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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith Archives

Explaining Grace

posted by Linda G. Howard

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. […]

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The Choice that Changed Everything–a sermon for the mentally challenged community

posted by Linda G. Howard

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 […]

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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 […]

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When we leak

posted by Linda G. Howard

Recently, 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 […]

Providing a Safe Harbor

posted by Linda G. Howard

One 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 […]

The First Points of Light Award

posted by Linda G. Howard

When 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. The fact that Frank […]

Eating fish

posted by Linda G. Howard

We all know that when you eat fish you will usually come across a bone or two no matter how carefully the fish has been filleted.  We also know that the bones aren’t digestible and should be spit out.  Fish […]

A history lesson

posted by Linda G. Howard

Over the past months, I’ve discovered the classics from Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, St. Augustine to Andrew Murray.  Of course, most of these volumes were written in the early 1800’s.  Unlocking the labyrinth of historical fact wrapped around […]

End of an era

posted by Linda G. Howard

Carla is not adjusting well to this time.  It is an end of an era for her.  Carla  is a high functioning person with intellectual disabilities.   Both parents have died.  She became too ill to live in her own apartment […]

Wilted

posted by Linda G. Howard

A couple of times a year I must dedicate several days to my garden.  I have a small yard.  Therefore, most of my back and side yards are devoted to my garden.  I’m not consistent enough with my yard work […]

The Don’t’s of Friendship

posted by Linda G. Howard

After the men had gathered for their last supper together, Jesus made a shocking statement to his followers.  In the light of who he was–mighty God, the Messiah, the Christ and Savior of the world–Jesus’s announcement is a total departure […]

The Do’s of Friendship

posted by Linda G. Howard

Since there are three levels of friendship–causal, close and committed–it should be our goal to move as many friendships as humanly possible from a causal to a committed friendship. There is means that there are at least 10 things that […]

Friendship

posted by Linda G. Howard

Robert Lewis Stevenson expressed an important sentiment regarding friendship.  He said, “So long as we love, we serve.  No man is useless while he is a friend.” Jesus, however, lifted friendship to a new and holy level when he spoke […]

Partial payment

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today I finished the final payment for a set of storage cabinets that I asked All Around Handyman and Lawn Service to do for me.  They are beautiful enough to have in my home; but they are in the garage. […]

Remember where you are going

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each of us has been given a plan for our lives.  For most, that blueprint remains a mystery and a puzzle.  We wander back and forth unsure of our footing or grasp.  Much like a mountain climber who has no […]

Remember–a Christian discipline

posted by Linda G. Howard

Remembering is a vital Christian discipline that is either ignored or taught in an off-handed, casual manner.  Most of us know that routine thinking is defined by psychologists as remembering what happened in the past and rehearsing how we would change it […]

Remember where we came from

posted by Linda G. Howard

She is never early.  Always late.  He cannot speak without using offensive or vulgar expressions.  ”I’M marching to a different drummer” is her excuse for breaking all the rules and acting selfishly.  He only seems interested in hurting others, if […]

Remember

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps one of the greatest virtues and joys of a Christian is remembering.  We often overlook the command that Jesus gave to us during the Lord’s Supper.  He said, “Do this so you will remember me.” Time and time again […]

Meeting a friend

posted by Linda G. Howard

Tonight I had a pleasant surprise when I met a friend who is also a member of Special Gathering during my late afternoon walk.  My friend, M.J. was meeting with her reading tutor in the park. Her tutor explained that […]

Writers write

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each day begins with prayer and either household errands or blogging.  As much as I enjoy writing, the daily household demands of living often interfere with what I feel God has called me to do.  The author of thousands of […]

Saying what you mean

posted by Linda G. Howard

During the morning, I performed some mindless cleaning and straightening of a supply closet.  Also, I listened to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she testified before the Senate.  Later, in the afternoon, I met in a strategy meeting with […]

Meaning what you say

posted by Linda G. Howard

Even though saying what we mean is difficult, it may be harder to mean what we say.  When working with people with intellectually disabilities, I’ve found that our sub-culture is actually less prone to say things they do not mean […]

The Philosophy of the blog

posted by Linda G. Howard

I am often surprised at where blog entries go and even more surprised where they do not go.  It seems that each time I plug into another venue (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.), there are new readers.  At this point, other than […]

God’s shouts

posted by Linda G. Howard

Two of my good friends are also members of Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  They are going through extremely difficult times. Last night I spent a good deal of time with them.  It was […]

Permanent Markers

posted by Linda G. Howard

I found an interesting tip for making your own personalized dinnerware.  You buy the cheap white china from the Dollar Store and write on it with a porcelain pin.  Then you bake them in the oven for 30 minutes. It’s […]

Traveling Mercies

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, I’m headed home from a vacation that seemed long when I planned it; but then it was over more quickly than I could have imagined.  Other family will arrive soon and I’ll need to work around their vacation schedule. […]

This morning and every morning

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are few times that I don’t feel light-hearted and joyful.  My brother says that it’s only because I’m stupid.  I think it’s because God has given me the ability to see beyond present pain and embrace the joy of […]

