Thursday, October 11, 2012


On October 11th, back in 1965, the world became a better place. I know most folks think of the 60's as tumultuous times, and they were, but truly, the world became a better place because Janie-Lynn Brown was born October 11, 1965. It was a good life. She grew up and gave to the world around her. She gave and gave and gave. She loved God and gave His love to all she came in contact with. 

I know that I sound like I'm memorializing her all over again - we did that back in May of 2010 - but how does one talk about her and not praise her? She was the best of the best.

I thought it would be good, in light of this being her birthday, to post the text of what I shared at her memorial celebration. I hope as you read it, you catch a tone of joy that was there that day as we sent her on her way, so to speak. Yes, there was great sadness - we miss her so much! - but also joy. She was a joyous person...her joy being rooted and grounded in her life with God begun here on earth and now come to fruition as she has been with Christ 'face-to-face' for two and a half years now. 

Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for us - we are truly blessed. I pray you are blessed as we remember Janie this special day.

A Few Words About Janie Booth from Chris Her Husband  5-15-2010

Hi and thank you all so much for coming today. Today came up really quickly, didn’t it?  We kind of knew it was coming eventually, if God wasn’t going to heal Janie. But we just really hoped it would be at least a little later! Janie packed a full lifetime of living into 44 years, though, didn’t she? Our nephew Ben said it best an hour after she died. He said, “she didn’t live a ‘short’ life - she lived an accelerated life.”

Just last week Janie said again, in her raspy, chemo-ruined voice, these three things:

*I’m not afraid to die since I am going to be with Jesus

*I have no one to make amends with, and

*I have no regrets

Not bad. It took my breath away whenever I heard her say it. Who talks like that? It’s especially mind boggling considering what she was going through. As much as I miss her, I have to say: I’m so grateful that she’s finally free of her suffering, aren’t you?


I want to say a great-big, heart-felt thank you to so many of you; I wish I could name each of you so everybody here could appreciate you personally. But let me just say a special thanks to all the wonderful, caring people at RRMC who helped Janie through the last 6 years, and also a huge thanks to all of you in the Christian community who prayed for us and served us sacrificially for so long. We love you and have hearts full of gratitude for you all.


Now, I can’t resist divulging myself and giving a speedy list of some neat-o, Janie-ish stuff that you may not have known about:

First: Your clock reads 10:11 twice a day. That happens to be her birthday as well, 10/11. So Janie of course christened those two times of day, “The Magical Time.” “Look!” she’d say, pointing to the clock, “It’s the Magical Time! Make a wish!”

She loved a good crossword and the electric blanket set to 10.

She loved scouring the beaches of Cape Cod for sand dollars and welk egg cases and tiny shells and stones shaped like hearts.

She loved anything ‘miniature.’ From tiny tea sets to delicate Lilies of the Valley, the tinier the better!

All right, you all know about this one, but it absolutely must be on the list: Three words: Chocolate…..chip……cookies.

She loved all the PBS 19th century costume dramas and especially, of course, Pride and Prejudice. I’m no dashing Mr. Darcy but I tried my best.

She loved delicious, cozy food and warm drinks by the stove on a chilly winter night.

She loved being quiet together…like having a quiet conversation over a cup of tea or coffee.

She furiously loved her kids…and her husband.

And oh, how she loved Music. Whether she was directing a RACS Christmas Program, playing a duet with Rebecca or just singing around the house, she had a song in her heart.

She loved sharing about Jesus and how to live more fully for him with anyone she could, but especially you teens.

Here’s one thing you probably don’t know about Janie: she would…alright, really, I promise I’m not making this up………….When I would walk through the door at lunch or at the end of the day…she would clap! She’d actually applaud my coming home! For lunch! Every day! And she’d cry, “Hooray!” And she’d kiss me.


Anyway, those are just a tiny smattering of some more recent Janie-ish things. I’m sure in talking with all of you afterwards, you’ll share lots of other little things and I’ll be thinking to myself, “Oh, I could have said that.” And I would be right. But there are far too many stories and anecdotes for me to share of course, so I’ll just say this: each of you has your own stories and anecdotes that inevitably end with, “oh, that’s so Janie” or That’s the kind of person Janie was.”  Let’s all bring them to mind and be inspired by them.


