UPDATE ON JULY 23, 2008:
... As Karen and I leave Virginia tomorrow morning to be with my failing mom in S.California, please pray for God to give us the strength to comfort those around us. My mom was recently diagnosed an aggressive cancer and has not long to live. As much as I would like to stay here in Va. and continue to heal and mourn...We need to go and be with my brothers and sister to help escort her to the arms of Jesus.. She may be one of first of family to see Joey.....Thanks to all of my praying family and friends everywhere.. Your comments and love have carried us both through the darkest time of our lives....Safe in the arms of Jesus...are my Father Joe, My son Joseph,and soon my mother Dolores...... Joe
Note written on 7-1-08: I just added a button on the sidebar to link here for those who want a list of specific prayers they can pray for the Johnsons. Some of the ones listed below had already been answered. However, instead of me always editing this or always coming up with an updated list, I encourage you to pray as the Spirit leads. Thank you.
While we are all waiting for the details of the Memorial Service here on Maui, and while they are preparing for the Memorial Service in LA (to be held tomorrow), I thought I'd post some specific items we can pray for the Johnsons:
1. Pray for the Memorial Service on Sunday in LA. That all things planned will go smoothly. Pray for Rachel as she does the slide show. Pray for God to be glorified as they remember Joey’s life, and that some of their family and friends who have not accepted Jesus will do so through this. (Thank you Lord for answering this prayer. The service was perfect)
2. Pray for health and physical strength. Grief is tiring. Fatigue is setting in. Pray that they would not neglect rest, and when they try to rest, it will come. Pray for a restful sleep when they sleep.
3. Pray for Jamie and Joanne. They have a very profound close relationship with their brother Joey. There will be a void that will not be filled. Pray for comfort for all the Johnsons family, including Drew, Shaun and all of Joey's nieces and nephews (as you all already are…)
4. Pray for Spiritual Discernment to be strong in the family. Yesterday I sensed a “spiritual battle raging” in my head as satan was accusing me of “being too dramatic and using the Johnsons’ grief for my own blogging satisfaction and glory (which is not true)”. There were many accusations in my head and I had to pray for the Lord will take it away. He did. Then came the assurance from the Holy Spirit that I am ministering to the Johnsons. If I am experiencing this kind of spiritual battle, even more so are Karen and Joe. There will be times when satan will sneak in their heads and tell them that God is mean because He took away Joey at an early age. And so let’s pray for protection for the Johnsons family against these kinds of attack. And when they do have to battle, pray that the armor of God will always be in place and that they will be victorious.
5. Pray for Karen and Joe’s marriage. There will be times when the hurt will transform to anger, and the anger will land on whoever is closest. Pray that no divisions will rise up between them, and that they will feel fully united in their sorrow.
6. Pray for God to allow their grief to be distributed....as you read these words, you may feel called to volunteer yourself through prayer to be a "carrier" of their grief. Losing Joey caused pain beyond words, and having many of us bear the grief together with the Johnson family would be helpful.
7. Pray for patches of joy in a bleak, seemingly hopeless fog.
8. Pray that God would bless Karen and Joe with erasing the memories from last night that they received the terrible news of Joey’s passing away and the grief of not being there when it happened.
9. Pray for Rachel, Joey's girlfriend, for comfort in this time of pain. May their mutual friends gather around her and be of support to her.
10. Pray for those who do not know our great God...that the testimony and the hearts of Joey, as well as Karen and Joe, would minister to them in such a difficult time, and that they will desire to know more of Jesus.
To God Be the Glory!
Saturday, May 31, 2008
UPDATE ON JULY 23, 2008:
Posted by Liza on Maui at 8:59 AM
Friday, May 30, 2008
Joe and Karen,
You once told me "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree"; which I find to be so true about Joey. He was the best of you both put together.
I think of him with that afro and small rose colored glasses at one of our 50's parties - playing music with Joe. Only Joe just had on a bandana as there was no hair left on his head. Everywhere you were with Joe and Joey music was involved. So much alike.
I think of him with his face and body painted red and gold at a USC game wildly cheering with his friends. And you two, such proud parents, carring on the fan base taking off to Oahu wearing your red and gold, long after Joey graduated, to support the Trojans againist UH. Such shared enthusiasm by all of you.
Each time I saw Joey I was always greeted with a warm embrace making me feel as though I had some importance to him. Very similar to the way I feel when I see the two of you at work, or socailly or at church.
Joey was always there for every family event. Some of great importance or just to celebrate a milestone birthday. Similar to the way you two traveled to the east coast so often to be with your kids and grandkids. He modeled your love of family.
I recall the time in Mexico. Joey sat shotgun in the small car I drove. We spent hours in that car. The comversations got deep at times. The car load had dissagreements about social issues such as abortion and alternative life styles. Joey gave his opinions and always complimented you, Karen, on your work with the Problem Pregnancy Center. He was really proud of you. And so you two are never afraid to address the tough issues either. Something Joey was comfortable with too because of your openess.
As Jesus was somewhat unconventional here on earth I suppose Joey's entrance into heaven might create some uncoventional, spontaneous moments too. The sounds of worship may just take on a new flair. Prehaps a new rock band made of those we know who also, at all to young an age, entered heaven.
