She didn’t want to have a baby. She told me so. Dozens of times. In 14 years of marriage, it was literally the only thing that we ever really argued about. Not that I wanted to have a baby so much… but that she refused to even think about it. My wife Joey was a Believer and gave God everything… her hopes, her dreams… everything, except her greatest fear. She trusted Him completely in every area of her life, except that one. For lots of reasons . Having a baby would of course be painful. And it was a commitment, not just for 9 months or a few years when they’re young… but for a lifetime. And having a child would ultimately get in the way of her goals, of her music and her dreams. And so Joey wouldn’t consider it. Not even talk about.
Until one day in the summer of 2013, when Joey came to me and out of nowhere said, “I’m ready”.
I asked her, “ready for what?”
“Ready to trust Him”, she said.
I knew what that meant and I knew what a big deal it was that she was saying it. “So... you wanna have a baby?” I said.
“No, I don’t” she answered. ”But more than what I want", she said, "I want what God wants”… I can’t keep even the smallest part of my hands and my heart closed to Him any longer… not after all He’s done for us... for me. He’s allowed all my hopes and wishes to come true, beyond my wildest dreams. And He’s given me the gift of our wonderful marriage and love… so I wanna to trust Him. I need to trust Him.
And so Joey did. And a year and a half later our baby was born. An 8 pound, 2 ounce little girl named Indiana Boon Feek. And from the very first moment my wife held Indy in her arms, she was never the same. It was Joey’s first real glimpse of what unconditional love felt like. She knew in that instant, what life was truly all about. She didn’t care that Indiana had almond eyes and a single-line across the palms of her hands. And that she was going to grow up with some difficulties that most children don’t have. All she knew was that she had been given a gift. The greatest of all gifts. And from that moment on, the woman who was scared to death of being a mother, wanted to be nothing else but a mother.
A baby changes everything...
Fast-forward to earlier this year. Just three weeks after blowing out the candles on Indy’s 2nd birthday cake… my beautiful wife Joey lost her two-year battle with cancer and went home to Heaven.
And I had to pack up our things and get in my truck and drive back to Tennessee to somehow make a life at home without Joey in it. Something that seemed then and even now almost impossible to imagine. Though my faith is strong… as I drove down I-65 in the snow that evening just south of Indianapolis… I knew that on my own, I might’ve pulled over on the shoulder and curled up into the fetal position. Or even worse, pulled the steering wheel hard left into oncoming traffic.
But instead, on that drive home that night… I just kept looking in the rear-view mirror, saying, "thank you God... thank you". Strapped in a car seat, smiling back at me as she played with her doll, I saw incredible hope and a future and a lifetime of love that I wouldn’t have been able to see on my own.
Yes, a baby changes everything...
I shared that story a few days ago at a 'High Hopes' event here in Franklin, Tennessee, where they were raising money for Indiana's school. That was the name of the event... "A Baby Changes Everything". Gail, the director of the school had asked me if I would say something and introduce our friend Bradley Walker as he came onstage, and that's the story that came out.
I've told it before. Not in those words, but I've shared it... or at least a good bit of it. In the documentary. Actually, Joey shared it. She lived it. Right in front of me and God and everyone who watched it in theaters in September and October. It's amazing to watch Joey overcome her fears and then be rewarded a thousand times over for trusting Him with the greatest joy that she would ever know. And though ultimately, the amount of time down here on earth that Joey would get to be with Indy wasn't long, it was incredible. A lifetime of love in just two short years.
The film 'To Joey, With Love' that I made for my wife comes out in stores today. Walmart, Target, Best Buy. Pretty much everywhere I'm told. To say that I'm excited about it is an understatement. Because it means that anyone can see it now. And not just those who live close enough to make it to the select theaters where it played... it's available for everyone to see, all across the county. And that's a big deal.
I'd like to take this moment to say thank you in advance to everyone who buys a copy. For letting our family be a part of your family for 90 minutes. For letting our story be a part of yours. And letting your story become a part of ours.
We will be driving up to Indiana tomorrow to celebrate an early Christmas with Joey's family at her mama's house. Me, Heidi, Hopie, and Indy, and Russdriver. It's going to be hard to be there without Joey. To gather around the Christmas tree in the house she grew up in and exchange gifts and celebrate this special holiday without her. But it's also going to be beautiful. I know it will. Because Joey will be there... in our hearts... and in our minds. And especially in the unbridled joy and smile of our little one.
Truly, a baby changes everything...