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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

religion Archives

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Sleep and other disorders

posted by Linda G. Howard

As a child, I assumed that I was a perfectly normal person.  When I became an adult, I realized that I was loaded with disorders. 1.  There is a sleep disorder.  For years, I thought it was normal to have […]

Making do

posted by Linda G. Howard

It was the annual gathering of Special Gathering members.  Each year nearly 200 mentally challenged people meet in Vero Beach at Life for Youth Camp for Retreat Agape.  For almost 30 years, we have met there from Friday morning until […]

Learning that God is just

posted by Linda G. Howard

We all understand that our federal government is divided into three co-equal branches.  There is the executive branch, the legislative and the judicial branches.  The purpose of these three branches of government is to insure that the people 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 […]

Kindness gone bad

posted by Linda G. Howard

Aren’t we all walking a strict tight rope regarding kindness.  At some tipping point, kindness can be abused and we find our greatest tender mercies have gone bad.  Today, I took a member out to supper.  Bob was a member […]

A Savior for all people

posted by Linda G. Howard

A Savior for All People No matter who you are the Lord Jesus is God.  He understands and relates to you. There were 3 good arguments that Jesus was Black: 1.   He called everyone brother, 2.   He liked […]

Stare Time

posted by Linda G. Howard

When I don’t take time to rest, I find that I stare a lot.  Letting my mind float, I simply stare into space for long minutes.  Everyone needs time to rest, no matter how important you are to your family, […]

The Potato Sacrifice

posted by Linda G. Howard

The story is told of a mine worker in Ireland during the great potato famine of 1847.  He brought his lunch each day to work; but he ate alone.  Stealing away from his coworkers, he would then open his lunch pail. The […]

An enduring promise

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’ve always been intrigued by Proverbs 25:2 that tells us, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, to search out a matter is the glory of kings”  (NIV).  For reasons of His own, God chooses to conceal […]

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 […]

Dress shirt and tie

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are different ways that the members of The Special Gathering tell me that they are growing in the Lord.  I see in our members subtle changes that others would ignore.  Nevertheless, each adjustment means a transformation has occurred in their […]

Boundaries

posted by Linda G. Howard

I passionately shared the concerns of a family whose son is a member of The Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  He and his family have become close friends during the 20 years I have served in […]

Transient Treasure

posted by Linda G. Howard

Clarence taught me the transient nature of people, especially the men and women within the mentally challenged community who do not have  families.  When I met Clarence, he was living in an Adult Living Facility that housed people who were […]

Look at me

posted by Linda G. Howard

With the stir of the new movie, The Help, I’ve been reminded that the hardest part about directing a choir of mentally challenged people is teaching them to look at me.  In the twenty years that I have been a choir director […]

Redemption–Part 1

posted by Linda G. Howard

While I’ve always had a love affair with the English language, redemption is one of my favorite words.  It speaks of strength, firmness, character, kindness, forgiveness and compassion. When I was much younger, I taught Vacation Bible School with Marsha, […]

Cheap grace–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

When we are met head on by our mistakes, it is sometimes impossible to pick up and resume “just like nothing happened,” especially when we must admit that we have hurt a dear friend.   Even though I deeply hurt a […]

Cheap Grace–part 1

posted by Linda G. Howard

I hate cheap grace. A wealthy farmer in a small town in South Carolina bought his son a new red BMW for his sixteenth birthday.  The boy took the car out one night, got drunk and totalled it. The next […]

God changes our hearts

posted by Linda G. Howard

by Michelle Demeree Melbourne, Florida God changes our hearts for people. With His help, we come to see others through their eyes. We grow together in time. When we speak God’s word, Sharing out loud, we grow together. Sharing God’s […]

Understanding the Prophets–Seeing God’s compassion

posted by Linda G. Howard

For almost a decade, I journeyed with the prophets in the scriptures observing only the judgment and condemnation  they proclaimed.  Then one summer, I trekked through a most painful personal desert.  In his mercy, God revealed a hidden, unpalatable sin in my […]

God made tears. Why?

posted by Linda G. Howard

by Michelle Demaree God made tears  Why? We sometimes think God brings the rain and the sunshine. As we read this poem, we may find ourselves happy and sad. For example, let’s say you see a lovely movie.  What do […]

