God Will Add

A year and a half ago Adam and I began praying about adding another child to our family.  We definitely desired it…but we were unsure of how to go about it or if it would even happen.

We have always wanted to adopt and so we initially assumed that adoption would be the route we would take.  But as we prayed and researched and questioned and discussed, we never felt a peace about it for this season of our lives…which, honestly, was really frustrating for me.  Because adoption was something we really wanted, my heart went back and forth and and up and down and round and round over it.

We had started the process of learning about and pursuing foster care years ago, even before Toby was born, so we wondered if that might be the path God would take us down next.  Yet still we wrestled.

In fact, I still have the notes I typed on the computer one evening last spring – trying to spill out all of my desires and fears and true motivations for pursuing adoption, foster care, or trying to get pregnant.

In May we decided that we would give it a few months that summer to leave it in God’s hands to see what would happen and go from there.  Toward the end of that month we went away for a beautiful week to celebrate our 10th anniversary…and came home with a tiny, growing, living souvenir.  God quickly and graciously answered our prayers and our questions.  And even though we didn’t know what road we should take or even IF and HOW we should grow our family, God did.

And He added.

Thus we’ve chosen a name for the baby girl growing in my womb.

Josie Elizabeth Johnson

Josie = “God will add” or “God will increase

To our Isaiah (“God is salvation“), our Tobias (“God is good“), and our Jack (“God is gracious“)…

God will add.

Our Josie.

We liked the sweet and playful spunk of the name (and we figured she’ll need it growing up with 3 big brothers!), but were sold on it when Adam remembered that his dad’s grandmother’s name was Josephine, from which the name Josie is derived.

And to that Johnson family tree, God will add.

Our Josie Elizabeth.

Elizabeth = “God is satisfaction” and “Consecrated to God

By God’s grace, we are still learning what it looks like to find our satisfaction in Him.  We have tasted and seen that HE is the only thing that truly does satisfy.  Therefore, we want to continue to claim the Truth that HE is enough regardless of the outcome of this pregnancy or the circumstances of her life.

We pray that she would be a woman who is, indeed, consecrated (“dedicated or devoted for a divine purpose“) to God – dedicated to Him by her parents, sanctified by His Spirit, and devoted to glorifying Him in her life and purpose.

God has added to our family and also increased our joy and our satisfaction in Him.  We pray that our family is a testimony to who He is and what He’s done…

He has rescued us by His merciful salvation,

Satisfied us by His goodness,

Given to us by His grace,

And added to the glory of HIS great name.

And for that (and more!), we give thanks.  

“I will give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things YOUR name and Your Word.
On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you INCREASED

The Lord will fulfill his PURPOSE for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

Psalm 138:2,8

God is Gracious

Redefining good.

That has certainly be a theme for our lives the past few years.  Allowing God to crush our definitions of “good” and replace them with Himself.  Life is often hard and confusing.  But this good God has continued to impress His goodness upon our hearts most heavily in our darkest and scariest moments.

In His goodness, God has shown us His grace more clearly.  Unmerited favor, benevolence, compassion, mercy, and beauty…not dependent on my goodness, but upon His.  

This good and gracious God owes me nothing.  Yet He chooses, in His grace, to give me life and salvation.  To bestow on me gifts and provide for my needs.  And to also bring tough stuff into my life in order to conform me into the likeness of His Son.

This is grace.

And the past few years have been constant reminders of it.

Which is why we chose to name our newest little man Jack Nathanael.  God’s gracious gift.

Jack ("God is gracious") Nathanael ("Given of God") Johnson - born June 24, 2014

Jack (“God is gracious”) Nathanael (“Given of God”) Johnson – born June 24, 2014

God proved His graciousness through my pregnancy (giving me a healthy, full-term baby that we prayed for), though my labor and delivery (turning a breech baby just in the nick of time and thus trading a scheduled c-section for a quick and natural birth), and through this little joy boy’s life.   All gracious gifts.  None of which I was (or am) entitled to or deserve.

And just like our Tobias’s name was a timely reminder for us of God’s goodness, our Jack-Jack came at the perfect time to be a consistent reminder to trust our gracious God.  And he is one pretty INCREDIBLE gift.

Toby ("God is good") and Jack ("God is gracious")

Toby (“God is good”) and Jack (“God is gracious”)

My husband has been a youth and young adult pastor for the past 9 years.  We’ve loved the ministry that God called us to and really pictured ourselves doing it for the long haul.  However, about 2 years ago, God graciously began redirecting our hearts.  Though Adam still felt passionately about youth ministry, he began desiring to do more shepherding, equipping, and leading within the Church as a whole.  As he took on more responsibility at our church (preaching, vision-casting, equipping leaders, etc.), God continued to allow him to hone his skills and gift set for His glory.

In the past 2 years, we’ve seen and experienced some of our highest highs in ministry, and I’ve also had to watch my husband walk through very dark lows.  Still, in each circumstance, we can look back now and see how God was using it ALL to graciously refine, humble, and guide us.  Showing us where our idols reside and what we were adulterously placing our confidence in rather than Him.  Gently digging up our sin while graciously also confirming His call on our lives.  Leading and shepherding us and promising to give us our hearts’ desires…all the while making our hearts simply desire more of Himself.

For the past 6+ years, we’ve lived in a parsonage owned by the church.  In March our heating system broke, which also drew attention to the several other major problems with the house.  The church was faced with a decision of whether to invest the large amount of money required to fix it, or ask us to move out.  It was obvious and completely understandable that the wisest decision would be for us to find housing elsewhere so we began our search.  The problems with our house, however, forced us to have more of an urgency in trying to figure out if God was calling us to stay here…or asking us to move on to another ministry.  Because there is no heat in the house, we knew that our Pennsylvania weather would only allow us to remain in the house comfortably until maybe October.  As we sought the Lord and prayed diligently, the Lord confirmed to Adam that He was calling him out of youth ministry and into a different type of leadership position.  He wanted to minister to families, disciple men, equip leaders, preach God’s Word, and continue to cast vision and trouble shoot in order to build a gospel-centered church.

At first we really believed that God would allow Adam to do that here where we were already ministering.  We had, over the years, developed a deep love for our church, the people that made it up, and the community at large.  We didn’t want to leave.  This had become our home, the place we grew a family, and the ministry we had built our life around.

