Joni and Ken

Joni and KenDear Women of Faith,

What a great calling that is, isn’t it? To be women of faith—wives of faith, daughters of faith, sisters of faith, mothers of faith. I can imagine God smiling as he sees all of his beautiful daughters exercising their faith in all of their various roles.

And sometimes it is an exercise—not a walk in the park, but a struggle to lift heavy burdens or push against hard things. We all experience these times, and often, in our closest relationships.

I want to share with you all some things I’ve learned along this journey in my relationship with my husband Ken…

It’s funny, but I have a hard time these days just writing “Joni.”  I always want to write “Joni and Ken.”  No, not as though it were stamped on a wedding napkin or written on a house mortgage document. It’s more visceral than that. Thirty years have passed since Ken and I began our journey together, and God has used every trial—every hurt and heartache—to entwine us far more intimately than we ever dreamed on the day we married.

And the more devastating the trials, the more He has wrapped us both around Himself. God has used depression and chronic  pain and cancer—far more than even quadriplegia—to bind us tighter than ever. To each other. To Him.

That’s the “cord of three stands” the Bible speaks about.  Husband, wife, and the Lord Himself. If the man and woman twine their lives around each other in marriage, that is good, and they’ll be stronger for it. But if both of them twine themselves around the living God, that’s best of all. It’s a union that will hold through anything that life—or even hell—might throw at them.

It’s a beautiful picture, but we know it isn’t true for everyone. It’s especially difficult for couples dealing with a serious disability. So many of these marriages just don’t survive the test. The fact is, we live in a society that doesn’t know what to do with suffering. We do everything we can think of to escape it: we medicate it, mask it, surgically remove it, entertain or drug it, institutionalize it, divorce it, or even euthanize it—anything but live with it. Suffering, however, isn’t about to go away. And marriage only magnifies it.

It’s why we hope our new book, “Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story,” will inspire you. A visceral inspiration. Because nowhere else—and with no one else—will you have quite the chance to experience union with Christ than through a hard-fought-for, hard-won union with your spouse. And although Ken and I don’t pretend to be experts, we’ve learned enough to feel confident about passing on a couple of encouragements.

Life will not always be this hard, or marriage so difficult. There is coming a Day when something so grand and glorious will appear that it will supersede even marriage. Heaven is on the horizon for us all, and what we do down here on earth—every little drastic obedience—all of it will one day have a direct bearing on our capacity for joy and for worship and service in heaven. If you stick close to Jesus and honor Him through the toughest of times, you have a better chance of casting more crowns at His feet. And one day, when you touch His nail-scarred hands to say thank you, you’ll have every confidence He’ll know you mean it. He will recognize you as the one who persevered, who took up your cross daily to redeem the hard places in your marriage, just as he once took up His cross to redeem you.

The Day is soon coming when you will see the stunningly glorified version of your spouse. No, you won’t be joined in marriage in heaven, but God will have used your earthly life together to prepare you to be friends, yes, to be sisters and brothers—special and unique—for all of eternity. So get a jump start on eternity with that friend now.

Take a deep breath, and let it—whatever that irksome it is in your marriage—let it go. Make a covenant, Renew the vows. Get out the candles and china. Order the roses. Dim the lights. Walk under the stars. Quit resisting and start affirming. After all, loving that one to whom you said yes, well  . . . it’s just another way, maybe the best way, of loving and serving God.


Joni AND Ken

About Joni & Ken   |   Read an excerpt from Chapter 1  |  Buy the book

About Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story

Joni and KenIt begins in the traditional way, with a handsome young man and a lovely young woman falling in love with each other. There is a courtship, a wedding, a honeymoon, world travels, and the promise of a bright future.

Other than that, the story is anything but normal. Joni, who has become known all over the world for her writing, speaking, singing, and painting accomplished with a brush held in her teeth, was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident in 1967 when she was just seventeen years old. At age thirty-two, she had pretty much given up the idea that any man would or could look beyond her wheelchair and her disability to see her as a prospective lover and wife.

But she hadn’t reckoned on Ken Tada.

A high school history teacher and football coach, Ken saw in Joni a beautiful woman with an even more beautiful personality and spirit. Most important of all, he saw a woman with a great passion for the One they both called Lord and Savior—Jesus Christ.

This was the girl of his dreams.

