Archive for December 2010

Pondering…..   Leave a comment

It is still very dark out this morning even though I have been up for two hours and in my mind I am thinking it should be lighter outside.  I don’t mind, after all, there are only a few weeks left of this beautiful homey time of the year.  My strand of Christmas lights has been left on around the clock and I enjoy every morning their prettiness against the dark windows and then watching the light slowly start to spread behind this wall of glass.  These lights reflect on the windows across the room and it just thrills my heart.  I can’t help it, I love twinkles and pretty things!  🙂

Today we will focus on getting the house ready to party tomorrow night.  We will move furniture and school books and count spaces and wrap Yankee Swap presents and finish soups.   The anticipation of the fun to be had will be our motivation.

On Monday I asked Rick if he would bring home whitefish for us.  We have not had whitefish in months and the girls and I were all hungry for some.  He commented on how uncanny it is that I would ask for fish when the price is the highest it has been in years, and they are not catching a great amount.  If there is one thing I know about my man, he will go out of his way to please me if he is able.  Yesterday morning he walked into the house with a bag of fish and I laughed with delight!   His only request was that I fry some for him.  We are not a family that eats fried food very often so I knew that this would be a treat for him.  This meant someone had to go to town and buy oil for frying, that shows just how rarely we cook in this way!  With our new driver in the house, I had no problem finding a willing runner to go for me.

We enjoyed the fish so much and when Rick noticed I had left two fillets he suggested that I do white fish chowder for New Year’s Eve.   I will do that because I love that man and enjoy making him happy.  I will even leave out the corn so it stays traditional and old-school which is how he likes it the best.   He is worth it  don’t you know!  (Said with a total northern accent)

As I was sitting here this morning I was remembering all the wonderful conversations I have had over the last 10 days, sweet times of fellowship with precious friends young and older…. not old!    We are all on this incredible journey, this God-ordained adventure, and we are all so human!   Not one of us has arrived in every area. But, what I love so much is hearing about the areas where my dear friends have “arrived” and are in peace in certain areas of their lives.  I celebrate  with them and with their joy in that area of victory  and it encourages me, challenges me and motivates me.  I reciprocate by sharing my blessings, and how God has lead and granted grace in my life bringing glory to His name.   Some of the conversations have had moments of tears, or just staring into my friend’s eyes knowing that I am human too, just like them and I feel their pain and their sadness.  I am willing to shoulder the burden in their hearts and to pray for them, holding them up before God, the ONLY one who knows the answers.  Our humanity spills over into tears on my table and to hands stretched across, through the maze of coffee mugs and tea pots to hold hands in tight clenches, affirming each other that in the body of Christ no one has to go it alone.

The gifts under the tree are lovely and show love, there is no doubt about that.  But, the gift of family and friends sharing hearts completely, nothing hidden, emotions spilled out with the truth, well….. that is equally a gift.  Trust, wrapped up in human hearts and shared, equally so beautiful.   I am thankful for these gifts that I have been given during the Christmas time.

I am finding joy this morning knowing that our great big God desires relationship with me, in all my human imperfections and that He would give His best to save me and buy for me a way to go beyond my humanity and mingle with Christ-likeness and the power of His deity.  I stand in awe and rejoice.

It is a new year in a few days.  I am asking God to show me what Scripture He wants me to focus on this year.  He has always done this with me and He has shown me much through these verses that remain a constant focus over the year.  He is good!

The sky has lightened with a pale pink glow to it.  That says there will be more winds coming.  I am glad that Rick said he will pull the nets out after he lifts today.  With bad weather in the forecast and ice starting to build up on the fishing grounds he figures it is time to maybe switch to carpentering!   What a talented man, I am thankful for him!    I am off to accomplish and enjoy this day.

Choosing joy in Him!


Posted December 30, 2010 by joyfulhouse in Door County Life, Family, Spiritual Life

Doggy Photo Shoot, Curtesy of Melly   Leave a comment

Jeni and Jason are the proud, and not so proud owner of Bailey.  I will leave it to you to guess which one is of the two is not so proud!  She is a loved dog and Jeni dresses her up in costumes which are so cute.  Jazmin does not have a santa suit so Melody borrowed Bailey’s to do these pictures.  They turned out so cute!

