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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

Explaining Grace

posted by Linda G. Howard

David HaywardIn the past weeks, I’ve been going over some of the key words in our covenant relationship with God with the members of my community who are intellectually disabled.  Perhaps one of the most important words we use is grace.

Most of us have learned and maybe we even remember

  • God’s
  • Riches
  • At
  • Christ’s
  • Expense

This is great explanation of grace and the first one I could readily remember.  However, it is a bit churchy sounding for many people.

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Then there is the wonderful explanation:  Unmerited favor.  I love this simple explanation that encapsulates the amazing concept of grace  in two words.

However, trying to explain grace seemed harder than I had imagined to our members.  They didn’t grasp the whole acrostic idea.  And while unmerited favor seems simple enough, even the members who remember the two-word definition could not comprehend what it meant.

Therefore, we worked our way into another definition that they understood and fully appreciated.  Grace is receiving a gift we don’t deserve.

Receiving a gift we don’t deserve is not as catchy at the acrostic or as short as “unmerited favor” but our members understand it and have grasped its meaning. The process of discovering a definition that they can easily understand and remember has also heightened my understanding and appreciate of God’s amazing grace.

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Holidays and grief

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, I heard again the Christmas song about the little boy whose mother is dying on Christmas eve and he wants to buy her shoes to wear as she goes into heaven. He doesn’t have enough money to buy the shoes and a person in line gives him the money he needs. It’s never been my favorite Christmas song because of the obvious sentimentality. The song was never realistic to me. Yet, it deliberately strokes my heart strings with grief and sorrow.

However, I heard it in the context of a devotion by a pastor who shared the song. He spoke about his wife who died of cancer when his two daughters were teenagers. Unashamed, the Man of God cried as he read the words, remembering the first Christmas his daughters experienced without their mother.

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Many people who are intellectually disabled come perplexed to the crossroads of holidays with mixed emotions. During this time, why should they have to struggle to walk in joy when it seems easier to become swallowed by grief? We must not forget that people who are mentally challenged may not have the cognitive ability or possess the navigational tools which help them to choose the joyful paths which allow them to experience peace as they remember loved ones lost through death or separation.

Distraction may be the best way to redirect their thoughts. However, I try always to pray out loud for our members who are grieving during this time. A hug and quick prayer for them works miracles. The prayer I often pray is, “Father, bless my good friend as she grieves for her loss. Help her to remember that her loved one is no longer in need of prayer. Let her find your peace for today and for the rest of this joyful time.” As I release them from the hug, I smile and encourage my member to also smile.

Does it always work? Nope. But at least he knows that God and I love him and that God cares enough to take time to hear his prayer. That is, of course, the work God has called us to to do. What is something that you use to help your members who are grieving during holidays?

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Can You Come?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Maddie is one of those people within the mentally challenged community whom everyone loves.  She is friendly and happy.  Maddie makes everyone feel as though they are her “extra-special friend.”  Several years ago Mattie and her husband moved from our city to a small town out of the state.  Because I assumed that I’d never see her again, I didn’t pay much attention to the name of the city or the state.  Mattie often called me with prayer requests.

She called when her cat was sick and later when her cat died.  She called to let me know that she was sick and called often to ask for prayer for her farm animals.  There was no doubt in my mind that Maddie was sincere and that these prayer requests were important to her.  However, I didn’t pay much attention to her “simple” daily needs.

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Last week Maddie called.  It was Saturday morning.  I was extremely busy and I had no intention of answering the phone.  Yet, by mistake, I did answer.  Calmly, Maddie said, “Linda, I need prayer.”  This wasn’t a surprise.  Maddie only called when she needed prayer.  I expected to hear about a pig or a chicken that was sick.  “Michael just died,” she reported without emotion.

“What, Hon?” I asked, “Who died?”

“Michael.  Michael just died.”

“Are you talking about Michael?  Your Michael?”

“Yes, my Michael, just died.  The people from the morgue left a few minutes ago.”  Her quiet composure shocked me.  She continued, “Can you come to the funeral?”

