Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grace and Cement Walls

When My Darling David and I moved from Tucson to Mesa, we were excited for our next great adventure. Promises of great wealth from the new company kept us motivated and we knew the many hours that each week demanded would be worth it. After three years of researching antidepressants, I finally decided it was time to start. Too many nights of unsolicited tears soon came to an end and a new journey began. I had joined weight watchers and lost 40 pounds, being thinner than my high school days. I felt great.  As we started looking we had a house that found and claimed us. We knew it was our home. We also knew it would take a lot of work to restore it. Our home needed a lot to be practical for living. When we got ready to move in, and much to our surprise, the bank had painted the inside and the outside of the home. One financial burden lifted from our very limited budget was pure grace. We were offered something we could not provide for ourselves at that moment. 

Seven months after promises of great wealth David’s company unexpectedly let him go. The next morning David was at the temple and by the end of the week he had applied for 35 jobs. Four months into the year we still had no job and things looked bleak. We never lost faith and we felt like we would be taken care of, though the stress of looking forward was sometimes quite overwhelming at times. Here you must note the faith of my Darling David. He is perfect for me. In 11 years of knowing him he has never once spoken an unkind word to me. I do not say that because this a beautiful moment to make extreme comments. The man I married is everything and more that he promised to be. I often wonder how I got so lucky to be his wife.  Through the kindness, compassion, and generosity of unknown givers during this year we survived a year making a grand total of $18, 000. We truly came to understand the things that you really needed to keep on going. 

We kept going. As I look back I see the way that depression crept in. Weight gain was slowly creeping up on me. Exhaustion hit and my life felt out of control. I felt completely unable to help. I know my husband felt the pressure of providing. Our Bishop at the time looked at me in an interview and said “Sister Johnson, you are not going to get a job. You need to be in your home.” He had no idea that I even considered that, but he loved the Lord and he counseled so clearly from above. There were many tears on my side.  But we kept on going. In August of 2013, my in laws came to visit. They are magical. They love to serve and my kitchen was transformed into happy colors. My freezer was filled with freezer meals. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner was ready and clothes were ironed by the dozens.  Often I sit at the table and think about the time and energy they spend loving others. We stayed up late and I was able to talk freely and listen. I came away that night realizing I was conflicted. Not eternally. Not in my faith. Just conflicted in how to fight an internal battle. David’s dad gave him a father’s blessing. Father's blessings are one of the most sacred tender mercies.

2014 was better and after 15 months of being self employed David’s client base continued to grow. Lincoln got baptized and family came to support us. I went through some experiences that were personally devastating. My husband knew. My mom and dad knew. I knew. I read my scriptures, said my prayers, and went to the temple. This is when I realized that depression cannot always be cured with just a little more faith and prayer. Last July, my Dad sent me and my mom on a trip. They knew I was struggling. One day, I remember my sweetheart being in court and so I called my dad. I told him I was sad. I told him I didn’t want to do anything except sleep. He talked to me with the Spirit and guided me. MY dad has a way to cross states with his priesthood power and touch my life.
 My trip with my mom was great. I believe this is a time that mothers wait for throughout the lives of their kids; the time you can be friends; the time you can just be together without any expectation other than you are here for me and I am here for you. I was once again reminded that there are angels all around us all the time. Sometimes, for the lucky ones, they come in the form of our mothers. No judgements. Just sincere concern and love.

 In September 2014, Ana and Bobby Ray came into our family. Two young kids raised in the foster care system. They had both found themselves homeless. They both individually investigated the church and were baptized. Heavenly Father taught me how to reach outside myself and love others how He loves me. The only thing is, is that He is perfect, and I am not. But I am learning. 

 The internal war still and often continues in my mind. I feel sometimes like I am standing in front of a large cement wall with only two picks to use to climb. In my mind they seem like plastic picks that really won’t get me anywhere, but in my mind the logic outweighs this because I have to be able climb using those picks so I know they are sturdier than I think. Some days I feel like I grab those picks and start climbing the large cement mountain. I feel like I make great progress and then I look up only to feel like the little mouse in Cinderella where looking up makes you realize how much farther you actually have to go. To hold on and to keep going is always an option, but so is climbing back down and sitting for a minute. That’s the beautiful thing about minutes. I have sat for many minutes. Sometimes I only make it back to the last place I climbed and then jump down (I haven’t made it far enough where danger follows the jump) and rest (to clarify rest: plead, cry, sleep, don't sleep,) again. Digging in cement with a pick is hard. Making a big enough hole for one foothold; continuous footholds sometimes seems impossible. I have those days; the days where the footholds are not strong enough to get me any higher on my own. The atonement has strengthened me through countless nights of crying and pleading with the Lord to help me. Sometimes He eases my burden by calming my body with sleep before I can even finish asking. Sometimes He keeps me awake and communicates with me when my spirit has reached the point of submission and I have no other choice but to listen to Him.  

