Guest blog by Jo Franz
I love the theme Journeys, because my life has certainly been that—an adventurous journey! In 1977, just as my husband and I were heading off to a new state to begin seminary, having become Christians five years earlier thanks to a couple witnessing to us at a 5th Dimension concert, dizziness blindsided me so I had to grasp a counter to keep from falling over. Within a few months my hands and feet tingled. I felt pain at the base of my skull and fatigue overwhelmed me. After various specialists ruled out several conditions I was hospitalized by a neurologist in February of 1978 and I was diagnosed with unpredictable, humanly incurable, and possibly severely disabling multiple sclerosis, MS.
My husband told me, “We’re in this together.” But as I grew through honest sharing of my feelings with God and praying he would miraculously heal me, through Bible study and prayer I received peace He would use the MS for my good and His glory if I let him. Meanwhile my husband slipped away from God—though he was by then a pastor. He began an affair and I nearly took my life, but when God intervened, I determined to trust Him. I sought to grow and learn who I really was and work hard at keeping our marriage intact, but my husband left me and eventually filed a divorce I didn’t want after 15 years of marriage. I was devastated, but while I lived alone, God became my Daddy, drawing me even closer.
My life became not only a one of adventure in living with MS, but I learned to ski with the helps of the disabled; traveled alone through Sweden, Norway, and England using crutches; worked on
an archaeological dig in Israel; and rode a tandem bicycle with others. With the help of friends I began a concert-with-testimony ministry in churches and I began speaking nationwide to groups of women as well as recording music CDs. I’ve since added speaking for businesses and colleges.
One Sunday I met a new guy at the singles breakfast I attended sponsored by my church. I discovered on our first date he didn’t even notice I used forearm crutches to walk! After a year of on, then off again (he moved cross-country!) dating—and what a story of individual growth that was for each of us—we married and I became an instant mom to step-daughters ages eight and ten!
Do you ever really know your spouse when you marry them? Ray and I learned so much more of our painful pasts than even we knew once we triggered things in each other—and we healed together into a marriage bonded by our intimate commitment to love and comfort one another deeply. We’ve dealt with my cervical spinal cord injury that should have left me a quadraplegic or worse, where I learned to stand and walk again. We know what it’s like for me to lose the ability to speak, let alone sing, for nearly a year due to an MS attack.
But we’re learning that God really does keep His promise to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). For instance, because I couldn’t speak and sing I began submitting stories, and one week after my voice was miraculously returned by God, my first story was accepted for a book. Many more followed before I finally heard in prayer soar unafraid as you write and I knew it was time to write my life-story requested since 1984, my memoir: Soar Unafraid: Learning to Trust No Matter What.
Jo Franz is an award-winning author, speaker, vocalist, song-writer, and recording artist—even though she’s lived with unpredictable MS (multiple sclerosis) since 1977. She inspires others to know Christ intimately so they may know him as Daddy Father, living in praise in order to soar unafraid through life. Jo also inspires college students and business men and women to SOAR through anything life may bring. She loves her family, laughter, and living adventurously.