Friday, December 27, 2013

Jump Start a New Year!


Happy New Year, friends! I hope you are encouraged by looking back on God's faithfulness in 2013 and pray you are now anticipating His good surprises to come in 2014. We are wrapping up a busy year of ministry. It's a humbling and exciting to "take stock" of God's activity and realize what a privilege it is to follow Him into the world.

As we gear up for our sixth year in ministry, Walk Right In Ministries needs help getting a jump start covering the costs of 2014 activities. Your donation helps make small group materials affordable, underwrites publication and promotions costs, offsets event and general operating expenses (e.g., movie night screening licenses). Every year is a significant step of faith as we trust God to provide necessary funding to make resources affordable for individuals and families already stretched financially.


To make a secure year-end gift, go here.

In appreciation for your year-end gift of $25 or more, we want to offer a FREE pre-release copy of Lisa’s brand new book “Living Your Glory Story.” (“Living Your Glory Story” will go on sale to the public in February 2014.) Glory Stories are the experiences we live and talk about that point to the power, presence and goodness of God.



This new resource bolsters faith and authentic relationships. We'll explore what happens when Christians freely share their stories of stumbling but exhilarating faith in Jesus. By engaging in the exchange of Glory Stories, you will:
  • Be an encouragement to others
  • Experience deeper relationships
  • Make it readily apparent that Jesus is caring and active in the world today
  • Inspire others to run to God in good times and hard times
  • Create conversations demonstrating that intimacy with Jesus is both compelling and attainable
  • Defeat the grip of gossip, empty chatter, conflict, covetousness and other sins
  • Stir a cultural shift toward God
  • Enrich your worship
Please join us with a year-end gift. Walk Right In Ministries is being positioned to advocate for and make resources available to people on the fringes of church engagement. Your continuing support keeps keeps us going. Thank you so much for partnering with us! 

May you and your family enjoy personal encounters with Jesus today and throughout the new year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family and the
team at Walk Right In Ministries!


God made Himself in the form of man and came to earth...and He's STILL with us!

Does Christmas stir thoughts about life and faith for you as it does for me? For these next few days there will be excitement about gifts, gatherings and good food. While coming to the end of another year feeling thankful, many will also feel melancholy or isolated and alone. Even though Christmas is the season when we celebrate that GOD CAME NEAR, God can seem far away.

For many years, God felt far away and detached to me. I believed and hoped He was "out there" somewhere but I often wished for tangible evidence. I'm thankful that God has been deepening my intimacy with Him year after year and using the Christmas season in that process. So many of the Christmas cards we receive are reminders that God has shown Himself to us through the practical and prayerful love of community, especially during those first few years when disability was new to our family. Doing life around people who talk about how they are experiencing Jesus profoundly enriches my relationship with Him and reassures me that God is truly near, compassionate, powerful and accessible. Especially when life is hard, I need to know that God is in authority over that darkness, that He brings meaning and purpose to what seems tragic or merciless.

Glory Stories are the experiences we live and talk about that point to the power, presence and goodness of God. God uses our shared stories about stumbling and imperfect but seeking faith to shake up our perspectives, deepen our relationships with each other and reassure us that God is INTIMATELY PERSONAL and HE STILL REIGNS!

When it comes to Glory Stories in the Bible, Zechariah's encounter with the angel Gabriel inspires me at Christmas time. It's a beautiful example of a man whose life and lips declared the presence, power and goodness of God. The following is an excerpt from my new book "Living Your Glory Story" (available February 2014).   

Zechariah, a priest and John the Baptist’s father, prayed for years that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child. Despite their old age, Zechariah was met by the angel with messages from God that would rock his world and bring the announcement that changes ours. 

First, Gabriel told Zechariah that his son would be great in the sight of God. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he told Zechariah that his boy would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born (Luke 1:15)! Zechariah initially questioned that news and, as a consequence for his unbelief, God took his voice away (a very essential need for someone serving as a priest). Ultimately, however, Zechariah was obedient and trusted God. As a result, he was given back his voice along with a song of prophesy—a marvelous Glory Story—to shout out about the greatest rescue mission ever told (Luke 1:68-79).

