Recapping the Summit

Larry and I returned from the 2013 Accessibility Summit on Sunday night and I’ve been anxious to give an update and express our gratitude ever since!  It’s always hard to believe so much can happen in just a couple of days.  Frankly, I’m still processing it all.  God is doing beautiful things within the broad community of people serving in disability ministry and we’re especially grateful right now for friends at McLean Bible Church who host this annual conference attended by almost 600 people.  Our experiences shared today are representative of many similar stories from hundreds of folks who are planting seeds and reaping harvests of encouragement, insight and soul-saving work.  
God is always faithful and we had the privilege of seeing that in so many ways before, during and since the conference.
  • We were sent off with the great personal encouragement of notes from our prayer team — so empowering and comforting.
  • Just before leaving we found out our dear friends Kirk Stoa and daughter Jana were in DC so dinner was arranged and we spent our first night treated by really fun fellowship and a fabulous meal.  We received that as a personal touch from God Himself who knew just what would kick off our trip perfectly.
  • A group of special needs moms who have been using the Finding Glory small group curriculum asked to meet us for breakfast on Friday. During our rich conversation and prayer time, they shared that one of the moms in their group had left the church for another religion after her child was born with disabilities.  These women invited her to participate in their group and then as they all shared Glory Stories the last week, this woman gave her testimony.  As a result of their study and fellowship together, she’s come to full faith in Jesus Christ and caught God’s vision for His good purposes in her challenges! Well done ladies!
  • God answered many prayers as it relates to the keynote speakers this year who gave hope-filled messages and proclaimed Christ clearly.  Clay Dyer, professional bass fisherman born without legs and only part of one arm was a firecracker of energy.  Emily Colson (daughter of Chuck Colson and author of the beautiful book Dancing with Max) was fabulous.  We had the opportunity to meet her a the leader’s lunch.  She’s down-to-earth, courageous, inspiring and delightful!
  • Larry gave his presentation “The Importance of Special Dads” to a packed room of men and a couple of women.  The strong male turnout alone was a huge answer to the prayers of conference organizers who share our heart to engage and spur on dads who are faced with the enormous challenge of leading their special needs families.  Larry shared very helpful insights and generated powerful discussion among participants.  Of course, he kept them laughing too.  I was so proud and blessed to see Him in his elemenand know that I get to be one his love spills out on every day.  I’m very excited to see how God is going to increasingly use CLC Christian Leadership Concepts to develop men in all areas of their lives.
  • There were hundreds of visitors who came by our exhibit and so many hungry for prayer and encouragement. It was gratifying to serve that way and to meet many with a strong interest in using the Finding Glory small group curriculum in their churches.  I believe we sold over 30 copies of Finding Glory in the Thorns and at least that many FG Discussion Guides. One church in Houston, TX is starting their group this spring and bought 12 study packages.  Another woman came by the table to tell us their group is currently on Lesson 4 and one of the participants just accepted Christ as Savior and Lord!
  • God is opening eyes and hearts about the need to care for those who are in caregiving roles as well as the often forgotten/lost group of people experiencing mental health issues.  We were thankful to see there is growing sensitivity to the demanding role of caring for aging parents too.  We are increasingly hearing about churches using the Finding Glory curriculum for “Caregiver Support Groups.”
  • God gave insights and resources to church leaders wanting to do better reaching out to special families. I had the privilege of being a panelist for a session with these folks serving alongside Joe and Cindi Ferrini (FamilyLife speakers and authors of Unexpected Journey), Karen Jackson (director of Faith Inclusion Network), and Jolene Philo (author of Different Dream Parenting).  I know God stretched and encouraged all of us during that conversation.
  • We got to exhibit right beside our friends Nathan and Laurie Chuba from Virginia.  We met them at the Summit last year and Laurie immediately volunteered to serve on the Walk Right In Ministries Intercessory Prayer Team.  What a joy and privilege to share those hours with them and then finish the weekend with a wonderful prayer time with them.
  • Larry and I had a quick day afterwards to sleep in and play a little including part of an Orioles game and some sunshine before heading back to “Narnia.” (For those who don’t know, they had 13 inches of snow while we were gone and school for two of our daughters was cancelled.  Prom pictures were taken from a snow drift just for posterity!)
  • Carly was very well cared for by my folks while we were away and grand memories were made as Erin experienced her senior prom surrounded by her grandparents, both sisters and many friends.  Praise God everyone stayed safe and healthy.
I was hoping to keep this recap of Glory Stories shorter but there really is SO much to tell and I believe God wants all of us regularly putting His power and presence on display (Psalm 20:7, 34:2, 96:2-3).  So thank you for indulging me, for praying with us, and for helping others to know that God is very much alive and His Word is active among us!  Save the date now for the next Accessibility Summit coming April 4-5, 2014.
And whenever you have a Glory Story of your own to share, will you please let us know?  Our Intercessory Prayer Team loves to celebrate and sometimes it’s appropriate that we share those stories for powerful encouragement at this Blog.
May God bless you today.  Please keep praying for the growth of disability ministry in the Church, for people experiencing disabilities, for caregivers and their families and that God would be made known throughout all of this stretched and courageous community of precious people!  
We’re very grateful for the opportunity to walk with you in Christ.

