Update for Johnny Chase

John Chase, December 24, 1989 - December 22, 2005

Please send any letters to:

Phil and Laura Chase
6947 Daisy St.
Auburn, IN 46706

Send any email messages to: chasephilip@hotmail.com

To request a DVD of John's testimony, put the words "DVD Request" in the subject line.

Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Click Here for a copy of this site in PDF format organized oldest to newest.

Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 at 8:19 pm

On the one year anniversary of Johnnyís death I thought it would be good to post an update. Quite honestly it is painful to spend much time thinking about Johnny. We miss him immeasurably in too many situations to count. We often fondly refer to some of his quips and antics. It is good and healthy to miss him, but dwelling on his absence brings no joy.

"Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5) Would our Lord have us dwell on our loss? I think not. Jesus promised us "life to the full". (John 10:10) Obedience to Christ in my thoughts will refresh my life as surely as disobedience saps me.

What thoughts will bring me life? Thoughts like knowing Iíll see Johnny again. (1Thes 4:16,17) Reminding myself that Johnny is done with suffering. (Rev 21:3,4) Thinking of Johnnyís delight and happiness in heaven in the presence of Jesus. (2 Cor 5:8) These things lift my heavy heart. They make me smile. They refocus my eyes on what is unseen and eternal, rather than on what is seen and temporary. (2 Cor 4:18) They set my heart on things above, not on earthly things. (Col. 3:1-2) They help me experience the life that Christ promises, and confirm to me that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

Many ask about our family, "How is everyone doing?" With gratitude to God I can honestly report that all is well in our home. Each member of our family continues to find peace and grace to deal with Johnnyís death. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. (1 Thes. 4:13).

Thanks for praying....Phil

Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 at 9:23 am

"Taste and see that the Lord is good."(Psalms 34:8)

Itís been 6 months since Johnny died. It seems like years ago and then it seems like yesterday. Itís nice to not have to paint on a smile. We are truely filled with joy, peace, and Godís comfort.

Laura and I have had several opportunities to speak publicly of Godís goodness through this trial. God has also brought many people accross our paths that we could encourage with our experience. Having opportunities to share Godís goodness with others brings great satisfaction and gives meaning to the pain.

Our family is thriving. Each of our children appears to be dealing with their personal loss with grace and peace. No acting out, no bitterness, nothing but normal kid stuff. Thank you God!

Thank you for your concern and prayers. We are blessed to have an army of people who love us and uphold us in prayer. We know our joy is the fruit of your prayers.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Friday, June 2, 2006 at 7:33 am

Picture of our family a couple of days before Johnny

Posted Sunday, February 26, 2006 at 7:36 pm

It has been a while since I posted something. The primary reason is that life is full. Our family is doing well. We are pleased for Johnís joy in heaven and God is comforting us.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) I love this verse now. I love the word "all". I love that God has mercifully shown us glimpses of the good He has worked through what on the surface seems pretty aweful.

God definitely used Johnís life as a testimony to His greatness. We have recieved many notes from people whose faith was strengthened by Johnís short life. We have responded to over 100 requests for the DVD of Johnís testimony. I will never be the same after the experiences of the past two years. My love for God has blossomed. He has proven His faithfulness and goodness to my family and me over and again.

John wasnít a perfect person. He had many blemishes in his character, just like we all do. But God showed us through John that God can use even imperfect vessels to accomplish His good work if they love Him and are surrendered to His purpose.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Monday, January 30, 2006 at 3:53 pm

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1) It has been a little more than a month since John died. I ran across this verse in my reading recently and fireworks went off. The truth of this verse has sustained our family through this trial.

Tucking my children into bed at night and missing John, the empty spot at our dinner table, little things around the house that remind me of him...dwelling on these things do not breath life into me. This is not where I park my thoughts. I run to what I hope for and to the unseen reality of life.

John is in heaven. He will never suffer again. He is done with this struggle of the flesh. He is happy. He would rather be there than here. Would I really rather he be here than there? He would be unhappy with me if I said yes. He would want us rejoicing along with him.

What is it I want for my kids? I want them to live their lives for Christ. I want them to spend eternity in heaven rather than hell. I want them to be happy but not at the expense of the first two. Bingo! John did and John is.

We got faith. We are "sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see". Faith based in the right person makes all the difference. Thank you God for the gift of faith.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 7:57 pm

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." (2 Corinthians 1:3-6)

Something struck me the other day while I was talking about this passage with some friends. First of all, let me testify to the overflowing comfort our family is experiencing during this trial. Second, this idea that "the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives" has a new meaning to me. I used to think this "sharing in the sufferings of Christ" was a condition limited to apostles, prophets, church heavy-weights, people living in countries where the church is persecuted, etc. Now I see that God allows suffering into the lives of "Joe Christian" for a purpose I had not previously understood.

