Category Archives: John Reece

Posts that tell who John Reece was.

Dealing with Loss During the Holidays

The holidays are often a huge challenge for those who have

lost loved ones during the year. Special times you have
shared with that person fill you with longing to have them
back with you. The holidays along with anniversaries and
birthdays are among the hardest and most painful times of
the year.

Perhaps you have lost a loved one; a parent, a child, a
spouse, a family member since that last special time.

I’d like to offer a few suggestions that might help you
get through this time of year with a little more grace and

First of all, it’s natural to focus on our losses. But in
order to live each day to the fullest, we must learn to
focus on what we have instead of on what we don’t have.
This is very hard to do. But the Bible exhorts us to take
every thought captive. So when missing a loved one seems
overwhelming, pick up your Bible to read about any number
of universal situations, meditate on one of them, ask for God’s help and give
thanks. Placing your eyes upon Jesus, the author and
finisher of your faith is a very effective means of
focusing on what you do have rather than on what you don’t

Second, (and I’m not putting these in any particular
order), remember the happy times with that person you miss.
Write it down. Remember the details and put them down on
paper. There is something therapeutic about writing. Then
share your thoughts and feelings with someone close to you
or in a blog or with another person who has also
experienced loss.

Third, reach out to someone else who may need help. If
you’re in a position to babysit for a stressed out friend
while they finish their Christmas shopping or go out on a
date with their spouse, offer your services. Or volunteer
at your local food pantry, crisis center, church or
favorite charity. These are ways you can help others and
in the process, help yourself.

Fourth, plan a special outing or trip that will take your
mind off of your loss. Is there some place you’ve always
wanted to go? This would be a good time to go. Or start a
new hobby? What have you always wanted to do and didn’t
have the time for? Take a class and get started now.

Fifth, change your traditions. Is there some particular
thing that makes you miss that loved one more than
anything else? Start a new tradition that includes other
loved ones so you aren’t so vividly reminded of the person
you have lost. Doing that is simply a way of redirecting
your energies and doesn’t mean you loved the person who is
gone any less.

Sixth, choose to be happy. We always have a choice. You
can choose to be a victim of your grief or you can choose
to respond to your circumstances with a spirit of
joyfulness. Which would you rather be, a prisoner to grief
or a sharer of joy? I know that I daily choose the latter.
I’m reminded of a story a good friend told at a recent
gathering. He had lost his wife to cancer and had
succombed to self pity and grief. He told of how he came
home from work one day so frustrated and unhappy that if
he had had a dog he would have kicked it. But he didn’t
have one. Then the Holy Spirit began to speak to him about
his choices. He decided that day to choose happiness and
gratefulness. Even though he made that choice, he still
has to make it every day until self pity is gone and
doesn’t return again. You can be happy in spite of your
loss. Choose happiness!

I’m sure there are many other things I could add to this
list, but the most important is that you need to focus
outwardly rather than inwardly in order to make it through the
holidays after a recent loss with grace and peace in your

May you experience the peace of God that passes all
understanding as you seek to honor and serve Him.

Sharon Reece

P.S. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one this
year or know someone else who has, our book may be
helpful. In it, we recount how God ministered hope and
peace to us when our 22 year old son disappeared on a hike
in Hawaii. You can get it by clicking the “order the book” tab at the top of this page.


Christmases Past

One of the gifts our son John left behind was a journal he started when he was a freshman in college. The first year he was there, we were still in the US and he was able to come home to Dallas for Christmas.

Here is an excerpt from his journal:

“Well, it is the day after Christmas and I am in Dallas…

Christmas was wonderful. We all had dinner over at Grandmom and Granddad’s, along with Karen and Jim. I got a good, big book backpack from Mom and Dad. Krista got a guitar from them and a good camera from Grandpa (or is it Grampa?)

On Friday and Saturday I worked my first official job ever. I demonstrated a digital camera at Best Buy. I hope I never have to do anything like that again. It was very boring, and I felt quite foolish, and I think it was a total waste of time. I would rather do something that appears to be useful and not just a waste of money for the employer.”

It was important to John to have close ties with family. As my daughter wrote recently in one of her blog posts, we were close as a family (and still are) because we only had each other. There was no option of other extended family members nearby.

That first Christmas after John started college was a significant one. He was experiencing many new things – travel home on his own from Chicago to Dallas – his first real job for an outside employer – reuniting with family for the first time since college started.

And our daughter Krista, was also home from her college in CA. So we were altogether again for the holidays.

During that trip home, we enjoyed many family traditions, baking cookies together, opening gifts on Christmas morning as a family, soaking in being together again, etc. And as an added gift to us, it snowed enough to go out and build a snowman. After many years in the tropics where the temperature is an average of 85 degrees and the humidity 85% year round, having enough snow to romp and play in was a real novelty, even though it had already snowed where John was going to school.

And even though John felt like his job of demo-ing the first digital cameras was a complete waste of someone’s money, he was there at the cutting edge of technology! If he could have looked ahead and seen what that technology was going to do to change our world, he might not have thought of it quite that way. It still seems strange that digital camera technology was introduced not that long ago. How far we’ve come since then!

Check this out for a little bit of digital camera history from the Canon Camera history museum:

Canon Digital camera in 1996

Thinking back on that Christmas, I’m so grateful for those memories. Other Christmases fade in my memory, but not that one. Thank you, John, for recording it.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear about your Christmas memories too.

