Journal

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Part I...

In August I received an email with an invitation to accept two VIP tickets to participate in the Kids Club VIP Event with the Vikings Training Camp. The kids would have free access to the VIP tent where there would be food, beverages, exclusive VIP seating to watch the practice, and much more.

It was August 12. One month since Josh died. I was barely making it out of bed each day. Breathing in and out took a conscious effort. Seriously. I would take deep breaths and people around me would wonder why I was sighing.

I wasn’t sighing. No. I was telling myself or reminding my body to breathe.

But back to the tickets. Who sent these tickets? It sounded like a fun experience for the kids, but could I muster up enough energy and motivation to go? We went to training camp as a family last year and so like every other “first” my mind was spiraling at the thought of going to yet another “family tradition” event alone without Josh for the first time.

Well it turned out that I signed up for the tickets myself. I don’t even remember doing it or when. But today, I didn’t feel like going.

Well, after much resistance and wrestling with myself, I decided I would be brave. I would take the kids. Alone. I knew that the Lord would give me strength if I asked. And He did. I simply asked that we would have a good day and that it would in some way bring us a little joy.

When we arrived, we walked around, taking in all the purple pride. As we started to make our way toward the VIP tent, I saw out of the corner of my eye a staff member coming towards us. I remember there were other kids and families around, but she was deliberately coming toward US. Fast. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

When she reached us, she asked, “Would your kids be interested in going on the field and participating in the Helmet Hike?”

“Yes! Of course,” I said. Wait. What WAS the Helmet Hike? What was I saying yes to?

The kids intently listened as she explained that she selected them for an opportunity/experience to go onto the field with the players and they would carry the helmet of one of the Vikings players. As she explained the experience and I watched the kids excitement build, I felt myself getting choked up and tears starting to well up.

I don’t think it was just the fact that the kids would get to go on the field and carry a helmet. That was cool and all. But I just got this overwhelming feeling that God was showing us and saying, “I see you. I see your precious children.”

He sees the kids. He knows they’re missing their daddy. He knows the pain of our loss. And he just cares so deeply about them. About us.

Maybe that sounds silly because it’s just walking on a field. But it felt much more than that in that moment. The interaction with this sweet staff member, who literally handpicked them out of SO many other kids, felt so personable, kind and FULL of compassion. She was so sweet with the kids and I remember just saying, “thank you so much. What a memorable experience for them.”

Now, let me just say, I have never really been a football person. I don’t really GET football. I don’t understand the rules. I’ve just never really gotten into it.

Until last year. When I embraced it for the sake of my boys. Kaden and Josh loved watching it. And I was actually excited when we went to training camp last year. I even started sitting with them on Sunday’s, cheering for our guys in purple!

Even more so now, I am learning and trying to appreciate this sport that Josh loved so much and Kaden loves as well. We even play Fantasy Football with our dear friends! It’s been an amicable season, but the Richardson’s are just getting warmed up! Wait until next years draft when we’ve had a year under our belt!! Just kidding, Galstad’s. It will always be friendly fun!

Back to the Helmet Hike.

The kids’ eyes lit up and a huge smile formed on both faces. She quickly put wristbands on and gave clear instructions to meet back at the meeting spot at the designated time.

Only a handful of kids were selected to take the field and carry helmets. Emma and Kaden walked on the field and proudly carried the helmet for their chosen player. Their smiles said it best! And it brought that little bit of joy I asked God for...

We finished the day in the VIP tent. The kids enjoyed unlimited catered food and beverages, a signed autograph, and they were able to meet Viktor and snap some photos. It was a good day.

Was it hard? Absolutely. Josh would have LOVED being there. He would have been so proud of the kids. They both walked on the field and engaged in conversation, asking their player questions. When I asked what they talked about, they just said, “oh ya know...stuff.”

I couldn’t get it out of my mind. How they were chosen. And just the way that this staff person singled them out along with a handful of other kids. Her sweetness and tenderness toward them. She just kept coming to my mind and I couldn’t erase it.