The new mother

posted by Linda G. Howard

I remember my husband, Frank, and I rushing to the hosptial.  It was Christmas eve.  I’d farmed out the other two children to willing neighbors in a pitch of fervor.   Frank had refused to pick the name for a […]

Glory to God in the Highest–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

Glory to God in the Highest Luke 2:6-16 Central Theme:  Christmas is a time for big events and big changes. Introduction–I have to admit that at Christmas I go a little crazy.  I save all year and spend all December.  […]

Caught on tape

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is a comment I received from a reader.  I thought this was well worth our review. Autistic people can be some of the most vulnerable dependent adults in the universe. Mainly, because they are at the mercy of others […]

The end of my world?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Okay! I had to do this.  But I have more reason to write about December 21, 2012 than most folks.  It’s my birthday and it’s a big one.  That is, it’s a big number.  For many people, my age might […]

The promised peace

posted by Linda G. Howard

That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them, and they became very frightened. The angel said to them, “Do not […]

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 […]

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

posted by Linda G. Howard

At Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, we have several activities to celebrate the birth of the Savior.  My favorite is our Happy Birthday, Jesus Party.  Our members bring food.  There is a birthday cake. […]

Purchasing time

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are few times of the year that present the Church with a greater degree of purchasing power than the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.  I’m actually not thinking about purchasing gifts or other stuff but purchasing a […]

No link between autism and planned violence

posted by Linda G. Howard

The Autism Society continues to mourn the lives lost on Friday, December 14 in Newtown, Conn.  We join the nation as we keep our collective attention focosed on those directly impacted by this tragedy. In the nation’s rush to understand […]

Face to face with God

posted by Linda G. Howard

In ancient times, few people were given the privilege of seeing God.  While we aren’t told that Abraham actually saw God face to face, we know that God valued Abraham so much that he was called “the friend of God.” […]

The Star

posted by Linda G. Howard

As Pastor Iman passed Eric who paced back and forth at the back of the room, the pastor asked the young man, “What part do have in the play?” “I’m the star,” Eric said, scratching his head and facing the […]

Value of Repetition Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Martin Luther has been quoted (or probably misquoted) as saying, “I’ve read the Bible once.  I don’t need to read it again.”  The life of Luther disavows this ascertion because it was his study of the scriptures that led him […]

The value of repetition

posted by Linda G. Howard

For years, one of our Bible teachers at Special Gathering reviewed the same Bible verse with his class every week.  ”I will pray morning, noon and night.”  As the first five years rolled around, I became a bit disturbed.  Doesn’t […]

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 […]

The Choice that Changed Everything–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

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 […]

Falling off my horse

posted by Linda G. Howard

In all of our lives, we suffer the embarrassment and shame of falling from our horse.  You know what I mean.  Sitting high and straight on our noble steeds, we are riding along our path of life, attempting to serve […]

Communication: I don’t understand it

posted by Linda G. Howard

Recently, I visited a neighboring Special Gathering program to practice our Christmas music. We are a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  I am the director of four of our choirs.  It seemed like a good idea. However, it appears […]

Living bad

posted by Linda G. Howard

Often, those of us who minister to people who are intellectually disabled romanticize our population.  It is the most wonderful group of people with which I’ve worked.  However, like the rest of the population, there can be glaring bumps, blemishes […]

God chooses to make the world for man–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

God chooses to Make the World for Man Genesis 1:1and 26A Central Theme:  God choose to make the earth for mankind. Introduction–Bring a basket that you have made.  This is a basket that I made.  I did not create it […]

God’s Prep Time

posted by Linda G. Howard

The Church has quoted Jeremiah for more than 2000 years.  We especially love the verse 11 of chapter 29.  “I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, […]

A shameless plug

posted by Linda G. Howard

I often plug products that I’ve found beneficial, especially in the ministry of The Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  The Christmas musical, A Stranger in the Manger, is a well-written and joy-filled musical that becomes an excellent […]

To move or not to move

posted by Linda G. Howard

Leonard is a handsome young man who was separated from him siblings at birth.  The State of Florida convinced his widowed mother that she could not take care of another child, especially one who was intellectually disabled like Leonard.  Therefore, […]

Prayer is answered–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

Prayer Is Answered Matthew 21:22 Central Theme:  A good reason to pray is because God answers prayer. Introduction–Bring a watch that does not work.  Throw it away.  Bring a straw with a hole in it.  Throw it away.  I don‘t […]

Real Life is Full of Laughter–a poem by S Demeree

posted by Linda G. Howard

S Demeree, a memeber of The Special Gathering and gifted poet continues to write. Real Life is Full of Laughter Real life is full of laughter and fun. When we laugh, we feel things inside ourselves. Put yourself into a funny […]

When God speaks

posted by Linda G. Howard

I shared a few days ago with a friend that everytime someone prays for me, they usually end with the statement, “I believe that God is telling me that you must not be weary in well-doing.”  It’s happened so many […]

