Saturday, March 24, 2012

Neighborly WOW!!!

We've moved several times as a family - from coast to coast - and have encountered some great, to HMMM (no comment) neighbors.  It's always been our mission to build a community of kinship within our neighborhood.  Sometimes it's more challenging than others, but always, I've learned that when you go above and beyond to be helpful and friendly - ESPECIALLY when they are not being friendly to you; it always breaks the sometimes awkward, or stranger relationship.

One of our more challenging moments...

The culprit of a confrontation...don't be fooled by his cuteness !!!

Our little buddy, Relic (who is really a sweet boy), suddenly developed a desire to passionately chase cute floofy dogs (any suggestions or cures?).

We came upon this discovery one fine day...might I mention we just moved into the neighborhood...aaaand about to make a GREAT first impression (not).

One of our girls was taking the alleged aggressor around the neighborhood.  He SUDDENLY decided to chase our next door neighbor's dog, and almost give my neighbor & her very old arthritic dog a heart attack.

Well, needless to say, the scene was NOT pretty.  I was holding our dog on the ground apologizing, but my neighbor out of her shock continually was yelling very disrespectful things at my innocent daughter, and me.

When I went inside I broke down, and was embarrassed, and an angry Mama at the same time.  At first I thought of all the defensive things I could spout at her - how dare she yell at my little girl...I SAID I WAS SORRY - but she remained belligerent...Oh my feathers got more and more ruffled as I thought about it; I mean, I had a legitimate reason to be angry with her, right?!

After calming down, I knew it was in my power to change the situation. I decided I was going to break the now awkward relationship I had with my neighbor.  You know, fighting the urge to dive behind the bushes when I see her outside.

I put a note on her door saying I really wanted to start over and get to know her under better circumstances, and inviting her to a neighborhood party I was hosting...and again apologizing to her for the incident.  It took quite a bit of pride-swallowing because I felt justified to be upset...but was I, really?

Before she even finished reading my note, she came rushing over to apologize for her behavior.  All it took was an act of kindness to melt the aggression away.  We had a great relationship for the whole time living there - and still.

Then, there are the easier made friends/neighbors...

The catalyst of kindness...a Ginormous Oak tree that shed at least 8,234,975,786 leaves in our front yard.

We moved into this delightful neighborhood that we love...and the first thing we did was introduce ourselves to our neighbors, and purposefully take the time to chit-chat with them as often as we could.

One day, while our family was outside raking the crazy amount of leaves our tree shed, our neighbor, after taking the time to mow his own lawn, came over with his mower, rakes, and nephew to help us with our yard. We of course were grateful, and naturally, we repaid their kindness with dessert ;)

I have one more honorable mention...the awkward head-scratching incident...

We moved into one condo complex that didn't have designated parking, and the day after we moved in, we got a note on our car that read, "Hello neighbor, welcome to the neighborhood - I don't have a car, but when I get one, I want to park it here, so please don't park your car here."

Again, after a couple days of stewing, and wanting to tell her where to stick her parking space...I decided I was going to heap coals of kindness on her head - and brought a gift, and note thanking her for the warm welcome, and have some cookies for the family!

It was a moment for me - because I knew I could have steamed over her rather aggressive note, stood my ground, taken it to the management...but I decided peace was far more worth it than justice. It could have been a rough neighbor situation...but we became friends; and she ended up telling me to go ahead and park where I wanted.  But I know had I dug my heals in, the awkwardness would have remained or escalated.

9-10So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)

I know I'm not alone - I've heard many testimonies of these and other good & bad situations with neighbors (and others) since starting this project (

We  - I say we because I constantly need reminding - need to break out of our routine and be the catalyst of renewing our neighborhoods, work places, and world.

Do I have it mastered yet?  Nope, but our world (these days especially) has been plagued by tremendous offense, anger, and fear. So it's worth my effort.

Can we stop the cycle, stop doing things OUR WAY, and be open to those around us without offense & defense?

Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:2-4 NIV

I live in an area where there's a church on almost every block - and us Christians are supposed to be the ones filled with the most mercy, love, kindness, gentleness, and self control - right?  Well why then are are neighborhoods not steaming with Christ's love all the way down the block, across the office, or in the Walmart parking lot?

