Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Growing Hope at Moore County's Camp Duncan

An exciting event is quietly preparing to take place in a serene, secluded setting outside of Aberdeen, here in Moore County. Due to the foresight and generosity of the late Haskell Duncan and his wife Gay, Baptist Children's Homes of North Carolina is preparing to open its newest home in a matter of months. Below is the entrance to the former Duncan estate, now leased to BCH for a dollar a year.
The existing home and other structures already on the 576 acre property make it virtually ready-made for the Girls Camp envisioned here. The fine house below can temporarily provide office space and a dining area. March 19, the day I was invited to an open house there, it was the scene of a vibrant reception, tour, and sharing session.
This is the "Mystery Picture" that I have featured on this blog for the past few weeks, and it stimulated some inquiries and curiosity as I hoped it would. This gorgeous spring-fed lake is at the center of Camp Duncan. It's the bluest water I've seen since I was at Camp Cherokee on beautiful blue Lake Burton in north Georgia. The main house is on the shore.
Paul Daley, who has been inolved in "Theraputic Camping" his entire adult life and has led the enormously successful Cameron Boys Camp since 1980, has agreed to become director of the new girls camp. For years, I have enjoyed reading Jack Tales and Grandfather tales to boys at the Cameron Camp, so this day I presented copies of both books to Paul as he embarks on this new venture.Beautiful stone fireplaces and hearths help create a homey setting indoors. This is nice, but the girls will be living outdoors most of the time!
Paul's temporary office demonstrates that he's an inveterate collector, like me. (He's just not out of control yet.) In this office Paul had time to share a couple of amazing inspirational stories with me about God's clear guidance in his life over the years.

After some get-acquainted time, guests were told about the short-term needs and long-range plans for this camp. Extensive planning has been underway for years. Volunteers from across the state are already at work daily making this dream become reality. Some of those present have already invested heavily financially or through the valuable gifts of their prayers and their time.

In the words of BCH materials, "Camp Duncan will provide a year round wilderness camping experience designed to provide girls and their families an opportunity to work out problems through a highly structured alternative service. Here girls can grow socially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, and academically. A team approach builds relationships between the camp staff, the family, and the camper--relationships through which deep hurts are healed and lives are changed." "Growing Hope" is a very appropriate title for the brochure we were given.

Piling into several vehicles, we followed woodland roads to the campsite where the camp's first group of 10 girls will establish their wilderness home. The group will have three counselors, called "Chiefs." With the help of their peers and their Chiefs, campers learn discipline, positive behavior patterns and self worth.
Paul leads the guests across the new plank bridge. At this site the girls will build their own living shelters, cut wood, cook their own meals in their campsite two days a week, do laundry, maintain trails, plan trips, and have fun.
It always thrills me to hear Paul and other staff tell of the spiritual emphasis at camp. "Everything is done with a spirit of rightness and of serving Jesus Christ. Through this attitude and spirit, girls experience a sense of peace and rightness in their own lives, drawing them to a right relationship with Jesus Christ and with others."

At the Cameron Boys Camp, Paul and his co-workers have shown consistently over the years that Christian Theraputic Camping has a life-changing and lasting impact. Rarely do the campers revert to prior behaviors or negative attitudes once they return to their home and school settings.

Following our tour, we returned to the main house where a fine meal had been prepared by camp's two chefs. They, too, will be an integral part of the camp's mission as they interact daily with the girls and show God's love in their own way.

When a director brought out cake and asked if anyone had a birthday today, I couldn't lie. I admitted it was my birthday and I was treated to the most rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" I've ever had. The love this band of folks have for children was evident in their spirited singing. The camp brochure mentions that singing plays a large role at Camp: "Singing helps melt the hearts of many girls as they learn to harmonize their voices and their lives with others." I wish I'd thought of that. I certainly found that to be true in my "former life" as a teacher. And I see the magic of music touching people's inner spirits whether I'm in a pre-school or a local rest home. There's no doubt God planted music within the human heart as a way to commune with Him and with each other.