The Best of Times/The Worst of Times Part 3

posted by Linda G. Howard

Worship is the apex of all the many things we do at Special Gathering.  Therefore, it is vitally important to us that things go smoothly but there are weeks that are beyond interesting and border on bazaar. A couple of […]

The Best of Times/The Worst of Times Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

What do you do when some of your members become agitated and cause confusion in your services?  That is what we faced at The Special Gathering of Melbourne on Sunday morning.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, […]

The Best of Times/The Worst of Times Part 1

posted by Linda G. Howard

Birth, birthdays and even death are important times of blessing Some weeks you wonder how everything comes in bunches.  “Amazing” is the only word I find appropriate to describe the events of many Saturdays and Sundays at Special Gathering.  We had […]

God gives us the power to go–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

God can give us the power to go Acts 1:8–Teacher Appreciation Central Theme:  God wants us to tell people about Jesus not matter where we are. Introduction–I can tell where I have been last week by the receipts in my […]

AAIDD October 2012 Newsletter

posted by Linda G. Howard

October 2012 *Please feel free to forward this message to colleagues and other interested parties. Sign-up for AAIDD F.Y.I at this link: http://www.responsetrack.net/aaidd/sign_up AAIDD Membership Join AAIDD Today AAIDD is the definitive membership organization and the authoritative source of information for […]

Different strokes

posted by Linda G. Howard

For me, one of the best things that happened at the Disability Leadership Gathering that I attended this week at Sonrise Retreat Center in Anderson, Indiana, was that I was griped with the amount of passion shared by the leaders who have […]

Wearing a sweater and other distractions

posted by Linda G. Howard

It’s only the beginning of fall in Central Florida.  The temperatures remains in the upper 80’s I cannot even find a sweater, much less an insulated jacket.  Tomorrow, I’m headed for Indiana for a disability meeting.  The tempertures there are […]

Reflecting the glory

posted by Linda G. Howard

Often, as I’m preparing for bed, I listen to the Bible.  Last evening, as I put away some shirts and listened to II Corinthians 3, I was struck by the last verses.  When I say struck, I mean it.  It […]

Where have you been?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several people have asked where I’ve been.  This is really encouraging because sending an entry into the Internet atmosphere, you cannot help but wonder if anyone will actually read what you write. This has been an extremely busy time for me and […]

Where am I?

posted by Linda G. Howard

This year has been a transition point for my life.  Last year, I had a drastic change when my husband died.  In some ways, there is a new freedom.  During other times, I realize that I’m much more constrained.  There […]

The Power of Courage–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

The Power of Courage Acts 4:29 Central Theme:  God gives us courage to speak and do what is right. Introduction–Bring one of your gardening books. Explain how much I love gardening and I find it easy to talk to people […]

Shallowland

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps the most miserable place on earth is Shallowland.  This is a place into which most of us slip in and out.  Sometimes several times a day.  Others live there permanently, docking their storm-worn boats just outside the majestic Courts […]

The power of our words

posted by Linda G. Howard

In her late 20’s, Mindy pretty face is accented by her vibrant, chatty personality.  She lives alone in her own apartment.  Mindy is a new member of our Special Gathering.  We are a Christian program within the intellectually disabled community. […]

A blank check

posted by Linda G. Howard

Glenn McGruffie, the team manager for Veteran Services for Brevard County, Florida, signs his emails with this quote. “A veteran is someone who at one point in his or her life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States […]

Waiting in the wings

posted by Linda G. Howard

As God moves on the hearts of the more mature members of Special Gathering, they are expressing a desire to serve the Lord in “important ways.”  I’ve been surprised at how much they are yearning to have their lives count […]

Prayer asks for help–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

Prayer Asks for Help Psalm 121:12 Central Theme:  Prayer is a cry for help. Introduction–I have a friend who has a poster.  It says,  “When things are so bad or scary that you don’t know what to prayer, memorize this […]

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 […]

Greetings to friends

posted by Linda G. Howard

I was blessed yesterday to sit with two friends who pour their lives into the lives of others.  One of these women has ministered to me in countless ways in the course of 20+ years.  We lingered at the table […]

Kind and stern

posted by Linda G. Howard

Walking tall and straight, she had a commanding effect when she entered a room.  Even after strokes, sickness and the loss of language, Frances sat erect in her wheelchair and her presence demanded attention.  Frances wasn’t a woman who entertained […]

Complex issues

posted by Linda G. Howard

I sat at the table. The paper placard in front of me had my name printed on it to remind people of who I am.  For about four terms, I’ve served either as an alternate or a member of a […]

Preparing for leadership

posted by Linda G. Howard

Author and teacher Oz Hillman teaches that God deals with leaders in specific ways.  “There are three patterns of preparation that have been common among most of God’s leaders,” Hillman asserts. He teaches that there are three steps God uses.   […]

What is real power?–A sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

What is real Power? Acts 3:6 Central Theme:  The power to effect lives is real power. Introduction–I called up a young couple with a new baby and we had a baby dedication. I.     Have a member Read Act 3:6. A. […]

Making the most of my time–Part 1

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m disappointed many days when I realize how much I did NOT accomplish.  Interruptions, phone calls and distractions seem to rule the days when I’m not able to finish the needed jobs. Many people enjoy a structured work environment in […]

Leaving is hard to do

posted by Linda G. Howard

One of my greatest fears is that I won’t know when to leave, stop and quit.  When my husband retired 11 years ago, I had told him that I didn’t intend to “retire.”  Yet, on the other hand, I also […]

Is that me?

posted by Linda G. Howard

While searching a photo of my mother on the Internet to use in a sermon blog entry, I found an interesting image of a young woman who had the same name as my mother.  I had been quickly overseeing the […]

We all understand…or do we?

