Monday, July 1, 2013

Joni & Friend, Holly

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.

Sincerely, Holly

*Picture from left to right: Me, Joni Eareckson Tada & Angie, my beautiful friend with Spina bifida who is now home with her King.


  1. Hi Holly,
    I just watched your video on Joni and Friends' website, and needed to tell you how much you encouraged and blessed my heart. And then I found your blog, and you encouraged and blessed my heart again. You have such a beautiful heart, and the Lord has truly blessed you with a gift for writing! Thank you for being so open and sharing your story--I know I'm not the only one who you have blessed!
    I'm a triplet and my two brothers have Cerebral Palsy. My brothers have received treatment at Scottish Rite in the past (Benjamin actually just had surgery there in December!) and my dad did his fellowship there. (He's a pediatric orthopedic surgeon) We love Scottish Rite and I just thought it was so neat that you work there!
    I look forward to reading more of your posts! Thank you again for the encouragement!!

    1. Claire - Thank you SO MUCH for your sweet note. I'm really glad you were able to find me on the JAF website & see my testimony in our Jesus. Yes ma'am, I worked at Scottish Rite for almost 3 years during college & graduate school... but just as my last semester started, I had to resign & focus on finalizing my Thesis. But I LOVE Scottish Rite, it will always hold the most precious place in my heart - I was a patient there, too, for 18 years.. so you can imagine my loyalty.

      I really look forward to reading your own blog, I see you have a strong heart & beautiful family. Funny that your dad is an orthopedic surgeon - I had one or two on my case for many years ;) Take care, love. XO

  2. Hi Holly. i feel the love of Jesus when i read about you on your blog,i feel i met you on twitter ,so i just wanted to say hi. hope you have a good day and thanks for writing,George