Shawn & Evan’s Glory Story

The following Glory Story has been reprinted with permission of Joni and Friends Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Thank you, Shawn for putting God’s power and presence on display through your stories and your life!

In Luke 14:23-24, Jesus tells us to reach out and “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” so that His house may be full. We are so excited to see how God is using your prayers and gifts to invite His children affected by disabilities, giving them new hope in Him. 

One person who was in need of such hope was Shawn. One afternoon last March, Shawn came into our office for a visit. Shawn had experienced disability first-hand with her daughter Alisha, who was born with cerebral palsy and required 24-hour care. Shawn had lovingly cared for Alisha for 17 years until Jesus called her home in 2010. Through her devastating pain and loss, God drew Shawn to Joni and Friends to share Alisha’s story and minister to others affected by disability. 

Soon after she started volunteering at Joni and Friends, Shawn visited Family Retreat. She was reluctant at first, frightened of her deep emotional response to seeing a child in a wheelchair. But from the moment she met a young man named Evan, nothing but pure love flooded her heart. 

“What joy I had with Evan! God started to heal my heart at Family Retreat when I met him and his family,” Shawn declares.

Shawn now actively volunteers with Joni and Friends. She helps serve as Jesus’ hands and feet, ministering to a hurting world. She has introduced many churches in Southern Minnesota to the disability ministry programs of Joni and Friends.

How about you? How might God want to use and bless you through volunteering with Joni and Friends this summer?  Click here for a video clip and explanation of what it’s like to serve as an STM or other volunteer at Family Retreat.
Please pray about it and help spread the word to others who may have interest.  Contact your local Joni and Friends office for more information.  In the Minneapolis area, that contact number is 952-933-7777.
Friends, if you have a Glory Story to share, please write us at info@walkrightin.org.   

Want to hear more of Shawn’s powerful story? At 23 years old, she was divorced, parenting two young girls including Alisha with cerebral palsy and considering ending her life.  But there was hope beyond her wildest dream!  Listen to her March 5, 2013 interview with Joni Eareksen Tada

Merry Christmas 2012 from the Jamiesons!

When they saw the star (the way to Jesus), they rejoiced exceedingly with great Joy!  
Matthew 2:10

