Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada

Affirming Your Caregiver

May 7, 2019

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I love caregivers!

And I better had love them ‘cause I’ve got one in my husband, not to mention a few friends who help me lay down at night or get me ready to sit up in my wheelchair every morning. I love them all, and of course I especially appreciate my husband Ken Tada – that’s my term of affection for him, Ken Tada. And I make it a habit of not only affirming him, but each and every person who helps me. And I don’t mean empty flattery or compliments that aren’t sincere. I don’t mean saying sweet things to manipulate my husband to do what I want him to do. No, affirmation is nothing like that at all, to affirm someone is a skill; it’s a skill that Ephesians chapter 1 talks about when Paul prays that the eyes of our heart might be opened. Friend, it’s the skill of opening up your eyes to see what Christ-like characteristics are in your friend or your husband or wife. The life of any other person and then nurturing those godly attributes with words of encouragement.

And boy, does my husband thrive on that, actually, anyone thrives on it, right, when other people observe their honest- to -goodness godly qualities. Ken Tada works hard to take care of me. Like, most often at night (and I will try to say this without crying), my husband has to get up sometimes two or three times to turn me. My paralysis won’t allow me to stay in one position in bed too long; it just hurts too much, and it can cause pressure sores. So, Ken gets up and makes certain (sometimes he sets his watch) to come over, pull back my blankets, put me on my other side, re-tuck my pillows. To me, that is the kind of sacrificial service that honors God – it not only helps me, but it glorifies the Lord. It’s the kind of service that so many caregivers provide to their family members, often losing their sleep, often going without a break to make certain their loved-one is served well.

And that is why even in the middle of the night, it could be 3 AM, 4 AM, I am always certain to be awake enough to say, “thank you, Ken, thank you so much.” When he comes back from the medical supply store with stuff, I commend him, I’ll tell him, thank you for making the extra effort. Or I will brag on him in front of others. I'll look for times when he’s compassionate toward a neighbor or mindful of doing the right thing. I will recognize that, and say something to him like, um, you know, Ken, you bring God such pleasure when you do that. And perhaps the nicest way of affirming someone is looking out for their best interests. So, I try to give caregivers lots of breaks, like with Ken Tada, I’ll arrange for a girlfriend to occasionally sleep overnight with me, or I’ll ask a few girls to stay with me so Ken can go fishing.

You know, I’ve been speaking to caregivers here. But this advice really works for anyone. Wives, we should always be affirming our husbands, and husbands your wives. If you live with a roommate and that person does a great job of holding up their end of household responsibilities, commend them for it. Tell them they have a wonderful sense of responsibility. Use biblical affirmation with your children and tell them when they’ve done well on a chore. And finally, please share this program with any of your Facebook friends who have a disability in their family. Let’s encourage our caregivers, let’s spread the word, because the Bible says that giving affirmation (Biblical affirmation) is like giving a basket full of apples of gold. By the way, I would love to hear what you are praying about or a favorite Bible verse that you are memorizing. Tell me about it; just go my radio page today at joniandfriends.org. Or you can always write me at Joni and Friends, Post Office Box 3333, Agoura Hills, California 91376. God bless you today and thanks for listening to Joni and Friends.

