Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions

When most people approach the New Year's holiday, they look forward - they make resolutions, put the past behind them and focus on starting fresh. Those things can be very good and very healthy; sometimes hitting a milestone like the change of the year can challenge us to make important life changes or set goals that can move us in the right direction. I tend to be a very forward-thinking person (being the planner that I am), so usually I follow along and think ahead at this time of year.

Right now, however, I am finding myself looking back more than looking forward. 2010 was an important year in our lives and God has been teaching me to depend on Him in new ways this past year. Rather than only focusing forward, this new year's I want to resolve to remember. I want to look back on 2010 and hold fast to what I've already learned. I want to build on what's already begun and avoid the tendency to forget. I so easily forget God's faithfulness in my life, the changes He has begun in my heart, and his sacrifice that should transform my life and actions each day.


Looking back on 2010, here are some highlights from life and learning that I especially want to remember in the coming year...


  • Nate and I celebrated our 1-year wedding anniversary. The first year was fun, challenging and full of lots of learning! We love being married, but we also learn new things about marriage and each other every day. If we do not become complacent, this learning will continue for a lifetime.

  • We took the leap of faith and began the first steps to apply to serve with WorldVenture back in April. We hit some snags early on and the process felt slow. God taught me more about trusting Him and trusting in His timing.

  • We moved to a new apartment...again. The constant transition of living in 4 apartments over the last 4 years (both before and after marriage) has helped us to hold loosely to our immediate circumstances and hold more tightly to God's constancy in our lives.

  • We had a few opportunities to travel, rest and relax...Door County in March, Grand Cayman in June, and a few other short trips. We continue to value the importance of getting away and resting. Even when this will be more difficult down the road, we will continue to make this a priority to care for our souls.

  • We were accepted to WorldVenture and appointed to Austria in November. What we had been anticipating for years finally is becoming a reality. Now the real trusting begins! Since appointment, I have been learning patience as the process slowly gets underway and doesn't always go as quickly as I would like.

I look back on 2010 and am thankful for what we've learned. In 2011, I resolve to remember these things and continue to build on them.

[image courtesy of newyearseve.com]

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Climbing

We're spending Christmas with my family (Bethany's) in Atlanta at my brother's house. This morning, the whole family piled into 2 cars and went on an adventure to the climbing gym. It was really fun for Nate and I to see the kids try out something new that we really enjoy. All four kids (Meg - 8, Nate - 6, Kate - 4, Caleb - 3) got on the climbing wall and did a great job! Meg was especially impressive, making it to the top on several difficult routes (a 5.7+ and 5.8).

Watching the kids fly up the wall made me think about the fearlessness of children. There are times when I see a resilience and boldness in kids that I think we lose as adults. As we get older and learn more about the world, we learn that there is a lot out there to be scared of and sometimes that holds us back from taking risks. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to being young, naive and fearless.

Stepping out in faith (or climbing a tough route) forces us to confront our fears and really ask the question, "Do I trust God?" As we begin our journey to Austria, a lot of fears and unknowns creep into my mind. How long will it take us to get there? Will I ever be able to learn a new language? What if we are there for years and never really make an impact? My prayer is that as I acknowledge and confront these fears and learn to trust God more through this journey, I exhibit the fearless, trusting faith of a child.


"People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them." - Mark 10: 13 - 16

Photos from the climbing gym...


The four kids, climbing next to each other.


Nate sends a 5.9 route.


Looks like the siblings are racing up the wall!


Caleb, Kate, Nate and Meg

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Waiting

Most people who know me well know that I don't like to wait for things. Unfortunately, this has been a pretty consistent part of my personality since I was young (and I'm sure my parents would agree with that statement).

I remember a time when I was about 8 or 9 years old when I wanted a keyboard for my birthday. I went to the store with Mom and Dad to pick one out and there were two options: one keyboard had the best features (it could record to cassette tape and had all these fancy instrument options on it), but I would need to order it that day and wait a few weeks for it to arrive; the other keyboard wasn't quite as nice, but I could walk out of the store with it that day. I bet you can guess which keyboard I chose. And about a week later, I remember being disappointed that I didn't wait and hold out for the better option.

