Happy Birthday to Our Dear Friend and Hero in the Lord, Joni!

Photo: Visiting and singing to the one and only, Joni Eareckson Tada, on her 71st birthday!

Photo: The coronavirus can’t stop us from celebrating a life well-lived!

Hey TD!

Would you please join me in rejoicing and celebrating the birthday of the incomparable and singular Joni Eareckson Tada! One of the most beloved Christians in the world today – who Francis Chan said he believes to be the godliest woman on the planet (his words) – and one for whom living each day itself takes an Olympian effort, Joni is a true spiritual hero to so many, including my family.

We had the joy of paying her a surprise birthday visit at her home to sing to her and wish her a very happy birthday. What a delight it was to visit with her and her husband, Ken (socially distanced, of course), and to have the refreshment of being in the Spirit’s presence, who always graces us in a unique way when we’re together.

Many of you TD’ers don’t even know who Joni is … but you should, you really should. All TD alumni know of her and have been graced and inspired by her many times over, as she has a special heart for TD. Just ask them.

In honor of Joni’s birthday, and for your own inspiration and growth, would you please watch and be immensely enriched by the following videos? You will be strengthened, sharpened, humbled, and moved: A Deeper Healing

And for you artists out there, this is inspiring too: Painting for God’s Pleasure

Here’s a bonus video of TD visits Joni at the International Disability Center. This beautiful luncheon with Joni and Ken was for the top V4V award winners.

Joni is not into herself. She just wants God to be glorified, Jesus to be cherished and loved, the Spirit to move powerfully and freely, and the vulnerable – especially those with disabilities – to be valued and empowered. She would be so thrilled to know that you watched her videos and were strengthened in these ways. That would be all she would want for her birthday.

So, if after you watch, you are so inclined and moved to write her a note of how your faith was strengthened, I’ll pass it on to her!

Would you stop and say a sincere prayer for our dear sister, who is now in her 54th year of quadriplegia? That would mean the world to her.

Happy Birthday, Joni, 71 years young!

– Arthur

What Being Alive Looks Like! Watch Joni and Nick!

Video of Joni and Nick

Hey TD!

I texted this video of our family friends, Joni Eareckson Tada and Nick Vujicic, to all of my family members the other day.  After Sandra watched it, here was her reply:

“I loved, loved, loved the video with Joni and Nick.  They are so incredible and ALIVE!!!! They are hilarious as well, and to think we personally know them :).  They aren’t the ones with disabilities, we are!  They make us look like zombies and burdened by all the unnecessary distractions of life … YOU MUST TAKE THE TIME TO WATCH THIS!!!”

TD, I’ve been trying all year to get us to be more alive.  Would you use this quarantine time to let God bring you back to life? Please watch this 30 minute video and … behold.  Just marvel and try to fathom this …

… a man born with no arms and no legs … a woman who was very active until the age of 17, before becoming a quadriplegic 52 years ago … HOW IS IT THAT THEY ARE SO HAPPY AND HAVE SUCH JOY???

ENJOY this video, TD, and let God have His way with you!

– Arthur

Must See: A Calming Word from Joni During Coronavirus … and more!

A Calming Word from Joni During the Coronavirus

Hey TD!

It was great to “hangout” with you all during our first “Virtual TD” hangout last night. I particularly enjoyed the extra hour I got to personally spend with those who hung out for the post-TD discussion, almost half of you.

During this time of quarantine, we will be utilizing this blog more frequently to provide you encouraging, stimulating, and ENJOYable resources to strengthen and equip you to help turn this Coronavirus lemon into lemonade!

As Cassie shared last night, this is an opportunity for us put God back in His rightful place in our lives, and get our lives properly  realigned … because honestly, we’re all just too busy.  As I said last night, sure, the things we may be doing may be “good,” but good is the enemy of BEST.  Let’s use this to either get back to BEST practices or to learn BEST practices for living.

Please watch the VERY encouraging video above from our dear friend and hero, Joni Eareckson Tada, to begin the work of getting back to the right place in your heart and mind.

Looking forward to being with you all next Friday for our next Virtual TD meeting.

We’ll continue to work on making our time better, so if you have any suggestions, please let your small group leaders know!

In the meanwhile, here are a couple of fun V4V videos, one from V4V weekend and one from our visit with Joni in 2013 (the top V4V fund raisers).  You’ll see some current adults in their TD years (always a fun thing!):

2013 V4V Lunch with Joni

2020 V4V – Humming Worship

– Arthur

What Does the Bible Say About Loyalty?

Hey TD!

Greetings from Joni and Friends Family Retreat!

I had the opportunity dialogue with a pastor this week who was asking about my lessons learned at TD, while sharing a few struggles he has with his own people at his church.  One mutual observation was the loyalty and commitment people ultimately have … to themselves .

And it is pervasive:

In “Job Hopping is the New Normal,” the Wall Street Journal asserts that mobility is the new way of life for the younger generation, and that Millennials expect to stay a their jobs for less than 3 years in pursuit of better opportunities.

When asked about the perception that he is not a great friend, one world-renowned athlete recently responded by saying, “Friends come and go, but banners hang forever.”

In an article on healthy living, a Boise State psychology professor concludes that you need to value yourself above others and not hold back when it comes to you, ending the article with, “Here’s to making a commitment to YOU.”

It is precisely this commitment to ourselves that is the source of the death sentence we all face, as ultimately manifested in torn relationships – with God and with each other. Inconvenient loyalty and undying commitment to God and each other in the face of seemingly “better” options and opportunities – manifested by the ability to actually live life in order in every aspect of our lives – is a very powerful apologetic.

