Tag Archives: Not Worth Saving

Review: Not Worth Saving

Not Worth Saving Cover

From the first page of her memoir, Ann Joyner invites the reader into an intimate story of love, triumph and loss as she shares the story of her son, Matthew.  When Ann’s second pregnancy was very different from her first, her mommy instincts told her something was wrong. Her medical journey took her from doctors dismissing her concerns, to a diagnosis in her third trimester that Matthew’s was “not a life worth saving.” Told that Matthew was not likely to survive more than a few days at most after he was born, their post-natal plans included planning a funeral.

Learning that doctors are not God, Ann held on to scripture, Matthew 19:26 “With God, all things are possible.” Matthew proved God had plans for him. While Matthew struggled with fragile health due to a rare genetic abnormality, Ann and Jerry were faced time and again with a haunting question:

“How do you watch your child die? The answer we discovered is, you don’t. You watch your child live, however long that may be.”

Joyner 1This poignant story shares the faith journey of the family discovering God’s grace and everyday angels in the midst of their lives. Page after page shares stories of help just when it was needed, answered prayers, and improbable heroes. Key among them was her battle for medical coverage:

“Your son’s condition was diagnosed in utero, while you were pregnant with him. Therefore, all of his claims have been placed in the category of pre-existing. He had all of these problems before he was born. Your son has no medical coverage.”

Joyner 2Ann has a gift of story-telling, coupled with a strong faith that welcomes the reader into her life as if you are a long-lost friend and she is catching you up on the details. Especially poignant to me is the story of Matthew’s relationship with his older brother Drew. Parents of children with special needs often feel guilt or worry about neglected siblings who are short-changed in the midst of life with special needs. Understanding and appreciating Drew’s unique relationship and fierce loyalty to his brother is a welcome message of hope and love.

 

For any parent looking for a story of inspiration, faith and hope in the midst of the journey with special needs I recommend Ann Joyner’s, Not Worth Saving.

Saving God, Thank you for the Joyner family and their openness in sharing their lives. May otyhers be inspired by their story of unconditional love.  Encourage Ann in her minsitry that makes space for all of God’s children. Amen

annjoynerphoto

Bio: Ann Joyner, author of Not Worth Saving, proved with a two-year secretarial degree that a passionate, determined, and stubborn mother, who asks for God’s help needn’t have an MA, PhD or MD to turn a life “not worth saving” into one that touches and saves thousands of others.  Filled with the desire to show that each life has unlimited value, Ann has delivered the message in several worship services, shared with Book Groups, Sunday School Classes, UMW Gatherings, workshops, and was Keynote Speaker at a luncheon benefiting those with special needs.  Last Spring, Not Worth Saving was named to the 2016 United Methodist Women’s Reading List.

Rev Doc Lorna

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Interview: Author Ann Joyner

Not Worth Saving Cover

While presenting workshops at the 2015 Leadership Institute at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood Kansas I had the opportunity to get to know one of my fellow presenters and special needs ministry advocate Ann Joyner, also known as Matthew’s Mom. I had the opportunity to visit with Ann  and learn more about the life of her son and the importance of her faith in the midst of the journey with special needs.

What inspired you to share the story of your son Matthew?

When I was 7 months pregnant, told the baby I was carrying was a life ‘Not Worth Saving’ and would likely be stillborn or die shortly after birth, I was totally devastated.  I searched for an answer to the obvious question: How in the world can I do this?  There was not a guidebook, another parent’s story, a medical paper offering encouraging words – nothing.  There was absolutely nothing which offered insight to how I could deal with what I was facing.  Every step in Matthew’s twenty-one year miraculous journey provided me with a wealth of knowledge and experience which I ultimately felt called to share.  Our story is for people facing overwhelming adversity, people who are in search of hope and joy.

In the midst of raising a child with extreme challenges you also were part of creating special needs ministries at two churches. How did you find the energy to follow through with that vision?

My energy to follow through on visions for ministry was fueled from my belief that I could be a victim or victor, a choice everyone has.  When faced with the option to either leave a church because our family no longer fit, or create an appropriate program for Matthew, God gave me the direction, encouragement and energy I needed to press on.  God showed me that it was not just about my son, it was about all those like him.  When faced years later with helping to begin another ministry for people with special needs at a young start-up church, I was again reminded that it was not just about our son.  Pastor Adam Hamilton felt like Matthew’s arrival and presence was God calling his small, new congregation to minister to all those like him.  Almost twenty-two years later, Church of the Resurrection has one of the largest ministries for people with special needs and I am proud it is called Matthew’s Ministry.

What has your faith community meant to you throughout Matthew’s lifetime and beyond?

My faith community encouraged my family to give to others – to teach, to lead, to minister, to share our gifts.  They encouraged us to look outward.  If we did not, we were destined to drown in a sea of self-pity.  Because my family was engaging and approachable while putting ourselves ‘out there’, we were attractive, even though our family was far from typical.  Our faith community empowered us to live lives filled with meaning while making a difference in other people’s lives.  We were not focused on simply existing.

Joyner 3Matthew continues to touch and change lives today in many ways. Thinking back to when you were the young mom in the midst of the shock of diagnosis, what guidance do you offer families?

When initially faced with the unfathomable diagnosis Matthew had, I turned to the church.  Without God in my life, it would have been impossible to live a life filled with joy.  With Him in my life I found joy abounding, everywhere I turned.  I gave thanks for what I did have with Matthew; not dwelling on what was lost. The most important lesson I learned is that every single day is a gift. I encourage people to try not to worry about too many tomorrows. If you do, you will rob yourself and your family of the joy God has in store for you today.

annjoynerphotoBio

Ann Joyner, author of Not Worth Saving, proved with a two-year secretarial degree that a passionate, determined, and stubborn mother, who asks for God’s help, needn’t have an MA, PhD or MD to turn a life “not worth saving” into one that touches and saves thousands of others.  Filled with the desire to show that each life has unlimited value, Ann has delivered the message in several worship services, shared with book groups, Sunday School classes, UMW gatherings, workshops, and was Keynote Speaker at a luncheon benefiting those with special needs.  Last spring, Not Worth Saving was named to the 2016 United Methodist Women’s Reading List.

Rev Doc Lorna