For Speaking – May 2009

Dear Joy,

We thoroughly enjoyed your presentation at our Donor and Volunteer Appreciation event. From tears to laughter and most emotions in between, the audience was stirred by your message of hope, inspiration and, of course, the message of “joy.” You have an amazing ability to articulate feelings in a way that connects with others. As you shared the experiences of your journey, people were clearly thinking to themselves, “That’s exactly how I once felt. Only I was not able to put it into words.” “This woman named Joy understands me! She has helped bring some perspective to my situation.”

I want to thank you for bringing perspective to the lives of others through sharing your life experiences. The world is a better place because of the message you are willing to share.

If I can provide any encouragement to others to enlist you as a speaker please let me know. The thought of your message impacting audiences as it did ours is exciting.

With great appreciation for your willingness to share your story.

Michael D. Mahaffey
Chief Development Officer
Opportunity Village, Clear Lake

For a Guest Article – April 2009

Joy –

From one writer to another, I must tell you that your story was not only eloquently written – it was remarkably moving.

Even though I have no children of my own, I was moved by the story of you and your son and the life lessons you have learned as a mother.

My favorite paragraph from your article: “You just have to claim the life you are given, and then keep moving forward. After all, what you see and what you get don’t have to match. Sometimes what you get is far, far better.” At 27, I’m just starting to figure that out. I was very moved by your words.

Hope you enjoy the magazine and thank you so much for your submission – it was remarkable.

Best wishes,

Jessica Lowe
Editor, BE Magazine

For Speaking – October 2008

On a personal level, I really enjoyed Joy Newcom’s breakout session. I felt in my experience that we shared a lot. I’m excited to get reading her book that I purchased here at the conference.

(from an anonymous workshop review, Lutheran Services of America, Disability Network)

June 2008

Joy –

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book! It really warmed my heart … and made me appreciate my own two children (and husband) all the more. You are a wonderful writer!

Jennifer Ryan Eyestone
Dallas, Texas

For Speaking – May 2008


It was a pleasure to meet with you and have you with us yesterday. I heard very positive comments from the group. After you left, several wished we could have had you for another hour.

We are all hungry for ideas on how we can be “the best at what we do best.” I hope we are more family-centered than we were maybe 15-20 years ago, but it is surely something we all continue to work on.

You gave us all food for thought. We thoroughly enjoyed your sense of humor. Many identified with some of your feelings, and others were reminded of the roller coaster so many of our families are on.

I will pass on the word to others as to your eagerness to present and the quality of your presentation and book. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Most sincerely,

Joan Amick
Early ACCESS Regional Coordinator &
Early Childhood Special Education Faciliator
Keystone AEA 1

May 2008

I read your book three weeks ago … since then I’ve carefully digested the information. Today as I downloaded thoughts about {my daughter’s} annual review, I knew I needed to let you know that I have very much appreciated that you took time to write your book.

Your book was painful and helpful both – the good pain, the kind you know you need to go through to stretch.

Thank you again for your book. It will remain on my night stand: stacked carefully with the books I feel I need to be the best mom for {my daughter} : a book of quotes from Mr. Rogers, Almost Perfect and my Bible.


Joy Harris
Des Moines, Iowa

February 7, 2008

Dear Joy:

I finally had a chance to finish reading your book last night and all I can say is, “Wow!” While reading your book I laughed, I cried, and at one point I found myself so engrossed in your trials and tribulations that I was actually nodding in agreement at something you were feeling—perhaps to say, “Oh, my gosh, yes, I would be feeling the same thing!”

Joy, you and I share a lot of characteristics, so it was fun for me to share in your approach to life. You really are an inspiration to me. I’ve watched my sister struggle to raise my niece who has Down Syndrome; and although I’ve always tried to be cognizant of what she (my sister) might be going through, your book opened up a whole new appreciation of how her life is so different than mine. I’ve tried to “stay strong” for her, but perhaps in doing so I’ve inadvertently let her down. It’s a conversation we’ll have to have next time {when} we can talk face to face.

You know, one of my favorite sayings shared by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is, “I see the cosmos in the trees.” Meaning, he sees beyond the physical tree to all the light and energy and nourishment that went into forming the tree, plus all the splendid benefits that the tree provides: fruit, shade, shelter, etc. In other words, he sees God in the tree. I used that as my personal analogy while reading your story of how you witnessed Godly moments and inspiration throughout Stross’ early life. I credit your story for helping me put “life” back in perspective, Joy.

I really want to thank you for writing your book, and I seriously hope you’ll continue your craft. Your skills are evident and your storyline compelling. I find myself wondering, “And how is he now??!”



January 15, 2008

Hello Joy,

I feverishly read your book last weekend, and I stayed up late to finish your book last night.  Wow!  The book was insightful, brutally honest and touching.  I cried many times while reading it.

Based on what you revealed in your book, I related to you on many levels. My three daughters are about the same age as your sons; and because I’ve lived in Iowa, I loved the references to Iowa. The big difference, though, is that I’ve never had to face anything close to what you have faced with such incredible faith and optimism.

I wish you luck.  Your book will comfort and inspire many people.
Congratulations on writing such a beautiful book.


December 27, 2007

Dear Joy:

I am halfway through your book and have to tell you that your writing is so very compelling.

No one really understands what someone else goes through in a situation like yours, but you do such a fabulous job of describing it–what was happening to you. In fact, it feels like you wrote it as it was actually happening, so I feel as if I almost do understand.