Marking the markets

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m sitting at the end of the day hearing experts talk about the Dow-Jones dive by 419 points.  Owning stocks is no longer a priority of the super-rich.  Like most other folks today, part of what I will one day […]

The Place Setting

posted by Linda G. Howard

I was in the eleventh grade when I learned exactly how a proper place setting should look.  We were preparing for our Junior-Senior Banquet.  To insure that we all knew how to use the correct forks and spoons, it was part of our […]

God’s Power to Change our Life

posted by Linda G. Howard

A friend told me that he saw a man mopping up a spill in a local 7-11 store.  He said to the man who was mopping, “I assume you are the manager.”  The bosses in stores get to do the dirty […]

Less is more

posted by Linda G. Howard

Often I edit my blog entries eliminating the unnecessary words.  When teaching writing skills or attending a writer’s conference, I will say or hear said, “In writing, less is more.” Last Thursday, as I looked into the eyes of one of […]

Not for Sale–Feeding the poor

posted by Linda G. Howard

Outreach of  the Islamic community to the Islamic community is the third pillar of Islam.  For the Muslim, the Zakah, which is the name for their charitable donations, is to fulfill a compulsory act of worship.  Each Muslim is expected to pay […]

Not for sale–Jewish and Christian education

posted by Linda G. Howard

 Education is an area in which the religious community has excelled. Reaching back through thousands of years of history, the Jewish community has been known as People of the Book.  Their need to read and understand the Torah and their […]

Not for sale–The Salvation Army

posted by Linda G. Howard

 Again and again the population of of the US votes with their pocketbook in favor of the good works done by organizations such as the Salvation Army.  Each Christmas generous shoppers plunk coins, bills and checks into the Salvation Army […]

God gives to us to give to Him

posted by Linda G. Howard

When I was a little girl, I would watch as the offering plate was passed over me in church.  In the church where I attended, we put in our offerings during Sunday school. As I watched it pass over my […]

Frank loved Jesus

posted by Linda G. Howard

by Kevin Fowler Walterboro, South Carolina Mr. Fowler is a member and deacon of our South Carolina Special Gathering located in Walterboro.  A life-time resident of Walterboro, Fowler is also a member of The Special Gathering choir.  A wheelchair or demon […]

Living on less

posted by Linda G. Howard

After checking my on-line bank account for the fifth time that day, I decided that I’d eat lunch at my favorite place, my own kitchen.  It seems that whether I’m planning an excursion or simply working in my home office, […]

Good feelings

posted by Linda G. Howard

Exhaustion after a day of hard, physical work may be one of the best feelings there is.  There is a great misunderstanding that when Adam and Eve sinned and they were driven from the garden, they were made to work.  In […]

Colors of the rainbow

posted by Linda G. Howard

Colors of the Rainbow by Michelle Demeree Friendship is like a rainbow of love. There are many colors in a rainbow.   With love, it doen’t matter Your shape or your size.   Like a rainbow where colors blend, The […]

Master gardener

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’ve spent much of the last two afternoons and evening outside working on my garden.  This is my private sanctuary but I’ve spent precious little time out doors these past two years.  My husbands failing health and other concerns have made my […]

Call to action

posted by Linda G. Howard

After Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne hit Vero Beach, Florida, in 2004, the street signs in Indian River County were all twisted.  Many of the street markers were gone.  Almost all of the ones left standing were turned the wrong way. These street […]

Strength for Prayer

posted by Linda G. Howard

Hudson Taylor, a pioneer missionary to China, once said, “Do not work so hard for Christ that you have no strength to pray, for prayer requires strength.”  I was reminded several times this week of the vital work of prayer.  At […]

Sealing Trust

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, I went  to the local Wal-Mart.  My shirt was dirty and my pants were not a comfortable fit.  But, I reasoned to myself, I never see anyone that I know there. My assumption was wrong.  As I was struggling to get my […]

Trust to succeed

posted by Linda G. Howard

For about 10 years,  mourning doves nested outside our back door.   The sweet cooing of the birds and the chirps of their young, filled my morning devotion and prayer spot with joyful, mourning sounds.  Several times a day, I’d […]

