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Published on July 11, 2013, by Rich Johnson

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”   All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”  

I Cor. 13:12  NLT

 

The thousand piece puzzle lay spread on the table in the waiting room.  Several people would each take turns trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together one piece at a time.  It will take time for the full picture to come into focus, but to look at each piece individually, they are part of an imperfect, incomplete picture, and they in themselves do not make sense.   It isn’t until the final piece of the puzzle is placed into it’s proper fitting position, that the full and perfect picture comes into view.

So it is with our lives.  We live out our lives on a day to day basis, and each day is a vital part of the picture as a whole.  We see things imperfectly from an eternal perspective, because we live in a fallen world, and our view is skewed.  It is partial and incomplete at best in this life.  But, the good news is…”I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”  There is coming a day when the final piece of the “puzzle” will placed and a beautiful, perfect picture will come into view.  We will know everything completely (unveiled) just as He knows us completely.  What a day that will  be!  We only get pieces of spiritual truths and heavenly pictures in this life, but oh, one day we will see glory of it all completely!  That excites me, as I get closer to the finish line.  

Robin and I have candid conversations about our heavenly home, and what it’s going to be like.  We’ve talked about the past and the fun times we’ve had, the challenging times and where we are now in this fight of our lives.  We know we’re going home unless we are the recipients of a miracle.  Oh, we have questions, but some day all of those questions will be answered as the whole picture comes into view.  Many of the questions we have in this life don’t seem to make sense to us, because we only hold one piece of the complete puzzle in our hands.  Just hold on, believe God and have faith, that one day, very soon the complete picture will be revealed, and it will all be in our best interest, because of the great love our Father has for us!  

 

Health Update:

Robin is still battling painful abdominal issues, although another exam by her hospice nurse revealed her swollen abdomen had diminished in size since last weeks exam.  There doesn’t appear to be the fluid build up as was previously thought, and this is great news!  She gets very weak in doing just menial tasks, and is sleeping more.  More pain meds are the norm now for each new day for her just to curb and control the pain she is having in her abdomen.  She has now developed a very painful shoulder pain which has really plagued her for the past few days.  The nurse is not sure what this could be, other than perhaps transfer pain, which is common with cancer pain.  We are trying to alleviate this pain with muscle cremes and a heating pad.

 

I have had a my share of symptoms lately with more bleeding, pain and weakness.  It is so disconcerting for me, as I have things I want to accomplish and things I’d like to do, but my physical inability keeps me from doing these things.  I want to fish with my sons, but there is no way I can do that right now the way I’ve been feeling.  I’d fall asleep and fall out of the boat!  Our hospice nurse came by on Weds. to examine me and check my blood work as it was thought I may need another blood transfusion.  I was pale in color all day and slept most of the day.  The blood draw revealed my hemoglobin count was 8.9 and not low enough to conduct a transfusion just yet.  It is low, but my last transfusion was done when my count was 8.4, so it won’t be long.  

 

Robin and I are so very grateful for your ongoing love and prayer support to us.  We are keenly aware that the prayers of the people are sustaining us on a daily basis.  Thank you!

 

Our book, “Through the Valley” is selling pretty well, but could do better.  We are not looking to make a fortune on this book, but our goal is to encourage others who are going through relevant valley experiences and draw people to the Jesus we have come to know intimately through our experiences.  Perhaps you’ve already read it.  Would you consider buying an extra copy or two to give to someone you know, who may have an illness or just going through difficult times?  We are praying as you read it, that you’ll be touched, encouraged and encourage others with the book.  It’s not about us, but all about the One who brought us “Through the Valley.”   You can purchase your copy(ies) through this blog or Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Westbow Press or any Christian bookstore.  They may have to order it for you.  La Junta friends…you can now get your copy through The Lighthouse bookstore.  Jenny will order it for you!  

 

If you can’t see the whole picture right now, just hold on…” I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”  

 

Be Blessed!

