Tips to Help Deep Thinking Caregivers Find Their Sweet Spots

This is the fourth article in a series exploring what puts family caregivers in their “sweet spots” when supporting a family member with special needs. Today we’re looking at some challenges and opportunities for caregivers who think deeply.

Do you have a thirst for knowledge? Do you have a strong capacity to thoughtfully weigh a variety of options when you’re at a crossroads? Perhaps you’re the one in the family who researches therapy and treatment options. Do you have a helpful critical eye when it comes to reviewing details on your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? When someone suggests it’s time to start thinking about guardianship or future planning for your loved one with special needs, are you already two steps ahead starting the file with background information?

I’m a thinker so I can appreciate the tension you may live in. Your thoughtful and pragmatic ideas are of great value to your complex family. But you may have trouble sleeping at night!

Deep thinking people have a wonderful coping tool built right into them by God. Their moods and anxiety can be shifted by their thinking process alone. But that means it’s important to stay on guard about the tone and focus of your thought life. A great motto from scripture for the deep thinker is found in Philippians 4:8, which says:

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

When you are raising a child with disabilities or caring for a loved one with complex needs, there is always plenty to think about. There are decisions to weigh, strategies to plan, causes to support, and perspectives to consider. It’s wonderful to have someone on the caregiving team who has the capacity for keen observation and analysis. You may even be energized by serving the caregiving team through a role of that nature. But you may also feel prone to anxiety if forced to bear this role alone or under pressures of deadlines.

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time “in your head,” try to have some quiet time alone for positive thinking every day. This may feel impossible for a caregiver whose attention is required without interruption. But if you understand how important those few minutes are toward keeping you in your sweet spot, you will prioritize finding a way.

Explain the significance of your need for this kind of intentional quit time to family and caregiving team members. As for help and creative ideas that will allow you to make it happen. Consider a cooperative exchange with someone who can trade responsible times with you so that each of you has opportunity to re-fuel your soul. Let me give you an example from my house. My husband will wrestle with our daughter for a few minutes or snuggle with her on the couch watching a movie so that I can take a break. Then he will do his workout while I give her a shower.

It can be difficult, at times, for deep thinking people to be at peace with themselves, others and even God. You may have high expectations, particularly of yourself. And you may see things clearly in ways that don’t always line up with how others see them. It may help you to meditate periodically on Psalm 51.

To live in your strengths, you will need to learn to make healthy attitude and behavior adjustments by the power of the Holy Spirit.

To stay in your sweet spot, you will also need to learn to deal constructively with anger. Yelling, screaming, hollering, throwing objects, hitting, being passive-aggressive and burying or denying your anger are all destructive responses.

You may find that one of your strengths is that you have the ability to analyze your way through anger. Once you recognize and admit your feelings, you’re able to think through the situation and come to a decision about how you are going to choose to move forward in a positive way. Be on guard, however. The longer you think about the situation, the more vulnerable you may be to becoming depressed, or growing even angrier. Be careful about isolating yourself when you’re angry. Reaching out to a close trusted friend for prayer and processing can help you avoid a negative spiral.

Friend, give yourself and others the right to be imperfect. Forgive yourself and others for mistakes. And talk through your disappointments with God in prayer. Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to move on like nothing ever happened. But it does mean choosing not to harbor negative feelings. Forgiveness and healing often involve a process of choosing, again and again, to forgive until the negative feelings are genuinely resolved.

TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS BY REMEMBERING, OFTEN, THE FAITHFUL WAYS OF GOD

If you tend to think deeply

  • Seek a role on the caregiving team where your keen observation and analytical skills are needed
  • Work toward an adequate balance of work, exercise, diet and relaxation
  • Learn to keep your mind more present in the activities and relationships of the moment (less on past and future)
  • Express appreciation to others frequently and specifically
  • Resist analysis and criticism that can feel discouraging to others
  • Release others and yourself from unreasonable expectations
  • Allow flexibility to work at your own pace whenever possible
  • Learn to slow down, letting your moods and thinking patterns rest with Jesus

Here are some tips if you are someone who tends to be pragmatic and well-reasoned in your thinking

  • Serve your family and caregiving team by contributing to conversations that involve decision-making and strategy planning (e.g., education/vocation transitions, guardianship roles, long term care)
  • Optimize your role as mediator and consensus builder in team discussions
  • Recognize that your passions for “the cause” may become a source of pride or inflexibility
  • Respect the rights, feelings, thoughts and plans of others
  • Help give voice to the value of varied perspectives
  • Learn to rely on Jesus to guide your own values, reasoning and humility

The Bible offers an abundance of help and encouragement for thoughtful people:

Philippians 4:8
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Galatians 5:16
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

Psalm 94:19
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Proverbs 14:10
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.

1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

1 Thessalonians 5:16
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Proverbs 3:6
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Lord Jesus, take my mind to a quiet and content place with you. Make a way for me to have a daily routine that includes quiet time to let you fill my mind with truth and encouragement. When my thoughts are racing and my passions are strong, remind me of Your faithfulness. I am tremendously capable of the assignments you give me, only because your Holy Spirit fills me with power and wisdom. Yet I am easily discouraged and often stubborn. Show me how to live. Show me how to serve my family well. Teach me to have reasonable expectations of myself and others. My hope is best placed in You alone. Amen

Feel free to share the “Tap Your Caregiving Strengths” graphics in this article on your social media to encourage others. And tell us in the comments what helps you and your caring family!


Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, licensed pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. Lisa is the primary contributor on the www.WalkRightIn.org blog sharing practical and spiritual encouragement for parents and other family members caring for children with health and developmental challenges. She also serves on the Key Ministry writing team where she contributes monthly articles for special needs parents and church leaders. Her personal blog www.lisajamieson.org also provides encouragement for people who find themselves in challenging places.


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Tips for Caregivers: Feeling Valued and Competent

This is the third article in a series exploring what puts family caregivers in their “sweet spots” when supporting a family member with special needs. Today’s focus is on how caregivers experience refreshment through affirmation, appreciation, respect and a sense of competence.

