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Gospel Icon Bill Gaither Brightens Joey Feek’s Holidays

The holidays aren’t always a joyful time: For some, they’re filled with sadness over a lost loved one, a family far away or a life situation that simply doesn’t seem worth celebrating. Christmas and New Year’s of 2015 were tough for Joey + Rory, as the couple has been coping Joey Feek’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and while they found reasons to celebrate, Rory Feek explains in a new blog post how a dear friend helped brighten one of the darker days.

During the holidays, Joey Feek “had some good days, some bad days — some wonderful moments, and some deep pain that the morphine just couldn’t seem to touch …,” Rory Feek writes. “… Though she managed a smile most of the time, Joey’s heart was heavy, and she was feeling some things she hadn’t before … A sadness. A fear of the unknown. And even some anger — not at God, just at her situation I suppose. It’s not easy for her to be as excited about what the new year holds in store as it was last year.”

Fortunately, gospel icon Bill Gaither — a legendary gospel singer and songwriter, as well as the founder of the Gaither Music Company — was able to help.

Joey Feek’s family has known Gaither and his wife Gloria for decades — at her hometown’s high school, Bill Gaither taught English, and Gloria Gaither taught French, and Feek’s parents were students of theirs — and Joey + Rory’s gospel albums have been released through Gaither Music Group. According to Rory Feek, the Gaithers still live in Alexandria, Ind., and Bill Gaither has been visiting them nearly every day he’s not on the road.

“I think he just wants to brighten Joey’s day and create as much joy for her as he can,” Feek says. “We all do.”

Just before Christmas, Rory Feek recounts, he and his wife spotted a big fire across the pond from their house — something, it turns out, Bill Gaither had done to lift Joey Feek’s spirits.

“It was magical,” Rory Feek recalls. “… I looked over at Joey watching the flames, beaming ear-to-ear … and found myself doing the same thing.”

Feek continues, “That’s the thing about someone burning with passion — the whole world can see their light. They have something that shines so bright inside them, others can’t help but notice it in their eyes and on their faces and in their actions. They use their lives to provide some light in a dark world that can be overwhelming and scary at times. Bill has sure shined his light on us.

“Gloria is the same way,” Feek adds. “She has a way with words that most of us will never have. In early November, when this little town of Alexandria held a prayer vigil for my wife, Gloria and Bill were one of hundreds who stood out on the street in the rain and lifted Joey up to Lord in prayer. With candles, they all gathered and lit a fire that I have a feeling will keep burning long after Joey’s gone. After I’m gone.”

In February, Joey + Rory’s newest gospel album with Gaither Music Group, Hymns That Are Important to Us, will be released. The proceeds will benefit the Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation, in honor of the Feeks’ daughter Indiana‘s best friend Scout, who has Loeys-Dietz Syndrome.

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