Life is an adventure and that certainly remains true in the Jamieson home.
LARRY is transitioning from part-time consulting into a position as the Minnesota Area Director for Nashville-based Christian Leadership Concepts (CLC) where he is dedicated to equipping men to provide God-honoring leadership in their homes, workplaces, churches, and communities.  His responsibilities include working with individuals (and sometimes in partnership with churches) to recruit co-facilitators, support small groups, build relationships and disciple men.  This is a donor-funded position so he is primarily in support-raising mode now and finding that experience both challenging and exciting.  We both see how God has uniquely gifted him and been preparing him for many years so we consider it a privilege for him to be doing something he loves and is fruitful doing.  Larry will also continue to serve on the Board for Walk Right In Ministries.
I (LISA) am still working from home — first and foremost as wife and mom.  Primarily a caregiver for Carly, I also do some part-time freelance writing and ministry work.  One of my passions is serving as executive director for Walk Right In Ministries where I get to come alongside people who are seeking resources and/or fighting the sense of isolation frequently experienced when facing challenges like chronic illness, disability, strained relationships, financial concerns, loss and caregiving.  With a discipleship focus, the WRIM team and I facilitate Christ-centered community through an organic process that includes prayer, education, advocacy and networking.
ALEX (19) is in her second year at Augsburg College but is a junior by credits as of January 1st 2013.  She recently decided to do a double major — Music Business and Accounting.  She is loving the college experience with all of its challenges and opportunities.  She’s living in campus housing with 7 roommates, enjoys sports and games with her boyfriend, sings in both the main choir and a jazz ensemble, has discovered she loves crafting from Pinterest ideas and comes home once in a while to get her “Carly-fix.”  We had a quieter fall without all those soccer games (she retired last spring in lieu of more choir). Now we’re having fun taking her care packages whenever she has a concert.
ERIN (17) is graduating from high school in a few months — save the date for her party on June 9th 2013!  She’s been accepted at her dream school of Belmont University in Nashville with a partial academic scholarship.  She’ll be studying something related to vocal performance and/or songwriting.  Last February, her CD (EP) called “Without the Dark” released on iTunes and with various other retailers.  You can check out her website (and order your CDs and t-shirts) at www.ErinJamieson.com!  She is learning a lot about being a music artist while enjoying a year of performing in Minnesota, Missouri and North Carolina.  She has also continued in voice lessons, the school musical, choir concerts, and worship leading with her church youth group. 
CARLY (14) is a 9th grader who continues to teach, stretch and delight us. One highlight of her year was attending friend Taylor Stoa’s (now Barclay) wedding. The weekend with her friend Hannah, swimming in the hotel pool, eating at the “big kids” table, dancing and watching fireworks kept a broad smile on her face all day and sent her into wild giggles far into the wee morning hours of the next day. Biking with family (on her new tandem with front end recumbent-style seat) was another favorite activity this year.  She is also playing piano more often and sometimes letting us hear her “singing ” voice.  She’s going to prove to me that the house will be only a little quieter next year with both of her sisters away.
We spent Thanksgiving celebrating Bud and Janet’s 50thwedding anniversary with Lisa’s side of the family and we’ll be with the Jamieson side right before Christmas. We’ve been helping Bill and Judy (Larry’s folks) make some care adjustments based on their changing health needs. Larry and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in July 2013 and sending our second child off to college a couple of weeks later. 
We’re inspired by guys like Abraham and Joseph during this season. Both of them were prompt and thorough in following the call God placed on them to “GO.”  Matthew 1:24 tells us that, “When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded.” No hesitation, no hint of obligatory obedience.  These were men who responded in a straight forward way out of love and trust — embracing the relationship they enjoyed with God in faith.  It is our desire to live life like that and our prayer that our friends and family will also.  There is no more thrilling or valuable adventure to experience! 
Larry, Lisa, Alex, Erin & Carly

Interview with Young Life Capernaum

Young people around the world —thousands of them— are hearing the message of God’s love for them from a trusted friend in Young Life.  It’s a fantastic organization that believes in the power of presence.  Kids’ lives are dramatically impacted when adults come alongside them, sharing God’s love. 
Since I am the mom of a child with disabilities, I am especially grateful to know Carly is now old enough to participate in Young Life (which starts at 14 years old) because these wonderful folks are intentional about reaching out to her in special needs as well.  While all Young Life activities are open to every kid, many cities have dedicated programs for kids and young adults with disabilities, typically referred to as Young Life Capernaum Ministries. 
I had the opportunity interview Tasha Myrah of Capernaum Greater Minneapolis.  It’s my privilege to introduce our readers today and our prayer that you will get connected and/or tell someone else who would be blessed to experience this worldwide ministry. 

WRIM:  Tell us about your ministry — its mission, the primary ways it is serving the community, the ministry schedule.  
Tasha:  Young Life Capernaum is a non-profit Christian ministry devoted to serving the needs of youth with physical and developmental disabilities.  We believe that young people with disabilities have the right to experience all of life’s opportunities such as: fulfilling friendships, fun and adventure, activities that build self-esteem and challenge their limits, and the right to explore a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  We reach teens through bi-weekly “club” events, camp experiences, and most importantly leader interaction.  We have over 20 leaders that are committed to meeting our teens where they’re at and walking through life with them.  

