Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving AND it was also National Family Week!
Boy, those two go together perfectly don't they? Family is the basic unit of any society. The people who accept us, support us, challenge us, and love us unconditionally are the people who shape our view of the world. Whether by birth or by choice, those we call family create the context in which we live our lives.
If you have a good one, treasure your family. Be thankful. None are perfect, but many are darn good.
And while you're celebrating the holidays with your family, remember the children at the Ranch. Thanksgiving marks the start of the hardest season for our kids. For many of these precious young people, it is hard to imagine celebrating National Family Week. In their lives, family is where they experienced abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and the horrors of addiction. For most of us, Thanksgiving is the start of a period of family celebration, which culminates in Christ's birth. For these youth, Thanksgiving is often a reminder of all the losses in their lives, all the promises broken, all the ways in which they are "different." They have much grieving to do, as the gaps in their own support systems feel like chasms at this time of year.
Yet, I am always amazed that, in spite of their pain, these amazing kids find ways to be grateful and give back. Each year, as they pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child, at least one child will say, "It feels good to give things to someone who has nothing." When they visit residents in a nursing home, one will say, "They need to know someone cares about them." They ask if they can re-gift the presents they receive at the Ranch to siblings rather than keeping everything for themselves. They write cards to staff. They attend chapel. While at the Ranch, the people around them, and the people - like you - who pray for them, become family.
So maybe they can celebrate National Family Week - thanks to you.
"Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. And having both is a blessing." (Writer Unknown)
God bless you. I am grateful for you.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
P.S. As we begin the holiday season, consider making Christmas a time to remember for a child at the Ranch. Please take a moment, right now if you can, to look over our online Christmas Catalog and choose gifts that show how much you — and God — care for these very special children.