If you are a caregiver in a family impacted by special needs, you have a full plate! My hunch is that you feel a lot of pressure to juggle quite a few plates, in fact. Some of that pressure comes from the circumstances themselves. And sometimes there is pressure from others. Very often, caregivers experience an inner tension from their own expectations too.

I want to encourage you to have compassion on yourself (1 John 2:1-2). You don’t need to carry the whole load and you don’t need to carry it all perfectly. Sometimes you’ll long for things from others that you legitimately need but they are not capable of providing. You won’t always feel the things you should. Your responses aren’t always healthy or helpful either. You are human. You have weaknesses and you will fall short of God’s standard. That’s why you need Him! In fact, if you do your job too well, your spouse, your children and others may quit looking to Almighty God for their help too. After all, if their needs are getting perfectly met, they won’t think they need anyone else!

Whether or not the people in your world effectively tell you so, you are highly valued. You are an “essential worker.” I recently learned to use that phrase in referring to myself. I am a full-time home care provider for Carly who has Angelman Syndrome. She requires round-the-clock attention that includes developmental support and medical care. In the phases for implementing the Covid-19 vaccinations in my state of Minnesota, I am considered an “essential healthcare provider.” It may seem trivial, but it felt very validating to see myself and my husband acknowledged in that very first category.

Personally, I appreciate knowing my efforts are valued and that my sacrifices are respected. Since Carly is non-verbal, I’m delighted by her hugs and smiles. On some rare occasions, she will even clap in appreciation for a meal I prepared or because she likes how I brushed her teeth. Most of the time, however, the burden for keeping me bolstered with encouragement falls on other family members. For example, Carly has a sleep disorder that is tremendously complicated and resistant to medications. When I’ve been awake throughout a long night with her, it is very helpful to begin the day with affection from my family. I feel so valued when my husband greets me at breakfast with a long, empathetic hug and a simple word of appreciation for the rest I’ve relinquished. It also encourages me when one of my daughters simply asks, “how much sleep did you get last night, mom?” and then responds with “I’m sorry” when she hears it was a long night.

These kinds of things move me toward my “sweet spot” and help me get through an exhausting day.

We may not like to admit how important things like validation, encouragement and feeling appreciated are to us. It doesn’t seem very Christ-like to depend on the affections of others to keep our spirits boosted. But let’s be honest, we all have some degree of need to feel known, understood, respected, affirmed and reassured of our worth.

Our needs are not necessarily unbiblical. God wonderfully and uniquely created each of us with a body, mind and spirit (Psalm 139:13-14). Each of us has strengths (1 Corinthians 12:4) and weaknesses (Romans 3:23). Both are necessary. Our strengths are a gift to others. Our weaknesses keep us humble and dependent on God. They are a way for God to put His own perfection on display (Isaiah 40:29, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 11:34, ).

It is not weakness to need affection. God made us relational beings. The exchange of affection is essential for maintaining satisfactory relationships. The Apostle Paul found great encouragement from others. In Romans 1:12, he wrote, When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. Strong emotional ties are accomplished by sharing feelings of love, appreciation and affirmation. We can learn from the example in the New Testament letters. These apostles not only prayed for God’s people but also told them so through encouraging words (Ephesians 1:15–23, Philippians 1:3–11, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3, Philemon 1:4–7, 3 John 2).

What is weakness is relying too heavily on others to keep us feeling affirmed. That weakness can lead us into sin if we start trying to get the need met in ungodly or unhealthy ways. God insists on being our first love. But He doesn’t deny us the exchange of love with others. In fact, he insists on it.

Matthew 22:37-38
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 
A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

You don’t need to apologize for needing encouragement. In fact, sometimes you’ll need to be direct with others and ask for it. Don’t expect people to read your mind and intuitively know what bolsters you. Educate your community about what encourages you then leave it to God to shape and refine them. Have compassion when people are slow learners!

The world will always fall short of meeting our needs to feel valued and protected. Loving relationships are a gift from God but they will always leave us incompletely satisfied. Only intimacy with God is completely satisfying. Only Jesus completely understands our longings and will interpret them for us (Romans 8:26-27).

Friend, God’s advocacy for you is without fail (John 14:15-21).

TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS BY KNOWING YOUR TRUE VALUE COMES FROM BEING A CHILD OF THE ONE TRUE GOD

If you’re fueled by receiving affirmation, appreciation and affection

  • Explain your need for more positive feedback to those you are close to
  • Spend time with people who are expressive and encourage you toward a godly life
  • Acknowledge expressions of love and appreciation from others with words of gratitude
  • Remember you are valued by the loved one(s) you serve (even if they don’t express it well)
  • Learn not to be jealous of time and attention your deep relationships spend with others
  • Recognize when you are feeling rejected and renew your mind with truth about your value as God’s son/daughter
  • Cultivate intimacy with Jesus to meet your deepest needs for love and security


Some people are more sensitive than others to feeling like they are being criticized or if their competence feels questioned. Most people will be more sensitive to feeling inadequate or rejected when they are stressed or exhausted too. And since many caregivers experience significant fatigue and pressure, is it any wonder that we can be vulnerable to perceiving disappointment from others even when it isn’t really there?

Here are some tips for those times when you may feel inadequate, incompetent or criticized

  • Get clear information about what is needed and expected of you
  • Focus your responsibilities in areas where you feel familiar or confident
  • Establish respectful boundaries where you feel pressure to perform outside of your capabilities (consider delegating, ask for time to grow and then learn something new about the care responsibilities)
  • Find areas where there is freedom to work at your own pace
  • Learn to be more direct in expressing your needs
  • Learn to deal constructively with anger
  • Develop trust in the Holy Spirit to equip you for every good work and be perfect in your weaknesses
  • Learn to trust God with your life and your future to reduce fears of unknown


The Bible offers an abundance of encouragement and reassurance for caregivers. Here are some examples I hope will be of help to you:

Romans 12:10
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Hebrews 10:24-25
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Colossians 3:23
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Psalm 94:19
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Ephesians 3:18-19
May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 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.

