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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Delightful Opportunity for Dance Studios & Special Needs Families Nationwide

Do you know a child with special needs who would jump, twirl, bounce and hum at the chance to be part of a dance class? Darby’s Dancers is a wonderful new adapted dance program (non-profit based in Alabama) that has been growing rapidly nationwide. My daughter, Carly (with Angelman Syndrome, del+) has been in the program for 3 years and loves it!  Classes and costumes are FREE to students with special needs and each student is paired with a volunteer coach-helper.

I have come to know the founder of the program quite well and have offered to help her get the word out to others. Here’s her greatest challenge:

In signing up new studios to host Darby’s Dancers programs, they are finding that studios are very eager to support the concept but apprehensive about whether they will get enough students to fill their class(es). For example, right now Darby’s Dancers has two studio owners on the brink of signing — one from GRAND RAPIDS, MI and the other in MADISON, WI.

There is no question in my mind that lots of families want this type of program. It is just a matter of getting the word out. And as I know all too well, non-profits have limited budget for marketing. So we need to rally the word-of-mouth troops — and that’s YOU. Please help spread the word about this fantastic opportunity! Studio owners and the Darby’s Dancers team want to connect with parents of children who have special needs and organizations who serve them. These connections help them get the word out and build confidence with potential host studios that there will be enough interest.

Anyone interested in having a child participate and studio owners wanting to know more about offering classroom space should contact Valerie Jones darbysdancers@yahoo.com.
http://www.darbysdancers.com

Let us show you how to ROCK a Fall Saturday afternoon!

One day, some folks began pondering how to create a feast of family-oriented fun, entertainment and encouragement, especially for those needing a little hope and refreshing. Since one of these conversations took place among music lovers over a meal, is it any wonder that the idea of gathering ‘round a concert stage with food started taking shape? Attending a pie contest fundraiser with live music in Music City (Nashville) captured the attention of this competitive bunch too, so the dream was clarified and planning for the first Jammin’ Pie Fest in Maple Grove began.  

The Jammin’ Pie Fest is open to the entire community next Saturday in the Jamieson’s back yard. It’s a LIVE concert event and pie contest supporting a great cause—helping people in the midst of life challenges to make connections and grow in faith that God’s ways are trustworthy and good.  To top things off, we’ll have Regie Hamm at the piano, straight off a plane from Nashville! 

REGIE HAMM A hit songwriter, artist and producer, Regie Hamm has penned over 20 #1 hits, many of them in Christian music. He hit the Billboard Top 20 as an artist in 2003, and later went on to see his solo-written song “Time Of My Life” (sung by 2008 American Idol winner David Cook) stay at #1 for 4 months on the pop charts, making it the longest running number one pop song by a Nashville-based songwriter in history – beating out Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” by one week. Oprah called it the “official theme song of the 2008 Summer Olympics,” and David Cook announced that with the song, Regie had hit a chord with people. 

But the real story of Regie’s personal journey has had all the twists, turns, and drama of a Hollywood movie. He was raised in Pentecostal churches, tent revivals, and all night singings, but rose from those humble beginnings to experience unprecedented success in the music industry, writing 16 number #1 hits from 1994 to 2000. With Grammy and Dove nominations, and winning SESAC’s Songwriter of the Year award four times, Regie was about to launch into that same stratosphere as a pop artist signed to Universal Records.  

Nothing would prepare him, however, for the drama he would face in adopting a little girl from China in 2003, embarking on a 5 year odyssey to discover her severe genetic disorder, watching his life and a career spin out of control and finally landing on the other side in the rarest of places. Regie and his family have experienced the highest of highs …and the lowest of lows, and have overcome enormous obstacles on a journey that would test not only their physical resources and their faith, but their very sanity. Regie Hamm’s amazing story is chronicled in his book, Angels & Idols, and has recently been optioned for a Hollywood film.

Come! Be a part of a massive exchange of encouragement next Saturday, September 20th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.  The back yard is located at 16553 81st Avenue North, Maple Grove, MN.

Bring your blanket or lawn chair. If you like, add a homemade pie for the contest and compete for awesome prizes. Pie taste testing will kick off the afternoon right away at 2:00 pm and Regie’s concert will start shortly after that. You’ll have opportunity to vote for your own favorite pies!

TICKET PRICE: *Donation 

(suggested donation = your age)

$20 rebate for those who bring a homemade pie

LOCAL JUDGES: Our panel of expert judges and pie enthusiasts includes Toni Fluke (owner of Great Harvest Bread Company in Maple Grove), Terry Savoie (owner of Red Rover Pizza), Karen Savoie (from the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens at General Mills) and Bud McDougall (prize-winning foodie and WRIM Board Member). 

CONTEST CATEGORIES INCLUDE: Taster’s Choice, Judge’s Favorite, Fruit Pies, Savory Pies, Cream-Style Pies, Chocolate Pies, Gluten-Free Pies, Prettiest Pie

Contest winners will receive fun and valuable prizes including music CDs, gifts cards and books. Please help us thank these donors, business owners and artists by following their blogs, giving them a “Like” on their Facebook pages and shopping for their products!

