What God Accelerates While We Wait

We’re celebrating Carly’s 23rd birthday in 2 weeks. When you have a child with disabilities, birthdays trigger an odd mix of thoughts, emotions, and memories. I find myself experiencing awe and wonder about what God has done in her life and ours for more than two decades. At the same time, I still have moments and seasons of raw emotion — when fears, frustrations and sleep deprivation maintain an unwelcome grip.

Parenting Carly has been like living in a long series of waiting seasons. She wasn’t diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome until she was 2-and-a-half years old. Yet her challenges were increasingly obvious and numerous starting just a few hours after she was born. Those were long and confusing days before explanations came. Still, waiting seasons continued. I struggled for a while to feel bonded with her the way a mom connects with her child. I sometimes waited for friends or family to understand and empathize. I’ve waited for wisdom in decisions about things like medication, therapies, and even meaningful birthday gifts. I’ve waited for help. I’ve prayed for healing. I’ve waited for church to be easier for my family.

Lisa and Carly posing during rehearsal at Darby's Dancers

I’ve also waited for God to change me. Sometimes a new mindset is needed, or a better way of responding to my challenges. I’d really like to be shaken loose of unhealthy habits and selfishness. So many times, I have taken a deep breath and said simply, “I don’t know what to do, Lord, but my eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 12:20).

I suspect most parents have sighed a similar prayer at least once.

RELATED: When Our Trust Meets Borders

The truth is Carly’s situation has accelerated my spiritual maturity and enriched my life in a host of ways. For example, disability slowed me down to appreciate things I may have missed. It completely shifted many of my values. It gave me a more realistic self-image. It exponentially grew my compassion and grace toward others. Living at the end of my rope has taught me how to rely on God and really trust Him. Even when I only have a mustard seed of faith to offer.

The apostles said to the Lord,
“Show us how to increase our faith.”

Luke 17:5

The Covid-19 pandemic has been an accelerating event too. For all that has been stolen and broken this year, there have also been some important wins. In many ways, we get to choose what long-term impact it will have on us. This has been part of conversations in disability ministry leadership circles lately too. Consider this example. The church that started 2020 with a 3-year plan for offering online services suddenly found a way to make it happen within 3 weeks. Countless families who had been isolated by disability for a long time could suddenly worship at home. And they received new empathy for their dilemmas.

Now we’ve all been stuck in a waiting season for more than a year. And while warmer weather and vaccines are bringing a sense of hope, many are still languishing in ambiguity about the future. There are some choices to make. This year has invited us to be changed. I hope you’ll allow it to be an accelerating event that moves you toward a life surrendered to God and in richer relationships with others. We’re all in process. We’re not perfected until heaven. But we can choose progress in the midst of everything that keeps us stuck. Because of Jesus, it is possible to be simultaneously both vulnerable and victorious.

I will celebrate Mother’s Day and then Carly’s birthday, caught between all the awe and what’s still raw. I hope you can join me in appreciating that living in this balance is the very thing that keeps us humbly in the sweet grip of our Savior.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Colossians 2:6-7

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families.

Tips to Help Deep Thinking Caregivers Find Their Sweet Spots

This is the fourth article in a series exploring what puts family caregivers in their “sweet spots” when supporting a family member with special needs. Today we’re looking at some challenges and opportunities for caregivers who think deeply.

Do you have a thirst for knowledge? Do you have a strong capacity to thoughtfully weigh a variety of options when you’re at a crossroads? Perhaps you’re the one in the family who researches therapy and treatment options. Do you have a helpful critical eye when it comes to reviewing details on your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? When someone suggests it’s time to start thinking about guardianship or future planning for your loved one with special needs, are you already two steps ahead starting the file with background information?

I’m a thinker so I can appreciate the tension you may live in. Your thoughtful and pragmatic ideas are of great value to your complex family. But you may have trouble sleeping at night!

Deep thinking people have a wonderful coping tool built right into them by God. Their moods and anxiety can be shifted by their thinking process alone. But that means it’s important to stay on guard about the tone and focus of your thought life. A great motto from scripture for the deep thinker is found in Philippians 4:8, which says:

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

When you are raising a child with disabilities or caring for a loved one with complex needs, there is always plenty to think about. There are decisions to weigh, strategies to plan, causes to support, and perspectives to consider. It’s wonderful to have someone on the caregiving team who has the capacity for keen observation and analysis. You may even be energized by serving the caregiving team through a role of that nature. But you may also feel prone to anxiety if forced to bear this role alone or under pressures of deadlines.

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time “in your head,” try to have some quiet time alone for positive thinking every day. This may feel impossible for a caregiver whose attention is required without interruption. But if you understand how important those few minutes are toward keeping you in your sweet spot, you will prioritize finding a way.

Explain the significance of your need for this kind of intentional quit time to family and caregiving team members. As for help and creative ideas that will allow you to make it happen. Consider a cooperative exchange with someone who can trade responsible times with you so that each of you has opportunity to re-fuel your soul. Let me give you an example from my house. My husband will wrestle with our daughter for a few minutes or snuggle with her on the couch watching a movie so that I can take a break. Then he will do his workout while I give her a shower.

It can be difficult, at times, for deep thinking people to be at peace with themselves, others and even God. You may have high expectations, particularly of yourself. And you may see things clearly in ways that don’t always line up with how others see them. It may help you to meditate periodically on Psalm 51.

