June 2011

This was one of the first posts published more than four years ago.  It was also today’s entry at A Simple Life, my BeliefNet Blog.  

Shelly is a young woman in her early 30’s.  She is an avid writer.  Some of her articles appear in our monthly newsletter, Connecting Point, her own webpage and as a guest writer for this blog.  Terry’s passion is kitchen duty.  Anything that involves dirty dishes or grimy pots and pans presents a welcome contest for her.  Steve is stingy to a fault but he loves unconditionally.  When his girlfriend became sick, rather than dropping her, he became even more devoted to her and her growing needs.  Larry’s girlfriend has been faithful for almost 20 year.  Larry can muster up faithfulness for about 20 minutes, if she is in the room.

People within the mentally challenged community are sometimes lumped together as though they have one personality.  But they are individuals with individual needs and desires.

There are actually three personality types usually designated to our population.  The first is the congenial “Downs Forever Child.”  She is petite and wears an eternal smile.  Our Downs Forever Child (DFC) is compliant to a fault and loved by everyone.  She never gives anyone any trouble and is the perfect little person.

The second personality is similar to the DFC.  He is Forrest Gump (FG).  FG is tall and strong but shy and unable to effectively communicate with people but he is a sage with wisdom beyond his IQ.  He can be greatly misunderstood but things seem to happen for him that are wonderful because he is such a good, wise and kind person.  He is as gentle as a kitty cat and though people don’t understand him, in the end, everyone loves and admires him from afar.

The third personality is the Mice Killer.  He was made famous by the book, Of Mice and Men. MK is similar to Forrest Gump except he cannot control his emotions and therefore you never know when he might snap off the head of his pet mice or a pretty young woman he greatly admires.

Like all stereotypes, none of them are real.  People with Downs can be cranky and stubborn.  Forrest Gump isn’t a great fountain of wisdom hidden in the body of a mentally challenged individual.  And our population is seldom involved in crime, mass murder or mayhem.

The wonder of this population is that they are not phonies.  They don’t wear masks to hide their imperfections.  Henri Nouwen wrote about his experiences within the developmentally disabled community and in doing so, dared the church to become authentic in our relationship with the Lord.  We love to quote and read Henri Nouwen and his famous book, In the Name of Jesus. However, there are a few people I know who dare to live the Nouwen experience.  There is a family in our community who opened a group home in their house.  As their corporation grew, young couples moved into the different group homes and became a part of the mentally challenged community 24 hours a day.

Henri NouwenAnd there are others.  We have many faithful volunteers who come and live four days out of the year within this exciting cloistered, sub-culture at our Camp/Retreat held once a year.  Usually they come from curiosity or concern.  Some teenagers come, dragged there by their parents.  But they almost always come back year after year.  They work and play and clean messes and receive abundant love.  They learn the rich variety of personalities within the mentally challenged community and they come back for more.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have met?
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/#ixzz1QfWrDUiE

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

Even though the Bible tells believers to “Be still,” at least eight times, we seem to think that noise is more holy than quietness.  We love to sing and quote, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Yet, our modern-day living screams another message.  Too often, we do not teach the truth of the benefits of a quiet, spirit life.

From the hum of traffic that seeps through our windows to the murmur of our TV’s which continually stimulates our minds, we are almost never bathed by quiet.  While peace is not the same thing as quiet, it is perhaps impossible to be quiet without God’s inner peace reigning in our spirits.

Here are a couple of things that I’ve learned from others in my pursuit of practicing quiet.

  1. Set aside a time each day to listen to the Lord.  Prayer and listening are different dispciplines from quietness.  While God usually speaks to an active mind, waiting for the Lord in a quiet setting prepares us to hear from the Lord.
  2. Start with small bites of times.  Thirty minutes are much too long.  Don’t even attempt it.  Begin with one minute.  That minute will seem like an eternity at first.  But you will find that progressing to 5 minutes will be easier than that initial 60 seconds.  After you develop a set-aside time and you faithfully follow it, you will crave a quiet time.
  3. During the day, eliminate as much background noise as you can.  Turn off the TV, if you aren’t watching a specific program.
  4. Don’t let praise and worship music become a distraction from your quiet times.  Again, praise and worship are different from being still and quiet.
  5. During these times, harness your thoughts.  Be sure that thoughts of the Lord’s goodness and thankfulness are immersing your mind.
I read The Practice of the Presence of God as a young wife and mother.   The teachings found in this thesis captured my spirit.  It was written in the 17th century by the monk, Brother Lawrence, who was a cook and dishwasher in a monastery in Paris.  The disciplines practiced by this monk have been amazing stress relievers for me and thousands of others seeking to know God more completely.

Often our advocacy page is Florida centric.  However, this is a special need scholarship that has national reach.

jkl hopechest


a higher education scholarship for students who are adopted and/or have special needs.

