Mid-winter can be awfully dreary when you have a disability – just getting out and about is a challenge. It’s why every year, Joni and Friends celebrates Valentine’s Day in a most unusual way. We call it, Heart for the Disabled. During the month of January, we introduce five families to our radio listeners – these special-needs families have been chosen to receive our Heart for Disabled gifts. Around late January and February, these disabled people and their families are feeling weighted down by their many challenges, and they are in desperate need of Christian encouragement. We invite radio listeners to send Valentines, notes with prayers, scriptures, poems, or personal words of encouragement. Well, you should see what comes in! Our mailroom is flooded with cards, checks, gift cards to Target, McDonald’s, Starbucks; you name it. One generous lady even made five quilts for a family. These notes and gifts express so much love and personal compassion. And the best part is, the five families have no clue what’s coming!
So when Valentine’s Day arrives, so do our specially packed boxes. A few years ago, Sara who is single and has lost both her legs received a Heart for the Disabled package. She lives alone and works hard to make ends meet. Although God is supplying her needs for transportation and personal care, her apartment can get pretty lonely. This particular Valentine’s Day she was feeling the blues, but then she heard a knock at her door. The UPS man left a big box from Joni and Friends on her front porch. She couldn’t imagine what it was; I haven’t ordered any books, she thought. She lugged the box inside, opened it, and was astounded! There were scores of cards and little gifts. Emptying the box onto her living room floor, Sara began opening each letter – one at a time. Beautiful uplifting words, prayers, hymns, psalms and scriptures ministered to her soul. In addition, there were gift cards and $5 and $10 bills. Her heart soared! Recently, Sara wrote and told me she has kept all those cards — on difficult days, she re-reads them to bolster her heart. Years later, those many cards and letters are still encouraging Sara.
Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and health to the body” and Proverbs 14:31 advises, “…whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Heart for the Disabled is a great way to exercise these words of wisdom. There is still time to participate, but hurry – Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. For more information and a description of the families, go to joniandfriends.org/radio. And remember, today to look for opportunities to be kind in word and action. The impact lasts longer than you think. Just ask Sara.
Joni Eareckson Tada is founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Joni and Friends provides practical and spiritual support to special needs families worldwide. Joni is the author of numerous bestselling books including Joni & Ken, Diamonds in the Dust, and the Gold Medallion Award-winning When God Weeps. Joni and her husband, Ken, reside in Calabasas, California. For more information, visit www.joniandfriends.org.
Note: This blog originally appeared on joniandfriends.org and has been reposted with permission from the author.