Big smiles are what I think of when I think of my dear friend TJ. My family and I first met him at our previous church about 20 years ago. He was a teenager then; full of life, smiles and joy. After church we would catch up with each other about our previous week. TJ would always ask “What are you going to do this coming week?” He seemed to enjoy hearing about our activities. You see TJ has cerebral palsy so being confined to his wheelchair limits his physical activities, but with his absolute fervor for life he is not limited in his possibilities to get involved and be connected.
We have become very good friends; sharing meals together, doing weekly updates and sharing our love for music. A few months ago TJ asked me if I thought he could join our Worship Arts Ministries (WAM) praise team. I spoke with our Worship Arts Pastor who was a little hesitant at first, having had limited experience with members with disabilities in the past. He decided that having TJ join us for our special services that are open to everyone would be a good starting point. TJ loved being with the WAM family at practice and in the service, so TJ with all of his tenacity started to come to all the practices. He was determined to be a part of our group. Pastor and I had several heartfelt conversations about TJ not having the ability to “sing” as we know and respect to the other choir members and musicians. We prayed for God’s clear direction and continued on with TJ’s involvement. TJ truly loves being a part of our service. I can pick out his voice occasionally and have heard from several church members that they love to see him participating and singing with all of his heart.
TJ has been a blessing to our WAM church family as well as my own family. He continues to ask about and pray for my husband, my children, and myself. I wish I could say I was as devoted to asking others about prayer requests as he is. He inspires me to not be afraid, keep a smile on my face and think of others before myself. I’m very thankful for our friendship and we are blessed in our choir to have him infuse the JOY of making a joyful noise unto the Lord.