Sometimes I stick one more pick in the wall. Sometimes I hold the picks and ask why? Sometimes I cry and tell Him how frustrated I am that I don’t have a demolition machine to just knock down the cement wall where I am sure the blessings I seek are waiting.
 He reminds me to look in the rear view mirror just long enough to see how many other cement walls I have climbed and conquered with His help.

He lets me climb. 
Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it makes me angry. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes it seems it might break me. Sometimes I am certain the climb will never end.
He lets me climb. 

and when I allow my spirit to communicate with Him
He climbs with me.

 I love the Lord. I love Him. I know He loves me. 


Music that has lifted me during the darkness of cement walls:

3 years

I have kind of dropped off the blogging world for a long time. Here's what has been happening.


Lincoln turned 9 on Sunday February 8.. He is in third grade and his teacher adores him. I am forever grateful that Heavenly Father gave us this handsome boy. He made me a mother, a mom, a mama. He is funny and has a quick wit. He is a good boy. He is starting to skateboard and he is pretty awesome.


Henry is almost 7. He is in kindergarten.  Henry is brilliant at math. He is learning to say his "L"s because of two darling twins in his kindergarten class. He LOVES swimming; even in April. He is very interested in his beautiful birth mother. we are grateful he loves and adores her.

 Jacob: Jakey Snakey; Jake is 4. I can't believe my baby is four. He is in the very top percentile for height and weight. He is speaking fluently and we are so grateful for the people that have been placed in his life to help him achieve the goal of speaking.

This is Ana Gonzalez. She has lived with us since September 2014. In November 2014 she decided on her own that she wanted to get baptized. She will graduate from Westwood in December of 2015. She has had a rough life and seeing her now compared to September is just beautiful.

This is Bobby Ray Johnson. He moved in with us in October, and got baptized in January 2015. He got married on February 15th and he has made great strides in his desire to be a good husband and father.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Be Real

Yesterday was filled with many emotions.

But, I should probably back up.

 A few months ago, a dear friend came to me with news of a possibility to adopt. Of course, my heart grew really big with just the idea of another sweet baby; and a boy! We adore little boys around here! We felt as if the heavens had parted and handed us this little miracle-to-be. Birthmom's due date isApril 13th, but has delivered all her other babies 2 weeks early, so more likely March 30th. We have kept in contact with her, and she has been solid about placing this baby. Until yesterday.

I chatted with her via facebook, and she has decided to parent the baby. We truly hope the best for her. We hope that she gets the help and guidance she needs as she starts this new adventure.

And yes, at the same time, we are sad; but not hopeless. In fact it is exactly opposite. We have been filled with so much love and peace from Heavenly Father. I call this the "hard peace," because we don't know to which aspect of this situation it applies; will she change her mind last minute or will we be taken care of if she truly chooses to parent.

So yesterday, there were tears. Tears of sorrow and grief for what might have been. And then there was peace. I went to a meeting last night where I was instructed on how to be a better leader  The speaker, President Porter, asked us a hard question. He said,

"Are we real enough with those we teach (in this case groups of young women 12-18)?"
Then he answered
"I don't think we are."
He taught that trials and afflictions come for two reasons; because of our choices and just because they come. We don't get to tell people that everything will be easy, and simple, and it will all work out according to plans because that isn't the case. Instead, we are to teach that we make covenants; promises with our Heavenly Father and He remembers them. Instead of promising things we hope will come to pass, we are to teach things that are true.

I was filled to the brim with love and joy. My heart aches today, but I know that Heavenly Father has promised me great blessings if I am obedient. I trust in Him. I love Him. I am grateful for the tender mercies He has shown me each day of my life.