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 […]

When policial correctness becomes ridiculous

posted by Linda G. Howard

Hunter Spanjer is a three-year-old child who attends a deaf school in Nebraska.  Like many young deaf children, he is proficient in signing.  He uses the standard S.E.E. (Signing Exact English) method.  The problem is that his school district believes […]

The problem with problems

posted by Linda G. Howard

This week, I received several phone calls concerning problems which have surrounded friend’s lives.  The horrific circumstances don’t seem fair or just.  My friends are faced with problems that don’t appear to have any answers. We’ve all been there.  Most […]

Remembering the blonde Marilyn

posted by Linda G. Howard

In the early 1990’s when Nancy became a consumer at ARC in Vero Beach, Florida, she told her supported living coach, that her life goals were to bleach her hair blonde and go to California to become Marilyn Monroe. Bleaching […]

God is forgiving–a sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

God is Forgiving Psalm 86:5 Central Theme:   God forgives everyone, even me. Introduction–If I have a cup of water and I pour it on to this rag, what will happen?  The rag will get wet.  (If appropriate pour the water […]

Teaching a Bible Study–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

When teaching a Bible study, there are two methods that are prominent.  The first is a verse by verse study in which an entire passage or book is examined.  The second method is a topical study.  Bibles have been edited […]

Teaching a Bible study–Part 1

posted by Linda G. Howard

When studying the Bible, there are two ways to approach the Scriptures.  Of course, one method is almost always preferred over the other metod by most teachers.  Yet, there is perhaps no best way to teach God’s Word.   Each […]

American Sign Language

posted by Linda G. Howard

  This is a part of the Edgewood United Methodist Church News.  Think you will enjoy it. American Sign Language Written By Herb “Padre” Agee Engle­wood United Methodist Church When I was 40 years old, I was pas­tor at a small, […]

Wow!

posted by Linda G. Howard

On Sunday evening at Camp Agape, we had a bread and cup service.  Each year, the members of several programs of Special Gathering gather for a spiritual retreat in Vero Beach at Life for Youth Camp during Memorial Day weekend.  […]

What’s in your tool box?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Of course, there are many differences between men and women; but one of the biggest differences is the attitude toward tools.  Men love tools and love inventing tools.  There is a tool for every job a man has to do.  […]

In polite company

posted by Linda G. Howard

The news reported that an owner of a restaurant asks that everyone check in their phones and electronic tablets when they enter the restaurant so the patrons will be free of such devices while eating their meals.  He said it […]

Work Completed

posted by Linda G. Howard

Yesterday was one of those days.  For months, I’ve tried to figure out how The Special Gathering of Indian River Christmas play should be written.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our population learns more slowly […]

How to write a funeral sermon or eulogy

posted by Linda G. Howard

It is probably true that you will be asked to be a part of a memorial service or funeral at some time in your life.  There are specific things which I have observed from pastors who are successfully able to capture […]

Discrimination? From Bev Linder with Special Heart

posted by Linda G. Howard

  Bev Linder speaks from the heart of a Christian parent.  Her voice is important within the disability community.  Whether you agree with her or not, her thoughts and perspective makes us think and often pray for God’s wisdon.  Thanks, […]

Prayer reveals God’s Power–A sermon

posted by Linda G. Howard

Prayer Reveals God’s Power Psalm 77:12 Central Theme:  God‘s power works in our lives through prayer. One Sunday night during a church service, my son said, “Mama, God just healed me.”  He had a really bad hernia and while we […]

Take your time–God does

posted by Linda G. Howard

Yesterday was filled with back-to-back meetings.  I got on the road at 7AM for my first meeting which was 50 miles away.  I criss-crossed two counties zipping from one meeting to another.  I finished my day and meetings at 5PM. […]

Meeting a need

posted by Linda G. Howard

Angie is a committed Christian whose son, Marvin, is intellectually disabled.  She greatly desired Marvin to worship with the family.  Yet, she also felt a need for more respite time.  The answer for her was The Special Gathering Saturday program. […]

Learning the ten commandments made easy

posted by Linda G. Howard

Memorizing was all but impossible for me as a child.  In addition, the school system was going through a funky teaching period.  We did not learn to read phonetically.  And teachers were not allowed to teach us any mnemonics to make […]

