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Joni Eareckson Tada and Ken Tada Share Easter Thoughts and A Few Laughs As Well

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
April 13, 2020 2:32 pm

Joni Eareckson Tada and Ken Tada Share Easter Thoughts and A Few Laughs As Well

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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April 13, 2020 2:32 pm

Part of my ongoing series to invite special guests to the show to share encouraging thoughts about faith, life, the COVID-19 virus, and even a chuckle or two. 

Joni and Ken Tada are two of my favorite people in the whole world, and Gracie and I are grateful to call them friends. Joni and Gracie have recorded several duets, and Ken wrote the forward to my book, Hope for the Caregiver. 

This remarkable couple brings a perspective and wisdom gleaned from a lifetime of trusting God through painful challenges. 


Joni is one of the world’s leading international advocates for people affected by disability. A diving accident in 1967 left her, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. After two years of rehabilitation, she emerged with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. She founded Joni and Friends in 1979, which quickly grew to provide Christ-centered programs to special needs families, churches, and communities. Joni survived stage III breast cancer in 2010, and still keeps a very active ministry schedule.

Joni has written over 50 books, including her best-selling autobiography, Joni, which was made into a feature film. Her new award-winning daily devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, contains fresh biblical insights from her battle with cancer and chronic pain. Joni also served as General Editor of the Beyond Suffering Bible, a special edition published by Tyndale for people who suffer chronic conditions and their caregivers. She and her husband Ken were married in 1982 and reside in California. 

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Yeah, I know it's kind of weird on Easter Sunday, the way this whole thing has been playing out with the coronavirus, but this is not the most difficult Easter for me. It really isn't. And I'll tell you why. I am Peter Rosenberger. This is hope for the caregiver.

This is the nation's largest program for family caregivers. And we're glad you're with us. We're here live on Sirius XM Channel 131, the Family Talk Channel, and we're grateful that you're here. Some years ago, I was in church. I slipped away to go to church.

Gracie was very, very, very ill. And in fact, we weren't sure that she was going to live. And it was a very, very difficult time for us. And the kids were out of town. And we live about two miles from the church in Nashville at the time. And so I slipped out to go to church. It was a very large church in Nashville. And they had about 2,000-plus people there, full orchestra, everything else. It was Easter Sunday.

All the accouterments were there. And I felt so lonely. I felt so discouraged. I felt so lost. And everybody was singing all these great praises and hymns and so forth. And I was going home, back home to a wife who was very, very, very ill and struggling.

And it was just, it was heartbreaking to me. And I thought, you know, that was the moment when I knew I have got to take community to my fellow caregivers, even on a day like today where Easter has been totally upended. We had a marvelous time today.

I watched a great sermon online, and it was just a wonderful time. But I knew that it's important for us as caregivers, particularly, to make sure that we stay engaged with the community. And I invited two of my all-time favorite people onto the show today to help a little bit with that. And that is my dear friend, Ken Tada and Johnny Erickson Tada. And I am so grateful that they're with us.

How are you two doing? Good, good, Peter. Thank you for having us. Yeah, absolutely, especially on Easter.

It is Easter, and it is a great time. And let me ask you a couple questions. When something like this happens with the coronavirus and all that kind of stuff, it shows us, those of us who live with severe disabilities, how fragile our ecosystem is. Wouldn't you say? Yep.

Ken? Well, I can say for sure it definitely brings those type of things out. It makes us hone our focus on disability unlike any time before. Well, and you guys have a team of people to help with Johnny's needs. And for those you don't know, Johnny lives with quadriplegia.

She has for some 50-plus years. I don't want to put age in there, Johnny, as part of this discussion, but I just wanted to let you know that this has been going on for some time. And you guys have been dealing with this. You've got a team of people to help you. And not all those people can show up and do these sort of things.

I wouldn't exactly call it a team, but I have a couple of get-up girls and a few get-down girls who come and graciously offer their time to, in the morning, give me a bed bath, exercise my legs, do my toileting routines, strap on my corset, get me dressed, sit me in my wheelchair. Ken's got lots of stuff to do, too, connected with the house. I mean, I can't do laundry clothes, push the vacuum cleaner. Sorry, John. I'd like to add to that.

