ryan haack- how to survive being stared at

Sometime ago, I came across a blog by Ryan Haack entitled, “Ryan Does Stuff.”  I love Ryan’s perspective on life and knew that his writing would encourage many others. So, let me introduce to you, Ryan Haack and share his blog that first caught my attention: I’m Ryan. I’m a husband, a father, a pastor, and a writer. One thing you should know is that I was born with one full arm. A couple years ago I “broke the hell out of” the shorter one (doctor’s words), so now I have a long scar that leads to the plate and seven screws that are holding it together. When people ask about the scar I get to ...[Read more]

chrissy- it could happen to you

I met a friend of mine, Catherine and her daughter, Chrissy through Joni and Friends Family Retreats. Catherine is taking an online class and her classroom discussions are done via conversations online. The whole class can read and respond to anything another has said. Everyone responds to whatever topic is posted by an individual in the class. The topic of one particular discussion was Disability. Catherine shared with me where the conversation went and how she handled it. Her heart-felt response was one that truly touched me, one that needs to be shared: One of the themes in this ...[Read more]

jonathan- a little extra

In February of 2010 on Season 9 of American Idol, it was hard to miss a young, 16 year old contestant with an incredible spark. But the moments when that spark really lit up was when Maddy Curtis spoke about her family. Maddy is from a family of 12 and has 4 brothers with Down Syndrome! “Those four boys bring out the best in every person they meet.  They see the world in colors, and we need to see the world that way," Maddy said in an interview on the show. Her mom first told her about the high abortion rate of babies with Down Syndrome just one year earlier, “I couldn't stop crying because ...[Read more]

rebekah-from prison of pain to pulpit of praise

“Have you met Rebekah?” asked one of the campers to another. “Oh my gosh, have you seen her smile?” was the reply. During the first 24 hours of our Joni and Friends Family Retreat in Oregon this past August, the whispers continued to spread. “Isn’t she beautiful?!” “You can see the love of Jesus just shinning right through her!” Rebekah is a young woman who happens to have cerebral palsy, a young woman who happens to use a motorized wheelchair, and a young woman who exudes radiant joy. But that joy was birthed through a process of descending into the depths of despair. Rebekah ...[Read more]

Twin Rocks Family Retreat-for such a time as this

Cars began arriving to the cheers of the awaiting crowd of volunteers, also known as Short Term Missionaries or STMs. Each family who drove into the conference center was coming for five days of rest, refreshment and restoration. Each person who had a disability as well as young children would be given an STM, making the week a relaxing and enjoyable time for all and a week that would challenge, shape and change the lives of the STMs. Lorraine, who was new to Joni and Friends Retreats as well as the role of STM Coordinator, had spent hour upon hour matching the family members to their STMs. ...[Read more]

kyla-chosen to be my daughter

submitted by Kyla's mother, Timi Kyla is my daughter. At 3 months old, she was diagnosed with 8P- Syndrome (A rare chromosomal disorder involving deletion of the short arm (p) of chromosome 8 resulting in various abnormalities), with a deletion designation of 23.1. Kyla was born with a congenital heart defect of a complete atrial and ventricular septal defects, skeletal malformations- diagnosed at 2 years of age, and focal cortical dysplasia (a congenital birth defect that stems from abnormal brain development in an unborn child) diagnosed at 5 years. At 3 months old, having only the ...[Read more]

zachary-loved for who he is

A single mom with a three year old daughter, having to flee an abusive husband, staying with a family from her church, no money, no bank account, no education, no job, how could a baby with Down Syndrome be a blessing? One of the most influential people who the Lord brought into my life was my youth pastor, John. Born prematurely at a time when incubators where a fairly new development, he was born prematurely and given too much oxygen which caused the blood vessels in his eyes to proliferate wildly and the retinas to detach causing John as a newborn baby, to go completely blind. But the ...[Read more]