September 2011

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 look up the lyrics.  Like many songs, some of the lyrics didn’t make sense to me.  However, the chorus is stunningly applicable to what happened a year ago.

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

There is such amazing hope and despair coupled in these lyrics that my imagination was captured.  The songwriter says, we are riders on the storm.  Not tossed or turned in the storm but caught up riding above the storms of life.  However, once the hope is given, there is great despair because we are born to be thrown alone and lost.

One year ago today, my husband fell and broke his hip and leg.  He came home from an extended stay in the hospital and rehab centers on February 14, 2011 and died May 10.  I was only 10 feet from him when he fell; but we were in different rooms.  I bust through the door to find him sitting on the shower floor writhing in pain.  I knew he had broken his hip.  My first thoughts were our lives just radically changed.  Nevertheless, I had no idea how much change had stolen through our doorway.

From that moment, together he and I became riders on the storm, embracing and repelling the future with all our strength.  We laughed and cried in the same breath.  As his dementia accelerated, each moment became a bitter/sweet memory that I knew he would forget as soon as the hour passed.  I felt bitterly alone; yet surprisingly embraced second by second by Frank, our family and friends.  God’s wisdom was clearly working in our lives while the mystery of tomorrow became more and more clouded.

Often, God uses the secular to teach us His truths.  Today, I’m grateful to the Doors for their prophetic recording.  I ask God to bless them abundantly by leading them to know him through His Son, Jesus their Savior and Lord.

What about you?  Has there be one song–perhaps even a secular song–that God has used to help you through difficult circumstances?  Would you ever be able to use this teaching with your members who are mentally challenged?  How would you share this teaching?

Got an interesting call yesterday from a woman who operates an ALF where one of our members lives.  She was balking at filling out the Health and Safety Form that was sent to a member through the mail.  At first she said that she would not fill out any of the information because DeAnna wasn’t competent.  She explained to me that DeAnna had limited understanding because she has a limited comprehension because of a birth defect.  She has the understanding of a third or fourth grader.

I asked if DeAnna had been adjudicated incompetent in a court of law.  “No, but her sister is very protective and I’m not giving you any information.  Where have you gotten information from in the past?” she asked.

“I’ve gotten it from DeAnna,” I explained.

“She can’t give you information.  You don’t understand she has a limited understanding because she is…”

I interrupted, “Yes, Ma’am, I understand that she is developmentally delayed.  However, unless she has been adjudicated incompetent, she can decide whether I receive this information from you.”

“Oh,” she said.  “Who are you?  Are you that Saturday program that takes people to the fair.  You do a terrible job.  I went to the fair one year and I found DeAnna lost and didn’t know where anyone was.  You…”

Again, I interrupted, “No, Ma’am.  We are not that program.  In fact, I have no relationship with them. I even cancel my program on the days that they are having their outings so that no one will get confused.

“They provide no supervision for the people who attend and they make that fact very public.  If DeAnna has attended, she had been told that there will be no supervision.  When The Special Gathering takes people out, we have supervision and we have medical information in case there is a medical problem.”

Again, she countered, “I can’t possibly give you this information because there is a law called HIPPA.  It keeps me from giving you any information.”

“That’s true…unless DeAnna requests the information.  That is why she is required to sign our form, not you.  It would also be a good idea to have her sister sign the form.  There is a form that says that DeAnna and her sister won’t give me the information and that you will be liable for whatever happens.  It’s fine if you want to send that.”

Suddenly, this person realized that I understood something about the community that we served.  “Okay.  I’ll give you the information but her sister will have to agree.”

It was interesting to me that she was refusing to give any health and safety information but she wanted DeAnna to be protected at all times.

In dealing with the professional community, a Christian ministry must earn the respect of the professionals who work with your members.  You probably will not afforded automatic respect just because you have a Master’s Degree and they have a high school diploma or an undergraduate degree.  You won’t be given respect because you have done this for 20 years, and they have only recently opened their group home.  You won’t be given respect even though you have known and worked with your members for a decade and this person has only entered their lives in the past months.

I can only imagine how much respect an itinerate Rabbi from Galilee was given by the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem.  However, he earned their respect because he had the respect of the crowds of people.  When your members respect you, this is your greatest ticket to respect.

There are additional steps that will garner their respect.  You will be given respect if you understand the laws under which the professional community must work.  You will be given respect if you give them respect.  You will be given respect when you prove that you are able to help your members in ways that they are not able to help.  It’s not a one stop deal but bundled together, you will gain the respect of the professional community.

Remember you must work with and around these folks.  It is important that they know that you are working with them not against them.  However, there is a time stand your ground.  Even that will help to gain their respect.

What are some other ways you have found that will earn the respect of the professional community?  Do you even think this is important?  Can you have a working relationship without mutual respect?

She receives excellent care and always has.  Yet, her parents have slowly slipped into the pit of alcoholism.  After She is in bed, they drink themselves to sleep.  Because of the late night calls I’d received a couple of times, I felt that abuse of alcohol was becoming an issue; but I could not imagine that this family had fallen into that deadly trap.

