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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

autism spectrum Archives

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 […]

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Friendship Evangelism

posted by Linda G. Howard

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 […]

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When we leak

posted by Linda G. Howard

Recently, I’ve heard a great deal about the things the Holy Spirit was doing in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  It is interesting to me because those were days through which we lived.  There were times that it seemed that the […]

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Wilted

posted by Linda G. Howard

A couple of times a year I must dedicate several days to my garden.  I have a small yard.  Therefore, most of my back and side yards are devoted to my garden.  I’m not consistent enough with my yard work […]

The Don’t’s of Friendship

posted by Linda G. Howard

After the men had gathered for their last supper together, Jesus made a shocking statement to his followers.  In the light of who he was–mighty God, the Messiah, the Christ and Savior of the world–Jesus’s announcement is a total departure […]

Traveling Mercies

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, I’m headed home from a vacation that seemed long when I planned it; but then it was over more quickly than I could have imagined.  Other family will arrive soon and I’ll need to work around their vacation schedule. […]

Telling the story of Christmas

posted by Linda G. Howard

How do you tell the Christmas story to a group of people who are intellectually disabled?  Of course, this is a dilemma no matter where your ministry lies.  If you are a parent, can you make the story fresh to […]

The Star

posted by Linda G. Howard

As Pastor Iman passed Eric who paced back and forth at the back of the room, the pastor asked the young man, “What part do have in the play?” “I’m the star,” Eric said, scratching his head and facing the […]

Ethel–A teacher to remember

posted by Linda G. Howard

Ethel was a Bible teacher at Special Gathering.  Additionally, she wrote many books for the mentally challenged community and they were published in our monthly newsletter.  Ethel and I shared a passion for writing and Special Gathering.  Therefore, we became […]

The Choice that Changed Everything–a sermon

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 […]

To move or not to move

posted by Linda G. Howard

Leonard is a handsome young man who was separated from him siblings at birth.  The State of Florida convinced his widowed mother that she could not take care of another child, especially one who was intellectually disabled like Leonard.  Therefore, […]

Look at those toys

posted by Linda G. Howard

For the past few days, I spent time with a young man who was on vacation.  He and his companion stayed near my home.  Part of his disability is that he is unable to be satisfied with what he has. […]

The Power of Courage–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

The Power of Courage Acts 4:29 Central Theme:  God gives us courage to speak and do what is right. Introduction–Bring one of your gardening books. Explain how much I love gardening and I find it easy to talk to people […]

A blank check

posted by Linda G. Howard

Glenn McGruffie, the team manager for Veteran Services for Brevard County, Florida, signs his emails with this quote. “A veteran is someone who at one point in his or her life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States […]

Waiting in the wings

posted by Linda G. Howard

As God moves on the hearts of the more mature members of Special Gathering, they are expressing a desire to serve the Lord in “important ways.”  I’ve been surprised at how much they are yearning to have their lives count […]

Complex issues

posted by Linda G. Howard

I sat at the table. The paper placard in front of me had my name printed on it to remind people of who I am.  For about four terms, I’ve served either as an alternate or a member of a […]

Preparing for leadership

posted by Linda G. Howard

Author and teacher Oz Hillman teaches that God deals with leaders in specific ways.  “There are three patterns of preparation that have been common among most of God’s leaders,” Hillman asserts. He teaches that there are three steps God uses.   […]

What is real power?–A sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

What is real Power? Acts 3:6 Central Theme:  The power to effect lives is real power. Introduction–I called up a young couple with a new baby and we had a baby dedication. I.     Have a member Read Act 3:6. A. […]

Kelli Kennedy reports: Florida children with disabilities dumped into nursing homes

posted by Linda G. Howard

Kelli Kennedy of Associated Press assigned to Miami, FL reports that the State of Florida has plans to “dump” as many as 3,300 children with disabilities into adult nursing homes.  Because of drastic cuts in the budget, there are plans […]

Making the most of your time–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Making the most of my time often means a few easy steps that I’ve found works; and many time-management professionals agree.  Here are ten top ways that may help you manage your time. Prepare yourself physically and mentally.  In the days […]

Making the most of my time–Part 1

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m disappointed many days when I realize how much I did NOT accomplish.  Interruptions, phone calls and distractions seem to rule the days when I’m not able to finish the needed jobs. Many people enjoy a structured work environment in […]

Leaving is hard to do

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of my greatest fears is that I won’t know when to leave, stop and quit.  When my husband retired 11 years ago, I had told him that I didn’t intend to “retire.”  Yet, on the other hand, I also […]

The problem with problems

posted by Linda G. Howard

This week, I received several phone calls concerning problems which have surrounded friend’s lives.  The horrific circumstances don’t seem fair or just.  My friends are faced with problems that don’t appear to have any answers. We’ve all been there.  Most […]

God is forgiving–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

God is Forgiving Psalm 86:5 Central Theme:   God forgives everyone, even me. Introduction–If I have a cup of water and I pour it on to this rag, what will happen?  The rag will get wet.  (If appropriate pour the water […]

Teaching a Bible Study–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

When teaching a Bible study, there are two methods that are prominent.  The first is a verse by verse study in which an entire passage or book is examined.  The second method is a topical study.  Bibles have been edited […]