For me, that memory has always represented my struggle with delayed gratification. Even when I know it's best to wait and be patient, it doesn't come naturally. And working in the corporate world and the events industry hasn't made this part of my personality any better! "Corporate America" has trained me even more to make things happen NOW and to expect responses and action to happen immediately.

All this to day, God has been challenging me to wait on Him and His timing. Since we were appointed with WorldVenture in November, I have been eager to jump in to raising our financial support, getting the word out about our ministry, and making progress towards getting to Vienna. But instead, I have had to spend time preparing, reading, and waiting for those steps to happen at the right time...which is not yet.

I was struck recently when I was thinking about Psalm 40:31 - 32, which says, "they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (ESV) The Bible does not say "they who wait for the Lord will just barely make it through" or "they who wait for the Lord will grumble and survive". Instead, it says that waiting helps us grow and be strengthened. It develops perseverance and endurance.

At a time when we are reflecting on the birth of Christ, I am reminded all the more to trust in God's timing. If the God of the universe can miraculously bring his son into the world to save us, just when the time was right, how much more is He in control of my life and this process that we're going through? How could I not trust a God who has already been victorious and accomplished miracles?

May we all learn to trust God and wait on Him more each day. His timing is perfect!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vision Trip to Vienna

We have just begun planning a 2-week visit to Vienna in April and even though it is still a few months away, I'm getting excited about our time there!

We will fly there the day before Palm Sunday and will spend two weeks over the Easter holiday with the WorldVenture team. The focus of our trip will be casting a vision for our long term ministry. First, we'll attend a 4-day retreat with the other missionaries, where we will build relationships with our future teammates and gain a deeper understanding of ministry already taking place. These will end up being longstanding friendships and meeting them for the first time will be exciting!

After the retreat, we’ll spend 10 days in Vienna. We'll get to see and visit a variety of churches that we will serve when we move to Austria and our time there will help us to understand the spiritual needs and challenges in a more in-depth way. We will also spend time taking photos and video to share with supporters back in the states.

Although each of us has visited Vienna before, these 2 weeks will be crucial in helping us to lay a foundation for our longterm ministry. I'm thrilled at the opportunity to experience the city together for the first time and to make new connections that we can continue to cultivate over the next year so that by the time we arrive in Austria, we will have already gained some ground.

To fund the trip, we need to raise $3,000 to cover (2) roundtrip tickets and other expenses. We still have a few months to reach out to family and friends for support and we're praying that God would provide. If you would like to partner with us by making a financial donation, you can click here, and choose “Johnson, Nathan & Bethany” from the drop down menu.


Please pray...
  • for the logistics of the trip - that they come together and that we are wise in how we lay out our 2 weeks there
  • that we are able to connect with the right people when we are there
  • for the financial resources for us to book our tickets in a month and for additional provision to fund the trip

Monday, December 13, 2010

Planning...sort of

One question that we get asked a lot is "what's your timeline?" or "when are you leaving for Austria?" Usually, this opens the door for us to share with friends and family what the process looks like for a missionary getting to the field. This process is a lot more complex than I think I had originally imagined and as we move along this path, we learn more and more. Being the planner that I am, it has been important for me to have a (rough) time line in place...but I am also being challenged to be patient and hold to the plans loosely, knowing everything is ultimately in God's hands.

So, without further ado, here is our approximate time line from now until we (hopefully) get to Austria:



  • Now: We are completing required reading for WorldVenture, preparing our communications materials, and informally talking to people about our plans.

  • February 3 - 6: We go to WorldVenture headquarters to complete Partner Development Training, where we learn about how to go about raising money for our ministry.

  • February 7: We begin sharing our story more formally and raising our financial support and finding prayer partners.

  • March 8: Bethany ends full-time employment to focus on raising support and communications with partners (handling administrative stuff)

  • July 1: We finish up our time in Wheaton, IL and move to Minnesota. (This involves selling our furniture and putting our other belongings in storage.) We spend a few months in Minnesota meeting with friends and family and raising support at Friendship Church, where Nate grew up.

