New Book Opens Doors for Fun and Advocacy

Over the course of twenty-plus years working in the field of Disability Ministry, I have heard countless stories from parents and caregivers who struggle to navigate a less than accessible world. Trips as a full family into public must be meticulously planned and executed around meals and potential bathroom breaks. The near impossibility of making things work perfectly often causes more stress than families are willing to go through. The result, families are forced to play tag team. One parent always stays home to care for their child with a disability while the other ventures out.

Can you relate?

One of the major obstacles for families is the lack of universal-sized changing tables in restrooms. This is not unique to churches. Public spaces everywhere have looked the other way when it comes to true accessibility. And when a child outgrows an infant-sized changing table the world is no longer accessible.

Parents and caregivers that are brave enough to venture out despite the lack of universal-sized changing tables can be forced to lay their loved ones on a filthy bathroom floor or change them in the back of a van for the whole world to see. Lack of accessibility in restrooms robs people of their dignity. This should not be!

All people deserve dignity.

So what can anyone do about it? It seems like a problem that is too big or too broken to fix.

On today's blog, we're excited to introduce you to a new collaboration between Ryan Wolfe (founder of Ability Ministry) and illustrator Adam Bryant. 

Their book "The Incredible Shrinking Toilets" is opening doors for fun and meaningful conversations around the awkward topic of bathroom accessibility.

An obvious obstacle to change is the fact that talking about what goes on in the bathroom is awkward at best.

That is why Adam Bryant and I wrote a book called, The Tale of the Shrinking Toilets.

Adam Bryant, an accomplished artist, is the book’s illustrator. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 11. Adam never saw his diagnosis as a detriment, but rather a blessing. He graduated high school with honors and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design, majoring in animation. Adam shares, “What keeps me going as an artist is wanting to make a positive impact on the world with my art and helping reach others! That’s what I feel like I am here to do, and why I was given these talents!”

What exactly is this toilet book all about?

Why read a book full of potty talk? It is not because the author wants to push the buttons of the polite police in your lives. There is a much deeper meaning behind all this toilet talk.

You will soon find out that the world changed forever on “Two Two Day” when all the toilets in public restrooms mysteriously shrunk to miniature size. The Tale of the Shrinking Toilets reveals the devastating consequences of an inaccessible world as it paints a powerful allegory and invites its readers an opportunity to be change agents.

The book is meant to break the ice in a fun way on the difficult topic of bathroom accessibility. It was meant to be used as a conversation starter.

If your church does, favorite restaurant, business, etc. does not have a universal-sized changing table, buy this book for the lead pastor or business owner. Let the book start the awkward conversation for you. Ask them to read it and then follow up with them after they have read the book.

Do not just point out the problem. Tell them why accessibility is important to you, your family, and families like yours! Then present them with practical doable solutions and next steps.

In addition to the book, we have created a website full of resources to help you be a change agent in your community. Visit our website here.

If you want to get involved and make a difference check out our Initiative page. On this page, there are ways to contact your local officials, sample letters you can use to lobby for change, blueprints for building a DIY universal-sized changing table, and links to purchase affordable options.

If your church or business needs a universal-sized changing table, grant money is also available for your project. Learn more about those grants here.

This story is dedicated to all people with disabilities and their loved ones who are forced to navigate the frustrating landscape of a world that is neither kind nor accessible. Living in a world that is not accessible is not fiction.

This is reality. Thankfully, there is a solution to this crisis. Installing universal-sized changing stations in public restrooms can make all the difference in the world. Be a part of the solution. Do not be afraid of a little potty talk.

If you would like to purchase a book grab one in the Ability Ministry store. Every penny of your purchase goes to the grant fund that we make available for churches.

Thank you for being a change agent. Remember, everyone deserves dignity and you can provide that for them by being an advocate.


Ryan Wolfe is the President and CEO of Ability Ministry, a non-profit organization that provides homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Ability Ministry also works with religious organizations, helping them to establish and advance Disability Ministry programming and outreach. In addition to being an author and featured speaker, Ryan is a passionate advocate for individuals with disabilities. His personal mission is to fight not only for inclusion but also for meaningful opportunities of belonging.

When Caregiving Sparks Stress Instead of Joy, What Can You Do?

When caregiving sparks stress instead of joy, what can you do about it? That’s a question I began mulling over since I posted a survey on my website about stress and compassion fatigue in caregivers way back in 2019.

