Her voice was tentative, “Are you all right?”  My friend, Pam, asked.

At first I had no idea to what she was referring.  “Great.  What are you talking about?” I inquired.

“Well,” Pam started, hesitantly, “when we were having lunch on Monday and you got that phone call from AT&T, I was really surprised at how angry you got.  I’ve never seen you get angry.”

Alexander Graham Bell

Since October 16, I’ve had an ongoing battle with AT&T to get my home phone transferred from my previous server to their phone service. AT&T has been in business since 1885 and can trace its roots back to Alexander Graham Bell.  You would think this company would know how to connect a home telephone.

In fact, the process of connecting a phone appears to be so easy that they send self-installation kits to your home for you to install your own phone. (Because of their incompetance, I’ve received three installation kits.)  Yet even with 137 years of experience and the current ease of installation, I have been trying to get my phone installed for over a month.  It appears the skill needed to install a home phone has been lost by AT&T.

My journal logging the events over the past month is a three page, single-spaced document.  I’ve been shuttled to so many helpful service representative that I’m thinking of hooking a few of them up with some stray, unmarried cousins.

During lunch last Monday, I received a phone call from an extremely polite man from India or Pakistan informing me that I would now have a new phone number.  “It appears Mrs. Howard,” he quietly and most jovially said, “that you have misplaced your former phone number and AT&T cannot find it.

In response, I screamed as calmly as I could, “Oh, no!  I’ve had that phone number for 45 years.  You lost the number; now you find it!”  Then I hung up as I headed to the AT&T store where I had initiated the transfer.  The store resides only a mile away and I arrived there almost before he could call me back.

“Mrs. Howard, you must let me explain!” his quietude was withering.  I calmly screamed for a few more minutes.  Finally, I listened.  His explanation was classic.   I had somehow fouled up the account and even though AT&T was working as hard as they could, I would need to choose a new phone number.

I have spent over 40 hours on the phone with AT&T’s extremely polite and considerate representatives. My phone was originally connected by AT&T on October 16.  Disconnected on October 17.  The phone has been connected and disconnected an additional five times in the past month.  In response to each disconnection, I have been kind.  I’ve joked. I have raised my voice.  I’ve cajoled, begged, pleaded, demanded, asked to speak to the supervisor.  AT&T’s usual response is an extremely polite moment of silence on the other end.

I must commend AT&T for the training of their reps.  In the 40 hours spend being transfer from one representative to another, I have only encountered one person who has not treated me with the greatest of respect.

The only problem–I don’t want or need respect.  I need my phone.

It is November 15 and I still don’t have a telephone. Though I have been politely and joyously assured that I will receive yet another self-installation kit tomorrow.

There are times that I simply want to say something that isn’t about disability ministries.  Today is one of those days.  Bear with me.  Perhaps you may even enjoy my perspective on wealth.

When I was a child, I thought we were rich.  In reality, we were not.  Yet, I seem to have always had an exalted idea of my lifestyle.  There are a few things that I gage weath by:

1.  Do I have enough money to go out to eat at least once a week?  It doesn’t matter whether I actually go out to eat.  The standard is if I have the money.  Lunch money is my standard.

2. Do I have money in the bank?  It doesn’t matter how much money.  I need just enough to keep the check my husband wrote and did not tell me about from bouncing.

3.  Do I have extra money in my pocket that isn’t earmarked for a necessity?  Of course, women have handbags but you understand.

4.  Super Rich bonus:  Did I find a $5 or $10 bill in a pocket of the pants I put on this morning?

5.  Does my car have gas in it?

6.  If not, do I have enough money to put gas in the car so I get home?

7.  Can I pay for the cart of weekly groceries that I’m pushing into the cashier’s aisle?

8.  Can I pay the monthly household expenses: house, water, electricity?

9.  If not, do I have something that I can sell?

10.  Can I afford a $1 iced tea at McDonald’s if I get thirsty when I’m driving in the car?  Again, I don’t have to actually buy the tea.  I have to be able to buy it.

11.  Can I afford to turn down the A/C to a comfortable range while I am sleeping?  During the day, I can keep the A/C at an oppressively hot level.  Therefore,  night time temperatures are my gage.  We live in Florida.  In the winter, I can always put on extra clothes when it is cold and enjoy the refreshing cool air.

12.  Can I scape up enough money to share with someone who has a genuine need?

13.  Do I have enough on school mornings to give each child their lunch money?

14.  Do I have one really nice dress in my closet that I can wear should there be an emergency? 

15.  Super Rich Bonus:  Does each member of our family have one nice set of clothes that we can all wear at the same time should there be an emergency?

Every person has his or her own richness-scale.  Perhaps it tells a good deal about us and our happiness level when you look at how rich we perceive ourselves to be.

Here is a humorous and affectionate look into the character of Jesus.  Thanks to Susan Tanner, a Special Gathering volunteer in DeLand for sending it to me.

A Savior for All People

No matter who you are the Lord Jesus is God.  He understands and relates to you.

