the Clifton’s again, (Just like last year!) and I remember asking my sisters if they remembered what Uncle Tim said last year during Mr. Neely’s message when he said ‘I’m going to tell all you young people something that may startle you, Your parents aren’t perfect. “ He had leaned over to Esther and Noah and told them not to listen. (That was just our first taste of how humorous Uncle Tim can be.)

We hadn’t been able to host anyone last year because we had hosted people for Derrick and Jennifer’s wedding, and the house had too much work to be done, plus we had taken apart the rec house in which we had all the bunk beds set up in, so we weren’t able to get everything together for hosting people fast enough. This year though we gave the heads up to Mr. Wilkes that we could host this year and he gave us “Uncle Sledge” and “Auntie Lulu” as our guests. He also said that “ Uncle Sledge would have the whole family in stitches the entire time.” So we were really looking forward to hosting them.

Unfortunately a couple days into preparing for them, we received a gracious e-mail from them explaining that they weren’t going to be able to make it and apologizing for any inconvenience. We were disappointed of course, but such is life. IMG_4874

Sitting behind the Clifton’s again this year afforded us a closer look into their lives, and also a closer relationship with them. It came about in a lot more then I have time to write about, but long story short they canceled their hotel reservations for Saturday night and Esther went home with us on Friday night. That night I shared a very personal story with her and as a result of that we stayed up very late that night. Looking back on that night and how nervous I was in sharing that story, it is a wonder to me that the Lord knitted our hearts together. Esther could have easily said she was tired and didn’t want to listen, but instead she blessed me with her open ears and soft replies. We are so blessed that God had chosen to cross our families paths!

Saturday night was our first family to family one on one and sharing our similarities in very funny and laughable ways. We all claim in jest IMG_4875that it was Aunt Anita’s ringtone that broke the ice, but I really think it was the Clifton’s transparity that stole the show. We could be ourselves with them, and they with us, and that’s rare even in christian circles.

IMG_4877IMG_4870Sunday we weren’t planning on going to church because we were going to be selling dogs and also because we knew the Wilkes were going to be overwhelmed with all the overflow at their house. The Clifton’s were having trouble with their brakes on the van, so Daddy sent Jordon and I to church in the Tahoe while Seth stayed behind to fix the van. We all felt bad for Seth, because we knew how badly he wanted to go, and we couldn’t help noting his face when we drove away. I do beleive he had a good spirit about it though, and we were proud of the way he acted.IMG_4880.

Esther will remember this day as probably the first time she ever saw me cry, and it shows how very close their family had come in the last couple of hours since we had met them. (For those of you wondering, I was crying because my favorite puppy had sold while I was at church.) Winking smile

Daddy got to talk to Seth during the drives to and from the auto shop and he was very impressed with him. Seth shared his story with Daddy and he told us later about it (so we heard it second hand,) but nonetheless we were impressed.

After those of us who went to church got back and the van got fixed, came the time we all were dreading, saying so long. (In our family you never say goodbye.) We took a quick picture, and then sent them on their way. It was during that sad fair-well that we realized we needed to get them back here again!!

It took some convincing but we were successful in getting them back down here for Thanksgiving. Later Uncle Tim said all Daddy had to say was “possibly hunting” and that “sealed the deal.”

The time with them was so refreshing and all of us came away with newly placed stitches, but that was okay because we were with the Clifton’s again!!

I have to place a special thanks though, right here for Aunt Anita because she brought us the most tastiest, mouth watering, chewy, chocolatey cookies that I have not been able to have since our previous pastor’s wife’s cookies. Let me say though that Aunt Anita’s beats her’s by a looooooooooooong shot!!!  (She taught me her recipe guys!!!!)

Well That’s it for now …….  Part two to come soon

Smile

After Seven Years….

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“We’re going to be taking a family vacation soon…guess where we’re planning on going? VA!!”

Such were the words I read on my e-mail one night while checking it with Daddy. I about flipped.

The Miners are a family we’ve known since I was about 6 to 7 years old. Having only two children in their family, one of which being only two years younger then me, Caroline and I kinda grew up together, doing everything from giving birth to baby dolls, to making Jordon play so that we could get us up a wedding. Yep, those were the good ol’ days.

Then their family moved. Talk about heartbreak!!! IMG_6446

Of course like any good friends we promised to write each other, to keep in touch over the years, to not lose contact….

Somehow that didn’t happen. I never got her address, she never got mine.

Our paths branched off for awhile.

Then we got a Christmas card. Good old Caroline texted around looking for our new address, and persisted until she got it. The result was a renewed contact, and a lot of rushing around trying to find out if we had any left over Christmas cards to send back. Included in the envelope was a card to; ‘My dear friend Caroline..’

And suddenly we got connected again.

E-mail became our way of correspondence and in late April I read the words above in an e-mail from Caroline. I sat there in shock for a couple of seconds and then, barely contained myself to get down the stairs. You know, anything to put some distance between my Daddy and my supressed excitement, but not outside to where my family couldn’t hear the good news.

THE MINER’S IN VA AGAIN???? AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!IMG_6439

I spun around one of my sisters that night. We both ended up dizzy.

