A Caregiver’s Prayer for Rest

Here is a raw, perhaps poignant, personal peek into one of my prayer journals. Prayer journaling is often how I interact with God’s words and whispers to me when I set down to rest my weary or worried soul with Him. On this particular day, we were exploring 1 Kings 19 together. God’s side of the conversation is left justified. My own prayerful ponderings are justified toward the right-hand side.

NOTE: When I am praying this way, I do not edit myself for accuracies. In fact, I usually don’t even write in full sentences. (In this case, I did embellish my original entry to give some clarity for the reader.) I simply aim for freedom to explore my thoughts and feelings of the moment with the Lord. David often did this in the Psalms (e.g., Psalm 43). The more familiar I am with the whole of God’s story and words (the Bible), the more I can trust He will show me truth and bring me back around to any right thinking and feeling after I have worked it all through. As I shared this entry, it was tempting to “correct” my side of the narrative. I hope leaving it “real” will serve Kingdom purpose. There are a lot of different prayer journaling techniques. I would suggest that the “right” methods are any methods that draw us closer to Almighty God. Perhaps if there is anything “correct” about my process is that I am seeking intimacy with Jesus. That, my friends, is something He delights in. And I certainly do too.

Oh, how good it is to be able to enjoy intimate, personal relationship with Jesus!

My prayer is that sharing this will inspire another caregiving reader to find their own way to a fresh soul connection with their Savior too.

1  When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.

There have been times when my daughter’s needs have become very scary or intense for me as her caregiver. I have felt like I’m survival mode. When she has suffered from seizures, I become fearful. When she hasn’t slept much for days or weeks, I have been overwhelmed and emotional in sleep deprivation. I have wanted to run away from my life. Sometimes I do, in a way. When there is support staff available in the morning, I have pushed the snooze so many times trying to push off a new day with its incessant battles. I tend to hide in my bedroom at any opportunity to escape the demands that will arise as soon as Carly sees me. I avoid the kitchen when I can’t face the need to puree one more meal. I run emotionally when I feel like I am suffocating in my life.

He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.

I curl up here in my private space with my prayer journal and Bible, begging You to give me rest and peace. Sometimes I dose off because I’m just exhausted. Sometimes I doze off because I sense some rare calm around me. Sometimes I can’t stop writing. There are so many thoughts and emotions to process. Sometimes I groan inwardly because I can’t find words for the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. A blanket around me is like a haven. I want it to be the arms of someone who sees me. Someone who has made time for me.

I want more of YOU, Jesus.

But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

You bring mercies. I am prone to taking them for granted. It often feels like the mercies are so slow in coming. I get impatient, even angry, with You when Your mercies aren’t my way or in time for my wits end cries. Still, God is never too late. Somehow You let me wait until I am so far past myself that all I can see is You. And it is in that moment when my confidence in You swells and my appreciation for Jesus’ presence and power overflows in praise. I realize how generous and creative You are. I notice more details. I become more in tune with how resilient You have made me. And I become humbled and peaceful in that confidence. My renewed faith and hope is refreshing. It is a kind of rest for my soul that comes like a surprise. I drink deeply of the gift and learn how utterly reliant I am on such Divine provision of fuel and rest.

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

God’s provision and protection are generous and reliable.
Why do I ever doubt this?
I have recently been reminded of this again.
I am learning to be intentional about seeking Jesus and things that bring peace to my soul.
I am learning to differentiate selfishness from fueling my soul.
I am seeing a difference between self care from soul care.
I am learning that godly, healthy soul care makes me a giver of life rather than a taker.
Soul rest empowers me to quality caregiving and enables me to live as a servant.
This life I’ve been called to — being a full time caregiver — will continue to be too much for me.
But when I keep fueling my soul according to Jesus’ lifestyle model, I find wisdom and resilience.
When I let Jesus teach me how to rest, when I stay alert to Your mercies and allow myself to receive them, I am able to love others well.

So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

I have been desperate for You, God.
I have needed provision, protection, strength, encouragement, and other mercies to sustain me for more than two, actually three, decades of caregiving. I can look back now and see how different caregiving roles have prepared me for each next one. My grandma with dementia, my in-laws, parenting our three children, and then Carly. Time and time again, Carly’s situation has stretched me beyond the limits of my own strength. Beyond all the preparation in the world. Yet, I seem to find those caves — those “rest stops” — You provide along the way. My marriage has been stormy but also an incredible haven. Nobody in my earthly life will ever understand as Larry does. New therapies, new treatments, new perspectives from professionals, new friendships, support from family, an encouraging word, or collaboration with a peer have emerged just in time to move me forward. These things have enabled me to get up and journey on. Whenever I have felt ready to cave in, You have revealed a “cave” of some sort where I could rest and regroup.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

A gentle whisper. Wow. Oh, how often I have longed for anything of you, Jesus!
I have expected and needed You to show up in a wildly powerful way! I have waited and waited, watching Carly suffer. Feeling me or my marriage suffering through the gruel of caregiving. I have felt consumed. I’ve lost myself. Lost you. Watching Carly’s siblings wrestle with coming to terms with their own role as siblings too. And then suddenly, in the midst of those longings, You whisper. “Peace, be still.” It’s often the whispers that speak most loudly.

I need only slow down long enough to really hear You.

14 He replied again, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

Caregiving has taken everything out of me. It has stripped me of some dreams, cost me physical health, stolen valued relationships, taken joy out of my career, and more. People so often let me down. Some have betrayed me altogether as they didn’t understand what caregiving requires of me. Such pervasive impact.
The Church has often disappointed me too.
I have self-righteously felt justified in my anger.
For all the ways disability has enriched my life — and there are too many ways to count — there has been frequent loneliness and isolation.

I have feared what would happen to Carly if I were the only one left.

15 Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16 Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. 

Delegation is essential. God’s provision of helpers is essential. Moses’ father-in-law taught him that. I must maintain hope and trust that God loves Carly even more than I do. He will make a way where there seems no solution, little/no hope for her future protection. I am praying You will show us where the Hazaels and Jehus and Elishas are. Make way for Carly to enjoy the hope and future You promise. Ensure that her sisters don’t bear an unwieldy burden. They, too, will need helpers.

God, bring relief.
Prepare troops for today and for such time as you call me Home.

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

Have you heard about the new award-winning documentary UNSEEN?

Many parent caregivers for children or adults who are disabled or medically complex are exhausted and isolated. Their mental and physical struggle is a public health crisis that costs us all. The award-winning “UNSEEN” documentary gives an unfiltered, honest glimpse into their lives to enable a change for millions of caregivers and their families.