I hope to have chances to lead singalongs or share Jack Tales with both the Cameron Boys Camp and the new Camp Duncan in the future. Please keep both of these fine facilities and their staffs in your prayers as they fulfill vital needs for young people. If you have a desire to volunteer in any way at all, you can contact Camp Duncan at 944-3077 for information and directions. There is a bustle of activity almost every day, with tasks from menial to highly skilled. I was pleased that the maintenance supervisor said there is a need for prayer-walking on the property, too. Willingness is the main qualification. All will be much appreciated and reap great rewards for our children in the days ahead. If you want to know even more--I couldn't tell it all-- please contact me by e-mail or phone. I'd love to share more.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ring Around the World

Let me be perfectly clear. I'm not for one world government, nor one world economic system, nor one world language. I'm only for one world religion if by free choice all people of all nations chose the salvation made possible by the one true God through his only Son, Jesus. But God would not force this free gift on us.

Nevertheless, I have proof that God LOVES all those people of all nations. Furthermore, there is evidence that he desires that WE love others as He does. Not an easy task. So I guess "Christians" are at least not being hypocritical when they state openly that they don't want to see people of other national origins, listen to any language other than their own native tongue, or put up with any other discomforts or inconveniences caused by having these "others" around. While the rhetoric may all be against "illegal aliens," in practice, these individuals often lump all non-Americans together.

Most folks realize that America, both now and for centuries into the past has been a land of diversity. American citizenship cannot be discerned by the fluidity of English speech nor any physical trait. But some would even have us narrowly re-define citizenship now to exclude those they deem undesirable.

The picture that appears at the beginning of this blog is of a paper placemat I saved from childhood. I do not recall the occasion, perhaps Vacation Bible School, but it pictures people of the world positioned around the globe with its four compass points. Each compass point contains a cross, making the clear point that people of all nations, races, and languages need the salvation the Lord offers.

The bordering Bible verses emphasize what God intends for us to treat our brothers and sisters like.

May the Lord make your love for one another and for all men wide and full like my love for you that your hearts may be strong. I Thessalonians 3:12

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:31-32

Let us love one another: for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. . . . God is love. I John 4: 7-8

God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. Acts 10: 34-35

I've consistently heard this message proclaimed by Sunday School teachers and preachers all my life. Yet some individuals have no problem with narrowing the sub-group of whom they must love according to their own flawed criteria.

I'm most appalled when children are innocent victims of the "bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice" that are now prevalent in mass e-mails, letters to the editor, and talk radio.

One current push here in North Carolina is to charge children of illegal aliens (many of whom were born here and are citizens) out-of-state tuition to state universities and community colleges. This is a thinly veiled effort to deny these children (a miniscule number, according to authorities) access to the benefits of our democratic system and to punish them for events over which they had no control. Proponents of this crackdown are seeking to be punitive and restrictive; their goals are not truly budgetary, but to lock out targeted groups to make survival so difficult that they will surely go "home." But for a child who has lived his or her whole life here, whether right or wrong, this is the only "home" he or she has ever known.

Political and economic debates will continue to rage, but I offer a couple of simple poems in support of the voice of reason; a voice to draw us together, not drive a wedge between us.

Ring Around the World

by Annette Wynne

Ring around the world

Taking hands together

All across the temperate

And the torrid weather.

Past the royal palm-trees

By the ocean sand

Make a ring around the world

Taking each other's hand;

In the valleys, on the hill,

Over the prairie spaces,

There's a ring around the world

Made of children's friendly faces.

This one is more familiar:

It's a Small World

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears,

It's a world of hopes and a world of fears,

There's so much that we share

That it's time we're aware

It's a small world after all.

It's a small world after all,

It's a small world after all,

It's a small world after all,

It's a small, small world.

There is just one moon and one golden sun,

And a smile means friendship to everyone,

Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide,

It's a small world after all.

It's a small world after all,

It's a small world after all,

It's a small world after all,

It's a small, small world.

May God grant us all the grace to accept His blessings for ourselves and our families without wishing to deny those blessings for those outside our chosen circle. And may the circle of those we love and accept as brothers and sisters continue to widen and flourish.

"Do not mistreat or oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt." Exodus 22: 21 and 23: 9

Brianna Turns Seven (days old, that is)

Yes, it's Friday, and since Brianna arrived last Saturday, she is a WEEK old today (at 9:18, specifically, but let's not get technical). She seems to have found all things acceptable during our trial period, and it appears she will keep us! Yes!
Judy and I popped in for a visit and got to hold Brianna to our hearts' content. Here are the latest pics.
Judy, Amanda, and Brianna
Whose knees are these? It's almost worth opening my eyes to find out.
Oh, are they still here?
Nobody could get tired of this!