Shortly before Jack was born, however, it became more apparent that our time at this church was coming to a close.  Our philosophies of ministry were beginning to not always match up and our church’s leadership’s vision for a family/discipleship pastor did not fit Adam’s gift set.  We realized that Adam’s longevity here would only be as a youth pastor…and he couldn’t continue at the pace he had been going doing the preaching and other pastoring responsibilities on top of that.  Like Paul and Barnabas, Adam felt confident that it would be healthiest for us and for the church if we parted ways.  It stung and downright hurt.  We didn’t want that to be God’s answer.  And it’s still painful for us.  But we’re also seeing so much of God’s grace in the process as He works on our weak, wandering hearts and opens our eyes to His hand in all of it.

In July, Adam announced to the church that we would be leaving.  And though it didn’t make sense to others, or to us for that matter, we knew that God was calling us to trust and step out in faith.  We were being asked to walk away even though we didn’t know where He would be taking us next.  It was scary, and yet by God’s grace we felt so much peace.  Adam’s last day on staff at MGBC was September 26…and even at that point we still didn’t know for sure where we would be going.

On the other side of the state, however, a recent church plant that was being led by lay leaders began praying for a pastor…right around the same time that Adam was honing his skills, desiring a different position, and praying for guidance in his next steps.  The Penn Valley Church‘s Bux-Mont campus was looking for a man to lead them and equip them.  They wanted someone who was relational and a natural gatherer of people.  Someone who was gifted at communicating the Word and passionate about centering everything around the gospel.

Without even really knowing what we were getting into, Adam sent a resume out to Bux-Mont.  They began pursuing Adam and we cautiously walked through doors as God opened them.  The more we learned about the church and it’s leadership and vision, the more our hearts were stirred and the potential of ministry there was more and more exciting to us.  We had always talked about potentially doing church planting some day and this one truly felt like a perfect fit for Adam.  There are so many sweet details that I wish I could include that God used as blazingly obvious confirmation that this was where He was leading us.

Adam candidated there on September 14th and the congregation and elder boards voted unanimously to extend a call to Adam to become their lead pastor over the weekend of September 21st – the same weekend as our last Sunday at MGBC.  After talking through logistics, Adam accepted the position on September 27th – one day after his last official day on staff here.

God, in His goodness and grace, had provided for us again.  And like any good adventure story, He did it right in the nick of time.

With deep sadness, we’ve turned a page on our ministry at Martinsburg GBC.  But with joy and excitement, we await how these coming chapters at Penn Valley Bux-Mont will read.  And we can’t stop thanking the Author, who also happens to be the true good and gracious Hero of our story.  He is faithful.

“Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to YOUR name be given glory on account of your GRACIOUS love and faithfulness.”

– Psalm 115:1

Our family sporting the T-shirts given to us at our last youth meeting at MGBC

Our family sporting the T-shirts given to us at our last Wednesday night at MGBC

“Once pardoned and forgiven, we must travel the daily journey of life under a deep conviction that we are ‘unprofitable servants.’  At our best we only do our duty, and have nothing to boast of.  And even when we do our duty, it is not by our own power and might that we do it, but by the strength which is given to us from God.  Claim upon God we have none.  Right to expect anything from God we have none.  Worthiness to deserve anything from God we have none.  All that we have we have received.  All that we are we owe to God’s sovereign, distinguishing GRACE.”

– J.C. Ryle

So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say,

We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

– Luke 17:10

Photo made for our farewell party at "Synergy" Youth Group

Photo made for our farewell party at “Synergy” Youth Group

Satisfied

One day about a month and a half ago, I came across this verse while doing my quiet time…

“You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children…”

– Psalm 17:14

It was already underlined in my Bible.  I don’t remember when I did it, but I’m guessing it was during a point in time when we were begging God to give us more children.

The months when we were waiting and waiting and waiting to get pregnant with our second child.  The painful months that followed after that child died.  The months of grieving, healing, and wondering if we’d ever be blessed with another baby.

I didn’t like verses like that one then.  I was fully aware that children were a treasure.  It just seemed to be a treasure God was withholding from me.  And I hated it.

What I apparently failed to see then, were the verses before and after verse 14.

The “their” and “they” that David used to describe those being satisfied with children referred  to his enemies.  

“…men of the world whose portion is in this life.”  (vs. 14)

Wait, what?

So, what about David?

“As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied with Your likeness.” (vs. 15)

While the worldly found their satisfaction in their children, David found his satisfaction in the God who gave the children in the first place.

A reminder that even the good things of life can become idols.  Using them to try to find our worth, satisfaction, purpose, and reward apart from our Creator.

In those years prior, God had used losing our baby and waiting for another to open my eyes to see my own idolatry and desire for control.

I wanted a family the way pictured it and on my time table.

Yucky sin in my heart.  The jealousy I felt when I saw pregnancies announced or picture perfect families on Facebook with evenly spaced out or planned out children.  The anger that I dwelled on when I saw people having babies that didn’t even want them.  The deep sorrow I plummeted to when I heard “Isn’t it about time for you to have another baby?” or “Isaiah needs a sibling and you don’t want them to be too far apart!” The inadequacy and guilt that filled my heart when I felt broken or not good enough.

I was dissatisfied with my lot. And that’s when God began softening my heart and asking this to be said of me…

“‘…and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness,’ declares the Lord.”

– Jeremiah 31:14

That my satisfaction, worth, and happiness would not be based upon earthly success, the picture perfect family, dream career, financial security, or temporal rewards, but rather on God Himself.  That my definition of good would be found in Him and Him alone.

“As for me…I shall be SATISFIED with Your likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)

Trading the temporal for the eternal.  The “me me me” with “You You You”.

Oh, how I wish I didn’t still struggle with this.

In the chapter just prior, David declares,

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.” (Psalm 16:5)

A sharp contrast to “the men of the world whose portion is in this life” (Psalm 17:14).

Choosing to trust the Lord with my lot…so much to the point where HE is my portion – my reward, my inheritance, my joy and all I really need.

Treasuring Him above all else, knowing that He’s the only thing that can truly satisfy.

Perhaps that will allow me to see what He chooses to give as grace rather than something that I’m entitled to or deserve.

“I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no GOOD apart from You.'” (Psalm 16:2)

Satisified with His goodness.  Whatever that may be.

About 2 weeks ago, Adam and I discovered that God had, again, filled my womb with treasure.

