An Extra Dose of Love
Children At Heart Ministries Newsletter Vol. 6, No. 4 - Sept/Oct 2012
Inside: n Power in the Small Things n A Second Chance n A Shared Bond
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A Letter From Our President
n the 1980’s, Amy Grant made famous a song called “Angels”; as a matter of fact, she won a Grammy for Best Gospel Vocal Performance with it. I always thought the song had a catchy sound and meaningful verses, but I really never thought a lot more of it – that is until this summer. Part of one of the verses says: “God only knows the times my life was threatened just today. A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way. Near misses all around me, accidents unknown, Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.” Our family was traveling with good friends this summer, and we were headed home from vacation, driving from White Sands, New Mexico, to Fort Stockton, Texas. The speed limit on Interstate 10 in West Texas is 80 miles per hour. It was late, approaching midnight, and we were driving behind an 18-wheeler. Following us were our friends, with whom our kids were riding at the time. As we approached our exit into Fort Stockton, the truck suddenly jerked and veered to the exit right in front of us. I thought the driver must have been close to falling asleep at the wheel or just nearly missed his exit. We exited right behind the
truck and our friends followed immediately. As we pulled into the parking lot of our hotel, our wide-eyed friend said, “Did you see that car as we exited?” I replied that I had not. A car had been driving 80 miles per hour straight at us – on the wrong side of the Interstate! That’s why the 18-wheeler had suddenly veered in front of us. Hearing that, I flashed back to Amy Grant’s song from nearly 30 years ago. Obviously, it also reminded me of the many times that God has taken care of me and of those I love even when I have been totally unaware of His hand, His presence, or His plan in action. It causes me to think about the many ways God blesses us, provides for us, and meets needs through circumstances and people that we may never know. Texas Baptist Children’s Home began in 1950; God has provided through people the blessings of land, buildings, staff, and resources to meet the needs of children and families over the past 62 years. Recently TBCH held its Alumni Reunion; numerous former students told me that they don’t know where they would be today if it weren’t for the Children’s Home. Some literally said, “They saved my life!” The Bible says that God knows the plans He has for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Thank you for being a part of God’s plan, for helping others, and for literally saving lives through the family of Children At Heart.
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1301 N Mays Round Rock TX 78664 (512) 255-3668 ChildrenAtHeartMinistries.org Todd L. Roberson, President/CEO
“We are a family of Christian ministries that exists to honor God and build a better world by serving children and strengthening families.”
Bill Martin Director of Communications email@example.com Danna Reeves Graphic Designer firstname.lastname@example.org Ginger Swann Communications Coordinator email@example.com Contributing Writers: Haley Smith Chelsea McAuley
On the cover: Dylan has made a difference for his host family, just as they make a difference for him. (Photo by Chelsea McAuley.)
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Todd L. Roberson President/CEO Gracewood Don Forrester, President Debbie Rippstein, Executive Director 1617 Elmview Houston TX 77080 (713) 988-9757 www.gracewood.org
Vol. 6, No. 4 – Sept/Oct 2012
Children At Heart Ministries
Miracle Farm Don Forrester, President Alex Hamilton, Executive Director 10802 FM 2621 Brenham TX 77833 (979) 836-0901 www.miraclefarm.org STARRY Don Forrester, President Richard Singleton, Executive Director 1300 N Mays Round Rock TX 78664 (512) 246-4288 www.starryonline.org Texas Baptist Children’s Home Don Forrester, President Keith Dyer, Executive Director 1101 N Mays Round Rock TX 78664 (512) 255-3682 www.tbch.org ©2012 Layout/Design by Danna Reeves Printing by Sunset Press, Inc. www.ChildrenAtHeartMinistries.org
An Extra Dose of Love
