Category: Cookson Hills


We live and work on the outer edge of the Ozarks, miles away from the nearest city, in the hills of Cookson…and I am super proud of that compound sentence.  Being in the sticks we encounter all kinds of wildlife that keep us on our toes.  Weird bugs and spiders, colorful birds, deer, groundhogs, coons, frogs, and the occasional snake.  As a matter of fact, I rode a snake yesterday!…No.  Seriously.  I did.

The horse named Snake.  If I understand correctly, the name comes from the curved marking on his forehead.  He’s a young guy here on campus, one of several horses used for equine therapy and recreation.  He was my training buddy during a morning session where several riders were learning how to pivot a horse.  He was learning while I was learning so it took us time and patience to get the hang of it, but eventually, we got it.

  

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I didn’t look at the date. I just saw the number. 109 days since the last post. When was that? Oh, I remember…just before the holidays. The busiest time of year for a children’s home. The donation center lights up with end of year activity. Generous people from all over help make certain our kids have gifts for Christmas. And then there are the unexpected surprises of the changing weather…water leaks that must be attended to…at least this time it was not in the middle of the night.

We saw 2014 come to a close seeing a lot of emotions run through our house both good and not so good. But this is the reason we are here…to help kids sort through their trauma and learn new skills to rise above and be awesome adults in this world. We show them Christ. We show them love…how to handle stress…how not to eat with their mouth open…how to speak positive rather than negative. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

January came and the world settled a bit. The colder weather showed itself in frigid fashion and school resumed for the new year. Basketball started its second half, and the old men who scrimmaged the team are victorious. Of course they are all nursing their muscle aches…aches…a reminder of a low point for our house…saying goodbye early to a house daughter. The family wanted her home. She had made progress and still had a ways to go. We wished her well then and pray favor and wisdom to her as she continues life’s adventure today. She is missed and will forever be a part of the Oswalds. She was the first of many goodbyes that are to come.

Which brings us to February. We have a few adventures planned and hope that doing so will create great memories and provide opportunities for growth.

Please pray for health in our home, for an increase in “ah-ha” moments as the kids learn to appropriately navigate life, and most importantly, a hunger and desire for each family member to know Christ more.

Its a bit early, but the holiday season has come back to Cookson. There is a turkey dinner next week provided by one of our great church partners in the area. Churches and groups far and wide have offered goodies that will brighten hearts during the Christmas holiday to kids that may have never experienced it in a good way. Life is busy and very fun during the next few months.

Today, I was checking the water wells and making sure the refrigerators and freezers were operational while the dining hall and food store were closed. The food store is where we shop from week to week and pickup meal and snack items for breakfast and weekend food. Our donors do a great job of ensuring we are taken care of. I’m not sure how we get them, but we get a lot of Little Debbie snacks…and this time of year it becomes quite a temptation. That lady can bake a treat! And she brought Christmas tree cakes…and cherry creme filled morsels of magical goodness! And to top that off, she brought Santa sleigh brownies! How could she be so mean? And to line them up all nice and neat right where I would have to pass by to check the freezer? She is very smart, that lady.

Well, my goal is to lose the Cookson 5 and 10 that has found its way to my belly…so I victoriously passed it by…but this is not the end of the story!

My wife asked me to bring back some eggs for the house. Upon entering the freezer…they were there! The devil of deliciousness, the gladiator of goodies had increased her ammunition against fellow human kind! She had brought in another set of villains into her flock of sugary slavery! None other than the Krispy Creme minions themselves! All 600 of them right there in the walk-in freezer!

Thankfully, I was able to muster up the strength to grab the eggs and get out of there alive!

So yet another episode ends on a good note. I pray now that she does not bring in the Kryptonite of Cookson…at least for me…Braum’s egg nog.

Strong to the Finish

The title today is a borrowed phrase from a great ministry partner, Brian Hunter, who has done an excellent job of listening to God’s call and acting upon it. As a result, many have been introduced to the Savior of the Universe. Brian is one of my heroes and I am thankful for the time in ministry working together.

Saying that, I am brought to our blog for today. Followers may have noticed a significant drop off in posts. This isn’t because of the lack of things to write about, its the mass amounts of topics and happenings, leaving time in the dust.

We are solidly a family of 9 now…5 girls and 2 boys plus us. Our house shape is a little different from the others on campus, limiting numbers and male/female. We have room for one more boy as long as we remain in this house.

The exciting news is that our building project has boomed the past few months. 3 new homes are nearly complete, while 6 others have gone from foundation to in the dry with the help of hundreds of volunteers. Thank you for your support!

All of these things are great, but the real exciting news is the progress in the house. I wish I could detail out everything, but we are trusted to protect and help so thats what we will do. Know that at times progress means that the honeymoon period of “this is a cool place, my mom said to be nice” has come to a close…progress means we begin to see some of the trauma layers peel.

What does that sound/look like? Tears, anger, frustration, sadness followed by happy moments of relief…then…repeat. They complain that they hate this place, that things aren’t fair, and that they just want to go home. Some come pre-equipped with fight or flight actions, a disrespect for authority, and do not understand that being accountable for actions and accepting proper consequences is a good thing.

All raw emotions. All brought on by different kinds of past and present trauma. All have been bravely brought here with hope for healing and restoration.

For a large part, the kids are here for up to two years or more…because it takes that long to see significant progress. Unfortunately, we see some families pull the child a bit early for various reasons.

So here is the final thought or two…

Parents/Guardians. Stay strong to the finish. Don’t give up early. Help your child heal…and time in a helping environment is what is needed.

Prayer Warriors. Pray for the parents/guardians during the period if separation. Pray for God to do the work in the kids and families that only He can do. Pray for us as we help these kids advance in their journey.