  • October 1: We wrap up our time in Minnesota and road trip out to Connecticut, stopping in Ohio and a few other spots along the way to see friends and family. We spend a few months at the Covenant Church of Easton, where I grew up, and with friends/family in CT.

  • Fall: When we reach approx. 60 - 80% of our support, we attend a 6-week cross-cultural living and language acquisition training in North Carolina.

  • Mid-January 2012: We attend WorldVenture's Renewal Conference, where we connect with WV staff and missionaries and spend a few days worshiping together.

  • January 15ish, 2012: We wrap up our time in Connecticut and road trip down the east coast, visiting friends/family in Virginia, DC and Nashville. We end up in Atlanta and spend a few months with my brother and his family (raising support down there, as well).

  • March or April, 2012: We see where we are at with financial support. If we are close, we begin preparing to leave. If not, we start the circuit again and meeting with more potential donors.

  • Sometime in the Spring of 2012: We are shooting for departure for Austria around this time. We can leave the country as soon as we have our support raised and we complete a week of final pre-field training at WorldVenture.
The transition seems daunting at time, but I am at peace knowing that as we approach each step of the process, God will be gracious to prepare us and provide for us. He knows our needs even more than we do and He knows what He wants to teach us as we venture out in faith.

I hope this time line answers some questions! Disclaimer: All the dates and plans are subject to change, if God decides to change them :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Look Mom...I'm a radio star!



When we were in Colorado at WorldVenture, we were interviewed by Hans Finzel, the organization's president, about our decision to serve God in Austria. It was a really fun experience to participate in a radio show recording in a studio - complete with fancy microphones and headsets (the production geek in me definitely came out...) But beyond that, we enjoyed putting into words our experience being led to missions and the need we see in Austria.

Our interview was edited and posted as an episode of WorldVenture's on-going podcast, Missions on the Frontline.
You can listen to the final version here: Mission on the Frontline - 12/1/2010

Comment on this post to let us know how we did! And please - be nice :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why Europe?

GemStone Media of Greater Europe Mission recently created this brief 50-second video about the spiritual need in Europe. Though the video is simple, I think it points to an important fact that is sometimes overlooked - Europe can be considered "post-Christian". There are churches on every corner, but most are tourist attractions. There is very little evidence in Europe of an understanding of what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Europe didn't used to be seen as a mission field, but that is slowly changing. I am encouraged that the need is Europe is being spread and that other missions organizations are sending workers.

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Luke 10:2

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WorldVenture Appointment Service

As part of our 2 weeks at the WorldVenture headquarters last month in Littleton, CO, Nate and I participated in an "appointment celebration service". All of the newly appointed missionaries were given the opportunity to briefly share their story with the WorldVenture staff, family, mentors and some retired missionaries living in the area. It was a wonderful time to celebrate God's work in the lives of each of the new missionaries and pray for the journey ahead. Our appointment class of 15 people are headed all over the world - Africa, Europe, and southeast Asia - and it is exciting to think about where we will all be in a few years time.

Here is a video from the service, including an introduction from Linda Gawthrop (from the HR/recruiting department of WorldVenture) and our 3-minute presentation:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankfulness and Other Things

Today is Thanksgiving and we had the traditional meal with the family.  We ate turkey (and my fav stuffing), we watched football, we looked at Black Friday specials in the paper, and we watched grand kids dance or walk around in the center of the circle - all the important thing.  It was a special time! (I have included some pictures after the jump)


One thing I heard, that is something you really only hear around this time of year - Happy Thanksgiving!  It is a great encouragement to enjoy being thankful!  


I don't think I spend enough time being thankful, so with that in mind here are 5 things I am thankful for based on today's adventures...



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thoughts on Austria...

It's finally official - Austria is the country! For the last few years as we've been preparing for this major life transition into missions, we were moving towards commiting to moving to Austria. However, I was purposely holding back until it was official. I know myself well, and I know that when I get excited about something and it doesn't pan out, its really hard for me to let go and move on. So until Austria was officially the country to which we were being sent, I completely held back on letting myself get "emotionally attached" to this new nation. I didn't research it, I didn't look at it on a map, I didn't teach myself anything new about Austria.

