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.


Anonymous said...

"There was a man from Cyrene coming from the fields to the city. The man was Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus.The soldiers forced Simon to carry the cross for Jesus."
As Liza said, Joe and Karen are in a battle,on the very front lines. But they are not alone. Jamie and hers are not alone, Joanne and hers are not alone, Rachel and hers are not alone, and all those whom Joey called "his" are not alone! And I proudly take the role of Simon and help carry my brothers cross in any way I can. I have my role to play, as we all do. Find out your place, comfort who you can, and take comfort from who you need.We are ALL soldiers in this army! So look to find who's cross you might help carry, and you'll find your own lighter because of it. Steve

Joe and Karen said...

Thank you Liza and Steve for that beautiful encouragement. I needed that today. Every day the grief seems to feel different, and be focused on some other aspect of our loss. We do need the body of Christ to hold us up, listen to us and encourage us that God will bring us through this tragedy. My deepest love to you both.

anjuli paschall said...

just wanted you to know your family is still in my thoughts and prayers. in the mercy of Christ,

Anonymous said...

Joe & Karen
I always use to wonder when people offered comfort to someone who lost a dear one, they would say, "they will always live in your heart." I always thought that was an easy fix for them not knowing what to say. But as I get older and have experienced loss myself I see some truth in that statement. It's not at all a matter of trying to keep memories alive. It has nothing to do with somehow forgetting the loved one we lost because our loved one becomes a distant memory as we become older. It is very much that they live on in our hearts and are kept alive not just simply through memories but by their spirit touching our lives in this life so profoundly, in love. In 1 Cor. 13:7it says about love: Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance; even death? I believe, yes, because God's very existence is love and nothing separates us from Him, neither death nor life. So when an acquaintance or someone famous we read about in the paper passes away, we struggle to remember and find ourselves forgetful of their passing. When it's someone we dearly love, their very spirit lives on in our hearts, not just until we are reunited with them but forever and ever through all eternity, because of love.

You cannot say to Joe, Karen, Joanne, Jamie and all the people that loved Joey that they have not felt the sting of death in losing Joey. We can't begin to understand the rollercoaster ride they're on. So what did Paul mean when he said: "O death, where is thy sting"? It simply means that Jesus has overcome the grave and our greatest hope as Christians is spending eternity with our Savior and with our loved ones. Joey is with the Lord but we who are alive suffer the loss, we feel the sting. Not as those who don’t know Christ, for the true sting of death is forever being separated from the Lord. But we have an eternal hope that some day we will be face to face with Jesus and reunited with our loved ones.
I believe that Joe and Karen will one day trade the deepest sorrow they are experiencing today with such immeasurable joy when they are reunited with Joey in Heaven. But until that day, they need our constant support and love.
Joe, Karen Joanne and Jamie, no one can ever remove that precious place in your heart where Joey lives and with each day you will find, it becomes more and more precious.

Anonymous said...

My heart is heavy for you. It seems that sadness swells like a flooding river, and there is no dry ground for respite. Our prayers are constant for peace, rest, and even joy. Yet while we know that Joey would want you to go on and live life to its fullest, the chasm created by grief seems too great to overcome.

It is with those thoughts that God calls me to cling to Him; to trust Him utterly, and to believe He will, in His time, fulfill His promises.

Psalm 29:11 says “The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.”

I call on that verse now, and I pray that you will feel His strength and that His arms would be your rest. I pray that you would have enough peace to sleep well, for even just one night; to be able to laugh and enjoy eachother's company; to hear a song and see the ocean and be able to remember Joey with fond joy instead of throbbing pain. We pray that you can heal and yet still keep the best of Joey bound in your hearts, just as Gary wrote.

We remain firm in prayer for you--all of us--and we trust that God hears. While we might not be "loud" on this blog, we are never farther than a prayer away, and we are praying at every thought of you.

Love ya,
Cassie K

Anonymous said...

Joe & Karen & Jo Anne & Jaime,

"His Eye Is on the Sparrow"
by Civilla D. Martin (1905)

Why should I feel discouraged,
why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely,
and long for heaven and home,

When Jesus is my portion?
My constant friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.

"Let not your heart be troubled," His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth,
but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.

Anonymous said...

You are not fighting this battle alone....we are all here to support you and help carry you thru. There is NOT a day that goes by that we don't think of you...cry with you....and pray for you!! WE LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!
With so much love and hugs,
Lori and Wes

Kim Isnley Morrell said...

Dear Karen and Joe,

Love you guys and we know how difficult this week will be with all the kids gathering the Englert's and the wedding of David and Sally. I know that pain.

There are many memories that I recall from years many "firsts" without him. It is not just the is the everyday things. I know your pain.

Please do your best to give your self permission to find joy in some little things. I remember having to do that. Please find joy in one thing today....and consider doing it again in a few days. Make yourself do it, I encourage you with love. Please do not allow the enemy to steal the joy you have known. Just find the moments, and smile if only for a short time.

You are so close to my heart and thoughts, God be with you....with lots of love!


Anonymous said...

We love you guys and continue to pray for you.


Anonymous said...

Joey was less than 2 years old when I first met him. We were home on leave from Africa visiting Joe and Karen.

Joe and I had to go somewhere and Joey was coming along. This was back in the days when car seats were not required and seat belts...well not even sure they were in the car!

Anyway...Joe got in the car and I could tell this was a habit of Joey's...He would stand up in the front seat of the car - wedge his way behind Joe's shoulder and back and drive with his dad.

As we were driving along Joe noticed a cement truck and again I could tell this was a game he and Joey played often. Joe would say to Joey, "There is a cement truck Joey, wheels up? or wheels down?" Joey would respond with glee that the wheels were down that time.

I asked Joe what that meant? He explained to me that when the wheels are down on the truck it means there is a heavy load of cement and when the wheels are up -most of the time it is empty and has finished it delivery.Something I didn't know. I could see Joey checking out the traffic for another cement replay the game once again.

Joe was always making up games like that with his kids. Probably why Joey was so great with kids and games himself.

So for the last 26 years every time I would see a cement truck I would ask myself - wheels up? or wheels down? and smile and I would remember my brother and his son having so much fun with this little game. I have played this game with my own kids and grandkids many times.

I saw 3 trucks on my way home yesterday. It gave me the opportunity to play the game once again, this time I saw my brother and his son and smiled and I prayed for my brother Joe and for the loss of his precious son and the games they played.

These are precious memories. Stories that I know both Joe and Karen love to hear.

I love you both and I am lifting you and your family before the throne this always.

Love you - Viv