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!

What is the Parable of Your Life?

par·a·ble
ˈperəb(ə)l/
noun

A simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.

If your life was a parable, what would the lesson(s) be?

That is a question I began pondering last summer. I was in the process of updating my website, finishing a new book and planning for the next season of life and ministry. I was thinking and praying a lot about how my talents, passions and time might best be used for the next few years.

I thought back over highlights (and low-lights) of my life and began considering how those experiences had shaped me, taught me things, stretched me for the better, sometimes kept me stuck yet often spurred me on. Events and circumstances that left a big impression on me were numerous but included things like moving a lot while growing up (including spending my later elementary and high school years in Canada), being bullied horribly in middle school, putting God “on a shelf” for a while in college, living the “American dream” for a while in our early years of career and marriage, running into a hard storm a few years into marriage, having a child with profound disabilities, helping two other children navigate life and dreams into adulthood and so much more.

From these memories, I realized some life lessons had risen to the surface and become themes that resonated through much of what I have been doing with my life in the last several years. Sometimes, those lessons were spilling over into my interactions with others and, by God’s grace, becoming resonating or teachable points for them too. It was deeply encouraging and humbling to recognize some ways God had mercifully orchestrated both good times and hard times for greater purposes than I could have imagined.

Isn’t that the truth? What can seem to be the simplest, even mundane, experiences in our lives can often be steeped in life lessons! As with the illustrations Jesus used for teaching, those lessons can turn our perspectives upside down and rearrange our ideas about what matters. Those “parables” have the power to point us in the direction of a new way of living — and even a new way of sharing life. That has certainly been true for me.

I believe these have become key “parables” from my life:

  • God uses adversity to move our hearts, lives and relationships to places we were quite unlikely to go if left in our comfortable places.
  • After a life crisis, things may never be the same. But maybe things were never meant to be the same.
  • Where there is human frailty, there is opportunity for grace to break through. And when grace appears, God’s nearness, accessibility, power and goodness are experienced in a whole new realm.
  • Answers aren’t always available to us but Jesus is always available. He is the perfect closure to our questions and ambiguous circumstances. (This is paraphrased from Tim Keller’s book Walking with God Through Pain & Suffering.)

Joni Eareckson Tada’s life is like a living parable, teaching the world about God’s sovereignty in suffering. Joni is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, is an international advocate for people with disabilities. A diving accident in 1967 left Joni, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, without the use of her hands. After two years of rehabilitation, she emerged with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. Joni has written more than 50 books on topics ranging from disability outreach to understanding the goodness of God and the problem of suffering. Her life story and teachings illustrate this truth beautifully:

God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.
— JONI

This focus for reflection has been helpful for me. Will you think about it too? When we understood how our lives are like a parable (or series of parables), it can give us some clues about where to prioritize our time, how to invest in our careers and relationships, how we can help others, whether it’s time to shift gears and find a new way to live on purpose. Reflecting on life’s lessons also helps us to see God’s faithful hand in our circumstances and empowers us with the freedom to fully live!

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
No one.
For Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us,
and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us
from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Romans 8:31, 34, 37, 39

So how about you? If your life is a parable, what lessons is it teaching? 

We would love to hear from you. Please drop us a note and let us know what parables you are seeing in your own life story.


This post was authored by Lisa Jamieson and first appeared in February 2018 at LisaJamieson.org.

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

Cooperative Cocooning

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s working for you?

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

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


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

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

Making Decisions About Disability and Suffering from a Biblical Worldview

Circumstances involving disability, mental health, aging and caregiving are complicated. Individuals and special needs families face dilemmas with ethical or moral implications and those situations extend far beyond whether or not to have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order).