Learning the names of Jesus’ disciples made easy

posted by Linda G. Howard

As a child I could not memorize.  I could learn, of course, but anything that had to be memorized word-for-word was a loss for me.  For years I wanted to learn the names of the disciples but I felt it […]

Learning books of the New Testament made easy

posted by Linda G. Howard

Recently, I began teaching a Bible class of higher function adults.  I am currently teaching them the names of the books of the New Testament.  Most of us who have been in church for years know more about the Bible […]

You don’t control me

posted by Linda G. Howard

Inbred within us resides a desire to be in control of our own lives.  Often, when children are playing,  an argument will begin or end with one child yelling,  ”You don’t control me.” Prisons are designed to control people.  They […]

Two A.M. reflections

posted by Linda G. Howard

I often wake up at 2am now.  This is a new version of insomnia for me.  I’ve had trouble going to sleep for as long as I can remember.  But once asleep, I was able to stay asleep.  This morning I […]

The Sacristy

posted by Linda G. Howard

The other day I received the key to a local church where The Special Gathering main office is located.  Because the sanctuary has been recently remodeled, new keys had to be made.  The key was labeled “The sacristy.”  I thought […]

A search for honesty

posted by Linda G. Howard

Working with people with special needs, I’ve discovered that your IQ doesn’t determine your honesty quotient.  Yes, they are the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the privilege with which to work.  However, cheating is as systematic in a special […]

Waiting for her day

posted by Linda G. Howard

As a young woman, Mercy came to me asking if she could become a deacon.  She was about 22 years old.  At The Special Gathering, which was a ministry within the mentally challenged community, our deacon board comes from the […]

Learning to learn–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

My learning philosophy with pretty much every project is that I endeavor is to learn as much as I need so I can do the job and leave the other stuff to people who compose, fix and invent things.  That is especially true with […]

The Bible is true, even if I don’t believe it

posted by Linda G. Howard

Can you imagine that I would believe that I could fly to the moon by flapping my arms?  What if I really, really believed?  Would that make it true? I had an interesting conversation about the Bible the other day […]

The Enabler

posted by Linda G. Howard

Because of unusual circumstances a good friend of mine was recently called “an enabler.”  Of course, I’ve known I am an enabler and I’ve recognized it for years.  I believe that the stem of enabling is a super-large ego that […]

The Inspector

posted by Linda G. Howard

While others may balk at their loss of privacy because of inspectors who invade their space, I’ve become quite comfortable with it.  In fact, my daily inspector is not even a human being.  It is a squirrel.  That’s right…the brown, […]

The Blank Page

posted by Linda G. Howard

Each morning I sit in front of a blank page waiting for me to write something.  For more than 50 years, all during the day, I’ve listened within my spirit for the Lord’s prompting and teaching.  In the morning, afternoon […]

Misunderstandings and Misstatements

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several years ago, my friend who is a wonderful Catholic and an elder at Special Gathering, gave me a book.  I’m not sure of the title or the author because as soon as I finished it, I lent the book […]

Go!

posted by Linda G. Howard

After ten days in Hawaii and 2 days of travel, I got off the plane ready to GO!  I thought I had choir practice in four hours.  After I found there was no choir, I continued to work.  There was […]

The Arc at Wahiawa, Hawaii

posted by Linda G. Howard

Sitting in a clean and bright room, Jonathan meticulously moved the yellow magic marker. He sat hunched close to the table in order to more carefully observe the imprints that spread over the picture of 4th of July fireworks. Like […]

Choosing to bless

posted by Linda G. Howard

   Site of the World Trade Center March 2007 Over the past two months, I’ve been thinking.  What wonderful things could have happened if Jacob had given his twin brother, Esau, the bowl of soup he requested, rather than selling it […]

It’s not all bad

posted by Linda G. Howard

During the 20 years that I’ve lived and worked within the mentally challenged community, one thing I’ve seen again and again.  These brave parents learn to find goodness and joy in the circumstances in which they are forced to live. […]

Surprised by joy

posted by Linda G. Howard

It is difficult to understand how much God loves us.  While few of us will admit it, much of our lives is spent waiting for God to slam the judgment hammer into our skulls.  Working within the mentally challenged community, […]

The influence of one

posted by Linda G. Howard

As they entered the bus, everyone was happy and excited to be going home.  Even though the four days at The Special Gathering spiritual retreat had been great fun, the members who attended were nearly as ready to go home […]

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 […]

Remembering Renee

posted by Linda G. Howard

There are two stories in the Bible that have fascinated me all my life.  The first is a parable that Jesus told.  It is the story of a merchant who found an extremely valuable pearl.  After finding this magnificent pearl, […]

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 profitable visit

posted by Linda G. Howard

I spent the past few days in South Carolina with The Special Gathering program director.  This is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our goal is evangelizing and making disciples of people who are intellectually disabled.  During the week, […]

Faith or tempting the Lord

posted by Linda G. Howard

It seemed like three hours but it was no more than 10 minutes.  Ginny–an elderly Special Gathering member with diabetes–has seen her cognitive abilities eaten away from her health condition and age.  As Ginny got off the SCAT bus to […]