The good news is that Jazmin and Bailey seem to have come to the realization that they will be involved with each other’s lives and have to see each other now and then!  There were no real scuffles at all this time and although they chased each other, well, Jazmin did most of the chasing, it all seemed to be in fun and without any vicious attitudes.   They were actually fun to watch together and at one point they even curled up together on the couch.  We are not sure if they were just so exhausted from the chasing that they failed to notice their backsides were touching, but we will take it as a sign of friendship!   🙂

The get-togethers continue, as yesterday we had a surprise party for our friend Melannie, followed with a get together here are our house with Cassidy and her mother.  Robyn stopped in with Mia and we played with her while Robyn did Cassidy’s hair and then Annie’s as well.    These are fun days!

This morning my friend Beth from Cal. is coming for breakfast and we hope to take a walk if it is not too cold out there.  I am making a ham quiche for breakfast which will be a treat for our girls, it is one of their favorite foods.  That, with some of my organic wild grape juice should be a tasty meal.

I am also making all the broths for the soups for Friday’s supper.  I make three or four soups for New Year’s Eve to serve to all of our guests and this year  I will make turkey noodle soup, ham and potato, sausage corn chowder and a spicy chili.  Guests will bring snacky foods and desserts and I will put out all of our Christmas cookies in hopes that others will eat them!  If I start today with making the soups, I will lessen the cooking stress of Friday.

One of the things I want to get done with today is sending the thank-you notes for gifts.  I know that this is important and needs to get checked off the list before the weekend comes.

A few business things need to be dealt with and then games and fun must be had for the rest of the day!  These are special days, when we pull out of our normal routines and allow the flow of life to carry us through the hours of the day.  Few demands and agendas, just living life and loving those who show up at our door.

It is a blessing to hear from friends via a visits or Christmas letters.  Sharing joys and sorrows is a necessary part of life and as Christians we can pray, that is the part that we can ALWAYS do for the sake of others.  Over the last month we have been made very aware of the need for jobs for young men and the list is getting longer, and a job needed for a young lady who needs to get out of a hard work place and bad relationships.  We can pray, and find joy in the process!

Yesterday the girls got the mail and I was amazed that we had not been to the mail-box in days and there was a slew of cards and gifts and boxes of candy….  what fun. Our table was covered with Christmas once again!   I enjoyed a cup of tea as I read letters and looked closely at pictures of family and friends, always changing and yet always more precious to our hearts.  It was a delightful lull in the middle of a busy day.

Life is good,

Choosing joy


Posted December 29, 2010 by joyfulhouse in Door County Life, Family

Birthday Girl   Leave a comment

Birthday Girl

Jeni turns 26 this week so we celebrated early!

Jason knows his wife, and the best things he could give her was a party!

He purchased this beautiful cake for her and invited friends over to celebrate!

It is hard to believe that our little girl, our first daughter, is really 26.  The time flies by so fast, and it is all good.  Jeni and I talk often on the phone and rarely go more than a couple of days without speaking to each other.  I am thankful that my daughters and I are really close and want to share lives.  I enjoy hearing about her life as a nanny and how I can pray for her work with this family.  Jeni shares recipes and we discuss spiritual things together and as always I am delighted to hear her heart as she speaks about her life.  Jeni is a worshipper and loves to sing to the Lord.  God is doing such a work in her life of convicting her in regards to worship and I LOVE it!  Jeni is open to the Lord’s speaking and it is beautiful to me to hear here share what He is doing in her life.  We are thankful for her in so many ways.  We are most thankful that she and her husband love the Lord and pursue God and serving Him.  We know that together they will do great things for the Kingdom.  Jeni has a heart for the needy and although we often think Third-World when we hear the word needy, Jeni has found her needy in a million dollar home where two little girls need love and someone they can depend on and teach them truth.  God knows exactly where He wants us to fulfill His call to minister, and sometimes the job description will rattle our preconceived concepts.  God likes to do that!