Let the record show-- she hasn't cried for me yet!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Volunteer Luncheon at Pinehurst Nursing Center

Today Pinehurst Nursing Center held its annual Volunteer Luncheon. It was the first time I have been able to attend and it was a very nice affair. We were welcomed by Marjorie, the head activities director.

Attendees were honored with certificates of appreciation for providing a variety of services. Most volunteers are affiliated with local churches.
Several of the staff were recognized as well for helping coordinate and support volunteer activities.
Second from left is Marjorie. Third from left is Wanda, who is normally on duty when I volunteer.
These ladies were responsible for our wonderful meal of chicken, green beans, sticky rice, bread, and sweet potato pie or chocolate cake. Tea and lemonade were plentiful.

At my table were my pals Johnny and Ray, who are faithful participants at Beulah Hill's monthly church services at Pinehurst Nursing. Unable to attend was Aaron, who provides insightful devotions at our services. Ray and Johnny are also regulars at our monthly Manor Care Nursing Center church services. These ministries are in their 26th year at both locations.
Volunteering here, at the hospital, and at other local centers for both children and the elderly, is one of the high points of being retired. I look forward to every visit. By the way, if you're wondering why there are no pictures of Brianna, she had a better offer for lunch today, and was out on the town visiting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tar Heel Seniors Highlight Carolina Barnstorming Tour

Monday night, Judy took me to the Carolina Barnstorming Tour basketball game at Union Pines. This was my BIG birthday present, and it was super. Carolina seniors Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, and Bobby Frasor plus Duke players Greg Paulus and David McClure were featured. It was a game of fast breaks, individual highlight reel plays, dunks, and three-pointers. Believe me, you could never get this close to these stars at the Smith Center. Some of the pictures are a little dark, but here's a sampler of what we experienced.

Tar Heels take the floor for warmups, to the cheers of a packed house.

These stars are used to cheers, but you could tell they felt appreciated.
Three of the Tar Heels' biggest fans. Guess who's happy to be here?The starters prepare to jump center.

The outcome would never be in doubt, but good plays for both teams were cheered all night long. Moore County All-Stars put on a good display of talent themselves.

FAST BREAK (every time down the floor)!

Psycho T (Hansbrough) made one three-pointer after another. Ya think some NBA scouts were there?

Danny Green goes in for a whirlwind dunk.

A real rim-rattler!
WAY TO GO, DANNY! Hey-- what am I doing here. Oops, wrong blog post!
Danny says, "Go ahead, shoot over me. You don't think I'd try to block it, do you?"
Emma gets a Tar Heel autograph she's been hoping for.

"Well," says Brianna, "Since I'm here . . . I'm a Tar Heel born, I'm a Tar Heel bred . . . ."

Can't Get Too Many Baby Pictures

Today's blog post features Brianna Mae Talbert--again! If you know my family, most of these pictures speak for themselves. I've provided a few captions for my own entertainment.

Take it easy Brianna-- that's the only thumb I've got-- on that hand.
Let's make a deal, Amanda. I'll keep Brianna for you until Claire gets here in July.
The one time Amanda gets to be FIRST!

Ken finally gets a snapshot of Amanda, Stephen, and Brianna all together!

We can't smile forever--might as well take the picture even if her finger is up her nose. (it wasn't, really)

Grandpa Ken, I don't know which I like better, your finger or that Carolina shirt!

Great-Aunt Elsie hasn't forgotten how to make a baby feel snug and cozy.

Brianna may not know it yet, but she has an army of Steel Magnolias who would do anything in the world for her!
Brianna, sometime when your Mama and Grandma aren't listening, I've got some tales that'll make your head spin!
Ah, life doesn't get any better than this.

Can you believe it? People still ask me why I retired!
Amanda's Great-Aunt Clara lovingly crafted a hand-made quilt for little Brianna. They don't call Clara "Quilt Mammy" for nothing!

Stephen's great-aunt is a master quilter, too!
Brianna will sleep warm next winter!
Just remember, Brianna. If they're ever mean to you, you can come stay at MY house!