For many years, we tried to have children of our own. After four years of marriage, we had a miracle baby that we have thanked God for every day. After his birth, we struggled through four devastating miscarriages, wondering why we couldn’t have more children. We prayed and prayed, asking God for answers. One morning during my quiet time the Lord spoke. He told me, “You will have many children!” At that time, I couldn’t comprehend the depth and fulfillment of that promise.
That marked the beginning of this journey. We felt it was time to make a change. My husband Tony was working nights; we rarely got to spend quality time together. We were longing for more time as a family.
Tony and I understood broken homes and tough childhoods due to the struggles we both had growing up. My parents got divorced when I was 14 and my family was very poor. At times the only way we ate was because of the local food pantry. I witnessed my stepmother struggle with drug addictions, leaving me to care for her two small children while I was still a child myself. Tony and I knew that somehow, someway we would use all of that to be a light to students and families. We began researching different Christian children’s homes throughout the country. We prayed for God to close doors that weren’t for us and to clearly show us the path He wanted us to follow. As always, God answered our prayers. He closed the doors and led us here to Cookson Hills, all the way from New York. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be living in the midwest.
At Cookson Hills, we have the honor of serving as respite houseparents. This means that when the houseparents are on days off we get to play the role of Aunt and Uncle and love on the students for a few days at a time. Every couple of days we have a new family in our home and it is a blessing to get to know all of the students.
Growing up the adults in my life were very conflicted and unstable. My parents divorce left me feeling insecure, scared, confused, sad and angry. I would have loved more structure, quality time with my parents and meaningful conversations. Unfortunately, they couldn’t give me any of that because they were going through so many of their own problems and/or they didn’t know how because their parents never taught them. But God’s promises amaze me every day. Through this journey, we knew we wanted to become the people we so desperately needed growing up. We daily get to accomplish this goal by ministering to the students here and helping them break their family’s cycle. I have the privilege of having many children here at Cookson Hills. It’s a place of growth and healing for the students and us. Every day I wake up and I feel honored, proud and truly blessed to be a part of this community.