Lord Jesus, I confess that I am hungry to feel loved. I need reassurances that I am seen, known and valued. Forgive me when I misplace my focus on worldly things and expect too much from others. Above all, I am Your beloved child. I need reminding how much You love me. Thank you for loving me unconditionally to the point of death. I also want to thank you for the gift of my community and loved ones. Help us to love each other well. Show me how to be an encourager and teach me how to humbly receive what others have to offer me. Most of all, I am refreshed and energized to persevere in caring for my loved ones when I trust Your unfailing love for me. Amen

Tell us in the comments what works for you and your family!


Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, licensed pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. Lisa is the primary contributor on the www.WalkRightIn.org blog sharing practical and spiritual encouragement for parents and other family members caring for children with health and developmental challenges. She also serves on the Key Ministry writing team where she contributes monthly articles for special needs parents and church leaders. Her personal blog www.lisajamieson.org also provides encouragement for people who find themselves in challenging places.

Join us for Reach Night and learn more about resources for families with special needs!

The Secret to Thriving, Not Surviving

It was a quiet morning at the oceanfront hotel where we were staying at Virginia Beach. The breeze off of the Atlantic Ocean gently combed the beach grass. Families of birds chased the retreating waves, their footprints too light to make any impression in the sand. I walked alongside the beach, taking in the overcast grey sky blending into the waves. The beach approached a peninsula, promising a view that would surely not disappoint.

As the beach rounded the corner, another expanse of beach came into view with the same grey watercolor. I kept on walking. The horizon continued to taunt me as I walked closer to the end of this beach segment, followed by another bay of sand to trudge through. I kept my eye on the next corner. But each corner rounded to a similar scene. It seemed to be never-ending. It was beautiful, but it was also the same view no matter the number of steps I took. 

This walk felt like my life — a “Groundhog Day” of caring for my disabled daughter. There are beautiful moments. But most days are focused on each step without seeing the view. We are dealing with many of the same issues that we have dealt with for a long time. Only now, we are older. And my daughter is now bigger. It is becoming more physically challenging to keep up. Our patience has grown greater. Our wisdom has grown deeper. But our fatigue has grown more real as well. 

On my walk, I was looking for the beauty around the corner. I wanted the AHA! moment that would allow every grain of sand in my shoe to be worth the gritty journey. But each turn of the corner proved to be more of the same.

A vertebra "shell" found on Virginia Hampton Beach
A vertebra “shell” found on Virginia Hampton Beach

Chronic suffering is being trapped in a never-ending cycle of the same. We all have a painful thorn in our side that does not let up — an unanswered prayer, a salt-wound relationship that never heals, a broken heart that cannot ever be whole, a dream we must mourn. The reality is this broken world is marred by loss. 

I want to thrive in loss. Just survival is not enough for me.

I want a thri-vival

So how do we answer the deep aching feeling that there must be more? 

For the Christian, there is more. 

The only way to understand the intersection of a suffering mankind and a good God is to interpret this life through the lens of eternity. 

The only way to find purpose in our suffering is to know that our lives exist for more than this world. The more we accept decay — and, for that matter, learn to embrace it — the more we become thrivers rather than just survivors.

Decay is everywhere.

When I was walking this beach with the repetitive view, I finally looked down. Shells, seaweed, and abandoned nettings were peppered amongst the sand. All were carcasses of life that once was. The beach is a battlefield littered with the remains of an ocean ambushing its prey. What is one’s child’s playground is the cemetery of mollusks. What is one woman’s treasured pearl is the oyster’s expulsion of waste. What is one family’s treasured keepsake of vacation, is the skeleton of a conch.

Decay co-exists with beauty.

In fact, decay is required. For the beauty that emerges from decay is richer, more fruitful, and lasts forever. Like the compost that enriches the growth of a garden, decay, disability, and death are the fertilizers of a richer beauty to come. Yet decay occurs at the same time that flowers bloom. Beauty and pain can be enwrapped in the same moment.

There is no better example of this paradox of beauty and pain than the cross. The cross is the intersection of many contrasts — injustice and justice, death and life, hatred and love, grief and celebration. When Jesus died on the cross, He did more than punch a ticket to heaven. Purposeful suffering was exemplified. 

Still, living the joy of the cross on a daily basis is not easy. Especially in the mundane everyday struggles of motherhood or caring for the disabled, suffering can feel purposeless and never-ending. We can be deceived into hopelessness if we allow emotions to overshadow truth. The energy needed for everyday surviving makes thriving seem impossible. When the days of survival mode stretch into weeks, months, and years, we must learn how to thrive in the pit. So how do we seek thri-vival?

  1. To thrive means that we change our expectations about decay. Our decay is not unique to our generation and decay will continue until this world belongs to Jesus again. We can certainly point out the decay of others, but we are often unaware of our own decay. We expect progression, not regression. And yet our society, many of our relationships, and our own bodies are fighting the natural decay that comes from the fall of man. We would like to believe that we are always getting better, but in reality, we ourselves are not immune to entropy. As our bodies and minds age, our ability to process our worlds is also dampened. But one day, this decay, too, will lead to eternal beauty. And decay will not exist in heavenly realms.
  • To thrive means we recognize our need for rescue. Grace covers our sin, for our salvation. But sanctification requires us to embrace pit-dwelling. He gives our feet a place to stand between each rung on the daily climb. This state of dependence is uncomfortable and yet necessary for our trust in God’s goodness to grow. The Gospel is lived daily in our lives when we are in a state of dependence. For our need for a Savior is often when we are at the end of ourselves. 
  • To thrive means we learn to abide in Jesus daily. We rely on His mercies to be new every morning and enough for today’s trials. We humble ourselves to be a servant rather than the source. Abiding in Jesus is trusting Him to fill in the cracks daily. Abiding involves constant connection with our Source of strength. We are emptied continuously so that He can fill us continuously. And we must ask for help. Ask for His wisdom. Ask for eyes to see His care for us. Ask for a heart of praise. And these one-second prayers build our relationship with Jesus and help us see the treasures in each exhausting step. We must sit under the Bible as a servant and not stand over the Bible as a critic. As we learn of God’s plan for the decay of this world, our souls are comforted and reassured that He has an ultimate plan for redemption. 

