Joey

Remembering JoeyI’m cautious about what I share here about my work.  I never want to give you the impression that I need you to know who knows my name. Out of respect for those who worked hard to gain a name for themselves, I don’t feel good about trying to borrow someone else’s name so you’ll think more of me. That said, there are a few people who have made an eternal impact on me, and one of them went to heaven today.

I’m hoping you understand that I’m not trying to name-drop, I simply want to honor a lady who is one of the best people I’ve had the joy of knowing.  Her name is Joey.  We weren’t close friends, but she is the kind of person who inspires the people in her path to be the best we can be.

I first met her at the Indiana church my family attended for a few years.  She grew up in that church and often sang for us when she came back from Nashville to visit her family.  She was so, so beautiful.  When she sang, there was a purity about her voice that wasn’t like any country singer I had heard before.  I hoped Nashville wouldn’t taint her.

For the next few years I watched from afar as she diligently kept doing the work artists do. She kept writing, kept singing, kept her dreams alive, and remained true to her country and gospel music roots.

She met a songwriter named Rory and married him. I hoped he would be good to her, because I knew then she was good people. Then, I lost track of Joey and Rory for a while. I still loved hearing them whenever they made their way back to Indiana.  I once emailed their office to let them know how much I enjoyed Joey’s music.  I said something about how I loved the way she could deliver a song powerfully and authentically, yet she never put on an act or tried to blow the roof off the place.  She just did what she did with class and grace.  Rory emailed me back promptly and was so incredibly kind.  He gave me some good songwriting advice, which I valued (and needed). They didn’t get quite as much email back then, I’m guessing.

During the years that followed, their careers took off.  I was hearing exciting reports of their rise to stardom, television programs and commercials. I was so happy because it couldn’t have happened to nicer people.

Then a few years ago, they came to Gaither Studios to record a video with Bill [Gaither].  I was involved in that video (called Inspired) as a scriptwriter, so I enjoyed the privilege of sitting in on the interview.  As I saw how Joey and Rory interacted with one another, telling the story of their life, their music and their faith, it was clear that the fame they had earned since I last saw them had not changed them one bit.  There was a depth about them you just can’t fake.  I went home and told my husband that day, “They are our kind of people.”

After that video, we learned that Joey was expecting a baby.  Everyone who knew them was overjoyed. Joey and Rory sang at our company Christmas party that year and she was radiant with her beautiful round belly.  That will go down as my favorite Christmas party of all time.

Our hearts melted as we got to know baby Indiana through Rory’s eyes via his blog.  And for the first time, we saw the dignity with which they handled the unexpected news that their baby had Downs Syndrome.  Then the months that followed brought more and more unexpected turns in their otherwise storybook life.  Joey fought cancer hard. Yet they kept singing.

And at every turn, we saw more character… more love grow…more resolve to openly accept God’s plan as their own.  It rocked me, and it rocked the now-millions of people who caught wind of their story.

You may have seen them recently on television, on social media, in Country Weekly Magazine, at the top of Billboard charts, on the shelves of Cracker Barrel, or any number of places. And you need to know that they got there by simply being the very best version of themselves they could be; not by name-dropping, or putting on an act, or schmoozing.  They never manipulated people to try to get noticed.  They just played to their strengths. And something about that was irresistible to the world.

I SO love that their newest recording and DVD wowed the music industry the week it released (and each week since).  Our company employees of every rank quit whatever we were doing to help pack orders… that has never happened.  Because their success came as a result of their faithfulness, we were all so happy for them!

Yet we were also sad for them.  We knew Joey’s cancer was taking its toll.  Rory would have traded every one of those albums sold for his wife to be healed. But she was ready to stop hurting and be with her Savior.

Today, she left this world for her Eternal Home.  I’m so sad.  Yet what a privilege it was to know this woman who loved so many of the things I love – gardening, music, family, and Jesus.   Just by living her life and singing her songs, Joey challenged me to stay true to the things that are important to me… no short cuts.

Joey, you made my life better.  Your voice will always remind me to be myself and nothing less.  And I hope we can garden together in heaven.  You could teach me a thing or two.  But this year’s tomato seedlings are dedicated to you.

 

21 thoughts on “Joey

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  1. Beautifully said, Emily. It is evident that her impact is far and wide as my Facebook feed is filled with nothing but wonderful things people have said about her. God bless her soul and all those near and dear to her.

