Monday, December 7, 2015

A Short Stop in Amsterdam!

Every year on the way back from India, we try to make a stop on the return flights route.  This year our itinerary flew us through Amsterdam.  Neither one of us have been to this city, so we planned a two night stop.  The Lord provided us a lovely room with a beautiful view.  The weather however, did not cooperate.  It was rainy, cold, and rainy.  Did I mention rainy???  We had just come from India where it was warm, sunny, smoky, and dry!  Also, we had neglected to pack clothing for the weather in Amsterdam.  Our plane landed at 730 a.m. and we found our shuttle to the hotel quite easily.  There was a break in the clouds in the afternoon and we took advantage of this and the terrific tram system.  I would have loved to ride one of the millions of bikes, but the temperature was not conducive enough for me!  We were able to work through some of our jet lag before boarding the plane and arriving back in Ohio the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving!
View from our room.
Bicycle is the preferred mode of travel here.
Even though it was winter, the flower market was breathtaking!
Lovely narrow streets!
Found a true kindred spirit as we walked the streets!
The main shopping square
Their Central Station
More bikes
The Palace
Even more bikes!
I'm smiling, but my toes are numb and I just barely jumped out of the bike path in time!
The life saving tram system of Amsterdam!

Goodnight, Amsterdam!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Whirlwind Life and Staying Grounded!



It is hard to believe that just two days ago we were still in Anchorage, Alaska!  What a wonderful trip we had.  God was gracious and so were the churches in this wonderful state!  We had every need and many of our desires met during our time with these kind and loving people.  I don't know how anyone could live on this beautiful earth and not believe in an Almighty Tenderhearted God!

Mt. Denali (McKinley)


The only bull moose we saw!
She was warning us!
Glacier in Juneau
Landing back in beautiful Ohio!

So, one might think that this missionary family is having some time off after the whirlwind trip to Alaska.  That "one" would be wrong!  Today we depart to spend 27 days in India!  Maybe "one" might be thinking that we took these last 48 hours to catch up on our sleep, read a book, or just visit with friends.  Again, that "one" would be wrong.  I was up most of last night to confirm all the hotel bookings and transportation issues in India.  Randy just completed his reports 5 minutes ago and is at this very moment finishing up his packing for our afternoon departure.  We were blessed to spend last evening with Columbia Road Baptist Church for the first night of their missions conference.  They spent some time praying over us before the service concluded.  We are honored to have had them by our sides since 1996!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

One last thought, it would be easy for "one" to think that the Johnson's have it all together and they are just the perfect people for this job.  I have to say again, that "one" would be wrong!  The Lord has watched over us, given us strength, and guided our decisions.  It would be so misleading to allow "one" to think that anything we do is by our strength and power.  My strength went up and walked away half way through the trip in Alaska.  Randy's strength was zapped as he was fighting a very severe infection that landed him at the ER just 3 days after our arrival to Alaska.  Without HIM, we could do nothing!




Saturday, October 10, 2015

Lift Up YOUR Eyes!

Praise the Lord for His majesty and power! He wants to help us during our most difficult trials!! Go ahead, look up!!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blueberry Vinaigrette


Another Delicious Blueberry Food Creation!!

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
Genesis 1:11


Place the ingredients in your Vitamix, blender, Nutribullet, or food processor in the order listed.

1/2 cup Blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, let thaw so they don't cause your dressing to harden)
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar ( I used Peach infused White Balsamic! YUMMO!!)
2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
Dash of pepper
1/2 cup oil

 Blend on medium until blueberry skins are finely chopped, about 25 seconds.  Serve right away or chill.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Blueberry Muffin

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
Psalms 68:19



Oh boy, have I been having fun with all the fresh fruits and vegetables available at the farm stands around our house lately!  Fresh corn, green beans, berries, potatoes....I could go on and on!  All this fresh produce makes me want to get in my kitchen and create!!  The last two weeks I have concentrated my effort on blueberry muffins and after combining several recipes, cutting the sugar content, and making a couple of substitutions in the "more healthful" options; I have come up with our absolute favorite Blueberry Muffin!  Enjoy and feel free to let me know any changes that you made to the recipe to make it better or tastier for your family!

Blueberry Pickin'
 Oven Temperature: 375 degrees  Bake: 18 Minutes  Yield: 8 Muffins

I use muffin papers as I am very lazy and HATE cleaning out my muffin tins!  You don't have to use paper, just spray the muffin pans.  This recipe makes 18 medium muffins.  It helps with the calorie count, which is 92 calories a muffin.

