Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

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This little Johanson family had an EXCELLENT Thanksgiving holiday. We headed up to the mountains in Southern California and there met up with five of my six siblings for some great festivities. We had an entire schedule of events which included (but was not limited to): battle of the bands, a talent show, shopping, a late night showing of “New Moon” (which Loren and Sam particularly enjoyed), ultimate frisbee, and of course, a great Thanksgiving Feast. My brother Loren and his wife Sonya were the most excellent of hosts.

Usually, at Thanksgiving dinner, we all go around the table and say what we are most thankful for. All morning I was trying to figure out what I would say when it was my turn, and I just couldn’t pinpoint what it was I was most grateful for. I am not sure why, but mealtime came and went without this little tradition (fortunately for me, because I still didn’t know what I would have said.) But I did continue to think about it, and was eventually able to come up with an answer.

Things have changed a lot since my last Thanksgiving…and even much more since the Thanksgiving before. If I were asked to give a list of the things that I am most grateful for, it would be all the normal things…my husband, my children, my extended family, my religion, my health…etc. But the truth is, two years ago, well, even one year ago, I didn’t even fully comprehend the magnitude of such blessings. The gratitude I felt then didn’t even scratch the surface of what I feel now.

Elder Oaks has taught, “We should thank God for our adversities, and pray for guidance in meeting them. It is all part of the plan…Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality.”

I don’t think this means that I need to be thankful that my son died. Or that I recently had a miscarriage. Or that Adam doesn’t have a job. Or…all the other adversities that we are facing at this time. But this message from Elder Oaks certainly hit home with me this year as I was trying to figure out just what I am thankful for. And it comes down to this…I am grateful for the experiences in my life that have shed the brightest of lights on all that I have been blessed with and more importantly: I am grateful for lessons learned. I am grateful that the Lord has given me chances to better myself and that He has made it abundantly clear that He has a plan for me.

And, more than anything, I am grateful for my Heavenly Father’s love for me. I am grateful that he sent His only begotten Son to die for me. And to die for my son who has died. That we might all be together: forEVER.

Certainly I missed Jack this Thanksgiving, and yes, I found a quiet moment to shed some human tears of sorrow. But the Spirit of the Lord continues to comfort me and grant me strength.

Enjoy some collages of the holiday festivites:

The Turkey Bowl was a game of Ultimate Frisbee this year. Everyone had a great time!


12 of the 16 Marshall grandchildren. What a beautiful bunch!


The girls lost the Crossword Puzzle Competition for dish duty...



Pretty impressive that “Scrantonocity” won the Battle of the Bands. Their drummer only had one hand!

The Talent Show was a huge sucess and SO MUCH FUN!

Happy Thanksgiving, Love the Johansons

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Depressing Anniversary/Motivating Anniversary

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The last of the monthly “death anniversaries” is upon us.

I think the first monthly anniversary of Jack’s death was one of the hardest I experienced. We had only been thrown back into the swing of things for a few weeks, and we were trying our hardest to pick up the pieces of our life, and put them back together in some semblance of something “normal”. It wasn’t working out too well, and it was depressing. One thing that was also “weighing” me down was the fact that I was gaining weight. I gained over fifty pounds during my pregnancy with Jack, and I was relieved when about twenty-five of those pounds melted off immediately. After Jack passed on, however, I didn’t have much strength to fight the weight loss battle, and I was “losing”: big time. Emotionally and physically…I was a mess.

On the night of January 29th, I decided that I needed help. I went online and joined Weight Watchers without a second thought.

February arrived, and it too was difficult. But at the end of the month, I had lost ten pounds! The end of each month was met with Jack’s death anniversary, but so also the anniversary of my joining Weight Watchers. The program was a great success for me, and was a source of happiness and light. By the time Jack’s nine month death anniversary rolled around, I had lost forty-five pounds; and that’s not including the twenty-five I lost between his birth and death.

That’s a total of 70 POUNDS. In ten months.

I think that losing the weight really helped to hold me together at the end of each month. I couldn’t help but be proud and pleased with myself. I don’t know how I would have survived each death anniversary if I didn’t have some little success to go along with all the negative feelings and emotions I had to deal with. I often prayed for strength and guidance to help me stick to my diet and exercise plan. I know that my prayers were answered.

