"Take a deep breath and pause to experience the present moment.”
When you read that, what do you think? What does that statement mean to you?
To my 6-year-old daughter, the “present moment,” may mean a time to open gifts. She would be ready to get started right away!
To Ranch employees, being present is all about being with our children when they are struggling. When we are with Ranch children in any capacity (at lunch, at bedtime, in school, in a therapy session, in chapel, etc.), we set aside what we are doing and work hard to quiet the distractions in our minds. We sit with them in their pain, in moments of celebration, and everything in between.
To Marcia Bartok, Superintendent at Dakota Memorial Schools, “present” means this very second, this breath. She has spent the last several years learning about mindfulness and developing her own mindfulness practice. She recently started recording a weekly video, “Mindfulness with Marcia,” which she emails to all Ranch employees. This week she asked us to pause and experience the present moment—and then to think about the holiday traditions that bring us joy. Do we have other holiday traditions that create more stress than joy? She recommended we make a list of everything we do during the holidays—then analyze everything on our list to see if it brings us joy or stress. Is there anything we can take off our plate—so we can spend our time focusing the things that are truly important to each of us?
To many of us, Jesus is the reason for the season. Just think of that glorious night in which He was born, what a Present Moment that was! As Christians, we remember that moment in many ways throughout the holiday season. I vividly recall reenacting the manger scene for my family. My stuffed teddy bear with a barely affixed button eye was baby Jesus, wrapped in a dish towel. It may not have been ready for the big stage, but my siblings and I spent happy times reading the Bible and rehearsing and being present for one another.
Thank you for your presence in our kids’ lives. Your prayers and financial support allow us to be with Ranch kids in the moments that matter.
My prayer for our children and for you is that you can rejoice in the greatest Christmas present ever, the gift of His Presence with tidings of comfort and joy!
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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Christian residential treatment and educational center for children and their families. We help the most troubled, complicated, and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care, where we look kids in the eye, walk with them, and help them become their best selves.