poor boy off the farm

My Tribute to My Dad

(An earlier article on my dad – here, here, here, and here.)

A few years ago, my dad began writing his memoirs. His title was “Poor Boy off the Farm”. It reflects the reality of his life story and something of his insecurities as he battled honorably through life. He was far from ‘poor’ in my mind, though he began life in humble circumstances.

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update to the update

[The following update is posted here by Don’s son for those of you who have been praying for us during this time.]

After the euphoria of a successful procedure this afternoon, my dad is not responding well to continuing treatment. One lung is retaining some fluid, the doctor says that the only hope is to get his blood pressure up and he *might* turn the corner. The doc doesn’t sound too hopeful, however.

Dad is in the Lord’s hands. He is a born again child of the King, and the victory over death is alredy his. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Don Johnson, Jer 33.3
sent from my phone, please excuse bad thumb tpying

update on my dad

Some have expressed interest in my dad. He is fighting for more life in the University Hospital in Edmonton, AB. He fell at church a few weeks ago, and things have been going progressively wrong ever since. Fell in the hospital, broke a hip. Pneumonia. And he has some serious chronic conditions as well.

Well, he developed some internal bleeding. They were worried yesterday that he wouldn’t make it through the sedation – possible heart failure, etc. Lots of risk. This AM we discovered he had significant blood loss last night so procedure had to be done. The doc found a double bleeding ulcer just past the stomach and fixed it. He was quite pleased. Says Dad isn’t out of danger yet, but has a chance now.

I am here with my mom, ostensibly to support mom. Hah! She is a rock. I am the basket case.

And let me tell you, in a crisis like this you see the strength of a 54 year marriage. It is a beautiful thing.



Our family had a little milestone on Saturday. My daughter bought her first car! We’re all pleased and she is quite excited. Here it is:


I took the picture just after she bought the car. A 1999 Honda Accord, one owner, low miles, mint condition.

We live in such an automobile oriented society, the day you get  your first car is a real milestone for almost everyone, I think. My first car still lingers in my memory, truly loved, though it was a real lemon. I bought a 1972 Dodge Charger in 1977. It only had about 57000 miles on it, as I recall, about the same as my daughter’s Honda. Except… my previous owner was in a different demographic! Those 57,000 miles were hard miles. Several serious issues emerged as I began to get to know the car. We traded it for a 1977 Plymouth Fury after only six months or so.

But it could fly! Memories…

So far we have helped two of our young people with these milestone purchases. Neither of them have ended up with such an impulsive buy as my first, but this one was much more deliberative. My wife went with my daughter on the shopping expeditions. They narrowed it down to a few, then had one of our men go with them to whittle it down to one. The next day, I went along, but I sent my wife in to do the negotiation. I figure that I don’t get blamed for anything this way! They ended up with the price I predicted before the horse trading started.

Now our family can have something else to remember Sept 11 by.


we’ve been a little busy

This is my sister.


When we began our ministry in Victoria, she had just graduated from University. She took a job here in order to help us in our church. We had a handful of people. She came, not knowing how the Lord would lead, but she came knowing that the chances of finding an eligible Christian man might be slim.

That was 24 years ago.

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a reminder of God’s blessing

An interview in the New York Times reminds me of a great blessing from God our family received a little over six years ago.

I have written about this before, but I just want to again give praise to the Lord for the gifts he gives to men.

Six and a half years ago, my wife began to lose weight rapidly and was bruising easily. She was becoming more and more exhausted each day. (She was enjoying the weight loss part!) We called our doctor who immediately got the ball rolling in our health care system, no small feat. The diagnosis was Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). Our hematologist was very upbeat, however. The new therapy for this disease was a drug called Gleevec, just approved for CML treatment two years previously. We haven’t looked back. Gleevec has very minimal side-effects (we haven’t really noticed any). My wife is living a normal life.

The interview with Bryan Druker, the doctor in charge of developing Gleevec reminded me of how close my dear wife was to death’s door:

The problem [with a CML diagnosis] was that the death rate in the first year was 25 to 50 percent.

The life expectancy after diagnosis before Gleevec was about 5 years. And the previous treatments would make those years pretty miserable.

This interview gives you a bit of insight into the persistence and dedication of Dr. Druker in bringing Gleevec into production. It is now approved for ten different forms of cancer, but is most successful with CML, I believe.

My wife takes a couple of little orange pills every morning and God has given her six and a half years of normal life. If there is a drawback, as I was commenting to a friend, is that she would have been in heaven these last five years or so … instead, she gets to live with me.

Maybe there is a purgatory?


two are better than one

By that I mean, marriage is a good idea. I am always mindful of this on those occasions when my wife and I are apart for a significant length of time, like more than a few hours.

Yesterday and today she was off driving our sons to Sea-Tac for their trek back to school. They’ll probably make it back before she gets home, but that is a fact of Island life.

In her absence… well, things haven’t fallen apart, but let’s just say her presence is sorely missed…

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Answered prayer

[This update is by Duncan Johnson, written at his father’s behest.]

KJV Psalm 34:1-8 <A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.> I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

I found out yesterday about the medical procedure that my Dad underwent today. Dad called me at my home in South Carolina to tell me about it because it did involve some risk. The risk involved a very, very small percentage, but our family tries to avoid even the smallest risks, maybe because my grandfather sold insurance during his working days.

I wasn’t quite sure what to say, and my brothers (who were at my house at the time) weren’t either. We assured him of our prayers, and then we all tried to think of more pleasant things to discuss.

My sister kept us updated throughout the day today, first sending us an email at 2 PM Eastern time to tell us that Dad’s treatment had been delayed. Nothing serious, just part of life with Canadian socialized medicine. There was a possibility that Dad’s procedure would be delayed until tomorrow because of limited treatment space.

Fortunately, Dad was able to be treated today anyway, and the results of his test came back far better than we expected. Dad is doing fine, and no surgery is required — but no more Tim Horton’s donuts.

I’m so glad that even if the test results had returned with more serious news, our prayers would be addressed to the same God who helped David when he fled from Saul. Our weakness and distress today may not seem as dramatic as David’s trouble, but our God is always the same. We can still trust Him.

the joy of the Lord is my strength

I’ll have to take that by faith over the next few days.

Yesterday morning I put my lads on a plane at SeaTac.

Last night we came home to a house that has had at least one boy in it for the last 24 years.

Today my boys are busy getting ready for their year at BJU, classes commencing next Wednesday. This is the will of God, and I accept it. (I didn’t say I liked it.)

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thanks, mom

My wife is in Alberta visiting my parents while two of our kids are at camp.

The other day, my wife shared with my parents the video of our oldest son’s wedding (just over a year ago). My parents didn’t feel up to travelling all the way to Greenville, so this was their first look at the DVD.

My mom’s comment after the video (I conducted the ceremony, so catch this admiring mom comment!):

“He could have told them a lot of that in private counselling and made it shorter.”

Moi? Long? Perish the thought!

Thanks, mom!