Sunny Walks, Squishy Thighs, and Glimpses of Kingdom

It’s already 8:15pm? Where did this day go?

Time truly does fly when you’re having fun.

Today I got up and took the metro downtown to meet my dear friend Dasha.  You would all be so proud of me!  I managed the metro all by myself without getting lost or getting too many strange looks.  I’d like to think that since I left my big camera, Hawaiian shirt, and tall white socks with sandals at home that I didn’t look too touristy and possibly blended in a bit…probably wishful thinking though.  🙂  
Dasha and I had a grand old time.  After spotting each other from across Independence Square and frolicking toward each other with giddy laughter and huge smiles we had made enough of a spectacle of ourselves for me to forget about blending in.  Hehe
We got something tasty to drink and walked all around downtown, catching up and wishing Jed was with us.  It’s so amazing how God knits hearts together.  It seriously felt like we’d only been missing each other for a week, not a year!  I love friendships like that and am blessed to have many of them here.  Thank you Jesus!
After my time with Dasha, Olya and I had a super special treat.  We got to spend the afternoon with Marianna, an American missionary who’s been living in Kiev with her husband for the past 11 years.  I’ve been following Jim and Marianna’s work for some time now and already had a strong suspicion that we would like each other.  Not only is Marianna a lover of kiddos, and a big coffee fan, but she lives across the ocean from her grandbabies and I’ve read about her proud Grammy moments from afar.  Since my in-laws live overseas as missionaries too, we’ve been on the receiving end of faraway “Grammy-Love”.  I had a feeling I would like Marianna and I was very right!

Every Friday, when she’s able, Marianna visits a hospital right on the edge of Kiev.  In that hospital there is a special room for some very special kids.  It’s a room for HIV positive children without parents present to take care of them.  In Ukraine when a child is hospitalized it is the parents’ responsibility to provide all non-medical care.  They bring food and supplies from home and take care of their children 24/7.  Where does that leave children who’s parents aren’t present, or aren’t able to care for them?  It leaves them alone.

Marianna visits the children, loves on them, and encourages the staff.  She and Jim have helped make it possible to hire staff to be in that room all day until 5:00pm so the babies and children aren’t left alone.  They have a dream now to have staff present in the room 24 hours a day.  It really is needed!  No child should have to be in a hospital alone, with no one to soothe them when they cry or are scared.  I love this work.  
Today there was just one baby in the room.  OMG.  What a cutie!!!  I’m not able to post pics so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  I’m not exaggerating on the cuteness.  Picture curly black hair, chocolate skin, longest eyelashes known to man, and sweetest smile I’ve seen since I left my babies on Tuesday.  Add squeezable thighs and big brown eyes and you have a recipe for perfection.  
We passed baby girl around and I got the honor of feeding her a bottle.  It was such a lovely afternoon.  It was beautiful to hear about the hearts of the staff softening as they see the believers being the hands and feet of Jesus.  
Every life has value, every life was created with purpose and destiny.  Marianna’s visits speak volumes to that truth.  “You are such a loved baby!” she said to baby girl.  Amen to that.  Baby girl is precious and valuable, created with purpose and destiny.  As is every child who spends months of their life in that room.  As are the children in this city who lay down in cribs all day, every day.  
Hearts softening, lives being valued, eyes being looked into, all glimpses of His Kingdom coming to earth.  Beautiful, right?

Up, Up and Away!

Welp, here I sit in the airport, waiting to board. I feel like I’ve forgotten something…like 4 kids and husband perhaps? Ha! For a homeschooling Mama of 4, I’ve already had more alone time today than I’ve had for the past week, and I haven’t even left the state! Strangely quiet…I haven’t spoken to anyone since my friend Sarah dropped me off an hour ago.

Thoughts while I wait:
*My friend Alexis let me know that Seth pooped in his diaper less than 15 minutes after I dropped the kids at her house. I’ll consider his waiting as a farewell gift for Mommy. Hehe 🙂 (Remember we were trying to potty train? Yep, that didn’t work out so well)

*I’m trying to use the iPad blogger app on this trip, but I can’t figure out how to insert pictures in the middle of a post. Hmmm…anyone have any insight?

*Last night we met with our web developers to talk about plans for building our Wide Awake website! We even bought a domain name! Sweeeeet.

*Being in airports makes me want to eat TCBY. Remember that place? Why do I only see them in airports these days? TCBY always makes me think of my friend Jillian. Back in high school we had a long drive to school and back and we loved to scrounge up enough change to stop ffor TCBY on our way home. Memories…

*When I’m in public places without my kids I feel like I have to explain myself. Like, if I’m grocery shopping alone and I see a mom trying to wrangle her kids as I blissfully stroll down the aisles carefree, I feel like I should stick a pack of diapers in my cart, just so she knows I have kids too. Is that weird? Probably. As I sit here with no one to care for except myself, I feel like I should explain to the lady across the way whose toddler is already fussy that it’s okay…I have 4 fussers of my own. Why do I feel the need? Am I the only one? Anywaysssss…

I’ll stop now. I could ramble on and on with thoughts…since I obviously miss talking and it’s only been 110 minutes. Watch out random person assigned to the seat next to me- you don’t know it, but we’re about to be new best friends! 🙂

The Scoop

 

It’s 5:30 in the morning and the house is silent. I love moments like these…kinda like the calm before the storm. 🙂 Soon my little ones will stumble out of their room, one at a time, with bedhead in full force, and the day will begin. So before that happens I thought I’d talk a bit about what the next couple of weeks will look like for our fam.

