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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

church Archives

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 […]

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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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Explaining grace

posted by Linda G. Howard

In the past weeks, I’ve been going over some of the key words in our covenant relationship with God.  Perhaps one of the most important words we use is grace. Most of us have learned and maybe we even remember […]

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Familiar customs and limited means

posted by Linda G. Howard

When the Biblical young woman, Ruth, married into a Jewish family she understood little about their ways, God or religion.  This is my supposition; but I base the conjecture on facts.  Moabites were shunned by the Israelis.  Decades before, Moab wronged the wandering […]

Pressure Time

posted by Linda G. Howard

Is there a time that you can remember that you were pressured beyond your ability to cope? There have been many for me. As a child, my mother told me again and again that I was constantly burning the candle […]

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 […]

Providing a Safe Harbor

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of the most important things a person can provide for any person and especially for a man or woman who is developmentally disabled is a safe harbor–a place where they can securely share their thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Because […]

The First Points of Light Award

posted by Linda G. Howard

When President George H. W. Bush gave the first Points of Lights Awards, one of them went to a NASA employee named Frank S. Howard who was a volunteer for The Special Gathering of Indian River. The fact that Frank […]

Eating fish

posted by Linda G. Howard

We all know that when you eat fish you will usually come across a bone or two no matter how carefully the fish has been filleted.  We also know that the bones aren’t digestible and should be spit out.  Fish […]

A history lesson

posted by Linda G. Howard

Over the past months, I’ve discovered the classics from Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, St. Augustine to Andrew Murray.  Of course, most of these volumes were written in the early 1800’s.  Unlocking the labyrinth of historical fact wrapped around […]

End of an era

posted by Linda G. Howard

Carla is not adjusting well to this time.  It is an end of an era for her.  Carla  is a high functioning person with intellectual disabilities.   Both parents have died.  She became too ill to live in her own apartment […]

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 […]

Friendship

posted by Linda G. Howard

Robert Lewis Stevenson expressed an important sentiment regarding friendship.  He said, “So long as we love, we serve.  No man is useless while he is a friend.” Jesus, however, lifted friendship to a new and holy level when he spoke […]

Partial payment

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today I finished the final payment for a set of storage cabinets that I asked All Around Handyman and Lawn Service to do for me.  They are beautiful enough to have in my home; but they are in the garage. […]

Remember where you are going

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each of us has been given a plan for our lives.  For most, that blueprint remains a mystery and a puzzle.  We wander back and forth unsure of our footing or grasp.  Much like a mountain climber who has no […]

Remember–a Christian discipline

posted by Linda G. Howard

Remembering is a vital Christian discipline that is either ignored or taught in an off-handed, casual manner.  Most of us know that routine thinking is defined by psychologists as remembering what happened in the past and rehearsing how we would change it […]

Remember where we came from

posted by Linda G. Howard

She is never early.  Always late.  He cannot speak without using offensive or vulgar expressions.  ”I’M marching to a different drummer” is her excuse for breaking all the rules and acting selfishly.  He only seems interested in hurting others, if […]

Remember

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps one of the greatest virtues and joys of a Christian is remembering.  We often overlook the command that Jesus gave to us during the Lord’s Supper.  He said, “Do this so you will remember me.” Time and time again […]

Meeting a friend

posted by Linda G. Howard

Tonight I had a pleasant surprise when I met a friend who is also a member of Special Gathering during my late afternoon walk.  My friend, M.J. was meeting with her reading tutor in the park. Her tutor explained that […]

Writers write

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each day begins with prayer and either household errands or blogging.  As much as I enjoy writing, the daily household demands of living often interfere with what I feel God has called me to do.  The author of thousands of […]

Saying what you mean

posted by Linda G. Howard

During the morning, I performed some mindless cleaning and straightening of a supply closet.  Also, I listened to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she testified before the Senate.  Later, in the afternoon, I met in a strategy meeting with […]

Meaning what you say

posted by Linda G. Howard

Even though saying what we mean is difficult, it may be harder to mean what we say.  When working with people with intellectually disabilities, I’ve found that our sub-culture is actually less prone to say things they do not mean […]