I have been blessed with a best friend who stands as a pillar of strength for our family.
I have a valiant 6 year old who loves to read and play.
I have an energetic almost 4 year old, who healed my heart on the day he was born.
I have a 1 year old who brings more joy than I ever could have imagined.

I know that “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”
Jeffrey R. Holland

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Welcome Back Brandi

I used to be so dedicated and so diligent with writing on my blog. Then, life got busy. Who knows when I will be back, but for now, I wanted to post about welcoming a new member to our family. His name is Anthony. He is Henry's birth father. We see so much of Anthony in Henry. Our dear Joanie Girl set up a time for all of us to meet, and we are so grateful for her. We love her to the ends of the earth. Not many I have met have been able to love more completely than our birth moms, and we have infinite gratitude for their goodness.

Anthony is a potato farmer and has a beautiful dog who follows him everywhere. After three hours of eating, playing at the park, and hot chocolate, Anthony said, "I didn't know what to expect today, but I feel like I became a better person today. I am so happy Henry is with you." We love you too!

 Henry on the road trip to Ogallala!
 This is one of my favorite pictures.
 It's hard to see, but they have the exact same eyes. In fact for the last 6 months each time we turn on the living room light Henry has told us to turn it off so he didn't get a headache. It just made me giggle because he is 3 and I didn't think he knew what a headache was. But, when we asked Anthony to take off his sunglasses so we could take his picture he said he had a high sensitivity to light!

 FAVORITE picture of our trip! Love this girl!

 Henry has always loved moving. He rolled consistenly at 5 weeks, crawled at 5 months, walked at 10 months, and doesn't stop. He just started preschool where they work especially with kids who have ADHD. We found out that Anthony was exactly the same when he was young, and he loves being a potato farmer because he gets to move all day.
Welcome to the family Anthony!

Monday, October 03, 2011


First, let me start by saying that I loved General Conference. For those unfamiliar with General Conference, this is a time where we are invited to listen to the words of a prophet of God, and those who serve with him.This conference takes two days, and I am always buoyed up with the knowledge that God has not forgotten His people, and that because of His perfect love, He has given us a prophet on the earth today.
I was struck with many emotions at the same time as I listened to Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk, on Saturday afternoon. As a woman I have enjoyed the luxury of pregnancy, I have longed for more children through the battle of infertility, and I have been blessed with motherhood through the magnificent blessing of two adoptions.

And yet, unexpectedly, infertility sometimes stings. As I listened, I was homesick for pregnancy, which is not a feeling I have been plagued with since we adopted Henry, three years ago. Strangely enough, as Elder Andersen talked about the bearing of children, infertility sunk its teeth in and held on tight leaving bite marks that stung for a few minutes.

I kept hoping for peace as I allowed my heart to listen intently for anything to grasp on to.

As I have contemplated the glorious gift of bearing children, I have felt my heart led to the Book of Mormon, a book which I know testifies of Christ just as does the Bible. In the Book of Mormon we read the prophet Alma's words "and now, as ye are adesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;" (Mosiah 18:8)

Peace filled my heart as I watched the way in which the Lord used the word bear in this context, and in three different contexts of my life.
When I was pregnant, my husband helped bear my burdens by succumbing to hamburgers and cheeseburgers, and chicken three meals a day for nine months. I loved being pregnant, and I didn't know my first might be the only personal pregnancy I was given.  As I have gone through infertility, our marriage has been strengthened, and our burden has been borne by our families and friends through prayer, fasting, and constant support. In the miracle of adoption, I have seen the Lord's use of bearing in a different way. To bear does not just mean to give birth or produce. To bear also means:  

To hold up; support
To carry from one place to another; transport
To carry in mind; harbor

To transmit at large; relate
To have as a quality; exhibit
To carry (oneself) in a specified way; conduct
To be accountable for; assume
To have tolerance for; endure
To offer; render

As I have thought about the gift of bearing children, and those who have not been blessed with pregnancy, or children as of yet, I have felt strongly that there are miraculous ways in which we can take part in the Lord's plan for us to bear. 

As I listened to Elder Andersen's talk, I was filled with such peace; a peace I know comes from a loving Father in Heaven.

As to personal bearing:
In my own life I have been able to assume this sacred responsibility by means of supporting, transporting, harboring,relating, exhibiting, conducting, assuming, enduring, and rendering.