Tomorrow I leave for Ukraine! I wrote that on FB and had lots of people asking if this was the BIG MOVE, and wondering how they missed the news. Ha! Let’s just say right now that when it’s time for the BIG MOVE there’s no way you’ll miss the announcement. This is a mini trip to take care of some business. Hopefully this is the last time Jed and I will head to Ukraine without our kiddos.

So, I’m leaving for Ukraine tomorrow, Jed will join me in about a week, we’ll be there together for a week or so, then I’ll come back home and Jed will stay for a few more days.

One goal of this trip is to meet with the staff of Mission to Ukraine to talk more about how they see us fitting into their vision on a daily basis. We’ll talk with the different department heads about their needs and make a sort of game plan for our time volunteering there. We’ll discuss how we can best be of help to them as an organization.

Another goal is to get an idea of housing opportunities. My friend Olya and I have an appointment with a realtor on Monday the 13th. House Hunters International! 🙂 Our hope is to see what types of places we can afford (we’ll be renting) and what part of the city we’d like to live in. Then we are hoping the realtor will agree to be on the lookout for an available place for us as the BIG MOVE draws closer.

The third goal of this trip is God-connections. I’ll be meeting with a few missionaries in Kiev and Zhitomir, and several Ukrainians who are also serving orphans with special needs. It’s our hope to make as many connections as possible. You just never know who God wants to connect for His kingdom work! We figure the more like-minded people we meet the better. We are super excited to see what God has in mind for those meetings. When Jed comes we get to meet with a few of the Ukrainian Vineyard pastors who just had a conference this past weekend. We are reeeeeeally excited to hear about what God is doing in the Vineyard there and how we can join in and support. 

That’s the scoop! We’ll be updating from Ukraine as much as we can on here and on our Wide Awake Facebook page. I’m so excited to see old friends and make new ones! Yay for tomorrow!! 

The kids and I had the best day at the coast on Friday, so I’d thought I’d share.  It was such a beautiful day!!  Shorts at the coast in May?  Unheard of!

The Nitty Gritty

The details for our move to Ukraine are chugging right along.
Love, support, and encouragement from family and friends? Check.
Destination city? Check.
Amazing organization doing outstanding work to volunteer for?  Check.
Huge, God-size dreams burning in our hearts and faith that God wants to make it happen?  Check.

All systems are a go.  We feel great peace and a big smile from our Father as we step forward into major unknowns.  The need that remains at this point is the money to fund the vision. 

Yep, this is the money post. 

We haven’t talked much at all about money so far on this journey.  There was so much preliminary work to be done, so many unknowns to figure out first.  But now we are in full support-raising mode and we are excited to fill you in on the need.  We’ve lost count of the number of times God has spoken to us through other people
“Do not worry about the money.” 
“God will supply more than enough.”
“Money will not be an issue.” 

 Whenwe spoke with our friend James, a pastor in Pasadena,  our worlds were rocked.  James encouraged us that people want to give to big vision.  Yes, people will give to help us barely get by, but big vision inspires, big vision is God vision. We told James a number and he basically said “You need to at least double that.  Let God have a chance to show His stuff.  What have you got to lose?”  Amen to that! 

 So, it is with great faith and assurance in the One who called us that we move forward, getting the word out to whoever will hear.  This is God’s work, this is His passion and we are simply the hands and feet. 

Without further ado, we present you with the numbers. 



Alright, there is our proposed budget.  Once the Wide Awake board is assembled we will present this budget proposal.  We’ll also discuss, as a board, what tithes and offerings will look like.  We are local church people and it’s important to us to give financially to our local church in Ukraine, we just aren’t sure how to navigate that quite yet.

   Now, let’s talk about how we can build Wide Awake International from a dream to a reality during the next five years.    We are telling our story so a team of passionate, “wide-awake” friends can join the effort and make a radical difference in these precious children of God.  Will you consider joining our Wide Awake Development Team by committing to monthly giving
  

At this time we are receiving donations through our church, Salem Vineyard, so the donations can be tax-deductible.  We are still in the process of setting up and incorporating the Wide Awake International non-profit and hope to be finished with that process at the end of April.  At that time we will be able to accept donations via Wide Awake directly.  We will definitely keep you posted on our progress in that regard.  Right now we are assembling board members, and our awesome attorney friend is helping us with the loads of paperwork that come along with non-profits.  Thank you dear friend!

There you have it!  The nitty gritty details are all laid out. 🙂  If you have considered supporting this ministry financially we are so extremely thankful!  If you have been waiting to begin giving, unsure of when to start now’s the time!  We are ready!  100% of the donations sent through Salem Vineyard will be given to us.  Just be sure to note with your giving that the money is for Wide Awake.  We have opened a separate bank account for Wide Awake funds and will account for any and every donation.

Mail tax-deductible donations to:

Salem Vineyard Church

4750 Salem Dallas Highway NW

Salem, OR 97304

Or you can give via Salem Vineyard PayPal!  
(see the nifty PayPal button on our sidebar)
*Info on how to give will always be available at the top of this blog under the new “Give” tab.

Due to popular demand we are looking into how to add automatic withdrawal as a method of giving.  We won’t begin that until donations are being received directly by Wide Awake.  We will let you know when that’s an option.  

Whew!  Thanks for making it this far with us.  I hope we haven’t overwhelmed you.  If you have any questions at all please contact us by email or in the comment section.  We are happy to talk more with you about all of this.  

You are welcome to give anytime!  If you would like to be a part of the Wide Awake Development team as a monthly supporter could you please drop us a line and let us know?

THANK YOU for your love and support.  This simply can’t happen without many hands and many hearts being spurred to action.  We appreciate you more than we can say.  This is not “The Johnson‘s Mission”, this is God’s mission and we all get to play a part.  Everybody gets to play!  We are honored to join with you on this great mission of love.  

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”     
Ephesians 3:20-21