Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Christmas!

Sounds funny when you say it that way, doesn't it? I like to throw people off sometimes. We are having a very happy Christmas weekend. Christmas morning, the kids were so excited - of course. But Pam surprised me again. She was up before the kids were. She actually called out to them, "MERRY CHRISTMAS, COME ON KIDS!!" The kids came piling down the stairs, mouth agape, eyes wide and the room quickly filled with "WHOA!!" I think that's what parents love to see and hear. Pam was the designated gift giver outer. It always warms our hearts to see the surprised and almost "can't believe it" looks on their faces when they get certain special gifts.

The unfortunate thing for all parents is to see the countless hours of gift wrapping turned to shreds in a matter of moments. Just like the countless hours spent in the kitchen turned to dirty dishes and burps in a matter of minutes.

"C" came in with his girlfriend "R" (we're trying to make her feel at home, as much as we can) in the early afternoon. We exchanged gifts, again. "C" bought and brought a TON of board games for the family and kids.

We watch movies together. Talk, talk talk and share. I absolutely love this! FAMILY.

Well, off to church!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

Blessings
This has been a Christmas season with such mixed times and feelings. It has and IS so much fun watching the kids with their first Christmas!- And the little ones with all of their Christmas tree ornaments that they made in school- such fun to see them hanging them up and so proud of them... This is their first Christmas tree, first year with gifts. (we are having a lot of "I wants.." ) Tonight will be some of the kids first Christmas Eve service. Joey is an old hand at this now!! He has put together so many little gifts this year- I am so proud of him, I think that the Lord has really gotten his heart. This is what we want as parents. L, A, and J are having fun this year too. The girls has a special Ethiopian Christmas. They both love to be in the kitchen. They made a bunch of Christmas cookies the other day. With 7 kids- the cookies go fast!
We will post pictures tomorrow!
Thank you all for your continued prayer and love for our family
Pamela Dawn

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas from ALL of us to ALL of you!





2009
A year with lots of very LARGE changes


Meet our beautiful children: Leah will be 17 on December 30, Analyse is 15, Justin is 12, Joey (Formally Known as Dylan) is 10, Zoë is 9, Jaden and Davis are both 8. After our whirlwind trip to Ethiopia, the Lord brought our 3 newest ones home to us this past June. Justin, Zoë and Davis are adjusting fine to their new lives in the US and being part of the Johnson’s. Already they have each grown more than an inch in height and their vocabulary is picking up nicely. Dylan decided that he wanted a new name in June too. He picked Joseph, our new Joey! Again, so many first NEW things and fun adventures for ALL!

This past summer we moved to Chesapeake Virginia for Juan’s new job with (gulp) the government. Pam is now a work-at-home mom and she is still trying to get used to the new role. Though we live in the Chesapeake Bay/Tide Water area and our cities are surrounded by water, we no longer live on the water and we miss the Outer Banks, fiercely. We’re still trying to get used to living in a city after living the wonderful beach life.

All the children are doing well in school. We have some soccer champs, some Honor Roll students, some who are just learning English and some who are perfecting their English. We have beautiful friends who helped us welcome home our newest ones, and helped us through the first hard months of new and expanded needs of a very large family. We usually take up an entire row at church on Sundays.

We’ve found a good church home at New Life Providence, in Virginia Beach. We’re still trying to get used to it and find our purpose in this local church family. As the Johnson Family has grown, so have our blessings as well as our stresses. The Lord has been and continues to be good to us in every way. God is GOOD all the time!

We pray that the Lord God blesses each and every one of you with continued health, well being, and joy in this time when we remember the birth of Jesus.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Ethiopian Christmas Dinner!

We had an Ethiopian Christmas Dinnerlike the girls remembered from their younger years. The kids were ALL in 7th heaven! (and Daddy loves this food too!!!) Our "L" made injera on Sat. We had ordered Teft (Ethiopian grain). Sometimes in the US we use cornmeal as the grain- but , it just isn't real injera! So, the kids were HAPPY!!

We invited some close friends from the beach. They had never had Ethiopian food, and had not eaten with their fingers since babyhood!!!!! LOL WE had so much fun. This will become an every year event!

A wonderful friend of my friends, is a painter and did a BEAUTIFUL picture of Ethiopian children running and playing. Several in the picture look like my kids!! My friends got me a print of this wonderful picture-- I am SO thrilled-- I LOVE it!! Thank you guys so much! And it is going up in the living room today!!!

We are going to do some Ethiopian dinners (not quite as BIG as yesterdays!!) but dinners every month- Just drop me a line if you want to come!!
Blessings to you all
Pamela Dawn

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ups and Downs

This week sure has had it's share of ups and downs!

Up: Yea! I was able to drive back down to the beach and share "Christmas Brunch" with my old small group Bible study group. Oh, it was so sweet to be able to be back and to share with them. It was a wonderful time in the Word and with Great food! Thank you ladies for including me. I was very honored to be there.

Down: ugh-- I lost my job this week. Last Sept, my job went down to part time (2 hours a day, on the computer from home-- that was so good for us-- ) Well, down sizing and budget cuts-- you all know the stories... This little job had been buying the food for the family- Juan's new job, was a very large pay cut from the last job. We are so thankful that he has a job!
I know that the Lord is not surprised by any of this, and I know that He is and will take care of us. Just not great timing for the lose....

Up: Yea! Justin's ESL teacher completed a large project on teaching English to Ethiopian children. And she was interviewed for the newspaper here in our city. The Reporter wanted to meet her Ethiopian student, so Justin was interviewed also! He was so excited!-- Really great to see him be so positive!- From this, the reporter would like to do a story on the whole family-- Will let you know if that comes about!!

Down: ugh... Joey has a condition that produces sores in his mouth, (mostly from stress, but also from his retainer, biting his mouth, a hard piece of chips, ) The sores become large and sometimes infected. We are all learning how to prevent the sores and how to help Joey live with them... poor little guy- ;(

Up: Yea! This is our first Christmas as 9 of us! The 3 new little ones are so excited! It is Great to watch! All of the kids are looking for ways to make gifts and things to do to help us as parents out. As each different Christmas decoration goes up-- they LOVE it! All of the kids had so much fun decorating the tree.

Down: ugh.....this year there will not be as many boxes under the tree.

Up: YEA! We are having our first true Ethiopian Christmas on Sunday. We have invited some DEAR dear friends to join us! The girls are cooking a FULL Ethiopian Christmas dinner. ALL of the kids can't wait- The injeria and dorawat is on all of their minds! Our kids did not have gifts and toys in Ethiopia, their Christmas day- they were excited to be able to buy a little extra chicken to have a chicken stew. We had a practice run a few weeks ago making the injeria-- It was wonderful!

Down: ugh...can't think of any other downs! That is great!!

