Thursday, July 31, 2008

Remembering Joey - by Ray

* see comment section for an explanation of who Ray is :)

I ended up with Joeys IPOD while I was in Iraq this spring. While I was there my IPOD, with all my favorite music, broke...yes I tried all the button pushing tricks, but it was fried. I was forced to listen to JJ's IPOD and all these bands and songs I had never/barely even heard of before from JJ's "LA" music catalog...like..Cat Power...the Pixies...Red 5 etc. I started to really like all these bands that, at first, I thought were going to suck...and that I was going to be stuck with for weeks, but I actually really like them now. This is so trivial, but I associate all that music I listened to now with Joey. music was such a big part of who he was...I feel like its a really good way...maybe the best way, to connect with the person I knew him to be.

Since Joey died, the things that have become more prevalent or more in the forefront of my mind is how important people are. It sounds obvious,..but what actually matters..at the end of the day is friends and family and God... making the time together matter. I can't really talk much on that because of all the time I spend away from home in the military, but whatever time we do have...make it count.

We all would love to have another Christmas or summer with Joey, but its not going to happen any time soon unfortunately. What we can do though...what I am going to do is take full advantage of the time we have with each other....with our spouses, kids, loved ones, neighbors and friends.....This life is sooo short. I really want to make it count. losing Joey has really illustrated the importance of that.

Also, It seems like I am noticing all my flaws more than ever....like they are being highlighted so I don't overlook them. I feel like I need to be more generous for some reason? I have been putting more money in those donation boxes at the store , the ones with the sick kids on the front.

I've also been tipping more than normal at restaurants. I don't care as much about money, and making it, as I did before. It seems like a better idea to invest in time with God and the people we care for. Its the times and experiences we have together that are going to matter in the end. Everything else is trivial.


We will miss you Joey, for the rest of our lives here. We Love You.

RAY-

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Specific Prayers ...


As we continue to pray for the Johnsons, I thought of adding some new specific prayers to what was already written on the previous post. Here are some that I can think of:

1) Pray for their re-entry to Maui. They had a good time with JoAnne and her family in Virginia, as well in LA with Joe's family. They were all together as they grieve. Now that they are back on Maui, a new wave of grief will surface - please continue to pray for comfort and encouragement.

2) Pray for their re-entry to work. I am not sure when (I think Joe will be going back soon), but when they do, it would be very very difficult, it will be tough. Pray for clarity of mind. Also for understanding and compassion with and from their co-workers and clients.

3) Pray for their re-entry to church, fellowship with others and ministry. Even this will be difficult as they try to blend back and live a "new normal". Pray for us as well, that we will be compassionate and understanding as well as sensitive and caring in this very emotional year. Pray that we'd have the wisdom to know how to best offer sympathy; and that we will be comfortable surrounding them with love, not being afraid to mention Joey's name in conversations.

Please add in the comment section any other specific prayers you may think of. Thank you....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What Do You See In Your Clouds?


“Behold, He cometh with clouds.”
Revelation 1:7

In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to dispute the rule of God. It is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith. "The clouds are but the dust of our Father's feet." The clouds are a sign that He is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near without clouds, He does not come in clear shining.

It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child - God and my own soul, other people are shadows. Until other people become shadows, clouds and darkness will be mine every now and again. Is the relationship between myself and God getting simpler than ever it has been?

There is a connection between the strange providences of God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God's character, we do not yet know Him.

"They feared as they entered the cloud . . ." - Is there anyone "save Jesus only" in your cloud? If so, it will get darker; you must get to the place where there is "no one any more save Jesus only."

***

The devotion above is from "MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST" written by Oswald Chambers. This is the devotion for July 29 on that book. The post was taken from the website HEARTLIGHT.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Thank You From the Johnsons


Dear Everyone,

This is Joe's brother Steve. Joe would like me to let all of you know how grateful he and Karen are for your prayers and thoughts during this "second wave" of losing our mother. They have been staying at our home in Redlands since Friday, and we as a family were able to lift mom up in her last days and honor her. She passed into eternal life at 12:30 AM PST on Monday,7-28.

Joe and Karen were the last to be by her side as of about 9:00 PM the previous evening. We 4 kids, (Viv, Joe,Glen, and myself), were able to be with her in her last few days, singing and praying by her bedside, reading her scripture, and just being quietly supportive.We were also thrilled to be able to spend precious time with each other,as we all continued to walk our road of mourning for young Joey, only alongside them for a while. And when mom was ready to meet the Lord, we have no doubt that JJ and G JOHN were right there to welcome her in!

I was sitting with Joe this morning, and we were talking about how Joey had such a wonderful bond with Gramma John, and always looked forward to sitting with her and sharing about his life. Well, we feel he is still doing that in this new life they all share together. Joe wants to especially thank the prayer circle at Hope, who were actually in prayer when mom passed. That is such a comforting thought for them.

I will be taking them to LAX in an hour or so for their return to Maui, And I am sure they will be in good hands.

JoAnne and Jamie, Thank you so much for your constant love you show your parents. They have raised you to have the same wonderful qualities that make them such special human beings. I know Gramma loved you both very, very, much.

