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Published on August 25, 2013, by Rich Johnson

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.”   Deut. 7:9  NLT

 

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  

1 John 3:1  NIV  

 

My heart is full today.  Full, because I am realizing the incredible love of God more and more on a daily basis, as we continue on in this cancer journey.  He shows it to us in so many ways.  He shows it through His children, His Church, friends, family and in so many other ways!  We’ve especially seen the Church, His Church come to our aid in various ways throughout our journey, but I want to especially point out the practical ways the love of our God is being poured out through people here just recently…

The family of God has undertaken so much on our behalf.  If we need anything…they are there and most of the time, we don’t have to ask.  They ask us.  Our yard gets mowed, a dear friend comes and washes Robin’s hair, two other friends serve by rubbing Robin’s feet (which blows my mind!)  Our dishes get washed, laundry gets washed, and meals have been coordinated and brought for several months now a couple times a week!  People have been coming from near and far to visit us and pray for us!  The heart of God in serving and loving us goes on and on!  We feel we don’t deserve this, but I’m reminded of the love of God.  Jesus did not deserve the cruel punishment, torture and death he received, but He did it for one single reason and purpose…He loved us with a love beyond words, in order that you and I could go to heaven if we put our faith and trust in him.  He served us, and continues to serve us through people!    We are eternally grateful for all of the rich blessings we are receiving!  It’s simply the Church in action, and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.  I can only imagine how the Father feels when He sees this!  He must be pleased, for it’s our duty and privilege to serve one another, because He served us!  

Health update…

Robin continues to steadily lose weight, but the good news is, our nurse who actually told me 3 1/2 weeks ago, that she felt Robin only had 3-4 more weeks is now saying how good she looks and is now saying, “Only God knows!”  How true!  Robin is still dealing with pain issues daily which she controls with pain meds and sleeps quite a bit.  She is still not dealing with jaundice, which I believe is the hand of God in keeping her from this.  She tires easily, but Robin always has that “Robin smile” as the Lord enables her to go on to another day.  

I had to have another blood transfusion last week, which helped me tremendously gain some energy and strength.  I, too, tire easily and deal with abdominal pain, and it seems to be worsening as time goes on.  My guess is the tumors are progressing in my digestive tract, thereby causing more obstruction.  The tumors are also bleeding, thus the reason for the transfusions.  I’m still on an all liquid diet, and quite honestly, that is just plain boring.  I’m wearing thin (literally) of the things I cannot eat, but I’m getting more creative with our blender and some other foods.  I must be careful or I’ll clog the stents, and then I’ll be in a heap of trouble for sure!  

We have come to appreciate each day for what it is.  Quite frankly, some days are better than others, but we don’t get to choose.  We’re thankful for the better days.

 

Our book “Through the Valley” is doing pretty well, and we’re so very thankful for those of you who have purchased a copy or copies for family or friends.   Our original intent in writing and publishing was and still is to focus on the God of our afflictions and bring Him as much glory through our “valley” experience while we can.  It is also our desire to leave a godly legacy for our children and grandchildren through the book and leave footprints of strong faith for them to continue on long after we go home.  If you have not yet purchased a copy, you may do so by going to the book tab here on our blog.  We also want you to know, that we support missions through our book sales.  We felt strongly about this, because we desire to plant seed in good soil with what He entrusts to us.  Your book purchase is not only helping to encourage people, but you are helping to spread the gospel around the world!  We do have a (5) pack price available for purchase at a discount of $5.00, which would actually save you the postage and be a blessing to four other people if you pass them on as gifts.  We are also signing every book that is purchased now.  

 

Friends, we know we are facing the finality of the end of our lives in no short order barring a miracle.  The one thing that will remain constant in this life and in eternity is, the incredible all consuming love of God.  I cannot wait to experience that love in its fullness!  I trust you will be there with us to experience it!

