Thursday, September 29, 2011

Toilet Paper

Some little things are big things.  Like toilet paper.  Toilet paper is a little thing, but without it, you’re in big trouble.  

One week ago, we were about to be in some big trouble.  We had been so preoccupied with issues like insurance and intake, that we had run dangerously low on White Cloud.  Each of us had commented on the fact that something had to be done – and each of us probably thought someone else needed to do it.  

Not my job description

About this time, a total stranger burst into our office with a bag of goodies.  She had heard of Whetstone Boys Ranch, and she had immediately begun acquiring items that she thought would be useful:  a spare garden hose, old textbooks, clothing, washcloths, sheets, and…you guessed it, toilet paper!  At just the right moment, and in the fullness of time.  I mean, we were literally down to the last sheet.  

So she bursts in, drops off two black garbage bags of household items that she had carted over in her rolling basket, and without making any eye contact or small talk, declares to no one in particular, “I thought you guys could use this stuff.”  She then elbows her way out as fast as she had come.  

Now I’m not saying that God is working behind the scenes to guarantee we have toilet paper.  I’m not saying He isn’t.  What I am saying is that we serve a God who created the biggest of the big and the smallest of the small.  Size is no issue to Him.  From the furthest star to the tiniest particle – neither of which we can fathom or measure – He designed it all.  He cares for it all.  He sustains it all.  

And if He should choose to withdraw his breath, it will all disappear in the blink of an eye.  

It’s all a part of His job description. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pool Tables

 Recently, during one of our weekend work extravaganzas, we had to move a pool table.  Ever been involved in moving one of these beasts?  If not, count your lucky stars.  It’s nothing I want to do again, any time soon.
The first thing you need is about 6 guys.  No more, no less.  If you have more, you run the risk of having too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.  The entire experience can quickly devolve into a nasty power struggle about the best way to get the job done.   Alliances are formed, back room deals are struck, and before you know it’s turned into a bad episode of Survivor.  Quite unpleasant…although the TV ratings might justify another season…or eighteen.

If you have less, the obvious drawback is the increased risk of casualties and other collateral damage.  You don’t just bounce back from a half ton of marble slate landing on your foot, or from getting pinched between it and a door frame.

Fortunately, we had 6 dependable guys (and one dog) who weren’t interested in drama and who were happy to carry their load.  We did have a few scary seconds when it looked like the driver of the pick-up truck we used as a make-shift dolly, might lurch forward too quickly and leave us hanging, but everything turned out alright in the end.  The pool table that was in the middle of Brandon and Laura’s dining/living room, is now safely stored in the garage.

The metaphysical reality is that we all have “pool tables” cluttering up our living space, don’t we?  Most often these live-in elephants are invisible, like guilt or repressed anger.  Sometimes, like with the at-risk and troubled boys in need of residential treatment at Whetstone, they are unavoidable – like a felony offense or a drug addiction.

Regardless, these things can’t be removed by ourselves.  We need help…and lots of it.  Beginning in October, Whetstone will be a place where such assistance will be available 24/7.  Our treatment program will involve not just the three staff already in place, but the resources of this community in Howell County, and of churches and communities around the country.  There are literally thousands of people praying for these boys right now.

What’s a little pool table when you have that kind of support?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chimpanzee off the Square

There is a chimpanzee off the main square in downtown West Plains.  You heard right.  A chimpanzee. Actually, there are two.  There are two chimpanzees that reside in a giant outdoor cage attached to a Victorian painted lady.  It’s quite a spectacle.

You should hear them during a storm.  It’s like something out of Julius Caesar, with strange and unnatural sounds portending some great and future danger.  The first time I heard them during a tornado warning, the dream-like hooting mixed with the siren sound echoing off the brick buildings downtown ran chills down my spine.

I am not going to comment on the general practice of owning a chimpanzee for a pet.  This may be a case of to each his own…as long as the chimpanzees stay behind bars and relatively quiet when atmospheric conditions allow.  And to the owner’s credit, from my vantage point in an office right across the street, this has been the case.

From what I have gleaned by reading news accounts, there was a point several years ago when a third monkey had to be removed.  Apparently, he had an issue with another male chimp.  (It was a guy thing.)  News accounts also made mention of the extreme difficulty of placing chimps in sanctuaries, which are overloaded and expensive.  One sanctuary in Florida agreed to take this third chimp if the owner donated 200,000 bucks.  That’s about half of Whetstone’s annual operating budget!

$200,000 would pay the tuition of 5 boys.  $200,000 would pay for an entire year of eating, sleeping, schooling, hiking, fishing, farming, counseling, mentoring and more – ultimately contributing to the reformation and restoration of 5 young men to their right minds.

God has given mankind stewardship over all creation – chimpanzees and troubled boys included.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Please & Thank You

Quite possibly, we have reached the end of the beginning. Our list of lists has stabilized, and we are now crossing out more things than we are adding. (Don’t you love that feeling of running a black marker across an item on your agenda!) We have now consolidated our boys ranch building to only three things:

Program, Fund-Raising and Facilities

I encourage you all to pray for these three areas, specifically. It’s actually quite efficient. Instead of doing a line-by-line, you can hurl these up to heaven and say, “Please, God!” As the needs are fulfilled (and posted on our website) you throw up a “Thank You!” I think he understands our need for brevity. However, if you would like a more detailed prayer for the troubled and at-risk boys we will serve, you might try something as follows:

Please God, guide us as we put the finishing touches on our Program. It’s not really our program. It’s yours. We trust that you will provide insight regarding residential therapy, intake procedures, staff-training, relief staff, licensed Christian counseling, liability insurance, school curriculum, accreditation, disciplinary procedures, and motivational techniques. There are more things that we need to consider, but we submit those to you also, God. You alone, are omniscient!

Please God, lead us in our Fund-Raising. You are rich beyond measure. You own the “cattle on a thousand hills” – a measure that really means something for those of us who live in West Plains! Make the movie “Courageous” a success, and help us to sell-out the Glass-Sword Cinema! Move our website up on Google, increase our presence on Facebook, and put our flyers, emails, blog posts and newsletters in the right mailboxes and inboxes. You alone are omnipotent!

Please God, manage our Facilities. Help us to be good stewards of what you give us. Send us skilled laborers for remodeling projects, energetic volunteers, building supplies, dependable vehicles, fast internet, sturdy furniture, comfortable mattresses, and lots and lots of good food. You alone are omnipresent!

Please, Please, Please, Please!

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!