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About four years ago, Joey and Rory Feek, a Country and bluegrass duo – and real-life husband and wife – were set to film a music video at their farmhouse in Tennessee.  But last minute, someone made an unexpected decision: Rory was not going to sing in the video.

The song they were filming was a simple ballad, written by their close friend about caring for her ailing mother. But in this rendition, Joey would play the part of the ailing one, singing to her silent husband, and reassuring him that he would be able to go on, even after she was gone. Filming the video brought them both to tears.

In May 2014, it became their reality when Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

When Joey + Rory came across my radar for the first time about three or four years ago, I was smitten. I like me just a smidge of Country music, and theirs fell firmly in that thin slice. Rory calls it “the Country kind of Country music.” It tells a story. It’s full of banter, humor, and love for the little, simple things of life that are important to all of us.  But Joey and Rory themselves were the most attractive thing about their music: their evident love and friendship with one another just drew me right in as they sang.

It’s hard to put into words the winsome humility, realness, and deep faith I saw blossom in their lives as I watched their tragedy unfold through their music and through Rory’s blog, “This Life I Live”.

It was a story that captured the attention of the Country music world as well. In November 2015, a number of Country artists, including Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Brooks and Dunn, Sara Evans and Rascal Flatts joined in sending video greetings to Joey. Many mentioned that they were praying along with the couple’s request: “for a miracle, and even more, for peace with God’s decision.”

Asked why people were responding to their story, Rory replied, “I don’t really know. I think that maybe, like me, they rarely get to see a beautiful love story – even if it’s tragic. Sometimes the most beautiful things happen in the midst of tragedy.”

Joey had three desires: to complete an album of hymns, and to be present for Christmas and their daughter Indiana’s second birthday in February. God granted all three desires.

This March, Joey died at age 40. She and Rory had been married for 13 years.

"To Joey, With Love" is Joey and Rory story, filmed before they knew what the outcome would be. In the aching hopefulness it portrays, moments of joy and sorrow are all muddled up together in what Rory rightly calls an "extraordinary ordinary life" -- punctuated with snatches of Joey's own songs.

At a time when America is undergoing so much heartache as a nation, I’m comforted to know that God has not left us without witnesses to His goodness – and one of those witnesses is the story Joey and Rory Feek have been living in the eyes of the world. I’m so grateful that they have openly credited their sense of hope to God Himself.

“Joey and I both have always had a really childlike faith,” Rory said in an interview of the Today show in September. “We don’t even understand how it works. We just put our faith in God, and somehow He makes it okay even when it’s not okay.”

In the last two and a half years of Joey’s life, Rory, a talented filmmaker, had been recording the everyday happinesses that he, Rory, and their little daughter Indiana had enjoyed. That footage became an incredible gift to him, one he decided to turn into a feature-length film and share with others. Having followed their story and prayed for Joey, I jumped at the opportunity to review the film.

As my friend Gretchen Louise points out, this is not a reenactment. It’s not a Hallmark movie, either. It is beautiful: each homemade scene framed with an artistic eye and professionally edited, set in a historic farmhouse surrounded by idyllic green fields. But it’s their story, filmed before they knew what the outcome would be. In the aching hopefulness it portrays, moments of joy and sorrow are all muddled up together in what Rory rightly calls an “extraordinary ordinary life” — punctuated with snatches of Joey’s own songs.

It’s not every day that I watch a movie already knowing how it will end. But when I blocked out ninety minutes to sit in my lamplit living room with a laptop and preview “To Joey, With Love,” I was pretty sure I’d cry.

That’s why Rory’s words at the beginning of the film captured my attention:

“We believed God would give us a great story…

And He did.”

"We believed God would give us a great story. And He did."

Let us know in the comments: is there a true story that has brought you hope?

And if you’d like to learn more about Joey and Rory, check out their love story here at Kindred Grace, and keep your eyes open for Rory’s book, This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever, which comes out on Valentine’s Day.


We were honored to be able to give away a copy of “To Joey, With Love.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Please note that I received a free advance review copy and an online screening of this film. However, the opinions are all mine!It’s not every day that I watch a movie already knowing how it will end. That’s why Rory’s words at the beginning of the film "To Joey, With Love" captured my attention: We believed God would give us a great story... And He did. (Enter to win your own copy of the DVD!) It’s not every day that I watch a movie already knowing how it will end. That’s why Rory’s words at the beginning of the film "To Joey, With Love" captured my attention: We believed God would give us a great story... And He did. (Enter to win your own copy of the DVD!)

Photography: JenniMarie Photography

26 Comments

  1. my great grandparents were married 76 years, and no one ever heard them argue. I miss them! But I know on That day, I will see them again! Amen!