© Joni and Friends

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Hi, I’m Joni Erickson Tada today in the studio with Shauna Amick. JONI: Shauna, welcome! SHAUNA: Thank you, Joni. JONI: And given that Mother’s Day is coming up, friend listening, you’re gonna to hear a little more than usual from Shauna because this woman knows motherhood, and when she told me this great story about a special mother in the Bible and what it meant to her as a mom herself with three kids, one with a disability, well, Shauna why don’t you just share this story as you shared it with me. It was so cool. SHAUNA: Oh, sure. Well, you know I’ve always loved and appreciated the story of Ruth and Naomi from the book of Ruth. I mean, these are women who know suffering. And I think specifically of Naomi. So first she has to deal with the famine, her husband moves her and her two sons to a foreign land; if that’s not hard enough, then when they get to that new land, well, first her husband dies, then her two sons die. I mean it’s almost too much for one woman to bear. And yet what does Naomi do? Instead of really turning from the Lord, in this little book called Ruth, she brings her questions and she brings her heart to the Lord, she shows wisdom and discernment and how she mentors her two daughters-in-law, and she exhibits incredible endurance when she chooses to trust God as her Redeemer when really I think she was facing impossible odds. JONI: You know this must be why so many women I know name their daughters Naomi. She is quite the example in God’s Word. SHAUNA: Well, she sure is and you know that name means “pleasant”. And for a time there the Word tells us that she wanted her name to be changed to Mara, which means “bitter”. But truly Naomi there means “pleasant” and that is what she showed us. She showed us how to live being pleasant in really very bad times, because in good times or in bad times she shows us that God Himself is still good. JONI: Well you know, by the end of this book, book of Ruth, we all know it well, we learn that Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth, clings by her side; doesn’t forget dear Naomi even after getting remarried and having a baby. And I love what you say about those last several verses of Ruth. Just describe it because I think it was so fun. SHAUNA: Well, I just love the picture of Naomi holding her new grandson, Obed, in her lap. She looks at his face and she sees the future. She sees new dreams and it always makes me think of that amazing quote from author and counselor Larry Crabb and I’d like to share it right now. It’s about shattered dreams and he says, “Shattered dreams open the door to better dreams, dreams that we don’t properly value until the dreams we improperly value are destroyed. Shattered dreams destroy false expectations, such as the “victorious” Christian life with no real struggle or failure. They help us discover true hope. We need the help of shattered dreams to put us in touch with what we most long for, to create an appetite for better dreams. And living for the better dreams generates a new, unfamiliar feeling we eventually recognize as joy.” JONI: Oh Shauna, I listen to you read this: that’s your story. SHAUNA: That’s right. JONI: I mean, here you are a mother of three children, two of whom have disabilities – one very significant – and you’ve had shattered dreams, but boy has God given you a gracious longing for Himself and a joy unspeakable. SHAUNA: Oh, He sure has, Joni. He is our Redeemer, bringing empty lives back to full again. He did it for Naomi; He did it for Ruth and He did it for me. JONI: Well, friend, if you’re struggling over shattered dreams today, go to the Bible, read the book of Ruth, follow Naomi’s example. Trusting Jesus with the future always brings about better hope, hope-filled dreams, because remember, the best is yet to come! SHAUNA: Amen! © Joni and Friends
May 6, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a look at the purpose behind suffering. Because when you’re a child of God, suffering doesn’t come at you without purpose, without great cause. I love this quote by Alan Redpath, he said, “There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first, it has gone past God, gone past Christ, and then right through to me. And if it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose.” Man, the lady in the wheelchair loves that quote by Redpath; I really believe it. I’m convinced great hardship has the potential for great purpose. So, just what is that purpose behind affliction and suffering? Well, if we look to the Bible for purposes, we can easily find them. Hebrews Chapter 12 makes it plain that some suffering is given in order to, well, to discipline or chastise or correct a person for his wrongful ways – Jonah is a great example of that. He ran away from God, got into trouble on the stormy sea, was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. Hebrews tells us to endure hardship for the sake of discipline. So right there is one purpose and as I often say to friends (some of you might not like this); but I believe God disciplined me when I had my broken neck. I was off on a really wrong path. I was heading for real moral trouble. God rescued me through this wheelchair. I know, I know, some of you may have a hard time seeing that the rod of God might’ve had something to do with my paralysis, but when I read Hebrews Chapter 12, all I see is a good, good Father who’s got His children’s best interest (my spiritual well-being) at heart. So okay, enough of that. That’s at least one purpose, right? Discipline, correction, reproof. But some suffering is given not to correct past wrongs, but to prevent future ones, like Joseph who was sold into slavery, all so that he might rescue God's people from famine. And there’s Daniel in the lion’s den, in the fiery furnace, all of it set the stage for the Persian king to look with favor on God’s people in exile. But some suffering has no purpose. No purpose other than to lead a person to love God more ardently for the sake of Christ alone, and then to discover ultimate, perhaps even the highest peace and freedom. I’ve seen God work in my life that way; as I’ve grown older in Christ and lived longer in my wheelchair, I have been led to love Jesus for His own sake – to share in the fellowship of His sufferings, to enjoy His grace, and to lean hard on Him each and every day. And I see this in the special-needs families that we serve at our Joni and Friends Family Retreats. Whether the hardship, disability in their lives has been a matter of discipline, or something to prevent worse circumstances in the future, I can’t say. But I can say that these kids and adults with disabilities and their families are drawn so much closer to Christ through their hardships. You gotta see it for yourself. On my radio page today at joniradio.org take a look at a new video highlighting all that happens at a Family Retreat. And when you do, you just might decide you want to volunteer with us, we need more friends like you to chip in and help out, so visit Joniradio.org. And finally, one more word on this topic of suffering and its purpose. Tim Keller once said, "The best people often have terrible lives. Job is one example, and Jesus – the ultimate Job – is another example." Yep, people with hard lives really can and, yes, do discover the highest peace and freedom through their suffering. See it for yourself this summer at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat. And hey, if you need more inspiration you just have to go to my blog today at joniandfriends.org. © Joni and Friends
May 3, 2019
