December 2008

At 6pm we’ll begin Fun and Games at First United Methodist Church in Melbourne.  It is open to everyone within the mentally challenged community who would like to have a Christ honoring New Year’s Eve.  I confess the last three New Year’s Eves have been spent with my grandchildren shoot fireworks in our front yard. 

This year my grands have gone home and I’m going to play and sing with some of my other favorite people.  Come and join us in the joy. 

And remember have a God-honoring and happy New Year!

I wanted to talk about families who spoil their family members who have a disability.  They are the bane of the professional’s existance and I fully understand that.  In group homes and at work, it is difficult to deal with a personality who has been warped by over indulgance. 

As program director of The Special Gathering of Indian River, I minister to persons with disabilities within the mentally challenged community.  We are a ministry that disciples and evangelizes persons who are intellectually disabled.  I am and I am not a professional.  I am and I am not a family member.  I’m somewhere in between both positions–comfortable in each situation but aware that my stand is different from both. 

I know that there are people within the mentally challenged community who have been spoiled.  Mary has been pampered by her mother since birth.  She has a sibling who is a successful engineer.  However, I thought Mary was an only child for about 15 years because every asset and thought is centered around Mary.  This is never a good thing.

Yet, too often I see the opposite is true.  Marsha Jane comes from a wealthy family in another state.  She has her own trust funds and she is able to exist without any support from the State.  However, she has a sister who joyfully raids Marsha Jane’s trust fund.  Sister encourages and supervises  MJ as she buys expensive gifts for her sister’s children, for her sister and for the brother-in-law. 

Yet when MJ travels, her traveling caregivers are told by Sister that MJ needs nothing.  They are told not to buy her any souviners or clothing.  It is true MJ is taken care of in a comfortable fashion.  However, it would seem good to this observer that her family could indulge MJ a bit and allow her to splurge, spending her own money on the some of the things she may want, and not merely her necessities.

Lars’ family is all gone.  He is also taken of by a paid caregiver.  At 65, he has begun to develop some interesting and quirky habits.  His caregivers must discipline him at times just to keep these traits under control.   When asked if Lars can participate in some fun activities, I am told more often than not that he cannot come because he is being disciplined.

Therefore, I cannot help but rejoice when I see a sister like Debbie.  Several months ago, she called me to her home.  When I arrived, she was crying from concern that her brother may be taken from her by a long-lost father who has found them.  Her reaction was it is deeply refreshing.

My children were raised without grandparents who lived close to us.  Both sets of grands were alive but we lived in different states.  While these grandparents were wonderful, they didn’t believe in spoiling anyone–especially family members.  My husband and I were both strict disciplinarians.  Therefore, my children always had to be on their best behavior.  I wish now that they had someone who would’ve taken them for a few days and allowed them to be rowdy.  That someone could’ve watched them as they ate too much ice cream without scolding.

As I get older, I’ve come to believe that it may be good for the soul to have times of unbridled romping.  (I’m not talking about sin–only simply, hardy play.)  Our Christian traditions teach the value of disciple and structure and I wholeheartedly agree.  However, the Old Testament Law also teaches that during feast days, you are to eat as much as you want.  In fact, KJV says, “Eat whatever your eye lusts for.”  God often spoils his children with blessings that aren’t basic needs but our desires and wants.

What do you think?  Have you seen that there is more  need for discipline or more need for concern?  Is this an issue that needs to be explored?  Am I wrong in my accessment?

One of my close friends said to us as we were discussing her travel plans over the holidays, “Don’t feel sorry for me.  I love my travel time.  I don’t have to drive; I’m going to fly.  I don’t have to fight traffic.  I’m not responsible for the flight.  I can get to the airport early and have a leisurely breakfast of gooie cinnamon buns without feeling guilty because that’s the healthiest thing in the airport.”

Much of my day is spent in travel time and I have to agree with her.  I sit in an air conditioned car with comfy pilot chairs and a great sound system.  I can listen to the radio, play a CD or listen to a book.  Anything I desire and enjoy it.  When I’m on the road, I can eat nothing, eat healthy or eat greasy fried chicken.  