I pray this Christmas brings you all sorts of beautiful and fun things—laughter, hugs, sparkling decorations, candles, nostalgic music, sweet aromas coming from the oven, games, movies, encouraging conversations—but an increasing sense of God's intimate nearness most of all. His presence, power and goodness are REALITY. 

How can you bring that marvelous truth into your day-to-day conversations with things like compassion, enthusiasm, humility, expectancy, generosity, transparency, authenticity and vulnerability? In those exchanges, may God encourage and reassure you as well as others.

Walk Right In Ministries helps people connect and grow in Christ-centered communities. In particular, we advocate for and make resources available to people on the fringes of church engagement due to life challenges like caregiving for children with special needs. Thank you for joining us with prayers and financial support in 2013. Together, we are sharing the hope and love of Jesus Christ. There is no gift greater we can give.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Larry, Lisa, Tim, Judy, Bud, Jan, Jerry & Marilyn
(Board of Directors)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Abigail's Christmas Glory Story


I want to thank Eileen Cushing for sharing today's story about her daughter Abigail. God is working through her in a mighty way to encourage people and point them to Jesus. Abigail is a 22 year old young lady who attends GloryClub at New Hope Church in Crystal, Minnesota. Glory Club is a Christian fellowship group for adults with disabilities. 
Fortunately for us, Abigail's December 15th performance in the church-wide Christmas program is available on YouTube. I was enthralled as I watched. It put a sense of wonder on my heart about the coming of Jesus. I hope you'll take 90 seconds to watch this part of the Christmas story told powerfully!

After Abigail's performance, she received this note (shared with us by her mother, Eileen): 
“I wanted to say ‘thank you” so much for being the Angel for the Christmas music program this year... You showed the whole church what you could do as God’s child first, and also stood for your friends in Glory Club as part of the church. And not only a part, but as the Angel that said the most important words ever!”
Most of the readers of this blog know that I, too, am the mom of a child with special needs. So you may understand why I imagined Eileen's pride and excitement in seeing her daughter in this inspiring performance. I was also touched to read the note someone so kindly wrote to encourage her and to testify that God used Abigail's worship to turn the eyes of many toward Jesus this Christmas. 
I asked Eileen to tell me the back story—so that all of us could appreciate how busy God is behind the scenes. To be sure, hearing more of the details from Eileen sharpens our vision to see life from God's perspective.
Several weeks ago I noticed an audition invitation for the Christmas program in our church bulletin. I felt a gentle nudging to ask Abigail if she wanted to try. She did. Although Abigail has been a part of a small community theater over the last few years, she has little experience with the audition process. Nonetheless, she went to the appointment and read some lines. We were very excited to hear of her acceptance on the first day of rehearsal. 
The production centers around the Nine Lessons and Carols, which is an Anglican order of service from the 1800’s, traditionally for Christmas Eve. It has nine specified scripture lessons beginning with the Fall and ending with John1: 1-14. Each lesson is followed by carols. This production uses updated ‘carols’—from a selection from Handel’s Messiah to a rap. 
Abigail was given the part as a reader from Lessons Seven and Nine. I believe early scripture memorization through the Awana program strengthened the gift that God seems to have given her for readily remembering lines. 
After one of the rehearsals, Abigail’s director said she gets tears in her eyes while watching Abigail. She is reminded of her cousin with Down Syndrome, who recently passed away, and also loved acting.  Perhaps the director's personal experience helped pave the way for Abigail to be in this production. 
Although we are primarily interested in seeing that Abigail takes advantage of the opportunities God seems to place before her and have been proud of all her efforts, we are even more excited and somewhat surprised to see a glimmer of God’s bigger picture.  We had not thought of her being looked at as a representative of those with disabilities in our Church. Hopefully, this will pave the way for even more inclusion. Also, after seeing Abigail in the production at the church, her director in the community theater is considering starting acting classes for adults with disabilities. 
When I think back twenty-two years ago, when we were first told that our daughter had Down Syndrome, we never thought that God would be doing such good things for her and through her. He has been faithful in leading us each step of the way, even when we were not looking to be led. This Christmas will be one we remember for His goodness—that He has a very special place in His heart for our very special children and He delights in doing good things in and through them.
Surely, Abigail is doing more than just portray a messenger of the Lord. She is living her entire life of out of love for the Lord. I'm thankful for the many things God is speaking into my own heart because of her and for this moment of Christmas wonder she gave me!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Christmas Glory Story

I wrapped seven more presents today, discovered some fun old ribbon
in the bottom of my scraps and heard Jesus talk into my soul.
Christmas is supposed to be a lot of things but the one thing it seems to best be is one thing it was never meant to be — chaotic. The only fully effective and satisfying way for me to beat seasonal, situational, relational or inner chaos is simply to be still and draw near to Jesus. 

