Have you ever felt inspired? Inspiration is such a powerful word and even more so, a powerful feeling. In Greek, it means God-breathed/life. In Hebrew, it means spirit/wind, and in our common dictionary, it means to stir/motivate.

First, inspiration is God-breathed. It is received as a desire directly from God. Secondly, when we are inspired, it is the Spirit moving in our lives. Lastly, when a person becomes inspired there is an inner stirring to action. In scripture, we see this kind of God-inspiration throughout David’s triumphant battles with the Philistines, and then in the New Testament, it’s what happened to Mary when the Spirit came over her and caused a stirring inside of her. It’s what happened in the upper room when God’s inspiration came like a rushing mighty wind and stirred Peter to preach with such inspiration that 3,000 were saved. It’s this kind of inspiration that stirred in our founders, and still exists in our directors, our students, and houseparents at Cookson Hills; Godly inspiration happens in all that we do.

The reason Cookson Hills has been thriving for over 60 years is because it was God-inspired. The founders listened to the Holy Spirit’s urging or inspiration to make a difference in the lives of students and their families. Whatever is God-inspired will yield meaningful transformation that transcends cultures and generations–just like Cookson Hills, a place inspired by God!

Day in and day out, serving on the Cookson Hills campus, our hope is that everyone would be filled with God’s inspiration. Here’s how some of our staff feel inspired in their daily walks and why they serve the way they do:

God inspires me daily to be a mirror of His grace with my students and push them to be the best version of themselves possible. -Stephanie (houseparent)

Kids asking questions about God, hugs, a student’s newfound confidence to try something new, thank you notes, “love you Dad,” and seeing our adult kids doing well after leaving Cookson Hills, that is what inspires me. -Mike (houseparent)

I am inspired by my fellow houseparents who love their families unconditionally and who are so intentional about speaking Jesus into their students’ lives. -Debbie (houseparent)

I tend to see the best in the young people I come in contact with. I want them to see the best IN themselves and be the best OF themselves.  That and Jesus’ teachings on how important children are inspire my work with young people, no matter what the “job” is. -Brian (Teacher)

My students inspire me all the time. When a student gives a surprisingly deep answer, I am blessed by their willingness to show me more of who they are. When a student struggles through a concept, I am inspired to keep pushing through the hard things in my life. When I see students sharing their hearts and showing love to each other, I am inspired to be the hands and feet of Jesus. -Ashley (Teacher)

I rely heavily on the Holy Spirit to speak through me and to lead our students into God’s word. A huge inspirational jolt for me, is when I can see the Bible, or a Biblical truth, hit a student in a way they have never heard before. When they are able to look at it as more than an old book, an ‘archaic way of thinking’ (yes, I have been told that), or their grandparents’/parents’ imposed morality and see that the Word of God is in fact living and active – and that it is still relevant; that gives me an adrenaline shot like no other! -Josh (Teacher)

I am inspired when I hear back from former students about how they are doing now -when something fun happens in their life, when they graduate high school or college, have a baby, and they want to make sure I know, that’s inspiring through the rough days. Even when things do not go well – a broken engagement, an illness, a messy relationship, a lost job – they know I care and want to know about it. It doesn’t matter how many times they fail or how many weeks or years have gone by since I’ve talked to them last, they know I still love them and see every joy, heartache, or failure as an opportunity to learn something new and grow from it. I am also inspired when I see a student set a goal and meet it. Maybe they want a GPA of a 3.0 and they regularly rock out a 2.0. When they meet that 3.0 goal, that tells me they worked hard and tried new things to make it happen. I’m inspired with the student who regularly visits my office due to behaviors they are struggling to manage, but begins to take ownership of those feelings and use the tools they are learning to manage them. I am inspired when I see students mess up royally and then go back and use that as a growth opportunity and change their patterns. I am inspired when they admit, “I can’t do this life alone,” and officially give it all to Jesus. Our students are resilient. When you are with them long enough to see that growth in them, man, that will get you out of bed on the hard days. That makes it all worth it. That’s inspiring. They make me want to be better. -Melissa (Director of Educational Services)

As you can see inspiration looks different for every person on our campus, young and old. We all look for God-breathed motivations to keep us moving. With His stirring in our hearts, we aspire to help change students’ lives, thereby changing the course of future generations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Mel Vivas, houseparent, is from Puerto Rico but was raised in Tampa, Fl. Mel is passionate about Jesus, his family and basketball.