Cooperative Cocooning

This pandemic season is creating a unique opportunity for intimate bonding with those we are closest to in life. Sure, it doesn’t always look or feel like creating sweet memories together. Bonding doesn’t always come easily in our home, that’s for sure! But our family is benefiting from learning to prioritize encouragement and cooperation. And I think — I pray — that a lot of us will look back and see that something very special happened in the grand scheme of this season.

Last week, we took some time out of quarantine tedium to play with friends on Facebook. Carly and Claire joined me for a Real Talk livestream we called “Pandemic Edition #1.” We sure had fun making some trail mix, playing a couple of online games with viewers and exploring what it looks like to “cocoon” well. The following notes share highlights from that conversation.


Thriving families have compassion for each other’s unique needs and they learn to cultivate a cooperative environment in their home.

  • Stress, anxiety, fear, fatigue, burnout and breakdown are minimized when we pay attention to each other’s unique needs for casual relationships, emotional connectedness, task orientation, control and decision-making. (For us, this includes paying attention to the family’s needs but also care support staff with Carly as well.)
  • Not everyone expresses their needs as openly or clearly as others. That doesn’t mean the needs don’t exist. The ways and degrees in which we express our needs to others can be influenced by our own natural inclinations but also by how we were raised, how safe we feel to speak up or whether we’re trying to protect others from others from more demands. Some of us simply aren’t that self-aware. And children are often not mature enough to know how to articulate what they are feeling or needing. In a cooperative environment, we are attentive to one another and help each other recognize and meet needs in healthy, God-honoring ways.
  • It’s not all about bonding and attachment to each other though. For many living in close confinement, there will be a need to learn/teach healthy detachment too. It’s okay for someone to take a break and go shut a door for a little while.

There are tremendous benefits in being intentional about caring for the soul needs of each person in your pandemic season cocoon. Why am I using the term “cocoon?” Cocooning is a term often used by adopting families for a period of seclusion they hold after an adoption. It allows for bonding while also protecting the immune system of an international child who isn’t yet vaccinated and wasn’t necessarily born to a mom with immunities to the various things someone might be exposed to in our country.

Cocooning is a term often used by adopting families for a period of seclusion they hold after an adoption. It allows for bonding while also protecting the immune system.

We all have our own unique soul needs. I used to read Psalm 139 with the focus of my attention on the way God had woven my body in a physical way. But God’s words took on deeper meaning when I considered that my “delicate” or “inward” parts included the way I think, how deeply I feel things, the way I express myself, the degrees to which I find fulfillment in tasks — all the complexities of my soul.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

When God calls us His masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10), He means every detail about who we are is His handiwork. That includes our physical anatomy as well as our soul. Our soul craves communion with Him yet we chase things of the world to fill our needs. In quarantine season, in caregiving season, in any season when the needs of our soul are strained, we need Jesus most of all. But Jesus has compassion for us and gives us gifts out of the world to reveal His intimate understanding and value of us too.

These are some general areas where we each have our own unique degrees of need:

  • SOCIALIZATION or how we are satisfied in relationships includes two very different layers of social-emotional need.
    • Inclusion — a sense of casual association and connectedness
    • Affection — a sense of emotional connection within deeper relationships that is expressed through words (e.g., appreciation, affirmation) physical touch (e.g., hugs, snuggling, holding hands), gifts, acts of service and more
  • TASK ORIENTATION is not everybody’s genius. Staying focused or disciplined with accountability or inspiration can be tremendously challenging for some. For others (and I’m talking about me here), the “almighty task rules!” One inclination is not better than the other, just different.
    • A few people are appreciating that there are fewer distractions so they can tackle their lists and even catch up on some things around the house. (Take advantage of your natural household project managers and use this time to develop administrative skills in younger children.)
    • It will help some people to alternate between tasks and social activities, avoiding a focus on one or the other for long periods of time.
    • Some will find it helpful to complete tasks when they are connected with some social component.
  • CONTROL & DECISION-MAKING responsibilities may be shifting considerably during this quarantine season.
    • Logistics (groceries, healthcare, germ management, household clutter) must be managed differently for now.
    • Circumstances out of control may incline some people to overcompensate with substitutes. For example, a tidy house can create an illusion of control when everything else feels like chaos. A purged closet may refresh and energize the person whose heart is heavy with worry.
    • Pacing time in new ways will be energizing for some and exhausting for others. A slower pace can be very satisfying or will trigger anxiety in those who enjoy being busy.
    • Changing your environment can be a way to lift spirits. For example, rearrange the family room furniture, let the kids change around their bedrooms, use special plates for dinner, have a crazy hair day or purge some toys and clothing into “junk” and “share” boxes.
    • Giving each other plenty of choices. (For our daughter with special needs, this means pulling out neglected laminated photos, objects and iPad apps like GoTalk Now.) This can feel freeing and empowering when so many of our circumstances feel out of control. But some people feel overwhelmed by needing to make decisions. Perhaps you are someone who likes to share decision-making responsibilities. Doing so alone triggers anxiety or frustration. Collaborate on decisions as spouses or family whenever you can.