The Saturday adventure

posted by Linda G. Howard

On Saturday, several people who have not attended Special Gathering for almost a year came back.  I could tell from the expressions on their faces and from the look in their eyes that they completely enjoyed their time with us. […]

A forgettable day

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today is not a day I will remember.  I got up at my usual 4:30am.  After my prayer time, I went into the kitchen to start a pot of decaf but instead, I had a text message from my son. […]

Coming Home

posted by Linda G. Howard

One year ago today, my husband came home from the skilled nursing center to die.  While I often say that I don’t live in denial, I had no idea that three months later, he would be dead.  For about a […]

Salvation brings changes

posted by Linda G. Howard

I often think about the positive changes that have happened in the lives of the people I know–especially the members of Special Gathering, which is ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Shelley has become a young woman who is caring […]

The party’s over

posted by Linda G. Howard

The week before Christmas and the next two weeks have always been a bit of whirlwind for our family.  We celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Day heartily.  Additionally, there are three birthdays and three wedding anniversaries crammed into those short […]

Ten tips to finding solutions

posted by Linda G. Howard

When faced with a problem and needing to confront a person in authority, here are some excellent tips for finding solutions: 1.    Be positive in your approach.  Make sure that your attitude has been adjusted and a positive attitude will shine through. […]

Much ado about nothing

posted by Linda G. Howard

When I went to visit my grandchild when she was 18 months old, she could say, “Grandmother and cracker.”  She knew what she wanted and how to get it with a smile and a kiss.  Can you imagine that this […]

When do small things count?

posted by Linda G. Howard

Questions?  We all have them.  There are important questions. Should I have that operation?  Should I sell my house even though it’s underwater?  Should I change jobs?  Should I break up with my girlfriend? Little questions can be important, also.  Should […]

Waiting for the green light

posted by Linda G. Howard

I sometimes wonder how much time we spend waiting for a green traffic light. This is a phenomenon of the automobile age, though waiting has been the bane of human existence since our time spent in the Garden.  My first […]

The Christmas Carol

posted by Linda G. Howard

Forty years ago Christmas Eve was the first time I heard the sound of my favorite Christmas Carol. She squeaked a cry a few seconds after she was born.  Carol weighed six pounds and she was 17 inches long.  She […]

And God speaks

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, during a pastors’ prayer meeting, one of the pastors said to me, “Linda, I believe that you are feeling upset because of the IRS audit you are facing and God wants you to know that he isn’t upset with […]

Aftermath

posted by Linda G. Howard

December 5 means that both of the Special Gathering Christmas plays are over in Melbourne and Vero. This year unlike 2009, Mary’s face wasn’t bruised from having dental surgery.  The shocking effect was what appeared to be a bearded Mary. […]

Doing a daily

posted by Linda G. Howard

Last April, I signed a contract with BeliefNet to write and publish a daily blog. I fully understand the complexity of writing something every day because I’ve had a daily blog for almost six years.  I know the joys and […]

Holiday Traditions

posted by Linda G. Howard

All holidays are filled with traditions shared within each family.  This year, one of my granddaughters decided that we should start another Thanksgiving tradition, dressing (in costumes) for dinner. When it was mentioned, I immediately said, “I know what I […]

Winter

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m a child of the deep South and snow isn’t part of my heritage.  Only two years ago, I walked in the snow for the first time.  I slid down a hill covered with soft flakes and I felt the […]

A Thanksgiving value: Respect for the people we love

posted by Linda G. Howard

This year has been a bell-ringing year for me.  In May, my husband died.  While miss him terribly, there is a peace that he is with the Lord. A big part of that peace has come because the people I […]

A Thanksgiving value: Respect for the things I have

posted by Linda G. Howard

As I passed through the family room I heard a TV Talking Head speaking about money problems.  “One of the things we must learn is to have respect for what you have.” I stopped wanting to take note of who […]

Hoping all the time

posted by Linda G. Howard

Hoping all the Time by Michelle Demeree Going deep inside our feeling often means we go to prayer. In this way, we know the meaning and how it feels to help those in need. We can have love. The choice […]

Winning friends and supporting others

posted by Linda G. Howard

Nancy’s voice was sorrowful, “Linda, can we have lunch?  I just want to be sure things are all right with you.”  She is a friend and a fellow pastor. Nancy, also a recent widow, has called me several times since […]

Expecting two babies

posted by Linda G. Howard

My sister, Ferne, has three great-grandchildren.  They are the offspring of her two granddaughters. I am looking forward to a visit from two of the babies and their mother this next week.  Several months ago, my husband and I had […]

11 ways to benefit from Interruptions in your life and your health

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps one of the hardest things to keep in balance when you are faced with interruptions in your life are your healthy and eating habits.  Susan Brown, BeliefNet author, recently went through such a time. Ms. Brown spent days at […]

Reaching from the dark

posted by Linda G. Howard

Some say he could be one of the wealthiest men in the county.  His mother died about 10 years ago.  He has a beautiful home and a new car. This man has plenty of money.  There are two bankers and two lawyers […]

