New Camera

Just got a new Canon T3. Love it – overwhelmed with learning how to take good pictures. I’ve been taking practice shots around the house. Aperature, Shutter Speed, ISO – it’s all Greek to me.

Grateful

Three years ago this morning I was following a helicopter carrying my husband to The Med in Memphis.  I was told he might not even make the flight there.  Details are archived here (starting with August 2008).   I am so grateful for God’s mercy in healing him.  The road was long, but He’s been with us every step.  I’m so thankful to still have my best friend with me today.

In the ICU a few days after surgery.

Happy 13th Birthday, Abby

Today our sweet Abby would have turned 13 years old.  So hard to believe that this much time has passed.  How we miss her and look forward to the day when we are reunited.

Poland 2010

From July 9-18, our family traveled to Olsztynek, Poland along with another family from our church to work with a mission team at the local Baptist church there.  We have had this region on our hearts for about 3 years, since getting to know Sean & Lydia, who lead the team, and since our dear friends, the Franks, moved there to join the team last year.

We flew from Memphis to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam to Warsaw.  The village we were in was about a 3-hour drive up from Warsaw.  We weren’t far from the Russian border.  The countryside of Poland is truly beautiful.  You can see the old-world architecture in the homes from the stone walls to the red tile roofs.  The landscape is filled with wheat fields, cows grazing, and storks’ nests built on top of power poles!

Our work for the week involved conducting a family-themed camp with the local Baptist church.  We were divided into “family groups” and had children from the village in each group.  We rotated through VBS-like activities:  crafts, Bible, games, and karate (Robbie & Nate taught self-defense moves like punches & blocks and taught the kids to respond with, “Aye, Sensei!”  when given instructions).  At the end of the week, we had a block party, complete with Kola the rapper, grilling kielbasa, more games, crafts, and a karate demonstration from Robbie & Nate.

On Thursday night, Nate and I performed at a small coffeehouse where the team has weekly English conversation partners with Poles who speak English but would like to practice it.  Nate played guitar, I sang, and Robbie helped with the egg shaker & tambourine :).  We had a great time.

On Saturday before we left Warsaw, we spent the day touring this amazing city.  It was so educational to experience a city that was devastated during WWII, spent decades after under Communist rule, and is now a free-market, bustling city.  The experience of seeing it all as a family was priceless.  We got to visit Constitution Square, where, when I was a kid, the Communist armies would march with their missiles and guns.  We spent the majority of our time in Warsaw in beautiful Old Town.  This part of Warsaw was leveled by the Germans during WWII and rebuilt after the war using old paintings and pictures as guides.  Even the original cobblestone was recovered and used to rebuild the streets.  Our artist, Stephen, got to see an original Da Vinci and three original Rembrandts that were on a European tour and on display in King Stanislaus’ palace in Old Town.  It was an amazing day!

This space can’t really do justice to describe our experience.  We hope to return next year, Lord willing.  We grew to love the people and our hearts were sad and full when we left.  We are so grateful for being allowed to go, especially to take our kids.  It was truly an experience of a lifetime!

Outside Olsztynek Baptist Church

Breakfast on first day of family camp

Johnson "Family" Pomarańczowy (Orange)

Fun Games

Sweet Girls

Kola rapping at block party

Camp Rodinsky (Family)

Crafts

Olsztyn

Visiting Angelika's Family
Visiting a family in the village of Jemiołowo

Castle in Olsztyn-home to astronomer Nicolas Copernicus for several years
This wall still shows where Copernicus drew diagrams of the sun's direction at different times of the day. Amazing!
Singing at the coffeehouse in Olsztyn
Stork's nest!
Beautiful countryside
Village of Olsztynek
Constitution Square - Warsaw
Beautiful Old Town Warsaw
Old Town Warsaw
Beautiful Country, Beautiful People

The Valley of Vision

THE VALLEY OF VISION

Lord, High and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox:
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty
thy glory in my valley.

~From The Valley of Vision:
a Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

6-8-98

Silhouette

You are here in every moment:  every family picture, holiday, vacation, and milestone.

I know you are actually there, but until we are there with you, you will be here in us.

