Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

This Christmas was a pretty special one for the Johnson family, because it was our first Christmas at home! It was such a blessing to be able to attend the Christmas Eve service at our church, although I wasn't able to listen to the message due to the lack of childcare and my child's new found ability to walk...still hoping to listen to it online!

We spent the morning as a family of three...opening stockings, eating cinnamon rolls (thanks Kimiko!), reading the Christmas story in Luke, and praying and singing together. It was a truly special time. And very different from any other Christmas morning I have ever had. Much, much quieter :)

How does it feel? To be done with all the holiday craziness and to finally be putting away all those decorations that take up space in your garage for 11 months out of the year. It's amazing how quickly Christmas comes and goes, and that is why I am realizing it is so important to set our minds on things that are eternal and not on the things of this world. I want to dwell on the Savior more than on my Christmas "to-do list". The holiday business comes and goes, but the birth of our Savior (which is indeed the reason for the season) is something we can meditate on and give glory to God for all the days of our lives! His birth was the incredible beginning of the fulfillment of our God's salvation plan for us!

I love Christmas, and I pray the story of the birth of our Savior will never become ordinary to me! I am always amazed when I think about the King of the World coming down to earth as a tiny babe to live among sinners who in the end, hate Him. And it is those same and I....that He dies for! Christ is indeed the ultimate example of what it means to be humble!

Sooo...after presents, we headed on over to a wonderful, delicious meal that my sister-in-law prepared at the Parker home, and were spoiled with even more presents from Kimiko's parents! What a treat! :) In the evening I went with them to look at some incredible Christmas lights (which apparently too many people do on Christmas was crazy! :))...Linnea melted down by the end of the day and Aaron was not feeling well from a sinus cold, so they were not able to come with us, but Linnea thoroughly enjoyed the lights when we went out a couple nights later!

Here are some pictures and videos! Enjoy!

Mmmm....messy chocolate covered pretzels....

She hung on to this ornament for a long time after...wouldn't put it down. Definitely likes it! :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fun with Grandma and Papa

A fantastic visit from my parents, on top of beautiful high 7o degree weather, on top of church Christmas concerts made for a wonderful mid-December time! :) It was so wonderful to see my parents, and the weather was a great blessing for my mother, as it helped calm her fybromialgia flare up. Linnea warmed up to her Grandma a little more than last time, and thoroughly enjoyed all the attention, as well as a lot of time with her cousin and best friend, Hannah.

They visited during our Christmas concert weekend, so it was a very busy weekend for Aaron, who puts on the whole concert, as well as for James and I, who sing in the choir. My parents didn't mind the extra babysitting and down-time though :). I am so thankful for the parents the Lord has blessed me with, and the sweet fellowship we enjoyed and new memories made.

My parents spoiled us and bought Linnea some new clothes, as well as a few odds and ends for us around the house. Both my family and Aaron's family are amazing examples of what it is to be stewards of God's money...they are always eager to bless us by giving what the Lord has given them. They don't see money as being their own, but as a tool to use to bless others. We couldn't be more grateful!

Here are some pictures...I didn't get any of Linnea with her Papa, so we will have to make sure to try and do that next time!

Trying on Papa's shoes...

Watching the train go by at Trader Joe's

Thoroughly enjoying going through Grandma's purse...what a nice Grandma :)

Grandma watched Linnea for Christmas Concert practice
And of course, when my parents come to visit, that means extra time with Hannah!
Here are some videos for your enjoyment :)

The girls were having a blast cleaning our patio and fertilizing our neighbor's :)

Linnea started walking during my parents visit! Now she never stops!

Uncle Aaron= Entertainment around the clock

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our Very First Chritmas Tree! :)

Finding the right Christmas tree was exhausting for Linnea
Here is my very own pro bodybuilder

Stringing the lights on!
Linnea's first time holding an ornament...
Watching the decorating

Tah dah!! We very much enjoyed our first Christmas tree...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know, I know....It's Christmas Eve and here I am posting about Thanksgiving?? :) Well...I thought I would catch up before I have 3 holidays worth of pictures to put up!

