Carnes family

For John and Joanne Carnes, being a family means spending time together and building memories for their 13-year-old daughter, Sarah.

For John and Joanne Carnes, “family” means more than parents, siblings or cousins.

It means building memories, especially for their daughter, Sarah.

The couple met at Zion Bible College in Rhode Island and have been married for 18 years.

He was born in Akron, Ohio, and has lived in West Virginia since he was in seventh grade. Joanne is a native of Ontario.

He works at Mylan in Morgantown, so he’s up at 5:30 a.m. and at work by 7 at the latest. Joanne baby-sits in the home, so after she gets 13-year-old Sarah to East Fairmont Junior High, she’s back to watch her charges for the day.

At school, seventh-grader Sarah is active in the concert choir and school Bible club, and at home, is active in church activities.

“She’s funny and loves to sing,” her father said. “She’s a good kid. She loves God, her family and her friends. She’s a good student. We’re proud of her.

“She makes us happy.”

And although it’s mostly just the three of them, their home used to be almost teen central.

“We were youth pastors,” Carnes said, “and we always had people in and out of the house. We always had teens here, even when Sarah was a baby.”

At night, things are a little calmer now than they were back then.

“We try to have dinner and then family time together,” he said.

“Once the ones who have been baby-sat are out the door, it’s time for dinner,” he said. “Then there’s homework or TV. And now Sarah is wanting to do her own thing. So there’s not a lot of time.

“Spending time together is important to me. Unfortunately, we’re going to have Sarah only so much longer. So we have to build memories of being a family and instill values in her.”

One way they do this is by taking vacations and family trips, he said.

“We make sure we have ‘away time.’ It’s so easy to get caught up in work and school. We want to make these memories.”

They go to Canada to visit family and friends at least once a year.

“And we get away to new places. Last year we went to Orlando for a pastors’ conference. As a family, we went to Disney World. It was incredible.

“This year, we’re going to Myrtle Beach. The ocean is a big plus for me. I love the ocean. It’s my recharging place.”

But he and Joanne also try to find time for themselves, he added.

“We also want to build on our relationship as husband and wife for when Sarah is out on her own. We try to have a date night. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open.

“We make sure Sarah has a place to go so we can go out.

“We want to build our family and marriage. That’s the biggest thing for us.”

John and Joanne Carnes are busy making sure their church prospers and grows, he said.

“It’s our ministry. We have common goals and a common focus.”

He also needs time for himself, he said.

“I make sure I carve out the time. I like people, but I have to have alone time, a time to get away. You need to hear what you need to hear.”

Meanwhile, life is fun with their new teenager.

“She loves to swim and loves the beach,” he said. “She likes to travel. She likes the adventure. She gets that from us because we love to travel and see new places.”

It’s nothing to drive down to D.C. and just walk around the city.

“We saw all the sights ... the museums and the monuments. It was fun. We want to do that again and see the National Archives.”

More than being a fun weekend away, trips like this help build those memories they want Sarah to carry with her as she grows and matures.

“We want her to have the memory of being loved and accepted and of being herself. We want her to explore her faith and be able to express her heart to her parents.

“We want her to know she’ll always have a safe place with Mom and Dad, no matter her age or what she is facing.

“Building these memories helps secure that.

“And we want to be able to look back and see that we’ve raised our daughter to the best of our ability, and have a healthy, strong relationship and care about one another.

“We want to put each other first.

“Our marriage, our family, comes first and foremost. We take care of them first.”

Email Debra Minor Wilson at

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