Lenten Devotional Week 2

Day 8: Psalm 121

53EBA880-7CD0-49F3-BC00-88DBC6B6788A - Hannah McMillan

“Where did you see God today?”

This is a common question at Camp Don Lee. You might remember hearing it in a Tweeker worship, late night Vespers with your small group, or during LIT debriefing. It’s a simple question that centers us and remind us of God’s presence—particularly in creation and community.

Likewise, Psalm 121 is a powerful reminder of God's constant presence in our lives. The Psalmist describes how they look to God for help and find that God is always present to offer protection and comfort. It begins with the declaration and question, "I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Throughout Psalm 121, we are reminded of God’s presence and protection.

As a young camper at Don Lee, I had the opportunity to experience situations that pushed me out of my comfort zone while surrounded by a safe and loving community. Whether it was learning to sail (and being afraid of hitting the pier) or learning to communicate with a group to achieve a common goal, I had moments where I felt unsure at first but ultimately safe. I knew where to look for help. I also knew to be on the lookout for God’s presence.

The psalmist also says, "The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand" (v. 5, ESV). This verse reminds us that God keeps us safe and secure. This doesn’t mean we will never face challenges. But just like the shade protects us from the heat of the sun, God's presence in our lives protects us from the trials and difficulties we face.

Where do you look for help? Where do you look for God’s presence. As we reflect on this psalm, we can are reminded that these elements are intertwined, and we can take comfort in knowing that God is always with us.

Prayer: Gracious God, we thank you for your constant presence in our lives. We lift our eyes to you, knowing that you are our help and our strength. As we journey through life, we will face storms and challenges. Help us to see you in unexpected places and to stay centered on your presence. Let us trust in your unfailing love and seek your guidance in all that we do. Amen. 

Submitted by: Hannah McMillan- former camper and summer staff member

Day 9 - Isaiah 45:7

"I am the one who creates the light and makes the darkness. I am the one who sends good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things."

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That is one awesome verse, and it really comes alive on the shores of the lower Neuse River at the place we know and love ---Don Lee Center.

The camp has certainly seen both the good and bad times that God's kingdom has to offer. Just last year, Hurricane Ophelia put a real hurting on the beach front, pier and on the sailing hut. This was a challenge and it bruised our hearts to see such destruction. But, we rallied. The good times returned when the good people did what needed to be done. With God's help we fixed, we repaired and moved on. The pier was repaired, the beach front stabilized, and it was all due to the good will and hard work of caring Christian people. The good times and the bad times from the One who does these things.

Our personal lives also see the light and the darkness as we try to do the best we can with the gifts that have been given us. There are countless Camp Don Lee stories of danger and fear. Likewise, there are countless stories of joy, smiles and happiness.

For our family, Camp Don Lee is a reminder of how sweet life can be among loving friends and family. And it's a reminder of how abruptly things can change toward unfavorable circumstances. Each visit we make to Camp Don Lee is renewing, refreshing and truly humbling experience. It is also a reminder how God truly has the whole world in His hands.

Prayer: Dear God, help us to remember that you are the one who creates the light and the darkness.

Reprinted from 2007 "The Spirit Moves" Lenten Devotion Booklet. Written by Kevin Seymour, Former camper, former summer staff, camper parent. Past chair of NC United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries Inc. Board of Directors. Currently serving as pastor, Ebenezer United Methodist Church.

Day 10: Isaiah 51:6

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the art beneath; the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.”

"I am the one who creates the light and makes the darkness. I am the one who sends good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things."


The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, reminding us that from dust we were created and to dust we will return. A version of this idea is found everywhere in scripture, it is a reminder that God gives us often.

In Isaiah, God is preparing God’s people for exile, for the challenging time that they will face soon. God reminds them to ground themselves, to look up at the heavens, up toward the sky, then look down at the ground, at the beauty of creation. God gives warning of what is to come for God’s people and for the earth as a whole. God does not just leave God’s people with the devastation, but God promises to be with them through salvation.

For me, every day at camp is a reminder to ground myself in the beauty of creation. I am glad that each grounding does not come with a direct message from God to remind me of devastation around the world. But with how connected our world is now, it’s hard not to know what is going on and going wrong everywhere.

The beauty of camp reminds me of the goodness that God has provided us through what God has created. And even more than that, it reminds me of the good and great that God has promised to us through salvation, and that that is even greater than what God has created here on earth.

Prayer: God remind us to find time each day to look up at the sky and to feel the ground beneath our feet. Remind us of the beauty that surrounds us despite the chaos. Remind us of the good that you have promised us, and the great that is to come. Be with us in the right now. Amen. 

Submitted by: Adria Foreman- summer staff member 2022 & 2023

Day 11: Numbers 21:4-9

cdl lent - Amy Nowell

Why have you brought us to the wilderness?

I'm sure that's exactly what my third grade son was thinking when we first dropped him off at Camp Don Lee. As a NC native raising children in Florida, I wanted to provide our children with a connection back to our state. A connection to everything that represented CDL in our family - faith, fellowship, lasting friendships, and a place and environment to find and embrace God.

That first year, not knowing a single soul at camp, not knowing exactly why we were dropping him off in the wilderness, I hoped he would believe. Believe in my guidance. Believe in my love. And believe that God could be found along the banks of the Pamlico Sound.

In this Lenten season, we need to believe in God's path for us, his love for us.

For nearly two decades, CDL has been a guiding light in our son's life and the adult he has become. And all because we left him in the wilderness to find God.

Prayer: Dear God, Help us remember that your path for us may lead us into the wilderness. Into territories or situations where we're not sure of the direction, or the destination. And we will trust in your way, in your love for us. Amen. 