God’s shouts

posted by Linda G. Howard

Two of my good friends are also members of Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  They are going through extremely difficult times. Last night I spent a good deal of time with them.  It was […]

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. […]

This morning and every morning

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are few times that I don’t feel light-hearted and joyful.  My brother says that it’s only because I’m stupid.  I think it’s because God has given me the ability to see beyond present pain and embrace the joy of […]

The new mother

posted by Linda G. Howard

I remember my husband, Frank, and I rushing to the hosptial.  It was Christmas eve.  I’d farmed out the other two children to willing neighbors in a pitch of fervor.   Frank had refused to pick the name for a […]

Glory to God in the Highest–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

Glory to God in the Highest Luke 2:6-16 Central Theme:  Christmas is a time for big events and big changes. Introduction–I have to admit that at Christmas I go a little crazy.  I save all year and spend all December.  […]

Caught on tape

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is a comment I received from a reader.  I thought this was well worth our review. Autistic people can be some of the most vulnerable dependent adults in the universe. Mainly, because they are at the mercy of others […]

The end of my world?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Okay! I had to do this.  But I have more reason to write about December 21, 2012 than most folks.  It’s my birthday and it’s a big one.  That is, it’s a big number.  For many people, my age might […]

The promised peace

posted by Linda G. Howard

That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them, and they became very frightened. The angel said to them, “Do not […]

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 […]

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

posted by Linda G. Howard

At Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, we have several activities to celebrate the birth of the Savior.  My favorite is our Happy Birthday, Jesus Party.  Our members bring food.  There is a birthday cake. […]

Purchasing time

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are few times of the year that present the Church with a greater degree of purchasing power than the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.  I’m actually not thinking about purchasing gifts or other stuff but purchasing a […]

Face to face with God

posted by Linda G. Howard

In ancient times, few people were given the privilege of seeing God.  While we aren’t told that Abraham actually saw God face to face, we know that God valued Abraham so much that he was called “the friend of God.” […]

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 […]

Value of Repetition Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Martin Luther has been quoted (or probably misquoted) as saying, “I’ve read the Bible once.  I don’t need to read it again.”  The life of Luther disavows this ascertion because it was his study of the scriptures that led him […]

The value of repetition

posted by Linda G. Howard

For years, one of our Bible teachers at Special Gathering reviewed the same Bible verse with his class every week.  ”I will pray morning, noon and night.”  As the first five years rolled around, I became a bit disturbed.  Doesn’t […]

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 […]

Falling off my horse

posted by Linda G. Howard

In all of our lives, we suffer the embarrassment and shame of falling from our horse.  You know what I mean.  Sitting high and straight on our noble steeds, we are riding along our path of life, attempting to serve […]

Communication: I don’t understand it

posted by Linda G. Howard

Recently, I visited a neighboring Special Gathering program to practice our Christmas music. We are a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  I am the director of four of our choirs.  It seemed like a good idea. However, it appears […]

Living bad

posted by Linda G. Howard

Often, those of us who minister to people who are intellectually disabled romanticize our population.  It is the most wonderful group of people with which I’ve worked.  However, like the rest of the population, there can be glaring bumps, blemishes […]

God chooses to make the world for man–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

God chooses to Make the World for Man Genesis 1:1and 26A Central Theme:  God choose to make the earth for mankind. Introduction–Bring a basket that you have made.  This is a basket that I made.  I did not create it […]

God’s Prep Time

posted by Linda G. Howard

The Church has quoted Jeremiah for more than 2000 years.  We especially love the verse 11 of chapter 29.  “I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, […]

A shameless plug

posted by Linda G. Howard

I often plug products that I’ve found beneficial, especially in the ministry of The Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  The Christmas musical, A Stranger in the Manger, is a well-written and joy-filled musical that becomes an excellent […]

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, […]

Prayer is answered–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

Prayer Is Answered Matthew 21:22 Central Theme:  A good reason to pray is because God answers prayer. Introduction–Bring a watch that does not work.  Throw it away.  Bring a straw with a hole in it.  Throw it away.  I don‘t […]