View the trailer here: https://youtu.be/kykQIaTMnoM

There was a worldwide online premiere in May when the film also won an LA Film Award, and more screenings are in the works! The filmmakers are partnering with nonprofits, advocacy groups, companies, churches and more to reach lawmakers, healthcare providers, company leadership, and other members of the non-caregiver community to discuss the issues and start conversations. If you’re interested in hosting a screening, you can let them know here: caregiverdoc.com/host-a-screening/


  • Caregivers, check out the Caregiver Toolbox (caregiverdoc.com/caregiver-resources/) to learn about our partner organizations that are dedicated to serving caregivers.
  • If you’re looking for action steps, check out the Viewer Screening Kit (caregiverdoc.com/download-unseen-viewer-screening-kit). It includes reflection guides for individuals, employers, and healthcare providers, ideas for supporting caregivers, and more.

Four Ways to Become a More Satisfied Special Needs Dad

We’ve been celebrating dads this past weekend. And so we should. They have a uniquely tough, demanding, relentless, and nuanced role in parenting. And when they have a child with extra needs, they bear a role that can be intimidating, confusing, overwhelming, scary, and feel relatively thankless.

I hear stories all the time from parents with children impacted by disability and/or complex health issues. Common themes in the experiences of dads include worry about their adequacy in contributing to the wellbeing of their families and concern about having satisfying connections with their spouse and children.

My hope is to encourage fathers and offer perspective about opportunities in four areas where many struggle.

Get free of your guilt.

When dad is the primary breadwinner, he may spend many hours apart from the direct household responsibilities. This is one factor in why moms and dads process their reactions to disability differently too. For example, if mom is the only one going to doctor appointments and hearing news first-hand with opportunity to ask direct questions, she will have a different awareness level. This will impact her unique timeline for internalizing things like fear and disappointment and may help her to develop discernment and confidence more quickly about specific caregiving responsibilities.

Whatever your circumstances with disability have been, it seems dads wrestle with a different type of guilt than moms do. And from what I hear, many dads are intimidated by all the wonderful things their kids’ moms are doing for their child. Dads carry concerns about present and future provision for the family. If they work long hours, they feel guilty about leaving mom alone with the children. They feel shame about having a way to “escape,” even if it is at work. Some wish they could attend more doctor appointments or wrestle to understand more of the medical or educational jargon.

Dads often want to be more supportive but feel limited.

Healing from guilt starts with taking an honest look at your personal weaknesses and strengths in your situation. (Look as closely at your strengths as you do your weaknesses.) Talk to your spouse about your feelings. Ask your child’s mom to share her view on your strengths and opportunities. (I hope both are learning to frequently express appreciation and affirmation for the value of the other’s role before skipping straight to opportunities.) Identify a couple of untapped opportunities together and consider how you can cooperate in taking a new step toward something for the family that will be mutually satisfying for parents and kids.

This could be as simple as a daily dance party or 10-minute piggyback ride. Fifteen minutes of special “dad time” with your child every day will last forever in their memory and be a heart-swelling gift to their mom too.

Hebrews 4:16
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Process chronic grief.

Do you experience flares of anger, anxiety, or panic? You are not alone. Particularly since the pandemic, more people than ever are reporting increased stress, fatigue, strained relationships, loneliness, and anxiety-related health issues. With the added responsibilities of being a special needs parent, it is very understandable that you would be struggling with complicated thoughts and emotions.

Have you considered whether your reactions may be related to the way disability or special needs are impacting your life, your family, your future? When you are the parent of a child with high needs or someone relies on you for long-term oversight, there can be a great sense of weight rumbling in your gut. There can be many reasons behind the intense or negative emotions we feel, and it can be difficult to navigate what feels complicated or consuming. It’s worth taking time to understand the true root of our thoughts and feelings. Ambiguous, even mysterious, feelings need a safe space to breathe, to be explored.

Contrary to how many dads feel, it shows courage and strength to seek help. The enemy of your soul would love to see you stay isolated and silent on this front. Yet pushing down nagging thoughts, taunting worries, and ongoing frustrations puts you at risk of future health issues and deteriorating relationships.

Most emotionally and physically healthy parents and marriages impacted by disability are getting counseling where they can unpack complicated layers of their experience. Each person in your family is processing the experience of disability in their unique way and in their own timing. Learning to understand and respect each other is very valuable to each one’s mental health and opens doors for richness in relationships.

Dealing with grief is not easy. Thankfully, you can be processing sorrow and disappointment while also experiencing the joys and delights of fathering. When you allow yourself that vulnerability with God, yourself, and your family, you will discover a rich quality of life that comes only from sharing it. It takes ongoing attention and energy to tend to hard thoughts and emotions. But it is worth it. And it becomes a tremendous gift to your family when you take care of yourself and share your grieving process together.

2 Corinthians 6:4-10 
In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

You can be processing sorrow and disappointment while also experiencing the joys and delights of fathering.

Make connection with your child more important than compliance or developmental progress.

At the end of the day — and at the end of your life, or your child’s life — what will matter more to you, to your child, and to the rest of your family is not how obedient or well-behaved they were, or even how much developmental progress was made, but the quality of relational connections you enjoyed. Maybe you need to read that again?

Every parent delights in seeing their children thriving. We all hope our children will experience blessings of health and reaching their full potential in various ways. But the depth of bond we make with our children and spouses will weigh more than gifts, accomplishments, and any developmental progress that was made.

Slow down. Look your child in their eyes every day. Get to know your child and learn how to enjoy today, this summer, and this year with them. You will never get this season back.

Watch, ask, and learn: What is it like to be you?

Don’t wait to work on your relationship with your child and make memories with them. The simplest encounters you share in the day-to-day moments may become the most profound or influential ones to accumulate meaning for them. Work at it with intentionality and stay available for the cherished things, one day at a time.

Romans 8:38-39
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 12:16
Live in harmony with each other.

Prioritize the blessing of forgiveness.

Life and relationships are messy. We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. Special needs dads, like any parents, are learning and growing new perspectives about how to lead their complex families. God offers do-overs.

There is life-giving, legacy-building blessing in making amends where there has been conflict or sin in the past. It is never ever too late for reconciliation. No child or parent is too old to experience a relationship freed and refreshed by grace. That means taking a step toward offering forgiveness, even when it isn’t deserved. It also means receiving forgiveness from your child too, even when you don’t feel deserving of it.

There is so much power in a reflective, heart-felt apology. It’s a value parents do well to pass on to their children. There is power from the Holy Spirit to pour out renewal between loved ones. There is power in modeling for the next generation what it looks like to embrace a lifestyle of empathy, humility, and grace.

Offer forgiveness without expectations and allow time for healing to unfold. Just as healing from physical or developmental disabilities can be a process that takes time, so does relational healing unfold in layers. Even if it is just one layer at a time, your steps of faith toward God and others will be multiplied.

1 John 1:9
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Galatians 6:4
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

RELATED: The Big Do Over

RELATED: How to Become a Different Dad

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

Family Update and Thoughts On Memorial Day

Periodic family updates seem to be of interest to readers, and it has been a while since I reported family news. So, after I pivot briefly to reflect on Memorial Day, I’ll turn to some recent highlights of a more personal nature and our transition to summer.

