Tips to Help Creative Caregivers Find Their Sweet Spot

This article is part of an ongoing series looking at what puts caregivers in their “sweet spots” when supporting a family member with special needs. Today we’re exploring challenges and opportunities for caregivers whose gift is for creativity.

Creativity is a wonderful gift! It is a particularly valued gift in special needs families, especially when an injection of new ideas and fresh energy is needed. Creative caregivers can be such a tremendous help in a family where there is great need for solving problems, finding new approaches to long-standing challenges, livening up tedious routines, spicing up the food menu, identifying new motivators for therapies, re-designing a home or room for unique functionality, making an old toy fun again and so much more.

I remember a time when our daughter Carly who has Angelman Syndrome was very young and not sleeping at night. She had been wreaking havoc with everything in her bedroom. She was pulling clothes out of dresser drawers, pulling down items in the closet and frequently stripping her bed of its linens. One night we awoke to loud crashing and found her standing at the window wildly banging the blinds and very much at risk of falling through her second story bedroom window at any moment!

The middle of the night was not our best hour for creativity but the situation demanded a fast solution. Within a few minutes, my husband, Larry, had found some scrap wood in the garage and nailed it over the window until we could figure out a more attractive and permanent fix. A few days later, my parents were in town and all four of us very creative adults were gathered in Carly’s room brainstorming everything from bedding solutions to window construction. It was a moment of both grief and deep appreciation. While Larry and I experienced the sorrow of having our lives turned upside down in great detail, we also had those poignant opportunities to connect with my parents whose hearts and minds were deeply invested in helping our family thrive.

We are all made in the image of God who is, by very nature, creative. The Creator of the heavens and the earth, and everything in it, is the Source of all good gifts. If you are someone particularly blessed with the good gift of creativity, let it shine!

Creativity can be a joyful and comforting outlet for the expressive caregiver. It can be a precious escape from pressing challenges and a way to move toward God when someone is yearning to tangibly experience a sense of His presence and power. Scriptures show that songs comforted both the creator and others. For example, King David’s poetic prayers brought him close to God (Psalm 23) and his music soothed the tormented Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23).

Creativity can ease a caregiver through boredom. Rearranging furniture, re-painting a bedroom, testing a new menu item, thinking of new activities during the long days of illness or the limitations of Covid can be exciting assignments right up the alley of the creative members of your family. It can also be a delight to a loved one who is bored, restless, discouraged or needing some fresh perspective in the grueling routines of their own disabilities.

What fun siblings can have when they share a craft or bake together! I’ll never forget when one of Carly’s sisters helped her choose pantry items and stir them together for a snack one afternoon. We have a treasured picture of Carly wearing an apron, holding a spoon and getting ready to grab a mouthful of her special “trail mix.” It was a challenging experience to keep Carly focused but that few minutes sharing a spontaneous new activity was a precious boost of morale and self-esteem for them both.

Alex helping Carly stir trail mix.

Your intention to bless others with your creative energies is greatly appreciated. But you may not always receive a positive reaction from your stressed and stretched family about your ideas and projects. Unfortunately, family members who are weary or exhausted may feel overwhelmed by new ideas or change.

If you encounter hesitation or pushback for your creative ideas, some perspective is helpful. First, resist taking the reaction of others personally. Have compassion for how ideas, any ideas from anybody, may be making others feel. This will help you to be patient. Consider, for example, that a pragmatic family member may be thinking you have a great idea but it’s going to cost more than what is affordable. Another family member may be thinking about how much energy it will take to implement it. Moms or the primary caregiver, in particular, may be resistant to trying something new if it feels like someone is judging their own major investment of effort. On the other hand, there may simply be concern for protecting the person with special needs from change and all of its associated adjustments.

Don’t give up. Your family needs what you have to offer. They may just need time to absorb your ideas. There will also be times when an idea still needs some refining.

Take your creative visions to God asking Him to clarify for you the timing or ways for sharing your ideas or projects. Ask God to show you what should be pursued and what should be released for another time, or things that need to be dismissed altogether.