To live in your strengths, you will need to learn to make healthy attitude and behavior adjustments by the power of the Holy Spirit.

To stay in your sweet spot, you will also need to learn to deal constructively with anger. Yelling, screaming, hollering, throwing objects, hitting, being passive-aggressive and burying or denying your anger are all destructive responses.

You may find that one of your strengths is that you have the ability to analyze your way through anger. Once you recognize and admit your feelings, you’re able to think through the situation and come to a decision about how you are going to choose to move forward in a positive way. Be on guard, however. The longer you think about the situation, the more vulnerable you may be to becoming depressed, or growing even angrier. Be careful about isolating yourself when you’re angry. Reaching out to a close trusted friend for prayer and processing can help you avoid a negative spiral.

Friend, give yourself and others the right to be imperfect. Forgive yourself and others for mistakes. And talk through your disappointments with God in prayer. Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to move on like nothing ever happened. But it does mean choosing not to harbor negative feelings. Forgiveness and healing often involve a process of choosing, again and again, to forgive until the negative feelings are genuinely resolved.

TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS BY REMEMBERING, OFTEN, THE FAITHFUL WAYS OF GOD

If you tend to think deeply

  • Seek a role on the caregiving team where your keen observation and analytical skills are needed
  • Work toward an adequate balance of work, exercise, diet and relaxation
  • Learn to keep your mind more present in the activities and relationships of the moment (less on past and future)
  • Express appreciation to others frequently and specifically
  • Resist analysis and criticism that can feel discouraging to others
  • Release others and yourself from unreasonable expectations
  • Allow flexibility to work at your own pace whenever possible
  • Learn to slow down, letting your moods and thinking patterns rest with Jesus

Here are some tips if you are someone who tends to be pragmatic and well-reasoned in your thinking

  • Serve your family and caregiving team by contributing to conversations that involve decision-making and strategy planning (e.g., education/vocation transitions, guardianship roles, long term care)
  • Optimize your role as mediator and consensus builder in team discussions
  • Recognize that your passions for “the cause” may become a source of pride or inflexibility
  • Respect the rights, feelings, thoughts and plans of others
  • Help give voice to the value of varied perspectives
  • Learn to rely on Jesus to guide your own values, reasoning and humility

The Bible offers an abundance of help and encouragement for thoughtful people:

Philippians 4:8
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Galatians 5:16
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

Psalm 94:19
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Proverbs 14:10
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.

1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

1 Thessalonians 5:16
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

Proverbs 3:6
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Lord Jesus, take my mind to a quiet and content place with you. Make a way for me to have a daily routine that includes quiet time to let you fill my mind with truth and encouragement. When my thoughts are racing and my passions are strong, remind me of Your faithfulness. I am tremendously capable of the assignments you give me, only because your Holy Spirit fills me with power and wisdom. Yet I am easily discouraged and often stubborn. Show me how to live. Show me how to serve my family well. Teach me to have reasonable expectations of myself and others. My hope is best placed in You alone. Amen

Feel free to share the “Tap Your Caregiving Strengths” graphics in this article on your social media to encourage others. You can follow the entire “sweet spots” series here.

Tell us in the comments what helps you and your caring family!


Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. Lisa is the primary contributor on the www.WalkRightIn.org blog sharing practical and spiritual encouragement for parents and other family members caring for children with health and developmental challenges. She also serves on the Key Ministry writing team where she contributes monthly articles for special needs parents and church leaders. Her personal blog www.lisajamieson.org also provides encouragement for people who find themselves in challenging places.


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God’s Words: Rich with Meaning and History for Us

Psalm 16:11
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.

I have history with this verse.

My first recall of resonating with Psalm 16:11 goes back to 2009 when I was writing curriculum for a women’s conference where I was to speak four times throughout the weekend. The Lord used my circumstances at that time and my posture with Him during that season to ripen my heart to hear something deeply personal in the promise of Psalm 16:11. Then God grew fruit out of that for the benefit of about 130 other women as we explored the presence and voice of God for two days together. Ever since that time, there has been a spiritual “nostalgia” wrapped into that particular passage for me.

Several scriptures have developed relevance for me in specific seasons of relationships and circumstances throughout my life. For example, I wrote my first worship song around Hebrews 11:1 shortly after I made a personal decision to follow Jesus when I was 14 years old.

I know this is true for many of us. In the ministry work I do, I have had the privilege of hearing hundreds of stories from people around the world about how different scriptures have been personal and powerful for them. It’s common for people of faith to identify with certain verses at memorable moments for poignant reasons that only God could have stirred. After all, scripture is “alive and active” according to Hebrews 4:12.

God will never stop speaking to us through His Word.

John 1:1-5
In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Considering how much personal history can be packed in certain scriptures, that got me reflecting on this year. After all, 2020 was a remarkable year. And there are a handful of scriptures that stand out to me as having met me in remarkable ways this year. In some cases, God just kept threading themes into my conversations with others that would lead me back to related passages. In other times, God’s words came to me in big moments — moments packed with meaning, deep thoughts or large emotions. The intensity of 2020 and the nature of feeling sort of stalled out in time, tended to keep me circling my faith wagons around scriptural places of resonance, insight, comfort, anchoring truth and hope.