"If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." Our suffering is for the comfort and salvation of others. What a concept. As you see Christ comforting us, take comfort and patiently endure your suffering. Be encouraged fellow suffering Christian. The Father of compassion and God of all comfort is real and personal and faithful. He will comfort you. Your trial will comfort others and lead to their salvation.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 4:41 pm

How does a person get through such a difficult thing as a death of a child?

When I was in my early teens, I had read almost all of the short books in our small churchís library, so I picked up a bulky one, Foxeís Book of Martyrs, mainly because it had pictures. That Sunday afternoon I read about a mother and a teenage son who were condemned to be burned at the stake for their faith. The mother was forced to watch her son die first. I expected that she would wail with dispair and thrash around in agony, and probably that was what her persecutors expected, too. Instead, as they tied the boy and started the fire, and as he felt pain, she shouted encouragement to him, ďBe strong and brave! You know the truth -- believe it now! Forgive your enemies! Do not fear, you are not far from the Saviorís embrace! I will join you soon!Ē He, and then she, died not in bitterness but in hope, not in weakness, but in victory. I remember closing that book reverently and weeping for that valiant, faithful mother. The world was not worthy of her.

I would never have come to the conclusion on my own that the death of my child could be faced with courage, obedience, and peace. I doubted I could ever be strong like the mother in Foxeís Book. I was always one of those who watched with awe as a suffering fellow-servant obeyed through violent adversity.

But watching adversity is not living it. I could trust the Lord to make my responsibility clear when the time came.

I needed to stay on my square.

Follow this analogy. Life is like a board game. There are a lot of squares you can find yourself on or move to. Some are advantageous or daring, and some distract you from your objective and donít accomplish anything. Keeping the big picture in view is the best way to negotiate your way to victory, but on an average day, keeping the big picture on a complicated board game is very challenging. The squares look like they all have the same value, but they donít. Judgment gets foggy because there are too many options.

One thing I now understand is that the fog lifted with the dawn of suffering. The rays of light from the perspective of suffering illuminated the gameboard differently, certain squares became dull and others stood out. Squares of obedience glowed and revealed they were strong and substantial. Squares of rebellion, distraction, self-pity, fear, and worry could be seen edgewise in the light and it was clear their props were knocked out and they were flimsy as tissue-paper and dangerous, false places to stand. I knew if I inched out on these squares, they would give way, and I would crumble. The choice was painfully clear. There werenít a lot of legitimate places to go.

I would be safe if I stayed on my square.

One square stood out brilliantly on the board. It was labelled, ďTrust in the LordĒ and it drew me. It was solid and real. Staying in that square, I knew what to do, because written on the four sides of my square were ďBe joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayerĒ and ďBless the Lord and give him glory.Ē Trust in the Lord, and its consequences (joy, patience, prayer, and thankfulness) were choices. When times were good, this square looked like many others and sounded like hard work. But in suffering, it kept me sane. The four consequences were still hard work, but by obeying, I learned they were my nourishment, my stability, and my strength. By obediently remaining on that square, sleeping on that square, crying on that square, caring for Johnny and all the others on that square, Christ breathed life into me. To face this hardship, I stayed on my square. That is truly how I did it. I could do nothing else.

At Johnnyís death, our other children wondered how our family would handle it. Corrie said that she was worried because in many TV shows and movies when a child dies, the dad becomes a workaholic, the mother gets suicidal, the younger children become bullies at school, and the older girls run off with their boyfriends and get pregnant. Sorrow becomes the one excuse in popular media that lets people sin without condemnation.

And frankly, we donít know how we will fare, either. Weíve never done this before. But ďstaying on the squareĒ seems to apply here, too. Why should we add to our sorrow and grief by behaving as if we have no hope?

Philippians 4:4-7: ďRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Ē

Thank you for praying for us that we can grieve without sin,

Posted Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 6:37 am

Many times during Johnnyís ordeal, I dreamed that a miracle would happen, that I would awake the next morning and Johnnyís appetite would be back, or the cough would be gone, or the tumors would disappear from the CT scan. I prayed, ďDear Lord, couldnít you heal him now? Arenít we doing enough good with what has happened already to bring you glory? Canít you stop the agony now, before we lose Johnny?Ē

Over and over God would impress these thoughts on me. ďYes, I could. Johnny could live a normal, earthly life and you would have a great miracle story to praise Me with. And I know you would be faithful to give Me the glory.

