Ken opened wide the front door so I could wheel out to the van.
For a long moment I sat squarely in the door frame, staring and taking it all in: the shade tree dappling our brick path, blossoms bobbing on the crepe myrtle, and patches of sunlight on dewy grass.
It was the freshest of mornings. "Oh God," I breathed, "If only I could feel as fresh."
After more than four decades of quadriplegia, I'm tired.
Please don't think I'm a veteran or a professional when it comes to living in a wheelchair.
I'm not an expert.
My bones are weary and thin from battling everything from pressure sores and pneumonia — to stage III cancer.
My question these days is never "Why, God?"
It's most often "How?"
How do I keep on going?
How do I care about others when I'm consumed with my own physical challenges?
How can I be kind and civil when pain wracks me?
How can I find the strength to face this day?
That morning, Ken had the answer.
"Why aren't you out by the van?" he asked when he came from the kitchen with my lunch bag.
Staring at the splendorous morning beyond the door, I answered him with a deep sigh.
"Wait here," he said, "I know exactly what you need."
Soon he was back with a yellow post-it note. With a thick Sharpie, he had simply penned on it the letter 'C.' I gave him an odd look.
"It stands for Courage," he said, "The courage of Christ. I can see it in your eyes, Joni, and you can do this. I know you can!"
With that, he pressed the post-it on my shirt, right above my heart.
I glanced at it, then up at him. I can't explain what happened next, but grace actually entered my heart. His note was a means of grace, like a sacrament through which God creates faith inside us. And it felt so liberating.
A breeze wafted in and my eyes became wet.
"Thank you," I whispered to Ken and lifted my arm to give him a hug. "Thank you for that."
He wiped my nose, kissed my cheek, and said softly, "Let's get this day going."
I then wheeled out into the morning feeling a fresh wave of strength from my Savior.
Proverbs 18:21 sums it up: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."
Ken only said a few words, and probably without giving them much thought.
But those words were brimming with power and life. His was a pronouncement, a declaration of the good he saw in me… or, at least the good he wanted to see. And God gave me His amazing grace to rise to the occasion.
It's a hard world. Even the best of Christians are feeling the weight of weariness. Little wonder we are to "Encourage one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13).
Think of the people you'll see today… friends recovering from surgery, neighbors dealing with grief, coworkers coping with pain.
Whether you say it in an email, over the phone, or in person, your words have the capacity to change their countenance and character.
And the best word?
The Word made flesh, Jesus — who always has courageous words of life.
Joni and Ken is the true love story of one of the most treasured and respected couples on the planet — Ken and Joni Eareckson Tada — who have faced the kind of testing and trials few could imagine. Yet their love and faith has lit their path out of life's darkest trials — things like physical challenges, depression, pain, and cancer.