"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Acts 20:24

To Tell of His Grace

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Little Over 2 Years Ago............

Brodie and Kennady went to Haiti ~ just to visit ;)  Kaylee Grace had been home for only 8 months and, bless her heart, was still struggling so intensely.......Brodie had made it clear to all of us not to even mention the word "adoption" again ;). Well, you can guess what happened when the two of them spent a week with our church in Haiti on a missions trip!

Within hours of them being at the creche (orphanage) I was getting texts from Kennady about a 3 year-old boy who she just KNEW was ours. I knew she'd fall in love with someone there, after all, all 3 bigs had been praying since the moment Kaylee Grace was placed in our arms that Jesus would "show their dad & mom that we just had to adopt again".

The next day they found out that this sweet boy had a baby sister who was 8 months old.....Brodie texted and even face timed me so I could see these precious faces. He really felt these two were ours ~ I didn't even question it....if his heart was open, I knew it was the Lord.

They inquired about them and found out they were matched. Brodie let the director know if anything fell through we would feel honored to be their family. A week later we received an email that "Kennady's prayers have been answered".....we couldn't have been more excited!

And now, 2 years later.......they are officially JOHANSONS!!!

We would like to introduce........

Jasse & Enna................

We will be adding a "K" name to their name when they get home. We went round and round, back and forth about this. We wanted to keep their birth name and honor their birth parents, however, we had multiple older adopted young adults advise us to DEFINITELY add a "K" name so that they feel like they are "one of us". Our good friend, Belay, (who grew up in Ethiopia and now runs Hope for the Fatherless, caring for orphans in Ethiopia), encouraged us to give them a name we feel the Lord would have for them as they are now under our authority spiritually.

We prayed a lot about this and couldn't be happier to introduce.................

Kaleb Jasse Johanson (5)
We felt led to Kaleb after Caleb in the Bible ~ Kaleb means "Faithful"

"But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it." Numbers 14:24

He is the sweetest soul. He is caring and compassionate and faithful to the core. He gives us his all when we are with him and he absolutely crumbles when we have to leave.

And Khloe Enna Johanson (2 1/2)
Khloe means "Vibrant"; full of energy and life ~ and let me tell you, this girl is FULL of life!!! Everyone who meets her remembers her.....she is spunky and joyful and the giggliest little girl ever!

"I have come that they may have life and life to the full." ~ Jesus.... John 10:10

We cannot even wait to have these two in our arms forever! Even though they are legally ours in Hait, they cannot come home yet ;(  From here the process typically runs about 6 months (more or less) ~ however, the Lord MAY be opening a door for us to be a family sooner :))))).................more to come on that ;)

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Johanson Family Adoption Story

One of my dear friends and sweet mentor, Sharon, asked me to share our story for her amazing adoption blog a few weeks back ~ it was such a great time of reflecting on all our Lord has done in our family over the last few years!!! Here is my post...........

I'm so thankful that Jesus speaks to His children through His Holy Spirit ~ sometimes through His Holy Word, sometimes through other believers, sometimes in the quietness of our hearts when we sit at His Feet and listen.

"My sheep hear My voice, I know them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28. 

I need to sit and listen more often ~ like Mary. Her sister Martha was busy and distracted with serving and Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet, listening to His teachings....longing to hear from Him. Jesus says that Mary chose what is better. (Luke 10:38-42)

I need to sit and listen more. 

Adoption is one of those things that honestly I didn't want to hear from the Lord on. Our lives were predictable and headed in the direction we wanted them to go in. That was the problem ~ I thought I was in control. 