Creating an annual highlights list of scriptures can be an encouraging and
meaningful way to reflect on our personal history and faith stories.

These verses reflect recurring landing points or pivotal moments in my life and faith during 2020:

1 Peter 5:9
Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

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.

2 Cor 1:8-11
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

Proverbs 14:10
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

Joshua 5 & 6 (especially 5:15)
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” 

Note: I found a model in Joshua for an important reset in my life this year. If you’re interested, you can read that story here.

Luke 1:39-42
Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.

I now have a “history” with these verses that I will carry with me for my lifetime. They reflect intimate lessons God has poured into me. They represent a sort of private dialogue I feel I’ve had with Him during 2020.

I love that about the scriptures! As in any relationship, there are moments shared in a conversation that stick out in our minds and stay treasured in our memories. I’m so grateful to have the kind of relationship with Jesus that produces these kinds of memories and keeps influencing me as a disciple of Christ throughout my life!  

I have found it remarkably encouraging, inspiring and forward-pointing for me to reflect on these verses that have marked 2020 for me. The process itself was a powerful reassurance to me of God’s intimate presence, power and goodness in my life, particularly during some dark or complicated days.

I’m excited! I see a new and meaningful tradition starting here. I plan to spend some time every December from here on, asking God to show me those scriptures that defined, repositioned or grew my faith that year.

What scriptures are part of your faith history? What are some intimately memorable ways God has spoken into your life through His words this past year?

I would love to hear how you will remember hearing God speak to you in 2020. Please share in the comments or contact me through Walk Right In Ministries.


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.

Resource Corner: Tools for a Listening Season

Hello, hello my friends! As we make the final stretch toward Christmas, I wanted to share some tips, tricks and listening tools that are helping me through exhaustion and loneliness. They might seem simple but they have been game changers for me.

Start your day with the Lord — through a worship playlist.

I have not been sleeping well. Families impacted by disability and other special needs will surely understand this. For the past couple weeks the glaring alarm clock has become the bane of my existence. When I succumb back into sleep (I’m trying to get up on the first alarm!), I’ve started to play my worship playlist so I wake up to it four minutes later. It has really helped me start the day in a better mood and grounds me into the day to come.

Upon listening to the songs on my list throughout my morning routine, I’m realizing how deeply personal the songs are to my prayer life and relationship with Christ. And in my relationships with others too. I’ve been praying about what has hurt me and what I take to the Lord every day.

I have searched for songs that speak into those things. I’m finding that the words of others can be borrowed for a time to help heal and shape some of my deepest hurts. Some songs included, but not absolutely limited to, are Holy Water by We The Kingdom, Good Good Father by Housefires, Hallelujah Even Here by Lydia Laird and Whole Heart by Hillsong United.

While I know introspection and worship can be deeply personal, this music has been a fun and interesting way for me to be reminded daily of the goodness of God. I’d love to hear some of your favorite songs that help get you through the day!

Set intentional time aside with the Lord.

I’ve had the Holy Bible app downloaded on my phone for has long as I’ve had a smartphone. But I recently discovered a whole new way to use it. I may be late to the party but I usually use it to look up scripture when I’m creating an Instagram post or when I’m trying to think of a new email signature. Little did I know that they have hundreds of devotionals!

You can browse the numerous categories they have or you can search by keyword. It can read the content to you alongside any task you tackle in the day (much like listening to an audiobook or your favorite podcast). I’ve added a video below to show you how to find a study you like and how fast it can be.

The app also provides interactive bible study stories for our friends who are young and young at heart. The devotionals can range from just a few days to several months long. It will keep track of your progress and even send you reminders everyday if you want it to. You can do studies privately or with friends to keep each other accountable. And you can save plans for later if you stumble on one that looks intriguing but you’re not ready to get started.

Sometimes I get so intimidated by guilt or obligation to do my quiet times and therefore don’t do them. This has made it easy to commit and make space in my day.

Lighten up and laugh with others.

Since this month’s Resource Corner seems to be all about listening, I think I’ll round it out with the Mama Bear Podcast. Sean and Mary Susan McConnell adopted their daughter Abiella, who has cerebral palsy and microcephaly. As the host of the show, Mary Susan shares any and all stories of their lives.

Upon bring Abi home, Mary Susan was pursuing her Masters in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and has since completed her Doctorate in Special Education. She is one smart mama and is so raw and real I believe that I am friends with her when I am listening to her stories. She brings intimate insight into struggles and solutions that only a special parent would know and she makes this big world feel so much simpler when she talks about Abi and the joy she feels and brings.

One of my favorite episodes is #108 where Mary Susan and Sean talk about the parenting goals they did and did not meet in 2019 and what they want to accomplish in 2020. Another one that caught my attention is #82 as Mary Susan shares a list of ten tiny things that can help in the chaos. I found it to be extremely encouraging and inspiring.

The McConnell’s make me laugh a lot I look forward to her new weekly episodes.

As we celebrate Christmas and enjoy listening to the sounds of the season, we can be assured that God hears us too. Jesus came. He knows our heart cries and our needs intimately. And He came to offer us the best of all possible gifts on the ultimate of all rescue missions.

Lo’ He is with us always — from manger babe to risen King!


