hopekeepers Magazine Logo

 Nov - Dec 2004
 Blue is complete article
Green is partial article
Subscribe for complete
magazine today!
COVER STORY: Joni Eareckson Tada
Avoiding Holiday
Family Feuds
Peppermints
Taking Care of Me
Saying Yes to God
What's the Nicest Thing Someone Did For You?
Yes! There is a Santa Claus
8 Time-Saving Cooking Tips
Mustard Seed Christmas
A Soldier's Prayer
Talk Over Tea with the Editor
Tell Us Your Thoughts
Strive to Thrive Health News
Joy Bites
Strength in the Shadows
Volunteer Corner
Book Review: The God I Love
Ask the Doc
HopeNotes: hopekeepers
Group & Leader Information
Refreshments


 

 

 


"The best we can hope for in this life is a knothole peek at the shining realities ahead. Yet a glimpse is enough. It's enough to convince our hearts that whatever sufferings and sorrows currently assail us aren't worthy of comparison to that which waits over the horizon." -Joni Eareckson Tada

It was 1979 and I was an impressionable eleven-year-old. The movie, Joni, tugged at my heart and I quickly read her book by the glow of my flashlight, unable to put it down. Over and over I flipped through the photos in the mid-section of the book and wondered who this young girl was. Where did she find the courage to rely completely on God during the worst of tragedies?

It was a diving accident as a teenager in 1967 that changed the life of Joni Eareckson. Being a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, unable to use her hands, however, didn't slow her down. She now has many titles: wife, author, speaker, artist, disability advocate, singer, radio host, and world traveler to name a few. But to many, she is the face of joy, an answered prayer. She provides hugs at Joni and Friends Family Retreats, and wheelchairs and worship all over the world. She seems to always have either a joke or a word of encouragement to someone who is hurting-depending on what they most most need at the moment.

Since I began a chronic illness outreach ministry, Joni Eareckson Tada and the path God chose for her was my inspiration. I met her after hearing her speak, as many of you have. And then I saw her again when we were speaking at a conference. She breezed by in her wheelchair and said, "Hi, Lisa! Come join me for lunch. I'll be over there." I stood there stunned, and my sister, standing nearby, read my mind. "She knew your name!" Michelle said, "Wow!" But I am not anyone special. Joni has a sense of grace and peace about her that draws many of us to her and she treats everyone as a special child of God. The way she glows, I've wonder if she has a special generator under that seat of hers, but it also obvious it's just the Holy Spirit slipping through her skin.

Whether you recognize Joni's name or not, pay close attention to her message. She is our voice in the wilderness of suffering through physical ailments. With a presidential appointment to the National Council on Disability, "Churchwoman of the Year" in 1993, to Larry King Live this summer, when she talks, people really do listen-pastors and policy-makers alike.

hk: Joni, I was so sorry to hear that you've recently broken your leg! What happened?
JAT: I have fallen out of my wheelchair other times, but this was the first time it resulted in broken bones. It happened on a crowded L.A. freeway when we were forced to suddenly stop. I tumbled to the floor, despite the fact that my chair was tied down and I was wearing a chest restraint. Thankfully, it was only a broken tibia and fibula; not a fractured hip!

I can't imagine. . . What do you do when you're feeling "trapped," such as bed-bound for a pressure wound, when praying or reading the Bible feels like it's not making a difference?
I can't tell you how many times I've turned my head on my pillow, bit my lip, fought back tears and "talked to my soul." I'll whisper Psalm 42:5-6 where it says, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." It just helps to rehearse things I know to be true, things I sometimes forget when I feel claustrophobic from lying in bed too long, or having to deal with pain. The other day I was fighting off discouragement from a "too tight corset" and comforted myself by singing, "Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart." I don't pretend to be a really great singer; but embedding a melody in my heart and rehearsing it during the day gives balance to my emotions, sharpens my perspective, and keeps me focused on Jesus Christ.

You've been an amazing advocate for the disabled community, but we have so far yet to go. What things could a chronically ill person do to help their church become more aware of chronic conditions and disabilities?
The challenge in living with any disability-whether visible or invisible-is following the mandate of Phil. 2:4 where it says, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." It's hard to think of others when your own pain is screaming for your undivided attention. But ironically, the best remedy is to, yes, address your own physical needs, but then, look for a way to minister to others needier, and more helpless than you. Joni and Friends has resources to help. It may involve starting a "support group" in your church in which edification spreads through prayer, godly counsel, and meeting practical needs. The rest of the church can then see how God's power shows up through weakness; they will see I Cor. 12:22 in action, acknowledging that the weaker members really are indispensable.

What kinds of things can a church do to send a message to ill people, "we care, and we're here for you"?
I like to envision a person running His hands over cracks in a cement walk to see where it needs to be filled in. In other words, people can look to see where the "cracks" are in the lives of families affected by disabilities, all for the purpose of filling in the spaces, helping with the needs, and providing practical support. Just today I received an email from a woman at church (who suffers from bi-polar disorder), asking if she could help me by preparing in advance a casserole dish for me while Ken is away fishing. I like that! She's being pro-active-she's not waiting for me to ask for help-she's looking for ways to assist with real needs. Best of all, she's doing it out of her own need, her own weakness. God will bless her for that!


11 Things You
Didn't Know About Joni

My favorite silly past time: Watching Trading Spaces, or if I want it to be really silly, The Iron Chef.

The Bible I use: NIV Giant Print

My favorite devotional book: By far and away, Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions published by Banner of Truth, for anyone who's interested.

Books I am currently reading: Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose; The Shifting Tide by Anne Perry.

Favorite vacation spot: The back porch of my mother's condo in Ocean City, Maryland.

My favorite flavor of ice cream: Sorry, it clogs my catheter. If it didn't cause stones, I would vote for Hagen-Das Chocolate Chip.

Biggest frustration about shopping: Somebody has already taken all the size 12's.

If I could get out of the chair for one day I would: Give Ken a back rub, then get him out on the Tennis Court.

Someone made a difference in my life by: Strapping skis to my wheelchair wheels and taking me 'sledding' down the snowy hill outside our house.

Someone encouraged me without even realizing it: After my friend got me up in the morning, and after I left for work, she cut flowers from my backyard and placed fresh blooms in my bathroom.

If I could choose the headline for the front page of the major newspapers tomorrow it would be: Millions claim Conversion in Nationwide 'Revival!'"


This is a part of the article that is featured in our Nov/Dec 2004 issue. Subscribe today so you don't miss our next issue. You can also order back issues while supplies last at our bookstore,
The Comfort Zone. We also gladly accept orders by mail,
FAX or phone. REST MINISTRIES, PO Box 502928,
San Diego, CA 92150, FAX 800-933-1078 or phone 888-751-7378.

 

 

All information on this web site and from hopekeepers MagazineŽ is copyright, 2004, not to be used without permission in print or electronically. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes your acceptance of our Terms and Conditions. Please contact us at rest@restministries.org if you would like to reprint it for public use. Permission is not needed for 10 or less copies of personal use (send to a friend, share with your support group, etc.) We're happy to answer your questions about it.

 
 

You are receiving this because you have requested to receive mail from us. To unsubscribe send an email to news@restministries.org with the subject line hkunsubscribe.

 

 

All information on this web site and from hopekeepers MagazineŽ is copyright, 2004, not to be used without permission in print or electronically. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes your acceptance of our Terms and Conditions. Please contact us at rest@restministries.org if you would like to reprint it for public use. Permission is not needed for 10 or less copies of personal use (send to a friend, share with your support group, etc.) We're happy to answer your questions about it.