I wanted to thank her. Sure, I thanked her when she approached us and selected them. But I didn’t get her name. And I didn’t get to tell her how much it meant to the kids. A couple days went by and I just felt this urge to send an email in hopes that it would get to her. I wanted her to know how special it was for the kids. I wanted to share our story. And what a difference it made.

So that evening I sent an email to my initial contact for the VIP day tickets and she wrote back saying she was able to forward it to the staff member.

I now know why our lives intersected. It was for a greater purpose! To connect in a suffering that no one else could or would ever understand unless they, too, were impacted by a devastating loss. Here’s what she wrote:

Christine,
Your kind letter was shared with me in the Vikings Community Relations department. I have been spearheading the Helmet Hike this season and was brought to tears by your note. I unexpectedly lost my father a few summers ago following a heart attack. After reading your story, I think it definitely was not by chance that I was drawn to your family and selected your children for the experience. With that in mind, please know the whole Vikings family is behind you.
 
Additionally, I would love to invite you and your children to a game this season. October 13th is our Crucial Catch game, which is in partnership with the American Cancer Society. I would be honored to host you on the sidelines for pregame warmups leading up to kick-off.
 
Please let me know if this date works – if not we can look at hosting you for another game this season.
 
My mom was my rock when I lost my dad and I know your children are finding so much strength within you.
 
All the best,
 
Quinn

Wow! The power of sharing our stories. I cried as I read her letter. I just love how God works and how he used Quinn to encourage us.

The last part of her letter about her mom was a huge encouragement. When I feel like I am barely making it through the day. When I feel short with the kids because I’m exhausted from my own grief and parenting alone every single day, she reminded me that hopefully my kids will one day be able to say that I was there for them. I can only pray, with God’s help, that I can be a source of strength for them as her mom was for her.

I immediately wrote her back and shared in the sentiment that it was no accident that our lives intersected. AND I noted that we would love to attend the game if that was really something we could do!

What happens next, in Part 2 of this story, will be an incredible experience for my two little Vikings Fans! And for me.
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Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Who gets up on a SATURDAY morning at the end of a long week and works on a project at someone ELSE’S house to help prevent water from coming in their basement?

Who gets up on that Saturday morning when it’s COLD....and SNOWING? And it’s only the beginning of October.

Who gives up their family time to come move rocks, lay top soil determined to end the water from entering.

Who delivers that top soil on a Friday afternoon during their LUNCH BREAK to be ready for the action on Saturday?

Who brings their saw, gets down on their hands and knees and cuts the sheet rock to check if there is mold growth from the water?

These guys.

These guys. They are selfless. They are compassionate. They are hard-working and determined. They are the Golden Valley Fire Department.

And I am beyond grateful.

Last week when we had DAYS of endless rain, at times heavy rain, I noticed a lake forming in our backyard. I immediately felt an urgency to check our basement. We had water flooding one other time during a heavy rainfall. That was most likely because the gutters were full and needed to be cleaned out.

I headed downstairs that evening and sure enough, water was coming in at a steady pace. The kids and I quickly began moving things from one end of the basement to the other. I pulled up the rug from the unfinished basement floor. I grabbed the shop vac and began to suck up all the water. It was coming in one corner of the house and quickly making a line down the middle of the floor and along the edge of the wall.

I was frustrated. I was sad. An ambush of emotions hit me. Josh would know exactly what to do. And he would be spearheading this whole thing, not me. I missed him.

I missed him. Not because of the water. It was just another reminder of our loss and all the secondary losses. He was our rock.

So, who do I call? So many people have offered to help and be there for various things. But who should I call for this?

I called Curtis Smith and he said, “I’ll come out tonight! I’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

Seriously, don’t these guys have a life? How can they just drop everything and come? I don’t expect it. And it’s hard to ask for their help. But Curtis was determined to come that night and check things out.

