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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

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 at both ends. For years, I had no idea what she meant. When I finally understood her, I was sure that I was getting ready to “burn out” at any moment because she had been giving me that dreaded warning for a decade.

It’s been many years since her stern predictions and I’m still burning. I’ve found that God is my source and strength, especially in times of stress.

We are preparing for Camp Agape which is May 23 to 26. There are many details for getting ready and for being responsible for 100 people and their safety. Yet, again and again, I find the Lord going before me and preparing my way. I’ve learned to rest in Him and trust that He will make a way. And He always does even though my eyesight gets foggy and dim through the smoke my candle burning generates.

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When we leak

posted by Linda G. Howard

jesus movementRecently, 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 Lord was tangible enough to reach out and touch.  Even though I was very young–bearly out of my teenage years–I had been a Christian long enough to realize that this kind of mysterious, glorious revelation would not last forever.

It is part of the curse that we live under.  We leak.  There are some things that we need to understand when we are faced with our leaky humanity.  Here are a few that I’ve learned over the years

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leaking bucket1.  Though we leak, God does not moved away from us.

2.  Neither has He removed His love and compassion.

3.  Miracles don’t grow faith.

4.  Day-to-day living grows faith.

5.  Living out the Word of God when you feel nothing makes our faith strong and resilient.

6.  Leaking isn’t a sin.

7.  Leaking is simply a reality and part of our Adamic nature.

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8.  Leaking doesn’t mean that we love God less than we did when there was almost a tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.

9.  Abundant faith and abundant faithfulness are different.

10.  Adundant faith is a gift from God.

11.  Abundant faithfulness is our gift to God.

A wonderful Christian Mentor–my mother–often quietly mused, “Will the Lord find a faithful people when He returns?”  It seems like a simple question; but she repeated it so often that I came to understand that Mother was expressing the plaintive cry of God’s heart.  Ministering within the mentally challenged community for many years has helped me to see the fruit of a faithful people.  Most of my members will never write a book, sonnet or poem.  About half of them cannot read.  Some cannot talk.  But they are faithful.  I’ve had several members who did not miss a week in 20 years.

Mighty deeds and amazing miracles are wonderful.  They attract crowds and bring great joy into our lives.  But I’ve become more and more convinced that God is looking for a faithful people who will love Him no matter what the circumstances, delights, hardship, joy or trials.

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Providing a Safe Harbor

posted by Linda G. Howard

insecureOne 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 of their intellectual development, many people within the mentally challenged community are also stunted in expressing their deep emotions.

There are only a few vehicles wherein this population where they would be expected or allowed to share their genuine thoughts.  All of us are heavily invested in teaching this population Scriptural principles.  Nonetheless, unless the precepts become practical applications in their lives, they will never learn them effectively.

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Therefore, it is vital to give our members the space wherein they are allowed to share their thoughts.  How we do this is not easy.  Though the answers regarding a “how to” may seem simplistic.

  1. wrting on a boardYou must aske targeted and pointed questions.
  2. You must allow the members to share without interruption.
  3. You must allow the members time to answer.  When a question is asked, the leader of the group will often wait a few seconds and then answer the question themselves.  Waiting is hard but it reaps great dividends.
  4. You must be sure that the answer to your questions are not to complicated or a vehicle to showcase how smart the examiner is. In other words, don’t ask trick question.
  5. You must give the members many successes with their answers.  If a person give a totally off the rail answer, rephrase it until you have found an answer with which they agree.
  6. When asking an opinion question, be sure that every answer is given validity.  No opinion is incorrect.  An opinion is owned by the responder–not the asker.
  7. Give the answers extra validity by writing the answers down on a board of some type.
  8. It is most important that the answering party knows without a doubt that the questioner loves him or her.  It takes time and a great deal of patience to truly show that you love your members.

It takes an extremely secure person to be able to express their opinions, thoughts and emotions.  We must understand that most people within the disability community are not secure.  Many of them know full range of their deficiencies better than anyone else.  They must be given a safe harbor to insure that they are able to receive the healing that the Holy Spirit wants to give through your ministry.

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The First Points of Light Award

posted by Linda G. Howard

Points of lightWhen 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.

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Frank S. Howard

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The fact that Frank S. Howard was my husband and I am the area director for The Special Gathering of Indian River, I’ve felt a close connection to the organization.  As President Obama and the Bush family celebrate this fine organization, I cannot help but remember the surprise and joy we shared when the award was given.

Frank Howard was an Technological Scientist at NASA.  He had five inventions to his credit and many awards, including Kennedy Space Center Employee of the Year.  Frank Howard was a Bible teacher for The Special Gathering.  He loved and supported this population and he felt it was an honor to teach the members of his class.

The Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our mission is the evangelization and discipleship of mentally challenged (intellectually disabled)  individuals.  There are seven programs dotting the East Coast from Florida to South Carolina.

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 learned and maybe we even remember God’s Riches

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 money he needs. It’s never been my favorite Christma

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 moved from our city to a small town out of the state.  Bec

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 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 »

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