Today we talk with guests who have experienced and witnessed deep hurts and have helped others find hope and healing in Christ: Joni Eareckson Tada and Dedee & Greg Lhamon. Joni Eareckson Tada is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, and an international advocate for people with disabilities. In 1967, when Joni was just 17, a diving accident left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, without the use of her hands. Today, she encourages us that even when we think there is no answer to our deepest hurts, we can find strength in Christ. Dedee and Greg Lhamon are the founders of The Covering House in the St. Louis area, a home for girls who have been involved in sexual trafficking or exploitation. Dedee and Greg recount how they have been used by God to reach many girls in their darkest moments and give them hope for a life free from the bonds of their hurtful pasts.
A Lifeline When We’re Drowning in Hurts: Joni Eareckson Tada and Dedee & Greg Lhamon – Jesus Calling Episode #120
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today we talk with guests who have experienced and witnessed deep hurts and have helped others find hope and healing in Christ: Joni Eareckson Tada and Dedee & Greg Lhamon.
First up, we have Joni Eareckson Tada, the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, and an international advocate for people with disabilities. In 1967, when Joni was just 17, a diving accident left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, without the use of her hands. After two years of rehabilitation, Joni emerged with new skills and a fresh determination to help others in similar situations. Since that time, she has authored over 50 books, has served on the National Council on Disability and on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department, and has received numerous awards and honors for her ministerial and humanitarian work. Today, she encourages us that even when we think there is no answer to our deepest hurts, we can find strength in Christ.
Joni Eareckson Tada: Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada.
I lead a ministry that distributes wheelchairs around the world to children with disabilities and adults with disabilities. We distribute Bibles. We hold retreats: five days of hands-down, slam-dunk fun for special needs families, Bible study, wheelchair square dancing, hiking, swimming. And we hold these retreats also in developing nations. Next year, we’ll have sixty-eight family retreats in the United States and around the world. We’ve delivered nearly 200,000 wheelchairs. So Joni and Friends, our ministry, is very active in serving people with disabilities around the world and giving them the help and the hope of Christ.
“Joni and Friends, our ministry, is very active in serving people with disabilities around the world and giving them the help and the hope of Christ.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
A Devastating Accident at Age 17
I grew up in a very supportive loving family. We would go beach camping a lot in tents, and sit around the campfire at night singing hymns and camp songs, and horseback riding, hiking, canoeing—a lot of hiking.
And I loved my family so much, which is why it was such a surprise when at the age of 17, shortly after high school graduation, with my sister I went swimming on the Chesapeake Bay and I dove into what I thought was deep water, but I learned real fast when I dove that it wasn’t. My head hit the bottom. I snapped my neck back. It crunched my fourth/fifth vertebrae, and I broke my neck. That left me a quadriplegic without use of my hands or my legs. And life changed dramatically overnight. That was back in 1967.
“I dove into what I thought was deep water, but I learned real fast when I dove that it wasn’t. . . . And life changed dramatically overnight.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
When I first broke my neck, mind you, I was only 17 years old. I was stuck in a state institution for almost a year and a half on a geriatric ward in a six-bed room with other girls who had suffered spinal cord injuries, and I was depressed. I knew in a vague sort of way that the Bible probably contained answers for my depression. But when I would read passages of scripture like James 1: “Welcome that trial as a friend.” Or Romans 5: “Rejoice in suffering.” Or Philippians 1: “For it is given to you not only to believe on the Lord Jesus but to suffer for his sake.” I’d almost find myself gagging on those verses. And I guess that’s because when you suffer an acute injury that is life transforming and depressing, answers don’t always reach the problem where it hurts, and that’s in the gut and in the heart.