But life is more than a dream, and Ken, with proverbial stars in his eyes, had no concept of the difficult path that lay ahead of them. Joni had a much clearer picture of it all. Women usually do.

So they married. . . .

This book is essentially about two people who had every reason on earth not to fall in love and marry each other in the first place . . . whose marriage faced obstacles beyond what most of us could imagine and innumerable justifications for giving up . . . who stayed together when their impossible obstacles unexpectedly became impossibly more difficult . . . and who found a way, through it all, to attain a new level of love rather than simply surviving or grimly hanging on.

By Larry Libby. From Joni & Ken: an Untold Love Story by Ken and Joni Eareckson Tada. (Zondervan, Inc.) ©2013.

Joni & Ken, Chapter One:  The Gift

God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain. —C.S. Lewis

December 6, 2011

Out of the corner of his eye, Giuseppe Bellisario saw the gleaming white Toyota van roll up into the handicap spot in front of his modest storefront restaurant tucked in the far right corner of the Agoura Hills Town Center. And smiled.

The bold-white, edged-in-scarlet letters over the entrance shone out in the California twilight: GRISSINI RISTORANTE.


Italian for “breadsticks.”

But not just any generic, garden-variety breadsticks. His restaurants had always been known for their signature long, thin, artistically shaped grissini. And for warm greetings and assiduous service. He had always seen to that. . . .

A sturdy Japanese man in his early sixties, clad in a brown jacket and a tan “Wild Adventures” baseball cap, emerged from the driver’s side, stepped around to the back passenger-side door, pushed a button, and watched as the door slid open and a ramp descended.

Giuseppe waited for a moment as the man backed the power wheelchair down the ramp onto the pavement. Then, with consummate timing, Giuseppe stepped through the door into an abnormally chilly Southern California evening. Greeting the man with a handshake, and then a hug, he bend down to kiss the cheek of the pretty blonde woman in the power chair. Then, with a flourish that seemed second nature, he swung the glass door of his restaurant wide open to his friends.


A gust of warm air, scented with oregano, fresh bread, and Christmas candles, enveloped them.

“Merry Christmas, Giuseppe,” the woman said.

“And Merry Christmas to you, caro. Your table is waiting. Always.”

Inside, Giuseppe’s little “retirement project restaurant” was a vision of white tablecloths, linen napkins, spotless silverware, glittering Christmas lights, and candles glowing in red glass containers. The voice of Dean Martin crooning in the speakers wrapped around them like an old favorite bathrobe.


Volare, oh oh,

                E cantare, oh oh oh oh

                No wonder my happy heart sings.

                Your love has given me wings . . .


With no hesitation, the woman in the wheelchair, wrapped in winter coat and scarf, powered up to a table along the wall. Her table. A small brass marker on thew all read “Joni Eareckson Tada.”

Ken Tada, taking his seat, was already thinking of the menu.

“Giuseppe, do you have the veal tonight—on the bone—the one with the mushroom sauce?”

“Vitello marsala?”

“I think so.”

Joni just smiled, drinking it all in.

We can sing in the glow of a star that I know of,

                Where lovers enjoy peace of mind.

                Let us leave the confusion and all disillusion behind . . .


Dear old Dean Martin. She truly did feel the glow tonight. In some strange, inexplicable providence of God, she felt happier than she had for years.

Cancer, she told herself, not without a note of wonder, as a gift.

Excerpted from Joni & Ken: an Untold Love Story by Ken and Joni Eareckson Tada. (Zondervan, Inc.) ©2013.


  1. Joni and ken I’m looking forward to read your new book.

  2. 1 year ago
    Deborah says

    Hi Joni!

    Being 63, a cancer surviver, and having Cerebral Palsy as well as chronic back pain has not been all fun and games as you well know. I admire your ability along with your faithfulness in Jesus. What a special gift Our Precious Lord has bestowed upon you after your diving accident.

    I have been thinking about coming to one of your family retreats. However, I do not know as to whether or not I could pay for my way. I would also need to bring someone along to care for my personal needs.

    Thank You Again, Joni! God Bless!