Creative minds are often busy minds. Most creative people will have no shortage of ideas or visions for future projects. Your Pinterest boards and hook books may be very full. In fact, you may find yourself vulnerable to having too many “irons in the fire.” You may even find yourself starting to feel pressure to keep up with your own creative juices. You’ll experience greater peace when you develop a lifestyle of being still with Jesus, asking Him to move you toward those specific efforts that hold the greatest potential for Kingdom fruit.

It will also help you to examine what motivates your creative energies. For many, there is a driving need to feel known. There may also be a desire to express something on behalf of others. Feeling understand and pleasing people are powerful influencers. You may appreciate being acknowledged for your talents. It is gratifying to see the beauty or helpfulness of something you’ve created too. Expressiveness can also be a form of release, like popping the cork on a pressure-filled bottle. Unfortunately, that release may involve negative consequences for others. Many will be blessed when you are driven and empowered by the Holy Spirit rather than controlled simply by your own passions or flesh.

If you are not adequately meeting specific needs in your soul — following your unique strengths and calling — you are likely to end up feeling things like anxiety, disappointment, frustration or ongoing restlessness. You might lean into creative endeavors as a way of finding inner healing or escape from pain. But when your projects become an attempt to run from pain or anesthetize things like confusion and doubt, there is vulnerability to replacing a healthy pursuit of God with sin.

Take time to pray. Ask God what is driving your expressiveness. Repent of any sin and ask Jesus to purify your heart. Lean into godly ways of expressing yourself and serving others with your talents. Then enjoy the ripples of God’s handiwork through your gift. Understanding the factors that influence you and learning to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit will lead to deeper satisfaction and the fulfillment of Kingdom purposes.

When your creativity is a form of worship by way of engaging your gifts to express love to God and others, it will energize you and bring an abundance of incomparable blessings!

TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS BY ENJOYING CREATIVITY EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

If being creative or expressive energizes you…

  • Seek a role on the caregiving team that optimizes your gifts for things like designing the activity calendar, developing a motivating curriculum for home-based learning, facilitating artistic activities, decorating for birthdays/holidays, overseeing home and bedroom modifications/remodeling/adaptations, leading cooking or baking projects
  • Process your own grief and feelings about the situation artistically (e.g., journal, blog, music, dance, poetry, painting, baking)
  • Initiate conversations and activities that keep atmosphere, perspectives and ideas flowing and fresh (e.g., birthday parties, vacations, staycations)
  • Alternate between tasks and people
  • Plan opportunities for spontaneity and teambuilding
  • Learn to balance personal catharsis with being servant-hearted like Jesus


The Bible offers an abundance of help and encouragement for expressive caregivers:

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Exodus 31:1-5
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts.He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

1 Timothy 4:14
Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you.

Proverbs 18:21
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

Colossians 3:10
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

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

Glorious Creator, your faithfulness is my shield! Thank you for breathing life and love into Your children. Your imprint on me is generous with creativity. You call me Your masterpiece. You compare me to a beautiful poem. It’s exciting for me to imagine all the ways You inspire me to express visions, ideas, feelings and dreams. Hold me in Your grip while we enjoy the freedoms of a creative life. Slow down my racing ideas when they control me or have negative consequences for others. Show me how to serve others with my gifts and glorify Your great name. Let the words of my mouth, the meditation of my heart and the work of my hands be pleasing to you, Lord. Cause my gifts to be an instrument of healing to many. Amen

Tell us in the comments how your family experiences the blessings of creativity!


Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. 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 Caregivers Concerned About Maintaining Their Energy Reserves

This is the sixth article in a series exploring what puts family caregivers in their “sweet spots” when supporting a family member with special needs. Today we’re exploring some challenges and opportunities for caregivers who prefer life at a slow, steady and relatively predictable pace.

