Mark and Nancy have experienced some extreme life adventures. For example, Mark is a talented water skier and snow adventurer. Nancy is passionate about horses and riding. Their son, Brandon shared his parents love for outdoor sports, animals and the mountains. Tragically, Brandon struggled with depression and took his own life in 2010 at the age of 28. Despite their deep sorrow, Brandon’s parents are carrying on their son’s legacy by finding ways to celebrate things Brandon celebrated and sharing his love for people by serving others with the love of Jesus. Mark and Nancy recently visited Mount Hood to scatter Brandon’s ashes. While there, they had a beautifully unexpected encounter with the Living God. We’re humbled that they are willing to bravely, vulnerably and joyfully share about it here so that others might be encouraged in the truth that God is near, powerful and good.
Our group gathered at the entrance of Timberline Lodge just before noon to commence up Mount Hood. Brandon’s friend, Adam, and three of Mark’s cousins joined us. Prior to our arrival, Mark’s cousin Nels had kindly taken on the responsibility of arranging logistics for our mission to scatter Brandon’s ashes on top of Mount Hood. He accomplished this by going straight to the top and discussing our intentions with the president of the ski resort (whom Nels happens to know). As it turned out, an experienced mountain transport person, Logan, was assigned to get our group (along with our precious cargo) “as far up the mountain as was reasonable” (per the resort president).
When our group gathered in front of the lodge, Logan showed up promptly in an older Suburban and loaded the six of us into the truck. We started our ascent up the rocky, barren, dusty and steep path. This was like driving around your block to Logan who was nonchalantly chatting with us as he careened around large boulders and near steep cliffs. The rest of us were not so relaxed and hanging on for the adventure, which felt like you were in a Jeep commercial! At 7,000 feet, Logan had taken us as far as we could go on four wheels because the next leg of the climb was almost vertical and involved icy snow patches.
At this point, our group was escorted into the resort’s largest snow Cat (used on ski slopes to groom the trails). We were all in for the extreme ride of our lives. Again, Logan skillfully got us to our destination. We were on the top of Palmer Run, 8,500 feet up Mount Hood. We almost could have touched the clouds, if there had been any. But it was sunny, blue and about 55 warm degrees up there! We felt God’s hand upon the weather, the gentle caressing breeze and our journey to stand atop this mountain.
During our ceremony on a ledge of Palmer Run, Mark read a devotional. Then I prayed, thanking God for giving us Brandon for 28 years. We asked God for His help to continue releasing Brandon back to Him, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” as the mountain breeze took the ashes. There was a heartfelt group embrace and then we all noticed a raven as we dispersed from that ledge. The bird had suddenly flown to where we had been standing and it walked around for a few moments in the snow of Palmer Run and then flew to perch on the nearest chairlift. When we returned to the Cat where Logan had been respectfully waiting, he mentioned the raven and how they are so rarely seen on the upper part of the mountain. God’s presence seemed to have been revealed again as that raven appeared on our sacred ground.
There was a final extreme ride going vertically down the mountain. Logan dropped us off back at the entrance for Timberline Lodge. Our group adventure seemed to be coming abruptly to a close and we said our goodbyes. Mark & I were to be staying the night at the lodge as previously reserved by Nels. But before he drove off with his kids, Nels informed us that our room was ready and we would not be paying for the stay or the transport everyone took to the top of the mountain. We were a little dumbfounded and stammered, “Now that’s awfully nice, but we expect to pay.” Nels replied, “Timberline will not take any payment. The President insisted that there would be no charge because Brandon was a part of the Timberline Family.”
Mark & I waved goodbye as we stood in shock. We were filled with gratitude and tears slowly streamed. God saw to it that our hearts were mended a little more that day from having to say goodbye to Brandon that February day a few years ago.
We are so thankful for our friends and prayer warriors who have helped us through this adventure — both the trip to Mount Hood and our continued adventure called Life.
Note: The subject of suicide is complicated. Four Brief Theses on Suicide offers a helpful reflection on the subject. Other resources you may find helpful:
If you are in a suicide crisis, call SAVE’s (Suicide Awareness Voice of Education) national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Focus on the Family Help Center counselors are available Monday through Friday between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm (Mountain Time) to provide guidance and resources. You can arrange to speak with a licensed Christian counselor at no cost by calling 1-855-771-HELP (4357).