Claire Krantz is a blogger, reader, hiker, camper, game-player, puzzle nut, music fan and general lover-of-people. She speaks in exclamations points — which is her friends’ way of saying she exudes cheer, encouragement, hope and fun. She grew up and lives in the Midwest where she is personally and professionally dedicated to living among friends of all abilities and celebrating God’s unique and purposeful design of every person. 

Follow more of Claire’s reading adventures on Instagram @readingwithcb.

I Considered a Life Reset and Got the Reboot I Never Expected

In the late spring of 2020 when it started becoming clear that Covid quarantining wasn’t going to end soon, I started realizing a lifestyle reset was in order. It took several months and an untimely accident to shake me to my core and get my soul powered up for the long winter at home parenting an adult child who doesn’t understand why her world has so dramatically changed.

You know how it is when you restart your computer. The process is designed to clear errors and bring the system to normal condition in a controlled manner. My phone reminds me on a weekly basis to restart all of my devices. I’m told that a reset puts less stress on the hardware than power cycling because the power isn’t removed. How interesting!

I would really like my life to be cleared of errors and to feel like it’s working in an orderly manner. And, as this computer metaphor suggests, I would benefit from staying connected to my Power Source in the midst of transitions.

Life sure does benefit from a ‘restart’ now and again. Many of us try to reset our priorities on New Year’s Eve. A new schoolyear and birthdays are seen like fresh starts for many. Spiritually speaking, repentance gives us a chance to begin anew too.

Acts 3:19-20 
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, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.

2 Corinthians 5:17 
Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

I’ve been desperate for refreshing lately while asking God to protect some old stuff I actually did NOT want gone!

My 22-year-old daughter Carly has Angelman Syndrome and lives at home. Her anxiety and difficult behaviors have ebbed and flowed through degrees of troublesome to exhausting throughout the pandemic. She’s confused. She’s lonely. She’s bored. She needs more physical touch — lots more. Like you and me, she’s sick of it all. But she doesn’t have effective coping skills or communication abilities to give voice to her many feelings and needs. She’s destroying clothing (chewing collars and sleeves, literally ripping pajamas off at night and risking damage to her teeth on zippers). She’s having trouble going to sleep at night and staying asleep throughout. She gets agitated during the day without our creatively offering as many choices as possible on laminated photo cards. I fear the poor girls feels like she has no control over her world anymore. Last week she bit me twice — hard. This from the girl who hasn’t bit me more than two or three times in her whole life until now.

In the midst of navigating Carly’s needs, the usual household chores and several pressing work deadlines, my husband and I sat down to finish recording a presentation we were doing for the Wonderfully Made Conference. We wrapped up just before lunch one day back in September and I decided to eat a sandwich on our deck while catching up on a few emails. After that I was going to record another of my personal presentations.

It was in that moment of sunshine when our already sideways world turned completely upside down.

I spilled a full glass of orange juice on my laptop. Let’s just say that the past four weeks since that day have been deeply disappointing, stretching and eye-opening. The irony of the situation was not lost on me. The conference presentation I was going to record after lunch that day was titled, “RESET: A Seasonal Necessity for Special Needs Families.”

My original inspiration for the subject was the pandemic. Now I was living a metaphor that had me squirming deeply. It took me to my knees day after day while we waited for the data recovery specialist to bring news that my badly damaged hard drive was restored. A couple of weeks went by and the conference organizers were graciously waiting on me. But their window of flexibility was quickly narrowing. Other concerns and timelines were looming too.

One morning, I had a caregiver staffed with Carly for the day so I could get back to regrouping and trying to record my presentation from memory — without my notes or PowerPoint slides. I was tempted to throw down breakfast and head straight into the battle before me. I longed to take a cup of tea and my Bible to our deck as the warm fall days will soon be past. But that felt indulgent on a day when opportunity to “take the hill” was in front of me and I had help with Carly for a limited time.

Reluctantly taking a lesson from myself and many past talks I’ve given to countless others, I leaned into Jesus’ prompting to carry His lighter burden and go to the deck anyway. Against all my task-oriented leanings and self-reliant ways, I tried to yield to that still small voice that wooed me, “be still, Lisa.” One of the original verses I had planned to reference in the RESET talk was ringing in my ears, “Come to me…find rest for your soul.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

I sat down wondering where to open my Bible but got distracted. My mind wandered to Joshua 3 and 4. Those are favorite passages that inspired the naming of Walk Right In Ministries back in 2008. And they continue to be reminder and inspiration to me about walking in faith, one step at a time, and trusting God to show each next step as I trust Him and obey Him.

For a moment I got curious. What, specifically, happened right after the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River to the Promised Land? I could specifically recall. I knew that their lives of slavery and then wandering in the desert were followed by a period of many victories in battles that seemed insurmountable. But I couldn’t remember whether the Bible gave any specifics about the transition period between marking the Gilgal spot with a pile of rocks and then heading into that first battle.

Immediately, I had a sense that there could be clues in Joshua 5 or a powerful example of a God-style, God-sized, power-packed reset. What I found there was, in fact, a gold mine. Within about 15 minutes time, I had a roadmap and encouragement to step back into my life with peace and a renewed sense of empowerment. My fear was gone and my frustration was released. The sense of pressure I felt to dig into my projects no longer had a grip on me or my blood pressure. I felt like the soldiers walking quietly and patiently around Jericho simply waiting for the final blast of the horn. I wondered what walls God was planning to throw down when I had the chance to shout praise for His perfect timing and process on the road to my Promised Land.

