Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010 Christmas Letter

Matthew, Luke, Sam, & Caleb

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been a year of extreme highs and lows for the Johnson Family.  Among the greatest celebrations was my (Christina) mom’s retirement in late April.  She had worked very hard in her job as the executive director of a lovely apartment complex for retired folks.  She loved her job, but was eager to spend more time with her family.  A few months later, my parents moved to Kentucky.  We were all thrilled to have them close after living far apart for such a long time.  We were enjoying lots of great dinner conversations, lots of laughs, accomplishing a few home projects, and our boys were being spoiled by their grandparents.  It was wonderful.

 My mom became ill very suddenly in late August.  She suffered an acute aortic dissection (essentially an aneurysm of the aorta).  She had emergency surgery and survived three days before she went home to Heaven.  She had enjoyed nearly perfect health all of her life and was a vibrant 62 year old woman.  We were stunned and heartbroken.  Our extended family, our church family, and our friends have loved and served us well ...shining the light of Christ into this very dark time.   The hope of Christmas has special meaning for us this year.  Because of Jesus, we have the promise of forgiveness and a Heavenly home.  We are all stumbling along as we grieve…and are increasingly grateful for a Heavenly Father who is gentle with the broken-hearted. 

Our busy boys have been a source of joy and we’re so grateful.  Sam (7) is excelling in first grade.  He is an excellent student and a well-loved friend.  His imagination is unbelievable, he is funny, and loves all things Star Wars.  We’re most proud of Sam’s growing faith…several big conversations about Jesus have taken place over the past year.  What a precious gift to share with your child.

Luke (4) is enjoying playing the role of “big brother” while Sam is away at school each day.  The twins follow him around and obey (mostly) his every command.  He is a sweet friend to them and enjoys “teaching” them things.  Luke is an incredibly loving little boy and wants to marry his mom when he grows up.  {grin}  He also loves to wrestle, run, flip, jump on the trampoline, tumble, and the list goes on and on.  Luke loves superheroes.

Caleb (2) is the smaller of our twins, by about 5 pounds and a few inches in height.  He is incredibly funny and loves to make silly faces.  He has a very tender heart.   He loves to hug his mom and play with his brothers.  His most favorite activity of all is “wrestling” with his daddy!  Caleb loves music, candy, and his cousins. He has been entertaining us by singing, “Frosty the Snowman” the past few weeks.  While we have learned much about controlling his asthma and allergies, Caleb was briefly hospitalized this fall with pneumonia.

Matthew (2) mastered potty training a few months ago (much to the delight of his parents) and has become a “big boy” in every sense of the word.  He is fiercely independent and can often be heard saying, “I do it by myself.”  I am sure that this will serve him well in the future…however; it leads to some frustration now.  {grin}  Matthew is super snuggly, loves to pretend he is different “characters” (firefighter, daddy, superhero, a puppy, etc...), and enjoys story hour at the local library.  Matthew loves to dance, “play” his dad’s guitar, and does his best to keep up with the big boys. 

Brad continues to work diligently as a student and a teacher.  He is just a few courses away from finishing the classroom portion of his PhD in Biblical Studies.  There are many more “hoops” to jump through after that is finished, but we just take one step at a time.  He is an excellent student and even presented a paper at a theological conference in California last spring.  As a teacher of Biblical Greek, he is loved and respected by his students and colleagues.  In his favorite role of “daddy” he can be found wrestling, chasing, riding bikes, playing in the snow, and reading bedtime stories.  He installed a fence around our backyard this fall – always thankful for “extra security” with the kiddos.  We are outnumbered!

I have come to the conclusion that I am a better homemaker than I am a housekeeper, and I am okay with that!  We love having people over to our home and we do it quite often.  I am growing more comfortable with the fact that our house is never perfectly clean or tidy…but, pray that our guests feel loved and cared for.  My days are spent juggling mothering duties, attending story hour at the local library, volunteering at Sam’s school, trying to keep up with the laundry, and enjoying the occasional date with my husband.  I celebrated my fortieth birthday just a few weeks after my mom’s death…a somber reminder that this life is fleeting and so temporal.  With God’s help, I am learning to love more deeply, anger less quickly, savor each sweet moment with my little boys, and do my best to live well this life I ‘ve been given.  It’s a precious gift.

Each year at Christmas, I am reminded that God chose to reveal Himself to humanity in the form of a helpless little baby boy.  What a strange way to impact the world in such a powerful way – through a powerless infant.  I am so thankful for this strange and amazing gift…and for God’s amazing creativity in providing a savior that I can identify with.  We pray this Christmas you find yourself overwhelmed…not by gifts, parties, and decorations – but, overwhelmed by the goodness of God’s perfect and personal gift.  Jesus.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:9-11