One more thing…..  Jeni is funny!  Her humor is a riot and she makes us all laugh.  Laughter is good for the soul and she leads her sisters in quick wit and comedy.  There is much joy in that girl and we are glad she spreads the joy around.

We celebrated with friends as she loves a party —

We celebrate a life that God is doing a good work in and using for His glory!

Choosing joy today


Posted December 29, 2010 by joyfulhouse in Door County Life, Family

Christmas Weekend 2010   Leave a comment

Christmas Eve morning we had the delight of a visit from Anna Hybert Wilson, a dear family friend.

What a beautiful group of godly women.  I am blessed!

Friday morning the girls all went for coffee with Anna while I did some last minute arranging in the office, which had become our wrapping station and gift hiding area.  It was a bomb and Matthew was to sleep in there.  That room is hard enough to keep clean as it is our library and sewing/craft room as well.  I dot if functional for Matthew and he did just fine.

We spent the afternoon visiting and practicing for the Christmas Eve service, making potatoes for supper and enjoying folks stopping for last minute gift exchanges.  Rick and the girls had delivered over 20 packages to friends but there are always a few left for Christmas Eve day.  So much love, so many hugs, such richness!

We headed to Christmas Eve service at 3:30 which is much earlier than our traditional 7:00 service.  No naps this year to help relax before the big night!  THe service was lovely and the candlelight added a special glow to the sanctuary.   Lovely worship of our King filled the place and brought much joy.  It was a good thing that the Johnsons were separated around the church as there was only one incident with the candles.  I thought I would have to use my mike and call out a certain young man for blowing out other’s candles, but I didn’t!  Johnsons cannot handle candles without causing trouble, I think they get that from their father!   🙂

We spent the evening at Rick’s parent’s home having dinner with the traditional pickled fish and potato sausage.  We opened gifts and visited before heading home where we popped in a Christian comedy DVD and laughed our heads off.  Great way to ease the tension of a busy evening.   Rick and I headed to bed before the kids every night and we could tell by the morning faces that they enjoyed sating up later than usual and being together.

Christmas morning was relaxing and fun.  We gave the kids nerf guns in their stockings and they had lots of fun attacking each other and shooting each other “in love!”   What fun!   We had breakfast of fruit and Scandinavian coffee cake, pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon and sausage with Seaquist apple cider and coffee.  It was relaxing and enjoyable to have our table full of our precious children and see them enjoying each other.

We moved to the livingroom for present time and it was so much fun to watch the children giving each other gifts and the happiness they brought to each other.  Rick and I are so thankful to have children who are blessed by the gift, not the worth of it or the amount of them, but just the gift.  Gratefulness is a beautiful thing!

Earlier in December, Rick and I had discussed the plans for Christmas Day and Rick brought up the time when we went caroling on Christmas Eve at the cancer ward at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.   My family always served others at Christmas and so this was a Clark family tradition.  Rick wanted to do something like that with out children so we decided to go to the Retirement home and sing for Rick’s Aunt Ruth, and then to visit three home of elderly folks who are shut-in at home and can’t get to church or out to see others.

Johnson’s with Aunt Ruth at Scand

Aunt Ruth was so much fun as she told us stories and tried to steal Annie’s purse and then asked Rick to bring Joyce next time he comes!   Sadly, she is losing her memory in some ways, while remembering specific things in other areas.  Her sparkly eyes are so sweet and she appreciated the singing and sang along with us as well.

On the way to Sister Bay I browsed through the hymnal picking out songs and we practiced them as we drove along.  I said that I did not want to sing O Little Town of Bethlehem because the song is just not melodic to my ears and it has always been my least favorite.  Guess which song EVERYONE asked to sing?   You are right,  O Little Town of Bethlehem!    Doesn’t God have a sense of humor!

