January 2012

At times, an author hits a universal nerve and their thoughts and beliefs become a phenomenal success.  That is what happened with Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Life.  Most of us had not given much thought to our destiny until suddenly Warren forced us through his thesis to look beyond our every day existence and probe the direction in which our lives were heading.

As Christians, we knew that our destiny has been wrapped around the needs of a fallen world.  However, Warren forced many of us to take our destiny more seriously than we had previously.

When working with the mentally challenged community, we must not lose sight of their need for destiny.  Their need for purpose is as much a driving force as any other adult.  The question we should continually keep before us is:  How can I help my members discover their destiny in Christ.  Here are some helps.

  1. We can remind our members often that their life is not a mistake.  Each person has a purpose no matter what their circumstances of life.  While Jennifer could neither talk or walk, she taught me so much about love.  When I held her hand, she would squeeze my hand in hers.  Though her entire body seemed to be without much muscle tone, she could gently squeeze my hand.  Jen would even say my name on occasion.  She didn’t say, “Linda;”  but “Linda Howard.”  When she had to be placed in a group home about 50 miles from our town, I didn’t see her for about three years.  When I bumped into her at the mall, I approached her.  She raised both arms to me and said, “Linda Howard!”  Her caregiver was dumbfounded.  He questioned me, “Are you Linda Howard?”  I smiled, nodding my head.  “But she doesn’t talk!” he exclaimed.  I knew that but she said my name.  That is love.
  2. We can reassure our members that their lives can have a positive effect on the lives of others.  The first person to really accept me at Special Gathering was Howard.  He was probably one of the most obnoxious people who ever lived.  Nevertheless, Howard’s contribution to our fellowship was his acceptance of every new person.  During one Bible class, we were talking about the gifts God has given to each of us.  Howard said, “I don’t have any gifts.”  Reassuring him, I quickly polled the class asking each person who was their first friend at Special Gathering.  Without exception, they said Howard.  It was a fact that Howard didn’t wear well but he made a great first impression.  As long as Howard was a part of our fellowship, we knew that each new member would find his place because of Howard.
  3. We can help them to understand that love brings acceptance.  As our members reach out in genuine Christ-love, almost everyone responds with gratitude.  More times than not, gratitude leads to acceptance.
  4. Living without a disability does not mean that you live with love and acceptance.  The destiny of our members can be tried to their disability in a positive way.  We can strive to help them understand that embracing their disability, rather than hating who they are may mean that others will see their peace and draw from them a love for themselves and their Creator, God.

Destiny isn’t reserved for only able-bodied folks with a high IQ.  In fact, our members may be able to help others their own destiny.

Today I making up posts that I didn’t do last week or the first part of this week.  It appears that I’m still fighting a cruddy virus that everyone seems to be getting who lives in Central Florida.  I don’t think I’ve given it to anyone because I’ve not left the house much because I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping the past week.

Don’t worry you can’t catch anything I have by reading my posts.  Yes, I can use your prayers.  Thanks for your patience.

Jesus changes us with forgiveness

Luke 5:20

Central Theme: Jesus has the power and will to forgive our sins.

Introduction–When my mother was in the hospital, she broke her shoulder because she wanted to get out of the bed and she didn‘t want to disturb anyone so she got up by herself and fell. She forgot that she has changed. She had a stroke and she is no longer steady on her feet. We all change. The world changes. Most changes are because God wants them. We cannot talk about changes without discussing how God changes us through His forgiveness.

I. Have a member read Luke5:20.

  1. Tell the story of the man who was lowered by his four friends.
  2. Jesus made the religious leaders angry by telling them that he could forgive sins.
  3.  Only God can forgive sins.

a. This meant that Jesus was God.
b. We need to understand that Jesus can and has forgiven us.

  1. My son got into a lot of trouble as a teenager and he thought that he could not come back
  2. He forgot that God is a God of forgiveness.
  3. God wants to forgive you but you have a part

a. First thing is that you must believe that you are a sinner and need to be forgiven.
b. We can’t be forgiven if we have not done anything wrong.
1) We think other people are wrong.
2) We make excuses for ourselves.
c. Then you need to ask God to forgive you.
d. If you have done anything to hurt someone else you need to make it right

Conclusion–God can and will forgive our sins.

Action Alert – SB 1516

The Florida Senate Health Regulation Committee is about to take up SB1516 which will substantially alter how services are prioritized and individual consumer iBudget allocations are decided.  The bill was amended this week but key issues were not resolved.  The bill is scheduled be heard as early as Tuesday January 31st.

Background:    Sen. Joe Negron filed SB 1516 on behalf of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) earlier this year.  This bill changes APD’s responsibilities for services to those related primarily to health and safety.  As filed, the bill limits APD’s responsibility for quality of life to individuals living in its two major state institutions. What this means in terms of iBudget allocations is that an individual’s need for funds excludes any need for adult day training, transportation, respite care, dental care, companion services and several others.  With this methodology, people would have to choose what to give up if they wanted any of these services or find another way of funding them.

While there is no House companion, this is a very dangerous bill.  APDs strategy is to get this bill passed through the appropriations process which could happen even without a House version of the bill. 

Action Needed:  Contact your Senators and tell them (in your own words) what it would mean if you had to give up any of these services.  If your Senator is on the Health Regulation Committee ask them to vote against this bill.  Below are the members of the Health Regulation Committee.