Caregiving requires a lot of energy. It can be challenging to maintain the mental and emotional reserves for the normal activities of daily living. Many situations are physically demanding as well. In some cases, there may be little margin for the kinds of activities or rest that refuel the caregiver whose energy level generally runs on the low side. If that’s you, I think you’ll find encouraging tips = here to understand and optimize your unique strengths.

Frankly, some people seem to want a slower paced life even when there are no extra demands. If you are one of these people, your “dream day” might include going to work, sitting at a desk working through your tasks (even tasks others might consider tedious), going home for a nap, eating dinner, taking another nap, watching some television and then heading to bed for the night. You may watch in wonder — or even feel intimidated — when others fill their discretionary time with things like hiking, crafts, sports, shopping and hobbies. You may feel guilty about “pulling your weight” with caregiver chores like laundry, meal prep and housecleaning but find doing the family bookkeeping comes rather easily.

Are you someone who tends to work at a slow pace or frequently worries about running out of steam? Perhaps others have expressed frustration about your making your fair share of the sacrifices. That may be because you feel that every bit of energy you extend is a sacrifice. You may feel like life takes far more effort than you have to offer.

Here’s an important fact to consider: your fear about running out of energy may be far closer to perception than reality. In fact, believing that you may completely run out of “gas” at some point could be negatively impacting your relationships while robbing you of a joy and satisfaction in doing some things you really would enjoy. Becoming more willing to make sacrifices can reduce your hidden fears, build your self-esteem and enhance your relationships.

The truth is, you have some wonderful passions, a great love for people and a profound capacity for efficiency all wrapped up in a calm, easy-going package! In your strengths, you’ll have a conservative, practical and peace-loving nature that uniquely equips you with valuable problem-solving skills and an uncanny ability to mediate tense situations. You could be your spouse’s best friend at an IEP meeting, transition planning meeting or care coordination conference.

You can be a tremendous advocate for your loved ones. You may see and respond to problems and injustices with an uncanny instinct for improving quality of life for others. Your voice and purposeful involvement are a powerful force and will help you stay energized when you’re otherwise tempted to sleep your life away. Be aware, however, that you may feel angry and anxious when others are not taking action where you see the need to make things better. Your frustration will be greatly reduced when you learn to give others permission to be imperfect.

When it’s time to make decisions, you may appreciate finding someone trustworthy to share in that process with you. And release yourself to make imperfect choices along the way toward satisfying conclusions. You may need to share more information than what comes naturally for you so that others can understand your thought process, perspectives and ideas. But discussing the options and coming to mutual agreement with your spouse or loved ones will be pleasing for everyone.

If you’re worried about being blamed or criticized when decisions don’t turn out well, you may benefit from approaching more decisions from a mindset of safety and encouragement. For example, you might agree to say, “Let’s give this new therapy a try. If it doesn’t work, we can always try a different approach.”

Logical persuasion and positive reinforcement can be very motivating for you. So it can be helpful to you and your family if you stay open to conversations about how detailed caregiving responsibilities need to be implemented. It will also help your family to know how important it is for you to hear that your contributions are recognized and valued. You may not think you need this, but you likely do. You may be inclined to dismiss those positive vibes from others rather than allowing yourself a moment to soak in the caring and loving words others are offering. In actuality, you will greatly benefit from staying attentive and receptive to affirming feedback and appreciation. (Consider reading my previous article in this series called Tips for Caregivers: Feeling Valued and Competent.)

Be aware that when you are feeling stressed, pressured, or inconvenienced, you may be very difficult to be around. Your family, friends and co-workers may struggle to find peace anywhere around you during those times. In frustration or resentment, you may be inclined to procrastinate, be indecisive, and be difficult to motivate. You may also be hurtful to others with your verbal defenses.

To stay in a positive groove, it will help to maintain a moderate amount of independence, alternate frequently between task-oriented responsibilities and people-oriented activities, be clear and direct in communication, and learn how to use your skills in persuasion for godly causes.

