I have three grandchildren. They are, of course, all perfect. They are smart, strong, kind, and above average. For those of you who were fans of Garrison Keillor and Lake Woebegone, you know exactly the kids I am talking about. Every grandchild ever born should be described that way by their grandparents.
One of them, who is lovingly called Mr. Zane, will be celebrating his first Christmas this year. He is a delightful little person. Unlike my own children when they were babies, he is happy almost 100% of the time. His eyes sparkle and he loves to dance. This past weekend my son-in-law put a harness on their huge dog, Rufus, and attached her to Mr. Zane’s sled. Rufus happily pulled him back and forth on a frozen lake while the whole family giggled and enjoyed the moments.
The children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch have not had many of those moments of pure, unadulterated joy. Most have not experienced unconditional love. Instead, they have been used, hurt, degraded, and misunderstood. Few have “celebrated” Christmas. Even fewer, although they know it is “Jesus’ Birthday,” know what that means for them and all of us.
So, at the Ranch, we try very hard this time of year to create some of those memories for these precious children. Because of the support of wonderful donors, we have a robust Spiritual Life component to our work, and during this time of year, it shines so brightly! We have tree lighting services, candlelight chapel services, and make an event out of setting up the outdoor manger scene. We decorate cookies, wear ugly sweaters, and exchange names. Each amazing child receives presents and special holiday meals. Our kids volunteer and go caroling.
And, most importantly, we celebrate Christ’s birth and what it means. We celebrate His birth, because His life led to each of us being wrapped in His peace. His birth means that even if our lives are difficult, we can look forward to eternal life with Him, It means that the sins we all carry are forgiven through His birth, life, and death
His birth can be celebrated with pure, unadulterated joy. His birth brings each of us, including these remarkable children, His unconditional love.
Please keep our children and staff in your prayers this Christmas and always.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
If you are a Thrivent Financial member, you may have Thrivent Choice Dollars® available to direct. Your Choice Dollars® can be directed to multiple organizations each year. Please consider choosing Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch as one place you direct your Choice Dollars®. All Thrivent Choice Dollars® are used to fund our Spiritual Life Program, giving our children the opportunity to grow in their faith and learn about their loving Heavenly Father. To direct your Choice Dollars® to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, go to Thrivent.com/thriventchoice. You can also direct your Choice Dollars® over the phone by calling 1-800-847-4836, and say "Thrivent Choice," after the prompt. The deadline is MARCH 31st, so direct your Choice Dollars® today!
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