Within 2 days, the survey had been completed 500 times. Less than a month later, that number had risen to almost 1,500. This was a full year before COVID and the pandemic reared their ugly heads. Keep that in mind while you read through the statistic below.

  • 98% of the caregivers said their duties cause extra stress in their daily lives.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, the average stress level of parents was 6.4.
  • 91% said caregiving has affected their mental health.
  • 87% said caregiving has affected their physical health.

Further analysis can be found the Different Dream website. 

To borrow a phrase from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the statistics show that caregiving is sparking as much stress as joy in parents raising kids with special needs. Which is why I’ve been pondering the question posed earlier: when caregiving sparks stress instead of joy, what can you do about it? 

Look for Signs of Post-Traumatic Growth

One thing we can do is remember that traumatic and stressful events can lead to positive outcomes. Researchers Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun refer to this phenomenon as post traumatic growth. They identified seven areas of growth that spring in people who struggle with challenging life circumstances.

  • Greater appreciation of life
  • Greater appreciation and strengthening of close relationships
  • Increased compassion and altruism
  • The identification of new possibilities or a purpose in life
  • Greater awareness and utilization of personal strength
  • Enhanced spiritual development
  • Creative growth

As caregivers, we can look for these signs of post-traumatic growth in our lives. While you may not find evidence of all seven, you may be surprised by how much growth you have experienced.

Cultivate Greater Post-Traumatic Growth

A simple way to cultivate greater post-traumatic growth in yourself and those around you is to capture your caregiving stories so they don’t get lost. Here are a few ideas about how to do so:

  • Tell your stories to family members. Record them on audio and video.
  • Write them down for yourself only, in letters to a few people, or for broader publication.
  • Take pictures of the people in your stories and add captions for the benefit of future generations.

Now, take a moment to make a list of caregiving stories you want to capture and preserve for yourself and those you love.

Validate Your Emotions

Some, but not all, aspects of caregiving stress can be reframed as positives. Therefore, it’s important for us to identify and validate the negative emotions associated with caregiving stress. This exercise, which Kristin Faith Evans introduced in a Different Dream guest post, can guide you through the process.

  • Name a painful emotion related to the pandemic.
  • Say to yourself, “It makes sense I’m feeling this way considering _________________________.”
  • Give yourself time to feel and release hard emotions.

Move Toward Acceptance

Once you’ve validated your emotions related to caregiving stress, Kristin encourages parents to move on to acceptance by asking these questions:

  1. What have I lost because of caregiving?
  2. What have I gained because of the pandemic?
  3. What have I learned through this experience?
  4. How has my faith been strengthened?
  5. What permanent changes do I need to accept?

Seek Professional Help

The above strategies can alleviate stress, but parents who engage in day-to-day caregiving may need the services of a mental health care professional to help spark their joy again. This post offers simple steps to help caregivers find qualified therapists with a Christian worldview near where they live.

The caregiving life can be stressful. It can also spark growth, joy, and enhanced spiritual development. Wise caregivers will use the five strategies above to reduce stress, and at the same time increase joy and faith to benefit themselves and those they love. 


Jolene Philo grew up in a caregiving family and raised a son with medical special needs. As a teacher, she created an inclusive classroom for children with disabilities for 25 years. She’s authored several books for the special needs and disability community, including Every Child Welcome: A Ministry Handbook for Including Kids with Special Needs and Sharing Love Abundantly with Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities. She hosts the award-winning blog, www.DifferentDream.comSee Jane Run!, the first cozy mystery in her series that includes characters with disabilities was published in June of 2022. Jolene and her husband live in a multigenerational family in Polk City with her daughter, son-in-law and their two young children.


Finding Open Doors and Hearts

My beloved shoe repair shop is gone. Carly and I headed over there the other day because I was hoping to get a favorite leather purse fixed. I knew our local cobbler would be perfect for the job. He would have all the necessary tools, along with a willing and flexible spirit.

He filled some valuable needs for us in the early 2000s. Most notably, when Carly was very young, and her foot supination was needing attention. He rose to the occasion. We had been advised to find a shoemaker who could add a wedge on the outside edge of Carly’s soles. They would help neutralize her positioning, protect her from injury, and support healthy growth and development.

I enjoyed that shoe guy immensely. In stature, warmth and even facial features, he reminded me of Geppetto, the old woodcarver who created Pinocchio. His empty windows made me sad but grateful with nostalgia.

