Saturday, April 27, 2013

One Year Ago

It's been one year since one of the best days of our lives.  

Remembering, dreaming, anticipating the day we get to return...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dancing, In-Betweening, Potty-Training, Eating, and Such

* My kids are in love with the song "Dynamite".  They request it every single morning and every single afternoon.  I've gotta admit their dance moves are pretty sweet.  

A sampling of the sweetness

* Yesterday was a hard day.  Being "in-between" stinks.  
  • We are not in Ukraine, but sometimes I feel like we're not really here either.  
  • We are focused on preparing for our life there, but still trying to truly live our life here.  
  • We're not saying goodbye yet, but know we will do you navigate that?
  • We want to be fully engaged with our church body here, yet we have to start handing off some of our responsibilities, and we're spending more weekends away speaking at other places.  How do we navigate that?  How can you be fully present...when you aren't present?  Ha!
  • It's all very tricky and I have no idea how to transition well.  One step at a time, right?  One obedience at a time.  We say YES Lord to being fully present to what you call us to today.  
* I'm potty-training Seth.  He gets an M&M every time he goes potty on the toilet.  Good news?  We're quickly running out of our M&M stash.  He gets a popsicle every time he poops on the toilet.  Bad news?  We haven't really made a dent in our popsicle stash.  You do the math.  Then come over and help me do laundry.  Thanks. 

I guess he felt left out of the glasses club

* The Marr family, who is adopting Alexei, one of our Lost Boys, is traveling in 2 days!  Knowing that they're heading to the place we love so very much brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.  Please pray for the Marrs!  They are bringing light where it is needed so badly.  Woohoo!

* I'll be in Ukraine in 20 days.  I can't wait!!!!  I wonder what it will feel like to be there this time, knowing it's our future home?  Hmmmm....

* I'm excited to eat Ukrainian food in 20 days. Bring.It.On.


*After such a rough day yesterday, today has been awesome.  God is so faithful to give us just what we need, just when we need it.  Today I woke up remembering a word that was spoken over us at the very beginning of this journey:

 "It is your joy to partner with God in this."  

When did I forget that?  It is my complete and utter joy to partner with Him!  It is my JOY!!!!!   Next time I start focusing on the struggle and stop focusing on the joy, feel free to dump cold water on my head, or whatever it takes to stop the whining.  Seriously.  The enemy is lame, and defeated.  Jesus wins the day. 

The end.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Your Questions Answered!

Oh rainy Sunday afternoon, how I love thee...

Havalah asleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed, 
Seth asleep in his bed, 
Addy and Ez watching Sponge Bob (I secretly love Sponge Bob too...),
Jed asleep on the couch,
Cup of coffee at my side, 
Warm socks on my feet...

Now seems like a perfect time to answer your questions! 

Who will take care of your kids while you volunteer at Mission to Ukraine?  How will you involve the kids in what you are doing?
This has been a super common question, and it's actually one that we think about quite a lot.  I think the involvement of our kids in this ministry will be something that evolves over time as our roles in Ukraine change and as our kids grow older.  We very much desire our kids to be involved as much as they are able.  We believe that when God called Jed and I to Ukraine He called our whole family.  He knew the exact kids we would have and how this would shape their lives.  He created them with gifts and talents that He wants to use to bless others.  I so can not wait to see it unfold!!  It's amazing to see how God has given them such soft hearts for children and adults with disabilities.  I pray He continues to work in their hearts to prepare them for where He is leading our family. 

While at MTU Jed and I will alternate staying home with the kids.  We homeschool already, so that will be nothing new.  But, it will be new for me to leave the house and for Jed to be teaching the kids some, and we are excited for that change.  I have longed for Jed to be able to be more involved with the kids' education, but it hasn't really happened because he is gone all day at work.  I'm lovin' the tag team idea!  At this point it looks like we will each volunteer at MTU 2 days a week and then possibly alternate a a third day, or reserve that day for language study.  We will know more about our schedule after we visit MTU in May.  I want our kids to be out and about, loving on people and helping at MTU if possible.  I guess we'll see what God has in mind!

Do you speak Russian or Ukrainian?
We're working on it!  We are studying Russian on our own right now, and will hire a tutor when we arrive in Ukraine.  It's extremely important to us to learn the language.  It's a work in progress! 