To all the other Grandkids, Great Grandkids,relatives and friends who have continued to show their love, thank you, thank you, thank you!! This is not a step back, rather it is a step forward, as we commit our mother to the Lord, and prepare for the next chapter in this ever unfolding story called life.

I don't know many of you (personally), but I say on behalf of Viv, Glen, and myself, thank you for supporting our precious brother and sister, and for being such a wonderful "family".

It is well with our souls.
Steve

Dolores In The Presence of God In Heaven ..

Early this morning, Joe's mom passed into the presence of the Lord shortly after midnight CA time. She was ready to go, and her face in death was truly peaceful.

We are grateful for the Lord's timing on taking her home this weekend while we were here. As Joe's brother Steve said, "It is finished." Her life continues on in the presence of God, and in the arms of those who have gone before her...Grandpa Joe and Grandson Joey.

We are planning to return to Maui tomorrow. Thank you all for the love and prayers that continue to surround us. We love you and appreciate you so much.

Karen

I found this on YouTube today. May this be another encouragement to the Johnson's and to everyone reading this blog:



The enemy has been defeated
And death couldn't hold You down
We're gonna lift our voice in victory
We're gonna make Your praises loud

Shout unto God with a voice of triumph
Shout unto God with a voice of praise
Shout unto God with a voice of triumph
We lift your name up, we lift Your name up

Joey and Randy

Most of you know Randy Pausch and most of you know he recently passed away. I don't know much about him and so I do not know where his faith lies. One thing I know is that this lecture he did is a "legacy" left behind. I am posting it here because:
1) His parents reminds me of Joe and Karen
2) His life reminds me of Joey's life
3) We can learn from his life as much as we can learn from Joey's life
4) Randy reminds us to live life to the fullest. Joey's death was sudden, Randy wasn't, but both of them lived their live to it's fullest.

The video is being viewed by millions so it takes a little while to download. It's 10:10 min long but it's worth watching:

Please continue to pray ...

I am re-posting an abbreviated version of Joe's prayer request to remind us to continue to pray for the Johnsons family:

My mom was recently diagnosed an aggressive cancer and has not long to live... please pray for God to give us the strength to comfort those around us. . . 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

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Remembering Joey - photo shared by Kealani Schmitt

Joey and his dad Joe Johnson backing me up
while I sang to Chris on our wedding day
- Kealani

Friday, July 25, 2008

Every Move I Make ...

The neat thing about Joey being in heaven is that he does not need his guitar there anymore. I'm sure there's a "band" already there greater than what we can imagine, he'll just have to join the angels singing. For us who are still hear, I guess we can just join David Crowder here for now. This song on the video below was sung by Joe with his grandkids and my kids, and more friends' kids - on Mother's Day - what a special day that was, especially for the Johnsons family.




Thursday, July 24, 2008

"The Path To Comfort In Our Time Of Sorrow" by J. R. Miller, (1840 - 1912)

Matthew 26:38 "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death..." Jesus being in agony--He prayed, is the record of our Savior's Gethsemane experience. The lesson stands for all time. Like a bright lamp, the little sentence shines amid the olive trees of the garden.

It shows us "the path to comfort in our time of sorrow." Never before or since--was there such grief as our precious Redeemer's, that night. But in His prayer, Jesus found comfort.

As we watch Jesus the hour through, we see the agony changing as He prayed, until at last its bitterness was all gone--and sweet, blessed peace took its place.

The gate of prayer is always the gate to comfort. There is no other way to consolation.

We may learn also from our Lord's Gethsemane, how to pray in our Gethsemane's. God will never blame us for asking to have the cup removed, nor for the intensity of our supplication; but we must always pray with submission.

It is when we say, in our deepest sorrow and intensity, "Not my will--but may Your will be done," that comfort comes, that peace comes.

***
The above devotional was sent to Joe and Karen by their good and long time friends, Kevin and Shirley Cox. Thank you Kevin and Shirley.

From Joe ...

Joe left the following comment on the previous post. I am posting it up here for the "Prayer Warriors" to easily see:

... 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


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cry Out To Jesus (by Third Day)

I like this photo of Joey. Looks like he's looking at us from heaven. As Joe and Karen goes through a roller coaster ride of emotions, may this be a great "picture reminder" that Joey is in heaven. I also found a song/video that I think is quite comforting, I decided to post it here:



To everyone who's
lost someone they love
long before it was their time.
You feel like the
days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye.

And to all of the people
with burdens and pains
keepin' you back from your life.
You believe that there's nothing
and there is no one
who can make it right.

There is hope for the helpless,
rest for the weary,
and love for the broken hearts.
There is grace and forgiveness,
mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are.

Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus.

For the marriage that's
struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love.
and they've done all they
can to make it right again
still it's not enough.

For the ones who can't
break the addictions and chains
you try to give up
but you come back again.
Just remember that
you're not alone
in your shame and
your suffering.

There is hope for the helpless,
rest for the weary,
and love for the broken hearts.
There is grace and forgiveness,
mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are.

Cry out to Jesus.

When you're lonely and
it feels like the
whole world is falling on you
you just reach out,
you just cry out to Jesus

Cry to Jesus.

