Category Archives: Boylston Home

Jada

“It’s yours really it is!”

“No I don’t believe you, I think you are wrong!”  Those words still echo in my mind years later when I  think of this story that happened in 1994. I remember the date because I have it written on the bottom of the figurine and who gave it to me.

In the years that I was working at Boylston Home, I had lots of adventures with the girls.  All of them were wisdom developing experiences.

One spring afternoon Jada came bouncing in the door from school with a beautiful little Precious Moments figurine in her hands. She pranced up to me with a delighted look on her face and proceeded to hand me this little figure with joy. I said “thank you dear, but where did you get this?”  My heart was already sinking because Jada was known for having slippery fingers and coming home with things that did not belong to her.

“It’s for you Miss Ruth! I got it for you!” She gushed happily, pushing the figurine into my hands.

I asked her again, “Where did you get this?”

“I got it at school, Miss Ruth.  It’s for you! I got it for you!”  She was not to be discouraged.

“Are you sure are you telling me the truth or Did you steal this from someone?” I was sure I was going to have to take her to someone again and make her give it back..

“No, no! I got it for you honestly I did.”  She was starting to look a little crestfallen at my continued questioning.

“Jada, I’m sorry I can’t believe you.  You’ve taken things from people before that weren’t yours and I’m afraid you might have stolen this too.  I have to call your teacher and she going to tell me where you really got this from so you need to tell me now.”

She barely paused but firmly reassured me, “Yes, Miss Ruth, yes ! I know you like precious moments, so I got if for you honest!”

I walked away from her with a heavy heart knowing that she had probably stolen it wondering “how am I going to deal with this?  I’ll try to give her the benefit of the doubt and I will call her teacher tomorrow.”

The next morning I called the teacher.

“Hello, Miss Smith? I’m sorry, I hate to bother you, but you know how we have this history of Jada taking things that don’t belong to her?  Well, last night she came home with a Precious Moments figurine.  It’s really cute and I have no idea where she got it from can you help me out?”

“Yes Ruth, I would love to tell you what happened with that. Jada knows we have a prize box and a month-and-a-half ago I brought in that figurine and put some high points on it because it has value.  Jada took one look at it and she said, “I know Miss Ruth loves Precious Moments, I’m going to earn that figurine for her!” She spent the entire month earning the points, by good behavior, by working hard, by doing everything that she was supposed to do and getting along with her classmates so she could “buy” that from the prize box for you. That figurine is really yours!   I have been very proud of her effort and you can be as well!”

I wanted to crawl under the table where I was sitting. Not only had I misjudged this young girl. I had completely missed how deep her love was for me that she would sacrifice her earnings for an entire month, not tell me about it and not pick something for herself, but pick something to give to me!  My mind immediately goes to a couple of different verses when I think about this situation. “No man knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person ” (I Corinthians 2:11). and 1 Corinthians 13 where it says “love keeps no record of past wrongs” and, “thinks no evil.”

When Jada came home from school that day I sat down with her and asked her forgiveness for thinking evil of her and wrapped her up in a hug thanking her for her incredible young sacrifice for me! Needless to say, that figurine has always had a prominent place everywhere I have lived and worked to remind me never ever to misjudge a student/child until I knew all the facts! Many times since then I’ve had other situations where, because I took the time to stop and ask all the questions, I was able to save those students the grief of being misjudged by an adult. In one case because I asked all the questions first and was willing to ask forgiveness of a student it saved another student’s life. But that’s a story for another chapter.

Be Sure Your Sin will Find You Out!

There you are skipping down the road in time to the sunshine, oblivious to everything except the sunshine and your agenda and then it happens…I am thinking about this story because it is pouring rain outside today and that makes me think of water and….well ……you know how the mind jumps from subject to subject…at least mine does…but where was I..? oh yes skipping down the road.. in time to the sunshine…

Actually, this story was not about what happened to me. It is about what happened to someone else because of me and water.

