November 2011

I pulled the covers down from the pillows on my bed and casually looked at the time.  The digital clock on the table beside my bed read 65:11.  I wasn’t surprised that the time was wrong.  Those of us who live in Central Florida call our electric company “Florida Flicker and Flash.”  Its continual time-outs to save energy are famously annoying.  My old and reliable clock automatically goes to 12:00 whenever there is an outage.

However, the 65:11 time was a bit of a shock.  I picked up the clock to reset the time and realized that it had been turned upside down.  The settings were right.  It was the entire clock that had somehow been repositioned incorrecly.  It was actually 11:59.  Turned in the upright position, no settings had to be changed.

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.  My errant clock was like a replica of my feelings.  This past week, I’ve felt as though my entire life was running in upside-down time.  Because my husband died in May, I know that this a big part of the grief process.  But that knowledge doesn’t seem to help with my lack of orientation.

Perhaps for the first time since becoming a part of the mentally challenged community, I’m fully grasping the grief that parents and adults who are intellectually disabled feel.  I’m so thankful that my husband is no longer in pain.  I know he is in heaven.  I’m secure that he would never want to come back.  I’m even looking forward to the adventures that await me.

However, because unexpected problems have also raised their ugly heads, I feel paralyzed by my life right now.  I MUST press forward and finish the tasks required but my body doesn’t seem to want to respond.  My feet won’t move.  My mind won’t operate because it’s in tilt position.  This must be what many parents and people within our community feel much of the time.

There is such joy within our community; but I’ve known there are also resilient apprehension and even despair.  I’ve been surrounded by it and seen the evidence.  When a member is moved by the State to another location against their will, I’ve felt it.  When funding is cut, I understood the circumstances.  But until now, I’ve not been enveloped with an upside-knowledge that time isn’t on my side.

Upside-down time is disorienting and can cause concerns and depression.  However, I praise God that this is a temporary condition, not a permanent state of affairs.  God never intends for us to stay in upside-down time for long.  He wants to turn our lives upright and teach us the values of living godly lives that are pointed toward His will and His ways.


It’s Christmas Time

A Christmas play and cantata performed by The Special Gathering of Indian River

Vero Program


Saturday, December 3

at Tabernacle Ministries

51 Old Dixie Highway, Vero Beach, Florida

Dress rehearsal begins at 3:30pm.  Light supper will be served for the actors before the play.

Refreshments will be served after the play

Melbourne Program

Sunday, December 4

at First United Methodist Church of Melbourne

110 E New Haven Avenue, Melbourne, Florida

Dress rehearsal begins at 4:30

Refreshments will be served after the play

I have attached Pat Cunningham’s new Benefits Connection schedule. Pat is mutually supported by Second Harvest Food Bank and United Way of Brevard to assist people with their Food Stamp application including the interview required by the program, submitting documents and verifying case status. In addition, there are benefits that this same population may qualify for, such as Medicaid and KidCare.

ACCESS Florida is the service delivery model for economic self-sufficiency services.  It is based on streamlined workflows, policy simplification and technology innovations.  ACCESS Florida provides enhanced access to services through a combination of Department staff and community providers. Recognized as a national model, this service delivery system offers eligible clients a self-directed path to economic services seven days a week, 24-hours a day through a web application and an integrated voice response system.  This system makes it easier and faster for clients and potential clients to apply and access information about their accounts.

Since the service delivery system is online, some individuals who may qualify for assistance may not be receiving help because they do not have access to a computer or have difficulty using a computer. Pat Cunningham sets up sites throughout the County to reach out to those who are most vulnerable and in the greatest need. I have attached his schedule so that you might refer individuals who need assistance with applying for state benefits.

Donna Peters is also employed by Second Harvest as a Benefits Connection Outreach Worker and has sites in Cocoa, Melbourne, and Palm Bay. You may contact the Benefits Connection Program at (407) 295-2777 to obtain her schedule.

Thank you,


Keith Heinly/  Manager, Community Impact /  United Way of Brevard
 937 Dixon Blvd., Cocoa, FL 32922  /  tel: 321.631.2740 / fax: 321.631.2007 /  


God will give us the power to confront

Acts 17:30

Central Theme:  We are able to confront others because God gives us that power.

 Introduction–Have your label out of your dress and have someone come up and tell you about it.  Ask, “Has this ever happened to you?” Use other examples,   Paper caught on your shoe.  Tell about the woman who had paper hanging from her dress as she walked through the airport.  No one told her.  Telling people bad things is hard but Paul contronted people when they were wrong.  Have a member read Acts 17:30.

I.     Tell about how Paul went to Athens and told the people they were wrong.

A. They had all kinds of gods.

B. Paul said, I want to tell you about the Unknown God–Jesus.

II.     Being able to confront is hard but it will help us grow.

A. Bring a pearl and a shell.

B. A piece of sand gets in the shell and the little oyster trys to get it out.

C. When we have the courage to confront we help others.

III.     Sometimes we take liberties that we should not take–other times we are shy.

A. Don’t talk to strangers.

B. Don’t be too quick to criticize others–Criticizing is not confronting.

C. But we should learn how to take criticism.

D. Reach out in love and tell people when they are wrong

Conclusion      Paul had the courage to confront.  We need to take a stand against wrong and be willing to be confronted when we are wrong.