To the widow who suffers
from being alone,
wipin' the tears from her eyes.
For the children around
the world without a home,
say a prayer tonight.

There is hope for the helpless,
rest for the weary,
and love for the broken hearts.
There is grace and forgiveness,
mercy and healing
that meets you wherever you are.
There is hope for the helpless,
rest for the weary,
and love for the broken hearts.
There is grace and forgiveness,
mercy and healing
that meets you wherever you are.

Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus.
Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus.

Pain, Pain, Go Away ....

The following are the 2 quotes I mentioned on my previous post. I wish the pain the Johnsons feel would just go away quickly, but in reality - it won't. Even these great men of God said so:

To say the patient is over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he's had his leg off is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he'll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has "got over it". But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man.
-
C.S. Lewis in "A Grief Observed" after the death of his wife

Nothing can make up for the absence of someone whom we love and it would be wrong to try to find a substitute; we must simply hold out and see it through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time it is a great consolation, for the gap, as long as it remains unfilled, preserves the bonds between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; God does not fill it, but on the contrary, God keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other, even at the cost of great pain.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian who was executed for opposing Hitler

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fun Memories with JJ


Joe's painted on mustache and goatee...
We went to dinner and the waitress asked him
"how long have you been growing that?".
In his fake French accent he confidently answered,
"I have been growing zis since birth".


Rachel started a group at Facebook, and one of the discussions there is our favorite Joey memories. Here's what JoAnne (one of Joey' sister) shared. This was posted in Facebook earlier (not today):

Prolly (that's "probably" in JJ speak) four or five years ago, I ended up visiting Maui with my kids the same week JJ was there. JJ had a way of turning the mundane into excitement and adventure. We had "big plans" to go get pizza (me, Nana, JJ and my kids Chase and Clare) over at the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut on Kihei Rd. Right before we left Joey for some reason decided to use my brown eyeliner to draw a very lame, skinny mustache on his hairless upper lip. The kids and I loved it... "Unkie JJ is so funny!"... but then he took it to the next level by declaring he would wear the 'stache' to dinner. And he sure did... he even adopted this lame French accent that he used the entire time we were at Taco Bell/ Pizza Hut. The waitress tried to keep a straight face as he ordered our selections. Finally, near the end of the dinner the waitress asked Joey if he'd been growing that mustache for long. Joey replied in his lame, thick French accent "I've beeeen working on it seeeeence birth"... We all laughed hysterically... Good times with a friend and brother so spontaneous and silly! I (will) miss that so much.

Thoughts on Second Month ...

As many of you remembered, today is the second month anniversary of Joey's death. I knew this will be a very sad day for Joe and Karen, and for everyone who loves and misses Joe(y), so a week before today I already have a plan on what I will post here. I have 2 quotes on grieving and I have an idea of what photos I will include. While e-mailing Karen a couple days ago I told her that I already have a post ready for today, unless a new "revelation" comes. Well... it seems like a "revelation" happened.

Early this morning, I was re-reading the post from yesterday and enjoying that photo of the 3 generations J. I thought to myself "Oh, I would leave this post up one more day because the photo is so precious" And then another thought came "And after this I will post that funny photo and story of JJ I got a couple of days ago".

It was only after I read Kelly's comment on that post that I got reminded today is the 2nd month anniversary! I was going to rush posting the quotes, when I stopped and thought "hey... what would Joey want me to post today?" And the post above from JoAnne came to mind.

I think it's not a mistake. I think it's really meant to be. If Joey were alive today, and we would ask him how would you like to be remembered on your 2nd month death anniversary, he would probably want something like this. Knowing Joey, he would want it to be fun.

And so dear Karen and Joe, I hope the post above Fun Memories With JJ (by JoAnne)brought smiles in your faces, amidst painful emotions remembering Joey's passing and missing him.

Love,
Liza

Monday, July 21, 2008

Joey's Acts of Kindness - Like Father Like Son

* Check out the 5th comment on the post "Streets with No Name" post. Such a great encouragement. Thanks Steve for sharing that. To easily go to that post and read the comments below, click HERE.

The following was written in the comment section. I thought it's a great example for us to follow and so I am posting it up again:

I was horrified. I missed five overcrowded flights at LAX due to my low-priority standby pass and it didn't seem like I would make it to my Midwest destination. There I was. At 2 a.m. Frantically calling Rachel. Then Joe (that's Joey to some of you). Then Rachel. And then Joe again.

When I got a hold of one of them, Joe arranged a cab for me to Rachel's place. He gave the driver directions. I had no cash; he paid the $40 tab. And he called the cab for my 6 a.m. departure back to LAX. I'm pretty sure he paid that fare, too.

All I could do was thank him with my words that night in 2006. I had no money on me (until later when I sent him a check that he didn't cash).

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.

