Old testamentI’m a big believer in all of the Scriptures.  Yes.  That means that I also enjoy reading and studying the Old Testament.  Often there are great truth-gems hidden in the genealogies and the endless lists of laws.

restOne of the law that I believe is important is the Sabbatical.  After six years of blogging nearly every day, I’ve taken a year off.  I plan to return but daily entries had become a burden and not the joy that it had been for almost six years.  I felt that the Lord nudged me to take a year of rest, as prescribed by the Law.

Of course, this isn’t good for the number of hits the blog receives or for the “Google” standing of the blog.  Yet, I daily become more and more convinced that it’s the right thing for me to do.  Thanks to all the people who continue to find the blog.  There are more than 1600 entries.  If you are interested in the mentally challenged community, you may learn a bit by reading a few entries.  Thanks again for coming by.  Take you time and review as much as you like.

7talkingTwo of my good friends are also members of Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  They are going through extremely difficult times. Last night I spent a good deal of time with them.  It was a fun outing; but my purpose was to extend our friendship.  Also, I hoped that they’d be willing to share a brief glimpse with me into their pain.

It happened.  Several off-handed remarks were passed along by both young women.  Mentally, I paused for a few minutes and took note.  I wasn’t able to be alone with one of the women. But after everyone had been taken home; and we were riding alone in the car,  the other one shared openly.

sharingI asked a question, reminding my friend, Lyleth, of the remark she had made.  Lyleth jumped in feet first and shared the painful poison residing in her heart.  I reminded her of God’s promises.  She clinched her lips and shook her head.  Her silence screamed resistance.

C. S. Lewis wrote,  “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (C.S.Lewis, The Problem of Pain.  New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1962, pg 93.)  Explaining God’s love to a person who is mentally challenged is often less complicated than trying to penetrate the heart of a smarty-pajamas who has life figured out.  However, the kind of deep, penetrating grief that these women are experiencing is never easy to explain in logical or Biblical terms.

megaphoneYet, the hardship of pain often leaves us mute and disturbed because of our own inadequacy to understand or embrace deep hurts of the past or present.  Watching the anguish of my friend as she faces what will be the death of all she truly loves, my heart was wrenched because of my inability to reach out and heal.

After I dropped her off, I went Wal-Mart even though it was after 10PM.  I needed to pace and debrief my spirit.  I walked for an hour pushing my cart  in the security of the lighted building, praying and asking God to release my friends from the uncertainly and pain that the future holds for them.

I came home still uneasy, hurting for my friends whose pain will only increase in the months ahead.  However, during the night, God did a wonderful miracle in me.  I was able to release them into His care.  He is the only one who can heal and bring true growth.  His megaphone not only alerts us; but the pain He announces has a wonderful way of teaching, healing and releasing.

On Saturday, I learned that a member of the mentally challenged community had suffered a brain hemorrhage and had been placed on life support.  The decision was made to disconnect her from life support that afternoon while we were in the middle of our Special Gathering program.  Phone calls from grieving staff who had worked with her most of her life came quickly into my phone.  Because we were having Special Gathering at the time that things were progressing, I could have been in a bit of a dilemma.

However, the Vero supervisor, Diane, immediately understood and she filled in the vacuum this emergency created.  She continued the program without missing a beat.  This is the second time that a pending death has happened during our Special Gathering program.  While I would not consider leaving our members, there are several things that can be put into place.

  1. Training in advance is perhaps the most vital key.  Because of the emphasis on health and safety that has been put into place at Special Gathering, I knew that the staff understood the importance of keeping our members in their normal routine and carrying the load while I was a bit out-of-pocket.
  2. Cell phones are perhaps a program directors greatest ally during a crisis situation.  Standing far enough away from our members so that they can not hear a deeply personal and private conversation, I can still be in view of SpG members and observant staff.
  3. Choosing the right staff may seem obvious; but there is no doubt that it is an issue that needs to be reviewed often. Careful staffing selection is the key but that is a different issue for a different day.
  4.  I’m learning that not everyone can supervise or improvise.  Both are needed during a crisis situation by the person who is in charge of supervision.
  5. Keep your composure at all times.  If you and your supervisor remain calm, your members will be calm.  There should be time for weeping; but while walking through the valley of the shadow of death, it a time for peace and calm, not drama and chaos.
  6. Pray freely with people to whom you are speaking.  Don’t be afraid to ask, “May I pray with you?”  During personal crises, we all can become overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness.  Counter that feeling with a confidence in God’s ability to make every circumstance right.
  7. Assure the people on the phone that you will come as quickly as possible.  I had a van route to do.  Therefore, I could not get to the hospital even after our program ended.  I explained to the people who needed to know what my afternoon process should be so that there would be no misunderstanding.

Perhaps the most important thing you bring to the table is your relationship and confidence in the Lord.  What are some of the things you have learning during crisis, especially a death, during your program?