 

Living in His Love,

Rich and Robin 

 

 
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Published on August 15, 2013, by Rich Johnson

 ”He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  Matthew 26:39  NLT

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”  Romans 8:17  NLT

 

This past week has been quite a week of suffering for both Robin and me.  The suffering has had different effects on us both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  It has been such a depth in the quietness of my spirit, that agony would be an appropriate word to describe my mental and physical state at times.  Spiritually, the battle has been raging as well.  Just this week, we have been through ongoing pain of the cancers in our bodies, but also a new dimension of side effects from the pain patches we’ve had to wear.  Those would include hallucinations for me, and itching.  The fatigue, severe anemia and shortness of breath are a few other things to add to the already mixed plethora of symptoms that go with this suffering.  To add to the already bag of mixed sufferings, I had what appears to be a minor TIA (very slight stroke) on Tuesday which yielded the left side of my body almost useless for just a few minutes and was gone.  I’m thankful that’s all it was, as I had one in 2000 that affected my speech and ability to communicate for about twelve hours.  

In all of this, my mind has been racing to be released from this suffering and be granted the great gift of being able to go home if healing was not in the plan.  I’ve cried out to God to release me and Robin from this suffering and long, arduous six year road of suffering for which there seems to be no answer, nor do the answers seem to be coming forth.  At least, we feel we aren’t being given those answers at this juncture.  I’ve begun to meditate upon Christ’s suffering in my own battle and quest to find answers.  When I look at the human Jesus kneeling in the garden of Gethsemane, I see a man in agony knowing the further suffering would be ramped up a thousand times what he had ever experienced previously in his 33 years.  He was about to suffer more than any man at the hands of the Romans and even more so, despised and rejected by those who may have even received great blessing from his hand of healing and provision.  It would  be a lonely road to the cross for all of humanity.  In all of this suffering and anguish in his soul he still prayed…” bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  Simply amazing!  It was a bitter cup of suffering, yet He knew it must be done for everyone of us in order for us to have a way of escape from the curse of sin.  I don’t don’t that I’ve ever had an inkling of the depth of that suffering until our battle with our own physical trials for which I would rather not drink from.  In no way do I compare our suffering to the depth of what Jesus went through that night in the garden.  I can’t fathom those moments.  But I can relate to the vexation of suffering from a human standpoint where the weariness of all of it causes me to say…Lord,  if it’s possible, let this cup of suffering pass from me.  Just watching Robin suffer on a daily basis is sometimes more than I can bear.  My soul gets heavy and burdened.  

And then, I read Romans 8:17, and Paul puts it all into perspective for me…“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”  There it is!  If I want to share in the glory, His glory, I must also share in the suffering.  I don’t have to go to the cross…done.  I don’t have to be beaten and flogged beyond recognition…done.  I’ll never have to carry the weight of every person’s sin on my shoulders…done.  But because of the curse of sin, I’ll have to suffer in this life.  He does make the suffering easier to bear knowing He already suffered, bled and died a death none of us will ever face, but He also did something glorious for all of us through His suffering…He provided all that we need in times of suffering including healing and miracles, but He also gave us  the greatest gift in sharing in His glory!  For me, that’s an amazing thought!  I love the Lord more today, as I realize this depth of suffering and glory.  It helps me to go on another hour and day and thank Him for His provision.  It helps me to keep on running the race with patience.  And so, this cup of suffering becomes a cup of blessing in the end for us!  All made possible by Him who suffered more than any man, but now intercedes for those of us who follow!  Praise His name!

 

We have wonderful guests in our home this week!  Robin’s praying parents have come to stay with us, and spend precious time with us for a season.  We appreciate the time with them and the blessing in just being able to catch up and share our hearts.  

 

We continue to promote our book, “Through the Valley” through Facebook, our blog and several other venues.  If you would like to purchase a copy for yourself, a friend, or perhaps you are a pastor who would bless us by buying a number of copies to bless your congregation with, I’m sure you’ll be blessed by our story and His provision ‘Through the Valley.  You may purchase your copy(ies) through this blog on the book tab.  We are going to be signing every book we sell from here on out now, as a token of our love and personal appreciation to you.  Thanks for your support!  

 

May the Lord richly bless you today in whatever you are going through.  Remember this…He went through all the suffering first, so we could share in His glory!

 

Be Blessed!