Our beloved shoe repair shop, closed and vacated. (March 2022)

Times are different now. Covid has changed so much. But the culture was already shifting. These days, people rarely need shoe repairs. After all, many of us lived in our socks and slippers for the better part of 2020 and 2021! Also, with the quality of how things are made now, and the nature of people being enticed by shiny new things, we tend to replace rather than repair or renew anymore. I predict the repurposing movement may never make its way to clothing with the same gusto it has for furniture and nick knacks.

Still, when we really need our shoe guy, nobody else will do. He might fulfill a small niche need, but it’s an important one and few others can step in to fill that “shoe.”

Now friends, I really like my purse. I want it fixed pretty badly. It is disappointing and frustrating that I have very few options left, at this point. I’ve been told that one option is to take it to a leather repair shop that is going to charge me $50 for the repair. That’s not going to happen. The other option is start calling other shops to see if they can give me a cost estimate before I start driving far across town to the very few and far-flung options that are left.

Seriously, I don’t have time or energy for this.

This is where my mind pivoted to something I often hear my clients say. They have been desperate to find counselors who truly understand their situation as caregivers. They desperately want specialized and credible encouragement and practical application for their very complicated lives and all from a foundation of Christian values. They need a counseling “shoe” that really fits.

One mom’s voice often rises to the top of stories I’ve heard over the years:

“I had received counseling, but it was really difficult because not many people understand the dynamic that we go through. And the first time I talked with Lisa, I remember thinking to myself, finally somebody gets it. Somebody hears me and somebody understands. She understands but she never left me to continue to wallow in my pity. She reminded me of God’s truth, of God’s promises, and all in the context of understanding as someone who had literally walked in my same shoes. I heard it better from someone who suffered sleepless nights. I heard it better from someone who had taken her child to have speech therapy, occupational therapy, swallow studies, you name it. Her encouragement came from a different place. And it meant the difference, for me, between life and death. I literally was suicidal the day I spoke with her. I had made a plan and she convinced me otherwise.”

WRIM Counseling Client

I share this so you have a sense of where my personal passion comes from, but more so because this represents a grossly under-recognized heart cry of parents and family members who are caregivers.

This kind of desperation needs a voice and a platform. These friends need help. A unique kind of help.

When the Board of Directors for Walk Right In Ministries met in early March for our annual meeting, there was a great deal of discussion around this subject. WRIM fits a unique niche offering services that an extreme few others offer anywhere in the world.

Walk Right In Ministries is on mission to build faith and community with families impacted by disability and special health needs.

RELATED: Watch “About Walk Right In Ministries”

Caregiving families, depending on the degree of health or developmental complexities involved, have many and varied needs. And there can be sources of help for many of those needs ranging from government benefits to charities and business that provide everything from adapted equipment, home modifications, horseback riding or music therapy, and braille books to specialized financial planning and legal counsel. But a caregiving parent who wants a Christian counselor who is experienced working with someone raising a child with disabilities or complex health needs will be hard-pressed to find it.  

We’ve been preparing for Reach Night 2022 here at Walk Right In Ministries. That’s our annual virtual fundraiser. And the focus this year will be on raising money, specifically for counseling scholarships. Last year, WRIM offered $18,000 in scholarships to families seeking Christian counseling and discipleship services.

You may or may not have known exactly what our niche is at WRIM. You also have been unaware of how great the need is for what we do and how hard it is to find people and organizations who do it. Come hear the stories. Learn more about what an amazing difference these kinds of services are making for families living with disability. There will be music from national, award-winning artists too!

RELATED: Watch Impact Stories from Reach Night 2021. There will be more exciting stories like these at Reach Night 2022!

Walk Right In Ministries welcomes and needs financial support. Gifts to WRIM make several things possible:

  • People with disabilities, their caregivers, and their families will be encouraged. They will feel seen, valued, and understood. They will have unique spiritual and emotional needs met, not just their physical and lifestyle needs.
  • WRIM will be able to increase our investment in a growing team of trained therapists, coaches, and mentors who specialize in caregiver support.
  • Caregiver-focused counseling, training and discipleship support groups will be readily accessible, regardless of someone’s ability to pay.
    Note: As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, WRIM offers many counseling scholarships and a sliding fee scale. No one is ever turned away.
  • Other organizations will increasingly recognize faith-based caregiver support as a valid “niche” and have confidence to increase their own investments in counseling and discipleship resources.
WRIM offered $18,000 in counseling scholarships during 2021.

Yes, we’re asking you to pray for our “competition” too. We welcome competition because that means families living with disability will more easily find and access essential help they need!

