Tag Archive: house parent


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.

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Much of what we do is linked up with food…so I will gladly talk about it. I’ll do my best to stay focused…really I will.

Food is taken care of in several different ways here. Most of the meals are cooked by our on-site cook and served M-F for lunch and dinner except Fridays. Breakfast and the weekends are left for the families to fill in around their activites. Wednesdays are special because it is the one major day a week that we pick up groceries from our on campus food store. The variety of items come from different sources and support the entire community. What that means is that the pantry of our house becomes a magical land of exploration after school. Do we pick up Little Debbie’s? Of course we did. She sends them every month like clockwork…and I don’t mind eating butterflies from spring instead of footballs for fall during the summer months. They taste the same. But I digress.

It’s been a bit since we talked about our house. As of yesterday, we are now a house of 9. Let’s break that down. Dad, Mom (age is not important here)…kids…15, 14, 13, 10, 10, 9, 9…and the 14 will be 15 in 5 days (trust me we know this because she reminds us about once an hour). 🙂

We have been blessed beyond measure to have them here. And blessed to have your support if it be by prayer or otherwise. Thanks for checking in on us and for lifting the needs of these kids to the King.

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…

Having one foot in a city and another foot in a town can make it a bit difficult to stay steady on a houseparent income. We are blessed beyond measure here, but still having the house back on Nashville street has stretched our dollar and added a few extra responsibilities. With this realization, we put Nashville St on the market. After being on the market about 10 days, I’m happy to announce answer to prayer. A contract! Today I made the brief trip into town to ensure the utility guys got everything turned on. Now we pray the inspections clear. Without any hitches, the closing will be June 30.

We are looking forward to the sale being completed so we can turn our eyes toward the first Oswald family kids to join our home on a regular basis!

Thanks for your prayer and support of this great mission to kids in our own backyard!

So Amber loves to cook and bake. She has been blessed with the outstanding ability to combine ingredients, sometimes without measuring tools, and create masterpieces worth eating over and over again. I, on the other hand, am not so great at making food. Don’t get me wrong. I could follow instructions and make something. The trouble is, I don’t have the skill set at this time to modify and correct on the fly to make a food item that is good become great. But never fear! Where there is a cook/baker, there is a taste tester. That’s where I do extremely well.

Which brings me to my first ADD moment of this post.

There is another famous baker that we are all familiar with. Little Debbie. She makes little cakes of magical goodness that melt in your mouth. They come all packaged in different shapes and sizes depending on the season. And on top of that, she loves to donate her goodies to Cookson Hills…a lot of them. She is such a tremendous blessing!…but I have a problem. I love taste testing! When it’s a different shape, I try it. When it’s a different color, I try it. And you know what drives me crazy? (Prepare for ADD moment number 2)…The packaging. Little Debbie, to be a great baker, has to try out all of her food. If that is true, then how does she keep that figure? You know, the one on all the boxes of treats? C’mon now. I thought maybe she would have the great appearance of Aunt Jemima, like she enjoys testing her goodies. I guess that means Little Debbie must have a husband who tests everything.

Anyway, prepare for ADD moment number 3.

I say all this to say thank you to the donors who give us Little Debbie snacks. (I sincerely mean that, by the way) As of this week, I finally got back into a cycle of workouts, starting with hiking up a few hillsides to crawl through caves. One of the tunnels should be renamed Ozzie Squeeze because well, because of my consumption of Little Debbie snacks, I barely fit through it. I’ll be looking forward to going back to that cave and to make it through that passage much easier when I’ve dropped some weight.

Prayer for the day…help Brian to consume food in moderation and to stay motivated to exercise. But on a more serious note…Most of all, pray for the kids that are very soon to a part of our family. That they will meet the Savior of the Universe and receive the healing they need directly from Him…if a Little Debbie is what it takes, so be it.

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!

The Next Generation

cactus

This blog is a little difficult to write. We’ve been waiting hopefully for some good news out of a job interview that Amber and I had recently. It wasn’t your ordinary job. It was a job to become house parents…and this time around wasn’t our time to get the job.

Amber and I have evaluated out lives and how God has put specific circumstances in our lives, growing us to to some degree work with the next generation. We’ve led small group for college students in our home. We’ve worked with youth and children since before we were married at camps, in paid childcare, in volunteer childcare, etc. Amber has had ambitions to be a teacher and comes alive when reading books and teaching concepts to kids. I have spent years as a corporate trainer, often teaching how to be a good employee (along with how to do the job). I could go on and on. God has orchestrated our lives to benefit others which led us to the journey to put in our application for being house parents…to tend to the needs of up to 10 children and provide them love, security, and life skill training while showing them who Jesus is.

We spent time praying to God, asking Him to have a wide open door or a closed door. We asked lots of questions of people who do this kind of work. We researched. We dreamed. We even tried to talk ourselves out of it…and attempted to have our kids talk us out of it. After a 2 hour phone interview, we visited the home and interacted with several staff members over the course of 2 days. After evaluating, praying again, weighing out the pros and cons, and absolutely understanding that his job was going to be the hardest work we’d ever done, yet the most rewarding, we gave them a green light to continue the process. We felt the location, the staff, and the practices of the organization were a great fit for us…and then the email came. Crushing. Disappointment. Tears.

But even through the rejection, we realized something. God is at work even when things don’t turn out the way we hope. He has our best interest at heart. He knows the right timing. He knows the right place. He knows we have a passion to directly effect the next generation in some manner because He put that desire there.

We will continue to apply at different places to explore where God may lead us. We may even look into the same place again if an opportunity presents itself. This is only a snapshot of the full story but you get the idea.

If you gain nothing out of this post today, remember this…When it seems like God isn’t around..don’t worry. It’s just that He’s got your back. He loves and cares about you more than you think. Heck, he likes sparrows and all they do is poop all over everything and leave a mess…and if He loves a stinkin’ sparrow, think of how much more He loves you.