When Jared Johnson and his soon-to-be wife Rebecca graduated from college and decided live in Denison, it was easy because the city is where they found jobs. But soon, the decision to stay in Denison just made sense.
They knew that Denison was the place that the couple wanted to raise their children.
“As I turned from a teenager into a young adult, having children and becoming a father was something that I knew that I wanted to do one day,” Jared Johnson says of idea of fatherhood. “I knew that I did not want to do it at that point in my life. I knew it was time to go to college and enjoy that life phase. But, that was the point when I knew that it would be in the cards for me one day.”
Jared Johnson took the time to enjoy the life phase that he was in at that moment and then followed a traditional life path. After spending three and a half years in college, he started his first professional job. He married his wife Rebecca and soon after the couple had their first child, Peyton.
“Life phases is a great way to experience and reflect on your life,” he says about how his experiences helped him to grow as a person.
Shortly before the birth of their second son, Fallon, Jared decided to it was time to make a bigger mark on the community.
“When I chose to run for the city council, that was one of the main reasons I chose for running,” he explains how he got involved in politics. “There was really no one on the city council at the time that was raising young children as me and my wife were. We needed some diversity in life phase on the council. We had some great folks running, and great folks on the city council, but they were mainly on the grandparent life phase. That was one of my main reasons for running in 2005. That was a long time ago now.”
Johnson served six years on the Denison City Council. He then took a one year break and ran for mayor. He served two terms as mayor, leaving office in May.
Life experiences are one of the things that both the Johnsons believe have helped their views on parenting.
“I think that we all learn from our experiences, the good and the bad,” Jared Johnson says. “We are all tasked to raise our children so that when they leave our home, they can do life on their own and for us, teaching them to do that in a positive way and have experiences as a child growing up in our home. We want to teach and embody in them our core beliefs and then they can have their own life experiences. Not everything is blue skies and butterflies, and our response to that is important. It is about how we handle that diversity in our lives. That is what we try to teach our kids.”
Another important point is that the only thing that we can control is our own actions.
“What I have really learned as I have matured in my own professional walk and personal walk is that I really am committed to the fact that I have 100 percent control over my attitude, my effort, my energy and my preparation every single day,” Jared Johnson explains. “I need no one’s help with those things. I can control that and so that is always my response to anything that happens in my life. I can control my response and I can influence the outcome because of that.”
As a family that is very involved in the community with volunteering and extra-curricular activities, time management has been another learned point. Johnson has learned that changing and learning to be adaptable is best for him because his schedule weekly and daily is often different.
“I start early and end late almost every day,” Jared Johnson says of his schedule. “I think that a big word with my family is being present. The time that we have together is not just about minutes. It is about really being present and enjoying those moments. I want to make sure that those are meaningful times. I want to be intentional with setting aside time to do family stuff.”
Prioritizing every week is different based upon what is most pressing. Jared Johnson says that he does a good job of preparing what his week will look like and what his days will look like so that he can be most efficient with his time.
“People ask me how I do all of these things and the answer is that I prepare,” he says. “You do not take on more than you can handle, and you do the best that you can. So often times people get spread too thin and because of that the community that they are serving, the nonprofit that they are serving as a board member, their work, their employer, their family, does not get their best. For me personally, with every organization I am a part of with my family, I want to make sure they get the best version of me every day.”
Making sure that he is giving the best of himself in all areas of his life has led Jared Johnson to know when it is time to take some time away from work. It lets him know when he needs to be giving his wife, his children or himself more time.
“It does not happen so much as a big vacation,” he explains what taking a break means to him. “I think that sometimes I have those moments when I need an evening or an afternoon of just down time. It can just be me by myself or me with my boys or it can be with my wife. As far as the bigger vacations and the lengthier trips, those are planned but it is not as much because I need it. When I need down time, it is generally a weekend or an afternoon.”
But when it is time for those longer trips, the Johnsons enjoy being in colder weather. They like being in nature and enjoying the mountains.
