Monday, June 30, 2008

And When My Heart Is Overwhelmed, Lead Me To The Rock That Is Higher Than I

Psalm 61

1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.

2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.

4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 62

1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.

2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

3 How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

4 They fully intend to topple him
from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

7 My salvation and my honor depend on God [a] ;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Precious Family Photo

This picture was taken during our last week with Joey in Honolulu. We were assembled at the Waikiki Shell to watch his sister JoAnne graduate with a business degree from Hawaii Pacific University. On the other side of Joey is Ryan Cox who was graduating from the nursing program. He is the younger brother of Joey's best friend since birth, Kevin Cox. Due to the fact that both JoAnne and Ryan were graduating at the same time, we were blessed to have Joey's First and Second Families together for a week of celebration fun---beaching, dining, laughing together,and loving each other. Joey even indulged his mother's favorite pasttime by taking her and his dad and Kevin to "High Tea" at the Moana Surfrider in honor of Mother's Day. Precious time, precious memories. That was a gift from God to each of us who were closest to him on earth. We all love him so much, and time with Joey was always a good time.

A week later, Joey also heaven. Goodbye beautiful son...we are poorer without you, but heaven is richer.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thinking Of JoAnne ... (and the Deep Grief article sent to her by her friend)

* The Evangelistas: Shaun, JoAnne, Chase and Claire, with Joey, and Joe & Karen.

The other night I was at Jaime's house with a bunch of "girls" (ok, ladies) who were there to be with Jaime. It was a ladies night, a time of fun and laughter. It was formed to help ease the pain Jaime is experiencing in the loss of her brother who she's very closed with.

Then I thought of JoAnne and wondered how she's doing. The next morning, I got an e-mail from Karen. JoAnne forwarded to her and Jaime a post by Lysa Turkeust (from Proverbs 31 Woman ministry) sent to her by her caring friend Lyz. It was in incredible post. A moving post. It was written from the heart of someone who knows exactly what JoAnne and Jaime are going through. I thought isn't that wonderful. Just as the Maui ohana are ministering to the Johnsons here, JoAnne's Virginia friends are ministering to her as well. That was good to know.

And so I contacted Lysa (via her blog) to ask permission to re-post that scribbling here. And immediately I got a response back saying "yes, go ahead, you can re-post it". So so here it is:

by Lysa Terkeust

Sometimes when we lose things it causes a temporary panic that rises and falls in a mini-tidal wave fashion. Like earlier this year when I lost my camera with all our ski pictures on it. The panic escalated, crested with some hand wringing and mind racing, and then slowly ebbed away.

But sometimes a loss cuts into your heart so viciously that it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It's what I call deep grief.

The kind that strains against everything you've ever believed. So much so you wonder how the promises that seemed so real on those thin Bible pages yesterday, could possibly ever stand up under the weight of this enormous sadness today.

I once stood at the side of a casket too small to accept. Pink roses draped everywhere. And I watched my mom as she laid across the casket refusing to let go. How could she let go? Part of her heart laid within, so quiet and so still.

I stood paralyzed and stunned. Just days ago we were laughing and doing everyday things and assuming that all of our lives stretched before us in spans of many, many years. And then suddenly it all stopped.

In the flurry of funeral plans and memorial services we all operated on automatic. People were everywhere. Soft chatter filled in the gaps that our stunned silence could not. And enough food was brought in to feed the whole neighborhood.

But eventually people went back to their own lives. The soft chatter dissipated. The food stopped coming. And we were forced to carry on. Only we had deep grief wrapped about us that made our throats feel strangled and our feet stuck in mud.

I remember I tried to go to McDonalds to order a happy meal. But I couldn't. I sat in the drive-thru with the speaker spouting words at me I couldn't process. She kept asking if she could take my order.

Yeah I had an order. Take away my bloodshot eyes. Take away my desire to hurt the doctors that couldn't save my sister. Take away my anger toward God. And then take away my guilt for being the one that lived. I'll take all that with no onions and extra ketchup please.

I drove away sobbing. How dare they offer happy meals. No one should be happy today. Or tomorrow. Or next year.

This is the reality of deep grief. Even when you love God and believe in His promises. Even when you know without a doubt that you will see your loved one again. Even when you know hope is still there.

It takes time.

It takes wading through an ocean of tears.

It takes finding a possession of your loved one that you thought was lost and realizing God did that just to comfort you. It takes discovering one day that the sun still shines. It takes being caught off guard when you catch yourself smiling only to realize it's okay.

It takes prayer. It takes making the decision to stop asking for answers and start asking for perspective. It takes telling people to please not avoid saying her name- you want to hear it, over and over and over again.