Rich and Robin

 
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Published on July 3, 2013, by Rich Johnson

“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”  

Psalm 119:71  NLT

 

Let’s get something straight at the onset here…  I don’t believe God causes suffering, but He allows it in our lives.  He knows what’s going to best in our lives to bring us closer to Him, but that is our choice.  Yes, it’s our choice whether we draw closer to God through suffering or grow farther away from Him and grow bitter.  I have known some to run from Him and blame God for every terrible situation and calamity in their lives, and quite frankly, these people are lonely, bitter people with little or no hope of a brighter tomorrow.  Conversely, I have seen some gracefully receive all that life can bring, good bad or otherwise, and just give God glory in all of it and be joyful along the way.  That’s not to say, these people never have a bad day or two, but they get back up and go on.  They look at the future as hopeful and willing to learn from the lessons learned while in the midst of the process.   It reminds me of my younger years, as I would receive just punishment for something I knew to be a direct violation of our principles in our home.  I received some temporary suffering in the wake of the violation, BUT it taught me to pay attention to my parents and the rules of our home.  The same thing is true in the kingdom of God.  For Robin and I, suffering with these illnesses has been a good thing for us.  While we do not enjoy the suffering, we do thank God for the positive outcome in our lives that has come as a result of it.  We’ve definitely drawn closer to God and to each other.  We now find ourselves listening to healing, worshipful music, while lifting our hands before Him together in worship.  We don’t quarrel over small, insignificant things like we may have in the past.  Our perspectives have changed.   We love and appreciate each other more.  Our suffering has also caused us to draw closer to His Word and bask in what the Spirit is saying to us and make proper application to our lives.  It’s not like we didn’t do these things before the cancers, but we’ve just come to a realization and appreciation for all these things in a greater way in our lives, and we’re thankful for them with each new day.  We take nothing for granted.  We are finally paying attention!  :) 

 

Health Update:

Our hospice nurse came by for her weekly visit this week to examine us both.  Robin is still dealing with pain that we’re trying to control with medications.  The nurse advised her to try using one versus another for a few days to see if that gives some relief.  After examining Robin, the nurse feels she is beginning to show signs of fluid retention in her abdomen.  This is called ascites, and is caused from fluid build up in and around her liver, as the tumors cause the liver to enlarge and not be able to function properly to take the toxins away.  As this progresses, a drain would be the option to relieve her of the pressure of the fluid and would be placed as an outpatient procedure.  Robin gets short of breath easily, and doesn’t have the energy to exert herself in any great way.  She is still able to do some normal, daily functions, but nothing too strenuous or for any length of time. 

I continue to lose blood on a sporadic basis, and I discussed this with our nurse and asked the hard questions about how this is going to go for me in the future.  She said everyone is different in how this goes, but typically what happens with bowel tumors as they become obstructions, is that I will not be able to eat.  I will quit eating and at that point my clock will begin to tick.   She said she knew of a lady who ate ice chips for five weeks before passing, so life can linger for quite a while after this process begins or it can be shortened.  I prefer to go rather quickly if I have anything to say about it. I don’t want my family or friends to have to deal with that!  Eating and digesting is becoming a problem for me, now and I’ve begun to lose weight.   I have just voluntarily not been eating, as it hurts to eat, but I can still eat.   I have to take a medication combination after I eat to help deal with the pain.  

 

We will give thanks for our suffering, as it has developed in us a passion to be closer to our God, and that’s worth it all!  For in the end…that’s our hope anyway.  To spend eternity with the One who gave us life and rescues us from death is a great hope!  

 

Book Reminder: 

Our book is available through our blog (book widget at the top of the page), and also other venues at this point.  If your local Christian bookstore doesn’t have it on the shelf, they can order it for you.  It is also now available in e-book format for those of you who prefer to read it on a Nook, iPad, or other tablet.  You can find it on Barnes and Noble, Amazon and most other online retail book stores.  Be sure  to include the title, “Through the Valley” and both of our names as authors when searching.  

We appreciate your support and ongoing prayers as we face each new day now with new challenges on a daily basis.  May your challenges be faced with a sense of closeness to our Lord, and thankfulness for His grace.  

 

Be Blessed!

