December 2012


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Thought you might like to see a few of the stats over which we bloggers obcess.  Here’s an excerpt:

Crunchy numbers

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 33,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

In 2012, there were 243 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 1,600 posts. There were 370pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 21 MB. That’s about a picture per day.

The busiest day of the year was November 27th with213 views. The most popular post that day was The Mystery of Prayer.

Click here to see the complete report.

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I found an interesting tip for making your own personalized dinnerware.  You buy the cheap white china from the Dollar Store and write on it with a porcelain pin.  Then you bake them in the oven for 30 minutes.

It’s a great idea for the crafty folk out there who are living on a budget but like stylized personal items.  However, on reading this, my mind went immediately to how often the small things we do make a permanent mark on the lives of others and ourselves.  A touch can lift the spirit of another person.  Stopping to care could guarantee that life is lived a bit better and longer.

olderYesterday afternoon, as I traveled home using the Atlanta airport, a woman who was probably in her 80’s stood in the mass of people, turning in circles.  As I passed, she softly touched my sleeve.  “Can you tell me where a McDonald’s or Arby’s might be?”   In an instant, I was in love with this tender soul who had reached out for help.  Her touch was gentle and kind.  Her eyes revealed her helpless state of mind.

I pointed her to the restaurant and walked away, anxious to find my gate, even though I still had two hours before the plane left.  I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, “Go with her.  Help her with her meal.”  Ignoring the prompting of the Lord, I didn’t turn back but headed in what I thought was the direction of my plane.  But I was headed the wrong way.  I turned back and found that my gate was next to the McDonald’s.

The older woman was at the McDonald’s counter with another helpful customer who was assisting her with the order and helping to pay her bill.  I was sad that I had missed the opportunity to serve.  “Someone else got the blessing I intended for you,” I heard the Spirit nudge my spirit.

I knew I couldn’t break in the food line and that it would take a while for the women to get their food.  I thought I would walk a few more steps, survey my gate and then return to find the confused lady.  I resolved to sit with her while she ate her dinner and perhaps help her find her plane.  But when I returned, she was gone.  The other helpful customer was there; but the older lady could not be found.

TalkingOf course, there are many times that we miss the mark. (That is the definition of sin, isn’t it?)  As I sat and ate my McDonald’s salad, I asked the Lord to make this incident a permanent mark on my life.  I prayed that I would learn from this misplaced blessing.  Without condemnation from the gentle Shepherd, I wanted to never forget a lost woman who only needed a few minutes of my time.

airportToday, I’m headed home from a vacation that seemed long when I planned it; but then it was over more quickly than I could have imagined.  Other family will arrive soon and I’ll need to work around their vacation schedule.  I’ve been in Chattanooga, a wonderful place, especially since my granddaughter is here. But I’m happy to be going home.

A good friend and member of Special Gathering often went with her family on cruises.  She fretted and squirmed every time she left.  “Please pray for me!” she’d plead from the moment the cruise was planned.  “I’m going on a cruise to the Bahama’s and I really need your prayer.”

bridge in ChattanoogaI would laugh at her anxiety.  “Pray for you?  You need to pray for us.  We’re staying here, working and planning and paying bills.  You’ve going to paradise.”

Then we would laugh at her situation and she would be calm for a few days.

Most of us have anxious moments when we leave the safely of our home grounds.  Routines become important whether we are small children or decades past the age of accountability.  My observations have been that between 18 and 38 men and woman are excited about wandering.  Then, a creepy feeling seeps into our bones that screams, “Wait! You are interrupting my life with this misadventure.”

I’m often fascinated by people who leave house and home after the age of 60 to roam to unknown places.  Can you imagine how difficult it was for Abraham to obey God who told him to leave and travel to an unknown place out yonder…some where?

earthAs a child, I thought it was odd that people would ask for extra prayer when they traveled.  Didn’t God go with them?  Isn’t Christ omnipresent?  I felt that people were saying that they believed that God lived only in their neighborhood and He only attended their church.  Later, I came to understand that travel sometimes means accidents and uncertainty.

Emmanuel may be the main message of Christ’s birth.  God is with us.  Whether I’m sitting by a fire in Chattanooga or watching the winter waves on the Space Coast of Florida.  He is with Natalie in Spain.  Dave and Andy didn’t leave God when they went to share the gospel in China.  Jesus has arrived and He is with me.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  Christ is born.  Emmanuel!

going to hosptialI remember my husband, Frank, and I rushing to the hosptial.  It was Christmas eve.  I’d farmed out the other two children to willing neighbors in a pitch of fervor.   Frank had refused to pick the name for a girl because he was convinced that this unplanned little one would be a boy.  I pressed him as he pressed the gas pedal.

Carol Howard MerrittFinally, we settled on Carol Christa because Carol was my middle name and she was coming on Christmas eve.  She came quickly.  I’d convinced my uneducated doctor that natural child birth would work for me, since I’d had our first son using natural methods.

When the doctor anounced that I’d had a girl, I asked what he said, thinking he had made a mistake.  Our new babe was to be a boy, born the end of January.  Carol Christa, our Christmas baby was a total surprise.  Over the years, everything about her has been surprising.

travelingIn some ways, I understand Mary.  As thrilled as she was to be the mother of Jesus, his birth was a bit inconvenient.  Later, he showed a love for His Father early.  Then he didn’t follow the regulated rules put forth by the temple experts.  Mary didn’t fully understand or consider the gifts of her son appropriate at times.  They didn’t always agree, Yet, he was gracious regarding her feelings and instructions.  She loved him dearly.