Pray also that every single one of us increasingly follows Jesus’ model for biblical friendship. Because if every Christian was walking in God-honoring friendship with others, especially those who live with extra needs or challenges, the world wouldn’t be so reliant on highly trained counselors and pastors.

We have a wonderful night planned with Reach Night 2022! I truly hope you’ll join us on April 8th at 7 PM Central on Zoom. RSVP here for the link and meeting code.

For a delightful half hour, you’ll hear stories of lives being changed by God through faith-based caregiver counseling, training and discipleship support groups. You’ll also hear music from national artists — Dove Award winning Ginny Owens and the Grammy nominated sibling group The Martins.

RSVP now for a “front row seat” on Reach Night!

God is doing something powerful among us. He is building a diverse and rich community where people are finding true hope, help, and friendships.

God is connecting the stories among is in beautiful, life-transforming ways!

Thank you for any part you are playing in this beautiful ministry and community where lives are being transformed! Thank you for helping caregivers find open doors and hearts, with practical spiritual tools and the hope of Christ.

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Proverbs 27:9


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. She leads a weekly online discussion group welcoming caregivers in families living with disability. Lisa and her husband, Larry, are co-founders of Walk Right In Ministries, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. They live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome.


Your Purpose Includes the Church

Christ-pointing resources for families impacted by disability have never been more abundant than they are right now.

It used to be that parents raising children with disabilities were reliant solely on medical professionals and school systems to guide them in navigating the “new normal” facing their child and family. Gradually, there have become specialty certifications for attorneys, financial planners and other professionals equipping them for the unique issues impacting our families.

Despite the great value of all these varied resources, there was much less attention given to the personal and spiritual care of special needs parents and caregivers. Thankfully, that has been changing a lot in more recent years. There is a long and growing list of churches and faith-based organizations becoming equipped to serve with individuals and families impacted by disability. There are also more and more counsellors specializing in caregiver concerns with increasing number. Some are equipped to treat trauma and grief too.

Cultural and practical progress is being made. And there is still much to learn.

The church and our families stand to gain so much from growing collaboration. Jesus promises richness will flow out of limitations.

2 Corinthians 12:9
The Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

1 Corinthians 12:22 and 25
Some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary…This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.”

Our families have important and legitimate needs for support. And, let’s be honest, we are a complicated bunch! My family, probably like yours, can be hard to love sometimes.

The church faces some legitimate concerns and limitations when it comes to serving us. Time and again, churches, leaders, and congregations fall short.

“Our brokenness and vulnerability as humans is universal; how it manifests itself is variable,” says Stephanie Hubach in her book Same Lake Different Boat about coming alongside people with disabilities. Stephanie adds, “Connecting to others in a condescending way is not an option. Intentionally associating with others because we can truly identify with their human condition is essential.”

Allow me to suggest we need to forgive our churches for disappointing us, not write them off and go elsewhere. Or worse, go nowhere. We need to patiently and graciously persevere in educating others, including our leaders and church communities.

Have you ever wondered what your purpose or mission was in life now that disability seems to have derailed your dreams? Well, this is part of it right here. Part of your purpose is to help strengthen the church. The mission will feel impossible sometimes. We don’t always get to like it. And if it was easily accomplished, God would have called us to something else. Just as your family needs you to embrace the mission of service in your home, God has great purposes for you and your family within the Church.

Part of your purpose is to strengthen the church.

Jesus doesn’t let the church off the hook though.

Stephanie Hubach challenges the church this way: “When we truly value the sanctity of human life, we recognize that it requires us to uphold and promote the image of God in each person—across the spectrum of life and in all the circumstances that life can bring…Disability ministry can be understood as a pro-life ministry in the fullest sense of the term.”

For all the ways God stands ready to release His power through communities of belonging, mankind will always fall short of our expectations. Habit #8 of caregivers with robust support systems reminds us: Adopt low expectations of the world — and out-of-this-world expectations of God.

Our families and the church must fight the injustices together with the of the fruit of the spirit. Our power comes from love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) that flow from the power of the Holy Spirit alive within us.

We cannot wait for the Church to perfectly meet our needs. 

Let’s embrace the right hand of God and BE the church.

Our stories matter and the work of the Holy Spirit is building powerhouses among us. While we’re following Jesus into our families and the world, God is shining Light on the value of all kinds of lives.

God is transforming individuals
and shaping generations.

SHARE THE MESSAGE: Your story matters — follow Jesus in the world with it!


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.