Stir the sugar into the coconut oil until the sugar dissolves.  
1/2 cup Coconut Oil (I microwave 10 seconds to make sure it is liquid)
1/4 cup Sugar

Then add the rest of the liquid ingredients and set aside.
2 large Eggs - Room temperature.  If you are like me and you want to make this recipe spur of the moment, just put your eggs in a bowl and run tepid, NOT HOT, water over them while you get the dry ingredients together.
1/2 cup Almond Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice (fresh or concentrate)


Mix the dry ingredients and make a well in the middle.
2 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking SODA
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground Nutmeg
Zest from 1 Lemon

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed.  Add:
1 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries or frozen that are a little thawed.

I use an ice cream scoop with a trigger to put the thick batter into the cups.

Last, but definitely not unimportant, the crumb topping:
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup White Sugar
2 tablespoons Flour
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Cardamom
2 tablespoons Coconut Oil

Sprinkle a little on the top of each muffin and bake.

In the next few days I will be sharing a recipe for scones!  YUMMO!!!!  Have a great week and don't forget as we travel this journey of life to "taste and see" all the wonderful things our great Creator provides for us to enjoy!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Mayonnaise and a New Change to My Blog


On Sunday I swallowed my last cancer pill. On Monday I had my last oncology appointment.  This left me in a quandary about what to do with my blog.  Wednesday night after church, we stopped by a friends to drop something off and share a new scone and hummus recipe I have been working on.  She made a comment about maybe I should write these recipes on my blog!  What a great idea!!  I decided that I would also try my hand at making a video.

Mayonnaise is the recipe of the day!  I LOVE homemade Mayo and it is so easy to make.  There are some pitfalls and I have ended up wasting oil and eggs making this delectable concoction!!  I hope this video helps.


Mayonnaise

3 whole eggs (or 5 store bought yoke only)
1 1/4 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 cup Lemon Juice

Set Aside:
1 3/4 cups Oil (I use Avocado Oil)

Place first 4 ingredients into the Vitamix or blender in the order listed, reserving the Oil.  Blend the first ingredients and slowly add oil.  It will thicken even more as it chills.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"Goodbye"



Today I say goodbye to a little white pill.  I am glad to state that I am NOT sorry to say goodbye.  The Lord brings things into our lives that are necessary, but definitely NOT fun or even wanted.  I would not have asked for cancer, surgery, chemo, and the little white pill;

....but God.  

Knew.  

He knew it would grow me in ways that I could never imagine.  He knew it would refine my life.  He knew it would take me to a place of "Unfamiliar Grace" that few people get to experience.  I will NOT miss this little white pill and I am very happy to be parting from it.  However, I am ever so thankful for the new awareness of life this last 5 1/2 years has brought me.  I am thankful for HIS wonderful grace. 

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.  Psalms 34:8  

These last few years I did "taste" and I did "see" that the LORD is good!  If it took the little white pill to help with that journey, thank you LORD!  Let me encourage you to take on this challenge!!  I am blessed for having trusted in HIM and you will be too!!!

Goodbye, little white pill, and thank you!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom, and the Story of Christa.


Today I tell the story of how Christa came to be.  

In September of 1984, I kissed my husband goodbye in Pensacola, Florida, and boarded a plane bound for Minnesota to be with mom during the difficult journey that lay before her. My mother had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  Randy and I had been married 3 1/2 years and wanted children very badly.  My body would not cooperate and Randy's deployment cycle with the Navy didn't always help.  We had decided to take a week of leave and go camping in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  It was just a 30 minute drive from our home in Pensacola.  Our campsite could have been shown in Better Homes and Gardens, it  was so lavishly arrayed.  We were camping in style.  After we set the site up just the way we wanted, I went to the pay phone (no cell phones for anyone back then).  Mom had a doctor's appointment earlier that day for a suspicious spot on an x-ray.  She cried when she answered the phone, "It's cancer.  I already have tumors in the lymph nodes in my neck.  I only have a short time to live.  How am I going to do this alone."  As I hung up, I heard Randy saying, "We'll have you on a plane tomorrow." And with that we packed the entire campsite into the back of the car with the help of the kind couple camped across from us and the head lights from their vehicle.  I was to stay with my mother until she entered a local hospice in February 1985.  On March 9, 1985, at the age of 47, Elaine Knox-Wagner was transported to Heaven.  She had battled her cancer since August and was weary.  I was so sad to see her go, but grateful for the time she had on earth with all of us.  On March 12, we said our goodbyes at her graveside and on March 13 Randy took me home to Pensacola.