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Truly, this will be an afternoon that refreshes and re-energizes individuals and families with encouragement, fun and community. We will all be inspired, strengthened and comforted to persevere when life is challenging.  Rain or shine, enjoy a fun, relaxing afternoon among friends in Larry and Lisa Jamieson’s back yard. 

Bring the whole family and a bunch of other people with y’all! 

*Tickets are available at the door for a donation to the volunteer-run Walk Right In Ministries. Walk Right In Ministries is a Minneapolis-based non-profit 501(c)(3) charity that helps people connect and grow in Christian community when experiencing life challenges such as disability.

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

What’s in A Rescinded Academy Award Nomination?

We’re so quick to start kicking and screaming when things don’t go our way.
It’s tragic that the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” got pulled from the Oscar nomination list. Or is it?
An announcement was made yesterday that the Oscar nomination for the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” was rescinded.  Apparently, there was email exchanged between the song’s composer and the Academy and, no matter how well intentioned it was, the Board of Governors took action to protect the integrity of the process. 
It’s so easy to rush to judgment about why this should not have happened. For sure, it’s just plain sad.  Sometimes I think we worry a little too much about perceptions. In any case, there will be those who think this was an attempt to silence a message that points people to Jesus. This song was from a film that did a powerful and profound job of pointing people to the One True God!
Should composer Bruce Broughton have been more careful? I’m pretty sure he has some regrets today. But I’m also pretty sure He is taking comfort in knowing that God will do something really cool with this mess.
There’s something I’ve learned over the years. Whenever circumstances get really ugly, God does things with those messes that are bigger, better and more beautiful than anything I could have imagined, hoped for or done for myself.  In fact, it has been when my life seemed most broken, upside down or backwards that I’ve had my most intimate encounters with the power, presence and goodness of God. 
I think the singer of “Alone Yet Not Alone,” Joni Earekson Tada, would agree with me too. Joni, more than anyone, knows that God’s purposes always prevail. No weapon formed against God’s love and reign will ever prosper. Ever.
The message of this song could bless millions of people. How many million people would have gone to listen to “Alone Yet Not Alone” if it had won an Academy Award? How many would have listened if it had NOT won? How many will go listen to it today — people who would NEVER have otherwise gone to listen to it — just because they’re curious about this song that got pulled from the Oscar line-up? 
Of course, we’ll never know. Well, maybe Jesus will explain it to us in heaven. But for now, I trust something bigger is unfolding.  I think this whole thing is going down in a way that God is just chuckling about.  There will be people who hear this song today and in the coming days who will experience a hope and comfort — and possibly even life transformation —all because this song never appeared at the Academy Awards.
Let us pray… 
Listen to “Alone Yet Not Alone” here.


The Glory Story Unfolding with “One More Song”

 “Maybe you have to lose everything you really want, to find out what you really need. Maybe a song can change the world…or at least a small corner of it. Maybe life really is more beautiful than any of us could ever imagine, and in rare moments, God pulls back the curtain and whispers in your ear, ‘See…It’s all going to be ok…’”  —Regie Hamm

