Monday, May 24, 2010

The Story Behind the Names

As I sit quietly in the hospital room with Jenna and our newborn son, I am reminded of God's faithfulness and miracle-working power. Three years ago when Jenna and I were married, I never dreamed of having 3 sons by age 30; however, the Lord in His soveriegn plan knew exactly what He was doing. For that I am truly thankful.

Our first three years of marriage have been filled with pain, grief, joy and blessing. The Lord has given and taken away. First, He saw fit to take Jenna's Nana (July 07), my Granddaddy (August 07), our first child (February 08), my dad (May 08) and my mom (March 09). It is on days like today in the quietness of a hospital room that I wish they were all here to celebrate with us. I like to imagine Jenna's Nana holding Samuel, mom holding Daniel, and my dad patting me on the shoulder and saying welcome to fatherhood. I can hear the faint echos of what my dad might be saying, "Son, now you will know why I loved you the way I did."

Although I can't audible hear their voices or whispers, I am thankful to have a Heavenly Father who has been with me through the funerals and the births. Life is full of cycles. We are born, grow up, grow out, grow old, and then go the way of all men. It is a blessing to know we can escape this cycle and enjoy eternal life.

Jenna and I have three children. Our first, who we lost through miscarriage, was named Ethan Caleb. We gave him this name because Ethan was a singer and writer in the Bible. First Chronicles 15:19 says, "So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass;" We knew that our first child though never making it outside the womb was fearfully and wondefully made in the image of God. He was taken directly into the presence of the LORD. I can imagine him singing unto the Lord for His mercy and grace. Ethan wrote Psalm 89. In the first verse, he writes, "I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations." God is merciful and faithful to all generations, and Ethan's life reminds us of God's graciousness.

His middle name was Caleb. As you know, Caleb and Joshua were the only two people who came out of Egypt and entered the Promised Land. Caleb had great faith, and the Lord reward Him for it. Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

Our second child was going to be named Elijah Thomas. We liked this name, yet during the 8th month of Jenna's pregnancy, my mother passed away of a heart attack at 48 years of age. A few weeks afterward, the Lord began speaking to my heart about our child's name. I kept hearing Daniel. At first, I kept this to myself, because I knew Jenna liked the other name and would have thought I was crazy for wanting to change his name. We already had 3-4 things monogrammed. Yes, the expensive diaper bag was one of them.

When I began researching name meanings, I discovered that Daniel means "My God is Judge." This was so true in our case. Hebrews 9:27-28 says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." God is the Judge of all the earth and because of Adam's transgression, every person will someday die. As a young child, you never really think about it, but within two years, Nana, Grandaddy, Ethan, Dad, and Mom had met the just penalty for sin--death. I am glad to report they were all overcomers through the blood of the Lamb. They all had testimonies of saving faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." It also meant a lot to Jenna when she found out her grandparents were going to name their first child Daniel if it were a boy. Her Nana and Pop had two girls, so the name was never used until our Daniel was born.

Daniel's middle name is Benjamin. This is a Johnson family name. My dad's middle name was Benjamin. My granddaddy's first name was Bennie, and my great-great grandfather's first name was Benjamin. When Rachel was dying with Jacob's second son by her (Gen. 35:18), she named her son, Benoni, which means "son of my sorrow or son of my strength." Jacob named him Benjamin which means, "son of the right hand."

Daniel Benjamin is our first son we have been able to hold. Everytime I look into his face and call his name, I hope I am reminded of "My God is Judge" and "Son of my Right Hand." Within his name, I am reminded of God's grace through redemption. All men have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We all stand before a Righteous Judge without one plea, yet God sent His Son Jesus from His right hand to die for the sins of man. In Jesus, God righteousness stands, His justice is satisfied, and sinful people like Nana, Granddaddy, Ethan, Dad, and Mom can by faith be pardoned and justified in God's presence (Romans 3:26). This Jesus is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen (Jude 1:24-25).

After Daniel was born, we were consumed with taking care of him. We actually couldn't believe we had a child. He was born 6 weeks after my mom passed away, and his presence helped heal my heart from the grief and pain of losing my parents. There were still days of grief and disappointment, but his sweet face brightened our home. The Lord used Daniel to heal Jenna's heart as well. After our first miscarriage, we never knew if we would have any children. We were both concerned and heartbroken. She took it much harder than I did, and for four months after losing Ethan, she was devastated. After researching online, she found a book called Hannah's Hope. It dealt with problems of infertility, miscarriage, and the loss of children. The book worked wonders on Jenna's heart, and it helped allow some light to poke through the dark clouds which surrounded her.