We do have a few ladies, and because of the coronavirus and trying to cut down on the number of contacts we have, those caregivers have been lessened in terms of numbers. And so it puts a little bit more pressure on all of us. And Johnny's right, I'm not taking any credit. If we did not have Jesus in our relationship, things would be so, so difficult. I think we have prayed more together as a couple than we have in a long time. And we've been together pretty much this whole time. In fact, we're in separate rooms right now. This is probably the farthest we've been apart since this whole thing started. And yeah, there's a few more pressures, but I think the beautiful part about it is Johnny is every bit a caregiver as I am because she knows the right buttons to push, and she's my support. When I'm feeling down, she lifts me up. So just want to add that in there. My wife knows the right buttons to push, too, but that's a much different conversation and a much different show.

I was thinking about some of the scenes. Of course, we've been dealing with the coronavirus. Gracie has it and she is improving and she is going to punch through this thing and has.

And we're still dealing on the tail end of it. By the way, if you want to be on the show, 877-655-6755. Forgot to give that out. John Butler, my sidekick and the Count of Mighty Disco himself will be joining us shortly.

But 877-655-6755. We're talking to Ken Tada and his lovely wife, Johnny Erickson Tada, and they understand firsthand some of the challenges that can come along for us as caregivers. Ken and I have talked many times about that. He wrote the forward to my book and we've been doing this a long time in the trenches.

Ken, let me ask you a question. What specifically can you tell me as a caregiver, as a husband, and just as a friend for Johnny and through these things on Easter Sunday, what does that drive home to you? Well, Peter, I mean, it drives home my need for Jesus. I mean, even during these last few weeks, as I think I've mentioned, it's been a difficult time.

If I, as a caregiver, I've been called upon to do a few more things than I would probably normally do, and on a regular basis. But I know that my relationship with Jesus and my love for Him has carried me through some pretty rough patches and my support from Johnny has been stellar. I mean, you know, I could not have asked for a more wonderful wife who loves Jesus that prays for me constantly. So I think, you know, the prayer that goes on and also just, you know, my focus and realizing that this too shall pass, it's just going to take a little bit of time.

And we certainly know who is in control. And, you know, it's whatever happens on the other end, you know, it's something that I think both Johnny and I have accepted. Johnny, what about you? You know, Easter Sunday is, it's something we take time out to celebrate, but when you live with the things that you live with, you know, on a day like today, you reflect a little bit more on it. What does it mean for you in the midst of these things? Because a lot of people for the first time are not having an Easter service. They're not doing these things that they normally do.

They're way outside of their comfort zone and their routines and people are really struggling. You know, you and Ken and Gracie and I have wrestled with some of these things many times over the years. Share with them, as you spent Easter morning this morning.

What was it like for you? Well, I woke up and first thing when Ken Todda comes in beside my bed to help me get up and bed bath and dress, and he is risen. And to hear my husband say, he is risen indeed. And honestly, Peter, it's the resurrection that gives us the power to live the way we should through disability. I mean, I'll be the first to admit that physical affliction and emotional pain are just part of the daily routine. Sometimes I get so sick and tired of being paralyzed, the never ending drudgery of disability. Often I have my fill of it and I want to quit.

I want to resign from quadriplegia. But it takes resurrection power to move beyond that kind of self pity. And it is self pity if you dwell too much on it, it's okay to admit those feelings. But if they become the focus, then before you know it, it's a woe is me attitude. And Christ's resurrection has one of so many benefits, I mean, including a home in heaven. But I think one of the greatest benefits of the resurrection is its power to enable us to live the way we should to persevere. In fact, Ken, what was that verse from James you were just quoting to me this morning?

What was it? Oh, yeah, James 112. We've been quoting it to each other. But blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will see the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And that's got to be our focus.

It's just the focus. You know, it's interesting, Peter, you know, we we have a not a large home, it's a very small home, a little less than 2000 square feet. And, and, and we're in these close quarters. And I'm constantly bumping into Ken and rolling over his toes here in the house.