“When you suffer an acute injury that is life transforming and depressing, answers don’t always reach the problem where it hurts, and that’s in the gut and in the heart.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
I remember one night though I was lying in bed around 2 o’clock in the morning, and I wanted so desperately to cry, but there was no one around to wipe my nose. And I pictured Jesus. I didn’t see Him and there were no visions, but I imagined Him coming to visit me. It was dark and He tiptoed past my sleeping roommates, and I sensed Him lowering the guardrail of my hospital bed and sitting on the edge of my mattress, and with one hand leaning over to brush back my hair, and with the other hand showing me His nail print in His palm, looking at me and saying, “Joni, if I loved you enough to die for you, then don’t you think I can be trusted—even with this?” My paralysis.
And when I thought about it, it really made sense. I mean, if somebody loves you enough to lay down their life for you, to give it up for you, to take the rap for you, to die in your place, then surely that person’s got your best interests at heart.
And slowly but surely I began to climb up out of depression, all because I saw that Jesus really does care and He’s with us in the toughest of situations.
“Slowly but surely I began to climb up out of depression, all because I saw that Jesus really does care and He’s with us in the toughest of situations.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
“I don’t have the strength for this, Jesus.”
The question has been asked, “Joni, what has given you the tenacity and the strength to contribute so greatly to the world as you have?” It’s a big question, and I should cut it down to size by saying I have very little tenacity or strength, honestly. I am an incredibly weak person. But that’s my strength. I can’t boast much in the flesh, because I don’t have much of it that works, so I boast in Jesus.
I wake up in the morning facing one more year, one more day of quadriplegia. One more day of somebody giving me a bed bath, and doing my toileting routines, and putting my legs through range of motion exercises, and strapping on my corset, and pulling up my support hose, and getting me dressed, and sitting me in a wheelchair, and brushing my teeth and blowing my nose and brushing my hair. And I’m overwhelmed before the day is hardly even begun. It’s like, I can’t do this, Jesus. I have no strength for this. I have no energy for this.
And so I have to say, “I can’t do life. But I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” So if I have any tenacity or strength at all, it is recognizing what a treasure trove I have in my weakness because that is the very thing that drives me to the cross of Jesus Christ, every single day.
“If I have any tenacity or strength at all, it is recognizing what a treasure trove I have in my weakness, because that is the very thing that drives me to the cross of Jesus Christ, every single day.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni’s Book Heaven: Your Real Home, Updated After 25 Years
Back in 1995 I wrote a book called Heaven: Your Real Home. But that was well over 25 years ago. And so I’m thrilled at the re-release of the updated version of Heaven: Your Real Home because since 1995 I have suffered more. I have read God’s Word more. I have prayed more, and I have learned more. So I share some of these fresh insights and the newly revised version of this Heaven book.
C.S. Lewis, I think, referred to Heaven as “the real story.” And what we are experiencing down here on Earth, that’s the title page and maybe the listing of the chapters. We haven’t even begun the preface yet. But in Heaven, the real adventure, the real journey, the real story will begin.
I love to think about Heaven, I love to talk about Heaven, I love to sing “all that will be glory for me.” I love to sing about Heaven, “Glory for me, glory for me. When by His grace I shall look on his face. That will be glory, be glory for me.” I’m always singing about heaven because I think that’s a great way to work your way through suffering.
“I’m always singing about heaven because I think that’s a great way to work your way through suffering.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
And suffering provides the platform for great faith, great prayer, and great maturity.
I’m grateful for the suffering down here on earth because I think it really will prepare us for Heaven. I mean, how can we arrive at the pearly gates and walk through them and see Jesus and run to Him and hold His nail-scarred hands and thank Him and praise Him for so great a salvation as He’s given us? I mean how can we do that? How can we feel those nail prints in His hands, had we never suffered at all? What if we never had aches or pains, or a rotten molar, or a twisted ankle, or a broken back, or a deep disappointment, or horrible grief? How could our gratitude to Jesus for all that He suffered; how could it mean anything? So suffering in a way prepares us to say not just thank you to Jesus, but a heartfelt and earnest—true gratitude to Jesus for all that He suffered on our behalf.