I remember my mother always made our family feel as though we would be entering a torture chamber when we entered the car on vacation.  In reality, I have fond memories of my brother punching me, my sister’s complaints and my constant whining.  I don’t know why she thought it was a miserable experience. 

But I’ve learned a lot from the members of The Special Gathering. 
As people who are mentally challenged, they don’t drive.  Therefore, they spend a lot of time waiting for their rides and riding public transporation.  By and large, they are happy to have time with their friends without having to answer to parents, caregivers or bosses.   They laugh and talk and sing on the bus.  The philosophy often seems to be if you can’t change it, enjoy it.

After a few years of observing their patience in regard to their daily busing adventure, I slowly shedded my mother’s anticipation of uncomfortable travel and replaced it with a more realistic view of journeying from here to there.

Today, I’m traveling with my family in a two vehicle caravan coming back home after a few days in Virginia.  I’m remembering that last year my grandson, Sebastian, was logging miles toward his needed goal to get his full-time license by driving us from South Carolina.  He drove too fast and though we scolded him, my husband and I loved every minute of it.

The mission of our ministry of Special Gathering is to evanglize and disciple people who are intellectually delayed.  But too often they are discipling me.  In fact, there are many things I’ve learned from our members but one of the best is enjoying travel time.  If you are still dreading your time traveling, shed the tension and grief.  Learn from the members of the mentally challenged community.  If you can’t change it, enjoy them.

The Least Among us Should be the Greatest

Luke 9:48

Central Theme: The least among us should be given the greatest honor.


Introduction–Tell the story of Onesimus from the Book of Philemon in the Bible.  He was a slave but Paul loved him and wanted to help save his live. 


       I.     Have a member read Luke 9:48. 

              A. Because of our disability, we are group of people that some people find no value in.

              B. Of course, if they ever get to know us, they love us like crazy.

              C. But we must deal daily with being people who are not valued. 

                   1.  Because of that we should value each other.

                   2.  But we often do not show each other great value.

                   3.  Being a wheel chair person is a valuable job in Melb Special Gathering but is that because you get to go first when you help to wheel someone in a chair?

                        A. It should be because Kevin and Michael, Beth and                               Chrissy are our most important people.


      II.     But what about people that we don‘t like.

              1.  Some people get on our nerves; they act like jerks.

              2.  Just because you are disabled does not give you the right to be rude or disrespectful to other people.

              3.  But we should still show rude people love and respect also.


     III.     Paul wanted Onesimus to be helped by his owner.

              A. Paul wanted to help him, even though he was a runaway slave.

              B. God wants us to show respect to others also.


Conclusion–As a group of people we should show respect to each other.

Following Jesus with Simple Minds, Simple Hearts

John 20:18 and 19

Central Theme:  Following Jesus means that we must have simple minds and hearts.


Introduction—Before my mother died, I spent time a week with her.  She had fallen and could not walk by herself.  She had a belt around her chest area that we used to stabilize her and help her walk.  We even had to direct her telling her where she is going.  She is not able to follow us anymore but she can still follow Jesus.


       I.     Peter had denied Jesus three times but Jesus had allowed him to confess his love three times. 

              A. Jesus was about to give Peter his directions on how he was to live his life.

              B. Read John 21:18 and 19

              C. Tell the whole story.

              D.      Jesus’ final instruction to Peter was simple and clear, “Follow Me.”

              E.  Follow me is not complicated or hard to understand.

                   1.  Mother has been and is now a dynamic witness and she cannot talk.

              F.  You need to have a simple mind and a simple heart.

              G. God wants us to understand that we too can follow him.

                   1.  As a child and even during that week with her, Mother guided me without a word. God tell us, “I will guide you with my eye.”

                   2.  In dealing with Jeroboam, Rehoboam had failed to use wisdom and had not followed God but that is not the end of the story.