Then one day you take off the blanket of deep grief. You fold it neatly and tuck it away. You no longer hate it or resist it. For underneath it wondrous things have happened. Things that could have only come about when Divine hope intersect with a broken world.

And finally you can see years stretching before you once again. You look up, blow a kiss, wipe a tear and find it's still possible to dance.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dear Family And Friends ...

It has been almost 5 weeks since Joey died...certainly the shortest and longest season of life we have ever lived. On the one hand we can't believe so much time has passed since we first heard the devastating news--it was a blur of shock, panic, deadlines and unwanted decisions. On the other hand, it feels our crushed hopes and dashed dreams, the relentless pain of missing our beautiful son, is never-ending. And from hearing from others who have walked this road before us, we now know in fact that it does indeed never end. There is nothing that ever takes away the pain of missing a child lost to his parents and family.

We are accepting as part of the "new normal" of our lives that as long as we live, we will long for our precious son. How could it be any other way? We've loved him for 28 years; we fed him, dressed him, comforted him; we sang to him, snuggled with him, and read Dr. Seuss to him; we taught him to ride a bike, hit a ball, and ski a slope; we watched him grow tall, fall in love with music, live his dreams, and love God and the world around him. We saw him grow into a talented, considerate, fun-loving and successful man with a wide circle of friends and fans.

We were proud of who he was as we packed up his bungalow in LA. His private world became open to our viewing... his journals, his finances, his books, his computer and his closets gave testimony to an upright man. We are proud of him in life and in death.

How can we ever forget or become accustomed to the loss of this man who graced our lives for 28 vibrant years? It's a testimony to his worth that we cannot. We will grieve his loss till we are with him again, and learn to function with our grief by God's grace. We have taken ourselves off of "recovery time tables" and just accepted that this too is part of the loss...our life will never be the same.

Karen and Joe

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Warrior Is A Child

Dear Karen,

Now that it's getting "quieter" here in this side of blogosphere, where most people has shifted to reading mode from commenting mode, I want to take this opportunity to encourage you ...

Up above is a photo I took of you on our Women's Ministry Spiritual Boot Camp. You spoke about Spiritual Warfare, and all of us who attended that workshop learned from you. I love this picture of you wearing a Navy Seal vest, a vest that is probably now an equivalent of the Roman armor.

As I am praying for you, I am realizing that you are in the "most dangerous area" of the war zone at this time. You are in a vulnerable spot. I am sure the military has a term for this, I just don't know or can't remember.

You and Joe are our wounded soldiers right now (actually , many of you in the Johnsons family). You are in the process of healing and mending. We do not know how long it will take. Grieve as long as you need to.

So many times people (especially family and friends) around the grieving person(s) don't really know how to handle this situation. We would like to let you grieve, at the same time we don't like to leave you in that situation, as if it is our responsibility to encourage you to move on. It's hard to strike a balance, and I don't think we can ever strike a balance in this grieving process. Like what Joe's Brother Steve said, each person will grieve differently and the span of time needed to move on will vary.

You have loved and and nurtured Joey on earth for 28 years. It might take another 28 years for you to get used to your "new normal" of not having him here.

Going back to the photo above, I decided to post it here for it to be your visual reminder of "putting on the armor of God" (Ephesians 6) daily as you grieve. I pray that your head (mind) will be protected by he helmet of salvation that only the "voice of truth" will prevail. Now, when I pray for you, I will specifically pray through this list of spiritual armors and weapons for you.

In addition, I also would like to remind you of the "red dot" and the "Papa Prayer". I would like to encourage you to use music and worship as your "soothing balm" as well as your "offensive tactic against the enemy" just like what they did in Jericho with Jehoshaphat. Joey loves to worship. Both you and Joe loves to worship. Most, if not all, of the Johnsons clan loves to sing and worship. Use that talent and ability to carry through in this time of grief.

I have a song for you. When you are feeling defeated, you can come back here and sing this with Twila. Karen, you are a child of God, His precious child that is. You are our mighty warrior at Hope Chapel. You have served us so well. At this time, when you need to put your armor down and rest, make sure you are in the arms of God.

I posted the lyrics at Liza's Eyeview if you want the lyrics.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In This Life (by Aunt Jackie)

Hello! My name is Jackie Johnson I am Joey's Aunt in Law. I married into the wonderful Johnson family on 12-30-06. It was a beautiful family ceremony at Sister Viv's home, married by brother Joe, and beautifully complemented by Joey's ukulele song of "In this life" at our service. I am so very blessed to be led to this family by God.

