April 2011


Pre-registration is required for this all-day seminar for parents and young adults with ASD at  www.ucf-card.org.

 

Saturday May 21, 2011

 

An Orange County Public School Autism Spectrum Collaborative Workshop for Middle/High School Students, adults with ASD, and their parents.

 

In partnership with the Autism Society of Florida (ASF), Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (UCF-CARD)

 

and Providing Autism Links & Supports (PALS).

 

Location: Dr. Phillips High School – 6500 Turkey Lake Rd., Orlando, FL 32819

 

Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

 

Lunch will be provided for free!

 

Parent Resource Fair in Courtyard!

 

Featuring

 

Ari Ne’eman

 

Ari Ne’eman is an autism rights activist. He founded the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and was appointed by President Obama to the National Council on Disability on June 22, 2010. He was also appointed by Secretary Sebelius as a public member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee in April 2010.

 

This is an all day workshop for parents and young adults on the Autism Spectrum. Breakout sessions will include:

 

For Parents: Failure to Launch, Residential Options, Strategies for Puberty, Making Your Case, Transition Services and a Panel Discussion.

 

For Young Adults: Self Advocacy with Ari, Preparing for the Future, Social Skills Enhancement, and Life Skills.

 

For more information please contact: 407 823 6011 or 407 421 2393

 

To register: http://www.ucf-card.org

Perhaps a new hat will do

In this case, one size does not fit all!

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 design work spanned from the early days of the Saturn rockets to design and maintenance of the shuttle.

When the first shuttle, the Challenger, exploded, I was standing in the church yard with a large group of school children.  As we watched the terror of parts flying in all directions in the azure, clear sky, our cheers screeched to horrified silence.  The teachers quietly and quickly herded their students back into the classrooms.  I rushed into my office to call my husband.  It was too soon for the phones to be jammed, which would be the case within a few minutes.  Frank answered the phone, “What happened?”  I asked.

“I don’t know but I would say it was the o-rings that failed,” he told me.  “That is the only thing that makes sense.”  After months, of investigations, NASA found that the explosion was caused by a failure of the o-rings.

For more than 40 years, our dinner conversations were filled with engineering problems and design kinks.  The last thing we talked about at night was the next launch.  The first thing in the morning was the problem of the day at Kennedy Space Center.  Discussion in and out of work with engineering colleagues still means talking about the future of space and what comes next.  As odd as that may seem to others, it was normal to us.  Space was our business.  Most engineers lived and breathed exploration.

From the most active and creative minds, to the skilled worker, we were a part of one of mankind’s greatest ventures, exploring the unknowns of space travel.  Even the mentally challenged community was actively involved with space exploration.  Brevard Achievement Center, a sheltered workshop in Rockledge, Florida, held several contracts with NASA to sort and package the information that went out to school children all over the world.

Today, everything will stop to see the shuttle Endeavour fly for the last time.  For the rest of the world, drama has been added because the commander is Mark Kelly.  His wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who are nearly killed a few months ago will be here.  To add to the excitement,  President Obama and his family are in the audience.

But life won’t stop for us because of the important people who are visiting our wonderful space center.  These dignitaries are not the main attraction for the women and men who have lived, eaten and breathed this adventure.  The Endeavour will be the star of this show.

And time will stop for us because it is an end of an era. As always, traffic will pull over to the side of the road.  Drivers and passengers will spill out of their cars and vans.  Restaurants will empty.  Schools yards and parking lots will be filled with squirmy children and unimpressed teenagers.  The beaches will be filled.  Every eye will be looking toward the sky.  

Living in the center of history for more than 40 years has influenced all of Brevard County residents.  We understand the impact that our life’s work will have on the future.  Because of this reality and how our lives have been lived, I’ve often wondered if the Apostle Paul had any idea the great impact his life and letters would have on the entire world.  Did he understand that God was using him to initiate the establishment of a civilization?

Can any of us know the real impact our lives are having on others?  As Brevard County brings to a halt all other activity to view this mark in history, Christian and non-Christians will be praying for a safe journey for Commander Kelly and his crew.  We understand the significance of this journey.  But do we understand the equal impact of God’s hand resting on our lives?

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 change my life.  My husband and I had just moved to Central Florida.  I was a brand new mother when a new friend came to the hospital.  She gave me Wilkerson’s book.  Because I respected her, I read it with fascination.

This, Wilkerson person, was a young man–only 10 year older than I–but he had something in his Christian life that I didn’t have.  Yet, I desperately wanted whatever it was that he had.  He was able to share Jesus with people on the streets or in a small crowd.  New York City gang leaders became Christians.  Drug addicts were set free by God’s power.

During my  stay in the hospital, nursing aids and orderlies came to my room to “hang out.”  This was a new experience for me.  I’m not a magnetic personality but they came and they wanted to talk.  Several of them burst into tears and asked my help.  I was dumbfounded, scared and speechless.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not tell them about my wonderful Savior.  There was no power in my life, even when people were asking legitimate and heart wrenching questions.

At night, when the TV was off and only one light was shining, I would pull out my book.  I read and I cried. Why couldn’t I tell these hurting, hungry women about the wonderful Lord who gave me peace.  When a woman twice my age poured out her heart because her son was fighting an unpopular war, I sat numb and speechless.  When perky Maria talked about her boyfriend who was sick and could be dying, I could only smile and hold her hand.

I began a search through the Scriptures for what made Wilkerson different.  I wanted what he had.  I needed the power of the Holy Spirit to reach out and touch me because I’d seen a small glimpse of a hurting world who desperately needed the Lord.  In God’s time, I discovered what Wilkerson had found and so did millions of other people.

