September 2009

In the state of Florida, I understand that there are no more than a dozen licensed Medwaiver providers who are contractors.  This past month, I spent a great deal of time with Brad Shea of AbleHouse, LLC, who is one of the few contractors who can be reimbursed for Medwaiver renovations.  He has renovated our bathroom and kitchen.

Standing with a group of professionals and parents several weeks ago, I mentioned that Shea was do our kitchen renovation.  Immediately, three people said, “I need to get in touch with him.  He did a renovation for several of my consumers or my family member.  I wouldn’t want to use anyone else.  He was careful, concerned and a true craftsman.”     

If you are in need of renovations, have your Support Coordinator contact, Brad Shea at AbleHouse, 321 432 7894.






joining family room

joining family roomOffice and exercise areaoffice and exercise areafamily room

Another view of family room

Another view of family room

sink and stove area

sink and stove area

Island and eating area

Island and eating area

Built-in shelves

Built-in shelves







Os Hillman in an online newsletter reminded me that God called Moses.  Then God deliberately hindered Moses’ efforts to succeed.  You remember the story, Moses came from his 40 year respite in the desert to lead the people of Israel out of bondage.

However, the Bible says that God hardened Pharoah’s heart at every turn.  Rather than God cooperating with Moses, God fought his success.  After his baptism, Jesus was driven into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by the devil. 

With so much scriptural evidence of God’s determination to strengthen his Chosen Ones through hardship, resistance and persecution, we still are captured by the illusion that our journey will be different. Somehow we believe that we will be able to mount the wings of the Holy Spirit and sail over the hardships of life and ministry only touched by the gently caressing breezes of God’s grace and mercy.

The truth is that none of us escape.  Each is buffeted though the winds and storms of life valiantly clinging to the cross for our strength.  You see, it is the cross and the resurrection that is the center of our experience with Christ.  We must never forget that each time resurrection occurs, there has been a crucifixion of self. 

Is there joy?  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Is there peace.  Yes, unspeakable peace.  Is there life without conflict and hurt.  No.  But we survive the rebukes and discouragements and pain and walk out of the fire refined.  Johnnie Lord, wife of Peter Lord, once said, “God isn’t interested in my performance but in my obedience.”  In your Christian life and especially in ministry, performance and even success doesn’t count.  Obedience does.

 What about you?  Have you been going through fire this past week or year?  Have you been able to seek Christ through the pain and hurt?

photo by

In the past year and seven months, the daily entries for this weblog have survived storm, vacations, hospital visits, power outages, Internet interruptions, muscles pulled from ribs and the flu.  I’ve been to Hawaii (to visit our grandson), the Bahamas (with a group of mentally challenged members from South Carolina), Chicago, South Carolina, NYC, Virginia.  Through it all, I’ve not missed a day of blogs. 

But the back end of our kitchen renovation stopped me cold.  There seemed to be NO hours in the days of last week.  I woke up at 5am and went to bed at 2am each day.  But each day seemed to filled with a haze of complicated computer wires with no minutes or hours alloted to me to unravel them.  There were no chairs to sit and certainly no places to take a nap.  I wasn’t sleeping or resting, but I couldn’t seem to accomplish even the most minimal activities.  I moved from one spot to another, doing the needed, immediate tasks as I stepped over and ducked under the maze of acquired possessions; but things only seemed to pile up higher and higher.

Now, I have a perfectly wonderful and beautiful kitchen, family room, office/exercise room.  AND I’M BACK.  There is still a lot to do but I have seen a wisp of sunlight somewhere at the end of my tunnel of furniture, paintings and junk.  I feel like singing, “I will Survive!”

Of course, this has nothing to do with the Special Gathering ministry, except that God is still good, alive and working his goodness.  In this past week, we’ve gotten two new members, attended a missions conference, planned our annual teacher’s retreat, the choir has sung and we spent a day at EPCOT with 33 members from Vero Beach and about 22 members from Melbourne.  Our monthly newsletter and pastors letter went out in time. 

There are times in your week that it seems that you are merely a hamster running on that noisy wheel inside a cage.  However, look back.  You may find as I did that God wasn’t running with you but busily working in your behalf to accomplish his purposes in your life and the lives of your members.  Perhaps that’s one reason why God tells us to remember his goodnes.  We do serve a great God.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

John 14:26

Central Theme:  The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity.  He is the God who lives inside of us and teaches us all things.

