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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

Scratching the itch

posted by Linda G. Howard

At Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the intellectually disabled community, we take our members on an annual retreat called Retreat Agape.  It is located in Vero Beach at Life for Youth Camp.  It is a  youth summer camp but we rent the entire facility for Memorial Day weekend each year.

While Retreat Agape  isn’t located “in the woods,” it is a rustic area and there are bugs.  In fact, it is rural enough for red bugs.  These tiny insects live in secluded, wooded areas; and they invade people who dare to invade their territory.  Red bugs crawl under the skin and cause little red bumps that itch and itch.  Many of our members are not exposed to wooded areas; and they aren’t used to these creepy crawlers that cause itchy bumps.  Occasionally, someone will come up to me to announce that they are never coming back because “there are bugs out here and one of them got on me and it’s itching me TO DEATH!”

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My comment is always, “We are at camp.”

In every experience in life there are good things and bad things that happen to us.  Hopefully, the good will out weigh the bad.  Yet, I’ve learned that most important element in this equation is our attitude.  Like a light shining in the darkness, a good attitude will break the back of a bad attitude everytime, thereby turning even the most awful experiences into joy.

I came from a large family with many in-laws and out-laws.  Funerals were part of my childhood memories.  I remember massive numbers of aunts, uncles and cousins serving our plates from the feast spread over the large dinner table, with desserts spilling into the living room.  The aunts, uncles and cousins balanced their plates and iced tea while roaming outside into the front yard.  We sat under the trees, sharing a meal, family gossip and lots of laughter.  Always, there was laughter.  Even out tears were sprinkled with laughter.

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As a child, those times were a lot like having a red bug come to dwell in your skin.  I hated and loved the tickle.  The itch was horrible but scratching the itch was wonderful.

There is no doubt that death is our enemy.  The legacy of  The Garden haunts every moment of our earthly existence.  But the Holy Spirit miraculously works the wonder of scratching the itch, turning that which should be horrible into a wonderfully mysterious experience.

A friend shares that on a recent vacation she met a couple who were as different as soup and walnuts.  The husband was having a marvelous time experiencing all the delights on the resort island where they were staying.  Yet the wife was miserable.  Nothing had gone right for her.  The food was too rich.  The A/C was too cold.  The ocean was too salty, leaving her sticky.  The pool was too warm.  Their room was too elegant and sterile, making her uncomfortable.

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The husband seemed to find his wife’s complaints and antics mildly amusing and he laughed a lot.  The wife was frustrated by her husband’s lack of sensitivity regarding her discomfort.  While the husband didn’t appreciate everything that was happening, he had learned to enjoy “scratching the itch. ”

Each day and sometime moment by moment, we decide how our life will be lived.  Jesus said, “Blessed (or happy) are the peace maker.”  I’m sure that he had also learned to enjoy scratching the itch.   What are some of the ways you have learned to scratch the itch.

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How we live

posted by Linda G. Howard

How we live

by Michelle Demeree

We live through each other.

We take moments in our lives

Then we give it to someone we love.

We give to those we love.

For then, when we have a need

They give to us.

In time, as we pray

Moments are given back to us

As we all pray in Christ.

 

Shelly Demeree is a poet whose work appears in various venues

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May 2011 White House Monthly Disability Call

posted by Linda G. Howard

Few people realize that 17 per cent of the population of the US is disabled.  This is a large number and growing.  Additionally, it means that every person in the US is touched by disabilities in one way or another.  Every faith group is touched by many forms of disability–from age-related cognitive decline to birth defects, autism.  Physical and mental health issues grab the Christian, Jew, Muslim and infidel.  Therefore, The White House has formed a disability group.  Each month thousands of people join to be a part of the discussions regarding disabilities via a conference phone call.  Here is the information regarding the May 2011 White House Disability Call.

Subject: Next White House Monthly Disability Call
Date: Thu, 19 May 2011 08:30:46 -0500
From: White House Disability Group <disability@messages.whitehouse.gov>
Reply- White House Disability Group <disability@messages.whitehouse.gov>
In order to help keep you more informed, we are hosting monthly calls to update you on various disability issues as well as to introduce you to persons who work on disability issues in the Federal government.