My good friend Nate Winters from Pennsylvania is here today and will offer a closing prayer. Nate’s wife Kim was a very good friend of Janie’s. Well, Kim has a blog, which Janie, ever the non-blogger, disdainfully called a bl-ugh. Back in 2007, when Janie was about four years into cancer treatment, Kim asked Janie to write a guest post to share about loving God while living with cancer. I’d like read what Janie wrote on the bl-ugh, but first, I’ll read some of what Kim had to say in introducing Janie, because I think it describes Janie really well.

So here’s Kim:

Janie is one of those people who have the rare ability of making you feel significant in the first five seconds of talking to her. The first time I met Janie I remember walking away thinking, “Wow, I really am special.” The next time was no different and in fact every time I’ve ever spent with Janie, I’ve had to be careful not to allow her to spoil me by being so interested in my life that we forget to talk about hers.
Janie has usually done something more interesting in the last five minutes than I’ve done all year. She’s like a “creative-mom-over-achiever” type – the kind with the glue gun and the shrinky dink machine and the idea to build a replica of the White House out of marshmallows. < that’s silly: Janie never made a replica of the White House out of marshmallows….it was the Smithsonian… >
For some reason Janie never got the memo that we aren’t supposed to be so devoted to our kids’ dreams that we actually do crazy things for them like drive them all over the earth, have ALL their friends over each week, and buy them things like sound mixers so they can sound better when they rock out with their Christian band in the too tiny living room. It’s no mystery why Janie had to put an addition onto her house – to make room for the Dance-Dance-Revolution parties.
About 3 years ago, Janie was diagnosed with breast cancer. It hit every one of us like 100 pound hail stones. I remember thinking: ‘Janie has cancer? How can Janie have cancer?’ And while we were all reeling from the news, Janie was out there comforting each one, assuring us of her will to fight, of her hope in God. I’m pretty sure Janie is the only person on earth who got cancer and then sent other people care packages.
Recently my heart has been penetrated by some of her words and it’s caused me to do some things differently. Because of this I want to share Janie with you.”

Here’s Janie’s post: THE NEW NORMAL by Janie Booth I took my 10 year old to get her glasses adjusted today. Her nose pads had gotten so squished that the bar connecting the two lenses rested right on her nose (She claims her glasses get squished when we hug her too hard - what a rough life!) My daughter hates change and was not happy about the adjustment. "This feels weird," she said, seemingly preferring the bar to the optometrist-approved nose pads. "Yeah, it's the new normal,” I jokingly replied, “get used to it."  "The new normal STINKS!" she said with disdain.
I can relate. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 my new "normal" on many occasions stinks. I just finished another round of chemo (8 once a week infusions). Unless a miracle occurs I will be on some kind of chemo for the rest of my life. If I was an Israelite I'd say, "I want to go back to Egypt!" But if I think long and hard about it, there are so many things I (and hopefully my family) have learned on the way that we can't go back. The “new normal” has eternally changed us and made us fit for another place, but certainly not the place we came from. Here are the most important lessons we’ve collected so far…
Lesson #1 - God is in control. I know this sounds cliché, but recently this came home to me in a new, non-cliché kind of way. There was a time (BC - before cancer) when I had it all together. I would tell God what to do and then go about my business. Umm. That's all changed now. Now with everything out of control, I realize I can either fight Him or let Him lead, trusting that He knows best for me, even when it looks bad. I try to listen for His still, small voice when I present my requests to Him and I am learning to wait for His answer.
Lesson #2 - Life is fragile. I am so thankful for every night I get to tuck my kids in. I don't care what kind of day it's been. When I get up and the worst thing about the morning is making school lunches and homework, I rejoice. I hug my husband tight when he comes home for lunch or home at suppertime. I jump in the leaves. I marvel at raindrops. I laugh at my 14 year old's jokes. I take my 16 year old shopping. All of these things, for me, could be gone in a heartbeat and I don't take one moment for granted. I don't want to waste one minute on petty arguments or stupid things that will pass like bad grades, spilled milk, or an unexpected bill. Hey, leave the toothpaste cap off or the toilet seat up! (Ok, I do draw the line on some things – like I refuse to have a bl-ugh and potlucks are an invention long overdue for extinction) :)
Lesson #3 - God chooses the circumstances He planned for my life. I choose how I want to live it. If I need chemotherapy, I can be bitter and angry or I can be happy that there's chemo to get! Either way, I need to get the chemo! I lecture my kids all the time with this. "You can either procrastinate on your homework and make all of us miserable with your complaining and grousing and exhaustion from staying up too late or you can DO IT NOW and have happy down time. Either way, the homework has to be DONE!" (Disclaimer: this lecture has not worked as of yet.) I have a sign on my fridge that simply says "Choose." That one little word helps me remember that I get to have control over one thing in life: my attitude.
Now lest you think I’ve got it all together, rewind to yesterday morning when I sat on our couch, all by myself, crying harder than I've cried in a year. Trying to talk to God through my tears – telling Him that all of this is just too hard. That I can't do it. That He should MAKE IT GO AWAY! Every day is not perfect. And I still have so much to learn. I remember, before I had cancer, reading magazine articles or listening to someone give a talk on life. I was just like anyone else - maybe touched for the moment but not really changed. Things are different for me now. Life is fragile, precious, brief. But what about you? Will you take my advice and live like you don’t have forever to live? Will you enjoy your kids, love your husband, celebrate small victories and ignore things that don’t matter – even if you never get cancer? Words you read on a blog won't do that. Only Jesus Christ can do that. Only He can give you the eyes to see the marvelous in the mundane. That’s my prayer for you. It’s my prayer for me too.


