Sunday Visit: The Daughters' House

Not long ago I wrote a post about the book Renting Lacy, which completely devastated me.  A long-time reader, Kim, sent me an email about the ministry she works with The Daughter’s House.  They are reaching out to women trapped in the world of sexual exploitation with a desire to bring restoration to their lives.  She wrote this short piece about a very real experience in her life.

I walked into church smelling like Bath and Body.  I made my way to the third row on the left and my family moaned, “Can’t we sit somewhere else?”  They pointed out that we had sat in the third row on the left for ten years in two different churches.  I smiled, ignored them, and took my seat.  I noticed her directly in front of me and since I knew some of her story, I leaned forward and politely asked of her recent hospital stay.  As she updated me on the progression of the cancer into her lungs I pulled back slightly, her suffering too raw.  She represented to me a world I could not comprehend: black, inner city, sexual exploitation and addiction.  And now, this diagnosis of cancer just as she has begun to seek out a new life.  I patted her shoulder.  A worship song started.  I was rescued.

After a few songs,  I sensed that she was crying. During previous songs she had been clapping, singing, raising her hands in praise. When I realized she was upset, I reached a hand of comfort to her shoulder.  It was meant in love, but it also kept me a safe distance from her pain.  My eyes glanced down the row. A fellow worshipper caught my eye and motioned with his hand for me to go around to stand next to the weeping soul.  As I did, she sensed my nearness, and she almost collapsed into my arms.

I have never had an adult woman cling to me and sob so hard.  The words in the song seemed to give her permission to feel the pain, suffering and brokenness of her life.  I was not comfortable.  I didn’t know what to do to fix this for her.  Still holding her with my left arm, I put my right hand up on her face and head to cradle her.  I wiped her tears with my thumb; stroked her cheek. The more intimate my touch, the harder she sobbed.  My breath caught in my own throat.  My own chest heaved a sob of sympathy. To hold such brokenness against my chest ripped mine wide open.

The worship leader sang, “If your heart is broken….. just lift your hands and say….I know that I can make it….”  I realized she didn’t need me to fix anything, but just to help her raise her hand in worship again.  I have never raised my hand in worship.  Her delicate black hand in mine raised in the air is something I will never forget.  Without words, with a simple gesture, I testified that faith in Jesus can carry her through.  As we sang the song a second time, her sobs increased, but so did her grip on my hand in the air.  I think that is how I would like to picture loving fellow believers – being available in the moments of deepest pain to give testimony to Christ’s sufficiency in the gentlest way possible.

I walked out of church smelling like cigarette smoke.  Holding her had replaced my body spray with her scent, and it lingered on my shirt.  I liked the reminder of her pain entrusted to me, evidence of her in my life.  Her weakness, her transparency, her need, her cigarette smell shattered my Christian facade. By letting me scoop her brokenness into my arms, she revealed the similarity of our hearts.  That revelation cost me everything.  I had to move out of the third row.

The Daughters’ House is a ministry and partnership of New City Fellowship and Restore St. Louis that is seeking to partner with local churches, non-profits, legislators, law enforcement officials, business people, and community members to bring justice and reconciliation to women in our communities who are trapped in lives of sexual exploitation.  Contact Caylee Dodson at for more information

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Leslee
    December 6, 2010

    Wow! That's powerful.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sweet Pea
    December 8, 2010

    Gutwrenching and beautiful.

  3. Leia Jackson
    January 29, 2012

    Oh my goodness!! How small is this world……..that is my church! I know this ministry and these women well! Thank you for telling their story!


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