A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

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 the years, Eric’s parents have constantly commended the training he has received from Special Gathering.  Likewise, Brent’s mother worked hard to manage his behavioral concerns.  After attending Special Gathering for a few years, a drastic overhaul happened in his life.  She gave all the credit to the teaching that he received each week at Special Gathering.

Brent and Eric still have issues that are unresolved in their personalities and actions.  But they are still green apples.

Arthur is equally dysfunctional in his behavior at work.  No one can get along with him.  However, all these co-workers agree that Arthur has radically changed for the better since he has been attending the Bible study at work.  Barb looses her temper with her family and friends.  She knows that she is wrong; and she has started to read her Bible each day, looking for answers to her temperamental behaviors.

Arthur and Barb still have issues that are unresolved in their personalities and actions.  But they are still green apples–growing in the Lord.

Arthur, Barb, Brent and Eric have stories that are amazingly similar. All four struggle with behavioral issues.  But they are also very different.  Arthur is the CEO of a large company and Barb manages a local restaurant.   Eric and Brent are part of the mentally challenged community.

The acorn that falls from the mighty oak tree is very different from the tree that it will become.  The sapling which springs from the acorn is not nearly as beautiful or stable as the tree that it will become 20 years later.

The Christian life is a growing experience.  As disciples of Christ, we will never become totally ripe fruit until we are in heaven.  The acorn does not even resemble the tree it will become.  It is the same with the members of Special Gathering.  As much as Brent may change, he is still miles from the goal of being transformed into the image of Christ.  Eric loves the Lord; but he still falters in his execution of the disciplines of the Christian life.

Yes, Arthur–the CEO–and Eric–the Special Gathering member–are dissimilar.  Yet, in comparison to the acorn and the oak tree, there are more similarities than there are differences.

Goodbye, Grandpa

posted by Linda G. Howard

We went to the beach early so the children could play a bit before the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.  It was Monday morning.  The launch was scheduled for 9:23 AM. 

On Tuesday the week before, Frank, my husband of 49 years had died.  Because of his commitment to Christ, we knew he was running through heaven.  The week had been a blur of tears and laughter.  Family and friends came by the house to drop off food or cards. They all lingered for a moment making sure that I was all right.  Bitter-sweet times washed through our home like a reoccurring flood of healing balm.

Our children, three grandchildren and I had spent much of Saturday sorting and dividing things that the grandchildren wanted to have as a remembrance of their Grandpa.  He and I had often talked about what each child would want to have.

CLICK HERE to read more about the late Frank Howard 

My husband was a NASA scientist who worked for 45 years on the space program.  A good friend of Frank’s had called to accept our invitation to speak at his memorial service.  His colleague said, “Frank was a true engineer. He always came with concrete numbers and mathematical proof for his conclusions.  There was no guessing or using his instinct when designing systems that related to the space program.”   Therefore, this final launch of the Endeavour held more significance for our family than for some of the people dotting the beach.

It was a perfect day and the bird lifted from its perch, ascending into the blue sky without a hitch.  The rest of the children and grandchildren had to return to their work.  But my daughter, her husband, their two children and I walked the two block to the ocean to view the spectacle.  And we were not disappointed.  My daughter had wrapped her arms around both of her children as we walked and said, “This is an important moment in history.  But it is even more important for our family because Granddaddy devoted most of his career designing and working on piping that fuels the shuttle.”

As we watched the silent speck rise effortlessly into space, my eight-year-old granddaughter said in a loud voice, “Goodbye, Grandpa.”  Then she repeated it again and again as tears traced my cheeks.  I quietly wept for the loss of the man and engineer that I love. 

God is so good to his children and He knows what is best for us far better than we know ourselves.  For me, there was no greater tribute to my husband than that lovely voice speaking tender words as the vehicle disappeared, “Goodbye, Grandpa.”



Lasting Common Sense vs Passing Trends

posted by Linda G. Howard

Even though I don’t feel that old, I’ve not only lived through the last Ice Age but now I’ve also been able to navigate through the deadly specter of Global Warming.  However, all this has been replaced by another haunting danger, Climate Change.

If you are old enough, you remember that there was an environmental scare that began in the early 1970′s which proclaimed that our waste and living habits were causing the earth to usher in the next Ice Age.  Then a decade or two later, we were accosted by Global Warming.  Now it appears that in these few short years, I’ve passed through these threats only to be battling Climate Change.

Frankly, I was just getting used to the cold when Global Warming was ushered into the environment. The past few years of Florida’s freezing winters make me almost yearn for the good, old days of Global Warming.