American Sign Language

posted by Linda G. Howard

  This is a part of the Edgewood United Methodist Church News.  Think you will enjoy it. American Sign Language Written By Herb “Padre” Agee Engle­wood United Methodist Church When I was 40 years old, I was pas­tor at a small, […]

Wow!

posted by Linda G. Howard

On Sunday evening at Camp Agape, we had a bread and cup service.  Each year, the members of several programs of Special Gathering gather for a spiritual retreat in Vero Beach at Life for Youth Camp during Memorial Day weekend.  […]

What’s in your tool box?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Of course, there are many differences between men and women; but one of the biggest differences is the attitude toward tools.  Men love tools and love inventing tools.  There is a tool for every job a man has to do.  […]

God is Patient–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

God is Patient II Peter 3:9 Central Theme:  God is patient with everyone. Introduction–  Bring branch from the jassmine vine.  Tell about the other one getting killed in the storm.  I was sad because it was beautiful and large and […]

Work Completed

posted by Linda G. Howard

Yesterday was one of those days.  For months, I’ve tried to figure out how The Special Gathering of Indian River Christmas play should be written.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our population learns more slowly […]

Discrimination? From Bev Linder with Special Heart

posted by Linda G. Howard

  Bev Linder speaks from the heart of a Christian parent.  Her voice is important within the disability community.  Whether you agree with her or not, her thoughts and perspective makes us think and often pray for God’s wisdon.  Thanks, […]

Prayer reveals God’s Power–A sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

Prayer Reveals God’s Power Psalm 77:12 Central Theme:  God‘s power works in our lives through prayer. One Sunday night during a church service, my son said, “Mama, God just healed me.”  He had a really bad hernia and while we […]

Meeting a need

posted by Linda G. Howard

Angie is a committed Christian whose son, Marvin, is intellectually disabled.  She greatly desired Marvin to worship with the family.  Yet, she also felt a need for more respite time.  The answer for her was The Special Gathering Saturday program. […]

Learning the ten commandments made easy

posted by Linda G. Howard

Memorizing was all but impossible for me as a child.  In addition, the school system was going through a funky teaching period.  We did not learn to read phonetically.  And teachers were not allowed to teach us any mnemonics to make […]

Learning the names of Jesus’ disciples made easy

posted by Linda G. Howard

As a child I could not memorize.  I could learn, of course, but anything that had to be memorized word-for-word was a loss for me.  For years I wanted to learn the names of the disciples but I felt it […]

Learning books of the New Testament made easy

posted by Linda G. Howard

Recently, I began teaching a Bible class of higher function adults.  I am currently teaching them the names of the books of the New Testament.  Most of us who have been in church for years know more about the Bible […]

You don’t control me

posted by Linda G. Howard

Inbred within us resides a desire to be in control of our own lives.  Often, when children are playing,  an argument will begin or end with one child yelling,  ”You don’t control me.” Prisons are designed to control people.  They […]

Two A.M. reflections

posted by Linda G. Howard

I often wake up at 2am now.  This is a new version of insomnia for me.  I’ve had trouble going to sleep for as long as I can remember.  But once asleep, I was able to stay asleep.  This morning I […]

A search for honesty

posted by Linda G. Howard

Working with people with special needs, I’ve discovered that your IQ doesn’t determine your honesty quotient.  Yes, they are the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the privilege with which to work.  However, cheating is as systematic in a special […]

Waiting for her day

posted by Linda G. Howard

As a young woman, Mercy came to me asking if she could become a deacon.  She was about 22 years old.  At The Special Gathering, which was a ministry within the mentally challenged community, our deacon board comes from the […]

Broken Days

posted by Linda G. Howard

While in Hawaii, my daughter and I rode the bus a good bit.  Waiting at the bus stops or traveling to our destination, I had time to look around the beautiful island of Oahu.  These were pleasant breaks in our […]

Learning to learn–Part 1

posted by Linda G. Howard

Last week we started learning new music at The Special Gathering Vero and Melbourne choirs.   I am the director of three of the six choirs at Special Gathering, a ministry within the intellectual disability community.  Our choirs sing in local churches and […]

When conflict comes

posted by Linda G. Howard

It is inevitable that conflict will come when two people live, work, play or worship together.  An extremely quoteable pastor from years past, Jack Green, once said, “If two people live together, there will be conflict, unless one of the two people […]

Stirring our thoughts

posted by Linda G. Howard

I like listening to a variety of political opinions.  Honestly, I don’t believe many of the opinions I hear from the “other side” of my political viewpoint.  Yet, at other times, I find myself not agreeing with the positions of […]

The Enabler

posted by Linda G. Howard

Because of unusual circumstances a good friend of mine was recently called “an enabler.”  Of course, I’ve known I am an enabler and I’ve recognized it for years.  I believe that the stem of enabling is a super-large ego that […]

Ready for valor

posted by Linda G. Howard

Most people who become true heroes don’t prepare their entire lives to be put into that position.  When they are born, the parents don’t look at their precious infant and say, “This little will one day be a true American […]

A piece of peace

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are things which disturb my peace.  Yesterday, I realized that circumstances were heading Special Gathering of Indian River into a potential obstacle course.  I’m not sure whether I was more upset by the situation or by the fact that I’d […]

What are your strengths?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Danielle was the first.  Even though she was only 16 when she first came to help with Special Gathering, she recognized my weakness; and she began to keep guard over my personal things while I was ministering to our members […]