My daughter, Carly, is just weeks shy of 21 years old and she has Angelman Syndrome. Our family, and many others, face challenging decisions every single day. Many of our questions and decisions test our confidence, our faith and our sense of inner peace. For example, we have questions about whether we might be over-medicating Carly’s anxiety or her problems with sleep. There is pressure to enroll her in research studies and drug trials. We have interest in supporting medical research for her very rare disorder, but worry about whether that research will utilize embryonic stem cells or involve other factors that don’t fit with our values. We also spent years praying and pondering whether to see if medical cannabis could benefit Carly. 

Carly and her friends in medically or developmentally complex circumstances need reliable values along with extended families, churches and communities who will support and advocate for them in a world that is moving toward moral collapse.

Despite the world’s biased value system, God says we are incredible masterpieces of His own creative hand. We are made in His image, wonderfully complex. Regardless of anyone’s ability or condition, God’s sovereign mark rests on all of humanity as detailed in Psalm 139. Verses 13 and 14 celebrate, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

But our culture is changing rapidly. The world shows partiality and our friends with disabilities are vulnerable. The world makes decisions based on values like happiness, ease, efficiency and economics. The world says God’s ways are impractical and outdated. We feel entitled to notsuffer. God’s word and methods show us another way.

Let’s have a conversation! 

Why do we need this conversation?

  • To develop richer awareness of the issues individuals and families face
  • To lay a foundation for parents and caregivers to apply life-honoring and biblical principles to their attitudes, decisions and strategies 
  • To elevate the role of Christian community in the defense of life and dignity
  • To resist cultural collapse when navigating life, disability, injury, chronic illness and aging (Romans 12:2)

Let’s spur each other on to consider God’s value of each and every person — their inherent worth, their dignity and their purpose in His hand. Let’s learn together and help each other make life-lifting decisions throughout the seasons and circumstances of life.

I have already shared some of the challenging questions our family has faced. Here are more examples of issues that parents, caregivers and individuals with special needs wrestle with:

  • Newborn screenings
  • Gene therapies
  • Hysterectomy/hormones for behaviors, pain, sensory management
  • Vaccinations
  • Palliative care
  • Housing choices
  • Guardianship vs. conservatorship
  • Marriage between people with intellectual-developmental disabilities 
  • Crisis hospital situation — this includes trauma or brain injury but can even include seemingly low-risk surgeries where people with disabilities can be vulnerable to Futility-of-Care policies
  • Praying for healing

WE NEED A GOSPEL-CENTERED FRAMEWORK

During our youth, many of us were counseled to establish clear boundaries for purity in dating before marriage. Knowing our values and goals beforegoing on a date set us up for greater follow through toward godly and satisfying decisions than if we had waited until an emotional moment or were under pressure. The same approach has potential here.

Personal values are not enough because those tend to shift and change with time. Biblical principles are reliable because they are based on the unchanging truths of scripture, God’s character and His covenant promises. God’s principles remain the same yesterday, today and forever. We can go about enjoying our lives resting on the unchanging foundation of these principles and access them at any moment they may be needed. We can’t anticipate every situation ahead of time but a biblical plumb line is freeing and peace-giving.It is are not subject to the emotions, whims or pressures of a given moment. 

The bible doesn’t hand us a checklist of specifics though. It gives us anchoring standards to shape our thinking, choices and behaviors. It leaves just enough room to keep us reliant on prayer and discernment through the Holy Spirit. Without that, we’d be tempted to just follow God’s instructions like a “rule book” without any need for personal relationship with an intimate and dynamic experience of God. And God is all about the personal relationship!

The world urges us to make decisions based on “pragmatic possibilities.” We need biblical wisdom and reasoning that trusts in God’s sound principles.

What would some of these biblical principles be?

The fingerprints of God are on every person and circumstance.

Suffering and weakness don’t negate the value of life. No matter how complex, senseless or hopeless a situation looks, every person has value and carries the image and power of Christ in them with the potential to contribute God-purposed things to this world. 


Genesis 1:26 (ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” 

John 9:3 (ESV) Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” 

God is not limited by anything.

All of the issues that are so complicated for us are really very simple to God. If we really believe this, it changes everything about how we live!God made each of us for a purpose and is going to help us in that purpose.