“Suffering in a way prepares us to say not just thank you to Jesus, but a heartfelt and earnest–true gratitude to Jesus for all that He suffered on our behalf.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
The Best Cure for Depression
If anyone understands how hard it is to not drown in your struggles, and your problems, and trials, then I’m your friend, I’m your candidate. I’m the lady who resonates with that. It’s so hard to live with chronic pain. To live in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic, to stave off fears of the future and, Will things get worse? Am I going to wear out my husband? I mean a million questions. And sometimes, I know you understand this, you just get just get bogged down. You become so weary with earth and all its hardship. And you know that God wired it to be difficult, but sometimes you do ask God, Can you not, can you just let it up a little bit? Right? I mean that’s our human response. That’s my response sometimes.
So I have to jerk my emotions upright. I have to grab them by the throat, and I will not allow my emotions to take me down that dark, grim, awful path to suicidal depression and despair. I’ve been there. It’s horrible. And I don’t want to go back. If you’ve been there, I’m sure you’d say the same. You just want to anything and everything to not go down that road to hopelessness.
“I will not allow my emotions to take me down that dark, grim, awful path to suicidal depression and despair. I’ve been there. It’s horrible. And I don’t want to go back.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
The best cure for depression, when I become overwhelmed with earth’s challenges, [is to] go out there and find somebody else who’s hurting worse than you are and provide them hope. Encourage them, serve them, minister to them, uplift them. It does your soul a world of good, and it puts you firmly on planthe path to Heaven. Because you know what? You’re not only getting to know Jesus better—the Blessed Hope—you are embodying Him to others who hurt maybe even worse than you do.
“The best cure for depression, when I become overwhelmed with earth’s challenges, [is to] go out there and find somebody else who’s hurting worse than you are and provide them hope.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
You know, God is an expert at exchanging the meaning of awful things and giving those awful things new fresh meaning–hopeful meaning. I mean, look at what He did at the cross. I mean right there, a symbol of torture, of murder, of carnage and grief, of unthinkable suffering and hardship. God exchanged the meaning of the cross to something that is now hopeful, and victorious, and joyful, and full of meaning. Why else would we wear little crosses around our necks?
And I look at my wheelchair the same way. Just like God turned water into wine, He turned this wheelchair into a classroom, as it were. He exchanged the meaning for it. Because if you look at a wheelchair, most people think you’re confined, you are imprisoned. But hey, with Jesus, this is the prison that has set me free, and I’m not confined to a wheelchair. Oh sure, I might be a wheelchair user, but my wheelchair is this classroom which God has instructed me on how to trust Him in the hard places.
“My wheelchair is this classroom which God has instructed me on how to trust Him in the hard places.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
This wheelchair is a blessing. It’s a bruising of a blessing, but it’s a blessing nonetheless.
I think that in some strange miraculous way, God will even exchange the meaning of my wheelchair into something of eternal significance.
Now I won’t be disabled, I won’t be a quadriplegic. And no, I don’t think there will be visible wheelchairs in Heaven, but I think it’ll be exchanged for something, I don’t know, maybe I’ll wear it like a badge of courage. Something’s going to be very special about this wheelchair in Heaven, and I will wear it like a badge of honor, a badge of courage. And I will thank God for all those many years—what, 51 now?—years of quadriplegia. Because it’s the wheelchair that set me free and drew me closer to Jesus.
You Can Find Hope in Jesus
My devotional time with the Lord Jesus is—it’s quite special.
I sing a lot to the Lord Jesus. I really do. “Altogether lovely. You are altogether lovely, and the fairest of ten thousand, this wonderful friend of mine.”
“I am His, and He is mine,” I will tell Him over and over again. I love the Lord Jesus and I love expressing my love to Him in words of love, and words of adoration and devotion.
“I love the Lord Jesus and I love expressing my love to Him in words of love, and words of adoration and devotion.” – Joni Eareckson Tada
So every day my devotional time is a glorious time of praise and thanksgiving, and devotion, and adoration of the Lord Jesus. But it’s also a time where I invite His Holy Spirit to come, search me, try me, see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me on the path everlasting.
I’m pushing 70 years old. I can’t believe it. And of course I’m thinking about legacy, what can I bequeath to others in the kingdom of Christ. Well, I think it’s always important to remember your roots, like, where you came from, where you were, where you began.