We lost a friend this week. It was a tragic yard accident. Norm was a veteran who very recently turned 82 years old. I can hardly stop thinking about the heartache of his family and their lack of opportunity to say those “good-bye-for-nows.” While they can rejoice with absolute assurance He is with Jesus, their sorrow and loss weigh heavily.

We rarely know the day or the hour. Even when we do, our hearts and minds resist the warning.

On Memorial Weekend, we honor veterans who have passed — whether in active duty or in some other way. We honor their families who shared the sacrifice too, especially when that involved long times apart or concerns about safety. In many cases, each heart bears the sting of multiple goodbyes, long before the final one.

As a mom to someone with disabilities, I’ve heard many people say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I wonder how many times veterans’ loved ones are told that as they wait for a returning solder or grieve one that will never return.

It’s an unfair and unbiblical statement.

The misunderstanding may come from applying 1 Corinthians 10:13 out of context:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. 
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

It is true that God won’t tempt us with more than we can handle. The promise of this verse is that God will always show us a way to avoid sin. The real issue behind that earlier statement is whether God will allow or send extreme circumstances into our lives that are beyond endurable. In the context of suffering that is not related to sin, God absolutely does allow (or even give) us more than we can handle, at times.

Clearly, life presents times of tremendous heartbreak or overwhelming adversity. Tragedies, losses, suffering, caregiving demands outside of our ability to fix or solve can seem impossible to handle. Jesus, himself, declared that suffering and disability are not about any person’s specific sin (see John 9:1-5). Sickness and death, the broadest sense, are about original sin (as in Adam and Eve) but not necessarily anyone’s personal sin.

RELATED: When Jesus Meets Disability by John Piper

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, we get a sense of why God might give us more than we can handle. We can look to a time when Paul was so extremely hard-pressed that he couldn’t imagine living through it:

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”

Paul wanted others to learn what he had learned. He wanted it known that hope and endurance are possible. God wants us to learn from Paul that our best confidence comes from Christ alone and that our community of helpers (prayer warriors, most specifically) matter greatly.

Our best confidence comes from Christ alone and that our community of helpers (prayer warriors, most specifically) matter greatly.

It’s worth noting that getting rescued doesn’t always mean protected from death, as it did in this particular case with Paul. Answered prayers can look different than we expect. That’s a conversation for another day. For now, it is enough to say that Jesus’ ultimate rescue mission was to release us from condemnation and eternal death. He is most concerned with our souls. In the meantime, He will provide mercies to our circumstances through mysterious ways and timing. While we wait, and most important of all, He teaches us that we can trust God to get us through the slog.

Paul’s message was that we might, as a matter of fact, be given much more than we can handle so that we can discover confidence in Christ and the value of prayerful community. Even Paul had to get to the end of himself to discover the greatness of God and praying friends.

Our prayers for veterans and soldiers matter. Our prayers for their families matter.

My family fights a kind of battle every day. I do not intend to make comparison to the immense sacrifice our soldiers make at war, but I do want to underscore that suffering and sorrow demand an enormous faith, along with the help of praying friends. And sometimes that means a commitment over many years. For all of us.

No matter how many years have gone by since a veteran has passed, their loved ones still benefit from prayers. Your ongoing prayers for families battling heavy weights of caregiving, complex medical issues, or mental health issues matter too. My family knows this very well, and I want to thank you for praying for us, and others.

As you may know from recent blogs and updates, we have been in a season of extreme sleep deprivation, crisis staff shortage, and tedious medical issues with Carly. We have been desperate for more rest and wisdom on the home front while needing to hire a Ministry Assistant at Walk Right In Ministries (as Deb stepped back this spring to care for her own family).

We tried to recruit help throughout the winter until that process, too, became exhausting. Then we all had Covid in early May. We’ve been living at varying degrees of our wits end. Many times, we have cried out like Paul, “how will we live through this?”

Paul had to get to the end of himself to discover the greatness of God and praying friends.

Thankfully, I can report that Larry and I have each been experiencing fresh perspectives from God’s Word and learning new coping skills. I will not pretend it has been pretty, friends. This has been a messy season emotionally, logistically, spiritually, relationally. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “we’re not perfect but we’re making progress overall, by the grace of God.”

Prayers and community have been game changers. But the opportunity to lean into Jesus more intimately and intentionally shifts us from desperation back toward peace, joy and a rest in the soul.

Mercies in various forms have also come, temporary as some may be. In April and May, there was a disability conference, an extremely caring waitress, a long weekend in Canada’s Niagara area for my high school reunion, and a note with flowers that simply read, “You are not forgotten.”

Praise God we are fully staffed with caregiver support staff until early August (at which time we will be desperately recruiting again). Our daughter Erin will be visiting in early July. Our daughter Alex will be moving somewhere nearby soon (hoping the real estate market settles down for an optimal opportunity).

My imminent aim is to squeeze all the joy and rest out of this summer “honeymoon” with help that I can. I am working on a number of blog articles to queue up for a few weeks.

I am excited this season will include some terrific guest posts for you too. We have a line-up of contributors from the Walk Right In Ministries community including authors and leaders in the disability ministry arena who will be sharing. I know you’re going to enjoy hearing from them. Many of these esteemed folks are, like me, caregivers for loved ones with disabilities. Some even have disabilities themselves. Their expertise and perspectives are so valuable.

All of this will afford me some extra space to enjoy the treats (and chores) of summer and preparation for Jammin’ Pie Fest coming in the fall. That amazing event scheduled for the afternoon of October 2nd will be our first one back since before the pandemic in 2019.

Thank you for reading this far, for caring about us, and for praying for Walk Right In Ministries and the Jamieson family.

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

Extraordinary Service

It was 6:30 pm on a Saturday night and we weren’t dressed for it.

We’d been browsing garden stores for the afternoon and ordering Larry’s new grill for Father’s Day. After two weeks isolated at home with Covid-19, Larry, Carly and I were relishing the freedom of meandering and being around real live people (not people on screens). Our adventures had run long though and now we three were a hungry bunch.

There was little doubt our favorite restaurant would have a long wait at this time of the weekend. So, we hatched a plan. I started to call in a curbside pickup order for Larry and me, and we would warm leftovers at home for Carly. But as I dialed the restaurant and Larry pulled us out of Lowe’s parking lot, we both dreamed for a moment about dining in. It was too much to imagine the relaxation of someone else warming and serving our meals.

Such a ridiculous idea. Restaurants are never a relaxing place with our Carly. Also, her meals have become more complicated lately with special dietary and food prep needs. We didn’t have her dinner medications along either.

Still, as they say, you can’t blame a girl for trying. So, I asked. The wait was 30 minutes. That would really be pushing Carly’s limit. For that matter, I might be hangry myself soon.

Larry swung around the corner to find a parking spot after dropping me off to get us on the list. That’s when a series of mercies that started 24 hours earlier grew momentum. The hostess rechecked her board and found a table open immediately.

