Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 
James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning


My Full Potential

Charles Lance


My experience at the BCH OKC began the weekend before my thirteenth birthday in 1984 and continued for three and a half years until Thanksgiving 1987. My family consisted of my mother and I. Mom had to work two and sometimes three jobs to support us and she depended on my grandmother to care for me as well as my two cousins who also lived with us. I handled the responsibility of going to school and doing my homework until the fourth grade at which point I started having medical problems with ulcers. I started to miss school with increasing severity each month until it peaked in the fifth grade at ½ of the year missed and I was held back. Mom tried her best to help me, but realized that I needed more help than she could give me and so, in the middle of the sixth grade, the decision to place me at the BCH was made.

The people I came to think of as Mom and Dad during my stay were Gary and Glenda Green. From the first day they began to show me the things I needed in my life to bring about the necessary changes for me to succeed upon my eventual return home. I arrived with my suitcase full of clothes and my mind full of fears and doubts. The first few months were the most difficult of my life, I spent most of that time unlearning almost everything I knew or thought I knew. The lessons started small like take a spoonful of everything and clean your plate; they grew in complexity as I grew and matured. The more I learned the more the Greens were able to teach me, but the process was not a quick one.

I finished the sixth grade with an unimpressive D average and with summer upon me, I was forced to accept the reality of my situation. I had weekly visits to a therapist to help me during this difficult period and these visits continued on into the seventh grade. I had a tough time relating with the other children at the children’s home and as the new kid on the block I was an easy target for teasing. This pattern continued for some time until I learned to cope with each situation as it came and I was able to build up a relationship with a few individuals and was considered just one of the boys.

When seventh grade started I felt comfortable with the routine established by the Greens. We would wake up early and each person would have an assigned chore to do either before or after breakfast. Morning devotional was read each day by a different person while we were still seated. There was about half an hour before school and one hour after school of free time. Chores were performed again as required either before or after dinner. Study time was after dinner for a minimum of one hour and longer for those with more homework. There was one exception to the one-hour minimum, if your GPA was 3.00 or greater you were only required to stay as long as it took to do your homework. This study period was instrumental in turning my academic life around. I felt there was a reason to do well in school because of the extra free time I could earn. I applied myself with vigor and when ninth grade started I was placed in the honors program and despite the added work I was still able to find a comfortable pace to maintain my 3.00 GPA and thereby keep the privilege of no required study time.

I maintained my grades after I left the Home because of the discipline I learned there. I was also able to earn a spot in the Naval Nuclear Program as a direct result of what I learned. I know without the time and efforts of the staff at the BCH, especially Gary and Glenda and the reassurance of a regular schedule with tangible rewards for doing well and fair punishment for doing wrong, I would never have achieved my full potential.

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