Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

It’s a photo session in a pasture near Texas Baptist Children’s Home. Children are involved. Easily distracted and rambunctious children. There’s a potential for chaos. Getting organized is a time-consuming concept.

“We can’t go into the field,” says Autum, 6, with a tone of warning. “The cows are going to eat me.”

“I can’t sit on the grass,” says big brother, Joe, 8, hands on his knees, looking carefully at the grass under his feet. “Last time I sat on the grass there was ants.”

“Take a picture of me now,” commands the second sister Kaylene, 7, hanging from a tree branch and swinging her feet.
But when they finally are coaxed to sit together, smiling and hugging and kissing on each other, the pictures of the siblings are both precious and priceless.

Almost every parent can relate to the challenges of getting energetic children to cooperate for family pictures. But these aren’t just any children. They lived at TBCH in Round Rock and they are as special as the pictures they make.

Joe, Autum and Kaylene came to the Campus Life Program just over two years ago. Everyone who met them described them as “cute.” But beneath that veneer were anxieties and burdens from past family changes and an unknown future.

House parents, caseworkers and counselors noticed immediately that there were issues with emotional distress, hygiene, educational challenges, and the need for structure. They began to address the need for improvements right away.

“Supporting the children emotionally was a priority,” says Nancy Gage, Campus Life Supervisor. “They had nightmares when they first arrived, but those faded over time. The nurturing and structure in the cottage helped facilitate feelings of safety and happiness.

“Like all of the children at TBCH, they get positive attention, study hard in school, learn to eat healthy meals with good table manners, show kindness and respect for others, and behave in public,” she added. “And like many children who come from unstructured backgrounds, learning to manage their emotions is the foundation for progress in all areas.”

Joe has impressed his first grade teacher as he’s proven to be a “whiz” in math. He loves sports and is even a successful deer hunter. House parents have seen his anxiety decrease and his respectfulness increase.

You can’t miss Kaylene’s sweet smile. House parents describe her as helpful and responsible. As she’s healed from past hurts, she’s grown in kindness and trust.

Autum is a spunky kindergartner, full of personality. She has a reputation for being friendly, bold and funny. She loves to play outside.

All three children participate in TBCH’s choir program and had special parts in the Christmas musical last December. Joe lives in a boys’ cottage while his sisters live together in a girls’ cottage, but they are able to have some play time together in the activity building and occasional meals together. The three wait together for the school bus in the mornings.

The children are encouraged to have regular home visits, which provide an opportunity for TBCH staff to minister to the family as well as the children. TBCH has been able to bless the family with food, health education, a washer, bedding, and encouragement.

“Ministering to the family is a critical part of ministering to the children,” said TBCH Executive Director Keith Dyer. “We are waiting with the family and praying about what will happen in their lives in the future. In the meantime, these children are a joy to our staff and to anyone who has the blessing of spending time with them.”

Seeing them together leaves little doubt that they are loving siblings who care for each other deeply. And while photographs typically capture only a brief moment in time, the pictures of Joe, Autum and Kaylene depict timeless elements of childhood innocence and hope for the future.