ďBut what if I ask more of you? What if what is happening to Johnny has eternal ramifications beyond what you understand now? What if by taking Johnny Home to myself I am able to accomplish what could not be done on earth any other way? What if by your not losing faith in Me, many came into my kingdom and found abundant, eternal life? What is that worth?

ďYou know, Beloved, many of my children have walked through desperate times, and will continue to. What if, by being faithful to the end, you and Phil are able to comfort desperate people because you have earned a little legitimacy in suffering?

ďBut as an alternative, what if, after I healed Johnny, some turned from Me because I didnít heal their loved one like I healed yours?

ďOr you might begin to offer people some spiritual formula for healing that ďworkedĒ for you, rather than hope in my greater plan.

ďYour hope will not disappoint you, even if I take him, for I have healed him. He is safe with me.Ē

It is reported that D L Moody reflecting on his own mortality said, ďOne day you will see this headline in the paper: ĎDL Moody Is Deadí. Donít you believe it! For at that moment I shall be more alive than I ever have been.Ē

John, right now, is more alive than he ever has been.

John 11:25 ďJesus said to her, ĎI am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.í Ē

In hope of eternal life, grateful for your prayers,

Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 5:45 pm

Johnny tried to be deceptive only about one thing, and he was lousy at it. He didnít want us, especially his mother, to know how bad he had been feeling since about October. He winded easily, he slept a lot, and he had trouble getting around to his schoolwork and chores. (Like a mother wouldnít notice this?) I didnít talk to him about it, and it was hard for me to know whether to push him to be responsible or not. If I let up too much, I was afraid he would lose hope. And he beamed with satisfaction when he felt good enough to do valuable work for the family. I was not duped by his smiles and jokes, because his hacking cough, day and night, relentlessly reminded me that this boy was being consumed by cancer and there was nothing, absolutely nothing, I could do about it.

His last 10 days room air suffocated him, and he needed oxygen and morphine to keep from being terrified because he couldnít breathe. We gave John a bell he could ring if he felt he was in a crisis and we were in another room.

The last two weeks of Johnnyís life were agony for me as a mother, for I became frantic trying to ease his suffering. Looking back, I realize it was then that Johnny began ministering to me. He recognized my helplessness and gave me little useless things I could do to serve him like getting ice water or Kleenex or more blankets or sit next to him and rub his back. He thanked me every time. After a breathing treatment, Iíd ask, ďAre you comfortable?Ē Heíd answer, ďIím perfect.Ē

And I admit with embarrassment my greatest temptation during this time was to run away. Not run to Monte Carlo or something, but slightly out of the fray; anywhere in the house I couldnít hear the machinery, the coughing, or the bell. The Lord got my attention, and I began to consciously make the effort to stay beside him as much as I could while he suffered, and Iím glad I did. Every day the Lord provided an opportunity for me to get away from it all for a while and be refreshed.

And this is, as Phil says, the raw, earthly side. Where was our kind Savior during this agony? Right beside us, feeling our pain, filling our home with peace and joy, and tangibly sending us his people. I now have seen ďthe riches of his glorious inheritance in the saintsĒ (Ephesians 1:18). The riches are you all. You are a secret, spectacular network of Christís workers just waiting for orders, present in every city, ready to love someone in crisis at a momentís notice. You cross ethnic barriers and denominations. Christ is so visible in you.

You sent a three-foot stack of cards which sit in our kitchen corner like a monument to love. The cards were penned with encouragement, scripture, and prayers damp with tears for us. We are now going through them one at a time during our morning family Bible time and pray for each of you, because what goes around in the Kingdom of God comes around! Your emails were so timely and encouraging! You fed us with your best recipes and in large quantities! You cared for our children and took them places. And best of all, you visited Johnny. Daily for the last two weeks of his life someone came and prayed with him. He was so grateful for your prayers! Several have mentioned to me that they were awakened at 4 in the morning on the day Johnny died and prayed for us. Then after Johnny went to glory, you surrounded us with more mail, and fruit, and flowers, and you came to the viewing and stood in line for hours just to hug us. Seven hours of compassion. What a healing time visitation is! You showed up en masse to send Johnny off at his funeral even though it was only two days after Christmas and you had other things you could be doing. Each of us has only twenty-four hours in a day, and we are so deeply honored that you spent so much of those days on us.

Christ continued to whisper to us through the scriptures and the love of other believers that he had not abandoned us, that what he was accomplishing through John was bigger than we were, and that Johnny was never in danger, that we were loved and in the center of his will, and everything was going to be okay.

King David delighted in fellow believers who served God with him: "As for the saints who dwell in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight." Ps 16:3. We too delight in those who are standing with us, you are glorious!

