The first time I met Shon, I was blown away by this cute little boy with the happiest smile ever – even back then in the 80s, there was no stopping this kid with cerebral palsy. He absolutely loved to sing; in fact, he had the words memorized to almost every song on my children's album "I've Got Wheels." Now, Shon is in his 30s (and, yep, he's still singing). Recently he came to the IDC so I could interview him for the "Joni and Friends" radio program. And, of course, he brought the cover of that old album so I could autograph it. Listen in to my interview with this exceptional young man… and sing along with us!
The success of any Joni and Friends Family Retreat depends largely on having enough 'helping hands' to serve the special-needs families who attend. This year, most of our Family Retreats filled up very quickly with families – but we do not have enough 'short-term missionaries' (STMs) to help them. In fact, several of our retreats are in serious need of STMs! If the Holy Spirit is prompting you to come and volunteer, consider coming to these retreats that have the greatest need of your help – and thank you for serving Jesus by ministering to these families!
Mission Springs 1: June 10 - June 14, 2013 · Scotts Valley, CA
Kettunen: July 3 - July 7, 2013 · Tustin, MI
Mission Springs 2: July 15 - July 19, 2013 · Scotts Valley, CA
Fort Bluff Camp Dayton: July 21 - July 25, 2013 · Dayton, TN
Bonclarken 2: August 12 - August 16, 2013 · Flat Rock, NC
Twin Rocks: August 12 - August 16, 2013 · Rockaway Beach, OR
Castaway Club: August 15 - August 19, 2013 · Detroit Lakes, MN
Our Through the Roof Disability Ministry Summit is almost here – all the exciting action is starting Saturday, May 18 at 8:00 a.m. and will go to 5:00 p.m. The entire day is going to be a fantastic time of learning, networking and loads of fellowship (why not, with 18 workshops ranging from autism to family dynamics with a disability)! My friend, Emily Colson, will start things off in the morning, and I'll be giving the closing plenary that afternoon (if you have friends in LA, it’s not too late to tell them to come – my plenary is open to the public). Need more details? Then check out this page on our website… and sign up soon!
Everyone knows how much I love horses – I grew up sitting atop a 16 hand-high Appaloosa, and the day before my diving accident, I was galloping Tumbleweed through the trails that bordered our farm. So you can understand why I got teary-eyed watching this video. I didn't cry over what I can no longer do, but from my joy at what I will soon do in heaven – yes, Scripture records that we will ride with Jesus (Revelation 19:14). By the way, the video highlights Friesians who were bred as "war horses" for knights in armor. God's Spirit must have had them in mind when he inspired the following words from Job…
Ken and I are good friends with Keith and Kristyn Getty – we’re constantly singing along with their CDs. Recently Kristyn wrote a few reflections on motherhood I want to share with you; plus, a heartwarming video that highlights a beautiful lullaby she wrote for her daughter. Take a moment to read and watch “A Mother’s Prayer”!...
I treasure my friendships with quadriplegics across the country – each one inspires me with their perseverance and patience, as well as their love for Jesus. Cathe Chermesino was one of my special quad-friends. I met her years ago when she was 13 years old, right after the accident in which she became paralyzed (here is the link to her testimony). Recently, pneumonia got the best of my friend and she is now home in heaven. But I think you will see from her story, she is still an inspiration to us all!
This past weekend, our Joni and Friends board met to pray over and prioritize our strategic objectives for the ministry – in short, we sought the heart of God as to how Joni and Friends will accomplish its mission over the next 5 to 25 years. Proverbs 16:9 was constantly on our lips in prayer for, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." When I think of reaching the world's 1 billion people with disabilities for Christ, joy overflows my heart. Yes, it's a huge goal – but if we don't think big, then we won't give God the opportunity to divinely intervene and showcase his glory. And isn't that the point? To give the most glory to Jesus! Join us in praying that God will continue to use Joni and Friends to expand his kingdom among people with disabilities worldwide!
On Thursday, Joni and Friends held a National Day of Prayer observance in our assembly room – to begin the ceremony, we asked Hannington Mutebi (who works in our development department) to lead us in the pledge of allegiance. As I watched him with his hand over his heart, repeating the familiar words with his Ugandan accent, I had to fight back tears. Hannington immigrated to America from Uganda in 1999, got his green card, and proceeded to join the U.S. Army. He served his country in Afghanistan, returned to the States, and became a US citizen in 2008. Shortly afterward, the G.I. Bill made it possible for Hannington to enter the Anderson School of Business at UCLA where he graduated with an MBA in Finance. He is married, has a small family, and now serves in the Army reserves. But he also serves as our dedicated coworker here at Joni and Friends. The remarkable life-journey of this wonderful Christian brother inspires us all, and if his story has blessed you, leave a note on my blog to my friend, Hannington Mutebi!
Today is the National Day of Prayer and I hope you'll be attending an NDP observance in your community – because when it comes to praying for our country, we need to come together. There is power in communal prayer. When Christians gather to pray communally, it demonstrates to God that we are united in our intercessions. It shows God the great importance we are attaching to the things we are praying about. So today, make certain to take part in a National Day of Prayer observance – even if it's as small as a family gathering in your living room. Remember, I Timothy 2:1-4 says, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority… this is good, and pleases God our Savior." Isn't it heartwarming to know that our prayers today please God our Savior?!
Over the last day or so, I have really enjoyed reading your many comments about the book of First Chronicles, the third chapter. Some of you shared some fascinating insights -- Debi reminded me that this same Nathan is mentioned in the genealogy of Mary recorded in Luke. Lindy shared the interesting observation that David reigned as king in Jerusalem 33 years, the same number of years as Jesus' earthly ministry. Your encouragements about 'reading through the Bible in a year' are so special -- and if any of you want to join Ken and me, you can easily download the chronological reading schedule here! God bless you and keep up the reading.