Finally, the other children called asking my advice regarding She‘s placement in a group home.  Father was in the hospital and the medical professionals were recommending that Dad be placed in a nursing home.  Mother, who is experiencing symptoms of dementia, was asking for help.

I worked for several days feverously trying to find a home.  After one was found, I heard nothing.  Weeks passed.  The father was released from the hospital and came back home, rather than a nursing home.  Mother’s symptoms seemed to stabilize.

During my conversations with the other children, I’d learned that my suspicions of alcohol abuse were true.  Didn’t this throw me into a new dilemma?  Both parents are home now.  When does the parentss abuse become abuse for a child with a disability?  From the outside looking in, these are model parents.  Yet, alcohol is robbing them of their dignity and their good sense.

Today, I was told that the family has decided to take the placement for the daughter and She will move this weekend.  I’m relieved for them and for She.  However, I realize that now I won’t have to decide when or if I should make a call to the abuse hot line.  However, I am questioning.  Are my concerns ever appropriate?  How do we determine when the parent’s abuse of alcohol or drugs is spilling into abuse of a child who is developmentally disabled?  What about a parent who becomes too sickly or frail to take care of their child appropriately?  Should there be an intervention?

Have you faced a similar situation?  Do you have any answers?  If so, I’d like to hear your solutions.

For almost a year, we’ve had no accidents or unusual incidences at The Special Gathering of Indian River.  However, this week I had to fill out two unusual incident reports.  Here is the information you will need to process an unusual incident.  It is important that you record from your point of view what happened.  This could be a behavior, illness or accident.  This UIR was adapted from one of the leading companies in the US and is what they use.

The title we use is Incident/Accident Report.  Here is the information needed.

Member(s) Name:  (More than one person could be involved.)

Special Gathering Program:  (For us, this is the city location.)

Type of occurrence:  (Below this are the categories.  I am limited in formatting but these are indented.)



Accident:  (The majority of our reports are for accidents.)

Other (specify)

Date of incident:



Describe Incident/Accident:  (Give brief explanation of what happened.)

Previous Infractions:

Illustrate Position of Injury, if any:  (There are two drawings included.  One of the front of a person; the other of the back of a person.  You will mark the place(s) of the injury on the pictures.)

Immediate Action Taken:

Recommendations for Corrective Action:

Additional Information or Follow-Up:


Where taken or sent:

Transportation used:

Time of Departure:


Family Name:

Time of notification:

Physician Name:


Person completing form:

Date and Corrective Action Taken:

(This statement is included.)  All accident and abuse reports must be submitted to the executive director within twenty-four (24) hours of the occurrence.

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

For me, he has been a person of value helping, teaching, ministering, loading equipment, and leading praise.  Regarding ministry within the mentally challenged community, there are few people who dare to jump into the work as Erik has done.  He will be greatly missed.

I’m a bit surprised that Special Gathering ministry has become as dependent on this young man. I am strangely feeling as though I’m once again sitting on my brother’s bike trying to get my balance. Nevertheless, I am reassured that God will help all of us and that things will come back together as soon as I gain the courage and experience to push away from the fence.

The Psalmist said, “Because your love is better than life, I will praise you.  I will praise you as long as I live.  I will lift my hands in prayer to your name.  I will be content as if I had eaten the best food.  My lips will sing and my mouth will praise you” (Psalm 63:3-5).

Are you facing a new experience that has left you unsure of yourself?  How will you appropriate your faith in God to help you regain your equilibrium?


Luke6:27and 28

Central Theme:  Love changes people and even changes you.

Introduction–I am known for my letters.  Curt, matter of fact, maybe even hard letters.  I decided to write a hard letter this week to a professional who had wronged one of our members.  I read part of it to our executive director who recommended a few changes. Then I remembered God is dealing with me about being mean.  I changed the letter to show love to the person I was writing.  Immediately the Lord did a miracle and worked out the problem.  Love is powerful.  It changes people and circumstances.

I.     Have a member Read Luke 6:27 and 28.

A. Jesus was speaking to the people on a hill top telling them how to live (Luke 6)

              1. He emphasized the importance of loving others

2.  He told them that there is great power in loving even your enemy.

3.  I know there were people who scoffed because I have scoffed myself–and I’ve seen thousands of others scoff too.

A. But Jesus knew what he was talking about.

II.     Loving your enemy means putting love into action.

A. Do good–help them on the bus, at work, at church

B. Bless them–say good things about them.

C. Pray for them.

III.     Jesus included three ways people can hurt you

1.  Hate you.

2.  Curse you.

3.  Mistreat you.

III.     You become kinder as they become meaner.

A. Love works even for those who hate you–or especially for those who hurt you.

Conclusion–Use God’s love to become the person God means for you to be.



by Michelle Demeree

This short essay is written by a member and deacon at The Special Gathering of Indian River

What does it mean to be a leader?  It means to be a servant to everyone.  It takes time to put things together.  Leaders will take time with other people.

Leaders help others to work on a team.  Each of us can be a leader for God when we serve each other.

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