Oh, do I resist! The bustle of this season, my task orientation, a rascally child with special needs who won't let me turn my back, the needs of someone I love, my temptation to pamper myself...these things and more keep me distracted and deflected. What I really want and need comes from quieting my surroundings, my mind and my heart to take a soul-quenching drink from the River of Life. 

Today I started my quiet time with God by wrapping some presents. No Christmas music added this time, just the hum of the refrigerator. After that, I read from Nancy Guthrie's Christmas devotional Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room. And then I chewed on some scriptures (in other words, reflected and talked with God about them for a little while). 
"You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich" 2 Corinthians 8:9 
"God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him." Matthew 5:3 
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5 
"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy..." Psalm 82:3-4 
"Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy." Psalm 86:1 
"...sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." 2 Corinthians 6:10 
Will you turn off any noise in your own world for a few minutes right now and satisfy your inner hungers by chewing on God's words to you and drinking deeply from the well of God's Spirit? 

LORD, please strengthen our resolve to be still and draw near to you. We want meaningful and personal encounters with Your presence, power and goodness. Help us to grow deeper roots in Your love so that our appreciation of this season increases. Teach us what really matters and show us how to move into a new year reflecting grace, peace and joy. Thank you for showing us Your glory today, for restoring hope and for empowering us through your Word to live from a Kingdom perspective. AMEN



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Glory Stories from "The Hand of God"

I want to thank Regina Steiger for giving us permission to share this video message with you today. Regina is a television and video producer of The Hand of God as well as The View from Here.  

The Hand of God is like a half hour long news broadcast — but with a difference. Each episode tells stories from folks around the country who are encountering Jesus in their lives.  If you only have time for a taste of this encouragement today, watch the first 8 minutes which shares the beautiful story of an art teacher whose classroom project triggered unexpected, powerful connections with God for both the students and their teacher.

Click for Episode 2 here if the video below isn't functioning properly.


NOTE:
How I met Regina and learned about her ministry is a humbling and exciting Glory Story in itself. Almost a year ago, I read a message from a LinkedIn group. (It's important to note that I almost never read my alerts from those groups.) Regina's post to the group caught my eye because she was asking a question so close to my heart.  She wanted to hear from other women who feel a calling to tell women's stories in film. I wrote a quick note back telling her about our Glory Story ministry and referring her to the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival.  Regina and her daughter attended the 2013 Gideon Film Festival last July and that has led to multiple new and fruitful connections in ministry and life including the privilege for me of sharing these stories with you today.  Now that's the hand of God!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Cyber Monday Savings from Walk Right In Ministries!



Finding Glory resources are on sale today and the Bible Study Guide has a fresh new look! Get your Cyber Monday deal from Walk Right In Ministries. These books make great Christmas gifts. Shop and share the link with your friends!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Scott's Glory Story


I want to thank Scott Price for allowing us to share his recent personal reflections for this week of Thanksgiving. Scott and his wife Laura have responded to a calling from God to adopt several children with special needs. Their daughter, Vicki, was able to return home last week after being hospitalized for 28 days with a life-threatening infection. Scott first shared this story on Vicki’s CaringBridge blog three weeks ago and it spoke volumes to me about the power and purposes of our sovereign God. It stirred me to marvel and give thanks to Him. I trust it will turn your eyes toward Jesus also.


