A couple of months ago I had the privilege of interviewing Joni Eareckson Tada in connection with her new book, Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story (Zondervan). I’ve long admired her, and got to meet her and her husband one year when I was working for her publisher. She exudes God’s grace and love in person and online. And in her new book, detailing the story of her and her husband’s thirty-year marriage, she and Ken share so honestly about their challenges, struggles, and joys.
For when Ken Tada made his wedding vows, he knew he would especially have to live up to the phrase “in sickness and in health.” After all, he was marrying a quadriplegic. He also knew his life would hold particular challenges and joys, for he was marrying the internationally known author and speaker, Joni Eareckson. But he didn’t reckon on the debilitating sameness of her daily routines, such as her toileting challenges or the need to reposition her several times each night.
Their book journeys through their 30 years of marriage, warts and all. It chronicles the early days of romance and international travel along with the crushing middle years of depression, excruciating chronic pain, and a growing distance between them. The severe mercy of breast cancer a couple of years ago was the agent to bring them back to a full dependence on Jesus – and to union with each other.
Not many biographies of people in the public eye are so searching and honest. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, not only for people who hope for a closer marriage, but for anyone wanting to witness how God can change lives – even those who have been following him for years.
Run, do not walk, to your local Christian bookshop to get a copy of this book; I loved it! It’s real, gritty and honest – and dripping with God’s hope and redeeming love.
In Joni’s Words
Here is Joni sharing her love of books, an interview that appeared in the May 2013 issue of Woman Alive (the book club that I run); reprinted with permission.
There are lots of surprises in Joni & Ken, not the least of which is Ken’s part of the story. How does a strong, handsome, virile man keep passion alive when he’s married for three decades to a quadriplegic woman? For years, Ken has gotten up every night to “re-position” me in bed (I can only lay in one position for four hours). So how does he manage that with such a good attitude? Or does he have a good attitude?! This book reveals all.
The Liberty of Obedience by Elisabeth Elliot remains a favorite book of mine. I first read it when I was released from the hospital after the diving accident in which I broke my neck. Suddenly I was expected to trust God in the midst of utterly overwhelming circumstances. This little book gave insight and wisdom as to how I could embrace the Lord in the midst of total quadriplegia. If Elisabeth Elliot could do it amidst the Acua Indians after they killed her husband… then I could, by God’s grace, do the same.
The saints of old, such as Amy Carmichael and George Muller, inspire me. One of the dangers of the Christian life is that we too often imagine it – we imagine we’re walking closely to the Lord or that we’re being obedient or kind or loving. But trials – such as the kind faced by Amy Carmichael and George Muller – put our love for God and for each other to the test. What we believe about the Christian faith must be lived out in reality and tough trials are the best way of forcing our faith to be real.
I resonate with Paul and Silas [from the Bible], deep in a dark jail cell at midnight singing praises to God… loudly! These two inspire me to always ask God every morning for “a hymn in my heart” so that I might follow their example. And throughout the day, it’s the melody I keep humming, like “praying without ceasing.”
Runaway Home is one of the children’s books that I love. It’s a marvelous series about a family who packed up all their belongings in a trailer and set out to find adventure across the United States. Since I have always loved geography and maps, even as a child, I thrilled at all their new discoveries on every page. The book series may be out of print, but, to me, it’s a classic.
You asked if I could only save one book from your burning house, which would it be and why? After the Bible, my family’s photo album – with my parents long gone to heaven, these old photos are precious memories I would never want to lose!
Joni Eareckson Tada, founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, is an international advocate for people with disabilities. She’s the author of over 50 books, including her bestsellers Joni, When God Weeps and A Step Further. She and her husband Ken Tada have been married for 30 years.
So tell me, have you read any of Joni’s books, or watched the film of her life? Has her ministry made an impact on you?