And, and we have a small backyard, there's not a lot of place to go. And so Ken, and I've had to extend each other extra mercy, extra grace, extra forgiveness. And it's been wonderful to see my husband as a caregiver, with all his other responsibilities, you know, back off and say, Whoa, okay, you know what time out?

This is an unusual situation here. Let's give each other a little more space, a little more mercy, a little more grace. And to hear my forgiving husband say that, wow, it's just so wonderful.

It makes me fall in love with him all over again. Well, I, I know that a lot of caregivers when they're first into this role, and a lot of people are functioning like this now, as they're at home, and they're up in close quarters and so forth, and they're getting a taste of what it's like to be kind of landlocked. Three eyes that every caregiver deals with, we lose our identity, we become isolated, and we lose our independence.

And right now the country is dealing with two of those three as a whole. And it's hard to know how to do that. And, and we kind of throw ourselves recklessly at this thing of trying to somehow do it all in one day. It's like when people go grocery shopping, when they realize this thing could, you know, this could get real serious.

Everybody went to the grocery store and bought everything, and then they started eating it all the first day, you know. And, and with caregiving it's the same thing. We've got to pace ourselves. This is a marathon here, and there's something about doing this for several decades that really kind of season you out. Ken, what would you say before we go to a break here, but what would you say to those who are in this place for the first time where they have lost some of their independence and they are really chafing against that? You have dealt with this. Well, Peter, I have to say I concur with what you're saying. Everything slows down, and we've got to slow down, too, as caregivers.

We can't go a hundred miles an hour. And I think caregiving has seasoned us a little bit that way. I remember going to the grocery store the first, you know, couple days and watching everybody just kind of frenzied a little bit, trying to grab everything off the shelves. And, you know, this was in the first few days. Now we're in the first several weeks, we realize, you know, it's going to be a while before this is over.

So I would just, you know, say to everyone, you know, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, and we need to slow it down and trust in the Lord that He's got this all under control. You know, I was the same way at the grocery store, and you know the grocery store that we shop at out here in Montana. And I was amazed at what people didn't buy. They were buying frozen pizzas and all that kind of stuff, but they left Brussels sprouts. They left, you know, a lot of fresh produce on there. And I was thinking, why are you not buying these things?

These are good things. You know, everybody was freaking out about toilet paper and they weren't thinking about planning meals and so forth. And when you've been a caregiver for a long time, you learn to kind of think that way.

You don't panic and just go buy in a frenzy. And I was watching that and it's really kind of, it's just eye-opening to me, I think, to watch. And by the way, Johnny, is Ken a good cook? Well, I tell you what, he knows how many minutes to push the microwave button for those frozen dinners.

That's pretty good. And he's really good at ordering takeout Chinese. He really does. He knows the menu up and down. And I love it. Listen, this morning I've made a roast and a cake from scratch, Ken.

From scratch, not a box. Whoa. Whoa. I've got a roast that we have in the oven. Right cometh before the fall.

You know that, Peter. Well, the cake will probably fall. But I've got to make the frosting and I realized I was out of vanilla. And so I've got to figure out something else here. Well, I was going to just add to what you just said, though, about cooking. Johnny knows that when we are in regular times, I'll take a little more time to cook a regular meal. But we aren't.

We're in a different situation. So just trying to combine things and make them so that they're edible and they have different colors to them. They're not all yellow or they're not all white.

You know, monochromatic cooking is not a good thing, right? You want to do things that are easy. You want to do things that are simple. And what can I say? All right. Well, listen, this is Peter Rosenberg.

This is Hope for the Caregiver. We're talking with Johnny and Ken Tada. We're going to be right back. I've got some great questions. You're going to love their answers, too.

They don't know it yet, but you're going to love it. Don't go away. We'll be right back. Have you ever struggled to trust God when lousy things happen to you? I'm Gracie Rosenberger. And in 1983, I experienced a horrific car accident leading to 80 surgeries and both legs amputated. I questioned why God allowed something so brutal to happen to me.