One day, some folks began pondering how to create a feast of family-oriented fun, entertainment and encouragement, especially for those needing a little hope and refreshing. Since one of these conversations took place among music lovers over a meal, is it any wonder that the idea of gathering ‘round a concert stage with food started taking shape? Attending a pie contest fundraiser with live music in Music City (Nashville) captured the attention of this competitive bunch too, so the dream was clarified and planning for the first Jammin’ Pie Fest in Maple Grove began.
The Jammin’ Pie Fest is open to the entire community next Saturday in the Jamieson’s back yard. It’s a LIVE concert event and pie contest supporting a great cause—helping people in the midst of life challenges to make connections and grow in faith that God’s ways are trustworthy and good. To top things off, we’ll have Regie Hamm at the piano, straight off a plane from Nashville!
REGIE HAMM A hit songwriter, artist and producer, Regie Hamm has penned over 20 #1 hits, many of them in Christian music. He hit the Billboard Top 20 as an artist in 2003, and later went on to see his solo-written song “Time Of My Life” (sung by 2008 American Idol winner David Cook) stay at #1 for 4 months on the pop charts, making it the longest running number one pop song by a Nashville-based songwriter in history – beating out Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” by one week. Oprah called it the “official theme song of the 2008 Summer Olympics,” and David Cook announced that with the song, Regie had hit a chord with people.
But the real story of Regie’s personal journey has had all the twists, turns, and drama of a Hollywood movie. He was raised in Pentecostal churches, tent revivals, and all night singings, but rose from those humble beginnings to experience unprecedented success in the music industry, writing 16 number #1 hits from 1994 to 2000. With Grammy and Dove nominations, and winning SESAC’s Songwriter of the Year award four times, Regie was about to launch into that same stratosphere as a pop artist signed to Universal Records.
Nothing would prepare him, however, for the drama he would face in adopting a little girl from China in 2003, embarking on a 5 year odyssey to discover her severe genetic disorder, watching his life and a career spin out of control and finally landing on the other side in the rarest of places. Regie and his family have experienced the highest of highs …and the lowest of lows, and have overcome enormous obstacles on a journey that would test not only their physical resources and their faith, but their very sanity. Regie Hamm’s amazing story is chronicled in his book, Angels & Idols, and has recently been optioned for a Hollywood film.
Come! Be a part of a massive exchange of encouragement next Saturday, September 20th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. The back yard is located at 16553 81st Avenue North, Maple Grove, MN. Bring your blanket or lawn chair. If you like, add a homemade pie for the contest and compete for awesome prizes. Pie taste testing will kick off the afternoon right away at 2:00 pm and Regie’s concert will start shortly after that. You’ll have opportunity to vote for your own favorite pies!
TICKET PRICE: *Donation
(suggested donation = your age)
$20 rebate for those who bring a homemade pie
LOCAL JUDGES: Our panel of expert judges and pie enthusiasts includes Toni Fluke (owner of Great Harvest Bread Company in Maple Grove), Terry Savoie (owner of Red Rover Pizza), Karen Savoie (from the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens at General Mills) and Bud McDougall (prize-winning foodie and WRIM Board Member). CONTEST CATEGORIES INCLUDE: Taster’s Choice, Judge’s Favorite, Fruit Pies, Savory Pies, Cream-Style Pies, Chocolate Pies, Gluten-Free Pies, Prettiest Pie Contest winners will receive fun and valuable prizes including music CDs, gifts cards and books. Please help us thank these donors, business owners and artists by following their blogs, giving them a “Like” on their Facebook pages and shopping for their products!
Truly, this will be an afternoon that refreshes and re-energizes individuals and families with encouragement, fun and community. We will all be inspired, strengthened and comforted to persevere when life is challenging. Rain or shine, enjoy a fun, relaxing afternoon among friends in Larry and Lisa Jamieson’s back yard. Bring the whole family and a bunch of other people with y’all! *Tickets are available at the door for a donation to the volunteer-run Walk Right In Ministries. Walk Right In Ministries is a Minneapolis-based non-profit 501(c)(3) charity that helps people connect and grow in Christian community when experiencing life challenges such as disability.
A couple of years ago, Larry and I were invited to do an interview with WORDS TO LIVE BY RADIO. We shared about how we experienced God in the early years of Carly’s life when disability was devastatingly new and we struggled to ask for help so Carly might thrive. That episode is re-airing again this coming weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 13 & 14. I hope it’s encouraging to you. Please join us in praying that God will use this once again to reach into things like broken heartedness, hopelessness and loneliness. To learn where you can hear the interview on a station in your area, call 616-974-2210 with your zip code handy or just visit this link — http://words.net/2010/06/04/finding-hope-in-one-of-life’s-toughest-struggles-–-larry-lisa’s-story/
For more of the story about those early years, read Finding Glory in the Thorns — the book about how Carly, her family and the community surrounding them experienced love, hope and unexpected miracles in the midst of shared struggles. Finding Glory in the Thorns and the small group curriculum Finding Glory Group Discussion Guide are both available at the Walk Right In Ministries store and Amazon. Finding Glory in the Thorns is also available for your eReader on Kindle, Nook and iBook (Apple).