I would have said at the time that my life belonged entirely to the Lord and that I had surrendered all to Him and that was true. Brodie and I would have done anything He asked us to.....but we were in a season where we were too busy to hear. Maybe we didn't want to  hear all that God would call us to. Maybe we wanted to choose our own way. Maybe that's why we just "clocked in" and did our quiet time rather than sitting long and listening deep. Thankfully He is not limited by our desires to control our own lives and He speaks clearly.....one way or another.
Even through our avoiding hearts we did clearly hear the call to adopt ~ He spoke in many different ways and we KNEW it was His plan for us. His plan to give a child a family. His plan to have this child grow up in His Word and His Ways. His plan to sanctify us. His plan to allow us and our biological children to LIVE OUT the gospel first-hand, day to day, rather than just have mom and dad teach them about the gospel.
I'm so thankful that His Ways are higher than our ways! (Isaiah 55:8) I'm thankful that many are the plans in a man's heart but the Lord's purpose prevails! (Proverbs 19:21) We will never be the same and neither will our little girl, Kaylee Grace, whom we brought home when she was almost 3 from China in 2013.

We were thrown into a whirlwind of trauma the instant we got her... screaming, violence, rages, severe sleep issues, failure to thrive, forced eating. We had tried to prepare ourselves during the wait but nothing could have prepared us for the storm our family would enter into for the first 2 years she was home. Our big kids, now ages 15, 13 and 11 were rock stars! 

We saw Jesus in them in true and sincere ways. All three of them traveled to China with us to meet our forever girl and they saw first-hand how our Kaylee Grace had lived for the first almost 3 years of her life. God used this to open their eyes and give them enduring grace for the trials ahead.

If there was any part of us that still held on to the notion that our lives were our own that was now gone ~ to help Kaylee heal, to lead her to Jesus, to be His hands and feet as He made her whole, this would require us to entirely lay aside our lives (I would literally picture myself placing "Jen" to the side of me and imagine the Holy Spirit filling every ounce of me and pouring out of me). 
It would be HIS LOVE that would be enough for her ~ I quickly realized that I didn't have enough love, I didn't have enough patience, I didn't have enough perseverance.....but HE DID!!! What a joy it was to FEEL His Love flow through us to heal our Kaylee Grace. Day by day, little by little, we watched Jesus redeem, breathe life, and transform. 

All 3 of our big kids tell us that this is when their faith in Jesus became their own....no longer was Jesus something their parents urged them towards. Now He was real. The SAW Him, He became tangible and personal to each of them. No one around us could deny that Jesus was performing a miracle right before our very eyes!

It was in the thick of Kaylee Grace's first year of healing when the Lord spoke to us about our next adoption: a sibling set from Haiti. 
Brodie and our oldest daughter went on a missions trip to Haiti to visit an orphanage partnership that our church had just started. The Lord spoke clearly to them about a sibling set that had just been placed in the crèche and He opened every door right away. I trusted entirely that it was the Lord speaking to them as Brodie and I were not even considering adopting again at this point of Kaylee's healing. 

It's been over 2 years since we started the process in Haiti ~ so very different from our China adoption. We've met and visited our babies there a number of times. Such a blessing to get to know them and love on them before they come home. Yet so bitter sweet because it's the hardest thing to leave them there not knowing when we will see them again or how long this unpredictable process will take. 

We praise Jesus for the progress we've made! Lord willing, this will be the year our Little Brother and Baby Sister join our family forever! One way or another we feel this is His Will ~ either by us moving there for the remainder of the process or by Him bringing them home! 
The very best part of the Lord inviting us into this beautiful way of loving as He loves is the JOY we've all had in growing our family and having these beautiful treasures entrusted to us! Such a humbling gift. 

But equally as joyous has been having our hearts and lives transformed for all eternity! What a privilege to be invited by our Savior to lay down our lives! To be more like Him! To have His love flow through us to the least, the broken, the lonely! 

His Word says, "Whoever serves Me must follow Me, and where I am My servant will also be." John 12:26. He invites US in our brokenness to follow HIM as HE heals the lost and the hurting! 
The invitation is for ALL who follow Him! I never would have imagined He'd invite us on this journey - we never would have thought we'd have a large family.....but we can't thank Jesus enough for opening our eyes to those that are lonely and hurting and giving us hearts to love them with His love!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Swimming Already!

We are so thankful for all of the rain Jesus has been giving us lately but we're also enjoying this 70 degree weather ;)
It was a quick swim but they had fun!