That is thri-vival — where pain and beauty co-exist. It is possible to be a thriver and not only a survivor. To thrive is to abide with Jesus. Because when we look only at ourselves and our circumstances, the decay is discouraging. But when we look at the cross, decay is defeated. It is in the daily struggle of chronic Christian suffering that we learn to abide. We learn to trust in the One who carries us from birth to death to eternal life. God alone sustains us.

Our walk on the beach becomes about Him, not about us nor the view that we think we deserve. 

The walk to heaven is more pleasant when we let go of the “should be” and “should not be.”  We will stop walking for the purpose of the view. We will walk because we are called to walk. And then we will start to see the treasures in every step. We will expect decay in this world rather than be disappointed by it. And one day, at the vantage point of heaven, we will look down at all of the faded footprints in the sand and we will understand why. The deepest sinking sand will be the sweetest places we thrived as we learned to abide in Christ.

This is the hope of the Christian in chronic suffering: There is more. And for today, He is enough.

“Listen to me, house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been sustained from the womb, carried along since birth. I will be the same until your old age, and I will bear you up when you turn gray. I have made you, and I will carry you. I will bear and rescue you.”

Isaiah 46:3-4

Rachelle Keng is a physician practicing Obstetrics & Gynecology in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she lives with her husband Michael and their two daughters. She cares deeply for people and has a passion for writing about her reflections on life and faith. Rachelle’s oldest daughter has Angelman Syndrome. Her experiences as a special needs mom are often the inspiration for her writing.

Tips for Caregivers Energized by Connectedness

This post is the latest installment in a developing series for caregivers. We’re exploring what helps us find our “sweet spots” in the family that cares for one another amidst the challenges of disability. We hope today’s article encourages you and offers tips that help optimize your strengths.

The life of a caregiver can be socially isolating for a variety of reasons. And limited socialization has unique impact from one person to another. Some people simply don’t need a lot of interaction with people. Others have great need to feel loved, cared for and valued. One person may be grateful for weekly conversations with staff at the therapy clinic. A different person may be satisfied going weeks without so much as a trip to the grocery store or have little need to interact with neighbors while on a walk around the block.

Ultimately, the spectrum is broad and varied in terms of our needs and expressiveness in relationships. But this fact remains. Caregivers who thrive in community but do not experience adequate and consistent connectedness or associations are likely to struggle with energy levels, moodiness, discouragement, anxiety and unfulfilled longings to feel valued.

Here’s the good news! Intentionally cultivating community will keep your spirits refreshed and will energize you to care for your loved ones from a position of strength.

It can be very helpful to understand that not all connectedness or socialization is equal. It is simply not as straightforward as being introverted or extroverted. Our unique needs and capacities for relationships are actually quite complex and nuanced, aren’t they?

Consider these examples and questions:

You may be a caregiver who appreciates generous amounts of solitude but needs to feel seen and known by people.

You could be that person who enjoys getting to know something about almost everyone you meet.

Are you someone who likes to feel some personal connection to your child’s teacher, para, therapists or physicians? Do you know you mail carrier’s first name?

Do you feel deeply the sting of rejection when a relationship is strained? Or do you rather easily move on to a new friendship if a relationship isn’t satisfying?

Are you very selective about who you relate to? Upon walking into a crowded room, do you quickly scan faces to find the people you have interest in connecting with and move quickly past everyone else?

Do you tend to be understated in communication and hope people will intuitively understand you? If you are one of those caregivers who isn’t particularly expressive, you may feel forgotten or sense that someone is taking advantage of you.

As you ponder the nature of your own needs for community and relationships, consider how these tips may help you function from a place of strength.

TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS

If you’re energized by a sense of CASUAL CONNECTEDNESS in your broader community, here are some guiding tips for you:

  • Seek a role on the caregiving team that allows you to be among people as much as possible (e.g., take your loved one to appointments, do the grocery shopping, run errands, go for walks together, attend sporting events such as Special Olympics, volunteer to help with a fundraiser)
  • Identify people willing to connect spontaneously when you’re feeling isolated, lonely or disconnected
  • Listen to talk radio or podcasts if forced to be away from people for long periods of time
  • Put yourself in situations where you can interact with people when performing mundane duties (e.g., talk to a friend on speaker phone)
  • Complete a task before indulging in pleasures
  • Learn to deal with anger constructively and in ways that are pleasing to God

If you are energized by CONNECTING DEEPLY in your close relationships, here are some guiding scriptures and tips for you:

  • Serve your family and caregiving team with frequent expressions of love, affection, appreciation and affirmation
  • Maintain adequate pacing of rest and refreshment
  • Keep fun activities, social dates and respite on the calendar so you can look forward to them on hard days
  • Recognize your tendency to fill life with activities that bring attention to you or make you feel valued
  • Learn to deal with intense emotions constructively and in ways that are pleasing to God
  • Ask questions and learn about what matters to the people you care about
  • Ask God to grow your bond with the person who has extra needs
  • Develop intimacy with Jesus to meet your deepest needs for love and security
  • Learn to experience a tangible sense of God’s nearness though prayer, scripture and worship music when feeling afraid or lonely

The Bible offers our best plumbline and an abundance of help for relationships.

Romans 12:10
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

Proverbs 14:10
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.

Colossians 3:23
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Matthew 5:5
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.

Ephesians 4:26-27
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”
Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 
for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

John 15:13
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Lord Jesus, You created me for community. Even still, relationships are complicated. I am prone to disappointment when it comes to experiencing satisfying community. Search me and know my anxious thoughts. Just as my body needs food to survive, my soul needs to connect with others in meaningful ways. Lead me to grow in connections that matter from a Kingdom perspective. Help me to be intentional, strategic, humble and prayerful about who I associate with and how I develop deeper relationships. Help me to communicate my needs clearly. Show me how to love and encourage others well. In Jesus’ name, I ask you to provide adequate and satisfying community for me and for my family. We need practical help, a sense of inclusion, emotional support and places of belonging. AMEN

At Walk Right In Ministries, we pay close attention to people’s unique needs and capacities for relationships. We understand how important it is for caregivers and families impacted by special needs to cultivate community that is practically helpful and emotionally satisfying. We look to Christian temperament theology in helping families build their “tribe.” If you would like to explore God’s unique imprint on you and grow in intimacy with Him and others, please reach out.


Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, licensed pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. Lisa is the primary contributor on the www.WalkRightIn.org blog sharing practical and spiritual encouragement for parents and other family members caring for children with health and developmental challenges. She also serves on the Key Ministry writing team where she contributes monthly articles for special needs parents and church leaders. Her personal blog www.lisajamieson.org also provides encouragement for people who find themselves in challenging places.

Tips for a Task-Oriented Caregiver

The job of a caregiver is never done. Depending on the needs of each unique situation, there may be meals to plan and prepare, tube feedings to do, hygiene supports to provide, toileting and bowel routines to perform, supplies to restock, behaviors to decipher and manage, sleep schedules to implement (and hope the best for!), seizures to monitor, entertainment to arrange, community supports to coordinate, social needs to meet, legal matters to tend, school forms to update (constantly), medical appointments to navigate, medical insurance calls to make, IEPs and assessments to review, safety to ensure and general advocacy to maintain. There is laundry, housekeeping, more laundry and more housekeeping. Add to that matters of self care, soul care and other care. All of this in addition to the usual maintenance of a home, family and job.

Are you breathless with me?

Truly, it takes a community with a fierce divide-and-conquer commitment to each other to maintain the wellbeing of the whole family and its systems. But cultivating and nurturing that community is another project in itself!

Thankfully, some people are “wired” for projects. They actually get energized by putting things in order, finding efficiencies, coordinating team members and checking the lists.

If this describes you, let me just say how admired and valuable you are. I am sure those around you appreciate your essential contributions to caregiving. And I hope they express that to you in satisfying abundance!

Of course, not everybody is given the same temperament or giftings. We all have unique degrees of need for organizing the kitchen junk drawer. Some people will find deep satisfaction in throwing themselves into a project. But if that is not you, rest assured there is something equally valuable about what you have to offer. Your caregiving team is like a body — with many parts, all valuable (1 Corinthians 12:14-27). The person who needs extra care is a valued part of the team too.

The people we care for are definitely not our projects. But the responsibilities involved with caring for them can be right up the alley for people who appreciate having step-by-step processes to work out.

If you are one of those people in your family who tends to enjoy some task-oriented responsibilities, here are some guiding scriptures, tips and a prayer for you.

Proverbs 3:6
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Psalm 127:1
Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.

Philippians 4:8
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS

If you’re energized by task-oriented activities….

  • Serve your family and caregiving team by identifying efficient and caring ways to be involved
  • Consider being the point person on scheduling
  • Delegate relationally demanding aspects of caregiving so that each person on the care team can experience satisfying balance between tasks and people
  • Monitor and maintain lists and records (e.g., emergency contacts, nutritional priorities, finances, healthcare, IEP, social security and/or disability benefits, guardianship, scriptures on disability theology)
  • Create a daily checklist of essential caregiving activities that keep team members focused and motivated (get input from others about a format that will work for them)
  • Have quiet time every day to organize your thoughts
  • Be sensitive about making others feel like they are one of your projects
  • Learn to rely on Jesus for discernment about priorities and what tasks to release

Lord Jesus, thank you for creating me with a unique and important capacity for getting things done. Help me to know when and how to be involved with the tasks of caregiving in my family. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, to be a humble, strong and cheerful contributor to the caregiving team. Sometimes you call me to do things that feel beyond my ability. In those times, and at all times, teach me to rely on You. AMEN


Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, licensed pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. Lisa is the primary contributor on the www.WalkRightIn.org blog sharing practical and spiritual encouragement for parents and other family members caring for children with health and developmental challenges. Her personal blog www.lisajamieson.org also provides encouragement for people who find themselves in challenging places.

Communication: The Avenue to Connection

I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about open communication in caregiving families and explicitly communicating our needs to those around us. As I was writing that blog, so many more thoughts flooded my mind about the importance of communication. There are so many simple things that we overlook as we try to connect with those around us. And isn’t our ultimate goal for connection?

Let me start by saying, I am not writing these blogs because I am good at communication. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m writing these blogs because I’m often bad at it. But I guess when you hit a wall enough times, you eventually learn how to climb over it. 

Connection is a two-way street and we all know it takes two to tango. However, we only have power over our own personal behavior and growth. So, that is what my blogs will be focused on. I want to share on what each of us can do individually to make ourselves more available for connection.

One of the keys to a good relationship in any area of our lives is communication. It sounds elementary, but if we take a good look, many of the problems we have in our relationships come from a lack of good communication. As much as we all would like to believe we are experts at this and it’s everyone else’s problem [cough cough], let me suggest that we can always keep growing in this area. 

We have to learn to communicate because communication is an avenue towards connection. And our ultimate goal is connection!

If you want people to cross the line to connect with you, you might start by crossing the line to connect with them. The easiest way to connect is to be the first one to reach out the hand. 

I understand that this can require some vulnerability, especially if the relationship is already strained. But the way I see it, you have a choice. You can live disconnected from those you long to be connected with most, or you can take baby steps to change and build connection.

Connection has to be built and maintained. 

Have you ever been a part of a team at work, school, or church where you were assigned to a task with others and felt so connected to those people you were with that the task itself became simple? On the opposite spectrum, have you found yourself on a team that felt completely disconnected? Did you find it difficult to even want to do the task itself because of the team didn’t seem connected? 

I’m convinced you can do almost anything if you feel connected. 

As special needs families, we have no choice but to become a team. When that team feels connected, navigating the day-to-day care needs and high stress moments becomes a much lighter task. However, when that team feels disconnected, the day to day can start to feel very heavy. 

Let me emphasize a truth we all know in our hearts, but sometimes forget. 

We were not made to do life alone. 

Or another way to say it: We were not made to do life feeling alone.

So what if we made it our goal this year to become better connected at all costs? What if we took this time, while many of us are stuck in our homes, to reconnect with those right in front of us — to make protecting and cultivating connection within our families a higher priority than anything else?