That evening, in the wet and cold, he came out, climbed a ladder and checked out the rain gutters. Fortunately everything looked fine and they weren’t full.

Unfortunately, that meant we needed to find another solution.

AJ came out the next day to look at what could be done and he determined we could try to build up the ground to slope AWAY from the house.

That’s what these guys did today. Did I mention in the SNOW? I am grateful for the sacrifice they made to help and I don’t even know what to say.

Thank you seems insignificant.

When I DID thank them, do you know what they said?

“Of course. It’s what we do.”

One more time just for good measure, THANK YOU! So much. And all the families and wives, thank you for your sacrifice too. Maybe you had a house project or planned to have these guys home today. Thank you for giving up your morning to let them come “play” in the dirt!

**Not pictured: Curtis Smith (sorry I didn’t get you Curt. Especially unloading all that top soil yesterday.)

Bless you guys for ALL your work today!

#firefamily #gratefulbeyondwords #firewife #neverforget #wearefamily #itswhattheydo

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

This trusted Motorola pager rested on the nightstand next to Josh’s side of the bed for 14 years.

Bbbbbbbeeeeeeep!!!!

Alright, truth be told...I used to HATE when it would go off in the middle of the night. Selflessly, I worried every time he ran out the door. Selfishly, I could never get back to sleep. And it just plain startled me as I was drifting off into my REM sleep!

Over the course of our marriage we tried various things to make it less jarring in the middle of the night. He tried lowering the volume. He tried just having it on vibrate. He tried to put it under his pillow.

In the end, it sat right back on the nightstand. Plugged in, charged, and ready for the next “big one.”

If it wasn’t sitting on the charger at night, he was carrying it on his waist...just waiting for those high-pitched beeps followed by the call from Dispatch.

But after today, it will no longer be sitting on the nightstand. And it won’t be attached to his waist.

This pager, worn faithfully by Firefighter Richardson, is now retired. Today, I turned it in to the City of Golden Valley.

Breaks my heart to think I’ll never hear it again. Breaks my heart to know that he won’t be at the next “big one” with the rest of his crew. This thing that I once despised...I actually MISS and wish I could be startled by in the middle of the night again.

Just let that sink in.

There are countless things to love and admire about Josh, but when it came to responding to fire calls, for him, he acted just as quickly to each one as if it WAS the big one. Whether it was burnt food or the call he’d been waiting and training for, he was up and out the door in a flash. His dedication didn’t waver because of the type of call. He was all in no matter what.

In fact, there were times when he KNEW he wasn’t even going to make a truck, but rather than turning over and shutting off the pager and getting more sleep, he still went in because he knew that the rest of the department would need help with the clean up.

No more waking up in the middle of the night to a jolting BEEP! No more interruptions at dinner time and schedule inconveniences that would now require some shifting around.

Oh what I wouldn’t do to say one more time as he headed out the door, “Be safe out there, honey. I love you.”

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

On Thursday night, God gave us an unforgettable opportunity. We are still coming down from this exciting evening!!

We attended a concert with three amazing musical artists that each intersected our lives in a powerful and meaningful way.

It all started a couple months ago when dear friends of ours, Charlene Osler Peterson and Ryan Peterson shared that their son Taylor Peterson was auditioning to be the bass guitar player for Jordan Feliz. If you haven’t heard of him before, he is a Christian singer. And he’s amazing! AND he happens to be Kaden’s favorite musical artist!

We were praying for Taylor and watched and waited for how this was all going to unfold for him.

Well, one night around midnight, Char texted and said he got it!! It had been down to two guys, but in the end, Taylor was CHOSEN!!

That night I jumped on Jordan Feliz’s website to see if there were any concerts in our area. Sure enough, there WAS one on Thursday, September 20th 2019!! In Forest Lake!! That’s just 45 minutes away! YAY!!

