This column allows me to reach a lot of people who would remain strangers without it. One woman came to my house with cookies and a big smile to tell me how much she enjoyed the column on Thanksgiving. She had taken her physical blessings for granted. If we learn to become grateful for all we have and use it all wisely, we will be happier and make those around us happier. We can be an inspiration to others as the boys' ranch and Lives Under Construction in Lampe, Mo. are to me.
Here we have a couple, Ken and Sheila Ortman, who are living their dream and changing the lives of the boys who go there, their families and their communities. It's all so simple - they put others first. I'd like to tell you about a letter they received from a parent of one of the boys.
The mother wrote her son was in a psychiatric hospital and they were told he would not be able to be a part of society. The personnel recommended he go into a long-term facility for the rest of his life, as a permanent resident. They gave up on him and were telling his mother to do likewise, but she had him on the waiting list for the L.U.C. boys' ranch and he was admitted last year around this time.
In a year's time this young man stopped taking 24 pills a day for violence and volatile behavior; lost 50 pounds; learned new skills such as lawn-mowing, cleaning, farm chores, kitchen duties and laundry; and even goes off the ranch to help with projects in the community. In doing all of these good, productive things his whole attitude has changed. It has done wonders for his self-esteem. If you don't like yourself, how can you like others? Wholesome relationships are necessary to like yourself. If you like yourself, your behavior changes and your mind gets sharper. He learned that for every action there is a reaction and he has the power of action. By making good choices he affects the other boys around him and this makes all of them feel good, too.
This story can apply to us, too. Let's look at what he did. He didn't go to a prestigious school or spend a lot of money. He learned to apply himself to all the needs around him. We can all do those things. Just think - he changed his whole life! In about a year's time, too. Now this is what I call a success story and it gives hope to all of us. Don't waste your time thinking about having lots of money and spending it foolishly. Look around you. Do you see people who have less than you? Do you have a game you can play together? Do you have a great movie you can watch together instead of some of that junk on TV? Is there anything in the refrigerator you can share? Or do you have $10 you can spend on eggs, potatoes, cereal and milk? You can go shopping together and then go to his or her house with the goodies.
When you get there and fit in with the family, ask if there is anything you can help with. By the way, don't forget to let your new friend help out at your house. Family games and activities are the best. The more involvement the better.
Sometimes our pride and our fears override our common sense. Don't get bitter. Get better. You can do it. Look at Ken and Sheila. They started their boys' ranch 15 years ago. Look at all the lives they've changed! And what amazes me is that they have done all of this without any grants, without any help from the government. It's all done by donations from people like you and me. I know I love to support people who try to help others and are willing to do anything that will help others. That's what Christmas is all about. Have a great life by doing for others! Try it!