Great Grandma Wickman

Here we are at Great Grandma Wickman’s home.  This is Rick’s grandma and she is 96 years old, completely blind but able to live at home still with her son helping her.  She has the sweetest heart and faith, never complains and is grateful.  It was so sweet to bless her day as well, although in many ways she blessed me more.  She knows what it most important in life, our faith, and expressed that to the children.


Annie and Mandy rode in Mandy’s car while we piled in the suburban for driving around.  Melody took command of the back seat!

After caroling we headed home for a turkey and Swedish meatball dinner.  Visitors stopped in for coffee and we added chairs around the table and had a wonderful time.


One of our visitors was little Andrew, grandson of Jeff and Betty.  He loves blondes and at seven weeks knows how to do the big eyes and grin to make the girls go crazy!  So cute!

Nerf ambushes, relaxing, fellowship, sweet times.   Christmas day was wonderful.

Sunday morning was the usual rush even though we did not have to be to church until 10:00 due to no Sunday School.  So many beautiful heads of hair to have styled!   The worship was good, Pastor preached on the pillars of Christmas that we must believe in as in the virgin birth of Jesus, while explaining that some concepts of Christmas are not Truth based as in the Immaculate conception.  That is a term I have heard but not understood completely and I was so glad that he explained it to us.  Pastor knows the scriptures through and through as he is a scholar in Hebrew and Greek.  There is no scripture anywhere in the infallible Word of God that says that Mary was without sin.  So glad to know that  because I want my God to stand alone without a human counter-part.  Would that not wreck the Trinity and so many teachings of the Word if it were to be true?  So thankful that the Scriptures are iron-clad in Truth and complete, not needing any human add-ons!   God is good.

We closed the service with Twila and I playing the Hallelujah Chorus!   What powerful words to glorify our God.  Folks had tears running down their faces as they worshipped along with the music.  God’s glory is timeless.

Made it home to watch the Bears game, well some watched it while I made our lunch.  I was proud of Rick and Jason, each passionate about their teams but Rick was a gentleman and did not become too vocal in cheering against the Bears, who’s loss would benefit the Packers!  My man had self-control!   The Packer game was next and went well.  Matthew and Jason headed out on snowmobiles during part of the game and had a great time.   Although those sleds can top 100 mph, Jason said he kept it to around 70,  and I THANK YOU Jason for doing that!

Here are the guys just back from their first ride.  They had so much fun!  To clear things up, the Ski-doo is not ours but a good friends, Ski-doos are the subject of much trash-talking in our home and we would not want anyone to think we had stooped to buying one of them!


Jason had so much fun that he wanted Jeni to go out with him on the sled.  He came in the house, went into the livingroom and over to Annie, calling her Jeni and asking her to go our for a ride on the snowmobile!

Obviously Annie got a big kick out of this.  I did not get a picture of Jeni’s reaction, but she did NOT get a big kick out of her little sister confusing her husband!

The funny thing is that I had just been in the living room and had looked straight at Annie and called her Jeni while asking her a question,  and I am their Mother for crying out loud!  They were both in Packer jerseys which made them more similar than usual.

Jeni declined the offer and Jason went out again and had a blast.


Watching the game together, lots of fun, especially when the Packers win like they did.

The only bummer of the weekend was that Mandy had to leave early to be at work.  She left mid-afternoon to get back to Appleton.  She was missed but it was a treat to get to be with her all day Saturday.  She got in late Friday night so it was great to see her for two nights.  She is a busy lady with her new position and

Miami Weather Forecast…… HA HA HA HA   Leave a comment

Almost every morning I check the site, NOAA weather, and  Being a commercial Fisherman’s wife, this is very important.  It gives me things to talk about with Rick while we have our 5:15 a.m. coffee.  I can throw out a statement like,”I see we are supposed to get lots of wind on Wed.” and ” looks like lots of snow is expected by Friday.”  You know, important things like that!   We also have marked on our weather site the weather for Culleoka and Miami since we love people in those two places and since we get up a whole lot earlier than them, we can warm them of weather disasters heading their way!   It has been interesting to watch the weather the last month.  Two or three times recently we have seen temps for Culleoka at 15-20 degrees while we here in Wisconsin have had 20-25 at the same time!   This morning I checked the weather as all good fishermen’s wives do, did I already say that?  The girls were listening as I told them what the next few days might be for us and then I noticed an alert for Miami.  Thinking it might be a hurricane, very late in the season hurricane, I clicked on it.  Here is what we read.