The flat tire

posted by Linda G. Howard

Yesterday, as I was getting in my van to go to our DeLand Special Gathering (SpG) program, I noticed the flat on the rear, driver-side tire.  I’d been working all morning in and around the vehicle; but somehow I had […]

The Blank Page

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each morning I sit in front of a blank page waiting for me to write something.  For more than 50 years, all during the day, I’ve listened within my spirit for the Lord’s prompting and teaching.  In the morning, afternoon […]

Misunderstandings and Misstatements

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several years ago, my friend who is a wonderful Catholic and an elder at Special Gathering, gave me a book.  I’m not sure of the title or the author because as soon as I finished it, I lent the book […]

Go!

posted by Linda G. Howard

After ten days in Hawaii and 2 days of travel, I got off the plane ready to GO!  I thought I had choir practice in four hours.  After I found there was no choir, I continued to work.  There was […]

The smile of a saint

posted by Linda G. Howard

I received the call at 7:30 tonight.  John died at 6pm.  I was at Universal Studios Theme Park with a group of people who are mentally challenged.  There was no way for me to run over to help comfort the family because I […]

The bus rider

posted by Linda G. Howard

During the past week, I’ve spent a lot of time riding the bus. I’m visiting my son in Oahu, Hawaii. They have one car which works great for them because his wife enjoys riding the bus. He has been working […]

The Arc at Wahiawa, Hawaii

posted by Linda G. Howard

Sitting in a clean and bright room, Jonathan meticulously moved the yellow magic marker. He sat hunched close to the table in order to more carefully observe the imprints that spread over the picture of 4th of July fireworks. Like […]

Choosing to bless

posted by Linda G. Howard

   Site of the World Trade Center March 2007 Over the past two months, I’ve been thinking.  What wonderful things could have happened if Jacob had given his twin brother, Esau, the bowl of soup he requested, rather than selling it […]

The passion

posted by Linda G. Howard

Mark has been a close friend for as many years as I’ve worked with The Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  We were talking on the phone as we do at least once a week. […]

Editing is allowed

posted by Linda G. Howard

This morning I got up to write as I normally do; but I couldn’t find anything hot to drink. (A hot drink is necessary for early morning writing sessions.) I’m staying with my wonderful granddaughter a few days.  She and […]

The Dream

posted by Linda G. Howard

Often things are happening in God’s Kingdom of which we aren’t aware here in our small cosmic bubble called earth.  About two months ago, I had a dream.  It wasn’t complicated or disturbing but I knew it was significant.  I […]

The Tabasco Factory

posted by Linda G. Howard

Years ago, our children moved to South Louisiana.  All hot sauce and especially Tabasco sauce is a BIG, HUGE, GIGANTIC deal in South Louisiana.  Therefore, we had to visit the Tabasco Welcome Center because it is one of their greatest […]

The effective message–part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Visitors who come to Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community are often surprised that they also receive ministry through the messages and the devotions, teaching and sermons they hear.  No matter who is teaching, if […]

Sleep and other disorders

posted by Linda G. Howard

As a child, I assumed that I was a perfectly normal person.  When I became an adult, I realized that I was loaded with disorders. 1.  There is a sleep disorder.  For years, I thought it was normal to have […]

It’s not all bad

posted by Linda G. Howard

During the 20 years that I’ve lived and worked within the mentally challenged community, one thing I’ve seen again and again.  These brave parents learn to find goodness and joy in the circumstances in which they are forced to live. […]

Surprised by joy

posted by Linda G. Howard

It is difficult to understand how much God loves us.  While few of us will admit it, much of our lives is spent waiting for God to slam the judgment hammer into our skulls.  Working within the mentally challenged community, […]

Twelve Survival essentials

posted by Linda G. Howard

When facing emergencies or local disasters, it is good to have a plan in place before you must confront the lions of fire, tornado, riot or tumult.  Understand, I’m not suggesting that you put your family in the middle of such […]

Reflections on scriptures by Eric

posted by Linda G. Howard

Eric Voorhees is an active member of The Special Gathering who loves to serve others.  Acquainted with hard work, he has been employed for many years at a nursing home.  He is well respected by the residents there and by […]

Jesus is coming again

posted by Linda G. Howard

As a teenager I would often look at the sky watching to see if Jesus was coming again.  In fact, I still do.  I’ve never regarding this as a silly act.  Jesus is coming back and we are to be […]

A profitable visit

posted by Linda G. Howard

I spent the past few days in South Carolina with The Special Gathering program director.  This is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our goal is evangelizing and making disciples of people who are intellectually disabled.  During the week, […]

Faith or tempting the Lord

posted by Linda G. Howard

It seemed like three hours but it was no more than 10 minutes.  Ginny–an elderly Special Gathering member with diabetes–has seen her cognitive abilities eaten away from her health condition and age.  As Ginny got off the SCAT bus to […]

God saves us from ourselves

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of the greatest benefits of God‘s provision is that He rescues us from ourselves. I look in the mirror and see how much I’ve changed over the years.  Gravity has taken a toll on my body.  Every body part […]

The need for destiny

posted by Linda G. Howard

At times, an author hits a universal nerve and their thoughts and beliefs become a phenomenal success.  That is what happened with Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life.  Most of us had not given much thought to our destiny until suddenly […]