    Many Rainbows In Jesus Precious Name,

  3. 1 year ago
    Gail Schluter says

    This sounds just like the book I need. Been down on my knees this week in tears, after 30 yrs of marriage. I am on disability and Jim has had cancer. I was in mental hosp. several times until I HAD to turn it over to God. I have a mental disorder, fibromyalgia, chronic daily pain, pacemaker, several surgeries just to name a few. Jim is troubled with my issues taking a toll on him and his employer of 35 yrs taking and taking from him until he has lost himself. He and I love each other but do not like each other right now. I am also confronting some new health issues, peri-menopause on top of a mood disorder, and some cortisol and adrenal issues which magnify my other issues. I want to get your book, hoping for hope and encouragement as I KNOW it has NOT been easy for you. You are an inspiration! We have both almost given up on life. Thank you for your precious time. GMS

  4. So glad to hear about your new book. You made a huge impression on my mother (born in 1909 and now gone for 25 years) at a PTL Christian conference years ago. Her name was Elvi Latomaa. She was a wonderful Christian lady who immigrated from Finland in 1931 and built a life with my father (also Finnish) in Maryland. Her road was not easy, but she persevered and was creative in a strange land, baking and working for the Lutheran Church she and my dad helped to found. She bought one of your paintings, Jesus the Shepherd, and it now hangs in the guestroom where our grandchildren stay when they visit. The painting has always made me feel comforted. Thank you so much and I look forward to reading Joni and Ken. .

  5. 1 year ago
    Jenn says

    Is it ever too late to grow this kind of love and compassion in a marriage? I recently had surgery and my husband has been short with me. I don’t like to ask him for help because I usually get a lecture. It makes me so sad. We are believers but aren’t acting like it. Married 21 years and if this is any indication of what in sickness and in health is like we are failing God and each other. If there were to be a major health crisis I know he would be there for me but I don’t want to think about what it would be like emotionally. Do men crumble when the woman can’t do what she has always done? I guess I’m just shocked and hurt that I may have hurt him in our marriage enough for him to show such a lack of love during this time. I will be getting your book. Thank you

  6. Hi Joni!

    You were a guest at our Premier Designs conference in Texas…you were such a HUGE blessing! I loved hearing your story and your husband is so amazingly sweet and full of love for you! I love your love for each other and for our Heavenly Father! I can’t wait to get the book!

    I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on February 12th and it’s a very rare type of leukemia. There are only 4 known cases in the US! It’s been a huge shock to all as I’ve always been a picture of health. I’m 45 and have 3 children. I only have one sibling and she was a match, but due to some health issues with her, unless God performs a miracle, she will not work out to be my donor. My DNA has been put through the blood bank and we will see what happens. We are continuing to trust in our almight God and know that His hand is in all of this! It’s amazing to hear how lives our being touch through our journey, as I know you touch people every single day with your story! You are a blessing to me! Much love to you!

  7. Dear Joni,

    I was 11years old when I saw your movie ‘Joni’ in 1982 . I have always wanted to connect with you, just to tell you, that your life has made a impression that can never be forgotten.All glory to Jesus! Thank you for sharing your life with us. It has helped me to trust God through difficult times. I have shared your testimony with many. Thank you for not giving up…. your life is a powerful message. May the Lord bless you & Ken abundantly & use you both mightily! lots of love, Amritha

  8. 1 year ago
    Danielle says

    Hi Joni,

    What is the viseo -that several of the people writing postings, are referring to? I would like to get it. I saw you speak many many years ago at a church in the Bay Area (Hayward or Castro Valley) I believe, and was so impressed. Now, I read your answers to the postings, and have renewed faith for my life.

    Thank you for that,


  9. Joni,
    I “happened” upon this web page with you and Ken. Instantly , I realized it was not a mistake! My husband and I have been christians for 23 years, as long as our marriage….. but have ended at times taking stress out on each other, in strife, at odds. I am saddened. Thank you for this wake up call!
    I need to pray, speak encouragement and blessing over my husband and think good and true thoughts about him!

    Today, I will start and am going to purchase the couples devotional bible.
    thank you!

  10. 1 year ago
    Debbi says

    You came to speak at our friends church and they invited us to come several years ago.
    I had owned your book for years and seen your movie and then I felt so blessed to meet you!
    I just listened to one of your talks from Westmont College while recuperating from an illness…
    Thank you for all you have done!