We had an absolutely wonderful time hosting our first Thanksgiving. Yup! It was my first time doing all the shopping, menu planning, and much of the cooking for Thanksgiving, and I have to say it was a fantastic first experience. The Johnson clan drove out here from Arizona, and we were so excited they wanted to come all the way out here to be with us! We had a blast, made new memories, and had many sweet conversations.

Linnea warmed right up to them, too, which was such a blessing. She had a blast with so many new "playmates", and Grammy brought her a really neat, wooden tricycle that she found at a thrift store. Linnea loved it, and even a month later, she still loves it! :)

Thanksgiving Day was actually quite realxed....we spent the morning cooking, drinking coffe and chatting outside, throwing a football around at the part, eating a yummy, big lunch/dinner, sharing what we were thankful to our great God for, stuffing our face with pie, and recovering from eating too much food. :)Fun at the park!
Dinner Table

......more mmmmmmmmmmm......
Lots of turkey!

It was an incredibly special time, and we are so thankful for our family!!!

The day after Thanksgiving, we went on a chilly hike, and Linnea enjoyed riding in on Grampy's back (Aaron threw out his back earlier that week, and was still recovering). We just kept feeding her cheerios, and she was good to go! :)

The rest of the weekend was more of the same...hanging out and have a wonderful time just being together! Thank you Johnsons, for coming to visit! Can't wait to see you again soon! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Well Done, My Child.....Enter In"

Heaven Minded
by Aaron Johnson
written for and inspired by our dear sister in Christ,
Karen Richardson, who has lost her battle to cancer,
but has great victory over death!

Heaven's wonders seem so far away,
Living life on earth from day to day;
Chasing dreams of carnal goals and gain...
Love the comfort, but avoid the pain.

But You desire our lives to show,
That You alone are our true home;
You don't want us living for the fog
When Your sunlight's to come!

O God, please make us heaven minded
So our yearning is set on You.
More than any earthly pleasure,
May our soul's treasure be true.

When I think Your glory I will see...
Dwell on all Your fearsome majesty;
Ponder kneeling at Your holy throne,
Marvels beyond all I've ever known.

Your kind intention has brought us close,
Your perfect love casts out our fear;
You have given life so we might live
Knowing Your reign is near!

O God, please make us heaven minded,
Kingdom glories the prize to win,
Longing for that day when You'll say,
"Well done, My child, enter in."

"Enter in, My blood has paid the price for you!
Enter in, My boundless grace has brought you through!
Well done, My child, enter in."

Karen, you will be sorely missed by so many who love you, but we also are able to greatly rejoice knowing what marvelous wonders you are experiencing right now..... Indeed we know that the Lord has said to you...."Well done, My child! My good and faithful servant, enter in!" I can only hope and pray to be a good and faithful servant in half as many ways as you were....only by the grace of God.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Studying Hebrew and Blanket Time

Well, I'm sitting here as I eat dinner while Aaron is at church, and watching Linnea do "Blanket Time," so I thought I would take the time to put up a little video. Aaron finds studying for his Hebrew class WAY more entertaining when Linnea joins him. Apparently, Linnea likes Hebrew, too...although I'm quite convinced it has EVERYTHING to do with the way Daddy is studying with her :).

What is "Banket Time" you may ask? is one of the two structured activities my child does on a regular basis. And this is not something I have come up with on my own, but an idea given to me by my dear friend, Erin. It is exactly what is says it is...time on a blanket. Linnea spends about 30-40 minutes playing on her special blanket, playing with whatever toys/books I have put on the blanket for her. I know, it sounds cruel, and at first Linnea thought so :), but after a few days of it, she loves it (and has loved it for quite a few months now). If I wasn't taking a class two days a week, this time would be more consistent, but she probably does it about 3-4 times a week.