I am especially blessed to have been able to know Joey. He truly was one of those wonderful souls that just illuminate a room when he walks in! I actually thought Joey had written "In this life" until I heard IZ sing it on our honeymoon in Maui. I still like Joey's version best!

I am responding to Thurs June 19th question and challenge "WWJJD?" I am not very tech savvy at all and took the challenge to complete Joey's LA Service pictures that I took during the service and would like to share them on his website to help complete his service pictures from the LA side. I also plan on starting to learn how to blog and create a Johnson family website to connect us together as family! I will make Joey proud!

The LA service was just beautiful. Joey honored God not only in his life but also in his farewell service. The messages shared from all who knew and loved him just reflected the awesomeness of who he was as a glorious bright and beautiful gift from God that we have all been touched and blessed by. I only wish that God would have let us keep His gift longer!

I cling to God's promise in Romans 8:28 to work everything to good for those who love him. My prayer is to show us all some of the good to help comfort us through this difficult time.



Note from Liza: The LA Memorial photos and will be posted as a slide show here in a couple of days. In the meantime I thought it would be nice to post the video of that beautiful song "In This Life" - the song that Joey sang on Jackie's wedding. Here it is:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Steal The Bacon Will Never Be Quite The Same ...

There's so much to share about Joey's life. There are so many people who love him. There are so many people he loves. Even if we keep this blog going for years, there will always be stories about him, sweet stories, funny stories, inspiring stories, touching stories, etc. I thought a good start is to recount a lot of what was said during the memorial service.

One area of Joey's life that is quite above others is his relationship with his two sisters, Jaime and JoAnne. It's extra-ordinary.

I tried a couple times before to post something about it but couldn't quite come up with something. I guess it's because their relationship is so "personal and special" I just couldn't do justice describing it. One of these days, when they are ready, maybe they can share more with us....

Going back to the Maui Memorial service, the Borland ohana shared.

Bailey and Izzy shared about their Uncle JJ, and how they think he's the best uncle. They will miss him playing games with them, like the Uncle JJ's version of steal the bacon. They will miss him telling them stories of the myths of gold, etc.

Drew shared about Joey, and how he is close to him like a real brother (not just in-law). He also mentioned that Joey inspired him to be a better uncle (I will add this to the "what would JJ do" post).

Jaime shared about how she will miss Joey tremendously because Joey is not only her brother but one of her best friends as well. I have a feeling Jaime let her family (Borland Ohana) talk more, and she didn't speak as much, because if she did show would break down. Jaime and Joey had such a close relationship, there's a huge gap in Jaime's life right now. Please remember her in prayer. Please remember the Borland family in prayer.


Like what I said, there will be more posts of stories shared at the memorial. I will be contacting many of you who spoke at the service, both at L.A. and on Maui to get a copy of your sharing

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

Tomorrow will be a very hard dark day, as it marks one month of Joey's passing. I am sure the Johnsons and Rachel will be very sad. Not that they have recovered ... but there's something about an anniversary that hurts deeply. They need an extra prayer covering.

I was trying to search for words to help comfort the Johnsons and Rachel, but words are nowhere to be found. Once again, when everything else fails, when my heart can't express what I feel, I turn to music. "What A Friend We Have With Jesus" is a special song that would touch everyone's heart, especially the Johnsons and Rachel at this time. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and you lay your burden and grief to him. He will carry you ...

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Ev'rything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Ev'rything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our ev'ry weakness:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavyladen,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He'll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

For the history of this precious hymn, please visit I highly suggest you read the story behind this hymn to understand why I chose to post this song for The Johnsons, as well as for Rachel.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Ending

The other day, while reading about Joey's life in the Memorial Service Program, I couldn't help but think what a great young man Joey really is. He's perfect .. almost perfect ...yes, almost. This caused me to think further ...

You see, all of us who knew Joey knows that as much as Joey is an awesome guy - he is not perfect. He had flaws and he had sins.

Why am I saying this? Definitely not to dishonor Joey, for Joey's life is worth an honor of a king. I am saying this because I was reminded of a Bible verse, which actually is the Bible verse that caused me to give my life to Jesus more than 20 years ago. It says:

"For we have been saved by faith through grace, not by our works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8)

I have no doubt Joey is in heaven. I have no doubt we will all see him again one day. I have no doubt that this grieving process is temporary - because life on earth is temporary; it's life in heaven that is eternal.

I have no doubt we will all have a happy ending - that in the end there will be a grand reunion of Joey's family and friends.

Then I started thinking again. Is it right for me to assume that ALL of us will see Joey again? Now a hard question follows: Are all of Joey's friends and relatives "saved"? I mean, do they all believe in Jesus? Not to get into any theological debate or to step on anyone's toes...I was just wondering.

