I’m not a trail mix fan. Never have been. I still only tolerate raisins and just started showing enthusiasm for dried fruit a couple of years ago. I prefer my snacks separated into their own bowls. But the last 22 years are a trail mix of emotions and memories for me. And for all the ways and times my mind, body and spirit have been thrown into chaos since Carly was born on this day in 1998, I’m profoundly grateful for the rich texture and depth of flavor she brings to our collective lives.
Carly is a woman who will test the limits of your wits and then move in to give the most generous and satisfying hug you’ve ever received. Her smile lights up a room. Her grin assures you there is much on her mind. Her laughter is infectious. Her high-decibel scream warrants ear protection. When she’s hurting, she’s a puzzle to help. When she’s aggravated, she’s strong as a horse. When she has energy to burn, she’ll use every inch of her small frame to knock you down and wrestle on the rug. When there’s food around, her arms seem many and long. Forever curious, even nosey at times, she’s been affectionately called a “seizer of opportunity!” She’s a sneaky rascal and fiercely stubborn. That curiosity and energy serve her well. A dance party with Carly finishes out any day perfectly. She pours music and praise from her soul. I have huge respect for her perseverance. She’s exploded my own faith and expectations on a number of occasions. For all the times we have to ask her to “just wait” while using a full body block to keep her from tearing into something or knocking something down, I don’t know anyone who would be so patient as she is.
We’re celebrating Carly’s 22nd birthday today. Larry and I were married at 22 so this number throws another few layers of nostalgia and emotion to all the feels. We had an epic dance party that night. We’re going to have another one tonight with all three of our incredible daughters and a bunch of other loved ones. They will join us virtually on something called Zoom. Yes, it’s an epic year, isn’t it?
When I shake the bowl of my feelings today, the ones that quickly rise to the surface are pride, gratitude, hope and joy.
Happy birthday, Carly! We’ll try to give you gifts you love. But, truly, YOU ARE THE GIFT.
1 Thessalonians 3:9 How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.
NOTE: Carly’s oldest sister is the one helping Carly make trail mix in the featured photo. Rest assured, that is a sweet moment I was happy to watch them have together. But I had no interest at all in eating the snack with them. Even without the raisins, I’m not interested, thanks. 🙂
You can watch Lisa’s Real Talk livestream above. The article below highlights the spirit of her message on caring for each other by remembering well.
National leaders have been talking a lot about caring for each other these days.We’ve talked about things we can do to help protect each other during the coronavirus pandemic:
Wash hands Cover your mouth Keep physical distance Stay home
Today I was listening to the news and hearing compassionate guidance for families grieving the death of loved ones during this time exceptional time of loss. My own aunt passed away last weekend. My heart aches for her siblings (including my dad), my uncle and cousins who couldn’t be present with each other through her last weeks and hours. Nor can they say remember her within the fellowship of loving community the way people typically grieve (at least for now). My cousin’s wife is a funeral director. Like so many working in funeral homes, she is wrestling to help families when there are so many new protocols and limitations on our rituals.
It got me thinking about what we’ll remember most about this pandemic thing.
I hope we remember this season in ways that are honorable.
honorable to people who lived through it or died during it
helpful to those who come after it
and pleasing to the God who walked through far worse for us.
How do we do this? How do we honor those who are lost or the ones who are sacrificing so much in during this time?
I think we might best honor this season by how we remember it. And how we remember this time starts with what we do with it now.
What kind of memories are we creating during this shelter-in-place experience? I’ve been thinking about this. I’ve been praying that God would show me how to be attentive to Him in how I spend this opportunity. Yes, something is getting spent here in this surreal way of living. I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip. I’m hoping to cast a vision. Because I’ve caught a vision. I believe God starting planting it in Larry and me years before this isolation season was thrust on the rest of the world. Because, you see, special needs families like ours already know some things about the shelter-in-place lifestyle that the rest of the world is just starting to learn.
