I live in China (and have since 2003: Chongqing, Beijing, Xi'an, Xining) with my wife of twenty years and our burgeoning number of kids. I speak fluent (whatever that means) Mandarin and precious little Norwegian, Spanish, Thai, or French anymore because of it. I enjoy relaxing, reading, cooking (sometimes), journaling, pondering, and (over?)-analyzing, and I deeply miss golf, owning a motorcycle, and long road trips. I wildly prefer editing to creating, have been known to floor my children with my coloring skills (yes, crayons), and hope I get the chance to visit twenty more countries. I like mountains, shorelines, forests, and thunderheads, and can't seem to get enough blue sky, clean air, or stargazing. I get my kicks from witty humor, learning, and overusing parentheses. I love my family, my wife the most, and Jesus more. I have worked as a behavioral-disorder school TA and a YMCA after-school program head teacher in Chicago; as an ESL teacher in Taipei; as a middle/high school English/math teacher, real estate investor, and youth director in Texas; as a grad student in New York; and as a technical consultant, accountant, and general manager of a coffee shop and language center in China. I enjoyed it all, in a passionless sort of way, as it wasn't half the glamorous life it may sound like. I am currently toiling under the weight of a doctoral-program impasse resulting from an inflexible, underage advisor unlikely to grant the Candy Landoctorate that has already more than been earned. I have spoken publicly wherever I've gone, but then, really doesn't everyone? For years I hoped to eventually stumble on what I was born to do, and then I wrote my first book. It was the most fun I've ever had.
It seems at times to befiction, but fiction can't compare to the reality ofthe heart of a man touched by a forgotten child. Dann Robert Johnson has taken us deep as he shares the mountains and valleys of this journey towards adopting a child from a foreign country. The drama of turmoil in a man's soul-as a cycle of hope becomes shattered hope followed by new hope fed by persistence and even stubbornness-will take all of us to where we are confronted about our own responses to what life has dealt us. Kelvin Gardiner, co-author of Pastoring the Pastor: Emails of a Journey Through Ministry. Adopted son, 1944. Lily Was the Valley arrested me. Dann Robert Johnson has given an invaluable window into a heart-breaking, heart-testing, heart-deepening world that many have entered but few have verbalized. My own adoption experiences of despair and hope and love were relived as Dann shared a journey that was at times gut-wrenching, at-times humorous, and always honest. This book is a glimpse into a father's struggle to walk in the mysterious strains of deepest love, not a fairy-tale version of a princess in a castle. Lily Was the Valley is a true behind-the-scenes story of the adoption process, a story which reveals the unexpected beauty of a child, the reluctant embrace of loss, and the dramatic depths of God's love for us." Dr. Ken Castor, author of Grow Down: How to Build a Jesus-centered Faith and contributing editor for the Jesus Centered Bible. Adoptive father, 2002. Dann Robert Johnson writes with incredible vulnerability and honesty as he tells of his family's struggles with adoption and cross-cultural adjustment. Lilly was the Valley is an excellent resource for all parents and anyone dealing with the disappointments life throws at us. Dann does not write to make himself look good, but in the process of telling this amazing journey, he has become one of my heroes. Dr. Ron Walborn, Dean, Alliance Theological Seminary Lily Was the Valley is more than a poignant story. Dann's humor, authenticity, and grace invite all of us to take this journey of grief and loss, joy and hope. Like all journeys of the heart, there are no shortcuts to the end. Victoria Chiu, LMHC, Co-founder, Crown Counseling Center I wondered what new insights into the complexities of adoption Dann Robert Johnson might possibly offer this seven-time adoptive mother, adoption caseworker, international orphan advocate, and avid adoption-genre reader. But Lily Was the Valley captivated me. The privilege of following along on this adoptive father's journey towards his own soul-devoted and pledged to a child he'd yet to lay eyes on-was treasure. I wept, I held out hope, and I got swept away by the saga this family endured. I saw again the incalculable value of every single child who waits. Amanda C. Hostetler, Overseas Adoptions Caseworker, Asia Lily Was the Valley doesn't go the places you expect it to go, but its twists and turns provide a canvas for an unforgettable story of love, commitment, heartbreak, and remarkable faith. Even having watched the events unfold from beginning to end, I was still riveted by the story, and often moved to laughter, tears, and fresh insights by Dann's telling of it. Maria S., founder and COO of a baby rescue home in China Lily Was the Valley had me all the way through, laughing and crying. Dann spoke in so many deep ways to all of our core values as an organization. It's for every adopting family, regardless of spiritual views, but it will force all of us to reflect on the broken heart of a Father who has loved every child and lost so many. And on how Jesus pursues us, does not always get us right away, but never, ever, ever gives up. -Chris Turner, Executive Director, Connect"