I struggled for all of my teen years with anger, anxiety, and making all-around horrible decisions that were bringing me to new lows every day. It was tearing me and my family apart…and for years, my family tried to find help, but to no avail. Then, my parents found the Joy House…and the residential program was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The people on staff were some of the most genuine, caring, and Godly people I had ever been around. It was them caring for me and showing Christ’s love to me that ultimately changed my heart to want to live for God. I am forever grateful for the Joy House and the amazing staff there.
The adolescent and early teenage years were extremely challenging and difficult with my son. I felt moments of hopelessness and helplessness. I felt as if I was somehow failing him. I had tried counseling, medicine, therapists, psychiatrists, etc. I never stopped trying to give my son the best opportunities to achieve his potential. He went from being this bright, outgoing little boy to a young man that had lost his way and didn’t seem to care about anyone or anything anymore. He attempted to gain acceptance from his peers by stealing, vaping, trying drugs, fighting etc. He was angry and on a path of self-destruction. I prayed like his life depended on it. Because it did! I spent countless hours researching teen programs. I found the Joy House only by chance, or so it seemed at the time. I prayed even more. When I had made the decision to take my son to the Joy House, I still had reservations about leaving my son to live somewhere else as it is my responsibility to raise him and guide him. With each visit and encounter with the director, the counselor, the house parents, the principal and teachers of the academy; I began to realize that God had led me to this place for my son and for my family. Thanks to the grace, love and care that was shown to my son during his 18 months at the Joy House. My son now is a junior in high school an all A student but more importantly he’s gained a genuine love of the Lord and an understanding of what God’s love and purpose for him really means.
When I was just nine years old my parents passed away. Later my Aunt took me and my big brother into her home out of the kindness of her heart. I was lost in depression and anxiety, and I began to act out based on my emotions. After seven years of this, my aunt decided to look for help.
After much searching she found The Joy House. At first, I was very angry and upset but deep down I knew that something needed to change and that I needed help. Overall, I was willing to accept help. That frame of mind opened up the opportunity for me to meet some great people. The amazing people at church, loving and encouraging House Parents, understanding and helpful counselor, caring and dedicated teachers and the good principal. All of these people have helped change me through their love and support. Because of all these caring people around me I have begun to flourish academically, spiritually and morally. But the most important thing that has happened, is that I met God again.
I was a lost Christian who needed guidance and He found and rescued me from my darkness. I was finally able to feel happy again. Then a wonderful opportunity arose. I was able to be baptized in the ocean! This happened during the Woodstock Church of Jasper teen beach trip. The changes in my life have been drastic.
I am doing great in school. I am setting goals and accomplishing them. Things at home are way better than they have been in years. I am spiritually drawn to know more about God and to become closer to Him. I am just so different, and in a good way.Now I have high hopes for my future. I have many privileges that I didn’t have before. I have faith that great things are to come because of The Joy House. Thank you to every single person on staff and anyone else who has helped in any way.
As a child, my main goal was to get a job and get as far away from Mom and Dad as I could. I believed I had it all under control, all by myself. However, running to class after being given a tardy pass, the world was crumbling under my feet. From juggling band rehearsals to excruciatingly long volleyball practices, I began to think I had
lost the will to go on.
After attempting suicide, I was sent to what I thought was Hell on Earth. I was a complete wreck, but that didn’t stop my parents or the Joy House staff from doing their absolute best to guide me in the light of the Lord to overcome my depression.
I owe my life to these people. Mr. Darren is a great counselor and a wonderful friend. Ms. Robin, or the “hero of the story” as she states, makes everything make sense. Her quirky smiles and crazy good explanations have helped me tremendously in school. Mrs. Jenn and Mr. Seth, my house parents, are the light of my day. They are pretty
stinkin’ hilarious and can both cook up a storm. I could go on and on for days about how great these people really are.
During my stay, I have grown a stronger relationship with God and have learned that in the end, you really can’t do it by yourself. The Joy House is NOT Hell on Earth and far from it. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be here because it would open so many eyes.
After many attempts to seek outside intervention and help for our daughter, we had a “God” encounter with the founder. We knew he was calling us to this place, and everything else we had looked at was “clinical and cold”, and honestly didn’t address ‘soul’ needs; which as Christians we believed was the “root” of our daughters struggles. We were welcomed in immediately by everyone on The Joy House staff. They were and are; firm in foundation, but endless in grace and mercy. House parents Seth and Jen have been wonderful with our daughter, and I wish I had enough characters to express our gratitude for the presence, persistence, counsel, prayer; and guidance they have provided not only her but our entire family. The Joy House places strong focus on restoring families, as they believe adolescent issues are not a singular issue, but a family “affair”, and we agree. If you want to experience life change, you have to be willing to dig your heels in, as much as this staff is committed to. It is a sacrifice that the entire community takes on to experience true change and restoration. Unification is key, and will not work if you “dump” the issues onto the child only. If you’re tired of the “world” providing temporary answers in negative ways, please consider The Joy House. It has changed our lives, our mentality, and painted a beautiful portrait of our testimony to come. Life wasn’t meant to be done in rows, but in circles; and I pray each of you have the opportunity we have had to experience life with The Joy House; and more poignantly a purpose driven life in Christ. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
My favorite bible verse describes who I am, Ashley Vaughters, as a Child of God! With the love and guidance of The Joy House and my family, I found my Faith in God. The Joy House helped me build confidence in God’s way not my way. I went from letting Satan guide my path, stumbling through life, not really understanding why so many unfair things had happened in my life, being angry, having no confidence in myself to truly understanding God’s unconditional LOVE! The Joy House gave me the tools to face Satan, love myself and restored my personal relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ. I will always be grateful to God for leading my path to The Joy House, and for the love and friendship I have been blessed with and will carry with me on my journey in life.