We are thrilled, deeply grateful, and quite overwhelmed by His graciousness in choosing to give us another biological child.

He doesn’t have to.  We don’t deserve it and aren’t entitled to it.

If He chooses to allow us to carry this baby to term, we want to see it as grace.

If, instead, He can be more glorified through this baby’s death than through it’s life (Philippians 1:20), we want to see it as grace.

Grace.  A gift.  Unmerited.  Kindess that exchanges what we thought was good for His goodness.

We’re nervous and a little fearful.  Excited but afraid to be too much so.

And we desperately need His grace to help our fickle hearts truly be satisfied in Him alone.

Friends, would you be praying this way for us?

That we would set the Lord always before us and not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).

That our hearts would be glad and rejoice, finding our security in Him (Psalm 16:9).

That His presence would be where we find fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

We praise Him alone for this sweet gift!

“And from His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace.”

– John 1:16

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“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness!”

– Psalm 115:1

The Grace of Giving: Isaiah’s 2013 Birthday Giving Challenge

Birthdays are a big deal around here.

It’s not totally my fault, really.

Without being extravagant or excessive, my parents always made our birthdays extra special.  We could always count on waking up to dad’s drawing on the  fridge marker board.  Birthday parties, silly games, lots of singing, a well decorated cake (and turns for everyone to blow out the candles), presents for us, and a carnation for my mom.

We knew we were special.  Loved.  Valued.

Birthdays are a celebration of LIFE.  I appreciate them even more after experiencing the life of one of our “little lights” being snuffed out.  So I will unashamedly cherish each candle on my kiddos’ cakes.  Thankful for another year, another day, another minute with these gifts God has given me.

I’m not entitled to or promised a new candle on the cake each year.  It’s undeserved.  Unmerited.  A gift.  Pure grace.

“But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you also excel in this GRACE of GIVING.”

– 2 Corinthians 8:7

In an attempt to teach our son about giving, last year we started Isaiah’s Birthday Giving Challenge after borrowing the idea from a friend who made one for her husband.  I was so excited to do it again this year.  I love getting to celebrate Isaiah’s life out of the overflow of our bursting hearts…and in so doing, getting to pour out the grace we’ve received to others…and hopefully teaching Isaiah to do the same.

We had lots of special things planned for Isaiah’s birthday, but this challenge is quickly becoming my favorite thing each year.

This year I chose to walk Isaiah through Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, focusing on an aspect of giving each day.  He memorized 2 Corinthians 9:11 (a hodge-podge of 2 translations so it would be easier for him to learn) and he received a different “challenge” for each of the 7 days leading up to his 5th birthday party.

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Isaiah is really into “Wild Kratts” right now, so I tried to make a big deal out of the “challenge” aspect of it…reminding him that these challenges of helping people were even more important than the “creature power challenges” to help the animals.  We reminded him of how blessed he is and how much he’s been given.  It’s hard for any 5 year old (or 30 year old, for that matter!) to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around him (or her!), but we’re praying that his heart will begin to follow the actions that we asked of him during that week.

“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, so when we take our gifts to those that need them, they will thank God.” 

– 2 Corinthians 9:11

Thus, we began our week by praying that God would use Isaiah’s giving to produce and awareness of and gratitude to our Heavenly Father in those in need.

Day #1: Fill a backpack for another kindergartner.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.” 

– 2 Corinthians 8:9

We were told of a little girl that would be starting kindergarten with Isaiah whose family may struggle to get her school supplies for this year.  Isaiah’s first challenge was to go with  me to Walmart to pick out a backpack and all the stuffins’ to provide her with.  Isaiah enjoyed picking out all kinds of girly stuff for her and I let him pack it himself the following day.  Yesterday he excitedly took the filled backpack to his kindergarten orientation so that the school nurse could deliver it.

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Day #2: Encourage a widow.

“…for God loves a cheerful giver.”

– 2 Corinthians 9:7b

Isaiah came up with this challenge himself.  I had other plans for the second day, but I scrapped them to go with what God was laying on my sweet boy’s heart.  While at Walmart the night before, Isaiah was helping me look for birthday party plates.  While I was busy browsing the selection of plastic table cloths, Isaiah yelled,

“Mom, I want to buy this for a sad lady!”

In his hand he held a $1 balloon weight.  You know, the shiny heavy weights to tie to a helium balloon to keep it from floating away.  As odd of a request as it sounded, I knew what was going on in that little mind of his.  He wanted to buy it and give it to a widow.

You see, a few days before we had read in his devotional book about taking care of orphans and widows.  I was SUPER impressed that he remembered (it doesn’t always seem like he’s even paying attention)…

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We agreed that night that I would buy the weight that night and that he would use his own money to buy a balloon for a widow the next day.  Thankfully when we got out his piggy bank the following morning he didn’t even flinch.

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He happily counted out $4.00 worth…

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…and we were on our way in search of a balloon for a widow.  I quickly learned that this was not an easy task…for me at least.  For Isaiah, it seemed to be a no-brainer.

“I think widows like Lightning McQueen, mom.”

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And so, Lightning McQueen it was.  It was fun watching people’s reactions when my almost 5 year old explained to everyone in the grocery store that yes, he would be paying in change, and no, the balloon wasn’t for him.  It was for a widow.  🙂

We chose a woman from our church that lost her husband shortly after we moved here.  Because her house was in walking distance, we decided to take a stroll to surprise her.

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Unfortunately she wasn’t home on our first try, so we waited and went back later for a visit as a family.  Isaiah could hardly wait to deliver his gift to Ms. Shirley.

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Ms.  Shirley is a widow that is very well taken care of financially.  There doesn’t seem to be much that she lacks or needs.  But a widow is a widow.  Her heart still lacks her husband and she needs reminders that she’s loved and not forgotten.  She just loved having us (and the chaos that the 4 of us bring) in her quiet home.

Then…the preschooler sin nature came out.  Isaiah was vocally disappointed that Ms. Shirley’s house wasn’t “fun” and that she didn’t have toys for him to play with.  I was mortified.  I realized that a lot of his excitement to visit Ms. Shirley that day was based on having a new place with new toys and new attention put on him.  