My upcoming blogs will be dedicated to this subject, because I believe that the only way to thrive is to live connected! 

I hope that you’ll find helpful tools in my series and from all the writers contributing to the Walk Right In Ministries blogs. We hope something of our own stories, experiences, tips and encouragement will spur you on. I hope you’ll be inspired to rekindle connectedness with those around you and even think creatively about making some new connections! Time spent working on this is never wasted. I think we can come out of this most interesting season of our lives learning more about ourselves and creating new pathways to better things.

Let me encourage you. If you are discouraged reading this because of the state of some relationship(s) in your life, let me tell you something. No relationship or situation is too far gone. Connection can require intentionality, forgiveness and patience. But it is never too late to start building something together. The key is just to start!

So let’s start together. 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

ISAIAH 43:18-19

Erin is a singer-songwriter and worship leader. Her songwriting, blogging, and speaking is often inspired by challenges and insights she experienced growing up in a family affected by disability. Erin serves with Walk Right In Ministries speaking on special sibling issues and assisting with social media. She has also served frequently in her community and home church as a worship leader. 

Erin earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Songwriting at Belmont University in Nashville and currently lives in California where she completed three years of study at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Her latest CD Come Alive (released 2018) and is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube and other streaming services.

Find out more at www.erinjamieson.com.

One Mom’s Unexpected Call

Today’s guest post comes from a woman who has discovered our life’s purposes often take time to unfold. Although Kelley sensed promptings from God from a very early age, she was well into her parenting years before her calling became clear. Truly, Kelley was created with unique gifts then put in a family and circumstances that have shaped and equipped her for something very specific and important. Today, with remarkable perseverance and purpose, Kelley is walking out her faith in unexpected and beautiful ways!


Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I grew up in a Christian home with Christian parents and grandparents. One Sunday morning during church the pastor spoke about Jesus fishing with the disciples. He described how Jesus calls us to be fishers of men. For the first time in my life, I simultaneously became aware of my sin and salvation. I invited Jesus into my life that day at the tender age of 9 years old. My journey with the Savior had begun.

I am inquisitive by nature. And my desire to learn propelled me closer to Christ. After my life-changing experience with Jesus, my siblings and cousins took notice. I was overjoyed to be able to lead my siblings to Jesus as well.

I continued to explore trust, faith and perseverance.

Shortly after I started high school, I came face to face with my need for an intimate daily walk with My Lord and Savior. I stepped into deeper waters realizing Jesus longed for me to trust Him in every facet of life.

In the years that followed, I leaned into our youth ministry at church and became a leader within the student ministry. During my sophomore year in high school, I was voted into a peer leadership role at my high school. I was invited to serve our high school’s peer assistance leadership (PAL) group.

During that time with PALS, my responsibilities included weekly visits and special outings with life skills and special needs classes. Up until then, my experience with service revolved around rehabilitating animals.

Kelley and one of her beloved dogs.

Growing up a veterinarian’s daughter allowed me to be front and center to the elation when animals were born, as well as the grief during times of loss. I developed a strong heart for service.

God used my father to teach me how to react during varied scenarios of medical emergencies. Often, while my father worked feverishly on a sick or dying animal, God was nurturing an empathetic heart in me to soothe and comfort hurting people. Dad also taught me the importance of discussing medical procedures and anatomy with accuracy and correct pronunciation. Little could either of us have known then, how God would use that training in His bigger plan.

God always invites us to join Him. He doesn’t pressure us. He doesn’t manipulate us. By the end of my senior year in high school, I felt God was clearly calling me to serve. He was busy bringing things together in my life, giving clues about direction and lining up circumstances to guide me. Still, I had no clear or direct leading as to what type of ministry I was called into.

I fell in love with my future husband at age 17. We met at church and quickly knew our future would be together. I shared this calling with Chris and we began to pray together. One Sunday in the spring of 1993, I surrendered to the calling in my heart in an official way. You see, that day, I trusted my Savior, walked an aisle in my church, and prayed a prayer for ‘Special Service’.

Fast forward 28 years. I have two special needs children. We have five sons, two of whom have CHARGE syndrome.

My sister recently reminded me of that public profession of service I made that Sunday in 1993. She sent me a church bulletin that read, “Kelley Weatherly surrenders to special service.”


I realized the special service God had in mind was very different from what I had imagined. To be honest, my idea of special service was much more glamorous!

My Heavenly Father has always bent his ear down to listen to me. His hand has always been outstretched. As a parent of two deaf-blind children, the word sight is equivocal to trust. I trust Christ to lead as I cannot see. He is my intervenor, interpreter, and advocate. I’ve experienced deep grief and pain. But his faithfulness is unwavering.

Today I can say without a doubt — “Yes!” — He called me to special service.

God called me to the highest honor: being a momma.

God makes all things good in its time. My journey to fulfilling His calling has been difficult. However, I have embraced this charge to serve my very special needs children with honor, joy and humility.

1 Peter 4:10-11
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.


Kelley Cagle is a freelance writer and special needs advocate with a passion for mentoring young moms who have children with special needs. Kelley shares from her own experience as the parent of two children with disabilities. Kelley has five sons. Two of her children have CHARGE Syndrome, a micro deletion affecting a multiple body systems and organs. Both boys are deaf-blind and on the Autism spectrum. Kelley and her husband Chris have been married over 26 years and live in Texas with their two youngest boys.


Ruts to Recovery

A lot of family caregivers are starting this near year depleted. As a special needs mother myself, I understand how wearying it is to provide 24/7 care for a medically complex and intellectually-developmentally delayed adult daughter. I’m also a pastoral counsellor and caregiver consultant who spent many hours last year hearing stories of moms, dads, and caregiving siblings wrestling with unfulfilled longing as well as things like “Covid-fatigue,” guilt, worry, restlessness and feeling stuck in the “woe-is-me” rut.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

None of us wants to continue suffering from the same mental or emotional plagues of 2020 for another year. On the road to recovering from the bumps, bruises and ruts of the past, it is helpful — even essential — to understand that certain behaviors and response patterns have become ingrained in us. Some of those patterns are simply ineffective. Others are outright ungodly and unhealthy.