In my year at the Joy House, the greatest thing I ever learned was the art of doing. Minimizing excuses and giving results. For a while before my residence, I often put off work or did terrible jobs, but I now recognize the importance of the work I do. My grades have sharply risen as the new school year goes by, and my family life is better than ever. I thank the staff at the Joy House for their support, encouragement, and compassion. I’m very glad I spent my time with them, and I wish the best of luck to them all for their hard work. Without their support, I would not be nearly as successful in this school year.
Mark & Nicolle – Parents
When we first came to the Joy house in 2014, our teenage son was spiraling out of control. We were scared for him and didn’t know what to do. The Joy house was a drastic but necessary measure but we needed to do something to turn his life around before it got too late. Over the course of the 13 months that our son was in residence, we saw remarkable changes in his attitude, his motivation and his ambition. The counselors and house parents helped him to change his perspective and gave him tools to deal with adversity. Now that our son has successfully completed the program, he has re-established good relationships and goals for his future. And, barring normal teenage behavior, he is a joy to have in the house again. We are so grateful to have our son back.
A Mom’s Poem
Written by a mom upon her son’s completion of the program.
There’s joy in the house and that’s a lot to say
In a world that’s gone mad they’ve helped us find our way
The fighting, the anger, the rebellion and resentment
Have slowly dissolved and made way for contentment
Meeting the objective of reconciliation and peace
We’ve put aside our differences and our love has increased
We’ve taken deep looks into our motives and hearts
And put the relationship first instead of throwing those darts
We’re thankful and pleased and our hearts filled with gratitude
For the changes we’ve seen in his everyday attitude
Where strife and sibling rivalry once did abound
Now love and laughter are sure to be found.
We praise our dear Lord for the rescue He’s been
For help and healing in reaching this end
A Mom’s Story
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30: 11-12
This is the scripture I read at our son’s graduation from the Joy House. There were many scriptures (and even songs) that I prayed over my son during our several years of struggles, but at graduation time, this was the scripture that spoke to my emotion of the moment. My husband and I were a few years earlier mourning the loss of our son. The world had taken a hold of him and he was walking down a path of self-destruction. Everything dear to our hearts he would reject and we were losing him. Losing the opportunity to have a relationship with him and rejoice in his love, his joys, his desires, his mistakes and his successes. That was all being taken away and we were losing our son and mourning over that loss. We sought help from our church as well as the secular community; it took some time for us to realize that the only hope would be in God and his son Jesus Christ. That is when we turned to the Joy House. The love we felt upon joining the Joy House community was overwhelming.
The staff at the Joy House gave us on a regular basis a little taste of heaven with the love and compassion they continuously showed us (as well as the necessary doses of correction). A love that our son was not experiencing at school, at home (even though we tried) or with “supposed” friends; a love that my husband and I weren’t experiencing from the world because we were being judged by the schools, our various doctors and even by some of our church family; a love that we weren’t experiencing within our family unit for we were all hurting and unable to love each other at times; a love that was a perfect example of God’s love that we all needed desperately and the Joy House more than graciously gave. The love we felt helped us walk through a difficult journey. Behaviors had to be corrected, not just our son’s behaviors, but ours as well.
Our son spent a year and a half living at the Joy House and the angry young man that entered was not the same young man that left. He had a peace about him that you could see in his eyes that wasn’t evident before (and a more personal knowledge of a relationship with Jesus Christ). His eyes were no longer downcast but looking up. He still had the potential for anger, but he now had tools to handle the anger. He still had the propensity to not believe in himself and his potential, but also the knowledge that Satan is a liar and this is not to believed. The Joy House has supplied him with tools to live by.
“You will show me that path of life, In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
At the writing of this testimony our son has been back home living with us for about a year and half. At first, we were feeling a sense of déjà vu. Some of the negative behaviors and family dysfunction were re-appearing. At times, despair was sinking in, thinking that the time working with the Joy House was a waste. But we had all changed and we were all unwilling to go back to the way of life before coming to the Joy House. We worked through the testing, we remembered what the Joy House taught and more importantly we kept our eyes on Jesus. Because of that fact, we have not returned. We still find our hope in Jesus Christ. We have been discouraged, but we have also been very proud of our son’s growth. While we may feel discouraged at times because of the negativity of the world, we still find hope in Jesus Christ. We know He has a plan for each and every one of us, our son included. We will just keep our eyes on Jesus and the hope he provides. We will always remember and be grateful for the Joy House and their staff.