In survival mode

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each year in Florida, there are threats of budget cuts to the services of people who are mentally challenged.  More and more, these cuts are a reality.  These are lean times.  In most states the same thing is happening.  Many […]

People you would like–Eric

posted by Linda G. Howard

I have to admit that regarding Eric, I border on having the pride of a parent.   Because his disability was not pinpointed correctly, he wasn’t getting the treatment or interventions that he needed.  Therefore, he was a troubled child […]

Created to need other people

posted by Linda G. Howard

It surprises no parent that the first two brothers were rivals.  Cain, the older sibling, became jealous of  Able when God favored Able’s sacrifice over his.  Cain came to believe that the root of all his problems was his brother. […]

People you would like–Andrew

posted by Linda G. Howard

Andrew moved with his family from up North about six years ago.  He is an outgoing, friendly man who has worked much of his life at Wal-Mart.  When lay-offs were needed at the store where he worked, Andrew was the […]

Tired of doing good?

posted by Linda G. Howard

All right let’s admit it.  The  church must continue to do good. But goodness doesn’t usually win awards or get us that “15 minutes of fame”  we’ve been promised.  Additionally, tiredness becomes an impelling factor that overwhelms us at some […]

Friendship Ministry Leadership team in Orlando

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is horribly short notice but I just received it myself.  I wish I could attend a day with Nella Uitvlugt on January 14 at Northland Church; but Saturdays are out for me because of my Special Gathering program in Vero.  This […]

Christmas travel time

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of my close friends said to us as we were discussing her travel plans over the holidays, “Don’t feel sorry for me.  I love my travel time.  I don’t have to drive; I’m going to fly.  I don’t have […]

Remembering to be thankful

posted by Linda G. Howard

This past week, activity reigned within our small cloistered community of believers.  I cannot imagine Special Gatheirng without the many people who work every day helping to make things right.  On Saturday and Sunday, as I plan to put the […]

The end of Christmas stress

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today is my first morning of the unstressed Christmas 2011.  This weekend at Special Gathering we had two Happy Birthday, Jesus! parties. One in Vero and the other was in Melbourne.  Decorations, cake, chicken, a pasta casserole, tuna/macaroni salad and […]

All computer, all the time

posted by Linda G. Howard

Early this morning, I updated and published a daily blog–on the computer. Later in the morning, I worked on The Special Gathering of Indian River upcoming board meeting–on the computer. In the afternoon, I renewed my corporate papers, paid some […]

Aftermath

posted by Linda G. Howard

December 5 means that both of the Special Gathering Christmas plays are over in Melbourne and Vero. This year unlike 2009, Mary’s face wasn’t bruised from having dental surgery.  The shocking effect was what appeared to be a bearded Mary. […]

Do You Know About Rick Santorum’s Daughter?

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is column you should read.  Please click on Do you know about Rick Santorum’s Daughter? and watch the video.

A woman’s thrill ride: Christmas Time

posted by Linda G. Howard

Early this morning on TV,  I watched a man hanging from a rope while he maneuvered his way down a tall building.  Even watching a man scale down a 22 story building is not my idea of a thrill ride. […]

Upside-down time

posted by Linda G. Howard

I pulled the covers down from the pillows on my bed and casually looked at the time.  The digital clock on the table beside my bed read 65:11.  I wasn’t surprised that the time was wrong.  Those of us who live […]

The Potato Sacrifice

posted by Linda G. Howard

The story is told of a mine worker in Ireland during the great potato famine of 1847.  He brought his lunch each day to work; but he ate alone.  Stealing away from his coworkers, he would then open his lunch pail. The […]

Winning friends and supporting others

posted by Linda G. Howard

Nancy’s voice was sorrowful, “Linda, can we have lunch?  I just want to be sure things are all right with you.”  She is a friend and a fellow pastor. Nancy, also a recent widow, has called me several times since […]

11 ways to benefit from Interruptions in your life and your health

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps one of the hardest things to keep in balance when you are faced with interruptions in your life are your healthy and eating habits.  Susan Brown, BeliefNet author, recently went through such a time. Ms. Brown spent days at […]

Lousy Timing by Bev Linder

posted by Linda G. Howard

We recently got a kitten, and my biggest fear was that he would not use his litter box, but have “accidents” all over the house (we’ve had kittens before so we know the dangers!) Happily, he took right to the […]

Tribute to a friend

posted by Linda G. Howard

The first time I saw Dolores Norley was at an annual meeting of ARC in Daytona. I was impressed by how friendly she was and by her small frame and by her extremely large pocketbook.  I’d been told for several years […]

Jesus, God’s perfect gift

posted by Linda G. Howard

This week  my grandson, his girlfriend and I toured Kennedy Space Center.  I saw that one of the astronauts who walked on the moon had received a Exceptional Service Medal for this task. I was a bit shocked because my […]

Renewing the Mind

posted by Linda G. Howard

We first moved to Brevard County more than forty years ago.  My husband and I joined a small church with a missions outreach. As a local missions project, the women of the church were going to a nearby town to “pattern” […]

The importance of fun

posted by Linda G. Howard

The Book of Acts tells us there are three things that the early church did.  They are pray, study the doctrines of the apostles and fellowship. At Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the intellectually disabled community, we try […]