When they grow up

posted by Linda G. Howard

Tomorrow I’ll spend the last day with my grandson and his fiancee before he goes back to Alaska where he is stationed.  This was his pre-deployment vacation and I’m so honored that he wanted to spend it here with me. […]

I wish I’d known

posted by Linda G. Howard

I walked away from my conversation with John’s only remaining family, a sister and brother-in-law, wishing I had known him better when he was alive.  But that always happens when I interview a family before attempting to conduct a memorial […]

Dave’s trip to heaven

posted by Linda G. Howard

This is a description of a good friend’s adventure in December 2010.  Dave is a quiet man who is not prone to exaggeration, extremes or drama.   Even though it’s been almost a year, each time he tells his experience, […]

Gleaning from leaders–Part 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Over the years, I’ve gleaned so many working principles from leaders–more than I could ever begin to write.  On Friday, October 14, a group of ministry leaders met at Chicago O’Hare Airport.  We spent the day gleaning from each other. […]

Standing up for God

posted by Linda G. Howard

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be […]

Prayer of a saint: Stay with me

posted by Linda G. Howard

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You. Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak And I need your strength that […]

You’ve changed

posted by Linda G. Howard

Several years ago, a friend told me that she had seen lots of changes in me over the years.  Though she didn’t really mean it to be a compliment, I took it that way.  “You aren’t nearly as serious as […]

What’s your church IQ?

posted by Linda G. Howard

I toyed with the idea of leaving.  I was uncomfortable being out in the storm any longer than I needed to be.  Central Florida was hit with a three day storm that became “officially” and unofficial tropical storm. It was […]

Having the courage to stand

posted by Linda G. Howard

Anyone who knows me realizes I love chocolate. I will tell anyone who will listen.  I talk about and share my chocolate anytime I get a chance.  As much as I love chocolate, it won’t change anyone’s life.  My desire […]

Hello, my name is Linda

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’ve received comments asking for a list of questions that can be asked when we first meet people.  This is in reference to the What Is the First Impression I Give, entry for October 5, 2011. Here are the 10 […]

From exhilaration to dead tired

posted by Linda G. Howard

Thursday is a great day for me.  I leave the house around 7AM to start a 30 miles trip for a pastors’ prayer meeting with a group of men and women who have become good friends and irreplaceable counselors. Then […]

Susie’s Lemonade and the iPad

posted by Linda G. Howard

Have you watched Susie’s business grow?  Of course, Susie’s Lemonade is a fictitious TV-commercial corporation founded by a young girl who started with a lemonade stand.  She has now built her roadside stand into a large corporation, using advanced technology. […]

What is the first impression I give?

posted by Linda G. Howard

My good friend, Malcolm, told me that he attended a leadership class recently.  It was both an exhilarating and brutal course. The teacher expertly built up the members.  Where needed, she ripped apart each of the participants. At the end […]

All that glitters

posted by Linda G. Howard

For several reasons, I hated when our children got their driver’s license.  Of course, there was the problem of safety. Now the crazy teenage idiots driving wildly through our neighborhood were my children.  But the other reason was that I learned so much about my offsprings […]

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 […]

The face of encouragement

posted by Linda G. Howard

Looking through my memories over the past months, I’ve been shocked at the number of people who have been “The Face of Encouragement” for me.  Too many to name. My dad didn’t encourage with words but actions and attitude. My […]

Becoming an encourager

posted by Linda G. Howard

There is something that you and I  can do which will change people’s lives.  It is very simple.  It won’t cost you a penny.  It will make you feel better.  In fact, it will change your life as well as […]

Is there a deer on my lap?

posted by Linda G. Howard

She sat with blood and shattered glass dripping from her body and hair.  Staring blankly at the man who had come to her wrecked car, Natalie Carley asked,  “Is there a deer on my lap?” “Yes, but don’t look at […]

Riders on the storm

posted by Linda G. Howard

The song, “Riders on the Storm,” recorded in 1971 by the Doors invaded my mind this morning.  Perhaps I’m the only person in the US who can’t remember ever hearing this song. My curiosity peaked by the title, I had […]

To be or to do

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m not telling you anything new.  God wants us to be and then we will do.  It isn’t that God is against doers. However, he knows that doers become rigid and Pharisees, pointing a finger at everyone who doesn’t live up to our standards.  Or […]

When a trusted friend leaves

posted by Linda G. Howard

Today, during Special Gathering worship, we said good-bye to a dear and trusted friend who is moving away.  Erik came to us seven years ago and he has done more tasks that I can name. For me, he has been […]

Power Point

posted by Linda G. Howard

I’m a computer person only because my husband was a computer person.  He purchased the first handheld calculator manufactured 35 years ago.  It cost $1,200.  A few years later, he bought one of the first personal computers.   Our Apple […]

Prayer of the Saints

posted by Linda G. Howard

On December 13, 2006, I injured my eye ball.  It caused what the doctors called a Recurrent Corneal Erosion.  In simple terms, the skin on my eyeball would dissolve in the middle of the night and I would wake up […]

