Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our 2009 Family Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

2009 has been a year filled with joys and challenges. Here are a few highlights of how God has enriched us.

As a family we started the year with a clear goal-- we felt led to adopt a specific nine-year-old girl from Taiwan. We signed with an adoption agency in March, completed our home study, sent our dossier paperwork to Taiwan and received adoption approval from the orphanage in June. Unfortunately in August we received word that the orphanage had changed its mind and rejected our application. This was very disappointing, as we had already begun to love C*** in our hearts. We did all we could to appeal, but finally had to conclude that short of a miracle, there was nothing more to do. Then earlier this month God sent that miracle! The orphanage contacted our adoption agency and specifically asked if we were still interested in adopting C***. After prayer and some really neat confirmations from God (that’s another exciting story…), we decided to jump back into the adoption process. If all goes well, we will have C*** in our home next fall(???)! In the midst of all these adoption ups and downs, we finally sold our house in Richmond, Eric received his 3rd degree Black Belt and started teaching karate in Chattanooga, Jennifer started a part-time job (she works in the coffee/juice bar at the new Earth Fare in Chattanooga), and Jennifer’s parents moved to town. Noelle brightens our days as an energetic three-year-old. She continues to blossom and grow before our eyes.

The church is doing very well. We are blessed to be in partnership with such loving, faithful people. Over the last year we have added a staff family. Roberto and Rhesa Rodriguez are specifically responsible for developing our Hispanic ministry. We are expanding our outreach to our Spanish-speaking neighbors, offering ESL classes and have even started Spanish as a Second Language classes for those who want to better communicate with our neighbors. We took our first step into closer partnership with our Jewish neighbors and offered a “Philanthropy Camp” one week in July. We look forward to partnering in future compassionate ministry activities and meeting the practical needs of our community. Our music minister Rob Hambrick expanded his scope and started a small-group ministry. It’s been neat to see new families enter the church through this Bible Study/Fellowship group. The children’s ministry is thriving under the leadership of George Lawson. We had close to thirty kids in the children’s program earlier this month (almost double from this time last year-- thanks Christy & Sarah). I wish I had time to share with you about our Spring Homecoming or Fall BBQ outreach; our different prayer groups and Fall revival or simply how people keep asking, “Can we start this new ministry?” It’s hard to keep up with all the great and Godly opportunities!

As we come into the New Year we simply ask God for strength to stay near to him. We are confident that as we hold close to God, he will lead and provide all that is needed to grow in him and serve others!

May your joy be found in Jesus~

Eric, Jennifer and Noelle

EDIT:  Ultimately that Taiwan adoption did not come to fruition, but He did use the process and the journey to teach us some important lessons and prepare us for the future.  He always knows what He is doing!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Excuses, excuses!

I have a whole list of excuses for why my blogging has fallen off in recent weeks (...months...).  But the list would bore you, and I certainly don't want to bore my readers! :-)  I do know that there are some faithful aunts, cousins, parents, far-away-friends who check regulary for new posts (or at least there were??!).  To you good folk, I say "Sorry." :-( 
But in my defense, such as it is, I am in gooooooood company.  When I do grab 5 minutes here and there to scan others' blogs, I often read posts similiar to this one. 

And what is our BIG EXCUSE???

Yes, it's the truth.  I have been spending more time posting photos and stories and chatting on facebook than writing about family stuff here.  I am really trying to limit my time on the computer so I can be engaged in my real life (virtual reality is no reality!).  So the blogging has suffered.  I do hope to continue blogging long term, as I enjoy writing and I do like to document the life of our family.  But realistically I may only get a couple posts up here every couple weeks.  Sometimes I stress myself out with self-imposed blogging deadlines.  So I think I'm better off to just concentrate on 3-4 posts a month and be satisfied.  And if I get more in, that's just a bonus!

But for those of you who want more of the Johnson's, become my facebook friend!  Just click on the facebook badge on the top right of this blog.  It will take you to a page where you can request to be my friend.  Okay?  Hope you come find me!

~See ya'll at my next post!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 8 is ORPHAN SUNDAY - You are invited to...

...attend the following events celebrating this first annual national event - Orphan Sunday!

By joining us at Chattanooga First Church of the Nazarene:

~10:45 am
Special Service honoring adoption and sharing the needs of orphans around the world

~5:00-7:00 pm
Stephen Curtis Chapman Concert event (live via web cast)
*Please bring snacks to share! :)
*We are also working out a plan for childcare

RSVP to Jennifer or Eric Johnson at:
423-893-7756 (church)
423-693-5394 (jen's cell)

Church of the Nazarene
5455 N. Terrace (across the interstate from the Rave Theater)

Check out for more details!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


"If my people, which are called by my name,
shall humble themselves,
and pray,
and seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

That says it all!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Poor, pitiful Jack

Oops. (and ick and gross)

Jack got left out in the rain, on our porch, and was forgotten,,, for a few days.

