First Chance Auction

Get your friends together for a bidding strategy on these live auction items. They’ll go quickly May 28 at First Chance for White Pants!

Bob Garner Cooks for You

Author, TV personality, and pit-master Bob Garner donates his acclaimed cooking and storytelling skills. Bob will prepare and deliver a traditional barbecue meal for 30, and he’ll serve it with a side of stories from his culinary adventures around the state.

Donated by Bob Garner

 

Emerald Isle Beach Week

Choose your week (October 2020 – March 2021) and your getaway:

  • Oceanfront Breezy, with 5 bedrooms and 5 1/2 baths – see details
  • Soundside Batten the Breeze, with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths – see details
Donated by Emerald Isle Realty

 

Harkers Island Bungalow

Spend a week at North Carolina’s Crystal Coast in this two-bedroom bungalow with water view (valid after Labor Day and before Memorial Day)

There’s lots to do: catch the ferry to Cape Lookout or Shackelford Banks, see the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, visit the Cape Lookout National Seashore, make a short trip to Beaufort and Morehead City, take a day trip on the ferry to Ocracoke Island

 Donated by Brad and Suzanne Williams

You are the heart of what we do
– and these are the children who need our help

One boy was found walking alone 1½ miles from home. His parents were drug-addicted and violent – but his 6-year-old heart felt only guilt and grief when he was placed into foster care. Another boy was caught stealing. He’d effectively lost his family a decade earlier when his mother died in her sleep. His father was absent – and this 14-year-old felt “thrown away” when he was delivered to our crisis & assessment center.

Most days, that is how kids come to us, feeling unlovable and incapable. What they need are people who care. That is who we are – Methodist Home for Children and you.

For the young boy, care meant an adoptive family embraced him and understood that, while past trauma may still hurt him, it will not define him. He is theirs. For the teenager, care meant somebody made him meals and expected him to be in his classroom seat every day. It meant somebody from our crisis center drove 260 miles round-trip to check on him when he moved to one of our group homes – an expression of love he had not known in years.

And so it happens, day in and day out, that we care specifically and individually for the children who come to us, knowing that each one wants to be loved and accepted. No matter what age, race, or gender, they all want someone to believe in them, to praise them, to cheer them on, and to set safe limits.

Together we do this, in service to God, so that children can grow up safe and secure. Please give today.

Thank you for being the heart of what we do. We wish you peace and happiness in the New Year.


Ethan, Ella, Jackson

Marc Ridel Creative

ETHAN, AGE 6
ELLA, AGE 5
JACKSON, AGE 4

In the spring, we told you how Tabitha and David adopted their first two children – a brother-sister pair, then 8-year-old Myles and 6-year-old Mia. Now we can introduce the rest of the family – siblings Ethan, Ella, and Jackson.

All five children love trips to the zoo and video games on the weekends. Ethan has the big imagination and likes to tell stories; Jackson has the appetite, always thinking about his next meal. Mia is the chatty one – and Ella is her spunky sidekick. Myles is the quiet one with the sharpest memories of life before foster care.

There were some “oil and water” months integrating two sibling groups under one roof, Tabitha says, “but now they’re all part of the family.”


Daniel & Hazel

Photography by Chalice

DANIEL, AGE 8
HAZEL, AGE 5

Lindsay and Robbie arrived a few minutes early. They were understandably nervous and – this is important – they wanted to be the first to arrive. They claimed a spot in the lobby and watched the door. Every time a family with two children came in they wondered: Is that them? Are these the ones?

Lindsay and Robbie were at Marbles Museum in Raleigh; they were waiting to meet two foster children who had just become eligible for adoption. They hadn’t seen a picture of the kids and were unsure of their ages. “All we knew,” Lindsay says, “is that it would be a boy and a girl. We honestly didn’t know if they were white or black – we didn’t care about that sort of stuff, so we never asked.”

And then Daniel and Hazel walked in with their foster parents – and Lindsay and Robbie say they just knew. “I started tearing up,” says Lindsay. “I said, ‘That’s them and I already love them.’ ” Robbie said the same thing and together they walked over to introduce themselves.

Fast forward two years.

Now they are a close-knit family of four people and three dogs. Daniel’s in second grade, Hazel just started kindergarten. And even though their lives are full with school, camp, and family outings, they all dream of one day living on a farm. Deep cords of love – present before they met – hold them together. The only dissent came on adoption day.

