It’s hard not to worry isn’t it? Things happen, circumstances abruptly change, and all of a sudden there it is – worry. Worry does not just happen to us individually, but it happens with things we are involved with too. Many times it is those things that are extra important to us: the lives of our children, our church, a friend or a friend’s family, the organization we have invested time in or maybe even given our lives to, it may even be the place where we work. Worry can consume us; it has the ability to paralyze our emotions and reactions and ultimately to harm relationships that are very important to us.
Many years ago, a young couple named Louis and Billie Sue Henna gave 112 acres and five buildings to begin Texas Baptist Children’s Home. On September 5, 1950 at the dedication service, the Hennas were age 36 and 29, respectfully. On a piece of farmland in a small rural community, a ministry to children was born with a hymn to begin the dedication service and a prayer of dedication to conclude. The Round Rock Leader, the local newspaper, declared that this “will mark one of the most important events in the entire one hundred years history of Round Rock.” On one hand, I can only imagine the sense of relief that must have been on Louis and Billie Sue’s hearts. On the other hand, I’m sure they were worried for the future of TBCH.
Spring forward almost 66 years and TBCH has grown into the family of ministries known as Children At Heart Ministries – Gracewood, Miracle Farm, STARRY, and Texas Baptist Children’s Home – all seeking to serve and transform the lives of children and families who find themselves in the midst of crisis of one kind or another. From Houston, to Brenham, over to Round Rock, and all the way up the I-35 corridor almost to the Red River, we seek to help children and families by offering hope, healing, and restoration through God’s provision and love during life’s toughest moments.
We periodically hit some of those worry moments of our own as an organization. As you well know, some worries are bigger than others. For the Children At Heart family, the early retirement of an Executive Director can definitely be one of those bigger worry moments. But losing two Executive Directors in one year can make you quiver with the what-ifs and the hows that immediately follow. In the midst of serving children and families, Texas Baptist Children’s Home found itself searching for a new Executive Director to lead its ministry.
In late 2015, the TBCH Board of Trustees and Don Forrester tapped Debbie Rippstein to become the leader again at TBCH. There was only one problem; Debbie was the Executive Director of Gracewood in Houston. One worry was solved and another created, all in one fell swoop. With excitement, the announcement was made that Debbie Rippstein was coming to TBCH and, at the same time, with sadness, the announcement was made that Debbie was leaving Gracewood. Worry immediately surfaced.
Fast forward to today and the Gracewood Board of Trustees and Don Forrester have announced that Travis Jones and his family are moving from North Texas to Houston for him to become the new Executive Director there. Travis is a seasoned young man with more than 15 years of experience working with children and families from hard places. His heart is to see God using his calling and skillset to ultimately build strong families. What a blessing for the Gracewood team and the children and families served in the Greater Houston area!
As we look back to the start of Texas Baptist Children’s Home, we may wonder why the Hennas would have had a worry about beginning a children’s home. It’s much easier for us to understand as we have the benefit and perspective of time to see how God has blessed the effort that originally began on a piece of farmland out in the middle of a quiet, sleepy community. Likewise, God has blessed TBCH and Gracewood with new leadership. One day, not far down the road, we will wonder why we were even worried. God provided as He is always does. Matthew 6:25-34 tells us not to worry and reminds us that our heavenly Father already knows.
I am thankful that God knows what we need as an organization but, even more importantly, He knows us individually and has provided for our greatest need. As you may find yourself worrying about many things, be reminded that our heavenly Father already knows.
Help us welcome Debbie and Travis. I’m thankful that God already knew what the children and families served by Children At Heart needed long before we even thought to worry! We are blessed.