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May 28, 2024 42 mins

When Ronda Paulson found out that kids entering foster care slept in government offices while they waited to be placed, she got mad at God and heard ‘These are my children, what are you going to do?’ What Ronda did is build a beautiful home to welcome them into and there's now 22 of these Isaiah 117 Houses around the country. And they've loved on over 5,000 kids on what is often the worst day of their lives. 

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Hey, everybody, it's Bill Courtney with an army of normal folks.
And we continue now a part two of our conversation
with Ronda Paulson, right after these brief messages from our
generous sponsors Falster Paroding and adoption and all of the

When I say the word natural, I mean scientific, all
of the non natural parental child, the way natural children
and parents are together through natural means. Those have their

own difficulties. I've raised four. My kids are idiots. I
mean they drive me crazy. I'm still finding out things
they did when they are twelve and thirteen that even
at twenty six, I want to chase them down and
spank their butts for it. All right, my children, but

they are delicious and they are mine, and I would
go to the wall for any of them, and Lisa
would literally kill herself or her children. But it is messy,
oh my goodness. Raising four children is messy and it's
stressful on a marriage. And we had four kids in

four years, so Lisa was pregnant for basically five years
in a row. But we just Oh, she's a fantastic woman,
gorgeous best friend. But even with the love in our
relationship and my absolute adoration of my wife and my

four children, and my wife's adoration for children, and the
belief that this is the greatest gift on our It
is still painfully stressful and messy to raise children and
have a family like that. You add in that extra
layer of adoption, fostering all of that, with all this

other mess and baggage. I just got to believe it's
it's not an easy thing.

Speaker 2 (02:19):
Oh it's not easy.

Speaker 3 (02:21):
Foster care is hands down the hardest thing I've ever done.
And Corey would tell you that too. But I love
what Corey says about it, because you know, I'm the
one that's talking about all the time, but whenever you
ask him, you know why, because it's not about me.
It's about a kid that needs a home. It's not

about me. And you know it sounds so simple, but
it's true. You know it's not easy, but somebody's.

Speaker 2 (02:48):
Got to say yes.

Speaker 1 (02:50):
Well, I also hurts you loud and clear earlier when
you said you felt like God asked you what you
were going to do about it, which is gosh. I
gotta be careful with this metaphorical transition, because I am
not saying but we often say on this show an
army of normal folks. You know, we can change our

culture and society in this country, but it starts with you.
And it's it's when I heard you say that you thing,
I thought, well, that's something we say all the time.
We try to challenge our listeners and everybody in the
country to recognize all this dysfunction in our culture and
society that surrounds us. If we're waiting on government or
somebody else to come fix it, we're gonna be waiting

on our deathbed. It only happens when you decide you
can fix it.

Speaker 3 (03:44):
And so, and that's why I came here today like
I'd never heard of this podcast.

Speaker 1 (03:50):
I looked at me neither, I looked you up.

Speaker 3 (03:53):
I looked it up, and I was like, that's what
I'm trying to tell people too, Like there is absolutely
nothing's about me like cheering dance coach Mama flour I
scream up with kids, I lose it. I mean, there's
like I'm just a normal pert, Like there's nothing special
about me. Nothing, and there's nothing. So if you think

there's nothing special about you, great you can still do something,
like you absolutely can do something to make this world better.

Speaker 1 (04:21):
Absolutely you mean, like an army of normal folks, Like an.

Speaker 2 (04:25):
Army of normal folks.

Speaker 1 (04:26):
So I came to Memphis, I heard the number that
in our state there's eight thousand children looking for a place.
Alex the producer. And by the way, Alex, the show
wouldn't exist without Alex. But it does not excuse the
fact that as a producer he is a massive pain
in my You have to say that every episode, every

other every other at least. But he is but one
of the things that you were in his sweet spot.
When I first met him, one of his constant pitches
was that there are how many foster kids in United States?
It's more complicated than guys told us. There's, as you know,

one hundred and fifteen thousand kids there's rights and terminated. Okay,
so it's one hundred and fifty or fifteen.

Speaker 3 (05:15):
Oh, there's way more children than that in the system. Yeah, okay,
there's thousand in the Houston area.

Speaker 1 (05:20):
Okay, but there's one hundred and fifteen thousand children whose
parental rights are terminated, right, And there's one hundred and
fifty thousand places of worship in the United States, four
hundred thousand, all right, So if one of three places
of worship had a family that adopted one kid, the

foster system would be empty. And then the question is
once again, what are you going to do about it?
And your story plays to exactly the thing that Alex
has been talking about forever, which is bringing it full circle,
is you decided what am I going to do about it?