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I explained that I could not possibly come because I was going on a trip the next day and I’d be out-of-state for a little more than a week.  I prayed for her and we hung up.  After the phone call, I started to wonder in what state they were living.  I called Maddie back and found out that she is in Tennessee–the state where I was visiting.  “I can’t make any promises,” I told her, “but I may be able to attend Michael’s funeral.”

The town where she lives is about 30 minutes from the city where I was visiting.  By the afternoon, the plans were made for me to get to the funeral.  Maddie’s family was not at the funeral.  There were only 12 or 13 people who attended.  Half of them were construction workers who are building a new home for them.  Maddie was Maddie.  Of course, she was grieving her loss; but she remained friendly and happy to have the few people there who were able to attend.

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I was struck by God’s tender mercies extended toward a young widow whose husband suddenly collapsed and died in front of her.  It was an honor to be  a part of the funeral for this brave young woman who suddenly lost her husband and best friend. There are many things that can be said about the intellectually disabled community.  In counting their assets, their bravery is one virtue that often becomes valor.  Maddie is finding the peace that only God can give in the middle of her loss.  Additionally, she is showing the strong bravery that is often present in this unique and wonderful community.

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The Choice that Changed Everything–a sermon for the mentally challenged community

posted by Linda G. Howard

The choice that changed everything

Nehemiah 9:17

Central Theme: Man choices to sin and God chooses to be gracious.

A ream of paper has 500 sheets–not more and not less. A foot is 12 inches–not more and not less. There are many absolutes in our lives. There is a couple of absolutes that totally changed mankind. First, since Adam’s sin, We all choose to sin and God always chooses to be gracious and forgive. Have a member read Nehemiah 9:17.

I.     Tell the story of the first sin and the fall of mankind from Genesis 3.

A.Eve ate the fruit and Adam followed her.

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B.  They were tricked by Satan.

C.God made them leave the garden but he chose to love them and forgive them.

II.     God will always choose to be gracious and loving to you.

A.We must desire God‘s love and his forgiveness.

B.  We don’t always think we need God.

III.     The ways we reject God.

1.  We decide that we can handle everything ourselves.

2.  We work toward being independent of God

3.  We want to please people rather than God

3.  We disobey God‘s laws.

A.There are unintended consequences to all of the bad choices that we make.

IV.     We should never forget that God will always show his love and graciousness to us.

Conclusions: Each of us chooses to sin but God chooses to forgive us all the time.

Previous Posts

Explaining Grace
In the past weeks, I’ve been going over some of the key words in our covenant relationship with God with the members of my community who are intellectually disabled.  Perhaps one of the most important words we use is grace. Most of us have learned and maybe we even remember God’s Riches

posted 5:55:58am Jan. 06, 2015 | read full post »

Holidays and grief
Today, I heard again the Christmas song about the little boy whose mother is dying on Christmas eve and he wants to buy her shoes to wear as she goes into heaven. He doesn’t have enough money to buy the shoes and a person in line gives him the money he needs. It’s never been my favorite Christma

posted 8:29:32am Jan. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Can You Come?
Maddie is one of those people within the mentally challenged community whom everyone loves.  She is friendly and happy.  Maddie makes everyone feel as though they are her "extra-special friend."  Several years ago Mattie and her husband moved from our city to a small town out of the state.  Bec

posted 12:20:34am Dec. 29, 2014 | read full post »

The Choice that Changed Everything--a sermon for the mentally challenged community
The choice that changed everything Nehemiah 9:17 Central Theme: Man choices to sin and God chooses to be gracious. A ream of paper has 500 sheets--not more and not less. A foot is 12 inches--not more and not less. There are many absolutes in our lives. There is a couple of absolutes that totally

posted 10:48:30pm Aug. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Friendship Evangelism
For many years, I taught a seminar called "Friendship Evangelism."  The basis of this teaching was that people are much more susceptible to hear the promises of the Gospel, if they know and respect you.  We all have a knowledge of the friendship of David and Jonathan from the Bible.  Even if we o

posted 9:12:04am Aug. 16, 2014 | read full post »

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