Friday, September 16, 2011

Joni Eareckson Tada: Encumbered, But Unlimited

I will admit that I am given over to complaint. I have fibromyalgia and some days I'm in so much pain that I just wander around the house muttering about it. I shouldn't whine: I have plenty of good days and much to be thankful for. Yet, sometimes it's difficult for me to move beyond how lousy I feel.

Then I think about Joni Eareckson Tada, an extraordinary woman who has encouraged millions of people worldwide.

In the late 1960s, Joni was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. She was 17 years old at the time. When many people might have given up on their existence, Joni fought hard to maintain hers. Years ago I read her biography and was in awe of her endurance. (Remember, medical practices have come a long way in 40-plus years!) Joni's story was so compelling that books were written about her life and a movie was even made.

More than a decade later, Joni and her friends had answered so many letters from fans and other people who were either disabled themselves or had physically challenged loved ones, that a ministry was born called Joni and Friends. Millions have been touched by this ministry.

Limited edition artwork available for purchase.
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But wait...there's more!

During her time in rehab, Joni learned to paint -- by holding the brush in her teeth! There are some days when I can't even hold my toothbrush between my teeth, let alone a paintbrush!!

However, Joni found a way to hone her artistic abilities, and her strong faith is evident in her incredible and beautiful artwork. Many of her paintings have been printed onto greeting cards, note cards,  Christmas cards, and framed artwork.

But the fact that, through her struggles and striving just to maintain everyday life, Joni thinks of others and reaches out to them -- that's amazing to me. Today, Joni and Friends has 13 different ministries which seek to help people learn how to better cope with their disabilities. These organizations also encourage the physically challenged and their loved ones to tap into their God-given gifts. We all have them. Everything is possible with God.

So tell me about your limitations -- or UNlimitations.


Jerri Hines/Carrie James-Haynes said...

I needed a little lift this morning. Sometimes just need to get things in perseptive. What an inspiring story! I wish I could paint a picture that beautiful. Thank you for sharing her story.

Barbara Edwards said...

Jodi is a wonderful example of what can be accomplihed. Thanks for sharing her story.

Jannine Gallant said...

We're only limited by what we think we can't do. Joni's story inspires me to believe I can do anything I want!

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Jannine, you hit the nail on the head. We encumber or limit ourselves by wrong thinking. My husband tells me that I "sabotage" my brain all the time. And he's right. If we believe, all things are possible to us. Joni's a good example of that sort of faith in action.

Loree Lough said...

I've been a Joni fan since way back when, and your insightful article reminded me WHY: She's such a beautiful example of what a person can accomplish when they refuse to say "I can't..."

Thanks, Andrea, for the gentle mental nudge!

Debby Mayne said...

After watching the movie about Joni's life, my husband and I bought it to share with friends. I agree that she sets one of the best examples of using what the Lord has provided to spread His message.

Laura Breck said...

A wonderfully inspirational story, Andrea. Thank you for sharing. I have relatively no limitations myself. Compared to her struggles - and yours - my little aches and pains are trivial.

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

Andrea, this was such a thoughtful blog post! Thank you for sharing your heart.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Andrea, thanks, I wasn't familiar with Joni. Your post brings to mind something my father told me when I was in grade school. I don't remember what the incident was, but I said "I can't". My father told me there was no such word. The reason he said it has left me but his words never did.