Why, you may ask? Well...there are a few reasons:

1) It is an opportunity for Linnea to practice living under authority. This is NOT so that I can get self gratification in a child who obeys Me and listens to ME, but ultimately to teach my daughter that she "has been made by God and has a responsibility to obey God in ALL things." ~Tedd Tripp. So, I am merely trying to teach my daughter to live under authority from an early age.

2) It helps structure our day, and therefore brings more order to the home (which therefore serves my husband). Ginger Plowman, in her book Heaven at Home, says "A wise mom will build structure and routine into her child's day for the purpose of building his character and keeping peace in the home." Believe me, having 30-45 minutes of "Pack-n-play" time in the morning after breakfast is a huge help in bringing order to the home! I know Linnea is safe, not getting into trouble, and enjoying her toys in her pack-n-play. At the same time I am able to clean up after breakfast, begin exercising, start the laundry, pick up the house, etc. Without this head start, it is a bit harder (for me!) to start off the day in an orderly fashion. The same benefits apply to "Blanket Time" after lunch!

3)It gives Linnea an opportunity to focus. Quite frankly, my little daughter isn't all that interested in toys or books (thankfully she is just now starting to enjoy looking at books on her own initiative). She is getting more and more so these days, but I am often telling her "no, don't touch this", or "no, don't eat that", or "what have you gotten into now?". So, it is fantastic for her to have boundaries in which she is forced to play with toys or look at books, without us "having" to do it with her (by saying "having", I do not mean we don't enjoy playing with or reading to our daugher...we LOVE doing these things!). And she thoroughly enjoys it!

So.....I have actually written a whole post in a somewhat decent time, and my daughter has been on her blanket not paying any attention to me the whole time! :) for a few clarifications of what I am not saying. I am only sharing this because I enjoy sharing parts of our life with you. I am not saying that all moms need to or even should do this. This is what is beneficial for our home and may not at all be beneficial for yours! :) Also, I am not saying that a child's day has to be one involving the same routine day after day. Our life is not like that! We should all be willing to be flexible in our daily routine or non-routine, because who knows what the Lord will bring our way.

I definitely hold fast to the biblical principles I shared of obedience to God (which means obedience to parents.....Eph. 6:1-3) and living under authority (with God being the ultimate authority....Romans 13:1-3), but the display of these principles in your home, and the means by which they are carried out will look different from home to home.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blogging? What? I have a Blog? :)

I realize that I have been absent from the blogging world for quite some time now, but want you all to know that you have nothing to worry about. :) I'm sure many of you (if not most) haven't even noticed I've been "gone", but if you have, do know that all the Johnsons are alive and well. I have much I could blog about every week...sometimes even every day, but to put it simply, blogging isn't one of my top priorities. In fact, if I am being quite honest, it really isn't on my priority list at all.

I know this saddens some of you, as most of you who read this live far away and love updates and pictures, so for that, I am most definitely sorry. To be honest, I would love to share more often about life, what God is teaching my family and I, how He is growing us, our precious daughter, and pictures, but the reason it just doesnt' happen as often as I would like is because it's not easy for me. I'm not one who can just sit down and crank out a couple paragraphs in a few minutes. Even picking out pictures and videos and then downloading them often takes more time than I have made available.

I know I could just update you on the facts of our life and put up pictures, but I neglect to do that, because I usually have something else in my mind that I would like to write about along with those things. And that "something else" would take longer to write and require more thought, which I don't make the time to do, and then I neglect to do either one. Does that make any sense or did I just totally confuse you?