If you have a moment, please pray for two dear young ladies in our life. Hillary May is 16 and just starting chemotherapy for newly diagnosed Hodgkins Disease. Her web site is www.caringbridge.org/visit/hillary. Karis Kornfield is a young lady born without functioning intestines and is today undergoing a complete intestinal, liver, pancreas transplant. Her last one failed and we are praying this one might be successful. Her website is www.aup.org/karis/latest_update.htm.

I treasure your prayers,


Posted Sunday, January 08, 2006 at 3:11 pm

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)

Many people have indicated concern over how I am doing since Johnny died two weeks ago. I certainly have times of sadness. Especially as I sort through his schoolwork. I admit I canít throw away his perfect chemistry tests or his sterling Stanford Achievement Test scores. He was a fine student, and the reality hasnít hit me yet that he will never need these again. Besides, I am so very proud of him; without him, it seems to me the intelligence of the people of earth has dropped a few points. Well, okay, Iím his mom. Few could beat him in chess, even when he was groggy on chemotherapy or pain medication.

I am also grieving as I clean out his bed, his desk, and drawers and gather his possessions for his siblings and close friends to pick through and find momentos. Thanks to many generous encouragers, he had some pretty neat technology. But the simple things I find take more time. A secret code key, an interesting stone, an incomplete model airplane, burned but unlabeled CDs, pictures, and saved letters invite me to pause and wonder what significance each had to Johnny, and why he stored them, other than he didnít get around to throwing them away. I thought about going through his things with him before he died, but at the time it seemed dishonoring, as if it might sabotage hope in being cured. Yes, he had hope in a miracle up to the last. And it would have been wrong to take that away.

Our many fun times together as a family couldnít obscure the fact of Johnís terrible prognosis. It was like living in the shadow of a teetering boulder, soon to crush what time we had left. We have been in mourning already for two years, watching Johnny deteriorate. This is why you donít see me in passionate mourning now. Iíve cried it all out already, and Iím so comforted as a mom to know Johnny isnít suffering any more, that I can smile and feel relief. I miss John terribly, but agree with Phil: What is our highest priority as parents but to see our children chose Christ and follow him --no matter what that means-- to the end? We know where Johnny is.

One fear I had going through Johnnyís possessions was unfounded. Was Johnny who he portrayed himself to be? Drama and deception run rampant among my people. Even with homeschooling, there is no guarantee that anyone lives his internal life consistent with what other people see. As I cleaned out nooks and crannies, I stumbled upon prayers he had written, secret prayers he never intended to put on the website or have other people read. The handwriting is atrocious -- a sure indication the words were full of emotion when he wrote them and for his (and the Lordís) eyes only. Sometime I will type them up, and it will have to be me, for having graded his schoolwork for eleven years, I am probably the only one who can make out his writing. They are beautiful and honest, full of horror at his situation and faith in his kind Savior to see him through it. No reason to fear as I worked through his things. Johnny was as full of integrity as I could ever hope. No pornography, no despair, no secrets. Only Jesus.

I treasure your prayers,

Posted Thursday, January 05, 2006 at 4:36 am

My oldest two children are back to college. I have seven children still at home but the house seems unusually empty. The hubbub of the holidays is past. We restarted homeschooling and I returned to work. We are slowly sorting through Johnís stuff. An empty feeling is creeping in. I know this is a normal part of the mourning process but it is disorienting.

I realized that before Johnís death the great temptation was to fear the future, to worry. Now the temptation is to sin in our grief. I have never heard anyone talk about sinning in mourning but I can definitely feel the enemyís tugs. Many suggest that "anything goes" is the healthy way to mourn. I can see many wrong choices presenting themselves to my family and I.

First there is self pity, a ratís nest that looks awefully comfortable, but like a mud-lined pit, is easy to slide into but hard to climb out of. Then thereís the temptation to get frantic in activities or work to distract from the pain. Or how about ruminating about what we might have done differently to alter the course of events. Of course there are the old favorites of anger at God, bitterness about lifeís turns, depression, overeating, playing up our pain to every listening ear, ...

Jesus said, " whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.Ē (John 4:14) No, we refuse to sin in our mourning. Anything other than Christ that offers itsself up as a balm for our pain is a counterfeit. Lord, you promised that if I drank your water I would never thirst. Iím thirsty Lord. Iím counting on you to quench this thirst in my heart with the water of your presence. Full of you, Lord, I will never thirst. Arenít you glad Jesus keeps all his promises.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Monday, January 02, 2006 at 6:04 am

"I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy." (Psalms 123:1,2) I woke yesterday in tears. I was remembering the look of delight on my sonís face as he uttered his last words. What a mercy of the Lord to us. God didnít have to do that. That moment was for us, a gift from God.