Joe's life is a rad, rad portrayal of that agape. Imagine that: Agape even at 2 a.m.:)

Love,
Kehau


LIKE FATHER LIKE SON
Having worked as a secretary to Craig Englert (one of Joe's best friends), I have heard many stories like this of Joe Johnsons (Joey's dad). One particular story is very similar to this - back when Craig and Joe were in their early 20's. Craig's car broke down in the middle of the night in a freeway (or some hi-way). Even though he didn't want to wake up Joe, he's the first person he thought of of calling for help. Within a few minutes after the call, Joe was there to help Craig. Like what Kehau said, that's Agape love, at 1:00 AM.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Streets With No Name

I was e-mailing with Karen yesterday and we were "talking" about how great our hope is with God. So even though they are sad, at the same time they have joy and hope based on the fact that they know they will be reunited with Joey someday. She reminded me of this verse in Romans 8:18:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Now that verse made me think of heaven. Joey beats us to seeing it, and we can just imagine how he's having a blast right now. For all of us who are still here on earth, we can have hope and eagerly await for that day as we carry on our mission and whatever God purposed for us to do while we're here. And since I'm thinking of heaven, I thought I'd share this wonderful video I found. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Still I Will Praise You ...


For those of you that don't know me, I am a friend of Joe and Karen's from Hope Chapel, Maui. I was the 4th-6th grade pastor up until a year ago when I moved back to California to continue my Biblical Education course. I am currently going to Eternity Bible College (EBC) in Simi Valley, CA and attending church at Cornerstone in Simi.

I attended Joey's Memorial Service in Hollywood and I was impacted greatly during the whole service, but especially during the song "You Never Let Go." During this song, Joe stood up in the front of the theater with his hands lifted high, worshiping God, singing "through the calms and through the storms, through the highs and through the lows, still I will praise You." This spoke volumes to me of how great our God is. To see Joe, a father that just lost his son, acknowledging that God is still on the throne and still in-control, showed me how good our God is; only a huge and marvelous God could sustain a father in the midst of such pain.

I was asked by the staff at Cornerstone to give a 15 minute sermon last Sunday morning (7/13/08). The passage that I spoke on was Philippians 2:14-16, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out (or hold onto) the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing." The overall point of the message was this: as believers, we should, collectively as the body of Christ, do everything without complaining; by doing this, the world will see us reacting differently to life's difficulties (because our God is in control and we are focused on the, good news, the gospel of Christ) and hopefully, turn the world towards God and praise Him. I closed the message with the story of Joe at Joey's funeral. I shared that when I saw Joe singing those words "still I will praise You," it was evidence of the fact that Joe still believed God was in control and worthy of praise even if he didn't understand why Joey was gone. This made me look to God and praise Him because of the great hope that He gives his children, even in life's hardest trials.

Between the four services, at least 5 or 6 different people came up to me and gave testimony to the work that the Lord is doing through Joey's death. Four people said they were at Joey's funeral that day and told me that God used that same moment at the funeral to impact and encourage their faith in the Lord. Many of them continued to tell me how the testimony of Joey's life continued, over the last month, to come up in conversations; they were seeing the ripple affect of his life. A couple of the other people that came up to me afterwards said they weren't at the funeral, but they also have heard about the work God is doing through this trial. Each of these people that shared with me had been impacted in different ways, either from Joey himself or from seeing the faith of the family through the hardship. But the one thing was the same in each of them-- God has used Joey's story, his life, to spur theirs on to greater faith and a life that is even more committed to God. God is using Joey and his family to reach people in Simi Valley.

Other people came up after the message that were dealing with other life difficulties. One couple who have been thinking about getting a divorce expressed that they are filled with new hope after listening to Paul's story of having hope while in jail. Hearing the story of Joe and Karen holding onto God in their hard time also encouraged them to work on, and stay committed, to their marriage and to hold onto their faith in God.

It is beautiful how our great God can use the hardest things in life to bring more and more children into His family. God has been changing lives and will continue to change lives and advance the Gospel of Christ to many people through the life of Joey Johnson.

If anyone would like to watch the sermon they can go to www.cornerstonesimi.com click on "media" then "sermons" then "7/13/08, EBC students" then on "watch." Or go to iTunes.

With love in Christ,
Kyle Knight



* I entered this post in the "WORKS OF GOD WEEKEND" sharing at A DUSTY FRAME. Go there and be encouraged with more sharings on God's work.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

From Karen ...

Uncle JJ exploring with Aiden

The following was written by Karen in the comment section but I thought it's better to put this up for our faithful blog friends and prayer warriors to easily see:

Dear Blog Friends...

We want to thank people for their comments the past couple of days. We welcome them and they don't offend us. These are the thoughts of honest Christians struggling with how to respond to the problem of human suffering.

We are new creatures in Christ headed for an unseen but glorious heavenly home. This world is broken and temporary, but it's what God has given us for now. It is filled with people we cherish and precious times with them. It's the first chapter of a story that will continue into eternity.

The loss of our son changes the way the story plays out for all of us who were close to him. In our limited perspective of life, we would wish him here to share the journey of life with us, and to watch his own story unfold. He was a beautiful young man with great gifts and a wonderful ability to give to others. It is impossible to not miss someone who filled your life with love, laughter, joy and hope, even though you know they are in Heaven.

Joey's death is a challenge to us on many levels. We deal with the shock of his unexpected death, just trying to understand how and why that happened. Could we have prevented it? We deal with an empty space in our lives filled by him for 28 years. How does life go on now without him? How will our family change without him?