That was a holy moment in my life. Reading Joshua 5 and 6 with a deep personal need and new perspective was just what I needed. I was no longer stuck and my process for a course correction was clear.

As a bonus, I had a brand new (and much better) outline for my presentation. What would have taken me a couple of days to rebuild, had been reestablished with fresh perspective and new fire (passion) in just minutes. Once again, the Divine irony.

Here is the Joshua reset model God showed me.

REAFFIRM IDENTITY Joshua 5:2-7

Remembering WHO and WHOSE they were was essential to claiming the promises and hope ahead. The only reason that circumcision mattered was because there was a promise on the other side.

We tend to let disability start to define us as individuals and a family. We can tend to give disability too much power over our grief, logistics, attitudes towards caregiving, etc.When one of our daughters once exclaimed in frustration many years ago, “We’re so high maintenance!” I knew we needed to review how we thought about disability in our family.

Romans 2:29 
True circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit.

REST Joshua 5:8

Before heading straight into battle, the Israelites spent time recovering and regrouping from everything behind them.

Getting adequate self-care feels impossible for many caregivers. We need to have compassion for ourselves in weakness and trust God while we fight for refreshment in mind, body and spirit. I fight as hard for sleep, respite, vacations, staycations and deep connections with loved ones as I ever did for Carly’s IEPs, quality medical care, therapies and healing.

CELEBRATE Joshua 5:9-10

God told them to roll away the shame of their slavery in Egypt. He knew that the Passover Feast (a celebration of God’s faithfulness) would restore their confidence in Him, boost their morale and bond them as an army of warriors for the battle ahead.

Our investment in celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and family reunions — despite how difficult that can be to make happen — is a way to cultivate appreciation and grace for each other while developing relational bonds. Those bonds will be valuable to us and our children’s future in ways we probably can’t fully understand now.

FUEL UP Joshua 5:11-12

The Israelites stopped eating the manna of the past and starting nourishing on the crops of Canaan (the Promised Land).

Ecclesiastes 7:10 
Don’t long for the “good old days,” for you don’t know whether they were any better than today.

We have to keep saturating our minds with God’s promises, our future hope. There is too much temptation to dwell on life’s ease before disability or fantasies about what the future would look like without it. Fueling up on gratitude and God’s promises helps me keep my goals and priorities in perspective. Effective soul care keeps me energized too. Our family has used Christian temperament therapy for almost 25 years to understand how God uniquely created each one of us. And that helps us learn to optimize our strengths, recognize our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and teaches us how to tap our full potential by leaning into the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

WALK IN ATTENTIVENESS TO GOD Joshua 5:13 to Joshua 6:21

The Israelites needed to pay attention to God every step of the way. As he walked toward his battlefield, Joshua asked God, “What do you want your servant to do? (Joshua 5:14-15) As God’s army of chosen people asked for His leadership, trusted His strategy, obeyed methodically and responded thoroughly, God made them strong.

Seeking God for guidance and help as a lifestyle impacts how we put supports in place and build teams (respite staff, volunteer helpers, medical providers, supports planners, church, IEPs, guardianship and wills, etc.). God is ready to help us handle crisis (illness/hospitalization, pandemic) and approach transitions (education, caregiving team, jobs) too.

Joshua and the Israelite army did not rush but walked methodically in faith and obedience (Joshua 6:3-5) trusting for the promise (Joshua 6:2). They had to be thorough in their obedient follow-through by destroying everything and not taking anything with them. All of the plunder was to be an offering to the Lord. (Joshua 6:17-21).

This day and this situation is not just about WHAT and WHOSE battles we fight but HOW we fight them.

Matthew 11:28-29  Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach youand you will find rest for your souls. 

I’m still unpacking the full meaning of Joshua’s reset model for my own march toward the promises of God. And I’m excited. I’m no longer stuck in regrets about the past or lamenting what is lacking yet today. I’ve captured the vision of my Israelite ancestors and I’m walking in freedom, anticipating the surprises of God’s love.

What can this look like for YOU?
What are your next steps toward the promises God has for you and your family?
What is on the other side of COVID, our marriage storm or disability?
What is on the other side of anything that is disabling you or your family?

Like Joshua, let’s stop right now and pray, “What do you want me to do?” and then worship God. Joshua worshipped by taking off his sandals and recognizing the holiness of that moment on the edge of promise (Joshua 5:15).

Recognize YOUR Holy Moment!
Walk closely with your God and let Him pave your way to His love.

Watch Reset: A Seasonal Necessity for Special Needs Families.


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.

Vision that Energizes Caregivers

Life’s challenges seem to cry out as problems to be fixed. Those cries never seems louder than when we ourselves or a loved one is facing limitations, obstacles or hurts. God is our Supreme Fixer. But His approach to “fixing” things is always more creative and economical than our own.

Consider the maple tree. Sap flowing in the spring could seem bad — almost as if the tree is bleeding or under some great pressure. If we didn’t know how to tap the sweetness of the syrup, we might naively run to plug up the leaks! But the flow of that sap is actually good for the tree. And it’s great on my waffles!

