Seizing Every Opportunity
“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17
Confident and easy to talk to, thirteen-year-old Zoe isn’t one to waste any opportunity to experience or to learn, and living at OBHC has afforded the pretty little go-getter many such opportunities. Leaning back in a big swivel chair, fingers linked and resting on her sternum, Zoe shares her plans for the future, immediate and long-term, with next to no prompting.
“I like to sing,” Zoe begins. “I’m actually going to a music school in Texas in just a couple of weeks. I’ve been going since I was eight years old. A girl named Callie Morris that I’ve known since I was a tiny baby used to take me, but she passed away last year. She was a really important person in the school, so they started a scholarship in her name, and I’ve gotten it twice! Her parents took me last year, and they are taking me again. It’s just a really cool Gospel music school for singers, piano players, and even just people who can’t do anything yet, but I can already sing, so…”
Zoe continues, “I used to want to be a marine biologist. I thought it would be cool, but, of course, I was only nine when I thought that.” Zoe laughs. “Now, I think I’ll probably be a photographer. Then, if that doesn’t work out, I can always do something along the lines of music, of course. I like taking pictures, though. When I came here, I got a camera in my welcome basket from Miss Todd. She puts them together for the new girls. One day, last fall, our cat named Tia was laying by the pumpkins on the porch, so I took her picture. I haven’t developed the film yet, but I’m sure it’ll be a good picture!”
“And that’s not the only cool thing they do for us,” Zoe reveals. “I’ve only been here like nine or ten months, and I’ve already done lots of things I’d never done before.” Zoe counts out new experiences on outstretched fingers, pausing in between each for emphasis. “I rode a roller coaster, went horseback riding, swam in a saltwater pool, showed my first animal…and I’m sure there are more things that I’m not thinking of. Oh, yeah! I’m actually writing an essay for the OBHC President’s Leadership Conference about all of the new things I’ve done. I’m a little young to participate in PLC yet, but I will do all the stuff once I’m old enough!”
Zoe elaborates. “I’ve been doing a lot better in school since I came here. My grades are up and everything. Of course, that’s probably because they have a set homework time here to get it done. Also, at school, they have zero recovery. If you don’t turn something in, you have to go do it in the office or on Saturday or get suspended.” Zoe raises her eyebrows high. “They don’t mess around!” With a laugh, she adds, “But that’s good, I guess. It was for me!”
“Just being here has been good for me,” Zoe confesses. “When I was living with my grandmother, I wouldn’t do what she asked me to do. We had lots of arguments, so she thought it would be better if we had time apart. I think she was right. Now, when I go home on visits, I do what she tells me to do faster. I mean, I don’t just say, “okay” and hop right up when she says to clean my room, but I do get it done.”
Zoe credits the improvement in her behavior to the personal spiritual growth she has experienced since coming to live at OBHC.
“I go to children’s church at our church,” Zoe says, “and we’ve been talking about Jesus, how He is God’s gift to the world, how He could have told the angels to come get him from the cross, but He knew He was doing it for us and that it would save us. I thought I was saved when I was seven, but nothing changed in my heart. Then, I really got saved at church camp. I came home, and Mr. Priest talked to me to make sure I knew what it meant and what to do next. I know I still have work to do on some behavior things, but having Jesus has made a real difference in my life.”
For now, Zoe is content to continue growing and learning at OBHC. “You know, when my grandmother first brought this place up, I didn’t like the idea. I thought she was going to leave me forever, like at an orphanage, but it’s not like that at all and I will go home sometime.” Zoe pauses to think. “I do think I’d like to stay at least a year, though, just to stay on the right track and see what other new things I can try. My grandmother lives in the middle of nowhere, so I used to just sit in the house and do nothing. I was bored, and I wasn’t very social. Now I’m not bored, and I’m way social and acting much better.”
To those who support OBHC, Zoe says with great enthusiasm, “Thank you so much for supporting us! All of the cool stuff that’s happening in my life wouldn’t be happening without you!”