And so you tricked your husband into it. Yeah, and
now you have two children. And despite how messy and
difficult it is.

Speaker 3 (06:15):
Still because trauma, the way trauma, the way trauma fixs
the brain, the way trauma effects the way they process emotions,
the abuse. I mean, we are still we still have
a long road.

Speaker 2 (06:25):
It's messy, okay, but I put yourself through it.

Speaker 3 (06:30):
Because it was so funny when you're saying I'd love
my four kids. I remember I was speaking to this
group one time and this gentleman at the end I'll
usually do a Q and A, and he was like,
can I ask you anything?

Speaker 2 (06:39):
Can I ask you something? You will tell me the truth?

Speaker 1 (06:40):
Can I really ask you some straight up stuff?

Speaker 2 (06:43):
And I was like, as long as it's not my weight,
I will tell you anything.

Speaker 3 (06:49):
And he looked right at me and he was like,
do you honestly love your adopted children the same as
you love your biological children.

Speaker 1 (06:54):
Oh wow, that's a great question. I wish I had
thought to ask that, because that is a great question.

Speaker 2 (07:01):
Absolutely, and sometimes I think I like them more than
the ones I made. I mean, like, it's absolutely it's
a child.

Speaker 3 (07:15):
You cannot love a baby halfway. It doesn't matter if
it's yours or if it was handed to you at
nine months. You will not love a baby halfway. And
what happens too, is there's this mama bear that starts
when you're a foster parent, because you see the injustice,
you see the broken system. You see no one's advocating
for this child. Everyone wants to make sure mama has
her rights and daddy has his rights, and all the

teas are crossed, and that who is fighting for the
rights of this child. And there's something about becoming that
mama bear and holding this child and realizing it's me
and you, Bud, like it is me and you that
bonds you in a way you can never explain. He
is mine and I love him desperately and I would
take a bullet for him, and I would.

Speaker 2 (07:55):
I mean, you don't love them.

Speaker 3 (07:56):
Any different, any different, and you know, people say really
crazy things. You know, they'll say, I could never foster.
I can't even go to the pound. I really need
to think about the words. Or they'll say, you know,
you don't know what you're gonna get if you're foster,
you don't know what you're gonna get. I'm like, did

you know what you were gonna get when you're a
husband and you made a baby?

Speaker 2 (08:21):
Did you know what you're gonna get? Like, nobody knows
what they're gonna get. What are you talking about?

Speaker 1 (08:25):
You know, that's a really good point.

Speaker 2 (08:26):
You know, like, no, you love this child.

Speaker 1 (08:29):
Because if I knew there's a couple of mine, I
would have put back and I mean onto the shelf
of gotten others.

Speaker 2 (08:36):
I was a stay at home mom for those first
two and I ruined them.

Speaker 3 (08:39):
Like if I had to drop two of my children
in a deserted place to survive, it would be my
nine and my seven milk. They went to daycare, they
went through foster care, and they can survive this world.

Speaker 2 (08:48):
These two Mama helped me Mark twenty one and seventeen.
These two could rule the world.

Speaker 1 (08:53):
So unbelievable. Okay, so wow, So here you are are
with is the second one right headed too? Okay, so
you got one.

Speaker 2 (09:04):
I can only take one.

Speaker 1 (09:05):
Okay, so you got you got that going on. But
in the back of my of your mind as now
I'm paraphrasing your story and I'm gonna let you take it.
But I think so. I think that that week seven,
when you were at the DMV looking place for the

drop off children and the girl lay, even though you've
done the foster and the adoption, you still are stuck
in that place a little bit mentally thinking about the
transitioning of these children losing everything and then existing for
some period of time, and that transitional place that is

just horrendously dirty and dark and sad and scary to
a child.

Speaker 2 (09:54):
So I'm stuck there.

Speaker 1 (09:55):
Take me through that.

Speaker 3 (09:56):
I'm stuck in that moment of how alone they must feel,
and how unfair that is because they've done nothing wrong.
They weren't the reason this happened. They didn't cause this happening,
so so unfair to me. I'm stuck there. But now
I'm learning about caseworkers, and I'm learning how hard they're
working and how crazy their lives are, and how you

know they've got a siblings set of three in their
cubicle and they have got thirty cases.