Nothing seems totally complete without you.

We smile, we laugh, we enjoy life; but it is never far from our minds that someone is missing.

Our joy is real; our hope secure; but our hearts are incomplete until we see you again.

We love and miss you so much.

Abigail Grace Johnson

March 22, 1998 ~ June 8, 1998


On Abby’s 12th Birthday

Dear Abby,

March 22 you would have turned 12 years old! I can’t believe that it’s been 12 years since I held you in my arms. This year has been an especially painful one in missing you. You were only on this earth for close to 3 short months, in my tummy for 9 months before that, yet the empty place in my heart is so big sometimes. A lot of people have described grief as a scab. After a while the bleeding stops and the scab forms on top. If you scratch away the scab, the bleeding starts again. For me, it is now more like a bruise. On the surface, a bruise appears as a slight discoloration and many people don’t even know it’s there. Most days even I go along and don’t notice it. But there are times when something can bump or press against the bruise and I am reminded of the pain underneath. It still hurts.

As I think about you turning 12 this year, I do realize that you would probably be walking around with someone else’s heart in your body – another child who would have had to die in order for you to live. That is a hard thought and one that does help me to trust God and His sovereignty over your life. He numbered your days before one of them came to be. Even though the life you were given on this earth was short as we count days, it was still a full one. You had to go through so much and yet you fought so hard. We will always be proud of you! Daddy & I were talking at a ballgame recently and noticing the girls that would be your friends. They are turning into young women and experiencing all kinds of new things. If it was up to us you would be here, too, with them.

You would be amazed at how big Nate is and what a neat young man he has become. He loves you still and often talks about you. You made a big impact on his life, as well. You would love Stephen & Betsy. They wish so much that they could have known you here, but you are the big sister! They also talk about how they long to meet you someday in Heaven.

Daddy and I look at Betsy growing up and see you so much in her. As a baby, she favored you so strongly that it sometimes took our breath away! We even came across a baby picture the other day where she could have passed for you. What a sweet gift that was.

I don’t know what you are doing in Heaven. I know what the Bible tells us about it and I believe you are praising our Lord Jesus in healthy perfection. In my mind, I still picture you as a baby, but I trust you are just as He wants you to be and that I will know you when I get there.

I know there are many children there with you. Some never felt the sweet kisses of their mommies and daddies; some grew into days or years and then joined you there. There are many mommies and daddies down here who ache for you and the precious ones there with you. We miss you Samuel, Landon, Addison, Collier, Conley, Ben, Rebekah,Emily, and so many others. It makes us pray that we don’t get too stuck on this world and the things in it. What is waiting for us is so much better!

A little girl named Maria is also there. I bet you have met her. Her daddy is a singer that Daddy & I have always enjoyed. He wrote several songs as he was dealing with the sadness over losing Maria on earth. One of the lines of his songs says that, “Heaven is the face of a little girl.” That’s exactly how Daddy & I feel. And I know that God understands. I long to see my Lord Jesus as you now do, but my heart aches to hold you again and to never be away from you for another day. Another of the lines in Maria’s daddy’s song says that “Heaven is the place where she takes my hand and leads me to You, and we both run into Your arms.” I long for the day where you and I run hand-in-hand into the arms of our sweet Savior.

I love you, sweet Abby. You are my first precious daughter and you will always be in my heart, in my thoughts, and in my life. I am so glad that this earth is not our final home. Our time together will eclipse the time we’ve been apart. Happy birthday my precious, sweet girl.

Happy 40th Robbie!

January 2nd was Robbie’s 40th birthday!  He made it very clear that he didn’t want a big production made out of it, so I didn’t.  We had a big surprise 30th ten years ago, so he said he didn’t need another one.  We enjoyed a New Year’s weekend of dear friends coming to town and visiting our home, and a nice dinner with friends here on the 2nd.

I am so thankful that God has given Robbie 40 years.  In August of 2008, it didn’t look like he would make it to 40.  I feel so blessed to have known him for 23 of those years, and been married to him for almost 19 of them.  I look forward to celebrating his 80th right beside him!

Valentine's Day 1988; ages 16 & 18. Love my 80's bangs!