Joni tells about some "dancing shoes" she received at Family Retreat and shares the need for more Short Term Missionaries.
Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada and we are smack-dab in the middle of our season of Family Retreats!
And I have to tell you, one of the highlights of our Family Retreats is always Family Celebration Night, on our last evening together at camp. It always ends with a kicky, upbeat song of praise that gets us folks in our wheelchairs out on the floor, wheelin' and swingin' to the music. It's the next best thing to doing a jig, it is! It's so much fun!
Where does the joy come from? Well, the inspiration for us always effervesces on that last night because that is when we underscore the happy-hearted hope of Isaiah 35:3-6. "Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give sway...be strong and do not fear; your God will come...then the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame leap like deer and the tongue of the dumb shout for joy." I tell you, if you were in a wheelchair, wouldn't hope like that make you want to kick up your heels? But this year, I was doubly blessed. Right after our celebration night was over, the mother of a disabled child presented me with a very special gift: it was a pair of red, high-topped tennis shoes! The mom explained, "Joni, all the parents chipped in for this gift for you. We've all signed our names to the shoes and these are going to be your dancing shoes for when you get to heaven!"
At that moment I just burst out laughing. You should have seen these tennis shows - big red, high top Jack Parcels. But that night, as I lay in bed, I was blinking back tears of gratitude because I began thinking Lord Jesus she's right, one day I will dance...and leap like a deer.... Friend that promise is for you, too, with all the challenges and trials you may be facing today. Strengthen your feeble hands and steady your shaky knees. Soon our God is going to come and together we will leap for joy.
But, wait, not too fast! You see, we've got two Family Retreats going on this week in California and in New England, but we've got a lot more Family Retreats ready to take place on the horizon over the next couple of months - over 15 retreats, in fact, we will be holding and we really do need more volunteers. Some of these retreats have waiting lists for the families... moms and dads have signed up, but the parents and the children are waiting to hear word from us that they can pack their bags and actually come. Why? Because we don't have enough short-term missionaries (that's what we call our volunteers because there are some costs involved). It just breaks my heart to make these families wait, so I would love it if you would visit our Joni and Friends website and go to the Family Retreat page to find out more about the retreats scheduled in your region of the country because if you could come and serve as a short-term missionary and volunteer those five days with us, it would mean the world. Really it would. Again, that's joniandfriends.org or you can always call 818-575-1775, that is Donna O'Connor who heads up our Family Retreat Department here at the ministry taking registrations. She'll tell you all the details.
And don't worry, you don't have to be an expert, you don't have to know a lot about disabilities - you'll have a day of orientation and all the training you need. And I promise you, you will be so blessed by serving as a volunteer, or as one of our short-term missionaries... pushing the wheelchair of a little boy with cerebral palsy, or helping him at the dinner table, or holding the tray at the cafeteria line, having fun with him in all sorts of great wheelchair activities and arts and crafts and games. Just wait, you'll see, you'll be blessed. Again, that number is 818-575-1775 or you can visit our website at joniandfriendsradio.org. Oh, and one more thing, don't forget to bring your dancin' shoes!
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