We raised our family trying to be intentional about creating good memories. Disability was so consuming of our life. And the risk was great that Carly’s needs would flavor our life in such a significant way. Larry and I didn’t want our challenges with Carly to be what our other children remembered most about growing up a Jamieson. We understood that the challenges would bring them some helpful lessons and memories too. We just didn’t want those challenges to have inappropriate or disproportional weight or influence. So, now and then we tried to dream up some remarkable things that would stand out in their memories alongside the blessings and challenges of being a special needs family. For example, our vacations opportunities were rare and challenging but we did what we could to make some happen. Sometimes that even meant planning an epic staycation. But we also tried to make special things out of everday stuff. The phrase “power fold” is packed with nostalgic meaning for our family. That story is for another day.
In a similar way, I think we have a need and opportunity to be intentional about creating memories of this time too. I’m been thinking: how can we honor and care for each other beyond the handwashing and social distancing — especially to honor those who will live on and those who gave everything for us?
We can work with great intention NOW to make sure that the lasting message of this season — the legacy of this time — is a helpful one. We can do this for the sake of those who gave so much, for the sake of our children and for the sake of future generations. We can work with intention to care well for each other — not just in protecting each other’s physical bodies from harm of the virus but also by caring for each other’s souls (our minds and spirits). We can remember God. We can share hope. We can lead in faith. As special needs parents, we can feed our own souls and find others who will lead us well so that we can, in turn, lead our families well.
God has been telling us to “remember well” since the earliest days of mankind. He showed us how to throw feasts and gave specific instructions about what to celebrate at those feasts. God knows our need to focus our minds rightly. The Old Testament feasts helped our ancestors do that. Practicing things like communion and Christian holiday worship services help us remember and enjoy God’s presence and power among us. When people looked back on their memories with a focus on regret or longing for the former times, God warned them. He said there was a better way.
God knows our need to focus our minds rightly.
At Walk Right In Ministries, one of our favorite examples of God showing his people how to remember well happened at the Jordan River at the brink of the Promised Land. The story is told in Joshua, chapters 3 and 4. That experience inspired the name of this ministry. You can read about it here.
Now, because it is Good Friday, I got thinking about Jesus’ sacrifice and how we remember that. Do you see the “rabbit trail” I’m on here?
What does it look like for me to remember and honor Jesus’ sacrifice well?
Today especially, I want to acknowledge my depravity and self-centeredness
I’m trying to express deeper and more frequent gratitude for what He gave up for me
I want to own my faith story and live it well so that others will see that God is faithful
1 Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.
So what do you think the legacy of this pandemic will be? There are a lot of people speculating about that.
Today, I want to suggest that we NOT PASSIVELY WONDER.
I want to suggest that we start today BEING INTENTIONAL about creating memories.
This doesn’t need to be a big or complicated master plan. I think the power lies in a combination of two things:
Being attentive to God’s prompting in simple moments during the day or week.
Thinking creatively about a few grand gestures.
Some of my most treasured simple moments so far have been learning how to sign the message of “Happy Easter” with Carly, baking cookies six times more often than usual, playing Family Farkle on Zoom with extended family, sharing goofy Marco Polo chats with our daughter across the country and having daily conversations with my husband about our fears, frustrations or hopes. When it comes to the grander gestures that will likely flavor the way we remember this time, a couple of things that come to my mind are two birthdays we celebrated during the pandemic, the tremendous sacrifice Carly’s caregivers made to help us through (and that are allowing me to share with you like this right now) and a special Easter egg hunt we created for a couple of neighbor kids.
What I want to help others remember most about this pandemic experience is three things:
This was a time when we learned to enjoy each other much more meaningfully.
This was a time when we learned to experience God more intimately.
This was a time when we learned to share God’s love with others in ways that were both profoundly satisfying for their souls and highly honoring to God.
Joshua 4:21-22, 24 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “in the future, your children will ask, “What do these stones mean?” Then you can tell them…”He did this so that all the nations of the earth might know the power of the Lord, and that you might fear the Lord your God forever.”