Four months after Daniel's birth, I had a sense that we might be ready for another child. I joked with Jenna as Daniel was crying about having another child. In some ways, I have learned that kidding each other about having children is not always the best. There are many who would love to have children. Those who never have any problems getting pregnant do not really understand the full blessings of having children. Some choose to not have children. Some couples graciously adopt and provide a wonderful picture of God's unconditional love.Others get pregnant easily, wait 9 months, and deliver like it is a breeze. My heart has grown more sensitive through our process of loss and birth, and I will continue to learn more as our children grow. I do want to remind you of how fragile life is. God is ultimately the Giver and Sustainer of life.

Throughout this pregnancy, we have been reminded of Hannah's hope. We could have never imagined having two living sons now. Two years ago, I wondered about the options we had in raising a family. There are many children who get neglected, are in orphan's homes, and are in need of adoption. Like Hannah, we prayed and the Lord answered. During this pregnancy, Jenna was in the hosptital 5 times (one stay lasted 7 days), on bedrest 17 days, and in a wreck which totaled our car. There were so many prayers lifted up for this child. Hannah in First Samuel 1:27 said, "For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:" God heard so many of our prayers for protection, peace, and provision. Samuel means "heard or asked of God or God's hears." We are thankful we serve a God who hears and answers prayers!

Samuel's middle name is Levi. Of course, you know this was the third child of Jacob, and we consider Samuel our third child. Levi's family was also the people God chose to be in charge of His worship. It was the Levites who were in charge of taking care of the tabernacle. Within this tribe, God chose Aaron and His family to be the priests. The Levites were not given any land when the Promised Land was divided, because God was their portion. Levi means "united or joined." Daniel and Samuel are very close in age, and we pray they both will grow up close to each other, close to us, and most importantly to God.

For those who may have wondered, these are the stories behind our son's names. Parenting is an incredbile responsibility. As a dad, it is my job to reflect the glory of our heavenly Father to our family, and the love and intimacy of Jesus Christ to my wife. May God bless you and your families as you are witnesses of His goodness and grace. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them(Psalms 127:3-5a)!

A Humbled Dad,

Samuel Levi is here!

Samuel Levi was born on May 23rd at 5:12 pm.  He weighed 7lbs and 4oz and was 18 inches long. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Someone Got a Haircut...

His very first haircut to be exact!

Daniel has been in desperate need of a haircut since he was at least 10 months old, but I'd heard we were supposed to wait until he turned one to get it done.  Since his Aunt Jessica is a cosmetologist, there was no question as to who'd be giving him that very first cut.  He did incredibly well with the help of his Mimi and some Fruit Loops - oh, and some "alligator" hair clips.

Aunt Jessica putting the "cape" on Daniel

 First locks of cut hair...

He was really interested in what Aunt Jessica was doing.

Getting Fruit Loops off of Mimi's nose...
Notice the green clip in her hair - 
Daniel LOVED pulling them out!

 Laughing at Mimi

It was like he didn't even realize
Aunt Jessica was cutting his hair.

Aunt Jessica is SO GOOD at what she does!

Those clippers made Mommy a nervous wreck, 
but Daniel just wanted to see them.

If only diaper changes were
as easy and fun
as getting a haircut was! 

Daniel Gets His 1st Haircut from Jenna Johnson on Vimeo.

(By the way, if you are in the Middle TN area and are interested in contacting Jessica for your child's haircuts or for your own cuts and colors, please let me know!  I'd be glad to get her info to you!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

