"I'm not annoying, you're annoying!"

"I'm not annoying, you're annoying!"

"I'm not annoying, you're annoying!"

I know Christmas is a few weeks behind us, but I have one more story to share that is too good to skip over.

On one of our campuses, program staff decided to try a Secret Santa gift exchange with the kids. Remember, these kids are in psychiatric treatment recovering from difficult traumas. Empathy is one of the skills they work to develop. They have struggled so hard to protect themselves, that learning to think about what makes others happy is a big step forward.

Also, remember that these are kids. Twelve-year-old boys can be annoying to teenage girls… whether at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch or in any family. It’s just part of the natural order.

Ranch staff carefully selected each child’s Secret Santa. They assigned a 15-year-old self-described “tough girl” as the Secret Santa of a 12-year-old boy she thought was particularly annoying. Her first reaction was “No way. I don’t want to have his name. He’s weird.” And a few more colorful thoughts.

One of our treatment directors sat down with her and told her that she had been chosen especially for this boy. In her home, she loved and protected her younger brothers. She asked the young woman to think about what it would mean to this young boy if someone as cool as her made something just for him (gifts had to be handmade). What would that mean to one of her brothers? Without ever using the word, the director asked her to search her heart for empathy.

That girl worked steadily for two and a half hours. She painstakingly created the logo of the Chicago Bulls basketball team out of Perler Beads (the plastic beads you put on a holding platform and melt with a hot iron to make a stable picture). She took special care in wrapping the gift.

When the children opened their Secret Santa gifts, he was thrilled. He was too loud, too excited, and too amazed that someone would do that for him.

She watched him, shook her head gently, and smiled.

Healing comes in many ways.

Please keep our kids and staff in your prayers.

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Your Thrivent Choice Dollars® can be used to support multiple organizations each year. At the Ranch, we use all Thrivent Choice® funds for our Spiritual Life Program. Your support is vital in giving our precious children the foundation of faith they need to thrive. To direct your Choice Dollars® to the Ranch, simply go to Thrivent.com/thriventchoice, login, and choose Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. To direct Choice Dollars® over the phone, call 1-800-847-4863 and say "Thrivent Choice," after the prompt. The deadline is MARCH 31st, so direct your Choice Dollars® today! Thank you for your continued support of our ministry!


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