Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 
James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning


The Courage to Try

Christina (Beaver) Leatherbury


I was born March 20, 1970. On June 6, 1980, I came to Baptist Children’s Home, just after completing fourth grade. At this age, I really had a hard time of even tying my shoes. My older sister always helped me.

I lived in Clawson Cottage with Mr. & Mrs. Bowen. They became my friends, even though they were my houseparents. As time passed, I learned to do chores, care for myself, and how to act in church. Mr. & Mrs. Bowen always found time to help me. The whole cottage celebrated my birthday with a cake and candles just for me. We had a party. I enjoyed the many activities we had at the Home.

My houseparents helped me understand how to become a Christian. We had devotional times every day and read the Bible and prayed.

Hardly ever could I go to any of my relatives for vacation. Others were kind enough to take me for several days’ vacation in their homes. They always showed me a good time. My first sponsor vacation, I stayed with a blind lady. I remember helping her feel the vegetables she bought at the store. All the people where I visited showed me a good time.

My older sister went to live in a foster home. I missed her because I always depended on her a lot. Some months later, I went to live with Randy Taylor and his wife in a foster home at Yukon. They were good to me and through them, I got involved in Special Olympics, which helped change my life. During this time with the Taylors, I started memorizing scripture verses out of the Bible. It became one of my hobbies. It has meant a lot to me. Over the years, I have memorized over 200 verses.

In 1983, I first competed in track and field events at the Special Olympics in Stillwater. Nearly every year from wherever I lived, I managed to compete in Special Olympics in track and field, in swimming and in bowling. It helped me a lot with my confidence and self-esteem. I developed a love for sports. I made new friends. I got to travel a lot. In 1991, I competed in the International Special Olympics at Minneapolis, Minnesota, in swimming—won two bronze and one silver medal. In 1995, I competed in bowling at the International Special Olympics in New Haven, Connecticut. There I won one silver and one bronze medal and a fifth place. In all, I have won more than a dozen medals. Before competing in Olympics, I always said to myself Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”

The Special Olympics made me realize I was a valuable person. I particularly enjoyed the travel and making new friends. I became good friends with a girl from Greece. To see a blind person run the mile, to see a person out of a wheel-chair compete in swimming, or a blind person bowl—all of this does something to you. I began to think, if others can do it, so can I. It gave me courage to try other things.

Mr. & Mrs. Rhoades were my houseparents at Clinton. She had been a teacher at Guymon and she helped me in a lot of ways. I took a lot of special education classes. Mrs. Rhoades taught me how to cook. I entered the cook-off at school and won first place with my three-layer cake.

I graduated from Clinton High School in 1989 and moved into the Weatherford Group Home for disabled adults. I worked at the Weatherford Opportunity Workshop on the assembly line. I did this for three years. There I met Rick and we married in 1991. In 1992, I went to work for Hardee’s where I have worked seven years. Rick works for Wal-Mart. We have a happy home with two good dogs, Sampson and Cocoa. We both attend Emmanuel Baptist Church. I am outreach leader in a class for handicapped. I lead children’s Bible drill and do volunteer work at the church.

I well remember, when I was in sixth grade at the Home, I ran away. The police took me back to the Home. I went to Mr. Browning’s office. He talked to me a long time. He said he was disappointed in me. But he said it was okay this time; just never do it again. I didn’t ever run away again. Mr. Browning always showed love toward me and cared about me. I loved him and he loved me.

Mr. & Mrs. Bowen at the Home had helped me to receive Christ. But I had never prayed the repentance prayer. This bothered me. I reflected on that and during our tent revival, I asked Brother Alan Quigley if I could talk to him. He led me in the repentance prayer which I repeated. This I did September 14, 1997.

God has been good to me. He has saved me and given me a good husband. I have a happy home and a lot of Christian friends to enjoy. And I am so proud of my older sister who is going to be a foreign missionary.

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