While searching for concert dates and locations, I also learned that he was touring with 2 other artists and when I read their names my heart literally skipped a beat! We HAD to get to this concert! The other two bands were Hannah Kerr and North Point InsideOut Band.

Why was this such a BIG deal you might be asking??

Well, Hannah Kerr is the artist who sings the song, “WARRIOR,” the song that literally became a battle cry for Josh during his fight against cancer and the fight of his LIFE.

North Point InsideOut is the band that sings the song, “DEATH WAS ARRESTED” that we had played during Josh’s Celebration of Life. The song became so incredibly meaningful and powerful because well for one, Kaden suggested (with determination) that we include this song. If you remember, I already had the songs picked out for the service. We were moving on. I had never heard the song and it just didn’t seem like a good fit. UNTIL I took the time to sit down and actually listen to it after LOTS of promptings from Kaden! It was a PERFECT fit!! And secondly, it summed up the Gospel which is what Josh wanted everyone to know and hear!!

Wow! I was so excited to get tickets to see Jordan Feliz, but now there was another reason we HAD to go!! I was SO excited and couldn’t wait to surprise the kids!

SOLD OUT!

Yes, the concert was sold out! I couldn’t believe it. We HAD to see them. What was I to do???

Well, the next closest city we could maybe catch was in Naperville, IL. A six hour drive. It was doable. But I felt worried about traveling that far alone and in a car that’s not super reliable. But maybe we just do it and trust.

Well, long story longer...Char and Ryan found out that we wanted to go (and the story behind it all) and I’m not exactly sure all the behind the scenes details, but they talked to Taylor, who was going to see if we could get some tickets or somehow get in.

We DID get in! THANK YOU TAYLOR!!

Not only did we get to attend the concert as special “guests,” but because it was such a small intimate venue, we were able to meet ALL THREE BANDS!!! This was something I was excited about because I was able to share with them how their music and specific songs carried us through a really tough time...and still is. Whenever I hear both songs I immediately think of Josh and the strength he exhibited throughout his fight, his message of HOPE that because of Jesus he is FREE!

It was emotional sharing our story with these musical artists. Meeting the writers of the very songs that became an anthem and a battle cry in the middle of the biggest fight of our lives was truly an unforgettable experience. I only hope that it encouraged THEIR hearts to keep doing what they do. You see, God laid these songs on their hearts for a special purpose in THEIR lives...and it rippled out and touched OURS.

We are grateful.

Now to see Bethel, who sings “Raise a Hallelujah,” another impactful song for our family!!

So, Kaden got to meet his favorite artist, Jordan Feliz. And after getting a tour of the bus and interacting with the bands, he would also like to find out if Jordan is hiring. He’d do anything...greet, help set up, tear down, carry his bags...whatever it takes. He wants to road trip on a tour bus. With Jordan Feliz.

God is good! He continues to show up and show us He is still with us. Maybe this sounds like a silly thing, but it was something that the three of us looked forward to together. And something that we will treasure in our hearts forever.

I love how God orchestrated all the details for this to fall into place. How fun that our friend Taylor is living his dream! If it wasn’t for this, we may not have had our eyes on attending the concert in the first place. But we thought it would be exciting to see Taylor AND Kaden’s favorite band. The other cool piece to this puzzle is that for part of #thefaithtour a different band is in the place of North Point InsideOut Band. So had it been another date and/or location we wouldn’t have been able to see BOTH Hannah Kerr and North Point!

So, special thanks to Char, Ryan, Taylor, Jordan Feliz, Hannah Kerr and North Point InsideOut Band. We love you all!!! #thefaithtour

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

It’s National Dog Day, I guess. Hard to believe I know that, but honestly, this post isn’t so much about Daisy as it is about Josh. Well, it’s about Josh AND Daisy!!

I rescued Daisy from the Golden Valley Humane Society pre-Josh! I was single, living in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood in Minneapolis and had always wanted a dog! I had just started running and I really thought it would be good to have a BIG dog I could run with, one who would protect me on the trail and in my house! I had dreams of training and certifying her to be a therapy dog. Oh the life we would have...