Real Life is Full of Laughter–a poem by S Demeree

posted by Linda G. Howard

S Demeree, a memeber of The Special Gathering and gifted poet continues to write. Real Life is Full of Laughter Real life is full of laughter and fun. When we laugh, we feel things inside ourselves. Put yourself into a funny […]

When God speaks

posted by Linda G. Howard

I shared a few days ago with a friend that everytime someone prays for me, they usually end with the statement, “I believe that God is telling me that you must not be weary in well-doing.”  It’s happened so many […]

The Best of Times/The Worst of Times Part 3

posted by Linda G. Howard

Worship is the apex of all the many things we do at Special Gathering.  Therefore, it is vitally important to us that things go smoothly but there are weeks that are beyond interesting and border on bazaar. A couple of […]

The Best of Times/The Worst of Times Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

What do you do when some of your members become agitated and cause confusion in your services?  That is what we faced at The Special Gathering of Melbourne on Sunday morning.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, […]

The Best of Times/The Worst of Times Part 1

posted by Linda G. Howard

Birth, birthdays and even death are important times of blessing Some weeks you wonder how everything comes in bunches.  “Amazing” is the only word I find appropriate to describe the events of many Saturdays and Sundays at Special Gathering.  We had […]

God gives us the power to go–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

God can give us the power to go Acts 1:8–Teacher Appreciation Central Theme:  God wants us to tell people about Jesus not matter where we are. Introduction–I can tell where I have been last week by the receipts in my […]

Different strokes

posted by Linda G. Howard

For me, one of the best things that happened at the Disability Leadership Gathering that I attended this week at Sonrise Retreat Center in Anderson, Indiana, was that I was griped with the amount of passion shared by the leaders who have […]

Wearing a sweater and other distractions

posted by Linda G. Howard

It’s only the beginning of fall in Central Florida.  The temperatures remains in the upper 80’s I cannot even find a sweater, much less an insulated jacket.  Tomorrow, I’m headed for Indiana for a disability meeting.  The tempertures there are […]

Where have you been?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several people have asked where I’ve been.  This is really encouraging because sending an entry into the Internet atmosphere, you cannot help but wonder if anyone will actually read what you write. This has been an extremely busy time for me and […]

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. […]

Shut the door

posted by Linda G. Howard

At Special Gathering, we don’t often lose a member.  There are many reasons for that.  Yet when we lose a member, it is as difficult for us as any other pastor.  I meet with many pastors fellowship groups during the […]

Where am I?

posted by Linda G. Howard

This year has been a transition point for my life.  Last year, I had a drastic change when my husband died.  In some ways, there is a new freedom.  During other times, I realize that I’m much more constrained.  There […]

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 […]

The power of our words

posted by Linda G. Howard

In her late 20’s, Mindy pretty face is accented by her vibrant, chatty personality.  She lives alone in her own apartment.  Mindy is a new member of our Special Gathering.  We are a Christian program within the intellectually disabled community. […]

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 […]

Prayer asks for help–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

Prayer Asks for Help Psalm 121:12 Central Theme:  Prayer is a cry for help. Introduction–I have a friend who has a poster.  It says,  “When things are so bad or scary that you don’t know what to prayer, memorize this […]

Making the simple hard

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each day, as a Christian, my struggle with life revolves around the question.  How do I please the Lord?  Paul met with this problem while ministering God’s grace  to the churches spread all across Asia Minor and Europe.  He spoke […]

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. […]

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 […]

Is that me?

posted by Linda G. Howard

While searching a photo of my mother on the Internet to use in a sermon blog entry, I found an interesting image of a young woman who had the same name as my mother.  I had been quickly overseeing the […]

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 […]

Remembering the blonde Marilyn

posted by Linda G. Howard

In the early 1990’s when Nancy became a consumer at ARC in Vero Beach, Florida, she told her supported living coach, that her life goals were to bleach her hair blonde and go to California to become Marilyn Monroe. Bleaching […]

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 […]

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 […]