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I’m wondering; how do you sleep? Well, for me lately I have not been sleeping well. As you know I’ve battled cancer and finished radiation therapy – the treatment has caused more-than-the-usual pain and a lot of fatigue that I’m still not over yet. And that, in turn, has resulted in very little sleep. I’ve got the joint pain in my back that keeps me up. I’ve tried everything, nothing helps. Over the last month, I've laid awake at night, watching the digital clock that projects itself on my ceiling, and I stare at it wondering how I will be able to survive on so little rest. I prayed “Lord, what is the way out of this impossible situation involving pain, and lack of sleep, and cancer, and radiation, and fatigue? And I don’t want to wake my husband up to turn me three more times. Will you come to my rescue; will you deliver me from this cycle of no sleep?” Honestly, sometimes at 4 AM, it can feel like I’m in a trap. But, my heart is steadfast. And I draw courage from Exodus 14, verse 2. Get this; it’s where the Lord ordered Moses (now listen closely), "Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore." Now at first glance, the verse seems like nothing more than directions on MapQuest as to how to, where to set up camp. But if you look at that verse closer, it shows God purposefully telling His people to turn around; stop heading toward Mount Sinai, turn around and head back. Head back where? Well, God told them to turn back and follow Him into an inescapable trap. “Camp there,” he says! With mountains on either side, the sea in front, and Pharaoh’s threatening armies closing in from behind. The Lord personally led them into an impossible situation; a dangerous situation. And there was no answer. And if there were one, it would have to be really, really, really miraculous; I mean, a big time phenomenon, and guess what? It was! God’s people were pressed up against the waves, cowering as they heard the thunderous sound of chariots approaching. But then they look, oh my goodness, the Red Sea begins parting, congealing into two skyscraper walls of water. In faith, believing that God would keep the waters at bay, the Lord’s people then walked through a highway in the ocean, and God received overwhelming glory, and praise and thanksgiving! So, can you see why Exodus 14:2 is such an encouragement? I'm trusting God to miraculously find a way to help me live with paralysis, and cancer, and radiation, and pain, AND much-needed sleep. Like Moses, I’m confident God has led me to camp on the shore, all so that He might display His wonderous way out, all for His glory. So, if you are feeling trapped, if you are frustrated by the situation in which you find yourself, remember the lesson of Exodus. God says, “Tell the Israelites to turn back, I’m going to lead them into a trap. I’m going to have them encamp in a place where there is no way out and I’ll get the glory when I open a way.” That’s really a funny thing, God tells them twice. Turn around and camp there; that’s right, right there along the shore. Oh friend, God has led you exactly the same way; where He wants you. He will make a way though, a miraculous way if you and I would but trust Him. And it’ll be all to His glory. As the song goes, “God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me. He will be my guide; He'll hold me closely by His side. With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way. Oh friend, remember, He will make a way. Trust Him to miraculously do that for you today and when He does, thank Him, glorify Him for leading you out of the trap. Thanks for listening today on Joni and Friends. © Joni and Friends
May 2, 2019
I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a word for you who are feeling down. And maybe not just feeling down, but you know you are down, down for the count, overwhelmed, lying prostrate, near defeat. It could be you are a caregiver who simply has nothing else to give. It could be a wheelchair you’re trying to get used to but you can’t—could be an eviction notice, or a layoff, or a death in the family, an unexpected divorce. Whatever, it’s overwhelming and you are flat out and face down, and I am with you; I have been there; I know how it feels. During those many weeks of battling my recent cancer, after so many radiation treatments, and cancer drugs that left me utterly fatigued, and all that lack of sleep, I hit the floor, face down. I was overwhelmed. But when your trials force your face to the floor, there’s only one thing you can do and second Chronicles Chapter 13 tells us. So let me set the scene here: "Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both the front and the rear. Then they cried out to the Lord. The priests blew their trumpets and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel; the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord." So now, what did God's people do when they were surrounded on all sides, feeling like they were down for the count and overwhelmed, danger on every side? They looked up for deliverance. I love that, “they looked up” and then they cried out to the Lord. And when I say that they cried, I mean it. Earnest prayer has in it more than a few groans; come on, you gotta show a little passion, a little emotion; you gotta show God that your heart is in the prayer that you are asking Him for deliverance. What's more, to the cry of prayer, the people of Judah then added the shout of faith. And they became (as it says) more than conquerors. Now I find that fascinating, because when we are in trouble, God wants us to be more than conquerors. And so, He has us attach importance to our prayers: like, come on, pour out your gut, let me hear your heart, I want to know that “you mean this;” you really want help from on High. So cry out. But then, get up from your prayer and offer a shout of faith, just like Judah did. “God, I know you’re going to do this! You’re gonna come through. You’re gonna make good on your promises! I believe you and I am stakin’ my life on it.” That is the way to defeat an enemy that has surrounded you left and right and center; from behind and before. Cry out to the Lord (cry out to the Lord) and then lift a shout of faith, holding God happily to His promises. You know it’s what we do with weary and wounded special-needs families who come to our Family Retreats, many of them feeling down for the count, so overwhelmed, near defeat. We come alongside ‘em, we help them cry out to the Lord, we shed tears with them and then we help them lift a shout of confidence in God and His promises, helping ‘em be more than conquerors. And I would like you to help us do that. Our Family Retreat season starts full swing next month and we need people who could cry out to the Lord. Volunteers (we call them short term missionaries), Christians who will come alongside these families and make a difference. Just get all the info on my radio page today at joniradio.org and then come and serve with us this summer at a Joni and Friends’ Family Retreat. And while you’re on my radio page, watch a very cool brand-new video that I just posted of what a Family Retreat looks like and feels like. Don’t miss it today at joniradio.org. And if you’ve got problems, cry out to God today and then lift a shout of faith. © Joni and Friends
May 1, 2019
Although it is important to look forward to joining Christ in heaven one day, we need to use all the time we have here on earth to share the Gospel with our friends and neighbors.
April 30, 2019
Every summer many families affected by disability are blessed at a Family Retreat, and you could serve as an STM and make a difference in their lives.
April 29, 2019
With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can change “ought-to’s” into “want-to’s.”
April 26, 2019
Sometimes it’s hard to think that awful circumstances could possibly be used of God, but He does use them to do something good in you.
April 25, 2019
When we Christians speak the truth to one another in love, it’s a way of speaking honesty into each other’s hearts. We should look for opportunities to speak the truth of the gospel to one another.
April 24, 2019
“If Christ has not been raised… we are of all most people to be pitied…” But Jesus did burst out of the grave, imparting new life, fresh hope, joy eternal!
April 23, 2019
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Scripture Cards
Keep your favorite Bible verses close at hand, and share one with a friend! These elegant cards feature artwork by Joni Eareckson Tada on one side and Scripture on the other.

About Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope is a broadcast ministry of Joni and Friends committed to bringing the Gospel and practical help to people impacted by disability around the world. Joni and Friends has been advancing disability ministry for over 40 years. Their mission to glorify God, communicate the Gospel and mobilize the global church to evangelize, disciple and serve people living with disability answers the call found in Luke 14 to “bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame… so that my house will be full.”

About Joni Eareckson Tada

Paralyzed as the result of a diving accident at age 17, Joni Eareckson Tada envisions a world where every person with a disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ. As the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, she is known worldwide as an author, speaker, disability rights advocate and radio personality. Her 10,000 radio programs are broadcast across the country and around the world, inspiring listeners to realize that there is hope in every hardship.
Joni Eareckson Tada is an esteemed Christian stateswoman and respected global leader in disability advocacy. Although a 1967 diving accident left her a quadriplegic, she emerged from rehabilitation with a determination to help others with similar disabilities. Mrs. Tada serves as CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization which provides programs and services for thousands of special-needs families around the world. President Reagan appointed Mrs. Tada to the National Council on Disability, then reappointed by President George H.W. Bush. During her tenure, the ADA was passed and signed into law. Mrs. Tada served as advisor to Condoleezza Rice on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department. She served as Senior Associate for Disability Concerns for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. The Colson Center on Christian Worldview awarded Joni Tada its prestigious William Wilberforce Award, and she was also inducted into
Indiana Wesleyan University’s Society of World Changers. 
Joni Eareckson Tada has been awarded several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Humanities from Gordon College and Doctor of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. She is an effective communicator, sharing her inspirational message in books, through artwork, radio, and other media. Joni Tada served as General Editor of the Beyond Suffering Bible, a special edition published by Tyndale for people affected by disability. Joni and her husband Ken were married in 1982 and reside in Calabasas, California.

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