January 2012

Three weeks ago, I planned my lesson for this last Sunday.  I wanted to have our members make get-well cards for two people who are in the hospital.

I was a bit leery because the Bible study teachers at Special Gathering are possessive of the time spent with their class members.  They don’t like to share.  This, of course, is a good thing.  However, I try to not interfere with this half-hour when they are teaching the Word to their students.

It seemed like a good idea three weeks ahead of time, but as the Sunday approached, I became more and more apprehensive.  In my mind, I settled on a plan to let the teachers take the members of their classes into their respective rooms and have them do the cards as class units.

When I arrived at First United Methodist Church of Melbourne, which graciously hosts our Sunday morning chapel services, the campus supertindent met me at the door.  In a bit a frenzy, he reported,  “Your Special Gathering Bible classrooms are completely filled with things that will be sold next Saturday at the rummage sale.  I don’t know what you are going to do for classrooms.”

I smiled, clutching my get-well cards to my heart.  “That’s great.  It seems God had other plans for today.”

It isn’t often that the Lord clearly breaks into our lives, helping us to understand that He walks before us and directs our lives.  However, when a coincidence is too supernatural to be ignored, even the greatest skeptic must agree that the Lord does indeed help, direct and guide our lives.

I can hardly imagine how difficult this concept must be for our members who are mentally challenged and may even wrestle with other disabilities.  On the other hand, they seem to grasp these difficult principles with the gusto of an anxious toddler.  Perhaps, they are more blessed than we can ever imagine.

We were created to need other people

Genesis 4:11

Central Theme:   The way we treat other people effects the way God allows us to be treated.

Introduction–Tell the story of Cain and Able.  Cain thought that he could live a good life if he could get rid of his brother.  He did not understand that the way we treat other people effects the life we live.  Have a member read Genesis 4:11.

I.     All of us want good things to happen to us

1.  We cannot understand why we aren‘t able to get the job we want, and live where we want, and pay our bills.

2.  We don‘t understand that the way we treat other people effects the way we are treated and the things that happen to us.

II.     Jesus was always kind and loving he is our example of how we are to live and treat over people.

A. He wanted the little children around him

B. He forgave the woman who was brought to him caught in the middle of having sex with a man who was not her husband.

C. He healed the sick and epileptic

D. He raised the dead boy and gave him back to his mother.

III.     Jesus wants us to treat others in the same way.

A. We should not be hurting other people with our mouths.

B. We should not be pushing and shoving.

C. We should not steal from each other.

D. We should not be rude.

Conclusion: He will treat us with love as we treat others.  Jesus said, “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.:”

This is an email I received today.  It is from

Alice Du Fault

Child & Family Consultants, Inc.

1800 Penn St., Ste#12

Melbourne, FL  32901

(321)768-6800 Telephone

(321)768-6858 Fax


Registration for these classes is free but registration is required.  I suggest you call Ms. DeFault for information on how to register.


The Scott Center offers free monthly workshops for parents, educators and professionals who deal with the issues of autism. They are held from 6:30-8:00 pm in the Seminar Room at The Scott Center for Autism Treatment.

Feb. 22, 2012–Preparing Teens and Young Adults with ASD and/or Learning Differences for Independence: Perspectives from Students and Professionals

March 21, 2012–Learn How to Teach Life Skills to Individuals with Limited Language

April 18, 2012–What’s Hot and What’s Not in the world of benefits to protect your children and your family

–Refreshments provided

May 16, 2012–What is Applied Behavioral Analysis?

June 2012–No session

July 27, 2012–Boundaries Boot Camp for teachers, parents, and caregivers

(This is not a free event; Registration is required for this all day workshop)

The choir sang and then I spoke.  As I shared our missions vision to the group at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Satellite Beach, I scanned the people’s faces and my eyes screamed to a halt when I saw her face.  “My good friend, Carol, was sitting in the audience.  She smiled as she realized that I had recognized her.  Though, it’s probably been 10 years, it was the same smile and the same kindred that was sparked as I continued my presentation.

There is perhaps nothing better than seeing the face or hearing the voice of an old friend.  Yesterday, Mia called.  Even though my phone clues me into the person calling, I waited until she responded to my greeting before I called her name.  It makes her giggle that I “recognize” who she is.  Mia is a Special Gathering member who has attended off and on for more than 20 years.  She was a young girl of 14 or 15 when I first met her and now she is an adult with two teenage children.

High functioning and dual diagnosed with mental health issues, Mia began smoking cigarettes when she was first institutionalized for bipolar disorder.  Now, she has ruined her lungs.  At times, she cannot breathe because of COPD.  We laughed and talked for about 5 minutes.  “Please, pray for me,” she said before we hung up the phones.  She promised to come to Special Gathering on Sunday but I no longer expect for her to attend, even when her deep desire is to be there.

This morning as I texted Carol hoping we could meet for lunch, I was struck by the fact that my love for Mia and my love for Carol are the same.  Mia isn’t a “special needs project.”  She is my good and long-time friend who often calls for prayer because she loves me as much as I love her.

I talk often with Ferne Brandt, our area director of The South Carolina Special Gathering.  I’m happy that I’ve finally gotten to know most of her core membership because I can never tell whether she is speaking about her members or her volunteers.  The respect and admiration regarding the friendship they share isn’t different.