How to write a funeral sermon or eulogy

posted by Linda G. Howard

It is probably true that you will be asked to be a part of a memorial service or funeral at some time in your life.  There are specific things which I have observed from pastors who are successfully able to capture […]

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 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 […]

The Sacristy

posted by Linda G. Howard

The other day I received the key to a local church where The Special Gathering main office is located.  Because the sanctuary has been recently remodeled, new keys had to be made.  The key was labeled “The sacristy.”  I thought […]

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 […]

On-line banking safety tips

posted by Linda G. Howard

Banking on line for many people is not only convenient but it can also be necessary.  Before on-line access, when there were two of us on our checking account, I would have given my right arm to know what checks […]

Learning to learn–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

My learning philosophy with pretty much every project is that I endeavor is to learn as much as I need so I can do the job and leave the other stuff to people who compose, fix and invent things.  That is especially true with […]

When I was rich

posted by Linda G. Howard

When I was a child, I thought we were rich.  In reality, we were not.  Yet, I seem to have always had an exalted idea of my lifestyle.  There are a few things that I gage weath by: 1.  Do […]

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 Bible is true, even if I don’t believe it

posted by Linda G. Howard

Can you imagine that I would believe that I could fly to the moon by flapping my arms?  What if I really, really believed?  Would that make it true? I had an interesting conversation about the Bible the other day […]

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 […]

Tension versus flexibility

posted by Linda G. Howard

We all live with tensions in our lives.  There is the importance of play versus work; work versus family and friends.  We wrestle with maintaining a spiritual connection with the Lord while still being authentic people.  Eating healthy diets balanced with comfort foods […]

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 Inspector

posted by Linda G. Howard

While others may balk at their loss of privacy because of inspectors who invade their space, I’ve become quite comfortable with it.  In fact, my daily inspector is not even a human being.  It is a squirrel.  That’s right…the brown, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Muddling Through

posted by Linda G. Howard

I received an alarming phone call from a parent of a young woman who is in trouble. She is still at the age that she should not be distressed about life and death issues; nevertheless, her fate hangs in the […]

A stranger in a strange land

posted by Linda G. Howard

It’s been too long.  I’ve not had a preteen/teenager living in my home for many years.  Our first child was a boy and his transition from child to pre-adult was quick and violent.  My perfect child exploded in so many […]

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 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 […]

The effective message

posted by Linda G. Howard

The complete title for this entry should be “The Effective Message for the Mentally Challenge Community and Everyone Else.”  Of course, this title is much too long.  Therefore, I had to shorten it.  Yet, I’ve come to believe that the […]

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, […]

The influence of one

posted by Linda G. Howard

As they entered the bus, everyone was happy and excited to be going home.  Even though the four days at The Special Gathering spiritual retreat had been great fun, the members who attended were nearly as ready to go home […]

Through the Roof Disability Ministry Summit

posted by Linda G. Howard

  Through the Roof Disability Ministry Summit is designed to give you practical training and education while equipping churches for disability ministry. Sign up and be a part of this enriching event, which will be held May 18-19, 2012 at First Church of the […]

Working or stay-at-home, she’s still my mom

posted by Linda G. Howard

For more than 20 years, I was a stay-at-home mom.  During those years, I wrote five books.  Two of them were best sellers.  Together they sold over a million copies.  I was an award-winning, free-lance writer working with several different […]

Wiggle room

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several years ago, as a few staff from Special Gathering were driving to lunch, we saw a man with a broken leg.  His cast extended from his toe to his hip.  With great difficulty, he was loading a lawnmower into […]

Mad Cow Disease and the Bible

posted by Linda G. Howard

There is another case of Mad Cow disease found in the US.  The medical name for the disease is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.  As predicted, we have been told that the United States beef supply is more than safe and […]

Scrambled–a sad tale of woe

posted by Linda G. Howard

On Monday of this week, I spent almost all day working on The Special Gathering of Indian River data base.  Then I printed a set of labels for our members,  one for our elders and friends and a third set […]

The collapse

posted by Linda G. Howard

This morning the Shuttle Discovery left Kennedy Space Center, riding piggy back on a 747 airplane.  I was totally unprepared for my own reaction.  This final flight means the space program is officially over for the US. As the shuttle […]