An Introduction to Special Needs Financial Planning

We’ve been sharing a lot lately about cultivating robust supports around your family impacted by disability. Since financial planning is one part of that process — and an intimidating part for many people, indeed — we wanted to take a side step in this post to share a some very practical insights from a respected friend. The following article first appeared at the Thrivent blog on June 24, 2021. It is re-shared here with the permission of Alex Gonzalez, the author of the article and a current Board member here at Walk Right In Ministries. Please feel welcome to make an appointment with Alex if you have specific questions about your own financial planning process.


Raising a child with special needs can bring joy and challenges in equal measure. Alex Gonzalez and his wife, Simone, know this well because their oldest son, Jake, lives with autism and Asperger syndrome.

Alex sums up his experience as a parent and his guidance as a Thrivent financial consultant with this simple message: “Try not to go it alone.”

“It’s stressful when a parent receives a diagnosis that their child’s physical or cognitive challenges will continue for life,” he says. “It’s normal to feel anger and grief. My wife and I needed to adjust our thinking in those painful times.”

Thanks to a supportive school district and careful planning, at 26 years old, Jake is working full time and living independently. Here is what you can learn from the Gonzalez family.

Create a financial plan unique to your family.

It is common for parents to prioritize their child’s needs over their own, especially financially. Studies by the American College of Financial Services indicate that 90% of special needs and disability family members and caregivers admit that caring for their loved one is more important to them than planning for their own retirement. But it could be even more difficult to help your loved ones if your financial future is in jeopardy.

Start by mapping out your own long-term financial needs.

Alex recommends parents work with a financial professional to create a financial plan* for long-term clarity. “It’s like the scenario where you’re on an airplane and the flight attendant tells you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping your child,” he says. For example, “If you don’t have the right kind of disability income insurance and become disabled, you will have a harder time helping your disabled child.”

Update your retirement income plans to include your child’s needs.

Putting together a solid retirement plan is also vital. From calculating retirement income needs to setting strategies to optimize Social Security or other government benefits, there are many things to consider. “Parents realize that their retirement budget could have an extra line item for their child’s supplemental costs,” Alex says. For example, accounting for the expense of experiences or services that aren’t covered by government benefits such as transportation expenses (car, travel, etc.) or therapy that isn’t covered.

And making sure that your beneficiaries are in good order is critical. Alex tells of a young adult whose parents passed away after naming their son as beneficiary of their 401(k) retirement accounts. If they had a financial professional helping with their plans, the parents would likely have known such a decision would jeopardize their son’s ability to receive the need-based government assistance he qualified for. While a situation like this is able to be remedied, it would likely take time and resources to help ensure your wishes are carried out as you intended.

Leverage the tax-advantaged ABLE account.

What is an ABLE account? An ABLE account (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act) was established by Congress in 2014 and offers individuals whose disability began before age 26 a tax-advantaged way to save money without affecting their government benefits. 

The law was in response to a potential roadblock that families faced in the strict qualification rules for need-based government assistance. Assets in the child’s name must not exceed the threshold of eligibility to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a federal program that provides money for food and housing; and Medicaid, a state and federal program that pays for medical expenses.

The list of ways ABLE accounts may be used includes:

  • Basic living expenses
  • Housing
  • Education and training
  • Transportation
  • Assistive technology
  • Financial management and legal fees

ABLE account earnings grow tax deferred, and withdrawals are free from income tax if used for qualified disability expenses. ABLE accounts are set up through a state or state agency that administers them.

Family members and others may contribute up to the maximum yearly limit of $15,000. Government benefits will not be affected if the account stays under a total of $100,000. Any funds remaining in the ABLE account at the beneficiary’s death may be required to repay government benefits received while the account was funded. 

Consider setting up a special needs trust for your child.

An irrevocable special needs trust is a more complex planning tool that allows you or loved ones to leave assets to your child without affecting the individual’s government assistance. There are two types of special needs trusts, commonly referred to as first-party and third-party trusts.

First-party special needs trust:

A first-party special needs trust is funded with assets from the disabled individual, such as from an inheritance in their name. At the individual’s death, proceeds in a first-party trust may be required to reimburse Social Security and Medicare for services received.

Third-party special needs trust:

A third-party special needs trust is funded with assets from other loved ones, such as with proceeds from a life insurance policy. No payback is required from a third-party trust at an individual’s death.

Funds in either type of special needs trust may be used for a wide variety of expenses, including:

  • Education
  • Travel and recreation
  • Assistive and electronic equipment and appliances
  • Companion assistants
  • Vehicles

Special needs trusts are meant to supplement but not replace benefits an individual receives, making it especially important that a trust be properly drafted to accomplish its goals of preserving benefits.