Psalm 27:13-14 Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
John 14: 12 “I (Jesus) tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”
Would you like to connect in a private small group setting to dig deeper into God’s word and grow with others who are caring for a loved one with disabilities?
I’m so excited to invite you to join me and other special needs family members for a new weekly Zoom video conference called Real Talk Multiply! We love shared stories at Walk Right In Ministries — especially when they bring encouragement and/or Christ-pointing insight within community.
Real Talk Multiply also offers a private Facebook group for ongoing discussion outside of the video conference gatherings. We simply ask that you keep those conversations confidential, respectful and spam free.
The Real Talk Multiply community begins April 14th, 2020 and will continue every Tuesdayfrom 2:00 pmuntil 3:00 pm (Central). Holiday and vacation exceptions will be announced in the private “Real Talk Multiply” Facebook group.
Join us whenever you can!
Lisa Jamieson is an international speaker, author, caregiver advocate and licensed pastoral counsellor. Her passion is spurring special needs families toward growing intimacy with Jesus and thriving relationships with each other. She is co-founder and executive director of Walk Right In Ministries and leads the Minnesota Disability Ministry Connection. Lisa is a member of the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling certified in Christian temperament therapy. Her books and Bible studies include Jesus, Let’s Talk which was inspired by her daughter, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Lisa and her husband, Larry, have been married for 31 years and have three grown daughters.
Life challenges can take many forms — disability, chronic illness, caregiving for an aging parent or special needs child, strained or broken relationships, divorce, addiction, depression, unemployment, the loss of a loved one, and financial struggles. Issues can be complex and the journey may be long. Many experience confusion, anger, doubt, fear, or loneliness. Meanwhile, our society compels us to “muscle” through challenges but often leaves us feeling generally alone or overwhelmed.
Despite life’s painful seasons you can discover an adventure, right in the midst of adversity.
Thriving in challenges is possible with Christ-centered community and one-to-one friendships as well as personal study of the Bible and prayer. And while a strong and tenacious support system is critical, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential. READ MORE about this essential foundation.
Walk Right In Ministries considers it one of life’s blessed privileges to come alongside struggling people who are wanting to grow and thrive on their journeys toward solutions, strength, contentment and joy. We want to help you identify resources and build connection strategies that fit your personal circumstances and unique temperament needs.
CONNECT THROUGH COMMUNITY
Walk Right In Ministries helps people find and bepart of fruitfully supportive communities. There are supportive communities for virtually any type of life challenge. Links to some wonderful opportunities are included throughout this article.
It is important to remain active in a Bible-believing church where you can be regularly involved with others who will “rejoice with you when you rejoice and mourn with you when you mourn” (see Romans 12:15). However, we understand that the Church does not always know how to effectively support families experiencing disability and other kinds of crisis. We are thankful for a growing number of organizations making it a priority to learn about how to help in this important and complex area of ministry.
We hope you are already experiencing fruitful and grace-filled connection in a church home. Unfortunately, many churches are still learning how to help families with special needs experience belonging. If this is the case for you or your family, we want to encourage you to be patiently persistent in helping educate your church about including people with diverse backgrounds and various abilities.
If, however, you are struggling in this area, and feel it may be time to look for a new church home, please pray and reach out for help. Our friends at Joni & Friends as well as Key Ministry are working hard and fruitfully to help people in situations like yours to find supportive churches. Walk Right In Ministries is ready to pray with you and do what we can to help you initiate a search process. We want to encourage you in developing a more effective spiritual community.
Support Groups are another way to get connected and grow. Biblically-based support group resources are available with a variety of themes so you can find one that fits your own particular need. If you are experiencing any of these concerns, consider some resources we can recommend:
Finding Glory Groups are a valued resource for those needing a guide to follow for their support group. Whether you know a church small group, book club or group of special needs moms, dads, couples, or siblings who want to explore life challenges together, utilizing the Finding Glory Group Discussion Guide is a bible-based curriculum that is flexible for these kinds of gatherings. The six-session format is easily self led and offers a variety of discussion questions so that groups can reconvene and repeat a cycle of sessions after the first round, if they desire to do so. If you are someone who wants to understand God’s answers to tough questions, know you have value in the Divine Plan, be encouraged on your journey and grow with others along the way, then a Finding Glory Group is for you! Learn more about Finding Glory Groups HERE.