Just like having physical needs (body), God created us with mental and intellectual capacities (mind), and also emotional and spiritual needs (spirit). None of these needs is bad or wrong. But if our needs don’t get met, we tend to sink into our weaknesses and experience things like anxiety, depression, exhaustion and even sin.

We thrive when we learn to let Jesus fulfill the desires of our hearts more than anything or anyone else. As our Creator, He knows us intimately and He only gives good gifts to His children. After that, we can enjoy His generous gifts from the world in healthy, godly ways. And that includes living in cooperative and complementary ways with others.

Psalm 38:9
You know what I long for, Lord;
    you hear my every sigh.

Matthew 6:33
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be added to you.

Around here, we’re trying to be attentive to what each other needs and have each other’s backs. That starts with praying for each other and then includes examples like these:

  • Giving each other permission to express and satisfy soul needs (harder for kids and some temperaments)
  • Inviting each other to rest or take personal time (private places, dedicated time)
  • Leaving a bedroom or office door open or shut (or putting a sign on the doorknob) showing kids/others when interruptions are welcome and when they are not
  • Defining or redefining roles and responsibilities according to how each person is most energized
  • Making our home a safe space to process things like grief and disappointment
  • Trying to call out the positives at least four times as often as we correct/coach/redirect
  • Learning cooperation and teamwork but relying on Jesus first and foremost (which also prevents us from putting unreasonable demands on each other)

In a cooperative environment, we are attentive to one another and help each other recognize and meet needs in healthy, God-honoring ways. #CooperativeCocooning

These verses have been so helpful to me in the last several days:

Psalm 94:19
When the cares of my heart are many,
    your consolations cheer my soul.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Here are some more specific things that are working for me and my family:

  • Keeping track of my own thinking patterns and paying attention to shifts in my mood so I can take my thoughts captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • Listening to LIVE broadcasts that keep me feeling connected in the world
  • Having LIVE conversations that connect me emotionally to those I care deeply about (Note: turn-taking chat apps meet a different need than live conversations on the phone, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc.)
  • Finding a person who gives me energy and spending a few minutes chatting
  • Texting in group chats with extended family who are geographically separated
  • Pacing my breaks (and what I do with those breaks)
  • Baking with Carly or playing a game
  • Going for a drive (sometimes getting gas or car wash)
  • Taking a prolonged shower or bath
  • Rearranging furniture or moving to a different room from time to time (change of environment)
  • Putting out some decorations for Easter or spring (you could make some new ones too!)
  • Building a fort
  • Getting off the couch and having a dance party
  • Spring cleaning
  • Playing favorite games (egg hunt)
  • Planning and doing a special project (We’re hoping to surprise our neighbors’ kids with an Easter Egg Hunt blessing. Hopefully, they won’t read this blog until Easter Monday!)

We thrive when we learn to let Jesus fulfill the desires of our souls more than anything or anyone else. After that, we can enjoy His generous gifts from the world in healthy, godly ways. And that includes living in cooperative and complementary ways with others.

What’s working for you?

Tell us in the comments of this post about how your family is trying to make the best of this highly remarkable experience of life.

During this season of social distancing, we can learn rest in Jesus most of all but also meet each other’s soul needs in ways that are complementary and cooperative too.


You can watch Pandemic Edition #1 of REAL TALK livestream here.

Lisa Jamieson is an international speaker, author, caregiver advocate and licensed pastoral counsellor. Her passion is spurring special needs families toward growing intimacy with Jesus and thriving relationships with each other. She is co-founder and executive director of Walk Right In Ministries and leads the Minnesota Disability Ministry Connection. Lisa is a member of the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling certified in Christian temperament therapy. Her books and Bible studies include Jesus, Let’s Talk which was inspired by her daughter, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Lisa and her husband, Larry, have been married for 31 years and have three grown daughters.

Together & Free: That’s a beautiful place to be!

Jammin’ Pie Fest 2016 was another grand success. The sweet tastes, sounds and community spirit were a smash hit again this year. Over 200 people and 75 different families experienced a colorful fall afternoon out on the lawn with friends, family, live music and 53 delicious homemade pies!