Find the support you need.

Every family needs support—both personal and professional. Your inner circle for your family’s journey may Include grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles. You might also lean on friends, your community and parent support groups.

You also may need to call in experts as well. Depending on your child’s needs and age, seek support from:

  • Your local school district.
  • A disability consulting service that can advocate for you and your child.
  • Housing assistance for special needs adults.
  • Employment agencies that encourage independence.
  • A special needs tax advisor.
  • An attorney for necessary legal documents and trusts.
  • A financial professional to help you implement your long-term financial strategy.

“These are not easy conversations, but empathetic financial professionals can help facilitate them as part of a special needs financial plan,” Alex says.

Connect with a Thrivent financial professional to create a comprehensive financial strategy that considers the overall well-being of your family. They can also help you find advocates and legal advisors who can assist your family.


Click here for the WRIM profile on the Thrivent Choice catalogue.

Walk Right In Ministries is approved as a Thrivent Choice organization meaning that Thrivent clients can direct their Choice Dollars to WRIM. If you are a Thrivent member, would you consider WRIM the next time you are dedicating Choice Dollars? (Thrivent pays the processing fees so that 100% of every donation through Thrivent Choice goes to WRIM and to build faith and community with special needs families. WRIM is also eligible to receive grant funding.) Find our profile link here.

We would also appreciate very much if you would take just a moment to give WRIM an online recommendation in the Thrivent Choice catalogue. You can do that here

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.

Tap Your Caregiver Strengths

I am a full-time caregiving mom for an adult daughter with severe-profound developmental disabilities and complex health issues. Family caregivers like me understand that self-care can feel daunting, even impossible much of the time. A nap is rare for most. A pedicure, while offering a sweet pampering pick-me-up, doesn’t have far-reaching impact.

I get up every day with more than an aching back and sore forearms. I start each day like every other parent caring for a loved one who has disabilities or mental health concerns. Those caring for an aging parent our spouse understand too. We all have desperate needs to keep up our energy, feel competent, provide safe and efficient care, remain loving and compassionate, fight fears, feel a sense of control over our circumstances, get satisfying socialization, balance attention to each loved one in our lives, do adequate self-care and generally stay encouraged.

Caregivers don’t need to live at the end of their rope! There is a way to stay energized and effective.

REFUEL

Caregivers must explore with great intention how we get energized right down to our soul. Many popular self-care tips are little more than “Band-Aids” with relatively short-term effect on a person’s capacity to serve sacrificially, let alone for the long haul. Caregivers with sustained, long-term energy pay attention to nourishing themselves in body, mind and spirit. Psalm 139 is a wonderful reminder that each of us is complex and unique, beautifully woven by the hand and heart of Almighty God. Christian temperament therapy has been one of the most valuable and transformative tools God has used to help my own family understand and appreciate God’s imprint on us. Caregivers can learn to fuel their souls in very personal, targeted and efficient ways. The process of fueling up helps us optimize our strengths, recognize areas of weakness and vulnerability, identify ways to cooperate with others and ultimately lean into the power of Jesus.

REASSESS

Caregivers are spurred on by having a vision. Do you have a sense of why God has called you to such a situation? God’s Word is rich with truth about His sovereign goodness in disability and reasons for asking us to take care of each other. We benefit from understanding our role on a team that includes God and others. We also need a well-fitting “yoke” and we need to wear it right alongside our Supreme Apprentice — Jesus. A prayerful look at Matthew 11:28-29 gives clues about how to walk in our strengths as caregivers:

Am I really carrying the “burdens” that are meant for me?

Am I carrying these responsibilities in the way that God means for me to carry them?

REPENT

Sin creates a sense of burden and fatigue. No caregiver needs any extra weight! I love the promise of Acts 3:19-20 that offers me a refreshing when I repent of my sin. Every caregiver has his/her own habits and hang-ups that hinder our connection with God and the fruitful potential of our life. I’ll be the first to admit that my caregiver stress can make me vulnerable to sinning. I am not my best self when I don’t pay attention to fueling my soul in godly ways. Psalm 139:23-24 reminds me to take an honest assessment of myself. Second Corinthians 12:9 reassures me that God’s strength is perfect, enough for me and fully accessible to me.