Now that we know we are going to Austria, I've begun educating myself. Here are a few things I've learned...


1. The official language of Austria is german, but I have heard from the missionaries that live there that the german spoken in Austria is slightly different than that which is spoken in Germany. Austrian german is a bit of a dialect.


2. Austria borders Italy. I am horrible with geography and until a few weeks ago, all I knew was that Austria was somewhere in central Europe. Now I know that Austria borders Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Switzerland and Lichtenstein to the west, and Slovenia and Italy to the south. I absolutely adore Italy (only been there once and can't wait to go back) and I'm excited to be so close to gelato, tuscany, and Cinque Terra.
3. The Austrian flag looks like this. I embarassed myself when we were out in Colorado when I saw this flag on someone's paper and asked "which country is that?" When they told me, "Austria", I quickly backpedaled and explained that I still had a lot to learn about the country I am moving to :)




4. The spiritual need in Austria is huge. I had a sense of this going in, but the more people I talk to who live in Austria, the move amazed I am at the spiritual darkness that exists there. Things like alcoholism, abortion and suicide are prevalent, and Austria is becoming a hub for sex trafficking from eastern European nations. The population is less than 1% evangelical Christian. Most Austrians appear indifferent to religion and spirituality, and others are dabbling in the occult or converting to Islam. Living and doing ministry there will be hard and slow.

That is only the beginning. I have so much to learn and I am excited to see how God will shape my heart with a love for this beautiful, culturally-rich nation.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We have been appointed as missionaries to Austria!

It's official! On November 2nd, we completed our final interview and were officially appointed as missionaries with WorldVenture, on our way to Vienna, Austria. We are thrilled that our journey is just beginning and are excited at what God has in store for us!

(And to prove it is official...check us out on the WorldVenture website, with an official personal ministry profile!)

After we completed our in-person interview, we spent 2 weeks at WorldVenture's headquarters in Littleton, CO for our first training session. We laughed, prayed, ate a lot of food, digested large amounts of information, cast a vision for the coming months, and bonded with a great group of 13 other appointed missionaries preparing for the field. It was a memorable time! (Photo highlights can be found below.)


We would appreciate your prayers as we begin preparing for the field. Please pray...
  • that God would draw us closer to Him as we experience significant transition and times of uncertainty
  • for protection against discouragement and weariness when the road seems long and difficult
  • that God would raise up a strong and diligent prayer team to partner with us, both now and once we arrive in Austria
  • for the church in Austria and its great spiritual need
  • for financial provision, including monthly support and one-time gifts to enable us to relocate to Europe and begin ministry
More info to come...until then, auf wiedersehen!
-----

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To join our team of partners with a monthly financial commitment or one time gift, click here!
More from our time in Colorado after the jump


Monday, November 1, 2010

On Crazy Love Pt. 1

Or Why Francis Chan Can't Use Inflammatory Statements

In our small group recently we have been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  I think over all our group has 'enjoyed' this book.  I put this in quotes because our group has enjoyed thinking critically about books before and we are glad for a book that is spurring on some real conversations in our group.  Some of us have more issues that others with the book.  The major issues seem not to really revolve around what he is actually saying, but in the way that he says it.  Here are a few quick examples:

"A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, things, activities, favorites sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it." pg 67.

"To call someone a Christian simply because he does some Christian-y things is giving false comfort to the unsaved." pg. 88.


"It is a remarkable cycle: Our prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love..." pg. 104

I tried to pick out a few - even though I didn't get to all of them.  The first two seem to fall into the category of  "extreme statements" while the third was critiqued on its basis in the reality of the Christian life.  For the sake of this post not going on and on, lets tackle the first idea and get to the next thought later.

So, who gets to make extreme statements? ...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Taking the Next Step

Well tomorrow is the day, tomorrow we get on a plane for Denver.  We have our final interview, 'basecamp' training, and a lot of fun and meals to look forward to during our time there.  Maybe even some climbing, if I play my cards right.


Our emotions go from excitement to nervousness and everywhere in between.  We are really excited to have the chance to learn more about WorldVenture and also to meet our fellow appointees.  I know it will go fast, but right now two weeks feels like a long time.  It is an interesting microcosm of what we will eventually do - packing up our life, leaving friends, and heading off to a new, exciting and daunting adventure.