“We are mountains people,” he says. “Just enjoying the outdoors and the grandeur of that creation in the mountains and the river running through it. We love the coolness in the mornings. When it is August and is still 105 degrees here, we love the coolness of the mountains in Colorado … We have done the beach thing and the cruise thing, but if we had to pick one right now, we are going to the mountains during the summer.”
When it is time for Jared and Rebecca Johnson to spend time together, they just want to take it back to the feeling they had when they first got together. They love to spend time together.
“An ideal date for us, based upon our schedules and the busyness, is a dinner with no children. We go somewhere, and it does not have to be a fancy place. It can be a food crawl at a food truck park. It could be in downtown Fort Worth, hopping from place to place listening to live music. It is just the chance to get away for a few hours and just be us. We do not have to worry about work calling or school calling. We are not worried about sending someone to soccer practice. It is just some meaningful time.”
Holidays are also meaningful times for the Johnsons. While they try to remember how blessed they are throughout the year and live an attitude of gratitude when it is not Thanksgiving, the fall and winter holidays give the family the opportunity to expand and do even more.
“Moving into Christmas and the birth of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that is just so impactful to me to who we are and who our family tries to be,” Jared Johnson says. “Because of all of that, we just try to make it a focus not just during the holidays but throughout the year.”
And on the commercial side of things, the Johnsons get to make holidays just as special for the boys as they were for Jared and Rebecca Johnson when they were growing up.
“On the commercial side of things, I treat them like I am still eight years old,” Jared Johnson says. “I love Christmas. I love the holidays. I love watching football on Thanksgiving and the food and the family. The business that leads up to Christmas, the preparation and hiding presents. Building toys at 3 a.m. still gets me excited even as my boys are getting older. I really enjoy those moments.”
As they prepare for the boys to eventually leave the home, it has been important for the Johnsons to know that the lessons that they are teaching their boys at home are evident when the boys are not at home. They also want to make sure that they model the values and way of life that they would like for their sons to have. For them, that means learning how to be a giver by constantly being in places and situations that allow them to give. It also means that they need to know that it means to be a servant to others.
“I think obviously our own observations of their growth is important,” Jared Johnson confesses. “I think when people — whether it is teachers, coaches or community members — take the time to compliment us on our children for whatever they have done or for their attitude and behavior, it validates that it is not just in the home. And, I think mostly hearing the children talk as they become intellectually smarter and how they connect the dots and realize that it is not about them is important. There are a lot of people that they go to school with that they can have an influence on. Also, the community is a place where we all have our parts to serve, and seeing them kind of figure that out is a genuine experience as a parent.”
Marriage, families and living life together is about open and honest communication and making moments matter.
“Some days are going to be really hard, and you have to get those days right. That does not mean that you get them all right, but through open and honest communication, you get through those. You are intentional in your behavior to make sure you have the right balance. We have to remember that it is not about us. It is about those around us. It goes a long way. Time does fly and it really does. Enjoy every one of those moments.”
Now, the Johnsons’ children are 14 and 12. Peyton attends Denison High School and Fallon attends B. MacDaniel Middle School. Rebecca and Jared Johnson are both still working to be the change that they want to see in the community.
Recently chosen as one of Texoma’s “40 under 40,” Jared Johnson said that he wants to continue to make an impact on this community.
“When you think of our team, of the exceptional city staff and exceptional community volunteers that I was fortunate to be the leader of and what was accomplished over that period of time, our community will forever look different due to the effort of the team,” he speaks with passion about the city services. “It shows that with the right energy and the right commitment and everyone pulling in the right direction, it is really, really powerful. Every day when I was mayor, I would reflect on two things on my commute to the hospital.”
The first was today, how that day Johnson had the privilege of being a part of the team that saves lives. And the second is that he gets to be a part of the team that gets to change the quality of life for area citizens.
“That is a big responsibility, but it is fun too,” he explains. “It is great to be a part of a team that controls what that looks like. I could not be more proud of the leadership of Denison, where we have come and where we are going. Now, it is on to a new mayor and a new council. The city is in great shape, and I am there to support them in any way that I can. I know we are in very capable hands.”