Making lemonade–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Some time ago, I received an e-mail from a young friend whose life is being spent in China carefully sharing the Gospel with the people in that nation.  She had just returned back from her home in the US.  I’d […]

For beginners, repeats are allowed

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps the most important thing I have learned from the computer age is the wonderful power of forgiveness.  I remember that one of the first things I was told about my computer was “don’t worry they are very forgiving.” Interestingly, this is also […]

Please don’t feed the animals

posted by Linda G. Howard

Often my neighbors and I talk about the varmints that live in our attics.  We have tons of squirrels.  Then there are the raccoons and opossum which ravage our insulation with their nests and filth. Putting out traps and carrying the […]

The mystery of prayer

posted by Linda G. Howard

Prayer is such a great mystery and marvel in the life of Christians.  It is fascinating how the Lord answers prayer.  Yet, when prayer is answered suddenly and completely, I can’t help but wonder, does the Lord have us ask for […]

Special Heart

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is an email I received today from Bev Linder of Special Heart.  Brad is her oldest child.  He had multiple physical disabilities.  He died recently. Dear friends, The following is one of the blogs on my website.  Many of […]

The “she gets it” factor

posted by Linda G. Howard

This weekend I had the honor of teaching a group of wonderful volunteers who minister to the mentally challenged community.  They put in thousands of  hours each year. Our teachers and volunteers instruct, transport and love the members of  The […]

The problems with miracles

posted by Linda G. Howard

The mentally challenged community is hungry to hear the Gospel.  If we can get people to our chapel services, they will almost always accept the wonderful grace of Christ into their lives. Yet, discipleship is a struggle.  One day at […]

Here and there

posted by Linda G. Howard

Every stress-relieving prescription in books or articles begin and end with “throw away, organize and simplify. ” Therefore, it isn’t hard to see the pattern that the experts recommend for eliminating stress. Following the advice of these men and women […]

Gleaning from leaders–Part 3

posted by Linda G. Howard

On October 14, about 20 ministry leaders flew into Chicago O’Hare Airport to steal a day of fellowship and learning.  This third annual event developed from the need of several people who wanted an excuse to spend more time together […]

Wow!

posted by Linda G. Howard

Camp Agape is a four day retreat that allows all of us to get into the skin of our members and for our members to get to know us and each other.  On Sunday evening at Camp Agape, we have […]

Having the courage to stand

posted by Linda G. Howard

Anyone who knows me realizes I love chocolate. I will tell anyone who will listen.  I talk about and share my chocolate anytime I get a chance.  As much as I love chocolate, it won’t change anyone’s life.  My desire […]

From exhilaration to dead tired

posted by Linda G. Howard

Thursday is a great day for me.  I leave the house around 7AM to start a 30 miles trip for a pastors’ prayer meeting with a group of men and women who have become good friends and irreplaceable counselors. Then […]

What is the first impression I give?

posted by Linda G. Howard

My good friend, Malcolm, told me that he attended a leadership class recently.  It was both an exhilarating and brutal course. The teacher expertly built up the members.  Where needed, she ripped apart each of the participants. At the end […]

All that glitters

posted by Linda G. Howard

For several reasons, I hated when our children got their driver’s license.  Of course, there was the problem of safety. Now the crazy teenage idiots driving wildly through our neighborhood were my children.  But the other reason was that I learned so much about my offsprings […]

Power Point

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m a computer person only because my husband was a computer person.  He purchased the first handheld calculator manufactured 35 years ago.  It cost $1,200.  A few years later, he bought one of the first personal computers.   Our Apple […]

Prayer of the Saints

posted by Linda G. Howard

On December 13, 2006, I injured my eye ball.  It caused what the doctors called a Recurrent Corneal Erosion.  In simple terms, the skin on my eyeball would dissolve in the middle of the night and I would wake up […]

When to say “Yes”

posted by Linda G. Howard

This weekend was more than exciting for me and the three choirs who gathered for our annual choir retreat.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our choirs go into churches helping to teach that a person […]

Dress shirt and tie

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are different ways that the members of The Special Gathering tell me that they are growing in the Lord.  I see in our members subtle changes that others would ignore.  Nevertheless, each adjustment means a transformation has occurred in their […]

Storm after the calm

posted by Linda G. Howard

Early Friday morning, 33 people from two states gathered for a Special Gathering choir retreat.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  People who are developmentally disabled compose the three choirs. This is part of the outreach […]

Transient Treasure

posted by Linda G. Howard

Clarence taught me the transient nature of people, especially the men and women within the mentally challenged community who do not have  families.  When I met Clarence, he was living in an Adult Living Facility that housed people who were […]

Chicken or the egg

posted by Linda G. Howard

Of course, we all know the question.  Which came first the chicken or the egg?  As familiar as we are with the question, none of us truly know the answer.  (Though I can’t imagine God scattering eggs all over creation […]

And we wept

posted by Linda G. Howard

Ten years ago, all during the morning and afternoon of September 11, I watched in horrified fascination. Much of our nation was paralyzed by the acts of evil men whose purpose was to destroy the heart of our nation. These […]

Being a survivor

posted by Linda G. Howard

Crouched behind the sofa my five-year old grandson delighted in jumping from behind to scare his family.  He would often accompany the surprise lurch with a growl, clawed fingers extended and a fantom face that was supposed to terrorize anyone […]