Up: YEA!- We know that our Lord is in control. He loves us very MUCH and He is taking care of us. We have been so blessed to have these children in our home.

Thank you all for your prayers and love! Blessings to you

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A blessing

Today, I watched our daughters decorate our Christmas tree. I heard some of the younger ones downstairs playing on their computer. Some of the boys were playing with their brother's dog, Carlito. Our son "C" and his girlfriend "R", dropped in from Charlotte this morning for a surprise visit - at 6:00am! They brought one his dogs with them. Carlito is a beautiful grey pit bull terrier.

This literally brought me to tears. These sights and sounds are blessings straight from our Lord. The sound of a happy and peaceful family. I want to say we're "functional", because everybody always describes their family as "dysfunctional". Pam and I love and respect each other and the kids. We're not perfect and we're definitely not wealthy (by American standards). We have a home chocked full of LOVE and we are all continually working on being a whole together Johnson Family.

Satan continually attacks the family because it is at the root of what God wants for His children. We fight and pray against him as he tries to attack our family at every turn. We have to take into account all the stressers in our lives and pray for wisdom and peace above all things.

One day, Pam and I were doing one of those couples workshops and took this little stress assessment. According to that assessment, we were prime candidates for divorce and/or suicide. In the past 12 years, we've both lost spouses, we moved 7 times, we lost multiple jobs, we gained 7 children and took on a lot debt in the process. I find it amazing...I don't feel like suicidal and I wouldn't trade this woman in for anyone on this planet. Ok, maybe Halle Berry. LOL

What I do feel is hope. Hope in the sense that I know the word of the Lord and He promises to be with us and to never leave us, no matter how it "feels". He is there when we have to make decisions. He's there when we don't know where the money is going to come from. He's there when our children need us and we're mere mortals with limited wisdom and resources. He will always be here. This I know.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ad hoc Family Reunion

Mom, Dad, Pam, and Sister "T"
"A" and cousins


Dad, Pam, and Sister "K"

Sister "T", cousins and Sister "K"



Warning - Our camera is crapping out on us so these will be a bit blurry. I have to get a new one.

This is going to be rather lengthy, I believe...

We planned to travel down to Lawrenceville GA to see my parents for Thanksgiving. What was to make it special what that they hadn't seen the last 3Who R Ours. And, we were to see my two brothers who hadn't met any of the 6 from Ethiopia. Well, actually I have one brother who I hadn't seen in almost 20 years (long story -another time perhaps), so he hadn't even met Pam or any of the kids. Then I find out just a couple of days before Thanksgiving, that my two sisters were going to be there too. One sister I hadn't seen in a few years hadn't met any of the kids from Ethiopia, and the other sister hadn't met the newest ones. OK, so we don't travel to visit each other much (we're kind of spread out, and there's always some excuse or other for someone not being there).

Unfortunately, my brother who I hadn't seen in 20 years couldn't be there (another long story) to see the kids, but all the rest of us were there. It was the first time in 30 YEARS that the 4 of us had been in the same place at the same time. It was 30 years ago September that I left home to join the Air Force.

Now I have 12 children (between hers, mine and ours) and 3 grandchildren; Brother "D" has one adult daughter; Sister, "K" has 4 adult children, and 2 grandchildren; Sister "T" has 5 children, and Brother "B" has 3 boys. So that's 25 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren for my parents. Of course we're spread out all of the country and we're no where close to being like The Waltons. But hey, I can dream.

Anyway, the get together was phenomenal! My parents have a little house, and we were all stepping all over each other trying to get around. The kids tried to play outside as much as they could. They played video games together, talked, went to the movies together. (I had 10 boys in our van - it was a blast!) My mama fretted about having such a small house, I had to reassure her that it's not the home that grandchildren remember, it's the love. And let me tell you there was LOVE all over that house. We had a blast, the kids had a blast, and my parents were in Grandma/Grandpa Heaven! My daddy got to sit and tell stories to my daughters - I get my humor and love for story telling from him. My mama got to sit and just watch her "grand babies" and she was in tears she was so happy.

Nothing on earth beats having a family.

A side note... Our family is working on being "trans ethnic". My birth family is African American, my wife is white (I figure Scotch/Irish-red hair abounds), one son is Chinese, and 6 children are Ethiopian. Our son "C" is dating a young lady who's El Salvadorean. Brother "B" was married to a Jamaican and he has the 3 boys. Sister "K" has one son married to a Russian young lady (They're both struggling models/actors in NYC), and has one daughter dating an Iranian young man (He's from Alabama, LOL). I can't wait for the family reunion 10 years from now. We'll have quite the pictures to share.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We're all doing fine

Our son "C" is doing well. He called me on his way home the other day and was happy to be out and about. His doctors will have to ascertain whether it is best to keep him "in" and work with him or put him before a medical board and perhaps medically retire him. We'll see what the Lord decides.

Thank you all again for all of your prayers.

Our landlord had to pull the carpet out, and Pam talked him into just leaving the old vinyl flooring the way it was. We'd much rather put out area rugs that we could roll up in future flood situations. We finally got the kids computer hooked up and running last night, they missed it terribly. We had moved it out of the family room and didn't have anywhere to set up a temporary station for it.

We lost a lot of momentos in the garage. That was the thing that hurt the most. We've been slow about moving things into the house to hang up, and had much less room to put them around to display...now they're gone. Oh well, on to making more memories!

Report cards came out. We got 2 honor roll kids, and 1 that had all highest marks (too young for honor yet). We have one that's struggling fiercely. The new ones are all progressing well and working hard.

Funny story:
"A", our 8th grade daughter, was in line to get her H1N1 flu shot at school. The person at the desk asked for her name. For most people in 8th grade that's normally not a problem. Well, we changed all of the children's first names when we brought them home. However, we'd been dragging our feet about re-adoptions, so their legal names are still their birth names. They have to remember that when asked. The school uses their legal name. Ok, still not a problem, if you've spent your life spelling your name in English letters...which she hadn't. She hesitated first because she couldn't remember it, then again when she was asked to spell it. She saw the name on the paper and pointed to it and said, "There, that's it." What made it even more difficult for her is that the school had had it misspelled for the first couple of months before we finally got someone to correct it, so she wasn't sure if they had it right or not. Then the lady asked for her birthday! LOL She knows what day her birthday is, but couldn't remember what year it is because she just used to responding with how old she is. LOL (With the Ethiopian calendar being nothing like ours, it makes it hard for her to transition)

By the way, we just finished our re-adoption of our first 3 (L, H, & J) and are waiting for some letter from the Dept of something or other that allows us to get their new birth certificates.

