It’s been a quiet Saturday. The pain has dissipated (thank you, Jesus) & my body is responding just as Dr. Ward said it would – I’m ready to get up & get OUT. But I’m heeding his orders & staying in…even scootering around my 675 square foot apartment… you know, normal stuff.
Don’t believe me? See instagram for proof.
I’ve had a lot of time to think over the past week & oodles of time to write, so this “pain-cation” hasn’t been all bad. But thinking & writing will only take you so far in a day, so what do I do? Instagram. This morning I shared with Edward the latest on the Gram (yes, he cares) & how I learned Joni & Friends Family Retreat is going on. It’s been fun seeing pictures, videos & tweets from STM’s & even Joni herself.
There were many years I played a role in Family Retreat.. First as a Short-term Missionary, then as Leader of the High School Group. I LOVED camp & made friends that will last a life-time. The families call it, “heaven on earth” … & it is, it really is.
And it all started with her story.
When I was a little girl, my mother loved telling me about it.
“Holly, Joni’s in a wheelchair, she’s paralyzed & can’t move her legs, but GUESS WHAT? She paints with HER MOUTH!”
My little face would drop & she would go on, “You see , God is SO strong he can use anybody he wants to.”
I didn’t know it then, but my mother was planting a very important message in my heart.
She was teaching me that God is bigger than my Spina bifida…& he’s stronger than my weak little legs…& he did a GOOD thing giving me a broken body, for I will know him more because of it.
I’m proud to say Joni is an actual friend of mine. We met at Family Retreat, but it wasn’t right away & I didn’t approach her. When you look up to someone for so long, it’s difficult to muster the courage to say hello. So I kept my distance & admired from afar, because she is so important & I didn’t want to get in the way.
But on the last day, my camper, Billy, went right up to her in the cafeteria to say hi. I tried to grab him so we could eat lunch & Joni wheeled over toward me – so tall, even in that wheelchair – & said,
“I’ve wanted to meet you all week.” My heart stopped. All I could say was, “I’ve wanted to meet you my whole life.”
That was the beginning of our friendship. She decided to feature my own story on her TV program (2008) & I continued serving at camp, visiting the International Disability Center in Aurora, CA & hanging out with cool people like Cindy Fahy, John Wern & Dan’l Markham… until school stopped & reality started.
Seeing all of the pictures this week, provoked me to relive these memories of Joni & her friends. It’s difficult to do camp now with work, responsibilities & back pains… So to feel “apart” I decided to send a quick email to Joni, because I felt she HAD to know how fabulous she was looking on Instagram. I knew she was at camp & honestly did not expect a response… But she did…
& I have to admit.. my heart didn’t stop. It lifted.
So, here’s to Family Retreat. Keep laughing, loving & dancing those summer nights away.
*Picture from left to right: Me, Joni Eareckson Tada & Angie, my beautiful friend with Spina bifida who is now home with her King.