But over time, my questions changed and I discovered courage to trust God. That understanding, along with an appreciation for quality prosthetic limbs, led me to establish Standing with Hope. For more than a dozen years, we've been working with the government of Ghana and West Africa, equipping and training local workers to build and maintain quality prosthetic limbs for their own people. On a regular basis, we purchase and ship equipment and supplies.

And with the help of inmates in a Tennessee prison, we also recycle parts from donated limbs. All of this is to point others to Christ, the source of my hope and strength. Please visit to learn more and participate in lifting others up. That's

I'm Gracie, and I am standing with hope. As a caregiver, think about all the legal documents you need. Power of attorney, a will, living wills, and so many more. Then think about such things as disputes about medical bills. What if, instead of shelling out hefty fees for a few days of legal help, you paid a monthly membership and got a law firm for life? Well, we're taking legal representation and making some revisions in the form of accessible, affordable, full-service coverage.

Finally, you can live life knowing you have a lawyer in your back pocket who, at the same time, isn't emptying it. It's called Legal Shield, and it's practical, affordable, and a must for the family caregiver. Visit That's Isn't it about the time someone started advocating for you?, an independent associate. It is, Johnny, with my wife, Gracie. Because he lives, we can face this. I remember when I produced that with them, and I wanted them both to sing, we can do this.

We can do this. I'm grateful to have Johnny and Ken on the phone with me right now. We're talking about this and what it means to have a resurrected Savior. All this stuff changes because of the resurrection. Everything changes because of that.

I did an interview recently, and everybody was talking about the coronavirus, and they're all kind of freaked out, and everybody's upset. I said, you know, all of creation is groaning, but there's still beauty and joy in the midst of it. We groan as well as part of that creation, knowing that it's going to be made right. He's going to give us the strength, as Ken said earlier, to persevere in this. These two individuals have persevered through many dangers, trials, snares, toils, the whole thing, and they've been there. I've been bringing a whole series of people onto the show to encourage the country, to help people understand perspective in this thing as we deal with these things. Johnny and Ken are no stranger to lots and lots of tears and heartache and struggles, but their faith is securely in Christ. That means something when you're dealing with the kind of challenges they deal with, and what Gracie and I deal with.

We're glad to have you two here. Ken and Johnny, I've got to ask you something. I'm going to do something a little bit different, because it's important for us to laugh and to have a good time.

You know that I'm kind of goofy anyway. I remember Johnny, Ken, I don't know if I ever told you this, but Johnny, when she came over to our house in Nashville, and Rainie was with her, and I can't remember who else, and I was really nervous, but she wanted to see Gracie. Gracie had come out of a surgery, and it was a pretty serious event, and Johnny came over there to see her, and I was charged with being the host. I didn't know what to do, and I said, well, I have this, this, and this, and this at the refrigerator.

What would you like to eat? I had some grapes, and she said, oh, Johnny loves grapes. I said, well, okay. Johnny, you were so patient to teach me how to feed grapes to you, because it's hard for you to eat grapes, and so I was doing that one at a time, and for whatever reason, and Gracie's sitting right there, and she's recovering from surgery there at our home. You're there, and I'm feeding you grapes one at a time, and for whatever reason, it just blurted out of my mouth. You know, Johnny, when I do this for Gracie, she makes me take my shirt off and rub oil over my chest, but I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable. Well, Johnny started laughing like she did, but she was eating a grape, and it sounded like she was choking, and I just went, oh, dear God. I just killed Johnny Erickson Todd right here in my room.

I'm going to have the Mark of Cain on my forehead, and I will be banned forever and ever and ever. I didn't even know how to do a Heimlich maneuver. I was just freaking out internally.

I looked calm on the exterior, but you know, Gracie and I have learned to have, I mean, she's put up with my goofiness over the years, and we have a lot of it. What do you do? What do you guys do to make you laugh? I mean, you deal with such serious things.

You talk with people with such serious things. What's your favorite funny movie? I mean, do you like The Three Stooges? What do you do to make yourselves laugh?

