Joni and Friends


Joni Eareckson TadaIt is incredibly humbling to meet one of your childhood heroes. Last week I met one of mine, Joni Eareckson Tada. I first heard of Joni’s story when I was 13 years old and my church showcased the movie about her life, “Joni”. When she was seventeen she dove off of a lake dock and hit a rock and was instantly paralyzed. Her story resonated with me so personally because I lived on a lake in New Hampshire and jumping off the dock was our town’s pastime. I kept imagining that her story could have happened to me.  What would I do if I couldn’t use my arms and legs at 17?  Luckily that wasn’t where it ended.  Joni, an accomplished artist, became determined to use her talents despite her condition and began to paint beautiful artwork with a paintbrush between her teeth.  This led to speaking engagements which led to books which led to a platform for Joni to become an international advocate for people with disabilities.  Through it all, it was her faith in Jesus that kept her going.  So many times she had wanted to end her life in the days following her accident, but she decided to scour the Bible for answers instead. In it she found true life, hope and freedom.   I received a tour of her International Disability Center, Joni and Friends, in Agoura Hills, California.  I was beyond blessed, never having imagined in my wildest dreams at 13 that I’d be standing in her facility hearing her story first hand.  God’s grace to me, which I’m sharing with you!

Joni and FriendsJoni and FriendsFloating Chapel

{Floating Chapel in the lobby of the facility}

Floating Chapel

{We sang a hymn inside and the acoustics make even my singing voice sound ok}

Joni and Friends{Scriptures fill the walls, hallways and even the floating chapel}

Joni and FriendsWheelchairs Joni and Friends

{Wheels for the World, One of the ministries of Joni and Friends, delivers wheelchairs to disabled in developing countries along with the hope of the Gospel.  The program takes old wheelchairs and sends them to be restored, then ships them worldwide.  The people who restore them? Prison inmates. This program offers hope and purpose to the hopeless from beginning to end}

Joni radio program

{Joni does a daily radio program that broadcasts all over the world}

World Map

{World Map of pins on all the places the Joni radio show is broadcast}

Joni library

{the library at Joni and Friends is stocked with inspirational reads, including the 50 books Joni has authored}

Joni Studio

{Joni showed us her art studio which is adjacent to her office, where she still finds time to paint masterpieces with her teeth}

Joni inspiration

{This was the first piece of art given to Joni by a friend after her accident. It represents that we may try to put all the pieces back together after a tragedy but we will never have all the pieces of the puzzle this side of heaven. Some things will remain a mystery until we meet Jesus face to face}

Joni

{Joni told us that daily she struggles with pain even today. So many days she has yearned for the monotonous routine to be over. When asked how she does it, she said that she doesn’t.  She can do all things through Christ who gives her strength. I was so blessed to meet this amazing woman and inspired to do more with my hands and feet}