Well, Daisy, was not cut out to be a watch dog. OR a therapy dog. According to the vet and Daisy’s small paws, she would most likely not get bigger than 35-40 lbs! Awesome! I just adopted a runt! She also had some emotional trauma as she was in a puppy mill and likely abused. She was skittish around nearly everyone, but especially men. She hated men! In fact, she would nip and do weird chattering things with her teeth. So much for THOSE plans.

But Daisy WAS good at helping me pick my soon-to-be-husband!

Josh and I met at Applebees in Golden Valley, now Theresa’s Mexican Restaurant. The Fire Department had their pancake breakfast one December morning and I was there supporting my brother-in-law, Scott.

Josh poured me coffee and walked away. The rest was history. He called me that week and we talked on the phone every single day. We never ran out of things to talk about. I kept waiting and waiting, and finally he asked me out on a date!

The night of our first date he came to pick me up at my place in Minneapolis where I was living, and before I let him all the way into my house, I explained that I had a dog. And...that she did not like men. I told him to maybe walk slow and not make any abrupt movements! 🤣

Well, he walked in, sat down on the couch and Daisy literally followed him (without biting and nipping), JUMPED up on the couch next to him and put her paws on his chest, around his neck! Seriously! Like a hug!!

I. Was. Stunned.

Josh looked at me and laughing said, “oh yeah, killer dog! I see what you mean, she really hates men!”

Daisy sat there with Josh, wagging her tail as happy as can be!! After Josh and I got married, Daisy started sleeping on HIS side of the bed. When we would get home, she would always greet him first. She loved Josh and knew from the very beginning he was a good match for me!

A week after Josh died, we noticed Daisy crying and whining. I kept wondering what was wrong. She didn’t seem hurt or in pain. Until I realized that she probably WAS hurting.

A broken heart. You can’t always see it. But the pain is still there. Daisy loved Josh from the moment she met him...her instincts were right on! He was the one!

On this National Dog day I reminisce about my sweet pup, but mostly about my first date with Josh and missing the LOVE of my life...now with a broken heart.

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

The kids and I decided to visit Ft. Snelling National Cemetery this week since we were passing by. We didn’t know if the headstone was completed yet or not.

To our surprise, it was.

There was something final about seeing the headstone. His name etched in the stone marker, his date of birth, the date he met Jesus, his military branch & status, his life verse....but my favorite part is the last line, “Servant of God.”

The kids and I wanted to include something that would mark Josh’s life as a loving husband, devoted father, loyal friend, brother, son, uncle, neighbor, firefighter, submariner, boss, computer/phone guy.

I think Kaden got it right.

SERVANT OF GOD

You see, Josh’s identity didn’t come from any of those other names. His identity came from God. And Josh knew that. He lived that. In everything he did, he served! He truly was a Servant of God.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As the three of us stood and took in the finished stone where his ashes lay, we breathed. We (I) cried. We prayed. We THANKED God for his amazing life he lived and we PRAISED God for the life he is now living in Eternity. Wow. It is finished. He is home. With Jesus. His rescuer and Savior. We each placed a red rose next to his headstone with an American Flag. This man was a hero, but more than that he is a Servant of God!

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

One More Time

I wish we could have had one more dance, just one more...just to stop what we were doing and dance...in the kitchen, in the living room, or in the dusty garage. Maybe there would be music. Or maybe in the silence, only our hearts beating. I wish I could stare across the room one more time and let him know that he was mine. One more time...if only...I would dance with him all night long if I knew it was our last. Even if it wasn’t our last, I would dance all night long...one more time.

Don’t wait for the right moment. Don’t wait for the music to start. Dance one more time...stare into his eyes and tell him, “you’re mine. You’re all mine.”