Speaker 2 (10:20):
On their load.

Speaker 1 (10:21):
And there's just somehow caseworkers get a bad rap, don't
they Somewhere along the way they are busting their tails.

Speaker 2 (10:27):
And so I'm watching these caseworkers pick lice in their breakroom.

Speaker 3 (10:30):
I'm watching them bathe babies and drug testing sinks, putting
them in their car, going to buy them food, buying
them underwear by with their own money, with their own money,
And I'm like, how does anyone stay in this? And
then I'm also in this new foster mom dad world,
or I'm hearing story after story about the child came
with nothing, the child came with one shoe, the child
came with, you know, a roaching, fested dipperback.

Speaker 2 (10:51):
And so I'm like, or lice and filthy lice. Yeah,
they came across our door at two am. They all
had lice. We had to throw them in the tub.
We had to run to Walmart. Walmart used to be
open twenty for seven, it's not. We had to run
a Walmart and get everything they needed.

Speaker 3 (11:02):
Like the pandemonium of that, And That's where I got stuck, like,
how can we reduce trauma? For children, lighten the load
of the caseworkers, and make that yes easier. Like that's
what I kept thinking, like, there's got to be something
we can do here. And then I started seeing this
white house in my head with a red door. There

was a big picture window, and there was a Christmas
tree and I had colored lights on it, and there
were presents underneath, and children would come in and there'd
be a present with their name on it. And I
just kept seeing this white house with a red door
and these presents for kids, and so then it just became.

Speaker 2 (11:36):
Like, what if there was a home?

Speaker 3 (11:39):
What if instead of going to the DMV type place
in the state office, they would go to a home
where they'd have everything they need and fun furniture and
company furniture and tons of light and a bubble bath
or a teenager, a shower, a fridge full of stuff.
Food will make you anything you want, a play set,
a basketball goal, a Nintendo switch, I mean books, Let's

paint fair neils, let's make time, like what.

Speaker 1 (12:02):
If there could be We're not talking forever, We're just
talking for the transition.

Speaker 2 (12:05):
Four hours, eight hours, twenty four hours.

Speaker 1 (12:07):
Something that's comfortable and feel safe, yes, and what if
we could pour into those children in that moment, that
positive messaging.

Speaker 3 (12:14):
Like you can do this, You are loved, you are
not alone, you are not in trouble. This happening to you,
not because of you. Like what if that could be
part of it? And they all need stuff?

Speaker 2 (12:24):
What if we could have an entire floor full.

Speaker 3 (12:27):
Of new shirts and new pants and new shoes and
new backpacks and anything they need. And then what if
we could have an office for that caseworker And what
if we.

Speaker 2 (12:34):
Get have everything they need.

Speaker 3 (12:35):
So they come and they work on the paperwork and
we're gonna love on the child. We're also gonna love
on them like what's your favorite coffee creamer?

Speaker 2 (12:42):
What snacks do you love? What do you want for dinner?

Speaker 3 (12:45):
Like how can we love on them and remind them
that they're not alone because they feel very alone as
a state employee, And then how can we make that
yes easier? So now we get to call them and say,
can we have some children. They've been at the Isaiah House,
They've had a life treat, they've had baths, they've eaten,
they have their teeth brush, they have bags and stuff
full of everything they need for the next week. And

by the way, what do you need to be able
to say yes? Do you need twin beds, stroller, carbon
monoxide detector, a fire extinguish from both? Like what do
you need to be able to say yes? Because we're
gonna make it happen for you. And by the way,
you're not alone in this, Like we want to support
you in this moment because we can't thank you enough
for saying yes. And so that was the dream in
early twenty seventeen, like what if there was a home

where we could reduce trauma, lighten the load, and make
that yes easier. That was that was the dream.

Speaker 1 (13:36):
That's a great dream.

Speaker 2 (13:37):
It's a great dream.

Speaker 1 (13:39):
You know. I think it's interesting that Isaiah's name is Isaiah.
I do too that I don't say this a lot,
but that feels like a god thing.

Speaker 3 (13:49):
Oh, listen to this, Okay, I'm I'm gonna bring you over.
You're gonna say this is a good thing. So Isaiah
one seventeen, we read the verse when we met Isaiah.
We thought it'd be fitting to read through the book
of Isaiah. Isaiah one seventeen says, do good, seak justice,
take care of the widow, take care of the orphan
that just became our family verse Isaiah one seventeen. Well,
then we were looking for a name for this house.

