Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It Takes a Village

“It takes a village to raise a child” – a saying we've all heard and one that I’m coming to appreciate more and more as my girls grow up and as I interact with these guys. Parents obviously have the most vital role here on earth. But sometimes, kids need to hear other voices speaking Truth into their lives, too. I love to see how the kids interact with the different adults in their lives - it is a beautiful thing. And I see now more than ever, the importance of adult and child/teen interactions. I see how each of the staff at Joy Ranch works together in the life of a child (including my own) and how each one plays a valuable part. I see the importance of greeting kids/teens, taking time to know their names (in church for example.) It really makes a difference to them. They notice when they go somewhere and no one shakes their hand or makes an effort to know their name. Many teens might put up walls or act like they don’t care, but don’t believe it. They notice and they care. So, if you know any children or teens or if you see them in your church, please make a point to greet them. Don’t make excuses from pouring into their lives, even if it’s difficult. And I’ll even take this moment one step further to encourage you to consider foster care or adoption. It’s something that’s been a burden on my heart for a long time, but even more now. Another option is something called Safe Families. If you’ve never heard of it, please check them out: www.safe-families.org For my Mainers out there, you can check out the Safe Families Maine Facebook page to get connected with the newly launched resource in Southern Maine. Or, you can ask me how to get in touch with an area coordinator. For all you Virginians, be on the look-out for this resource coming soon! Please consider being a safe place for families in crisis. Well, I could probably do a whole blog post on the need for foster/adoptive/safe families and the merits of getting involved, but I won't. Perhaps another time. Just planting a seed for now!
If you can believe it, I actually had started a blog entry just a week or so after my last one. But then life happened and here I am - monthly update, as usual! :-) I want to ask all of you prayer warriors out there to keep our kids in prayer. The past few weeks have been filled with some big ups and downs (when haven't they?!) I wish I could tell you more...tell you some of the boys’ stories and situations. I know often times, those are the things that appeal to our emotions, that inspire us to get involved and remind us to pray. And some of the situations here would certainly invoke that in you. But for confidentiality reasons, there are things I can’t share. While we do have fun here (we get to go on outings and we have a lot of laughs) it’s not all a walk in the park. Many days over the last few weeks have found me in tears, to be quite honest. Ultimately, I know God holds each of the boys in His hands – He cares about them more than I ever could and He knows their hearts. But still, my heart is heavy for them. For some of them, life seems hopeless. I pray daily for them to see who God is and how deep and rich His love is for them and for their lives to be transformed by His goodness and grace. That is the only thing that matters, the only thing that can possibly give them hope. Will you please pray with us to that end?

Within the last few weeks we have: seen all 13 inches of the snow melt and enjoyed some 60 degree (and one 78 degree!) days; spent a day out in Winston-Salem, NC; said good bye to two residents and welcomed two more; and watched a couple of our boys struggle and wonder how to best help them. We've had some discouraging, heart-wrenching days, but that’s to be expected in life in general. Two of our boys attended WinterFest and God worked in a mighty way in their hearts over that weekend. The evidence of God doesn’t always look like we think it might, but there is no denying His handiwork. One of our boys said that he felt like his “heart was going to explode out of his chest.” It was great to hear them talk about their experience. Two other boys went to a lock in at our church and had a great time. I was expecting them to “crash and burn” after their all-nighter, but they surprised us and kept it together. We were glad they were able to go. We are blessed to attend a wonderful, Bible-believing church down here with a thriving children/youth program. Our girls have even started going to the children’s service on Sunday mornings and they love it (but rest assured, Buxtonites, you are irreplaceable!) We've gone on a couple of church visits and at the most recent one, Jason and I were asked to share a little bit about how we came to Joy Ranch and what life is like as house parents. I always enjoy that sort of thing and I learned that apparently, Jason does, too! He was quite a ham! And later, in the kitchen, some of the ladies said to me that he is "such a nut" and that life must be so fun with him. They were right. Being here has really grown Jason and me - finding out new things about each other and complementing each others strengths and weaknesses. We also went to see God's Not Dead with some of the boys. It was very well-done and the boys seemed to enjoy it. One of them especially - the same one whose heart felt like it was going to "explode" at WinterFest.And another one (who has previously shared some negative feelings about God and church) was actually recalling parts from it later that night in a conversation we had with him, so we know he took note of some things. Who knows when/how a seed will be planted? Looking back on these past few weeks, this little paragraph doesn't seem to cover all that went on. Some weeks are just a blur and I can't keep track of what day it is, but it really has been a wild ride lately. So, please keep praying for all of us at Joy Ranch - the boys, the girls and all the staff.

Oh, just a personal prayer request before I wrap this up…I will be doing a lifeguard training through Red Cross on April 4-6. I am SOOO nervous! I have been training and am a strong swimmer, but I’m still incredibly nervous. Once I get my certification, we will be able to do things and go places with the kids that we couldn’t without a lifeguard. I’m excited to do it, but definitely appreciate your prayers on this! Hopefully the next time I write, it will be to say I’m a lifeguard! 
Sorry to say, I don't have any new pictures to post this time. But I'll be sure to next time around. Thanks for sharing this journey with us! Please don’t be strangers – we’d love to hear from you, especially our family and friends back in Maine. We are grateful for each one of you that reads our blog and supports us and Joy Ranch! You are an incredible blessing! Until next time...
For His Glory,

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