I’m a child of the deep South and snow isn’t part of my heritage.  Only two years ago, I walked in the snow for the first time.  I slid down a hill covered with soft flakes and I felt the cold as I sank almost to my waist in a snow drift.

For me winter means that the cacti bloom while the geese call our warm lakes and shores their home.  The grass may turn brown but only during the deepest winter months.

More than the warmer weather, there is much to love about a Southern winter.  The ocean waves grow stronger during the last and first months of the year.  For almost a mile, you can hear their roaring from open windows as the night turns to morning when the evening traffic has ended and the morning commuters are still sleeping.  The manatee return to the protection of the warm lagoons and springs.

People explore our streets all during the nights and day.  Walkers amble in pairs discussing the events of the day.  A dog and her master casually investigate every tree and bush at 1AM.  The late night walkers are up until about 2AM.  The early morning walkers begin around 4AM.  Especially during the winter, there is a security knowing that neighbors are making their daily patrols because these winter nightly strolls aren’t forbidden because of snow and sleet.

While the scorching afternoon summer heat forbids playing outside, from December to March, children shed their sweaters in the afternoon as they run through the neighborhoods.  School yards are filled with coatless children jumping rope or playing basketball,  football and soccer.  In the high schools located blocks from the ocean, when the surfers shout between classes, “Surf’s up!” teachers and administrators wink knowing there will be an early exit for the most ardent surfers.

During winter in the deep South, there is always a call for the renewing of our faith in the months when Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day are celebrated.  As a child, early winter was the time of fervent revivals.  The children slept on the church pews while our parents sang and worshiped.  Now, the times of renewal are still present but they come during Sunday morning or during a quiet neighborhood Bible study.

No matter where we are located, even if  we live with a disability, each of us experiences the blessings of wintertime.  However, for me, the South holds a variety that is unique for our region of the nation.  It’s a special blessing to be here in the winter.

As I left an event which our members had attended, I was once again saddened that there are so many mentally challenged people who live in our community who are still unchurched.  We were all attending a fall festival that is sponsored by the AKtion Club.

Bob walked all by himself.  When I spoke to him, he was genuinely pleased.  Yet he soon wandered off by himself again because he isn’t close friends with anyone.  He is a bit higher functioning than many people in our community but not beyond most members of The Special Gathering.  He needs friends but mostly he needs the One who desires to be his Best Friend and Redeemer.

Seven young people in our community were hanging together laughing too loudly and being inappropriate.  Behind the silly giggles, their looks were much like those of many young people their age–lost and afraid.  They know I’m “the pastor.”  When I approached, they scatter like roaches, laughing in embarrassment.  I wish I knew them well enough so they knew they could trust me and the Savior my presence represents to them.

Of course, I was met with hugs and joyful greetings by most of the people in our cloistered sub-culture but my heart aches for those who aren’t sure they can trust me.  I hunger to share with them the love of the Lord.

Who are some of the people you meet within the disability community who aren’t comfortable with the Lord?

This year has been a bell-ringing year for me.  In May, my husband died.  While miss him terribly, there is a peace that he is with the Lord.

A big part of that peace has come because the people I love the most have given their best to me.  It is hard to stand facing Thanksgiving Day and not feel a deep sense of love and appreciation for the people who have poured themselves into my life.

My children take time to visit and phone me.  We are all busy and we respect the time restrains of full lives.  But they have called to reassure me of their love.  Some of their visits have been longer than usual.  A few of them have been too short for the amount of time and money it takes to get here.  They check my Facebook entries everyday to be sure I’m all right.  They text and email me often.  My children and grandchildren have shown me such respect that I’m overwhelmed.

Additionally, my siblings have come to Florida simply to let me know that I’m loved.  My older sister has come again and again.  She laughs that she is taking advantage but I know that she is coming out of respect for me.  When she comes, she often piles other people I love into her vehicle.  For a few days, my home is once again filled with the laughter of children and the delights of food prepared for the masses.

My friends who are living near have surrounded me each day with their love and respect.  I’m invited to their home for Fourth of July and Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Even their family’s birthday celebrations have become my time to be included.  Each week, I have more activities than I could ever attend included in my calendars.  My Special Gathering members have reached out to express a healing touch.  One lady prays for me several times each day.  Frankly, her family is getting a bit tired to her prayer routine but I’m not.  She has become the embodiment of Paul’s admonition to prayer at all times.

As I approach Thanksgiving this year, I’ve experienced first hand how respect for the people we love can transform a time of grief and despair into a period of loving reflection.  I thank God for each person who has helped and called.  I’m deeply grateful that people I love have given to me the best of their love.

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