I have to say it is painful to read, but I am grateful.

Sue Cosner
Panora, Iowa

October 15, 2007


I belong to a Book Club-“The Page Turners.” We read your book for September. This led to the BEST discussion we have ever experienced!

We’re a group of “mature” women, and you tapped into so many of our emotions:

  • what it’s like to have that first baby (joys and hormones);
  • how to emotionally balance working and Mommyhood;
  • the strains on a marriage;
  • coping when things go severely “wrong”;
  • dealing with in-laws and parents;
  • feelings a grandparent experiences…

Joy, the list goes on and on! I certainly recommend printing the book discussion questions from your website. This really helped keep the group focused, however, we just couldn’t stop talking.

Please continue to write. Reading your work is more than words. You describe a picture so completely, I feel like I am right there with you. The reading world needs to hear more from you.

Thank you for being the mother/woman that you are. Your honesty is a gift, and the three men you live with are so blessed.

Mary Anderson (Iowa)
A Wife, A Mom and A Grandmother

September 24, 2007

I finished reading your book last week, and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. The book seemed as if a double-edged sword…Most of the time I could not put it down, but at times I found it hard to pick up to read on about your struggles and all of Stross’ surgeries and setbacks…thank you for letting me see deeper into your story of life. It is truly an amazing story of struggles and successes!

Andrea Goedderz
Anchorage, Alaska

September 13, 2007

Joy Newcom has written a compelling book about her early experiences with her son Stross, who was born with the challenges of spina bifida…
The first part of the book reminded me so much of my own experiences when Alex was a newborn, that I often found myself crying while reading it. Alex’s challenges are different (he lives with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, etc.), but those early times were so similar….I LOVE the title of her book — Involuntary Joy — because that also describes much of my own experience. An experience that was not chosen, would not be wished on anyone, and yet is full of joy and learning. And I really appreciate the way she’s linked that experience to her faith, without going all gooey or fundamental about it…Involuntary Joy is a book I recommend highly to anyone seeking to be present to families undergoing the challenges of raising children with special needs, and it’s DEFINITELY a resource that churches and libraries should have on hand.

Dr. Mary Hess
St. Paul, Minnesota

Link to her complete Tensegrities blog entry.

August 21, 2007

I’m so glad my husband found out about your book. I have to admit that I took it from him and read it first. I am a much faster reader than he is, and I was afraid that if he read it first, I might not ever get it! So I read it. I cried. I hurt for you, for Mark, for Stross. Your writing made me feel as if I was there feeling every emotion along with you.  I was also transported back to the beginning of my son Stephen’s life and remembered the pain of his first year of life. I saw how real the pain was for us, yet how small when compared to yours. These are all the emotions that ran through me as I read. Then I felt I knew you. I felt joy at your honesty. I felt joy that you put into words what so many new parents who are struggling with “different” birth experiences feel. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your life and letting me look back over mine.

KaKi McKinney
North Carolina

August 18, 2007


WOW! I just finished your book, and I feel like I’ve been on an emotional journey! As is the case with good books, I couldn’t put it down, but then when it ended, I wanted to read more! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with all of us.

I found the book to be very helpful to me in my on-going struggles of whether to work full-time or part-time along with being a mom. It’s always a battle within me. So thanks for voicing those feelings so well.

Your book was also a spiritual encouragement to me! I loved your statement that you didn’t trust God to be God. Boy, I can relate to that one! I can certainly see how God has used all of these things in your life to mature you spiritually. You have some great insights and gifts to share!

I have told many of my friends and family about your book. Thanks, again, for giving of yourself and your family this way. I’d love to read Part 2!

North Carolina

August 13, 2007


I finished reading your book last week on vacation and enjoyed every chapter! Thank you to you and your family for telling your story so candidly and powerfully! After I finished reading the book, I was lonesome for you – after spending (time) with you and your family!!!

Thanks again,

Elaine Hanson

August 6, 2007

I have to tell you I loved your book. You are truly an amazing writer…I gave the book to my mom to read.  She didn’t make it past the first four pages before she was crying!!  You told an amazing story with such emotion and details. You need to keep writing, because I think your story can help a lot of people.

Linda Putney

August 2, 2007

Dear Joy:

Let me begin by saying thank you for writing “Involuntary Joy.” I got the copy I ordered in the mail just after getting the latest Harry Potter book, and I actually decided to read your book first. I’m only on Chapter 9, but I find myself already recommending it to others. And I don’t want to loan them my copy – at least not for a while, because I’m savoring this book!

This is not a “beach read” that I can fly through and still get the gist of it. I’ve connected to your book as a mother, a wife and someone in need of a spiritual awakening. I’m confident this book is going to connect with a wide range of audiences.

I’ve already discussed your father-in-law’s comment on finding a life partner with my husband and had him read your husband’s foreword. It’s creating good discussions on what we would do if our world were changed that dramatically, and I’m sure it will create more. Also, I’m now much more aware of my baby’s fetal movement and find myself acknowledging and appreciating the wonder of that on a new level.

Thank you again for sharing your story – I can’t imagine that being an easy thing to do. I just wanted you to know it was worth it by sharing what “Involuntary Joy” has already done for me. I can’t wait to see how well your book does and to hear comments from others who have read it.

If you have an e-mail list (I couldn’t see one on your website), please add me to it.  And thanks for posting additional pictures on the website for me to refer to while reading; it has helped me connect even more with your story!


Natalia Paulson
South Dakota