The miracle of simple things

posted by Linda G. Howard

I often laugh at radio and TV commercials when women (or men) talk about their new weight loss and say, “I have my life back.”  The commercial writers want to convince us that I cannot have a real and honest […]

Wearing out vs rusting out

posted by Linda G. Howard

My good friend, Inez Thompson used to say, “I’d much rather wear out than rust out.”  In reality, Inez was active and happily working until she had a stroke that left her unable to continue serving the Lord.  Calculating her […]

Approaching the weary

posted by Linda G. Howard

Thinking about people who work hard, I cannot help but remember those who work within the mentally challenged community.  In fact, there is always a great deal of weariness.  Parents see no end to the responsibilities they must carry for the […]

Let’s keep the faith

posted by Linda G. Howard

Let’s Keep the Faith by Michelle Demeree God has given to each one the gift of faith. When we believe God, Our Christian faith lets us Live outside the box. People need to see how we believe through our faith. Our […]

Redemption–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Marsha was a Vacation Bible School teacher who demanded that every child obey the rules, except her own son. I’d looked forward to working with her; but I had not counted on her obvious favoritism regarding Johnny’s behavior. Even though […]

God changes our hearts

posted by Linda G. Howard

by Michelle Demeree Melbourne, Florida God changes our hearts for people. With His help, we come to see others through their eyes. We grow together in time. When we speak God’s word, Sharing out loud, we grow together. Sharing God’s […]

What’s stealing your joy?

posted by Linda G. Howard

What’s stealing your joy?  Bev Linder shares a piece from her life and journal that will brighten your day.  

God made tears. Why?

posted by Linda G. Howard

by Michelle Demaree God made tears  Why? We sometimes think God brings the rain and the sunshine. As we read this poem, we may find ourselves happy and sad. For example, let’s say you see a lovely movie.  What do […]

Back steps picnic

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of my favorite childhood memories is having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch on the back steps of our house.  Often my brother or sister would be sitting beside me.  Occasionally, one of my parents would join the conclave.  Some days […]

Prayer of the saints

posted by Linda G. Howard

On December 13,  I injured my eye ball.  I was working in the garden when a spindly plant pierced my eye directly into the corneal.  It caused what the doctors called a Recurrent Corneal Erosion (RCE).  In simple terms, the […]

…and he danced

posted by Linda G. Howard

Wednesday, November 10, did not seem like an eventful day for Joey Melton.  He got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, took his lunch and went to work.  None of us would have suspected that this would be his last day […]

Turning Lemons into Lemonade Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

While writing about the members of Special Gathering who are grateful for their lives even though they are mentally challenged and often have serious disabilities, I received an e-mail from a young missionary working China.  She just returned back to […]

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

posted by Linda G. Howard

I am often surprised by the ability of the members of Special Gathering to “turn lemons into lemonade.” The other day I had a conversation with one of our SpG members. When he was 18 years old, this young man was […]

Adventures at Disney

posted by Linda G. Howard

Yesterday, I spent 9 hours at DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom with my son and daughter-in-law.  The thermometer was set at 100 degrees by early morning but the shops and rides were air-conditioned.  A 7PM rain storm cooled everything down for the […]

Picnic with a bunch of wimps

posted by Linda G. Howard

For the past decade, The Special Gatherings of Melbourne and Vero have held 4th of July picnics either the Sunday before or the Sunday after the actual date.  We call them our “I’m Free in Jesus” picnics.  It’s your usual […]

Different strokes/Different folks

posted by Linda G. Howard

Shelly is a young woman in her early 30’s.  She is an avid writer.  Some of her articles appear in our monthly newsletter, Connecting Point, her own webpage and as a guest writer for this blog.  Terry’s passion is kitchen duty.  […]

I Know my Redeemer Lives

posted by Linda G. Howard

Watch Team Hoyt as an example of God’s love flowing through people who love each other.

Eliminating stress: Take a break and Don’t run

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several times each week, I would take one or all of my children on foot, crossing the busy five-lane A1A Highway to the ocean.  Each time, I would instruct them.  “Stop.  Look both ways.  Listen.   And do not EVER […]

Giving back

posted by Linda G. Howard

Giving Back by Michelle Demeree Shelly is a deacon at The Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Her work has appeared in several places, including being a regular guest columnist for A Simple Life. We want to […]

Learning that changes lives

posted by Linda G. Howard

The mentally challenged community is hungry to hear the Gospel.  If we can get people to our chapel services, they will almost always accept the wonderful grace of Christ into their lives.  Yet, discipleship is a struggle.  One day at […]

Amazing litte boy with no arms

posted by Linda G. Howard

What an amazing story.  You won’t be disappointed.