So with this, we head off.  I have felt for a long time that I have neglected blogging and I need to be more intentional about writing down my ideas and adventures.


- How do you see God preparing you for the ministry He has lead you into?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Great Photos




















My Brother Evan is a great photographer.  He doesn't update his photo blog every day, but when he does the images are pretty stunning.  This also makes me wish I lived in an area that had a little more vertical relief to it.  It is images like this that remind me why I love to be outdoors and why I believe in God.  Head over to his blog and leave him a comment.

- Where is your favorite place to see the beauty of creation?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Living radicallly...?




Our small group has recently started reading the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. The basic premise of the book is that God really loves us...and therefore, we should be willing to display a crazy amount of love for those around us. Francis challenges his readers to live "radically", to step outside comfort zones and fight against the "comfortable" Christianity that is common in the American church.

The most recent chapter stirred up quite a bit of discussion in our group about what it really means to live radically and why its important. Some of Francis Chan's statements are a little extreme and they didn't sit well with everyone. Here are a few examples:

"Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict."

"A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions or commitments are piled on top of it."

"Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty."

"Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but beside that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever."

I don't think these are all meant to be taken literally or that they apply to everyone. Maybe you are someone who enjoys professional sports, but don't take this hobby to an unhealthy or idolatrous level. Or maybe you don't drink or swear...but you also try to stand out from the crowd for your faith in others ways. These extreme statements are meant to knock you over the head and make you think...they may make us uncomfortable. But I think Francis' goal is to cause his readers to be challenged in a new way to look at their life and discern where God may be pushing them to change.

Maybe not everyone is meant to sell their belongings and live on the street to be a witness for Jesus. This would be radical, but its not everyone's calling. But what kind of radical does God want you to embrace? Where can you step out of your comfort zone to demonstrate a crazy love for others?

Francis says, "The goal of American Christianity is often a nice marriage, children that don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involved suffering."

I think Francis is right. Living in a country where we are not persecuted for our faith can lead us to be comfortable, to fit in with the Christian sub-culture, and to assume that "radical" is for other people. But reading this book, I'm challenged to confront my comfortable lifestyle and to critically ask the question, "How can I live more radically for Jesus? What does He want me to do?"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our new abode

It's the fall! And for the Johnsons, that means...it's time to move!

That's right - we've relocated to our third apartment in three years. Trust me - it's not that we enjoy the process of packing, sorting, schlepping, unpacking, organizing (ok, maybe I enjoy that...), etc. It's a lot of work. But we found a new apartment that is allowing us to save a significant amount of money each month and we just couldn't pass it up.

Here are some photos of our new place!


The living room, as viewed from the hallway. My cute husband is watching TV on the couch :)


The kitchen, where you can look out into the living room.



Another view of the kitchen.

View of the living room from the opposite end (same end as the kitchen).


Master bedroom


Second bedroom (which we're using as an office)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Summer in Review

In July, I was matron of honor in my good friend, Sarah Schnaidt's wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and a great celebration! She and her husband, Russell, are missionaries in Moscow.





Early in August, Nate and I went up to Minnesota to spend the weekend on his parents boat.

We also got to go climbing at Redwing that weekend.




Also in August, my company (One Smooth Stone) celebrated its 15th anniversary. In the afternoon of our celebration day, the staff went on a segway tour of Chicago.


Nate and I went to Navy Pier to see the Tall Ships exhibit at the end of August.


We spent Labor Day in Connecticut visiting family. We had the privelege of flying to Atlanta the day before and picking up my brother and sister-in-law's two oldest kids. It was a fun weekend with them!

We ate lobster for my birthday dinner that weekend.


It was a busy summer but a fun one! Sorry for the lack of blog posts...we'll try to keep up with it better this fall :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fall 2010 Ministry Update

We recently sent out an update email on our ministry plans. If you did not receive this email and wish to be added to our mailing list, please contact bethanyjohnson83@gmail.com.


