Tag Archive: 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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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.

So updating more often would be a better idea because so much happens around here. We’ll do our best to give a few highlights of the past month.

When we last wrote, we had gained our first family member, Kilee. Since then we have grown considerably…3 additions to be exact, doubling our family of 4 to a family of 8. Please join me in welcoming T’Era, Landan, and Caitlyn to the family! T’Era and Caitlyn are the teenagers of the house with Landan in elementary. Just to paint the picture, that is two teens and four 10 and under (with room for more youngers). Never a dull moment.

Summers are different here since we operate as a year- round school. School ended at the beginning of June with graduation of our Seniors and ended the middle of last week. We have enjoyed horsemanship classes, crafting, swimming, caving, trips to the river, softball, volleyball, a large waterfall at a local state park, and a trip into Tulsa. We are sad that summer is over but excited for the school year being under way…that means some short and needed breaks for us parents!

One final thought of great importance. Nearly a decade ago we added a member to our family. He completed our bio-family and has brought years of smiles and a book full of insightful commentary. We have enjoyed attempts at baseball and soccer, and enjoyed monster truck events. He’s a compassionate giver, and a selfless friend to those around him. As a dad he makes me proud and I love him very much! If you don’t already know who I’m talking about, please help me say happy birthday to the grandest son in all the land…Michael.

With that I will bid you farewell, until the next adventure.

Writing calendars in pencil or on a chalkboard are a great idea at Cookson Hills. Why? Because schedules modify and change like the swift rivers here after a storm. Kind of like this past Friday when we received a call from our social worker. The plan had totally been flipped on its head. Our schedule was pretty full of respite assignments along with a countdown to our first full-time child in the home. Suddenly, they were all cancelled…we somehow found ourselves in a wormhole. What was scheduled for 3 weeks away now became 4 days away…our first child! Wednesday is now that day. A young girl will be added to our home. We are excited and nervous at the same time.

Please pray for our family as it grows by one this week. Pray for this little girl…that God will heal her heart.

Speaking of new stuff, Mike added a family member. A hamster. He will be fully responsible for its care after learning the ropes. He decided to name him Weelly. Yes. Spelled that way. And I’ll bet you can’t guess the reason for the name…

Oh, boy!?

Little known fact of the Oswald family blog…there are actually two of us who can write our posts, but one of us has never been brave enough to do so until now. : )

It’s been crazy busy around here until today. Today started our first official set of “days off”. It’s weird. I’ve gotten so used to having noise and plenty to do that I wasn’t sure how to handle an almost empty house and no extra kids. What do you do when you’re so accustomed to always doing something? Don’t get me wrong. I can always clean the house…again. And it’s not like there aren’t still some items to be put away from our move that have not yet found a home (i.e. paperwork and binders galore from training, plus mail and the like, and pictures that still need hung somewhere). I guess what I really mean is what do I do when nothing is expected of me for 4 full days? I have no outside responsibilities for a few days in a row. What I will do for sure is enjoy the break that allows for our core family bonding time.

Brian wrote about our first group of kids that stayed with us. We had our second group leave on Saturday night. It was another group of girls, smaller this time with only 3. We got to enjoy Spiritual Emphasis Week with them, which I found to be quite refreshing and enjoyable. It was neat to watch how they responded to what God had to say to them during this time. One of the girls loves to cook so it was fun to watch her enjoy the kitchen while she was here. One thing I know for sure after our first two groups of girls have come to stay with us. Girls can eat way more than I expected! Future note to self: Keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand when having girls in the home.

On a final note, we had the great opportunity this past week to learn about the first child we may have come into our home. Should nothing change between now and mid-June, we will have a new little boy to welcome into our family. Michael is super excited about the idea of no longer being the only boy in the house. Michele is anticipating the idea of having her “own” bathroom for a little while until more kids come to live with us, as she will be the only girl in the girls’ hallway briefly and no longer sharing with her brother once the little boy moves in. Brian and I are looking forward to becoming one of the full houses on campus.

Actually, one more final thought. Prayer requests to be exact. We put our old house on the market at the end of last week. Please be in prayer agreement with us that it sells quickly, rather ASAP kind of quickly. Please be in prayer for our family as we get ready to welcome our newest member. Also keep praying for us as we continue our respite duties for a few more weeks.

I know I’m not as entertaining a writer as Brian, but I do enjoy sharing my thoughts when possible. Thanks for keeping up with our family as we continue to live out God’s great adventure!

Day 25

I haven’t really been paying close attention to time and realized today that we have passed a major milestone in our adventure.  The habit timeframe of 21 days.  To be exact, we have now been here 25 days.  Training is still underway with just over a week to go.  Our bio kids know the routine for school.  Amber and I almost know when the mail runs.  Mealtime is a hoot at the dining hall (I’ll post about that another day).  I attempted to weed eat on a hillside yesterday.  My legs are telling me about it today.  Relationships are being built and our first relief assignment is scheduled.  The schedule is always flexible, but we are on another milestone countdown…the day we first receive kids into our home.  T-minus 16 days and counting. 😉

It’s been a while since the last post.  Not because of the lack of story, but because of the lack of internet.  You see, we are now located around Kansas, OK, in the foothills of the Ozarks…better known as Cookson Hills.  We are here on a mission as a family.  To help kids and families in crisis.  Amber and I accepted jobs at a children’s home as houseparents where we will create an environment that is safe and strive to provide help, hope and healing to families in crisis.  We have been training and getting our on-site home ready for children for about 3 weeks now.  We expect to start receiving kids in the next few weeks, so we are really excited to get to work.  In the meantime, we are connecting with the families in our community and building relationships with kids that have been here a while.  I’ll post more now that the internet is working, so stay tuned for new adventures!