The Proof

posted by Linda G. Howard

Prayer of the saints

posted by Linda G. Howard

On December 13,  I injured my eye ball.  I was working in the garden when a spindly plant pierced my eye directly into the corneal.  It caused what the doctors called a Recurrent Corneal Erosion (RCE).  In simple terms, the […]

Trucks and hard-working young men

posted by Linda G. Howard

It was late Friday afternoon.  Three battered trucks with all sorts of construction equipment flapping from the truck beds buzzed in beside me.  I entered the convenience store ahead of them.  As I stood at the ATM, I was rattled […]

…and he danced

posted by Linda G. Howard

Wednesday, November 10, did not seem like an eventful day for Joey Melton.  He got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, took his lunch and went to work.  None of us would have suspected that this would be his last day […]

The Final Moments of Life

posted by Linda G. Howard

Rev.  David A. Tester shares from  his experiences during his chaplain residency in Charleston, SC at St. Frances Hospital. The article was first published in the Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling. The Final Moments of Life I am a […]

Walking in love

posted by Linda G. Howard

This week there are three little girls under the age of five visiting in my home.  Watching them, I’m amazed again at how much they are able to pour their love out without abandonment.  The girls live in another state; but […]

Confession–Good for the Soul

posted by Linda G. Howard

Sometimes confession is good for the soul.  So here goes. I began reading the Bible on a daily basis when I was in high school.  That was more years than most of you have been alive.  I still read through […]

Getting tough with me

posted by Linda G. Howard

Dear Math, I’m not a therapist.  Solve your own problems. ____________________________________ I’m amazed at how often I’m working against myself.  Yesterday and today, I wasted more than $20 because I had to make three trips to a neighboring town, 20 […]

Hard times? You are in good company

posted by Linda G. Howard

I was fascinated by the story of man who had a Cadillac Seville that fell on him.  He prayed for an an angel to come and help him; and a college football player showed up.  The football player, Danous Esterner, […]

Touch and Listen

posted by Linda G. Howard

By Michelle Demaree We can open up our ears because We have to hear. What are people saying to us? “Let’s open up the Book to read.” It is is the way to learn about our Lord. It is is […]

Shared sorrow

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, I heard from a friend about a deeply sorrowful event taking place in his life.  Like most men, he related his story with firmness and only a hint of tension that translated into a jerking speech pattern. I listened, […]

The Healing Process

posted by Linda G. Howard

As many of you know, my husband died almost two months ago.  We had been married for 49 years.  It had been almost a decade since his first stroke.  I knew each time I left the house that when I […]

It’s a Guy Thing

posted by Linda G. Howard

It’s a guy thing.  I’ve never quite understood most of this passage of scripture found in John 21. You remember the incident that happened after Jesus’ resurrection.  First, the breakfast on the beach.  I think Jesus  invented going out to […]

The Paper Clip and the boat

posted by Linda G. Howard

Have you ever examined a paper clip?  Though the actual inventor is disputed, it was patented by Johan Vaaler.  He was an inventor who was struggling with the big problems of the patent office where he worked.  One of the […]

Finding Freedom

posted by Linda G. Howard

Turning Lemons into Lemonade Part 3

posted by Linda G. Howard

A dad makes his homecoming a memory for his children that will last a lifetime.  

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

posted by Linda G. Howard

I am often surprised by the ability of the members of Special Gathering to “turn lemons into lemonade.” The other day I had a conversation with one of our SpG members. When he was 18 years old, this young man was […]

Forgiveness and the Zipper

posted by Linda G. Howard

This hilarious video demonstrates the dire need for forgiveness.

Adventures at Disney

posted by Linda G. Howard

Yesterday, I spent 9 hours at DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom with my son and daughter-in-law.  The thermometer was set at 100 degrees by early morning but the shops and rides were air-conditioned.  A 7PM rain storm cooled everything down for the […]

The 100th Psalm quoted by a small child

posted by Linda G. Howard

This small child knows the 100th Psalm.  Watch and see the mouth of a small child proclaiming God’s goodness around the world.

