Boy was I wrong. From the moment I walked into the doors of the Praise Home, I knew there was something different about Eagle Ranch.
At first I just thought they were just nosy and that's why they wouldn't leave me alone. As I began to open up and watch each new girl come in, I began to understand: they kept pushing me because they actually cared about me and wanted me to reunite me with my mother and lead the best life possible.
Now, I could end things there, you could clap politely and go about your day while I would sit down and wait for my heart to stop beating so fast out of nervousness, but I'm not going to. I really want you to know how much being at Eagle Ranch has helped improve my life.
I walked into the doors of the Praise Home with a suitcase, a laundry basket, Winnie the Pooh, two court cases under my belt and another one coming up, a bad attitude, no father, and a broken, hurting heart. I didn't want to talk to anyone, I wouldn't open up, and I gave excuses for everything. I wouldn't ever let things go. I hated my life, hated my mother, and most of all, I hated myself.
My friends at school wondered why I was here; I made straight A's in school, was usually respectful to my teachers, and was good at most every sport I tried. Even though I had all these things going for me, I was not considered popular or loved. I never really showed anybody what was going on inside me -- the pain, the hurt, the neglect, the stress, nothing. Nobody really knew.
I can pinpoint the day when things really began to change for me. We had just celebrated Christmas at the Ranch and I should have been very happy. Then my world came down around me during Christmas vacation.
My family life was horrible. I was arguing with my mother a lot, I had another court date to go to, my mom was sending me to boot camp (which she didn't, I just thought she would), and I finally found out the truth about what my friend thought about me.
She said horrible things to me, things I would never wish on anyone in their lifetime, ever! I found out that my father only pretended he wanted to see me; he was really trying to get back together with my mother. I was neglected and forgotten among my family and friends, and worst of all, God. I thought God had forgotten me, that He didn't care. I blamed God for everything that was going wrong with my life.
I remember very clearly walking up to the swings by the Praise Home at night, falling to my knees and looking up at the sky with tears streaming down my face and crying aloud to God, screaming at Him for not helping me, giving my life over to His hands, praying for forgiveness and begging for things to get better. Not once did I do this, but twice I fell to my knees and pleaded with God. In that moment, I knew everything was going to be all right.
I have come a long way since then. I have earned my Falcon and I am looking forward to going home in May. I walk around Flowery Branch High School proud of who God has made me, proud to be a part of Eagle Ranch with Mr. Eddie, Mr. Ronnie, Ms. Sheila, Mr. Shawn, Mrs. Julie, Rene and everyone else who has helped me along the way.
Eagle Ranch saved me from myself and helped me find the way back into my true Father's arms. I don't know where my mother and I would be if it weren't for Eagle Ranch. Thank you for caring about the Ranch and for supporting me and everyone else who comes here.