Wind Chill Advisory for Coastal Miami Dade County, FL

Issued by The National Weather Service

Miami, FL
2:24 pm EST, Mon., Dec. 27, 2010






Wind Chill ?????   I am sorry, we are Northerners, used to cold sub-zero temps and windchills in the double digits BELOW zero.  Windchills that demand more than hats and gloves.  And so we cracked up!  This was too funny to us!  It reminded me that that people acclimate and of the time that my sweet sister called a few years ago while wearing her down parka because they were having a bonfire due to the the weather dipping to a low of 60 degrees!  Who knew the weather report could bring such humor!




Posted December 27, 2010 by joyfulhouse in Door County Life, Family

The Heart of a Child   Leave a comment

First off, I want you to know that Annie was not sure about my blogging about this.  She does not want to seem to be bragging, and so I want you to know that she is not bragging here.  We are simply documenting our family’s life and that includes selfless acts that I find out about, because sometimes I do not know what my children are up to, even for the good!

This was Annie’s first year of summer work.  She worked three jobs and worked very hard.  It was her first year cleaning which is such hard work, I know because it has been my life long work as well.  Annie received tips in the rooms for her work and would often comment on how much her tips were day to day.  Unknown to us, she had collected and saved quite an amount of tips by the end of the summer.  Her grand total was just a few dollars short of $300.  At the beginning of November she asked for a World Vision Christmas Catalog so she could purchase a few things for others.  I still did not know the total amount as I showed her the catalog.  My heart was overwhelmed when she came back a few days later and had chosen her gifts and then explained about saving all of her tips so that she could bless others this Christmas.  She would have loved a new IPOD, a newer and cooler phone or new clothes, but chose this instead.  Hard earned money to be used for others.

Annie chose to buy:

Bibles for those who have none

Financial support for orphans and widows

13 farm animals to help some families care for their needs

Financial help for children with disabilities

Financial help for aid for girls who have been sexually exploited

This week she received cards thanking her for what she had done and as she read the cards to me, my eyes filled with tears, as did hers.

Tears of satisfaction and finding joy in doing what God has asked you to do.  My tears because she has caught the vision of her father, who gives and gives to those who have less and has always supported children from around the world, how satisfying as a parent to see your children finding and knowing the joy of giving in faith and obedience.  Her tears because she knew she had done the right thing and was so deeply happy that she could bless and find true satisfaction in the giving.

That moment in the kitchen will always be frozen in my mind as one of Annie’s  defining moments.  Her heart will forever have a place for the poor and needy, just as her siblings before her, and God will use her beautiful heart to bless the needy all the days of her life.

So much is in one’s heart

So glad to see what is in our Annie’s heart —

We are blessed


Posted December 24, 2010 by joyfulhouse in Door County Life, Family, Spiritual Life

Christmas Eve Morning   Leave a comment

This was our view the other morning as the night before we had received a beautiful snowfall.  We are so happy for the snow because it has been a few years since we have had so much snow for Christmas.  Being a northern girl, I need to have snow for Christmas.  This picture was taken around seven in the morning and shows the slightly pink sky just beyond the evergreen line.  What a beautiful place I live in!