Picnic with a bunch of wimps

posted by Linda G. Howard

For the past decade, The Special Gatherings of Melbourne and Vero have held 4th of July picnics either the Sunday before or the Sunday after the actual date.  We call them our “I’m Free in Jesus” picnics.  It’s your usual […]

Eliminating stress–practice quiet

posted by Linda G. Howard

Friends have been concerned about my well-being since my husband died.  ”How will you get along without someone in the house?” is the most common question.  In reality, I think they are asking, “How will you survive the quiet?” Even […]

I Know my Redeemer Lives

posted by Linda G. Howard

Watch Team Hoyt as an example of God’s love flowing through people who love each other.

Leadership–Enduring the hardships of living for Christ

posted by Linda G. Howard

Recently, I was reminded me that God called Moses to lead the Children of Israel out of bondage.  Then God deliberately hindered Moses’ efforts to succeed.  You remember the story, Moses came from his 40 year respite in the desert to […]

Eliminating stress: Take a break and Don’t run

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several times each week, I would take one or all of my children on foot, crossing the busy five-lane A1A Highway to the ocean.  Each time, I would instruct them.  “Stop.  Look both ways.  Listen.   And do not EVER […]

Eliminating stress-sing a song

posted by Linda G. Howard

Bach called music, “Recreation of the mind.”  Modern scientific research tell us that your mother was right–again. Learning to play a musical instrument as a child and continuing to practice into adulthood sharpens your mind and keeps your thinking clear […]

Learning that changes lives

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 […]

Leadership–Sense of humor? Get One

posted by Linda G. Howard

There may be nothing that is as potent in leadership than a sense of humor, especially when you allow yourself to become the joke. I’ve watched gifted leaders turn some of their greatest blunders into a time of learning for […]

Leadership–Standing on the backs of older generations

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several years ago, Richard Stimson wrote in the Special Gathering newsletter, Networks, something that made a big impression on me. He said that all of us who serve within the disability community stand on the backs of the generations who have […]

Eliminating stress–Take a walk

posted by Linda G. Howard

When I first began writing to meet a deadline, I found that I could sit at the computer for only a limited number of hours.  Every 15 minutes or so, I would walk around the house or yard.  I might […]

Walking the best exercise

posted by Linda G. Howard

While the video isn’t the best quality, the information contained here is excellent.

Born into Extreme Poverty and Mentally challenged, Teen Triumphs

posted by Linda G. Howard

I hope you will enjoy this incredible story, which was written by Mark Hanlon, Senior Vice President of Compasion International. Every so often, you come across someone who truly inspires you. Recently, for me, that person is a teenager from […]

Fathers–Heroes and Treasures

posted by Linda G. Howard

Father’s Day by Michelle Demeree Our fathers are our heroes. His day is a time to be with him. Remember how Dad is to you. Remember how your father is  in your eyes. Dads are our heroes. My father is […]

Eliminating Stress–Daily Exercise

posted by Linda G. Howard

About 20 years ago, I realized that I was loosing my balance.  Most of my life, I’d hated exercise; and I could realistically be called a couch potato.  However, I had fallen and broken my leg.  As soon as I […]

My dad

posted by Linda G. Howard

My father was not allowed to leave the house without me.  That was my rule–not his.  Sure, he could go to work; but after that, I would pile into his mini-Crosley car whenever he attempted to leave the house.  I […]

Eliminating Stress–Meditation

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of the things which keeps all of us tied into granny knots is stress.  Of course, we cannot live without stress.  It is the fuel that keeps us moving forward with purpose and energy.  Normal stress is not sin. […]

Translator Eugene Peterson Interview

posted by Linda G. Howard

Bob Abernathy of PBS interviews the writer and retired Presbyterian minister Eugene Peterson. His latest book is “The Pastor,” a memoir that includes Peterson’s concerns about how hard it is for pastors and everyone else to live Christian lives in […]

Leadership: Courage to stand

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of my favorite things is chocolate; and I will tell anyone who will listen.  I talk about it a good deal of the time.  When we take members of Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged […]

Of course we don’t want to destroy the United States

posted by Linda G. Howard

I wanted to share this with you yesterday, but we had a computer error at Beliefnet — and I apologize if you were frustrated when you tried to watch the video. The late Paul Harvey, a devoted Christian, gives pungent advice […]