he boys of Miracle Farm consider themselves part of an extended band of brothers, but sometimes it takes a little something extra to make a teenager feel that he’s part of a family. That’s the reason behind the Farm’s host family ministry. The new program not only benefits youngsters like 13-yearold Dylan, but the payoff can be big for the host families as well. After their mother died, Dylan and his brother, Devin, 17, went to live with an aunt in Arkansas for a short time. Dylan was first placed at Texas Baptist Children’s Home before coming to Miracle Farm last summer. His brother Devin followed about six months later. Dylan is one of the youngest residents at the Farm. With no family nearby, Executive Director Alex Hamilton thought he would benefit from having a local supportive family, similar to the highly successful sponsor family program at TBCH. “The Farm provided stability for these boys, but because they could not travel often to see family in Arkansas, Dylan was missing an element of normalcy in his life,” said Alex. Alex mentioned the need to former Miracle Farm staff member Tim Webb, now pastor of Champion Fellowship in Brenham, who approached church members Barney and Patti Shows about the opportunity. There were some natural connections. Barney was already very involved with the youth at the church and had met several of the Miracle Farm boys that attended there. The Shows were also familiar with hyperactivity, which Dylan has, and that made them incredibly patient with him. In addition, Patti had lost her mother to cancer, the same disease that claimed Dylan’s mother. “Dylan had our hearts the first time we met him,” said Barney. “We didn’t have many guidelines but to just be a family, so that’s what we did.” Having a local family and home to call his own has been instrumental in Dylan’s success at the Farm. Simply having someone close by to offer him unconditional love and a listening ear makes all the difference in the world. “We are empty nesters and were just trying to figure out what it was God wanted us to do with this stage in our lives,” said Patti. “Dylan has filled a void in our lives as much, if not more, as we have in his.”
Dylan does leatherwork under the watchful eye of Barney Shows.
Dylan has a special place in the home and hearts of Barney and Patti.
The Shows provide Dylan with a place to go for home visits and holidays. Barney and Dylan play, and Patti makes his favorite meals. The couple take him go-karting and to the movies, and include him in family activities. The Shows also participate in the Farm’s regularly scheduled family enrichment weekends. Dylan has his own room in their home, and even had the honor of naming their new dog, Molly. “As you get to know the boys at Miracle Farm, you just want to do more and more with them,” said Patti. “They’re just normal teenage boys who love to have someone watch as they show off.” In addition to welcoming Dylan into their lives, Barney and Patti volunteer at the Farm as often as possible. Barney works with some of the younger boys every Wednesday teaching leather working. Several other Miracle Farm boys, including Dylan’s brother Devin, are waiting for God to provide them with a host family perfectly fitted for them. Just like Dylan, these boys need a family that can commit to spend time with them. “Kids can’t have enough people in their lives who love them,” said Alex, “We welcome families who feel led to make a difference for some of our boys who need this special service.” If you are interested in learning how you can make a difference in the life of a teenage boy by becoming a host family, please contact Miracle Farm Volunteer Coordinator Cheri Baker at (979) 836-0901, ext. 226 or cheri . baker@ miraclefarm.org. — Haley Smith Sept/Oct 2012 | Turning Points
Power in the Small Things
s Jordan DeBruhl, a soldier in the U.S. Army stationed in Conn Barracks, Germany, sits at his barracks at night wondering what the next day will bring, children in STARRY’s SAFE program and Emergency Shelter are doing the exact same thing. Though Jordan and the children are a world apart, they relate to each other in many ways. Little did SAFE Program Supervisor Toniya Parker know when she and her team chose to adopt Jordan through the HugsForOurSoldiers.org “Adopt-A-Soldier” program that the children would have an outlet to be the encouragers instead of the ones being encouraged. “Keep your head up and stay strong,” one child wrote, “and once again thanks for fighting for us. It gives kids like me that lost everything hope for us to still go on. I wish you and your family the best in life.” “The kids get to encourage someone else,” Toniya says. “They understand being taken away from family and still having hope.” As a requirement for the federal grant that funds the SAFE program for runaway and homeless youth, the children needed a community service and life skills project that fits within the average 21 days the kids stay in the Emergency Shelter. SAFE Interns Bernadette Mendoza and Cheyenne Radcliff researched the Adopt-A-Soldier program after SAFE’s Youth Advisory Board showed interest in providing care packages for soldiers. They officially adopted Jordan with the intent to send letters every two weeks and a care package every month, and to give the children at the Shelter a chance to participate. The schedule allows each child the opportunity to write a letter or draw a picture or otherwise contribute to at least one care package. “All of the children are super excited. They are interested in who he is. What is his name? Does he have a family?” says Toniya.