CONNECT IN ONE-TO-ONE DISCIPLESHIP
Be encouraged to develop friendships where you can share joys and struggles safely, be inspired and challenged, and experience the power of prayer.
WALKING PARTNERS— We encourage you to cultivate one or two close relationships where Christ is central to your conversation. Walk shoulder-to-shoulder with one another listening, encouraging, exhorting and empowering. (If you are married, please be cautioned to develop only same-sex Walking Partner relationships.)
TEMPERAMENT COUNSELING— We encourage individuals and couples who are facing life-altering circumstances to find a professional Christian counselor who is certified in Temperament Counseling through the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling(SACC). Prayerful use of the temperament tool in the counseling process can help you get to the heart of your needs quickly so you make efficient and effective progress towards healing, encouragement, hope, personal growth, and answers.
FINANCIAL COACHING— If debt or financial challenges are part of your situation, please explore the resources at Crown Financial Ministries.
Particularly if you are facing a crisis situation or are feeling very alone, we encourage you to ask your pastor or a church leader for guidance in finding a support group, professional counselor or crisis help.
CONNECT THROUGH PERSONAL STUDY
At Walk Right In Ministries we believe that prayerful reading of the Bible is our best source of interaction with God — our supreme and final authority on faith and life. There is true hope within the pages of the Bible. We want you to be encouraged in daily reading and study of the Bible recognizing the opportunity that it is to grow in your personal relationship with God, develop God’s perspective of suffering and discover peace that surpasses understanding.
There are many organizations who are making it their mission to help connect and engage people with God’s Word. Here are just a few nationally-recognized options we value highly for study and online daily devotions:
At Walk Right In Ministries, we passionately believe in the power of prayer. Everything we do at Walk Right In Ministries is covered by and trusted to prayer. We offer prayer workshops and take prayer requests from around the world.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. JAMES 5:16
Be assured that God hears you and delights in connecting with you in a deeply personal way. The Psalms are a ready example and source of inspiration when we don’t know what to say to God. (If you need help getting started, read Psalm 6, Psalm 42, and Psalm 73 for some wonderful prayers!) God understands our aching, longing and groaning, even when we don’t know what to pray.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. ROMANS 8:26
We are very excited about one of our newest resources on prayer, a children’s book called Jesus, Let’s Talk that released in 2018! It offers a delightfully visual exploration of basic prayers to help children, early readers, and people with developmental differences enjoy the sweet basics of conversation with Jesus. The book also highlights key prayer words using American Sign Language. At Walk Right In Minisitries, we champion faith in Jesus that is initiated and fostered within the family.
We want you to feel assured that you, too, are covered in prayer. Let our Prayer Team come alongside you to pray for courage, hope and victory! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another prayer resource we like to recommend is the Autism Strategic Prayer Network (designed with autism in mind but very broadly applicable to other diagnoses). Explore Children of Destiny for more information.
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Carly Jamieson took her first steps when she was 3 1/2 years old. That came after years of stress and tears because her sensory issues were so severe that she couldn’t even tolerate being held in her parent’s arms for feedings until she was 9 months old.
At 2 1/2 years old, Carly started having seizures and was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder involving a deleted portion of her 15th maternal chromosome. Despite the fact that Carly faced a grim prognosis and had been experiencing significant developmental delays, a sleep disorder, feeding problems, and seizures, a miracle story of community and a child’s potential was unfolding.
For over three years, sixty volunteers surrounded Carly’s family with help and prayer. That support set a foundation for amazing progress that continues bearing fruit in many ways yet today.
The heartwarming story of God’s love through that community during those early years of Carly’s life is told in the book Finding Glory in the Thorns.
Click HERE to find the complete Finding Glory collection of books at Amazon.
