22 Years of Trail Mix

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 was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome at two-and-a-half years old.

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. 🙂

A Picture of Easter

Our friend Joel Warne of Wellspring Life Resources is sharing an Easter reflection here today. Larry and I have been grateful beneficiaries of and ministry partners with Wellspring Life Resources for over twenty years. When I was a young wife and mom, Joel’s book Soul Craving was a most influential resource in helping me know Jesus more intimately and tangibly. Wellspring offers a range of spiritual renewal services for both leaders and lay people across the country including live events, small group resources and counseling. Their ministry calls our hungry hearts toward a more rich and transforming daily experience of God.  We’re very thankful Joel shared this poignant and true message of hope with our readers for Easter 2020.


The comedian George Carlin once quipped that he was so shocked by what he found the day he entered this world that he couldn’t speak for two years!

Ha! It is a shocking world, especially during these remarkable days when ominous forces seem active overtime to rock things precious to us.

Ancient faiths around the world right now are urging hope, optimism and courage to act toward a positive future as the most healing and authentic responses to the uncertainties we all face.

At this Easter time of year Christian churches view this hope through the lens of Jesus of Nazareth’s story. It embodies the cyclical human journey from happiness and plenty, through unexpected loss and despair, toward the possibility of new and surprising resurrections.

May I offer a picture of Easter?

Our granddaughter was born at home by way of a pool birth. Our daughter and son-in-law are modern parents so invited their other girls, ages six and eight, to be in on the experience. The 8-year old reflected and concluded, “No, I’ll listen at the door.” The six-year old, who wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up and loves all things biological declared, “I’m there!”

Everything went great. Downstairs we got word after the birth that both baby and mom were healthy and happy. We were still congratulating ourselves when an alarm came from the room—the baby’s breathing rate had suddenly soared dangerously high. After laying peacefully with our daughter in the warm birthing pool our new granddaughter had been given into the arms of an assistant while her mother transferred to a bed. Separated from mom, the baby’s breathing rate rocketed into hazardous territory.

An anxious half hour later came relieving news that the baby was ok. The midwife had done something wise and beautiful. To bring our new granddaughter’s breathing back to a safe level she placed her naked body skin-to-skin on her mom’s chest. Slowly, the baby’s breathing entered the rhythm of her loving mother. Lying there, in intimate caring contact with her mom, our granddaughter relaxed into a serene calm.

Let me offer you that picture—the image of the threatened, vulnerable child held skin-to-skin at the breast of the loving parent. The protective embrace, the child snuggling into its natural home, the restoring shared rhythm.

This is the invitation of Easter.

Lots of us are breathing fast these days. Heart rates are high too. There is a feeling of vulnerability as our ordinary supports and controls prove less and less certain. Easter is about leaning in, skin-to-skin, with a loving Parent. It’s a decision of the will—repeated again and again—to entrust things into a caring embrace.

What can we entrust?

  • Our fears and uncertainties: Fear is a failure of imagination. It chases itself in a closed loop, a hamster wheel circle. Easter-trust releases our fears and uncertainties into the reality of a bigger story and opens our world to an invasion of help and provision from the outside.
  • Our preferences and fantasies: An ancient wisdom wisely counsels, “Be with God in what is.” That is, make peace with your real life with all its pluses and minuses. Stop kicking against it. Relax trustingly into your real situation today. This makes space for Easter’s renewing force to surprise you with unanticipated solutions.
  • Our losses: physical and financial, plans and dreams, even precious lost loved ones. At the heart of Easter is the idea of Resurrection, the conviction that in each painful dying is buried a hidden kernel of life ready to unexpectedly grow up again, often in new forms more profound and fruitful than the original. It’s hard to release our painful losses, yet we are not releasing them into a dark abyss, but into loving and powerful Hands that return them to us in a new form—as personal healing and rich new possibilities.

Certain narratives have been given us to provide our hearts and minds a framework that resonates and works in a world like ours, in times like these.

The Easter story is a narrative supreme.

Easter is about leaning in, skin-to-skin, with a loving Parent. It’s a decision of the will—repeated again and again—to entrust things into a caring embrace.

If we can find courage to relax our losses, fears and preferences into a caring Hand more capable than ours we discover the Easter surprise—new life invades tombs! Into every painful death, collapse, calamity or puzzling defeat, God has preceded us with an Easter resurrection, poised and ready, full of relief, keen to be born.

Copyright 2020, Joel Warne, WellSpring Life Resources
Permission to forward, post or reprint is given by the author.
WellRefreshed.com


For more than 35 years Joel has led leader and lay retreats, workshops, and groups around the theme of ordinary people moving toward a more intimate daily experience of God. As a spiritual director and co-founder of WellSpring Life Resources, Joel has written and published spiritual formation curricula used across the country.

Joel is a graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN. His special love for Christian ministry leaders is expressed through pastor and leader retreats that both comfort and challenge leaders in their call. His many years in the corporate world before co-founding WellSpring in 1999 with his wife, Gerri, a Temperament Therapist, give him lots of insight into the challenges and joys of ordinary people in their journey with God.

A Pandemic Season Prayer

LORD JESUS, in your mercy, hear our prayers and empower us for things beyond ourselves. Be perfect strength in our weakness. In that way, we will be encouraged and the world will know that You are the Source of everything strong and good.

Our comfort zones are being stretched and moved. Our routines are changing and connections being thinned. Amidst all of the shifting of calendars and lifestyles, You are our anchor. You are the stable foundation — the One who remains the same yesterday, today and forever — always trustworthy and compassionate. You are our Constant in the chaos — the Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness.

Please grant Your wisdom to all those making decisions about events, planning logistics and navigating communications. In all of the cancellations and postponements, work for good what the enemy has meant for evil. Heighten our spiritual, mental and emotional “radar” to see Your mercies and perfection in life’s details.

Help us to trust You for the needs of our bodies as well as the needs of our MINDS and SOULS. Remind us that You care far more for our children and loved ones than we do. Still the panic and quiet the lies that stir unreasonable fears and anxiety. We want to live as shrewd and cautious servants while remaining courageous and firm in our conviction that Your Kingdom purposes will always prevail.

When we feel restless and lonely, teach us to lean into You first and foremost. Make this an opportunity for us to be more convinced than ever that You are deeply personal and entirely reliable. We want to know You more intimately and experience You more tangibly and see Your power displayed majestically. This will be for our good but for Your glory.

Change us, Lord God. Cause this temporary season to transform us for the better. We want to be teachable in the circumstances and moldable in Your creative hand so that nothing of this trial is wasted.

Thank you, holy Father. Your peace is not illusive. We can receive it deeply in this time of quieting. Our souls are still in You. Our deep breaths and exhales bring deeper joy. And the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Halleluiah and Amen! 

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. Hey! Would love to help on any way. Actually anytime you need it.

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.