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  2. Sweet Emily! Your words are so beautiful! What a blessing it has been to read Rory’s words through their journey! You can feel their love and tenderness in each word he writes! Even though it is so sad ~ it is also such a celebration knowing that Joey is singing in heaven! I am not surprised that the two of you had so many things in common! You, too, are such an amazing lady ~ filled with grace ~ compassion ~ love ~ living life enjoying the simple things ~ keeping yourself grounded in your beliefs ~ and OH SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I pray that the tears of sadness soon turn in to smiles of sweet memories! All my love! Julie

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  3. Emily, thank you for this beautiful tribute to Joey. I’m so thankful that I got to know Joey + Rory through the Gaither videos.

    See you in Heaven Joey!

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  4. Emily, That is such a beautiful tribute to Joey. She touched many lives, including mine even though I never met her. Your tribute so beautifully written reminded me of how much I enjoyed your writing when Gaithernet was still around. You have a way of making your words touch the heart.

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  5. Thank u 4 publishing this sweet heart filled letter.Joey has been so loved and will remain so…just a beautiful person inside and out.I have only had the pleasure of seeing she and Rory twice on tv and then here on fb…I fell in love the 1st time when they were interviewed 3 years ago by Bill Gaither. Then I saw them when Bill and Gloria were at their farm out in the yard…in the kitchen and being shown the garden.I loved both times.I hope to continue to see Rory with updates on Indy and their farm.Elizabeth Jones

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  6. A beautiful tribute..she is home now…nomore suffering worries, all peace. Now we have to inspect ourselves so we will be ready to follow. My prayers for the Feek family. Rory and girls will need our prayers more than ever. I think she had a glimpse of heaven and she was ready to go. Easter will be wonderful for her.

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  7. Thanks so much Emily for sharing this beautiful story! For those of us who did not know her personally, just being able to read such a heartfelt tribute is a blessing and an encouragement! May Joey rest in peace in our Savior’s arms.

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  8. Ive felt her singing, “That’s important to me…” was a gift – allowing us to share with her what truly was important to her. I’m sad at her passing, but as the Bible says, not as those without hope. I’m praying for her family.

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  9. This is the most beautiful tribute any one could ever give another person . I fell in love with them by accident…by flipping through the channels and I bought every thing they have out. We have a God who makes no mistakes. Joey you gave me so much hope and joy, I truly fell in love with both you and Rory and Ms. Indy. My husband had Acute Myloid Leukemia and given 3 to 4 months to live. With God in his life and prayers from many people and his Drs. and nurses he lived twenty nine months. 4 days before my husband passed away his Dr. stood by his bedside and held his hand as he said to him, J.D. I want you to know that you have made me a better Dr. and I wish I had known you before you became sick , you and I would have become friends. By meeting Joey by accident one Sat. night on T.V. she has made me a better woman and I shall miss her .A beautiful lady with a beautiful soul .My prayer is they will meet and sing and run free with all the other angels. God bless you Rory and your beautiful daughters. Shelby Wooten

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    1. Shelby, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s passing. It is amazing, though, how the gift of another person’s life really does live on and on in so many ways. Love to you, my friend.

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  10. Emily, thanks for this beautiful tribute to Joey, but also to Rory. I became acquainted with this special couple through Bill and Gloria and have followed Rory’s blog ever since. You have honored her through your beautiful writing. Joey showed us how to live, but she also showed us how to leave this earthy life with such grace and peace. She was ready to meet HER Jesus. I was so touched by her recording of “When I’m Gone.” Yes, Joey was one special lady–wife, mother, daughter, sister, and a “singer saved by grace.” Carol Gibboney

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  11. Thank you for the lovely tribute to Joey. She will be greatly missed by love ones and fans. She had a pure voice as well as strong faith, which today it is hard to stand firm in beliefs when temptation lurks around the corner. A week ago our family laid to rest a dear brother who battled cancer for 4 years. We celebrate Ken’s passing to Heaven as he had strong Christian values so we know he is celebrating with passed loved ones and no longer in pain . This gives us peace. Thank you for sharing and being open to the rawness of death. Live today well, Love much, Laugh often and keep the FAiTh

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  12. Beautiful. I know her family is,hurting but One thing we,all know,Joey was Healed t9day. GOD,CALLED,HER HOME. WHAT MIRACLE FOR,HER. NOT THE,ONE,WE, WANTED BUT,AT LEAST,WE,KNOW,SHE,HAS,A,BRAND NEW,BODY. NO LONGER,HURTING

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