We have to start on our next three. We did the 1st 3 in NC, the next 3 will be in VA. Is there anyone out there who've done re-adoptions in VA by themselves? I found this one web site that tell you how to do it (for Norfolk residents) and I just need a little help in understanding some of the steps and documents.
Thanks
Juan

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Daddy's Home

I drove to Charlotte NC to see our son who is in the hospital for a few days for observation. "C" is an active duty US Marine, who served two tours of duty in Iraq. Because of his experiences, he struggles on and off with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Unfortunately, this is not like the flu or any other disease. The symptoms are different for each person, the timing of issues are unpredictable, and the reactions to stresses can sometimes be extreme. Therefore, the treatments are not always successful or at least not long lasting or permanent.

I felt that I just needed to be there for him to assure him of our love, and the Lord's love. Our visits went extremely well and I expect to hear from him midweek when he goes home.

Thank you for all of your prayers for me, our son and our family.

B-T-W, Charlotte was beautiful, and the weather was fantastic.

Clean-up

The rain has finally stopped! Yesterday it rained on and off, but not hard at any point. Today the sun is out! YEA---
The carpet guy came late yesterday afternoon. Dried out the carpet as much as the machine could!-- and now we have BIG industrial fans blowing. They pulled the mat out from the carpet, to help it dry faster. We do have nice floor under the old carpet, so I call the landlord to see if we can just get rid of the carpet. Waiting on an answer for that.
So, with Juan on the road I had to move everything out of the family room-- (In the storm, we moved all of the small things up on to the desks, table chairs-- you get the idea!-- So, I moved all of the "big" things- desks, etc to the mud room and out into the garage. I AM so thankful that those 2 areas are dry.
We have about 15 storage boxes that are ruined. I am thankful- about 3 weeks ago, I moved all of our boxed Christmas things into the house from the floor in the garage. Or they would be gone too- Praise God!
Our family is pulling together more, and none of us were hurt in this storm-- only "things" are gone-- and they are just things!
Blessings, Pam

Charlotte

Daddy made it to Charlotte in really good time- Saw his son "C" at the 5;00 visiting hours. "C" was very happy to see his dad and it made the long trip worth every minute. Juan's son is doing well and will be able to be discharged from the hospital on Monday or Tues.

Juan is staying today to visit at the first visiting hours and then will start the trip home. He is so new at his job, he really can not miss work on Monday.

We are thanking the Lord for His mercy in all of this. Things could be so much worse with "C", but God is merciful.

Sometimes our kids just need to be hugged and have us there.
Blessings, Pam

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Please PRAY

Please Pray

Juan is on the road to Charlotte, NC. It is about a 7 hour drive from us. Please pray for his adult son. At this point, "C" is in the hospital there and we are not sure of all of the details- just know that Juan needs to be with his son.

The kids and I are home, and have started the clean-up. The whole first floor of the house was under about 5 inches of water- the water has gone down, but left ed a mess and smelly wet carpet! We got a wet-vac last night. Helpful but not the end-all!

We are not sure how long daddy will be gone- And we are in prayer for "C".

Blessings, Pam

Friday, November 13, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere!

Front yard
Back yard. Our cars are actually on a hill that's about 2 ft about the street.


We are in the middle of our first Nor'easter here in the Tidewater region. Now I know why they call it "Tidewater". We've had virtually non-stop rain since Wednesday and yesterday the water came in the house with the high tide. We lived 3 years on the OBX, and never had so much as a drip (except for a leaky skylight once). Last night we had 3-4 inches of water on our first level which is our family room and our oldest daughter's bedroom. We cleared everything off of the floor that we could.

The neat thing was listening to my children's heartfelt prayers as we stood in a family circle of prayer. We could actually feel the water getting deeper as we stood there praying. Within an hour the water was ankle deep.

When we finished praying, I called my prayer warrior of a mom. My mama got out the word to all her prayer warriors (my sisters and brothers, her sisters and brothers, and friends).

We didn't know about the tide flood, so when the water first started coming in, we all got out as many towels as we could and started forming makeshift "sandbags" at the doors and started sopping of the water with the rest of the towels. Our arms gave out as the water got deeper.

The water started going down about 10pm or so and by morning it was all out of the house, (except for what was in the carpets). But as I sit here right now, the morning tide has come in again and I'm watching the yard slowly disappear. The water in the streets are about 2-3 feet deep.

Please pray for our family, neighborhood, city and region.




Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A sign of maturity

Tonight Pam and I were up in our bedroom when our 10 year son, "D" came in the room. "Mom, I did something stupid." I turned around and I saw his face, red and covered in tears. Then I saw that he was holding his right thumb in his left hand and blood was all over the place. So we rushed him in the the bathroom and started rushing water over it to see what the extent of the damage was. "It was really stupid, I'm sorry" He was crying out of both physical and emotional pain.

So I took the soft approach, "What happened big guy?"

"I was looking in the trash can to see if I accidentally threw away my notebook and I shot myself with a needle?" This was very curious, because I see blood coming from the pad of his thumb and through a hole in the middle of the nail.

"A needle? How'd you get a needle into your thumb like this?" At the same time, I wrapped him in a hug so assure him that everything was going to be alright.

"I was stupid and shouldn't have bothered it." So "D", Mom and Dad head downstairs to get some ice on it before it started swelling.

"Hey, mistakes happen 'D', don't worry. It's going to be alright." We went and looked in the trash can that he indicated and found a spent Epi-Pin. I had thrown it out because it expired a few months ago. It was my fault, I should have disposed of the thing outside in trashcan. It's a spring loaded hypodermic needle we have because "D" is allergic to bees and red ants. Thankfully, we've not had to use it before. Unfortunately, "D" didn't know that the needle was so long, so he thought he'd just push the trigger and see if it would hurt. Yup, it hurts! The spring was so strong, the needle went completely through his thumb, apparently just missing the bone.

The neat thing was watching how mature he was during the process. He admitted his mistake, told the truth, and sought help before letting things possibly get out of hand.

It made me proud.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Injera and Doro Wot











My little princess made Injera and Doro Wot for dinner Sunday. It was great! We ordered Teff on the Internet. You should have seen her face as she was stirring and making plans. I could just feel her heart swelling.

The smell was enticing through out the house as the onions were simmering in the Berbere. Everybody had a blast, especially A. Everybody but Princess herself, something was upsetting her tummy and she didn't get to eat any because she was nausous the whole time. :o(

This was sort of dress rehearsal for Christmas when we will have a full on Ethiopian Christmas dinner. We're not making the traditional drink though. I forget what it's called, but essentially it's a homemade beer. Pam and I laughed ourselves to tears when we figured out what it was that they were trying to describe, not knowing what it was in English.