 Introduction–Tell about being a small girl and eating a Baby Ruth.  The Trinity is like a Baby Ruth.  Each of us can understand that.  But what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit.  Have a member read John 14:26.

       I.     Jesus was preparing his followers for his death.

              A. He told them that he would be leaving but that the Holy Spirit would come and live in them.

              B. The Holy Spirit has the job of teaching us about Jesus and God the Father.

              C. He is a comforter to us.

      II.     I have depended on the Holy Spirit to help me all my life.

              A. He convicted me of sin and helped me to see that I need Jesus as my Savior. (Tell about the time when you received salvation.)

              B. He helped me to see that I needed to learn about Him (Tell about your first encounter with the  Holy Spirit).

              C. He has helped me during hard times, comforting me (When daddy died and mother got sick).

              D. He helps me to understand why things happen to me (we had to move to Florida).

              E.  He helps me to know that I don‘t really need to understand some things that happen to me (Tell a little somethingabout a heartache you don’t understand).

Conclusion      The Holy Spirit wants to teach us about God by using everything that happens in your life.

LGH NOTE:  Motion of Great public importance official papers filed with courts:


GERAUD L. MORELAND, (I I) , CASE NO.: ID08-4353 et al., L.T. Case No.: 08-2199RP







The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) moves this Court to certify certain questions passed upon in its opinion of August 21, 2009, to be of great public importance. This Motion is based on Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.030 (a) (2) (A) (v) .

Although numerous issues were argued, t.he most important questions of public importance were whether t.his Agency was actually required by a statute listing criteria to base an Agency decision on to adopt an “assessment instrument,” in an Administrative Rule and in the alternat.ive whether Proposed Rule 65G-4 . 0021 (1) constituted an assessment instrument even if one was not required by the statute.

Rule 65G-4. 0021 (1) provided that the Agency would assign clients to tiers based on a list of criteria, including designated Florida St.atutes, designated Administrative Rules,

and other specifically list.ed information in subsections (a)

through (d) which would be considered by the Agency.

The Agency contends that the statute in question

These five rules are all of the Administrative Rules governing tier assignments under section 393.0661, Florida Statutes (2007) In 2002 the Florida Legislature required the Department of Children and Family Services to begin a comprehensive redesign of the entire Developmental Disability Program in Florida. Ch. 2002-400

393.0661) did not. expressly require the adoption of an “assessment instrument” by rule and that, in fact, the Agency used a previously adopted assessment instrument in the form of the Individual Cost Guidelines (ICGs). The Administrative Law Judge who tried this contested rule challenge specifically found the ICG was being used as the “assessment instrument.” The ICG was found by the ALJ to be both “valid” and “reliable.” (ALJ order p.15). These findings were based on the evidence below and were not reversed or even addressed by this Court. They rest on the fact that the rule requires consideration of “the client’s service needs as determined through the Agency’s prior service authorization process.” That process, the evidence established, included consideration of the ICG. § 39, Laws of Fla. The waiver system at t.hat time had one waiver without a cap and another, the Family and Support.ed Living Waiver with a $14,792 spending 2

cap. In 2007, the Legislature amended the statute to create a

new four tier system. Ch. 2007-64, Laws of Fla. This version of section 393.0661 involved a four tier system with spending caps on three of the tiers for all persons in Florida with developmental disabilities pursuant to a federally approved waiver program. According to section 393.0661 (3), as amended, the APD was required to assign all of its client.s to t.he four tier system. Tiers

Out. of the 21,307 tier assignments APD made in 2008, some 5,555 clients request.ed administrative hearings t.o dispute their tier assignment.s because each assert.ed t.hat all of the services they had been receiving in previous years were “medically

As stated in this Court’s August 21, 2009, decision, the Legislat.ure required that APD “shall assign all clients … to a tier based on

2, 3 and 4 have spending caps per year of $55,000, $35,000 and $14,792, respectively. According t.o this new st.atute, the benefits for many of APD’ s 21,307 clients will have to be reduced. This spending reduction was the purpose of the new statut.e. necessaryl! and that the APD incorrectly denied them an administrative hearing. According to the 2007 legislation, benefits to everyone in t.iers 2, 3 and 4 had to be reduced for budgetary reasons and new “cost plans” for these persons were required. a valid assessment instrument, client 3

characteristics, and other appropriate assessment methods.” See


tier assignments.

