Colossians 3:16 is a scriptural command that I practice every day, “Sing psalms , hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” And I'm not the only one. My friend Bobbie Wolgemuth breathes hymns in and out, every day. And it’s a good thing—she is in the advanced stages of ovarian cancer, so she’s “singing her way” to heaven. Take a moment and be inspired by the message of Colossians 3:16 as well as a short video clip of my extraordinary friend, Bobbie.
The other day I was reflecting on the joyous moments I experienced at Family Retreats this past summer – just then, I received an email with a link to a very special video young Cole Matthews 'filmed' for Talent Night at the Castaway Club Family Retreat back in August. Actually, Cole has cerebral palsy and cannot hold an iPad, but his STM, Amy Stoltenberg, was happy to serve as his 'hands.' During the week, the two of them would single out people (even Ken and me) to sing-and-act out a part in the 'Hokey Pokey Song' – and Cole played it before a very enthusiastic audience on Thursday night's Talent Show! So take a look and sing along – and consider serving at a Family Retreat in 2015; Cole would say "You'll be blessed!!"
Some people say that Christians should never be depressed. I take issue with that, being a quadriplegic who has battled cancer and struggles daily with pain. I love my Savior, am passionate about His Gospel, and enjoy the ministry He has given me. But that does not exclude me from occasionally grappling with dark emotions. In this achingly honest work, Dr. Somerville explains that depression is not restricted to the secular world. Throughout history, godly men and women -- among them Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon -- have suffered in the deep trenches of dark emotion. But God's Word contains firm guidance and heart-transforming hope. It’s why I highly recommend If I'm a Christian, Why am I Depressed?, written by Robert B. Somerville, professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s College. “Dr. Bob” is one of my pain-pals for whom I pray on a regular basis – if you’re struggling with depression, you’ll be greatly encouraged reading his new book!
Over the last week, I've responded to many emails and inquiries that have come in as a result of my statement about Brittany Maynard's decision to end her life. Several described how their dying loved ones suffered greatly due to the inability of morphine to allay confusion, disorientation, and pain. My heart goes out to such families! I, too, have watched several family members suffer great anguish at their life's end, and it breaks my heart. No one – absolutely no one – wishes a hard death on anyone. However, should such deaths warrant legalizing physician-assisted suicide across the US? Physician-assisted suicide would be an incredibly broad blanket approach to individual and select family situations. For...
This year Ken and I have been reading through the Bible chronologically – a few days ago we were in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. It reminded me of the time in 1998 when Ken memorized that passage. That same year we toured Israel – one afternoon, our visit took us to a high hill above the ruins of Capernaum. We wandered through a field to a natural amphitheater tucked on the side of the hill. It was late in the day, all the tour buses were gone, and the hillside was quiet. Ken...
When Ebenezer was born in Ghana with physical deformities, his mother and father did everything they could to find a medical cure. But when they were told that there was nothing that could be done for Ebenezer, the father decided, “Why don’t we just poison this child and then give birth to another child who will have no defects?” But Agnes—the mother—would have nothing of this plan. Soon, Agnes’ husband left her and Ebenezer all on their own. Last year, it was our honor to gift Ebenezer with his own wheelchair, and it happened to be our 100,000th delivered – this little boy was so excited! In 1 Samuel 7:12, an “Ebenezer” is a memorial reminding us “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” I praise God that He helped little Ebenezer – and I know the Lord will continue to help this little family in a big way! Yesterday was my birthday, so I decided to honor Ebenezer with a gift to Wheels for the World. If you’d like to join me, click here!
I may have come to work to Joni and Friends this morning, but I'm doing anything but ‘work!’ First, I enjoyed a hands-down, slam-dunk time of tweeting at my first Twitter Birthday Party – it was such fun reading tweets from so many old friends, and new ones, too. And since I'm the kind of gal who loves passing along God's blessings to others, it was sheer joy to give away lots of prizes and gift cards during the party. =) And now, my secretary Francie and I are reading through birthday cards and notes from the recent letter Ken sent to ministry friends! All in all, Psalm 86:15 best describes what I'm feeling today, for “You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God… abounding in love and faithfulness.” And that’s what I'm celebrating today as I crest 65. Onward and upward!
Tomorrow, October 15, I'll be celebrating my 65th birthday – I’m happily outliving all those doom-and-gloom spinal cord injury forecasts back in 1967! So I really want to drum up praise to God for His faithfulness to me these many years I've lived as a quadriplegic – and tomorrow, we'll be talking about that at my Twitter Party! So join me October 15th from 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon PST; just follow @JoniandFriends on Twitter and use hashtag #HappyBdayJoni in your tweets. If you need more info about our party, visit the Joni and Friends blog. Not sure how to use Twitter? Here’s a great link complete with instructions on signing up for Twitter Come join the party, friend … I'll be watching for your tweets!
Like many, my heart broke when I recently watched Brittany Maynard's video in which she outlined her plans to die through physician-assisted suicide. No one – absolutely no one – welcomes the pain that dealing with a terminal disease invariably brings, and it's clear that this young woman is firm in her convictions. But if I could park my wheelchair beside her, I would tell her how the love of Jesus has sustained me through my chronic pain, quadriplegia and cancer. I don't want her to wake up on the other side of her tombstone only to face a dark, grim existence without life and joy; that is, without God. There's only one Person who has transformed the landscape of life-after-death, and that is Jesus, the One who conquered the grave and opened the path to life eternal. Three grams of Phenobarbital in the veins will only provide a temporary reprieve. It is not the answer for the most important passage of her life. The hours are ticking away...
Rainey, Careen, Kara and I left the True Woman ‘14 Conference with hearts bursting from so many blessings – the theme was “Finding Freedom, Fullness, and Fruitfulness in Christ.” I went there, excited to speak on finding freedom in Jesus, but I was doubly encouraged by all the other speakers, the worship, music and fellowship! Oh, how grateful to God I am for the incredible encouragement in Christ we experienced! I want to thank these three wonderful girls in the photo who took such good care of me while we were on the road… and a special thanks to you, too, as you prayed us through a very busy schedule. And now? I’m getting ready to celebrate my birthday this week – don’t forget to join me for my Twitter Party on Wednesday; I’ve got lots of fun surprises planned!