I would love to paint the beautiful sunny ocean scene and forget about the real water in this story and the consequences of my actions.. but sigh… I can’t. It is one of those little tales I have told over and over ….exposing my guilt in the process but also the powerful lesson I learned.

The date was Friday the 13th…If you know me well you know I don’t pay any attention to that date more than any other, but I was at Boylston Home at this time and so the girls I was caring for had, of course, heard all the tales about this supposedly ominous date. As they were getting dressed they told me the tales. I told them hogwash and headed downstairs. I managed to catch my foot on the stairwell and slid down the last 4 steps. They of course hooted and asserted I should pay attention to the date. I logically dismissed it as my carelessness. Some other things happened too and I dismissed them, but I had more to learn about carelessness and lack of diligence and that is where the water comes in… just in case you were wondering what all this had to do with water…

So the girls were happily shooed out the door to school and I was in the kitchen chatting with the other worker on duty with me. I noticed a mug on the counter that needed to be put in the sink so swiped it quickly toward the sink being silly.  In the process, I emptied the half-full contents of water out across the kitchen floor. I looked at Jen, my coworker, who was shaking her head laughing at me because… you know.. the date and all…

I, in disgust at myself, said to her. “Really? That is ridiculous! I am not going to clean that up. It’s just one too many things gone wrong this morning!” She smiled and walked out of the kitchen. It was my responsibility to deal with. I did not.

An hour later, 3 of we childcare workers were all standing talking in the kitchen and my boss, who was over 6 feet tall, came happily waltzing into the kitchen… in time to the sunshine….hit that water and nosedived across the kitchen floor! Yes, ladies and gentlemen this REALLY happened! He gingerly picked himself up and looked around pointing and saying “there’s water all over the floor! Where did that come from?” We all stood completely stunned for a moment knowing this was not a laughing matter. He went down very hard! I swooped for the cloth and got the water cleaned up… The rest of the day the verse “be sure your sin will find you out.” (Num 32:26) came to mind. The context of this verse is when Israel promised to help their brothers and Moses told them they had better follow through or they would be held accountable for it by God…fit my situation. I did not follow through on a responsibility and I caused someone else to suffer as a result. God remembers these things.

Suzie

Oh NO..! I missed my chance!!
I had been at Boylston Home for about 2 years when we had a girl placed with us who was supposed to be with us for several months. She arrived on a Monday. That Thursday night, I was home alone with her as the others had gone to some activity. She had gone to her room and I was busy doing the other things typical mom’s do to take care of a house. The Lord very clearly prompted me to talk to her about how to be saved. I thought about it and then thought, “ah, I have lots of time and I have other things I need to do tonight that are more important.” So, I puttered around cleaning or whatever, just doing my “thing.” He kept prompting me with a clear internal thought. “Do it now!” and being the rebellious, insensitive to the Holy Spirit person I that I was at that time, to my shame, I kept saying back essentially, “but Lord, this thing I am doing right now is more pressing and she will be here for a while.” I kept doing what I was doing. Interesting how I can’t remember what I was doing that night that I thought was more pressing than telling someone about Jesus. I just listened to the lies of unbelief, instead of the truth. I had a lesson I needed to learn and God was about to make it incredibly real!

We had a policy at the home that every girl who came to us was immediately given a Bible on the first night and then we would introduce them to the information as they stayed with us. Many came to us who had never seen one before, so it took time to make sure they understood what it was all about. I had not taken the time yet to walk her through the simple Romans road plan, yet, because I figured I had lots of time. So as crazy as this sounds to me now, I went to sleep and let her go to sleep that night with no understanding of eternal hope!

