Welcome! If you are new to SandwichINK, perhaps via the Ultimate Blog Party 2013, this is my weekly devotional for all of us boomers and seniors, caregivers and parents or grandparents in the Sandwich Generation. Today I wanted to share a special book with you that I just read and thoroughly enjoyed – Joni & Ken, An Untold Love Story.
It's not your traditional story – one that starts at the beginning and ends at the end. It bebops around from today to 5 years ago to 10 years ago back to today back to 8 years ago etc. It's more of a montage of moments, little bits and pieces of a relationship, that God has woven into a wonderful loving "oneness."
So many of us get married thinking it will be easy peasy to live happily ever after, don't we? Of course, it doesn't take long for reality to set it. Nowadays, it is truly a miracle when a couple lasts past the "seven year itch!" But for those of us who persevere (and I am blessed in my family with many such examples – including my husband and I, who would have celebrated our 26th anniversary if God had not called him home), God does wonderfully intertwine us more and more through the years…and through the struggles…and through the trials…and through the arguments…and through the tears…and through the hugs….
That's what happened to Joni and Ken. They share many special moments, in both good times and bad, good examples and bad and the result is a book that is both an interesting biography of their marriage and a good mini-manual on marriages. But beyond that, because Joni has been a paraplegic for over 30 years and has recently dealt with breast cancer, it is also full of a wide variety of "gold nuggets" like:
- comfort for those dealing with cancer
- words of wisdom to caregivers
- encouraging quotes and Bible verses
- positives that come from pain and suffering – grief and loss
- and more….
It's one of those special books of mine that is now totally underlined, dog-eared, and has a list of people I want to share it with, starting with you!
Joni has long been one of my spiritual mentors through her writing, along with Corrie Ten Boom, Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, and a handful of others whose words still resonate in my mind. I've shared her story with my grandkids and just bought the movie of her life story for them. Talk about a sweet way of leaving a spiritual legacy in their hearts and minds!
Neither Joni nor Ken are perfect, any more than you or I are. But both have reached a point in their lives of realizing how vital full surrender to God is and both are seeking to share God's love and power with others, for which I'm forever grateful. I do, indeed, recommend this book to you – for yourself and to share.
The Scripture in the picture above, Hebrews 6:10-11, was from the book and here's one of the quotes from it that really blessed my heart. I pray it will be a sweet blessing to you as well! Joni spoke these words during an online devotional, and Ken heard them on the radio shortly after her surgery from cancer – at a time when the show shouldn't even have been on the air – a sweet miracle for him, and a lovely gift for all of us caregivers:
"Life is hard for people in wheelchairs," she was saying. "But it's just as hard when you're the caregiver. So let me take a minute and pray. I want to pray, not only for you who are listening today who might have a physical disability, but let me pray for the people who help, OK?…Dear Father in heaven, as I think of the cross Your Son endured for me, I thank You that the cross You have called us to bear will never, never be heavier than You have designed…daily as we pick up this cross and follow You, bless You for more than matching the burden with grace upon grace upon grace…Never let us forget that You are with us through it all, whether it is we who are always sitting down in a stand-up world, or whether it is our caregivers who are always tending to our needs. And please, Lord Jesus, expand our vision, that we can appreciate the influence our trust in You is having on people, others who watch and learn, even from a distance. For that brings You glory! And brings rich and wonderful meaning to our days. In Jesus' name. Amen."
Ken shared how touched he was at hearing her pray for him and for other caregivers. And as I read it, I was beyond blessed as well. What a wonderful reminder that God does, indeed, cause "all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Caregiving may not be glamourous, but it is definitely a calling and kudos to all of you who have joined in this special journey during the Sandwich Generation season of life! And thank you to Joni and Ken Tada for their prayers for all of us and their wonderful encouragement and ministry to so many!
Now, how about you? What's your favorite book that encourages you in a closer walk with Jesus? We'd love to hear.
P.S. Here's a smaller version of the Bible verse as well as a coloring page of it for your grandkids. You could help them glue the smaller copy to cardboard, attach a clip to it, and voila – a cute and encouragement bookmark – great for homeschooling projects or just fun around the house. Hmmmm…Mother's Day is coming up soon… 🙂