Children of the King

A post shared by anna lenardson (@rawbanana5) on

Recently, Ezri and I went for a fitting for her gown for her formal dance. We do things a little differently than other schools here. Each spring we have a formal dance, but we don’t call it a prom. We may and sometimes do have other dances, but they are not formal and they are not a big deal. For this dance, all the HS girls on campus gather in one house to try on dresses and pick theirs out. Over the years, we have had many, many formal dresses donated which we hold back for this occasion.

It was quite a sight to behold the jeans and t-shirt crowd playing dress-up like little girls; the tough tomboy morphing into the Disney princess. It got me to thinking about the little girl inside of us who wants to be treated like a princess and wants to be beautiful to someone, and about how God sees us.

Adoption into God’s family does that for us … it makes us children of the king, little princesses (or princes). I hope and I pray that as these young men and women leave from here, they know they are loved and valued like royalty by us and through us by God Himself.

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.    – Ephesians 1


Chivalry is not dead

Worth itThis morning, as second period was drawing to a close, one of the girls in my class dropped a stack of papers on the floor. Two of the boys in my room rushed to help her pick them up. Two of them. So intent on helping that they almost knocked heads in the process. If you haven’t spent much time around teenagers lately, you may not realize how counter-culture this is. Sometimes I am so proud of what we are doing here.


When Did the Fog Go?


Today was foggy. It was quite thick and I could barely make out the hills surrounding our little school. I was watching “my kids” enter the classroom. Behind them was a blank canvas, impenetrable, first gray, then white as the sun began to shine on the fog.

I love to watch the fog thin and gradually burn off as the sun rises, but today, I got busy. Sometime during third period, I looked up and the fog was gone, the sun was shining, and the moment had passed.

It made me think about the kids here and about life. Sometimes, they are surrounded by a fog. They don’t see clearly and they can’t find their way out. This is a time for prayer. Gradually, the sun begins to shine and they are outlined in sharp relief. This also is a time for prayer. I can begin to see who they might become with God’s help. I want to watch the transformation, but I often miss it, like I missed the breaking up of the fog this morning. Suddenly, I’ll realize that God has done a wonderful work in their lives. The fog of discouragement and hurt has been lifted and their faces shine with hope and even joy. And I continue to pray.

We are losing a few of these students this month. They have completed the requirements of their stay at Cookson and will be rejoining their families. This is what we work toward whenever possible, but it is hard on us to say goodbye.

Please redouble your prayers for the kids here at Cookson, for those who still walk in the fog of the world and for those who are leaving us. Pray for God’s truth to shine through. Pray for endurance through difficult times and circumstances. Pray that we will be faithful in offering God’s love and acceptance and that it will be enough to shine through the fog.

God Moments

Yesterday we were at heathrow airport (London). We were on a leg of our journey from Portugal to Oklahoma. It’s been a difficult decision for us. We are having to say goodbye to some very dear friends and a ministry that we have loved, but we haven’t doubted for a moment that it is the right decision. One of the reasons this is so is that we have so missed working with the poor while in portugal … The language barrier has just made it too difficult, but those of you who know me (Anna) and are familiar with my ministry to teen moms know that it is a big piece of my heart.

So at the airport, it was really crowded and I was sitting next to two young women who were returning to the USA after completing a short-term mission in Africa. After a few minutes I leaned over to talk to them. I don’t usually talk to people in the airport … although it’s not unheard of.

As we chatted, I talked about our work in Portugal and the work we were going to at Cookson Hills. Although I never mentioned it by name, one of the young ladies recognized the ministry of Cookson hills by my description … turns out her sister had worked there for ten years, still lives in the area, and is now running a home for teen moms! As you can imagine, I quickly snapped up her contact info. What a wonderful confirmation that God is guiding us toward this new adventure!

For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. Phil 2:13


Ezri and Shyanna saying goodbye to some of their friends

Things that go together

P1030670I’m sitting here this morning working on my lesson plans for the upcoming school year.  I’ll be teaching Algebra I, High School Bible, Health, some remediary mathematics, maybe Geography, and Physical Science. 

Right now I’m working on Physical Science.  The first chapter is designed to set the stage for everything we talk about in the upcoming year.  It answers the question: How does science fit in to the Christian worldview?  The title on the very first section of the book is “Lose Your Place, Lose Your Life”.

The book talks about both the Bible and science being maps that help us understand the world around us.  Science can lead to life-saving medicines, resource efficiencies, etc.  The Bible answers questions like where we come from, why we are here, and where we’re headed.  When there’s something we don’t know or can’t see, it’s like a dark spot.  We need to shine light on it so we can make sense of it.  The Bible and science help us do that.

So I’m studying and reflecting on this, and listening to music at the same time (because I’m 41 years old and I can if I want to).  Then this song started playing and the idea of needing the light of God in my life fit right into what I was looking at on the page.  And I thought to myself, I should share this.  So here it is:


What is this love given to us?P1030215
Received my life through selfless sacrifice.
Although we fail, the Cross prevails.
Forgiveness stands. You take me back again.

You’ve shown me life.
You’ve opened my eyes so I give you my praise. 
Yeah, I give you my all.
You’ve shown me life. 
You’ve opened my eyes to the truth that there’s no greater love.

Now in the darkness God’s light shines, Christ forever glorified.
So come on, come on, sing out to God now with all we’ve got.
We live for you, our God.

Salvation’s strong in Christ alone.
The Saviour King alone in victory.
I step aside, give you my life for you to know:
Do what you wanna do.

I can’t imagine life without you, without you,
‘Cause it’s all for you. Yeah, it’s all for you, God.

(Hillsong United)

That’s cool

I was playing knock out (basketball) with 4 of the kids Friday. After I was knocked out and as I was taking in the scene, I realized I was playing with kids from 4 different African countries: Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa. I thought to myself, “That’s cool.”

Ping Pong Madness

I know videos like this are usually more fun for those who were there than those who were not, but I thought I’d give everyone a chance to decide for themselves.  I hope you enjoy!