Another Birthday Boy




J. Our oldest son at home is now 12 years old.


J. chose Chinese food for dinner and we had vanilla cake with cream cheese icing.


He received a new skate board and a"Bop it". At the pace the Bop it is being played with by all the kids, we'll have to buy a new one for the next kids birthday to replace it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pray for your Husbands

She does him good . . .” (Proverbs 31:12a)
Bless your husband by praying for him! The Apostle Paul instructed all Christians to pray for one another (Ephesians 6:18).
This includes wives’ responsibility and privilege to pray for their husbands.
Earnest prayer for your husband is good for him, for you and the spiritual health of your home (Proverbs 31:11-12).
Satan desires to destroy your husband, especially his character and his leadership in your relationship.
Trust God through prayer as you daily surrender your husband and marriage to the Lord’s wise, loving care.Days 1-7
I Encourage you to print these off and pray each day and see what happens!

Day 1
Pray that your husband will grow spiritually and consider his accountability before the Lord. Pray that he will guard his heart by developing spiritual disciplines—Bible reading and study, prayer, meditation, scripture memorization, etc. (2 Peter 3:18; Prov. 4:23)

Day 2
Pray that your husband’s relationship with God and His Word will bear fruit in his life. Pray that he will be a man of wisdom and understanding, fearing the Lord. (Prov. 3:7, 9:10; Ps. 112:1)

Day 3
Pray that your husband will be humble and quick to agree with God about his sin. Pray that his heart will be tender toward the voice of the Lord. (Ps. 51:2-4; Micah 6:8)

Day 4
Pray that your husband will grow in leadership skills in your relationship—protecting and providing for you. Pray that he will lead you wisely and love you sacrificially, so that God will be glorified in your marriage. (Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:19)

Day 5
Pray that your husband will be faithful to his wedding vows. Pray that he will have a desire to cultivate your relationship as a sign of his loyalty and commitment to you, and as a picture of Christ’s love for the Church. (Prov. 20:6; Gen. 2:24)

Day 6
Pray that your husband will love righteousness and hate wickedness, especially the evils of the culture. Pray that he will recognize and avoid wickedness in his own life, and if necessary, take a clear, strong stand against evil. (Prov. 27:12; John 17:15; 1 Cor. 10:12-13)

Day 7
Pray that your husband will safeguard his heart against inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex. Pray that his heart will be pure and undivided in his commitment to you. (Prov. 6:23-24, 26; Rom. 13:14)


Day 8
Pray that your husband will work hard to provide for your family, to the best of his ability. Pray that the character qualities necessary for a successful career and ministry will be a growing part of his character—persistence, decisiveness, strength, an analytical mind, organizational skills, positive relationships with people, determination, etc. (Rom. 12:11; 1 Cor. 15:58)

Day 9
Pray that your husband handle finances wisely, will have discernment concerning budgeting and investments, and will be a good steward of his money in regard to giving to the Lord’s work. Pray that money will not become a source of discord in your family. (Prov. 23:4-5; Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:5)

Day 10
Pray that your husband will cultivate strong integrity, and not compromise his convictions. Pray that his testimony will be genuine, that he will be honest in his business dealings, and will never do anything that he needs to hide from others. (Prov. 20:7; 1 Tim. 1:5, 3:7; Eph. 6:10-12)

Day 11
Pray that your husband will have a humble, teachable spirit and a servant’s heart before the Lord. Pray that he will listen to God and desire to do His will. (Prov. 15:33; Eph. 6:6)

Day 12
Pray that your husband will yield his s*xual drive to the Lord and practice self control. Pray that your s*xual intimacy together will be fresh, positive, and a reflection of selfless love. (Prov. 5:15, 18; 1 Cor. 7:3; Song of Solomon 7:10)

Day 13
Pray that your husband use practical skills to build your family and make wise decisions for your welfare. Pray that he will serve unselfishly. (Gal. 5:13; Phil. 2:3-4)

Day 14
Pray that your husband will speak words that build you and your family, and reflect a heart of love. Pray that he will not use filthy language. (Prov. 18:21; Eph. 4:29)

by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Friday, October 23, 2009

Daddy had a birthday!

Yup! My 49th birthday...Oww!!! That hurts just to say it. Actually it looks worse on paper than it feels. I'm sure everyone remembers hearing their parents talk about they don't feel like they're getting any older, but the signs keep showing up to prove that they are. I actually don't feel any older today than I did 10 years ago when I turned 40. I actually think my 40th was my most favorite and active year. I ran a mini-marathon, graduated with my MBA, and took a month long trip through Europe (backpacking) with my Honey.

Now I'm still as healthy as the proverbial horse, I still haven't had a single cavity on any of my teeth, I have 7 great and beautiful kids, a great new job, a new town, and I have a beautiful, loving wife to share it all with. Let me tell you, life doesn't not get much better than this.

THANK YOU JESUS FOR ONE MORE YEAR!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I believe we've found a church

I believe we've found a church home. New Life Providence in Virginia Beach is a rather large charismatic church. The thing that makes it a good church, is what I heard the pastor say today. He said they have three core values - Prayer, Worship, and the Word of God. Everything else secondary. They have lots of small groups available; Pam and I will have to start trying them out. They have a strong youth ministry and missionary ministry.

Another inviting thing is they strive to be a multi-ethnic church. It reminds me of the church home we had in Charlotte. A memorable experience we had first going in is that no one seem to recognize us as visitors. I know some would find that as offensive, but when we walk our whole tribe into a church, we tend to be the only Black people or at least we stick out because we've increased their black population exponentially. This church has people from many different ethnic backgrounds, so we don't stick out except there are a bunch of us. My kids (especially the girls) like that.

Now we'll have to find a ministry to plug into. Keep praying.

While you're praying, please pray for our finances or at least for patience and wisdom on my part. I tend to worry about that and I know that it doesn't please God for me to worry about anything.

Birthday Girl!







Our youngest baby girl had her first birthday celebration. They never celebrated birthdays or anniversaries in their culture. I think there were a lot more important things living and surviving for the day and thanking God for another day of life. Because they didn't celebrate birthdays, they don't even remember what their birthdays were on the Ethiopian calendar. The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months and their year is 6 or 7 years behind ours.

Each of the kids in the family get to pick what's for dinner. "Z" chose Buffalo wings and fries. She's a girl after my own heart! We couldn't find any spicy ones at WalMart, so we added on generous doses of Texas Pete! Everybody but Mom and "D", that is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Family Fun Day Out







We finally made it to Busch Gardens, and boy did we pick the best day ever. It was sunshine and high 70's all day. With the summer season over, we got to ride any of the rides we wanted to and were able to get off and jump right back in line to ride again. It was fantastic.

A couple of the kids weren't too keen on high/fast rides, so they stayed behind and just watched a lot. But the most fun to be had was by Mom!! I could not believe how much she loves roller coasters. She road EVERY roller coaster and most of them at least 3 times! One roller coaster she road 5 times, and it was the scariest one of them all. My stomach called "surrender" about 3/4 of the way through the day. Did my honey stay behind and help me nurse my queezy stomach? Not for a second! LOL I don't think I have every seen oneyone have so much fun in such a short period of time. Her arms were raised on every ride she could get her arms up on. I looked over once to see her little legs pointing straight out, her arms straight up, and her mouth wide open, screaming with delight. It is worth getting season tickets just to watch her have so much fun.


