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“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Before arriving at Big Oak, the circumstances that surrounded Leavy Riddlespur were grim. Nothing was constant as he had to see, hear and experience many things no child should ever have to. At the age of 10, Leavy lost his biological mother to cancer. After his mother passed, he was removed from the home of his father and placed at Big Oak Ranch.
Like many children who first come to Big Oak, the light in his eyes had been dimmed. But, when he came to Big Oak, Leavy was quickly able to receive the structure and love, the stability and constant assurance that he would be taken care of. Leavy still remembers his very first Christmas at Big Oak, the Christmas that opened his eyes to the hope that was set before him. “During my very first Christmas, it snowed on Christmas Day. My favorite Big Oak Christmas was that first one- full of the gifts of getting to know my new family and playing football in the snow,” Leavy says, adding, “From that day on, I knew there would always be something for me on Christmas. I knew I could always trust my houseparents and those taking care of me.” Christmas would never look the same for Leavy, now that his home was at the Ranch. Nor would his life, as he began to experience the Light of the World. Today, when you show Leavy his original placement photo, his eyes light up. When you talk of his Ranch siblings and his role as older brother still, his eyes light up. When he comes home to the Ranch to spend weekend visits and holidays with his Ranch family, his eyes light up. As he pours into the children who currently call Big Oak home, his eyes light up. As he and his wife raise their son to know the true Hope of Christmas, his eyes light up.
At Big Oak, the Light of the World brings light to the eyes of children who have been hurt. The dim past of each child is met with the Light of a God who redeems, who reworks and who restores all evil with good. This year, the children who call Big Oak home will experience Christmas just as Leavy once did. They will open and receive the gifts of family, of belonging, of unconditional and unreserved love. They will be forever molded and transformed through the days of joyfully celebrating the birth of Christ. Learn more about Big Oak Ranch at www.bigoak.org.
President & CEO of Big Oak Ranch