Posts Tagged ‘our boys’

Blessed is he who has regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.
– Psalm 41:1



We (Larry and I) spent last weekend visiting our boys, who are working at Clemson’s Outdoor Lab camps. Clemson’s beautiful grounds on a finger of Lake Hartwell are home to several summer camps sponsored by agencies such as Sertoma (Camp Sertoma) and the Jaycees (Camp Hope). Sertoma offers week-long camps for kids from underprivileged backgrounds, kids with hearing impairments, and kids with other life challenges. Many of them are foster children who have already bounced from home to home multiple times in their short lives. Camp Hope hosts mentally handicapped adults, for the most part, and these campers by contrast are very often brought to camp by their birth families, who love them well but I’m sure are happy to have a week off from caring for them, knowing that they are safe, and having a ball. Camp Hope is often their favorite week of the year. The Hope staff go out of their way to make it that way for them.

It is truly inspiring to watch the young people on staff at Hope/Sertoma work with the campers. While not expressly Christian, these programs attract young people (mostly college students) who are there to give their lives away, and many of them are indeed believers. You can feel that in the spirit of the place.



Many of the campers have been coming for several–or in some cases many–years, and their friendships have developed with the staff over the years. Each one has a unique requirement as to what he or she needs most from the staff: speak to me but don’t try to hug me; hug me and don’t let me go; give me simple instructions one step at a time; speak to me in sign language; motivate me with Mardi Gras beads and I’ll do anything you ask. It’s a learning curve that the staff have to negotiate quickly, and once they’ve mastered the best technique for each camper, the week’s up and it’s time to say goodbye, for this year.



Our two oldest sons, Andrew and Daniel, are working their second year as counselors. The pay’s not anything like what they might make working a summer job at home (caddying, waiting tables, working construction for Dad, another engineering internship) — but that doesn’t seem to bother them much. Our youngest, Jared, was also there last week with a group from our church (Christ Covenant), serving as a counselor’s helper, or “CIT” (counselor in training). Andrew and Daniel did that in years past as well. Apparently, once the bug bites, you just can’t get enough Sertoma/Hope. Our intention was to bring Jared home from his week at Sertoma, but he asked the staff if he could stay and volunteer for a few more weeks (he’s too young to be on paid staff). That offer was accepted pretty quickly, and we hear that he is actually working in Andrew’s cabin this week, which is cool.

I couldn’t be prouder of my boys. We might tease them about the money they’re not making (and may very well need as poor college boys)–but as Psalm 41 assures us, God will indeed honor those who honor him by caring for the least. Their lives will be blessed in ways that money can’t rival. As one Christ Covenant youth leader said to me during our visit, watching these young people pour out their hearts and energies into the campers gives one much hope about the future. This is the silver lining of the often self-involved Generation-Y. Some of them just don’t fit the mold, praise God.

I encourage you to view the slideshow of images from this amazing place (click HERE, then click on “slideshow”) , and see if it doesn’t bring a lump to your throat too. You can also see more pictures and read about the experiences of counselors by visiting Andrew’s camp blog. If you visit that blog, be sure to leave comments; I’m sure they could use a word of encouragement. They are tired.

UPDATE for summer 2011 — Andrew and Daniel have had to move on to full-time, all-year jobs, but Jared is full time at Sertoma this summer, and also got his lifeguarding certificate.  He reports loving being on/at the water, and has already hauled in some flailing swimmers (or non-swimmers).  Also adding to his sign-language, de-odorizing, and peacemaking skills.


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Everything I read and hear these days, Kingdom-wise, seems to point me back to the same thing: I am always on the receiving end; He is always the source. Most recently, I have been thinking in terms of tables.

I have wanted a new kitchen table for quite a while now. Our old set was one of those Amish-built (truly — we got it in Virginia from a Mennonite vendor) round/oval pedestal tables and sturdy windsor-back chairs. I remember being so grateful for it when we were able to buy it, and it held up well to toddler seats and school projects and a cook who isn’t very careful to use hot pads under the chicken casserole (that would be me). But for various reasons, it was time for that set to go. So I listed it on Craig’s List, and it left yesterday for the home of a young couple with a toddler and a baby on the way. It stirred a little wave of sentimentality, I have to admit.

This morning I was looking — for the third day in a row because it intrigues me — at the parable of the sower. I’ve moved on in my reading to some of the other parables that follow it in Matthew: the six “the kingdom is like…” parables. But I keep returning to that first one, and thinking about what kind of soil I am. And why. By Christ’s words, I am good soil. The good soil represents those who hear and understand, those who have ears to hear. I know I am one of those. Most days I know it right down to my toes, and other days I need him to remind me. But I know it. And I know that makes me blessed, because I get to see and hear what the prophets and righteous men of old longed to see but did not, as Jesus tells his disciples. I live in the time of the law written on hearts and minds. Hallelujah!

But why did I get to be good soil?

I don’t have an answer other than “because God ordained it so.” But I do know that the question is one that I started asking way too late in life. I think many of us who grew up in homes where Jesus was loved, “where children early lisp his fame,” who were cherished and well fed and handed every opportunity to know Christ that this world can afford — we can easily be underwhelmed by the gospel. He weaves himself so gently and so faithfully into our life story that it takes a knock on the head for us to see how amazing that grace has been. We may even begin to take some of the credit for his being there. (We were pretty good kids, after all.)

So we do what well fed children often do: we come to the table without a word of thanks to the father who provided the food, and we retire to the couch without asking how we might help with the work of the family, and we assume that meal will always be there. And it is.

I did that as a kid at home, and so did my kids. I think sowing gratefulness in a child’s heart must be one of the greatest challenges in a parent’s job. The “starving children in India” line ought to work, but it just doesn’t. And no matter how ungrateful your children’s hearts may be, you always feed them anyway, because they are your children. Generally, they develop gratitude later, when they have to pay for their own food, or feed their own children.

So how does God work gratefulness into the heart of a son or daughter who has been fed grace from infancy? He works it slowly and faithfully, by the word and by prayer, just as He works the other marks of maturity into us. With the word open in my lap and his Spirit in my ear, I hear him say “blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matt. 13:16-17). And by his grace, I hear, I see, I understand what He means. And by his grace, I am grateful.

This week, this Holy Week, as I have the privilege of being at my Father’s table again, I know that He paid everything He had for this meal, and He did it out of his great love for me.

By his grace, may that knowing keep me off the couch.

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