But then the Bible says:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not die but have an everlasting life" (John 3:16)

Let's back track a little bit. Looking back, I remember when Joe's dad passed away and how sad Joe was. Now I think - wow - Joey and his grandfather are having a blast in heaven! Unfortunately for Joe, he is still here and is missing out on some of the fun that Gramp Johnson and Little Joey are having in heaven, but I guess Joe has to stay a little longer on earth because Chase and Aiden needs him here (so that's not really unfortunate). They need their Papa here to guide them to become like Uncle JJ.

Back to my original thought, I wonder if all of Joey's family and friends know Jesus in a personal way. Not just about him, but really know him. Well, it's not too late. It's not late at all. For Jesus said:

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in ...." (Rev 3:20)

If you're one of Joey's family and friends who decided to "believe in Jesus" in connection with Joey's death (or even someone who didn't know Joey before but happen to just read this post), I urge you to let Joe and Karen know. Call them or e-mail them at I think nothing would bring great comfort to Joe and Karen at this time than to know that someone believed in Jesus as a result of Joey's life and death.

We don't have to understand the theology of this all now. It will come. God will work in us. But what Jesus us asking is "do you believe? do you believe in me?" Joey did.

And if you do, you'll be with us in the "happy ending".


The night sets in
Dark and deep
Quiet and calm

A new day rises
Sun shines
Bright rays on the horizon

Happy Ending
Heaven has come


* Bible verses are quoted by memory so double check in the Bible.
* Happy Ending is a prompt for post provided by Sunday Scribblings.
* Thank you for continually visiting this blog as a support for Karen and Joe, and the whole Johnson family.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Memorial For Joey

In loving remembrance of Joey, Joe and Karen have created a memorial at their wall near the ocean on our grass at Iliili Point. They are visiting it often, or looks at it from their lanai. Feel free to visit. Feel free to drop flowers. They would love that.

You know how here on Hawaii it is common to see those memorials on the road where loved ones would put a cross at a site and always bring flowers there? It is only now that they are understanding how comforting that is. It makes them feel better to see flowers there in loving memory of their dear son, Joey.


Dear Joe and Karen - here's a song for you today : The Voice Of Truth. Hugs. - Liza

Thursday, June 19, 2008

To Live A Full Life ... (What Would JJ Do?)

Note: this post is actually posted by me - Liza. I used Karen and Joe's sign in name and so it showed that it's posted by them. I thought I'd clarify.

In honor of Joey's life full of adventure, we'd like to put out a challenge and inspire you to do things that you've always wanted to do but haven't; or things you wanted to do but afraid to do; or just things that you've neglected to do because of the busyness of everyday life. Here are the samples from the last few days:

1. During the Paddle Out for Joey, Karen paddled amidst her initial hesitation to do so. JJ is proud of you for doing that in his honor Karen! For the Paddle Out slide show, click HERE.

2. Lu Kepler read and commented on a blog. Something she never thought she'd do before. For Bill and Lu's sweet comments, read "Remembering Joey" post here. The same thing with the Pattersons who left a comment on this post.

3. Liza sang, amidst stern warning from her beloved hubby :)

4. Kristen spoke in public in front of hundreds of people:

I will be reviewing some of the previous comments and will post up here some of the things you shared that you are now doing as inspired by Joey's life. Please please to add yours in the comment section :)

Here's a sample of a comment by Kehaulani on the "Remember Joey" post:

"Joe took such good care of everyone in need. His caretaker's approach always made me feel safe with Rachel and Joe. His life (and everything I learned at the memorial) is something that inspires me to seek out those in need and offer tangible love, the kind that feeds or helps or walks alongside or listens."

All I Can Say ...

I was thinking about the Paddle Out today .. how lovely and honoring, at the same time how sad and sorrowful it was. When Joe lifted Joey's ashes while praying to God, my heart just broke down. Many of us have been thinking of the verse "the Lord gives, the Lord take away, blessed be the name of the Lord" during this time... but at that very moment a different verse came to my mind. It's a verse of agony. As I hear Joe praying, I can imagine Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane saying

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Yet not my will but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)


On May 30th, I posted a song in my blog called "All I Can Say" that I dedicated to the Johnsons. I thought I should post it here also. Lyrics can be found here.