I’m not “making lemons out of lemonade” when I say that challenges in life are full of opportunities that bring good to us and to others too.

Caregiving for our daughter Carly is intensely hard for me in some ways. I “leak” tears. Sometimes it’s so hard that I might as well be bleeding. Under the emotional overwhelm of certain pain and death, Jesus actually sweat blood (Luke 22:44). I have argued with God suggesting “I was not made for this!” I try to wiggle out of some responsibilities or just put them off. On many an occasion, I delay taking Carly to the restroom because snuggling with her on the couch is all the energy I can muster. But then the price is paid when a toileting accident creates an extra load of laundry.

There is a way to optimize our strengths in the caregiving role and get an adequate dose of rest. I know this because I’ve seen personal and family progress in over the two-plus decades with Carly. I’ve discovered some keys behind that progress by observing what works well in my family and others I serve in ministry —and what does not. I’m learning it is possible to find a caregiving groove.

Finding our groove starts with being intentional about our strategies as well as fully aware that God has designed each of us carefully, lovingly and purposefully. God is in the process of empowering me, Carly, my family and our circumstances for something valuable in His Kingdom. This is true for you too.

We need to be strategic and fully aware that God’s design for each individual person and circumstance is generously loving, creative, powerful and purposeful.

Each person on the caregiving team is unique. For example, some need a lot of interaction with people while others want fewer relationships but desire to connect more deeply in those relationships. Some caregivers draw energy from accomplishing the tasks and household chores at hand while others need time for deep thinking. Some are very good decision makers. Some are very independent and need space to serve alone. Others prefer to serve alongside others and work collaboratively. Some work well under pressure. Others are exhausted just thinking about deadlines. Some are leaders, some are followers. When it comes to caregiving, you might say, “It takes all kinds.”

There are no “good” or “bad” types of people in terms of how our souls are wired to thrive and contribute. Every one of us has different talents, passions and temperaments. Each of us is abundantly unique and wonderfully made. God calls us His masterpieces (Ephesians 3:10). In fact, by the creative hand of God, each of us has purpose and beauty.

We will spend a lifetime learning to understand and appreciate how the handiwork of God is woven into us. Being a caregiver puts us on a fast track, urgently needing to learn these things. Living and loving well involves discovering our strengths and how to lean harder into Jesus in areas of weakness. To be sure, every single one of us faces sin, weakness and times of hopelessness. There will be times when we are at our wits end. When the Apostle Paul faced that scenario, he said it was “so that he would learn to rely on God rather than himself.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-9
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.

Surely one of the reasons God allows us to see and feel our own limits — to come desperately to the end of our ropes — is to teach us how to experience Him more deeply. Another of His reasons is to put His perfection on display through interventions (I’ll call them miracles) in ways the are obviously His doing, not our own. I am rarely more encouraged by God or reassured of His power than when I’m at the end of my own rope and then see something Divine happen. God nearness is tangible to me when something unfolds well and unexpectedly despite my feeling helpless and powerless.

Every parent caring for a child with disabilities knows what it feels like to have complicated and insurmountable demands on our natural strengths and capacities. Every family caregiving team has felt stretched beyond themselves at times. There isn’t always an escape from the circumstances — a way to take a break or get help around the corner.

It is possible to find your caregiving groove.

In order to thrive in life and relationships, we must ask God to demonstrate His power in our weakness and teach us how to optimize our strengths. The prayer of serenity helps me put this in helpful perspective: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We won’t always have the benefit of serving only in ways that come naturally or most easily for us. There will always be times when sacrificial cooperation is needed. There will always be times when God’s revelation of strength will be very obvious.

These can be some helpful focusing questions:

  • How did God design me for this?
    Read Psalm 139 slowly out loud asking God to show you what you have to offer.
  • Are the responsibilities I am carrying, really the ones I am called to carry?
    Read John 15:1-4 slowly out loud asking Him to give you discernment about priorities, obligations and opportunities in your particular situation and current season.  
  • What does God’s sovereignty look like in your current situation?
    Read the following verses slowly out loud: Colossians 1:16-17, Philippians 3:20-21 and Hebrews 12:12-13. Ask God to reassure you of opportunities for blessings in your situation.

Learning to be attentive is a process. We need to have compassion for ourselves and trust God to hold us securely in His love and grace. As we patiently persevere in finding our best role on the caregiving team, we can also release and empower others into theirs. No one person is the savior or rescuer of the person with disabilities. Only God can do that.

God Works Through Community

God does some of His most beautiful and transformative work in community. He may even use dire circumstances to show others around us that there is a great need to rally troops. When family caregivers keep their weariness private, they may be obstructing a work God is wanting the community to do. The needs and opportunities must be visible and known. That means caregiving families may need to be more transparent and vulnerable before God releases power in the form of help from others.

When my own church, family or friends have not responded to my family’s need for help, it has either been because we failed to make our needs known or because they have failed to step up to God’s call. Very often, it is a combination of both.

“It takes all kinds.”

It serves families well to explore the division of labor from time to time. The implication is that responsibilities are meant to be shared. No one person can or should pull the load alone. The weight feels lighter when it’s carried from a place of strength and partnership. Cooperation and delegation are essential to the resilience of each caregiver. Sometimes the partnership comes from within the family but it often includes many from outside the household too. In any case, everyone wins by learning to optimize their own special role on the caregiving team, cooperate with others and remain attentive to the Holy Spirit. We can trust God to keep shaping and molding us — individually and as a team — in responding to the needs around us.

