I am not an athlete.
Oh, I work out. That’s not the same as being an athlete. An athlete has grace, stamina, field awareness, and coordination. Those I don’t have. I can lift heavy things, but that’s about as far as it goes.
“Joy, are you going to play kickball with us today?” The question came from our Wellness Coordinator, Christian Kjelland, as he was shepherding the children out to the play field after Chapel. “Did you bring shoes?”
Surprisingly, I had put a pair of trainers in my car that morning. I knew they were going to play kickball and I thought if I could, I would go out and watch a little while.
The kids chimed in with “Yeah Joy!” and I was in.
I only had 20 minutes so I was quite sure I would not actually play. It takes a while to get organized and everyone in their places and understanding the rules. The kids who come to the Ranch have not usually had a lot of team sport experience. They were too busy enduring and surviving. I figured by the time they were ready I could simply yell encouragement and walk back to my office.
“Joy, you’re on the field with that team to start.” Then, “Your side’s up.” And then the dreaded, “Your turn.”
With one of the kids pitching and everyone (it seemed like) pensive, I kicked that red rubber ball far enough to get to first base. OK. That’s got to be it. The next one up will be kind and let me get out at second.
Nope, deep kick into the outfield. I ran to second, third, and home. Yay!
But, it was what I heard as I ran that little distance. Children were yelling encouragement… “Go Joy,” “Run for third,” “Good work!”
I heard children...children who have survived so much trauma and so much hurt. I heard these children...they were kind, and they were playing!
I headed back to my desk with a smile on my face, dirt on my shoes, and gratitude in my heart. Thank you for giving them (and me) a chance...to play.
Please keep our kids and staff in your prayers.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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