This is a charcoal drawing that I did when I was in occupational therapy in the hospital over 50 years ago. And the occupational therapist told me, “Draw something that expresses what’s going on in your heart.” This is what I drew. I wanted to convey, Oh God, this is now my life? I’ve gotta to do this? I can’t do this. This is awful. And that’s where I began. And you know what? These are the people that I want to minister to even now, so many, many decades later.
I want to be remembered as someone who loved Jesus Christ with a passion, but who cared for people like that up to the very end.
Acts 20:24 says,
“I consider my life worth nothing to me if I could but finish the race and complete the task that God has given me, and that is to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”
It’s all I want to do—is tell others, and not just tell them but show them. I just don’t want to give the gospel, I want to embody the gospel. I want to become the gospel to people like that who are despairing of their of their suffering and their affliction. I want to let them know there is hope. That hope really can be found in Jesus Christ, and that hope can take any assault from the enemy, every disappointment, every discouragement. I want to tell people that when every darkness and desolation occurs, to embrace it with both hands as a blessed opportunity to die to yourself and live more fully to Jesus Christ.
If I can just keep sharing that message until my dying breath, I would be so grateful to serve families like mine, people with disabilities like me, those who are stricken with affliction. If I could just give them that kind of hope and that kind of encouragement, then all you have to do is put on my tombstone: “See you in the morning,” and it will be a life worth lived.
Narrator: To learn more about the Joni and Friends ministry or Joni’s book Heaven: Your Real Home, please visit joniandfriends.org.
We’ll be right back after this brief message about an exciting new product to help redirect your thoughts at the holidays from Jesus Calling.
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The Covering House: Dedee and Greg Lhamon
Narrator: Our next guests are Greg and Dedee Lhamon. Dedee is the founder of The Covering House in the St. Louis area, a home for girls who have been involved in sexual trafficking or exploitation. She and her husband Greg, a VP with Salem Christian Media Network, felt moved by God to help young girls who have experienced abuse and hurt at an early age, as perpetrated by sex traffickers. What started as an idea grew to a mission, and as they started to put plans together, God swiftly and miraculously started to bring the right people and pieces together, and The Covering House soon opened its doors to its first residents. Dedee and Greg gratefully recount how they have been used by God to reach many girls in their darkest moments and give them hope for a life free from the bonds of their hurtful pasts.
Dedee Lhamon: My name is Dedee Lhamon. And I am the founder and executive director of The Covering House in the St. Louis area.
Greg Lhamon: My name is Greg Lhamon. I’m a VP and general manager with Salem Media Group, which is the largest Christian broadcaster in the country. And I’ve worked for them for 20 years.
Dedee and I’ve been married 30 years. Just had a wonderful trip to France to celebrate our 30th anniversary, which was nice. And we have two daughters.
The Horrors of Human Trafficking
Dedee: I was watching a documentary when I just mind my own business, watching TV. And I noticed as I was watching this that they were talking about trafficking of children. The issue pierced my heart in a way that I don’t know if anything else has pierced my heart in such a long time. They were talking first about Thailand and Cambodia, and then they switched and started talking about trafficking of children in the United States. And I had no idea that this was an issue in the States.
Having two daughters and both of them at the time were living at home, they were both still in high school with us. I told Greg; “I really want to find out more about this issue and, if it’s a problem, what I need to do to help.”
And he was so supportive. He said, “Whatever you need to do, do.”
So I spent a year just kind of researching this issue, and I found out that this was an issue within our area, and it was significant. And I had no idea.
“The issue [of human trafficking] pierced my heart in a way that I don’t know if anything else has pierced my heart in such a long time.” Dedee Lahmon
Little by little, I just started talking to people and telling them about this problem. Honestly, the first people that kind of came alongside me and believed it was a problem—because back in 2009, no one really wanted to even think about this issue. And it’s like, this can’t be happening in the United States, much less in the Midwest.” So it was it was nuns, it was sisters. And they they said to me, different groups that I would speak to said, “Yes, we absolutely believe you, and we will help you.”