When there is genuine friendship, something miraculous happens.  We not only share memories of the past but joy of the present and anticipation for a glorious future.  When I scanned the room at Trinity Presbyterian, it wasn’t simply the joy of seeing an old friend that ignited my spirit but her smile said, “You are doing good. You’ve found YOUR place and I love you for who you have become.”  The most wonderful thing I saw in Carol’s smile was an appreciation for who I am today–not what I was twenty years ago.

I find that sometimes I get stuck in the mud and mire of the past in regard to my members.  Oh, you act so spiritual now.  Thoughts swim in and out of my brain.  But I remember when you hit George and cussed out Marie.  Then there was the incident on the city bus and…  Too often, my thoughts are Ralph will never change.  Ignoring the fact that those behaviors were when Ralph was 20.  Now he holds down a job.  He has become the primary caregiver of his elderly mother and he has garnered the respect of his peers.

While old friends are wonderful, we cannot get stuck with old visions.  I must demand that my thoughts leap forward into the future, commanding myself to learn and grasp the new visions of Special Gathering members, all my friends and of myself.

I have to admit that regarding Eric, I border on having the pride of a parent.   He was a troubled child when he entered our program.  Because his disability was not pinpointed correctly, he wasn’t getting the treatment or interventions that he needed.  This led to behavioral concerns that were not entirely his fault.

However, he was cute beyond imagination, feisty and fiery.  You loved him at first sight.  I’ve known Eric for more than 20 years and he has grown into a man.  Tall and handsome, his frame is still thin and gangly giving him the appearance of a person much younger than his age.

At times, he isn’t able to control the effects of all the stimulation that surrounds him and he has to walk away from the crowd.  He paces until he is able to calm himself and then he returns.  He jokes and laughs with anyone who will take time to listen.

One evening as I was transporting him home from an event, it was raining.  This wasn’t one of those ordinary downpours but one that people remember and write about.  “I won’t be able to get out of the car if it keeps raining like this,” Eric observed from the back seat.  I conceded the truth of his statement.

“If you pray, God will stop the rain.  You need to pray,” he instructed me.

I was a bit concerned because I didn’t have faith at that moment to pray for the rain to stop.  It had been raining almost non-stop all day.  I’d seen the weather report and the rain was going to continue until morning.

I had never heard Eric ask for prayer; and being this specific was an issue for me.  I didn’t want to hinder Eric’s growth in faith by not having his prayer answered.

In addition, we needed the rain.  Central Florida had been without rain for a long time.  We were needing rain more than Eric was needing to stay dry.

From the back seat, I heard him say, “You need to pray.”

Reluctantly, I prayed.  “Lord, Eric needs to get out of the car.  Can you stop the rain for a moment so that he can get out of the car and get into his house?  In Jesus’ name,  Amen.”

Within five minutes we approached his house.  It was still pouring until I pulled into his driveway.  At that moment the rain stopped.  “I better get out in a hurry,” Eric jovially asserted.  “It’s only going to stop for a minute.”  He rushed out the car onto his front porch.  As he waved good-bye to me, the rain started back.

Again and again, I’ve seen Eric ask for ridiculously extravagant things from the Lord.  I’ve never seen the time that the Lord has refused his requests.

You would like Eric.

I have been more impressed with Toni than most people I’ve met.  She didn’t impress me with her statue.  She is petite and thin.  Toni doesn’t stand out in a crowd.  While her smile is amazing, when we first met, I didn’t see her smile often.

Toni is one of those folks who wears well–extremely well.  As a member of our Special Gathering Vero Choir, she was diligent, learning the words to new songs the first week.  If she couldn’t attend our weekly chapel meetings, she sent her offering by a staff person.

During her free time, she is not content to sit at home doing nothing.  She has crocheted dozens of lap covers for Hospice patients.  “I hate doing nothing,” she confesses.  Carefully stitching the granny pattern, she diligently works to help others.

When she was diagnosed with brain cancer, Toni was courageous beyond belief.  She would ask for prayer each time Special Gathering met; but she refused to dwell on her health problems.  Toni was not seeking sympathy but asking for people to join her, believing that God would heal her from a cancer than appeared to have no cure.

God gave her that miracle.  Toni has been free from cancer for more than a year.  She smiles often now.

You would like Toni.

Andrew moved with his family from up North about six years ago.  He is an outgoing, friendly man who has worked much of his life at Wal-Mart.  When lay-offs were needed at the store where he worked, Andrew was the first to go.

Then came a problem, Andrew had worked his whole life; and he didn’t want to stop.  Therefore, he started working around his house.  He especially enjoys yard work.  He would trim hedges and trees whether they needed it or not.  He even trimmed his neighbor’s trees, if he felt they needed it.

Of course, this caused some problems with the neighbors who preferred to do their own yard work.  When the family came to me asking for help, I wasn’t sure exactly what I could do.  “Maybe some help is needed at the church where you hold your services,” the family suggested.  That seemed logical; but I wasn’t convinced the church would want or need Andrew’s help.

I carefully approached the building superintendent and explained Andrew’s desire to work.  A huge grin blossomed on his face.  “Yes,” he said eagerly.  “This is just the person for whom we’ve been looking.  For years, an elderly man would come each morning and pick up trash and debris.  He kept the campus spotless.  Recently, he died.  We have been looking for someone who would be willing to come and pick up paper and leaves for us. ”

It was arranged that Andrew and his father would come three times a week.   Andrew works two hours or more under the supervision of his dad.

This is literally a match made in heaven.  Andrew happily works several hours a week doing what he loves.  The church is grateful to have someone who is faithful and willing to do a job that no one else wanted to do.

You would like Andrew.

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