REORIENT

A strong and fruitful caregiver organizes time and priorities around God’s values, their own sweet spots (gifts, talents, experience and temperament strengths) and God’s calling (His unique design and purpose for each of us). Verses like Exodus 14:14, John 15, Acts 17:25 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 assure us that God wants to take care of caregivers. We must keep circling our wagons (or wheelchairs, walkers and adapted bikes) around Jesus Christ.

Learning to find our strengths as caregivers is a process. Learning to stay in a sustained groove of energy, effectiveness and sense of purpose is a life-long commitment. We are works-in-progress, after all. The opportunity in that process is to develop a precious intimacy with God and others. God is patient with us and delights in the adventure of our “growing up” with Him. We need to have compassion and patience with ourselves. We must also develop compassion and patience with others around us who are trying to learn their own sweet spots on the team.

Here are some ways to tap your strengths if you are someone who gets energy from doing tasks and thinking about ways to be efficient…

Check out several other practical tips for caregivers who want to optimize their role and stay energized on the caregiving team. (Click the download button below.) Use this downloadable file as a springboard for discussion with your family about how to keep each other energized and satisfied.

One of my conference presentations on this subject is also available to watch on YouTube here.

If you are a strained caregiver, let me assure you that there is hope. There are opportunities and great purposes in what you do. You will be imperfect but God redeems sins and weakness while empowering us with His Holy Spirit. He is able to create much out of nothing. He will remain trustworthy in our atypical lives even when we are doubting. Your mustard seed of faith is enough for Him. God wants you to experience peace — body, mind and spirit — and He will meet you with power right now and forever.

Psalm 73:25-26
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
He is mine forever.


Walk Right In Ministries can help you or someone you care about to tap their caregiving potential.

  • Read the multi-part series on Tips for Caregivers by searching “sweet spots” on this blog.
  • Learn about God’s imprint on you, your needs and your purpose with a temperament therapist who is certified through the National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA) or the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling (SACC). WRIM’s own Lisa Jamieson is certified with SACC and a licensed pastoral counsellor.
  • Work with a licensed pastoral counselor to help your family understand areas of unique strength, weakness and vulnerability. We can help you identify causes of things like anxiety, anger, exhaustion, depression, fear and resentment through scripture, prayer and tools that help explain God’s unique role and purpose for you.
  • Get involved in our peer support group for family caregivers.
  • Explore practical strategies (e.g., ways to build your “tribe” of support, growing as God’s disciple). Reach out for WRIM’s caregiver consulting services.

Write us at info@walkrightin.org or fill out our online Interest Form.


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.

New Light of Excitement about Praying with Kids

How many delightfully different kids from around the world does it take to turn on a light of excitement about talking to God? Well, the author and photographer of the new book Jesus, Let’s Talk discovered that about 30 could do it beautifully! 
 Jesus, Let's Talk
Walk Right in Ministries is very excited to partner with the creative team of Lisa Jamieson (author) and Ann L. Hinrichs (photographer) in introducing the new children’s picture book about prayer called Jesus, Let’s Talk. It released on Amazon this Tuesday to raving reviews and plenty of smiles, especially from the young people who had the opportunity to model for the project.
One young man featured in the book opened his early-release copy recently and eagerly flipped through the pages. But he quickly overlooked any photo of himself because he was more excited about finding his friends pictured there. 

Jesus, Let’s Talk is helping children, early readers, and people with developmental differences enjoy the sweet basics of conversation with Jesus. There are many ways to worship and this natural approach to prayer inspires both the young and young at heart. 

Colorful photographs of children and young people celebrate that the fingerprints of God are on all people, all around the world. The book also highlights key prayer words using American Sign Language. Young ones who are not yet talking, those who experience hearing impairment, and others who simply want to explore the joy of communicating non-verbally will have fun learning new ways to express themselves.

Featured prayers include:
Thank you, God
I’m sorry, Jesus
Help me, Holy Spirit
I’m listening to you
I believe in you
I love you, Lord


We hope you’ll join us in sharing this wonderful new resource with others. Introduce a child to a personal relationship with their Creator, Savior and Friend, Jesus. Jesus, Let’s Talk makes a perfect gift for toddlers, early readers, and for young people with developmental-intellectual disabilities.

Also, would you please go to Amazon and write a review? Sharing your confidence and encouragement is invaluable in helping us get this book into more homes where families can experience the love of Jesus and grow in relationship with Him.

