Believe it or not, my journey to Cookson Hills started when I was ten years old and I signed a commitment to be a missionary for the Lord. When I grew up, I married a minister and served alongside him. After the birth of five sons and a 22-year relationship, I became a single mother. Hurt and confused, enter Cookson Hills.
My first encounter with Cookson Hills was when my sons, who were playing soccer for Wright Christian Academy in Tulsa, played against the Cookson Hills team. I watched the Cookson Hills families cheer for their students and I felt a stir of gratitude for the opportunities and support they provided. Little did I know that I would reach out to them a few years later for help with one of my sons. As I said, I was a single mother with five sons to help to adulthood. I had less than $1 to my name, an incomplete education and a car that wouldn’t go in reverse. One of my sons and I were pushing each other’s buttons and I reached out to Cookson Hills for help. I wanted to learn how to be the parent he needed. There was no room for him to be enrolled at that time. No worries, God had other solutions for us. However, I will never forget the moments of hope and comfort I received knowing that there were people out there with solutions to my needs.
Ten years later I met and married John. He is a wonderful man and minister who has supported Cookson Hills for around 50 years. Shortly after we were married, we sat down with the now former Executive Director, Rick Bayless, to talk about our personal involvement and possibilities of coming to Cookson Hills. Unbeknownst to me, a family friend had been encouraging my husband in this direction for years, and God put it in my heart as well. As we drove around the campus we passed one particular cottage and I asked my husband to stop and back up. I told him, “I saw that cottage in my spirit during devotional time this week!” We knew nothing about the purpose of that little home until after our interview. We were asked if we’d like to see housing options. He took us to #29 – THAT cottage first! The way we finally arrived on campus took several unconventional twists and turns and much longer than the traditional entrance, but whatever it takes to get situated in the center of God’s will, right?!
We serve at Cookson Hills as a part of the Star Grandparent Program. As is typical with any missions work, there’s much to be done. Some of the things we have done in our role here include cleaning, cooking meals for various events, helping at the food store, prayer walks, teaching 4-Him classes, spiritual leadership, traveling to supporting churches, and the best job of all–loving on and supporting the students on campus.
So, exactly why did we choose to come to Cookson Hills as seniors? First of all, God called us. Since we love to be in the center of His will, we responded. Secondly, the scriptures tell us that it is better to give than to receive. We have such long connections with Cookson Hills that it’s a thrill to be hands-on and come full circle in our relationship. As part of the Star Grandparent program, we are now “Pappy and Honey” not only to our 11 biological grandchildren (and still increasing) but also to all of the students on campus. Whether we are needed to do behind-the-scenes things or have direct contact with students we are creating a legacy for our family that states loud and clear that we care about child safety, and the growth of strong, healthy, mature families prepared to make a multi-generational impact! What a tremendous wealth we can leave behind to our family! Being here at Cookson Hills fulfills the commitment of a little nine-year-old girl becoming a missionary, not across the ocean, but right here in northeastern Oklahoma at Cookson Hills.