As I reflect on the past two years I can see mercy upon mercy from God. Many are chronicled on this website. Here is one that was not. The day John died I woke with the memory of my Dadís death. The family had gathered and one by one my five siblings and I sat alone with my dad, reminiscing about memories we had through the years, receiving and giving forgiveness when necessary, and expressing many previously unspoken words of love to each other. My time with Dad is one I will always cherish.

I felt impressed to have each of my older children write a note to John expressing such thoughts to him. They were hesitant but complied with my request. Later that day when John was between naps and alert, each sibling tearfully read their letter to him. God showed up and it was a beautiful, sacred moment in our lives. Each child has thanked me since then for that opportunity. We could have missed it because John died less than twelve hours later. God had mercy on us. Thatís the kind of God we serve.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 3:17 pm

To view the text of the message Pastor Bill Lepley gave at John's funeral, Click Here

To view the text of the message Pastor Lepley gave at John's graveside, Click Here

Posted Friday, December 30, 2005 at 6:40 am

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." (1 John 4:16) I woke this morning remembering months ago when I was meditating on Godís display of love to us in Christ. If nothing else, I could look to Christís life and death for me as ample evidence of Godís love for me. And that is a love I could rely on when some things in life didnít look so loving. Then God revealed to me that he was showing his love to me through John also. I cried then and it still makes me cry but for a different reason. Back then I couldnít see it but I knew by faith it was true. Now I cry because I can see it. God has showered his love on us in visible tangible ways that put to rest any doubt of his love. We know his love because we have experienced his love in a powerful and unforgetable way. The countless words and acts of kindness from others have shown us Godís love. The beautiful way God has sustained our family during the hard times shows us Godís love. The obvious way God cradled John in his arms through his trial and even to death showed us his love. Our peace and joy that defies understanding shows us Godís love. Even something small like God helping me give the eulogy at my sonís funeral without sobbing uncontrolably showed me Godís love. Hereís what I said:

In 3 John verse 4 the apostle John wrote, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." My son John walked in the truth right up to the end. Jesus Christ is that truth.
When things were good he would give thanks to Jesus.
When things were bad he would seek comfort from Jesus.
If you asked him if he was mad at Jesus because of this cancer he would say, "I canít bite the hand that feeds me."
He loved bringing attention to Jesus, often times deflecting a compliment someone had just paid to him by saying, "Itís all Jesus."
Some of you might not know Johnís last words.
A few hours before he died he woke from a sound sleep and with bright eyes and excitement in his voice he said ,"Iím going home now. Itís awesome. Iím going to be with Jesus."
Those of you who knew John well would agree with this - If John could speak from the grave he would say, "This is not all there is. Give your life completely to Jesus."
Thank you for all your prayers for John and my family.
God is so good and God is enough.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 5:37 am

Yesterday was a great day. Many encouraged us saying that Johnís funeral pointed straight to our great God. I wanted to share some thoughts, many prayed that I would be able to speak, and God answered powerfully. I wondered if walking away from the fresh grave of my son would hit us with a new wave of loss. Quite honestly, we are so full of assurance that John is rejoicing in the presence of God that it is hard to wallow much in feelings of our loss. Besides that we are being not just touched but slammed to the floor and pinned there by the out pouring of love from family and friends and even complete strangers.

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." (Ephesians 1:18-19) As Laura and I prepared to leave Johnís grave side the funeral director approached us and said,"God has touched you in a special way." Iím sure this man has seen it all. I woke early this morning and began weeping as I realized that someone was probably praying for us right then, and the joy and peace that my family and I are experiencing even in this shadow of death is from the faithful prayers of so many people, many of whom we have never met. Through this journey of Johnís cancer and then his death God has opened the eyes of our hearts as this verse says. We have a new understanding and confidence in the hope he has called us to, the riches of our inheritance, and Godís incredible power for us. Thatís why we have peace and joy even now. I was weeping out of gratitude to God and to you who have prayed. I was weeping out of repentance because I do not pray for others as I ought. Oh God teach me to pray. May this powerful life lesson be a catalyst in my prayer life. May those who have lifted us up in prayer receive back a hundred fold the fullness of Christ that you have poured into our lives because of their faithfulness.

This last year John was picking up the guitar and this was one of his favorite songs to play. We sang it at his funeral.

Blessed be your name by Matt Redman

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name when Iím found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing You pour out Iíll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name when the sunís shining down on me
When the worldís ďall as it should beĒ
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering
Though thereís pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2005 at 5:47 am

We had the time of visitation yesterday. I was a little nervous because I had never been on this side of a visitation before. What a wonderful way to spend a day. Stand in one place for six hours and get stroked by family and friends and even people you have never met before. People whose lives have been touched by John and our family. People who love us and have been praying for us and cheering us on. People that God sent to express his love to us through tears and kind words and hugs. Now I understand - visitation after the death of a loved one is healing.