Your family longs for your involvement — not just because more hands make lighter work but because they genuinely enjoy your presence. You have so much to offer and your peaceful spirit is always appreciated in the room. You will benefit from staying engaged with others. So, be encouraged to join the family for a trip to the park, table games, movie night and a weekend getaway. Linger at the dinner table and take part in the conversations (without adding your sarcastic comments).

When you take initiative to stay engaged with your loved ones and community, you will discover the power that well-paced and positive socialization has to energize you.

TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS

If you tend to be laid back or need a lot of rest

  • Seek a role on the caregiving team that maximizes your natural motivations and mutual interests with the person who has extra needs (e.g., reading books, watching movies, going for car rides, listening to music)
  • Frequently alternate time between doing task-oriented things and spending time with people
  • Take frequent breaks, even short ones, to rest your mind and body
  • Ensure for yourself an adequate balance of work, exercise, diet and relaxation
  • Maintain a clear definition of your value and purpose on the team
  • Learn to recognize Jesus’ promptings and follow Him one step at a time


The Bible offers an abundance of help and encouragement.

Proverbs 21:2-4
People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart. The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.

Psalm 19:12-14
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Ephesians 4:22-24
Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Hebrews 12:11
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Psalm 37:6
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Lord Jesus, thank you for showing me that my peace-loving ways are valuable to those around me. You have given me an important ability to see different points of view and help my family come together around common goals. I do confess, however, that sometimes I can be stubborn and inflexible. I feel exhausted and afraid I’ll never have enough wisdom or the energy that others need from me. I need your help. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to courageously and sacrificially invest in my family. Teach me to notice your promptings and follow you in faith, one step at a time. Amen

To learn more about tapping into your strengths as a caregiver, you can also watch one of my conference presentations on the subject at YouTube.

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.


Tips for the Caregiver Who Is Very Independent

Today we’re exploring some challenges and opportunities for caregivers who tend to be independent and are needed in some kind of caregiving role with a loved one. This is the fifth article in a series exploring what puts family caregivers in their “sweet spots” when supporting someone with special needs.

Independent people have wonderful potential to be very effective caregivers. Your strong decision-making abilities and great capacity to take on responsibilities will work to your advantage. You may, at times, feel like the schedules and needs of others are cramping your style. But, if you learn to make healthy adjustment in your attitude and behavior, anger won’t control you and your relationships will be enhanced.

Independent people don’t necessarily desire to have much control or influence over others. Some do. But many do not. Most of all, they don’t want someone else exerting too much influence over their life and circumstances.

If this describes you and you’re needed in a caregiving role, you may feel, at times a bit suffocated by the time and attention others need from you. You’re likely to struggle without adequate pacing of quiet time to spend time thinking thankful thoughts, doing your own thing and making your own decisions. Even if you genuinely desire to be of help, you may find yourself feeling robbed of freedoms, spontaneity and independent decision-making.

Don’t underestimate the value of well-placed breaks. Long periods without some amount of time to yourself is likely to put a strain on you. Your situation may not afford long or frequent breaks yet pauses from being responsible for others will go a long way toward keeping you refreshed. Work with family members and others who can contribute to sharing the cares so that you can develop an adequate rhythm of respite. Just knowing when your next break is coming is of help. A getaway on the calendar, simply a routine walk alone around the neighborhood or even time spent working in another job you enjoy will help you persevere.

Being a very independent person also means that you are self-motivated. Among your many strengths is the ability to gather and analyze the situation, come to conclusions and then respond according to what is needed. If you do happen to find yourself struggling with motivation, it will help to make sure you have sufficient and accurate information so you can draw your own conclusions and be confident in how you’ll respond. Ambiguity or lack of clear expectations can result in frustration and hesitation for someone who is independent. This can look like procrastination or stubbornness to others but will often have a great deal to do with your self-confidence.

All of us have strengths and weaknesses. It can be very helpful to recognize your vulnerabilities and learn how re-aligning with the Holy Spirit will move you back toward your strengths.