Luckily, the Adopt-A-Soldier program gives an information sheet about the soldier, so the kids are able to learn about what Jordan likes, his family, and what he has access to overseas. Evidence of the impact of the program on the children can already be seen. In addition to being able to show encouragement, the SAFE and Shelter children understand the power in the small things – for them, it’s a kind word from SAFE counselors or clean clothes in the Shelter; for Jordan, it’s a heartfelt letter or scribbled drawing that simply means someone is thinking of him. “We understand that the little things can make it easier,” Toniya notes. As more children are blessed by STARRY’s SAFE program and the Emergency Shelter, Jordan will continue to be blessed by each little note and care package sent his way. — Chelsea McAuley
Read Digital TurningPoints! It’s convenient for you and saves us the cost of printing and postage. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will email you a clickable link to the newest edition as soon as it’s available online. There’s nothing to download and you’ll be among the first to read it! 4 Turning Points | Sept/Oct 2012
Moms in Family Care in Round Rock and Gracewood in Houston need cars to help them get to school, work and child care. You can help them. When you donate a new or used vehicle that can be used by one of our single moms, you are eligible for a fair market value charitable deduction. To learn more, contact Dawson Clark at (512) 246-4221 or email him at email@example.com.
A Second Chance
ssia describes her life as being full of second chances. “When God wants to make Himself known to us, He has a way of making His presence clear,” she said. “Although it took me awhile, I am in awe looking back to see all that He protected me from along the way.” After being born two months premature, being hit by a car as a young adult, and surviving marriage to a drug user, Gracewood has become the perfect vehicle God is using to give Issia another shot at life. “After living through a childhood of abuse and poverty, I ran away at 13, already deep into the world of partying and violence,” said Issia. “I never developed an identity apart from my string of bad decisions.” Born in Washington, D.C. to parents from Guatemala, Issia met her husband at 21. When she was pregnant with her twins, her husband began using drugs after a long time of sobriety. “I knew my husband was an addict and I was a stay-athome mother. We needed to change our lives around if we were going to be good parents. But ultimately I ignored the red flags in choosing a partner and found myself suffering the consequences,” said Issia. After a series of separations, lost jobs, moves and empty promises, Issia had had enough. After a life-threatening incident, she filed for a restraining order, determined to leave, and never looked back. “I promised God right then and there that if He would remove my ex-husband from my life and my children’s lives, I would come back to Him,” said Issia. God answered that prayer when her husband returned to his native country. She had custody of her children and Issia found that the distance was just what she needed to move forward. It was always Issia’s goal to eventually go back to school, so when God gave her freedom from everything holding her back, she saw the opportunity and took it. Already wanting to become a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner and move to Houston where her sister lived, Issia found Houston Baptist University (HBU) online and packed her bags. “I practically lived in the financial aid office at HBU trying to take advantage of every extra dollar I could find in order to juggle working, getting my education and taking care of my children,” she said.