There’s a Person in There

posted by Linda G. Howard

This article was written by Bev Linder.  Enjoy! Yesterday in Colorado was a fine sunny Saturday with garage sale signs on just about every corner.  I resisted most of them, but after my walk, I went to investigate one up a […]

Leadership

posted by Linda G. Howard

My granddaughter was only three years old, when I heard her speaking to her older brother.  “I’m the boss,” she yelled in a matter-of-fact voice.  “You sit down right now and be quiet.” “Okay,” he said, obediently. For some unknown […]

Some things I believe

posted by Linda G. Howard

A Birth Certificate shows that we were born. A Death Certificate shows that we died Pictures show that we live! I Believe… that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other; and just because they […]

Choices

posted by Linda G. Howard

By Michelle Demeree We learn about love for the world and to have good judgment.  For the right reasons, we are in trouble with ungodly people. But we sometimes hurt our Christian family.  We should not spread rumors about each […]

Superman and seat belts

posted by Linda G. Howard

Smart people with position and power can do amazingly stupid things and still believe that they will are immune to the realities of life.  I received a devotional message from the organization TGIF which is part of  the ministry of […]

The Sea Turtle Promise

posted by Linda G. Howard

For 45 years, I’ve walked the beach looking for sea turtles during the evening.  While others see them regularly, I’ve never seen even one.  The sea turtles nest on our beach; but I’m probably the one person who lives on […]

20 ways to save gas in your car

posted by Linda G. Howard

Are you worried about the price of gasoline?  Of course, you are.  All of us are eager to save gas in our cars and, thereby, save money.  It has now stopped being an environmental thing.  Every person and family is […]

Five ways to beat disappointment

posted by Linda G. Howard

I received a disappointing text message today from a good and close friend. The text wasn’t aimed at me or even intended for me.  Nevertheless, disappointment vibrated through the Internet lines piercing my heart.  I could feel the disappointment that emanated from […]

Building a life or a legacy?

posted by Linda G. Howard

When my father salvaged a signed “Miller” chandelier from an old Charleston, South Carolina, mansion, Mama didn’t want it in her house; so Daddy hung it in the attic. I asked if I could have it.  I was about 11 years old […]

Changing history with a few words

posted by Linda G. Howard

There is something that will change people’s lives which every person can do.  It is very simple.  It won’t cost you a penny.  It will make you feel better.  It will change your life as well as others. The Bible […]

Trying to find an American

posted by Linda G. Howard

Because no author is given, I cannot be sure of the author of this essay.  However,  you will find a great deal of truth in the content. Written by an Australian Dentist To Kill an American You probably missed this […]

The Fingerprint of God

posted by Linda G. Howard

Hard to view and not understand that God wants to play a unique part in your life.

Is there any other way?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Often, my good friend, Woody Johnson, used to teach, “As Christians, we have no rights.  Our job is to listen and obey.”  Of course, she was talking about obedience to God, not obedience to men.  However, there are times that […]

The Autistic Child and Discipline from Special Heart

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is an excellent piece I received from Bev Linder.  There is a great deal to learn from her regarding autism. Special Heart The Autistic Child and Discipline Although I have had two children with special needs, and although one […]

I Am Sombody Because God Loves Me

posted by Linda G. Howard

What do 200 people with special needs, their pastor, area directors and volunteers do after a four-day weekend at a rustic retreat?  There is only one option–collapse.  Thanks to Ladybug Photography, here are few of the pictorial highlights of our […]

The marathon of life

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several times a year, the Volusia County locals are treated to lots of tourist traffic because of the Daytona speedway. For more than five years, my full-time position with Special Gathering, a ministry within the intellectually disabled community, was in […]

Remembering

posted by Linda G. Howard

Memorial Day is the last day of The Special Gathering’s annual camping experience called Camp Agape. Each year we take more than 200 people to a camp ground for four-days of fun and fellowship.  We return Memorial Day and those […]

Making dried plums out of prunes

posted by Linda G. Howard

My best friend died from late-term vascular dementia.  My mother’s dementia finally took her life.  I watched dementia steal the IQ of my brilliant husband.  His ability to reason slowly slipped from him as he worked feverously on an invention that […]