                   3.  II Chronicles 11:1 and 2, 4, 16 and 17.

                   a.  Rehoboam made Judah a strong nation when he followed God. vs. 23

                   b.  He then turned from God. (2:1)

                   c.  God sent another nation to destroy him and he was sorry (2:6, 12).

                   d.  However, his epitatah was extremely sad (2:14).


           II.     At times, we use our circumstances as an excuse for not doing the right thing.


              A. God is not interested in your problems, if you are going to use them as an excuse for not following him.

                   1.  God can heal your hurts, no matter how bad the pain is.

                   2.  God can make all things work for your good, no matter how bad they are.

                   3.  God let you know that you are important, no matter how unimportant you feel.

                   4.  God does not care how much you have failed him, he can restore you.

     III.      Peter had failed and denied Jesus but Jesus let him come back to him because his heart was simple.


Conclusion–I told the Special Gathering that having a disability does not give you an excuse to not follow Jesus; but it may help you to be a better follower.  Your detriments in God’s hands become you assets.

A comment from Aaron Nangle, of  If you aren’t getting his newsletter.  You should.  To subscribe go to
I enjoyed your article, “Very Poor, Very Rich”
I have this poem on my wall, next to the picture of the single wide trailer I lived in not too long ago.  

Count Your Blessings

If you have food in the refrigerator clothes on your back, a roof over head and a place to sleep . . .

you are richer than 70% of this world.

If you have money in the bank,
in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace . . .

you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If you woke up this morning
with more health than illness . . .

you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.


If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation . . .

you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.


If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death . . .

you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.


If your parents are still alive and still married…

you are very rare, even in Canada.


If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful . . .

you are blessed because although the majority can, most do not.


If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder . . .

you are blessed because you can offer healing touch.


If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore,

you are  more blessed that over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

Have a good day, and . . .

count you blessings.


I am a real believer in delayed gratification.  In fact, as much as I love gifts, I love the anticipation even more.  As a child, I gave up the Christmas gift hunt.  The annual childhood adventure wasn’t hard in our house, because our home was small and there weren’t many hiding places.  But I loved the wait.

Daddy always locked the cellar where he spent hours working on new toys and refurbishing old favorites until they were like new.  Mother’s hiding job was harder because her sewing machine was in clear view.  We usually shopped with her when she bought the material for the mountains of new clothes she would make for us. 

My last Christmas at home, Mother made me a wonderful new coat.  It was red with gusset sleeves and I thought it was the most beautiful coat I’d ever seen.  The fact that she made it added to its value for me.  I was married two weeks after Christmas that year so she spent added hours that fall working on my wedding dress and my trousseau. 

I’ve always felt sorry for people who had have Christmas or to get married without my mother.  She made all our clothes, working endless hours sewing and fixing and shopping.  That year, she planned the wedding, made my dress and my going-away suit.  She made the food for the reception and shopped for the cake.  My job was to pick out the bride’s maid dress patterns and materials, design my wedding dress and stand for hours for fittings. 

After Mother died, I found that the gifts didn’t end.  At last I had the money to purchase the garden furniture that I’d been eyeing for about four years.  I took a small part of my inheritance and went to the store to buy the chairs, tables and couch. 

Before I purchased them, I walked out of the store.  I knew that an era was over.  Thanks to mother’s careful savings, I wouldn’t be searching and saving for the perfect combo for my backyard garden.  I would have them.

I also knew that Mother’s gifts to me were almost complete.  I went to my closet and felt one more time my lace wedding dress, now faded with age.  The next day I returned to the store.  Over night, the set I wanted had gone on sale.  I was able to buy it at a huge savings.

I giggled as I purchased my garden set.  Mother’s gift giving wasn’t over.  When I sat on them perched perfectly under the shade of the gazebo.  I cried and laughed and thanked God for a wonderful mother who helped her children understand and cherish the wonder of His love.  I silently praised him for a mother who made elegant wedding gowns and who taught me to wait for better gifts and to love sales.

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