Larry and I have dined at this restaurant easily more than a hundred times. But we have never taken Carly to dine there with us. During the pandemic, we ordered curbside a lot though. It kept life feeling a little normal, we thought, while also helping our favorite place stay in business.

Unfortunately, Carly’s restaurant eating has been on pause for several months with the exception of a nice refried bean and guacamole treat at the Mexican place down the street. Recent progression of issues with chewing, choking, and digestion, have required that I purée most of what she’s eating. In any case, I had already started mentally scanning this familiar menu for new ideas of soft things she might manage without spending the rest of the evening suffering reflux and other gastric issues.

Our two favorite servers weren’t available but we were just glad for any table. Despite it being a busy prom night, there were a few tables both inside and outside. It was a gorgeous evening. Eating outside seemed the easier choice. Any spills or extra noise would go less noticed out there. But we hadn’t brought jackets or sweaters and it cools off quickly this time of the evening in May.

So I asked for inside seating and was escorted swiftly to a table with a white cloth. As we approached the table, I almost asked for a booth without a tablecloth. Every parent of a child with developmental challenges knows the necessity of proactively managing potentials for disaster. I imagined Carly giving that crisp cloth a good tug at some point shortly after the table was filled with drinks and plates of food. But something in me just said, “Lisa, just roll with it.”

Before Larry arrived with Carly and her backpack, there were three glasses of water set in front of me.

Carly sat down and frowned, immediately scanning the room in curiosity as if wondering where in the world we were. Never ever in our wildest dreams did we ever ever imagine ourselves here just hours before. And we still had no idea what a surprise was yet to unfold.

Carly’s eyes scanned the room. I’m sure she was quite curious about the unfamiliar atmosphere but what she wanted most was food — and FAST!
Proud dad is staying hopeful about an unchaotic meal.
Meanwhile Carly frowns with hope that the wait for food won’t be long.

The woman serving us was exceedingly kind. She began asking a couple questions about Carly and explained that her son (now 31 yrs old) was born with cerebral palsy. She patiently brainstormed menu options with me (because Carly has complex dietary and food prep needs that would normally keep us from such an outing). It was at that moment it also occurred to me that it was Carly’s 24th birthday yesterday. How ironic that we were all about to receive a very memorable treat and honor.

Then that dear woman, Marilee, brought Carly a special beverage (complimentary, of course).

Again, she returned to our table just a few moments later. And that’s when Marilee went way above and beyond. She offered to feed Carly so we could relax and eat our own meals!

Our first reaction was to graciously express appreciation but brush off such kindness. But lo and behold, she came back a couple of minutes later, pulled up a chair, indicated she had only one other table of guests at the moment, and proceeded to ask for instructions about how Carly needed to be fed.

I cannot find words to adequately express how this moved us.

Merilee at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

JAMES 1:17
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father. 

God is ever faithful. These have been among the hardest several weeks we’ve lived in a long long time.

Yet, in the 24 hours culminating in that restaurant moment, God’s mercies shone so unexpectedly and beautifully. Alex, Carly’s older sister who lives nearby, had visited for her birthday and offered to put Carly to bed for us so we could go to sleep early Friday night. Then Carly’s friend, Claire, came early Saturday morning and worked for 6 hours so we could sleep late. Larry and I had the longest night of sleep we’ve had in many weeks.

And now, this dear woman at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano was actually feeding our daughter part of her dinner!

It was a dreamy Saturday.

Only the God of the universe could have orchestrated such grace.

1 In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
    May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
May he send you help from his sanctuary
    and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
May he remember all your gifts
    and look favorably on your burnt offerings. 

May he grant your heart’s desires
    and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
    and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers.

Now I know that the Lord rescues his anointed king.
    He will answer him from his holy heaven
    and rescue him by his great power.
Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
    but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.
Those nations will fall down and collapse,
    but we will rise up and stand firm.

Give victory to our king, O Lord!
    Answer our cry for help.

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

Life Is in the Details When Special Needs Parenting

There are just so many details to navigate.

Visions of summer vacations are starting to creep into my head. It may only be April, but I am anxious for some breaks and really looking forward to connection opportunities with family.

Planning and preparing for vacations are overwhelming though. Traveling with someone who has disabilities or complex health conditions is complicated. Honestly, that is putting it mildly. I’ve learned some tricks for easing the logistics and emotions over the years. Still, I wrestle every time with my lists and goals, various worries, hopes and dreams, frustration, disappointments, resentment and more.

Life for families impacted by disability and other special needs are often consumed by details. And the need to function with great intention.

Earlier in the winter, we had opportunity to visit my parents in sunny Arizona. Carly’s special dietary needs involved pre-ordering some specialty items through Amazon and having those delivered ahead of time. Other grocery items were ordered online for curbside pickup. I coordinated with grandma for a convenient retrieval shortly before our arrival. Even as my folks headed out the door the day after Christmas to drive south, I remembered to send a box of incontinence supplies with them so we wouldn’t require that extra load on the plane in February.

A couple of months later, we flew with an extra bag filled with more things Carly would need for a comfortable, healthy trip. This included an adapted swim jacket, a couple of toys, medications dosed out for two weeks (plenty of extra in case our return got delayed due to Covid/other) and more.

In the meantime, my mom already keeps a few special items on hand for our almost-annual trips to their winter retreat. The “Carly blanket” is one such example. We do not take for granted the thoughtful investment our extended family makes in caring for Carly’s detailed needs.

This time, the rental house we visited had a pool. This was a wonderful bonus since Covid distancing and Carly’s unusual gastrointestinal issues can be a hindrance to public swimming. The weather was also on the cool side so grandpa could turn up the water temperature for greater comfort. God knew these details even before any of us did. I love to see His gracious hand that way!

There was just one problem with the pool. It was hard to keep Carly away from the underwater steps where she constantly wanted to climb, sit and splash. It had a rough surface, and she had no discernment about what that was doing to her shins.

Within the first few minutes, her legs were bloody raw. And due to Carly’s poor circulation in her limbs, abrasions heal very slowly.

As of today, a full 8 weeks later, those wounds are still healing. Of course, as is par for the course, they have healed more quickly than expected because we’ve learned exactly what brand of lotion is most helpful and how frequently we need to apply it in order to heal them most quickly.

So many details. We are literally swimming in them.

God knows about details. He was hyper in tune with them too. Take a look at a couple of examples:

Exodus 25:8-16
8 “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you. 10 “Have the people make an Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. 11 Overlay it inside and outside with pure gold, and run a molding of gold all around it. 12 Cast four gold rings and attach them to its four feet, two rings on each side. 13 Make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 Insert the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it. 15 These carrying poles must stay inside the rings; never remove them. 16 When the Ark is finished, place inside it the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you.

Psalm 139:13-14
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:1-6
O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

God’s attention to detail may have been confusing or felt demanding, at times. It gives me comfort to understand some of His motivations. For example, the reason for the tabernacle details included the nature of a most holy God but also “so I (God) can live among them” (Exodus 25:8).

