Monday, May 15, 2017

First Comes Love, Then Comes...




Recently, I rediscovered Joey & Rory, a country duo who had a few chart topping songs years go.  At that time,  I liked a couple of their songs, but that was the extent of my knowledge about this husband and wife team.

A few years ago,  news broke that Joey had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.  She ultimately lost her battle with cancer in March 2016...

I only really got to know Joey and her husband Rory after she died...  Not because I met them, although it sure felt like I had, but through watching the movie, To Joey with Love, which chronicled their lives while on sabbatical from concert tours - lives lived on their farm in Tennessee. You see, years before Joey was diagnosed with cancer, she suggested that her husband document their lives through video, and she encouraged him to write a blog which they ended up calling This Life I Live, because she and Rory always believed that God would  give them a great story" and He did...

A story which  included great joys and immense trials...

The joy of giving birth to their first child, a precious baby girl, who they named Indiana after her Momma's home state, but following the home birth, Joey was rushed to the hospital requiring emergency surgery.  As Joey recovered from that surgery, they learned that Indiana had Down's Syndrome.  Then, at Joey's six week postpartum check-up, cervical cancer was discovered after which she began chemotherapy.  The doctors were hopeful, and Joey and Rory's faith was strong...

Life resumed to normalcy on the farm until Joey started feel unwell at which time it was discovered that her cancer had spread.  Aggressive cancer treatment was started, but to no avail - more cancer was discovered.  It was at that time, Joey made the decision to stop all treatments and to go back to the farm to live out the rest of her days...

To Joey with Love tells the story of incredible peace in the midst of immense trial, and of a great faith and a love for Jesus that never wavered...

I was so struck by the peace and joy that seemed to emanate from Joey's face before the cancer diagnosis, and to me, even more so AFTER the cancer diagnosis.

She loved the Lord Jesus so much and to watch her sing her favorite hymns was truly a joy to behold.  I found it interesting that all of her favorite hymns, hymns she loved since childhood, were about the joys of one day being in Heaven, and about the peace that is found in Christ in the midst of fiery trials.  

Joey lived a life of obedience to Christ, and her life showed that obedience through her selfless, loving spirit to all those she interacted with.

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, 
but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and 
will be with us forever:, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father
 and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love.

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.  And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.  And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.    
2 John 1-6

It wasn't until I read the Scripture verse above and reflected upon Joey's life that I made the connection between loving one another and subsequent peace.  We love because He first loved us, and that is the Truth that is within us.  And certainly the Truth that Joey lived out with such grace, peace and joy.

What did Jesus say the greatest commandments were?   Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

I believe a majority of our sin is wrapped up in self.  And when we are only loving self, we certainly aren't loving God or loving others, and have violated the two greatest commandments. 

If we were to go through and list the common sins of man, we would see that they are all wrapped up in our own selfish desires.  Desires that we think will make us happy, but ultimately steal our peace and joy.

Rory recently shared a blog post about his dear neighbor Jan, who watched his daughter Indiana while he went on a trip to Washington D.C. for a Grammy event {which is a whole other amazing story of how Joey's legacy is living on...}.  Rory said when he returned, Jan presented him with a beautiful portfolio of precious Easter pictures of Indiana complete with little yellow ducklings, rabbits, and of course a princess dress.  Your face will ache from smiling as you see those pictures which can be found here.  

But there was a short paragraph within that blog post entitled, The Easter Gift, that effected me profoundly, a story about this sweet neighbor Jan and what had inspired her to give such a beautiful gift to Rory...

"Jan told me a story that I think she wouldn't mind me sharing...  

Jan said that, inspired by the bus trip to Indiana to say goodbye to Joey in the fall of 2015, and Joey's love and selflessness... she decided to start doing one good deed for someone every day.  And so she has.  Every single day.  She started last Easter and she's still doing it.  She said that sometimes she does something small for someone (or a few small things for a few people), and sometimes it's something big.  But by the end of each day, she makes sure that she has 'given' herself to someone else, with no expectation of ever being paid back.  

My favorite part of the story though is how much she said that it has changed her.  She explained that even though she may be the one trying to bless others each day, the blessing has actually become all hers.  Everything about her life has changed since last Easter, she said... there is a new joy and an excitement to her life that wasn't there before.  And you can see it when you're around her." 

And the legacy of Joey's selfless love for others lives on through another person...

What an amazing testimony of the effect Joey's life, lived wholly for Christ, in the love of Christ, to show Christ's love to others, had on another.