Your strong will can be both a strength and a weakness. For example, you will probably have a great desire to follow rules and procedures. You’re attentive to details and can be relied on to implement a quality care plan without a lot of supervision. In fact, you’re probably a good leader and very helpful in training new caregivers about the details and nuances in the realm of caregiving. However, you may have high expectations that others will learn quickly and implement those details perfectly. You may have no particular interest in controlling other people but you do want them to follow the rules and procedures put in place just as would be expected of everyone else on the team. You may not be aware that others feel a great deal of pressure to live up to your expectations because your expectations of yourself are even higher.

If you are experiencing a great deal of stress and anxiety, it will probably help you to learn that the lines of “right” and “wrong” may not be as black and white as they seem. Things that are unimportant to you or very important to you may be on a very different priority list for someone else. You will find your life and relationships to be richer when you work alongside others in collaboration rather than by exerting your own ideas and conclusions.

When working in areas that are familiar to you, you’ll be very efficient at those responsibilities. In fact, you may become so focused on working efficiently that you may sometimes forget to consider the thoughts and feelings of others. Being aware of this strong drive will help you to lean into the Holy Spirit for help in balancing efficiency with sensitivity.

If you are an independent caregiver, you will also find it helpful to be allowed to work at your own pace and in one steady shift that allows you to be efficient. Feeling pressured about external deadlines or the personal timelines of other people may trigger anxiety or frustration for you. Recognizing this can be very helpful since knowing what is triggering your reactions provides clues about how to pray for God’s strength as well as how to communicate clearly with others about what will help you stay in your strengths.

Be aware that people may perceive you as controlling even though you actually have little or no interest in holding power over others. It may be that your inflexibility, fear of failure and procrastination are impacting others in a way that makes them feel they’ve lost control. Even a few minutes alone every day can bring out your kinder and more flexible side. Cooperate with your team to give each other breaks for naps, hobbies, watching a movie, playing on a computer, going to work outside of the home or even doing nothing. These independent times will be powerful in rejuvenating you and making you much sweeter to be around.

It may surprise you to know that very independent people are often quite family oriented. You may have difficulty expressing your tender feelings around those you are closest to. In fact, your indirect behavior and sarcasm may be confusing to others. This can be especially true in families where there is a non-verbal person with disabilities. Your family may have become quite intuitive in their interactions with one another. However, body language, anger, tone of voice and seemingly critical words can often be misunderstood. It would be very helpful for your family to regularly “clear the air” with family meetings and conversations that foster clarity, repentance and forgiveness.

Things that tend to trigger stress and anger for you probably involve change, taking on responsibilities in areas where you feel unfamiliar or ill-equipped, feeling others don’t respect the things that are important to you, and frustration when others insist on the importance of things that don’t seem very important to you.

If you feel your competence is being questioned you may feel defensive, hurt or angry. It can be very helpful to ask God to show you what is real and what is perceived. More often than not, your concerns about what others think about your efforts are more imagined than real. While others may not tell you often or well enough, you are probably more valued than you realize. Your uncertainty about what others think about the quality of your work may be coming primarily from your own high expectations of yourself.

You’re likely challenged in the area of anger management. You may not even know that anger is problem for you. But members of your family and those who work closely with you probably do know. You may deny your angry feelings (or simply not recognize them as anger) unless or until you are intensely angry.

Caregivers who learn to deal constructively with their anger will find themselves much better able to cope with the tough issues of life and much more satisfied in their relationships. Anger does need to be expressed. But it needs to be expressed in healthy, godly ways.

The Holy Spirit promises to help us when we’re feeling weak. We are also promised to have our consciences wiped clean as we seek Jesus’ presence and trust Him (Hebrews 10:22).

As an independent person who is called to a role in supporting a loved one with special needs, you will find your sweet spot in that role by learning to deal with your anger constructively, give yourself and others the right to be imperfect, avoid holding grudges, continually forgive past mistakes, ensure for yourself some quiet time alone every day, develop routines that allow for you to be productive, keep focused on the positive side of life and make a point of expressing your tender feelings.

TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS BY DEVELOPING A COMPASSIONATE HEART

If you’re energized by being independent

  • Seek a role on the caregiving team that prioritizes responsibilities in areas where you can control your own circumstances, time and decisions
  • Work together with loved ones to clearly define each person’s responsibilities in running an effective household
  • Develop a servant’s heart in your responsibilities
  • Be faithful to your own commitments without competing with others
  • Learn to show interest in what matters to others
  • Learn to be attentive and respectful to the needs and rights of others
  • Communicate daily with loved ones to keep from overstepping their boundaries
  • Create a safe space in your home where you can spend some time alone every day
  • Determine areas in your routines where you can take back some control
  • Learn to yield to Jesus’ authority first

The Bible offers an abundance of help and hope for people who are independent. If any of these verses seems especially encouraging to you, you might consider committing it to memory.

Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:1b-2
This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Ephesians 4:26
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Acts 3:19
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.

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

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

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me just as I am. You are so wonderfully kind to me! You know full well how hard I work and how much I enjoy my rest. You have equipped me to be highly capable and to serve my loved ones loyally. You understand the pressures I feel too. I need your grace, strength and hope to carry me from one day to the next. Jesus, forgive me allowing ingratitude, impatience, pride and anger to control me. Praise God, I am not a slave to sin! I am free to trust your easy yoke and light burden. Teach me, more and more, how to love tenderly, serve faithfully and trust you fully. Help me to experience my deepest rest and satisfaction with You. 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.

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. You can follow the entire “sweet spots” series here.

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.


Be a #ReachTogether Donor!

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!

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.

8 Marriage Strengthening Practices for Couples Parenting a Child with Special Needs

This month, we’re celebrating loving families and the legacy we can leave our children about love in marriage. Marriage is challenging, at times, even in the best of circumstances. When there is the added complication of circumstances like disability, medical concerns, traumatic injury, a mental health issue or some other special need, a marriage can become neglected or strained. Here are some practices — yes, things we can work at together, over time — that will help strengthen any marriage. But these are particularly powerful points of focus for the family impacted by special needs.

CELEBRATE EACH OTHER

God strengthens our marriages when we regularly express gratitude for each other and His faithfulness.
Romans 12:10 | 2 Corinthians 4:7-8 | 1 Peter 4:8 | 1 Thessalonians 5:11

BE  A  SAFE  SPACE

Cultivate safe relationship for processing individual and family grief.
Psalm 34:18 | Psalm 77 | Proverbs 21:9 | Proverbs 21:19 | Proverbs 21:23 | Romans 12:15-16

KEEP  CLEAN  SLATES

Our marriage is strengthened when we practice repentance and forgiveness.
Matthew 5:24 | Ephesians 4:2-3 | Ephesians 4:32 | Colossians 3:13-14 | Romans 14:13 | James 5:16

COMFORT  EACH  OTHER

We will enjoy the ripples of God’s all-consuming comfort through God’s design for marriage.
2 Samuel 12:24 | Proverbs 11:25-26 | Proverbs 14:10 | 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 | Philippians 4:13

COOPERATE WITH GOD

God lovingly refines each of us as we cooperate with Him.
Proverbs 24:29 | Ephesians 4:31-32 | Ephesians 5:28 | 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 | 2 Corinthians 3:5 |
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 | James 4:6

CATCH A  VISION

Having a Kingdom perspective about disability, suffering and redemption will enable us to embrace our challenges as opportunity.
Jeremiah 29:1-14 | 1 Peter 5:6-9 | Ephesians 3:20-21 | 2 Peter 3:9

BE  A TEAM

God wants to align our marriage with His heart for community.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 | Matthew 11:10 | 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 | Galatians 6:2 | 1 John 4:7-12

KNOW  WHOSE  YOU  ARE

We thrive when our personal and family identities are centered on being children of God, not on being a family with special needs.
Matthew 19:26 | John 1:12-13 | Romans 8:14, 16-17 | 2 Corinthians 3:5

Ask God the questions below in prayer. Begin some conversation exploring the questions with your spouse. You might look at one practice each week. Read the scriptures together and ask for God’s fresh insights, breakthrough in troubled areas, and refreshment to come to your family through your ongoing practice of each area.