Miguel Diaz de la Portilla – Miami Florida

(305) 643-7200 & (850) 487-5109



Mike Fasano – New Port Richey Florida

 (727) 848-5885 & (850) 487-5062




 Don Gaetz – Destin Florida

 (850) 897-5747 & (850) 487-5009



Rena Garcia – Hialeah Florida

305-364-3100 & 850-487-5106



Dennis Jones – Seminole Florida

(727) 549-6411 & (850) 487-5065



Jim Norman – Tampa Florida

(813) 265-6260 & (850) 487-5068



Eleanor Sobel – Hollywood Florida

(954) 924-3693 & (850) 487-5097


Each year in Florida, there are threats of budget cuts to the services of people who are mentally challenged.  More and more, these cuts are a reality.  These are lean times everywhere.  Many states are broke or going broke.

While it appears that other budget items either stay the same or they are increased, the intellectually disabled community received the projected cuts.  Placing blame does little good.  However, we have learned that being proactive does help, especially if the advocacy is done by self-advocates.

Last year, a group of self-advocates traveled several times during the legislative session to petition the legislators to stop the proposed changes and cuts.  While walking the halls of the Senate office building, these men and women “bumped into” the president of the Senate.  They asked for an appointment to speak with him and got one.  Some are saying their advocacy made the difference in legislation being altered in the favor of the consumer.

Last evening, several people who are involved in Special Gathering from a couple of states met for dinner.  One of the SpG volunteers also heads an agency.  “We only get paid for three days of rehab now for Jill and others.  Therefore, we have to be pretty creative with the days for which we are paid.  The other days have to be even more creative,” she said, laughing.  However, I have seen the toll this financial strain has taken on the agency and their employees.

This agency is determined to not enter a “survival mode” mentality.  However, other agencies who work with our population have had to simply find ways to exist.   The uncertainty of funding does play on the minds of people who are mentally challenged.  They are aware of the pending difficulties.

In dealing with our members, it may be good to give them continual reassurance that God has a plan and that He will protect us if we remain faithful to Him.  This will be reinforced and believed, if we truly believe that our stability doesn’t come from the government or even the value of the dollar but from a gracious God who loves us.

This is information I received from Family Cafe.  It is an opportunity for which you may want to take advantage.

Dear Friends,

Let’s talk! The Family Café has been constructed around the idea that better informed families make better decisions for themselves and their loved ones. So we would like to offer you a chance to become better informed through weekly conference calls during the 2012 Regular Legislative Session!

During the 2012 Regular Legislative Session, which began on Tuesday, January 10 and lasts for 60 days, The Family Café will host a weekly conference call to discuss the outcomes of Session for that week.

Let’s talk! Please call in!  The Family Café will provide a recap of what our state Legislative leadership is doing, and how it will impact all of us.  Please call in!

Let’s talk!  Each conference call will feature various speakers, community leaders, legislative experts and local activists that will share a variety of thought provoking ideas and comments regarding the agencies and programs funded by the state.

Let’s talk! Such a grand mission can only be successful with your participation!  Simply call the number below on Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. (EST). Your input, suggestions and resource sharing will ultimately make this community as powerful and productive as it can be. At such a crucial time, we need to concentrate our strength, power and wisdom in order to insure an improved quality of life for all Floridians with disabilities.

Let’s talk! This is your call!  This week’s call is set for Friday, January 27th at 4:00 p.m.  The call is open to everyone! 

But we can’t do it without you!

Let’s talk!

Friday, January 27, 2012

4:00 p.m. EST

Dial-in Number:  1-888-808-6959 

Conference Code 2244670 followed by the # Key.

Sharing our various, unique perspectives is how we learn from each other, and ultimately affect change. To that end, we want to provide a variety of other methods to share, including social networking through FaceBookand Twitter at @TheFamilyCafe. The world is a much smaller place when more people can hear you. So let’s talk!


The Family Café

It surprises no parent that the first two brothers were rivals.  Cain, the older sibling, became jealous of  Able when God favored Able’s sacrifice over his.  Cain came to believe that the root of all his problems was his brother.  He was convinced that the only way he could live a good life if he could get rid of his brother, Able.  Cain did not understand that the way we treat other people effects the life we live.  Eventually, the pain of Cain’s own misdeeds became such a festering sore that he killed his brother.

 The Bible records God’s reaction to Cain’s murder of his brother, And now you will be cursed in your work with the ground, the same ground where your brother’s blood fell and where your hands killed him.

All of us want good things to happen to us.  There is an innate desire for God’s blessings to rest on our lives.  Even those who claim to not believe in God, quickly curse the Lord when misfortune happens to them.

Often, we cannot understand why we aren‘t able to get the job we want.  It is a continual complaint that we can’t live where we desire.  Our inability to pay our bills bring a biting gal that seems to ruin everything in our lives.

While generalization can be misleading, it could be wise to realize that there are times that we must understand that the way we treat other people effects the way we are treated.  Looking at the things that happen to us through the lens of how we treat others can be a good measure stick.

Jesus was always kind and loving; he is our example of how we are to live and treat each other.  He wanted the little children around him.  He forgave the woman who was brought to him caught in the middle of having sex with a man who was not her husband.  He healed the sick and epileptic.  He raised the dead boy and gave him back to his mother.

Jesus wants us to treat others in the same way.  We should not be hurting other people with the things we say.  Even simple things, such as pushing and shoving when we are in a crowded area.  We should not steal even the smallest things from each other.  We should strive to be polite and gracious even to that cashier at Wal-Mart who is determined to ruin our day with her snide remarks.

Jesus said, “Do unto other in the same you would have them do unto you.”  Additionally, the Laws of God determine that we will be  treated with love as we treat others.

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