The next morning, at 8:20 am, I got a call from her Social Worker telling me that there had been an emergency court hearing called and “Susie” would be going home immediately. We had just enough time to get her things packed back up and she was GONE!
I wandered around that house all morning in a daze, stunned that I had let a clear opportunity from the Lord slip through my fingers and I was devastated by my lack of response to a clear prompting from the Holy Spirit! I never let that opportunity slip by again as long as I lived there. I made sure that either I or one of my coworkers had at least shared the gospel plan with every girl who came through the door as soon as possible! I was not going to make that foolish mistake again. I learned my lesson! God taught me well!

3 YEARS later I was sitting at the desk writing a report when the phone rang and a Social worker proceeded to describe to me what sounded like a very troubled young teenage lady. I told her we were hesitant to take someone with those kinds of challenges into our program. She barked back impatiently, “Well I don’t know why not, you had her there before!”
I paused, “Oh really, what was her name?”
“Susie” she replied.
I could not believe my ears! God was bringing her back? I went and told my director what I was being described and what I knew of her from before and got permission to admit her back into the program. I was absolutely marveling that God was so orchestrating things for me to have a second chance!

That night I was scheduled to put the girls to bed and I intentionally took care of all the others before I went to her room. I was NOT going to miss the opportunity a second time! She was sitting on her bed and the Bible was sitting at the foot of the bed.
“Is that the Bible we gave you when you left?’ I asked.
“Yes, it is! I have moved many times since I left here and I have lost many of my things, but I made sure I hung on to that!” She stated it with emphasis.
“Really? Did anyone ever tell you what it was all was about?” I asked.
“No,” she sadly replied.
“Would you like to me to tell you about it?”
To my dying day, I will never forget the look on her face as she turned to me eyes ablaze with wonder and joy and asked me,
“Would you really?”
I had the incredible privilege from God to make good on what He had asked me to do 3 years earlier! She was gloriously saved that night. I know it was real because 3 weeks later she was moved again and after she had been gone for several days I got a call from the Social Worker.
“What did you tell Susie when she lived with you?” She demanded somewhat abruptly.
“I am not sure what you mean?” I responded perplexed.
“She is telling everyone where she lives now that they need to trust Jesus as their Savior or they will go to Hell,” She accused me. I reminded her of the policy at the home that was written in our intake packet that we would share the Bible with all residents who came to live with us and that it was their choice to believe or not believe what the Bible taught. She could not argue with me and hung up disgruntled. I hung up rejoicing that God in His incredible mercy had given me a second chance to finish the work He had asked me to do!

“God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance! 2 Peter 3:9 Behold now is the accepted time. Now is the day of Salvation! 2 Corinthians 6:2 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 We wait in hope for the Lord. Psalms 33:20 As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of Jehovah is tried; He is a shield to all those who trust in Him. For who is God besides Jehovah? Or, who is a Rock except our God? Psalms 18:30-31” (KJV, AMP, MKJV Esword)

Lydia (Gideons)