From the Jesus Movement of the 1960’s, the Church in the US was radically changed.  All of us still feel the affects of the outpouring of God’s Spirit on our nation.  Things changed from the music we sing to the length of our sermons to the way the Bible is taught.  Sure, not everything that happened was good but much of it was holy and powerful.

I don’t live in the past.  I don’t even miss the past.  There are many wonderful days ahead.  However, with the death of David Wilkerson, it seems good to stop hoeing God’s fields for a moment.  It’s a time to lean against my hoe and catch a vision of the past fears and God’s glorious release.  It’s time to reflect and rejoice in a young man who dared to follow God’s calling, risking all to “go into the highways and hedges and compel” us to come in.  His godly influence reached more than the gangs in New York City.  God’s spirit touched a young mama sitting in a hospital bed, crying out for more of the Lord.

Who is someone who has influenced your life for good?  What books have helped you to know God better?

Photos: Rev. David Wilkerson by John Baw and New Mother by Leannrlee

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 NOT residing in Buckingham Palace, the Union Jack flag  flies over her London home.

However, if the Queen is in residence, her own flag flies over the palace.

In trying to help others understand ministry within the mentally challenged community, we explain that the social aptitude of our members is sort of stuck in junior high/middle school.  They enjoy all the things that would entertain anyone who is between the ages of 12 and 14.  Additionally, one minute they are making mature, rational decisions.  The next minute, they have reverted back to childish behavior.

In their walk with Christ, it isn’t unusual to hear deeply profound statements coming from two members as they discuss the Lord.  Yet, within a few moments, we may see the same two people fighting over a double-stuff Oreo cookie.

As I learned this interesting fact about the flags flying over Buckingham Palace, I thought of Special Gathering members. Their social penchant for flip/flopping makes them an easy target to illustrate an important Christian principle.  However, the problem isn’t isolated within the intellectually disabled population.  Too often, there are two alternating flags which fly over my life–over all of our lives.   One represents a holy life in Christ; the other shows that we’ve stepped away and we are somewhere else, fighting over an Oreo.

When we are in the middle of our friends who are Christian, it is easy to stand for what is right and good and just.  We fly the flag that says we are comfortable living within the kingdom of God.  When we are at work or among friends who aren’t aligned with Christ, we may nonchalantly slip to the flag pole to haust our worldly flag.

Compromise comes easily and quickly.  Yet, it means that for a time, I am turning my back on the life-giving Holy Spirit for a vacant life of recrimination and regrets.  I pray that the flag of my life will continue to fly high proudly telling the world the Christ is living in my heart.

When are the times that you are tempted to back away from the Savior?  Are we fighting over an Oreo, when we should be proclaiming Christ’s love to the world?

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 from Camp Daniel says:

 I had heard a follow up joke to that one…


If the head has already been bitten off a chocolate easter bunny, how can you tell if its male or female?

If its female it is still talking!

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 laid off.

He was a hard worker who doesn’t like sitting and watching TV.  He doesn’t play video games.  He likes to work.  When his family came to me regarding their problem with Andy, I was amused as they explained their dilemma.  Without other work, yard care has become his speciality. We have one day a week when trash and rubbish are picked up.  This included leaves, yard trimmings, branches and limbs.  Garbage pick-up is different days.

When the trash man comes, Andy insists that something must be in the container.  He has trimmed their trees until there will soon be problems.  With equal enthusiasm, he has trimmed the neighbors’ trees and bushes.  Still there are days that his parents must allow him to trim bushes which don’t need to be trimmed so there will be something for the trash man to collect.

“Is there somewhere that he can work, a volunteer job?”  the family asked.  “Maybe the church can use him.”  Special Gathering meets at a large church with lots of needs.  Later that week, the building superintendent–at the church where we meet–was asked if they would be able to have Andy come once or twice a week to police the building, picking up trash and leaves.  He and his father wanted to do this as volunteers.

The superintendent almost jumped with joy.  A long time member, George, had come every morning for 25 years to pick up trash and leaves.  When George had a stroke, he could no longer come.  A big void was created.  The church was in dire need of a person to come and help with this job.

Andy is not the only person within the special needs community who reacts to a loss of job in this way.  In fact, he was not even the exception.  Usually, people who are developmentally disabled want to work.  Occasionally, people with disabilities are looked on as freeloaders.  Yes, they do receive Social Security benefits.  Nevertheless, they desire to work and pay taxes.  When they are not able to find a job, they are willing to volunteer for and pick up the slack in the organizations that have value to them.

Each of us need to feel value.  Jesus said, “Love your neighbor, as you love yourself.”  Isn’t the meaning clear?  We can measure the amount of love we have for others by the volume of love we have for ourselves.  This teaching seems to stand against the other teachings of Jesus.  Giving ourselves away is a central theme of Christianity; so how could Jesus mean what he said?  Perhaps, the translator made a mistake.  Maybe, the gospel writers weren’t standing it the correct spot on the mountain while Jesus spoke to clearly hear his words.  Could it be that a mouthy sea-gull flew over the mount as Jesus spoke, thus garbling his words?

The most logical explanation is that Jesus meant what he said.  As a person, I need to love the face in the mirror to be able to fully and truly love other people.  In the same way that people with disabilities feel better about themselves when they become valued members of their community, each of us need the same spurring to react to my neighbor in kind and loving ways.

Does this sound too simple to be effective?  Do you think this is the end of the formula to self-worth, or merely a small step forward?  Do you believe that I’ve completely missed the point?  If so, what did Jesus mean by this declaration?

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