A DELICATE BALANCE  by Scott Price 
Vicki is in somewhat of a pattern. As evening and night roll around, she likes to "party."  Well, maybe party is an overstatement but when there are a lot of people in your room, that should qualify as a party.  (We do have one staff person that's on a mission to get a disco ball in the room, but that's another post). 
She tends to raise her temp and have a harder time breathing late in the evening and during the night.  That brings in the "party."  With these things, she worries her doctors, so they draw labs, do respiratory treatments, alter medications and then she decides the party is over and goes back to sleep—about 5 a.m.  Last night was just such a "party." 
As I ponder this journey, what I am most amazed by is how our bodies are in an extremely delicate internal balance a majority of the time.  Consider all of the things you don't think about like breathing or your temperature.  Your body just does it!  For me, it reinforces my faith in our Almighty God and the fact that He created us.  There's just no way that this delicate internal balance we were given somehow arose out of a combo of gases, or from an evolutionary process, or whatever other theories have been concocted over the years.  A wise and awesome God thought everything through and came up with this amazing and wonderful design. 
What reinforces this great design is how we as nurses, doctors, other staff, and parents are trying desperately to keep Vicki in some sort of balance.  We've done a myriad of things with over a half dozen doctors, the lab, countless nurses, Laura, me, and a couple of PCAs observing, getting tests, attempting interventions, and of course praying to keep her scales level.  
Early on when we tried one thing, it tipped another thing out of balance.  She was on a seesaw for many days.  Now the seesaw still tips back and forth, but it is much less dramatic.  And it's amazing how one little thing like raising the head of her bed at the wrong time or feeding her too fast can send the seesaw into wild swings. 
All of these things just circle me back to an amazing design by a God that really knew (and knows) what He's doing.  He told us this was true in the book of Romans: 
"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 people are without excuse." Romans 1:20 
This amazing balance that resides in each of us should cause us first to pause at how well it works but then second to realize that God made us and we need to thank Him for that.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Glory Story Unfolding with "One More Song"


 “Maybe you have to lose everything you really want, to find out what you really need. Maybe a song can change the world...or at least a small corner of it. Maybe life really is more beautiful than any of us could ever imagine, and in rare moments, God pulls back the curtain and whispers in your ear, ‘See...It’s all going to be ok...’”  —Regie Hamm
Normally, I would not use this venue so specifically for the promotion of a product, service, organization or person. But, today I’m making an exception for some dear friends and a project I believe God is already using for very important purposes on many levels.

I’m so excited to tell you about One More Song and the Regie and Yolanda Hamm family.  Believe it or not, it is highly probable that you already know Regie’s work even if you don’t recognize his name. Regie Hamm is a songwriter with more than twenty #1 hits. He is also an extraordinary recording artist, producer and author. Regie has been named SESAC’s Songwriter of the Year four times and has had over 400 songs recorded by various artists. That more-than-impressive list includes Clay Aiken, Kenny Loggins, Maxi Priest, Bob Carlisle, Jaci Valeasquez, Clay Crosse, Russ Taff, Mark Schultz, Point of Grace, MercyMe and the Backstreet Boys. He has been nominated three times for Dove Awards.

But one of Regie’s most recognized career moments came in 2008 when David Cook won American Idol and sang Regie’s song Time of My Life. An instant smash hit, Time of My Life rose to #1 and became the longest running Billboard Adult Contemporary chart topper of all time. 

The song Time of My Life also galvanized the AngelmanSyndrome community. I will never forget the night of the 2008 American Idol finale. It was a beautiful evening and I was sitting in a lawn chair watching our daughter Alex play soccer with my cell phone pressed up to my ear. Just a few days earlier, we had learned that the winner would sing Regie’s song that night. I waited anxiously to hear it live over my cell phone as our daughter Erin held our house phone up to the TV for me. Tears streamed down my face while soccer fans cheered obliviously around me.

In that moment, and even more in the weeks and years to come, it was a song that represented deep things for our family. First it established a public kinship between us and families like ours who were wrestling mightily with something few had ever heard of—a rare disorder called Angelman Syndrome. Regie was inspired to write the song out of his experiences raising his daughter Bella who has Angelman Syndrome like our daughter Carly. It wasn’t long after hearing that song when Larry and I first met the Regie and his wife, Yolanda. That friendship is today among the most precious relationships Larry and I enjoy. This is a family we highly respect, resonate deeply with, pray often with, have a lot of fun with, change diapers with, cry with, dream with and learn more than we ever thought we could learn with.

Two weeks ago, a Kick Starter campaign was launched to raise some additional funds for the documentary One More Song that Regie and Devin Pense are producing. (Devin’s experience includes work with the Discovery Channel and serving as Director of Production for the Oprah Winfrey Network.)