Never underestimate your influence

posted by Linda G. Howard

We should never underestimate the influence we have for good and for bad.  A scientist released two bugs that had been imported for research from the University of Florida.  Now they have totally invaded Florida.  They especially love highways because […]

Resting in His Love

posted by Linda G. Howard

As I look upon my life with dread, I think of the world that waits ahead– The splendor of the streets of gold,   The wisdom of the prophts of old I think of Jesus on His throne      And how […]

Scotty won!

posted by Linda G. Howard

After the announcement, the first person Scotty McCreery thanked was the Lord.  McCreery is the current winner of American Idol.  During the entire Season 10, McCreery was a dynamic witness on screen and, it appears, even off screen.  We should […]

12 Survival Essentials

posted by Linda G. Howard

As I watch the tornados ravish central US, I realize that in some ways those of us who live in Florida have been blessed.  When it’s not hurricane season, we are often faced with another natural disaster.  However, we are […]

Prayer for the tornado victims

posted by Linda G. Howard

After the devastation in Joplin,  Missouri, another tornado has ripped through Oklahoma. Still another tornado hit Massachusetts.  It is important that we remember the victims of these horrific storms.  Here is a suggested prayer taken from various verses in Romans 12. Lord, […]

Welcome to our home

posted by Linda G. Howard

As I waved good-bye the last group of visitors, new folks were arriving on Friday.  Yesterday, the senior pastor of a large church spoke to a staff gathering about the importance of being willing to have our homes open for visitors. In […]

I’m still here

posted by Linda G. Howard

Okay!  I admit it.  I didn’t think that the current doomsday upheaval deserved any more attention than it was already getting over the airwaves.  The Scriptures are pretty clear that we won’t know when the Lord will return.  Therefore, May […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.  […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The World’s Weighty Problems

posted by Linda G. Howard

For Sam, Cara and George, the large problem looming in their lives on Sunday was if I received their camp forms for the Memorial Day Weekend retreat that The Special Gathering holds each year.   Special Gathering is a  ministry within […]

Hope

posted by Linda G. Howard

A gifted member writes poetry for Connecting Point, The Special Gathering monthly newsletter.  Here is one of her poems.  Miss Demeree was born with Down’s Syndrome.    Hope by Michelle Demeree  What does hope mean to me? I believe that in life,                                                                           […]

Big plans or new toys

posted by Linda G. Howard

By the time I was born, my father had started several successful businesses.  As a teenager, he was an ice man, selling ice to many people in his small town.  After he married my mother, he started a grocery store […]

Waiting and other distractions

posted by Linda G. Howard

I admit that there are some things that I do pretty well.  These are things at which I work hard to do as well as I can.  They are also things I enjoy.  My list seems to grow as I […]

The Dignity of Risk

posted by Linda G. Howard

I direct two choirs as one of my tasks as area director of The Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community. During one of our choir practices, I asked the choir to vote on which songs […]

Fact or fiction

posted by Linda G. Howard

Working and living within the intellectually disabled community, I found that there are many common bits of misinformation and urban legends that haunt our population.  These distortions diminish all of us.  Here are a few of the most common misunderstandings. […]

Top 10 Predictions for the Second Half of 2011

posted by Linda G. Howard

In case we forget The Bible will still have all the answers in the middle of our joys and sorrows. Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on earth. The Holy Spirit will still move in the hearts and […]

Exploring a Brave New World

posted by Linda G. Howard

The date is March 11, 2011.  As I sit around the dining room table with my family who is visiting their ailing father, I’m hurriedly writing my daily blog.  My granddaughter is playing an on-line video game.  My daughter, Carol […]

Rereading

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each new generation learns valuable lessons that may be missed by a preceding group of people.  I love rereading my favorite books.  Yet, I came from a tradition in which you watched a movie or television show only once.  You […]

Failing health and other knicknacks

posted by Linda G. Howard

Sometimes I found myself wanting to treat my husband’s failing health as though it were a knicknack.  In that way, I could put it on a shelf and forget all about it.  I fought almost daily with this notion of […]