Maybe the reason why I struggled so hard with weight gain when I was pregnant with Jack was because Heavenly Father knew that I would need something to keep me going after he passed, literally. I threw myself into losing weight and exercising, and it has played a big part in the healing process.

If it was my choice, I would rather have Jack and be overweight, then be perfectly toned and fit without him. But it wasn’t my choice. Jack did teach me, however, how important our physical bodies are and how blessed we are to have strong and healthy bodies bestowed upon us. I wanted to show Jack that I learned that lesson and that I was grateful for my body. I think he would be proud of me.

Maybe he even went running with me sometimes and helped push me the last little bit.

I’d sure like to think so.

Weaving

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My life is but a weaving
Between the Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors-
He worketh steadily.

Oftimes He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

– Grant Colfax Tullar

The Sound of Silence

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I have mentioned before that I will never forget the preparation I underwent for Jack’s c-section. To have labored to almost an eight, only to be told that we couldn’t wait even one second longer before he arrived, was heartbreaking and terrifying.

I was placed on a hard, cold, table and then my arms were stretched out wide and strapped down. I remember likening my position unto being hung on a cross. Then, in my mind, I thought: I am being sacrificed for my child. The tears flowed freely, but I was glad to do it.

I laid there, waiting and waiting and then waiting some more. I could see nothing, and I could feel nothing; and so I relied only my sense of sound. I was so intent on listening, that my head actually began to hurt. I never heard anything. Jack never made a sound.

To this day, the sound of Jack’s silence has persistently haunted me. It is not something that I can easily forget. It finds me in a lonely car, in the late night hours, and even in a crowded grocery aisle. It has been one year since that eventful yet quiet morning, and still the silence remains. I have spent much of this past year trying to tune out the silence. I have read books, listened to music, watched television, but nothing can fill the emptiness. I miss Jack’s cry. I will miss it my entire life.

We were fortunate enough to have the birth of Megan recorded. I have heard her first cry over and over and over again. I have it memorized. In her brand new cry, is the same little voice and personality that my Megan has today: almost three and a half years later.

I have recently (today) come to appreciate that the same could be said of Jack. He was quiet and peaceful at birth, and I have found that the times when I feel closest to Jack, are likewise: quiet and peaceful. I yearn often to feel my Jack: to feel his presence around me. But I have spent so much time trying to drown out his silence, that I have been missing many opportunities to not only feel his spirit, but also the comforting spirit of the Holy Ghost.

Today Jack’s birthday present to me was the reminder that I need to spend more time in quiet and peaceful mediation. It is in those times when the Lord’s spirit can touch us and teach us. I hope that Jack will also take advantage of the quiet in my life and perhaps…come visit me…

Birth Day Celebration

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Adam and I kicked off Baby Jack’s birth day celebration by heading to the temple. We participated in several sealings, two of which were particularly special. My great grandparents, Alva and Louisa Rich, lost two infant children: a little boy, and a little girl. Adam and I were able to perform the sealing ordinances for these children to their parents. Because I know Jack is sealed to me forever, it was especially wonderful to play a role in sealing my grandparents to the infants they lost.

Adam and I heading to the Temple


Tonight, we gathered at the cemetery with the majority of our Vegas family members. Jack got his very own birthday cake, and his sister blew out his candle for him.

Each family member released a balloon in honor of Jack. We convinced the children that we needed to send the balloons to heaven so Jack could play with them. Not one child had a hard time letting go of their balloons.

After the balloon release, we returned home for dinner and cake. The first meal I can remember eating after Jack was born was lasagna at the Ronald McDonald House…so that’s what we had for Jack’s birthday dinner. Throw in some carrot cake and vanilla bean ice cream…and the party was complete.

I think Jack would have approved of his birthday celebrations. His daddy and I worked long and hard to make the day perfect, and my body is aching from head to toe with exhaustion. But I love serving and celebrating my little Jack. The ache of exhaustion I feel today is a good kind of ache. It helps ease the pain that constantly ebbs from my heart.

Happy Birthday, Baby Jack. We love you and miss you. I will never forget the day you were born.