I stepped into the interview. Butterflies in my stomach. I was greeted with familiar, calming, faces. “The only position we have open right now is a janitorial position at the school.” I was thrilled to be considered for a job and it was one that I had skills in. “But we expect that there will be other positions opening up that may fit you better.” Are you kidding?! I am so stoked to even be here right now!
Six months earlier I had moved back to Oklahoma to be close to my family. I needed help raising my kids because my marriage had taken a turn for the worse…again. For six months, I had done my best to take care of myself while my parents took care of me and my three young children. I had gotten to the point where I felt I could finally start looking for jobs. I needed to make money and also get out of the house so I could get out of my head.
Word got around that I was looking for a job and one day I got a call from the Executive Director at Cookson Hills. He told me they were trying to fill this position and asked if I would be interested. “Yes!” (Talk about answered prayer!) I know the grounds of Cookson Hills like the back of my hand.
You see, I grew up at Cookson Hills as a staff kid. My parents worked here when I was born. Cookson Hills was my earthly home for thirteen years. In fact, I lived in four different houses on the same street. That always got a laugh when I told people where I grew up. That, along with explaining the geographical location, “I live in Kansas, Oklahoma in Delaware County near the Arkansas border on the Illinois River.” “So what state is that in?” “The state of confusion, I live in the state of confusion!”
A year and a half in, I now teach some of the morning CHILL (Cookson Hills Independent Learning Lab) classes, I’m the yearbook advisor and I continue to serve on the janitorial staff. At first, I didn’t know how well I would do being a teacher. When they asked me if I would be able to teach I was very hesitant. I even said no the first time with an additional comment of, “If you haven’t found someone before the next school year starts…ask me again.” I would say to myself, “How can I help them if I have so many problems I’m working through?” But God has shown me that because of my pain I could empathize with these students who have had much rougher lives than mine. I try to make the time the students have in my classroom fun while they are learning. I have done some teaching before and I have always loved sharing information with people, but being in a classroom was never something I imagined for myself. It was a big step of faith for me, and maybe for our administration as well. God has grown me so much through learning in the classroom, developing relationships with the students, and using my story to inspire others.
I have found that I had so many memories tucked away and forgotten until I stood back on the Cookson Hills grounds. I have found myself looking over the changing landscape; grass where there once was a house, a bridge that’s no longer there, new homes, a new school; and it has helped me heal from the pain of my unwanted divorce. It has taught me that I don’t need to keep going back to my past. If I do, I’ll never grow and become all that God has designed for me to be. There is always a chance while working at Cookson Hills, that you will be needed to fill a role that you didn’t think you could fill. You just have to be willing and allow God to grow in you. This has helped me move on and make an effort to make new memories. Memories that bring me more joy than sorrow. Working at Cookson Hills has been healing and has allowed me to start over in a way. I have a community that supports me and my little family. I don’t know where my story will lead from here. All I know is that God has his hands on the steering wheel and it feels so good to be back home.