  2. The Elliots, missionaries to SA when I was very young. As a teen I read their story written by Elizabeth about their call and commitment to take the gospel to the natives who eventually killed her husband and several other missionaries. Their love for God and one another truly made an impact on my life.

  3. We need more couples truly committed to their marriage & to each other! What an example this couple continues to be even now as Roby shares their story. To God be the glory!

  4. Jeanette Fallon says:

    It’s difficult to think of a movie that gave me hope. Everytime I see a video of someone rescuing a stranger gives me hope. We all can be rescuers. All we have to give us a smile, a coffee, that parking spot. Merry Christmas! Be kind to others.

  5. A true story that has brought me hope…oh, there are so many! One of the recent ones would be the movie *Pamela’s Prayer*, but I also love biographies of missionaries. *Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret* would be one of the ones that comes to mind as particularly impacting.

    Thanks for reviewing this! Sounds like a worthwhile story!

    Blessings,
    Esther
    http://learningresourcedirectory.com

  6. My grandparents were married for 60 years and my grandma died on the day of their 60th anniversary!!

  7. One of my best friends husband got diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and took a year and a half journey of ups and downs but in the end chose a natural route which made him feel better than chemo and helped him enjoy life with his twin 6 year olds. When they went in to do a major surgery to remove all visible tumors they found that the cancer had died and the tumors no longer held malignant cells. It was a miracle.

  8. Sarah Anderson says:

    Such a testimony!

  9. Rebekah Deedrick says:

    Stories from the holocaust bring me hope.

  10. Marleen Viola says:

    Theirs is such an inspiring story! Their love and support of one another is amazing!

  11. Yes there is. Many in God’s word itself, and this story as well. Blessings.

    1. Kindred Grace Team says:

      So true, Jean!

      Congratulations: you are the winner of the DVD giveaway! Watch for an email from the Kindred Grace Team to claim your copy.

  12. I became acquainted with Joey and Rory’s story during the last few months of her life, and sat up all night reading every post I could find. Theirs is a beautiful and true story that definitely inspired me!

  13. My pastor’s wife has been battling leukemia for 40 years and has such an amazing testimony. We just celebrated our church’s 50th anniversary of when they started our church and the testimonies of people whose lives she has touched was truly amazing!

  14. The gospel is the best but we have seen many stories that give me hope in our many years of ministry.

  15. This story really pulls at my heart, Joey and Rory. My granddaughter was born with Down syndrome and on top of that she also got lukemia. At first we thought the Down syndrome might overwhelm us, but we soon learned that it would be the least of our worries. We are so blessed because today she is a strong and BEAUTIFUL little girl. Our prayers were answered.

  16. There has been unusual cold weather her minus 10 and lower. I was walking downtown when I saw an old man walking with bare hands and a metal walker. His hands were blue as he shuffled along he was one f our street community. Suddenly a man came from an Office building. He was dressed for success. Camel coat, Italian shoes and hand stitched lined leather gloves. Without missing a step, the man stripped off the gloves, and as he strode by, he shoved them in the old man’s hand. He didn’t look back. Just kept on walking. It gave me a sense of Christ in action. The well dressed man will never know he changed my life, but he did. back because Like when deVinci threw pennies in the town square and did not look. Looking back would have given him gratification, and he wanted to do something totally unselfish.

  17. This story….this brings hope. Grace. Faith renewed.

  18. Lots of true stories give me hope. Recently a beautiful lady I know had a major health scare that caused a long term recovery. The joy she carries since is undeniable. Her joy gives me hope for when life is in a storm. God holds us so tightly.

  19. patty-anne lea says:

    I would love to read Joey’s story

  20. Rachelle Baumann says:

    Can’t wait to see this movie…would love to win it!

  21. There are so many that it would be hard to pick just one… from looking back and seeing how God brought my Dad into our lives after our father tragically passed away when I was very young, to seeing how He has protected my loves ones from horrible accidents time and time again, to the way He has brought certain friends out of hard financial situations. He is SO good. Each time I think about these things, it gives me Hope to know that whatever happens, He holds the future in His capable hands.

  22. My Dad’s story brings me hope….my mom passed away (cancer) when I was 6, and it’s been an amazing journey of seeing God work in our family and specifically in my dad’s life.

  23. Yes! My father in laws true story has brought me hope. He survived cancer (twice), a flood, a house fire, many deaths of close family and still never lost hope and faith

  24. When asked about a story that has brought hope, the mind instantly searches for one with a happy ending, as in a miraculous healing. But the one that comes to my mind is similar to Joey’s story–a friend who lived victoriously with ovarian cancer for over 5 years. She and her husband continued to check things off her bucket list, and between her 75 rounds of chemo, she lived life to the fullest. She planned her own memorial service, and it was truly a celebration of life and a testimony to God’s grace through pain and suffering.

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