From a child to a mother

posted by Linda G. Howard

From a Child to a Mother by Michelle Demeree With mothers, there is a love so real and so expected. So expected that we forget how much They love us. They give great parts of their heart To us. We […]

Picking the strawberry fields

posted by Linda G. Howard

Spring in Central Florida means many delights; but one of the best is fresh strawberries.  When our children were young and early spring arrived, we would pack up a small lunch and some water.  Then we’d pile into a car […]

Hope in the middle of despair

posted by Linda G. Howard

I received from a friend who is actively involved within the mentally challenged community.  She has worked as a professional.  Her family is deeply involved in the professional community.  She is a volunteer with Special Gathering.  Currently, she is part […]

Hiding in clear view

posted by Linda G. Howard

I have six locks on my door all in a row.  When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three. ~Comedian Elayne Boosler […]

Everyone like me

posted by Linda G. Howard

During my “play time,” I dreamed of being on stage and teaching.  Playing mommy and cuddling doll babies didn’t ever interest me.  However, writing and performing plays was the passion of my playmates and me.  While standing before people is […]

Reaching Out Through the Internet

posted by Linda G. Howard

Drawn and thin, the teenage hospital patient sat for hours in the waiting room communicating with his friends through the Internet.  They sent messages and talked.  He laughed and typed.  Looking at pictures sent to him, he would respond and receive […]

Prayer across the nation

posted by Linda G. Howard

The first Thursday of each year was declared as the National Day of Prayer in 1988.  Harry Truman signed legislation in 1952 to establish an annual day of prayer but it was a different day each year until the 1988 law […]

A great day

posted by Linda G. Howard

If you don’t think every day is a great and blessed day, try living without one.

From information to revelation

posted by Linda G. Howard

I was a bit shocked to read in Ecclesiastes that Solomon said that there will always be books and reading too much will confuse you.  God understands that we will never learn everything about any subject.  When I was a […]

A Small Word

posted by Linda G. Howard

I was raised in a denomination that is currently being accused of worshiping the Bible.  Understand, I don’t remember ever being told that the scriptures were co-equal in importance with the Godhead.  What I do remember is a strong emphasis […]

The Perfect Gift for Mom

posted by Linda G. Howard

Are you like me?  My email inbox, Facebook Wall and even today’s Twitter Timeline are full of messages telling me about “The Perfect Gift for Mom.” Frankly, I hope my children read and use a couple of  these suggestions. Even BeliefNet […]

Usama Bin Laden – dead

posted by Linda G. Howard

President Barack Obama announced to the nation in somber tones, “Justice has been done.”  Sitting in a house located in Abbottabad, Pakistan which is a suburb of Islamabad, the planner of multiple terrorist attacks, Usama Bin Laden, was attacked by […]

Changes of the Season

posted by Linda G. Howard

The Changes of the Seasons by Shelly Demeree We look at the meaning of spring. We know that spring can mean that change is here. Spring means we will have fun in the sun. We being to feel things around […]

Commitment–Not Excitement

posted by Linda G. Howard

Is there a way to insure that God is working in our lives and in the lives of those people we care about?  Perhaps it is the common and mundane that accents the Christian life more than any other attribute. […]

Living History with the #STS134

posted by Linda G. Howard

Living on the Space Coast for more than 40 years, we’ve seen the ups and downs of a community with one major industry–space.  My husband is a retired Aerospace Technologist who worked for NASA.  He was a design engineer whose […]

David Wilkerson and you

posted by Linda G. Howard

The first magazine article I wrote that was accepted by a national magazine was entitled, “David Wilkerson and Me.”   In the piece, I chronicled how much his book, The Cross and The Switchblade had been used by God to […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

No royal wedding

posted by Linda G. Howard

It is my understanding that the Rowan William, Archbishop of Canterbury, has written two prayers for Prince William and Kate Middleton.  One is for adults to pray; and the other is a precious and simple prayer for school children.  Additionally, the […]

The Kiss–a Resurrection Miracle

posted by Linda G. Howard

After Special Gathering chapel service on Sunday morning , James, whose disability is within the autism spectrum, came up to shake my hand.  Because it was Resurrection Day, we had abandoned our usual worship format.  The chairs were arranged in a […]