2010-2011 ~ one $1000 scholarship to be awarded fall 2010

previous scholarships:
2009-2010 (1st year): $1000 scholarship awarded to heather yoder, fairmont state university

how to apply

to apply, email a one to two page letter to connect@onewholeworld.comcontaining the following:

  1. your name, dob, address
  2. your school name, address, and accounting department contact information
  3. two references with e-contact information: one of a pastor and another that can verify your adoption and/or special needs
  4. a paragraph or two sharing what you are studying and why
  5. no photos please

the chole’s children (jonathan, keona, and louie) will read the applications and select a recipient by december 10th.

the check will be issued directly to the college toward tuition.


Keeping You Informed -Disability Awareness

(727) 841-8943


With Bryan Vaughan

Acting Director of APD

(Agency For Persons With Disabilities)

Watch the Video to hear the answers to these questions and more.


1.  With cost plans frozen what happens when somebody desperately require additional supports?

2.  Can you explain Ibudget and when will that roll out?

3.  Can you explain the new paperless system, APD connects, and when will that roll out?

4.  Why does it take anywhere from 6 months to a year or more to get a provider number?

5.  Can providers take trainings online rather than traveling to district?

6.  Can any or all providers can use checklists in lue of writing notes for their documentation?

7.  APD asked people for possible ways to cut the budget.  Which suggestions will you use?

8.  What is being done to address the waiting list?

9.  Is there a priority checklist for getting on the waiver faster?

10.  What about managed care?  Do you think APD will go to managed care?

Disability Expo 2011


Saturday, July 30th 2011


At The Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center,

In The Grand Ballroom (Free Event & Free Parking)

10901 SW 24 St Miami, FL 33165



This is an opportunity for people who have disabilities and their families to meet providers, to learn about community resources, and to speak with staff from The Agency For Persons With Disabilities. (read more)


If you are a provider and need a table at this important event, call (727) 841-8943, and ask for Aaron Nangle.

(727) 841-8943



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News / Marketing / Advocacy

Recently, I was reminded 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 lgh


Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/#ixzz1QTYwpI1C

This is the third entry I’ve written about Special Gathering group homes over the past four years.  Often, there is a Google search requesting to view Special Gathering Group Homes.  There are no Special Gathering group homes.

On Saturday, someone googled at last 30 times some variation of  Linda Howard Group Homes.  There are no Linda Howard Group Homes.  Five different times, the searcher pulled up one entry which explained why we don’t have group homes.

Several months ago, I was faced down by a lady who seemed to believe that I somehow had my hand in the financial pie of some group home or another.  I was finally able to convince her that neither Special Gathering nor I have any monetary interest in any group home.

Please understand this interest is a fascinating curiosity to me.  Group homes are almost never a profitable business venture.  In addition, I have a very full-time position pastoring and ministering to the mentally challenged community in three counties in Florida.  I also have the primary responsiblity for writing, typesetting and proofing our 12-page, monthly newsletter.  I’m not looking for another job.

My basic interest is that the developmentally disabled community has the opportunity to hear and understand the good news that Jesus is their Lord and Savior.  I cannot imagine a more fulfilling  job.  True, the pay may not be that great but since I intend to do this in some form until I die, my retirement plan is fabulous.

Decades  ago, when there was a campaign for Billy Graham to run for president of the United States, Rev. Graham said that he absolutely would not take a demotion to run for president because he was doing the most important job in the world.  I have to heartily agree with Rev. Graham.

Success Comes when We Stand for Right

Matthew 14:29

Central Theme:  God gives us success when we stand up for Him.

Introduction–I wanted to show you all my medals and trophies so you could see how successful I have been.  Bring out an empty bag.  Look into it and try to pull out.  Turn it inside out.  The truth is I have no medals in the bag but I want you to know that God gives me success and I want to share how He does that for me.


I.     Have a member Read Matthew 14:29.

A. Peter and the disciples were in a boat.  Jesus had gone away to rest.  They saw a man walking on the water.  Was it a ghost?  Then Jesus called to them from the water.  Peter wanted to get out of the boat and meet with Jesus.  He did but then he doubted and he began to go under.  Jesus saved him.

              1. Peter was successful–because he acted to stand with Jesus.

2.  Jesus made him successful even though he couldn’t do it in his own faith.

3.  The point is that Peter want to standed for Jesus and so he got out of the boat.

II.     He was the only disciple who got out of the boat.

A. Peter wanted to walk on the water–maybe for several reasons.

1.  To show the other disciples that he was better?

2.  To show Jesus how much faith he had?

3.  To show himself that he had great faith?

B. No matter why he got out–he did get out and he walked.

III.     God will give each of us something to be successful in.

A. Perhaps it is that you are able to smile even though things are bad–Jack’s and Kevin’s smile.

B. First we must say as Peter did, “Jesus save me.”

C. Ask Jesus into your heart if you have not done it and he will save you so you can be successful.

Conclusion–Jesus will help us to be successful.

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