  11. 1 year ago
    Valerie Hohenberger says

    Dear Joni and Ken,
    I am looking forward to reading your book. Joni, you have been an inspiration to me for many years, the way you were able to seek God’s help and persevere despite struggles. My husband and I have had our own struggles, a rebellious teenage daughter, his heart condition, my stroke, and most recently, his total heart transplant! We are still trying to get adjusted to his new schedule of meds. My husband has been asking since 1991, why am I still here? When we were going through the first 3 situations, we were not a church-going family and I had fallen FAR off His path for my life. But after my stroke, I felt that God was just trying to get my attention. BOY, DID HE!!! After that, I started attending a church regularly, and have completed 3 Disciple Bible Studies as well as many others. I still feel as if I am a “baby Christian”, but others have told me that they admire my faith.

    During my husband’s hospital ordeals, (eight months in the hospital out of ten; four of those 3 hours from home!) I had prayed that God would have His will be done and I felt such peace and calm in my core! It could only be answered prayer. I feel that God is in control and He sees the big picture and I DO NOT, so why worry and fret?
    Blessings to you!

  12. 1 year ago
    DivaDoll says

    Dear Joni,
    Thank you for the years of sharing your devotionals, so many times they have truly blessed me. I sat tonight and watched your video for the first time ever regarding the ups and downs that you and Ken have experienced in marriage.

    Me and my husbands are still newlyweds we have 16 mos under our belt ((-: however, we have had a really difficult time with my son adjusting to the new family dynamics. I was divorced for almost 7 years from his dad before I remarried again and it has been a difficult transition for him to accept. We have all been in family counseling since the day we said “I DO” because of the rebellion and selfishness that we are experincing from my son. Although, he is doing better than he was a year ago we still have much more ground to cover.
    Your video really encouraged me and inspired me to continue to walk and trust GOD no matter what the surrounding circumstances around us appear to be. I will continue to love my husband and appreciate him regardless of what we may go through. I thank God for a man of God who truly loves not only me, but my son also. Who is willing to wade the waters with me and have my back in all of the adversity.

    Thank you for your transparency and candidness it has truly blessed me and inspired me to PUSH THROUGH!
    May God bless you & Ken always,

    • Dear DD… Oh, how God encouraged me, just reading your story! Last night I emailed a friend back east whose marriage, including her teenage children, are in deep trouble. I told her to take a look at that video, not knowing for sure if that was the best advice for her situation. But DD, when I read the similarities with your situation, it was an absolute affirmation that, yes, it was the wisest advice. I am asking our prayer team here at Joni and Friends to be lifting your son up before the Lord. “I do not believe there is such a thing in the history of God’s eternal kingdom as a right prayer, offered in the right spirit, that remains forever unanswered” (Theodore L. Cuyler). Hope those words encourage you today, DD!

  13. 1 year ago
    Dixie Durcan says

    You have been such a light in mine and other lives God Bless you and your husband.

  14. 1 year ago
    Mary & Bill Reynolds, Jr. says

    Dear Joni & Ken,
    Compelled by our Lord Jesus to send you this note of praise to him and thanks to you. In short version,
    my husband Bill suffered a massive stroke in 1997….age 43. He died twice—but God said I have work for you yet to do and sent him back. He lost everything but his hearing. After 3 states & 4 hospitals….80 days total…..we brought him home 100% disabled and no speaking ability. The Lord put one of your books in our path/journey shortly after he came home. God greatly used you to help us both on this new journey through all the pain, the fight back to regain what he lost, our focus and trust in him, all the questions WHY ?? He used you to help us SURRENDER our WHY’S to Him.
    THEN….and ONLY THEN…did the HEALING BEGIN. Praise His Holy Name. We realized that even though you broke your neck and he had a massive stroke that also took his body–it hit the heart. healing spiritual battle was the same. SURRENDER our ANGER and WHY questions. We could be bitter OR we could trust him to use it for his glory. INDEED….HE HAS. Though half of his body is still frozen/right side—-we serve the Lord fervently together through our local bible believing church. He is a fervent man of prayer, adult SS teacher, deacon and strong encourager to all in the Lord.
    What a beautiful smile he has. While serving the Lord here (in pain most days) he also is looking for the Lord’s return and His NEW GLORIFIED BODY!! We have shared your ministries with many SO
    many others are helped as well in the Lord over their journeys of life to victory in jesus.
    Still Serving Him—-Bill & Mary Reynolds Beaver Falls, Pa.

