Tuesday, May 3, 2016

16 Hours, Y'all


It is time!  I plan to post updates here as our VPN and connection allows. 

Thank you to everyone who has poured into us through your prayers and giving. May the Lord bless you!  

Both our $5000 and $3000 matching grant were filled, and then a weekend garage sale and some surprise gifts this week brings us to FULLY FUNDED!!  Only our heavenly Father could meet a need so big!  We praise HIM and thank YOU for walking this journey with us. 

In 16 hours we will be on our first flight, and we would appreciate your prayers.
*uneventful travel and all connections 
*our 7 minor children at home and the families caring for them 
*our grown kids 
*kaison's broken heart
*health for Clayton, Kayden and I 

And now...

TO GOD BE ALL GLORY!
Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S®6 active, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

In One Week...

It seems like I should have something to say, but honestly I'm speechless.  I can't believe a week from today we will be on a loooooooong flight around the world to a place where our little man waits.

Although we are beside ourselves excited, he has no idea that his world is about to be rocked and everything that is familiar will soon be left behind.

Kaison is grinning in every single picture we have, and I wonder if his little broken heart will allow the same expression a week and a half from now.
We've been praying for him and his broken heart.  And for his caregivers.  Although we knew he will be safe and loved, he can only trust that to be true.  

May he always feel secure, safe and loved.  He will be called son and brother very soon!

To God be all glory!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Even More News - Matching Opportunity!


We have had a very generous member of our community offer a $3000 matching grant!  If you are led to give, you may do so in a TAX DEDUCTIBLE way!  Here's how:

You may donate through our Connected Hearts Ministry site.  Every dollar given between April 20 and May 1, up to $3000, will be doubled!!!!  

We expect TA any day, and our agency, Lifeline, must have all grant monies in hand in order to wire to China.

We praise GOD for His goodness, and for YOU!

Here's the Link:  CONNECTED HEARTS

So Much News!

 I apologize for the delay in drawing and posting the winner of our giveaway!  Here's the thing ~ It takes Lifesong several days to post contributions, and we didn't want to miss anyone who contributed through the last day!

Once we knew we had all donors identified, we drew, and the winner was...


BRANDY PANCOAST!

So I contacted Brandy, and she surprised us by sharing her desire for us to keep the items and use them for additional fundraising!  Seriously?!?
And so here's what we did:

We already had a fundraiser dinner and silent auction planned for April 17, so we included the package in the silent auction!

We are so thankful for everyone who has contributed to our Lifesong matching grant!
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


About the dinner.  We prepared food for four days.  We had decided we wanted to serve only the best.


We prepared enough food for 250 to 300 people.  Our menu was beef barbacoa tacos, Mexican rice, lime cilantro rice, refried beans, garlic lime cilantro slaw, all the fixin's and sheet cake.  The silent bake auction included coconut cream and pecan pies, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon rolls.

*A very special thank you to Kooper and Kayden for helping me in the kitchen!  To Francis for the tortillas, beans, rice and salsa!  To Ginna for organizing the silent auction, serving and baking chocolate chip cookies!  To Becky for running the kitchen and baking brownies!  To Abby and April for making salsa!  To Tina and Ladena for serving!  To Megan for printing fliers!  Amanda for helping clean up.  And to EVERYONE who helped, came to eat, prayed for us, or had any part in this mega event!*
Silent Auction
We had praised the Lord all week for whatever He would do with this dinner.  Once again, we were blown away!  Completely stunned!  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  And to Him be all glory!!!
The grand total was $12,764!!!
Here's the best part.  Because we needed $2600 to fill our $5000 matching grant with Lifesong, that much was sent to them, turning it into $10,000!!!  That means that this dinner actually brought in $20,000 toward bringing our little Treasure home!  We are only $6-7,000 from being fully funded!

Speechless!  Thankful!  Totally in awe!
And now we are waiting on Travel Approval, which could come any day.

Little man, you are dearly loved!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Travel is in Sight...and a Giveaway!


So, here's where we are!  We have received provisional approval, and it has been cabled to the US Consulate in China!  Once the Consulate issues what's called an Article 5, it will be picked up and expressed to Beijing where the CCCWA will process our Travel Approval!