“What in the world? How did you know?”
(This is a Gideon Bible story.)
In the years that I was at Boylston Home, 69 girls came through the doors. (I will never use the real name of any girl unless she has given me permission to do so.) Regardless of whether they were there for 24 hours, or several years we had a few non-negotiable principles that we shared with them. Some of those principles we taught were … they were valuable, …. they could take care of themselves, do laundry, dress, basic house cleaning, treat others with kindness and dignity, etc. and … their past did not have to define their future.
The most important thing we did, however, was to put a Bible in the hands of every girl who came into the home. We shared the truth of the Gospel with them using that Bible, knowing full well that it was entirely up to them what they did with that information. Some chose to believe immediately, some chose to wait and think about it and then believed, and some chose not to believe, at least not in the time when they were with us. Our responsibility was not to force a response, it was simply to tell them the truth from the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit() do His work in their hearts. “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest… “Hebrews 4:1 – 3 NASB (E-sword)
How God absolutely prepared a heart to hear the truth never ceased to amaze me!
We had a girl come to us in her mid-teens. She had quite a painful story that we would learn in the time that she stayed with us. In the first week of her being with us, I sat down with her with a Bible and started to tell her the basic truth of how to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. I took her through the “Romans Road” with which many of us are familiar.
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I told her that we are all sinners who need a Savior. She readily admitted she was a sinner. I told her that sin had separated us from God.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commended (showed) His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
I showed her how these verses clearly demonstrated that even though we are sinners, God loved us enough that Jesus came and died for our sins.
Then I took her to Romans 10:9-10 and 13, “That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him (Jesus) from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness but with the mouth confession is made known unto salvation….Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
I told her how genuine Christian faith requires stating with your mouth that you believe that Jesus Christ is God, that He died for your sins and that He rose again to demonstrate He had the power over death and hell too.
I asked her if she had any questions. She told me she was very interested, but she wasn’t grasping it yet. At that point, I quietly prayed to the Lord in my mind and asked Him if there was another verse I needed to show her that would help? He immediately brought this verse to my memory. (I had been to a Bible study a week before where they had talked about using this verse when you share the gospel with someone, so it was still fresh on my mind.)
John 5:24. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes on Him who sent me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death to life.”
When the girls were old enough, and could,I always put the Bible in front of them and let them read it out loud or to themselves, because it tended to help them take more ownership for what they were reading. She started to read this verse and then stopped with a gasp. She looked at me with an incredulous face and looked back at the verse and then looked at me again and then shook her head and then kept exclaiming, “Wait! How in the world did you know? I can’t believe this! This is amazing! What? How did you know? I don’t get this? Unbelievable!”
I was, of course, completely surprised and had no idea what she was talking about, so I asked, “can you explain yourself? What’s happening here?”
Still shaking her head and glancing back and forth between me and those words she proceeded to tell me this story.
“Miss Ruth, you already know that my dad kidnapped us kids from my mom and that he had us on the run from the police all over the United States. We’ve lived in abandoned cars. We’ve slept on the side of the road or in the woods. He abused us, and we’ve stayed in cheap hotels. Often, when we were in those hotels, he would go off on a drinking binge. I, being the oldest, was left behind to take care of my three younger siblings. I got pretty bored of watching the same dumb stuff on TV so once my siblings went to sleep, I would pull the Bible out of the drawer. Did you know they have these Bibles in hotel rooms with the word Gideon on the front of them?”
I told her I did because I have friends who work for The Gideons and my parents encouraged us to support Gideon Ministries years ago.
“Well,” she continued, “I would pull that Bible out of the drawer and try to read it and I kept coming to this verse…This one you just showed me… I still can’t believe you knew!! How did you know?? I never understood what it meant, but I wanted to! I even talked to my mom about it when we were reunited.”
I, marveling at the Divine leading of God, asked her “do you understand now?”
“YES!” she declared, “and I can’t wait to go back and tell mom all of this and what this really means!”
I felt like Phillip with the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29cf.) All I did was teach her some basic principles from God’s Word and He had her heart prepared to trust the truth of the Gospel ahead of time because of what she had read before she ever met me.
Love how God works!

Helen

The quietness of that October evening in 1991 was a welcome relief from the hectic, noisy routine of working with 10 troubled young ladies. “My girls,” as I affectionately referred to them, had left for an activity, and I was on duty at the group home where I worked to answer the phone and catch up on documentation. I sank with satisfaction into a chair and mused over the many things I have learned in this place about God’s love and how to show it to some very hurt and often angry 6 to 14-year-old girls. Yes, the hours were long, and the staff relished the few moments of peacefulness we could snatch between crises but mingled with the pain and exhaustion was a very real sense of God-given purpose and joy in having a part in touching their lives.

“These girls really have a way of snuggling into my heart,” I thought, as I wrote down the afternoon’s incidents in the daily log. Each one was special, and I couldn’t help but smile as their faces passed, in quick frames, through my mind. I wondered where they would be 20 years from now and whether they would remember the principles we had taught them about Jesus. Would they remember that He loved them, died for them, and could meet their needs if they would only continue to trust Him?