However, if the decision stands as written, then the questions passed upon should be certified for Supreme Court review as matt.ers of great public importance under Rule

9.030 (a) (2) (A) (v) . The questions to be certified should be:



Proposed Rule 65G-4.0021 provides:

393.0661. However, this Court ruled that the Agency had failed to demonstrate in the rule challenge proceedings that it had adopted a “valid, reliable assessment instrument as required by § 393.0661.” The APD disagrees with this conclusion. It has filed a Motion for Rehearing cont.ending that the statute did not require adoption of an “assessment instrument” rule and in the alternative t.hat it did, in fact, adopt and use a “valid assessment. instrument” pursuant t.o Proposed Rule 65G-4.0021. This “assessment. instrument” was used in all of its thousands of § 393.0661(3) AS AMENDED IN 2007, TO ADOPT A VALID AND RELIABLE ASSESSMENT INSTRUMENT IN AN ADMINISTRATIVE RULE? ..

.The agency will determine the Tier Waiver for which the client is eligible and assign the client to t.hat waiver based on the 4

developmental disabilities waiver criteria and limitations provided in Chapter 393 and 409, F.S., Rule Chapter 598-13, F.A.C., and this rule Chapter and the Agency’s evaluation of the following information:


The client’s level of need in functional, medical, and behavioral areas, as determined through Agency evaluation of client characteristics, the Agency approved assessment process, and support planning information; (b)

(c) The client’s age and the current living set.ting; and

(d) The availability of supports and services from ot.her sources, including natural and communit.y supports.

The client’s service needs as determined t.hrough the Agency’s prior service authorization process to be medically necessary;  


This case presents issues of great public importance

because it will have a major st.atewide impact. The decision affect.s the lives and services of over 31,000 people

receiving services and indirectly affects 18,000 more waiting

for services. It exacerbates a multi-million dollar Agency

deficit that is about $25.5 million for fiscal year 2008-2009.

The decision affects over one hundred appeals pending before t.he

district courts of appeal and approximately 1,430 cases or tier

In 2006-2007 the Agency deficit required a non-recurring appropriation of $54 million. (Trans. Vol. III, pp 259-260. The Agency’s appropriation that year was linked to the bill creating the tiers becoming law.


change requests before the Agency and the Division of Administ.rative Hearings.

The Agency has attempted in good faith to follow the Legislature’s directives t.o spend fewer public dollars on t.housands of persons with serious developmental disabilities. Therefore, t.his case should be certified for discretionary review by the Florida Supreme Court..

I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been

furnished by mail t.o the following this

day of September,


Gigi Rollini, Esquire Steven Brannock, Esquire Holland & Knight. LLP Brannock & Humphries PO Drawer 810 100 N. Tampa Street, Suite 4100 Tallahassee, Florida 32303 Tampa, Florida 33602

Christine Fuqua Gay, Esquire Cynthia Mikos, Esquire Holland & Knight LLP Allen Dell 50 N. Laura Street., Suite 3900 Amicus Curiae of ARC of Florida Jacksonville, Florida 32202 202 South Rome Avenue, Ste 100

Tampa, Florida 33606 HB


lao Bar No.: 0005419 Ausley & McMullen


Office Box






One of the Special Gathering volunteers looked at me yesterday and said jokingly, “Do you know how spoiled you are?”

I laughed and said, “Oh, yes.  I do know that I’m spoiled by the people with whom I work.”  There are ten people who are volunteers in our Melbourne program and four in our Vero program who make my life a great pleasure.  They work for our members and do things that I would otherwise have to do.  I can ask them to do any number of jobs and know with great assurance that the job will be done and done with great skill.  There is even a woman who isn’t a Special Gathering volunteer who bakes a wonderful loaf of bread for me each month.

Even more important, they understand the importance of taking the inititive and doing tasks on their own.  Sunday morning there were five of our ten volunteers absent.  However, there wasn’t even a hick-up in tasks that needed to be done.  Everyone doubled up and did their jobs without any concerns or complaints.

While October is Pastor’s Appreciation month, I live with appreciation every day.  Having a wonderful staff is one of the greatest blessings in our Special Gathering ministry.  I think there should be a Volunteer Appreciation Month for the great people who lead and help within the mentally challenged community.  Thank you for all you do.

Next Page »