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35) My kids love memorizing this verse because it is the shortest verse in the Bible. It is a verse about Jesus at the tomb of his friend Lazarus who had died three days before. There have been many reasons proposed as to why Jesus wept at that time. The reason I find most satisfying is that Jesus knew Lazarus was in heaven and he was about to raise him from the dead and bring him back to this nasty old world. Jesus knew how great heaven is because he left heaven to come here to die for our sins. It grieved him to bring Lazarus back from that to this.

It is great to be able to smile on this side of Johnís life. At the visitation people would often have a bewildered look on their face as they visited with Laura and I and the kids. THEY ARE SMILING. I think some were afraid weíd be slumped on the floor - sobbing, quivering, miserable piles of flesh. Actually, before John died I wasnít sure how weíd react, weíve never done this before and that makes it a little scarey. But we have Jesus.

Whatís not to smile about. My son is in heaven. My son isnít suffering anymore. We really donít know alot about heaven, but God has promised us it will be great. One thing I know - earth isnít heaven and I donít need to feel that John has been cheated of anything by going there a little earlier than I wanted. When I miss John my thoughts quickly go to the realization that he is happy and I will see him again someday. As a dad isnít that ultimately what I want for all my kids. I want them to be happy in life and I want to spend eternity with them in heaven. If I canít have both then Iíll choose the later. I still shed tears and these honor John and the special place he will always have in my heart. My tears are also a sacrifice of praise to my God who knows what is best and always acts in love.

Today is the funeral. When I asked John what he wanted at his funeral he saidí "I just want it to glorify God." His sisters prepared a powerpoint to one of Johnís favorite songs. I want to share some thoughts but Iím afraid Iíll cry and no one will understand what I am trying to say.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 at 7:31 pm

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9) Last evening as I was returning from purchasing a plot for burial at the cemetery my attention was caught by the spectacular sunset. I couldnít help wondering what John was seeing in heaven. I heard once that anything of beauty here on earth is only a foretaste of the beauty we will experience in heaven.

I canít possibly relate all the emotions we are experiencing, but I can tell you they are healthy and good. Right at the top of the list would be relief. Relief because Johnís fight is over and we no longer need to be concerned about his welfare. We know he is now experiencing pure, sweet, unimmaginable joy in Godís presence. Relief because we no longer carry the weight of this trial. Relief because God has shredded any doubt we ever had about his faithfulness. Relief because frankly we didnít know how we would feel after his death.

Is it OK to tell you we feel great...fragile but great. Tears flow easily and unashamedly. They honor John and the special place he has in our hearts. They honor God as an expression of gratitude for his goodness to John and us. They heal our battle wounds. They express victory over Satan and his shrewd attempts to make something evil from what God intended for good.

We are really looking foward to celebrating Christmas. Weíre looking foward to the visiting times with family and friends and people whose lives have been touched by John. Weíre looking foward to celebrating Johnís life and what he believed unto death on Tuesday.

Have a wonderful Christmas with us as we all celebrate the birthday of the One who destroyed the power of sin and death.

Thank you so much for praying...Phil

Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 at 12:02 pm

Countyline Church of God taped the last time John was physically able to give his testimony and gave us a DVD copy. If you would like a copy to encourage someone's walk with Jesus send us an email at therook37@hotmail.com with the subject line "DVD request" and we'll get a copy to you in the mail. We also plan to post it on the internet in a week or so but it is a large video file so only people with high-speed connections will be able to benefit from it. John loved pointing to Jesus as the source of his strength and he wanted everyone to know it.

To read a transcript of the testimony, Click Here
An Adobe Acrobat version is also available Here

Posted Thursday, December 22, 2005 at 9:12 am

Funeral arrangements for John are visitation 2pm-4pm and 6pm-8pm Monday 12-26-05. Service will be 2pm Tuesday 12-27-05 with one hour visitation before the service. Location will be at Grabill Missionary Church, 13637 State St., Grabill, IN.

John requested that memorial gifts be sent to Connections for Christ. This is a ministry that our family has been associated with for short term mission trips to Mexico. More information at www.connectionsforchrist.org

Godís peace is flooding our home.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Thursday, December 22, 2005 at 4:11 am

John died this morning. For some reason Laura and I couldnít sleep so we sat up and dozed on and off in the living room with John. He was sleeping more soundly than usual and suddenly he woke up bright and excited and said, "Iím going home now. Itís awesome. Iím going to be with Jesus." He was so happy about it. Then he fell into a restless sleep and died peacefully several hours later. God is so merciful.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that dayóand not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7,8) Way to go John. Iíll see you in heaven.