We had to talk through, again, the reason for our visit, reminding Isaiah that this giving was to be cheerful not about himself.  I began to worry that maybe “making” him give made his giving insincere and therefore meaningless.  Thankfully, God used these words to affirm what we were trying to accomplish…

“It is definitely commendable to want your child to speak and act only out of right motives. And yes, godly obedience goes beyond just saying the right words; godly obedience is right actions plus right motives, doing the right things for the right reasons. But how is godly obedience instilled? How is it trained? The answer might surprise you. Unlike adults who typically learn by reasoning, young children learn by doing. Adults must usually be convinced a course of action is the correct one before they will pursue it. Children, on the other hand, learn to perform the correct action before they are developmentally able to assess the reason it is correct. Doing the right thing actually precedes understanding why it should be done.” 

– Jen Wilken

Children learn by doing.

Doing the right thing actually precedes understanding why it should be done.

We’re praying that as we encourage (and at times even mandate) the action, that his heart and mind will soon follow…some day making the actions as natural as breathing.

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Day #3: Collect food for the food bank.

“For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.” 

– 2 Corinthians 8:13-14

This was Isaiah’s favorite challenge last year, so we wanted to be sure to do it again.  This year Isaiah went over to the church offices the day before and went door to door explaining what he was going, why he was doing it, and asked everyone to bring food in for him to add to our collection.  The day of the challenge he had fun using his muscles to try to lug all of the food around.

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Isaiah also remembered his challenge last year to choose one of his toys to give away and wanted to do that again.  He picked 2 cars and we decided to take them to the food bank, as well.

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Day #4: Take cookies to people at Homewood.

“For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” 

– 2 Corinthians 9:12

I realize that cookies are definitely not a need.  But many old folks need a reason to smile…and there’s not much that will add a little sweetness to their lives than a cookie and a hug from a cute little boy.   Adam took Isaiah to Homewood, a retirement village/nursing home in town, to deliver cookies and shoot the breeze on the morning of his actual birthday.  Adam said he did great in carrying on conversations…and that everyone there now had a new (and very important) knowledge of “Wild Kratts” and stag beetles.  Oh, and of his “driving gloves” that he insisted on wearing the entire day.

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Day #5: Return carts at Walmart.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 

– 2 Corinthians 9:8

For this challenge, Adam took Isaiah to Sam’s Club and Walmart and talked with him about the importance of manners and doing random acts of kindness for others.  My pint-sized little boy energetically returned stray carts in the parking lot, as well as approached strangers (under his daddy’s watchful eye) and asked if could return their carts for them.  Not surprisingly, he really enjoyed this one.  Plus, his “driving gloves” really came in handy.  😉

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Day #6: Collect gifts for Jaden at your birthday party.

“Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” 

– 2 Corinthians 9:15

Actual day #6 was postponed given that the birthday boy came down with a nasty stomach bug.  We, once again, scrapped what I had planned and spent a lot of time snuggling and watching movies.

The following day was Isaiah’s birthday party.  In preparation for his opening of gifts, I talked with Isaiah about the absolute best gift we’ve received:  Jesus!

We’ve always tried to avoid an overabundance of birthday presents at our boys’ parties and this year we chose to do something special for Jadon, our friend that is waiting to come home from Ethiopia.

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Because his mama is concerned about his language development, we asked Isaiah’s guests to bring a book or DVD for Jadon in lieu of gifts.  Isaiah, of course, still had plenty to open from his guests, but he was also excited to open gifts to share with his new friend.

Day #7: Help provide for an orphan.

“…they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others…”

 – 2 Corinthians 9:13

This wasn’t initially on my list, but we heard this story’s family in the midst of Isaiah’s Giving Challenge.  Given that he was already learning about caring for orphans and widows, we definitely wanted to get involved.  Plus, their story hit a little too close to home.

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The little boy in the picture is 2 year old.  His name is Chase and he is now an orphan.  His daddy was a youth pastor.  His mommy was pregnant with his little sister.  They were on a bus bringing their youth group back from summer camp.  And because of a tragic accident, his daddy, mommy, and baby sister were ushered into the presence of God…leaving little Chase behind.

I showed Isaiah Chase’s picture and explained that his mommy and daddy were now in heaven…though I left out other details for fear of Isaiah thinking too much about it and causing him anxiety.  We came across a fundraiser for Chase and decided together that we wanted to help.  We talked again about tithing – giving back a portion of our money to Jesus, as well as the need to also set aside a portion of money to help those in need.  I told him that I would take a portion of the money I had received for taking senior pictures to add to whatever he chose to give.  I asked Isaiah how much of his money he wanted to give to Chase, to which he replied, “Um…probably a lot.”

The reality of giving up a portion of the “ice cream money” given to him for his birthday was not a pleasant thought to him.  But he did it.  And we prayed for Chase.

It’s been hard to think of, pray for, or read about this sweet family without tears flowing.  How many times had I, as a youth pastor’s wife, accompanied my husband and son on a trip with the youth group?  How many times had I stretched a seat belt over my growing belly, completely taking for granted the fact that I arrived home safely?

These candles on a birthday cake are a big deal.  A very big deal.

“…because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.  Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!”  

– 2 Corinthians 9:14b-15

So we will thank Him for grace.

We’ll thank Him for another year of health and breath and life.

We’ll thank Him for the moments that remind of us of our desperate need for Him.

And we will thank Him for the blessed opportunity and gift of being the feet and “driving glove” covered hands of Jesus.

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A Quick Glimpse of Isaiah’s 5 Years:

Tobias Samuel Johnson

It’s been 9 days since our precious gift entered the world.  I’ve wanted to write, wanted to process, wanted to share…but words have seemed so inadequate to convey all that’s been going on in my heart over the past 2 weeks.  I’m overwhelmed by God’s graciousness and am still reeling over the privilege of being Toby’s Mama.

Two weeks ago, my Braxton Hicks contractions were becoming more regular and more uncomfortable.  I didn’t feel well, had some cramping and a back ache.  Though I knew I wasn’t in labor, Adam and I were both excited by the fact that it was sure to start soon.  Because Mondays are Adam’s day off and my parents live much closer to our hospital, that Sunday evening we decided to head to their house just in case things would pick up over night.  By Monday morning, I felt fine and the contractions had subsided.  We both woke up extra disappointed.

March 19th.  Our last baby’s due date.  Though we hadn’t really verbalized it, I think we were both hoping deep down that Toby would be born that day.  Hoping that that date wouldn’t always be associated with painful “what ifs”.  Hoping that we wouldn’t have to deal with the grief that would inevitably creep up again.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by it anymore, but sorrow seems to catch me off guard at times and I’m left with a hurting heart.  The 19th was that kind of day for me.