  1. In which of these areas are we strongest?
  2. Which of these principles are hard for us? Why?
  3. Which one of these principles shows us our greatest opportunity to grow?
  4. How might our marriage be richer and stronger if we practice that principle?

At Walk Right In Ministries, we are praying for marriages. May every person who reads these practices be encouraged and empowered by the Holy Spirit to experience hope and growth — with each other and with Almighty God.

Larry and Lisa Jamieson, co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, shared a candid reflection on these practices in their own marriage at the Wonderfully Made Conference (fall 2020). You can watch that on YouTube for more information, encouragement and inspiration.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

1 PETER 4:8

Please contact us if you would like specific, personal prayer. Our dedicated Prayer Team will hold your need confidentially in prayer.

If it could help you to talk with a caregiver consultant or professional counsellor, please let us know. We hope you will fill out the Interest Form or contact us online.

NOTE: Until fall 2021, you can also get the Wonderfully Made 2020 Conference VIP subscription to be able to watch ALL of the presentations shared at the virtual conference last fall. Learn more and get your subscription at wonderfullymadeKC.com

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.

When God Calls Us Back To Something Forgotten

Inspiration often comes from unexpected places. Sometimes it comes through friends, family or even strangers. Other times it comes straight from God Himself. That’s the lesson guest-blogger Maureen Pranghofer is sharing on our blog today.

Have you ever created something and then totally forgotten about it? Well, what causes that? It might be that someone destroyed the masterpiece you’ve just painted, written or baked. It might be that there was a pandemic which interrupted everything. And it might be that the thing you created wasn’t born out of your ideas but someone else’s.

That’s what happened to me about 7 years ago. My totally well-meaning step mom kept saying, “You should write a book.” She wouldn’t stop. For some reason she thought growing up legally blind and with a bone disease would make a good story.

Paul, Maureen and Walter Pranghofer celebrating Christmas 2020 in their home.

Finally, I’d had enough. To get her off my back, I wrote an autobiography of my childhood called Driving in Squares. My step mom and dad made sure that the formatting looked okay, made a cover for it, and coil bound it. When I visited them in Tucson, we gave about 10 copies away to people they both knew.

I said when I got home. “That episode in my life story is done.”

Sometimes, though, when we think we’re done with something God has other ideas.

I recently asked my friend Elizabeth to come over and help clean off some shelves. We sorted through things and threw piles of junk away. She was picking up each book and CD and telling me what it was. As I responded to her descriptions, off each item went into the “keep” or “toss” bin.

“Driving in Squares” she said.

“What?” I asked. I didn’t remember ever buying a book called that. Then I remembered what it was and told Elizabeth I was surprised I had a copy of the book.

“Can I read it?” she asked. “Sure” I said.

When she brought it back six months later I held it and wondered if I should toss it. Then I set it down by my computer.

Six weeks later I got an email from my father who said, “Just to relax, I like reading your book. I’ve read it about four times. When are you going to write the next one?”

“The next one”, I thought. I haven’t ever done anything with this one!

My dad reminded me that at the end of the Driving in Squares book I’d said there would be a sequel.

And somehow, that’s how I’ve found myself in this New Year, consumed with thoughts about writing.     

Isn’t it amazing how from just mundane chores like cleaning off a shelf you can find yourself with desires that are new and changed? My writing only because I was bothered by what I perceived as nagging by my stepmom is evolving into something beautiful. And God is the only One who can bring about those surprising events that turn us around to where we find ourselves moving forward.

In 2021, we can be picking up what we had once forgotten. It may take us to new and fresh places we never imagined!

If you’d like to read my little book Driving in Squares, email me at maureensmusic@comcast.net. Let me know the name and address where you’d like it shipped. Also let me know if you’d like it in a hard copy or pdf file. Happy New Year!


