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manna from heaven

Outside my window this morning, the world is white.

Here in Indiana, the snow comes much earlier than it does at home in Tennessee. Some years it doesn’t snow at all there. So when I saw the flakes start falling two days ago, I got really excited.

But nowhere near as excited as Joey...

I was sitting next to her bedholding her in my arms when she happened to look up and see the white coming down through her window.

You would’ve thought the heavens had parted and Jesus had come back, by the light in her eyes.

It was like God was sending light into the darkness she was feeling...

A few minutes before, our neighbor Gabe McCauley had texted me a picture of his daughter Scout sitting on a horse, looking proud. Like our Indiana, Scout is very special. She was born with something called Loeys-Dietz syndrome, a connective-tissue disorder that affects her heart and a thousand other things. Unlike Indy, Scouty has been in and out of hospitals and surgeries since the day she was born. Until they moved to their farm a mile or so behind ours, their lives were filled with a constant fear of having to rush her to Vanderbilt, or worse. Thankfully, for the last year or so, Scout has been doing really well. This weekend her parents took her to the Center for Courageous Kids, a camp in Kentucky that pours love and healing into children with special needs.

The picture they texted us of Scout on one of the camp’s horses just said, “Scout can’t wait until Indiana joins her at camp."

I read the caption out loud and Joey said, “let me see.” And she took my phone and stared at the photoso proud of Scout.

Then suddenly her hands started shaking and she closed her eyes and started sobbing.

I wasn’t sure what had happened or what the pain was that she was feeling... so I tried to put my arms around her and asked, “what’s wrong,” and then through her tears, she said the words...

...the ones I knew she felt, but she had never said before.

...the words that are the hardest, most difficult part of all that she, and we, are going through:

“I want to raise our baby,” she cried, and her tears fell harder... “I want to be the one to teach her.”

She was inconsolable.

I held her in my arms as she held Scout’s picture to her heart and cried and cried. I didn’t know what to do.

And then, just like thatover my shoulder, through the window, she saw it...


It was snowing. Huge white flakes were falling from above.

And a small smile came across her face. Then a bigger one.

“I didn’t think I’d get to see snow again.” And she looked at me, then raised her eyes up at the sky and said “if this is the last snow I ever see, thank you Jesus... thank you.”

Like manna from Heaven. God sent us just what we needed... just when we needed it. He always does.

There will be other snows that will come. Some might be bigger and last longer. But none will mean more than this one. I didn’t want to forget the snow that fell that day, so I took my camera outside and captured it... so I could bring it home with me. To have forever.

When that song is finished, it’s gonna be part of a new album we have coming out on Valentine's Day.

Joey’s album.

The one she’s always wanted to makefilled with the hymns she grew up with. We recorded it in a studio in Nashville early in the summerjust after recovering from her first big surgery in Chicago. And then she did her vocals where she could... in hotel rooms, our house, wherever and whenever she felt up to singing. In early October, we even did a TV taping of the songs in the concert hall at our farm in front of a live audience. Joey was weak and it was difficult for her, but she was determined. This record means so much to her. It is the songs that are the most important to her.

Yesterday, Heidi and I went into Bill Gaither’s studio up here in Joey’s hometown and added our harmony parts to add to Joey’s vocals on all the songs. It’s going to be special.

Like me with the snow, I think Joey wants to capture the words and music of her childhood. The music that she goes to when she needs comfort. The music that makes this beautiful, tragic, crazy life somehow makes sense.

I think she wants to capture this music so we can take it home with us.

All of us. And have it forever.

And so we will. The folks at the record label asked us if we would like to designate a charity that might benefit from a portion of whatever sales of this record we might have...

Joey and I talked about it and told them yes, The Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation.

In honor of Indiana’s best friend Scout, and all the courageous little ones like her.


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