We’d like you to meet Makenna – a very special twelve-year-old who loves Jesus and loves serving others. Makenna enjoys helping people and sharing the love of Jesus so much that she wants to become an occupational therapist when she grows up! An occupational therapist is someone who helps children with disabilities do everyday activities like go to school. She also can’t wait until she’s old enough to volunteer at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat! Here she is showing Joni her report, “Joni My Hero.” What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor? A teacher? Maybe a fire fighter? Whatever you become, remember to always show Jesus’ love to others, just like Makenna.Continue to Full Post →
Have you ever been sad you couldn’t hang out with a friend because you needed to be doing something for school? That’s how Gideon felt, but he was in for a surprise! Gideon is friends with a man named David who has cognitive disabilities. (A cognitive disability is when a person’s brain makes it hard to learn something that most other people are able to do easily.) David had plans to go to a Joni and Friends Family Retreat, and Gideon wanted to go and help, but he couldn’t! His school had a fieldtrip. But Gideon really wanted to be with his friend to help him feel comfortable at the retreat, so he asked his teacher if he could be excused from the field trip. The adults at his school were so amazed that he would rather serve at Family Retreat instead of going on a fun field trip. They decided to excuse him from the field trip and let him go help David. And then, the principal decided to adopt the ministry of Joni and Friends and see if there were other ways he could encourage the students at the school to help! So not ...Continue to Full Post →
Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “Birds of a feather, stick together.” This means most birds group together with the same type of bird. Cardinals hang out with cardinals, and blue jays hang out with blue jays. People often do the same thing when choosing friends. Think about your friends, do they look and act a lot like you? This isn’t wrong, but having friends who are different, can help you see things differently. For example, Sarah and Lydia met at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat. Splashing around in the pool, the two girls started talking and soon became friends. Sarah has multiple disabilities and before she met Lydia, Sarah was lonely. She had prayed for a best friend to have sleepovers with and do fun stuff. Lydia had never had a friend with disabilities before. The two girls have now been best friends for years and can’t imagine growing up without each other. God may have a special friend out there for you. Maybe you are supposed to reach out and be a friend to someone with a disability? Sarah and Lydia would say, “Go for it!” You can watch a video about their friendship here.Continue to Full Post →
On Wednesday we talked about moms who sometimes worry when they can’t make everything okay. Dasha has a disability and her mom didn’t know that God loved her, so she worried a lot! But when Dasha and her mom came to a Joni and Friends Family Retreat, they learned all about God’s love. They heard many stories from the Bible and learned God has a special plan for Dasha. Dasha’s mom sometimes still worries, but now she knows it is God’s job to make everything okay and not hers. The next time your mom worries about you, you can help her remember that God loves us. (Maybe you can look up Romans 8:28 in the Bible with her.) And then give her a kiss! Just like her kisses used to help you feel better when you were hurting, your kiss will help her feel better!Continue to Full Post →
Do you have a baby brother or sister? Have you ever been proud of them when they learn something new like how to stand up or how to hold a spoon? Ebenezer is two years old and lives in Ghana. He was born with a disability, but when he arrived at a Joni and Friends International Family Retreat, no one could see his disability. On the second day of retreat, volunteers noticed Ebenezer always wore a long-sleeved shirt, even though it was hot! It turned out that his mom was embarrassed about the way Ebenezer’s hands and arms looked. His hands didn’t grow how most hands grow and so his mom wanted to hide them from everyone. But then she learned Ebenezer was a gift from God, and that his disability was not a mistake. After that? His mom no longer tried to hide his hands and arms from people! For the first time, Ebenezer was allowed to roll up his sleeves and use his hands! Here is a picture of him taking a drink of soda. His sister was so excited for him and proud of him that she jumped up and danced around him. Don’t ...Continue to Full Post →
Have you ever seen a bird with a limp? Or have you stopped to wonder what happens to animals in the wild when they have a disability? Robert didn’t just wonder what happens to injured animals, he decided to do something about it! Robert has a lot of compassion for birds that have been hurt because Robert has a disability, too. Sometimes he is able to help a bird recover from its injury, but other birds have permanent disabilities and he makes sure to take extra care of these. (Just remember, though, that caring for wild animals that are sick takes special knowledge and training. Not just everyone can do it!) 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says: The God of all comfort comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. That’s a whole lot of comfort, isn’t it? And in the same way, Robert doesn’t stop at sharing God’s comfort just with the birds. He especially likes to bring his eagles to our Family Retreats to show kids. If you’ve ever seen an eagle from far away, you can probably imagine how amazing it is to see one up close! It’s a great way for kids and parents to remember just how amazing our creator God really is!Continue to Full Post →
Do you like getting mail? Birthday cards or an email can be fun to get because it tells us that someone was thinking of us. This is one reason why Family Retreats can be so fun. At Family Retreats there is a special kind of mail, called Happy Grams. (Remember learning how to make them?) Happy Grams arrive for the families before the retreat starts, but families and volunteers also send Happy Grams to each other all week long. That’s a lot of mail! Our Family Retreats are over for the year, but maybe you know a friend or someone in your church who can use some encouragement. Make them a card or write a favorite verse and then slip it in the mail for them. You can be sure it will brighten their day!Continue to Full Post →
Did you know that you are a piece of art? Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The same God who made beautiful sunsets and gorgeous mountain meadows made you! It is easy to get sad thinking about all of the things you can’t do or all the ways you wish you were prettier or smarter or funnier, but don’t ever forget that God made you just the way you are… and He likes you that way! At Family Retreat this summer, kids had fun learning about this by painting their own artwork. Then they had an art show for others to come and see their work. Get together with a friend or sibling and paint some pictures of your own. Maybe even open a “mini museum” when your paintings are finished. Then drop us a note and tell us something special about the way God made you.Continue to Full Post →
Wednesday was the official first day of summer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, but if you are like a lot of kids, you’ve probably been enjoying summer for several weeks now! It is the same for Joni and Friends. We’re enjoying summer! Summer always means lots of ministry teams traveling, lots of activity, and lots of Family Retreats! Maybe you already know, but when families first arrive at a Family Retreat, many times they are tired and discouraged. That is why we like to encourage families with Happy Grams! Happy Grams are little messages with words of encouragement or verses of Scripture or even a prayer for the family. So take a minute to download this Happy Gram and write your favorite verse or song and let these families know you are glad they are at Family Retreat! Then send it to
ATTN: Kids’ Corner
Joni and Friends
PO Box 3333
Agoura Hills, CA 91376
Do you like climbing? If you’ve ever climbed a rock wall, you know that you have to be strong… otherwise you might get stuck or fall!
At Family Retreats, you might be surprised at who you will find climbing the rock wall. Mikayla was surprised to see who was there climbing… she was!
Mikayla is 13 years old and uses prosthetic (say “praws-thet-ik”) legs made of metal and plastic to walk. Even the best man made legs won’t work like the legs God created. So it takes her a lot of work to keep up with her friends.
But at Family Retreat, things are different. She says “Family Retreat gives me more confidence to go back out in the world and be strong in Jesus!”
And that’s the kind of strength that helps her climb the rock wall, too.Continue to Full Post →