Though I continued to have contractions here and there, we knew it wasn’t real labor and decided to head back home early Tuesday morning so that Adam could go back to work.  I felt worn down and increasingly uncomfortable.  Contractions started again that afternoon and into the evening…starting to come closer together and beginning to be painful.  Because we live an hour from the hospital and because of the fact that my labor with Isaiah was so fast, my doctor advised me to call the hospital as soon as my contractions were consistently 10 minutes apart.  By 10:00 that night, it was time to make that call and they told me to come in.  We were nervous but SO ready to meet our boy.

You can imagine my disappointment when we got to the hospital and I was checked, only to discover that I wasn’t dilating yet.  At all.  They kept me overnight to monitor me.  I was definitely having contractions…sometimes as close as 6 minutes apart and some pretty strong…but not strong enough to jumpstart my labor.

It was definitely a rough, long night.  I was uncomfortable, couldn’t sleep, and it felt way too much like the last time I was in a delivery room.  Waiting for days for my labor to become strong enough to deliver our last sweet baby.  Painful exams every few hours.  Disappointment.

By morning, my doctor gave me the option of returning home and waiting for true labor to start, hopefully within the next few days…or keep me there and begin the process of induction.  Because  I wasn’t dilated at all, induction would have to begin with the same medicine to soften my cervix that I was given with the last baby…and it could take a few days.  Our decisions was an easy one.  We would head home.

Without a baby.  Again.

Even though I knew I was fine and Toby was healthy, making that walk back out to the parking lot empty handed brought back a lot of grief.  I cried harder than I had for quite some time.  Oh, how confused my heart was!

Our lead pastor graciously allowed Adam to stay at my parents’ house with me to wait it out.  Wednesday came and went…and the contractions left with it.  I was discouraged, felt silly for thinking I was in labor, and was muddling through my grief.  For the first time in a while I began to question God again.  I pleaded with Him for a break.  I just wanted to be done.

Adam and I were able to spend some sweet time in prayer together over those few days.  Pouring our hearts out to our loving Father. I’ll never forget those moments.

I didn’t sleep at all Thursday night because of regular contractions that were waking me up.  They’d intensify and then subside, but I thought for sure I was at least making some progress.  Friday morning the 23rd, Adam and I left for my doctor’s appointment with our bags packed…asking boldly that something was happening by now and that our boy would be born that day.

Even the nurses were crossing their fingers for us.  But the doctor checked me and I had made no progress.  None.

In my disappointment, God did give a peace that was beyond myself and I really felt okay with the outcome.  I even surprised myself.  God was providing.  And even though He didn’t answer how I wanted, He was hearing me.

We considered heading back home again, but since it was already the weekend, we decided to stay another night at my parents’ house.  We spent time w/Isaiah and enjoyed the day as a family.  Late that afternoon, my contractions began to be more painful to the point where they couldn’t be ignored…but they weren’t close enough to get excited about.  Besides the fact that I did NOT want another false alarm.  I sat at  my parents’ dinner table unable to really eat and constantly glancing at my phone to time contractions.  They were coming closer and really starting to take my breath away.  By 8 or 9 there was no denying something had to be happening.  We decided to make that call again to the hospital around 11:30.

Even though the car ride was MUCH shorter than it would have been from our house, it didn’t seem short enough.  By the time we got to the hospital I could barely walk.  My sweet nurse checked me and said something I was not expecting…

“She’s 7 centimeters and almost completely effaced.”

Wait, what?  Wasn’t I just at nothing?!

I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but they include my water popping like a giant water balloon during my first push…all over one of my sweet nurses…(I was obviously not in a laughing mood, but everyone else in the room thought it was pretty darn funny.) as well as Toby’s head popping out before the doctor was in the room (one nurse said she’d never forget our boy’s face because of that).

Adam was incredible at keeping me focused and breathing well.  Because my mom had been with us during those sad days of my last delivery, I asked her to be there to rejoice with us during Toby’s birth.  She’s still my best cheerleader.

On Saturday March 24th at 1:30 AM, 1 hour and 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital, Tobias Samuel Johnson was born.

Tobias (“God is good”)

Samuel (“God has heard”)

God IS good.

We feel so unworthy of this gift and are so incredibly thankful.

During our time in the hospital, we even had one of the nurses every night that was my night nurse during my last delivery, who had even given me a card and an angel figurine before I had gone home.  She remembered us and our sweet baby…and how sad those days were.  It was so neat to have her with us during Toby’s birth.

God IS good.

In my last post about Isaiah’s toenails, I used Psalm 34:5 which I had been reading over and over in regards to my own fears…

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to Him are RADIANT and their faces shall never be ashamed.” 

A few days before Toby was born, I was studying this Psalm using Weirsbe’s commentary and was struck by this statement…

“The word ‘radiant’ in verse 5 is the same word used to describe the joyful countenance of a mother welcoming her children home.”

Not only has God heard me, graciously answered, and chosen to deliver me from my fears, He’s also allowed me the privilege of welcoming my sweet boys home.

As I sit here and type on my bed while Isaiah and Toby play next to me, my heart is full and it’s hard to wipe the smile off of my face.

Before leaving the hospital last Monday, a family friend who happens to be the nutritionist at our hospital stopped in to see us and meet Toby.  I had discipled this woman’s daughter while I was in high school and their family has always been special to us.  Nine years ago, Pam’s sweet daughter as well as my good friend’s brother were killed in a car accident.  On March 24th.

With tears streaming down her face, Pam told us that ever since she heard my due date (March 27th), she had been praying that God would allow Toby to be born on the 24th.  Because of my relationship with her daughter, she was hoping to have something to rejoice over on that day that has been so painful for these past 9 years.  God didn’t answer my plea for Toby to be born on March 19th…but He lovingly answered Pam’s on the 24th…and now we wouldn’t have it any other way.

God IS good.

Last spring, we bought and planted an Autumn Cherry tree in our front yard in memory of our baby in heaven.  We chose it because it was supposed to bloom in the fall (when we delivered our baby) and spring (when our baby was due).  Though we hadn’t yet seen it in full bloom, we came home from the hospital to this…

 Because of the green that was already coming through, we’re guessing our little tree hit full bloom while we were at my parents’ house…maybe even right around the 19th.

God IS good.