The kids had a blast, of course and we had a great time together as family. Nobody got lost, sick or bored. The older girls discovered that they can scream "like the girls on the movies". That was hilarious to hear.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sometimes, I don't want to feel like an adoptive father.

The one thing that I want more than a lot of other things is to not feel like an adoptive father. Oh I love my babies as much as life itself. I hug them, kiss them (to distraction), talk to them (to boredom sometimes), laugh with them (or at them), scold them and watch them sometimes as they sleep. But what I want sometimes is to feel so normal that I forget that they came here by our choice and God's providence.

I know that it will never happen, it is just a wish. Feeling like an adoptive father takes prayer, concentration, work, effort, strength, and more prayer. I can't just watch them in action and just laugh or cry. I have to think through the glasses of an adoptive father. When they tell me something, I can't just say, "Yeah, uh huh, that's nice sweety." I have to stop and think of what they told me and why they told me or why they told me instead of Mommy . When I listen to two of them squabble, I have to stop and try to think about all the factors.

It's a lot like the project chart...

Were they raised together before coming here? If "yes", go to action set A, if "no" go to action set B. Are they within about a year's age difference? If "yes" go to action set C, if "no" go to action set D. Did either of the children have attachment issues upon arrival? If "yes" go to action set E, if "no" go to action set F. Was child A raised with a father? If "yes" go to action G, if "no" go to action "H"... and on and on until I come up with a plausible response or action. This of course doesn't guarantee a successful outcome. Oh, on the contrary! But if I just hamfistedly handled things without giving these factors any thought, I know I would be wrong most every time!

When I persistently ask my girls for kisses, I do it for a purpose other than to just embarrass them. When I ask my sons to assist me in a chore, it's more than just raising boys. (I kiss them too, by the way). Nurturing my babies is more than just being in their lives. Developing bonds and attachment with older adopted children is a TON of hard work. As the saying goes...this ain't for wimps or for the light of heart. I have to hold my ego aside and forget the thought that I'm the daddy and they are just supposed to love and adore me. They don't. Though I love them eternally and unconditionally, I have to earn their trust and respect - and with that may come real love.

I have to measure my words. I stop and think, how will this affect them, how will it affect their relationship with me, with their mom, with God?

When I think about their possible paths into adulthood, I have to even ponder the possibility that one or any of them may not fully appreciate what was done for and with them. They may go on about their way and never look back. I've read stories like that. But the only way for me to get them to love me whole-heartedly is to give them my whole heart to do with as they will.

Jesus is teaching me life lessons through this whole thing. He adopted me, loves me and does everything He knows to do for me and it's up to me to stay with Him and love Him. I'm watching, listening, and trying to learn...but MAN is this tough and tiring! As the Army ad used to say..."the toughest job you'll ever love."

Lord grant me the grace and strength to be the son you want me to be. Grant me love and strenth to the husband my wife needs be. Grant me the wisdom and strength to be the father and dad my children need me to be.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another day with the Johnson Clan

This morning we had planned on taking the kids to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, but the weather called for rain all day- and of course, it didn't so much as a drop come down. I saved up all my per diem from my month in school so we'd have the money to go. Let's hope next week-end will turn out better.

One thing that kinda angered me was we looked at 4 different web sites for weather; none of them agreed except to say that there was a chance for rain. They ranged from 25% to 75% chance of either steady rain or thunderstorms. I thought meteorology was somewhat of an exact science. I thought wrong.

So, we spent the day catching up on chores - lawn care, grocery shopping, house cleaning, hair cuts, etc. While I was doing the lawn edges with a weed eater I looked over and saw the two older girls literally having a tug-of-war over whose turn it was to cut the grass. The three oldest children cut the grass, taking turns as one gets tired the next steps in. And they're fighting to be next. The novelty of using a lawn mower hasn't worn off yet - thank goodness. They don't argue over whose turn it is to wash the dishes. ;o)

Pam and I did the commissary trip by ourselves. It's amazing what parents will cherish as "alone time", isn't it? We go almost 25 miles to the commissary because the prices are usually so much lower than Walmart, et al. We still have to be careful because there are a few items that Walmart is able to sell cheaper. We can still get some items like napkins at the Dollar Store.

I do the boy's hair cuts. One evening of cuts, and you save the price of a new set of clippers. I'm getting fairly good at it. Except for D's hair. Long and straight hair I can't seem to get right. I can do short with no problem.

At dinner we discussed Ethiopian spices and cooking. It's neat to watch the fire in the kids eyes. Food is a good memory for all of them. They laugh and giggle and are all animated when we talk about food from "home". The oldest girls are planning on making a huge dinner for Christmas and we're ordering the spices. We already have the brown teff, and a thingamajig to cook the injera on. Mom keeps reminding them to fix her something very mild because her stomach doesn't do spicy.

They're downstairs watching TV now as the evening is winding down. Another day the Lord has truly blessed us with. Praise the name of the Lord for He is good, His blessings are new every morning and His mercy endures forever!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cystic Fibrosis

Nathan, Trish and Gweneth (born just weeks before Trish had a double lung transplant).


CF doesn't get the press that MS or cancer gets. Most people don't even know what it is. They're working on that. Here are a few supporting souls. They had a list of sponsers two pages long. I thought that was great!


(Trish and Nathan speaking just before the CF Walk)





Saturday we went back to The Beach to participate in a fund raiser for Cystic Fibrosis research. A good friend of ours at our old church was born with this disease. Trish has a powerful story to tell - www.cfhusband.blogspot.com. Please visit their blog, she and her husband, Nathan (the music minister at church) have a beautiful story and a beautiful family. The Lord has done mind blowing miracles in their lives and their lives have touched millions (literally) around the word. Trish has lived (in every since of the word) with this disease and is doing all she can to help with the fund raising and awareness raising as well.






Cystic fibrosis is a disease that causes mucus in the body to become thick and sticky. This glue-like mucus builds up and causes problems in many of the body's organs, especially the lungs and the pancreas. People who have cystic fibrosis can have serious breathing problems and lung disease. They can also have problems with nutrition, digestion, growth, and development. There is no cure for cystic fibrosis and the disease generally gets worse over time.
The life expectancy for people with cystic fibrosis has been steadily increasing over the past 40 years. On average, people who have cystic fibrosis live into their mid-to-late 30s, although new treatments are making it possible for some people to live into their 40s and longer.