The phone rang interrupting my thoughts. I reached for the receiver and said “good evening.” A lady introduced herself as Helen. “I used to live at your home and they told me back then if I ever needed a place to stay I could count on the Boylston Home. Is that still true? I’m 58 years old and I’m not poor. I lived at Mercy home ( the name of the home before it was changed to Boylston) from 1947 to 1949.”

I hesitated because we get many prank calls and my initial thought was, “Oh great, another one of those kooky people looking for handouts.” Her speech was slurred, and I wondered if she was drunk or something. I later learned that she was just naturally slower speaking.
“Well Ruth, let me tell you a little bit about the place when I lived there.” She drawled.
I had a desperately hard time trying to make out her words because she spoke very slowly like it was a terrible effort to formulate and express her thoughts. I sat and listened without much comment as she told me about the home she remembered. There was the mean house mother who got very angry with her because she didn’t know what elbow-grease meant. “I thought it was some kind of Dutch cleanser or something and she got so angry that she gave me at least a half a dozen black marks. How was I to know the difference? I never heard that term before in my life.”

She sounded so much like a lost child that I felt even then all she really wanted was some understanding and a friend who cared enough to listen to her. She told me about how she was teased and pick on mercilessly by the other residents and how the house mother made fun of her tears. One day, she told her teacher. “They stopped picking on me after that!” She stated it smugly like she had won a major battle and proved herself. “I think the house mother found out I had told on her and she didn’t dare say anything mean to me after that. She was a nun, you know, and told me I’d never amount to anything. Well I showed her. I showed them all. I got married to a rich man, and I have lived a good life. I paid cash for the Cadillac that I drive now. I have a son in Washington politics.”
She continued drawling on for an hour, telling me about the terrible memories she had of her three years at this home and my heart went out to her.

The girls arrived home and I told Helen I had to go because I needed to help put them to bed. She thanked me for listening and ended with, “now you find out for me and let me know if I can spend the night there if I come to town after dark!” I promised I would, and we said goodbye.
Over the course of the next few months, Helen would call to talk either for half an hour or three or four times in a one-hour period. She always repeated the same stories, sometimes with a few more details and always with her slow, somewhat slurred speech.

Soon she asked if she could visit the home and maybe take one of our girls out for an ice cream, or to supper, or to the mall? She didn’t want our well-behaved girls, either! She wanted to spend her time with the one or two girls who cried a lot and had a hard time fitting in or feeling loved. She wanted to let them know that she knew how they felt, and she was there to show them that someone cared.
She had an interview with the Director and the Board. They said she could take the girls out. Well, she was so excited that she had to call me right away to tell me about it. She wanted to know when she could start?

She kept saying to me over and over, “you have no idea what this means to me that you would trust me, a total stranger, was these dear little girls! I promise I’ll be good to them!”
She came to see me before she took out her first girl. “Just so you at least have met me first and know who I am,” she explained.

When she arrived, I opened the door to a five-foot two spunky little lady. Her hair was dyed a deep reddish brown and her eyes sparkled. Her movements were slow and methodical. She wore obviously expensive clothes without the poise characteristic of natural wealth. Her perfume was a little too strong and her hands were weighted down with very expensive, big rings. But, she was funny, and friendly and the girls took to her mothering.

I took her on a tour of the home. She showed me some of the rooms she remembered and told me what had changed since she was there. “We used to have 40 girls living here you know. We did laundry for money and we did the backyard garden. I used to live in this room,” pointing to one on the landing of the second floor.

She called me after her first visit just overcome with gratitude. She couldn’t get over how happy the girls were, how well-dressed and obviously loved and cared for. She said, “Ruth, you are the reason there is such a difference there, I know it.” I reassured her it was the whole staff committed to the care of the girls. Our desire was to not be just another group home but a family, to give them an idea how real homes functioned. “Well Ruth, I still think it’s because of you but for whatever reason those girls are loved! And they know it! That means so much to me! It’s almost like I’m healing my own memories coming back to visit now and seeing things so different than when I was there.” Once again she told me her story of cruel treatment and feeling unloved and unwanted.