“I love the Lord, for He HEARD my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live…
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion…
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been GOOD to you.”
– Psalm 116:1-2, 5, 7

A few pictures from Toby’s first week…

Moving In

We finally did it.  About a week and a half ago, Isaiah slept in his new room for the first time.  It was finally finished and our little boy was crazy excited because it meant that his baby brother was coming soon.

If you read my “Making Room for Hope” post, you know that I was pretty apprehensive about this move.  It was a tough night for me.  Not only did it bring up grief involving our nursery being empty, but it was also a step in my baby growing up.  I never wanted to be one of those moms who are overly sentimental/emotional about milestones rather than being excited for each new phase with my child…but that night I definitely dipped into that category.  I realized that I’d never read to him or rock him in his rocking chair again or watch him sleepily walk out of the only room he’s ever had.  I was reminded that, Lord willing, he WILL continue to grow.  And that my life with him will continue to be a process of letting go.  I wondered if this is how my mom feels when she worries about my 25 year old brother or when Adam’s mom misses his voice when he doesn’t call often enough.  Do they ever wish their “little boys” could still snuggle up in their laps?  I get the feeling that though this struggle of letting go gets easier, it never really goes away.

So…I cried.  I had to keep leaving his room and coming back while his Daddy read and prayed with him.


And after he was tucked in, my husband had to hold his mess of a wife while I grieved not only the end of Isaiah’s “baby phase”, but also grieving the baby that I held and had to let go of that dark October day.

That “moving” night, I remembered a photo that a dear friend took of Isaiah and I in his rocking chair last spring.  It was taken on our 2nd baby’s due date and because Adam had to be out of town, my friend came over to spend the evening with me.  It was a difficult day for me…but what a precious gift to be putting my sweet Isaiah to bed.  She snuck in and grabbed this shot…

ImageThis photo was a sweet reminder to me that night of God’s faithfulness to our family over the past few years and I am so thankful to have this particular moment in time captured.

Isaiah struggled a little to fall asleep his first night in his new big boy room, so I went back in to ease his mind.  As I rubbed his back and prayed over him in that big new bed, so many other memorable moments ran through my mind…

How tiny he looked in his crib the first time he napped in it.

Image

The nights Adam and I spent on our knees next to his crib…begging God to relax his little body and allow him to fall asleep. (My post “My Storm” from 2008 explains that struggle.)

His happy little pacifier face in the mornings…

…as well as the sound of bouncing mattress springs that announced that his nap was over.


How excited he was to help Daddy switch his crib into a “big boy” bed…

…and how my heart broke the night he struggled giving up his beloved “night-nights” (see “Growing Pains“).

Through each season.  Through every phase.  My God had been faithful and good…and He continues to be.

Isaiah loves his new room and I’m now enjoying capturing new moments and memories that will stay etched in my mind.

Unless God chooses otherwise, our nursery will only be empty for a few more short weeks.  My heart and mind are daily tempted to dwell in fear (and I give in more often than I’d like to admit), but I’m thankful for the prayers of so many on our behalf…as well as the reminders that the same God who walked me through each of those days (and nights) will walk me through the chapters ahead.

And I’m looking forward to moving in.

Making Room for Hope

A little over a week ago we ventured to IKEA to find furniture for Isaiah’s new “big boy room” in what used to be our guest room.  It was exciting for all 3 of us to pick out bunk beds and shelves to bless our little man with and God provided what we needed.  After piling it all into the car, my stomach was in knots.  Of course part of it was because I hate spending money…but I knew there was more to it that was just waiting to boil to the surface.  Daddy was excited to get started on the room right away and little man was willing to make “the big move”.  Mommy, however, was dragging her feet…big time.  Sure I had all kinds of logical reasons, but the biggest one is the same reason there’s still a “big brother” shirt with the tags still on it stuffed in the back of Isaiah’s closet…

I was (okay, okay…am) afraid to hope.

We bought “big brother” pajamas for Isaiah before…but he only wore them for a few months.  We had plans for him to move out of the nursery last year…but he stayed and I couldn’t bear the thought of an empty room.  I delivered a baby in the same hospital I delivered Isaiah…but I came home with an empty blanket.  I’ve spent the past 2 years of my life trying to learn the delicate balance of asking the Lord for MY desires, while submitting my will to His and praying that I can accept what He deems as good and best for me.  In the process, in an attempt to protect myself from disappointment or pain or doubt, I know I’ve been slow to hope and quick to prepare myself for the worst.  I know that I don’t deserve this baby and am overwhelmed by God’s grace in ordaining this pregnancy.  Still, to be completely honest, there have been times when I was afraid to be too happy or want it too much or get too attached…like if I did God was waiting to snatch it from my hands.  This is why there are index cards with Scripture all over my kitchen…not just for helping replace my fear with courage, but also to remind myself of my loving Father’s character as opposed to the lies Satan was (and is) feeding me.

After shedding more tears and praying more prayers, we’ve begun the process of moving Isaiah’s stuff into his new room.  Today I was cleaning out toy bins and baskets…stashing away things that he doesn’t play with anymore or throwing away things that aren’t helpful to him.  I know that I need to do some “cleaning out” myself.  Though I may not be able to completely overcome my fear until our Toby is safely in my arms, I can choose what to do with the thoughts and memories that really aren’t helpful.  You see, 30 weeks into my pregnancy, my fears are different than they were at the beginning.  Because I can feel my son squirming, kicking, and hiccuping, I don’t struggle so much with the paralyzing fear that he’s not alive.  Instead my fear has moved more toward worry about laboring and delivering my precious and so desperately wanted baby boy.

I had an excellent experience delivering Isaiah…but it feels so long ago and it’s hard for me to remember the joy in the midst of labor/delivery pains and the way my mind wiped out a lot of the pain from my memory all together.  Instead, now when I think of labor, my more immediate memories are of my last delivery.  The agony of an induced labor when your body (and heart) are not at all ready to release the child.  The painful exams and insertion of medication that had to happen repeatedly over the course of those long 52 hours.  The threat of an operation if my body didn’t expel that which provided life to my baby for those 4 months…and the agonizing physical and emotional pain that accompanied it when it did.  It’s really difficult at this point to not let my mind go to those memories when I imagine what I’ll experience with my next child.  I really wish I could throw those dark memories out with the unnecessary toys…but it’s so so so hard.