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Dear friends,

Just over a week ago we celebrated Josh’s life. It still seems so unimaginable. And it will for a long time to come. There are so many people we want to thank on behalf of myself, Kaden and Emma.

To Chief John Crelly, all Golden Valley Chief’s, Firefighters and spouses, GV Retired Firefighters, Golden Valley Police, Maple Grove Fire, Plymouth Fire, West Metro Fire, Minnetonka Fire, and all other Hennepin County Fire Departments...thank you for your presence and your support on Sunday as well as throughout Josh’s illness. You have surrounded us with your love and support from the beginning...we are deeply touched by the way you are caring and loving us.

To Josh’s CenturyLink family and Verizon Family...thank you for being there.

To our neighbors and other friends we’ve met along the way we are grateful for your love and support.

To our homeschool community, ROCK friends...thank you for being there for our family this past year and being there on Sunday. Wow, it meant the world. You are family too. Wild & Free community, we are grateful to you.

To our entire extended family, both mine and Josh’s, we are forever bound by love, memories and most importantly our Savior. Thank you Holly, Heather and Cheryl for doing the video, picture boards and large photos.

To the entire Safety Team...walking out and seeing you all lined up in your white shirts and blue lanyards took my breath away...Josh loved serving with you all.

To Plymouth Covenant Church...our beautiful family. Words truly fail me to explain how deeply loved and cared for we feel.

To our small group who has stepped up to clean, provide food, supplies, and so much more...love you all so much.

To Pav, Jon, and Drew, thank you for leading us in worship...with the very songs that represented Josh’s life and what he lived for.

To Laura and Pastor Sara, your hard work putting everything together and displaying a part of Josh’s life on stage was beautiful. And Tina for coordinating the food and luncheon, thank you for everything.

To Pastor Dan and Pastor Bob, how can I possibly put into words what you have done for us? Not just on Sunday, but throughout Josh’s illness you have loved us, cared for us, prayed for us and supported us. Thank you! We are eternally grateful. And we are forever thankful. Your message of hope, your personal tribute to Josh on Sunday was perfect in so many ways.

I’m sure I am missing others in my calling out and if I have I’m so sorry. We are fortunate to have so many people whom Josh has touched, and there isn’t quite possibly a way to name every single one. But please know that Kaden, Emma and I are deeply humbled by your amazing love and support.

I am posting the video of Josh’s Celebration of Life Service below. If you were unable to attend you will be able to watch it here.

Again, thank you for coming last Sunday and thank you for your continued prayers as we navigate life without Josh.

https://vimeo.com/349565120

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Joshua Van Richardson was born in Cam Ranh, Vietnam on October 25, 1972.  He was living in the Cam Ranh Orphanage until he was 2 ½ when he was evacuated out of Vietnam as part of an operation called the “Baby Lift.”  This was part of an evacuation to get children out of Vietnam as quickly as possible, and he was on the last plane out of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. He was adopted into a beautiful forever family from Bend, Oregon, Dennis and Catherine Richardson.  They welcomed Joshua into their family which included their two biological daughters Kim and Kippi and another son, Shawn who they also adopted.  Eventually the family moved to Minnesota where Josh graduated from Buffalo High School in 1990.  After graduating from High School, he joined the Navy and went to Submarine School where he worked as an Electronics Technician. He earned several awards and honors including Top Secret Clearance during his military service. After the Navy, Josh worked for CenturyLink, a telecommunications company as his full time career, but he missed the comradery from the Navy and soon found himself pursuing a paid on-call position as a firefighter. Josh served as a Volunteer Firefighter for the city of Golden Valley for 14 years. His passion was to serve. He was driven by helping his community, his neighbors and even strangers. Josh had an infectious smile and a positive attitude. He was a devoted father, husband and friend. He was loving, kind, thoughtful and generous in every way. His love for the Lord was inspiring and he stayed steadfast in his faith even until he went to his Eternal Home and met Jesus. Josh died from an aggressive stage 4 cancer on July 16, 2019. His life was cut short here on earth, but he leaves behind a legacy that will live on. He is survived by his loving wife, Christine; son, Kaden; daughter, Emma; Father, Dennis (Karen) Richardson; sisters, Kim (Bill) Gabby; Kippi (Jim) Bednar; sister-in-law, Ruth Richardson; and several nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Josh’s life will be held at 2:00 pm, on Sunday, July 21 at Plymouth Covenant Church, 4300 Vicksburg Lane North, Plymouth with a luncheon to follow. No visitation is planned. A private interment with the family will follow on Tuesday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