There were 3 good arguments that Jesus was Black:

1.   He called everyone brother,

2.   He liked the Gospel,

3.   He didn’t get a fair trial.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:

1.   He went into His Father’s business,

2.   He lived at home until he was 33,

3.   He was sure his mother was a virgin and his mother was sure He was God.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian:

1.   He talked with His hands,

2.   He had wine with His meals,

3.   He used olive oil.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was a Californian:

1.   He never cut His hair,

2.   He walked around barefoot all the time,

3.   He started a new religion.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was an American Indian:

1.   He was at peace with nature,

2.   He ate a lot of fish,

3.   He talked about the Great Spirit.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Irish:

1.   He never got married,

2.   He was always telling stories,

3.   He loved green pastures.

But the most compelling evidence of all – 3 proofs that Jesus was a woman:

1.   He fed a crowd at a moment’s notice when there was virtually no food,

2.   He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn’t get it,

3.   And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do.

Can I get an AMEN?

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/#ixzz1sPiRmm7P

Sense of Humor? Get one

There may be nothing that is as potent in leadership than a sense of humor, especially when you allow yourself to become the joke.

I’ve watched gifted leaders turn some of their greatest blunders into a time of learning for everyone.   Here are some helpful hints that I’ve gleaned from these men and women.

  1. Taking yourself too seriously is deadly for a leader.
  2. Begin to examine your attitudes and actions with a critical eye which searches for what others may find humorous.
  3. Dispel anger by openly letting others know that you get the joke.
  4. Allow your co-workers and volunteers to become part of this humorous experience.
  5. Don’t ever laugh at the person who may criticize you.  But actively laugh at yourself when criticism is leveled at you.

Each year, Special Gathering takes 200 or more people on a retreat.  We are responsible for the safety and health of our members who are mentally challenged.  Most of them have an additional, secondary physical disability.  Tensions run high during the times we are transporting these people and setting up the retreat.

About five years ago, our executive director began to break down some of the tension by laughing at himself.  Those of us in leadership positions took up his banner by finding humor in our mistakes and stern attitude.  Our most valued volunteers and staff pushed the theme.  It has changed the sternness of this tense time into a much more relaxed atmosphere for everyone.

Finding the things at which others can laugh enhances–rather than diminishes–your leadership skills. If you don’t have a sense of humor, get one.

Photo by LadyBugPhotography
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/2011/06/leadership-sense-of-humor-get-one.html#ixzz1Pv3QGftr


I have six locks on my door all in a row.  When I go out, I lock every other one.

I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three.

~Comedian Elayne Boosler

Within the developmentally disabled community, there is a great need for health and safety instructions.  Special needs ministries are probably the only chapel services that must carry rubber gloves in our suit pockets.  Additionally, at all times, we have available information regarding medications and emergency numbers to call even though most of our members are legally competent adults.  We realize that we must be like Comedian Elayne Boosler and think of credible ways to keep our members safe.

My husband is much this way.  He began preparing for crises months and years ahead.  He wanted to be sure that his family was safe.  I must confess that I would let almost everything slide; but we have been ready for many emergencies because of his insistence.

When I came to work with Special Gathering, I was met with another Preparer in Richard Stimson, the founder and executive director of the ministy.  At times, I would verbally resist his constant preparation efforts.  Yet, I’d learned from my husband, that I am a bit of a Pollyanna to believe that safety measures are not needed.  Each time there has been a crisis within the ministry, we have been prepared and knew exactly the correct steps needed to maintain calm among our members and to insure that the needs of the people involved in the emergency were met.

Several years ago, The Special Gathering choir sang at a local church. I preached and all of our members attended the services for their missions Sunday services.  At the end of the service, the offering was taken.  The ushers came to the front of the church for a dedication prayer and to deliver the offering plates.  As the ushers stood at the altar table during the prayer, one of the church’s ushers had a seizure and she fell to the ground.  The church pastor and I were on the podium and we heard the thub when she fell but the pastor could not see who had fallen.

Without missing a minute, three of Special Gathering volunteers came to the front of the church.  They started timing the seizure.  After three minutes and before the service ended, one of  our volunteers called 911.  The seizure had not ended and our procedures dictate that the EMT’s should be called.   The service ended peacefully; and the pastor and I went to the door to greet the people of the church.  I stopped for a few seconds to insure that everything was all right with the seizuring woman and our volunteers.

After almost everyone had left the service, the pastor asked, “Is your member who had a seizure going to be all right?”

Puzzled, I said, “It was one of your members who had the seizure, not mine.”  Shocked, she rushed into the sanctuary to see who seizured.

Later, we laughed about how efficiently Special Gathering volunteers had taken charge of the situation.  “My members would not have known what to do, if you had not been here.”  Then she confessed, “Unfortunately, neither would I.”

Sometimes we hide behind a large tree, thinking that we can’t be touched.  The problem is that we don’t realize that we are hiding in plain view.  Like Elayne Boosler, it might be wiser to buy six locks and use the alternating three.  Thereby, we insure that there would be a method to keep our homes and lives safe.

The Bible gives advice in preparing for every thing from marriage to missions work.  There is business and money advice.  Much of the Law gives common sense preparation rules for health and safety.  God spent thousands of years preparing the hearts of people for Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection.  It is always wise to take time to follow Biblical advice and prepare.

Are you prepared for crises in your life?  What additional preparations do your need to make?

If you don’t think every day is a great day,

try living without one.

At Easter, how can you tell the difference between a male chocolate bunny and a female chocolate bunny?

The male bunnies have hollow heads.

Tony Piantine from Camp Daniel says:

 I had heard a follow up joke to that one…


If the head has already been bitten off a chocolate easter bunny, how can you tell if its male or female?

If its female it is still talking!