‘Tis is the season of transition to summer routines. School and church activities like Bible studies, small groups and children’s programs are wrapping up. It’s a perfect time of year to reflect on those who have had influence on our faith. There are official “volunteer recognition” parties and fellowship lunches, gift cards given and Hallmark cards signed. Whether our expressions of gratitude are official or spontaneous, they are important and powerful encouragement to volunteers who lead Bible studies, teach Sunday School, hold babies in the nursery, serve on worship teams, facilitate small groups, preach and inspire, make coffee, maintain our church buildings, be a buddy to a child with special needs, make meals for families when someone is hospitalized, speak or write words or encouragement, mentor youth, lead our congregations, administrate our offices and pray faithfully on our prayer chains. The list of those who could be thanked and how we might do that goes on and on.
Rhonda Roe and her Bible study friends recently found a creative way to thank their Bible study leader, Jan Christofferson. They have so valued the way Jan teaches and inspires them. I want to thank Rhonda for sharing today’s story and poem reminding us to give thanks and inspiring us share our Glory Stories of how we are personally encountering the Living God in His precious presence, power and goodness.
My Bible study leader, Jan Christofferson, often refers to what she learned in Sunday school as a small child. She tells us about sitting in little red chairs and learning simple truths about Jesus and stories of faith.
I have often thought how neat it would be to give Jan a little red wooden chair as a reminder of those special days in Sunday school. This year I was able to make that dream a reality. I found a small wooden chair at an antique store and purchased it. My friend, Karen, painted it red and wrote a poem to give to Jan. We recently gave it to Jan at our end-of-the-year brunch.
I hope this story and the poem inspire you to share your faith with the children in your lives. You never know if one of them will grow up to have a servant heart and a desire to lead a Bible study.
The Little Red Chair
by Karen Johnson
A little red chair, so tiny and sweet,
with paint a bit chipped and wear from small feet.
All week in the dark and lined up on the wall,
but oh! Sunday mornings, that changes it all!
All proud in a circle, we sit in a state,
for very small people to be quiet and to wait,
for stories and singing, and maybe a treat,
for words about Jesus, and God’s love so sweet.
A little red chair, a Sunday in church,
a small little girl using it for a perch.
A love for our Lord, a kindness of heart,
like most great achievements, had a small start.
A little red chair, now beat up and worn,
abandoned, forgotten—but what of it born?
A wee little child to hear and in turn,
a life full of teaching so others might learn.
A little red chair, so cheerful and dear,
with our thankful hearts we look at it here.
A symbol for us, they make such a pair,
our wonderful Jan and her little red chair!
Who might you thank today or this week?
How could you do that in a way that is personally meaningful?
LORD GOD, thank you for putting people in my life who have pointed me toward You and helped me grasp my opportunity for relationship with you. Thank you for using the stories I hear about how others are encountering You. Those stories re-assure me of your presence. They encourage me when I need to know someone else has walked in my shoes and found You to be faithful. They spur me on when it’s hard to persevere. They remind me that I have great value in your Kingdom. Help me to hear what You have to say to me through friends, mentors, my spouse, my children and my parents. Please help me to have a teachable spirit as well as a heart to serve and share how I see You at work in and around me. I offer myself to you today (or recommit) to be used for Your unimaginable purposes. Please bless the people I am thinking of now and minister to their needs as only You can. I ask these things and give You my thanks in Jesus’ name. AMEN
“Maybe you have to lose everything you really want, to ﬁnd out what you really need. Maybe a song can change the world…or at least a small corner of it. Maybe life really is more beautiful than any of us could ever imagine, and in rare moments, God pulls back the curtain and whispers in your ear, ‘See…It’s all going to be ok…’”—Regie Hamm
Normally, I would not use this venue so specifically for the promotion of a product, service, organization or person. But, today I’m making an exception for some dear friends and a project I believe God is already using for very important purposes on many levels.