Walk Right In Ministries is tremendously grateful for the fun memories and encouraging stories coming out of Jammin’ Pie Fest 2016. Hours of volunteer effort, donations and prayers make a powerful difference for festival guests. We want to extend deep gratitude to our music artists Regie Hamm and Family Three as well as our generous sponsors Cub Foods, Schuler Shoes and Degree of Honor Insurance. Special thanks also goes to our many many gift card and service donors including AMG Photography who captured the heart of this special day so well.  All of this collaboration keeps the event FREE while making support and encouragement accessible to many. 

Jammin’ Pie Fest is always a beautiful community experience. A diverse group of individuals and families are refreshed and that is especially true for those who are stretched, sometimes isolated and needing hope amidst life challenges.  

We hope Jammin’ Pie Fest serves as an inspiration and model for what all communities can look like. Let’s consider how, throughout the year, we can continue embracing each other, growing in faith and experiencing the adventure of life together!

WATCH this wonderful video celebrating the memories and expressing our thanks:  https://youtu.be/BE69dGxseY8 

NOTE: Our event photographer, AMG Photography, has a special offer for Twin Cities area individuals and families who experience special needs. Visit https://amgphoto.smugmug.com for session information and enjoy many more memories!


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Nancy’s Glory Story from Mount Hood

Mark and Nancy have experienced some extreme life adventures. For example, Mark is a talented water skier and snow adventurer. Nancy is passionate about horses and riding. Their son, Brandon shared his parents love for outdoor sports, animals and the mountains. Tragically, Brandon struggled with depression and took his own life in 2010 at the age of 28. Despite their deep sorrow, Brandon’s parents are carrying on their son’s legacy by finding ways to celebrate things Brandon celebrated and sharing his love for people by serving others with the love of Jesus. Mark and Nancy recently visited Mount Hood to scatter Brandon’s ashes. While there, they had a beautifully unexpected encounter with the Living God. We’re humbled that they are willing to bravely, vulnerably and joyfully share about it here so that others might be encouraged in the truth that God is near, powerful and good.


Our group gathered at the entrance of Timberline Lodge just before noon to commence up Mount Hood. Brandon’s friend, Adam, and three of Mark’s cousins joined us. Prior to our arrival, Mark’s cousin Nels had kindly taken on the responsibility of arranging logistics for our mission to scatter Brandon’s ashes on top of Mount Hood. He accomplished this by going straight to the top and discussing our intentions with the president of the ski resort (whom Nels happens to know). As it turned out, an experienced mountain transport person, Logan, was assigned to get our group (along with our precious cargo) “as far up the mountain as was reasonable” (per the resort president).  


When our group gathered in front of the lodge, Logan showed up promptly in an older Suburban and loaded the six of us into the truck. We started our ascent up the rocky, barren, dusty and steep path.  This was like driving around your block to Logan who was nonchalantly chatting with us as he careened around large boulders and near steep cliffs.  The rest of us were not so relaxed and hanging on for the adventure, which felt like you were in a Jeep commercial!  At 7,000 feet, Logan had taken us as far as we could go on four wheels because the next leg of the climb was almost vertical and involved icy snow patches. 


At this point, our group was escorted into the resort’s largest snow Cat (used on ski slopes to groom the trails). We were all in for the extreme ride of our lives. Again, Logan skillfully got us to our destination. We were on the top of Palmer Run, 8,500 feet up Mount Hood. We almost could have touched the clouds, if there had been any. But it was sunny, blue and about 55 warm degrees up there!  We felt God’s hand upon the weather, the gentle caressing breeze and our journey to stand atop this mountain. 


During our ceremony on a ledge of Palmer Run, Mark read a devotional. Then I prayed, thanking God for giving us Brandon for 28 years. We asked God for His help to continue releasing Brandon back to Him, “ashes to ashes,  dust to dust” as the mountain breeze took the ashes. There was a heartfelt group embrace and then we all noticed a raven as we dispersed from that ledge. The bird had suddenly flown to where we had been standing and it walked around for a few moments in the snow of Palmer Run and then flew to perch on the nearest chairlift. When we returned to the Cat where Logan had been respectfully waiting, he mentioned the raven and how they are so rarely seen on the upper part of the mountain. God’s presence seemed to have been revealed again as that raven appeared on our sacred ground.  
There was a final extreme ride going vertically down the mountain. Logan dropped us off back at the entrance for Timberline Lodge. Our group adventure seemed to be coming abruptly to a close and we said our goodbyes. Mark & I were to be staying the night at the lodge as previously reserved by Nels. But before he drove off with his kids, Nels informed us that our room was ready and we would not be paying for the stay or the transport everyone took to the top of the mountain. We were a little dumbfounded and stammered, “Now that’s awfully nice, but we expect to pay.” Nels replied, “Timberline will not take any payment. The President insisted that there would be no charge because Brandon was a part of the Timberline Family.”
Mark & I waved goodbye as we stood in shock. We were filled with gratitude and tears slowly streamed. God saw to it that our hearts were mended a little more that day from having to say goodbye to Brandon that February day a few years ago.