Dear friends and family,
Happy fall! For us, the summer has flown by and we are shocked that we are already in the midst of September and autumn colors and temperatures are just around the corner! We hope you and your family enjoyed a fun, warm and safe summer this year.
It has been about 5 months since we last sent out an update email and in that time, our plans for pursuing overseas ministry with WorldVenture (www.worldventure.com) have continued to progress. Here is an update on what has happened in the last few months...
  • We spent time from April until July connecting with the leadership of our congregation, Parkview Community Church, and sharing with them our vision and hope for our ministry. This time was valuable in building their confidence in us and allowed us to discuss what a partnership between Parkview and WorldVenture could look like, as our sending church and sending organization.
  • After discussions and meetings with Parkview, as well as significant amounts of prayer, Parkview agreed to serve as our home sending church and to provide support to us through the application and preparation process.
  • In July, we were privileged to connect with several WorldVenture missionaries from Vienna, Austria (both in person and via skype). After these meetings, we felt confirmed in our desire to join the Vienna team. The team members confirmed their need for new missionaries in the field and described opportunities for us to serve in the areas of theological teaching, discipleship, evangelism, music ministry and church planting.
  • In July, we also began the application for long term service for WorldVenture. After gathering references and transcripts, completing evaluations, and answering many applications questions and essays, we submitted our application on September 3rd.
  • In an effort to prepare for our transition raising prayer and financial support, we went searching for an affordable apartment with a flexible lease. We found a great apartment that fits within our budget and will be moving in 2 weeks. Our new apartment will allow us to save more money and potentially cut back on work hours, once we are ready to focus more on preparing for the field.
Now that our application has been submitted, we should hear back from WorldVenture by the end of September regarding next steps.
During this time, we would appreciate your continued prayer...
  • Praise God with us for His guidance in the process thus far and the ways He has already provided for us. We are so thankful for the meetings we were able to have with WorldVenture missionaries this summer, the new apartment we found, and our church's willingness to support us.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment for the WorldVenture application review committee, who will be reading and reviewing our application over the next few weeks and making a decision about inviting us out to Colorado for the next step.
  • Pray for continued patience and trust in God for us, as we wait for the pieces to come together.
  • Pray that our move to our new apartment goes smoothly.
  • Pray for continued unity in our marriage and in our ministry direction. Pray that God would continue to prepare us for the field, even in ways we do not yet even realize.
Many thanks and blessings to each and every one of you for your continued support and prayer. We look forward to keeping in touch and connecting with you in the months and years ahead as we continue along this journey God has laid out for us.

In Christ,

Nate and Bethany Johnson

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gardening

We've taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging for the last month, since I've been traveling a lot this summer and when I've been home, we're been spending most of our time outdoors (walking, cycling, grilling, going to parks and concerts, etc.) We love the summer in Chicago and we're trying to take advantage of all it has to offer!

One of the great things about the summer is being able to grow plants and this year marks my first attempt at gardening! When I try something new, I like to go all out...so instead of just trying to plant a few small plants, I am currently growing 2 beefy boy tomato plants, 2 grape tomato plants, 2 pepper plants, and 1 cucumber, plus basil, mint and cilantro. One of the tomato plants is growing in a hanging topsy-turvy planter and the rest are in pots on our porch. It gets a good amount of sun, so they have been growing well so far. Take a look!


The first of my grape tomatoes, just starting to ripen.



My pot with a tomato plant and 2 pepper plants. Hopefully the tomato plant won't get so big that it blocks all of the peppers' sun.


The cucumber plant, which has grown over the side of the pot and it taking over the porch.

The tomato plant in the topsy-turvy tomato planter.


All of the pots on the porch.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Highlights from Devil's Lake Climbing

A few weeks ago, we went climbing at Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI. It was a really fun weekend of camping and climbing with some Chicago friends and MN family/friends. It was the first time I (Bethany) had climbed outside on actual rock and it was a good learning experience for me. Here are some highlights from our adventure!



Devil's Lake Climbing Highlights from Bethany Johnson on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Submarine Ride in Grand Cayman

Nate and I got to join a group of event attendees on a submarine ride today. Here are a few photos of us!