Our next call will be Thursday, May 26 at 3:00 PM Eastern.

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I would encourage you to call in about five minutes early due to the large volume of callers.

If you received this email as a forward but would like to be added to the White House Disability Group email distribution list, please visit our website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/disability-issues-contact and fill out the contact us form in the disabilities section.

This month’s call will feature:

Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood

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Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Department of Education, Russlynn Ali

Director of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Department of Labor, Patricia Shiu

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The call also will include updates on civil rights, health care, and fiscal/budget issues.

We strongly urge and ask that you distribute this email broadly to your networks and listserves so that everyone has an opportunity to learn of this valuable information.

The conference call information is below.

Dial in for listeners: (800) 230-1085

Title: White House Disability Call (use instead of code)

Date of Call: 05/26/2011

Start Time: 3:00 PM Eastern (dial in 5 minutes early)

This call is off the record and not for press purposes.

For live captioning, at the start time of the event, please login by clicking on the link below. Please only use this feature if you are deaf or hard of hearing.

http://www.fedrcc.us//Enter.aspx?EventID=1745291&CustomerID=321

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Fallen but not because of a disability

posted by Linda G. Howard

Her brown hair is short and it sports a utilitarian style.  Her uniform was clean and pressed with precision.  Last year, she held an important position with the Federal government in Washington, DC.  She has a Master’s degree in management.  Yet, through no fault of her own, she is now working for less than $12 an hour, doing the same job she did while she was in high school.  Her new job puts her in close contact with Special Gathering  members.

Yesterday, as I approached her, I could see the tears reaming her eyes.  “How are you?” I asked.

“I can’t believe my life has come to this,” she said, marking a check list and reviewing the things that needed to be done to keep the people she oversees safe.  She turned away from me so that I could not see the lone tear that pierced her left cheek.

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I took her in my arms and hugged her.  We had bonded from the first time we met because she is a devoted Christian and she attends the same church that I’ve had close connections with for years.   Her greatest concern isn’t the amount of money that she is making.  It is that by working with our members on Sundays, she is not able to attend her church.  I’ve invited her to come to Special Gathering, instead; but she isn’t able to break away and come.

As our members bounded away from her a few hours later, I couldn’t help but contrast their lives with this caregiver’s. I also saw myself in the caregiver’s position; and I wished that I could more easily identify with my members.   These past two weeks have been a struggle for me.  I can identify with the middle-aged woman who found her life in shambles.  No,  my situation isn’t as tragic as hers.  However, circumstances have definitely changed.

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Is there an answer for me and for her?  I saw that the answer was slapping me in the face.  Our members have the same concerns of any other adult.  They have bills to pay.  They have boyfriend/girlfriend issues.  They have problems with the people the work with and the people with whom they live.  Their bosses aren’t always fair.  They have health issues.  Their aging parents have delicate health concerns.  But they bound from place to place happy to be alive.

Sure there are those within the mentally challenged community who live with depression.  Others are just plain aggravating or even mean.  But as a population, they have so much that could be distracting and oppressive; and yet they determine to see the best for themselves and for their families.  Add a relationship with Lord and we find the most positive and resilient people I’ve ever met.

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Here are several things that I’ve found that the mentally challenged community does that helps them to maintain their mental stability in the face of trauma.

  • They continue to laugh at themselves and with each other. Laughter is still the best medicine.
  • They maintain a close-knit community.  They work together, dance together, play together and vacation together.
  • They are repeatedly trained to walk away from offensive situations, rather than stew about  misunderstandings.  This is a great skill that we should all practice daily.

Each of us are able to make decisions that can and should alter our lives.  Most of these decisions are simply deciding to allow God to fight our battles and laugh in the face of hard circumstances.   Of course, keeping in daily contact with the Lord, family and Christian friends can help change our lives in the middle of difficult circumstances.

 

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