The Saturday adventure

posted by Linda G. Howard

On Saturday, several people who have not attended Special Gathering for almost a year came back.  I could tell from the expressions on their faces and from the look in their eyes that they completely enjoyed their time with us. […]

A forgettable day

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today is not a day I will remember.  I got up at my usual 4:30am.  After my prayer time, I went into the kitchen to start a pot of decaf but instead, I had a text message from my son. […]

Coming Home

posted by Linda G. Howard

One year ago today, my husband came home from the skilled nursing center to die.  While I often say that I don’t live in denial, I had no idea that three months later, he would be dead.  For about a […]

Salvation brings changes

posted by Linda G. Howard

I often think about the positive changes that have happened in the lives of the people I know–especially the members of Special Gathering, which is ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Shelley has become a young woman who is caring […]

10 inspiring quotes from people you never knew

posted by Linda G. Howard

Jack Green–pastor and missionary to Korea “Only God can strike a straight lick from a crocked stick.” “No two people are compatible.  You sit of opposite sides of the table.  You sit in different chairs.  You have different backgrounds, families, […]

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. […]

When the Lord goes before…

posted by Linda G. Howard

Three weeks ago, I planned my lesson for Special Gathering for this last Sunday.  We are a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our purpose is discipleship and evangelism of this important populations.  As part of the teaching, I wanted […]

Created to make choices

posted by Linda G. Howard

I went to a pastor’s meeting this week and I was forced into taking a job I did not want.  In reality, I made a choice to do the job I didn’t like.  I was put in a position of either, disappointing […]

She refused

posted by Linda G. Howard

Changing the world

posted by Linda G. Howard

The theme for soulblindministry is “I’m just a simple guy simply trying to change the world.”  I haven’t followed Daniel Lyons’ blog long enough to know whether his thoughts are right or wrong; but I really admire and love his goal–to change […]

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 […]

Learning to pace ourselves

posted by Linda G. Howard

I admit, I’m not extremely good at pacing myself. Yet, there are some tricks I’ve learned from others along the way.  Here are eight of them.  1.  Force yourself to be patient with what you have.  Much of our frantic […]

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 […]

Ten tips to finding solutions

posted by Linda G. Howard

When faced with a problem and needing to confront a person in authority, here are some excellent tips for finding solutions: 1.    Be positive in your approach.  Make sure that your attitude has been adjusted and a positive attitude will shine through. […]

Much ado about nothing

posted by Linda G. Howard

When I went to visit my grandchild when she was 18 months old, she could say, “Grandmother and cracker.”  She knew what she wanted and how to get it with a smile and a kiss.  Can you imagine that this […]

When do small things count?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Questions?  We all have them.  There are important questions. Should I have that operation?  Should I sell my house even though it’s underwater?  Should I change jobs?  Should I break up with my girlfriend? Little questions can be important, also.  Should […]

Waiting for the green light

posted by Linda G. Howard

I sometimes wonder how much time we spend waiting for a green traffic light. This is a phenomenon of the automobile age, though waiting has been the bane of human existence since our time spent in the Garden.  My first […]

Conviction vs condemnation

posted by Linda G. Howard

It’s a tricky thing. We desire to follow God but we stumble over our own good works. It’s a s0litary venture.  Yet, the cry of our hearts is to be understood not only by God but by another skin-faced person. […]

Repentance? Is it still needed?

posted by Linda G. Howard

If  location is the key to successful ministry, he was doomed for failure. He lived and ministered in an area that was a cross between our western prairies and the desert.  Yet, the city came to him.  There were no […]

Opening gifts

posted by Linda G. Howard

I am a real believer in delayed gratification.  In fact, as much as I love gifts, I love the anticipation even more.  As a child, I gave up the Christmas gift hunt.  The annual childhood adventure wasn’t hard in our […]

Joseph chooses to obey God

posted by Linda G. Howard

Most of us understand that obeying God is what we should want to do.  There are some decisions that probably won’t change our lives.  When I go into a restaurant, I’m handed a menu.   I must make a choice about […]