I’m so excited to tell you about One More Song and the Regie and Yolanda Hamm family. Believe it or not, it is highly probable that you already know Regie’s work even if you don’t recognize his name. Regie Hamm is a songwriter with more than twenty #1 hits. He is also an extraordinary recording artist, producer and author. Regie has been named SESAC’s Songwriter of the Year four times and has had over 400 songs recorded by various artists. That more-than-impressive list includes Clay Aiken, Kenny Loggins, Maxi Priest, Bob Carlisle, Jaci Valeasquez, Clay Crosse, Russ Taff, Mark Schultz, Point of Grace, MercyMe and the Backstreet Boys. He has been nominated three times for Dove Awards.
But one of Regie’s most recognized career moments came in 2008 when David Cook won American Idol and sang Regie’s song Time of My Life. An instant smash hit, Time of My Life rose to #1 and became the longest running Billboard Adult Contemporary chart topper of all time.
The song Time of My Life also galvanized the AngelmanSyndrome community. I will never forget the night of the 2008 American Idol finale. It was a beautiful evening and I was sitting in a lawn chair watching our daughter Alex play soccer with my cell phone pressed up to my ear. Just a few days earlier, we had learned that the winner would sing Regie’s song that night. I waited anxiously to hear it live over my cell phone as our daughter Erin held our house phone up to the TV for me. Tears streamed down my face while soccer fans cheered obliviously around me.
In that moment, and even more in the weeks and years to come, it was a song that represented deep things for our family. First it established a public kinship between us and families like ours who were wrestling mightily with something few had ever heard of—a rare disorder called Angelman Syndrome. Regie was inspired to write the song out of his experiences raising his daughter Bella who has Angelman Syndrome like our daughter Carly. It wasn’t long after hearing that song when Larry and I first met the Regie and his wife, Yolanda. That friendship is today among the most precious relationships Larry and I enjoy. This is a family we highly respect, resonate deeply with, pray often with, have a lot of fun with, change diapers with, cry with, dream with and learn more than we ever thought we could learn with.
Two weeks ago, a Kick Starter campaign was launched to raise some additional funds for the documentary One More Song that Regie and Devin Pense are producing. (Devin’s experience includes work with the Discovery Channel and serving as Director of Production for the Oprah Winfrey Network.)
As Regie has described, the film chronicles his family’s journey “from the precipice of super stardom in the music world, through the adoption of a Chinese orphan with a rare genetic disorder, into the low lands of dealing with her disorder and the loss of a career; from the re-invention of a marriage to the heights of winning an arbitrary song contest and having that song become an almost Divine source of redemption for a beleaguered family, as well as it becoming a focal point for many other families around the world. The story—as stories go—is a really good one. I couldn’t have written it. I wouldn’t have written it. Instead, I was chosen (in some weird way) to live it.” (Read Regie’s full blog post.)
Few people have the kind of compelling story, artistic genius and networking resources to create a project like this documentary will be. Even fewer have the funding resources to do it. With all of those connections and successes, you might wonder why these people need backers like you and me. Well, I’ve hinted at that in other blog posts (see my “Movie Nights with Purpose” post if you want an example) and it’s a complex answer. The plain and simple of it is that this project, like any new venture, needs investors to spur it on with physical, emotional and spiritual resources. Larry and I are coming alongside this project in prayer, finances, encouragement and promotional support. We hope you will too.
Listen to Regie’s heart as he describes the vision for this film:
“We want to present a compelling story on screen that takes people on a journey of emotion and leaves them feeling connected to the triumph of the human spirit and closer to the mystery of (dare I say) God. This story is about music and drama and dreams lost and new ones revealed and love re-born and worlds colliding and geopolitical monoliths intertwining and the depths of the human condition and the recesses of the human genome. It’s about TV shows and emergency rooms and whiskey and Jesus. It’s about Chinese orphans and American rock stars. It’s about one-level houses and the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games. It takes you around the world and makes you look unflinchingly into the eyes of love …and it has a happy ending (of sorts). Through that story, we also want people to walk away knowing what Angelman Syndrome is.”
The broader vision for this project is actually a feature film. And there are folks in some wonderful places (like Ryan Seacrest Productions) who are anxiously hoping for that project to fall into place. But a project of that scope requires massive amounts of money. So until all those “moving parts” are in place, it has been suggested that the story first be introduced as a documentary. Regie could have waited it out and bided his time for a full feature. But this is a man who knows that every day he waits is another day when a child goes undiagnosed and a family struggles for hope and help.