Thanks for you prayers....Phil

Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2005 at 5:27 am

John spends his days and nights on a couch next to the Christmas tree. He is apologetic that he needs to be served and quick to express thanks, even squeeking out a smile once in a while. Quite honestly each of his family members is anxious to be able to do some small thing to comfort him or lessen his misery. He cannot lay down but instead sits up with a pillow on his lap to rest his chest and head upon. He dozes alot but I think he is more aware of his surroundings than he appears. Last night I was up with him and had just smacked my head for the second time on a low hanging light fixture. John looked up with a twinkle in his eyes and raised two fingers in the air mouthing the word "two". Yep, the stairs still go to the attic. I laughed and cried at the same time...weird.

"The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made." (Psalms 145:17) John is comfortable; Jesus is here. While it appears that God doesnít intend to heal John physically, it is a wonderful truth to know that we worship and serve a God that is capable of instantly growing John a new leg and lungs; yes, even raising him from the dead. And God doesnít mind if we keep asking. Not only that but we know that if God chooses not to restore Johnís health, whatever God does is righteous and loving and good. Isnít it merciful of God to give our family this time to care for John. Day by day as his physical body withers it becomes more obvious how ready his eternal soul is to be freed from this decay into Godís glorious presence. I said it to John the night he got diagnosed and it rolls through my head many times a day..."Arenít you glad weíre Christians."

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 5:17 am

I got up early for a meeting yesterday and found John playing a new computer game a friend had given him. He had been up all night, bent on conquest. His brother had worn out at 3 AM. After I had given him a breathing treatment we had this conversation. "Dad, I think Iím anemic again...You probably are John....I want another transfusion....Are you sure you want one?...Iím not ready to give up...John some things we do in medicine prolong living and some things prolong dying...What do you think I should do?...I wasnít planning to give you anymore blood, but if you want a transfusion I wonít withhold it from you...Dad, do you have peace with that?...uhuh...Then lets wait...I love you John...I love you dad." I could barely see the road through tears as I went to my meeting. That evening he told me heíd been praying and didnít want anymore blood. A friend at church once comforted me with the words, "We know how to live...what we donít know is how to die." I doesnít sound comforting but it gave me permission to feel uncomfortable with all this.

A photographer friend carved out some time and came to our home to take a family picture. We set everything up outside and then my oldest son carried John out to pose with everyone. It was hard not to cry between smiles for the camera. Many people have brought meals over; our freezer is stuffed. If love could be measured in food volume we are smothered.

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,and they will call him Immanuel - which means God with us." (Matthew 1:23) This Christmas will probably be the most memorable in my lifetime. Every year as we approach Christmas we will think of John. Every year we will be reminded of Godís life lesson in 2005...God with us. Comforting us, holding us, guiding us, carrying us. Isnít God good.

Thanks for praying....Phil

Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 4:39 am

John has moved into our livingroom, two reasons really: he is too weak to go up the stairs to his bedroom and he prefers being part of the familiar chaos of our household to peace and quiet, although sometimes he pleas for a volume adjustment. He speaks in a strained voice and very little because breathing is so much work. He was put out with me for previously writing that he doesnít smile much, stating, "The smiles are inside me Dad, itís just very hard to get them to my face." He coughs less now, can still stay up late playing computer games with his brothers, reads his Bible some, talks to God alot, but sleeps most of the time. Narcotic patches control his pain and morphine inhalation treatments help with his air hunger. His sunday school teacher asked him yesterday if there was anything he wanted the boys in his class to know. He said," Tell them: This is not all there is."

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20) The Lord brings this verse to mind frequently these days. It is often used to encourage unbelievers to accept Jesus as their savior but actually it was written to believers. What a wonderful statement of intimacy of relationship with Christ. As I tucked John in last night we prayed together and sobbed. My thoughts drifted to a cold night almost two years ago in my car parked in the snowy parking lot of our local hospital having just seen Johnís xrays and the likely diagnosis of cancer. Crying out to God we were concerned about the future that lay ahead but we knew that Jesus would be with us. He has been with us. He is with us. He will see us through...like sitting down to a meal together. All we need to do is keep the door open.