This will be something worth discussing and honing at TD on Friday!  It is they key to living potent Christian lives for the long-haul.  Here’s an article below from gotquestions?.org on what the Bible says about loyalty:

Question: “What does the Bible say about loyalty?”

Answer:The wordloyaltybrings to mind a powerful sense of belonging and solidarity. With it comes the idea of wholehearted fidelity coupled with unswerving devotion and duty. In the Bible, the concept of loyalty is purely relational. This means our whole being is thoroughly committed to someone (Joshua 24:15). Such loyalty is expressed to us in both the divine and human realms as given to us in the first two commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31; cf.John 15:13;1 John 3:16).

God established the very essence of loyalty through His covenant relationship with His people: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9). Through His covenant, God’s people are assured of His never-ending love from which no believer can ever be separated (Romans 8:35-39). God is promising His loyalty and commitment to us. Although God’s covenants with man are unilateral—He promises to fulfill them by Himself—there is still an admonition to loyalty on man’s part. For God has made it clear that “if you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 8:19). Those who prove to be disloyal are those who prove they do not belong to Him (1 John 3:24). But for believers, we have the promise that even “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

In our relationships with one another, we are called to steadfast loyalty. Paul speaks of his “loyal companion” inPhilippians 4:3. This unknown person is possibly Titus or Silas, but whoever it was, he was one who labored faithfully with Paul. Then there’s Ruth, the very embodiment of loyalty as demonstrated in her complete devotion and duty to her mother-in-law: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

For true believers, loyalty is shown in our commitment to Jesus and His gospel (Mark 8:35;Romans 1:16). It is the acknowledgement that Jesus Christ is our sole source of authority and salvation (Matthew 28:18;John 14:6). Such devotion and commitment should echo the attitude of the apostle Peter, who said, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).

As Jesus’ disciples, we demonstrate our loyalty and self-sacrificing allegiance to Him by following His command: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). But even when we fail to be completely loyal and steadfast to Him, we have His assurance that He will be loyal to us: “And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-loyalty.html#ixzz3g2pBedum

– Arthur

An Art Lesson (and more) … with Joni!!

joniandfriends01_7143450_ver1_0_640_480

Hey TD!

Yesterday, Sandra, Jenny, and I had the privilege of attending Joni and Friends’ 35th Anniversary at the International Disability Center (IDC).  It was a very special time engaging and celebrating God’s amazing work with our dear friends at JAF.  (Here’s a link to the Ventura County Star newspaper story.)

But there was another reason that this was a special occasion.  Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of Joni’s diving accident at Chesapeake Bay.  In speaking with JAF President, Doug Mazza, he told us that when he prayed privately with Joni for the event yesterday morning, in her prayer she prayed something like, “There were three other places I could’ve gone that day, but I went to the beach.  Thank you, Lord, that you had me choose the beach.”  Through the years, she has run through the “what if” scenarios in her mind.  But she has arrived at the realization in her heart and soul that the beach was the best scenario, not only because of the priceless relationship she now shares with Jesus, but because of how He has used her life to be a springboard of hope in Him for hundreds of thousands of families affected by disability.

In the spirit of our “Offerings” showcase tomorrow night at TD, I’d like to share with you some exclusive video from the event that you won’t find anywhere, where Joni gives us spiritual nourishment through an art lesson.  Enjoy these short videos; and as you do, would you join me in resolving to let God be God in our lives?  He really does know what He’s doing. – Arthur

Joni’s Art Introduction on the 47th Anniversary of Her Accident:

Joni on Painting Light and Being Light:

Joni and the Knife of God’s Word:

 

Our Reunion Featured on Joni’s Blog

Hey TD!

Since 2001, my family has been serving each summer at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat in Murietta Hot Springs.  TD has been serving since 2005.  You’ve heard all about it, I’m sure.  And everything you’ve heard is not only true, but even moreso.  Family Retreat veterans have not been exaggerating.  It IS a taste of heaven, life-changing, and everything else they’ve told you.  Primarily, it’s because God is there … in a BIG way.

Registration for serving as a Short-Term Missionary (STM) this summer is filling up fast.  If you want to learn more about about being an STM with us this summer – at Murietta, or even with Nathaniel as he leads a Family Retreat in China (!) – feel free to talk to one of the counselors!

You can also find more specifics at www.joniandfriends.org.  And while you’re there, check out Joni’s Corner, where we were featured this week!  STM info is linked here. – Arthur

Here’s her post:

Family Retreat Reunion!

  • By: Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Feb. 25, 2014
  • 1 Comment
  • Joni’s Posts

IMG_5795-001Last week, 92 people with special needs and their families gathered in Southern California for a ‘reunion’ of last summer’s Murrieta Hot Springs Family Retreat – the idea for the reunion was birthed by Angela Hsieh, one of our long-time STMs who serves alongside her parents (Arthur, her dad, is pictured here). The entire Hsieh family provide such wonderful leadership to our SoCal Family Retreat! The families were overwhelmed by the warm welcome, food trucks, games and times of inspiration. After the reunion, one dad of a son with autism wrote, “My son’s erratic behavior had almost isolated us socially. And for such a special occasion that Angela had envisioned, it was a big respite to all of us. I thank God for Christians like you who had the burden to care for special needs people. May God bless you!” Get in on the fun by signing up to serve as an STM at an upcoming Family Retreat!