On Monday, September 1st, Ken and I fly to South Carolina for the Truth for a New Generation Conference being held at First Baptist Church Spartanburg (I'll be joined by Dr. Ben Carson, Eric Metaxes, and Josh McDowell). We then travel to The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte on September 8th where I'll be speaking and signing copies of my new book Beside Bethesda (for more details on my other appearances in the Carolinas, contact Joni and Friends Charlotte). It’s a busy schedule, but we'll be singing every step of the way – watch this video and...
Meet Josh who attended our recent Family Retreat in Minnesota – he has cerebral palsy, uses a 3-wheeled scooter, and is pretty much limited in speech. All week long Josh kept sending signals to Ken that he wanted to play chess with him. Ken thought that was nice, until he saw him 'working the board' with another player. "There’s no way I'm going to play Josh," said my husband, the fierce competitor, "he'd beat me in a second!" That night on my way to the cabin after the Family Retreat bonfire, what should I see but Ken playing chess with Josh! Later when he came to bed, his face...
These days, one look at CNN or Fox News makes you think, Is the world splitting apart at the seams?! Agents of evil seem to be mounting a furious assault against God's kingdom. If we are to push back secularism and radicalism to promote a biblical worldview in global politics, on college campuses, and in our communities, we need to get equipped. And in a little over a week, I'll be speaking at the Truth for a New Generation Conference to be held September 5-6 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I'll be joined by Dr. Ben Carson, Eric Metaxas, Josh McDowell, and more. If you want to equip yourself with a biblical worldview on national and global issues, this is the conference for you – get all the details at www.TruthForANewGeneration.com. I hope to see you there!
Six-year-old Maisy Grace was the life of the party at the recent Joni and Friends Family Retreat in Minnesota (her joy was contagious and Ken and I could not keep a straight face in this photo). Little Maisy was born with incredibly complex medical problems including skull abnormalities, internal complications, and life-threatening problems with her heart. For the first two years of her life, Maisy was in a hospital on a trachea tube – all of this without the benefit of a caring family. But God was gracious; she is now adopted into the Martindale family and Dad says, "Maisy is a true picture of God's amazing grace in our lives!" Psalm 68:6 says "God sets the lonely in families" – pray that many more families (perhaps yours) will open their homes to special-needs kids like the amazing Maisy Grace Martindale!
Tom Foty is the father of a daughter with cerebral palsy -- but Tom and his wife Wendy also serve as leaders for the Joni and Friends Minnesota Family Retreat. Earlier this week during 'break time' at Family Retreat, Tom took out his oil paints and set up his easel in the shallows of the lake -- within a couple hours, he had rendered this beautiful painting of lily pads floating by the shore. As I watched from a distance, I thought of Psalm 23, "He leads me beside still waters and He restores my soul." There are all kinds of ways for special needs families to relax at a Family Retreat, and painting up an original that quickly? Well, I think that's a 'first!' Thanks, Tom, for the inspiration!
My husband Ken just walked into the room to show me that the Amazon Kindle store is now offering Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story for (I cannot believe this), 99¢. I keep thinking of all the couples with disabilities I now want to ‘gift’ this book to… I know their hearts will be strengthened by the story of God's grace through my life together with Ken through decades of quadriplegia! Do you know someone who uses Kindle and could be blessed by this book? Gift it to them!
Joni and Friends works with many wonderful like-hearted affiliates around the world as we distribute wheelchairs and Bibles, and hold International Family Retreats. And our affiliate-friends overseas are joining in on our celebration of 35 years of ministry among the world's disabled. Krupa Paulson and the staff of ProVision Asia in India sent greetings this week – please pray for the success of the Gospel among the more than 100 million people with disabilities in that great nation!
After spending time with Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth yesterday (she’s battling cancer), I am more keenly aware of how fragile, frail, and brief life really is. Plus, I'm more aware of living courageously and boldly for my Savior in the time He allots me. Bobbie and I are the same age, 65 – and like her, I want to live full-throttle for Jesus. A little like this prayer from John Piper, "Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements. Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity." May the Lord teach both you and me the end of our days, and how to number them so that we might apply our hearts to His wisdom (Psalm 90:12).
Although the JAF Minnesota Family Retreat is behind us, Ken and I are not flying home to LA today. Instead, we are taking a detour to Orlando, Florida to visit our friends Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth. Over two years ago Bobbie was diagnosed with cancer (this must-see video of Bobbie's story was filmed by her hospital). Although chemotherapy and clinical trials have been unsuccessful, my friend's heaven-sent joy in Christ is her real medicine – she knows that cancer does not win if she dies; cancer only wins if she loses her confidence in Jesus. I will treasure the moments we share together today, but I think I'm going to come away with the biggest blessing. Please pray for my friend, and if you know someone who is battling cancer, share Bobbie's video with them!
Every August my friend Tim comes by the IDC with the pick of his orchard – he grows heirloom grapes, peaches, and plums near the base of the Santa Monica Mountains. I sank my teeth into one of his fresh peaches and was amazed. He winked and said, "Joni, that's what a peach should taste like – a combination of great soil, and the right amount of moisture and California sun!" (It made the peaches at the supermarket taste a little like Styrofoam :-). Galatians 5:22-23 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Sometimes through self-effort, we try to manufacture the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, but it always comes across like Styrofoam. You can paint a veneer of joy and put up a facade of self-control; you can project false love and plastic peace, but the Spirit of Jesus will have nothing to do with it. Remember, "No branch can...