Cliff Jumpers

posted by Linda G. Howard

Steve Brown, a Christian radio commentator, explained that his mission in life is to watch out for cliff jumpers.  He said that he stands at the edge of a cliff every day and warns people not to jump off into […]

Storm after the calm

posted by Linda G. Howard

Early Friday morning, 33 people from two states gathered for a Special Gathering choir retreat.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  People who are developmentally disabled compose the three choirs. This is part of the outreach […]

Chicken or the egg

posted by Linda G. Howard

Of course, we all know the question.  Which came first the chicken or the egg?  As familiar as we are with the question, none of us truly know the answer.  (Though I can’t imagine God scattering eggs all over creation […]

And we wept

posted by Linda G. Howard

Ten years ago, all during the morning and afternoon of September 11, I watched in horrified fascination. Much of our nation was paralyzed by the acts of evil men whose purpose was to destroy the heart of our nation. These […]

History was being made

posted by Linda G. Howard

  Hot and sweaty I came in from a 10-minute run. Wiping my forehead and drinking a large glass of water, I’d neglected to turn off the TV.  Absently, I observed as the morning show hosts flashed the live picture of […]

In Memory of Leslie

posted by Linda G. Howard

  By Michelle Demaree What can I say about my friend, Leslie? She had a lot going for her. She was loved by everyone. Leslie is a star in our eyes. Having her friendship was a joy in our lives. […]

Being a survivor

posted by Linda G. Howard

Crouched behind the sofa my five-year old grandson delighted in jumping from behind to scare his family.  He would often accompany the surprise lurch with a growl, clawed fingers extended and a fantom face that was supposed to terrorize anyone […]

The miracle of simple things

posted by Linda G. Howard

I often laugh at radio and TV commercials when women (or men) talk about their new weight loss and say, “I have my life back.”  The commercial writers want to convince us that I cannot have a real and honest […]

Wearing out vs rusting out

posted by Linda G. Howard

My good friend, Inez Thompson used to say, “I’d much rather wear out than rust out.”  In reality, Inez was active and happily working until she had a stroke that left her unable to continue serving the Lord.  Calculating her […]

Who’s my customer?

posted by Linda G. Howard

On April 23, 1985, one of the largest marketing bungles was made by Coca-Cola when they introduced a new formulation of the Coke.  This is a company known as the leader marketing expert in the world.  No matter where you […]

Approaching the weary

posted by Linda G. Howard

Thinking about people who work hard, I cannot help but remember those who work within the mentally challenged community.  In fact, there is always a great deal of weariness.  Parents see no end to the responsibilities they must carry for the […]

Let’s keep the faith

posted by Linda G. Howard

Let’s Keep the Faith by Michelle Demeree God has given to each one the gift of faith. When we believe God, Our Christian faith lets us Live outside the box. People need to see how we believe through our faith. Our […]

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 2

posted by Linda G. Howard

Marsha was a Vacation Bible School teacher who demanded that every child obey the rules, except her own son. I’d looked forward to working with her; but I had not counted on her obvious favoritism regarding Johnny’s behavior. Even though […]

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, […]

Understanding the Prophets–Prophetic justice unleashed

posted by Linda G. Howard

All my adult life, I’ve used a simple plan to facilitate my daily devotions to study and read the scriptures.  Sometimes it was reading three chapters a day, five on Sunday.  Later, it became four chapters a day, none on Sunday.  […]

I like Job’s friends

posted by Linda G. Howard

One day as I read  the book of Job in the Bible, my heart was struck dumb by the speech given by one of his friends.  “I agree with what this man is saying.”  I’d always given the speeches of […]

What’s stealing your joy?

posted by Linda G. Howard

What’s stealing your joy?  Bev Linder shares a piece from her life and journal that will brighten your day.  

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 […]

Telling your story

posted by Linda G. Howard

If you are reading this, you have probably thought at some point in your life.  I can write better than this and I actually have something to say.  While the number one fear in the U.S. is public speaking, my […]

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 […]

Not for sale–The faith community

posted by Linda G. Howard

At times we need to remember that the modern Civil Rights Movement did not begin in a fashionable salon where artists and intellectuals exchanged ideas, but in a Church, under the leadership of the Rev. Martin Luther King.  In fact, […]

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

Good Things

posted by Linda G. Howard

By Michelle Demeree Jesus is coming through the door. Are you afraid?  You do not need to be. Do you know, who is good all the time? Let me tell you. It is Jesus. So let’s raise up our hand […]

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 […]

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

Forgiveness

posted by Linda G. Howard

Perhaps the most important thing I have learned from the computer age is the wonderful power of forgiveness.  I remember that one of the first things I was told about my computer was “don’t worry they are very forgiving.”  Interestingly, this is also […]

Previous Posts

Justice and Mercy
As we know, it was God's undeniable sense of justice that demanded that He allow Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross.  However, it was God's mercy that allowed this perfect human to be killed for the sin of all mankind.  While we can do ...

posted 11:43:14am Jun. 20, 2015 | 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 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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

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