Let's make a conscious effort for the next 7 days to show an extra measure of kindness to someone - whether it be a neighbor...or whoever God puts on your heart to build a new bridge with.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Johnson Family's Newest Addiction

From THIS...
I found my family's new best friend...THE CHIP MAKER!


The chip maker turns your favorite fruits and veggies into crispy chips.  NO oil, NO fat - simply slice the item, blot to dry, and microwave for 3 girls LOVE making chips for the family.


Skew the red potato into the slicer, and slice on the thinnest setting.  

I love this simple slicer because your fingers don't go anywhere near the blades (I've grated off many-a-fingernail on other slicers...YES, my coordination needs help at times)

Lay the potatoes on paper towel, blot dry & season as desired.  Our favorite seasoning is a small sprinkle of Hidden Valley Ranch (the packet of dry ranch mix) and a dash of sea salt.

 Arrange the potato slices (single layer - and not touching one another) on the chip maker, and microwave on high for 3 minutes (cook time changes slightly depending on microwave) 

And VOILA!!!!  These chips can be made with many fruits & veggies.  Some of the favorites are apple, sweet potato, zucchini, and of course red skin potatoes.  

A perfect snack to quiet the CARB-A-HOLIC BEAST but not pack on the calories!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Let’s passionately STAY in love

I remember when my husband and I first got married. We spent every moment we could together.  When I worked, he’d come and stay for my whole shift just sitting at my work for hours so we could spend my 30 minute break together...talking about NOTHING IMPORTANT!  When we weren’t together, we were on the phone with one another.

Jeremiah and I really don’t have a sappy love story.  The truth is, he proposed while I was at work by pretending he got into a wreck with my car (he lost some SERIOUS points for that one)!

THEN...the babies, jobs, & household chores come...I found myself once eating a bowl of cereal in the fetal position hiding in my closet just for some quiet time (not that it mattered, because they found me). 


I traded my cute lingerie in for some cotton lounge pants with puppies on them, and fuzzy slippers .

The priority of putting some makeup on,  going on an ice cream date holding hands and talking about all the silly things diminished.  Over time it's easy for the conversation to be turned to, "How are we going to get through...", "What are we going to do with..."

It's easy to become comfortable with our long term relationship, so our energies are put elsewhere (work, sports, chores, kids).  THEN the hero in our spouse fades for endless reasons and the small irritations set in.  The list of things that bother us about our spouse can grow out of control.  Our patience & communication diminishes, and the flaws we easily overlooked when we were "googly-eyed" in love seem to grow.

A few years back, I sat at my anniversary dinner and cried at the restaurant (poor waitress didn't know what to do).  I told my husband, "Now that another year has passed, I don't feel victorious, I feel beat up."  I decided at that time a great marriage was not going to happen on it's own.  I mean, it wasn't a bad marriage, but we weren't as close as we used to be.  I needed to be a far more pro-active participant in giving to my husband.

Giving or Receiving?
I hear more & more about marriages falling apart, and most often, the common denominator is the fact that one (or both) don't feel they are RECEIVING what they want (or think they need) rather than holding onto their vow to serve and love their spouse through thick or thin.  Their "tank" is empty - but we forget that the way to fill it up, is to pour out.

A marriage always goes through thin - But God... "So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. (Galatians 6:9)

 Draw nearer to your spouse through the troubled waters...that's when they need a friend most. 

 When we put effort - over and above the "normal" towards our spouses - ESPECIALLY when we don't FEEL like it, the power of love overtakes the power of offense. Suddenly, the things that irritated you about them diminishes.

- Pay them a compliment they haven't heard in a while
- Buy them their favorite treat
- Offer "intimate" affection
- Hold their hand while shopping 

I discovered the power I held to change the course of our friendship by doing what I know is right over doing what I feel.  

Whether you've been married 1 year, 5 years 10 years, or 20 years...the challenges are the same.

The spirit of servant-hood heals wounds and suddenly the things that bother you fades.