As papers were signed and the seal put in place, the judge asked Hazel if everything looked right. Her answer was quick and clear: No.

Pointing to her new last name and she said, “This is all wrong. My name should be Unicorn Princess. Hazel Unicorn Princess.”

God bless the child.


Advent, week 2

By Bruce Stanley, president / CEO

This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. –Matthew 3:3-4

As we deck the halls of our administration building we put out several Christmas creches. Each is unique; They are from different countries, different cultures, and made from different materials including pewter, wood, and ceramic. While the styles vary, the substance does not. In each there is a manger, a holy family, a shepherd’s crook, sheep, and wise men bearing gifts.

Those are the beautiful and celebrated parts of the Christmas story. Yet they do not tell all of the story. There is one essential character in the narrative who has already come and gone in Matthew’s narrative: John the Baptist.

Every year this awkward, unkempt guest shows up on the second Sunday of Advent. He comes unwashed, out of the wilderness, with challenging words of repentance and accountability for our sins. He is wearing a camel’s hair shirt and a barbed belt that purposefully chafes him each time he moves as a reminder of his sins. No Christmas cookies for him. He eats severely – only wilderness foods. While he seems out of place and unwanted, his importance cannot be denied. His awkwardness is essential to Christmas.

Many times as a pastor I have seen the unwashed, unexpected, or uninvited guest become the one who ushers in the Christmas spirit. Grace UMC in Wilmington is located on the same block as the Cape Fear Gospel Rescue Mission. In my second year of ministry we planned a Christmas party with the mission. The idea, of course, was that we, the advantaged, would provide presents/party/program for the disadvantaged. We shared a wonderful meal, we handed out presents, and then our choir led us in Christmas carols.

Unexpectedly, in the midst of the caroling, one of the homeless residents stood. He was tall and so slender as to suggest chronic hunger. His hair was clean but unkempt and he had a couple days stubble on his chin. In wavering southern voice, he spoke in the idiom of the rural church. He said, “I want to favor you with a special.” Then, without accompaniment or permission, he sang ‘O Holy Night.’

When he sang the words, “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,” we all teared up. His voice was untrained. He wandered between sharp and flat. And yet, this awkward, unexpected soloist who came to us out of the “weary world” brought us into hope and rejoicing. Forty years have passed, yet I can still see his flannel shirt and blue jeans. I hear his untrained voice not with my ears now but with my heart. We who thought we were bringing the gifts were given a greater one. I doubt he ever realized that he was “the voice of one singing out in the wilderness,” but that day he prepared the way of the Lord.

As we wait and prepare for Jesus to come, let us do so with a renewed appreciation for the role that all of God’s children have to play in our lives. Let us actively welcome those who come from wilderness or weary world.

Read Advent, week 1
Read Advent, week 2
Read Advent, week 3
Read Advent, week 4


5 ways to help this Christmas

You can brighten the season for children –

1.  Make a Christmas or year-end donation to help with wish lists or long-term needs.

2.  Give in the name of someone you love with an honor or memorial donation.

  • Click I would like to dedicate this gift, and we will send a Christmas card acknowledgment

3.  Donate gift cards – they’re especially helpful for teens and struggling families (Visa, Target, Wal-Mart, or other popular retail stores).

  • Mail or deliver to Methodist Home for Children, Attn: Jennifer Cooper, 1041 Washington St., Raleigh NC 27605-1259

4.  Shop & smile – Do good when you shop AmazonSmile. It costs you nothing! Choose The Methodist Home for Children, Inc as your charity and start shopping with AmazonSmile. It is the same Amazon you know – same products, same prices, same service.

5.  Donate invested funds, real estate, or life insurance for year-end tax advantages.


Love & Limits

Helping grandparents adopt after tragedy

The 2½-year-old girl survived a car crash that killed her little brother and sent her mother to prison for 10 years. Her father left town after that.

Life wasn’t stable before the accident – her parents had addictions and housing problems – but it was all Julia knew and loved, and it was one in one day. Family preservation specialist Sarah Braswell was called in to help her grandparents prepare to adopt.

“By this time, Julia was in kindergarten and her grandparents desperately wanted to raise her and keep her safe, but they were having trouble setting boundaries. She’d been through such a horrible, tragic experience and they didn’t want to say ‘no’ to her. They just lavished her. And while that may sound like an ideal way to live – like a fantasy – in reality children need stability, and stability requires structure and boundaries. The grandparents needed to be able to say, ‘We love you, but you’re the child and we’re the grownups. We’ll guide you in the correct direction.’