Regie believes (and I agree) that beginning with the One More Song documentary “helps us (folks promoting Angelman Syndrome awareness) stay on the radar. It’s my opinion that awareness is the most important thing we can achieve in the quest for cures and therapies. Until the masses know about this syndrome and have some compelling reason to get behind it, we will continue to be relegated to the fringes.”
AngelmanSyndrome is the severe genetic disorder. Regie and Yolanda’s daughter, Bella, has it. Our daughter Carly has it. Over half of children who have it are wrongly diagnosed before they finally learn the truth and are able to access the specific medical care and therapies they need.
There are only two weeks left before the Kick Starter deadline and I’m praying with passion that this story will reach a large audience and soon! Two weeks, friends. That’s what we have to help make this happen. Every contributor gets something too, depending on your level of investment — signed books or DVDs, digital downloads, tickets for the premier in Franklin, Tennessee. Beyond the “giveaways” though, all of us coming alongside the producers of this project will get to experience the joy and satisfaction of knowing we’ve been part of telling a powerful Glory Story (a contemporary encounter with the ever-present, ageless God who is always near, compassionate, powerful and purposeful in His ways). It’s an easy gift to give when you know it has God’s hand all over it and you’re giving something back to the world that you couldn’t give all by yourself!
Please follow this link to make a contribution of any size and to read more about this very exciting project!
Thank you so much for reading all the way to the end! I know it’s a lot to expect that you would give me your attention for this. Your willingness to follow this story and consider backing the project is a precious gift and very encouraging—to the Hamms and to the Jamiesons. I hope you will also pray for the project and tell others about it (and talk about Angelman Syndrome). Even as we all enjoy the entertainment this great story will be, God will be working to change lives—with one more song and one big dream.
Walk Right In Ministries hosts “Movie Nights with Purpose”
Attending our firstGideon Film Festival two years ago spawned a vision for Walk Right In Ministries to use movies as another of our tools to help people connect and grow through Christ-centered community. We are always looking for ways to help people facing challenges to experience the hope and fellowship of Christ — especially when they are feeling overwhelmed, lonely or confused in their faith. At the Gideon, it was very fun to preview several movies over the course of just one week and discover the preponderance of quality films with valuable, family-friendly messages. Learning about the tremendous financial and marketing challenges facing Christian film industry was eye-opening and discouraging but seeing the wonderful vision behind the scenes inspired us and served to fuel our interest in sharing movies for ministry purposes. Our second year at the Gideon Film Festival (held every summer) provided opportunity to screen two films that touched us personally because each celebrated life and relationships where disability was involved — October Baby and Jimmy. Being parents of a child with special needs and appreciating any ministry that promotes God’s goodness in disability, it was especially gratifying for us to have conversations with filmmakers who shared our heart to tell stories that honor people with special needs and highlight God’s sovereign goodness in suffering. Later, our own daughter Erin Jamieson was privileged to have one of her songs used in the movie Season of Miracles which features a boy with autism. Now in the past 12 months, Walk Right In Ministries has had the opportunity to host public showings of four wonderful films:
OCTOBER BABY — This is a story of healing and forgiveness about a college-aged girl who responds to the revelation that she is an adopted abortion survivor. Bewildered, angered, and confused, she embarks with her oldest friend on a journey to understand her hidden past.
BEWARE OF CHRISTIANS — This is a documentary about four college friends who grew up as Bible-believing Christians in America and did all the “right” things. They soon realized that their biases and allegiances to worldly things had determined their views on Christianity. So, they travel throughout Europe examining what Jesus says about topics like materialism, sexuality, alcohol and entertainment.
JIMMY — Ian Colletti delivers the performance of a lifetime in this heartfelt family drama based on the best-selling novel by Robert Whitlow. Colletti stars as Jimmy Mitchell, a young man whose world is a place where a boy can be a man, even if he’s “special”.
SEASON OF MIRACLES — This family drama features a group of twelve year olds, their friendship with a boy who has autism and their 1974 championship little league baseball season. It is a life-inspiring story about sportsmanship, friendship, and courage in the face of adversity.
Christian filmmakers desperately need our collective support! It’s a little known fact that filmmakers must themselves pay thousands of dollars to get their movies in the theaters.
“It costs about $1,500 to print one copy of a movie on 35 mm film and ship it to theaters in its heavy metal canister. Multiply that by 4,000 copies — one for each movie on each screen in each multiplex around the country — and the numbers start to get ugly.” (LA Weekly – April 12, 2012)
This is why, with increasing frequency, faith-based filmmakers are utilizing a marketing strategy that offers licensing programs to churches who will use their own screens to bring their movies to Christian audiences. We can support faith-based films with our prayers, by attending or hosting any public screening of quality films and by purchasing the DVDs for our private use. Consider gifting a faith-based film this Christmas or put some on your own wish list.