Rich and Robin

 
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Published on August 11, 2013, by Rich Johnson

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

Isaiah 55:8  NLT

 

In giving it my best “shot”  to try to determine what is going on in our lives, and make sense of our physical trials I’ve come to the conclusion, that God’s ways are far beyond what I can comprehend or imagine.  His thoughts and ways are far more than my mind can comprehend.  He’s God, and He has the ultimate plan.  Does this negate the all important faith we must have in our walk with the Lord?  Not at all, for without faith, it is impossible to please God.  Faith is necessary in our relationship with our God.  But one thing is certain for me…He knows what’s going to happen in the next five minutes… I don’t.  He knows what tomorrow holds and I don’t. That’s why I must trust Him for what is best in our lives, and He always does what’s best for us.  I can trust that about Him.  The plan He has is always the best plan for us, because He sees the big picture and not just a few short frames of life.  And the amazing thing is…He does it all with 7.5 billion people!  This is mind boggling!  This is one reason I don’t ever try to “remind God” of His Word or tell Him what seems best for me or Robin.  I’m certain He has it all under control, and I don’t ever have to remind Him or figure out the plan for Him.  My responsibility is to be sure I’m in right standing with Him, and continue on in my walk with Him in a way that would only develop and strengthen our relationship on a daily basis.  Robin and I are having the time of our lives each night, as we lie down in the final hours of our day, put on some worship music and begin to praise our way into His presence for what turns out to be sometimes an hour and a half to two hours.  It’s not about the time but the presence.  we don’t want to stop.  It has drawn us closer to Him in ways I’m not sure would have happened without these illnesses in our lives.  Only heaven could trump what’s going on in our late nights now!  Oh, we’ve always had a close relationship with Jesus, but this is unprecedented, as we enter His presence on a much deeper level.  We look forward to these moments of sheer closeness to our Lord.  Our bedroom has become our sanctuary.  Lest you think I’m boasting, I only boast in Him, as we are so very grateful to the Lord for coming close to us in these very difficult times in our lives.  He is here.  We are still believing for our healing, but I think we’re believing now for more of Him and His infinite ways to be played out in our lives for, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

 

With this post please don’t get the impression I’m NOT praying for our healings, so please continue to pray that way, what I’m asking you to do for us now is rejoice with us in the relationship and closeness we have with Him through our valley.  It’s been a very long journey, and the longer it gets, the sweeter He gets with each passing moment.  

 

Health Updates:

Robin is still fighting the good fight even though pain wracks her body nearly all day every day now.  Hospice has doubled all of her pain medications and the pain patch she wears to try to bring relief from the pain.  She sleeps much more now, which is a sign of end stage symptoms coupled with the increase in pain meds.  She is having night sweats every night, which is a frustration for her and is common with some cancer patients as the body fights the disease.  The truth is this…hospice has given us a time frame for what they feel would be realistic seeing the progression in her body, and it’s not very long.  We as a family have had to discuss this, and it’s a very difficult thing to do, but this is the reality before us.  We can’t stick our heads in the sand or turn our heads to the side and pretend it’s not happening.  The fact is, no one knows what this like unless you’ve dealt with it yourself, and even then each case is unique in its own way.  Our children are dealing with two terminally ill parents.  It’s not too common.  They are strong people.  Much stronger than I was at their ages I think, but please pray for them and their families, as they are dealing with these insurmountable issues with both of us.  

 

I have now graduated to the Fentyl pain patch myself now in my journey.  It seems to help, as I’m dealing with more pain on a more consistent basis and had to resort to more pain pills throughout the day to help me.  I’m still strong and value that in order for me to be able to still help Robin with some things.   In fact, I just booked another preaching engagement for mid September by faith, and I’ve said, “as long as the Lord entrusts me with His Word, I will continue as long as I can to tell others about Him as I am able.”  I was born for this, and I want to continue to be obedient to His calling as He opens doors of opportunity.

 

“Through the Valley” is still available through our blog and we’d be honored if you’d read it and buy a copy for a friend who may be going through difficult “valley experiences.”   It’s our story of physical trials over the past 5 plus years, but even more than that, it’s the story of how God has provided and held us up during these times.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  It’s not a lengthy read or difficult read.  Order your copy(ies) today through the book tab on this blog.  Thank you for your support!  BTW… we do tithe on our book sales to our missions program at church.  We felt we wanted to continue to plant good seed in good soil to keep planting in other’s lives for the kingdom.  Your book purchase(s) has far reaching implications…eternity!  

 

So thankful we can fully trust our God with everything we have including our very lives, because His ways and thoughts are higher than ours!

 

Blessed Beyond Measure,

Rich and Robin