100

Welcome to Post #100 for our wee little blog!!!

Hmmmm…what to do to celebrate the 100th post?  What I really need to do is write about money.  But, I don’t want to do that for post 100.  You’ll have to stay tuned for the big money post.  🙂  Watch out, it’s a’comin’!

The other day I was feeling all inspired to write about building altars in remembrance for all God has done on this journey, but at the end of the day when I sat down to write I just wasn’t feelin’ it.  The post was getting waaaaaay too long because God has just done waaaaaay too much.  I realize that’s a very good thing, it just doesn’t work to make a very long post.  Ha!

Then I thought maybe I would write a list of 100 of something…you know, like kindergartners take 100 buttons to school on their 100th day of kinder….something like that.  But, then I thought that would also make a very long post.  Annnnd considering my living room floor is covered in legos, my Hava-lu is sitting on the couch with the puke-bowl next to her after throwing up at least 10 times this afternoon/evening, the dishes are undone, and there is a new mountain of laundry waiting for my attention (thanks to my too late delivery of the puke-bowl), I really don’t have time for a long post.  Actually, I probably don’t really have time for a short post, but I’m resting my legs and procrastinating, and I’m the Mommy, so I can.  🙂

So….in honor of our 100th post I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite posts along this journeyIt’s always good to look back and remember all that God has done.  Consider this a shortened version of my way-too-long altar post.  🙂   

Beginnings.  I love this post because it was the first.  I was heartbroken when I wrote it, but I can see God’s smile in it now.  We had lost our baby, our dream. But God knew all along what our true dream was.  I picture Him standing over my shoulder as I cried and typed, waiting on pins and needles to show us what He really had in store for us.  It seems like a lifetime ago!!

https://i0.wp.com/reecesrainbow.org/wp-content/uploads/images/jonah-1-cropped.jpg?resize=312%2C400
“Jonah” the one who started it all.  We will love you forever sweet baby boy 

My Uncle.  I miss my Uncle Gary.  He was gentle, humble, giving, and loving.  I am so thankful God used what seemed to be an impossible situation to bring our hearts together.  Thinking of him makes me smile.

Foster Care Ponderings 1, Foster Care Ponderings 2, Foster Care Ponderings 3. – Writing this series on foster care and our experiences was super therapeutic for me.  Fostering was the best and hardest thing we’ve ever done.  If you have any interest whatsoever in fostering, please, please read these posts.  Read and ask the Lord how He would have you respond.  He is only asking for willing hearts, not superheros!  Do it! Do it! Do it!  (I get a tad passionate about fostering…)

Introducing…our Son!– This is a fave, for obvious reasons.  Seth changed our lives forever.  He was our unexpected bonus for staying in Salem when all we wanted to do was travel the world- and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

Romaniv.- I have no words.  Amazing day.  Amazing boys.  Even more amazing now that we know we get to back.  🙂

The Day We’ve Been Waiting For.- God moved mountains to make this day happen.  It was absolutely miraculous!!!!!  It just goes to show you that He is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.  Man does not have the final say.  God does.  Word.

We Had No Idea.- Seth’s story.  I pray as he grows he will understand how much he is loved, how many people prayed for him, and how hard we fought for him.  Love love love my baby.

Carried.- This post is a good reminder to me that God is there even in our darkest hour.  He speaks life and love into our hearts when we need it most.  He is our healer and His promises are true. Thankful.  🙂


Thanks to all of you for following our journey and encouraging us along the way.  It’s crazy to think about what we initially started this blog for, and what it has become.  His ways are sooooo much higher than our ways.  

I can’t wait to see what life will be like when we write post #200!

Most Exciting News!

We have some amazing news to share!!

After many months of prayer and discussion, emails and letters, we have been invited to come volunteer at Mission to Ukraine in Zhitomir, Ukraine!!!

Zhitomir, (Zhytomyr) is just west of Kiev, the capital

This is our dream come true.  Mission to Ukraine (MTU) is an amazing place where healing happens. Hope is given.  Jesus is glorified.  What better place for us to learn how to serve the disabled in Ukraine, than from the ones who are already doing it, and doing it with excellence?  We are excited to serve the vision of MTU and help them in whatever area they need it most.

From MTU’s website: 

“Mission to Ukraine is an indigenously run ministry that serve the Zhitomir region ofUkraine. It ministers to the most marginalized of Ukraine – the unborn and the disabled.  

Children with special needs and their families live in a culture that is just beginning to emerge from the Soviet legacy ofdenying their existence. With limited access to state schooling, poor medical care and inaccessible buildings and transportation, the child with special needs is neglected and isolated by society.Mission to Ukraine offers much needed educational and medical therapies, practical assistance, and community.”

After we visited MTU last April we said to each other “We have to be a part of this.”  Now God has made a way and we are standing in awe.  

We are starting with a commitment to volunteer for at least one year, while learning and observing what the Father has in store.  MTU may be a launching place for other things, or a partner for the long-term.  We don’t know, and we won’t try to figure it out (remind us of that in a year from now...okay?).  We are going to serve and give out of our overflowGod is the one doing this work and we say yes, one step at a time, trusting Him to show us what we need to know when we need to know it.  Scary?  Yes.  Peaceful?  Yes.  Exciting?  YES!!!!  Thank you all for praying for us and for God to reveal His next steps.  He is so good.