The Lord's Prayer-- Our Prayer

I cannot pray "OUR,"
if my faith has no room for others and their nee

I cannot pray "FATHER,"
if I do not demonstrate this relationship to God in my daily living.
I cannot pray, "WHO ART IN HEAVEN,

"if all of my interests and pursuits are in earthly things.
I cannot pray, "HALLOWED BE THY NAME,"
if I am not striving for God's help to be holy.
I cannot pray, "THY KINGDOM COME,"
if I am unwilling to accept God's rule in my life.
I cannot pray, "THY WILL BE DONE,"
if I am unwilling or resentful of having it in my life.
I cannot pray, "IN EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN,"
unless I am truly ready to give myself to God's service here and now.
I cannot pray, "GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD,"
without expending honest effort for it or if I would withhold from my neighbor the bread I receive.
I cannot pray, "FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US,"
if I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.
I cannot pray, "LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION,"
if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.
I cannot pray, "DELIVER US FROM EVIL,"
if I am not prepared to fight with my life and my prayer.
I cannot pray, "THINE IS THE KINGDOM,"
if I am unwilling to obey the King.
I cannot pray, "THINE IS THE POWER AND THE GLORY,"
if I am seeking power for myself and my own glory first.
I cannot pray, "FOREVER AND EVER,"
if I am too anxious about each day's affairs.
I cannot pray, "AMEN,"
unless I honestly say "Not my will, but THY will be done," so let it be.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

All my babies go to school.

Well, it was the first week of school. It was a relatively successful week. The youngest (Z) threw up at school on Thursday and had to spend Thursday and Friday at home. There goes her perfect attendance award, in the first week! They have all been assigned ESL teachers, except (D) since he tested in the highest level. (J) just took his test, so we'll see how that goes, and we figure he'll test past it as well. The others will have various levels of help from just helping with writing to EVERYTHING.

We live in an area with a lot of military families, so there are a lot of new kids in the schools, and that helps ours not feel so out of place. The one thing that stands out for them is the diversity in racial makeup. Ever since our first four have come here, they've been not just a minority in school, they were the only minority (Black or Chinese) in most all of their classes. Now they're in an environment of being part of the majority (except for the high school). Believe it or not, they now feel weird about that, they'll get used to it. Unfortunately (D) will always be in the micro-minority of being the only Chinese kid in school. Maybe by high school things will be different. Right now, he's making friends and that's great.

They're all bringing home smiles and happy stories of the day at family time. It feels good.

One week down and who know how many more to go.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Where am I

In church on Sunday, the pastor at the church we visited (2nd time) talked about where in life's spiritual continuum are we. He gave a physical illustration on a white board. There were the (what I like to call) "pre-Christian". He called them explorers, seekers, questioners. Those who have not confessed Jesus as The Christ and Savior. He advocated that those among us who were part of this group can attend classes that the church offers for "explorers" about basics Christianity. The classes teach about Jesus, the church, history, whatever. He also invited them to join in on small groups. Small groups are the smaller intimate groups that meet outside of church gathering times to meet, greet, fellowship, learn, get to know one another and mentor/lead one another to a deeper relationship with Jesus.

From this point on, I've added my own thoughts to those he gave

The second group were the people "In Christ". They are a large part of what the church is made up of. They can be new to Christianity, or long time followers that haven't really matured much since accepting Him. They might be growing some, but not significantly. They tend to ride the merry-go-round that keeps bringing them back to the same hard lessons that God has set before them to learn from. They tend to be frustrated (merry-go-round riding is not fun after awhile) It's fun for baby's and little children, but maturing adults find it frustrating and mind numbing after a couple times around. Life is like that too. The funny thing is that those of us who are stuck on the merry-go-rounds, can get off any time we want. All we have to do is take that next step of faith and start walking from there. Oh, we might fall flat on our faces on that first step, but at least we're going somewhere. We get up, take another step, look for the exit and away we go. The pastor suggested more classes, bible reading, prayer, and small groups to this group.

The third group he called the "Close to Christ" group. They are "following" Christ. They are seeking to get closer and closer to Jesus. They were maturing. The only draw backs he found were that there were many in this group that wished they got the undivided attention that the first two groups get from the church. It's understandable. To me its sort of like middle-schoolers who want to be treated as adults, but still miss recess. Or college students who now are expected to make all their own decisions - that what they've been hoping, wishing, and screaming to do for so long - and find that it's not all what they thought it would be. This group is now expected to lead and to serve the first two groups. All that Bible lessons are basically over. This group has learned just about all there needs to be learned in order to do what they need to do - serve.

Next week he plans on teaching about another group of even more mature Christians, he called Christ Centered. HHmm. Where am I on this continuum? Am I pleasing Christ with where I am? Am I still in high school or college? I sometimes think that as I do things that I believe Jesus has lead me to do, I then question, was it enough. Is He pleased? Is He proud of me? Does that make me the middle-schooler or the Christ centered?

When I talked about seeking to be in a "normal life" at least for awhile, I then fear that I will end up back on the merry-go-round. Is a life with 7 kids at home, 5 adult children, and 3 grand children and trying to lead my little recruits in a life with Christ "normal"? Is it extraordinary? I want to be extraordinary. I don't want to be a luke warm Christian. I want to make a difference in my children's lives, my extended family's life, in my community and on this planet.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Normal" life

It always seems just a round the corner for us, this "normal life". Pam and I don't seem to be able to exist in "normal life". In the 12 plus years we've known each other, we both lost spouses (one semi-voluntarily, one by death). We married each other (of course). We've made 6 major moves (not including moving around within the same area - then it would be 11 times). We spent over a year preparing to go into the mission field of China (God had interesting plans there - another long story). I went to and completed graduate school. We spent a month traveling around Europe using the Euro rail (with just backpacks). We adopted our first son together from China (spent almost a month there). We've adopted twice from Ethiopia (Dylan went with us once). Pam lost both her mom and step father within a year of each other. I've lost a job each time we were preparing to travel to go get kids (all 3 times!) All the kids come to us not speaking English (of course), so we've done the ESL thing each time. We got new kids, a new job, new house (new to us), new city, and new schools all over the course of this summer. Talk about pinging off the stress charts!

Tues is the first day of school. 7 kids in 4 different schools. 3 kids are at level 1 (out of 6) of the English language learning scale. We gave them the regular school's starting talk. We had the "no fighting" talk. I'm of the philosophy that we never start fights and that the other kid gets one push/punch free and my kid walks away. The next one costs the other kid a serious "throw down-make it worth it, cause we're probably gonna get suspended" butt kickin'. We had the "be respectful, be good, take your turn, work your hardest, this is going to be serious hard work" talk. This is what I think "normal" is. We'll see.

We'll watch as the 3 new recruits come home with big smiles from the new experiences, and blinding headaches from having to concentrate so hard. They'll be taking naps on the buses on the way home, they'll be so exhausted. We'll help as much as we can and do everything we can to make it as successful as it can be for them - without doing the work for them - of course. I look forward to the stories of the day. The new kids they meet. The new way of doing things that are different than on The Beach or in Ethiopia. The way the new girls are such snits and which cliques are worse than others. You know the saying about how young teen girls are the meanest creatures on earth? Being the new kids in school make my girls the easy targets, unfortunately. My oldest appears to be beyond that. I hope I'm right.

