Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Life Gives You Walnuts...

Twelve giant walnut trees stand guard at Whetstone Boys Ranch, their huge arms framing almost any view from the house.  In addition to providing shade and shelter, they are beginning to take on the added responsibility of therapy for our boys…or for the time being, boy.  

One activity we’ve begun since moving operations from downtown West Plains, which has a noticeable lack of trees and an abundance of glass store fronts, is throwing walnuts.  (Boys will be boys, after all.)  In a few shorts weeks, we have devised a number of engaging games with the thousands of walnuts which make routine walking a health hazard.  There is horse-shoe walnuts, where we try to hit a 50 gallon red feed bucket:  1 pt if you hit it, 2 pts if it bounces out, and 3 points if it lands and stays in the bucket.  There is around-the-world walnuts, where you try to hit three perimeter tree trunks in succession.  If you miss any one of them on your second “chance,” you go all the way back to the beginning.  

And there more walnut games in the works:  a version of Frisbee golf played with walnuts, stick-ball played with walnuts, lawn-bowling/shuffle board version to be played by rolling walnuts on the smooth concrete of the wrap-around porch.    
Maybe this is a bad idea.  I can see at some point having to discipline a boy who throws a walnut at me, or through a window.  Maybe gathering walnuts into buckets and transporting them to a shelling station will be better, since it allows opportunity for both work and revenue.   But the fact remains that we can’t eliminate every loose impediment from our 280 acres.   On the whole, walnut competitions seem like a good example of clean, healthy fun.  Better to teach boys how to act responsibly within their surrounding, than to ban them from interaction.  

Seen from this perspective, the physical universe God has created is a perpetual playground for mankind.  All He expects is that we use a little imagination and follow a few basic rules.

In other words, when life gives you walnut… aim them at something non-breakable and devise a point system.     

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Book of Firsts

On the Whetstone Boys Ranch kitchen counter, there sits a notebook which we have dubbed the “The Book of Firsts.”   Since this last week was our first week, we made a lot of entries.

Below, I have copied one of the first journal entries from our first boy.  As his teacher, I am proud of his descriptive writing.  As his mentor, I am proud of his introspection.

Yesterday morning, Mr. Maxwell popped on the lights around 6:00 o’clock and said, “We’re going.”  Excitedly, I jumped out of bed and into my camo, then threw on my  boots. Within moments, Mr. Maxwell and I were out the door and off to the stand to scout some deer.  The ground was saturated with dew, and it made me look as though I had been wading in a pond.  Trampling through the thick pastures, we spooked 3 deer which gave us both a bad feeling that the deer were moving early.

As we walked through the woods down an old road, memories of hunting with my dad ran through my mind, and I couldn’t stop thinking about all the mornings before sunrise I had followed my dad through the woods on the way to the stand.  Whetstone’s so-called “buddy stand” turned out to be an ancient single stand that had grown into the tree.  So, we thought it through and decided I would sit on the ground, a couple trees away from the tree stand.

As the sun rose through the trees, birds started singing, turkeys chattered off in the distance, and squirrels fought over acorns.  All of this combined gave me a warm feeling.  It made me feel nothing but happiness; all my worries were swept away.

I think we’re off to a good start.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's Official!

 It’s official!  Today, Whetstone began “sharpening” its first boy.  In our first ceremony, during which he symbolically branded his own pair of leather work gloves, we began the process of refining through holy fire.

For privacy reasons, I won’t share much about him right now.  Just imagine him as your teenage son, or brother, or nephew or neighbor.  He’s a boy who needs help at a crucial juncture in his life.  He’s a boy with God-given talents, who is searching like all boys, for his role as a man.

If nothing else, Whetstone Boys Ranch will present him with an authentic vision of what this looks like, according to God’s Word, God’s Son, and God’s Holy Spirit.  Please pray that in the coming year, he and the others who will hopefully join him soon, will be convinced, “that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [them] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”