Once we recognize there is an unhelpful pattern, God can begin to show us there is hope for a way out of it. We can ask Him to teach us new habits and pathways toward thriving.

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 

Ephesians 1:18-20

From my observations and some personal experience as well, there is one particular pattern that can be a common among caregivers in families impacted by disability:

  • Your self-esteem or sense of security feels attacked. 
    Do you feel invisible or under-appreciated, even taken for granted? Has something triggered insecurity or a lack of purpose? Has someone withheld affection? Do you feel rejected?
  • Your defenses get triggered. 
    Do you feel hurt, angry, or weak? Has someone in your life or something about your circumstances made you stiffen your back or harden your heart?
  • Emotional intensity grows. 
    Do you start to get passionate as you battle to feel understood, accepted, appreciated or loved?
  • You rely on others to pump you back up. 
    Do you have an intense need to feel known and accepted? Who do you depend on to bolster your self-esteem when your spirits are low?
  • You become disappointed in how people respond.
    Have people fallen short of your expectations? Do your needs feel neglected or unseen? Have you experienced heart-wounds that began to fester and then grew into a root of bitterness and resentment? Have you been able to make your needs clear?
  • Shame develops.
    Do you recognize some self-centeredness? Although some sense of conviction and a need for repentance may be appropriate, have you felt yourself spiral into self-loathing?
  • Your esteem suffers another setback.

Friend, let me join you in asking God to give you a new “song” to sing!

And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Revelation 5:9

There is a new, healthy and effective pattern you can cultivate in 2021 to break the ugly cycles of discouragement. There is a place to take your vulnerability and a way to find a deep sense of security. There is freedom from the grip of painful patterns.

To prevent and escape your ruts, try working this recovery pattern toward peace, rest and hope:

FUEL UP

Soak in your identity as God’s son/daughter. Learn to appreciate yourself and God’s unique imprint on you. Learn godly ways to meet your most intimate longings.

CHECK YOUR HEART

Make an honest assessment of yourself and repent of your sins.

  • Lord, if I have unconfessed sin, help me to bring it humbly to You. Thank you for giving me freedom and another chance to lean on You to do better.
  • Lord, remind me how YOU feel about me. Help me to believe the truth about who I am in Christ.
SEEK RECONCILIATION

Make amends with others as God leads you.

  • Lord, give me compassion to understand how others are experiencing the situation too.
  • Lord, show me if I have hurt someone. Help me confess any of my own sin to You. Help me go to others and seek their forgiveness. Help me to forgive them, even if they do not humbly ask for my forgiveness. (Show me how to keep safe and practical boundaries without harboring ill will to towards others.) Help me to release all of my expectations about how others will respond. Teach me to put all of my hope in You.
REPLACE LIES WITH TRUTH

Keep leaning back into God’s true design for life and love. You are a beloved child of the King! Saturate your mind with specific truths about those lies:

  • There is no condemnation in Christ; He pursues you with compassion. (See Romans 8:1 and Isaiah 30:18.)
  • You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (See Philippians 4:13.)
  • At just the right time, God is going to make your efforts fruitful. (See Galatians 6:9.)
  • Jesus has called you to live in peace, truth and purpose. This is a gift of God, not something you earn. (See Romans 12:18, Psalm 86:11, Psalm 57:2 and Ephesians 2:8-9.)
  • God will be faithful to complete you. You are already a masterpiece but also a work-in-progress. (See Jeremiah 29:11-14, Ephesians 2:10 and Philippians 1:6.)

This is a trustworthy pattern backed by the countless promises of Almighty God! You can rest assured that God will faithfully honor a lifestyle that practices a pattern like this. Practice is the operative word. Practice won’t make perfect — only Jesus was perfect — but your practice will bring progress. Pray and keep working the process.

Friends, let’s cast off the weights of sin and depleting patterns, asking God to walk us out of darkness and into the light of a new year — one day and one step of faith at a time.

Lord, teach me to rely on You for my sense of security, affirmation and hope. Help me to practice healthy new patterns this year. I can’t do anything good without Your help, Jesus! Strengthen me to develop a habit of seeking You first when my soul is aching. Interrupt my thoughts and emotions when they are stuck in loneliness, emptiness, self-loathing or self-pity. Remind me that I am your precious and treasured child. Help me to see myself and my potential in the way that You see it. Help me to rest in the promises You’ve made to me. And fill my soul with Your loving kindness so that I overflow with Your good gifts to others. As I receive compassion from You, Jesus, I want to have that same compassion for myself and others. Make me an instrument of love.  


Lisa Jamieson

LISA JAMIESON is a special needs family advocate and co-founder of Walk Right In Ministries where she serves as a caregiver coach and licensed pastoral counsellor. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Lisa’s books and Bible studies include Finding Glory in the Thorns and the picture book Jesus, Let’s Talk.

How Is the Atmosphere of Your Heart?

Isaiah 60:19
“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.

When we put up our tree and decorations earlier this month, I went to bed thinking about how much I love light! The next morning, I opened my devotional and was immediately pointed to this verse. It got me thinking about why I pay so much attention to lighting.

As the seasons change in our home, I often adjust the lights. Candles get changed to seasonal colors, floor lamps move to a different corner, lower wattage bulbs are put in strategic places, the fireplace and fire pit get used. Even motion-sensitive night lights find special spots.

I’ve been known to follow my husband around turning lights off before he’s ready to be done with them too. As you might imagine, he doesn’t always appreciate that! I’m learning.

I’m frequently thinking about optimizing the function of each light source. But I’m particularly passionate about establishing atmosphere. My moods are often influenced by things like the colors, orderliness (or lack thereof) and lighting around me.

I just love creating atmosphere!

I love to see people enjoying a beautiful atmosphere too. Atmosphere helps to shape moods, flavors conversations and guides our point of focus. I always like to put a small battery-operated candle in the stable of our manger scene to draw attention to the display in our hallway at Christmastime.

So, as I carefully set lights in their places for Christmas this year and then read this verse a few hours later, I got to thinking about how the light of God’s presence changes the atmosphere of my heart and life!