Rich and Robin

 

 
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Published on June 27, 2013, by Rich Johnson

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” 

Matthew 16:25 NLT

 

As human beings, we struggle with being able to let go, trust, make a lifelong commitment or just open ourselves to being vulnerable.  It’s a part of our human nature that we struggle with on a daily basis.  This is exactly what Jesus is saying in the above passage.  We can’t hang on to our lives in the sense of putting everything in our lives before Him.  It’s only when we come to Him in complete surrender of not only our lives but all that we are, and all that we have in our care, that we find a loving Savior awaiting us with arms open wide to receive us in eternity.  What is our life without Christ?  It’s a meaningless, hopeless, self absorbing, materialistic temporary fix to life and all it holds.  With Christ, my life is full of inner joy, peace, contentment,  provision, and eternal hope.  Without Him…I lose big time in this life AND the next!  Friend, I don’t know where your heart and thinking process is right now, but this I know…If you will simply put your faith and trust in Christ alone, He will do for you what nothing in this world could hope to do.   You’re going to have to open your heart and mind, relinquish control, and put away every preconceived idea you’ve thought about Christianity and trust God with simple, childlike faith,  for “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”  And saving your life for His sake has rich rewards awaiting us!

 

Robin and I are still coming to this place of total, absolute surrender.  What? you may ask.   Surprise!  We’re human with all of the human battles and struggles everyone of us goes through, and perhaps even more, as we struggle to maintain our good attitudes and the like.  It’s not easy to relinquish control when your body is failing daily times two.  It’s not easy to let go, when it seems there is so much more we could be doing for the kingdom, and you simply don’t have the strength.  We too, want to maintain a sense of control, but we also are very aware, that our lives (barring a miracle) will soon be behind us, and the ONLY things that will matter in eternity are those things we entrusted to our Lord, namely our whole lives and everything in them.   It is an honor to relinquish control to the One who controls every breath and steps we take.  It’s an honor to relinquish control to the One who formed us from nothing and will receive us when life is over.  It’s an honor to relinquish control to the One who gave His life and relinquished His place in glory to come for a few brief moments in time, and subject himself to abuse, torture, and finally death.  I can do no less for Him.  Lord, I humbly give up my life for your sake!  

 

Health Updates:

Robin is having more pain in her abdomen and losing energy on a daily basis, it seems.  She cannot walk long distances now without stopping to catch her breath, and even when we go shopping, she now looks for a motorized cart to transport her around the store.   This step was a big one for her.  She didn’t want to have to succumb to a cart, but now seems to be appreciating it more and more.  Nights are difficult for her as she battles the pain and swelling which will become more of an issue as the days go by.  Hospice tells us, fluid will begin to build up in her abdomen, and  a drain can be put in to help alleviate this when the time comes.  For now, she is still trying to do some things and maintain her cheerful self!  She’s truly a trooper!  

 

As many of you know from a brief  Facebook post yesterday, I awoke to a very concerning symptom very early in the morning.  I thought I may be bleeding out.  Apparently, the tumor(s) in my digestive system are beginning to bleed more and more.  This will take a toll on my energy levels and anemia will become more of an issue.  I’m told by hospice, that they may or may not be able to transfuse me when it becomes an issue.  Hospice is generally there for comfort (palliative care) in end stage cancer and other patients who don’t have much left and a transfusion is not going to “fix” my issues.  I will become weaker and weaker, require more pain meds to control the pain, and simply go home at some point.  I know my days here are numbered, but that’s ok.  I don’t want to leave my family and friends so early, but I don’t have that kind of control.  I have to relinquish control and trust Jesus, that He  knows what he’s doing, and it’s going to be just fine!  

 

On a happier note…  So many of you have responded to Robin’s birthday with a card, and for that we are so very thankful.  As I watched her read every one, she was so blessed!  So many of you don’t even know us, but were willing to send a card and kind expression, and we want to say, “Thank You” from the bottom of our hearts for helping to make her birthday special indeed! 

 

Our book, “Through the Valley” is available for purchase through this blog on the “Book” widget at the top of the home screen, or you can purchase it through our publisher at www.westbowpress.com  You can also order it from your local bookstore.  Tell them it’s being distributed by Ingram Books.  They’ll know that name.  We just got our supply of books here to ship out to those who already pre-ordered and helped with Kickstarter, so be watching your mail in the coming days… they’re coming!

 

We still continue to thank God for all of you, for your kindnesses, prayers and support during these difficult, uncertain days before us.  But we do know the One who IS certain about our future!

 

Relinquishing Control,

Rich and Robin