Just Before I Sleep

He is almost in a rage when seventeen year-old Jared says, "It happens every night." Just as he lays down on his bed, the video trailer in his mind begins the vignettes of all that he has been through: all the abuse, all the loss . . . over a decade of trauma.  He is in tears of anger and sorrow as he continues.  "I think about those things and I get angry. The more I think the angrier I get."  After a long pause he adds, "And, I get depressed."  It was an unforgettable moment for me as I watched this young man so articulately and accurately express his pain.  He was trapped in the world of his own experiences and thoughts.  On the outside he is healthy and robust, but on the inside there are unspeakable wounds, brokenness and loss of hope. He was too frustrated to sleep and hopeless that tomorrow could be different.  At The Heart of Florida Youth Ranch "Hope Begins Here" is more than a cliché or slogan.   It is our mission and purpose. 

Everyday our goal is to chip away at the walls of solitude that children often place around themselves as a defense from the pain they have suffered.  Every child must know, "We believe in them."  We believe they are fearfully and wonderfully made. There is no such thing as a bad kid. We refuse to accept hopelessness. We constantly ask ourselves, "How can we change the images that flash through their mind just before they go to sleep?" How can we change those moments from memories of past abuse and loss to images of hope and a future?  Letting go of the past to embrace the future. Hope begins deep in our hearts.  First they must know that we believe in them, they are worth something to us and to God.

Not only are they valuable, but they have great potential.  The declaration "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" is more than words; it is truth. Those words unleash hope and potential to become all that God created them to be. It is a scary time to Jared as he looks toward his eighteenth birthday.  So many decisions, so many places for mistakes, so many opportunities for failure . . . . but also, so much potential for hope, so many opportunities for growth, so many places for success. There will be challenges . . . there will be mistakes . . . but there is hope and there is a future of potential.

It happens everyday at The Ranch, we guide children through the fog of pain and uncertainty into the reality of God's love and purpose for their life.  Thank You, for allowing us to open our arms and hearts to hurting children. This spring and summer saw record numbers of children in our care. We need your prayers and support more than ever. You gift makes a difference!