And God speaks

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, during a pastors’ prayer meeting, one of the pastors said to me, “Linda, I believe that you are feeling upset because of the IRS audit you are facing and God wants you to know that he isn’t upset with […]

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. […]

The Three Rules

posted by Linda G. Howard

W. Somerset Maugham,  English dramatist & novelist, once said, “There are three rules for writing a successful novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” It appears there are also three rules for building a successful ministry or church.  But sadly, […]

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 […]

Winter

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m a child of the deep South and snow isn’t part of my heritage.  Only two years ago, I walked in the snow for the first time.  I slid down a hill covered with soft flakes and I felt the […]

A Thanksgiving value: Respect for the people we love

posted by Linda G. Howard

This year has been a bell-ringing year for me.  In May, my husband died.  While miss him terribly, there is a peace that he is with the Lord. A big part of that peace has come because the people I […]

A Thanksgiving value: Respect for the things I have

posted by Linda G. Howard

As I passed through the family room I heard a TV Talking Head speaking about money problems.  “One of the things we must learn is to have respect for what you have.” I stopped wanting to take note of who […]

A Thanksgiving value: Enjoying the journey

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are some things I don’t like that are happening in my life right now.  I’m being audited by the IRS for the past three years.  And there is a possibility that I may be sued for an auto accident […]

A Thanksgiving value–Learning to wait

posted by Linda G. Howard

I try hard to not eat sugar all week until Friday.  Of course, I know that sugar and fructose is hidden in many pre-prepared foods but I TRY to eliminate it until Friday. I have to admit that it is […]

Hoping all the time

posted by Linda G. Howard

Hoping all the Time by Michelle Demeree Going deep inside our feeling often means we go to prayer. In this way, we know the meaning and how it feels to help those in need. We can have love. The choice […]

Why can’t I be there?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Alone, I left the event which our members and I had attended. I was once again saddened that there are so many mentally challenged people who live in our community who are still unchurched.  We were all attending a fall […]

Thankfulness lives at Jill’s House

posted by Linda G. Howard

A Thankful Response At 40 years old, Brenda Solomon got pregnant with Lon and Brenda’s fourth child. Thrilled, their baby girl, Jill, was born beautiful and perfect.  At three months old, however, Jill began to seizure.  Quickly, the malady turned […]

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 […]

God’s Post-it Notes

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps like you, I received an e-mail that contained some great little, humorous sayings, such as, “Don’t let your worries get the best of you.  Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.”  I printed them out. After picking them up this morning, […]

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 […]

Reaching from the dark

posted by Linda G. Howard

Some say he could be one of the wealthiest men in the county.  His mother died about 10 years ago.  He has a beautiful home and a new car. This man has plenty of money.  There are two bankers and two lawyers […]

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 […]

I wish I’d known

posted by Linda G. Howard

I walked away from my conversation with John’s only remaining family, a sister and brother-in-law, wishing I had known him better when he was alive.  But that always happens when I interview a family before attempting to conduct a memorial […]

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 […]

Making lemonade

posted by Linda G. Howard

I am often surprised by the ability of the members of Special Gathering who are developmentally and intellectually disabled to “turn lemons into lemonade.” The other day I had a conversation with one of our SpG members. When he was […]

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 […]

The Love of a Mother and Son

posted by Linda G. Howard

by Michelle Demeree Shelly is a deacon and member at Special Gathering with is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  She is also a writer.  She loves to share God’s love with others. When my grandmother died, I came […]

Marbles and a child’s toy

posted by Linda G. Howard

Yesterday, I found a doll that I received at Christmas when I was in the fourth or fifth grade.  It was a “walking doll,” stuck back in a closet, I barely use.  These specialty dolls would walk if you held […]

Dave’s trip to heaven

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is a description of a good friend’s adventure in December 2010.  Dave is a quiet man who is not prone to exaggeration, extremes or drama.   Even though it’s been almost a year, each time he tells his experience, […]

The Problem with Herman Cain

posted by Linda G. Howard

Understand, I like Herman Cain, the Georgia gentleman who is running for President. I like that he is a Southern black man and that he speaks his mind.  I like that he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder because […]