Caregivers don’t need to live at the end of their rope. The way we stay energized and effective requires a lifestyle of attentiveness to God. Jesus is our Source for purpose, confidence, reassurance and hope. When we keep going to Jesus to fuel our soul and align our lives with His design, the Holy Spirit equips and empowers us to live generously in love and service beyond ourselves.

RELATED: Lisa’s “sweet spots” series offers more energy-building, life-giving ideas about how to optimize roles on the caregiving team.


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.

Summer Contest Winners Announced!

Back in May, I thought the summer of 2020 could benefit from an injection of fun — and prayer. It was pandemic season, after all, and people all over the world were still hunkered down amidst activity limitations and social restrictions. I found myself whispering exasperated questions to God at all hours of the day. And I wondered if others were doing this too. I wanted to know more about how others pray — people of all ages, abilities, nations and circumstances — especially when we are unable to gather in man of our usual ways.

So, I checked in with team members at Walk Right In Ministries about the idea of a summer contest about prayer. It was thought that my book Jesus, Let’s Talk could give some inspiration. Everyone agreed a contest could spur some sharing and be a fun way to create a sense of community. It would be something absolutely anyone could do and it would be as simple as a short post on social media.

We invited people to write to us, draw a picture or record a short video explaining how you like to experience prayer. Some were sent directly to my email and others posted directly on social media using the hashtag #JesusLetsTalkContest.

Responses came from people of all generations and diverse experiences.

One mom wrote, “We’ve tried to teach our kids to start every prayer with the many things they’re grateful for. Hopefully, it puts the rest of the prayer into perspective.”

An older gentleman isolated in an assisted living facility did a crossword puzzle this summer revealing a family around a campfire. It reminded him of a story to share about his own experience with prayer. He wrote, “When I was young, I learned about Jesus. When I got bigger and went to church in Sioux Falls years ago, I went to a group that would meet after church and have campfires. When I sit around the campfire, I think about what Jesus went through. When I am lonesome, I think about God or Christ. It’s a different world since the Covid. Praying at the campfire reminds me that (Jesus understands what I’m going through too).”

I was inspired and I hope these highlights encourage you too.

We have selected three stories from June, July and August and each of those featured friends is receiving a gift card from Walk Right In Ministries. It has been a fun and simple way for us to thank people for encouraging others with their own experiences.

We want to thank everyone who took time to share a story. It was very encouraging to me reading about how you talk to Jesus. I had fun reading comments on social media too. When one of our winners posted her video, friends encouraged her saying things like, “You are such a good friend! (I’m) praying for you too.”

I know the Bible tells us that prayer is sometimes supposed to be private. But it is also shows that prayers is to be shared sometimes too.

All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Acts 1:14

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25

With so few opportunities for worship together in our churches these days, this summer’s prayer sharing felt to us like fellowship and a community of worship among friends here at Walk Right In Ministries. We are so thankful for that.

And now, introducing our three summer winners!

Peyton Libby posted a video.
Shareen Rademacher wrote:

“I am glad I can pray whenever I want. I am home all day alone but NEVER really alone. I have someone to talk to all day. I pray my gratefulness when I look outside and see birds and clouds. I pray a lot about our world when I am holding my cross at night. Every morning I kiss my cross and thank Jesus for another day. It is a gift to me. When I listen to my Christian music, I pray out loud.

When my tears flow, I look up at the clouds and know I must persevere as I know pain and suffering will end in heaven. Sometimes all I can do is say, ‘I love you’ and ‘thank you for memories of beautiful moments.’ Saying ‘I love you, God’ is a simple prayer but, oh, how he loves to hear this!

It is easier to pray when things are good and I know how difficult it can be to pray when you are suffering. We need to love others and be grateful.”

Judy Markson posted a photo with her granddaughters.

Jesus, Let’s Talk was in a stack of books I read when June and Esme were over last Tuesday. They knew a couple of the signs already and we had a sweet conversation about the kids in the pictures.”


Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all who participated!

Fun Summer Reader Contest for All Ages

Did you know there’s a fun contest happening this summer for readers of Lisa’s book Jesus, Let’s Talk? This is for people of all ages and stages of life — the young and young-at-heart! You could even do it together. (Our June winners were a grandma and two of her granddaughters.)

To enter, all you need to do is tell us about a place you like to pray or person you like to be with when you talk to God. Here are some ideas about ways you could share…

  • Draw it in a picture
  • Write a short story (even a couple of sentences is enough!) 
  • Record a short video of yourself telling us about (or showing us) a place you like to be when you talk to God

It’s okay to have a parent, caregiver or friend help out.

Here’s all you need to do to enter:

Post your story or artwork on your own Facebook page or Instagram and use this hashtag:

#JesusLetsTalkContest

At the end of August, we’ll be selecting another person/family/group to receive a fun treat in the mail.

Winners get a choice of gift card
(e.g., Target, Dairy Queen or Jimmy Johns).

We know your experience will inspire others so we’re excited to help you share stories and artwork!