13 Months Old

In his 13th month, Daniel:
Visited his Mommy in the hospital on his birthday...
Saw the Parthenon for the first time.
Tried out his new swimming pool.
Loved it!
Ate lots of bananas, NutriGrain bars, smiley snacks...
Learned to say Elmo - which sounded more like "Mel-mo."
Learned to say Abby - which sounded more like "Addy."
Began saying yellow - which sounded more like "Weh-yo."
Had abnormal bloodwork at 12 month visit.
Retested normal!
Saw the Nashville Flood of 2010 in his Mimi's neighborhood.
Loved, loved, loved his basket of books!
Waited on his little brother to arrive.
Added the 7th tooth to his mouth.
Liked biting Mommy.
She has scars to prove it.
Liked sticking his hands into toilets, cups, almost anything that is liquid.
Learned to shut doors.
Cried when he realized he couldn't get the doors open.
Was really into the movie, "Cars."
Started putting any object to his ear and said, "Heh-yo." 
That's his "Hello."
Walked all of the time.
Got his first haircut!
His Aunt Jessica did it for him!
Loved playing and sharing with friends.
Enjoyed visiting Pierce and going to his 1st birthday party.
Figured out how to move the superyard gate while inside it.
Thus, figured out how to make us get rid of it.
Bit into a styrofoam basketball and ate some of it.
Liked eating beans. 
Slobbered and drooled A-L-L  T-H-E  T-I-M-E.
Found himself in a pair of his little brother's shorts.
Mommy changed all the drawers around in the boys' room.
Daddy didn't realize it.
Daniel was wearing 0-3 month shorts...
Got his first high fever - 103.5 - and visited the E.R.
Stayed sick for days...
Didn't eat much of anything.
Had a really hard time whenever anyone left our house.
Would cry until you took him outside to watch them leave.
Was big on hugs...
and exploring people's faces with his fingers.
Wanted to eat whatever you were having.
His "Little Brother" was busy keeping everyone waiting.

 Touching Mommy's teeth at Baptist Hospital

Crawling in front of the Parthenon while Mommy was in the hospital

What a fun day out with Daddy!

Daniel's first reaction to the swimming pool in his backyard

Look how big this sweet boy is!

Waiting to get his 12 month shots...

After getting his shots and his Blues Clues' sticker,  
he was all tuckered out.

Pointing to all of the water in Mimi's neighborhood

Who knows which of his parents he takes after - 
considering the two of them together 
probably have more books than their city's library!

Playing in the new room he will share with "Little Brother"!
He just so happens to love playing in the hamper.

Loving on Mommy on Mother's Day 2010

Hugging on his Mimi on Mother's Day

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What I've Learned Most about Parenting in 24 Hours

Just when I thought we had learned all we could about parenting, we find ourselves in the Emergency Room yet again for the fifth time in six months.  Of course, I am a whopping 37 and a half weeks pregnant, so if you see me anywhere, you'll think I'm in labor, as the nurse did last night.

...except we weren't in the E.R. for me or for labor or delivery.  We were there with Daniel.

It has been, by far, the most exhausting 24 hours of my life, and I just now find time to actually think about what happened, could have happened, and what I'm feeling now.  Honestly, the tears are finally beginning to flow.  Seeing my first born in such a miserable state is the hardest thing I've ever felt.  Car wrecks are bad.  Falling out of a cheerleading stunt on my head was rough.  Labor was excruciating.  However, seeing the tears of my child, who cannot be consoled, literally have broken my heart.

Saturday seemed normal.  Daniel woke up crying, as he always does, and he felt a bit warm.  We gave him Tylenol, and all was well.  We went to a birthday party where he played, walked around, and had a ball with balloons.  However, when we got home, things began changing with Daniel.  We all took a nap, but were startled awake by Daniel's crying and sweat pouring off of him.  His temperature was 102.2.  I don't know if I've ever had a fever that high!  So we gave him another dose of Tylenol, but when the fever began to rise, just hours later, we gave him Motrin.  We also called the pediatrician who said to bathe him, as the lukewarm water would help break the fever, and if his fever ever exceeded 103 to get him to the E.R.

Not long after, Daniel got really irritable and tired, would NOT let us put him down, and fell asleep in my arms.  An hour and a half later, he woke in his crib, screaming, sweating, and as hot as I'd ever felt.  His temperature had risen to 103.5.  We immediately prepare for the E.R.

Long story short, Daniel was diagnosed with an ear infection.  That's it.  But he's battled a high temperature all day today as well.  He's been so needy and unable to sleep, my reaction as a parent was to stay calm and help him in any way I could.  That's all we have been able to do...  Care for him.  His fever finally broke late this afternoon, even though he still is at 99, but his not eating or drinking or willingness to take meds is really starting to kick in tonight.  He won't sleep.  He will fall asleep, but cannot stay asleep.  He's crying now as I type...