Issia is making a better life for herself and her children, Sunshine and Lucas
Living in her own apartment, going to school, working part time and taking care of her children combined to leave her wondering if she would make it. But it was in the financial aid office at HBU that Issia met a former Gracewood resident who told her about the ministry. She even brought her an application and Issia was accepted into Gracewood in July of 2011. “Gracewood has allowed me to do the near impossible by meeting my financial, emotional and spiritual needs,” said Issia. “From the Executive Director to the Family Life Coordinators, the staff doesn’t see what they do as a job; they see it as a ministry.” “It is our goal as a ministry to extend grace to our residents, giving them a second chance for new life just as Christ offers us grace and new life,” said Debbie Rippstein, Executive Director of Gracewood. “Issia is doing everything she can to take advantage of this opportunity for herself and her children.” Issia has nearly completed her prerequisites for nursing school and is two years away from receiving her bachelor’s degree. Eventually she hopes to attend nursing school as she continues working towards financial independence. “I can only hope that someday I am the one volunteering instead of living at this wonderful place.” — Haley Smith
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Sept/Oct 2012 | Turning Points
A Shared Bond I
Texas Baptist Children’s Home
t’s a tradition unlike any other – the biennial Reunion of hundreds of former Texas Baptist Children’s Home residents and staff, held in even-numbered years on the Round Rock campus. This year, the grown-up children came home on the last Saturday in July, many former residents bringing children and even grandchildren to show them the cottages they lived in and to renew acquaintances with former cottage-mates and house parents. For many older residents, some of whom had not been back for decades, it was a time to marvel over the changes, not just on the campus (air conditioning in the cottages!), but in the surrounding neighborhood. One middle-aged man stood in front of the HankamerFleming Chapel and looked out at the busy traffic on U.S. 79. He remembered the quiet country road it used to be when he and his younger sister were sent to live at the Children’s Home in the early 1960s. “I was only about 9 years old. None of us were here because we wanted to be here,” he said. “The first night, I ran away. I climbed out a window and went to the cottage next door where my sister was and tried to get her to go with me, but the other girls in the cottage made her stay. I got about three miles down the road before they caught me and brought me back. “But, you know, it changed my life and it changed my sister’s life. There’s no telling where we would have ended up without the Children’s Home.” It was a common theme throughout the day of Reunion. All of the former residents delighted in seeing old friends with whom they shared a bond. Through no choice of their own, they came to live at a place where they found love, stability and accountability, many for the first time in their young lives. Since its founding in 1950, Texas Baptist Children’s Home has made a positive – some might say “eternal” – difference in the lives of thousands of children. The Reunion gave them all a chance to share memories and to share appreciation for the place they still call home. — Bill Martin
Mark your calendars now for the next reunion, already scheduled for Saturday, July 26, 2014.
6 Turning Points | Sept/Oct 2012
Alumni Reunion 2012
Texas Baptist Childrenâ€™s Home
Sept/Oct 2012 | Turning Points
The Blessings of Teamwork!
ne of the greatest blessings I enjoy in serving at Children At Heart Ministries is the interaction I have with the hundreds of committed friends whose sacrificial giving fuels all that God is doing across our family of ministries. Many of their stories are every bit as inspiring as the stories you have read in this magazine about the children and families we serve. Among their stories are: The couple who is currently unemployed and continue to make their regular monthly gift in spite of their own financial hardship.
The young college graduate, just starting on a promising career. He is not able to give large sums, but is giving what he can and volunteering in person to make a difference.
The widow who, along with her late husband, worked and saved diligently throughout their life together to build a nest egg. She now finds the Lord has blessed her financially beyond her need so she shares of His blessing.
Children At Heart Foundation
Our donors and prayer partners are with all our staff in the trenches of serving the needs of children and families. Not long after I came to Children At Heart almost 10 years ago, I heard it said that “it takes a lot of money to be the second best place for kids.” Second best? Really? My friend went on to clarify that Children At Heart has always believed that the best place for a child is in a stable, loving, Christian home. But home is not always that ideal environment. Children At Heart stands ready to walk alongside those who need help, for a little while or for a long time. We meet them at their point of need and serve them as long as they need help. We encourage them as they move closer to God and to realizing all that He wants for them in this generation and in generations to come. Faithful donors stand in the gap every step of that journey. If you have not yet joined the effort, we invite you to do so at whatever level you are able. The need is great…and the blessings are rich. If you are already partnering with us and you can do more, we will continue to steward your gifts well. There’s a place for you on the team. Call us and we’ll help you connect in a way that will bless your life forever. Dawson Clark, CFRE, is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Children At Heart Foundation. You can reach him at (512) 246-4221 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TBCH Family Care Conference SPONSORED BY:
Sunday, November 11 @ NOON at The Dell Diamond Sponsored by Children At Heart Ministries Featuring Jeremy Camp, Mercy Me, Switchfoot, David Crowder, Britt Nicole, Salvador, New World Son and local talent!
For tickets and more information, visit www.spirit1059.com. 8 Turning Points | Sept/Oct 2012
6th Annual Families At Heart Conference featuring Dr. Courtney Putnam
September 20-21, 2012 Texas Baptist Children’s Home Round Rock, Texas ¾
For more information contact: Sandy Waley (512) 246-4263 or email@example.com To register online, visit www.childrenatheartministries.org/TBCH-Families-At-Heart-2012