In English, please?

Okay.  We could/should travel in 6 weeks!  As in mid-May, right after school is out!

So, although we've been working like crazy and have been so blessed by surprise gifts, we are still oh.so.short of the funds we need.  As in, $26k short.  There, I said it.  We trust the Lord's provision completely.  We are praying about a few fundraisers we may try in April.

In the meantime, my friend Ginna is hosting a giveaway for our matching grant!
It is an awesome package, including: 
 Tieks Shoes - donated by Troy & Ginna Hulett
Pretty tunic - donated by Mackenzie & Elise (FB group)
And this pretty necklace - donated by Kristin at ViBella Jewelry


We are so humbled and grateful for each of these donors!

So, how does it work?

  Everyone who gives toward our Lifesong/Karis matching grant between now and April 10th  will be entered in a drawing for this package gift!  That's it!

Just go to Lifesong's site and select "Give to an adoptive family."
Then, complete the donor form, and under the "Family Account Number" section, put 5903, and "Family Name," put Johnson.

You can either leave a comment or send a message to let us know you've given...or we can simply check our funding page.  

There are so many cool things about this:
* Your gift is tax deductible
* Your gift will be doubled due to the matching grant
* You will be investing in the life of a child

We are so humbled that God would lead us on this journey to our son, and we are excited to hold him in a few weeks!  Thank you for your prayers and your gifts!

TO HIM BE ALL GLORY!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lifesong and Karis Adoption Fund Matching Grant!



March 20, 2016  
                                                                                                  
Dear Family and Friends,

Some of you know the desire God has placed in our hearts to care for the orphan through adoption. We are so blessed to grow our family through the miracle of adoption. We expect to travel to China in May to hold our newest son, Kaison Joel!

What has prompted us to adopt? Primarily, we’ve felt so clearly directed by God to adopt that we want to joyfully obey Him. God desires for orphans of all nations to be loved, cared for, and adopted into Christian families—ultimately so they can become saved and adopted into His eternal family through Jesus Christ. There are over 147 million orphans worldwide and 120,000 children currently in the U.S. foster care system. It is estimated that less than 10 percent of these children are adopted into evangelical Christian families.

The biggest challenge is not opening our hearts and home to a child, but it is finding the finances to make this happen. The approximate cost for the adoption from China is $40,000. We don’t have that kind of money, but we know God is faithful and is leading us to trust Him. Honestly, it’s a little difficult (because of our pride) to make our needs known to the body of Christ, but realize it is biblical to do so. Your friendship is important to us, and we would love for you to pray and consider helping us in one or two ways with our adoption.
1. Please pray God would prepare Kaison as he leaves all he has ever known as “home” to join our family, and that God would give us wisdom, discernment, and insight as we raise him to know Jesus.
2. An Oklahoma ministry, Karis Adoption Fund, has partnered with Lifesong for Orphans and committed an Adoption Matching Grant of $5,000 to help toward our adoption expenses. Would you please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us meet this matching grant? Our goal date is May 1, but funds will be accepted towards our adoption until the date we travel.
Please make checks payable to “Lifesong for Orphans.” In the memo, note family account number “5903” and family name “Johnson” to assure it goes to the correct account. Please mail to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744.
100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption.
Another option is to give online. Go to www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate. Select “Give to an Adoptive Family.” Complete the online form and fill in “Family Account Number, 5903” and “Family Name, Johnson” Fields.
In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use. Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.

Thank you for investing in the Kingdom through prayer and finances—it will be an investment with an eternal return! Please pray this entire process will glorify God and fulfill His purposes.
Family Name: Johnson
Family Account Number: 5903                                                                                                   

In Christ,
Clayton and Connie Johnson and the entire Johnson Krew    

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

$10 Life Changing Challenge!

$10 Life Changing Challenge for the Johnsons
A donation of at least $10 can help the Johnsons bring their son home from China. This family of 14, soon to be 15, is adopting an adorable 2 year old little boy name Kaison, who has spina bifida. The Johnsons have opened their hearts and homes to God's children many times, and they are excited to do it again! They just need your help to bring Kaison home. A donation of at least $10 will help them get one step closer to uniting their family.You don't have to make a big donation to make a big difference in Kaison's life!
To learn more about the Johnsons, or to make a tax deductible donation to help them bring Kaison home, please visit:http://www.connectedheartsministry.org/…

Monday, March 7, 2016

LOA and other Good Stuff!