Leadership–Sense of humor? Get One

posted by Linda G. Howard

There may be nothing that is as potent in leadership than a sense of humor, especially when you allow yourself to become the joke. I’ve watched gifted leaders turn some of their greatest blunders into a time of learning for […]

Leadership–Standing on the backs of older generations

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several years ago, Richard Stimson wrote in the Special Gathering newsletter, Networks, something that made a big impression on me. He said that all of us who serve within the disability community stand on the backs of the generations who have […]

Born into Extreme Poverty and Mentally challenged, Teen Triumphs

posted by Linda G. Howard

I hope you will enjoy this incredible story, which was written by Mark Hanlon, Senior Vice President of Compasion International. Every so often, you come across someone who truly inspires you. Recently, for me, that person is a teenager from […]

Fathers–Heroes and Treasures

posted by Linda G. Howard

Father’s Day by Michelle Demeree Our fathers are our heroes. His day is a time to be with him. Remember how Dad is to you. Remember how your father is  in your eyes. Dads are our heroes. My father is […]

Eliminating Stress–Daily Exercise

posted by Linda G. Howard

About 20 years ago, I realized that I was loosing my balance.  Most of my life, I’d hated exercise; and I could realistically be called a couch potato.  However, I had fallen and broken my leg.  As soon as I […]

Leadership: Courage to stand

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of my favorite things is chocolate; and I will tell anyone who will listen.  I talk about it a good deal of the time.  When we take members of Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged […]

There’s a Person in There

posted by Linda G. Howard

This article was written by Bev Linder.  Enjoy! Yesterday in Colorado was a fine sunny Saturday with garage sale signs on just about every corner.  I resisted most of them, but after my walk, I went to investigate one up a […]

Leadership

posted by Linda G. Howard

My granddaughter was only three years old, when I heard her speaking to her older brother.  “I’m the boss,” she yelled in a matter-of-fact voice.  “You sit down right now and be quiet.” “Okay,” he said, obediently. For some unknown […]

The Sea Turtle Promise

posted by Linda G. Howard

For 45 years, I’ve walked the beach looking for sea turtles during the evening.  While others see them regularly, I’ve never seen even one.  The sea turtles nest on our beach; but I’m probably the one person who lives on […]

Five ways to beat disappointment

posted by Linda G. Howard

I received a disappointing text message today from a good and close friend. The text wasn’t aimed at me or even intended for me.  Nevertheless, disappointment vibrated through the Internet lines piercing my heart.  I could feel the disappointment that emanated from […]

The Autistic Child and Discipline from Special Heart

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is an excellent piece I received from Bev Linder.  There is a great deal to learn from her regarding autism. Special Heart The Autistic Child and Discipline Although I have had two children with special needs, and although one […]

I Am Sombody Because God Loves Me

posted by Linda G. Howard

What do 200 people with special needs, their pastor, area directors and volunteers do after a four-day weekend at a rustic retreat?  There is only one option–collapse.  Thanks to Ladybug Photography, here are few of the pictorial highlights of our […]

Green apples, the acorn and the tree

posted by Linda G. Howard

A green apple isn’t edible.  However, a small, green apple may be perfectly shaped and formed.  Nevertheless, it is not ready to be eaten.  If I decide to eat this small, green apple, I will probably get a stomach ache. Over […]

Hope

posted by Linda G. Howard

A gifted member writes poetry for Connecting Point, The Special Gathering monthly newsletter.  Here is one of her poems.  Miss Demeree was born with Down’s Syndrome.    Hope by Michelle Demeree  What does hope mean to me? I believe that in life,                                                                           […]

Waiting and other distractions

posted by Linda G. Howard

I admit that there are some things that I do pretty well.  These are things at which I work hard to do as well as I can.  They are also things I enjoy.  My list seems to grow as I […]

Rereading

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each new generation learns valuable lessons that may be missed by a preceding group of people.  I love rereading my favorite books.  Yet, I came from a tradition in which you watched a movie or television show only once.  You […]

From a child to a mother

posted by Linda G. Howard

From a Child to a Mother by Michelle Demeree With mothers, there is a love so real and so expected. So expected that we forget how much They love us. They give great parts of their heart To us. We […]

Hope in the middle of despair

posted by Linda G. Howard

I received from a friend who is actively involved within the mentally challenged community.  She has worked as a professional.  Her family is deeply involved in the professional community.  She is a volunteer with Special Gathering.  Currently, she is part […]

Hiding in clear view

posted by Linda G. Howard

I have six locks on my door all in a row.  When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three. ~Comedian Elayne Boosler […]

Everyone like me

posted by Linda G. Howard

During my “play time,” I dreamed of being on stage and teaching.  Playing mommy and cuddling doll babies didn’t ever interest me.  However, writing and performing plays was the passion of my playmates and me.  While standing before people is […]

Reaching Out Through the Internet

posted by Linda G. Howard

Drawn and thin, the teenage hospital patient sat for hours in the waiting room communicating with his friends through the Internet.  They sent messages and talked.  He laughed and typed.  Looking at pictures sent to him, he would respond and receive […]

From information to revelation

posted by Linda G. Howard

I was a bit shocked to read in Ecclesiastes that Solomon said that there will always be books and reading too much will confuse you.  God understands that we will never learn everything about any subject.  When I was a […]

A Small Word

posted by Linda G. Howard

I was raised in a denomination that is currently being accused of worshiping the Bible.  Understand, I don’t remember ever being told that the scriptures were co-equal in importance with the Godhead.  What I do remember is a strong emphasis […]

The Perfect Gift for Mom

posted by Linda G. Howard

Are you like me?  My email inbox, Facebook Wall and even today’s Twitter Timeline are full of messages telling me about “The Perfect Gift for Mom.” Frankly, I hope my children read and use a couple of  these suggestions. Even BeliefNet […]