We wonder how he is feeling right now. He shared all his other experiences with us, he can't share this one. There is a wall between us. He was with us and now he is with God...what's happening to him? We can't be part of that, we can't witness it, we trust God with that. We are forced to let go of our plans and dreams and accept that there will be a different story than the one we had envisioned. We have to say "not my will but Thine be done". We see many years ahead for us without him...that is truly the hardest part.

When something like Joey's death happens, it challenges our belief system in a healthy way. It forces us to ask if we truly trust God, or if we just say we trust God. As we apply God's word to these new circumstances, we find new hope and encouragement. It is a process that uses our mind and our emotions. It takes time because it is a growth process. Thanks for loving us and walking with us in that process. You have been God's comfort to us and we feel His love in your love.

Karen

****
To those of you who would like to learn more about how to minister to a greiving friend, please CLICK HERE and visit her blog with a section on How To Help A Grieving Friend. It expresses a lot of what Joe and Karen are feeling right now. Thank you for your continued support, love and encouragement.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hope When Life Hurts Most

Below is an excerpt from a DVD by Louie Giglio titled "Hope When Life Hurst Most". It's a 2 part DVD that in my opinion is an excellent presentation, explanation, and answer on the question "where is God when I am hurting?'.



In the said DVD, Louie told a story of a young man whose sister died of a sudden car accident. The sister just recently gave her life to Jesus and so stoked about it - she was telling everyone and everyone knows the changes that occurred in her life. The brother was so angry with God when his sister died. He felt their prayers weren't answered. That if there's a God, he's mean and he didn't want to have anything to do with him anymore.

In the later part of the teaching Louie shared about how at one point, God "met" this young man's needs ... and through all the anguish, while shouting to God "I hate you, why didn't you answer my prayers, etc. etc." this young man felt that God lovingly wrapped his arms around him as God, and God's only words were "I love you, I love you, I love you". No explanation, no condemnation, just "I love you, I love you, I love".

I believe these are the same words God is telling the Johnsons (and everyone who loves Joey). He's just saying "I love you, I love you, I love you". No explanation, no condemnation, no reasons. One day we'll understand why ... but for now, let's hold on to what he's saying:

"I love you, I love you, I love you".

Life ...


Joe and Karen are grieving the loss of their precious son. The intense loneliness comes from the fact that they will not be able to spend time with Joey here on earth again ... and so they have to live one day at a time ... and look forward to that day they will see each other in heaven and spend life in eternity.

The good news (aside from seeing Joey again in heaven) is that Joe and Karen spent a lot of quality times with Joey here on earth. There are no regrets there. Everyone of us who knows the Johnson's knows that they have tons and tons of wonderful family memories (a lot of us can only wish we have or can do). Joey by himself accomplished a lot as well.


Joey's life seems short, but in reality it's he lived it more than "a person who lived to be 100 but never did experience much life". Joey inspires us ... to live our lives to the fullest ... because it's true - "life is not measured by the breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away"...


Monday, July 14, 2008

Bound To Heaven

This photo was forwarded to Joe and Karen by Jeff Ort. This is Joey's last photo on earth. He passed away 4 days later after this was taken.

Jeff took this photo accidentally at the airport the night Joey flew back to the mainland after his wonderful visit with his family here on Maui on Mothers Day (and also for JoAnne and Ryan's graduation). Joey was going through the security check.

This photo symbolizes something - it seems to tell a story: His back is turned, he is on his way someplace we can't go; notice the sign that says "Do not enter" and the arrow pointing upward that is reflected on his back. He is relaxed and ready to go. His shoes are off, his backpack is off. For Joe and Karen, somehow it feels like a message from God to them that He has it all under control...it was part of His plan for Joey and it is comforting.... very comforting to see this photo as his last photo until we meet him again.

Note: I am leaving this post up on top for several days because this is a pretty amazing reminder that God gives us pockets of joy in times of grief. This photo is an encouragement not only to Karen and Joe but to EVERYONE who reads this and hear about this. Make sure you read all the comments in here - pretty comforting!
- Liza / Liza's Eyeview

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Christ Alone



Looking up:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Praise You In The Storm



For more "Songs For The Soul", visit "Then Sings My Soul".

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cuy Never Dies


"Cuy* never dies" was the last phrase Rachel uttered when she shared on Joey's Memorial Service on Maui. That phrase got stuck in my head, because I know it is so true.

I remember first meeting Rachel at the old Hope Chapel on Ohukai. Word came around that Joey and his girlfriend are back on Maui for a visit (I can't recall which holiday - Thanksgiving I think). I don't know about the others, but as for me, I was definitely curious.

My first thought when I met her?
"Beautiful Hapa kid - way to go Joey!"
My second thought "She seems a bit timid.
How would that work with Joey, Mr. Social"

Then they traveled and I followed their blog. While following their blog, I saw how these two are so "meant for each other". My thought about Rachel being timid was replaced by "this girl is as adventurous as Joey is - yeah!".

We've grown to love Rachel as much as we love Joey. The more we get to know Rachel, the more we know why Joey loves her so. It's hard to explain, but the chemistry is there.