Write a Review
                                                             
Visit the Online Release Party
Lisa Jamieson (author) parents a grown daughter with special needs and is a national disability ministry leader who is also a speaker and author of Finding Glory in the Thorns and related Bible study materials. Jesus, Let’s Talk is her first children’s book. Connect with Lisa at lisajamieson.org .

Ann L. Hinrichs (photographer) serves missionaries worldwide while enjoying the arts as a musician, worship leader, voice teacher, and international photographer. Find out more at annhinrichsblog.com .


 

Miraculous Preservation

A common concern among caregivers, especially parents of children who have disabilities, is what will happen to our children if they outlive us. And as middle age comes, depending on the degree of toll in caregiving and other life circumstances, we caregivers tend to fear that our bodies may wear our long before we actually die. What then?

And so we pray a lot. As we’re able, we do some planning. Having an estate plan in place offers some peace of mind as does doing lots of documentation for those who will be inheriting the caregiving responsibilities. Our family has had many conversations about this and those are always very reassuring as well. But at the day’s end, when my body is aching and I’m weary to the bone (as they say), I’m left with taking it all to the Lord in prayer and begging him to preserve and protect my husband and I for as long has He possibly will!

Today I was reading the accounts of a missionary who travelled a ship between England and China in the 1930s. The ship’s route took them through the Red Sea with full views of the desert places where the Exodus occurred. Audrey Johnson’s pondering jumped off the page at me with reassurance that God’s capacity to preserve and protect His children is not limited by our physical bodies and minds.  

Audrey wrote:

Probably no one who reads Exodus can fully enter into that miracle of absolute dependence upon our faithful God who revealed Himself so clearly that throughout Israelite history and Psalms this miraculous preservation and protection was never forgotten. Think for instance of Deuteronomy 29:5 (which says): 

“For forty years God has led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes haven’t become old, and your shoes haven’t worn out” (TLB).

Audrey Wetherell Johnson

I want to remember this verse and the underlying promise it carries for our family too. Nothing has changed about God, His promises or His abilities. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday as He is today and forever. His character, power, goodness and accessibility remains as certain for me as it was for Moses. In fact, it’s even better because I (we) have access to God through the indwelling Holy Spirit!  

The very same God who so faithfully cared for the people of Israel makes the same kind of promise to me. His protection may look differently than I’m expecting but it remains dependable and will surprise me in the best of ways.

Whether you are a fellow sojourner down the caregiving road with me or someone who just needs reassurance, let us be confident of this — God is creatively preparing all kinds of “miraculous preservation” for us and for those we love.

Jeremiah 29:10-13
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.”


This post was inspired by the book Created for Commitment by A. Wetherell Johnson, founder of Bible Study Fellowship.

Maria’s Glory Story

Maria Palomino recently spent a few hours helping to update and organize the Lending Library list for Walk Right In Ministries. As she worked, we had fun chatting about the value of certain books and it was interesting for me to learn which books caught her personal interest. Since she’s a young adult, I was particularly impressed by her eagerness to learn and inspired by her hunger to grow in faith.
One book in particular was intriguing to Maria so she asked to check it out and read it. Not long after, it led her to an opportunity for ministry.
Maria wrote:
I have been a Christian ever since I was 12 years old, however I never thoroughly dove into the scientific and archeological evidence regarding what I believe, or how to argue for the validity of the Bible. So when I noticed the book Surprised By Faithby Don Byerly in the WRIM Lending Library, I was intrigued. I knew that when I was done reading this book, I would need to share it, specifically with those who are consumed by questioning Christianity and the Bible as being absolute truth in comparison to other religions and texts.
I actually ended up using this book for my English project and presented the information in front of my class. The student teacher came up to me afterwards and told me he was a Christian as well. Coincidentally, we both had Hebrew tattoos on our left arms! Anyway, the minute that I finished the book, God placed on my heart the name of a friend of mine who was going through exactly the same kind of questioning. I texted his dad right away and encouraged him to get his son to read Surprised By Faith as part of his homeschool curriculum. He ordered it right away, read it himself, and then passed it on to his son who is still finishing it.
I have faith that the Lord will use this book as a vehicle to expand His kingdom and I am excited to hear back from my friend!
It is a privilege to see how God used Maria’s service to this ministry by providing her with an opportunity to encourage a friend in his faith!
Thank you, Maria, for enthusiastically and courageously sharing this story which helps us to see the presence, power and goodness of God among us.
__________________________________________
To learn more about what is available in the Walk Right In Ministries Lending Library and find out how to borrow these FREE and valuable resources, contact us at info@walkrightin.org for a complete listing and our simple lending process.