Changes of the Season

posted by Linda G. Howard

The Changes of the Seasons by Shelly Demeree We look at the meaning of spring. We know that spring can mean that change is here. Spring means we will have fun in the sun. We being to feel things around […]

Commitment–Not Excitement

posted by Linda G. Howard

Is there a way to insure that God is working in our lives and in the lives of those people we care about?  Perhaps it is the common and mundane that accents the Christian life more than any other attribute. […]

Living History with the #STS134

posted by Linda G. Howard

Living on the Space Coast for more than 40 years, we’ve seen the ups and downs of a community with one major industry–space.  My husband is a retired Aerospace Technologist who worked for NASA.  He was a design engineer whose […]

Wild Hogs and Wolf Wars

posted by Linda G. Howard

Wild hog and wolf wars are raging across the US.  In Central Florida, we understand the wild hog problem that is plaguing the South.  A good friend bought what seemed like an idyllic, secluded piece of acreage about five years […]

Which Flag Am I Flying?

posted by Linda G. Howard

With the world watching London for information regarding the royal wedding, trivia about the Royal Family from the United Kingdom seems to pour forth hourly.  One piece of information that you may have missed is that when Queen Elizabeth is […]

Humor from people who minister within the disability community

posted by Linda G. Howard

Photo by torturnedmommy From Linda G. Howard of The Special Gathering of Indian River At Easter, how can you tell the difference between a male chocolate bunny and a female chocolate bunny? The male bunnies have hollow heads. Tony Piantine […]

Reality TV and my life

posted by Linda G. Howard

Wonderful, dreadful and insignificant, our lives are being recorded to be shown to every creature someday.  Is there a hidden camera waiting for us to stumble in order for someone to place it on UTube?  Is this a government plot to […]

No royal wedding

posted by Linda G. Howard

It is my understanding that the Rowan William, Archbishop of Canterbury, has written two prayers for Prince William and Kate Middleton.  One is for adults to pray; and the other is a precious and simple prayer for school children.  Additionally, the […]

The Kiss–a Resurrection Miracle

posted by Linda G. Howard

After Special Gathering chapel service on Sunday morning , James, whose disability is within the autism spectrum, came up to shake my hand.  Because it was Resurrection Day, we had abandoned our usual worship format.  The chairs were arranged in a […]

The motivation of work

posted by Linda G. Howard

For years, Andy has worked with Wal-Mart.  He was considered a profitable and cooperative employee.  Then the management changed.  As a result, the new manager and Andy didn’t click.  Eventually, when the store needed to trim their employees, Andy was […]

The Call

posted by Linda G. Howard

Larry wasn’t at our He Is Alive! Party the Saturday before Resurrection Day.  I wondered because Larry never misses Special Gathering of Vero, a ministry within the developmentally disabled community.  Our mission is evangelism and discipleship.   However, our supervisor […]

That’s the Wrong Answer

posted by Linda G. Howard

One day while training a new Special Gathering staff member, I asked him if he would clean up a mess left by our members in one of the Bible study classroomes.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged […]

The Sounds of Resurrection Morning

posted by Linda G. Howard

Because we live two blocks from the ocean, Resurrection morning is a time of great joy for me. Around 6:30AM, the singing begins because the Christian community gathers at the beachside park near our home, for the Easter sunrise service.  From […]

My Story

posted by Linda G. Howard

My Story by Michelle Demeree My story begins with love. My story begins with prayers. My story begins with hope. Through  hope, love and prayers, I found faith in the Lord, Finding faith in all I do. God has put […]

Soul Surfer and the Cross

posted by Linda G. Howard

My son lives on the North Shore of Hawaii.  He is a champion surfer.  The North Shore is where many of the massive waves originate that we see in the movies and on posters.  He calls his father and me several times […]

Joe’s Going to Camp

posted by Linda G. Howard

During Memorial Day weekend each year, about 200 Special Gathering members go to Vero Beach for a spiritual retreat called Camp Agape.  For four days, we learn about the Lord, play and hangout with each other.  There are go-carts, a […]

Betrayal

posted by Linda G. Howard

When our daughter, Carol, was 14, she had a good friend in California.  They had met on a Teen Mission trip.  Her friend wanted her to come for a visit in California.   She even bought Carol a plane ticket. […]

Love for the Father and the Son

posted by Linda G. Howard

Shelly Demeree is a 34 year old woman who is mentally challenged.  Her poetry has been published in various publications, including Connecting Point, monthly newsletter for The Special Gathering, a ministry within the developmentally disabled community. Love for the Father […]

“She wanted to talk to me!”

posted by Linda G. Howard

A Special Gathering member would call me every night at 8PM to say, “Hello.”  Our conversations went something like this. Peter:   UHH! Me:  Peter, how are you? Peter:  Good. Me:  How was your day? Peter:  Good. Me:  That’s wonderful.  Well, Peter, […]

The Benefit of Simplicity

posted by Linda G. Howard

Two years ago, Special Gathering pastor, area director and elders met together to investigate what our members who are mentally challenged need to know and understand about the Christian faith and theology.  It was boiled down to three things that are […]

We are not born rude

posted by Linda G. Howard

Last month, I accompanied three Special Gathering members and our South Carolina Special Gathering program director on a Disney cruise.  It was a great time of fun and fellowship.  At 6 feet 4 inches, one of the members, Tony, is […]

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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

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