It's also fun to watch Jaime and her get along so well. In fact, she fits so well with the Johnsons. I am glad they are there for her as much as she's there for them. I'm sure her Cuy knows she's taken cared of.

Rachel started a group in FACEBOOK in loving memory of Joey. If you're in Facebook, click HERE. There are lots of photos there. Lots of fun stories. Lots of lessons from Joey's life. Also Psalms and other Bible Verses. Joey's memory lives on because "cuy never dies".

* Cuy is pronounced like Kui of Ku-kui nut ;) - it's Joey and Rachel's endearing call for each other.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And Friends Are Friends Forever ...

All of us know Joey is the only son of Karen and Joe. However, many of us also know he's not without a brother. Kevin and Joey are best friends. More so, Kevin and Joey are like brothers.They grew up together. They were inseparable.

I really am not sure what to post here, but whenever I think of Kevin, and how he is grieving Joey's loss, I think of a song that is written to a friend who also passed away. So I guess I would just write the lyrics here.

FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS FOREVER ...

Packing up
the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
I can't believe the hopes
He's granted
Means a chapter
of your life is through

But we'll keep you
close as always
It won't even seem
you've gone
'Cause our hearts
in big and small ways
Will keep the love
that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends

And with the faith and love God's given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you live in
Is the strength that now you show

We'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends




This post really does not do justice in describing the closeness Kevin and Joey has as best friends. To all of you who knows Kevin and Joey and has stories to tell, please share your thoughts and stories in the comment section....

Wordless Wednesday: Mom and Son


Monday, July 7, 2008

Make New Friends But Keep The Old - One Is Silver And The Other Gold (Part 2)


* the following is a post entry written by Mackenzie on their blog "The Abrahams". Mackenzie and her husband Jim are among the precious "new friends" in Joey's life (as opposed to an "old family friend" that Wendy is). They are among the latest, closest friends that Joey has. One that "sticks closer than a brother" kind of friends. Jim is among them who found Joe(y) in his room that night ... you can just imagine the impact of that .... The Abrahams sent off Joey and Rachel to their "Van Down By the River" trip. They have so much fun memories together. They miss Joe(y) as much as Joey's family misses him. Here's a glimpse of the Abrahams' thoughts from their blog (re-printed here with permission):

This is hard

It is still hard for me to believe that Joe is gone. I am still expecting him to call Jim and make plans to hang out for dinner or have lunch after church. I still feel the presence of his spirit when we are all sitting around the table at Rachel's house eating, laughing, and sharing stories. I miss his laughter, his business banter, and the way he called my husband "Jim da Hawaiian." He was such a good friend to Jim.

Although the shock has subsided a bit it is still very surreal. And hard. The experience of grief this personal is new to me. And what is more, I feel the grief and the pain of this loss at so many different levels. I hurt for my friend Rachel who has lost the love of her life, the man she hoped to marry. Even typing those words is hard for me because I don't want to believe that it is true. I grieve for Joe's amazing family - Papa Joe, Karen, JoAnne & Jaime and their husbands, Joe's nieces and nephews. The pain they are experiencing is palpable and I wish I knew how best to comfort them. It is a bit ironic that in the past couple weeks that we have spent with them while they are here in LA, they have encouraged me - in my faith, in the hope that Joe is in the arms of God, safe and secure. That is just one thing that makes the Johnson's so amazing. At the same time, I know that they are hurting and I hurt with them. This is so hard.... I also grieve for Jim because he has lost a really good friend. Although Jim and Joe had only become close friends in the last few years, their friendship was true and real (see previous post). They "got" each other and that was so refreshing to me for some reason. The last time Jim talked to Joe {over g-chat} they were engaging in their usual witty banter. I was sitting next to Jim on our couch as they chatted. They shared a humor that only they really understood. I didn't really get it. It is a good memory.

We will be missing Joe so much in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. The memories will keep coming back to me followed by the pain and sadness of the realization that he is no longer with us. I am not ready to say goodbye yet. I think that's why being at his Memorial Service was so difficult for me. I'm just not quite ready to say goodbye. I wish we could hang out again. Head up to my parents house in Ventura for a relaxing weekend of surf, good food, and puzzling. I wish that we could have him and Rachel over for fondue in our new place by the ocean that he will never visit. We would skip the chicken this time. I wish he could show me one more time how to make a white wine reduction so I could remember how to do it right.

I think that is all I can write for now, even though it doesn't do Joe justice.
We miss you so much, Joe.

...::More Joe Memories::...

Rachel's Preppy Croquet Birthday Party
-Feb 06-

Croquet Rockstar

Preparing Gunther for the Epic Voyage


fondue mania
-Jan 07-
{kenz}

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old - One Is Silver And The Other Gold (Part 1)

I am an old family friend. I met Joe and Karen in Israel when they were pregnant with JoAnne waaaaay back when. (We were on a trip to the Holy Land with Hal Lindsey) We lived together for a while in LA in the 70’s. I was around when JoAnne and Jaime were born but moved away before Joey’s birth and our visits since then have been far and few between but they are my oldest and dearest friends.

Somewhere I have an album of pictures with photos from when Joey was about 7 or so, when I visited them in California and that was the only time I ever knew Joey until the year he and Rachel were doing their “bus tour” across country.