It's like it has to be the Issa one to
seventeen house. We get invited to Nashville to speak to
the State Department of Child Welfare to this building, floor ten,
Sweet number one seventeen.

Speaker 2 (14:24):
And I was like, come on, of course it is.
I took a picture by it. Yes, of course it is.

Speaker 1 (14:28):
That's crazy.

Speaker 2 (14:29):
Of course it is.

Speaker 1 (14:31):
That's crazy. Would you recite one more time for our listeners,
Isaiah one seventeen.

Speaker 3 (14:36):
This is a Ronda paraphrase about Isaiah one seventeen. Do good,
seek justice, take care of the widow, take care of
the orphan. But I tell people all the time, the
best part of that verse is what comes before it,
which is God is mad.

Speaker 1 (14:50):
At his people.

Speaker 2 (14:51):
There's no other way to say it.

Speaker 3 (14:52):
He says, you think I want what you're currently doing,
Like you think I want these New Moon sacrifices and
these offerings that you're making. What I want from my people,
it's for you to do good, seek justice, take care
of the widow, take care of the orphan.

Speaker 2 (15:07):
It's not more complicated than that.

Speaker 1 (15:09):
In other words, see a small place of need in
your community and fill it and give God the glory.
And so that is Isaiah one's seventeen. The kid that
shows up in your life is named Isaiah. And then
the office number you go to Nashville to talk about

this stream of yours, it's sweet one seventeen. That's just weird.
That wasn't your adoption there.

Speaker 3 (15:39):
We adopted them on eleven seventeen eighteen. There's a one
one seven right in the middle of their adoption day.

Speaker 1 (15:45):
Yeah, it's you know, that's crazy stuff.

Speaker 3 (15:49):
We found a book. Dolly Parton, you know, sends books
to all of our kiddos. So she had sent a
book to Isaiah and his original address and his mom
had passed those books along. His address was one seventeen.
You're kidding, It says Isaiah, and then it says one
to seventeen, and then the street name unbelievable.

Speaker 1 (16:09):
Okay, So obviously we're going to call this house that
you're envisioning the Isaiah one seventeen house. I mean, it's
his name. It's the Bible verse that that really is
basically your calling verse. And for some reason, this entire

one seventeen thing has surrounded the entire deal. But at
this point it's just a dream. And after the break
we'll hear how that dream became a reality. We'll be
right back.

Speaker 3 (16:52):
I went to the state. I went to our regional office,
a lady named Pam Harr. She'd worked for the department
for thirty six years. I tell people all the time,
she should have been jaded and bitter. She should have
seen too many things come and go. I said across
from her, and I tell her this dream of what
if this there's a home, and we sit there and
we cry together, and she said, let's try. And she said,

I'll start talking to the state, you start raising some money,
and let's just see what happens. And so she headed
to Nashville to walk with licensing and could we do this?
And I head out into Carter County talking anybody they'll
listen to me. And I do believe with all my
heart this is one of those times when I feel
like God has never given up on the children in

foster care. He rallied every part of Carter County like
there wasn't a We always say we had first Methodist,
first press, first battle. All the first were there, all
the every church rallied. The football team did a fundraiser,
the nursing home held a bake sale for the children,
the car show gave us money. Like the entire community rallied,

and in less than a year we had a home
debt free, had been completely remodeled for free, ninety thousand
dollars worth of work to the home done for free.
Every piece of furniture was donated for free. Every closet
was full, every cabinet was full, Forty trained, state certified volunteers,
fingerprinted background check, a fully funded first year's budget in
the bank waiting on us. It was this beautiful picture

to me of what the church should look like. Everybody
just heard of this need and they gave of what
they had, and suddenly we had a white house with
a red door that was ready to serve the children
of Carter County.

Speaker 1 (18:32):
And so now if the kid goes through the trauma
of having to be pulled out of their family, instead
of going to the DMB, they go to this, they
go to a home, and the caseworker isn't a place
they can actually aptly support the children. And perspective, foster
parents don't have to go to the back of a
DMV and a dirty floor and institutional furniture. Rather they

go and their child has been at least care for.
Absolutely it's phenomenal. Has it not made a massive difference?

Speaker 2 (19:06):
You know? I look back now and it really is comical.

