Tom Foty

  • Nov. 17, 2014
  • #8491

Listen to Joni as she shares about how one father relaxes at Family Retreat by painting near the waters. 

Tom Foty

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a memory to share from summertime…

I have lots of memories from this past summer, a lot of them from our Joni and Friends Family Retreats. I tell you, those weeks at camp with other special-needs families, they are so heartwarming, and they are so refreshing to my soul.

Well, here’s the memory:  I remember being with Ken up at our Minnesota Family Retreat – it was the last one of the season, in late August. Anyway, I was down by the lake and it was so quiet and beautiful. We even spotted a loon out on the water singing his haunting call. My eyes wandered along the edge of the lake and there, not too far away, I saw a man standing in the shallow parts with his wooden art easel. Actually, the easel was in the water, too. And there he was: this painter with paint brush and palette in hand, standing ankle-deep in the water, mesmerized by the beautiful lily pads beyond his easel.

I looked closer and realized that it was Tom Foty, the father of a daughter with cerebral palsy (Tom and his wife Wendy also serve as leaders for the Minnesota Family Retreat), but I had forgotten that he’s also an artist. I watched him for a long while, smiling and thanking God for the inspiration. I kept thinking of those soothing, relaxing and refreshing words from Psalm 23, "He leads me beside still waters and He restores my soul." Truly, that afternoon God had led Tom by those still waters and not only was his soul restored by those peaceful quiet moments among the lily pads; my heart was refreshed just watching him. Man, we live in such a fast-paced crazy world, how often do we take time to watch – just watch and be inspired. Isn’t it interesting that the simplest of activities, like looking at a painter render a work of art – funny how even that can refresh your heart.

Well, at Family Retreat moms and dads of special-needs kids find all sorts of ways to refresh their hearts, but never had I seen a special-needs dad bring his box of paints, palette and easel to relax with. Standing out there in the shallows of the lake and creating an original oil painting that quickly. Well, I think that was a ‘first!'  And the oil painting was beautiful: delicate little lily pads floating by the shore. The colors were stunning – soft greens and aquamarine blues. And you’ll never guess what Tom did.  Oh my goodness, when I arrived home from Family Retreat, there was a package from him with the painting in it.  What a gift!  And it will forever remind me of how God restores our souls.  Hey, I posted the painting today on my radio page at, plus a photo of Tom with his jeans rolled up, standing in the shallows of that lake with his easel. So please stop by and see it. Just click on my radio page at  And one more thing:  with Thanksgiving just around the corner, please make time to let the Holy Spirit lead you beside peaceful waters to restore your soul. Take pleasure in some simple pursuit – maybe reading an inspirational poem, or going for a walk in the woods. Pull on your coat and go outside to watch the sunset this evening, or enjoy the stars tonight. Find that embroidery you haven’t worked on in a while, or take time to flip through a book of paintings. And as you do, thank God that he delights in restoring, refreshing, and renewing your soul. It is his Thanksgiving gift to you. And I want to thank Tom Foty for that blessed reminder and the beautiful painting that he gave me. And don’t forget to come by my radio page to see this artist and this awesome work of art.  It’s all for you at

© Joni and Friends


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