Submitted by: Amy Nowell- mother of long time campers & staff, family connection to camp through generations.

Day 12: Isaiah 65: 17-25

CDL - Claire Cox-Woodlief

This passage of Isaiah offers us a glimpse of God’s vision of peace. The prophet’s words offer us nourishment and hope, and these words also raise our consciousness to the possibilities of what our collective life might look like if we resist the forces of the world and choose an alternative way of being in community with one another.

In a world where there is one war after another, God’s plan for peace in the world seems hard to imagine. But God has a different vision. Prophets are people who are called by God to serve as a channel of communication between God and the people of God. They are often not very popular because they call out injustices. But we should pay attention to them because they offer us messages of hope and an invitation to enter into right relationship with God and our neighbors.

This text from Isaiah is an invitation for us to be a part of building a new society, and this invitation is not intended to be something to be lived out in the life to come after our time ends on earth. It is an invitation for us to enter into a peace that surpasses all understanding beyond what we typically see on earth, a place where we will all experience spiritual and emotional well-being, a place where we will return to the vision of creation that we read of in Genesis before it was disrupted by sin.

In this new creation, there will be a reversal of unjust systems that have benefitted some people at the expense of others. Political and economic justice will be restored. We will be a people of cultural humility, where we take on a posture of Ubuntu, which speaks of the very essence of being human….it is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” None of us are whole unless all of us are whole.”

We are called to be a people who co-exist without placing some people in a social order above orders. We are called to be people who live in harmony with one another.

The word we often use as “peace” comes from the Hebrew word “shalom” which means more than without violence. It means well-being, wholeness, welfare, prosperity, and safety, for ALL of God’s people.

The prophet Isaiah is offering us a glimpse of what our world might look like if we allow ourselves to be shaped and formed into the people God intended when we were created. It is possible for ALL people and nature to flourish. There is enough. We are not called to passively wait for God’s Shalom but invited to actively pursue it, now. Let it be so.

Prayer: Creator God, you have created us to be in community with one another and have placed a divine spark within each of us. Help us to see all people the way that you see them, and to be people that are agents of your shalom. Amen.

Submitted by: Claire Cox-Woodlief - Board Chair, NC UM Camp & Retreat Ministries

Day 13: John 8:1-11

C4CCE22A-6526-41D2-B585-EFB3938D84E0 - Peter Taylor

During vespers at camp, saying something that you did not like during the day or something that upset you was called a "thorn." Although we no longer do that because we would like to focus on positive experiences throughout the day, we know that every day is not perfect because we are not. Whether it is getting into an argument with a friend who skipped you in the four-square line, someone you don't know refusing to get out in the gaga ball pit, or you're tired after a long week of camp, we have all been there. Even when we are outside of camp at home, you could disagree with your siblings, friends, or even your parents!

John 8:1-11 is the story of a group of Pharisees bringing a woman guilty of adultery to Jesus to get him to disobey the law of Moses. When Jesus spoke with the Pharisees while they were demanding him to condemn the women they captured, he responded, "let him who is without sin amongst you throw the first stone at her." Jesus is saying that none of us are perfect and that we should not judge others or get angry at them because we have been in their shoes.

I remember hearing something from the hundreds of worships and morning watch services I was a part of during the 11 summers I spent at camp: giving others grace. Giving others grace can mean many things, but at the root of it, grace means forgiving others, as God forgave us through Jesus. Jesus tells the woman that the only person that can judge her is God and nobody else, so she is free to go. It may be hard not to judge others, and I can personally attest to that, but at the end of the day, we were made in God's image to love one another. God knows that we are flawed and will have moments of anger and confrontation, and he will forgive us, so we should forgive others. Whether you are at camp, home, the park, or even at work, we need to give others grave and realize that we are not the ones meant to judge them.

Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for giving us the ability to live in your presence every day. We thank you for our friends and family. We praise you for giving your one and only son to teach us and protect us. Help us to give others grace and be patient on our worst days. Help us learn to love like you love. Amen.

Submitted by: Peter Taylor- former camper and summer staff member

Day 14: Colossians 1:15-23

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In Colossians 1:15-23, Paul writes about Jesus and encourages the Colossian church to remain faithful to Jesus despite the pressures they are facing. In this passage, Paul gives us a glimpse of Jesus' supremacy over all things, and reminds us of the impact of Jesus' sacrifice on our lives.

Firstly, Paul reminds us that Jesus is the perfect picture of the person and character of God. He is the image of the invisible God, and if we as Christians want to know what our God is like, we must get to know Jesus. Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being. Therefore, when we see Jesus, we see the Father.

Secondly, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is the preeminent and supreme over all things. In Him, all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. Jesus is not just a created being but is the creator of all things. He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.

Thirdly, Paul reminds us that Jesus is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, demonstrating His authority over death. In everything, Jesus has the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him. Through Jesus, God has reconciled to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.

Finally, Paul challenges us to keep faith and to not lose hope in the gospel. Through Jesus' death on the cross, He has broken down every barrier that separated us from God. Jesus' sacrifice has reconciled us by His physical body through death to present us holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation, if we continue in our faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.

In conclusion, Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the preeminent and supreme over all things, the head of the church, and the reconciler of all things. Let us keep our faith in Jesus and hold fast to the hope held out in the gospel, for in Him, we have all we need.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son Jesus to reconcile us to you. Help us to always remember that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, and the head of the church. Help us to continue in our faith, established and firm, and not move from the hope held out in the gospel. We thank you for the forgiveness of our sins and for making us holy in your sight, without blemish and free from accusation. We give you all the glory and honor, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Submitted by: Kathryn Wynne- former summer staff member, Marketing and Communications Coordinator