I have been able to hold up and support all of my children, regardless of the way they entered our family. I have been able to render love and compassion to others children.  In these ways, I have borne children. As we entered the world of infertility coupled with the miracle of adoption, I was able to harbor small glimpses of hope that our family was not done and that the Lord had not forgotten my family. In this way, I have been allowed the privilege of bearing. Twice, we have been blessed with responsibility of caring for beautiful birth mothers and assuming the responsibility for the beautiful children they entrusted to our care. In this way, I have been offered the responsibility of bearing.

Truly, I have been given many opportunities to bear.
I believe that  the Lord has provided ways and intends for each of us to bear children in the way He sees fit. To those who bear children through pregnancy, and to those bear children through adoption, or to those who are bearing the hope that they will someday have children, or to those who bear all the qualities of motherhood even without the blessing of a house full of kids, I believe our obedience is looked upon kindly by the Creator of the Universe. I believe that through righteous living we will not be denied any of the promises we desire.

Yes, infertility can sting.
But, I know that the Lord crosses the galaxy to do what He wants us to do : bear

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beautiful Life...

In the last 5 months life has been more than pretty crazy. I remember about 5 and 1/2 months ago not being able to sleep. I knew what I had to do. I felt it so strongly. I had to quit teaching piano lessons. I got up and wrote a letter to my students and then I slept peacefully. 13 days later, after three years of research and debating with myself , I decided to start taking prozac. It had been recommended to me by two doctors, but I was conflicted. (Do I want to take a pill every day, forever? Shouldn't I be able to cope with this on my own?) I am very open about this because I want my kids to know that this can be a real struggle, and if they are ever wondering why they have feelings of sadness for no reason, they do not have to suffer alone. It has also opened my mind to be a lot more compassionate and understanding of others around me. My life has changed completely. I sometimes go to bed with my laundry and dishes undone. But, I play with my kids a lot more, and I have not felt stress like I used to. I have not had any break downs in 4 months. I have laughed a whole lot more, and joy is a word that I feel more and more.
TENDER MERCY ONE: My life runs smoother, I am happier, I enjoy my roles as wife and mother, and I find it easier to be in tune with what the Lord would have me do. I started taking prozac the day before we decided we needed a career change which would require us to move.
TENDER MERCY TWO: Heavenly Father knows me so well, that had I not started taking the prozac before we made the big decision to move, I wouldn't have started. I would have let stress consume me, and it would have been miserable. Intellectually I understood all the talks about enjoying the little things right now, but the world war in my head was so consumed with trying to control things out of my control. I couldn't meet my own expectations, and that constantly left a brick wall that I would run into at full speed.  But, when David and I talked about moving, I was filled with immense peace, and I had no worry.
TENDER MERCY THREE: Had I not listened to the still small voice about quitting piano, I wouldn't have quit. 
TENDER MERCY FOUR: David got a job offers within three weeks, and Heavenly Father opened my mind to moving to Mesa. 6 months ago when we first started talking about looking for a better career opportunity, Phoenix area was not on my list.
TENDER MERCY FIVE: I knew before we left Tucson that two years there had been a short time, but time enough to allow Jacob Ladd to join our family. I will be forever grateful for those two wonderful years I got to take my family back to spend some of our beautiful life in my hometown.

So, we moved to Mesa. David moved 7 weeks before we did, and it was wonderful finally being reunited as a family.


 Jacob Ladd at 10 months
eating everything
 Lincoln Daniel at 5
started kindergarten
reads well
loves imaginative play
Henry Louis at 3
feels peaceful in the water
loves his puppy Molly
loves the park

David is now preparing to take another bar (required by his firm)
he is loving being a subrogation attorney.
Loves working on our home
and taking care of the pool.

I have felt the Lord's hand daily in our life, and I am so grateful for His gentleness, and His kindness in remembering our family.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


This coming Friday, our fearless two year old turns three. He has been such a joy in our family, and I am blessed to be his Mama. A lot of people have a lot of opinions about the rambunctious nature of Henry. If they could only see what I see. I love that Henry is outgoing. I love that what you see is what you get. He is active, fearless, and non-stop. But, he is equally gentle, kind, and loving without condition. I love that he gives me hugs and kisses. When I come home after a date he runs to me and yells, "Mommy, Mommy you are back?" I giggle that he tells me to stop singing so he can have a turn. I love that he wants to crawl in bed with Jacob and sing to him. I love that he follows Lincoln around. I love that he wants to be the leader of scripture study and he thinks he is so funny trying to get us to repeat what he says:

"And "

We don't repeat most of those words, but we love that he knows he is part of our family.