Before all the environmental scares asking us to conserve energy and eliminate waste, I was reusing and repurposing everything that passed through our household.  In the 1960′s and 70′s,  my children and the teenagers in my youth group used to mock me because I was constantly “reusing” almost everything.  I was a cheapskate because paper grocery bags were carefully folded and securely tucked between my water heater and the wall waiting for their next life.  To some observers, I was a hoarder when jars and bottles were put under the sink for another day’s journey.  When old newspapers were used to wrap broken glass and other garbage so that the trash wouldn’t hurt anyone or smell, I was mocked with yucks and ughs.

Medicine bottles, egg cartons, plastic containers were valuable commodities resurrected into different objects because of their reuse.  We even repaired our TV’s and stereo sets rather than buying new ones.  I recovered old furniture.  A sharp butcher knife became our lawn edging tool; and my scissors were a magical piece of equipment with multiple purposes that saved us from buying objects that were “purdy” but we really didn’t need.

Now the schools and all forms of media shout to the world about waste and that is a great thing.  However, it kinda annoys me.  This is the same group of folks who mocked my efforts to make do, rather than replace.

In the same vein, it was people of my generation who forced institutions for people with intellectual disabilities to close because these parents said to the professional community, “My daughter (or son) is part of our family and we won’t put her away.  She will come home with us and she will be raised by us.”  The families were mocked and ridiculed for their naive thinking by many people who believed they knew what was best.

The actions of these loving families saved our nation billions and billions of dollars over the next 40 or 50 years.  Additionally, their children have become the employees who are THRILLED to do the jobs that no one else will do.  As a result, the mentally challenged community has become taxpaying citizens.

Yet, in the time of budget cuts, so many things are being defunded or replaced with less and less.  The mentally challenged community understands the situation that we have made for ourselves through waste and fraud.  They know that things are changing and their services will be reduced.  As a community, they are more than willing to do their part.  However, in some states, when many other line-items in the state budget are  increased in the newly passed legislature, the  budget for these courageous men and women with disabilites was greatly reduced.

Perhaps it’s time to remember the billions of dollars that have been saved by these careful, loving parents and reclaim the heritage that they fought to make possible for their children.

Connections

posted by Linda G. Howard

Because many of our Special Gathering members were not able to attend the memorial service for one of their Bible teachers, we had a short memorial time at our Melbourne Special Gathering on Sunday morning.  Special Gathering members are mentally challenged adults.  The mission of our ministry is evangelism and discipleship.  We don’t do group homes but we have chapel services and Bible classes.  This teacher, Frank, had taught a Bible class for about ten years.  His students loved him.  Therefore, as part of the memorial, our Melbourne members were asked to comment about Frank, sharing a favorite memory.

Our members spoke about the times they remembered the most.  I was a bit surprised.  Several of the members talked about the class he taught.  However, almost all of our members said, “I went to his house to eat.”  His last meal, in fact, was shared with five of our Special Gathering members.  Their van driver lives in Vero but she needed to do some catch-up paper work in Melbourne; and his wife invited the members to come and eat at their home.

After that meal, Frank took a large downturn; and he was no longer able to eat.

Over the years, I’ve studied the importance in the Scriptures regarding the meal.  The Bible indicates that there is a bonding that happens at meal time and with the breaking of bread.  This unique time does not seem to happen during any other activity.

The meal plays a significant part in each milestone of developing our Christian faith.  Only mentioning a few, Abraham shared a meal with the Angel of the Lord before receiving God’s promise to become a great nation.  The Passover was a Seder meal.  Moving to the New Testament, the last supper was an important time of communion for Jesus and his disciples.  Even after his resurrection, we know of two meals that Jesus shared with his followers.  The last meal was breakfast on the beach and Jesus prepared the food himself.

I am more and more convinced that to develop a working and compatible relationship with people or family members that we desire to influence for Christ, the meal will help.  Several years ago, our executive director at Special Gathering, Richard Stimson, decided that we should invite our members to come to our homes and have a meal with them and their families.  We invited each family whose child participated to our home.  We spent time with them.  Though it has been years, our parents still bring up how much they appreciated coming to our home.

Of course, inviting people to our homes is not the only way we can create that bond.  Sharing meals at restaurants, church fellowships and picnics will accomplish the same goal.  Weekend spiritual retreats are often life changing experiences and I’m convinced that a big part of that transformation is because of eating with other Christians.

God in his infinite wisdom has made the meal a time of pleasure and bonding that melts heart together in a unique way.  Connections are made that last a lifetime.

Previous Posts

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Fatigue
After four days of Camp Agape, my children laugh that I'm in my Camp Coma for about a week.  While it's humorous there is a lot of truth in their designation of my abilities.  There are some things that I've learned from others and from my own experiences regarding physical fatigue. First, this

posted 6:37:05am May. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Explaining grace
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 God's Riches At Christ's Expense This is great explanation of grace and

posted 9:48:06pm May. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Familiar customs and limited means
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 tribes who desired to trav

posted 7:47:06am May. 20, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.