He was a sad pumpkin before.  Now he's REALLY SAD.

Noelle saw him, frowned and tipped her head to the side and said, "AWwwwwwww" in a voice heavy with pity (for him, not her - lol).

(Notice the chin drool-- a nice touch, I think.)

A Sweet Good Morning

Eric had to leave the house early this morning, before Noelle and I were awake, to drive to a church activity in Knoxville. When I opened the fridge to get the milk, I found a sweet note and a prayer from my hubby! Awwww!! 'Put a happy-silly grin on my face, I tell ya. :>}

Friday, October 16, 2009

Just FYI-- I put some adoption updates on our Taiwan Blog today.

Please Pray For This Young Girl--

One of the ladies in our Tuesday prayer group shared this story/prayer request: about a girl who lives in another state:

Last Friday a 15 year old girl went to an abortion clinic to abort her baby.  She did not want to go through with the procedure, but she lives in an overly crowded house with relatives who cannot affort the money or space for a baby.  They wanted her to make a choice:  the baby or your home with us.  So the teen did go to her appointment at the clinic.  She tried to follow through.  But she ended up running out of the place without having an abortion!!! 

I was and am deeply moved at this amazing show of courage.  This girl is in such a difficult situation and faces losing her home...yet she bravely chose life for her unborn baby!!  All of us ladies found ourselves weeping as we spent several minutes in prayer for these two precious lives.

The director of the local crisis pregnancy center opened her home to the teen for a few days until they could figure out what to do.  She (the director) has asked us to pray for God to intervene in this situation.  The young lady has been in much physical discomfort and had an ultrasound which showed the baby has a very weak heartbeat.  Please pray for her heath and the baby's.  But on the positive side, the relatives are now possibly reconsidering their initial untimateum.  It looks like may be able to stay with them during the pregnancy.  There are still many unknowns, however, and anything could change. 

I will be seeking updates about this young lady and will let you know how things go.  Just please, please pray for her and for God's best plan.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Taiwan Adoption UPDATE

Stop by our other blog for the latest news posted today:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chattanooga Cupcakes - yummy yummy!!

Eric and I had a rare Thursday afternoon date today.  My parents volunteered to watch Noelle, so Eric took part of the day off from work so we could have some 'quality fun'. :-) 

The fun included exploring downtown Chattanooga on foot...  Which brought us to a brand new shoppe: Chattanooga Cupcakes on Broad Street.  The sign in the window said they would be opening on Monday.  But the lights were on and we saw scrumptious looking cupcakes on display! 

The door opened at our touch, so we ventured inside.  The gal behind the counter introduced herself as Sonia.  She said they we not open for business yet, but would we like to try a free a sample?

Would we!??!  Of course!!

She was giving the delectible treats away to test them on the public.  We were quite willing to be test subjects.  The choice was difficult, but Eric went with the carrrot cake with butter cream frosting and pecan bits.  I chose the chocolate cake with white chocolate truffle frosting.  She packed them carefully in a to-go box, and we walked back to our car.  Eric thought we should drive to another destination to get something to drink and then eat our treats at the park. 

Thing is, my cupcake didn't last that long.  It was gone before I got out of the car! 

Ohhhhhhh people! Our taste buds were in heaven!!  You've got to try some of this lady's moist, decadent cupcakes.  Stop by her place at 500 Broad St - Chattanooga, TN.  These are tough economic times, but I sure hope her business thrives.  Everyone needs a sweet pick-me-up from time to time, right? 

BTW-- Eric said he would pay 5 whole dollars for one of these babies.  That is high praise, indeed. ;-)

Noelle Pix --- for your viewing enjoyment

Just a bit o' news from our life lately...

I had a special treat for Noelle when I picked her up from preschool Monday...

As a reward for participating in gymnastics class that morning.
And yes, bribery was involved.  Sweets are always a good incentive for our munchkin!

Cuz even though standing on her head was fun, ish...

...THIS contraption scared the heck out of her last week (her first gymnastics class).  Her buddy, Teagan, was just ahead of her in line and performed some fancy whirly twirly technique (Teagan has been taking evening lessons for some time).  Noelle watched and decided being a future olympian wasn't "all that".
Bouncing on a mini trampoline into a somersault is extra fun!

Squeaky-clean and oh so cute!

Our silly girl!

"EEERRRRR UUUGHHHHH!!!  If I turn it juuuuust right, I should be able to lift this thing..."

Noelle had been asking for several weeks to get a "jack-o-lantern pumpkin". 
Last week we obliged and drove to Linda's Produce a few blocks from our house.  It's not a pumpkin farm, but Noelle enjoyed it.
The pumpkin farm came that weekend (pix to follow)...

