A Life Changed: London Heiser

As a child, I was hurt and ashamed. Forced to carry the struggles of the adults around me, I frequently moved from place to place. The only consistency I experienced was the physical abuse, neglect and yelling. Because of its consistency, I didn’t realize at the time that it was abnormal. I thought it was common in every child’s life – the way it had to be for kids. But somewhere deep inside I questioned it. Why do I feel so helpless? Why do the people around me not see me as a child who longs for love? Is there hope beyond my circumstances? I had so many questions, no voice to express them and no one to help me find the answers.  

Until I came to Big Oak Ranch.  

Excited, but nervous, I arrived at Big Oak and even the permanence of the Girls’ Ranch sign reassured me that this would be different. This would be forever. I walked through the doors of the office and the smiles on every face told me I was wanted. They would hear me. They would see me. I just knew it.  

As I settled into my new home, I was encouraged to ask the hard questions and to talk about my feelings. For the first time, people listened. I found the freedom to grow and heal as my Big Oak family helped me navigate the difficult answers to my questions. As I walked this journey, I was surrounded with people who were patient with my mistakes, firm in discipline and unconditional in their love for me.  

Big Oak showed me not only what childhood should look like, but what parenting truly is. I saw marriages that operated from a desire to elevate and love one another, with the intentionality to build a family that is strong and equipped for the future. We did chores on the Ranch together and I learned how to budget – how to tithe, pay bills, and save and spend wisely. In fact, some of my greatest memories involve the process of saving extra spending money for family trips, and the anticipation of those experiences. We would always do extra chores and save for special items or activities  we had in mind for the annual Big Oak Family Beach Trip, as it was the highlight of each year. 

This influence wasn’t only present within my home. Rather, it continued in every aspect of life at Big Oak, even stemming from the education I received. Through Westbrook Christian School, I found teachers who genuinely wanted to help me. They noticed my capability and invested in it.  

From a girl with so many questions and no voice, to a wife and mother who has found healing, I might not understand every answer, but I do now understand how God intended family to be. I do understand that there is hope.  

My husband, Colton, is my best friend and we work together to ensure life is different for our beautiful daughter, Haven. We are intentional to listen to her and teach her to use her voice for good.  

As the oldest sister within a sibling group of five, all having lived at Big Oak, I know I will use the voice I found to encourage others toward a different way of life.  

And, when I visit Big Oak and see each new Family Beach Trip photo hanging on the wall, I am filled with gratitude for a home where other children can find a place to belong, a place to also find their voice.