Scripture itself is woven together in way that clarifies and proves Jesus as the incarnate God. Conservatively, Jesus fulfilled at least 300 prophecies in His earthly ministry.

I also love knowing that God cares about our specific needs, and He doesn’t fault us for being uniquely wired (Psalm 139).

Our lifestyle in the details with Carly may be absurd to people. Some judge our attentiveness to them as overkill, a lack of boundaries, or simply overwhelming. In complete exasperation, my own daughter once referred to us as a high-maintenance family as we prepared to leave for a vacation. I am well aware that we are not always of sound mind. Sleep deprivation weakens both wisdom and willpower. But believe me, some of our decisions make life immeasurably better for Carly and, just as important, easier for us.

We live near the end of our ropes more days than I can say. So, if something is going to make caregiving easier, you’ll probably find me right there!

It is a blessing that I am a detail-oriented person. I’m not just good at managing the minutia. I also get a certain amount of satisfaction out of keeping things well-coordinated. That’s a handy passion for a caregiver.

Every caregiver needs to find and optimize their own unique sweet spots. Details are one of mine.

RELATED: “Sweet Spots” series of articles.

Nonetheless, we must constantly be proactive while holding plans loosely. The nature of disability and health issues is that things will invariably go wrong or differently than expected. No manner of micro-managing ever plays out exactly as we hope. Still, we’ve gotten pretty darn good at — for better, or for worse.

I’m thankful that God’s mercy has been seen in the healing of pool wounds, forgotten medications, lost toys, even a lost iPad once. His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Despite our ability to ensure that all the details are perfectly managed, and the vacation goes off without hitch, we are making memories. It has always been worth the effort to make family time. Couples time too.

When love is ingrained in the details, there is always a win for everyone.

I am most thankful that God’s reason for details is always about His love. His detail orientation always assures us that He is trustworthy.

God help me — may all of my own attention to details be foremost about love.

Psalm 37:23-24
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall, 
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

As a caregiver, I can grow so weary of the countless and consuming nature of all the details! And when I focus my attention on the object of those particulars, fine points, and contingencies, I am vulnerable to making an idol of controlling life instead of living in love.

Lord, help me live in the details while abiding in Love.

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

Parents Make Hard Decisions for Their Kids

We live in a post Easter world. What mercy! I don’t want to imagine being Carly’s mom — being any kind of person, in any kind of role — in a world without Jesus, the cross, the empty tomb.

I know that you know what I’m talking about. You don’t have to be the parent of someone who is suffering to appreciate the magnitude of what Jesus has done and how desperately we rely on capturing the vision He had in order to endure. And even endure toward JOY.

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (see Hebrews 11 for an historic list), let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I need that absolute assurance of God’s power and love. You see, things like pain, confusion, and fatigue recur frequently in our home. I am utterly reliant on God for help, healing, hope, wisdom, peace — for literally everything. This past week was another good example.

But the examples go way back. Thankfully, the roots of my faith are growing deeper with practice. As I’ve heard so many older parents of children with special needs say, I’ve learned what it takes to be more resilient than I used to be. I just wish I could grow like this without so many “practice” drills.

There was a time many years ago when we were implementing a new physical therapy with Carly. She didn’t like it. No doubt, she was confused by why she was being moved in uncomfortable positions. We had more than a few conversations about whether the payoff would outweigh potential psychological damage we might inadvertently do by pushing through her resistance. We certainly didn’t want to traumatize her.

In the end, it seemed we needed to trust God to help us in two ways. We asked God to cause the therapy to accomplish everything it was intended to do and also protect her from any and all potential negative side effects. We aimed to trust Him for that, and we were really intentional about trying to build Carly’s trust in our love for her, even though it might have seemed to her, at times, like we were being cruel.

A loving parent does that all the time. We do hard things for the good of our children. We know it could be years, or never, before they understand why we did what we did.

This last week, Carly underwent extensive medical testing for chronic and escalating gastric motility problems. For any average person, the tests would not have been difficult. But for Carly, they were nearly impossible. Getting her through the tests, in some ways, carried high risks (e.g., seizures, bowel blockage, emotional trauma). Given the risks, you might wonder why we pursued the testing at all.

Parenting involves making hard choices on behalf of our child. Sometimes our decisions even cause the child pain. At some point, a parent determines the potential benefits outweigh the potential negative consequences.

Seeing one’s child in pain is heartbreaking for a parent. It doesn’t matter whether their pain is physical or emotional. Few things are as painful for a parent as seeing their child hurting or threatened and not be able to fix it for them. It’s a unique kind of pain when you fear you actually contributed to it.

What kind of pain does God feel when He sees His own children suffering, knowing He can stop it. He is well aware of His intention to allow it. Yet He never allows our pain without great purpose.

In the middle of another sleepless night this week, I was second-guessing a couple of our decisions. One test required us to pause her daily bowel regimen for a week. Surely, she would develop a blockage. We could only pray that it would clear quickly once the testing was done. Another of the tests Carly was having required that we pause all of her critical seizure, sleep and anxiety medications for a full 48 hours. The risks involved in doing that were obviously high. Even as I typed this, Carly had only slept during four of the last eighty hours. (She’s back on all of her meds now but it’s taking considerable time for her system to reset.)

So, while I was praying through another wits end moment at 3 am on Good Friday morning, I realized that part of my stress and sorrow was coming from the sense of pressure and responsibility I was feeling for what was happening. I had put a lot of energy — or shall we say thought, effort, and emotion — into getting the best possible information and outcomes with the least amount of pain for Carly. And for us. It’s a natural response.

I needed a supernatural response.

In that dark bedroom, I searched my memories for any scripture that might comfort and reassure me.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

How many of us are well acquainted with fighting with spiritual weaponry. Yet we fail to credit God with power to absolutely demolish strongholds with His wholeness! We need breakthroughs in areas of health, unbelief, false mindsets, health, development, and so much more.

Somewhere between my knowing I’m reliant on God for everything in this messy life and trusting Him implicitly, I still gravitate toward feeling responsible for fixing things — for making the breakthrough happen.

You might say that comes with being a mom. Or you might say that is a lack of trust in God. In my heart, I know that I tend to usurp His authority. And that is sin. Yet He loves me without condemnation (Romans 8:1) and patiently trains me up in the way I should go (Proverbs 22:6).

Sometimes the rough stuff comes because of someone’s weakness or sin. Other times, life is troubling and it’s just nobody’s fault at all. Either way, God uses those things to grow us up in everything from character to perseverance and faith (Romans 5:1-8). If we let Him.

I get a little off sometimes. I put my focus on the discipline rather than on my Father. The resurrected Jesus. He is where the strength is. He is where the peace comes from. Friends, He is why, no matter what, there is joy set before us!

Our circumstances are often a training ground of sorts. Our Almighty Trainer and Coach leads us with authority, wisdom, and exceeding concern for our ultimate wellbeing.

