triumph youth
Yesterday marked the end of the 3rd week with our kiddos in residential treatment. A group of teenagers aged 13-19 come out wearing their heart battle scars on their sleeves twice a week. We love them so much and each time we see them, we smile, encourage, love and joke around with them as we work on the ranch together and they learn about our horses’ stories and see the similarities in their life wounds to the horses’.
The kids are very protective of their hearts and they do not hand over their trust or open themselves to just anybody. In fact, very few people in their young lives get to see who they really are. Their battle armour of detachment, no eye contact and stern expression keeps them safe.
It takes time for them to see that you really mean it. If you tell them you love them, it is just words until you prove it. So in the 3rd week of hearing our words of encouragement, seeing our smiles and sometimes receiving our hugs or a touch on the shoulder, their little heart flowers begin to open ever so gently, quietly and cautiously.
There is one young man who catches my heart in particular this day. There isn’t much we know about his story except that he doesn’t have many loved ones in his life. He does not look anyone in the eye and he works hard, trying to prove he is worthy.
Yesterday, I called him by name, looked him in the eye and said “I like you” and smiled at him. As I waited patiently for him to return my gaze, he cautiously raised his eyes to mine. As our gazes met, he saw my sincerity. For the first time since his arrival, his eyes crinkled up in happy little sparkly half moons in realization that I meant what I said-I really did like him. And for the first time in 3 weeks, I saw hope in his eyes. For that one moment, he opened the windows to his soul and I got to deposit a little God treasure in his heart. Not by my doing, because God gave me the love. I just pass it on. And he deposited a treasure in my heart too.
I am looking forward to what God has in store for our kiddos, horses and us. It is going to be a great summer!

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