This feature was well done. Thank you Fox 9. I am so proud of the man Josh was. Grateful to have lived life with him. I will miss him so much. May his legacy live on!!

http://www.fox9.com/news/14-year-veteran-of-the-golden-valley-fire-dept-dies-after-battle-with-cancer

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

It's been two weeks since Josh's initial diagnosis and needless to say it has been a whirlwind. Most of last week is a huge blur, but I will try to provide as many details as I can.  First of all, we just want to thank you all so much for your incredible support! We are so grateful to all of our family and friends for the prayers, calls, text messages, help with kids, food, and other support you've given in so many ways.  Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!

On Thursday, March 22 Josh had a biopsy on his liver; this was supposed to give us more details about the cancer and where it started, how aggressive, etc..  We knew that we would not receive results of the test until the following week and so we also knew the waiting was going to be difficult. We decided to just spend the weekend laying low, but at the last minute we decided we wanted to bring this new challenge we were facing before the Lord and pray over Josh, our home, family and future. So, Sunday afternoon we held a worship and prayer service. We were so blessed to have family and dear friends gather around us! It truly was beautiful! We worshipped, prayed, cried, and our hearts were so encouraged. We felt ready for our meeting with the oncologist the next day.

Thankfully we had prepared out hearts, because our meeting with the oncologist did not go the way that we had hoped. He informed us that he didn't have all of the results from the biopsy, but gave Josh a general diagnosis of Colon/Lower GI Cancer (or Stage 4 Poorly Differentiated Adenocarcinoma). The next heartbreaking news that we received that morning was that his cancer was non-curative. His recommendation for treatment was Chemotherapy. Surgery really wasn't an option since the cancer had already matastesized; he felt that chemo was necessary as soon as possible. We left with instructions to schedule a PET scan immediately and to have the port placed. Numb.  We felt numb.

We knew that we wanted to get a second opinion, and with some help through a family friend, we were able to get in for a second opinion with a doctor at the University of Minnesota. Our second oncology meeting would be Thursday.  More waiting.  

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent doing a lot of praying, researching alternative cancer care and sincerely calling out to God about what our next steps should be.  As some of you might know, I have a passion for health and wellness. I have come to believe that our bodies are capable of healing itself of many diseases, even cancer. In December, as a Christmas gift, I got the book, Chris Beat Cancer. It's about a remarkable young man who was diagnosed with stage 3c Colon Cancer. He opted out of chemotherapy against his doctors recommendation, but is healthy and thriving today. I literally devoured this book. It was so exciting and interesting. I had no idea that three months later, I would be using some of the information from his book and other resources for our own family.

The Lord laid it on our hearts during the week to reach out to a few different people we know as we started to seek alternative ideas for treatment. We are feeling a nudge that we are supposed to go in this direction, trusting that God will bring healing over Josh. One of the things that is essential when fighting cancer is to give the body good nutrients. So, while we were in this waiting period this week, we started doing things we had some control over. With the help of dear friends, we were able to get our hands on a juicer and we have been juicing and putting good anti-cancer food into Josh's body. We are doing all kinds of other things that will help support the body, fight the cancer cells and slow them down.

