"Do you have any candy, Joy?"

"Do you have any candy, Joy?"

"Do you have any candy, Joy?"

“Do you have any candy, Joy?”

Like clockwork, nearly every day I am in my office, just before 11:15 a.m., Brian* stands outside my open door and repeats these words. Brian has been at the Ranch for about five months, and it took almost three months for him to find his way to my door. I don’t keep much candy in my office because I tend to eat it. In the two months of his asking, I think I have had candy twice. It doesn’t matter. He is not deterred by the limited success.

I am terminally human. As much as I have the best job in the world and love the kids who come to the Ranch, sometimes I am in the middle of something I think is important when, “Do you have any candy, Joy?” comes wafting through my door. And I sigh. I think saying I am bordering on annoyed is overstating it, but more like, resigned.

But then I take a mental pause.

Working in child welfare and trauma-informed care for almost 30 years has built that pause into my brain. “Never ask, ‘What’s wrong with that child. Instead ask, what happened to that child?’”

Brian is highly functioning and really smart, and also on the autism spectrum. He has problems with anxiety and depression. He struggles with impulse control and suicidal tendencies. Because others lacked understanding of his issues, he experienced significant trauma. Like every single child who comes to the Ranch, he craves being really seen and accepted. He needs ongoing reassurance that he matters, that others are glad he is in this world.

“Do you have any candy, Joy?”

“Nope, Brian. I am still out. How is school going today?”

“It was OK. Joy, shouldn’t you retire? I think you look like you should retire.”

“Nope, not yet, Brian. I am just having too much fun.”

“I don’t get it. You should get some candy.”

“But then I eat it, and that’s a problem. I hope you have a good rest of the day. Thanks for stopping by.”

And we both go back to our days. Me to ponder what it means to, “look like you should retire,” and him to get ever closer to healing and becoming his best self.

Please pray for our staff and kids,

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

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Every week, children come to the Ranch who have endured unspeakable pain, crushing academic failure, abandonment, or abuse. You can share hope with a child who has been broken and hardened by their tough life experiences and bring them healing in Jesus. Become a Honeycomb Partner today, and your monthly gift will ensure boys and girls at the Ranch find healing, overcome serious psychological challenges, succeed in school, and give them the chance to meet Jesus and know His love, grace, and forgiveness. To find out more, click on the link above.


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