Thanks for praying..Phil

Posted Saturday, December 10, 2005 at 9:03 am

Johnís physical condition has begun to quickly deteriorate. He needs pain medication day and night now. This sedates him but he is comfortable. He is always short of breath and breathing rapidly; we have oxygen and breathing treatments that provide some relief. He walks only short distances and and wears out quickly. His hair fell out, leaving our household with 2 and a half bald heads. Mine by genetics and his brother Taylorís by razor for solidarity. He needed another transfusion of 4 pints of blood only 5 days after his last transfusion. He has had 11 units of blood in the last 2 weeks and we donít know where it is going. He has spells of a gut-wrenching cough that often brings up blood and sets our whole house on edge when they happen. He eats very little now. He doesnít have the energy to smile much anymore. John knows God could still heal him if He chooses, but he is understandably discouraged by Godís answer of "no" to that request right now. He has several opportunities to share his testimony coming up but I donít think he can physically do it. Heís not crazy about speaking in front of large groups of people but he loves pointing to Jesus as the source of his hope. Hope of eternal life in heaven after he takes his last breath, and hope of living life this side of heaven in relationship with God. Iíll put up a post of the testimony he shares.

What do I do as discouragement seeks to replace joy in the heart of my son as his life slowly slips away and just breathing becomes hard work. What do I do as I watch my wifeís heart break in grief. What do I do as I watch each of my children wrestle with the distress of their brother and parents as well as their own feelings. What do I do as my extended family and friends compassionately extend their hands asking if they can do anything to help and I canít think of anything....but prayer.

"Therefore we do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) What do I do? I lead the charge by getting my eyes fixed on the right stuff, on the eternal not on the temporal. Much of my life I see things as if I were looking through foggy glasses. If only I had the unfogged spiritual glasses to see things as they really are. John is alive and well spiritually. He is nearing the time when he gets to shed this temporary earth-suit, with all its issues, to be replaced with his perfect eternal garments. His troubles are achieving for him a glory that, if I could see it, would make these troubles light and momentary. He is being renewed inwardly day by day. God loves that kid more than I could ever hope to and he wonít abandon him in his time of need....nor us. God keeps his promises. God sees things the way they really are, from an eternal perspective not temporal. God will do the right thing. We wonít loose heart if we keep our eyes fixed on the right stuff.

Thanks for praying....Phil

To See Posts from August-November, 2005: Click Here

To See Posts from May-July, 2005: Click Here

To See Posts from March and April, 2005: Click Here

To See Posts from September, 2004 to February, 2005: Click Here

Posted Friday, September 24, 2004 at 3:13 pm

Laura spoke about our experience with John at Grabill Missionary Church on August 22, 2004. To read the text of her talk, click here.

To See Posts from May, June, July and August, 2004: Click Here

To See Posts from April, 2004: Click Here

To See Posts from March, 2004: Click Here

To See Posts from February 19-29, 2004: Click Here

To See Posts from February 3-18, 2004: Click Here

To See Posts from the Week of January 28-February 3, 2004: Click Here

Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 10:31 pm

I want to thank all of you for praying for me, you can't imagine how much your prayers lifted my spirit and kept me from getting depressed. As I read your cards and remember your phone calls I am almost moved to tears by how much you care for me.

When my Dad and I came home this afternoon, I was immediately deluged (I am not sure what that means but it sounds cool) by a horde of siblings overjoyed to see me again...and competing to play with my crutches.

Although I am home (and pretending to feel great) I am still worried about what is coming. Please pray that God will give me peace in the days to come. When some of you see me walk into church...bald, please sign my head (Taylor came up with that idea, I'm not sure what Mom thinks).

Thank you for all your prayers, if God choses not to heal me it won't be from lack of prayer :-)
In Christ,

To See Posts from the Week of January 21-27, 2004: Click Here

Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2004 at 9:04 pm -- Revised January 23, 2004 at 7:30 am

Dear loved ones,
Today has been one of the hardest days of my life. Late last night our son John was diagnosed with bone cancer.

He had been suffering from a vague pain around his kneecap for weeks, he couldn't remember any severe injury, and it would not respond to anti-inflammatory medicine. The xray showed a large mass in the proximal head of the left tibia. A friend of Phil's, an orthopedic surgeon (who just happened to be there when the xray was taken) said it was most likely an osteosarcoma: rare, found in teenagers, fast-growing, deadly cancer.

Phil and I spent the night in agony. John slept peacefully.

Today John had a bone scan and it showed no metastasis (cancer cells in other parts of the body besides his knee). We thank God.

Late this afternoon, Phil and John flew to Houston to MD Anderson Cancer Center.

At this point, we anticipate the only cure is to amputate John's leg above the knee.

Please pray for us. We are "perplexed, but not in despair". Johnny is aware of the situation, has agonized, but is bravely facing this Goliath. Pray that he can stay unafraid and sense God's presence surrounding him.

We feel greatly supported by our families, friends, and church. Thank you for all your prayers on our behalf,


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