“So I worked with them to teach some basic parenting skills, like how to discipline and offer choices, and they were able to adopt Julia in August. This case really touched me because I stayed with my grandparents when I was her age. My situation was different – my sister was battling cancer, so my mom was at the hospital and my dad was working to pay the bills – but Grandma and Grandpa were my surrogate parents. “To be able to help these grandparents learn how to love Julia appropriately and create a relationship they can maintain through her life – that was a blessing.”

WHAT IS FAMILY PRESERVATION? One-on-one coaching for families to prevent or minimize foster care placements of their children


Riding Lessons

The awesome experience of being a kid

They’re young. Younger than you really imagine. These kids – some barely 9, 10, 11 years old and already conditioned to take it.

When a parent yells at home,
when they fail a test at school,
when they are bullied on the street,
they don’t flinch.

They are conditioned to not let it matter. Their faces show nothing. No pain, no fear, no sadness. And that really is the overriding emotion – sadness – because these are children. Children who should be running as fast as they can, laughing as much as they can, learning and growing into the best versions of themselves.

And that is why this experience is priceless.

They had been coming to the ranch for a few weeks. Before that, some had never been to a farm, never seen farm animals in person, and never ridden a horse. But during their previous visits they met Big Mac, Rusty, and Regan. They learned to groom the horses, rubbing them down and checking their hooves. They learned safety and how to lead. Then they took their first painfully slow walk inside the corral.

Now came the moment: One after another the riders gave the command, then held on as the horses broke into a trot. It was all business – deep concentration as each rider tried to remember the things he had been taught: sit tall, hold the reins gently, keep your eyes on the trail. And when it was over, their faces were jubilant and they crowded their instructor not even trying to hold it in –

Did you see me? Did you see how fast I was going?
I didn’t expect it to kick that fast!
The way it was trotting – it was going then it was GONE!
It started going and I was like ooohhhh! Oooooohhhh!

At the end of the day, they all stood a little taller. They had mastered a new skill, had the thrill of a new experience, and felt the joy of just being a kid.


Advent, week 1

By Bruce Stanley, president / CEO

Watch therefore, and pray without ceasing, that ye may be accounted worthy … to stand before the Son of Man. –Luke 21:36

For the second time in four years our family finds itself preparing for the marriage of one of our children to a fantastic person. Joy is overflowing our hearts and we are counting down the minutes. Decisions have been made, details decided, rethought, and decided again. The planning and preparations are complete. With only two weeks before the wedding, we sit on the edge of our seats with high anticipation.

The first wedding we celebrated was for our daughter; this time, our son. Because of convention and cultural norms, there has been a marked difference in the amount of work involved. At this point I will readily admit to what you already surmise – as the dad I have done none of the heavy lifting. Because all involved want the events to be tasteful and refined, my contributions have been limited to offering praise, affirmation, and applause.

From my father’s sideline seat I have been struck by the marked difference in effort required of our family this second time through. For our daughter’s wedding I was asked to be attentive to details large and small for months and months. For our son, not nearly as much has been asked. While I have been looking forward to his wedding, I confess that even as dresses are selected and accessorized, the menu for the rehearsal dinner chosen, and family travel solidified, it wasn’t until last week when a package for our son (who lives in San Francisco) came that the moment to be seemed close upon me.

I reflected some that night that my level of necessary preparation for the two events has been greatly varied. In the words of Luke 21:36, for my daughter’s wedding it felt that it was indeed “watch therefore and pray without ceasing.” For my son’s wedding, I am clearly joyous and looking forward to it but honestly my level of watchfulness has not been as high.

Further reflection revealed that this varied level of preparation and watchfulness applies not just to impending nuptials, but also to my approach during Advent. I know that during some years I have been constant in prayer and Bible study and I marked the days of the Advent calendar without fail. In other years my preparation has been more episodic and periodic. I am convinced that in most if not all of life, anticipation is likely to exceed participation. In years in which I prepared little for Advent, I gained little. In years in which it was priority, I gained spiritually.

With this renewed understanding, I am fully and completely committing to preparation for the coming of the truly great event, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I invite you to also rededicate yourself to intentional preparation for the joy that is to come.

Read Advent, week 1
Read Advent, week 2
Read Advent, week 3
Read Advent, week 4