What happened next still remains a blur to me, but as you can see from the pictures included, we all got together again. After seven years….

I think that there was a little bit of awkwardness at first between Caroline and I since there had been such a huge break between contact, and I knew her better through her e-mails now then I did back when we were little girls. Some things just kinda change between two friends when they haven’t seen each other for a couple of years..you tend to kind of grow up…forget about what the other liked and you don’t know what interests them now, and wonder what you might say that would be dumb or just come out lame.

But we got over it!! Winking smile We even renewed the old time favorite game of ours….LIFE!!

Since Jordon and I were the only ones really old enough to remember the times with the Miner children when our family used to babysit and homeschool right alongside of them for a few years, I guess I expected my younger siblings to kinda recede into the shadows of shy’ness and leave me to get seven lost years of talking into a few short hours…

Well, that didn’t happen. (I must confess I was a little annoyed about that too, and had to apologize later.)

All in all it was a wonderful time!! Let’s do it again soon Miners!!! (Hint…Hint..) Open-mouthed smile

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Story TIME!!!

 

I know this is a Christmas story…but I wanted to see how many people would cry…

Don’t forget to comment and tell me if you did!!

 

“CAUSE PAPA WANTED HIM HOME” 
(Christmas 1998.)

“Papa wants you home.”

I don’t know when she came in or how, without me knowing, but there she was standing over me, face solemnly gazing at me.

Problem was that I was right in the middle of a really good game of Candy Land.  “Candy Land! (you’d exclaim.)  “Aren’t you a little old for that ?”

Well yes, in a manner of speaking Candy Land is a bit of an odd game for a sixteen year old but, Dennis was an exception. You see he had Down Syndrome.
 
No one else in the neighborhood would play with him.  They should of though- everyone should have gotten a chance to get to know Dennis.  He was something special.

“He’s weird!”  They’d exclaim.  “What do you see in him?”

It was a good question.  What did I see in him?  A good friend with a childlike innocence I wished I had the pleasure of keeping?  What did I see in Dennis?  Something special.

I stood up reluctantly.

“I have to go Dennis.”

His words where a jumble of protests and questions.

“Why?  So soon? We ha’bn’t  finished Candy Land!”

“I know Dennis.  You know I’ll come back.”

His lip stuck out in a pout, his most famous form of disapproval, and one that always made me feel bad.  Then, as if something just struck him, he nodded three times fast and blinked.

“Oh! Me know! That Papa guy want’s you home!!!”

My sister giggled behind me, and his eyes widened.  He pointed at her. 

Why she laugh?  Me is funny?”

She laughed again, louder this time.

“Of course you are Dennis, your always funny.”

I always loved the expression he’d get on his face.  Then he’d pat his chest.

“Me is funny.”  He’d say with glee.  “Carton say so.”

 

My real name was Carson, but somehow around Dennis I became something that held eggs.  I didn’t mind, I actually liked it.

He’d follow us to the door, watching us leave. His voice would follow us-

“Byyyeeeee Carton! Byyeeee Candy!!  Come back really soon!”

He loved visitors.

Candice would walk back with me her arm through mine.

“You always make him so happy- how do you do it?”  She’d ask.

I’d shrug.  What made a child happy? Love? Time? Both?

 

Dad was in the car, the motor running.

“Hurry up son, we’ve got to go get our Christmas tree- it’s getting dark fast.”

Candice and I hopped in.  Mom turned around in her seat.

“How’s Dennis?”

“Disappointed I had to leave, called Dad; “that Papa guy again” .”

Dad and Mom laughed, tears shining in Mom’s eyes.

“That Dennis.”

Candice spoke up bouncing in the back seat as she spoke. She was four years younger then me, the same age as Dennis.

“I think that Dennis thinks that’s your name, I always call you Papa and he always calls you that too, it’s your name to him.  Maybe-”  She said with a laugh, ” I should call you something different next time just to shake things up.”

Dad shook his head.  “Oh, to have a heart like his.”

In my mind I wholeheartedly agreed.

It was two weeks before I was able to get back over to Dennis.  He was unhappy with me- for all he knew I’d been gone for a month.

“You make Dennis sad.”

I stopped, raised my eyebrow.

“Oh? How?”

“I told you to come back really soon!”  He accused. I exclaimed,

“I tried to Dennis, I was busy!”

“Too busy for Dennis?” He half accused, half questioned me, as if that was something entirely ludicrous.

“I came back Dennis.”  I answered instead.

“Only after a billon year’ses.”

I laughed.

“Really? How much is a billon years Dennis?”

He frowned.

“Um…?”

“What have I told you, a billon years is an-“

” ‘Zaggeration, me know now, Dennis smart.”

“O-kay,” I nodded.  “Just don’t forget.”

Then I reached toward my pocket.  He squealed.

“Ah! My eyes are closed Carton!!”

He knew everytime, I never came to visit without bringing him something.

I held out my hand, he groped for it.

“No peeking!”  I admonished.  “You guess what it is.”

His hands studied it closely- eyes tightly shut.

“A circle?”

“That’s the shape Dennis.”

“Hmm… circles don’t have strings Carton!” He accused once he felt an attatchment on the side.

