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Joni and Friends Blog

Congratulations, Kodi Lee!

Last night, my husband ambled in from the living room with his iPad, wanting to show me “a precious video,” as he put it. I watched a clip of America’s Got Talent as Kodi Lee, a blind young man with significant autism sat at the piano – millions watched as he commanded the keyboard, giving gentle, yet powerful vocals to a beautiful song! The guy who couldn’t see and barely put two words together kept everyone in the audience sitting in rapt attention. I, too, will was filled with wonder at how a young man with no eyesight and feeble speech could rock the world.

Ken explained that it was the finals; AGT was down to the last participants, Kodi Lee and a youth choir from Detroit (I loved their performance). The audience held its breath as Kodi’s mom stood next to him, holding his hand and stroking his back. He was visibly nervous and I could only imagine what she was whispering into his ear. Although unable to see the crowds, he knew by their cheering and chanting that the majority was pulling for him. After a long pause, the announcer exclaimed, “Kodi Lee is our winner!” Cheers and tears erupted from nearly everyone watching.

Although I was enthralled with the young people’s choir, my heart melded with Kodi Lee’s. Twenty years ago, profit-driven media producers would have never risked putting a blind kid with autism on their multi-million dollar global stage. But times have changed. How did it happen? I’m convinced that when we ‘think the best of those with disabilities’ and open up ways for them to shine and share their gifts and abilities, it changes everything. Yes, the Rehab Act of 1973 paved the way, as did the ADA…but those laws and policies don’t change hearts. Only God can do that. And He does it when someone with special needs like Kodi shares their gift as a blessing to others. Such marvelous displays of God-blessed gifts enlarges our heart for praise to the Lord. For He is the One who delights to “chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27). Congratulations, Kodi Lee. May you praise the God of heaven who has graced you with such talent and joy!

A Lifeline For The Weary

“On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…” -1 Corinthians 12:22

A frequent concern for special needs families is whether or not they are going to fit in or be accepted. That was what Tiffany, a single mom, and her daughter Macie wondered before coming to Family Retreat. And what a powerful duo they are because they stepped out in faith.

Read Their Story!