The next Sunday came and as is our privilege, we went to church.  Our church family and pastor had been such a blessing during the past months.  When we arrived I was greeted with hugs and tears and.....many pregnant friends.  It seems that spring in Florida wasn't just bringing dogwood blooms this year.  That afternoon as we drove home, I stared out the window and didn't talk much.  Randy didn't push me.  He let me just stare.  I was accusing God, "I asked for a baby and all I got was a dead mother.  How is that fair?  How is that right?!" It seemed I only encountered silence.

"Never mistake God's seeming absence or silence as a sign of indifference or impotence. He waits to be gracious!"  And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, Isaiah 30:18a.  

I heard this in a sermon recently and realized this was what the Lord had shown me during that trial of loss and grief in 1985.

Randy and I prayed about it and determined that we should adopt a child.  In May, our son Eddie became a part of our family at the age of 6.  

Praise the Lord for Eddie, but I still wanted a baby so we started praying and asking the Lord for one.  I specifically asked the Lord for a baby to be born on my mother's birthday, April 24, 1986.  I had it figured out that if I got pregnant in July, the baby would be born in April.  July came...nothing. August came and I thought, "The baby could be a little early and be born in April."  September.....it would be okay if the baby was a preemie.  October, November, December, January.  I knew I wasn't going to have a baby.  Not in April.  Not in May.  Not ever.  It wasn't to be.  October 1986 came and my friend Nan and I were visiting a woman that had cancer.  We were sharing God's simple and perfect plan of salvation.  The woman became a child of the King that day.  A few days later, she called Nan and said that she remembered how I had mentioned we adopted our son.  She told Nan about a baby her sister was fostering and gave her the lawyers name for us to call.  Call I did. 5 times that day.  The first four times I did talk with the secretary.  It turned out that the woman had given the lawyers information to 5 other people.  His secretary told me that I would need to speak directly to him and he was in court all day.  At 5:30 I tried calling for the fifth time!  Randy said they wouldn't be there still at 6:30 eastern time.  I argued the point of importunity:  troublesomely urgent :  overly persistent in request or demand.  Weren't we both surprised when the lawyer himself answered the last time!!  He told me that his office received so many calls that day, he had decided that the first person to call when he was in the office would be the first couple he would consider.  With that, a little paperwork (okay a lot of paperwork), some time, money, and a court hearing: Christa was in our home.  Her birth date?  April 21, 1986!!!  She was our gift.  All the nights I cried, All the nights I begged.  All the nights I despaired.  God was waiting to be gracious.  He was working. Working on a little girl for the Johnson family.

So on my mother's birthday, I thank the Lord for His gift of life.  The life of my mother.  The life of my daughter.  The life of His son that will allow us one day a glorious reunion!




Friday, March 13, 2015

Where has the first 3 months of 2015 GONE?!?!?!

I would say that we had an unusual series of events in our lives from December until today, but in our lives unusual is the operative word.  In December, we found out that Randy's thyroid cancer has returned.  He will be seeing the doctor again this Tuesday to determine what the next step is.  In the same week we found out that Randy's cancer was back, I was given the diagnosis of "Remission" for my cancer!!!  Whoo Hoo!!


Christa was home for Christmas.  She is always such a blessing to have around.  Our own "feet" hit the road when she left to return to Connecticut.  We stopped in Minnesota to celebrate my father's 80th birthday!  This is such a big deal since he suffered a massive stroke 4 1/2 years ago.  I am blessed to still have this time with him.  It amazes me how much self-pity he does NOT possess.  While in Minnesota we had a meeting in Pine City, now one of our newest supporting churches.  We took a longer route through Iowa back to Ohio and stopped in at Easton Baptist Church.  Also, one of our newest supporting churches.  A doctor appointment for Randy brought us back to Ohio for a weekend and then on to the South for a couple meetings.  During our time in Florida, Randy's father was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm.  He will be having surgery on March 25th and we would appreciate your prayers for the doctor's hands and wisdom,


Randy's parents
Pretending we're golfing in Scotland!
My sister and I
We arrived back in Ohio from the South last week and have already had 5 doctor appointments between the two of us.  Besides the doctor appointments, Randy has been busy planning for India, getting caught up on paperwork, and fixing things around the house.  I managed to finish our taxes yesterday!  YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!  I also finished Christa's last evening over the phone.


One last thing before I sign off.  I want to thank my very best friend and lover for the most rewarding and challenging 34 years of marriage.  Randy, you are a true gift from God.  I love you, I love our journey, and I love The God of our journey!!