Today, Carly’s tolerance for touching things shows itself in the contagious affection, frequent hugs and exuberant smiles that are much more typical of someone withBut Angelman Syndrome. She’s a little “rascal” with a great sense of humor. She loves music, dance parties, sitting beside her sisters at the piano, jumping, swimming, and helper her caregivers make pumpkin waffles. The quality of her gait is remarkable considering her prognosis and she sporadically uses a small handful of word approximations. She has twice walked over a mile in the Angelman Syndrome Foundation annual fundraiser walk with her mom, dad, two sisters, and many friends.
That baby who would not be held now snuggles with precious bear hugs and even sometimes says, “I love you.”
Angelman Syndrome (AS) is the result of an abnormality of the 15th maternal chromosome. Individuals with AS have global developmental delay and cognitive disabilities. They rarely develop any speech but everyone benefits from learning to listen in new ways to what they have to say.
People with Angelman Syndrome usually have unique behaviors and generally happy personalities. Most individuals with AS will experience seizures. Many also experience sleep and feeding challenges. The majority learn to walk but usually have balance and movement disorders. A normal lifespan can be expected.
Angelman Syndrome is very frequently mis-diagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy.
With strong supports, people with AS can thrive surrounded by friends and loved ones engaging in meaningful activities and sharing their unique perspectives.
ln a medical breakthrough, Dr. Edwin Weeber cured Angelman Syndrome in a laboratory mouse. Because AS affects one single gene it is much easier to understand than other neurological disorders like autism and Alzheimers’ disease. Funding for research has more potential than ever as researchers grow closer to making a treatment available for humans.
The inspiration for the name Walk Right In Ministries comes from the Bible and the experience of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River to the Promised Land.
Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away…all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
In the Bible, as remains true today, God always reveals His power or presence when people responded in faith toward Him.
We are, perhaps, most familiar with Jesus’ miracles. Sometimes Jesus simply spoke a word of blessing and multiplied fish and bread. Other times his miracles came after someone expressed their faith such as reaching out to touch his garment or crashing through a roof to be near him.
God moved miraculously in Old Testament times as well. One of the Israelites’ many remarkable experiences of God’s powerful work on their behalf occurred at the shores of the Jordan River. Forty years of wandering in the desert were about to end. The Promised Land was in sight but the harvest-season waters of the Jordan were at flood stage and as many as three million people needed to cross.
God spoke to their leader, Joshua, and commanded that he have the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant and step into river. God’s promise was “since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you.
Forty years prior to the Jordan River crossing, God had parted the Red Sea for them. Did they question whether God would do it again? Might the priests carrying that heavy ark have had any concern about their safety as they stepped into the unstable, murky water? We can’t know for certain what the Israelites were thinking that day on the brink of reacing their Promised Land once and for all. But we can be inspired by their obedience and trust.
The founders of Walk Right In Ministries— Larry & Lisa Jamieson — have learned time and again that when God says, “Go!” He is always faithful to their going. The first time they heard about this experience of the Israelites, it prompted them to take steps toward asking for help with their disabled daughter, Carly. They hoped that special therapies and support from their community would unlock unexpected developmental progress for her. It did so much more.
God used that step of faith to do immeasurably more than anyone asked or imagined and now countless lives are being changed for eternity.
Yes, Carly made unexpected progress but it turned out to be about much more than one child’s development. God knows our steps of faith are aboutso much morethan what we think they are about!
God is often mysterious in His ways. He doesn’t often reveal what is coming next or tell us the end of the story. He just shows us single steps to take along the road of life. He prompts us to begin moving in a certain direction and then waits for us to respond in faith. When we do, He reveals something about Himself to us and often that involves showing us the next step to take…and then the next.
We walk through this winding, bumpy life one step at a time. And sometimes those faith-steps require walking right into a raging river of circumstances. No matter how extraordinary our circumstances are, God wants us to embrace the adventure right from this middle of His promises!
What step of faith is God asking you to take today?
Won’t you comewalk right into lifewith us? After all, an entire nation crossed over to the Promised Land on dry ground!