Will you be able to use your medical training as a nurse at the orphanage or will there be licensing/other obstacles that might prevent that?
Well, that is a question we have been discussing with MTU.  I won't have a Ukrainian nursing license, so I won't technically be able to practice as an RN.  There are many things I will be able to do to help, because of my knowledge and experience, but I think in some areas I will be limited due to licensure.  Grrr.  I wish it wasn't so.  When we travel to visit MTU in May I will discuss this more with the MD they have on staff.  I'm interested to know how their nursing scope of practice varies from ours.  That will determine what hands-on things I can do.   Maybe their scope of practice allows for more delegation than ours?  Hmmmm...

Thinking ahead to when we have our medical homes, I've thought perhaps we could hire a nurse that could "delegate" to me, similar to how a state RN delegates to medical foster parents that aren't RN's.  We'll pray for God's wisdom in that and work out the kinks as they come along.  I just need to become fluent ASAP so I can take the boards there and get a Ukrainian nursing license!  Ha!  

Has the host organization told you what you will be doing specifically or will that wait until you meet with them?
Jed and I will visit MTU during the month of May to nail down in more detail what exactly we will do there.  We have made it very clear that we desire to be a blessing and don't want to come with our own agenda. We want them to put us where we will be of the most help.  They know what our specific skill sets and interests are, but they also know we are completely open to their lead.  In May we will talk with the different department heads and see what the needs are, and how they envision us coming alongside.

I have a lot of interest in the medical, hands-on side of things.  I would love to help with the day to day care of the children.  Jed has a lot of skills in different trainings for the staff, and in the early childhood development stuff.  We are both absolutely in love with the work being done at the Romaniv orphanage. But, we are also willing to clean toilets and mop floors, whatever needs to be done to support the vision.  We'll know more about this after our upcoming visit.  

How many hours per week will you be working (i.e., volunteering), if you know?
Right now we are thinking Jed will volunteer 2 days a week, I will volunteer 2 days a week and then we will alternate Fridays.  The team from MTU visits Romaniv every Friday morning, so we can take turns going on those visits.  We also need to fit in language study maybe Friday afternoons?  I'm not exactly sure.  We told MTU we are flexible to their needs, but we definitely want one of us to be at MTU whenever their doors are open.  They also do many different special events that we are excited to be a part of.  Those will most likely be whole family events.  Yay! 

Will you update the blog regularly to keep us informed, sort of like Bible Orphan Ministry does? Will your host organization/the orphanage permit pictures and updates?
YES!  YES!  YES!  We will totally blog and keep you informed!  We are excited to keep sharing what God does.  MTU will definitely allow us to blog.  It's important to us to keep our supporters and prayer warriors in on the action, plus I'm pretty sure the grandparents will hunt us down if we don't keep things up to date!  ;)

Do you know if you'll be able to get a permanent visa? I had read that American families have a hard time getting permission to stay permanently.
You heard right. Visas are definitely a tricky situation.  We won't be able to obtain anything permanent, but only visas that will need to be renewed.  Americans must be invited by a registered organization in order to get visas.  MTU is inviting us, so we are praying for no problems with obtaining visas!  Please pray with us!! 

After you all are set up and in a routine will you be having or allowing people to come on mission trips?
Oh my, you don't know how much this question makes me smile!!  We love short-term missions and totally see the value in it.  For the first year, since we are volunteering with MTU we will not really be in the position to accept teams. BUT, once we are more established and God starts busting open the gates for the dreams He has given us we hope to have lots of teams!  We will need good help, and plenty of it.  We dream of our church sending teams, medical teams coming, orphan-lovin' teams coming...yes yes yes!!!  Stay tuned!

What is your #1 prayer request today?
Why thank you for asking!  I think right now we need prayer that we would keep our eyes on Jesus.  It's so easy to get lost in the details of the move, or the details of our May trip.  We get distracted by the sadness of leaving friends and family, or by the need for money, looking to people to be our provision instead of God our Provider.  

We look to people, we look to money, we look to details and Jesus says "Keep your eyes on Me."

If we look away we start to spin our wheels, we look for affirmation in the wrong places, we have meltdowns.  It gets downright ugly.  So, please pray our eyes stay on Him alone.  Thank you!!!

If you have any other questions please feel free to ask anytime!  As you can see in our answers, we will know much more after our trip in May.  Things are coming together and it's quite unreal how God is making the way.  Thank you for your continued support!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fire Away! We Want Your Questions!

The theme this week is "Crazy".

As in, I went a little crazy the other night.  I kind of freaked out for a little while about all this.

We bought plane tickets for Jed and I to visit Ukraine in May to take care of some business.  We need to chat with the MTU folk face to face and start looking for a place to live.

Because we're moving all the way across the world. 
Moving. To stay.