It has been a full and busy week with cleaning and last minute shopping and then wrapping of gifts.  We ended up in Sturgeon Bay yesterday after Melody’s violin lesson.  It was a busy little town with parking lots full of last minute shoppers.  I needed to make some copies of pictures and started at Walmart since it was on the side of town where I was grocery shopping.  After going through the whole process on the machine and being read to press print, the dear older man in charge of the area of the store came over and said that the printer was putting spots on the photos.  I knew I had to cancel and try somewhere else.  I could see the stress in the man’t face as other shoppers were being so rude to him..  I canceled and we headed across the bridge to Walgreens.  They have two machines but wouldn’t you know, there were two men there already using the machine and preparing to print over 350 pictures.  I wanted to question the person at the counter as to whether THAT was even allowed…..  but, it is Christmas and so  I headed out the door to Target, where they have one machine and my chances would not be good for getting in.  God is good, as always, and the machine was open and I got right up there and got my 50 pictures printed and it went fast!   By this time I was an hour behind in my time frame but still ran to the grocery store and stocked up on all that we would need for the coming weekend and week.  I had Annie and Melody running a cart and I would give them a couple items to go get, they would come back, I would send them for more…..  you get the picture!   In the checkout line I realized I did not have the proper “card” for this grocer but the sweet lady behind me let me use hers to the savings of over $20.   The best part of the grocery store visit was when we were leaving. I headed out ahead of the girls to unlock the car and they both were coming behind me with the two carts.  I heard a couple say to the girls, “Happy Holidays” to which my girls, now riding on the back of the carts, sang out cheerfully and in unison, Merry Christmas!  I ducked out of the way as the blondes flew past me on their carts and then we packed up the car and headed for home.

This is my friend Sandy who always brings Rick his favorite chocolate cookies.  I am forgetting the name, but I have not had any coffee so that is why!    Sandy always asks Rick to share, and then the girls attack  🙂    This is love.

This is the group of Children whom Kristi directed for a Christmas concert at our church.  Kristi and the children did a very beautiful job.  Those young boys all did solos and sounded good!   We may have an awesome worship team in 10 years.

So the stockings are all hung well, since we have a woodstove there is no mantle, so they are laid in front of the TV.  The menu is planned with Rick and everyone giving a hint to what they want to eat.  The cookies still need to be frosted, the office cleaned for Matthew to sleep in, a few more presents to wrap and I need to practice the Hallelujah Chorus with our organist this morning and then we will settle in for a weekend of blessing our Lord and blessing each other.

Here are our plans:

Today — the above mentioned list as well as baking bread and a few of the dishes for tomorrow.  I am on the list for potatoes for tonight’s supper at Gloria’s.

We will have our Christmas Eve service at 4:00 this afternoon where Kristi and I will sing on the worship team, Rick will run sound, Annie will run the projector, and Melody and Matthew will make sure Jeni behaves with her candle.  Being that we are all separate, it should be the best behaved group of Johnsons that the church has seen in years at this service!!

After church we will head over to Rick’s parents for supper and opening a few gifts.

We have traditionally had our service at 7:o0 so this year will be different with having  the service earlier.  That means that the rest of the night will be all new but I have a feeling that Rick will want to be home by 9.   I have told the family that I am making fruit soup and oyster stew to have at midnight tonight to celebrate our European roots.  All of the sudden they all claim to be Mexican!   What a group I have, and love dearly.

Christmas morning the children will open their stockings as they wake up.  I am sure I will be up already but one can dream of sleeping in!

We will have a big breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls eggs, bacon, fruit and sparkling juice.  With coffee in hand we will meander to the living room and gather for the reading of the Christmas story and prayer, then the opening of gifts between each other. This takes time as there are many of us.  I always enjoy watching Rick as he watches his children and enjoys their happiness at receiving presents.  He is a giver and it blesses him to give to his children.

By then there is usually a wrapping paper war that everyone gets in on and eventually the paper scraps are gathered and thrown away, although I will find Christmas wrapping paper for a week!

This year we will get dressed and head to do caroling for the shut-ins from our church.  We have five on the list to go to and I would imagine it will take well over an hour.  The plan is to come home to a not dinner of turkey and meatball, mashed potatoes and wild rice casserole, green bean casserole, fresh rolls, rice pudding, italian bread, salads and healthy veggies.  Then, I am sure, they will head outside to snowmobile and have lots of fun.

It will be a full weekend, and we will feel blessed and thankful for Christmas.  Where would we be without Christ?

Choosing joy


Posted December 24, 2010 by joyfulhouse in Around the house, Door County Life, Family