No matter where you travel in the world, caring parents of kids with disabilities share a common bond: they want the best for their children. But it takes great courage to raise a child with special-needs. It's why I was especially touched by this father-and-son photo taken at our recent International Family Retreat in Ghana, West Africa. While his little boy naps, Dad gleans wisdom from our book Another Kind of Courage, authored by Joni and Friends President Doug Mazza, and Vice President, Steve Bundy (both are fathers of kids with severe disabilities). If you know a dad who is raising a special-needs child, tell him about this extraordinary book (or order a copy for him today) – it'll inspire, refresh, and bless his heart!
My heart aches for the children of the world who are disabled. And Joni and Friends is setting an unprecedented goal to deliver 3500 pediatric wheelchairs to needy disabled children in one year! We are calling this campaign the Wheels for the World Legacy Gift. The plight of boys and girls with disabilities in the developing world is desperate (just take a minute and watch this video). So I invite you to join my husband Ken and me in giving a Legacy Gift (we're giving in honor of a friend of ours who is disabled). Spread the news to your Facebook friends about our Legacy Gift opportunity – it's a wonderful way to leave a legacy, as well as bless some of the world's neediest children in the name of Jesus!
Not long ago the Sunshine Foundation in Canada asked if I would be willing to 'spend an afternoon' with Chloe, an 18-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who lives with her family in central British Columbia (the Foundation's purpose is similar to 'Make a Wish'). My life story has inspired Chloe over the years and, in fact, my books and videos helped her out of a recent time of deep depression. It was her wish to one day meet me… and the Sunshine Foundation made it happen last week! We enjoyed a great time together, and I'm hoping Chloe will come and serve next year as an intern with Joni and Friends. Perhaps her family will even attend one of our Family Retreats. I am so honored to have an influence on Chloe's life, for Titus 2:5 says, "In everything set them an example by doing what is good." So today, be mindful of the example you...
Most of you know that Bobbie Wolgemuth and I, along with her husband Robert, and John MacArthur, wrote and recorded a series of hymn books and CDs some years ago highlighting timeless hymns of the faith. Bobbie and I are often called “The Hymn Ladies” and I love harmonizing with her whenever we’re together. Over two years ago, Bobbie was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer – much chemotherapy and experimental treatments were not able to abate the cancer, so her doctors have placed Bobbie’s condition completely in the Lord's hands. Even though the prognosis does not look positive, my amazing friend continues to sing hymns and share the joy of the Lord – I was so deeply touched by her recent testimony on this video, I just had to share it with you. Hers is truly an inspiring story!
She's only in her 20s, but Brittany deals daily with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (her body's 'on switch' for pain doesn't turn off). Brittany's disability has driven her deep into her Savior's arms. She often quotes John Piper who wrote, "Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph, Job, Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” Should the Spirit move you, please pray for Brittany today – and all those you know who struggle with chronic pain. God takes us where we would never normally intend to go in order to produce in us what we could never achieve on our own… a lesson my young friend is learning well. Should you be dealing with pain, may God give you the same grace that sustains the smile on Brittany's face!
The other day I got into a polite, but earnest argument about the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the religious liberties of Hobby Lobby's owners. It was an incredibly important decision safeguarding the religious liberties of us all. But my friend was wearing blinders – to her, the decision infringed on a woman's reproductive rights. Really? I don't think so. But in today's culture, you and I need to be prepared to tackle issues like this one, and others involving religious liberties, sanctity of life, and the institution of marriage. This is why I urge you to register for the upcoming Truth for a New Generation Conference to be held September 5-6 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I will be speaking with Dr. Ben Carson, Eric Metaxas, Josh McDowell, and more. If you want to equip yourself with a biblical worldview on today's hotly-contested issues involving life and liberty, this is the conference for you – get all the details at www.TruthForANewGeneration.com. I hope to see you there!
In years past, if you happened to call Joni and Friends, you probably reached my Executive Assistant, Judy Butler – we worked together for over 35 years, and although she's now retired, we remain close friends. Today Judy is celebrating her 74th birthday, and she's not letting age (or rehab from a fractured femur) slow her down. She's busy working on her condo, knitting sweaters, traveling, and refining her biblical worldview through the Centurions program sponsored by The Colson Center (she recently finished Joni and Friends' online Beyond Suffering course). Judy's even going to take pottery lessons :-). A few weeks ago she visited her family in the UK; she's pictured here with her great nephews Zac and Rocco. Should you wish to drop...
This summer Brenda, one of my get-down girls, is delighting in growing a garden (here's a snapshot of her firstfruits :-). She's raising up tomatoes of every shape, size, taste, and color. The other evening when she was helping me lay down, I asked what she enjoyed most about her hobby. She replied with a smile, "Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind on the earth.' And the earth did as it was told… again." I loved the way Brenda put that; it made me appreciate how the earth obeys its Creator time and again (oh, that we would be as obedient :-)! So today and throughout the week, may the spiritual fruit in your life be of every shape and size, helping all those around you taste and see that the Lord...
And it definitely falls into that category, "What will they think of next?!" This new motorized adaptation for manual wheelchairs is so brilliant, yet so simple – it was developed in Europe and is available in the US through a company called Rollick. God bless those 'fix it' type engineers who come up with these designs. If you have a friend who is a paraplegic, share this on Facebook!
Nothing is sweeter than when girlfriends dig into God's Word together, and then join their voices in praise to the Father! It's why I'm hoping you'll join me in Indianapolis for the 2014 True Woman Conference on October 9-11. I love the theme this year: "Finding Freedom, Fullness, and Fruitfulness in Christ." Let's face it, so many of us need to get free of bad attitudes or habits… others are longing to experience fullness of joy in the Lord… and many simply want their lives to produce more fruit for the kingdom. Well, this conference is where it can happen! So please make plans to come, and bring your girlfriends – just register online at www.truewoman14.com. I look forward to seeing you there!