I especially love when he looks at his picture on the wall and when I ask him, "Who is that?" he says, "My Henry." I giggle as he looks int he bathroom mirror and when I tell him to get off the counter he says, "I seeing who is handsome."

I listened and was filled with understanding and gratitude during Lynn G. Robbins talk at LDS General Conference:

"...Could it be possible that you need this child as much as this child needs you?..." (Lynn G. Robbins)

I needed Henry. He came as a tender mercy at a very dark and lonely part of life. The Lord took me in a semi-broken state, and he filled me with sunlight. And the sunlight Henry brings is a daily reminder of how much Heavenly Father loves me. He loves me.

One thing we cannot neglect to mention is our deep and abiding love for Joanie; Henry's birth mom. She is beautiful. She is amazing. She did not have an easy life, but she has defied all odds. On May 13th, she is graduating from college. She is engaged to a wonderful man who we love so much. He takes care of Joanie and he loves her. Joanie is kind, thoughtful, strong, and our family is so grateful for her courage three years ago to make such a selfless sacrifice. We have loved Henry for three years, and we couldn't have had him without our Joanie Girl. (We love you Joanie!)

This year we were so happy to finally get in contact with Henry's birth father. When I saw his picture, it was like seeing Henry. We are unsure if he wants any contact, but it was good to have one more piece of his missing puzzle.

To Henry:
We love you Good Boy.
Tons Bit.
Happy Birthday
Mama, Daddy, Lincoln, and Jacob

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


In the last four months I have received some much needed counsel.
The counsel came from two different people; both men of God who have my best interest at heart.

My dad was first. I have a special relationship with my dad. I know that he is a man of God. I know that he loves my mom, and I know he loves me. So, I took it to heart when my dad counseled me to enjoy my family.
Second, and not long after my dad's counsel,  my bishop counseled me to enjoy my time at home with my family.
As I have pondered this counsel, I have been blessed. Enjoying the monotony that sometimes is everyday life can be challenging. But, as I have allowed myself the humility to listen, I have received great tender mercies from the Lord.

Lincoln has offered me some of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Lincoln made me a Mama. I often look back at the pictures of his birth day, and I marvel at the newness of life; his new life and mine.
On the way to preschool one morning Lincoln told me, "if you do bad everyday you'll be sad and your heart glow will go down to darkness."
It makes me giggle a little but I know it's a beautiful description of eternal truths.

a heart full of happy.

I have had an abundance of tender mercies given to me regarding raising our beautiful, boisterous, and very busy Henry. It is often hard, and almost impossible to find a quiet minute. But, I learned an invaluable lesson one day as I was seeking the Lord's counsel, meanwhile chasing Henry. The thought came, ' Kick the ball with Henry.' Even though I was not on my knees pondering, the Lord instructed me on how to reach my two year old. As we kicked the ball, my heart was so filled with gratitude that a loving Father in Heaven could reach me with a still, small voice even amidst the earthquake. 

Tonight, as I put Henry to bed we had this conversation:
Me: Henry, when you grow up do you want to be Peter Pan?
Henry: I can't be Peter Pan. I can't fly.
Me: You can't fly?
Henry: I can't fly. It's much too dangerous.

Someday soon you will realize you can fly

Now, I am willing to bet that Jacob is the happiest baby ever. He has given me a bright glimpse into the future needs of my refrigerator. At 4 months, he was 17lbs, 8 oz. He loves to eat. He is full of smiles and laughs, and he doesn't cry unless he is hungry. He wakes up happy and laughs at his brothers. He loves the bathtub and he loves to roll himself over. He will be crawling within a month, and we look forward to July when he is sealed to our family forever.
In awe of the world.
So, today I am grateful for the love that these two men have given me through their righteous counsel. I have simplified my life, and have taken more moments to enjoy the beauty that so readily surrounds me --even when it surrounds me at 2 a.m. when they crawl in my bed.--I love my beautiful family, and I could not say all of this without remembering this beautiful day, which we will soon celebrate as 7 years.
Eternally Yours.