The Johnsons are grieving deeply. There are no words to describe it. I know that all of you reading this blog are praying for them. It makes a huge difference. More than we can ever know, the prayers are carrying the Johnsons in this time of grief. Thank you so much for bearing this burden with them. This blog will continue. It will not always be a somber post. There will be times of rejoicing and inspiration as well. Fun and joyful posts will come. But for the next few days, we will join them in weeping.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remember Joey

Dear Precious Family and Friends,

Thank you for everything. That seems so inadequate a way to express our profound gratitude for the outpouring of love, support, prayers, comfort, scripture, cards, meals, money, hugs, and labor on our behalves. Thank you for traveling to and sitting through our memorial services and telling us afterwards that you felt you knew who Joey was. Thank you for coming to the beach and paddling out and sitting in the ocean with us and saying goodbye. All of these heartfelt gifts have meant everything to us, and they share the burden of our loss and give us strength to continue on. Please know that every effort on your parts is cherished by our whole family and that you have carried us.

With all the formalities over, we are pulling into our family and mourning Joey deeply. Our hearts are so full of loss and grief and tears. Death is a cold, cruel and terrible foe and we finally really understand why Jesus had to conquer death. We love Jesus our Mighty Warrior who battled Death for all of us, and won the victory. God never intended us to be parted from those we love and eternity will be a huge healing of the aching wound that we all feel on this earth. In the meantime we all live with loss, sorrow and grief, and we are thankful for Our Man of Sorrows, Acquainted with Grief. He understands our suffering. He is our Hero.

The long future ahead of us without Joey is hard to bear. That is going to be the challenge. The everydayness of him being gone is too empty...missing his voice, his ideas, his comfort, his humor and his touch. We all adored him. Our whole family and Rachel and his closest friends stare at a great big wide chasm of emptiness without him. His big personality took up a big space in the room. He was the source of so much of our laughter, the inspiration for our dreams, the confidence for our enterprises, the motivation for our adventures, and the pleasure in our ordinary moments. He was truthful with each of us, and yet so gentle and kind with our weaknesses. He was good enough to be admirable, and human enough to be comfortable. He was wise and smart and aware. He poured out so much love and it has multiplied in our hearts in losing him.

One thing that helps right now is to talk about our feelings, about him, to see his pictures, and to hear others tell their stories about him---even little ones. Since we don't have an open mic available, this blogspot will have to be our forum. If you don't know how to use the blog comment site, email it to and we will put it in. If you'd rather just e-mail but not get it posted in the comment section, just e-mail and let us know.

We will continue to write our feelings because it helps our grief process. I hope you will check in on us this way and keep in touch with us in the difficult year to come.

Much love to each and everyone of you who have walked with us,
The Johnson Ohana

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Hui Hou Joey

*Scroll down to start up the background music, then scroll up again to watch the slide show. I'm still learning how to embed music with the slide show...

Memorial Service on Maui

Thank you for your prayers, the Memorial Service tonight was beautiful. Joey's life was celebrated, his family and friends were encouraged, he was introduced to those who have not met him, and most of all God was glorified.

I know there are many who came prepared to share about Joey but didn't get a chance because there was no "open mic" and the time for sharing was limited (otherwise we will be there until midnight or longer). I encourage you to write those "sharing" here in the comment section to encourage the Johnsons.

UPDATE: Slide Show posted in the "Remember Joey" post by Karen and Joe.

Friday, June 13, 2008

* Fellowship after the service. Please bring pupus to share

One Of The Hardest Thing ... (Homesick)

My family visited Joe and Karen tonight. It was a short visit, but in that short visit I felt strongly how much they are missing Joey. One of the hardest thing is the fact that they will not see Joey alive again ... not until that day when they see each other in heaven. And that, my friends, is the reason why I'd say they are "homesick".... definitely "homesick".

You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbye
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Memorial Service at Hope

The memorial service to honor
and celebrate Joey's life will be on
Sunday, June 15th, 4pm at Hope Chapel.

There will also be a paddle-out at Charlie Young Beach, Kam I, on Monday morning, June 16th at 7am to scatter his ashes. The Johnsons are hoping people will bring their boards and join them for that. If you have any questions, please e-mail Hope Chapel.

Note: I moved this up as a reminder.

A Time To Plan ...

Karen and Joe are so grateful for all the visits, love, encouragement and support everyone has shown these past days. At this time they are doing all the preparations for the Memorial Service so we are requesting that you call first before you come.

They also have family, relatives and friends coming in from the mainland for the memorial so I suggest we delay the visits until after next week. See you all at the service on Sunday, 4PM...

Thank you ...


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Attending A Memorial Service

Interesting thing happened at church on Sunday. Our guest speaker, Danny Lehman, asked at the opening of his teaching who among us likes going to a funeral. Without second thoughts, without hesitation, I raised my hand. My hubby looked at me with a "are you crazy kind of look" and that's when I realized I was the only one (among hundreds) who raised a hand. I think Danny wasn't even expecting that someone would raise his/her hand....and so from the stage (or pulpit as others would call it), Danny mentioned, "there's only one hand raised, and she is right"....