Family Update from the Jamieson “Cocoon”

In a general sense, our family is doing quite well. We have been learning to cooperatively “cocoon” during the COVID-19 crisis. That means we’re trying to be attentive to our own personal needs, sensitive and respectful toward each other’s needs, protective and compassionate about of each person’s unique vulnerabilities and just generally trying to make the most of this unprecedented time. 

We’re trying to build bonds rather than allow the challenges to undermine them. This is not to suggest that we are always doing this well. But we are trying. For all the things competing for top of the priority lists, this idea of being an encouragement to one another has been at the top of ours. And it’s helpful to have a vision for some purpose in this surreal time. #CooperativeCocooning has been a helpful goal for the Jamiesons. (Read Lisa’s article on Cooperative Cocooning.)

We actually have more help right now with our daughter Carly than we’ve had since early August 2019. In addition to Carly’s usual full-time caregiver-friend (paid staff), one of the women who worked with her until college started last fall is wanting to work now that she’s back home studying online. We are tremendously grateful that our two respite providers are considered “essential” by our Governor and that they’re willing to strictly self-isolate for an indefinite period of time. Honestly, I would be out of my mind right now without them but mostly because Carly would be out of her mind without them. 

But there’s more to it than their just being essential for Carly’s wellbeing and my personal sanity. We view Carly’s respite staff as part of this family and ministry team. We are so grateful they feel the same way. These women work behind the scenes enabling me to do what I do every day. And they are fueled by the same passion we have to see the lives of special needs families worldwide enriched by a community sharing faith in Jesus Christ. God bless them!

For all the things competing for top of the priority lists, this idea of being an encouragement to one another has been at the top of ours.
#CooperativeCocooning

Carly is gradually adjusting to the new routines. She and I are actually on Day 24 because we were home alone for several days at the beginning of this while Larry was traveling for work and Carly’s staff support was on vacation. Those first two weeks were awful. Now that we’re learning a new groove, we’ve found it very helpful to arrange our quarantine days in ways that mirror the former routines as much as possible. For example, as the girls can no longer head to the gym shortly after lunch every day, I try to break from work and join them in the family room at 2 pm when a group of students and alumni from our daughters’ former high school do a workout on Zoom. 

Each day has it’s very difficult moments, particularly when trying to manage Carly’s outbursts of anxiety, restlessness and confusion. She is used to being on the GO! She does not like this boring lifestyle one single bit. It’s affecting her disposition (rather violent at times) and her sleep. 

Since Larry and I both work from home, this season has been “business as usual” in many respects. But some things have needed extra attention in the areas where we serve. My counseling ministry and special needs family outreach demands more creativity and time during this season. Larry is working extra hours on a team helping navigate the implications of the virus both logistically and financially. Short nights and stressful bedtime routines with Carly add strain. 

Our prayer requests may be very similar in nature to yours:

  • Continued health and protection for our family. Larry and Carly are both in the high-risk group for the virus. Our daughter Erin lives near the northern California hotspot and remains in lockdown with three roommates. Our daughter Alex lives alone in a Twin Cities area condo where she has been working virtually since early March. She is holding to strict isolation standards so she can be backup care for Carly and visit us every week or two.
  • Adequate socialization for Carly and her caregivers. Carly’s weekday support worker needs a fair amount of adult conversation and deep connection so working with non-verbal Carly alone all day and going home to an introverted roommate at night means we are working harder here to complement and cooperate with each other’s needs.
  • Anxiety management  (creativity). We are adapting new activities to meet needs within the limitations and keep Carly as content as possible.
  • Sleep. Enough said.

Friends, let’s pray with and for each other!

Lord, develop in each of us more patience, perseverance, trust, hope, kindness and gentleness. Comfort us in fears and grief that comes in waves during this pandemic season. Remind us that you are fully accessible and that we can intimately share our hearts with you in every single moment — the ugly moments and the precious ones. Would you multiply the precious moments, Lord Jesus? We need You to protect and provide. Yet in sickness and in health, You are faithful. May Your sovereign purposes prevail. We want to rest in that peace. 

Thank you that learning to slow down and focus on our relationships is a gift we can receive in the midst of this season. Teach us how to be attentive and compassionate about each other’s needs and cooperate with each other to meet those needs as adequately as possible in the circumstances. Help us to seek You first and things or people of the world second. Teach us to value Kingdom things above all else, putting our hopes, expectations and disappointments in Your perspective. Energize us by the power of Your Holy Spirit to think and reach outside of ourselves. Help each person in our quarantine “cocoons” to offer their lives as a spiritual sacrifice for one another without putting too much responsibility on any one person to meet the needs of another. 

O God, please make the precious lessons of this season grow deep and long roots in all of our lives! Above all else, teach us to love you and love each other well. 

Amen

This Pandemic Season Prayer shared by Walk Right In Ministries earlier last month has also been a source of encouragement and connection for many.

You all — our WRIM community of friends and partners — are constantly on my mind and prayers. Our Board and Prayer Team just received one of the longest updates ever in our history and we consider it great privilege to pray together for all of you!

How are you fairing with the stay-at-home orders? These are tricky days for most, extremely stressful for many and actually somewhat gratifying for others. I would love to hear how your family is doing and what is working for you as you try to adapt to these pandemic circumstances. Please drop me a note at lisa@walkrightin.org or ask to schedule a video conference.

You can also read more about Cooperative Cocooning here.


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.

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!