It came!!!  Our loooooong-awaited LOA has arrived!


And can you see why we might be just a tad excited?  Kaison melts my heart!




 And... well, you know the saying "when it rains, it pours"?  It's pouring, y'all!

We are 8 to 10 weeks till travel, and we are still raising funds to get our little guy home, so we've planned a huge garage sale for March 18 and 19, and a pre-order Easter bake sale for March 25 and 26.

But we just received word this morning that our family has been approved for a family sponsorship through Connected Hearts Adoption Ministry! 

 We are so excited about this because it allows folks who want to give to do so through a 501(c)3 organization, meaning all giving is 100% tax deductible!  

Connected Hearts will then disburse the funds to our adoption agency, Lifeline Children's Services, once we are close to travel.

We know that God has not lost sight of us, and that He will provide all we need to bring Kaison home!  We praise Him for that, and we thank you for being a part of this amazing journey!

Our Connected Hearts Page is Here!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 1 at Gillette

What an amazing day!  We met our personal taxi driver at 9.  That's right, we've got our own taxi driver :)  Kamish drove us from the airport yesterday, and once he learned why we were here, he offered to drive us to all our appointments and back for a flat rate!

So we loaded into his van, and after putting my back out lifting Kasidi into her seat, we headed to our first set of appointments. 

First, after Katie took all sorts of measurements, Kasidi walked for the special cameras.


Next, Katie and Nancy attached sensors for the special video equipment to record Kasidi's movement.


Katie told me to be sure and use my flash so it would pick up the bedazzle!


Lastly, Kasidi chose a movie to watch for 10 minutes while her resting energy level was recorded.

Then, Kasidi, Katie, Daddy and Too took a 6-minute walk to measure her energy use under exertion.

After working hard all morning, Kas had a short break for oatmeal from the coffee shop, and then Kamish drove us to the Burnsville clinic to see physical therapy.

Again, she worked super hard, and did everything asked of her.

So when she asked for rice noodles for an early supper, rice noodles it was!

Tomorrow we return to the Burnsville clinic for x-rays and to meet the team of neurosurgery, PT and physiatry to get the results of the tests and their recommendation for treatment.

And then we will process all we've learned as we fly home...

Thank you for praying!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One Foot in Front of the Other - No Pun Intended

We are finally here!  A visit we've anticipated for quite some time, and frankly, even feared for some time.  We're in St. Paul, MN for Kasidi Joy's two-day Gait Lab and Motion Assessment at the world renowned Gillette Children's Hospital!
A little background.  We have an amazing pediatric physiatrist back home, Dr. Wright.  What's a physiatrist?  Well, he's an extraordinary doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological, musculoskeletal and orthopaedic issues in children, particularly with cerebral palsy and spina bifida.

Kasidi Joy is super extraordinary because while she was born with a thoracic region meningocele (spina bifida), she has the muscle spasticity of cerebral palsy.  At the recommendation of  Dr. Wright, we've taken every measure from non-invasive medication, botox injections, serial casting, bracing and stretching, to two surgical spinal cord de-tethers, to address the spasticity in her super special legs.


At our last visit in November, Dr. Wright suggested we consider a more aggressive approach in light of the fact this girl is growing by leaps and bounds.  Since her muscles are so tight, they aren't stretching and growing as fast as her legs are, and will likely cause the bones to rotate, leading to more discomfort and extensive orthopaedic surgery.

And so here we are.  Wednesday morning Kasidi will spend about three hours in the gait lab.  She's never been afraid to give her all, and we're praying that tomorrow is no different.  After a lunch break, she will spend the afternoon with the physical therapist for further assessment.

Then Thursday morning we will go over general health history and meet with the team of neurosurgery, physical therapy and physiatrist to receive the assessment results and their recommendation for treatment.  We sort of know in our hearts what the recommendation will be, and that brings new fear.  But it also brings much hope.  Hope that Kasidi's gait will improve, causing her to use less energy to walk, ensuring that her hips are aligned, and avoiding orthopaedic surgery.

