My wife MJ and I have been houseparents at South Texas Children’s Home Ministries (STCHM) for the past 20 years. We came here with a clear call to minister to the needs of children whose families cannot care for them, and we have never felt a call to go elsewhere. At this Thanksgiving time, it is good to reflect on what we have to be thankful for.
Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation in October of 1863 that would lead to the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. He extolled the blessings and mercy of God as a reason for the nation to give thanks. His proclamation came during a turbulent time in American history, just three months after Gettysburg during the Civil War.
Introducing up to eight boys or girls at any given time into your home can be turbulent. (And that’s not counting your own children; we have two daughters – Katie and Karissa.) Not knowing exactly what the children in your care have borne in life before coming to the Home can be turbulent, too. And not knowing the exact answer to each child’s concerns can definitely be turbulent. After 11 years at STCHM as houseparents, MJ was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and her treatment has included two major craniotomies, radiation, chemo, and numerous trips to Houston. More turbulence.
Through it all, God’s greatest blessings have always been, and will always remain, the children God has placed under our care – more than 90 since 1989. We especially thank God for a girl who has lived in our cottage for 11 years now. She came to us as a first grader and is now a senior in high school. She will graduate in May of 2010 and will head off to college with the full support and blessing of her STCHM family and her houseparents. A measure of how much a person means to others is how much they are missed when they part. We are missing Addie and she’s not even gone yet.
Just as Lincoln saw the majesty of God’s grace during the tragedy of his times, MJ and I have experienced the blessings and mercy of God in our lives as we work to share ourselves and the love of Christ at STCHM. I won’t lie, many of our experiences have been far too brief, and some have been far too turbulent. But all the time we’ve spent with these kids has been meaningful to us. Each child is special to God and He actively works in their lives to care for them. We aren’t always the long-term solution, but God blesses in every encounter.
Jim and MJ Davis