    • Dear Bill and Mary… I don’t know if we will ever meet on this side of eternity, but I sure look forward to the day when Bill and I will jump up, dance, kick, and do aerobics and rejoice in our new glorified bodies! Gone will be any evidence of quadriplegia or stroke or any other vestige of disability! Thank you for persevering. In fact, you remind me of Hebrews 10:36 where it says, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Thank you for writing and I’m so grateful to God my life’s story has encouraged you both along the way!

  15. 1 year ago
    Leslie says

    Hi! Your book looks interesting… maybe I will be able to find it as an ebook someday or I can possible pick it up when I go home to visit this fall. Not many hard copy Christian books to be found here in Saudi. God had to bring me to the desert so I would give my husband my attention…. I always seem to find distractions…. parents, kids, friends…… church activities…. work…. you name it, I get distracted by it. Not that those are not good and such but I put my husband and my Lord on the back burner…. I just know they are there always…. but wow ….. what am I doing…. God first …. then my husband… and then what comes. Thanks for the inspiration! Looking forward to reading your book…. but more important…. I am desiring a growing relationship with my Lord and my best friend, my husband!

    • Oh, Leslie, it warms my heart to think that we’ve been able to connect all the way across the earth – thank you for writing all the way from Saudi Arabia. And oh my goodness, God has given you a remarkable opportunity in which to spread His love. I’ll be praying that the Lord will keep ‘opening up the eyes of your heart’ so you can be a good steward of the influence He has given you there in such a different culture. But I sure do like what you say, “God had to bring me to the desert so I would give my husband attention.” I just know God will bless you for that! And your husband, too!

  16. 1 year ago
    Kelly S says

    Wow I loved your video. I do have to tell you that every three seconds it stopped and I have to keep pressing play. But I so badly wanted to hear your message that I got closer and closer to the router thinking it was my Internet. But nobody’s home and nobody’s on the computer. And I prayed and I fought the devil and said no I will listen to this message. My aunts a quadriplegic, and she’s in a relationship with a man who’s not so nice, he manipulates her mind and I’m afraid if I send her this video that she’ll believe she needs to stand by him take prove love to Jesus. But I want to send her this video so that she knows that she could be in the trenches with a man who loves her with Jesus. Admittedly I only read April 1, and it came to my email box, and I’ve erased all the others. And I just happen to read it before I was about to dial her number… God works in mysterious ways. I wonder what your perspective is for me to do? For The past two years he’s been living off of her Social Security income, and for the past two months he’s gotten his own Social Security income goes all through the lottery, at the end of the month when the money runs out there’s arguing and hateful words. His actions show that he doesn’t have love he keeps the beds apart he withholds affection and he lies and drinks and abuses pills, and she can’t get over the betrayal and she holds on to anger, and I don’t know what to do besides pray and I don’t know how to help her

    • Dear Kelly… Well, one thing for certain: God has definitely placed on your heart a deep burden for your aunt who was a quadriplegic. It sounds as though a real spiritual battle is going on. And this means, first, to continue praying – but if I were you, I would rally about five or six other prayer warrior-friends to intercede for her in a committed, specific, and ongoing way. And when you have a minute, go to our website at JONIANDFRIENDS.ORG in order my “Encouragement Package.” It includes several pamphlets, one of which is called “Breaking the Bonds of Fear” – I think the biblical insights and it would speak loudly to your aunt. And, of course, I would love to write her a note of encouragement (just send me her address at the same website). Thank you so much for praying, Kelly, and I’ll be certain to add your aunt to our morning prayer list here at Joni and Friends!

  17. 1 year ago
    Betty M says

    Dear Joni,
    As a sister on this walk of faith, and by the way a young 63 yrs as well! I have been very inspired by your testimony of faith through all your books etc. I have no handicapping condition but had two children with special needs one a son of age 40 still lives with us. He has severe learning diabilities and also is a long term survivor of leukemia. He is now plagued with grand mal seizures due to cranial radiation he had at age 9. My hubby and I have been married 41 yrs. It has not been easy we have gone through many peaks and valleys but we always have seen Jesus right beside us!!
    Blessing to you and Ken you two just emulate God’s love and joy in such a sweet way. look forward to reading your book!
    Love ya,
    Betty M

    • Oh, my dear Betty… THANK YOU for opening up your heart and sharing about your two children with special needs – I pray that you and your family are in a good congregation of believers who can support you through, would have to be, some pretty tough times. And please, Betty, visit our website at and click on our Family Retreat page. We would love to have you and your family come to any one of our 25 Family Retreats spread across the US this summer. And thank you again for your wonderful words of affirmation that Jesus has always been beside you – that speaks powerfully to me :-)!