I'm settling into my job and am praying that it will be my last - ever! Well, gotta go. We're getting up in the morning to go to the beach for the day. I haven't been since June, so I'm looking forward to it. Strike that - it pouring outside and is supposed to rain all week!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Bigest Heart this side of Heaven


This is the most beautiful woman I know. Sometimes it doesn't seem quite fair that she's so easy to love. She's a giver with a heart bigger than her brain and sometimes I'm the only one standing in her way of just completely giving all there is - with nothing left to herself. I say it's common sense, I know it's selfishness on my part.

I love this woman so much, I could cry.

Daddy's Little Girl




Miss Prissy to her heart. She's been our in house interpreter (less and less, now).

Our willful child




With a house full of kids, you're bound to have one willful child. Cute, funny, smart - but a button pusher to her core.

SHY doesn't even cover it.



We can count the number of words he uses in a day. One day, the dam is going to break, all those saved up words will come flooding out and we're not going to know what to do with him

Mr. Daring




He will try ANYTHING once. He may not do it again after that, but he'll do it the first time on whim or a dare.

Killer smile




She's already arguing with her sisters on the English usage! And she still thinks she's the boss of the boys.

Too cute for words




We get a tickle out of teasing him about his take on life. He comes up with the neatest perspectives at times.

All smiles




He's the bravest at the skateboard park and will try rolling down (or should I say sliding down) the ramps.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Home Again, Home Again!

It's finally over - four weeks of training, sitting in a classroom 8 hours a day, trying to pay attention and retain so much information, and tests upon tests. Eating out 3 meals a day for fours weeks is not all what it's cracked up to be. I missed Pam's cooking, with a passion. Thankfully I was able to come home on the weekends; some of the students came from too far away to go home on the weekends.

Richmond VA (Virginia's capital - for the geography challenged among us) is an interesting phenomenon of beautiful buildings and old south charm, but it's downtown area is so many desolate empty buildings lining the streets. There are some whole city blocks of vacant buildings. Thankfully there are a few buildings being remodeled for re-use, but the city doesn't look like what one would imagine a capital city would look like.

I've got a long "honey-do" list to get into. I'm going to have to dig deep to make it up to Pam for being the great lone soldier while I was gone. I was as frugal as I could be in saving my travel per diem up to we could afford to take the kids to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg next month.

School starts a week from Tuesday. The kids are getting anxious to meet new friends and teachers. With 7 kids in 4 different schools, it's going to be a hard and long process to get into a comfortable rhythm.

Friday, August 21, 2009

YEA, Dad!!!!!

We have had a really busy last 2 weeks, and it is Friday again! YEA DADDY is coming home tonight!

This is hard on Daddy, being gone from his beautiful family!, not getting wonderful home cooked meals, and being lonely-- but, it is really harder on mommy!-- (7 little darlings!!!)
The Home front is a BUSY one!!

We went back to the beach for 2 days this week-- I work out there one day a week- than we play on the beach one day! We have had such beautiful weather for it each week and so much fun with our friends!

Well, I hope that today goes fast and my hubby gets home safe and sound!!

Only one more week of this single parenthood--Praise the Lord!!

Blessings, Pamela Dawn

SUNDAYS

Sometimes it is just so hard to know what and where the Lord really wants you-



Last Monday, a lady that works in my neighborhood, stopped by and invited the kids to attend VBS. So, at lunch, we voted on attending or not-- and the vote was 6 to 1 to go-- So we did- and we had a ball! That was great that she stopped by-- we never would have known about the VBS otherwise. Each of the kids met some kids their age and so going into new schools will not be as threatening as it might have been. The VBS had some adult classes for the week, and I met some nice people.

Life is good!
Blessings, Pamela Dawn

Saturday, August 15, 2009

You know you have a big family when...

You know you have a big family when the ice cream truck slowed down at our yard and I could swear the volume of his music went up! Pam and the kids told me the other day, he not only slowed down but pulled into the drive way!

Share your big family awareness experiences...

Whew!

It has been a whirlwind summer so far. I know I have not posted as much as I normally have. There are lots of reasons...Our trip to Africa which just about did my legs in. (I have had horrible leg cramps since then), husband's loss of his job, and my hours at work changing and being cut back. Add to this 3 new little ones - 7 total. That has doubled all my life chores, i.e. laundry and meals - lots of meals!! We had my daughter and her family come with friends in tow.

Then Juan gets a new job and has training out of town - for a month! In the middle of this we moved to a new city, into another home. I had to pack the hold house, and change utilities. I had to do the entire move by myself because Juan doesn't have any vacation time yet. I had to register the kids into 4 new schools, talk with all the guidance counselors, set up ESL, set up testing, take the kids for physicals, and immunisations.

Now this obviously isn't my first adoption, but this adoption just sent me into huge postpartum "baby blues". Who am I kidding; I am (was) flat out depressed. Then, on top of the depression, I was feeling guilty that I was depressed. I was afraid to talk to anyone about it since I'm the one that wanted to adopt - so why would I be depressed? I was also afraid to talk about it because depression is so misunderstood. Well meaning people wanting to to say that it is a spiritual problem. "Just get right with God." I know that I am totally right with God and I'm still depressed! Depression is an illness and it can get better or worse - but it is treatable. I am so thankful that I have a good doctor and I am now being treated. I am also thankful for my closest friends who have been with me through this the whole time. I feel a lot better and I am not crying all day!

Each day I am becoming more and more like my old self. So if I've missed returning any e-mails - email again! I am on the road back!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

ANGELS, ANGELS, ANGELS....

THANK YOU LORD FOR YOUR ANGELS!!!

Friday- yea, Daddy coming home tonight-
We had a full morning, 7 kids, one mom in our 12 passenger van. Off, we went on a ton of stops- One store for a few school things, and one store for a few food things-- (thankfully just a few bags)
Then off to find our first park in our new city. We found the park, and off the kids went to explore and to play on the swings and slides. I opened the windows and started a book...
About 45 minutes later, the kids came running back- everyone getting hungry.- So, I tried to start the van, Oh No, it didn't start- Oh Lord, what do I do? All 7 kids more thank 5 miles from our house?
ANGELS??!!-- A beautiful lady was in the car next to the van. And as I was trying to start the van, she was coming around the side of the van.
When I saw her I had the window down, and she said- " The Lord told me to give you this to buy lunch for the kids- they are so cute....
" Oh thank you God, You are in control and You are here...
I jumped out of the van, and asked her to pray with me for the van to just start- (wouldn't that be neat??!!)
Well, it didn't start- but this wonderful angel, sent from God, put the kids in her car and off we went home-
She and I had a wonderful time of fellowship. God had this time all planned out for us-
We don't know anyone in this city yet to even call for help-
But God knows and God cares.
My wonderful husband got home and off we went to jump the van- And today got a new battery and the van is just fine now.
The Lord is teaching me He is in control and He is taking care of me and my kids...;)
I am listening to HIm! I love you Lord--
Blessings, Pam

THREE MORE WEEKS...