After finding a pumpkin, we spent some time at the local bookstore.  Eric and I took turns reading kids books aloud.  And you can see that Eric is really getting into it. ;-)
 My big cutie and my little cutie

Noelle:  the growling voice of the Big Bad Wolf

Grammy's scarecrow isn't very scary.  Noelle thought it was a big doll and wanted to carry it around.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 18, 2009 -- WE MISSED IT!!!

As of September 18, 2009 Noelle has officially been with our family longer (by one day) than she had been in orphanage care without a family.  Amazing!!  Eric and I are so honored to be the ones God chose for her parents. :-)

Some dear friends of ours celebrated this milestone with their daughter last year.  We actually were priveleged to help them celebrate Reagan's important day.  Eric and I thought it was a very nifty idea and planned to copy it for our family.  But darn it, with all the sickness and "other stuff" we've been dealing with recently, we both plum forgot!  I'm bummed. :-(  It may not have seemed significant to Noelle, but it means a lot to us.  We cannot go back in time, but I'm wondering if there is some way to recoup what we missed.  Hmmmm....  My fortune (cookie) says there is a Chinese meal in our immediate future!

Can anyone think of what the significance of this particular date is???
You win a *GOLD STAR* if you can guess correctly...

Monday, September 21, 2009



After all of us being sick the past couple weeks and spending waaaaaaay too much time in the house and with each other, I was looking forward to preschool today.  I mean really.  A lot.  I was look forward to preschool really a lot.

(come on, moms! who's with me!?)

In my defense, Noelle was too.  She loved her '1 day of school' from 2 weeks ago, and was excited to attend her first gymnastics class, and to see Teagan and the Rodrigez kids (friends from church).

BUT Chattanooga is under water. 

And I mean that almost literally.  It has been raining for days and days and many areas are flooded.  Eric and I feel blessed that our cosy church parsonange home is high up on Missionary Ridge and not in the numerous small valleys across the area.

So we were shoving food down our kiddo with 5 minutes to spare before I tossed her and her Dora backpack in the car...when the phone rang.  Eric grabbed it, read the caller ID out loud and we both groaned.  (My groan might have been a bit louder and longer than his.)  "Cancelled due to flooding."

I love my kid more than life.  But I'll say it again.


(Note: The building was not flooded. Just the parking lot.)


Notice anything wrong with this picture?

The mirror is missing. 
A large one that covers the wall and most of the window. 
(Ok, you probably noticed that this is poor placement for a dresser with a mirror, but in our bedroom there is literally no other place to put it.  Between the 2 awkwardly placed windows, the 2 closets, the door to the hall and the door to the bathroom, there is no other available wall.  I feel lucky that we were able to get our bed in this room!)

While in the shower I heard a terrible crash.  My first thought was that maybe the cats had knocked the tv to the floor.  My second thought was, "That had to have woken Noelle.  Grrrrr, those cats better not have woken up Noelle."  I dashed out of the shower to investigate and immediately noticed the dresser mirror was not in it's usual place.

It was here, on the floor.

So much for the mirror I've had since I was a girl.
I guess I won't be checking my outfits or putting on jewelry here any more. 
My antique jewelry/music box also bit the dust.

And so did my (previously) unbroken last collectible figurine given to me by my husband.

Here are the culprits.

I found them cowering under the bed.  When they did eventually slink out, there was narry an apology for the mess and destruction they had left behind.

What led to the cat-astrophe?  They had been up in the window behind the mirror watching birds and squirrels.  Evidently something spooked the kitty-girls during their vigil. 
We have a large tree so close to the house that the area wildlife, from the wooded area behind the parsonage, frequently leap from a branch and race across the roof then back again, all day long. 

The cats love it.
As indooor felines, they find this amusement a wildly entertaining way to spend an afternoon.
I never did love it.  Even more so, NOW.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Noelle's First Japanese Steakhouse Experience

The fire scared her so much she jumped into Eric's lap.  Each time our cook lit something on fire, she screamed a bit and either hid in her daddy's shoulder or covered her eyes.

Showing more interest in the process...

You can practically see her mouth watering over the steaming chicken.  She cried out, "MEAT!!MEAT!!" when the chef tossed the pink breasts onto the sizzling grill.  (Our girl does eat fruits and veggies, but she is quite the carnivore.)

The hostess loved chatting with Noelle and noticed her struggling to eat with the huge fork.  So...she brought her a pair or training chopsticks instead!  Just moments before, Noelle declared she was "All done!" and wanted to get down to play.  But, when she got those chopsticks in her hand, her focus suddenly changed to cleaning her plate.  And she almost did just that!  She had quite a knack for picking up even bits of rice with this new tool.  Our table-mates were quite impressed.  (Unfortunately we forgot to take them with us when we left the restaurant.  Noelle was sorely disappointed and wanted us to turn around.  Eric consoled her with, "I can make you some chopsticks just like that at home!")