THURSDAY came and we met with our second oncologist. While he was MUCH better in terms of his bedside manners, we both came away from the meeting feeling sad and broken. This time, he was much more thorough and went over the CT scan with us, explaining in more detail what he was seeing. Unfortunately, he was seeing some questionable spots on the esophagus and possibly the stomach. He really wanted to know where the cancer started from in order to set up a proper treatment/protocol. He also agreed with our first oncologist that Chemotherapy was the only solution and considered his cancer to be non-curative. Before deciding anything at this point, he wanted to see what showed up on the PET scan which was scheduled for the next day. 

FRIDAY morning, bright and early, Josh went in for the PET scan and by the afternoon the doctor was calling with a report. He had good news! The areas on the esophagus and the stomach he was "concerned" about from the CT scan were not cancer! Yes! Something good! A big blessing! We were so thankful! But, there were some spots that he wanted to look at near the colon and rectal area. Now Josh was looking at getting a colonoscopy. That was scheduled for Monday, April 1.

Today, MONDAY, Josh had his colonoscopy. We have MUCH to be thankful for and we are praising the Lord for this great report!! When the procedure was over and Josh was in the recovery room, I was there with him. The doctor came in to speak to us and said that everything went well. In fact, he said he didn't find a thing! He went on to say that he didn't quite understand and that it doesn't make any sense. He was going off the PET scan and the doctors notes, but said there wasn't ANY trace of CANCER in the colon!! Praise the Lord. We still don't know where this cancer is coming from or where it started...but we will take these amazing miracles as they come! So we are thankful tonight for this report and good news. There is NO cancer in the Colon. There is NO cancer in the rectum. We are thankful for this blessing tonight. 

Please continue to pray for us as we navigate and as we determine next steps. We know that this isn't the approach that most people follow. But we feel that God has been preparing us for this for some time. We will be faithful and trust Him. In the meantime, Josh is tired and is resting his body as much as he can. Thankfully, he is not in pain, but please continue to hold him up in your prayers as we seek the right thing and as we build a health team around him. And we will continue to praise Him in this storm!

Thanks for all the prayers!

Josh and Christine

"So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
                                             -Isaiah 41:10
Josh’s Story

Site created on March 26, 2019

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Over the last couple months Josh has been experiencing a nagging pain/discomfort in his back right side/kidney area.  Due to the large amounts of driving and sitting in a work truck for his new job, we thought that it was something muscular-related.  Last Monday evening (March 18, 2019), however, he felt nauseous after dinner. This, paired with some other on and off symptoms, forced us to get it checked out.  We were all down in Marshall at the time, so Tuesday morning we packed up and headed back to the cities. We checked in at West Health Urgent Care that afternoon and after discussing symptoms with the doctor, he also thought it to be more muscular-related.  He didn’t think that it was necessary to run any images or x-rays, but ordered some standard blood tests and ran a urine sample. Not long after, he returned and said that he decided to run a couple other blood tests. They were not related to the symptoms he was having, but he  just felt that he needed to run them.  After running these additional tests he returned again and said that the tests came back abnormal and he would like to do a CT Scan after all. About an hour later, the doctor came back into the room.  With deep compassion and care in his eyes, he looked at Josh and I and said, “I’m sorry, it’s not good. They found some spots and they were cancer.” The kids were still in the room so he said it quietly and asked if we wanted a nurse to take the kids on a walk while we went over the results of the test. CANCER. Never in our minds did we think it would be cancer.  A kidney infection? Maybe. A kidney stone? Most likely. But cancer? In a moment’s time our lives had completely turned upside down. We went over the results of the CT Scan and he said that there was a mass on his appendix and several “good sized” lesions on his liver and lower abdominal area and that they were cancerous. He suggested that Josh be admitted to Abbott Northwestern Hospital that evening where they would run some additional tests including a biopsy of the liver. Nothing prepares you for this kind of news.  Nothing prepares you for this diagnosis. Nothing prepares you for making the kind of decisions we were going to be making over the next several days. We made arrangements for the kids to be with family for the week and Josh and I drove to Abbott.






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