A nasty cold bug finally invaded the Johnson house last week and Isaiah developed a nasty cough because of it.  He was having a difficult time sleeping the other night and just wanted me to hold him.  In the darkness and silence of the middle of the night, my 3+ foot tall and 30+ pound baby boy crawled into my lap, over my bulging belly, and insisted on laying his head on my chest like he has so many times over the past 3 years.  Only then did his crying and coughing stop.  I rocked him and prayed for him until I felt his body relax and start falling back to a peaceful sleep.  Knowing that he’d be more comfortable in his bed, I asked him if he was ready to go back.  He simply responded with…

“Um.  No, thank you.”

I was happy to oblige his request and have replayed those sweet words and that quiet moment often in my mind over the past few days.  This afternoon when I sat down to read, I literally had to catch my breath when I came across these words from Oswald Chambers…

“Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.  Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”

Oh, how I needed those words today!  Why would Isaiah want to go back to that dark, cold bed when he could sleep curled up on his Mother’s chest?  I’m praying more and more that I can leave that dark, cold bed of those moments…not forgetting or sweeping it under the rug, but releasing and letting it sleep.  I want to rest knowing that both my past and future are in His hands…and allow myself to look forward to what He has for me next without worry (Oh, this is so hard for me!).  As Elizabeth Elliot said…

“We are meddling with God’s business when we let all manner of imaginings loose, predicting disaster, contemplating possibilities instead of following, one date at a time, God’s plain and simple pathway.  When we try to meet difficulties prematurely we have neither the light nor the strength for them yet…God knows how to apportion each one’s strength according to that day’s need, however great or small.”

As I’m tempted to dwell, worry, or fear, I’m praying that my response will be the same as Isaiah’s…

Um.  No, thank you.

…and rest, instead, in the loving arms of my Father’s goodness…cleaning out a room for hope.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” -Psalm 42:5

Redefining “good”

Adam and Isaiah do devotions and pray together every morning before Adam leaves for the office.  The other day Adam came into the kitchen afterwards and warned me that our little boy was a upset by what he  had learned and may be a little sensitive to it throughout the day.  He knows our son (who happens to be quite a bit like his Mama) well. 🙂

Upset from his preschooler devotional book?  I definitely wasn’t anticipating the conversations that they became the catalyst for…

With tears filling his eyes, my sweet little boy cried, “Mommy, I don’t want a new house in Heaven!  I want to stay in this house!”

Now I am extremely grateful for the house that we live in, but I also could do without flooded basements, quirky wiring, random peg board, stained carpet, old furnaces, and clogged drains.  I’m pretty sure the home Jesus is preparing for me will have none of the above.  Still, this home is the only one my son knows.  The only one that his 3 year old mind can right now comprehend.  To Isaiah, this house is the definition of “good”.

I know my son well enough to know that our house wasn’t the only thing on his mind…

“I want to stay in this house with you.  I don’t want to go to Heaven!  I want to stay here with you and Daddy!”

We talked and cuddled awhile until he eventually calmed down.  In those moments, I thought of C.S. Lewis’ writing on whether or not there would be sex in Heaven (bear with me…I promise I do have a point with this!)…

I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer “No,” he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing which excludes it. We are in the same position…

Lewis’ point is that a young boy, who does not know the pleasure and joy of sexual intimacy, can not comprehend how it could be “good” without chocolate (what he does know and enjoy).  His frame  of reference for what is “good” is a rather skewed because of what his mind can at that moment focus on.

Oh, how often God has been teaching us that over the past few years.  Embarrassingly, my three year old’s struggle to comprehend and mine really aren’t that terribly different.  For two years, I’ve struggled to accept what God has deemed as “good” for our little family.  How difficult it’s been at times to accept that everything that comes from Him is “a good and perfect gift” (James 1:17).

Waiting 8 months to finally see a positive pregnancy stick certainly didn’t feel good.

Finding out that the baby that we so desperately wanted died in my womb and the emotional scars that were left from delivering our 2nd child didn’t feel good.

Spending the next 8 months begging God for another child didn’t feel good.

I’m so thankful for a Father who has gently and patiently crumbled up my definition of “good” and replaced it with a new one…

“…and my people shall be satisfied with MY goodness,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 31:14

For the past year in particular, this verse has become our prayer.  That we would be satisfied in God and not in what He gives.  That we would be grateful even when He chooses to withhold our present desires from us.  That we could declare His grace written all over our life story.  That we would see true beauty in what seemed so ugly.  That we could trust that He knows better than we do and promises to give us His best.  That He, Himself, would become our very definition of “good”.

He IS God.  And God IS good.  So very, very, very good.

This journey has led us to the name we picked for the baby boy that is presently squirming around in my belly.  Regardless of the outcome of this pregnancy or the length of his precious life.

Tobias Samuel Johnson.

Tobias (meaning “God is good“) Samuel (meaning “God heard“).

The thought of declaring “God is good” every time we say our little Toby’s name thrills my heart.

I need to know that Truth even better than I’ll know my children’s faces and trust it daily…even minute by minute.

I’m slowly learning to see everything that my God brings is, in fact, good. And that the hope of the eternity that He’s promised me will blow my mind, making clinging to and focusing only on this life seem as silly as choosing chocolate.

And just maybe even Isaiah will see that our humble earthly home and his imperfect parents can’t compare with that goodness of our God and that joy that awaits those who trust Him.

Eucharisteo

Written November 3, 2011…

And he took bread, gave thanks (eucharisteo) and broke it, and gave it to them…’ (Luke 22:19)

Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?  So as long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.  Joy is always possible.  Whenever, meaning – now; wherever, meaning – here.  The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience.  The joy wonder could be here!  Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be – unbelievably possible!  The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.

Charis. Grace.

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.

Chara. Joy.

A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.

A threefold cord that might hold a life?  Offer a way up into the fullest life?

Grace, thanksgiving, joy.  Eucharisteo.

A Greek word…that might make meaning of everything?”

– Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts)

I haven’t written a note for 2 months now…and that seemed like the most appropriate way to start a long over due (and probably way to long…bear with me) one.  Eucharisteo is something that I’ve tried desperately to make a part of my life this past year…easy on “good” days…much tougher on “bad” ones.  Even so, God has been so good in changing my definition of “good” from what I think is “good” or what I feel is “good” to a much simpler and yet much more complex definition.