If you’re in the Minneapolis area and have interest in attending one of our Movie Night with Purpose, we hope you’ll get on our mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest news. If you have interest in learning how you can host a Movie Night with Purpose in your area, please contact us. If you are someone wanting to develop your talents and explore opportunities in Christian media, consider attending the next Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival in Orlando, Florida July 11-15, 2014. You’ll enjoy workshops galore by day and movie screenings by night. There are contests for feature films, documentaries, short films, screenplays, acting and more as well as a student intern program. In years past, we’ve enjoyed early screenings of films like The Grace Card, October Baby, The Shunning, MilltownPride, Not Today and many more. The atmosphere is electric with experts and “newbies” alike mingling and praying together as family learning together how to grow and share in their crafts from production, acting and screenwriting to music. It’s quite an unusual and marvelous experience where you’ll make friends for life. I’m so thankful God led our family to a peek behind the scenes of Christian filmmaking. Movie Nights with Purpose have given us the opportunity to introduce some very special stories to a lot of people who are appreciating the quality entertainment, enjoying casual Christ-centered fellowship and sharing in post-show discussions (optional to our audience guests). Some great films we’re considering as features for 2014 include Not Today, Veil of Tears,Unstoppable and One More Song. Tell us which film(s) you’d like to see! Some additional online Christian film resources:
Meet Steve and Rosie Koebele — a couple of beautiful “characters” who humbly and enthusiastically shared this Glory Story with us. I say “characters” because these friends are established in the TV, film and acting communities with a great mix of talent from serious to silly. Their story is a beautiful example of how God reveals Himself when we are obedient in responding to His prompting.
“GOD USES ANYTHING — EVEN A RANDOM SAFETY FLAG IN YOUR GARAGE!!!!
We were driving out of a superstore parking lot earlier this week. There were two men sitting in their motorized wheelchairs waiting for a bus. As we drove past, I noticed one had a safety flag and the other didn’t.
I told Steve, “I think we’re supposed to go back and tell that guy we have a safety flag for him.”
Steve said, “Really?”
I said, “Yeah!”
So we turned around and I jumped out of the car saying, “This might sound a little weird but…”
The gentleman with the flag laughed and said, “You’re lost!”
“No,” I said, “but we drove past a minute ago and noticed you had a safety flag on your wheelchair but your friend didn’t. I have one at home!”
He responded, “I almost got hit three times without this flag!”
His friend agreed, “I need one!”
I told him that if he would wait a minute, we would come right back and bring him a safety flag. They asked me to hurry because the bus was going to be there any minute. I told them we’d be back in five. Then I hopped back in the car and told Steve we needed to hurry because the bus was coming for them.
Steve said, “If God wants us to deliver it, he’ll keep them there.”
We sped home, grabbed the flag and some mounting tools, and off we went with the flag flapping in the wind out the window. What fun!
We got back to the spot but they were gone. We couldn’t believe it! Then from across the parking lot, we saw our flagless friend speeding our way in his motorized wheelchair! It was Eddie!
He explained that they had passed up the first bus because they didn’t want to miss us. They hoped we’d come back, but waited at the other stop so they didn’t miss the next bus.
We hopped out and Steve quickly sawed off the rod to the appropriate height for the flag and attached it with zip ties just as his friend came zipping back.
“Why did you have a flag?” Eddie asked. “I wondered how I would get a flag because I’m on a fixed income and can’t afford it.”
“Jesus gives you one, that’s how!” I explained. “We sold our 4-wheeler a month ago and forgot to include the flag!”
Eddie’s friend said, “Yes! I know Jesus, He’s a good friend of mine! “ Then he turned around and went speeding towards the bus stop to hold the bus for Eddie.
We finished up with Eddie and prayed for him and he sped toward the bus stop to catch the next bus.
Just about an hour before this God-appointed connection, Steve and I were nearly hit by a car. Had we been hit, this meeting would not have happened.
What a very sweet moment in time!”
If you have a story that shows how you’ve seen God’s presence and power, please tell it! We honor God and encourage others when we talk about how we are experiencing our relationship with Him, especially when life is challenging.
