My artificial limbs still recall the sensation of cold feet as I gave my first speech at age thirteen. Dad scheduled it, knowing his daughter Judy would earn no trophies in sports. “But wait a minute,” he reasoned, “she has a mouth that works just fine.”
Being a public speaker has served me well as a published author. As I speak my stories, audiences want to hear more. “Read my books,” I say. And again and again I am told, “Judy, I hear you talking in your books!”
Writing has been an uphill climb for me; on the other hand I gladly accept invitations to speak. However, July 2015 provided this septuagenarian with the speaking challenge of my life. Speeches to write for three new speaking venues with five talks to deliver in 48 hours.
To whom do I say thanks for this stretch-me opportunity? To Jesus and Jannai Pero, who together arranged my best ever speaking tour.
Jannai and I met in the San Francisco Bay Area twenty years ago when our children were in elementary and high schools. We’ve stayed in touch over the years. She and her husband John now live on Highway 49 in California’s Gold Country in a little town called Ahwahnee (near Oakhurst). David and I retired in Southern Oregon.
Since 2010,when His Majesty in Brokenness was published, Jannai has tried to land me an invitation to speak at Yosemite Lakes Community Church. Finally in the summer of 2014 she emailed me with the news that her pastor invited me to give the message at their two services in 2015. When could I come?
We all agreed on July 12, 2015 so I excitedly put two talks at her church on my calendar. I would soon learn that that was simply the beginning.
As we began making plans, Jannai informed me that she was a promoter. A new term to me – but now I know it means she would provide Nike running shoes for my speaking tour in Central California. Our early arrival was her green light for securing more speaking venues. Donned with her thinking cap, her praying knees and her network of business contacts, she finally was happy with the following schedule.
“I met Judy Squier 20 years ago during the hardest time in my life. My sister told me that my four children were going to be watched by a woman without legs. I didn’t know anything more about Judy but I cried because I knew God was in it. That evening I went home picked up the book I was reading Elisabeth Elliot’s book A Path Through Suffering. In Chapter 18, Perfectly Adapted, Elisabeth said this: My friend Judy Squier of Portola Valley, California, is one of the most cheerful, radiant women I know. I call it a total God Miracle to have crossed paths with Judy. I say she was born with no legs but she walks with Jesus. And her books all are a walk with Jesus.”
Five action-packed days with this promoter-extraordinaire convinced me she was a modern day Henny Penny. Instead of declaring, ‘The sky is falling,’ she bombarded her area with emails, text messages, voice mails and face to face announcements: “My friend, Judy Squier, born without legs is coming to town. You can choose from five venues to hear her.’
Jannai made sure the Sierra Star newspaper knew I was coming. How do I know? Reporter Brian Wilkinson e-mailed me requesting photos, followed by an article a week before my arrival. Reporter Morgan Voorhis was the first to arrive at my library talk, printing a second article the week after my visit.
Her article ‘Jesus and Judy’ to me provided a supreme compliment.
Jannai was not only the promoter extraordinaire, but she wow-ed the Squier’s with five days of heaven-on-earth hospitality and ultimate care for my every need:
- Jannai’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners catered to my gluten, dairy and egg allergies. I watched as she joyfully altered recipes, including the homemade desserts she provided for the intimate afternoon with Author Judy at the Oakhurst Library. Our fine dining highlight included scrumptious lettuces from the Pero’s high tower gardening apparatus on the deck outside the dining room window. (www.pero.towergarden.com)
- Jannai provided On Guard essential oil in a diffuser while I slept (to heal an alarmingly scratchy throat and hoarse voice) plus a sample bottle of Breathe to put on throat and chest before speaking to prevent coughing. A small vial of Doterra’s peppermint pearls landed in my speaker’s tool kit to take-as-needed right before a speech. (www.mydoterra.com/jannai)
- Plus Jannai became my personal make-up artist. Down on her knees, she beautified my eyes, and complexion, creating a ruby red smile for each speaking engagement. (www.youniquebyjannai.com)
The crowning touch – above and beyond Jannai’s investment of time and energy promoting my speaking venues, hosting the Squier’s in her home, accompanying me to speaking engagement, was a one-of-a-kind gift of love. Jannai, who is completing a Master’s Degree in Sculpturing in Feb 2016, squeezed in a sculpture session creating a mold of my left hand. She dearly loves how our Redeemer God transformed my hand of shame into a testimony of His faithfulness and Glory. She and I agree that only He could make a three point sermon out of a three fingered hand.
1) Can’t do life without God;
2) Life is difficult;
3) Jesus shows up!
Thank you, entrepreneur and dear sister-in-Christ Jannai, for memories I will savor into eternity and thank You, Jesus, for the beauty only You can create out of the broken pieces and places of each of our lives.