The motivation of work

posted by Linda G. Howard

For years, Andy has worked with Wal-Mart.  He was considered a profitable and cooperative employee.  Then the management changed.  As a result, the new manager and Andy didn’t click.  Eventually, when the store needed to trim their employees, Andy was […]

The Call

posted by Linda G. Howard

Larry wasn’t at our He Is Alive! Party the Saturday before Resurrection Day.  I wondered because Larry never misses Special Gathering of Vero, a ministry within the developmentally disabled community.  Our mission is evangelism and discipleship.   However, our supervisor […]

That’s the Wrong Answer

posted by Linda G. Howard

One day while training a new Special Gathering staff member, I asked him if he would clean up a mess left by our members in one of the Bible study classroomes.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged […]

The Sounds of Resurrection Morning

posted by Linda G. Howard

Because we live two blocks from the ocean, Resurrection morning is a time of great joy for me. Around 6:30AM, the singing begins because the Christian community gathers at the beachside park near our home, for the Easter sunrise service.  From […]

My Story

posted by Linda G. Howard

My Story by Michelle Demeree My story begins with love. My story begins with prayers. My story begins with hope. Through  hope, love and prayers, I found faith in the Lord, Finding faith in all I do. God has put […]

Soul Surfer and the Cross

posted by Linda G. Howard

My son lives on the North Shore of Hawaii.  He is a champion surfer.  The North Shore is where many of the massive waves originate that we see in the movies and on posters.  He calls his father and me several times […]

The Prayer

posted by Linda G. Howard

We gathered around her bed, watching her shallow breathing.  We waited.  Mother, 84 years old,  had awakened with blood pouring from her mouth.  My sister, her caregiver, was unsure.  Had she seizured and bitten her tongue; or was she hemorrhaging? […]

In the garden

posted by Linda G. Howard

For several decades, I’ve had one spot in our home where I pray.  It’s not a place set apart situated away from everyone–not a separate sanctuary.  This room is in the middle of the house, where we gather for family […]

Joe’s Going to Camp

posted by Linda G. Howard

During Memorial Day weekend each year, about 200 Special Gathering members go to Vero Beach for a spiritual retreat called Camp Agape.  For four days, we learn about the Lord, play and hangout with each other.  There are go-carts, a […]

Betrayal

posted by Linda G. Howard

When our daughter, Carol, was 14, she had a good friend in California.  They had met on a Teen Mission trip.  Her friend wanted her to come for a visit in California.   She even bought Carol a plane ticket. […]

The World’s Most Important Day

posted by Linda G. Howard

Over 2,000 people  from Second Baptist Church of Houston, TX gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  The event was called “Dance Your Shoes Off.” After the dance, each participant left his/her shoes on the field to be donated to […]

Love for the Father and the Son

posted by Linda G. Howard

Shelly Demeree is a 34 year old woman who is mentally challenged.  Her poetry has been published in various publications, including Connecting Point, monthly newsletter for The Special Gathering, a ministry within the developmentally disabled community. Love for the Father […]

“She wanted to talk to me!”

posted by Linda G. Howard

A Special Gathering member would call me every night at 8PM to say, “Hello.”  Our conversations went something like this. Peter:   UHH! Me:  Peter, how are you? Peter:  Good. Me:  How was your day? Peter:  Good. Me:  That’s wonderful.  Well, Peter, […]

The Benefit of Simplicity

posted by Linda G. Howard

Two years ago, Special Gathering pastor, area director and elders met together to investigate what our members who are mentally challenged need to know and understand about the Christian faith and theology.  It was boiled down to three things that are […]

Vindication

posted by Linda G. Howard

Mike has suffered more in gossip and mistrust than anyone I know.  He has lost his ministry, started another, nearly lost this one.  Sure, Mike has his personality quirks and problems like all of us; but he had not fallen […]

We are not born rude

posted by Linda G. Howard

Last month, I accompanied three Special Gathering members and our South Carolina Special Gathering program director on a Disney cruise.  It was a great time of fun and fellowship.  At 6 feet 4 inches, one of the members, Tony, is […]

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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