We're choosing not to worry about the unknowns.  We'll leave this in the hands of the One who loves Kasidi even more than we do.  He has given her a sweet spirit and incredible courage, so whatever we need to do, we'll put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

Meanwhile, this girl has proven to be a superstar traveler.


And we learned that when the airline loses your stroller, you get to "shop" their mountain of unclaimed strollers, with no upgrade fee :) 

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Your Kids Did What?

Sometimes I forget what a dramatic turn our lives took when the Lord first spoke adoption into our hearts...13 years ago!

I forget the shock when we discovered the cost.

I forget the reams and reams of paperwork we would need to complete.  Oh, wait, I had no idea there would be so much paperwork.

I forget the ache to hold a child I've never met.

I forget the hours upon hours of poring through the Scriptures seeking wisdom.

I forget how 'easy' life was.

I even forget the rallies of the enemy.  Oh, how he battles against us.  He wants us to believe the lie that what we're considering is crazy.  He wants us to doubt our decision by taunting us with the shiny things of this world.  He reminds us of our own weakness and fallibility.  He discourages us with the words of  naysayers: 

*What about YOUR kids?
*You'll never be able to put YOUR kids through college?
*YOUR kids will not get everything they deserve.
*You won't have time for YOUR kids.
*You're cheating YOUR kids.

So many voices, so much confusion, many times I thought how sweet it would be if God would just give us this...



Know what I mean?  A clear path with no obstacles, the knowledge of exactly when and where to go next, and the absolute assurance that it will all end well.

I know that God is faithful.  I know that He keeps His promises.  I know that His Word is true.  But my flesh wants constant gratification.  My flesh cries out, "Will we be okay?  Please, Lord, show me something, anything to let me know the trials are only 'light and momentary troubles."

And then I started to see it.  The manifestation of God's goodness through it all.  The mercy in every tear shed.  The faith grown in walking the trenches of trauma.  The compassion and forgiveness undeserved.  The redemption.

His goodness was seen  not only through the receiving of a child long awaited and prayed for, and the healing of a broken heart, but also in the actions of our big kids, the bios, the three amigos, the original Krew.

Nearly 13 years have passed since we first took a leap of obedience, a plummet outside the comfort zone, a walk on the wild side.  

Since that time, our oldest bio son, Kuyler, and his bride Caitlin have graduated from college, and they love and serve children in their church.  They recently told us they want to do the craziest thing ever in case of the unthinkable untimely passing of Clayton and I ~ they want to be the guardians of their siblings.  All.nine.of.them.  Poor Kuyler.  He has been ruined.

Our second born, Kolton, and his bride Allie are in college, and they have a heart for missions.  We've had the privilege of hearing Kolton testify about the mighty work the Lord has done through missions teams traveling outside the borders of this country.  His heart is moved desperately for children and the difference the gospel makes in their future.  Poor Kolton.  He has been ruined.

Kenzie is in college, and her groom Josh has entered the civilian ranks after serving in the military, and they too love the Lord.  Of the three bios, Kenzie has spent the most time at home with her siblings, and accepted much responsibility in helping care for them.  We've heard people say she probably couldn't wait to leave home, but since her wedding less than two months ago, she has requested her siblings come for sleepovers on two occasions.  Poor Kenzie.  She has been ruined.

My older kids will tell you that although their teen years weren't 'typical,' theirs was the only family visiting the college campus with a string of young dark-haired siblings trailing behind their nearly-middle-aged parents, and life hasn't always been easy, every sacrifice has been worth it.  This is not to our credit.  This is the work of the Lord.

As for my failing memory, maybe it's less forgetfulness and more a sense of peace.  

In fact, we are enveloped in peace as we wait to bring our newest treasure, Kaison home!

When I watch my older kids with their siblings, and when I see them loving others as Christ loves, it brings me to joyful tears.  Family runs deeper than blood.  And they get it.  They get that we aren't given life and breath to serve ourselves.  So little of what we spend our time on really matters, but investing in a life matters forever.

Thank you, Jesus, for ruining this family.


