My husband and I have had the privilege of ministering as houseparents at Cookson Hills for about two years. For the better part of the last eight years, we have served in roles as houseparents and foster parents. It never gets any easier to walk through the things life has dealt these precious students.
Sometimes, houseparenting is this weird “in between” situation. We aren’t the birth parents of our kids and we would never try to replace them. We try our best to have a team mindset when it comes to the families we work with. For most students, while they are at Cookson Hills we are “Mom” and “Dad.” We always give them the choice of what to call us, but over time that family feeling seeps into their hearts and calling us Mom and Dad becomes natural. We love every child that enters our home like our own. (On the good days and the hard days.) Together we navigate this whole “multiple sets of parents” situation and we are totally okay with taking the back seat. We honor and respect the parents and guardians who have been walking alongside our students and choose to partner with Cookson Hills.
During the most recent Thanksgiving break, most of our kids left for visits. We always say our goodbyes, hug necks, say our I love yous and send them on their way. We don’t typically hear anything until they come back to campus. And that’s OKAY! But Jesus always has a way of filling up our hearts with blessings! Just like we love them like our own kids, we miss them too! During this break, two of our students called us while on their visits. We talked about adventures and fears and prayed peace and bravery over them. Sometimes it’s hard and scary to try and do new things back in their home environment. It can feel vulnerable to live out the changes that have happened in their lives and hearts during their time at Cookson Hills.
This year I am thankful to serve in the “in between.” I am thankful for the kids I have the privilege of loving and ministering to, and the families I get to partner with. I am also thankful for the opportunities Cookson Hills gives us all, staff and kids alike, to change the course of our own families by learning to do life well together, with Jesus, in this beautiful place of healing.
As 2018 winds down, we have many opportunities to reflect on our year with gratitude. Here are what some of our Cookson Hills staff and students are thankful for…
I’m thankful that Jesus died on the cross for me, and He gave me a family at Cookson Hills. -Mackenzie, 5th grade
Thankful for God’s goodness and love in good times and bad. -Brandon, Manager of Business and Operations
I am thankful that God is teaching me to be forgiven. –Jaci, freshman
I’m thankful for my childhood trauma and the Lord’s provision of healing and strength. He has created within me a particular skill set to reach my young students with God’s love. –Karen, Elementary Teacher
I am thankful for Cookson Hills and my houseparents being there for me when no one else was. -Addie, senior
I am thankful that our students do not have to worry about having school supplies. Our donors sacrificially give backpacks, pencils, notebooks, glue sticks, binders, etc, etc, etc, to help ensure our students have the best possible tools to earn an education. I am so thankful! -Melissa, Director of Education
I am thankful that Cookson Hills gave me a family. -Martha, Sophomore
I am thankful for the privilege of being part of these amazing kids’ lives and the people I work with. I am thankful to be able to serve alongside my wonderful husband in this ministry. Most of all, I am thankful for Jesus Christ. His redemption, His grace, His forgiveness, and His love are what give my life true purpose and joy. –Lauri, School Librarian & Secretary