Praise God for His amazing way-making.  
Praise God for His plans unfolding for the fatherless in Ukraine.  Praise God for His love that never, ever fails.

Zhitomir Ukraine, here we come!

To read more about MTU you can visit their website here.
Read about our visit to MTU last April here and here.
Other awesome accounts of MTU’s work can be found here.  

What’s Next + The Kids

At the very beginning of this journey when we still thought this journey was about adopting “Jonah” a friend was praying for us and God spoke some words to her that have guided a lot of our process thus far.  This was at the stage in the game when no one knew what we were considering.  It was just between God, Jed, and me.  We believe that God can speak through His people, and boy has this word struck the nail right on the head!  She said “God’s calling you and Jed to something very difficult.  Fear not, fear not, fear not.  The path looks really narrow, but just keep walking.  As you walk the path is going to widen and God will make a way.  Just keep walking and fear not.”

Of course we thought those words applied to the adoption process and raising a child with special needs.  We had no idea what those words really meant.  Now we’re starting to get an idea.  🙂

Back at the beginning of September we knew that we needed to trust God to provide free housing for us.  We can’t pay off student loans in any decent amount of time if we’re still paying our mortgage.  Why don’t we rent out our house and let someone else pay our mortgage?  Then we can live somewhere for free and put money toward student loans so we are more free when we get to Ukraine!  Great idea…except that finding free housing for a family of 6 sounded a little tricky.  Yeah, we learned it’s not that tricky for God.

We asked the Lord to let us know where we were going to be living before our garage sale.  I was starting to get a lot nervous as the garage sale quickly approached and we had nowhere to move.  Yet we knew we were to keep walking and God would make a way.  The night before our garage sale a friend came over to help Jed move the heavy items downstairs for the sale.  I was gone at a home school meeting and when I got home and our friend left Jed turned to me and said “He just offered for us to live with him in his house for free.” 

HOLD THE PHONE.  WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?????

God made a way!  He did it!  He kept His word.  He did a miracle.  He moved our friend’s heart and that generous friend is opening his home to 6 people.  I don’t think our friend realizes what he just agreed to. Hehe.  Holy bachelor pad invasion Batman!

We are just absolutely blown away by the goodness of God.  We are blown away by His promise-keeping.  We are blown away by His way-making.  We are so very thankful.

In a couple of weeks we’ll move out of this house and into our new digs.  Then we’ll spend the rest of the month getting this house rent-ready.  Please pray for a great renter for our house!  Thanks!

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“So, how are the kids with all of this?”

 

The kids are awesome, as usual. 

Taking Queen Havalah on a tour of the neighborhood

They are taking all of this in like champs.  The kids know we are moving to Ukraine.  Of course they have no idea what that really means! 

They know where Ukraine is on the map and they’ve seen many pictures.  They join in on skype with our friends in Ukraine, so they’ll meet some familiar faces when we finally arrive there.  They know we are going to Ukraine to help the special kids who have no mommy and daddy.  They know that those kids have bodies that work different than theirs and look different than theirs.  I think they understand as much as they can at this point, and they are excited.

 

What we’ve learned about our kids so far in this process is that however Jed and I present this to them, and however we process it is how they live it.  We are taking this in like the big fat adventure that it is.  So, the kids think of it like an adventure.  We are excited, they are excited.  We have some fears and uncertainties- so do they.  We just pray that God will give the kiddos peace through this process.  We pray they learn in a very tangible way what it means to walk in faith.  We want them to live radically for God- then we better live it!


Thank you again and again for all your prayers and support. 


God is opening doors and clearing paths!  
We stand amazed.  





Sweet Heath still waits for a family to step up for him.  His adoption is nearly paid for by a loving group of Heath-fans.  Please continue to share his face and his story.  Heath needs his family asap!!  Please ask away if you have any questions at all about Heath.  🙂








The Big Move- an Update

I’ve been chattin’ it up about Heath so much I figured I better give an update about where we are on our journey to Ukraine.  I haven’t written much about our move in this space recently just because there is so much still up in the air.  I’m coming to realize that is pretty much our new reality though, so I better document it anyway. 

This past weekend we had a massive garage sale.  It was great!  We sold a ton of stuff.  Remember we’d already had one garage sale earlier in the summer, and now we had another massive one.  I look around my house and I still feel like we have too much stuff.  Seriously!!  Anyway, we made great headway in whittling away at all our things.  Like now the girls are sharing a dresser and Jed and I are sharing a dresser, so we sold the other 2 dressers.  We sold non”essential” kitchen items, more books, book shelves, paired down our stuffed animal collection a bit, tools…it felt good.  