I may have said a couple things to the effect of, 

"What do we think we're doing????"

"This is crazy!"

"We are crazy!!!!"

I've since calmed down a notch or two and realized that we are, in fact, crazy.  HA!  But, God has called us to this craziness, so there's no place I'd rather be.  I just want to be spent for Him.  I don't want to live for my own comfort.  I don't want to hold back and then wonder, what if?  

I have plenty of questions about how all of this is going to work out.  I have plenty of questions about what life will be like a year from now, but I'm learning to be content with what I know for now.

Do you have questions for us?  We want to hear them!  We're planning to do a Q&A blog post and need your questions.  You can ask us about anything!  It can be related to the Big Move, or not.  Is there anything in this process we haven't explained well? 

 You can leave your questions in the comments, or email them to us at the address on the sidebar. 

Fire away! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Nitty Gritty

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

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

Yep, this is the money post. 

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

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

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

Without further ado, we present you with the numbers. 

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

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

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

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

Mail tax-deductible donations to:

Salem Vineyard Church

4750 Salem Dallas Highway NW
Salem, OR 97304

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Welcome to Post #100 for our wee little blog!!!

Hmmmm...what to do to celebrate the 100th post?  What I really need to do is write about money.  But, I don't want to do that for post 100.  You'll have to stay tuned for the big money post.  :)  Watch out, it's a'comin'!

The other day I was feeling all inspired to write about building altars in remembrance for all God has done on this journey, but at the end of the day when I sat down to write I just wasn't feelin' it.  The post was getting waaaaaay too long because God has just done waaaaaay too much.  I realize that's a very good thing, it just doesn't work to make a very long post.  Ha!

Then I thought maybe I would write a list of 100 of know, like kindergartners take 100 buttons to school on their 100th day of kinder....something like that.  But, then I thought that would also make a very long post.  Annnnd considering my living room floor is covered in legos, my Hava-lu is sitting on the couch with the puke-bowl next to her after throwing up at least 10 times this afternoon/evening, the dishes are undone, and there is a new mountain of laundry waiting for my attention (thanks to my too late delivery of the puke-bowl), I really don't have time for a long post.  Actually, I probably don't really have time for a short post, but I'm resting my legs and procrastinating, and I'm the Mommy, so I can.  :) honor of our 100th post I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorite posts along this journeyIt's always good to look back and remember all that God has done.  Consider this a shortened version of my way-too-long altar post.  :)   

Beginnings.  I love this post because it was the first.  I was heartbroken when I wrote it, but I can see God's smile in it now.  We had lost our baby, our dream. But God knew all along what our true dream was.  I picture Him standing over my shoulder as I cried and typed, waiting on pins and needles to show us what He really had in store for us.  It seems like a lifetime ago!!
"Jonah" the one who started it all.  We will love you forever sweet baby boy 

My Uncle.  I miss my Uncle Gary.  He was gentle, humble, giving, and loving.  I am so thankful God used what seemed to be an impossible situation to bring our hearts together.  Thinking of him makes me smile.

Foster Care Ponderings 1, Foster Care Ponderings 2, Foster Care Ponderings 3. - Writing this series on foster care and our experiences was super therapeutic for me.  Fostering was the best and hardest thing we've ever done.  If you have any interest whatsoever in fostering, please, please read these posts.  Read and ask the Lord how He would have you respond.  He is only asking for willing hearts, not superheros!  Do it! Do it! Do it!  (I get a tad passionate about fostering...)

Introducing...our Son!- This is a fave, for obvious reasons.  Seth changed our lives forever.  He was our unexpected bonus for staying in Salem when all we wanted to do was travel the world- and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

Romaniv.- I have no words.  Amazing day.  Amazing boys.  Even more amazing now that we know we get to back.  :)

The Day We've Been Waiting For.- God moved mountains to make this day happen.  It was absolutely miraculous!!!!!  It just goes to show you that He is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.  Man does not have the final say.  God does.  Word.

We Had No Idea.- Seth's story.  I pray as he grows he will understand how much he is loved, how many people prayed for him, and how hard we fought for him.  Love love love my baby.

Carried.- This post is a good reminder to me that God is there even in our darkest hour.  He speaks life and love into our hearts when we need it most.  He is our healer and His promises are true. Thankful.  :)

Thanks to all of you for following our journey and encouraging us along the way.  It's crazy to think about what we initially started this blog for, and what it has become.  His ways are sooooo much higher than our ways.  

I can't wait to see what life will be like when we write post #200!