I was convicted and challenged by Jan's desire to "give herself" to someone each day with no expectation of ever being paid back.  Now that is Calvary Love.

No expectation of ever being paid back...  But God, in His abounding Grace, blesses us with His peace as we obey His commands to love one another.

I've written about my battle with anxiety often.  You can read my most recent post about it here.  Yet the Lord continues to teach me more and more about overcoming anxiety through the Truth of His Word.

He taught me today that when I love others, with a Calvary Love, I will experience His peace.

Some of you may be thinking, like I did, "but I do give every day until I feel like I have no more to give.  I'm exhausted and stressed and anxious from constantly giving, giving, giving.  I am anything but peaceful!"

But it is in that very statement that we can see that this is not Calvary Love.  If we were to read between the lines, we would see that in our giving, giving, giving, we are ultimately desiring to be recognized and appreciated which causes our frustration and dare I say exasperation.

In order to share Calvary Love, and experience true peace as a result, we need to take the focus off of ourselves and place it on the Lord Jesus, who knew more than we ever will what it meant to be rejected and despised, and certainly under-appreciated which is an understatement!

He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
 Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:3-4


Of all the apostles, the Apostle Peter is the closest to my heart.  It was the story about his anxiety when he stepped out of the boat to walk toward Jesus on the water that the Lord used to minister to my anxious heart which ultimately drew me to Himself. You can read my testimony here.

In the following verse, shared by Peter, I was recently struck by the exhortation to be diligent to be found at peace... 

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, 
be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
2 Peter 3:14


"At peace", does not mean the circumstances of our lives are peaceful, as in the example of Joey who was facing death square in the face.  But despite the terminal diagnosis, Joey still radiated the peace of Christ, because Christ abided within her.  Her heart and mind were stayed on loving God and loving others, continuing to walk in obedience until her dying day.

 Those of us who are in Christ Jesus can experience that same peace.  When we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior He came to abide with us.  With Christ living within us, we can experience the peace that surpasses all understanding as we purpose to live our lives loving God and loving others, so that when He returns, we will be found without spot or blemish and at peace...


I have truly been inspired by Joey & Rory's story.  One that continues to unfold, even though Joey has gone on to Glory.   Their blog, This Life I Live, exemplifies lives lived for Christ.   You will be incredibly blessed to visit there.

I also highly recommend the DVD, To Joey with Love.  It is powerfully moving and will bless you immensely.

I've also already downloaded to my Kindle, This Life I Live,  a book that shares Joey and Rory's entire story.  I'm looking forward to reading it this summer, and I know that I will be blessed by it.

I'll leave you with one of Joey's favorite hymns which is a beautifully poignant song called Suppertime.  

"Suppertime"

Many years ago in days of childhood
I used to play till evenin' shadows come
Then windin' down an old familiar pathway
I heard my mother call at set of sun.

Come home, come home it's suppertime
The shadows lengthen fast
Come home, come home it's suppertime
We're going home at last.

In visions now I see her standin' yonder
her familiar voice I hear once more.
She said the banquet table's ready up in Heaven
Its suppertime upon the golden shore.

Come home, come home its suppertime.
The shadows lengthen fast
Come home, come home its suppertime
We're going home at last.
Child you're going home at last.
IRA F. STANPHILL

May your hearts be blessed to see and hear Joey singing this very song...



And may the peace of Christ rule in your hearts as you love God and love others.



You might find me on these link-ups:
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29 comments:

  1. Joey & Rory's story is so moving and touching. I used to pray so hard that God would heal Joey and let her live to raise little Indy, as I followed Rory's blog and their story throughout. For some reason, God had other plans, and it was a huge blow the day she died. I thought that post was so touching, too, about Jan and her desire to do something good each day. Thank you for sharing their story here, sweet friend...it is such a precious story of love and dedication in the face of such adversity. God bless you and keep you always!! Sending love and hugs your way. :)

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    1. Hi Cheryl! Awe, your heart is so tender for everyone.

      You are very welcome!

      Thank you for the many ways you bless me.

      With much love and gratitude.

      Delete
  2. "In order to share Calvary Love, and experience true peace as a result, we need to take the focus off of ourselves and place it on the Lord Jesus..." This is so true, Karen, and sometimes hard to do. But when our focus is on Him, we are able to have peace no matter what the circumstances.

    Blessings to you! I'm your neighbor today at the #LMMLinku.