What I've learned though is that I am SO NOT in control.  I had this picture in my mind when I was pregnant with Daniel that I'd have it all together.  I'd be organized, and he'd always be dressed adorably.  He'd never get dirty, and I'd always be the perfect parent.  I was SO wrong.  The pictures in my mind now are ones of my Heavenly Father.  I try to think about how it'd be to parent Jesus, and I even try to fathom how God felt when His Son was dying on the cross.  Yet I can't.  I can't imagine how hard it must have been to watch your child die...  because my child simply has a fever and an ear infection and I'm in pieces.

I've had to rely on medications and antibiotics to heal Daniel for me.  All of my hugs and kisses and consoling haven't been much help to him in the way of "fixing" him.  Yet, I've been reminded all day long that I cannot control life.  I cannot keep Daniel away from sickness.  I can't even stop sin from stealing his innocence.  It's all completely out of my hands.

However, I'm so thankful that I have a Father who can.  He can break this fever.  He can heal Daniel's ear.  He can calm every storm.  He can even spare lives from hell.  That's what my God can do.  And though I've always known these things, I've become more aware of how grateful I am to know that my children are actually His.  God created each of them, and He knit them together in my womb.  He is there for them when I cannot be, and He'll be the one to give them life everlasting through faith in Jesus Christ.  No matter what kind of parent I wanted to be or ever will be, God is the real parent.  He's in charge and in control of their lives.  What better hands could Daniel be in?!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

12 Months Old... Just Like That!

So, we're REALLY late getting this posted, but it's been a wild ride lately.  We didn't get a 12 month picture at home because Mom was in the hospital!!!  Here are his latest "stats" just in the month before he turned ONE!

In his 12th month, Daniel:
Liked throwing balls.
Ate yogurt.
Played in the grass.
Went to the neighborhood playground.
Was blessed to NOT be in the car his parents totaled.
Figured out where the cereal cabinet was.
Made friends with some of the men at church.
Celebrated his first Easter.
Ate Chick-fil-A for the first time.
Went walking with Addy.  They actually "strolled."
Got his 5th and 6th teeth.
Learned how to clap.
Started say, "Uh-oh," "Ow (much like Ouch)," and "Oh, wow!"
Walked.  1st with his hands up and then with items in hands.
Got to forward-face in his new Britax car seat.
Special thanks to the Evenflo one getting into the wreck.
He's forward-facing because he can get out of the seat.
Oh, and he likes to attempt choking himself.
Had his first birthday party.
Got LOTS of amazing gifts.
Liked riding in his "new" jogging stroller.
Played with the hose pipe.
Went to TPAC to see his cousin Anna perform.
It was VERY difficult for him to sit still.
He LOVED the music!
Liked eating Cheerios,  gold fish, popsicles, mango, cake, and ice cream.
Went to ONLY whole milk!  WOOHOO!
Enjoyed his visits from his best pal, Pierce.
Slept well.  Would get at least 8 hours a night.
Tried to imitate everything (including animal noises) such as:
Moo, Meow, Quack, Squeak, and A-E-I-O-U.
His Mimi (and Mom) really wants him to know the vowels!
Wore 18 month clothes and size 4 1/2 shoes.
Still in size 4 diapers.
Weighed 24.4 lbs, 50th percentile.
Was 30 inches tall, 75th percentile.
Visited his Mom in the hospital.
She went into pre-term labor with his baby brother.
He stayed with family for 7 days (and then some).
Spent his actual birthday with his Aunt Jessica.

Figuring out where Mom and Dad keep the Cheerios

Spending time with Bro. Anthony at church

After a good snack and LOOK at THOSE TEETH!

Getting a (growing) family picture on Easter

Holding hands with Addy across the table at Chick-fil-A

Forward-facing and loving it!

Opening his first birthday card from his Pop.
It came in the mail!

Playing with the hose pipe while Dad waters his tomato plants

The whole family at Anna Laura's All-State Band performance!
Anna thinks Daniel is a future tuba player.

Eating cake at his birthday party

Playing in his new swimming pool
It was too cold for water so we improvised! 

Playing outside with Aunt Jessica and his lion bubble blower

First time to stop the ice cream man

The "Birthday Cake" ice cream sandwich was SO good!

Pierce came to visit and PLAYED!

Spending his first birthday in the hospital with Mommy

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Visited Dr. Nason today.
Dilated to 2.
Last week was a 1.
Progress, just not enough.
37 weeks tomorrow!
Praising God for that!