We are so thankful for our friends and prayer warriors who have helped us through this adventure — both the trip to Mount Hood and our continued adventure called Life.

Note: The subject of suicide is complicated. Four Brief Theses on Suicide offers a helpful reflection on the subject. 

Other resources you may find helpful:

  • If you are in a suicide crisis, call SAVE’s (Suicide Awareness Voice of Education) national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
  • Focus on the Family Help Center counselors are available Monday through Friday between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm (Mountain Time) to provide guidance and resources. You can arrange to speak with a licensed Christian counselor at no cost by calling 1-855-771-HELP (4357).  



Our Piano Glory Story

I’m speechless today. One family’s sorrow has become another family’s joy and answered prayers. We’ve been needing a piano upgrade but provision for it seemed impossible. Then an acquaintance posted on Facebook last week that her dad, very recently widowed, wanted to find a new home for this piano. Long story short, that GORGEOUS instrument now sits in our music room and our older one will be enjoyed by good friends with four little ones. I’m shaking my head in awe, so humbled by what God has done here.

“For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints…” 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressive gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

Barb’s Glory Story

This story brought me to happy tears — and, after a snowy day in April, I must say that happy tears were not at all the kind of tears anyone expected from me today!  Find out how God whispered sweet EVERYTHINGS to Barb.
It was the summer of 2009.  We had been living in Omaha, Nebraska for about one year.  It would take only fifty more years to equal the number we had been in Minnesota. Sigh.It was humid outside. I’d gained weight. Even my wedding ring had gotten tight. It seemed like I was taking it off every day and putting it by the computer or on the window ledge. 

Finally, fall was in the air. There was a smile on my face and a new spring in my step—except I couldn’t find my ring.  I must have set it down some place different. But where? 

I had looked everywhere—the bathroom, kitchen drawers, the pockets in all my clothes (including winter coats unworn since March), my car and basement shelves.  There was only one conclusion. It is lost.  More than likely, while in one of my multi-tasking runs through the house, I had put the ring in my hand to place it in my ring dish but also picked up a tissue or scrap of paper along the way. I had thrown my ring in the garbage bin with the trash in my hand. One would think I could remember the contents of my hand for more than 30 seconds. But it must be.

Every time I considered the lost ring, my heart would sink and I would feel sadness deep in my stomach.  How could I have been so distracted? 

As the days went by, my hubby was so comforting.  “It will be okay,” he would say, “we can get you a new ring.”  But I don’t want a new ring. I want the ring that is identical to his—the one that reminds me WE MATCH.  Part of me just did not want to have a new ring made.

I’ll just go to Wal-Mart and get a thin gold band.
That will serve the purpose.
It will be fine.

Months and years passed. I had a peace about the ring. But every few years I would find myself looking behind the books in the curio or feeling in the pocket of a long unworn sweater to see if it just might be there. It never was. Still, my heart would whisper a prayer to the Lord asking if He would help me find my ring.

I know it is probably in the city dump miles away, but You are a God of miracles, Lord—both big and small. I know You’re capable.

My husband went through a health issue in December of 2013 and it reminded us just how precious our lives and marriage really are. We talked about getting new matching rings.  We decided to find a jeweler in Omaha and pick out a new design. “Let’s do that by our next anniversary in October,” we agreed. How fun!

In March of 2014, I was in Hendersonville, North Carolina, training with RTF International.  My husband was at home with our son and while I had very busy days, I had a few hours each night to soak in the Lord’s presence and rest.  About five days into my trip I got a call from my husband. 

He started the conversation with, “You will never guess what I have in my pocket.” 

The excitement in his voice was palpable so I said, “I have no idea but you better tell me RIGHT NOW!” 

“I have your wedding ring,” he said.

What? He went out and bought new ones without me? As my thoughts raced, I questioned him.

“Nope. I have your original wedding ring,” he said (and I could see his grin in my mind’s eye).

But how? Where? Oh, praise You Jesus! 