As Regie has described, the film chronicles his family’s journey “from the precipice of super stardom in the music world, through the adoption of a Chinese orphan with a rare genetic disorder, into the low lands of dealing with her disorder and the loss of a career; from the re-invention of a marriage to the heights of winning an arbitrary song contest and having that song become an almost Divine source of redemption for a beleaguered family, as well as it becoming a focal point for many other families around the world. The story—as stories go—is a really good one. I couldn't have written it. I wouldn't have written it. Instead, I was chosen (in some weird way) to live it.” (Read Regie’s full blog post.)

Few people have the kind of compelling story, artistic genius and networking resources to create a project like this documentary will be. Even fewer have the funding resources to do it. With all of those connections and successes, you might wonder why these people need backers like you and me. Well, I’ve hinted at that in other blog posts (see my "Movie Nights with Purpose" post if you want an example) and it’s a complex answer. The plain and simple of it is that this project, like any new venture, needs investors to spur it on with physical, emotional and spiritual resources.  Larry and I are coming alongside this project in prayer, finances, encouragement and promotional support. We hope you will too.

Listen to Regie’s heart as he describes the vision for this film:
“We want to present a compelling story on screen that takes people on a journey of emotion and leaves them feeling connected to the triumph of the human spirit and closer to the mystery of (dare I say) God. This story is about music and drama and dreams lost and new ones revealed and love re-born and worlds colliding and geopolitical monoliths intertwining and the depths of the human condition and the recesses of the human genome. It's about TV shows and emergency rooms and whiskey and Jesus. It's about Chinese orphans and American rock stars. It's about one-level houses and the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games. It takes you around the world and makes you look unflinchingly into the eyes of love ...and it has a happy ending (of sorts). Through that story, we also want people to walk away knowing what Angelman Syndrome is.”
The broader vision for this project is actually a feature film. And there are folks in some wonderful places (like Ryan Seacrest Productions) who are anxiously hoping for that project to fall into place. But a project of that scope requires massive amounts of money. So until all those “moving parts” are in place, it has been suggested that the story first be introduced as a documentary. Regie could have waited it out and bided his time for a full feature. But this is a man who knows that every day he waits is another day when a child goes undiagnosed and a family struggles for hope and help. 

Regie believes (and I agree) that beginning with the One More Song documentary “helps us (folks promoting Angelman Syndrome awareness) stay on the radar. It’s my opinion that awareness is the most important thing we can achieve in the quest for cures and therapies. Until the masses know about this syndrome and have some compelling reason to get behind it, we will continue to be relegated to the fringes.”

AngelmanSyndrome is the severe genetic disorder. Regie and Yolanda’s daughter, Bella, has it. Our daughter Carly has it. Over half of children who have it are wrongly diagnosed before they finally learn the truth and are able to access the specific medical care and therapies they need.

There are only two weeks left before the Kick Starter deadline and I’m praying with passion that this story will reach a large audience and soon! Two weeks, friends. That’s what we have to help make this happen. Every contributor gets something too, depending on your level of investment — signed books or DVDs, digital downloads, tickets for the premier in Franklin, Tennessee. Beyond the “giveaways” though, all of us coming alongside the producers of this project will get to experience the joy and satisfaction of knowing we’ve been part of telling a powerful Glory Story (a contemporary encounter with the ever-present, ageless God who is always near, compassionate, powerful and purposeful in His ways). It’s an easy gift to give when you know it has God’s hand all over it and you’re giving something back to the world that you couldn’t give all by yourself!

Please follow this link to make a contribution of any size and to read more about this very exciting project!


If you want to support research of Angelman Syndrome, please go to http://www.angelman.org/ or http://www.cureangelman.org/.

And if you want see more of the heart and beauty of this family, just watch how they said “thank you” last week to everyone who has joined them on this journey so far:


Thank you so much for reading all the way to the end! I know it’s a lot to expect that you would give me your attention for this. Your willingness to follow this story and consider backing the project is a precious gift and very encouraging—to the Hamms and to the Jamiesons. I hope you will also pray for the project and tell others about it (and talk about Angelman Syndrome). Even as we all enjoy the entertainment this great story will be, God will be working to change lives—with one more song and one big dream.

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