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 […]

Share the Good News

posted by Linda G. Howard

Want to Share the Good News? by Michelle Demeree Ms. Demeree is a member of The Special Gathering.  She serves as a deacon and on our Board of Directors. Her passion is writing.  Ms. Demeree is a vital part of […]

It gets lonely here

posted by Linda G. Howard

As I knew he would, Chad squealed when he heard my voice on the phone.  “Linda! You called me!” I had called in response to a request from a staff member at his group home.  She asked if I would come to see Chad who had been admitted to the hospital […]

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 […]

Gleaning from leaders–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Over the years, I’ve gleaned so many working principles from leaders–more than I could ever begin to write.  On Friday, October 14, a group of ministry leaders met at Chicago O’Hare Airport.  We spent the day gleaning from each other. […]

Gleaning from leaders

posted by Linda G. Howard

On Friday, about 15 ministry leaders from around the US and Canada took the time to meet with each other for a few hours.  It is jokingly called the Chicago Fly-In because we fly into the Chicago airport.  We then […]

Standing up for God

posted by Linda G. Howard

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be […]

Looking back

posted by Linda G. Howard

by Michelle Demeree Shelley is a member of Special Gathering.  She, also, serves as a deacon in our program. Dedicated to the memory of Special Gathering members who have died. As we look back over the year, we remember the […]

Time away

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of the interesting things about directing a ministry where you are the lead staff person, a van driver, data entry person, chair arranger, praise and worship leader, choir director, and the one who gives the devotions is that you don’t have […]

Prayer of a saint: Stay with me

posted by Linda G. Howard

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You. Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak And I need your strength that […]

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 […]

You’ve changed

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several years ago, a friend told me that she had seen lots of changes in me over the years.  Though she didn’t really mean it to be a compliment, I took it that way.  “You aren’t nearly as serious as […]

What’s your church IQ?

posted by Linda G. Howard

I toyed with the idea of leaving.  I was uncomfortable being out in the storm any longer than I needed to be.  Central Florida was hit with a three day storm that became “officially” and unofficial tropical storm. It was […]

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 […]

Hello, my name is Linda

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’ve received comments asking for a list of questions that can be asked when we first meet people.  This is in reference to the What Is the First Impression I Give, entry for October 5, 2011. Here are the 10 […]

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 […]

The face of encouragement

posted by Linda G. Howard

Looking through my memories over the past months, I’ve been shocked at the number of people who have been “The Face of Encouragement” for me.  Too many to name. My dad didn’t encourage with words but actions and attitude. My […]

Is there a deer on my lap?

posted by Linda G. Howard

She sat with blood and shattered glass dripping from her body and hair.  Staring blankly at the man who had come to her wrecked car, Natalie Carley asked,  “Is there a deer on my lap?” “Yes, but don’t look at […]

Riders on the storm

posted by Linda G. Howard

The song, “Riders on the Storm,” recorded in 1971 by the Doors invaded my mind this morning.  Perhaps I’m the only person in the US who can’t remember ever hearing this song. My curiosity peaked by the title, I had […]

To be or to do

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m not telling you anything new.  God wants us to be and then we will do.  It isn’t that God is against doers. However, he knows that doers become rigid and Pharisees, pointing a finger at everyone who doesn’t live up to our standards.  Or […]

When a trusted friend leaves

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, during Special Gathering worship, we said good-bye to a dear and trusted friend who is moving away.  Erik came to us seven years ago and he has done more tasks that I can name. For me, he has been […]

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 […]

A nickel for ten

posted by Linda G. Howard

As a child, Mr. Milligan’s truck filled with produce and convenience store items came through our neighborhood each day.  I could buy ten pieces of molasses-nut candy for a nickel.  Okay, I’m showing my age.  The convenience-store concept and the […]

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 […]

Cliff Jumpers

posted by Linda G. Howard

Steve Brown, a Christian radio commentator, explained that his mission in life is to watch out for cliff jumpers.  He said that he stands at the edge of a cliff every day and warns people not to jump off into […]

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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