I spent the first several years just trying to educate people and raise money to help girls, and then connect with people who knew what I didn’t know.
The Miracle of a Kingdom Deal
Dedee: We have seen the hand of God continually work with The Covering House. And I can explain it in no other way but God. Even in my disappointments, He was walking with us.
And the first time that happened was, we were approached by a group of sisters, and they had this beautiful old home that we could probably house 12 girls.
One of the things you have to do is get permission through the zoning committee in the area. You know, it’s hard to remain private and also have to go to your neighbors, but getting permission from their neighbors to go and set up this place.
Well, we were getting a lot of volunteers together, we were going door to door. The neighbors are like, “Yes, we’d love to have you and help you with this.”
And we happened to run across the home of the alderman in the area. And that man stepped out and said, “No way, no how, will any of your kind come into this neighborhood.”
Now you have to understand this is where this home is located, it wasn’t like a subdivision. It was in the city. There were other businesses around. But he made it perfectly clear that he will not have our girls in that community.
So I just looked at him and said, “Okay, we’ll dust our feet off and we’ll go on.” And when I got in the car, I had an overwhelming peace that can only be explained by God. And the scripture that came to me was, “What men mean for evil, I mean for good.”
And within a couple of months, we were approached by a couple who came to me and said, “What are you looking for in a home?” And I kind of explained, “I’d love to have something that sits out a little bit and where the girls can breathe and just feel safe.”
And they said, “You know, we might have something for you. Have a look at this.”
We went and looked at this home, it sits on 50 acres, beautiful farmhouse, just restored. And they said, “We would like for you to be able to use this.”
And I said “Oh wow, this is outstanding. Are you wanting to sell this? Can we rent? What are you looking for?”
“We want to rent it.”
And I said, “How much?”
And they said, “A dollar a year.”
And I thought, Oh my gosh.
I said, “okay!” We wrote a check, you know, at that time, five bucks, locked in five years. And they have been our landlords, and so we practically got this home for free.
I want people to know that our first four girls, they were community-based girls, they weren’t in our home, but our four community-based girls were girls that were in the church. They were going to church on Sundays. They were going to school through the week. One played the viola. They were playing basketball. One was being homeschooled. We’ve had three fathers go and rescue their own daughters.
Greg: We don’t rescue the girls. We we take in and counsel, over the course of a 12-month program, girls who have already been been rescued from with the authorities or something like that.
Dedee: And you know as we’ve had our girls there, one of the things that we’ve learned as the board had talked about, “We’ve got to expand because we’re getting referrals daily from kids about kids, and we just don’t have a place for to put them.”
And so as a board we were talking, and we have an accountant on the board and he said, “I think we need to go look at a line of credit. I think we need to start looking at property.”
And I said, “You know, I really want a kingdom deal.”
And he said, “What do you mean?
I said, “I just feel like I would really would like God to just give this to us. Every dime we have spend on a mortgage means it’s money we can’t spend to help through services.”
And he said, “Okay, but go ahead and just look at getting a line of credit.”
I said, “Okay. But I’m really, really counting on this kingdom deal.”
And so one Sunday, my church asked me, “Can you get up and just tell little bit about what’s going on, give us an update?”
And I did. And they said, “How can we pray for you?”
I said, “I really need a kingdom deal.”
And they said, “Okay,” so that’s what they prayed for.
And this was on a Sunday. And on Friday, I get a call from Sister Virginia, who used to volunteer with us, and she had been relocated out into Connecticut where their mother’s home is. And she said, “Dedee, I’ve been praying about The Covering House. And we have this retreat center where a few of our sisters are living right now, but it’s 15,000 square feet, sits on 17 acres. We’ve just been talking, and I think we just want to give this to you.”