WRIM:  What drew you to disability ministry? 
Tasha:  When Capernaum goes to camp, we do one-on-one leader-kid pairings, which means that we typically need a few extra people outside of our leadership team.  I found out about the opportunity to go to camp as a buddy and it literally changed my life.  I didn’t have any prior experience working with people with disabilities, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I could tell after that week that God had something bigger for me here. At the time I had been in the corporate world and over the next few years I went from camp buddy to leader to part-time staff to being able to be work for Capernaum full-time.  I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly what drew me in.  I just absolutely fell in love with the kids and how real they were.  The kind of people you get to work with in this population is like no other, and I’m so thankful that God led me and my family into this.

WRIM:  How has God used your experiences in disability ministry to shape you as a person?  
Tasha:  As I eluded to above, it has completely changed me.  My husband and I started leading when we were dating, and I can’t imagine how different our lives would be without Capernaum.  My entire world-view is different now and my eyes have been opened to the purpose of my life.  My family has been so blessed by the kids and parents involved in Capernaum.  My 18 month old has had the joy of having kids, their parents, and leaders that love spending time with her.  I am thankful for the opportunity to raise her around these friends.  I would say overall, working in this ministry has just made my faith stronger and my definition of friendship and community change in a great way.

WRIM:  What is one hope/dream you have for the future of disability ministry locally or globally?   
Tasha:  I would love if some day Capernaum didn’t need to exist.  I pray for a time that every kid, no matter  their ability level, would have a place in the church.  That families could go and be part of the body without having to fight for programs that accommodate their kids.  Some churches do a great job of this, but I hear so many stories from parents that break my heart about how they weren’t accepted at their church so just stopped going.  

WRIM:  What is one recent way/story that demonstrates God’s presence and power in the lives of someone being served through your organization?  
Tasha: I actually just got an email yesterday from a mom telling me about how her son, who has down syndrome, always talks the whole drive home about the club talk we gave that night, and also brings up talks from camp and asks what his parents think and believe.  I was shocked because this is a kid that I’ve maybe heard say 20 words in the 3 years he’s been coming to club.  I love how God speaks to our kids in ways that we don’t know, and that our job is just to trust Him in that.  

WRIM: Based on the challenges associated with this type of ministry, how would you like people to be praying for you or your organization?  
Tasha: I would say our biggest ongoing prayer is for more people who feel called to lead with Capernaum to do so.  The commitment of our leadership team is really what sets Capernaum apart, and we really can only reach as many kids well as the number of leaders we have.  Another prayer would be for parents to find out about the ministry.  Most of how people find out is word-of-mouth.  I know there are a TON of kids in the metro that don’t know about Capernaum, and I just pray that people that need to hear about it would somehow.

Our thanks to Tasha for sharing her inspiring story and helping us learn about the opportunities!  Remember friends, Young Life is worldwide so go here and find a group near you where you can serve and/or help a young person get involved!


God Packs Power in A Movie

Here’s a Glory Story about how God recently brought a new layer of outreach to Walk Right In Ministries…

I always get excited seeing the arts used to draw people to Jesus.  The theatrical stage has a special intrigue for me personally but movies provide a very satisfying and more accessible option.  The challenge: movie theaters and DVD shelves have not historically or widely been a welcoming place for Christians.  So when I first had the opportunity to attend the Gideon Media Arts Conference & Film Festival (formerly sponsored by Lifeway Christian Stores) in 2011, I was very excited to begin discovering some wonderful films produced by very gifted people who were pursuing quality stories and seeking top production values in the name of Jesus.

God seemed to start stirring ideas about how Walk Right In Ministries might use movies to bring people together for encouraging fellowship where Christ is central to the conversation. Then, by no coincidence, we attended the Gideon in August 2012 where several films were shared on themes related to our mission (e.g., disability, addiction, redemption).  We also began experiencing unique and unexpected opportunities to connect with key producers.

We had dinner one night with Jon Erwin, producer of October Baby, along with his wife Beth and kids.  The night before, we’d been captivated by his film inspired by a woman with cerebral palsy. It is one of the best and most meaningful movies I’ve seen in many years — maybe ever.  My heart was racing wondering how in the world our little ministry could use this profound movie that had shocked the industry earlier in the year when it opened No. 8 in theaters.  Little did I know at the time how God would continue to refine that vision and open doors for us to get a license to show the film multiple times over the next year.