They stayed with me in NY for a week in December. I was thrilled to finally meet Joey as a man and as I told Karen, I was so taken by how he was so much of both of them…his father’s energy and creativity, his mother’s love and kindness and smile. We didn’t know each other when they drove down my long driveway but we knew plenty about each other and jumped into each others arms anyway and it felt wonderful. We spent a week literally “hanging out” in our old farmhouse. They got their laundry done…got caught up on their blogging…helped me come up with a motto for my new business…

We made feasts every night…tried new margarita recipes…I taught Rachel to knit…Joey played his uke…It was such a joyous occasion for me…getting to know Rachel and seeing this precious son of my friends all grown up.

I think I told Karen at the time that I couldn’t stop looking at Joey…I loved his heart, his personality…everything about him but truly the most special thing about him was the obvious reflection he was of both of his parents which, having not seen him since he was 7, was much more obvious to me than it would have been to someone who knew him all along.

It was such a blessing to have them with me even for such a short time. I had some wonderful talks alone with Joey and admired his honesty and openness. He was truly a special, special guy and I missed him the minute they drove out. And Rachel too!

I wish I had more pictures of our time together but it was Them taking the photos most of the time. I’m attaching 2 photos of them on the couch in our living room. If you think they would be something to add to your blog, please use them. They are all I have of Joey but looking at them brings that visit and the wonderful time we had together. I am so grateful that we had this time together.

Wendy



Karen and Joe Are In Virginia

In case you're wondering how Karen and Joe are doing ... they are in Virginia right now visiting JoAnne and her family. I think it's a good thing. This way they also get to spend some time with their grandkids Chase and Claire.


The photo looks like it was taken from Virginia so I placed it here :). This was actually taken 2 Christmases ago in Whistler, during one of their family skii trips. Joey and Rachel interrupted their van trip halfway thru to be there with their family.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

And The Blog Goes On ...

As I said in this previous post, this blog was initially created for us to have a place where we can all express our support to the Johnson's family in this time of grief. This blog served as our communication point where we let you know the details of the Memorial Services for Joey as both in LA and Maui. This was also the place where we shared some of our memories of Joey.

My initial thought was that the last post of this blog would be the "Paddle Out" so there will be some kind of closure. Then Karen and Joe will move on to a new blog I created for them to record their journey of grief and healing. But as you all know, that didn't happen. I realized that "closure" is not what the Johnson family needs. What they need is "healing" and "comfort in times of grief" and this blog helps bring about comfort, and so we continue.

Because Joey's life is so rich, because Joey has so many family and friends who loves him, this blog can go on for years and I (we) still would have plenty to write on or blog about. In fact, I have several blog posts and photos in line to post (like the photos send by Aunt Jackie, the e-mail sent by Wendy, a post from Mackenzie, etc), I am just pacing it so we have at least a post a day. Eventually it may be a post a week but the blog will continue on. To God be the glory!

I also realize that as we talk about Joey's life, we learn so many things. This blog not only remembers Joey, not only comforts the Johnsons, but it also inspires and motivates us. For example, it reminds us of what is important in life, and how to live life to it's fullest. It motivates us parents to spend time with our kids. It inspires us to be a better person.

I have a lot of ideas and plans for the blog, but there's no rush in trying to do all that quickly. This blog is a work in progress. And I thank you ll for visiting regularly.

As we already know, many of you read the blog on a regular basis but don't leave a comment regularly. That is fine and understandable. My only request is that we make sure there is at least one comment per post, to represent the many who visits. The comments remind the Johnsons that they are not alone in this time of grief and that a lot of people are praying for them.

Karen, every now and then, sends me an e-mail to post to let us know how they are doing. This blog serves as our connection with them, as they go through this roller coaster ride with grief; as well as healing process. She also sometimes leave a comment on posts and those are precious ones, another glimpse of where they are at.

I am temporarily taking the slide show on the side bar down. Will put a better one later. In the meantime, more photos will appear on each post.

See you around...

Liza

Friday, July 4, 2008

Kepler Ohana Remembers Joey With Love

One family who is very close to Joey here on Maui is the Keplers Ohana. And Joey is very dear to the Keplers as well. Below are some of the memories they have of Joey as shared during the Memorial Service. They remember him with such fondness and love, they will treasure his memories forever.

Bill Remembers

Joey Johnson was a blessed young man, a really lucky guy, because he was so much like his parents. To begin with, he certainly did look like his mother—beautiful auburn hair, slim athletic body, a quick, ready grin. But his personality was just like his Dad’s, Joe. Just like Joe, Joey loved to have fun.

Joey had this ability to just reach out and grab on to life and just shake it. Just wring every last ounce out of it. Joey was a Junior at Baldwin when we meet him. One of his early adventures here was when the Hope Chapel Youth Group was cruising in a boat off Lahaina, and as they returned to the harbor, Kelly and Joey dared each other to jump off the stern and swim to shore--which of course they did! Then they got in huge trouble with the captain, who banned Hope Youth Group from his vessel forever and ever!