I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:18


Monday, February 1, 2016

Approved - 100% Tax Deductible Giving Through AdoptTogether!

As we anxiously await news of dossier movement in China, I am completing grant applications at the speed of life!

We entered this adoption journey certain that God was in the lead, and trusting that He would provide the adoption costs in His perfect time.

We are diligently praying for fundraising opportunities, spending hours on adoption assistance grant applications, and seeking His direction every step of the way.

We are excited to announce that we have been approved to fundraise through AdoptTogether!

Every dollar designated toward our adoption costs is 100% tax deductible!  It's a win/win!

Take a peek at our page here!


TO HIM BE ALL GLORY!





Tuesday, January 19, 2016

God's Story Never Ends With Ashes!

Of one thing I'm perfectly sure: God's story never ends with ashes 
~Elisabeth Elliot~

This tee can be ordered HERE!

Such truth spoken by a very wise woman!  I am privileged to offer this shirt to help bring Kaison home.  It will be available through January 29th, and each tee sold will bring us closer to our fundraising goal!  Thank you for joining us on this amazing journey.

TO HIM BE ALL GLORY!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Be Kind

I've lost enough loved ones to realize this life is short!  We aren't guaranteed tomorrow, and we never know what it will hold.  I'm not talking about tucking tail and running in fear; I'm speaking of making the most of every day and considering the legacy we will leave today.

We will never regret extending kindness, even when human nature tells us to withhold it when unreciprocated.  

I've been pondering what this looks like as a believer.  
1) Do I love only when loved?
2) Do I forgive only when forgiven?
3) Am I kind to those who hurt me or my children?

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:18

Church, we are held to a standard of living as Christ.  

We radiate joy!  

Or do we?

Would anyone really want to come into our camp?  Are we clenching our fists and sporting a frown while passing judgmental glances...even at our brothers and sisters?

Or are we extending our hand in greeting to everyone we see?  After all, we might be the only glimpse of kindness they get.

Think of it this way:  When you walk into a room of people (not close friends and family, but people you know), do you bring them up, or take them down?  Will folks breathe a sigh of relief when you leave the room, or will they miss your presence?

I know, we all have a story, some written in tragedy, some simply circumstances of inconvenience.  We can't choose our trials.  We can only choose our response.  Do we mourn with those who mourn and celebrate with those who celebrate?

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15

My heart is so heavy over this, and I know it starts with me!  The conclusion I've drawn is that to act without kindness and courtesy is a matter of pride.

It doesn't mean we all have the same passions or agree on every issue.  We are, after all, uniquely crafted by the Father.  We have different personalities and appearances, but one thing is universal: how we treat one another.  

Like it or not, we are accountable for everything we do...or don't do.


After all, we have hope, y'all!  This life isn't as good as it gets!  This is only preparation for eternal life with Christ!  That, my friend, is something to celebrate!



Monday, January 4, 2016

LID!!!!

We received great news this morning that our dossier is logged in!  So now we wait for LOA, which could come in 30 days...or 90+ days.

Meanwhile, we are applying for grants and gearing up for more fundraising.  December was c.r.a.z.y., and we'll soon have the pictures to prove it ;-)  

We've also set up a donations website through Pure Charity.  Know what's really cool about this?  It is an easy way to give, and every dollar donated is 100% tax deductible!  Once the fundraising concludes, Pure Charity will send the proceeds to our adoption agency, Lifeline Children's Services, to apply toward our account.

It is ridiculous that an adoption process is upwards of 40k, but it is unthinkable that that is all that stands between a precious child and his forever family.  Praise God that He is our Provision!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

I just love this color combo!  And I love 1 John 4:18!
I've decided to run this tee concurrently with the other one until December 16!  That's only one week to claim your shirt.  If it's a hit, I can always relaunch it, but in case you want it near Christmastime, I'm promoting it as a short run.

This tee comes in...

unisex
 women's fitted

 hoodie
 youth
 long sleeve
Place your order HERE.
You can still order this tee as well...
unisex
 women's fitted
You can order them Here.

December 16 is right around the corner!
And since you're still with me, why not some new pictures of our treasure...


TO GOD BE ALL GLORY!

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