LISTEN to this Podcast!

I love to listen to podcasts while I am in the car. I have a 20 minute drive to the YMCA for water aerobics, and I am usually listening to a podcast.

I discovered a treasure last week while scrolling through the iTunes library. Kate Bowler has a compelling voice, delightful word choices, and a remarkable story to tell. “She is a young mother, writer and professor who, at age 35, was suddenly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. In warm, insightful, often funny conversations, Kate talks with people about what they’ve learned in dark times.”

I love listening to her story but her interviews demonstrate a deep compassion for others who suffer. The episodes provide a window into the lives of a wide variety of people who suffer and grieve in different ways.

A recent episode with Jayson Greene touched me personally; he shares the story of the sudden accidental death of his two year old daughter. Kate calls this episode “The Language of Grief”. Their conversation is filled with insights that will help other grieving parents but also will help those who want to help. Jayson calls them “First Responder Friends”.

Follow this link to listen to the episode.

Check out Jayson’s book as well as Kate’s.

Amazon Link
Amazon Link

WHAT A WEEKEND! Blessed by Estes Ladies

Spent Saturday morning with sweet sisters from Henderson, TN and surrounding area. They were so welcoming, and the Ladies’ Day Planning Committee organized everything beautifully! It was delightful!

TEAM JOY: Sara Sills, niece and Marie Johnson, sister-in-law made the day so much easier for me.

What’s It Like to Drown in Grief?

I recently saw a video on Facebook, posted by a grieving friend. I am unable to link it here or embed it. Look for it on my page (Conquering Emotional Pain, The GoalCast). This is what I wrote:

Before you watch it, let me make some suggestions. First of all, it is powerful, and I agree with most of it. The images of waves in the ocean and the feelings described match my feelings after Jennifer died.

But if you are deep in fresh sorrow from the loss of a child, this may not be easy to watch.

I avoided movies, videos, and moments like these. When grief is like a cut in the skin,
raw and open, you are not ready for these emotions, ONE MORE TIME. Overwhelming emotions come on their own like waves, often unexpected and threatening to swallow you whole. I suggest watching only as much as you can handle. You know the condition of your heart, how weak or strong you feel today.

If you are a friend of a grieving person, watch it and develop empathy with the overwhelming emotions of a parent who loses a child.

But, don’t push the solution or suggestion of this video on your friend. Watch the whole video and understand the slow process of healing. Writing a letter to a child who has died is a wonderful healing process. I wrote that letter not long after Jennifer died. But not everyone can do it. And timing is critical. The grieving parent knows when or even if writing this letter is possible. He or she has probably written one in their heads, asking questions, wondering what would have changed the outcome.

NOW watch as much as you wish and then see my thoughts following.

A passage from Psalm 107:23-30 provides words to the images in the video:

Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. They too observed the Lord’s power in action, his impressive works on the deepest seas. He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’s end.

“Lord help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

Words from Scripture that describe drowning and overwhelming fear.


Without hope for a calmer sea, for a better day, for less pain, we continue to drown in the seas of grief and pain.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

What A Week! March Came Roaring In!

The theme of Women of Hope for 2019 is Women of Courage, hence the Wonder Woman photo booth

Team Joy supported me at every turn.

Carlene, Carole, Jackie, Virginia, Clo, Marsha, Pam, and Traci made this convention experience a success!

Another Joy Johnson!

Hendersonville Church of Christ, Ladies’ Bible Class


Surprise! Kathy and Lark plus husbands showed up to support me.
Elizabeth: Former student from 8th grade came to the taping of Stories of Amazing Grace. So proud of her — she is a teacher for special needs students at a middle school where I taught AND was teacher of the year last year.

Completed Interview

My husband, Larry, interviewed me at our church. Follow the link above to watch on YouTube.



What Does Time Do for a Broken Heart?

What does time do for a broken heart?

What does time do for a journey of grief?

After writing my book Where Is Joy? I can share a few things I’ve learned about time.

  • The rawness of pain fades slowly.
  • The passage of time does not diminish memories or missing my daughter.
  • It took years for my heart to heal.
  • Healing does not mean my heart returned to same state as before April 13, 2002.
  • Healing from grief is not a gradual improvement; it’s two steps forward, then one step back.
  • Or it’s 20 steps back, and I’m flat on my back on the couch.
  • It takes more than the passage of time to heal.

It took a network of supportive friends and family, research and locating helpful tools, the practice of quiet moments for Bible study, prayer, and communion with the Father.

  • Healing required me to learn and accept my limitations. I was a slow learner in this area because just when I thought I could move ahead, I was reminded that everything had changed.
  • I am not the same person.
  • Time helped the rawness of pain, but I had much to learn in my journey of grief.

In time I learned to be thankful for even the hard things in my life.

Today I am thankful for

  • the people who supported me through all the years of healing
  • the lessons I learned about God’s glorious grace and love
  • the ability to look back and reflect — to see God’s hand through 17 years of my journey


Control: A Confession


Father of the Universe, Creator, my Abba

I confess my weakness and ask Your forgiveness. 

I need to feel control, and too often I let this need rule my life.

I know in my head You are in control, but my heart jumps in when I see something is out of control. 


I know I have no ability to control the weather,


the political atmosphere in our country, choices other people make,

accidents, poverty, disease, danger, or war.

But sometimes this need for control allows the Teacher in me to jump in.

For 33 years my goal was to be in control of my classroom.

I knew my students needed guidance to learn self-control.

But chaos in the classroom does not provide

an ideal classroom environment for learning. 

Controlled chaos is different;

my friend and co-teacher Emalie taught me this.

I know I cannot control other people.

I know that without Your grace my salvation would be impossible.

But I desperately need patience and insight

when I feel the need to take control of a situation.

Thank You for:

Your forgiveness,

Your grace,

Your patience,

Your love. 

Your child,


New Pages to the Blog

This is a favorite drawing by a former student (8th grade). I included the background because it has details on the whiteboard about the book we were studying  (Gathering Blue), my charts, even the lamp in the back. 

I’ve been working on this blog to improve it in the last few days and hope you will check out the new pages. I have added a booklist of some of the books I recommend for those in grief. I also have a list of websites that provide many types of help for a wide variety of broken hearts.

Please share these resources with people who need them.

The first week in March is packed with several events. Check out the list here. Just added another one this week.

Thank you for all who have purchased my book. Please write a review on Amazon, even if you bought it from me.