I want to thank Katherine Kotila from Nebraska for sharing this story. Katherine attended International House of Prayer (IHOP) University, was a “Fire in the Night” intern and served on IHOP’s staff “Strike Team” for seven months. She is currently a youth group leader and hospital nursing assistant while helping to establish Bound4LIFE in Bellevue, a nationwide effort to see the end of abortion. Katherine plans to become an ultrasound technician. God’s ways are beautifully evident through this young woman.
“Something amazing happened today!
At youth group tonight I noticed a new guy and girl kind of sitting off to themselves for most of the night. Well, at one point I was leading a little bit of discussion. I mentioned this crazy place in Kansas City where people worship and pray 24/7.
This new girl gasps and says, “IHOP-KC? That’s where I’m from!”
“What?!” I could hardly believe what I was hearing. The personal nature and timing of this connection was so significant. Crazy! I thought.
So we talked for a while afterwards. She and her brother had moved here to help their grandparents.
We hit it off right away. They explained that they had visited my church once but weren’t really planning on coming again except the brother felt like they needed to come to the youth thing tonight.
I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been in a really difficult place lately feeling really lonely and missing all my Kansas City friends and community.I told them I was SO so encouraged to talk to someone in Omaha with a similar background as me.
It just goes to show that even in your darkest times, Jesus is never going to leave you hanging and will do something for you right when you feel like you’ve got nothing left.
OH, HOW HE LOVES!”
Thank you, Katherine, for transparently sharing how God lifted you out of discouragement and for reminding all of us of God’s marvelous and personal love! Now — let’s continue in worship!
“But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45
Ouch! Really? On the one hand, I don’t think of myself as someone with enemies or even someone who is persecuted (except when I remember back to painful days of vicious bullying in middle school). But then I think of all those days when my heart has ached for a friend to listen, for help to come through my door, for the reassurance that someone cares enough to be near even when my life is discouraging, relentless, overwhelming. This is not just my own heart’s cry. This is a common experience among most of us but especially someone who is facing a crisis.
Those of us who work in ministry with struggling people know that, for most people enduring life-altering circumstances, there is a sense of isolation and loneliness that invades which is often more upsetting than the initial crisis itself. Despite that fact that our family was overwhelmed with support in the early season of Carly’s life, there have also been many days when each of us has felt very alone — even abandoned. In those moments or seasons, whether our feelings were fair and reasonable or not, these are dangerous thoughts to entertain because they tend to morph into things like bitterness, defensiveness and more isolation.
We’ve all been there. Maybe you’ve felt forgotten by the world as you struggle with disability or some other adversity. Perhaps you’ve experienced the rejection of a friend, child or spouse. Maybe you have just longed for more or deeper friendships. In any case, you probably understand the insidious progression the mind can take when given opportunity to wallow in disappointment and dissatisfaction, particularly when relationships are involved.
Navigating relationships is no easy thing. It’s hard to live in community but impossible to live without it. God designed us to need others and commanded us to love Him first and everyone else next. In fact, Jesus said all that mattered in life boiled down to those two things. “But,” you may ask, “what do I do about those people who have hurt or disappointed me? In particular, what do I do about those who are likely to hurt me again…and probably AGAIN after that?” The rhetorical question here is, “Am I supposed to be a doormat and just love and let live?”
Whenever I’m wrestling to find healthy, godly and satisfying answers to my question, “What should I do, Lord?” it helps me to reconsider what God’s ideals are and then find basic principles for living from His good design.
In the case of relationships, here are some goals I find essential to keep at the forefront of my mind:
Keep God’s standard of holiness (Matthew 5:2-16)
Have a generous heart (Matthew 18:21-35)
Seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24)
From a practical perspective, here are Biblical steps I try to take toward the goals:
Pray for reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
Ask God what I should do to please HIM in specific situations and relationships. I’m no longer trying to figure out what will please someone else or make me look good. I’m simply trying to do what is right according to God’s design because I’m increasingly trusting that His way is the only way to be fully effective and satisfied. (Proverbs 16:7)
Seek everything from God first, the One whose delight it is to surprise me with His presence and overwhelming love. Expect nothing from earthly man who will always fall short. (Philippians 4:6-7, Ephesians 3:16-19)
Identify godly, healthy boundaries and follow through on them with the same vigor I use to resist sin. This is a hard one for me! (Proverbs 22:3)
Saturate my mind with God’s Word and walk away from everything that involves holding a grudge, seeking revenge, harboring unforgiveness, becoming defensive or participating in someone else’s sin. (Romans 8:5-6, Philippians 4:8)
Pray blessing on anyone who has hurt or disappointed me. I often ask for God’s help to see others the way He sees them. (Romans 12:14)
Trust God to be my protector, defender and advocate. Quit trying to do it for myself! (Psalm 40)
Keep reaching out to serve others, asking for help when it is needed and growing in Christ-centered relationships. I need God’s help to resist my fears, skepticism and sense of vulnerability. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
How about you?