ONLY 3 MORE WEEKS OF ONE PARENT!!

ANGELS

Angels....
We are now officially moved. And totally out of the house in the Outer Banks. Now, in the house up in VA. I am still working down at the beach one to two days a week. We have some Angel friends that are helping me with the kids to be able to be at the beach while I am working. Thank you so much Lord for your angels.
The girls are great babysitters- but not when both parents are several hours away in different cities... God is so faithful and I am so thankful for such wonderful friends.
Sometimes is is very hard to accept help- God is showing me how to and God is showing me His love and grace. At this point, I really need the help.
THANK YOU GOD- for all of your Angels......

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The 10 commandments

This is just a thought. Our pastor at Nags Head Church has been doing an extended series on the life of Moses. He has started on when the LORD God gave to Moses, to give to the people, "The Ten Commandments". Of course volumes upon volumes of material has been written and will be written on the commandments and The Law. What I gather is that The Law provides us two things. One is a set of guide lines like those on the highway. They keep us from running into each other on the road and from running off the road. The other is to show us that we're not perfect and God is.

No matter how many lessons/sermons I hear on The Ten Commandments, I will always hear something new and awe inspiring. But no matter how many lessons/sermons I hear, I always remember the one that said - One of the reasons God gave us these laws was because He loves us and wanted the best in life for us. Just like parents give rules/laws to their kids for their own good, God did the same for us. The one thing I remember is when the speaker said something like this; Imagine what life would be like if everyone were to actually follow these laws (we realize that our flesh keeps us from doing it, so our imagination has a difficult time with it, but try to follow along anyway).

Imagine, if we didn't lie to each other - Ever! We could trust every one. Of course we wouldn't need lawyers, written contracts, judges, courts, and the divorce rate would plummet. Imagine if we didn't steal from each other - Ever! No police, lawyers, judges, fights, courts, jails. Imagine if we didn't murder each other - Ever! No military, wars, terrorists, police, lawyers, judges, courts, jails. Imagine if we were all virgins at our weddings and never stepped out of our marriage vows - Ever! No babies born out of wed-lock, no STD's, no lawyers, judges, no step people, divorce rates and abortions would go way down. Imagine if we loved and honored our parents - Always! No "disfunctional families", no nursing homes, we'd have great family unions and not need reunions. Imagine if we didn't envy what our neighbors had - Ever! The Joneses would just be neighbors and not the ones driving us to work ourselves to distraction and destruction.

Now imagine if we all loved the Lord God with all our hearts, minds and souls - Forever! I can't begin to imagine what life would be like on this earth.

It doesn't take a PhD in theology to see how great life would be...does it?

What I hate about moving

One of the parts I hate about moving is looking for and starting over again in a new church family/group. We pray that the Lord leads us to where He wants us to serve. We try to stay out of the way of His leading, but I'm human... We try not to find a duplicate of the church we had to leave, that's the hardest thing to do. The music and singing worship will be good, but different. The children's church/Sunday school will be good, but different. The small group gatherings will be good, but different. As much change as we've endured over the years, it's still challenging to accept change. It's stressful, it's tiring, it's scary.

We went to Believer's Church today. I'm fairly sure they are a Baptist church without the denominational tagging. The people there were all very friendly and inviting. The music was good, the facilities were very nice. Unfortunately the lead pastor was out for vacation so, we'll go back again when he returns. We realize the pastor is not the church by any means, but we kind of get the jist of where the flock is by getting to know the lead pastor. You know, where is the leader going; how close is he following the LEADER?

We have a couple other churches in the area that were suggested to us, so we'll visit them as well. Please pray that our eyes and ears will be open to the Lords leading. We need a place to serve and a place for our children to grow and be nourished.

Monday, July 27, 2009

We've moved in - Sort of

This will be short.

The movers picked up our household goods on Wednesday and delivered them on Thursday.

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes! Moving into a smaller home with half the storage space is a nightmare for Pam. Thankfully, we have a 2 car garage. We plan on using half of it for storage. I'll have to put up some type of lane barrier in order to avoid the creeping clutter disease from taking hold.

The commute!! 10 minutes from driveway to parking lot. Even when I worked on the Beach my commute was 45 minutes. I'm loving it! Of course I can't say that too loud; since Pam is working from home, she will be going back to the Beach a couple times a week. Not good, but she still can't beat the commute for the other days. about 10 feet from bed to computer desk.

I saw our kids talking to some neighborhood kids in the backyard today. That made my heart feel good.

Next week I start my next phase of training in Richmond. I'll stay there during the week and come home for the weekends. 4 weeks!! Yuck!

Well, gotta go put beds together.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Last Day on the Beach











I've lived all around the world (literally) and I didn't grow up anywhere near any beaches (unless you count the rocky shores of Lake Superior where the water is ice cold year round). In the almost 3 years here, we have grown to absolutely love the beach life. It's almost like year round vacation. The attitude on the beach is different. People's outlook on life is different here. It's almost like Hawaii, but the tans are MUCH lighter! :o)~

This is where seeing a deck full of flip flops is normal. It's where having an outdoor shower is not only normal, but necessary. It's where people go to church in tank tops, shorts and flip flops (their Sunday best flip flops, mind you). This is where people warn you that projects could be postponed because the Rock Fish (or whatever species) are running and you're about to lose half or all of your crew to fishing poles. Our church holds surf-camps rather than soccer camps. Our youth group meets on the beach in swim suits, to play beach games, and hold Bible talks. Half the population here deals directly with tourists (or tourons as we call them(behind their backs of course)) and the other half deals indirectly supporting the others.

We were blessed with the beautiful house right on the Currituck Sound, with a million dollar view of the sunset every night. And then we're only a 10 min drive to the Atlantic for a dip in the sandy, salty, soothing ocean. We've learned to overlook the crowded conditions of summer, and to cherish the quiet solitude of the rest of the year.

Everything has its trade offs of course. It's very expensive here. For example, gas is 20 cents more than just over the bridge from here, and 30 cents more than in Chesapeake. Groceries are expensive. Because we're such a small place, there a things that you don't get a lot of choices to pick from. The people here are great and we have a fantastic church family, yet the population here is rather, "homogeneous"; something we've grown accustomed to, but it really stands out when we leave the beach to go anywhere else.

We're not going to be far, and we will be able to come back rather frequently, but it's not the same as living here. There's nothing like it in the world.