The next step is to get out of our house so we can put our mortgage payment toward paying off student loans.  Good riddance Sallie Mae!!  We’d love to sell our house, but we’re upside down in our loan, so we have to rent it out.  We’re planning on moving out of our house in October and then getting it rental-ready.  We’ve had a very generous offer from a friend concerning our living situation that I can share when it’s all finalized.  Let’s just say, God is doing just what He said He’d do!  As we take steps forward He opens up the path before us.  It’s been nothing short of miraculous.  

Right now the main focus is our living situation.  Once we get out of our house, get it rented and start putting money away we’ll shift our focus to how God wants to finance this dream.  There’s talk of mission support raising, non-profit starting, grant writing, business plan making…all stuff that is much more Jed’s area of expertise!

We’ve contacted a few different organizations in Ukraine that do work similar to what God has put in our hearts to do and asked about partnering.  These are mostly people and organizations we visited while in Ukraine.  We aren’t sure exactly how it will all look, but we just step forward in obedience and I’m confident God will work it out.  

To people who don’t know the Lord this all sounds CRAZY.  Believe me, sometimes it feels crazy to be living it!  But, in the midst of the craziness we have peace.  We have peace that we are exactly where God wants us in this moment.  We have peace that He is paving the way and making paths straight. 

So that’s a brief update about where we’re at.  Thank you for your prayers and support!!

Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jig

Whenever someone says “Home again, home again” I always think of my friend Cody.  When we lived together after college she would always say that as we pulled into the driveway, “Home again, home again, jiggity jig!”  That was a bit of a side note…love you more than words Cody.  🙂
So, we made it home safe and sound late Wednesday night.  Now I’m up quite early blogging and Jed already left to go exercise.  Jet lag can actually increase your productivity, you know- or it can cause you to fall asleep on the couch at 7:15….before the kids are even in bed.  Yikes.
Being with our kids again is unbelievable.  Oh my word we missed them like crazy.  I know the Lord was totally in this though because although we missed them, it was never unbearable.  We were able to focus on what God was doing where we were at because we knew our kids were loved and cared for at home.  My mother-in-law rocks the house.  Seriously, she took such amazing care of our babies.  Every time we skyped they were so happy and so excited to tell us about their adventures with Grammy.  We are so blessed by this gift she gave to us.  Love you Grammy!!!!
We are happy to be home, but already missing Ukraine.  We left a big part of our hearts there.  I don’t know how God did it, but it’s like He supernaturally knit our hearts with the believers there.  Some people we knew less than a week, but if felt like we were old friends.  It felt like we had history together…and we had just met.  Crazy.  I guess that’s how it goes when your hearts beat for the same things.  We were so blessed by the friendships we found in Ukraine.  Honestly, that wasn’t something we expected.  We were going with a heart for the orphans there and were surprised to find many kindred hearts along the way.  We miss them already.
God alone knows exactly how this story is going to play out.  We know Ukraine is in our future, we just need step-by-step instructions about how that is going to come about and what it will look like.  At the conference, on our last night there, an awesome new friend from UK Vineyard was praying for us and he felt like God wanted us to dream big, not to think the dreams God has given us are too big, basically not to hold back.  He also felt we needed to know that the resources and provision would be right there when we needed it.  We’ve heard those promises from God many times in the past few months along this journey. It was so great to hear it again.  Thank you Lord that you know just what we need, right when we need it.  I’m not sure if you all remember, but the first verse God gave us on this journey was in
 Isaiah, chapter 54:
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cord, strengthen your stakes.  
 For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities.
Sweet.
We’ll keep you posted as this journey unfolds.
Before I go, I wanted to give an accounting for the money that we took along for orphan care.  It was given by all of you and I want to make sure you know where it went!  Thank you thank you thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity.  Really, after seeing the need firsthand, and the people God is using to be the hands and feet to meet the need, you can be assured that this money will be used wisely and 100% will be used for His children.  He’s got some awesome workers out there doin’ the stuff!
So, here’s the accounting; if you have any questions or want any more clarification feel free to email us at johnson commune AT gmail DOT com (no spaces).
We went with $2200.
$70.00- charge at airport for extra bag carrying donated items for the children
 (craft kits, fluoride varnish, stuffed animals, exercise balls…)
$200.00- donation to Mission to Ukraine, specifically for their work in the Romaniv Orphanage
$70.00- to pay for the trip to see the Lost Boys (Praise God again for that miracle!!!)
$400.00- bought diapers and soda (a very special treat!) for the Lost Boys
$750.00- left for Slavik and Alyona to pay for 3 future visits to the Lost Boys.  When they go they normally take a large team of people, clowns, etc.. so they have to rent a van.  It costs about $250.00 a trip just to go there.
That leaves $710- this money was left for Slavik and Alyona to buy needed items for the Boys when they go on those next 3 visits.  After the visits Alyona will let us know that they went and what they bought to take along with.  When she shares that with me I’ll make sure to pass it on to all of you.  They really want to be accountable and we trust them that they love the boys and will use the money in the best way possible.  We love those two and you all would too!!!  🙂  
So, there you have it!  That money was given with such love, compassion, and generosity and we know that as Slavik and Alyona go they bring light and darkness is defeated.  Praise God for His workers in the fields.  Our prayers are so important…keep it up!
GOD WILL WIN THE DAY!!!