So he told me the rest of the story:

The financial secretary at our church works in the office with the copy machine.  She had to move the copier to get at something (and that is no small task). When she did, she noticed a gold wedding band on the floor.  She went to the Office Manager and explained that she had just found a ring and she didn’t know who it belonged to. Inscribed inside were a verse (Ecclesiastes 4:12) and a date (10-14-83).  After a quick peek at the church database both exclaimed, “That’s Pastor Bruce’s anniversary date!”  Within minutes it was in his pocket.

After my husband finished explaining what had happened, we chatted about God’s amazing faithfulness and we both sensed this was a very special gift to us from our Abba Father.  After I hung up the phone, I was resting in bed and thanking the Lord for His great care and love for me. 

As I prayed and sang scripture, I sensed the Lord speaking to me saying, “My daughter, you were right to release your ring to me and to go on with the plans and purposes I had for you.  But you were also right to never give up expecting me to answer your request and believing that I would give you those things that you desire so deeply.” 

I wept.  I wept for His love for me. I wept for his favor towards me. And most of all I wept because this whisper was not just about my ring—it was about me. It was about Bruce. It was about our marriage. It was about our son. It was about our ministry. It was about our future.

Though one person may be overpowered by another, two people can resist one opponent. A triple-braided rope is not easily broken. Ecclesiasties 4:12 (GW)  

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Ephesians 1:3-6 (MSG)  

For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:12 (NIV)  

Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands. Isaiah 49:16 (VOICE)

A Different Kind of Birthday

I’m celebrating some things today. You got it. It’s my birthday. It’s been odd for me to think of myself as 48 years old. Part of me feels older than that. Part of me wonders when this happened! Either way, this year feels like a different kind of milestone than other years for some odd reason. Here are some possibilities:
  1. Staying fit, healthy and thin is no longer a battle. Now it’s WAR!
  2. I find myself praying for my kids’ safety and traveling mercies even more than I did when I first handed them my car keys. (What is this about? Do we get more paranoid as we approach 50 or is the natural pile-on of life experience just giving us a sense of reality-check we didn’t yet have at 21?)
  3. Apparently, I look less my age than ever. When people find out I’m 48, they just say, “Oh!” then kind of smile in an encouraging sort of way as if they’re thinking “Hm. I thought she might be a little older than that.” I figure I’ve got two more years until I get the “WOW!” response with a hug and “You look great for your age!”
  4. I’ve graduated to the bifocals club. I don’t mean those cute readers you buy in the drug store like the ones I heard a little boy begging his mom for in Target the other day. I mean the very expensive kind you have to order special. And I don’t yet qualify for any AARP discount. Thankfully, I’ve managed to adjust to multi-focal contacts. God is good. I can still hide.
  5. I no longer have any urge to make my own cake. Whatever I can buy at Nadia’s cakes (gluten free) will suffice.

Now, just to prove I’m not all sarcasm, I do want to share some spiritual fun too!
I love Jewish history and enjoy learning new things about that part of my Christian heritage. A friend showed me how to look up my Jewish birthday! It’s the 29thof Tevet (5726). Ya. Cool. I have no idea what it really means.
The Torah portion commonly attributed to my birthday (1/21/66, morning in case you’re wondering) is Exodus 6:2-9:35 — starting when God spoke to Moses about taking the Israelites out from under the hand of the Egyptians as His special people and deliver them to the Promised Land then continuing through the first five plagues. The realities of God’s grand plan of redemption were unfolding and we see His absolute authority to perform great acts (starting with judgment on Pharaoh). 
Just before this (in chapter 4), we see that Moses’ faith was shaky and he worried about his weaknesses as an appointed leader saying, “I am slow of speech and tongue.” But this gives me great comfort and hope on many levels. God responds saying, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”  (Exodus 4:10-11)
THE TRUTH: God is sovereign over all things including disability, brokenness, weakness…yes, my “old age” as it comes along too. His design is always good. He takes good care of His children. He is perfect and powerful in my weakness. In my weaknesses, He is shown to be strong. He redeems all those who trust in Him. Because I TRUST IN HIM, there is a Promised Land ahead for me! And even though my faith is shaky sometimes, God is patient and kind. He surrounds me with support, equips me for every good work, and keeps giving me good gifts. He reveals more of His power, presence and goodness as I walk in celebration that there is FULLNESS OF LIFE IN HIS PRESENCE!
For sure, my greatest gift and reward today is the privilege of walking with Jesus. Now THAT really is something worth celebrating!
If it would be fun and spiritually enriching for you to use the Jewish Birthday Calculator, visit this site: http://m.chabad.org/calendar/birthday_cdo/aid/6228/jewish/Jewish-Birthday.htm