A PLACE OF RENEWAL

by Sylvia Dicksongirls with plant

There is a certain beauty to the winter landscape: stark silhouettes of bare branches brushing against a gray sky, empty fields bathed in crisp, winter sunlight, nippy mornings coated with glittering frost. However, what we truly long for, after waking in the early dark of winter, is to throw open our windows and feel warm spring breezes brushing away the sleep from our eyes.

Spring is a time of renewal. Daffodils spring from brown turf, trees dress up in spring green, the urge to fly a kite or plant a garden takes hold. We long to freshen up and fix up. Out with the old and in with the new.

daffodilsAnd so it goes, year after year. Our souls, bodies, and all of creation long for renewal. So many years of frustration and futility! How long will it last?

At French Camp Academy we see firsthand the ravages of sin and the bondage to decay. Students come to us from families fractured or destroyed by sin. They come to us looking for a place of renewal.

Why Renewal?boys and wisteria

In God’s Word, we see that even though Adam’s stomach was full, his purpose in life defined, his success certain, he wanted more.

When Adam and Eve broke the only commandment their Creator had given, they received a horrible shock. No longer could life be lived free from fear, pain, and destruction. A new law went into effect with the immediate verdict, “Guilty. Condemned to Die.”

The Beginning of Renewala-another-boy-in-church

Redemption and renewal are themes that guide French Camp Academy. We live out lives renewed in Christ before our young people, showing them “… there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

We tell them that even though mother ora-boy-painting father may have deserted them, God will not. We tell them that Jesus Christ came to free them from sin and give them new life: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3: 19).

The Work of Renewal

House parents and Historic area personnel work with students to reveal God’s plan for renewal. Teachers, coaches, work directors, radio personnel, all work at chipping away the chains of sin.a-girl-with-horse-web

In the afternoons and on Saturdays, you can see students and staff working on different projects. Horses must be fed, the bed and breakfast freshened for visitors, and the conference center readied for the next group. WFCA trains students in broadcasting. At Rainwater Observatory, students learn how to work telescopes and help with astronomy programs.tennis-player

Every aspect of FCA contributes to the accomplishment of our mission of being a Christ-centered home and school, serving young people and families for the glory of God.

Effects of Renewal

Lives built on the certainty of God’s redemptive work become stable, fruitful, and fulfilled. Hope takes root and enlivens minds and hearts. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (I Cor. 5: 17).katy-octavious-farida

The cords of sin and evil that so easily entangled thoughts and emotions are slowly unraveled and tossed into the flames. The stagnant water of sorrow is drained and lives are refilled with fresh water. Grins replace groans, direction replaces destruction, clear minds replace cloudy thinking.

Sometimes the renewal takes place quickly, sometimes slowly. But all around us we see God renewing lives at French Camp Academy.

A Race Worth Running

by Sylvia Dickson

They pressed in on one another at the starting line, waiting for the second when theyKids run1 yellow rose copy could burst forth and begin the race.

And they’re off! Zooming past me in a whir, I see looks of intensity on each face, the excitement and energy pushing each runner onward.

A few minute later, I begin to see runners headed to the finish line, making each arm pump and leg stride count. Some are definitely loosing speed while others are stretching to win.

boy with shoeA few are having to overcome unforeseen obstacles, but their spirit is good. Others, having completed the race, rush back to encourage friends to keep on going. Still others are being carried across the finish line.

What a sight! The Kids’ Run at Camp of the Rising Son’s annual Run for the Son was the highlight of my day. Their Making the effort was enough to fill my emotional bucket, much less the delight the runners showed at being a part of the event.

Something Wonderful

Isn’t it wonderful to be part of something big and good? One of our seniors told me how much she enjoyed being part of the drama productions. She said, Even though I was backstage, I loved being part of something good.grad2

God’s kingdom is big and good. That God loves us and gave His Son so our sins could be forgiven fills my emotional bucket forever. Not only that, His race is worth running because the prize at the end is perfect.

goofy runner In It Together

We are not alone. Many others have run the race, laying aside whatever hinders, focusing on the goal, and helping others along the way. Now it is our turn. We are the runners and the encouragers.

How do we encourage? We tell our young people at FCA to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Romans 12:2a). We are here to strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed (Romans 12:12-13).

CheersHigh Jump

French Camp Academy is preparing young people to run the race well. We show them the track, make them aware of the obstacles, nurture them with good spiritual food, give them the tools they need, and we run alongside them, cheering them on the way. Sometimes they out run us (Yea!), and other times we pick them up and carry them until they can run on their own.

Our strength comes from Jesus who has finished the race and is sitting at the right hand of the Father. We know that He will carry us through and the race will have been worth it.

donate-button-large

fca-logo-for-web--02329c-blue-bkgn

Recycled and Reconciled

By Karen CatesDCF 1.0

While visiting a sewing store recently, my attention was captured by beautiful quilts hanging everywhere—elaborate, colorful, strategically designed, with luxurious fabrics.  Those quilts triggered precious memories of simple quilts tediously and lovingly put together by hands that invested the truth of God’s love and Word into my life.

I envisioned my great grandmother pulling a favorite dress, worn out and raveling, from the chiffarobe, laying it across her table, and precisely cutting it into strips.  She would be thinking of how her dress would soon provide warmth and comfort for her five children.

