Isaiah 60:19 “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
When we put up our tree and decorations earlier this month, I went to bed thinking about how much I love light! The next morning, I opened my devotional and was immediately pointed to this verse. It got me thinking about why I pay so much attention to lighting.
As the seasons change in our home, I often adjust the lights. Candles get changed to seasonal colors, floor lamps move to a different corner, lower wattage bulbs are put in strategic places, the fireplace and fire pit get used. Even motion-sensitive night lights find special spots.
I’ve been known to follow my husband around turning lights off before he’s ready to be done with them too. As you might imagine, he doesn’t always appreciate that! I’m learning.
I’m frequently thinking about optimizing the function of each light source. But I’m particularly passionate about establishing atmosphere. My moods are often influenced by things like the colors, orderliness (or lack thereof) and lighting around me.
I just love creating atmosphere!
I love to see people enjoying a beautiful atmosphere too. Atmosphere helps to shape moods, flavors conversations and guides our point of focus. I always like to put a small battery-operated candle in the stable of our manger scene to draw attention to the display in our hallway at Christmastime.
So, as I carefully set lights in their places for Christmas this year and then read this verse a few hours later, I got to thinking about how the light of God’s presence changes the atmosphere of my heart and life!
Unfortunately, things in my heart and mind are not always light and bright during the holidays. Caregiver fatigue is among the things that I let influence my mood.
I want to be more dependent on God to define and refine the atmosphere of my heart and life. I want to be so filled by and reflective of His light, character, presence and peace in me that I don’t rely so much on things or people in this world to keep me out of heavy moods and the darkness of sin.
Jesus came to light up our world, after all!
God is everything we need. We won’t always have a friend or a spouse, a parent or that favorite self-care option. Apparently, we won’t even have the sun or the moon forever. But we will, always and forever, have Jesus to keep the atmosphere of our hearts and lives lit.
Holy Spirit, I need nothing but YOU to establish or shift atmosphere in my life. Emmanuel, please light up my heart in an increasingly personal and intimate relationship between us. Help me carry the glow of Your presence and power within me into the people and spaces around me this week and in the coming year. Thank you for pouring light, love, joy, peace and hope into the atmosphere of our lives!
LISA JAMIESON is a special needs family advocate and co-founder of Walk Right In Ministries where she serves as a caregiver coach and pastoral counsellor. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Lisa’s books and Bible studies include Finding Glory in the Thorns and the picture book Jesus, Let’s Talk.
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.
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.
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 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.
How many delightfully different kids from around the world does it take to turn on a light of excitement about talking to God? Well, the author and photographer of the new book Jesus, Let’s Talk discovered that about 30 could do it beautifully!
Walk Right in Ministries is very excited to partner with the creative team of Lisa Jamieson (author) and Ann L. Hinrichs (photographer) in introducing the new children’s picture book about prayer called Jesus, Let’s Talk. It released on Amazon this Tuesday to raving reviews and plenty of smiles, especially from the young people who had the opportunity to model for the project.
One young man featured in the book opened his early-release copy recently and eagerly flipped through the pages. But he quickly overlooked any photo of himself because he was more excited about finding his friends pictured there.
Jesus, Let’s Talk is helping children, early readers, and people with developmental differences enjoy the sweet basics of conversation with Jesus. There are many ways to worship and this natural approach to prayer inspires both the young and young at heart.
Colorful photographs of children and young people celebrate that the fingerprints of God are on all people, all around the world. The book also highlights key prayer words using American Sign Language. Young ones who are not yet talking, those who experience hearing impairment, and others who simply want to explore the joy of communicating non-verbally will have fun learning new ways to express themselves.
Featured prayers include:
Thank you, God I’m sorry, Jesus Help me, Holy Spirit I’m listening to you I believe in you I love you, Lord
We hope you’ll join us in sharing this wonderful new resource with others. Introduce a child to a personal relationship with their Creator, Savior and Friend, Jesus. Jesus, Let’s Talk makes a perfect gift for toddlers, early readers, and for young people with developmental-intellectual disabilities.
Also, would you please go to Amazon and write a review? Sharing your confidence and encouragement is invaluable in helping us get this book into more homes where families can experience the love of Jesus and grow in relationship with Him.
Lisa Jamieson (author) parents a grown daughter with special needs and is a national disability ministry leader who is also a speaker and author of Finding Glory in the Thorns and related Bible study materials. Jesus, Let’s Talk is her first children’s book. Connect with Lisa at lisajamieson.org .
Ann L. Hinrichs (photographer) serves missionaries worldwide while enjoying the arts as a musician, worship leader, voice teacher, and international photographer. Find out more at annhinrichsblog.com .