Not that I don't feel sad when people die...but attending funeral services (or memorial services) makes me reflect about life and death and that aligns my perspective....

In Psalm 39:4-5 David wrote:
"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreathe, the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you".

* This post was originally published at Liza's Eyeview on 6-10-07.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A New Wave Of Grief ...

The loss of Joey is so profound and deep and heartwrenching, that it is almost unbearable at times. It helps so much that others know that and care. We don't know how we are ever going to resume "normal" lives again. We just long for his presence and yearn for one more day with him. Life feels empty without him. Whenever he walked into a room he brought happiness, humor, and love with him and gave it out generously. He was full of excitement for life and lived so much in the moment. He was engaged and involved and aware of each one of us and what we were feeling and doing. He was just such a rich and giving person and we feel so much poorer without him.

Being back here of course starts a new wave of grief, remembering everything we shared with Joey here. He loved Maui so much, and he loved our condo here looking out on the ocean. I have so many sweet memories of mornings here on the lanai, him drinking coffee and drinking in the beauty of the ocean. He couldn't stop talking about it. I know he was looking forward to inheriting the place someday! Our lives will reorganize, but they will never be the same again. I just pray that God will comfort us and that Joey is having an incredible experience exploring heaven right now....seeing things we can only imagine and speechless from the beauty around him.


Grieving Seems Easier When Shared With Friends

Tawny left this comment in one of the posts but she requested me to post it up also so that many will see. To understand more of what Karen and Joe are going through at this time, please read Karen's latest note HERE

Aloha Everyone,

I just left the Johnsons house. It was so good to see them. I know so many of us are wondering how we can be there for them and help. What they are needing during this time is fellowship. They would love people to stop by and visit with them. The hard part for them is being alone. Please feel free to stop by and visit. You don't need to call in advance just stop by. The outside gate to the condo is open so just come on in. They also wanted me to mention to everyone that they appreciate the phone calls and to keep them comming but it is to hard to return all of them. So please don't take offense if they don't call you back. They continually look at the blog so keep the comments comming as well. Even if you don't know what to say just a simple we are thinking of you means the world to them. So if you have some time please stop by and show your love and support to them and help them thru this difficult time they are going thru.


Many friends responded to this post by Tawny and Kristen's e-mail. I think many are just not sure where Karen and Joe's comfort level is in terms of being surrounded with people at this time, but when it was made known that they do want to be around friends, many started coming to visit. I stopped by there this afternoon and there were a lot of visitors pouring love to Karen and Joe.

I moved Karen's latest note up top so that many will have a glimpse of their pain and sorrow. Yes, they do trust the Lord and are peaceful that Joey is now in heaven, but there's also a part of them that's grieving....

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord

Below is a letter sent to Karen and Joe. I thought it would be neat to share this with us all because it shows how Joey's memorial Service in LA was used (and is being used) by God to touch lives ...

Dearest Karen and Joe,

You and your precious family have been on my heart for the last two weeks, but especially since attending Joey's unbelievable memorial service Sunday. I didn't know Joey very well, only what I learned via our conversations at the CPC (Crisis Pregnancy Center). BUT, after Sunday's service, I feel like I know him better as a result of the "stories" told about him by your family, Kevin, and Rachel.

What awesome testimonies were shared
about this precious young man! And I am sure, if others were allowed to share their experiences with Joey, we'd still be sitting in church hearing about the lives he's touched.

Joe, thank you for "letting us
in" and sharing those wonderful stories about your spontaneous trips with Joey. I loved the way you explained that Joey HAD to squeeze in so much of life, and if you hadn't shown him how, he may not have experienced so much. And, I'll never sing "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord" without seeing you standing to your feet holding your grandbaby in one arm, and raising the other to God. What you couldn't see behind you is that everyone rose to their feet along with you. Joe, that was a powerful moment, and as the pastor said, "You are the real deal", when someone wants to know WHO and WHAT a follower of Christ is.

Precious Karen, how did you do that with such poise and grace?? Thank
you for allowing us, through your breaking mother's heart, to hear about all of the wonderful things Joey was to you. Every mother could identify with you at that moment.

EVERYTHING about Joey's memorial
service was God honoring, and something I'll never forget. I want you to know that I've had some sleepless nights lately, thinking of you guys and praying, travailing before The Lord on your behalf. I know I am one of MANY who are lifting you before the throne.