Sunday, May 23, 2010

Highlights of Grand Cayman

I am in the midst of an event I'm working on in Grand Cayman and wanted to post a few highlights. The weather is beautiful here...blue skies and fluffy white clouds. But it's about 100 degrees right now! So we're all sweatin' pretty intensely.


Today is welcome day. We built a structure on the sand down by the beach called "Ignite Island" and it's basicaully a living room on the sand, complete with carpet, TVs and furniture. Guests can grab a cocktail, check in for the conference and listen to a live band. It's been a hit so far!










Ignite Island from Bethany Johnson on Vimeo.


Grand Cayman 2 - The pool from Bethany Johnson on Vimeo.





Custom Flipbook from Bethany Johnson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Can't Catch Myself

This last weekend I got back from a climbing trip up to Devil's Lake. It was pretty spectacular. If you don't believe me, there are pictures on facebook to prove how amazing it was. We got to hike and climb. The weather was perfect and the climbing was great.

There were several times when I was climbing that I was began thinking about the concept of trust. The first was when I finished my first climb, probably a 60 or 70 foot route. I got to the top, checked all the gear on the anchor and leaned back into the harness. Now if you have never experienced this sensation it is similar to sitting back into a chair. The harness grabs you around the waist and across your thighs and you sit or lean into it. As the rope tightened and the harness caught, the thought flashed through my mind, "I can't catch myself." If something were to go wrong, I wouldn't be able to catch myself. The rocks were too far away, and I was completely at the mercy of my equipment and the person holding the other end of the rope.

There was a second time I had this thought. I wanted a picture of me from the top of the rampart. So I clipped into the anchor point, leaned over the edge and had Bethany snap a few shots of me. It was completely safe (I was clipped to webbing that can hold thousands of pounds), but the thought crossed my mind, "There is no way I could catch myself if the anchor gave way." It is a sobering thought.

The challenge for me is that I don't live my faith this way. I think the call to Christ is a call to trust him in such a way that we have no second option, we have not way out. We trust Him and Him alone, and if he lets go we have nothing else. Everyone knows what it is to feel something give way under pressure. To grab a tree branch and feel it break as you pull on it or to feel your foot slide as you try to walk up a slippery incline. And yet God has promised that he will not let go of us.

But here comes the tricky part. There are times in our life where it will feel like the anchor breaks. There are times when it will feel like God is asleep at the wheel of eternity. But it is in those times, those times where it feels like we are free falling, those times when it feels like we are no longer connected to the anchor, that he catches us. It is a beautiful and painful mystery.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Reflections on our first year of marriage

We are continuing to enjoy shooting videos with our flip video camera. Here is an interview piece that we shot the day of our first wedding anniversary, highlighting our thoughts on our year of marriage.

video

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Our First Anniversary!

Tomorrow, Nate and I officially celebrate 1 year of marriage. Wow! This past year has flown by so fast. We have had a wonderful and fun first year together, filled with laughter, memories, and learning. And I believe we have laid a solid foundation for our marriage that will last the rest of our lives together. God is good and He has blessed us immensely.

Nate, thank you for choosing me to be your life partner and for putting up with my many faults and sins that you see day after day. Thank you for loving me, for making me laugh and for dreaming with me about our future together.

In honor of our anniversary, here is a look back on our relationship…from day 1 to the day we tied the knot!



Our second date, at a coffee shop in Chicago. October 13, 2007


The photos we took in Chicago right after we started dating that soon became our profile pics on facebook, as we announced our relationship to the world! :)


In New York City, during Christmas of 2007 when I took Nate home to meet my family...just a few months after we started dating!


A trip with friends to Las Vegas in February 2008, where we went hiking in a canyon.


Road tripping from MN to Chicago, when Nate moved to Illinois to be close to me in April of 2008.


Participating in a friend's wedding together a few months later.



4th of July 2008 at the Taste of Chicago.


August 2008 - We got engaged at Oak Street Beach!



Engagement photos...



Christmas 2008 in Atlanta with my family...eating burgers at The Varsity.



Our Wedding Day - April 18, 2009







Adventures on our Honeymoon in Los Cabos, Mexico.