We also saw Jimmy and had the opportunity to talk with producer Gary Wheeler. Jimmy tells a neat story about a teen with cognitive disabilities. It focuses on relationships like the very special one he has with his grandfather. The public release of this film cannot come soon enough for my taste!

Our friend and producer Dave Moody is in post-production right now wrapping A Season of Miracles about a boy with autism, based on the screenplay by Rusty Whitener and starring John Schneider.

There were more stories and my movie list was growing. If you are among those people always on the lookout for wholesome if not Gospel-proclaiming entertainment, check out the largest list of Christian movies at Christian Film Database!

After the long ride home from North Carolina, I investigated using our church theatre to host Movie Night Fellowship & Discussion events.  Walk Right In Ministries hosted the first of these events in October featuring the film October Baby and over 60 people showed up from around the Twin Cities!  Though the stories are confidential, I can tell you from the prayer requests received that evening that God is using the film to release healing and begin a new work in hearts and lives.  How humbling and exciting!

This weekend we’re showing October Baby once again.  This time we are hosting the Lupino Family Adoption Benefit.  Please pray that God works mightily through the fellowship, movie, prayers, and donations to prepare this family for new beginnings!

Our next Movie Night Fellowship & Discussion event will be Thursday, December 27th, 2012 featuring the film Beware of Christians.  This is a documentary featuring four college students who grew up “Bible-believing Christians who did all the right things.” As they grew older, they soon realized that their biases and allegiances to worldly things had determined their views on Christianity. They decide to leave the US for a while and reexamine what Jesus says about topics like materialism, sexuality, alcohol and entertainment. Come see what new understanding their European adventure unfolds.

I wish I’d had the stamina to stay up late for more of the screenings at the Gideon this year.  It’s a privilege to see projects of quality, vision and artistic genius from passionate, Christ-loving people trying to use their resources for Kingdom work.  I hope Walk Right In Ministries can play some part in promoting these films, helping bring them to larger audiences.

We’re anticipating the surprises of God’s coming blessings as the Christian film industry is growing and improving and gaining new respect!

A Glory Story — Inspired Worship by Lisa Hansen

The following Psalm was written by one of our readers and prayer warriors in sweet dedication to the challenges our family has been experiencing and sharing through our blog, retreats, Finding Glory Bible Study discussion groups, and the book Finding Glory in the Thorns.  We are privileged and grateful to see this kind of worship inspired by our story!

Psalm of Thanksgiving
Dedicated to Larry and Lisa Jameson
Written by Lisa Hansen                                                 
                  Stand on the mountaintops and shout praise to the Lord!
Give praise to the Lord, all you peoples,
                                    For when the winds rage and the waters rise over our heads,
                                    He stretches out his mighty arm and brings us to new life.
                  We lived on our own little Paradise Island,
                                    Secure in our plans and prosperity,
                                    Until a screaming wind bore down on us, incessant and unrelenting.
                  Unbearable pain and sorrow, raw heartbreaking wounds that we could not heal,
                                    Slowly deepened into deep persistent grief.
Our plans were shattered, our prosperity but wisps of dreams,
                                    Our backs bent low under burdens that would never cease.
The waters of our tears and exhaustion threatened to break over our heads
                                    We were drowning in need and fear.
                 
                  Standing alone on the shores of our desert island,
                                    This lean-to of only two could no longer support and shelter us.
Unable to control the raging winds,
Our battered wings spread in surrender to God’s direction.
                  The voice of God spoke, calling us to obedience,
                                    “Go where I am leading you, share your burdens with the people.”
                  In fear and trembling, shaking with tears,
We stepped into the raging waters, trusting that God would part them for us,
                                    Just as he has done for his faithful people throughout all time.
                  God parted the waters and moved mountains, our hope and strength were renewed.
                                    The glory of God shines so brightly, we are blinded to all else.
                  Our lives were ushered into a new way of being, the cultivation of a grateful heart,
                                    Enjoying the ripples of God’s all-consuming comfort.
                  The mystery of God’s creative spirit and economical acts
                                    Brings joy and adventure to our lives.
                  We bathe in his warmth and marvel at his goodness.
Sing praise, O people of God, for we have a God who rescues and redeems,
                                    Who surprises us each day with new miracles beyond our imaginings.
                  Our hope and our strength are in the Lord,
                                    Our lives unfold as we rest in his embrace.
                  We will give thanks for forever and a day.