Anyways, what I am TRYING to say is that because blogging isn't really a priority, it just simply doesn't happen when my priorities and things on my to-do list aren't even getting done.
Ok....that's all....there is my explanation for why I've been gone :)

What I am NOT saying is that I have given up and don't care about blogging...because that is most certainly NOT true. I love giving family and friends the joy of seeing Linnea in pictures and videos....I love sharing how the Lord is working in my life....I love catching you up on life so you know how to pray for us, just as I am able to do the same with so many others as I read their blogs. So do know...I will try harder. :)

So! In case you have been wondering what the Johnson clan has been up to these days, here is a wee little update! :)

Aaron is busy, busy, busy. :) He's working full-time at the church while taking two classes at seminary. I'm so amazed at how hard he works and I rarely hear him complain (at least not out loud!). I have realized he persues everything with a passion. Christ, the church, me, Linnea, his work (also the church :)), men he disciples or seeks to exort (still the church!), his schoolwork, eating :), exercising, etc.

So as you can imagine, with all that passion going out of him, he is quite tired. But you know what?!? It is such a beautiful picture, because CHRIST is the one giving him the passion! It is such a beautiful picture, to see the Lord working in and through my husband and giving him strength day after day after day. Aaron is so in love with the Lord, always seeking to grow and "do more", and striving to be used by God to impact the kingdom. Yes, he has weaknesses...sins he has to confess and turn from, but even in that, the gospel shines beautifully. The Lord has given me a gift I don't deserve in Aaron, and I am so very thankful.

His latest thing was trying to fix his car, which has been sitting dead at the church for nearly a week. He thought the problem might be the starter, so he took it out and had it "tested" at an auto parts store that proceeded to tell him his starter was "fine." Well after hours of trying different things to figure out what was wrong, he finally had to take it to our mechanic today, who proceeded to tell him the starter needed to be replaced (which is what Aaron thought from the beginning). I'm just so thankful that the Lord prepared Aaron's heart to hear something frustrating like that, and he was able to respond with a right heart, knowing that God had a purpose in all grow him in patience and trust! :) And to remind us that saving money, though a good thing, is not always the Lord's plan!

As for me...I am constantly trying to learn how to better be a godly helper to this passionate man :). I don't verbally encourage him and thank him for all he does nearly enough...something I have recently realized and been convicted I shall work on that :), because my hubby needs my encouragement and support. That's part of me being his helper!And praise the Lord for His WORD, which is my number one source of learning. I would be lost without my precious Bible and sweet relationship with Christ, and over the last month or so, I am really being reminded of just how much I need Christ for daily life. These days, Aaron is needing more encouragement and prayer, Linnea is needing more discipline and instruction...and definitely prayer, I am needing wisdom and strength....and prayer....which means I more than anything else need CHRIST! There is no day that I can live to His glory if I am relying on myself.

My schedule is pretty full with being a wife and mommy, cooking, home "duties", ministry, friendships, teaching 5 lessons a week, taking a class at Masters, having homework to do for the class, exercising, and being a student of the Word and lover of Jesus in and through all that. I am realizing life is full of choices...SO MANY choices. Every day requires making decisions about how I will spend my time. And because of that, I need to be on my knees WAY more often than I am. I shouldn't be making decisions on my own and for myself. If I am to be in the will of my Lord, than I need to be seeking His councel in all my choices! And no, I am not saying that one should pray about what to make for dinner or when to take a shower :) Although, in certain circumstances, that may be needed! :)

Oh! And this past month I went to visit my sister, her family, and my mom, and we had such a wonderful, sweet time of fellowship, catching up on life, lots of Settlers, and cream (oh boy did it taste good though! :)). It was such a blessing to spend some quality time with my nieces and nephews as well, as they are growing up so fast and becoming "little adults" now. Micah, the oldest, officially hit the double digits while I was was fun for my mom and I to be able to celebrate his tenth birthday with him. Linnea fell in love with Tessie, their little dog, as I mentioned earlier...unfortunately, it turned out to be a one sided relationship, so whenever Tessie saw "the baby" coming she would often run away. :) Seriously though, the more I think about it, the more I see how blessed BOTH Aaron and I are to have such wonderful, godly families...all around! It is a precious gift from the Lord to be so close to family and to run the race that we are in together....encouraging one another, praying for one another, and keeping each other accountable.