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    1. Gayl, Thank you for always taking the time to leave thoughtful comments. I appreciate it so much!

      Blessings

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  3. This was long but good. First come loves. I'm going to try to love selflessly every day - I may fail but I will try. Thanks for sharing.

    Stopping by from #TestimonyTuesday

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    1. Nylse, Thank your kind words. And even when we fail, the Lord will be right there to "whisper" in our ear, this is the way walk in it, never leaving us in our failings.

      Blessings,

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  4. Visiting from Testimony Tuesday. I had not heard of these folks, but I am blessed by their story as you've told it. Just today I was wishing that people would "leave me alone" - and recognizing that that was both selfish and inhospitable. I can serve others and trust God to provide those pockets of solitude when He knows I need them.

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    1. Barbara, So glad you stopped by!

      Glad their story touched you in the particular moment you were in.

      Indeed! I like that! "He will provide pockets of solitude when He knows we need them."

      Delete
  5. I followed Joey and Rory's story and bought a CD or two, each stories and song blessing my heart. Their life is about real stuff, cancer, pain, sorrow, heaven, the love of Christ, disappointment, joy, faith beyond measure. We are all blessed by their willingness to post on a blog their journey. Glad I stopped by, your post made me want to listen to them again, it's been a while. I love that old song, Supper Time.

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    1. Betty, So glad you were blessed by the reminder of their life, lived fully for Christ.

      Indeed, we are blessed that they are willing to share their journey with us.

      Blessings,

      Delete
  6. I had heard bits and pieces of this story, but never the whole thing, so thanks for sharing it. It reminds me that beautiful stories of love do not necessarily follow a predictable path.

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    1. Michele, You are welcome!

      Indeed, not a predictable path, which makes it all the more beautiful.

      Blessings,

      Delete
  7. Adding "Calvary" to "love" makes you stop to think about what kind of love I'm actually showing. Thank you for sharing this story. I read it yesterday and woke this morning praying that I would display Calvary Love to my family today. :)

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    1. Kelli, You are very welcome!

      Awe, well I'm glad the Lord used this as a prompt to display Calvary Love to your family.

      Blessings,

      Delete
  8. What a beautiful story - so touching - thank you for sharing it. Love first - in other words, God first. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

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    1. Carol, You are very welcome!

      You are so right. "Love first - in other words God first". Thanks for sharing that there.

      Blessings,

      Delete
  9. I never really was familiar with their story until towards the end of her life and her battle was nearing it's end. I still didn't know many details, and I sure hadn't listened to their music. Thank you for sharing and taking the time to honor the and their legacy for those of us who may have missed it and for posting the video of them signing - her voice is very soothing and calming yet unique. Love it... We are neighbors at #Unite this week

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    1. Debbie, You are very welcome!

      So glad we were neighbors. :-)

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    2. Thanks for linking up with #TuneInThursday this week. See you next time!

      Delete
  10. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, I had only heard about their story through friends, so the full story is so touching to hear. And, this hymn you shared, was one of my Dad's favorites. He's been gone 19 years now, enjoying that meal with His Lord. What sweet thoughts and memories!

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    1. Bettie, You are very welcome!

      Awe, how sweet that Supper Time was your father's favorite hymn. Indeed, He is at the banquet table with Jesus. :-)

      Blessings,

      Delete
  11. What a beautiful story of two people and how their lives are touching others. And yes, those photos of Indiana made me smile. I once heard that every sin is rooted in selfishness. I wasn't sure and thought about it, trying to come up with an exception. I never have. So It was interesting you said about the same thing.

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    1. Theresa, Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment. I appreciate it.

      Blessings,

      Delete
  12. Such love they had for one another and their child. It was sad to watch as Joey failed in her health. Their story is surely a reflection of how great love can be and reminder of how great Jesus' love is for each of us. Being married this year 54 years, there is also nothing like the growing love of a marriage that matures; it can be a reflection as we know and continually read and stay in Jesus' word we realize how awesome and wise God is to ask Love One Another. Love can cover a lot of ills if we let it. With Love, I doubt there is need for any other word as Love covers all the emotions that it encompasses.

    Peabea@Peabea Scribbles

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    1. Pea Bea, Thank you so much for sharing your heart here. You have blessed me. :-)

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  13. I followed Joey and Rory's story as well. It's truly a blessing to know the Lord!

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  14. I've never heard of them before so thanks for sharing this inspiring story at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com this week!
    Tina

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Thank you for taking the time to comment.