Unfortunately, things in my heart and mind are not always light and bright during the holidays. Caregiver fatigue is among the things that I let influence my mood.

I want to be more dependent on God to define and refine the atmosphere of my heart and life. I want to be so filled by and reflective of His light, character, presence and peace in me that I don’t rely so much on things or people in this world to keep me out of heavy moods and the darkness of sin.

Jesus came to light up our world, after all!

“He is a light to reveal God to the nations!”

Luke‬ ‭2:32

God is everything we need. We won’t always have a friend or a spouse, a parent or that favorite self-care option. Apparently, we won’t even have the sun or the moon forever. But we will, always and forever, have Jesus to keep the atmosphere of our hearts and lives lit. 

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

John 8:12

Holy Spirit, I need nothing but YOU to establish or shift atmosphere in my life. Emmanuel, please light up my heart in an increasingly personal and intimate relationship between us. Help me carry the glow of Your presence and power within me into the people and spaces around me this week and in the coming year. Thank you for pouring light, love, joy, peace and hope into the atmosphere of our lives!


Lisa Jamieson

LISA JAMIESON is a special needs family advocate and co-founder of Walk Right In Ministries where she serves as a caregiver coach and licensed pastoral counsellor. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Lisa’s books and Bible studies include Finding Glory in the Thorns and the picture book Jesus, Let’s Talk.

Open Communication: The Currency of Love in Caregiving Families

My family has learned that we communicate a lot nonverbally. Carly, my sister who has Angelman Syndrome, is (for the most part) nonverbal. So we’ve learned to read the people and situations around us without needing to say much. The problem with that is that we often find ourselves frustrated and even resentful when the people around us are not “reading” what we are not saying.

Hear this loud and clear. It is okay to have needs and to express them. 

Did you hear me? It’s okay. It’s good. 

We were created to need each other. And that is a blessing! 

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.

Galatians 2:18

Caring for one another’s needs is a currency by which we exchange love! If you are a caregiver, you know this full well! We show the one we are caring for that we love them by taking care of their needs! But how do we take that currency of love to all the relationships around us and also let people love us?

As special needs families, we spend much of our lives putting aside our own needs for the more pressing needs of our family member. There is something very beautiful and even noble about the ability to do that for someone else. What an act of service and love!

However, if we completely neglect our own needs, we will slowly wear down our own ability to care well for the very one(s) we are trying to protect. 

We can tend to neglect what is going on inside of ourselves in favor of what we have to do to care for others. Then we allow moments of stress to give us permission to unleash all of the negative emotions we’ve got stored up in there. But if we can process our emotions as they come, not every stressful situation will feel like the sky is falling. 

I’m as guilty of this as anyone. But I’m learning. If you can catch your emotions early, take time to process them and evaluate what you need before the pent up emotions start creating negative behavior, anger and even resentment towards the people around you (i.e. your family), you’ll find you have much healthier and satisfying interactions them. In turn, you’ll enjoy much better relationships long term. To me, that’s well worth the effort of knowing myself and my emotions — giving them the time of day when they need it!

The best thing you can do for your sibling, parents, kids, family members and friends is to practice self-awareness and be proactive in communicating. There is enormous positive potential in sharing your own needs and asking others to share what they need. Especially in a season where most of us are experiencing more time in close quarters with those around us than ever, it’s important to learn tools for communicating well so everyone remains in good spirits!

There is enormous positive potential in sharing your own needs and asking others to share what they need.

We need practice being aware of our own needs and then learn good ways to communicate those needs.

“I’m so busy today, I’m never going to get everything done.” 

“You never wash the dishes!” 

“I wish the laundry would just wash itself!”

Believe it or not, these are not the best ways to ask for help. In fact, they’re not asking at all. Statements like this may feel like an obvious hint to those around us about what we need. But they don’t actually give effective information about how we would like to be helped! In fact, they can even communicate criticism or disappointment in others and their lack of ability to meet our needs. You’ve essentially told your loved one, even if inadvertently, that they have already lost the battle in trying to help you or love you.

Why would they try now?

We can allow moments of stress to give us permission to unleash all of the negative emotions we’ve got stored up in there. But if we can process our emotions as they come, not every stressful situation will feel like the sky is falling. 

How do we take the currency of love to all the relationships around us and also let people love us?

Let me clarify that it is totally okay to express frustrations and disappointments to your loved ones. However, it is important to check our own motives as we do so that we are not trying to send a subtle message behind our words. (We’re all guilty of it, I promise). 

  1. Ask yourself what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way.
  2. Ask yourself what would make it better or how others around you can help.
    (This sounds simple, but for most of us this is actually very difficult and might take a little soul searching, but trust me, it’s worth it.)
  3. Directly ask those around you for what you need! 

It sounds profoundly simple, I know. And it is. But once you start thinking about it, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll notice yourself trying to give subliminal messages to those around you without actually saying what you really want or need. 

I know, I know, it feels like cheating if you have to ask for it — even selfish! But the truth is, we are asking a lot of the people around us if we are expecting them to read our minds. We are caregivers! We know how to help the person we are caring for. Possibly the people we know least how to help are our other family members — and yes, ourselves

If you’ve ever been in school, you know the best kind of test is an open book test. When we expect our loved ones to know what we are asking for without us outright saying it, we are asking them to take a test on a textbook they’ve never read! The reality is, they don’t know what you need because your needs are as unique as you are.

Let’s do ourselves and our loved ones a favor this Holiday season (and all year round). Let’s give each other the gift of the answer key to us.

Let’s give each other the information we need to win in relationship with one another! 


Erin is a singer-songwriter and worship leader. Her songwriting, blogging, and speaking is often inspired by challenges and insights she experienced growing up in a family affected by disability. Erin serves with Walk Right In Ministries speaking on special sibling issues and assisting with social media. She has also served frequently in her community and home church as a worship leader.

Erin earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Songwriting at Belmont University in Nashville and currently lives in California where she completed three years of study at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Her latest CD Come Alive (released 2018) and is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube and other streaming services.

Find out more at www.erinjamieson.com.