Linnea.......oh, where to begin. She is becoming much more independent these days, developing her own little cute personality. She says, "Daddy, HI, doggy, dakee(blankee), and Tessie(my sister's dog)." She can repeat "mama", but we are still workin' on that one! :) She just started getting frustrated when she can't do things on her yesterday when a book was stuck in the basket, she started screaming and kept yanking and screaming until it finally came out...she then let out one more scream which meant, "That was a ridiculous waste of my energy!" At least I think that is what she was saying (that is probably what I would have done, too!...unfortunately).

She stands and bounces and is so very tempted to take a step on her own, but a little too nervous...crawling is safer! She DID take A step yesterday when we were helping her walk back and forth between Aaron and I...but I don't know that it "counts" for her first step :). She LOVES dogs...LOVES them! Whenever she hears one barking outside she gets a big smile and says, "Doggy!" She loves to do imaginative amazes me how young they start! She holds her play phone up to her ear, she wears anything stringy around her neck and wears whatever she can around her wrist as bracelets (I didn't even teach her these things! She is a natural woman! :)). She likes to brush and comb her own hair. She will pretty much copy whatever we do that she likes! :)

When she disobeys and I need to discipline her, I usually say something like "I'm sorry sweety, but you disobeyed mommy and the Lord by doing what I asked you not to do.... you need to obey mommy the first time." That may sound OK to you, but I have decided that I desperately need the scriptures in my heart so I can be sharing biblical wisdom with her when I discipline her. I figured it is never too soon to start, because these first fourteen months have FLOWN by, so she will be fourteen YEARS old before I know it! I'll share a terrific resource I have for this very purpose in a future post!

God is GOOD....I think I say that a lot, but it is oh, SO true! Our choir is memorizing Psalm 145 this season, and it has been the perfect passage to meditate on in this season of life. It is a daily reminder to bless my Lord and Savior...EVERY DAY, ALL DAY LONG. I have only memorized the first ten verses so far, but in just those ten verses, I am already reminded of SO MANY things to praise Him for..... His greatness, majesty, splendor, grace, mercy, wonderful works, power, and abundant goodness. And I have realized that all I need to do is open my eyes and take a look around, and I really can praise Him for all these things...whether I see them in the people around me, in things around me, in His creation, or in His working in my own life.

Yes....."I will extol You, my God, oh King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondeful works, I will meditate. Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, and I will tell of Your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness, and will shout joyfully of Your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall give thanks to You, oh LORD, and Your godly ones shall bless You." ~Psalm 145:1-10~

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our Sweet Girl's Birthday

Thought many of you who read this would enjoy some more pictures from Linnea's party, to maybe help you feel like you were there?? :) Or maybe not, but hopefully it will give you a glimpse of the joyful evening!

The Giant Cupcake Cake turned out beautiful thanks to the hard work and talent of my sister-in-law
Linnea definitely enjoyed all the attention when we sang happy birthday to her!She wasn't quite sure what to do, so daddy gave her a helping hand :)messy.....She really liked it, though! (who wouldn't like peanut butter and chocolate? :))Gift time....All the babies migrated....This is little Lucy, who's adoption was made final on Linnea's birthday, and a week before her own birthday...what a joyful day it was for her parents! :)
Linnea LOVES to drum, and absolutely loves this gift, which came with all sorts of percussion instruments inside as well. Daddy and her have been having lots of fun makin music together :)

One of Linnea's best buddies, McKenna

It was a wonderful first birthday, and she truly enjoyed the whole evening as well :) We missed everyone who couldn't be here with us to celebrate, but prayerfully there will be many more birthdays to come...although I don't know how many big parties will go along with them...whew, it's a lot of work! But it was worth it! :)