“Maybe-” I teased him “It has a tail.”

I tried to stay serouis.

His eyes popped open and I quickly shut my hand.

“Circles can’t have tails mister.”

My eyes widened in feigned suprise.

“Why can’t they? Maybe just once they can.”

His lip stuck out again.

“You making fun of Dennis, Dennis don’t like it.”

My eyes twinkled. “Okay Dennis, try again.”

“Hmm…” He drew out the sound.  His eyeballs popped open again.

“I’m done, my brain’s tired.”

I smothered a laugh.

“Okay you want me to tell you?”

“Do me eyes have to stay closed?”

“They’re already opened Dennis.”

He frowned.  “I know’s that already.”

“Then don’t ask me that silly question, silly.”

“It’s funny Carton, you told’ed me I is funny.”

“Funny boy.”  I agreed.

He held out his hand.

“Now tell Dennis.”

I opened my hand.

“What!”  He exclaimed.  “The circle does have tail!”

“It’s a yo-yo Dennis.”

“Cool!  How it work?”

“Do you want me to show you or are we going to play Candy Land?”

He contemplated that one.

“Show me yo-yo, we’s played Candy Land a billon times.”

“What that?” I asked in a tone I used to correct him.

“Those dumb zaggerations. Now show Dennis.”

He was thrilled with the toy. It didn’t take him long to figure it out either, he was one smart cookie.  Even though a couple of times he was conviced that;

“It’s broke, and Carton needs to take it back.”

 

The months turned into years, and still Candice had to come and get me every time, because I’d get so wrapped up being with Dennis.  She’d say that familiar line of hers  “Papa wants you home.”  It never got any easier for Dennis, he always disapproved of;

“That Papa guy who wants my Carton home.”

There was no explaining to him either, but trust me it was hard for both of us.  I dreaded the thought of the last time I would do this with him.  Dennis wouldn’t understand if I got married and moved away.

When I started college, boy that was hard for us both.  I promised him I’d write, and his mother promised to read them to him.

“He’s not the only one who’s going to miss you.”  She whispered to me on the one visit I made with him before I was to leave.  It was then that I realized how much my visits meant to them all. In a neighborhood where nobody would play with Dennis, I was a rare gem.

College was tough, but I had one goal in mind, study to be a teacher and then have a whole roomful of Dennis’s.  For Dennis had taught me an important lesson, nobody was too stupid to learn.

Every break I’d get I would rush home.  Dennis was ageless- time never changed him, even at eighteen now, he just stayed the same.

This time I allowed a slight mustace and beard to grow.  Dennis was suprised and certainly not impressed.

“No Carton, No! ”  He exclaimed covering his eyes and refusing to look at me.  “My Carton can’t grow hair on his face!” 

He wouldn’t leave it alone either.  I finally complied. How could you say no?

He was happy once I shaved, I had my travel kit with me and decided to give him the pleasure of watching me.  He was so pleased, he was literally hopping with joy.

“Good!”  He clapped his hands. “Bad hair go down sink. Forever bye-bye!!”

I laughed, who wouldn’t?

 

Then it was back to school and more grueling hours studying and more studying.  Somehow in the midst of all that, though I always had time to write to Dennis. That Dennis boy- he was something special.

One year I wasn’t sure I’d make it home for Christmas.  My folks were disappointed when I wrote:

“I’ll try to make it back, but exams are pretty soon after, and I plan to study up.”

Then they were bumped forward a couple of weeks, too many complaints I guess.  I didn’t tell my family the change of plans but decided to surprise them.

I got home Sunday night around 5, and saw Dennis out in the front yard.  He’d been watching my car pull up and as soon as he saw me, his eyes lit up.  I saw my name on his lips,

“Carton!”  He whispered, then he screamed,  “Carton!!!”

He ran toward me, as I opened my arms in welcome. Our houses were across the street from each other anyway, he didn’t have far to run.  Arms spread wide and flailing, screaming his joy, he ran.

I saw the car too late, someone in too much of a hurry on Christmas Eve.  My legs turned to jelly and I screamed a warning;

“No Dennis! GO BACK!!”

He stopped.  I had never told him no before, and just as quick he decided I was teasing him.  I would have never forbade him to come to me.  Fear in my voice I forgot all kindness.

” Dennis NO!  DON’T come see me. GO BACK!”

To this day I haven’t forgotten that scene.  In my nightmares I can still hear the squeal of brakes, the sickening thud.

“No! ” I remember screaming, sobbing as I ran forward.  Candice came out of the house and I vaguely remember her crying behind me, while I sobbed out in anguish,

“Oh God! Please don’t let him be dead!!”

 

Dennis’s death weighed heavily on me.  I came home just in time to witness my friend’s death.  Caused it no less, on Christmas too.

“Why?” I asked God.  “Why did you let that happen?  Why did Dennis have to go “forever bye-bye” ?”

It took me awhile to get it, but in the end it was my sister’s favorite phrase she had used to arrest my attention in times past.  I could even see it played out, Dennis up in heaven saying with confidence, that it was:

“Cause Papa wanted him home.”

 

© 2015 by The Johnson Team