  18. 1 year ago
    Susan Eichelberger says

    Joni, Do you have any advice for someone struggling with the idea of changing churches?I have been going to my church for 15 years.They have seen us through a lot.Cancer, my chronic pain,financial woes but I honestly feel a change within the church.Our minister is a wonderful person but some in the congregation are truly putting me off and a few have actually been downright hurtful.I watched your video on you tube the other day about suffering and it changed me in so many ways:) I read your book when I was 13 and always admired you.I dont really have anyone else to ask about this and I was wondering your thoughts.I am being silly and self centered?Am I failing in some way? Any insight you may offer would be most appreciated.I am blessed as you are with a wonderful husband who cares about and loves me.He would do or go anywhere to make me happy.I really am grateful to you and feel you have helped bring me closer to God.THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
    God Bless

    • Dear Susie… Thank you for this important question about changing churches. If you have been attending this church for 15 years and have never committed to becoming a member, then I would say, please feel free to go ahead and make the change. However, if you are a member, then you and your husband made some pretty serious commitments 15 years ago that God just may want you to ‘stick to’ now that times in that congregation feel unsettled. And remember, a congregation of believers is a group of redeemed sinners who, yes, are still sinners :-). I would encourage you to look at the situation from the Philippians 2:4 perspective; that is, looking out for others interests before your own. Find a fresh, new way to serve in your church… Join the prayer group and pray for these very people who’ve been hurtful… Be the change agent in their lives through your intercessions for them, as well as your demonstrations of love toward them. The Bible tells us to “bless those who persecute us.” I realize these people aren’t necessarily ‘persecutors,’ but the principle is the same. Find a way to bless the very people who are hurting you. And you know what? You will REALLY be reflecting Jesus Christ who said from his own cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I hope you will discuss this with your husband, Susie – and THANK YOU for sharing such an important question!

      • 1 year ago
        Susan Eichelberger says

        Dear Joni,
        You are right we are members and we did make a serious commitment.You gave me a good perspective to think from.Instead of lashing back I should try to be the agent of change.I will give it my all just as Jesus did:) Thank you for answering and giving me such good advice:)
        God Bless:)

  19. 1 year ago
    Debbie says

    You have always been an inspiration to me Joni, ever since I saw the movie that portrayed your accident many years ago. As a married woman for 31 years I have seen and been through many losses and heartbreaks and fought tirelessly to protect my marriage and family from the unending fiery darts of a formidable enemy. I have also dealt with daily pain from osteoarthritis for over three decades, and the neglect and selfishness of an emotionally absent husband. God has always been my solace and hope, and now that two girls are grown and I’m blessed with a precious new granddaughter, I feel so very blessed. I am just beginning to learn the magnitude of God’s love for me when for the first 50 years of my life I was convinced I had to earn it. At 51 I try every day to remember the verse that says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9. His love is the most precious give I’ve ever received. It can make any situation more bearable.
    God bless you and Ken for your dedication to sharing the love of God with the world even in the midst of your hardships. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Oh, dear Debbie… Thank you so much for opening up your heart in this post. It touches me deeply that through all your many challenges in your marriage and with osteoarthritis, my life story has encouraged you. That HUMBLES me and, of course, makes me want to lean harder on his grace for my own challenges. God bless you, Debbie, and I hope you enjoy reading my new book with Ken (and I will pray that your husband may want to read it, too).

  20. 1 year ago
    Sarolta says

    Hi Joni & Ken from Hungary, Europe,

    All help and encouraging is needed so much for women and for couples to remain on the narrow path in the everyday life! Thank you for this honest book, God bless you! (Me and my husband married in 1982, too.)
    Sarolta (Charlotte)

  21. Dear Ken,
    You may not realize it but you changed my life. When I came to JBHS at the start
    of my junior year it was my fourth school in four years. My parents had divorced, we lived with grandma, mom remarried, and neither dad nor step-dad were very nice to me. Upon starting at Burroughs my self-esteem was in the toilet. I hardly knew anyone, was worried about fitting in and making friends. In short, I was a mess.