Karen and Joe, you two are so very special and so loved by

As I have told others, my life is richer for having known you,
and those CPC years are very special and forever etched on my heart. The scripture that has come to me through this is: John 14:2 "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also." You're in my heart and prayers.

Love you,

Joe and Karen arrives back to Maui tonight. We'll find out more on when the Memorial Service at Hope will be. As soon as I hear from them, I'll let you know. - Liza

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Roller Coaster Ride ...

Everything is well, then suddenly...shocked, indescribable grief, unfathomable sadness, agony, despair, then loves pours, support came, hugs, embrace, crying, more crying, wailing, tears, trust, peace calm in the midst of storm, standing on the Word of God, relying on God's promises, pockets on joy in grief, suddenly it once again hits .... sadness, grief, pain, weary, tired, hyperventilating, cannot breathe, anger, rage, sadness, deep sadness, fatigue sets in, then a reminder of love, mercy, sacrifice, peace that the world cannot give, trust, hope, support, prayers, lots of prayers, memories, joy in remembering the good times, thankful for the blessings, thankful for eternal life, but slowly sadness comes back, grief, agony, missing Joey, weary, withdrawn, numb....... looking unto the Jesus... longing for heaven ... and it goes on...

We don't know how long this roller coaster ride will be. Please continue to pray. Let the Johnsons family know you're praying

I found a good article for reflection, HERE.

Friday, June 6, 2008

LA Memorial Update (with the Program)

I know many of you are waiting for the post on the LA Memorial as we have been reading the comments of those who were blessed to attend, sharing how beautiful, touching and inspiring it was. There's been a delay, but the post will come; hopefully before the Maui Memorial Service so keep coming back to check.

Rachel e-mailed me a copy of the program, and just by reading the program I can tell how inspiring and moving the service was.We will post a link to the copy of the program here. Lisa will do it. I might also post a portion of it here and there.

Here it is: Joey Johnson's Memorial Service Program
You will need Adobe Reader to view this file.

In the meantime, continue to pray. Karen and Joe's latest note is HERE.

It's a blessing to see many "coming out of (or from) the internet-phobia" and posting for the first time, for the love of Karen and Joe. I know hundreds are reading this blog, but only a few are courageous to leave a comment. The important thing is many of you are praying. Thank you. But for those who leave comments, you'll get an extra hug from Karen when she comes back ;) :0 :)

I'll be back!

P.S. To Joe(y)'s friends - don't be confused - there are two of us - Lisa and Liza. I have gotten a couple of e-mails confused about that. Yeah... we are different, and yet the same - ya Lisa?


Thursday, June 5, 2008

From Karen and Joe

"The latter temple is greater than the former temple,
and the peace of God is there"

Joey was cremated yesterday. We were distressed and grieving intensely during that time and decided to pray and read our morning devotional. We asked God to give us comfort. When we opened the devotional to June 4, it said "The latter temple is greater than the former temple, and the peace of God is there" from Haggai 2. It was a sign to us from the Lord that He is taking care of Joey right now, and it gave us great peace.

We picked up his ashes today and we are feeling weary, tired, sad, and withdrawn...this would be impossible for us to bear if we didn't believe in the resurrection. It feels like a very long time before we will be able to see him again. We miss him so much--his handsome face, warm smile, sense of humor and optimism. We know our Father in heaven understands because His Son became unrecognizable after death...he grieved the loss of His Son, too.

Rocky and our CA friends helped us finish packing Joey's stuff yesterday. His house is empty now and we will return to Maui with all the things we couldn't bear to part with. It would have been impossible to do alone. Again, the Lord provided. The prayers of so many are carrying us.

Thank you for bearing our sorrow with us. It helps us to not feel so alone right now.

Much love,
Joe and Karen
and family


When my heart is heavy, I always want to sing. Here's a song I sung tonight: FOR THOSE TEARS I DIED
- Liza

The Father's Heart .. .

Dear Joe,

You are heavy in my heart today as I think and pray about you all...

I don't think we will ever know the depth of your sorrow ... I was thinking, right now, at this time in your life, you are at your closest to knowing God's sorrow when he gave His only son to die for us ...

I wish there's something we can do to ease the pain ... I am actually trying to avoid using Christian cliche like "God will comfort you" and all that kind of stuff, because you already know that....but the truth is - there's no other who can help you truly, and understand you truly, other than God ...

This morning I was thinking about our son and it seems like a conversation between God and I ran in my head ...

God: Liza, how about you ... when the time comes that I take your son back to heaven, if I take your son before you, would you trust me, and still love me, and rely on me?