I am thankful God never puts the pressure on me to carry the authority. I am thankful that, no matter what, there is joy. Even at the cross, there was joy!

Some lessons need to be learned, and learned again.

Thank you, Jesus, that You died, and You rose. You did it once. And that was enough. (Romans 6:9-10)

I’ll keep coming back to that.

Hebrews 12:7-13
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 

11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

Creating Space for Special Siblings

Two in every seven families has at least one member with a disability (US Census Bureau 2007). And an April 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 1 in 59 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These are just two statistics that suggest our churches are filled with individuals from families experiencing special needs—or they should be if they are reflecting the demographics of the communities around them.

Among those affected by the challenges associated with disability are the siblings. It’s fair to say that many special-needs siblings are bringing a myriad of spoken and unspoken needs to their parents and their churches. And this presents us with unique opportunities to connect with siblings in ways that ripple positively into their families, throughout our faith communities, and the world.


Nick’s brother has autism and is nonverbal. During Nick’s wedding vows, his brother started making noise. The pastor pressed on while many wedding guests resisted the urge to stare. A caregiver whisked Nick’s brother out of the sanctuary as quickly as possible. The next day, Nick expressed regret about how the situation was handled. To the surprise of his family, Nick had wished his brother would have been kept in the service, even if it was disruptive for others.

Lauren’s older sister has Down syndrome and loves to dress up. On the day of Lauren’s wedding, her sister was over the moon with excitement. When it was her turn to walk down the aisle with her groomsman partner, Lauren’s sister made a cute scene that guests will never forget. Lauren wrestled privately with resentment. As had happened so many times before, Lauren felt her sister had stolen her own special moment. 

Liz’s brother has cerebral palsy. Liz’s mom told the children’s pastor that Liz will be her brother’s buddy so he can participate in Vacation Bible School. Liz is enthusiastically helpful with her brother but sometimes wishes she could interact like a sister instead of a caregiver during church family activities. Liz’s mother hopes her daughter will attend summer camp with her sister one day too. It gives her great comfort to know her daughter is so experienced with her sister’s needs.

Jamie’s sister came bounding into the youth group room ready for her favorite part of Friday nights—the worship. In between dancing and bouncing, she was giving hugs and would occasionally drool on other students. Jamie is embarrassed by her sister but wishes her friends were more accepting. It gets tiring for Jamie to have to explain her sister’s behavior with friends at school, when visiting her house and at church. Sometimes she wishes the youth leaders would speak up and encourage more understanding so Jamie wouldn’t always be the one having to give the education. 

Marta remembers enjoying youth group where she could have fun with her friends without thinking about the complexities of life at home. Nobody ever talked about her sister there and Marta was relieved she didn’t have to answer a lot of questions like she did at school. She liked that she wasn’t treated differently at youth group because she had a sister who was frequently hospitalized and needed constant attention at home. 

Danielle is the third generation in her family to attend Trinity Church. She enjoys the weekly women’s Bible study small group while her new baby is in the nursery. Lately, she’s been struggling with how to ask for prayer for her family because the situation with her adult brother is growing complicated. He acquired a brain injury after an accident during his toddler years. The fact that her parents are aging caregivers is weighing on her mind. She wants to request prayer but respects her parents’ desire for privacy. 

WATCH RELATED: Guests Erin and Lisa Jamieson at April 2018 Roundtable on Siblings

Did any of these sibling reactions surprise you?

In circumstances like these, how might parents, church leaders, friends, extended family, and others come alongside the special-needs siblings and communicate most effectively with them?

It’s worthwhile for us to explore some “best practices” for communicating with those who have a sibling with special needs.

  1. Be willing to initiate conversation and ask questions. Step into communication with intention. Your interest and willingness to engage in caring conversation matters.
  2. Make all topics and needs safe to express. Siblings of someone with special needs may feel their wants or needs have to take a back seat to the needs of others in their family. They may not feel empowered to advocate for themselves. Someone who has a sibling who is non-verbal may be accustomed to expecting more intuitive communication. As a result, they may not be inclined to voice their needs and hopes or be in touch with their feelings. They may take for granted that others will know what they want.
  3. Be careful about making assumptions. Get to know what really matters to a sibling. Different families and individuals will have their own unique preferences, even in similar situations. Furthermore, situations and preferences can change. You won’t necessarily be able to anticipate what they want without a deeper understanding of their situation and the family dynamics involved.
  4. Remain sensitive to the ebb and flow of stages and seasons. A sibling’s need for information and understanding may vary depending on their age, maturity and changing circumstances. For example, times of transition (e.g., a move up to youth group, a graduation, a move out of the home, a wedding, the death of a parent) are good times to ask questions and learn what may be helpful. No matter who is facing the transition in the family, it affects each family member differently and disability often adds layers of logistical, emotional and relational complexity.
  5. Commit to persevering prayer. Individuals in a family with special needs are often hesitant to ask for prayer. For example, many worry about sounding like a “broken record,” alienating people or wearying friends with the details of their challenges. Keep an open invitation for prayer requests. Those friends who ask for updates and follow through are highly valued.

Fostering great communication with the siblings of people with special needs can have far-reaching benefits for them, for their family, for you, and for your entire church.

RELATED: Special Needs Siblings Will Make Remarkable Future Leaders

This post is adapted from an article by Lisa Jamieson that first appeared in the Key Ministries blog April 15, 2018.

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

Finding Open Doors and Hearts

My beloved shoe repair shop is gone. Carly and I headed over there the other day because I was hoping to get a favorite leather purse fixed. I knew our local cobbler would be perfect for the job. He would have all the necessary tools, along with a willing and flexible spirit.

He filled some valuable needs for us in the early 2000s. Most notably, when Carly was very young, and her foot supination was needing attention. He rose to the occasion. We had been advised to find a shoemaker who could add a wedge on the outside edge of Carly’s soles. They would help neutralize her positioning, protect her from injury, and support healthy growth and development.

I enjoyed that shoe guy immensely. In stature, warmth and even facial features, he reminded me of Geppetto, the old woodcarver who created Pinocchio. His empty windows made me sad but grateful with nostalgia.

Our beloved shoe repair shop, closed and vacated. (March 2022)

Times are different now. Covid has changed so much. But the culture was already shifting. These days, people rarely need shoe repairs. After all, many of us lived in our socks and slippers for the better part of 2020 and 2021! Also, with the quality of how things are made now, and the nature of people being enticed by shiny new things, we tend to replace rather than repair or renew anymore. I predict the repurposing movement may never make its way to clothing with the same gusto it has for furniture and nick knacks.

Still, when we really need our shoe guy, nobody else will do. He might fulfill a small niche need, but it’s an important one and few others can step in to fill that “shoe.”

Now friends, I really like my purse. I want it fixed pretty badly. It is disappointing and frustrating that I have very few options left, at this point. I’ve been told that one option is to take it to a leather repair shop that is going to charge me $50 for the repair. That’s not going to happen. The other option is start calling other shops to see if they can give me a cost estimate before I start driving far across town to the very few and far-flung options that are left.