Each Christmas eve holds a double blessing for me as I remember the birth of our third child and try to understand Mary’s joy and confusion that would follow as her heavenly blessing was born.

happy at dawnThere are few times that I don’t feel light-hearted and joyful.  My brother says that it’s only because I’m stupid.  I think it’s because God has given me the ability to see beyond present pain and embrace the joy of a new day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I went through years of depression.  In fact, at a time when I knew that I was in big trouble, I consulted a good friend who was a therapist.  “You have what is called a ‘smiling depression,'” he told me, laughing.  Even though, I thought this was a contradiction in terms, I knew that he had struck a deep chord of reality in my soul.  My life was filled with methods to hide, camouflage and disguise my real emotions, especially anger.

He gave me a book to read, Happiness is a Choice authored by Frank Minirth, M.D. and Paul Meier, M.D.  I learned how to resolve the anger that was causing the depression and work toward allowing the Lord to control my emotions.

It is interesting to me that IQ doesn’t seem to matter regarding depression.  My husband’s IQ was off the charts; but from his childhood, he battled with depression almost every day of his life.  He died weeping.  Therefore, it’s easy to see how people who are intellectually disabled (ID) can easily fall into a state of sadness that leads to depression.

christmas-familyWe are told by the experts and our own experience that more people become depressed during holiday seasons than at any other times.  Where is my family?  Who cares for me?  What wrong with me that I don’t have the joy that others seem to have? are only a sampling of the questions that dance like sour grapes through our minds and thoughts.  There are more suicides committed during Christmas time than at any other time of the year.  We become angry and depressed.

Iraq Prison AbuseMuch of our anger comes from a lack of control.  People within the mentally challenged community control almost nothing in their lives.  They live with their parents or surrogate parental figures all their lives.  Depending on their personality–rather than their IQ–this can lead to depths of sadness that would be hard for anyone to express.  Couple this with the fact that the ID community has a limited vocabulary and a limited ability to express it; and you have a powder keg waiting to ignite into explosives depression.

Yet, God in his infinite wisdom gives us a new beginning with every sun rise.  Recognizing your sadness and anger are the first step.  The second is forgiveness.  When we forgive, I am not excusing the behavior.  I am simply releasing them from my judgment and turning them over to God.  After all, he is the one true and righteous judge.

No matter how difficult and painful yesterday was.  It is gone and we have the morning.  This morning.  Great, powerful and joyful things are about to happen.  Rejoice!


starsGlory to God in the Highest

Luke 2:6-16

Central Theme:  Christmas is a time for big changes.

Introduction–I have to admit that at Christmas I go a little crazy.  I save all year and spend all December.  I blame my parents.  They worked all year preparing for Christmas for us.  Sewing cooking and repairing, painting old bikes.  The majesty of God’s gift cannot be matched but I try every year.  READ Luke 2:6-16.

       I.     Pretend that you are a shepherd.

A. They were minding their business but God had planned a little surprise for them…before the foundations of the earth. (vs 8)

1.  What we can’t imagine is that God has exquisitely exciting surprises for our lives.

Christmas costumes 2.  Last year as I was fretting about the number of hours I spend working on costumes.  I said to the Lord, “No one’s life has ever been changed by a costume I’ve made.”  Within a few minutes,  a young woman who was a  neighbor stopped to say, “I never told you but you made a costume for me and it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.  I’ve always loved you for that.” 

B.  We fear the glory of the Lord getting too close (vs. 9).

1.  Songwriter Michael Card’s speaks of the “friend that we most fear.”

a.  we hide our faces from him–he can see us.

b.  we hide our hearts from him–he can change us.

II.     God comes again and again to assure us of his goodwill for us (vs. 10-12)

A. He never comes in the expected ways/expected times.

1.  Remember the times God spoke to you–unexpected, unprepared.

2.  You prepare your heart in a quiet place–He speaks in the shower or sitting at a red light.natures wonder

              B. Angels filled the heavens the night he was born; but only a few shepherds saw it (vs. 13-14).

                  1.  Would Disney put on an expensive, extravagant light show for a few middle-class herdsmen?

                  2.  Would you pour out your life in a place where no one will see–on one will know?

III.     Whatever he does, His purpose is to entice us come to Jesus (vs 15).

A. However, Jesus is not what you expect.

                  1.  Wherever our executive director preaches, people say, “That sermon was one of the best I ever heard.  You know, you could what you do for real people.”    We often chuckle and ask, “Then why aren’t you rich and famous?”

2.  However, there is not a mentally challenged person in Duval, Indian River or Brevard or Volusia County who doesn’t know him and all of them love him.

Conclusion–Going crazy at Christmas should be expected.  After all, God went a bit crazy with joy at the birth of Jesus.  Several angelic appearances.  An old couple unexpectedly has a baby they name John.  A host of angels.  A new star.  Yet, not embracing the Living Lord any time is a horror.

wrist radio This is a comment I received from a reader.  I thought this was well worth our review.

Autistic people can be some of the most vulnerable dependent adults in the universe. Mainly, because they are at the mercy of others who care for them and can take advantage of them by blaming abuse on the autistic person themselves. You have to be a seriously sadistic, cruel coward to prey upon defenseless, non verbal, severely-autistic people.

on iphoneThere is an epidemic of trusted caregivers from school personnel to home health workers who are being CAUGHT on tape ABUSING autistic people. What are YOU doing about this? Why aren’t more people addressing this hidden violence towards our autistic children?

http://www.hlntv.com/video/2012/09/27/caught-tape-autistic-man-allegedly-abused-caregivers

These caregivers better get the maximum sentence! http://iwidk.com/2012/09/21/horrible-caregivers-caught-on-video-beating-autistic-man-hundreds-of-times-video/

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