Isaiah 45:7 (ESV) “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” 

Jeremiah 32:27 (ESV) “I am the LORD…Is anything too hard for me?” 

Disability frees a person to multiply grace.

Suffering positions us to give and receive unique and good gifts of grace form our Heavenly Father. Our friends who are most dependent are most freely used by God as a means for grace. They are not inhibited by the things that constrain the rest of us (e.g., desire to make a good impression, worry about reputation).

Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

God is first and foremost concerned with our hearts.

“God is generally more interested in changing people than changing their circumstances.”  (Why the Church Needs Bioethics, John F. Kilner) A helpful guiding question: Does this decision we’re making drive us toward God or away from Him?

Matthew 9:2 (ESV) And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

God changes lives and churches when we engage with those who have an atypical life.

We — the church, the families and the friends — need to get engaged with people who have challenges, notbecause we are just really nice people. We need to get involved in messy lives because God tells us to and He uses life challenges to stretch us and increasingly form us into being like Christ. Jesus also showed us how to do this and the Word promises God will glorify Himself and give good gifts through those people and their circumstances. From a moral-ethical perspective, this principle reminds us that when we share the heavy lifting of the special needs community by engaging with their lives, they are freed to make spiritually healthy decisions rather than making decisions out of things like overwhelm, exhaustion, fear, desperation, bitterness, self-absorption and apathy.

1 Corinthians 12:22 (ESV) On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV) But God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then I am strong. 

The questions we face about life can be rather straightforward when we sift our decisions through the unchanging lens of God’s truth, character and promises. Our decision-making has eternal implications. Biblical principles help us narrow the options and align our lives more closely to God’s good design. It is not like weighing the pros and cons in an episode of Fixer Upper or Beach Front Bargain Hunt. We may not always like the options left for us but they will ultimately be the ones that are best for us and can guarantee us peace. 

THE DIVINE OPPORTUNITY

Our culture hates inconvenience. Jesus welcomed interruptions as Divine opportunities. The world tends to view the challenges of an adverse diagnosis as a problem to fix or something to dispose of as neatly as possible. 

Our circumstances can be extraordinary, complicated and often isolating. The benefits and opportunities of a Gospel-Centered framework supported in community are significant and many. 

What role can extended family, friends and churches play in the defense of life?

FRIENDSHIP— Friends fully engage in life with each other. No matter our vocation or the role we have in someone’s life —pastor, parent, sibling or friend — we must lovingly take every opportunity to preach, teach, pray, model, counsel, make referrals, show compassion, hold each other accountable and encourage one another toward Biblical Truth. Our word will have greatest credibility when we are willing to both model Jesus’ character and engage the lives of our loved ones. Each of us is called to engage in the way Jesus engaged others and encouraged us to serve. 

LEADERSHIP— As Kilner says in Why the Church Needs Bioethics, “in proactive pastoral ministry…more is needed than preaching and teaching. Pastors must seek to model healthy attitudes…encouraging an atmosphere of mutual care in which the people of God travel together in faith, along with all their doubts and fears and questions, through the valley of the shadow of death.”

CORPORATE WORSHIP—  The value of corporate worship and Christian community cannot be overstated. Our time in the presence of God allows us to absorb the greater mysteries of our faith. It shapes our perspectives about God and His ways. It renews our mind in truth. It increases our confidence in His power and presence among us. Ultimately, it overflows in our lifestyle.

CARING— A family is bolstered to make healthy decision when they know they will be supported by their community. We defend life when we come alongside caregivers. Every time we help create a supportive community around a caregiver, we extend length and quality of life to both the care-giver and the cared-for.  Our practical helps, our emotional encouragement, our spiritual direction and resources undergird them and spur them on in what is otherwise a grueling slog through life. There is a serious caregiver shortage in the US and the average salary falls under the living wage. This is a reflection of what we value in American culture and it is very different than most other countries. 