How would your relationships change if you obeyed Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:38-44?
What godly relational boundaries would keep you from participating in sin and allow you to experience freedom in Christ yet enable you to show God’s love to someone who challenges you?
I hope you will take time to read the extra Bible references provided, particularly if you find yourself struggling in any relationship. There are great riches for you in God’s Word! May the Lord bless you as you seek to know His heart and enjoy your community more.
A member of our Board of Directors shared this family’s story with me a few weeks ago and I’ve been so encouraged by it — for a couple of reasons. A little boy named Micah has been surrounded by a remarkable community of loving and supportive family and friends. Yet Micah’s story should not be remarkable. God delights in using sacrificial love and the outreach of His people because He uses intersections of love to reveal His power and presence (1 John 4:8) and He delights in surprising us with unexpected gifts (Luke 11:12-14, Ephesians 3:20-21). James and Jill (Micah’s parents) are humble, enthusiastic Christ followers who are trying to help each of their children reach their full potential developmentally as well as in character and Truth. That SO inspires me! While the specific circumstances and challenges of our own lives may be very different from what Micah’s family lives every day, each of us has opportunity to be blessed and be a blessing when we allow our lives to intersect with other’s. Sometimes that means reaching out to help someone in very simple (seemingly insignificant) ways and sometimes it means doing big things. Perhaps most difficult of all — yet, oh so important — is being willing to ASK for that help. Asking for help can be the open door God uses to spill out blessing in astounding ways around you today! Thank you to James and Jill Olson of Crosslake, Minnesota for allowing us to share their story and the photo (below) of beautiful Micah. By sharing this family’s story, Walk Right In Ministries does not intend to endorse a particular program but does encourage families to seek the Lord and prayerfully explore their options when identifying resources through challenges.
To Our Amazing Family and Friends,
It has been almost three weeks now, since our trip to The Autism Treatment Center of America for their Son-Rise Program® training in Sheffield, Massachusetts. We cannot express our thanks enough for all the financial support and loving prayers that made this trip a reality! We were so greatly touched by the outpour of love and support. People have been so genuine and sincere with wanting to help and learn more about Micah and how autism affects our family. Please know that our lives, our hearts, our beliefs were touched in a way that we never even knew to expect. God is good, and you are all beautiful angels to our family!
We stayed on the Sheffield campus for a five day training to learn the Son-Rise Program®. We were there with 81 other individuals, from 13 different countries, seeking a new way to help a loved one with autism. We were all united by our determination and love for our child with our hopes to help them break through autism. It was an uplifting week that inspired hope and courage in us to always press forward, to know that our child’s potential is limitless, to never lose hope, and to always choose happiness today!
We learned new approaches and techniques to help Micah and our entire family through challenging moments and how to build on already wonderful, positive moments. One of the key parts of Son-Rise is to have the 3 E’s: energy, excitement, and enthusiasm! When we first came home, you could tell the boys noticed a change within James and me. We celebrate (somewhat over the top) each positive moment, such as good eye contact and having flexibility. Micah heard “thanks for looking at me” with such excitement in the first few days, that he started telling us the same thing and eventually asked us to stop telling him that! We also learned new approaches for the control battles that usually led to great frustration and meltdowns for Micah.
Micah challenged and escalated the situations quite a bit in the first few days, but started to realize that something has changed and thankfully, he is responding amazingly! I have done many happy, victory dances in this house just in the past few weeks!
We know we have quite the road ahead of us, but we are so encouraged by the renewed spirits we came back with, the hopeful outlook for the future, and Micah’s responsiveness to the program. We will be implementing the program more over the next few weeks. We are setting up a room to be the Son-Rise playroom where we will work one-on-one with Micah to achieve specific goals for his social development (eye contact, communication, interactive attention span, and flexibility).
We will continue to support Micah’s body with various supplements. We will continue with his HANDLE (reflex integration) and craniosacral therapies and his specialized diet. Above all, we will continue to love and nurture this beautiful, precious boy that God Almighty blessed our lives with. We will take delight in who he is today and give thanks for the creative, thoughtful, and exuberant boy that fills our days with joy and love!
We thank you again for your loving support! May “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace”. (Numbers 6:24-26)