Liza: Lord, you know my heart. You know I'd want to say, "Yes, I do. Yes, I will" but the truth is "I don't know". I don't know if I will have the strength to bear the pain ...

God: Well... I do. You may not know right now ... but when that time comes, I will give you the strength... I will.

Joe, the strength that God gives may come in portion - a day at a time as you need it. There will be days when you'd feel like you just want to go home too ... and in those times, remember that God will give you the strength, as you need it.

I know your sadness is great. But always remember, God understands....

I had a posted a video of a telephone conversation in my blog the day we found out about Joey's passing away. Maybe you've already watched this, but I thought I'd post it again here for Joey's friends to see, and to remind you that God knows what you're going through:

(*more about Logan on this video link)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Time To Weep ...

To everything there is a season,
a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and
a time to die;
A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and
a time to dance;
A time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

From Karen:

....I wanted to write about the memorial service, but we were exhausted afterwards. I want everyone who is reading the blog to know that it was absolutely perfect and beautiful. Thank you for the prayers...they made all the difference.

The slide show came together and every other part of the service as well. It was everything we had prayed it would be. The Lord was honored and lifted up for all to see, and we wanted people to know who Joey was, and that was also accomplished. The Lord carried us and helped us through the most difficult week of our lives.

We are now mourning in a new way as we pack up his little bungalow, and sort through his things...some to give away and some to keep for ourselves. That is very difficult and heart-wrenching. It makes real to us that his earthly life is over and we weep over the mementos of his life--his guitar and ukulele, his t-shirts and board shorts, his wallet and glasses and toothbrush. It really hurts.

We are so comforted that he is spiritually alive and living in eternity. We keep our focus by remembering that He is with the Lord...he is safe. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. We are relying on them as we close down Joey's life. We think we'll be home this weekend.

Much love,


UPDATE: Many comments referred to Kit's homecoming, go here to see some photos and HERE to see the slide show.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The LA Memorial Service ...

I know many of us were praying yesterday for the memorial service. Yesterday afternoon Kyle Knight called Toni Spence and said it went well (he and his lovely wife Monica attended the service). I can't remember the exact word he used but I think he said it was very moving and an emotion packed service. Prayers for the slide show were answered, the glitch was fixed! The slide show was a blessing.

The Lord provided someone who would share about the memorial service ... you'll know who he/she is when the post comes out. I just want to post this to make sure you'd come back ... stay tuned ... keep praying for Joe and Karen and their family.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dear Rachel ...

Dear Rachel,

I just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers a lot. I can't even imagine what you are going through right now. I wish I can find some words of comfort to ease the pain you are experiencing, but I know there is none...

Joey loves you and you love Joey. There is no doubt about that. Your adventure together will give us warm memories of Joey. I know there will be a lot of tears flowing, because you are missing Joey ... let the tears flow sweetie, let it flow. Know that we are crying with you.

You are part of our Ohana, a special part of it, and we are always here for you.

I am looking forward to seeing you here on Maui so I can give you a hug.


(*** Note- I moved this post up (changed date up) because I noticed new comments coming in here... please continue to pray for Rachel)

A Haiku For Joey

June 1

Day of remembrance
celebration and goodbye
Safely in Jesus arms

* This haiku was written in the comments section by an anonymous who loves the Johnsons. The photo is a photo of the metamorphosis taken by either Joey or Rachel (taken from Van Down By The River Blog).

A Comment from Karen ...

Tears flowing from my eyes as I am typing this. It's 10:13 pm and I decided to check the Johnsons Blog for the nth time (don't ask me how many times, you'll think I'm obsessed) ... But whatever time I put in this blog is worth it ... it's the least I can do... In case you miss the comment on the last post, I decided to post it here. Please continue to pray ...

Dearest Liza ... it is well past midnight here, and we are, as you predicted, exhausted. The slide show technology is betraying us, and we've all just given up and gone to bed. It feels so important to show Joey's life, but if it's not to be, then we accept it. Life is full of disappointments, isn't it.

One thing that isn't disappointing is the blog... thank you so very much for all the love and effort you have put into that. It is so very beautiful and so much what we need right now. We all read it about 15 times a day. All Joey's friends are reading it too. It keeps us going when we lose our hearts. This is one of the dearest things to me out of this whole bittersweet story...the love that so many have poured out to us. And your gift of the blog enables us to experience a constantly changing kaleidoscope of support.

Your list of prayer requests for us couldn't be more on target. Tomorrow will be a difficult day and we are leaning on the Lord for strength. It helps to know that so many are praying for us. We need it desperately and we are comforted with the confidence that our prayers will be answered in God's time and way. We trust Him.

Much love sweet sister,