Time passed. She bought Easter baskets for the girls and sent us over $300 to buy Easter dresses and shoes for all of them. “Now I don’t want any of this money going to pay your salary or to fix that house up!” She made me promise! “You make sure this is spent entirely on the girls, but don’t tell them where it came from!” Christmas came around and she sent us little packages with perfume, nail polish and the like. “For the girl stockings” were the instructions. She came over before Christmas that year and spent an afternoon showing the girls how to a make Christmas bag and decorate it for wrapping a gift.

Easter came again and with it the familiar little baskets. I have to admit my little mission to Helen had fallen by the wayside. The same “elbow grease” story was getting old now, and I was too involved in my busy day to really stop and listen the way I had at first. But I reminded myself to be polite and kind. I knew that she was lonely since her husband had died 10 years earlier.

In late April, Helen stopped by to leave some jelly beans for the girls… a whole case of them… I wasn’t there when she brought the jelly beans by and I missed her when she dropped off Easter baskets that year. I was disappointed because I hadn’t seen her in so long. She took such delight when the girls ran up to give her hugs when she came, and always called me to thank me over and over “for letting me work with your girls.” She said it made her feel so much younger and more useful.

In late May, I had a strong burden to call Helen because I hadn’t heard from her for a while. She had been sleeping and I woke her up, but she was delighted to hear my voice. She told me she had just gotten out of the hospital from being quite sick. After we talked for a few minutes she said she was tired and wanted to sleep. Before she hung up, though she thanked me for calling saying, “it made me feel so much better! You made my day.”

3:45 p.m., June 9th, 1993. My birthday! I was feeling down because I had wanted to spend the day with my twin sister, but she was 400 miles away and I was on duty. I was on my way out the door to an appointment when the phone rang. I nearly ignored it because it had been ringing incessantly all day. But I decided I should be responsible, so cordially spoke the usual greeting. The man on the other end of the line asked if I would give him an address for sending donations. I gave it to him, then asked him who he represented for our records. He told me his name and position, but my mind lost that information with his next words. “Helen passed away on Sunday, June 6th, and she requested people to send donations to your home for Memorial instead of flowers.”

I wandered around the house in the hours and days after that call willing the phone to ring with Helen wanting to tell her all-too-familiar story. I even called her house once, hoping I had somehow dreamed that awful call from whomever he was. No answer, obviously.

The next day’s newspaper confirmed the information I had missed. She had died of a massive heart attack in her sleep over the weekend. Her cleaning lady found her Monday morning. The wake was scheduled for this evening. I took several of the girls to give them a chance to say goodbye. As we sat around the room and took turns viewing the casket, people stood around and chatted about Helen. They commented on how she loved to call people and just talk. “Should be buried with a phone,” one guy offered playfully then choked back a sob. “She loved to give people things,” another commented. But they all talked about how she loved the home and how much it meant to her to spend time with the girls and do little things for them. “It was almost like she felt that she never really belonged anywhere until she got involved with you people,” said one lady who was one of the few friends who knew her well.

As I stood for a moment of stillness besides the lifeless form of my friend. I thought, “I have learned something from this relationship. Never take people for granted! You just don’t know when you will lose them. Make sure your last moments with them are always full of kindness and care.” I thank God for the precious memory of a phone call I received on a quiet evening in ’91 and another one I made off-the-cuff one day in ‘93. I will never forget how joyful her voice sounded when she realized I had taken time out of my busy day just to say “hi” and see how she was feeling! I again pondered the principle I have heard often in messages and Chapel Services of how terribly important it is to follow the inner promptings of God’s Holy Spirit to reach out. It may be the last lifeline for a hurting soul and always means more to them than we will ever know.