“…and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,” declares the Lord. ”  – Jeremiah 31:14

My Father is the very definition of good.  Adam and I claimed this verse back in February as a prayer that we would trust our Lord’s goodness and be truly satisfied with HIM – not what He gives.

This past year or so has been horribly difficult…but also, dare I say, the most beautiful year we’ve experienced…

Charis. Grace.

I will suffer loss, as I already have, but it also means that I will receive mercy.  Life will end up being far worse than it would have otherwise been; it will also end up being far better.  I will have to endure the bad I do not deserve; I will also get the good I do not deserve.  Idread experiencing undeserved pain, but it is worth it to me if I can also experience undeserved grace.” 

– Jerry Sittser (A Grace Disguised)

A few weeks ago, Adam and I were in the car and commenting on the gorgeous colors of our Pennsylvania autumn.  Not trying to be profound, my husband nonchalantly said, “Isn’t it weird that we find so much beauty in something dying?”

I had an instant lump in my throat and I knew God intended me to hear more in Adam’s statement than a simple comment about the season.  We experienced the ugly death of our child last October, as well as the dark moments of waiting to be pregnant again…but looking through the rear view mirror, so to speak, a year later we could see so much beauty in the dying.  Not in just the heart breaking death of our sweet baby, but also in the dying to self that occurred because of that catalyst.  We’re profoundly changed, deeply humbled, and more aware of the precious gift of God’s grace in our lives.  We’ve been forced to see our God with new eyes…and the only appropriate response would be…

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.

Over the anniversary of the delivery of our last baby, God provided an opportunity for us to spend a few days together as a family in Ocean City.  Seeing as I was in the almost exact spot in this pregnancy over that week as I was in my last pregnancy, I had to use much of that time away to wrestle and battle intense fear.  I also needed to grieve, as the pain from last October felt fresh, raw, and overwhelming at times.  In the midst of that, we spent a great deal of time in thanksgiving…struck by WHO our God is.

Thankful for our Adonai-Jehovah,who was sovereign over us.  For our Jehovah Jireh, who consistently provided.  For El Shaddai, who was and is sufficient to meet all of our needs.  For our Jehovah-Ropheka, who continued to bring healing to our hurting and sinful hearts.  For Jehovah-Shalom, our peace in the midst of turmoil or fear.  For our Jehovah-Rohi, our Shepherd who has proven faithful in leading and caring for us…and will continue to do so.

…but I will not remove from you my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness.  Because you hold fast to me in love, I will deliver you; I will protect you because you know my name.  When you call to me, I will answer you; I will be with you in trouble; I will rescue you and honor you.” – Psalm 89:33; 91:14-15

I was able to stare at the ocean, desperate for God to help me navigate through the emotions of grief for my last baby and the mix of excitement and fear for this one.

That day, as well as today, I was increasingly thankful for my El Roi, the Living One who sees me (Genesis 16:13-14).

God is good and I am always loved.  Everything is eucharisteo.  Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things – take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness.  This is the hard eucharisteo.  The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty.  The hard discipline to give thanks at all times because He is all good.  The hard discipline to number the griefs as grace because God chooses to cut into my ungrateful heart to make me whole. All is grace only because all can transfigure.”

– Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts)

All can transfigure into joy.

CharaJoy.

God, in His grace, has not only given us joy through the hard eucharisteo, but He’s also given us joy by choosing to bless us, who are completely undeserving, with another child…    

 

…who, we found out yesterday, is a little BOY!

Because of my last pregnancy, my doctor referred me to a high risk specialist to consult with me and run special tests. He’s been wonderful and helpful…and even made Isaiah feel special yesterday by blowing up a “balloon” (latex glove) for him…

We’re hitting the half way mark of my pregnancy this week and so far everything looks good.  Our new little boy is crazy active and strong.  The doctors can already tell that some of the things that were wrong last time (like only having 2 vessels in my umbilical cord instead of 3) are okay this time, which has been a huge relief.  Though I still battle fear from time to time, we’re overwhelmed by God’s graciousness in allowing us to receive more good news yesterday.  Keep praying for us and this little miracle inside of me!  We also ask you to pray that we can continue to surrender our will to His…seeing this child as charisgrace and giving eucharisteo thanks regardless of the outcome of this pregnancy.

“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield.  For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.  Let your steadfast love, o Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in You.” – Psalm 33:20-22

We’re so thankful for you and your love towards us!

Update on #3 Johnson Baby

Written September 2, 2011…

Since many of you are praying for and with us and have been wondering how things have been going since my last note, I wanted to give a quick update on our little peanut.

I’m 10 1/2 weeks along and had an appointment with my doctor this past Tuesday.  Adam and I were both a little nervous about going back to the same office as we weren’t sure what emotions we’d feel, but God was so good in giving us a peace and calm.  My doctor and nurses have been and continue to be so thorough, so empathetic.  Because we’re still not exactly sure what caused our last baby to die, they are treating this pregnancy differently than my previous two, which in a way was a huge relief to me.  Though I was really hoping they’d do an early ultrasound, when it was quickly scheduled that day, my mind went a thousand directions.  I was literally shaking.  I tried to blame it on the huge glass of cold water they gave me to chug, but Adam knew better than that.  My last ultrasound involved being alone with the technicians a silent room with the screen turned away from me, followed by nightmarish news.  Fear and nervousness were again taking over.  We called our parents.  I sent a quick text to a friend.   We went outside to get some sun and calm our nerves and pray.  And I stopped shaking. 😉

Adam wasn’t allowed to come into the room until the tech could get all of the information she needed.  Because there was a student in with the technician, she was quietly explaining what was coming up on the screen that was again turned away from me.  I heard her quietly say, “There’s the heart.”  And I could finally breathe.  After several minutes, Adam was allowed to come in and they let us see the tiny person God had been knitting together in my womb.  That flashing light confirmed a heart beat…and that as of right then everything looked good.

My doctor scheduled an appointment for September 13th with a high risk pregnancy specialist who will talk further with us, run some more tests, and do another ultrasound to check more things out.

We’re extremely thankful and daily humbled by God’s unmerited favor, but still battling intense fear from time to time.  I’m most anxious about these next two months and would greatly appreciate your prayers.  You can obviously pray for the health of our baby and the safety of my pregnancy, but more than that, please pray that I can daily trust and daily surrender my will to His.

Thank you for caring for our family and wanting to walk with us through this journey!

“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” – 2 Corinthians 1:11