Later that year, at a Hope family camp at the 7 Sacred Pools, Joey jumped—not from the bridge, or from the cliff next to the bridge, but from the dangerous cliff into the lower pools, about 80 feet.

When Kelly went off to college in Washington State, Joey flew up from LA to surprise her, in a coffee shop, by popping his head out from behind a newspaper. This was funny and fun, but it was also much more. It was warm, loving, generous, and crazy!

So Joey, like his dad, was a guy who was full of fun.


Kelly Remembers

Joey and I fell in love as teenagers. We were each other’s 1st love. God eventually led us in different directions. I fell in love with Kevin who is now my husband. Joey fell in love with Rachel. I finally looked at Joey and Rachel’s blog last September and discovered the wonderful pictures they took which so beautifully captured their incredible journey. I know without a doubt that Joey truly and deeply loved Rachel. I was hoping they would invite me to their wedding some day.

Joey loved life. He was such an incredible guy. God blessed Joey with many gifts, gifts the Lord used to bring love and life to this world. Joey brought smiles, joy, and laughter to all who were lucky enough to have known him. His passion and zest for life shined in all that he did. Joey was honest, yet sensitive. Confident, yet humble. He was genuine, intelligent, and uniquely humorous. He was fun-loving with an adventurous spirit. It was good to have Joey on your side whenever there was some kind of team challenge. He was always a leader. I know lots of girls secretly had a crush on him and most guys envied him. He was true to his convictions and really stood for what he believed (just like his Mama and Papa). He made a difference in ALL our lives.

I feel incredibly blessed to have had four close, wonderful years with Joey. I will never forget the great times we shared – memories I will cherish forever. Karen and Joe, I want to say thank you. “THANK YOU” is what Joey said to me in one of the last letters I received from him. And now I am saying it to you. Thank you for all the amazing times I had with your family. My memories are not just of Joey, but also of the whole Johnson Ohana having a blast together. I was blessed to be included. You were my second family. Above all, I thank you for raising a son who taught me how to love and give. He learned from you. I learned from him. Hopefully my little boys will learn from me.

The night my dad called to tell me Joey had died, Joey came to me in a dream. Joey told me that he really didn’t die. I was so relieved and happy. I ran up to him and gave him a big hug as I said, “You’re still alive!” Now, looking back on my dream, I think Joey was trying to tell me that he IS alive. And now he’s looking down on us today saying, “It’s okay Mama and Papa. I am truly happy. I’m in the arms of Jesus now. I’ll see you soon.”

Lu Remembers

Sweet, sweet Joey. The boy with the red wavy hair who first captured our daughter’s heart and then ours!

Many of you here today didn’t really know Joey. You are here because you love the Johnson Family. My prayer is that by the end of this Memorial service, you will also love Joey and that you will know deep within your hearts what an incredible young man he was. Let that be Joey’s gift to you.

Joseph Neal Johnson. He loved Jesus and he loved his family. He had boundless enthusiasm, innate God given talent, an outrageous smile, incredible integrity, and profound wisdom. After hearing some of those stories Bill mentioned, you might think the wisdom took a little longer to develop than the others. But don’t for even one moment confuse Joey’s passion for life and his “try anything” attitude for lack of wisdom. It was impossible to feel “down” when Joey was around. He brightened our lives and made us laugh again and again.

I first met Joey the summer of 1995 when I accompanied the Hope Chapel Youth Group on their 1st trip to Mexico. Joey and his parents had been living in California and planned to move to Maui at the end of the summer. The plan was for Joey to meet us at Forest Home. The camp counselors told everyone to “be nice” to the new boy and make friends with him because he wouldn’t know anyone except Kristen Englert and Tawny Patterson. The 1st day of camp each group had to do a little skit. I have no idea what anyone else did, but I vividly remember Joey on the floor wiggling like a worm. On that very 1st day he became the most popular kid at camp!

I have never met a family who play and pray together the way the Johnson’s do. They are absolutely “the real deal.” Karen and Joe, you were (and still are) the model parents and grandparents that Bill and I aspire to be. And when we see you loving and praising the Lord even in the midst of the deepest sorrow you have ever known, you are a model for every person in this room.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wheels Up or Wheels Down?

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 truck...to 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 morning...as always.

Love you - Viv


***

Joe and Karen, I hope that one of these days, or in the future when you can, you would write a book or lead a class on parenting, specifically teaching us parents how to teach our kids to enjoy life. Joey's life was so rich, I hope I would be able to guide my kids to have such a full life, the same way you lead Joey to live a life that is so rich and full. - Liza

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Here's Lookin' At You


This photo reminds me of the scene on the movie "Sleepless In Seattle" when Tom Hanks was "talking" to his wife who passed away and he said "I miss you so much it hurts".

Dear Johnsons family and Rachel, we are continually praying that God's touch and love will continue to heal you. Isn't it a neat thing that Joey will not sing "I Can Only Imagine" anymore because now he knows the real thing. I know the sadness is not because he's in heaven now, but because you miss him...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Tall Hug

Karen, I know you're missing Joey's tall hug. May this photo not bring about sadness but bring joy remembering that you were given that precious time here on earth to be loved by him and that one day you will get that tall hug again when he welcomes you in heaven.