I tell you what makes me laugh. For all the things my husband does for me, he's got sound effects, and I mean, they are so funny. In fact, just lifting me up out of the bed into my wheelchair every morning, it is one version or another of, hi-ya!

And they're never the same. The sound effects are never the same. I mean, he's pushing my wheelchair, and I've got this little sound effect motor behind me. You know, he's emptying my leg bag, and it's another sound effect.

He's putting the dinner on the table. He's got sound effects. This guy cracks me up. Ken, what about you? What makes you laugh? Well, tailing on to what Johnny just said, you know, it's in our culture, my culture, because our culture comes from a long line of onomatopoeia, meaning sounds mean the actions that we take.

But, you know, I've always kind of pretty much done these little sound effects and didn't think anything of it, and now I just do it more as I have gotten older. Yeah, the other day I was working on my, no, yesterday I was working on my computer, and Ken walks into the living room with a chicken on his head. What? It's a chicken on his head. Was it a live chicken?

It's a hat that he purchased at Cracker Barrel maybe 10 years ago that I think we wore at one of our, you know, family celebration nights at a Johnny and Friends family retreat. It was hilarious. And he's texting this photo of himself wearing a chicken to all his friends. I'm exceedingly embarrassed, but the man keeps me laughing. You know, I think you hit it though, Peter. You know, it's sometimes you just need humor. You need laughter to keep going. I mean, if you can't laugh at yourself, if it's always going to be serious, it's going to just take you down. You've got to be able to laugh. And what better laughter than to laugh at yourself, you know, or to create a situation where people, you're right in the middle of it. So I find that for me, you know, I just, I love the fact, not to put this center of attention on myself, but more on just being able to laugh and enjoy, you know, the people who are around me that, you know, are able to laugh as well, including my wife. Sometimes she doesn't laugh at my jokes, but, you know, my little things I do, she humors me. But don't you think that that, as believers, that that is maybe one of our best evangelical tools is that we are able to laugh in the midst of such difficult things that we have.

And that's got to be puzzling to the world. Oh, absolutely, Peter. I mean, you know, but I think, you know, as we look in Matthew and realize that, you know, as Jesus's instructions to us, as far as becoming disciples, it's how we conduct ourselves.

People are watching. And, you know, not that we're laughing at the pandemic or the coronavirus, we're not. But it's the way we conduct ourselves, you know, even in the caregiving for, you know, my wife, you know, how do I, how do I deal with that? Am I, am I, do I still have a smile on my face? Can we still laugh? Certainly, you know, but, you know, the world has kind of seen that as maybe something that we're not supposed to do, or we're supposed to be a little bit more serious.

I don't think so. I agree. I agree wholeheartedly. And that's why I do the show. And that's why I wanted you two to come on today, just to let everybody know that it's okay to settle down. We're going to get through this thing. Johnny, Ken, it's a great Resurrection Day. Thank you for being a part of the show today. Happy Easter. Thanks, Peter. Happy Easter. Happy Easter, Gracie. Will do.

We'll be right back. Hey, this is Larry the Cable Guy. You are listening to Hope for the Caregiver with Peter Rosenberg. And if you're not listening to it, you're a communist, Peter does.

Hey, this is Peter Rosenberger. Have you ever helped somebody walk for the first time? I've had that privilege many times through our organization Standing with Hope, when my wife Gracie gave up both of her legs following this horrible wreck that she had as a teenager. And she tried to save them for years, and it just wouldn't work out. And finally she relinquished them and thought, wow, this is it. I mean, I don't have any legs anymore.

What can God do with that? And then she had this vision for using prosthetic limbs as a means of sharing the gospel, to put legs on her fellow amputees. And that's what we've been doing now since 2005 with Standing with Hope. We work in the West African country of Ghana, and you can be a part of that through supplies, through supporting team members, through supporting the work that we're doing over there.

You can designate a limb. There's all kinds of ways that you could be a part of giving the gift that keeps on walking at Would you take a moment and go out to and see how you can give. They go walking and leaping and praising God. You can be a part of that at
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-23 11:37:24 / 2024-01-23 11:48:13 / 11

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