Greg: You know, what’s also cool about that story is there was a lady in our church who just she’s a sweetheart of a lady. And she had come to Dedee, not knowing that this had gone on. She said, “Dedee, you know, I’ve prayed for you for a long time. And when I pray, I picture things. I pray in pictures. And I’ve always just imagine you going through quicksand, walking through thick mud, that kind of thing, and you have a rope tied around you. And behind you are these girls that you’re kind of dragging along. I’m just praying that you would have the strength and everything.”
She says, “But it’s very odd. This past week, there was a different image came to mind. You’re still slogging through this mud, and you’re still have the rope tied around you, and it’s going to these girls that you’re pulling behind you. But there’s another rope, and you’re holding on to it. And on the other side, there are Catholic sisters who are pulling you along.”
Now she had absolutely no idea that that sister Virginia had called Dedee and talked to her about this property. But that’s what that’s what she—God kind of gave her that. And it was just confirmation that God is all over this thing.
Dedee: And then we opened our doors finally in 2014. And we have had girls that have walked through our doors who have been trafficked for years or been trafficked for months.
And our whole program is about our relationship. Christ is a relational God, and so our whole program is on relationships and re-establishing trust with these girls. And we tell them, “Look, we have to earn your trust. We have to earn your trust because we know your trust has been severed.”
“Our whole program is about our relationship. Christ is a relational God, and so our whole program is on relationships and re-establishing trust with these girls.” – Dedee Lhamon
Greg: I’ve heard people say that there are two things that kids need: they need to know that they are unconditionally loved and accepted, and they need to know that they’re not in charge. And if you have one without the other, things get out of balance. And that’s exactly kind of what The Covering House has. They are unconditionally loved and accepted exactly where they are in the middle of their trauma.
“I need you to tell me how I can forgive these people.”
Dedee: There was a girl who had been in trafficking for about three months.
A big target area for these traffickers are the malls. So heads up parents, malls are a big place where they go and look for girls.
“A big target area for these traffickers are the malls. So heads up parents, malls are a big place where [traffickers] go and look for girls.” – Dedee Lhamon
And so she was approached and, “How pretty you are. Why don’t you come to be a model, let us take some pictures.” And so she shows up at this place only to find out that it wasn’t a modeling agency. She was taken from her state, and she was taken to Tennessee, Florida, and over into the Virginia area, where the federal authorities finally got to her, rescued her and brought her back.
We got her at our home. And by the way, coming from a very stable home. Mom was a great mom.
And one night I was actually there working overnights and I heard her crying. And so I went up and she says, “I’m not going to go to sleep. I can’t sleep.” And that’s the other thing—she wouldn’t sleep through the night, which made school a challenge the next day because she was falling asleep at school, but she would not close her eyes. And she said “Ms. Dedee, I get flashbacks when I when I go to sleep at night.”
And what people need to realize is flashbacks aren’t nightmares. Flashbacks are something that your whole body experiences. It’s re-experiencing all the trauma over and over again, and so it’s different than a nightmare.
And I said, “I understand. Why don’t I just sit here with you? Is that okay?”
And she said, “That would be good.”
So I just sat there and as we were sitting she said, “You know, Ms. Dedee, I kept count of the number of men.”
I said, “You did? How many were there?”
And this is in three months’ time. This child had to provide services to 276 men.
And yet the same child, not long after that was, again, in the middle of the night crying and crying and crying. “I want to talk to a pastor. I want to talk to a pastor. I want to talk to a pastor.”
So we’re calling. And you’ve got to understand, our home is out in the middle of nowhere. It’s like, “Go to the end of the world and turn left.” And so we’re calling, trying to get find a pastor who would come you know that time of night. And we finally get a pastor who came. And to be perfectly honest, we had no idea what she was going to talk to this pastor about because there are many times these girls come to us and they’re like, “I don’t believe in God. I’m angry at God.”
And so when I was told later, what she asked that pastor was, “I need you to tell me how I can forgive these people.”
And so even in the midst of all this trauma, all of this abuse as a child, God was protecting her heart and knowing she knew she had to be able to forgive these people who had violated her in such a way before she could heal and move on. And so that is, that’s the power of the gospel. That’s the power of Christ.