Then, she took her husband’s shirt, ripped by barbed wire, carefully removed the buttons, cut it into squares. Laying her hand on the shirt she could feel his strength and her heart resonated with his work for his family. Stacking the strips and squares neatly in a box, she would slide them under her bed where they would wait for more pieces to complete her project.

She gathered all the remaining pieces and stuffed them into a pillowcase hanging on a nail. It was filling up with old dish towels, socks, and flour sacks to use as batting and backing for the quilt. Nothing was thrown away. There was a new use for everything.

The children’s clothes were mended, passed down, and eventually cut into shapes for a quilt. When she finally had enough to cover the big feather bed, she would sit by the fire at night and stitch each piece together using a needle and thread.

As she sat piecing the quilt top together, she would quietly pray.  Every piece elicited a prayer for those who had worn them. She prayed for them to know and serve their creator and provider and she thanked God for His provision and protection. She took comfort in knowing that as she would gently tuck them in at night under this quilt, they would rest under a covering of prayers and under the Father’s wings.

Those were days of utility and purpose, a recycling of everything—a time of new creations.  When we read how God created the heavens and the earth, we see order and attention to detail. We see His love and provision. Through Christ, we see His sacrifice that mends our brokenness. He makes all things new—new purpose—new life!

We come to Him broken, scarred and worthless in our sin. Yet, He carefully and gently removes the pain and the hurt and remakes us into new creatures for His glory. He fills us with His Spirit to make us his own unique design. He makes us a new creation to encourage and comfort others.

When Christ recreates us according to His likeness, He puts us in a group to serve. Each life brings a new story, a new experience, each changed and stitched together as part of His body. Our differences fade for the common unity of purpose—recycled and reconciled—for His Glory!

Beginning Mid-Life (Hand in Hand: Parenting the Second Time Around)

French Camp Academy is a wonderful place to grow!

Beginning Mid-Life

by Susan Donald

So who begins parenting again when they are middle aged?  Apparently more people than you may realize.  In this country there are 5.8 million children being raised by grandparents.  That’s more than double the entire population of Mississippi.  And nearly 3 million more are being raised by other family members besides grandparents or their biological parents.  Each one of these families has a back story, one that probably contains a lot of heartache and maybe some hope as well.  Continue reading

Hand in Hand: Parenting the Second Time Around

It’s Not So Weird

By Sylvia Dickson

FCA brings smiles to girls.

FCA brings smiles to girls.

What is the deal with so many grandparents now raising their grandchildren? Is this really so different from past generations? In some ways yes and some ways no.         

That is how I started my last blog and never quite finished answering the questions.

I grew up in a small Mississippi town with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all around. Most of our social events revolved around family, church and school, which meant all of them involved family.

This was life. It was just what we did. Other families were measured by my family, which was normal. Everyone else’s had quirks.

It was perfectly normal that my grandmother was raising her granddaughter. After all, her mother had died from cancer, and a girl needs a mother. Her father was a traveling salesman and needed help. And, family was there to give it.

I have no idea about the stress this may have caused, but it was normal for us. Our family pulled together. We supported one another and blended together. In a small town, in the 1950-60’s, with church, family, and community, my grandmother was able to be a parent the second time around.

But, what about those of you out there who do not have such a wonderful support system…those who do not feel normal either in the parenting role or the child role?

Parenting the first time around can be stressful, let alone doing it again. Many grandparents don’t have the same support my grandmother had and need a community that can lend a hand. French Camp Academy is a great community of Christians who walk hand in hand serving all types of families.

FCA wants to reach out to children and families that are struggling. We also want you to share your stories and encouragements for others. Send us your ideas and feedback.

After all, it’s not so weird to ________________ (you fill in the blank). There is hope and help. Others, including French Camp Academy, will walk with you through your difficulties.

Join us at www.frenchcamp.org

Hand In Hand: Parenting the Second TIme Around

So What’s New?

By Sylvia Dickson

What is the deal with so many grandparents now raising their grandchildren? Is this really so different from past generations? In some ways yes and some ways no.

Teaching and Training: Boys Growing Into Men

Teaching and Training: Boys Growing Into Men

I remember the first time as an adult that I was struck with the knowledge of people parenting the second time around. While visiting my mother and going to her church, I took my own baby to the nursery. Mom pointed out a couple with two children and said, Those are their grandchildren. They are raising them.

I looked in awe and amazement and wondered about this unusual arrangement. So many questions peppered my mind as I walked with mom to her Sunday school class.

Where are the parents? How do those grand parents feel about their own children who aren’t raising these children? Why should they “have to” do this? Are they sad, angry, and feeling like failures? Do they wonder if it is their fault? Or are they happy and excited about the opportunity to pour into these young lives?

I don’t remember asking any of those questions. Maybe I did and have forgotten the answers.

I still have those questions and more, and I’m hoping you can help answer them.

Please send me your stories. Some of your stories will be unique and others will have a common theme. I’ll pull portions from them and add them to the blog. These can be posted anonymously or with your name. Just let me know.

We (French Camp Academy) are hoping that your story—your journey in second-time parenting—will help others as they venture down this path.

In the next blog I’ll explore the old and new of grandparents raising grandchildren. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

A Place of Healing

We wanted to tell you how grateful French Camp Academy is for your faithful support and to explain how your generosity impacts hurting young people. But we think this young lady, a current student, expresses it better than we can.  Like you, she understands the impact French Camp Academy has had on her life. Continue reading