Seriously, I don’t have time or energy for this.

This is where my mind pivoted to something I often hear my clients say. They have been desperate to find counselors who truly understand their situation as caregivers. They desperately want specialized and credible encouragement and practical application for their very complicated lives and all from a foundation of Christian values. They need a counseling “shoe” that really fits.

One mom’s voice often rises to the top of stories I’ve heard over the years:

“I had received counseling, but it was really difficult because not many people understand the dynamic that we go through. And the first time I talked with Lisa, I remember thinking to myself, finally somebody gets it. Somebody hears me and somebody understands. She understands but she never left me to continue to wallow in my pity. She reminded me of God’s truth, of God’s promises, and all in the context of understanding as someone who had literally walked in my same shoes. I heard it better from someone who suffered sleepless nights. I heard it better from someone who had taken her child to have speech therapy, occupational therapy, swallow studies, you name it. Her encouragement came from a different place. And it meant the difference, for me, between life and death. I literally was suicidal the day I spoke with her. I had made a plan and she convinced me otherwise.”

WRIM Counseling Client

I share this so you have a sense of where my personal passion comes from, but more so because this represents a grossly under-recognized heart cry of parents and family members who are caregivers.

This kind of desperation needs a voice and a platform. These friends need help. A unique kind of help.

When the Board of Directors for Walk Right In Ministries met in early March for our annual meeting, there was a great deal of discussion around this subject. WRIM fits a unique niche offering services that an extreme few others offer anywhere in the world.

Walk Right In Ministries is on mission to build faith and community with families impacted by disability and special health needs.

RELATED: Watch “About Walk Right In Ministries”

Caregiving families, depending on the degree of health or developmental complexities involved, have many and varied needs. And there can be sources of help for many of those needs ranging from government benefits to charities and business that provide everything from adapted equipment, home modifications, horseback riding or music therapy, and braille books to specialized financial planning and legal counsel. But a caregiving parent who wants a Christian counselor who is experienced working with someone raising a child with disabilities or complex health needs will be hard-pressed to find it.  

We’ve been preparing for Reach Night 2022 here at Walk Right In Ministries. That’s our annual virtual fundraiser. And the focus this year will be on raising money, specifically for counseling scholarships. Last year, WRIM offered $18,000 in scholarships to families seeking Christian counseling and discipleship services.

You may or may not have known exactly what our niche is at WRIM. You also have been unaware of how great the need is for what we do and how hard it is to find people and organizations who do it. Come hear the stories. Learn more about what an amazing difference these kinds of services are making for families living with disability. There will be music from national, award-winning artists too!

RELATED: Watch Impact Stories from Reach Night 2021. There will be more exciting stories like these at Reach Night 2022!

Walk Right In Ministries welcomes and needs financial support. Gifts to WRIM make several things possible:

  • People with disabilities, their caregivers, and their families will be encouraged. They will feel seen, valued, and understood. They will have unique spiritual and emotional needs met, not just their physical and lifestyle needs.
  • WRIM will be able to increase our investment in a growing team of trained therapists, coaches, and mentors who specialize in caregiver support.
  • Caregiver-focused counseling, training and discipleship support groups will be readily accessible, regardless of someone’s ability to pay.
    Note: As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, WRIM offers many counseling scholarships and a sliding fee scale. No one is ever turned away.
  • Other organizations will increasingly recognize faith-based caregiver support as a valid “niche” and have confidence to increase their own investments in counseling and discipleship resources.
WRIM offered $18,000 in counseling scholarships during 2021.

Yes, we’re asking you to pray for our “competition” too. We welcome competition because that means families living with disability will more easily find and access essential help they need!

Pray also that every single one of us increasingly follows Jesus’ model for biblical friendship. Because if every Christian was walking in God-honoring friendship with others, especially those who live with extra needs or challenges, the world wouldn’t be so reliant on highly trained counselors and pastors.

We have a wonderful night planned with Reach Night 2022! I truly hope you’ll join us on April 8th at 7 PM Central on Zoom. RSVP here for the link and meeting code.

For a delightful half hour, you’ll hear stories of lives being changed by God through faith-based caregiver counseling, training and discipleship support groups. You’ll also hear music from national artists — Dove Award winning Ginny Owens and the Grammy nominated sibling group The Martins.

RSVP now for a “front row seat” on Reach Night!

God is doing something powerful among us. He is building a diverse and rich community where people are finding true hope, help, and friendships.

God is connecting the stories among is in beautiful, life-transforming ways!

Thank you for any part you are playing in this beautiful ministry and community where lives are being transformed! Thank you for helping caregivers find open doors and hearts, with practical spiritual tools and the hope of Christ.

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Proverbs 27:9

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

Life Is Enriched by Relying on the Almighty Refiner

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Caregiving has forever changed me. In some beautiful, cherished ways and in some ways I’m not at all proud of too. I’m sure there are more than a few here who can relate. It’s always a rich discussion when we get to this principle during the online discipleship group I lead.


Principle #3: God lovingly refines us as we cooperate with Him.

In recent blogs, I’ve written about grief and lament — and how uniquely that is experienced by families affected by disability. Part of this life we’re living involves learning to suffer well. Does that statement sound strange? What might it mean or look like to “suffer well?”

“Suffering well” includes allowing God to refine us through challenges.

I believe we honor God and experience richer lives when we let life refine us — shape us for the better. The scary things is, the Almighty Refiner might choose to use a furnace of very high heat. The fires of life can make us terribly uncomfortable. Our human nature will be to resist the fire. But there are gifts and opportunities there.

Life’s shaping and purifying process makes life so much richer. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know that.

Being refined by God means to stop resisting things that aren’t going our way. Stop. Did you catch that? Speaking to myself here: quit resisting all the heat, my friend. Consider that God’s priority is to inject His presence —love, care, vision, and purposes — into the situation rather than just fixing things with His power. Whatever circumstances you’re in, no matter how intense they feel, regardless of how long they seem to drag on, even when pain seems pointless, and we feel hopelessly stuck — God is there.

God doesn’t leave us to burn and He doesn’t leave us alone.

God was in the fire with Daniel.

“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted.
“I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed!
And the fourth looks like a god!”

Daniel 3:25

Consider that God’s priority is to inject His presence — love, care, vision, and purposes — into the situation rather than just fixing things with His power.

If we receive God’s presence and power, He will form our character while teaching us to love Him more and love others like Christ loves. And that’s just the beginning of the gifts He’ll unfold.

God will use the heat in our lives to refine others around us too. That could be our spouse. It is often our children. Certainly, God is using the fiery furnace of our lives with disability to refine the broader community too. Our neighborhoods are watching. Our churches see (even when they don’t seem to be looking).

