Life-Building Connections Amidst Challenges

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 be part 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:

Joni and Friends

Key Ministry

Desiring God

Bible Study Fellowship

Community Bible Studies

Precepts

CONNECT IN PRAYER

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 info@walkrightin.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.

  1. My life is synonymous to this. Sometimes I'm tired of being "tough" and saying,"We're so blessed to be touched with…

  2. Yep – I love you because you are REAL. There's far too much fake in the world. Thanks friend!

JESUS: The Essential Foundation

Even when facing the most overwhelming obstacles, it is possible to discover a beautiful and powerful adventure. When a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the central focus of your journey, you are freed from the grip of circumstances and empowered to see God’s purposes at work. Without Christ, progress is limited, slow and superficial. Only with Christ, can you begin to see your circumstances as bigger than yourself with eternal implications and a Kingdom perspective.

When you experience life consumed by God’s view of your circumstances instead of relying primarily on relationships, jobs, possessions, health, hobbies, ideas, philosophies or “expertise,” God gives deeper meaning to life and brings joy to you — even if your circumstances don’t change.

Please be encouraged to learn more about what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Consider pondering the book of John in the Bible. This is a great place to start understanding who Jesus is and how He wants to be involved with your life. A relationships with Jesus makes all the difference!

Enjoy a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ

From the beginning of time, one of God’s greatest desires has been to enjoy relationship with us even to the point of spending intimate time in our presence. In Genesis 3:8 we see that God was right there with Adam and Eve. Tragically, after they sinned, Genesis 3:23 tells us that intimacy was broken. Sin separated them from God and we share that legacy because if we had been there, we would have done the same thing. God loved us enough to give us the free will to choose trusting Him or going our own way. He desperately hoped we would choose nearness to Him over being trapped in our sin which includes self-reliance, pride, covetousness, and other forms of disobedience.

God gave mankind chance after chance to remain faithfully with Him but we have repeatedly turned away. Because of God’s holiness, a price has to be paid for that rebellion. Jesus, by dying on the cross, paid that price on our behalf. Because Jesus lived a sinless life, He was the only atoning sacrifice that could pay the price — thoroughly and eternally — once and for all. In order for us to return to a state of intimacy with God, we must acknowledge our sinfulness, repent (grieve what our sin has caused), and receive the gift of Jesus’ salvation from the penalty of sin (eternal death). This is a very personal decision and a life-changing opportunity as well.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
JOHN 1:12

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 JOHN 5:11-12

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
ROMANS 1:20

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
ROMANS 10:9-11

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
JAMES 5:16

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.
ACTS 3:19-20

It would be our privilege to explore this relationship with you! Please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@walkrightin.org or reach out to your pastor if you have questions or would like to pray with someone about this.

Carly’s Thanksgiving Story

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.

That story was also the inspiration behind Christ-centered support groups that utilize the Finding Glory Group Discussion Guide.

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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.”

Carly is a gift!

We invite you to watch Carly’s Thanksgiving Story — an adventure tale that God is still unfolding.

What is Angelman Syndrome? 

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. 

Visit the Angelman Syndrome Foundation and the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics for more information. 

Miraculous Preservation

A common concern among caregivers, especially parents of children who have disabilities, is what will happen to our children if they outlive us. And as middle age comes, depending on the degree of toll in caregiving and other life circumstances, we caregivers tend to fear that our bodies may wear our long before we actually die. What then?

And so we pray a lot. As we’re able, we do some planning. Having an estate plan in place offers some peace of mind as does doing lots of documentation for those who will be inheriting the caregiving responsibilities. Our family has had many conversations about this and those are always very reassuring as well. But at the day’s end, when my body is aching and I’m weary to the bone (as they say), I’m left with taking it all to the Lord in prayer and begging him to preserve and protect my husband and I for as long has He possibly will!

Today I was reading the accounts of a missionary who travelled a ship between England and China in the 1930s. The ship’s route took them through the Red Sea with full views of the desert places where the Exodus occurred. Audrey Johnson’s pondering jumped off the page at me with reassurance that God’s capacity to preserve and protect His children is not limited by our physical bodies and minds.  

Audrey wrote:

Probably no one who reads Exodus can fully enter into that miracle of absolute dependence upon our faithful God who revealed Himself so clearly that throughout Israelite history and Psalms this miraculous preservation and protection was never forgotten. Think for instance of Deuteronomy 29:5 (which says): 

“For forty years God has led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes haven’t become old, and your shoes haven’t worn out” (TLB).

Audrey Wetherell Johnson

I want to remember this verse and the underlying promise it carries for our family too. Nothing has changed about God, His promises or His abilities. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday as He is today and forever. His character, power, goodness and accessibility remains as certain for me as it was for Moses. In fact, it’s even better because I (we) have access to God through the indwelling Holy Spirit!  

The very same God who so faithfully cared for the people of Israel makes the same kind of promise to me. His protection may look differently than I’m expecting but it remains dependable and will surprise me in the best of ways.

Whether you are a fellow sojourner down the caregiving road with me or someone who just needs reassurance, let us be confident of this — God is creatively preparing all kinds of “miraculous preservation” for us and for those we love.

Jeremiah 29:10-13
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.”


This post was inspired by the book Created for Commitment by A. Wetherell Johnson, founder of Bible Study Fellowship.

God Changes Lives & Enriches Churches when We Fully Engage with Each Other

Families impacted by disability often feel isolated. And church must be the place where they belong, where they are encouraged, where they find hope and healing.

There are a growing number of churches that are being intentional about caring for and fully engaging with people who have atypical lives. These churches are doing more than just “being nice” to people with special needs. They are actually engaging in life with each other. They are resisting fears. They are stepping in faith despite concerns about being over-stretched. They are taking risks to be engaging. They are discovering that God changes lives and enriches churches when they care for and include each other, especially when life gets the most challenging.  

Accessibility isn’t just about ramps, elevators, special seating in the sanctuary and gluten free communion. The church—and Jesus most of all—needs to be emotionally and spritually accessible to all people. And that involves more than just being greeted nicely by an usher. 

Jesus was much more than just NICE to people. He fully engaged with them—their questions and their pain. He cared that people experienced belonging in His family and wanted them to feel assured they had tremendous value. Very often, Jesus physically reached out and actually touched hurting people. In fact, Jesus spent a lot of time hanging out with people who were on the fringes, the hurting, the weak, the weary, the “different,” the ill, the disabled, the unpopular, the unglamorous and those who were seeking hope (even when they weren’t really sure where to look). 

What Jesus always did was engage in love and his foremost concern was and still always is for us to BELONG with Him and to have HEALTHY SOULS.  

Four Promises to Anchor and Encourage One Another During the Holidays

1. Nobody is immune to trouble but we have hope.
Jesus said I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
2. God remains your most faithful advocate.
The Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them.”  Exodus 2:23-25, 3:7-8 (NLT)
So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:3-7 (NLT)
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. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  Romans 8:26-27 (NLT) 
3. You are never alone.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 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. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:6-10 (NLT)
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)
4. When you suffer, God’s comfort will be multiplied to you and through you.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NLT)