There is great power in presence. Sometimes, it’s not so much about what a caring friend or pastor says as it is powerful to just stand compassionately alongside some facing difficulty. For example, the presence and/or advocacy of a pastor or lay leader during a Care Coordination Meeting communicates that the individual and family are valued by their community and will be protected.

We want to be proactive about developing our relationships with God and others because it influences our growth in godly wisdom — the way we think and the way we live — while also equipping us with a support system, godly counsel and accountability when a crisis is faced.

THERE IS FREEDOM & GRACE IN GOD’S GOOD DESIGN

We only experience true freedom by living in alignment with God’s good design. Personal values evolve but God and His word are consistently reliable. As my friend, John Knight, taught me many years ago, “all scripture is equally true but it is not all equally clear.” 

As we sift dilemmas through biblical principles with each other, we must boldly assert the indisputable truths and graciously discuss  what is not clear.

Friends, God is forus!  

Romans 8:34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.


Please join this conversation. We would love to hear from you!

What kinds of dilemmas have you wrestled with in your family?

What standards or scriptures influence your decision-making?

How can we pray for you?

Walk Right In Ministries offers free consultations and caregiver coaching services (with sliding scale fees). Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to explore life, hope and practical resources associated with disabilities or caregiving. 


Lisa Jamieson is the author of books and Bible studies including the Finding Glory series of resources and the new children’s book Jesus, Let’s Talk. She is co-founder of Walk Right In Ministries and leads the Minnesota Disability Ministry Connection. Lisa and her husband, Larry, have been married 30 years and have three grown daughters. Their daughter, Carly, has Angelman Syndrome and lives at home with them in Maple Grove, Minnesota. You can learn more and follow her at lisamjamieson.org.

JESUS: The Essential Foundation

Even when facing the most overwhelming obstacles, it is possible to discover a beautiful and powerful adventure. When a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the central focus of your journey, you are freed from the grip of circumstances and empowered to see God’s purposes at work. Without Christ, progress is limited, slow and superficial. Only with Christ, can you begin to see your circumstances as bigger than yourself with eternal implications and a Kingdom perspective.

When you experience life consumed by God’s view of your circumstances instead of relying primarily on relationships, jobs, possessions, health, hobbies, ideas, philosophies or “expertise,” God gives deeper meaning to life and brings joy to you — even if your circumstances don’t change.

Please be encouraged to learn more about what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Consider pondering the book of John in the Bible. This is a great place to start understanding who Jesus is and how He wants to be involved with your life. A relationships with Jesus makes all the difference!

Enjoy a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ

From the beginning of time, one of God’s greatest desires has been to enjoy relationship with us even to the point of spending intimate time in our presence. In Genesis 3:8 we see that God was right there with Adam and Eve. Tragically, after they sinned, Genesis 3:23 tells us that intimacy was broken. Sin separated them from God and we share that legacy because if we had been there, we would have done the same thing. God loved us enough to give us the free will to choose trusting Him or going our own way. He desperately hoped we would choose nearness to Him over being trapped in our sin which includes self-reliance, pride, covetousness, and other forms of disobedience.

God gave mankind chance after chance to remain faithfully with Him but we have repeatedly turned away. Because of God’s holiness, a price has to be paid for that rebellion. Jesus, by dying on the cross, paid that price on our behalf. Because Jesus lived a sinless life, He was the only atoning sacrifice that could pay the price — thoroughly and eternally — once and for all. In order for us to return to a state of intimacy with God, we must acknowledge our sinfulness, repent (grieve what our sin has caused), and receive the gift of Jesus’ salvation from the penalty of sin (eternal death). This is a very personal decision and a life-changing opportunity as well.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
JOHN 1:12

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 JOHN 5:11-12

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
ROMANS 1:20

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
ROMANS 10:9-11

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
JAMES 5:16

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.
ACTS 3:19-20

It would be our privilege to explore this relationship with you! Please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@walkrightin.org or reach out to your pastor if you have questions or would like to pray with someone about this.