You raised a wonderful son. Loved by all who knew him.
I don't know how to help you make it through the moments of each day. My heart is broke as I think about what you are going through. You are the two that so freely offer your love, compassion, comfort, encouragement and support to those that are hurting. Now it is our turn, regardless of how inadaquate we might feel. We send our love to you. We're praying.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him."
We love you,
Toni & Jason Spence
Posted by Hope Chapel Admin at 8:20 AM
Posted by Lisa at 12:29 AM
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Almost 2 years ago, something happened that made me feel isolated and sad. I was at the verge of being angry and resentful, and I prayed that God would not allow me to harbor those negative feelings in my heart. God gave me a way out. He introduced me to the world of blogging. I didn't have any background or information on blogging, I just plunged right in. Through blogging I met a lot of wonderful moms who encouraged me through their comments. Reading comments were such a comfort to me at that time. Later on, blogging became not just a venting place but a ministry as well. Little did i know that God will now use "me and blogging" to minister to the Johnsons at this time of sorrow in their lives. Karen sent me an e-mail this morning, and she told me to publish it here too. Your comments on this blog means so much to them:
Liza....thank you so much for the blog. We love it. Thank you for your willingness to do this extra work for us. You are such a gift. It was so moving to see the surfing photo of Joey and the verse inscribed over it. Never has the resurrection meant more to us than at this moment. The comments are so touching. Please express our gratitude to so many for their support. It truly helps ease the pain.
We are grieving together with Joey's friends and our old friends who have come by the house where we are staying. The comfort of human touch and compassion is so meaningful to us. The grief comes in waves and takes us by surprise in its intensity. We feel deep loss and at the same time deep peace and trust in the Lord's compassion and goodness and wisdom. He never fails, and has felt very near to us. There is a certain sense of God having prepared us for this in the past few weeks and months, especially as we share our stories with one another. There were just little comforting signs that God was in control.
We are so thankful that the Lord brought Joey out to Maui just two weeks ago so we could have some really special, now precious, time with him. We love the Lord for loving our boy and making it possible for us all to be reunited one day. He is now safe in the arms of Jesus.
We are planning the memorial service and just ask for prayers for it to come together, and also for the fatigue we all feel right now. Thank you for loving us and being such a help right now.
All our love,
Karen and Joe
A few weeks from now, or several months from now, all of us will be going back to our usual routine but Karen and Joe won't be able to do that. They will try, but they will find out that their life is never the same. they will process this, they will grieve ... and I can guarantee you that on that time, they will come back here ... and will be reading the comments left here, over and over again. They will bring comfort to their hearts...
I encourage you to leave a comment on this blog, once, twice, as much as you can (in any post). It does not have to be long, it does not have to be profound, you can just say "we're praying for you" or type in a Bible Verse that you think will minister to their hearts. Believe me ... I know ... your words will be like soothing balms to a wounded heart....
Posted by Liza on Maui at 5:58 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
We went to his house last night and saw his bed where he died of a seizure. He had his Bible next to him and the book I had given him last week, "Wild at Heart". I am carrying his shirt with me so I can smell him. He was such an incredible, gifted person---so full of life and love. It is hard to let him go and we will miss him beyond description. He brought so much energy and enthusiasm and hope to our lives. My prayer is that Jesus is holding him now, encouraging him, and that he is smiling down, saying it's okay, Mama. I will so miss hearing him call me that.
Please thank everyone for us. I am so grateful for our community on Maui.
Much love to everyone who is there for us,
Karen and Joe
Posted by Lisa at 11:21 AM
Joey and our oldest grandson, Josh, became fast friends while Joey was still in high school and Josh was in college, but home for the summers. They later ended up being roommates for several years in CA.
One summer I hired Joey to come once a week and hose off all our concrete areas around our home and pool as we seemed to have lots of grandchildren activities at that time. I saw something very special in Joey as he never missed a weekend coming by to do this job. He took his responsibilities very seriously, which followed him thru his short life. I tried using other teenagers for this job after Joey left, but could never count on them and this just made me realize more than ever what a special young man Joey was.
Joe and Karen, you have always been a very encouraging part of our family - there for us when Josh had his life changing accident, even flying to Oahu to be with us at this time. You have been involved in counseling some of our children during difficult times and just always loved us regardless of our short comings. I remember so well when you and your family moved here and Karen threw herself into Hope Chapel and the women's ministry. You have set such a strong spiritual example of how we are all to live our lives.
We hope to see you soon in LA and to give you a personal hug of our love for you...We know and will continue to pray that God is wrapping HIS ARMS around each of you at this time.
Joyce and Jesse
Posted by Liza on Maui at 1:37 AM
Monday, May 26, 2008
Here is a link to a beautiful letter from Kristin Knowles to the Johnson family. Karen asked me to post it here. It takes a few seconds to load because it's filled with pictures of Joey. You can also access it under Links on the right.