Sharon Reece

P.S. Many people have lost a loved one since last Christmas. A gift of our book could really encourage and help them. Please consider giving a gift of comfort and spiritual help to someone you know. Click the button on the top of the page and it will take you to the order page. Thanks!



How long do you have to live to be significant? And who or what determines whether you have been significant?

Isn’t significance something we all long for? Making a difference…making an impact…changing something or someone because we were here…isn’t that what significance is all about?

I would like to propose that significance begins at the moment someone is conceived. God’s Word in Psalm 139 says:

“…You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (NKJ Version)

You could even construe from this passage that in God’s eyes, each person is significant even before conception. That seems pretty hard to comprehend, but since God exists outside of time, it shouldn’t be too impossible to think that He could know us from the beginning of time and know exactly what time frame we would be living in.

Many people struggle to do whatever they deem necessary to earn significance either in the eyes of their parents, their peers, their company or whoever potentially can bestow that significance.

But my suggestion is that when we receive our significance from our creator, we are free to be and free to do whatever He created us for. And that is true significance.

My son, John struggled to find his niche, his place in the world when he was in college. If any of us had been paying attention, we would have seen the signs from the time he was little that Biology would be a natural expression of his unique giftings, talents and interests. He loved both plants and animals and delighted in discovering everything about them. So after a few detours, he eventually arrived at his destination – Biology!

But then, just when he was getting started, he was gone; disappeared at the age of 22, having recently graduated from Wheaton College. So did he achieve significance?

He was the object of some of the most extensive and intensive searches for any missing person on the Big Island of Hawaii ever. In his death, he touched more lives than he ever could have if he had lived to be 80 years old.

He loved his Savior, he loved his family, he loved his friends and he loved the other young people he worked with on the vegetation crew of the USGS Palila bird project. Beyond a shadow of a doubt each of their lives was profoundly impacted by John. How do I know? We kept in touch with many of them long after John disappeared. We heard their stories.

So how does one measure a life? I believe each and every one of us has a profound impact on the lives of those around us, for good or for bad.

So let us love well, live well and fulfill the purpose and destiny for which God created us.

Have a blessed day!

Sharon (John’s mother)

P.S. If you are intrigued by John’s story and would like to know more, just click on the “Buy the Book” button on the top of the page and get our book that tells the whole story.

Birthday Memories

John was going to be born at home. Everything was going well. The midwife had me on a diet that gave me lots of energy and life was good.

We had been living on an outpost north of Manaus, Brazil where our assignment was to learn the language of the Indians who lived around us. They knew no Portuguese and no one spoke their language. As linguists with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, we had been invited to join with the government Indian agency in making contact with this group, analyzing their language, learning it and figuring out an alphabet. It was a tall order since in 2 years time, my husband had only had about 24 hours worth of time with them divided between about 8 or 9 different contacts. I had only seen them once. To expect us to learn their language under these circumstances was a huge stretch! But in fact, we did learn how to say, “What is this?” in their language and from there began to glean a list of words. But we were far from the point of having enough data to determine the appropriate alphabet for their language when we found out we were expecting John, our second child.

Malaria was running rampant in the area and since I had no desire to contract malaria during my pregnancy, we requested permission to take an early furlough and return to the Dallas, Texas area.

When we got settled in, we discovered that a number of other women in the mission were going the route of having home births with the help of a local midwife. I had read lots about it and had been quite unsatisfied with my birth experience in Brazil so we prayerfully made the decision to have this second baby in the USA with a midwife and home birth.

All was going very well until one morning about 6 weeks before my due date I awoke with an excruciating headache. The pain was so intense, I could do nothing but lie on the couch or bed and wait either for deliverance or death. If that sounds dramatic, it was. The pain was impossible to describe in words and I have never before or since actually wished that death would deliver me from it. In addition to the pain, my eyes crossed and I saw double of everything. We went to specialists who sent us to other specialists but no one could figure out what was happening to me. They did a CAT scan which showed nothing. They called in their colleagues to see this strange case. In the end, they concluded that it was all due to a hormone imbalance. And because of the headache and double vision, I suddenly had a “high risk” pregnancy and could no longer have a home birth.

And that’s why John Cameron Reece entered the world at Grand Prairie Community Hospital around 6:00 AM on June 24, 1977. The birth was very normal. The nurses held up a mirror for me to watch his birth, but I didn’t see much of it. Actually, I saw it double and couldn’t really see what I was seeing. The most critical thing, however, was that he was placed in my arms, wrapped in a receiving blanket and I was nursing him within minutes of his birth before they even cleaned him up! That is a precious memory indeed, far different from my experience with my daughter who had been born in Brazil. I had had to fight to get the nurses to give her to me after more than 24 hours – one of the reasons I didn’t want to experience anything like that again.

John was our Texan although he loved Brazil and claimed it as home. Inadvertently, we named him John and his birth fell on Brazil’s “St John’s Day” (Dia de Sao Joao). We had forgotten, but probably would still have named him John. We both loved that name. Cameron, his middle name, was after Uncle Cam, William Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators who was a man of great faith and a personal friend of our family.

How do you really pay tribute to a son who departed far too soon? Perhaps you understand, having lost a child or family member yourself. The only way is to say, “Thank you, John for your presence with us for 22 years.”

Read more of John’s story. Just click here to get our book.