Maureen was born legally blind and with a rare bone disease. Neither has ever slowed her down. She is a songwriter, author, speaker, music therapist and brailleist who also tests websites for accessibility. Since the mid 90’s, Maureen has run her own business called Braille It where she produces material in Braille for a variety of customers.

Maureen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Therapy and has worked as a therapist with terminally ill children, the elderly and those dealing with addiction. She has also done intake work at a rehabilitation center.

Pranghofer’s children’s book, Ally’s Busy Day: The Story of a Service Dog, is available on Amazon along with her music which includes numerous recordings. You’ll find her blogs The Walter Report and Maureen’s Musings at Maureen’s Facebook page.

Maureen lives with her husband Paul and service dog Walter in Golden Valley MN.

God’s Words: Rich with Meaning and History for Us

Psalm 16:11
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.

I have history with this verse.

My first recall of resonating with Psalm 16:11 goes back to 2009 when I was writing curriculum for a women’s conference where I was to speak four times throughout the weekend. The Lord used my circumstances at that time and my posture with Him during that season to ripen my heart to hear something deeply personal in the promise of Psalm 16:11. Then God grew fruit out of that for the benefit of about 130 other women as we explored the presence and voice of God for two days together. Ever since that time, there has been a spiritual “nostalgia” wrapped into that particular passage for me.

Several scriptures have developed relevance for me in specific seasons of relationships and circumstances throughout my life. For example, I wrote my first worship song around Hebrews 11:1 shortly after I made a personal decision to follow Jesus when I was 14 years old.

I know this is true for many of us. In the ministry work I do, I have had the privilege of hearing hundreds of stories from people around the world about how different scriptures have been personal and powerful for them. It’s common for people of faith to identify with certain verses at memorable moments for poignant reasons that only God could have stirred. After all, scripture is “alive and active” according to Hebrews 4:12.

God will never stop speaking to us through His Word.

John 1:1-5
In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Considering how much personal history can be packed in certain scriptures, that got me reflecting on this year. After all, 2020 was a remarkable year. And there are a handful of scriptures that stand out to me as having met me in remarkable ways this year. In some cases, God just kept threading themes into my conversations with others that would lead me back to related passages. In other times, God’s words came to me in big moments — moments packed with meaning, deep thoughts or large emotions. The intensity of 2020 and the nature of feeling sort of stalled out in time, tended to keep me circling my faith wagons around scriptural places of resonance, insight, comfort, anchoring truth and hope.

Creating an annual highlights list of scriptures can be an encouraging and
meaningful way to reflect on our personal history and faith stories.

These verses reflect recurring landing points or pivotal moments in my life and faith during 2020:

1 Peter 5:9
Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

2 Cor 1:8-11
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

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

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

Joshua 5 & 6 (especially 5:15)
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” 

Note: I found a model in Joshua for an important reset in my life this year. If you’re interested, you can read that story here.

Luke 1:39-42
Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.

I now have a “history” with these verses that I will carry with me for my lifetime. They reflect intimate lessons God has poured into me. They represent a sort of private dialogue I feel I’ve had with Him during 2020.

I love that about the scriptures! As in any relationship, there are moments shared in a conversation that stick out in our minds and stay treasured in our memories. I’m so grateful to have the kind of relationship with Jesus that produces these kinds of memories and keeps influencing me as a disciple of Christ throughout my life!  

I have found it remarkably encouraging, inspiring and forward-pointing for me to reflect on these verses that have marked 2020 for me. The process itself was a powerful reassurance to me of God’s intimate presence, power and goodness in my life, particularly during some dark or complicated days.

I’m excited! I see a new and meaningful tradition starting here. I plan to spend some time every December from here on, asking God to show me those scriptures that defined, repositioned or grew my faith that year.

What scriptures are part of your faith history? What are some intimately memorable ways God has spoken into your life through His words this past year?

I would love to hear how you will remember hearing God speak to you in 2020. Please share in the comments or contact me through Walk Right In Ministries.


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.