A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

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 ago.  They built a wonderful group home with an equestrian bend.  However, they didn’t understand that their land–like much of the Southern woodland–is overly populated with wild hogs.  Because of the vigilance of the owners of the home, the hogs have not terrorized the family of mentally challenged individuals living in the house.  Yet, the potential exists.

In the western part of our country, the US Fish and Wildlife Service repopulated the northwestern states in the late 1990’s with gray wolves hoping to improve the eco-system.  As a result the wolf population has thrived and there are currently approximately 1,645 gray wolves and 217 packs roaming the region.  They, too, have become a problem to the ecology. In the article published in the March 2010, entitled, “Wolf Wars,” National Geographic reported that the return of the wolves has changed everything in the northwestern states, including the microbiology of the soil.  Killing coyotes, the wolves are altering the existing eco-system in ways that may not be beneficial.  Wolves are again a threat to humans; they have killed several hikers in the past years.

At times, people don’t understand what harm we are doing by our actions.  Humans killed off all the wolves, which was a bad thing.  However, their protection has caused perhaps even greater damage.

Using abortion, many people assumed that we would soon eliminate the birth of people who are mentally challenged.  This appeared to be a good thing to many medical professionals and others who had fought for the right to have an abortion.  Twenty years ago, when Cheryl’s baby was found to have a clef lip, she was severely pressured by her doctors to have an abortion because developmental disabilities often accompany a clef lip.  The family resisted and even had to change doctors three times before finding an MD who would deliver their child.  As it happened, the young man is brilliant and the lip was surgically repaired at a young age.

Because of fetal alcohol syndrome, AID’s-related disabilities, and disabilities within the autism spectrum (ASD), developmental disabilities have not disappeared.  In fact, it is estimated and reported by National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke a part of  National Institute of Health ”three to six children out of every 1,000 will have ASD.  Males are four times more likely to have ASD than females.”  This is a much larger portion of the population that those children carrying the Down’s syndrome gene.

Parents and those who work within the mentally challenged community understand the amazing blessings our population brings to the world.  Whether you are a Christian or not, the blessings of our population have been chronicled again and again.  Of course, there are adjustments and great grief when a child is born with disabilities.  At times, life is harder than parents could ever imagine.  However, the blessings overwhelm the obvious harm.

As a minister within the mentally challenged community, I repeatedly emphasize to our members how much they can be used by the Lord.  The important fact that God can use all of us gives each of us permanent value in who we are.  Christianity is unique in our approach to the Lord.  Jesus taught us that all people have great value to God and He loves us unconditionally.  This Holy Week teaches us God great sacrifice for us.

Photos:  Wild Boar by Sivio DSouza and Wolf by Arrr!

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 NOT residing in Buckingham Palace, the Union Jack flag  flies over her London home.

However, if the Queen is in residence, her own flag flies over the palace.

In trying to help others understand ministry within the mentally challenged community, we explain that the social aptitude of our members is sort of stuck in junior high/middle school.  They enjoy all the things that would entertain anyone who is between the ages of 12 and 14.  Additionally, one minute they are making mature, rational decisions.  The next minute, they have reverted back to childish behavior.

In their walk with Christ, it isn’t unusual to hear deeply profound statements coming from two members as they discuss the Lord.  Yet, within a few moments, we may see the same two people fighting over a double-stuff Oreo cookie.

As I learned this interesting fact about the flags flying over Buckingham Palace, I thought of Special Gathering members. Their social penchant for flip/flopping makes them an easy target to illustrate an important Christian principle.  However, the problem isn’t isolated within the intellectually disabled population.  Too often, there are two alternating flags which fly over my life–over all of our lives.   One represents a holy life in Christ; the other shows that we’ve stepped away and we are somewhere else, fighting over an Oreo.

When we are in the middle of our friends who are Christian, it is easy to stand for what is right and good and just.  We fly the flag that says we are comfortable living within the kingdom of God.  When we are at work or among friends who aren’t aligned with Christ, we may nonchalantly slip to the flag pole to haust our worldly flag.

Compromise comes easily and quickly.  Yet, it means that for a time, I am turning my back on the life-giving Holy Spirit for a vacant life of recrimination and regrets.  I pray that the flag of my life will continue to fly high proudly telling the world the Christ is living in my heart.

When are the times that you are tempted to back away from the Savior?  Are we fighting over an Oreo, when we should be proclaiming Christ’s love to the world?

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 from Camp Daniel says:

I had heard a follow up joke to that one…


If the head has already been bitten off a chocolate easter bunny, how can you tell if its male or female?

If it’s female, it is still talking!

 

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 enslave all of us?

No.  This morning as my husband was watching Christian TV, I was reminded that every aspect of my life is being recorded.  Not for reality TV or UTube but where it really count, within the heavenly annals.

In the Bible, we are clearly told that on God’s Judgment Day, the books of our lives will be opened and we must stand before the Lord to answer regarding every aspect of our lives.  As a child, Saturday movie matinée at the Waylyn Theatre was a valued part of my childhood.  The $.14 entrance fee ushered me and a hundred other children into a wonder land visible on a screen so large that every aspect of my mind and brain was filled with the sights and sounds of an alternate universe.

Therefore, the recording of our lives never puzzled me because I knew God was more powerful than Hollywood.  I assumed that it was a supernatural thing that went on in those holy celestial halls.  However, now we see the lives of so many folks edited and shown in our living rooms.  It’s available every night of the week.  Reality TV has become common place.  “The Housewives” have taken over so much of what we see.  With 90,000 channels, there are only so many times that we can watch reruns of I Love Lucy. A cheap way to fill the hours had to be devised.  As a result, reality TV was born.

As some reality stars have found, filming every moment of your life is a two-edged sword.  It can make you a millionaire and give you public recognition.  Yet,  just as quickly, destroy your life.

What about us?  Carlos, a member of Special Gathering, is a high-functioning man whose disability is within the autism spectrum.  He has held a full-time position at an electronics firm for decades.  He is well-respected because of his work ethic.  He is paid well by the firm who employs him.  Years ago, he began bringing a video camera to record my sermons.

Then he would watch my sermons again and again.  It was a bit daunting because Carlos knew when I repeated a story; and he knew the exact date that I told the antidote.  He knew if I changed the facts a bit.  I could never slip in my devotion prep because Carlos was making a visual record of even my worst devotions.  Those days when he was recording probably made me a  better teacher.

This morning, I wondered if my life skills have been honed because of the reality that God is recording my actions and reactions.  Will I one day have to look at the shameful day that I pushed my husband aside in anger and he lost his balance and fell?  Will I have to see the way I’ve treated others on the days I whine the excuse, “I just don’t feel good”?

My life story will either bring glory to the Lord or eternal shame for me.  I praise God that the Bible also says that those missteps and sins that are forgiven have been edited from The Linda Howard Reality Story.  As each of us stand before God’s judgment seat, we will receive rewards for our deeds. Nevertheless, because of the blood of Jesus our sins can be hidden from view.

What is a time that you delighted in God’s forgiveness?  Will the recording of your life bring glory to the Savior?  What about your actions and reactions to your family, spouse or friends?  What is God’s reality show recording?

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