Posted by Lisa at 12:30 PM
This blog was created to have a place where we can all express our support to the Johnson's family in this time of grief. This will also serve as our communication point where we will let you know the details of the Memorial Service for Joey as soon as we get those information. And you may also share some of your memories of Joey that you think will be an encouragement to the Johnsons.
You can leave your comments here for the Johnsons family. Please feel free to e-mail the link to this blog to those you know love and care for the Johnsons family. Thank you.
Posted by Hope Chapel Admin at 2:02 AM
Joey was just a high school kid when we first met him. The Johnsons moved in to the house next to our little cottage in Mikoi Place. I still can remember his smile when I first met him. He was such a sweet teenager, I just love his countenance. Even with the big age gap, Joey and my husband Bradley became buddies. We have a lot of fun memories of him.
Joey was here on Maui last week, for Mothers Day and for his sister's graduation. I saw him at church and gave him a hug. I am glad I did. Who would have known that that would be our last hug?
A couple months ago we were e-mailing each other about some work related stuff. In the midst of the e-mail correspondence I told him that I am assuming he is doing well but to let me know if there is something I can pray for him. He e-mailed back saying that yes he's doing well but he can always use some prayers. He asked that I pray for God's direction in his life. He said he doesn't know yet.
As I sit here thinking about Joey, I am pondering that maybe, just maybe, the reason why God hasn't revealed His plan to Joey's life at that time is because God knows his time on earth will be short...
But Joey ... Joey lived his life to its fullest. He loves to worship God through songs (like his dad). He traveled to see the world. He has a lot of friends. He is loved by many.... He is just 20 something years old but he's mature beyond his age, and has accomplished more than many of us older than he is ...
Joey was my encourager on blogging when I was just starting to blog. I remember during one of his Maui visits, he and my husband were talking about his blog and my husband told him that I am blogging too. He said "I know. Your wife's blog is good". At that time, my husband was unsure about my blogging. But Joey's words gave him an assurance that I am doing something good.
Joey is like a little brother to me. His parents are practically "the savior of our marriage". Karen is our marriage counselor. Joe is Bradley's Promise Keeper bro. Their guidance and love made my husband and I stuck with each other during rough times in our marriage (my husband and I are doing well now) . I wish I can do something to ease the pain they are feeling because of Joey's death. Death. These five letter word is so hard to type... but as the verse on the header reminded us, Joey is now with Jesus, for he believed in Jesus; and Jesus said "whoever believes in him shall not die but have an everlasting life..."
As we think of ways to express support to the Johnson's family, I request that we also think of the warm memories we have of Joey. Do you have stories on how Joey touched your life? How he was an encouragement to you? If so, would you consider sharing that with us on the comment section of this post?
I thought it would be encouraging that while we express our sorrow and grief on Joey's death, we can also celebrate his life as we share our memories of him while he was here with us.
Let's keep the comments coming while we wait for the details on when and where the Memorial is going to be...
Posted by Hope Chapel Admin at 1:50 AM
Saturday, May 24, 2008
(this update was borrowed from Kit Lauer's blog at kit-blog1.blogspot.com. Please go there to leave comments for Kit. If you would like to leave a comment for Joe & Karen, click the comment link below)
Loved ones...last night tragedy struck our dear friends, Karen & Joe Johnson and their family as their son Joey (my daughter's age) was found dead in his sleep. We don't know the cause, but we do know Joey has suffered from seizures in the past. Joey is in Southern California and the family is heading there right now. Please lift them up in prayer. Shelly and I are just broken hearted right now as is everyone close to the family. We have all grown up together, our families all intertwined and it hurts so bad to loose one of our beloved sons. Our solstice is in the knowledge of life in our LORD. We hold on to Him during this time. Joey is a wonderful young man full of life and creativity. The hole in our hearts is huge right now so your prayers are like a warm salve on our wound. God is in control even now...Karen & Joe know this and so does the family. Joe, Joey's father, has been a steady worship leader at Hope...we have done missions trips together...he is an elder/leader, a wonderful generous man of God and Karen is our counselor at Hope, a sensitive, wonderful, giving, woman of God. They just give, give, give...now they need us to give to them. So...our thoughts and prayers are with the family, for strength and comfort...our hearts aching with theirs...but they know the beauty of those who are in the shelter of His wings...for we as Christians; we do mourn indeed, but we do not mourn as if we have no hope...not at all...for our hope is in Him, the giver of life. Karen & Joe and their family have sown into this truth almost all their lives "...and He shall comfort the weak and give strength to the weary..." (Isa.40:30) The Johnson's are experiencing this supernatural strength and peace right now as we pray for them. Shelly and I are fine, my struggle pales in comparison to Karen & Joe's right now. We are trying to get stronger to come home June 1st. You guys have been our strength...please continue to lift up Karen & Joe and family.
kit & Shelly
Posted by Hope Chapel Admin at 2:00 PM
Hope Chapel members, Joe & Karen Johnson, learned tonight that their son, Joey, age 28, passed away in his sleep on the mainland. Although we don't have any further information at this time, I thought maybe as the church heard the news, they would want to reach out to the Johnson family with prayers and words of love and comfort. Please pray for the Johnson ohana during this very difficult time.
Posted by Hope Chapel Admin at 12:21 AM