“In the midst of all this trauma, all of this abuse as a child, God was protecting her heart and knowing she knew she had to be able to forgive these people who had violated her in such a way before she could heal and move on.” – Dedee Lhamon
Learning to Dance and Sing and Celebrate in His Presence
Narrator: Greg and Dedee have seen first hand the power of Christ’s transformative love in the lives of the girls they encounter at The Covering House. Their own relationship with Christ is central to their lives and marriage as well, and they cite Jesus Calling as a resource they use to draw near to God daily.
Greg: I had somebody at work who had really enjoyed Jesus Calling, and so she sent me a copy of the book.
Dedee: And then I heard about it after Greg got the book. I thought, This is . . . it’s really good. I love it. It’s a devotion that you can do daily. It’s not something, it’s not like a book study, and yet it’s always seemed so relevant to what I’m needing.
I journal as I do my devotion and prayer time. So I made notes of what I like and the one that has resonated with me was actually June 19. And it says:
I am the firm foundation on which you can dance and sing and celebrate My Presence. This is My high and holy calling for you; receive it as a precious gift. Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life. Give up your striving to keep everything under control—an impossible task and a waste of precious energy.
My guidance for each of My children is unique. That’s why listening to Me is so vital for your well-being. Let Me prepare you for the day that awaits you and point you to the right direction. I am with you continually, so don’t be intimidated by fear. Though it stalks you, it cannot harm you as long as you cling to My hand. Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.
This particular passage resonated with me for more than one reason. One of the scriptures when I was so, so tired that always came to my mind was, “Be still and know that I am God.” And so resting in Him and knowing that He is my refuge, that He’s got this, that this is His mission, not mine, and if He’s ordained it, He’ll sustain—it has been something that I really would cling to.
“Resting in Him and knowing that He is my refuge, that He’s got this, that this is His mission, not mine, and if He’s ordained it, He’ll sustain—it has been something that I really would cling to.” – Dedee Lhamon
The first part of this verse says, “I am the firm foundation on which you can dance and sing and celebrate My Presence” takes me to a story of one of our girls.
It was raining one day at the house, and our one of our staff members said, “Girls, have you ever gone out and played and danced in the rain?”
And they said, “What? No.”
So they went out, and all they did was on the driveway, played and danced in the rain. And this girl wrote in her journal, I have never felt as free as I did when I was dancing in the rain.
And so when I read that about the dancing and celebrating, it just brought me back to her saying that’s when she felt the most free.
Everything that we provide—all the therapy, all the different types of therapy, the complete education component, the outings, the dinners—all those things are good. But what resonated and what she remembered the most was dancing in the rain. A simple pleasure, as a kid, many of us have done that she’d never done.
“What has happened to you shouldn’t define you.”
Dedee: You know in a perfect world there wouldn’t be a need for The Covering House. But we unfortunately live in a fallen world, and so the need is there. But my dreams for our girls would be to, like I expressed earlier, recapture some of their their childhood where they can feel safe and be able to giggle, and fly kites, and play jump rope, and regain some of their their school credits so they can transition out of our care back into the community, where they can function. And not to let this one time in their life—this is something that’s very important—What has happened to you doesn’t and shouldn’t define you. It is not who you are. You’ve walked it, you’ve experienced it, but it’s not you. It’s not who you are.
Narrator: To learn more about The Covering House, please visit thecoveringhouse.org.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we talk with author Candace Payne. Candace has a joy that is infectious. Her viral video of trying on a Star Wars Chewbacca mask is one of the most viewed Facebook videos of all time. Candace has written a new book called Simple Joys, where she helps readers connect with joy that is all around us each day.
Candace Payne: I actually care about people’s joy. I do. At the end of the day, the thing that motivates me is not necessarily being a lady that’s a “joy evangelist” or I’d have one topic and that’s it. The reality is is I believe we’ve all been told a lie that joy is a luxury, that it’s only given to some people, and it’s only given at one point of your life, if things are going just right, and if you please God enough, then you get to have it. I feel like we’re so blinded in the church, especially, about what joy really can be and what it should be.