(EDITOR'S NOTE — The work of Baptist Children’s Homes is supported in great part through the Thanksgiving offering, received in N.C. churches in November.)
Sixteen-year-old Erin is determined to write her story in time for the deadline. But things have been hectic around Mills Home’s Culler Cottage in Thomasville.
Ten girls live at Culler Cottage. Christian cottage parents live with the girls and serve as surrogate parents. Each girl is working to overcome the challenges that led her to a crisis and the need for Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH).
Homework, activities around Mills Home, tomorrow’s fashion decisions, and the constant search for the perfect makeup combination accelerate the active pace of Erin’s daily life.
With pen in hand, Erin angles the paper on the desk’s surface. She moves the pen to the top of the page and begins.
She and the other children at BCH’s facilities across North Carolina were challenged to take part in a writing contest. The winner would receive a small prize and have his or her story published in a special booklet of children’s writings.
As ink flows onto paper, she reflects on her young life filled with hardship. She remembers loneliness, hunger and times when she shivered in the cold. She also recalls tender moments shared between siblings. She remembers the love she felt from her parents in better times: “Sure, we had our sour moments, but for the most part we loved each other.”
Her parents’ addiction to drugs trapped their family in a cycle of darkness. Financial woes turned their family upside down. Violence between her mom and dad erupted. It went so far that Erin’s father attempted to set her mother on fire while she slept. Finally, the department of social services intervened.
“And that’s when it happened,” Erin writes. “Out of the blue, a white car with a blue seal on its doors came into our driveway. They came and took us. They took us right out of the house … no questions asked.”
Although she would later understand the “why” for leaving, she writes how difficult it was for her to go.
“As I looked out of the strange lady’s back car window, I saw my mom and dad waving goodbye with tears streaming down their cheeks. I stared until all I saw was a dot in the distance — my life was taken away from me in a blink of the eye.”
Her dismay turned to anger, she pens. Erin spells out how she became “mad” at the world. Her days became filled with regret. She confesses that she was unable to forgive anyone involved in changing her world. Her pen stops moving.
And then a smile spreads across her face; the tempo of her story changes. She writes again,
“But when I was 14, my life came to a complete halt when I met Jesus. I became involved in church. I was baptized. I began to read, and understand, my Bible. I also was able to tell others about how God changed my life.” Her pen rests.
Erin’s life at Mills Home is drastically different from the life about which she first wrote. There is good, nutritious food for her to eat, and there are warm, clean clothes for her to wear.
Now, her story is filled with exclamations of laughter. She dreams of a future filled with many happy endings: “Whatever the reason, whatever the struggle, I am now on the path of life, joy and eternal happiness!”
And, by the way, Erin did make the deadline. Her story won first place.