    I was all set to be left out of the social circle for another year of school but had the drive to join the football team. You may remember, I was the dork wearing the Hoover High School shorts to football practice at Burroughs because I had no money and step-dad refused to let me spend any of his money to buy new shorts when I had a perfectly good pair already. Despite being the “traitor” from another school, the team and especially you, welcomed me into the group. That year we went undefeated. I loved being on that team and loved your history class even more.
    I am now 53 years old, married with three daughters. I coached the girls in soccer and baseball, always trying to be the same caring, compassionate man that I saw in you whether it was in a game or practice. Like you, I went to great lengths to focus on making the game fun, encouraging the girls to improve and develop their skills. Winning was never my primary goal yet we did have more than one undefeated season. Thank you for being such a great role model for me and the rest of the guys on the team. I have carried your lessons with me throughout my life.
    I have also ended up in the classroom, teaching history at the junior high school level. Like you I try to bring the history alive but more importantly get my students to look beyond themselves and to think of ways they can give back to the community that has given them so much. I try to personalize my lessons to make the world more real, just as you did when you shared your parent’s experiences during World War II.
    Too often we don’t take the time to thank those who have touched our lives but when I saw the email today about the new book I had to write and thank you for all you have done, even if you were not aware of it, to shape my life…as well as the lives of those I touch. I am so glad God brought you into my life. I am looking forward to reading the book. Thank you and may God bless you and Joni.
    Yours truly,
    Michael Eklund
    John Burroughs High School
    Class of 1977

    • Michael… I can’t begin to tell you how much your words blessed me; thanks for bringing back a flood of great memories from JBHS and teaching and coaching. Yes, I do hear from my former students and football players, but your words were pretty special – it warmed my heart to hear that you are now teaching and coaching and that my example has been a help. Thank you, brother, and if you are ever in the Agoura Hills, California area, come by and see us at the Joni and Friends International Disability Center. Thanks again, Michael!
      Ken Tada

  22. 1 year ago
    Dyanna says

    I just wanted to say God Bless you Joni you’re truly an inspiration to everyone. I love you for being such a strong person and putting God number one in your life and just letting him lead you, he’s always going the right direction and having faith in him is the best thing in my life I accomplished. May the lord be with you always

  23. 1 year ago
    Kathy Palmer says

    So impacting! Thank you, Are you considering any speaking engagements?
    Will be buying a few of the books tomorrow. Palm Beach County’s divorce rate a few years ago was 67%. Due to the recession and the inability to acquire equity loans to pay off spouses, the rate has decreased some. My husband Alan and I are part of a Marriage ministry team.
    Thank you so much for all that you do for Gods glory!

    • Thank you, Kathy. And thank you for all that you do to serve others through your marriage ministry! Blessings…

  24. 1 year ago
    Melissa Ortiz says

    Yay!! A new book!! Can’t wait to read it!! As always, you & Ken continue to be a blessing to Tony & me as we live our parallel lives here in DC. It was good to finally meet Ken at Chuck Colson’s funeral and I was sorry Tony wasn’t there to meet him as well as the fraternity of men who love strong women on wheels is a small but dear one.

    My question would be this: what is the best way that we can deal with in-laws (His family) who continue to question the rightness and happiness of our relationship after almost 11 years of marriage? They are a very outwardly religious family (Catholic) but show little evidence of truly having personal relationships with God. We have had to limit our contact with them over the years as they (his sister and brother in law, especially) sought any and all opportunities to try to drive a wedge between Tony & me. Now, his Dad is terminally ill and we must engage for obvious reasons. Besides being constant in our own spiritual walk, what are some other practical suggestions that we can use to set boundaries in place to do what we need to do as a loving son & daughter in law to care for his Dad?

    • Wow, Melissa, good questions! (And I’m glad we had a chance to connect last year at dear Chuck’s memorial service :-). When I read your post, it struck me that first, your father-in-law may well soon die with his terminal illness and, secondly, he does not know Christ. This may be just the opportunity for you and Tony to minister in a powerful way to his entire family, showing practical, hands-on love… Purposeful prayer over him… Notes of encouragement… Phone calls… Intentional visits that have a purpose to showcase the love of Christ to his dad. I realize that the two of you have your own issues with the family, but for now, that has to be pushed aside. The main deal now, is winning your father-in-law to the Savior’s side. Melissa, I hope this nudges you and Tony in a fresh direction as it concerns your family. And if you don’t mind, I’m going to add your father-in-law to our morning prayer list here at Joni and Friends! Thanks for writing, friend :-).

