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

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!

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.