Well, that was Janie’s blog post from 2007. And now our family is facing another “New Normal.” Cancer has been a really difficult thing for her and our family to face. Janie & I spoke many times, especially recently, about how badly she wanted her cancer to have been worth something. If you’re going to have cancer, you want it to have been for something. You want it to have been for some great purpose and meaning in God’s scheme of things.

Many of you have asked me in the last few days if there is anything you can do for me…which I so much appreciate. Well, there is something you can do for me, and it would absolutely make my heart leap if you would: you can help to make Janie’s cancer ‘worth something’ by addressing the stuff in your own life that you know needs attention.

If you could allow yourself to leave here a changed person because you’ve been around Janie and the fragrance of Jesus that was all about her, that would be the greatest gift you could give me and my family, because it would most vividly reflect Janie’s heart.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds..”(John 12:24)

 Let Janie’s life, if she had to lose it, produce many seeds.  In the days ahead, if I can hear your stories about good changes happening in your life – especially those with eternal consequences - because of Janie’s impact on your life, it will feel like it was ‘worth it.’ There is nothing that she would like more than to introduce each and every one of us to Jesus Christ - face to face!

Thank you all again for coming to be with us at this time – it means so much and we love you.


  1. By the way, the funny spacing and bold type were to help me keep my place as I read it that day...

  2. Dear Chris,
    I'm glad to know I share a birthday month with Janie. The applauding upon your arrival home made me cry. I wish I had known her. Thank you for not only remembering her with tenderness, but for pushing us to strive to be like Christ... like Janie did.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Chris. There have been many times since moving up that I've thought "Wish I could visit with Janie." She was truly a gift from God who blessed all of us, even those of us who didn't know her super well. She continues to inspire me, not to be more like her in everything (that seems beyond reach and like the wrong goal), but to turn to Jesus and let Him have His way with me. That's where she got her specialness and that is how I want to be like Janie.

  4. Carol, I'm glad you love me at least one day a year hahaha!~

    Thank you all for your kind comments.

    Amy, you can clap for Jimmy when he comes home any time...I'm sure he won't mind, though the first time may seem a little weird haha.

    Beth, yes, being more like Janie would indeed be the wrong goal...she'd want you to be more like Jesus. Good to see you guys at Forge tonight btw...

  5. Thanks Chris for sharing this again. So meaningful. Life affirming. Life changing really. and you should know..... since the seervice Michele has taken on the routine of clapping and yelling "Yay!" from the door to welcome me home. I've shared Janie's "new normal many, many times". Your lives continue to affect, inspire and instruct an ever widening sphere.

  6. Paul thanks so much. I can totally imagine Michele clapping and yelling yay. I'm hoping the clapping thing will go viral :)

    BTW the New Normal thing is on "Janie's Purple Pen" and there's a link to that at the top of this case anyone reading this missed it.