      • 1 year ago
        Melissa Ortiz says

        Joni (and Ken) -

        Yes, please do add him! Thank you!

        While I hesitated to write all of this out in public, I felt I nudged to do so and am so glad I did. You have reaffirmed everything that God has spoken to our hearts thus far. While we were there in February (they live in NYC, we are in DC), Tony had the chance to witness to both of his parents individually and I had a chance to witness to my SIL and her husband as well. We will keep pressing on in that direction.

        He is very definitely terminal and winning him to Christ is absolutely the main thing. The doctors have said repeatedly that we have six months if we are lucky. Sadly, the level of denial is quite high among the family except for Tony and me. It’s been the neatest thing to be able to look everyone square in the eye and share WHY Tony & I don’t fear death or what is to come.

        Please pray that we we would be given…and take… more opportunities and that God would set our faces like flint in the wake of all of the dysfunction that stress like this brings out. Our marriage is strong because it is of 3 strands. Thanks for reminding me to keep the main thing the main thing. :)



  25. 1 year ago
    Susan Garman says

    Joni you have been an inspiration to me for many years as I live and learn to trust God with my own struggles with serious disabilities. My marriage is a God given one (a great story) and he is my anchor through many rough trials. He attends church every Sunday (as we did together as we raised our three children now grown with families of their own) but I can no longer go due to pain issues. We are 60 now and never did any Bible study together. Neither of us was raised with that as a practice at home. Are there any resources that would get us started as a couple (I have many I use personally) that would not be too overwhelming to suggest my husband and I try together? We each have a bond with God but not to God as a couple. Continued blessings on your work and in your daily life. I am so looking forward to reading your newest book and sharing it with my husband as we also travel this road of suffering, disabilities AND God’s blessings together.

    • Thanks for asking this, Susan. I’d suggest two good resources. First, think about buying two copies of the “Couples Devotional Bible” – it’s something important you can do together (my husband and I are reading the Bible through together for the seventh year now), plus the devotionals include great questions for conversation-starters between you and your husband. The other resource is “Couples of the Bible” by my friends Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth (a brand-new book that just came out). You’d be surprised what a husband and wife can glean together from reading about other couples in God’s word. Finally, Susan, I am so very sorry to hear about your pain – if you don’t mind, I’m going to add you to our Joni and Friends morning prayer list. Thanks again for writing :-).

  26. 1 year ago
    Linda says

    Hi there
    Any encouragement for the many thousands of us whose spouses are not connected with God, and therefore have ongoing difficulties connecting in our marriages?

    • Linda, let me share two tips: first, pray for your husband in a specific, committed, and ongoing way – get a couple of your girlfriends to join you in prayer (I have a friend, Joan, and together we and a few other girlfriends have been praying for her husband for more than 20 years)! Secondly, Linda, practice the art of affirmation. Find some tiny, Christ-like characteristic in your husband that you can nurture and encourage – not with sweet-talk or empty flattery, but with sincere words that ’till and water and nurture’ that Christ-like attribute to grow. For instance, “Hon, I saw the gracious way you handled that problem with their neighbor – thank you for that; it really spoke to me!” Small things like these can go far, believe me :-). Thanks for asking, Linda.

    • Dear joni and ken,I greet you in the name of our lord jesus christ.My name is Hellen kolala I’m from zambia.I’m also disabled I use a wheelchair.And I became disabled when I was 6 months I had polio and now I’m 38years.I’m not married because I’m poor and disable.You luck because ken was. Sent to you from God.And I face a lot of problems,my mum has got stroke and she need a wheelchair and I need a wheelchair we are poor God in africa zambia, oh God we are inneed help us and my passed way along time ago.please joni and ken may God bless your marriage!you got a very understanding,caring and honest man.In africa its not easy to get married disabled women.I hellen I’m now even at http://www.badoo .com look for a man to marry and I’m still waiting for a man to marry me so that I can also keep my mother.please I need your prays and help.