Normally, I would not use this venue so specifically for the promotion of a product, service, organization or person. But, today I’m making an exception for some dear friends and a project I believe God is already using for very important purposes on many levels.
I’m so excited to tell you about One More Song and the Regie and Yolanda Hamm family.  Believe it or not, it is highly probable that you already know Regie’s work even if you don’t recognize his name. Regie Hamm is a songwriter with more than twenty #1 hits. He is also an extraordinary recording artist, producer and author. Regie has been named SESAC’s Songwriter of the Year four times and has had over 400 songs recorded by various artists. That more-than-impressive list includes Clay Aiken, Kenny Loggins, Maxi Priest, Bob Carlisle, Jaci Valeasquez, Clay Crosse, Russ Taff, Mark Schultz, Point of Grace, MercyMe and the Backstreet Boys. He has been nominated three times for Dove Awards.
But one of Regie’s most recognized career moments came in 2008 when David Cook won American Idol and sang Regie’s song Time of My Life. An instant smash hit, Time of My Life rose to #1 and became the longest running Billboard Adult Contemporary chart topper of all time. 
The song Time of My Life also galvanized the AngelmanSyndrome community. I will never forget the night of the 2008 American Idol finale. It was a beautiful evening and I was sitting in a lawn chair watching our daughter Alex play soccer with my cell phone pressed up to my ear. Just a few days earlier, we had learned that the winner would sing Regie’s song that night. I waited anxiously to hear it live over my cell phone as our daughter Erin held our house phone up to the TV for me. Tears streamed down my face while soccer fans cheered obliviously around me.
In that moment, and even more in the weeks and years to come, it was a song that represented deep things for our family. First it established a public kinship between us and families like ours who were wrestling mightily with something few had ever heard of—a rare disorder called Angelman Syndrome. Regie was inspired to write the song out of his experiences raising his daughter Bella who has Angelman Syndrome like our daughter Carly. It wasn’t long after hearing that song when Larry and I first met the Regie and his wife, Yolanda. That friendship is today among the most precious relationships Larry and I enjoy. This is a family we highly respect, resonate deeply with, pray often with, have a lot of fun with, change diapers with, cry with, dream with and learn more than we ever thought we could learn with.
Two weeks ago, a Kick Starter campaign was launched to raise some additional funds for the documentary One More Song that Regie and Devin Pense are producing. (Devin’s experience includes work with the Discovery Channel and serving as Director of Production for the Oprah Winfrey Network.)
As Regie has described, the film chronicles his family’s journey “from the precipice of super stardom in the music world, through the adoption of a Chinese orphan with a rare genetic disorder, into the low lands of dealing with her disorder and the loss of a career; from the re-invention of a marriage to the heights of winning an arbitrary song contest and having that song become an almost Divine source of redemption for a beleaguered family, as well as it becoming a focal point for many other families around the world. The story—as stories go—is a really good one. I couldn’t have written it. I wouldn’t have written it. Instead, I was chosen (in some weird way) to live it.” (Read Regie’s full blog post.)
Few people have the kind of compelling story, artistic genius and networking resources to create a project like this documentary will be. Even fewer have the funding resources to do it. With all of those connections and successes, you might wonder why these people need backers like you and me. Well, I’ve hinted at that in other blog posts (see my “Movie Nights with Purpose” post if you want an example) and it’s a complex answer. The plain and simple of it is that this project, like any new venture, needs investors to spur it on with physical, emotional and spiritual resources.  Larry and I are coming alongside this project in prayer, finances, encouragement and promotional support. We hope you will too.
Listen to Regie’s heart as he describes the vision for this film:

“We want to present a compelling story on screen that takes people on a journey of emotion and leaves them feeling connected to the triumph of the human spirit and closer to the mystery of (dare I say) God. This story is about music and drama and dreams lost and new ones revealed and love re-born and worlds colliding and geopolitical monoliths intertwining and the depths of the human condition and the recesses of the human genome. It’s about TV shows and emergency rooms and whiskey and Jesus. It’s about Chinese orphans and American rock stars. It’s about one-level houses and the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games. It takes you around the world and makes you look unflinchingly into the eyes of love …and it has a happy ending (of sorts). Through that story, we also want people to walk away knowing what Angelman Syndrome is.”

The broader vision for this project is actually a feature film. And there are folks in some wonderful places (like Ryan Seacrest Productions) who are anxiously hoping for that project to fall into place. But a project of that scope requires massive amounts of money. So until all those “moving parts” are in place, it has been suggested that the story first be introduced as a documentary. Regie could have waited it out and bided his time for a full feature. But this is a man who knows that every day he waits is another day when a child goes undiagnosed and a family struggles for hope and help. 
Regie believes (and I agree) that beginning with the One More Song documentary “helps us (folks promoting Angelman Syndrome awareness) stay on the radar. It’s my opinion that awareness is the most important thing we can achieve in the quest for cures and therapies. Until the masses know about this syndrome and have some compelling reason to get behind it, we will continue to be relegated to the fringes.”
AngelmanSyndrome is the severe genetic disorder. Regie and Yolanda’s daughter, Bella, has it. Our daughter Carly has it. Over half of children who have it are wrongly diagnosed before they finally learn the truth and are able to access the specific medical care and therapies they need.
There are only two weeks left before the Kick Starter deadline and I’m praying with passion that this story will reach a large audience and soon! Two weeks, friends. That’s what we have to help make this happen. Every contributor gets something too, depending on your level of investment — signed books or DVDs, digital downloads, tickets for the premier in Franklin, Tennessee. Beyond the “giveaways” though, all of us coming alongside the producers of this project will get to experience the joy and satisfaction of knowing we’ve been part of telling a powerful Glory Story (a contemporary encounter with the ever-present, ageless God who is always near, compassionate, powerful and purposeful in His ways). It’s an easy gift to give when you know it has God’s hand all over it and you’re giving something back to the world that you couldn’t give all by yourself!
Please follow this link to make a contribution of any size and to read more about this very exciting project!
If you want to support research of Angelman Syndrome, please go to http://www.angelman.org/or http://www.cureangelman.org/.
And if you want see more of the heart and beauty of this family, just watch how they said “thank you” last week to everyone who has joined them on this journey so far:
Thank you so much for reading all the way to the end! I know it’s a lot to expect that you would give me your attention for this. Your willingness to follow this story and consider backing the project is a precious gift and very encouraging—to the Hamms and to the Jamiesons. I hope you will also pray for the project and tell others about it (and talk about Angelman Syndrome). Even as we all enjoy the entertainment this great story will be, God will be working to change lives—with one more song and one big dream.