It can be tempting to grow bitter when we feel like we are the only ones allowing the fires of our special situation refine us. I’ve pounded on God’s chest a time or two feeling unheard, unseen, uncared for by Him or someone else. He further refines me by teaching me to be more patient, and trust Him in using his kindness to lead others to repentance.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?
Does this mean nothing to you?
Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
Romans 2:4 (emphasis mine)

That’s just one lesson I’ve been learning that I attribute to being a special needs mom. I don’t get to define the pace of someone else’s growth.

There are so many many lessons! Here are just a few more of them in a nutshell. Perhaps sharing them will inspire you. It helps hold me accountable to remembering God is faithful to teach me and give me grace, that’s for sure.

Accept that we are all in process.
You, me, our spouses, our children, our friends, our churches, our extended families. All are sinners who fall short. All are acceptable to God when we repent and turn to the Lord. Each of us who believes in Jesus and trusts Him as Lord is in an ever-increasing process of becoming like Him. That is called sanctification. And God alone authors that process for each of us who love Him. I don’t author anybody’s sanctification (even my own), nor do you.

  • Suffering transforms us into Christ-likeness (Philippians 3:10) and that’s our highest calling.
  • Suffering cultivates our dependence on God (Luke 9:23).
  • We learn compassion for others (Philippians 2:5-8).
  • We ascribe to new values and develop eternal perspective (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) even to the point of holding onto life and death differently.

Extend compassion, grace and forgiveness toward yourself and others.
Growth is a process. Grief is a process. Faith is a process. It can help to recognize that the ugliest parts of us are most apparent at home and in our closest relationships. (I believe it was author Gary Chapman who said that marriage is the mirror showing us what is worst about us.) Yes, those we live with are often the “mirror” showing us who we really are.

Expect everything from God and little from each other.
This is a broken world and every person faces weakness and vulnerability. With God, there is victory over sin and death, as well as strength in weakness. We can learn to play to each other’s strengths. We can’t let our circumstances have too much power — but we can let them have power to trigger opportunities that nothing else could trigger.

Understand where your true soul cravings are coming from.
We can’t expect to get our greatest fulfillment from our children or spouse, or our circumstances. That’s a set-up for disappointment. Our spirit is designed to crave GOD. So, only deepening our walk with Him will truly satisfy us and energize us for a life that really breathes!

I want that so much. I want a life that breathes life. A life that multiplies life and love is joy. It is a privilege. And that is what growth looks like. I hope I’m growing. Don’t you? I don’t want to be the same person next year that I was this year. Do you?

The human soul was designed to aspire growth. The Creator is the author of all growth. Leaning into a life that cooperates with Him — even when it stings of disability’s fires — is a rich adventure, in so many ways deeply satisfying.


In what ways have you seen God strengthen or purify you (your faith, your character, your mindsets) as a result of challenges, special needs, or some other “fire” in your life?

Have you felt vulnerable to thinking certain prayers aren’t being answered because you haven’t learned enough or changed enough? Talk to Jesus about those feelings and let Him show you the truth.

How does the idea of being held in the gentle hand of the Almighty Refiner give you comfort, peace, or hope? 

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.

We use one Bible principle as the theme for each week’s discussion during Real Talk Connect. Please consider joining us any Tuesday at 2 pm Central! Drop in for richly encouraging connection in a casual setting.

Contact us for the Zoom link, the complete list of Bible principles and all the FAQs about Real Talk Connect!

Spring Challenges Remind Us of Good News

Was I the only one stunned to realize it is already Daily Savings Time?

Clocks springing forward, weather changes, and seasonal paperwork updates (IEPs, guardianship renewals, medical record reviews, annual budget writing for government benefits, etc.) are things that can strike weariness or frustration in the family impacted by disability. Since establishing well-functioning routines is both essential and hard for us, the time change can create additional stress and stretch.

Over the weekend, I was generating the medication schedule that will allow Carly to transition with the change of clocks (gradually over a couple of days). Larry and I braced for the likely disruption to her sleep schedule. That can last a couple of weeks. It is tempting to anticipate the worst.

As my shoulders drooped and I sighed another prayer, God impressed reminders of hope on me. Friends, we don’t face these things without His presence, power, and daily mercies.

So, today’s post aims to bring a prayer and encouragement. With every challenge, there is more than enough good news.

Clocks springing forward can wreak havoc in the lives of people whose well-being relies on stable routines.

Good news…
Jesus understands how hard it is to adapt to this world. He adopted the nature of mankind while remaining fully God. Jesus’ mission—Divinely born into the flesh to atone for our sins—required the most extreme adaptability scenario ever in history. We can be confident He will help us adjust to changes and challenges too.

Jesus Christ emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:7-8

Rusting wheelchairs parts need replacing after winter ice-melt chemicals.

Good news…
God cares about the details of life that matter to us. Jesus encouraged us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” Yet throughout God’s Word, we are also reminded to keep our perspective fixed on future and eternal glory.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Individualized Education Plans and 504 Plans are often reviewed and updated this time of year. The associated meetings are time consuming, and can trigger grief, frustration or fear.

Good news…
God is not limited by the best or worst IEP or 504 Plan. A parent or guardian’s advocacy matters. Still, our wisdom, knowledge of the future and influence over others is limited. Even the most well-articulated plans are not always implemented well. We can faithfully, humbly and respectfully persevere in the process. But we must ultimately trust that God loves our children even more than we do. His ultimate purposes will prevail. We can surrender our loved ones to God’s presence, power and goodness.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
Matthew 19:26

Parents try to find their best-guess answer to an educator’s question, “where do you see your child in the next 5 – 10 years?”

Good news…
God doesn’t guess and His purposes prevail. Jesus holds our children—of every age and stage—in the palm of His hand.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Families impacted by disability and other special needs typically require extra resources as summer nears (e.g., adapted bikes/trikes, students and young “mother’s helpers” who are looking for part-time jobs, summer camps and other programs offering accommodations).

Good news…
We can anticipate that God will surprise us with loving provisions. God’s resources are unlimited. His love for you and your family is limitless—too great to fully understand. He empowers you with inner strength through His Spirit.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 
Ephesians 3:19-20

Families with unique and complex needs find attending an Easter service (and family portraits in festive attire) chaotic or disappointing.

Good news…
Christ-loving families can rejoice. Victory at the cross accomplished more than just redemption from sin — it assures us that God’s power and sovereign goodness covers our complicated circumstances and adversity, ensuring great reward for us.

We are called to fill our minds with God’s words. We are also called to fellowship. When participation in church is not possible for a weekend or a season, praise God there are alternatives. Let us also be humble, patient, and gracious teachers among those who are naïve, apathetic or even negligent. Walk Right In Ministries is praying with you that churches who are falling short of their call will be re-inspired by God with ideas, energy and passion to make connection with families like yours.

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.
Deuteronomy 32:2

Consider reaching out to Walk Right In Ministries if you are feeling lost or isolated this Easter season. Let us help you find satisfying and God-glorifying connection.

On earth as in heaven — come, Lord Jesus!

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.