Speaker 3 (19:09):
Like I really believed, in my heart of hearts that
I would quit my job at Milligan and this house,
the Isaiah one seventeen house, the original one is three
minutes from my home. I would run that home and
we would do a little bit of good there in
Carter County.

Speaker 2 (19:24):
The house does what the house was created to do.

Speaker 3 (19:27):
Like it is unbelievable, Like it absolutely reduces trauma and
lightens the load and eases that. Yes, and like it's
it was crazy. But I never ever dreamed that it
would catch on, Like I never, in my wildest dream
thought there would be more than a house. Like that's
what I thought, agreed to, you know, like one child,

one house, Like that's what we're doing.

Speaker 1 (19:49):
You know.

Speaker 3 (19:51):
But one thing that this perfect storm that was brewing
is Bill Lee was running for governor. He had not
won the nomination yet, and so I was told that
this guy named Bill Lee and his wife Maria wanted
to come see the.

Speaker 1 (20:03):
House, and I said, no, I don't know who this
guy is. I'm busy, like.

Speaker 2 (20:10):
I'm not political.

Speaker 3 (20:12):
I don't want I don't want somebody kissing babies. I
don't want a picture in front of a bus. No,
I don't want to meet them. Well, my board was like,
you're going to go meet so I said, Qureak, come
with me. I don't want to meet this guy. So
he shows up. They're sawing, hammering. I don't even make
them stop. Like he is like literally like yelling over
the saws and the hammers on the goal and give
it a tour because the house.

Speaker 2 (20:30):
Hasn't done yet. We make it to the top of
the stairs and he was like, what do you want
me to tell Nashville?

Speaker 3 (20:36):
What does Nashville need to know? I was like that
Tennessee has forgotten their children. That's why this house is
being built. Like how do I know you've forgotten your
children because you will stick them in an office for
hours or days on end.

Speaker 2 (20:49):
That's just the beginning. Child welfare is not set up
for the child.

Speaker 3 (20:53):
And I mean, I am giving it to him and
I am crying, and I am mad, and I am
and he starts crying and Maria starts crying and he
was like, can I pray with you? There were no cameras,
there's no photo off, And we stood there together and
we prayed for the children of Tennessee.

Speaker 2 (21:07):
And we get done. And Corey loves this part of
my Do you have a bus we could get our picture.

Speaker 3 (21:12):
Made by so come to find out because I don't
do details. His entire platform was this faith based initiative.
If you have a faith based organization doing really good work,
let them do the work, like there doesn't have to
be this separation and no, let them help the state,
like let's go.

Speaker 2 (21:32):
And so he then proceeded.

Speaker 3 (21:33):
There was one house not even finish twenty first, all
to tell the entire state of Tennessee about this model
of Isaiah One's seventeen house, how they're going to partner
with the state, and how this beautile like used us
as an example. Well, then he becomes he gets the nomination,
so he's officially running. So he stops back by the
house and sees it finished, and he was like, this
is probably TMI. But that shirt you gave my wife,

she loves it and she sleeps in it every night.
And I was like, the Lord works in mysterious ways.
You go to bed every night thinking about my ministry.
And so we just you know, he loved the house.
So then we find out we're going to do one
in Green County. And so he's now governor and he
calls and he says, can I come to the groundbreaking
of the Green County House.

Speaker 2 (22:12):
I'm like, let me check with my people.

Speaker 1 (22:14):
Yeah, what work with my people?

Speaker 3 (22:18):
And he brought one hundred thousand dollars said he just
wanted us to use it to expand, and that day
he stood in Green County and said he wanted this
to be the new standard for all children entering foster
care across the state of Tennessee. And that catapulted us,
like we didn't know what was coming, Like all of
a sudden, they want ninety five homes in the state

of Tennessee, and everybody's calling, you know, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tennessee, and.

Speaker 1 (22:42):
How many houses are there in Tennessee.

Speaker 3 (22:43):
Now we have twenty three total locations. I think we
have sixteen open homes in Tennessee alone.

Speaker 2 (22:49):
Because then Indiana called.

Speaker 3 (22:51):
And we're like what, like, well, this foster worker's mom
lives in Limestone, Tennessee and cut out an article and
said this would help my daughter with a work. So
then we start working with Indiana, and so then their
government sends up and says, we want one in every
county in Indiana. So now we're working Indiana and Tennessee,
and then your buddy Mike Rowe shows up.

Speaker 1 (23:14):
Of course, Mike shows thoughts and our.

Speaker 2 (23:17):
Episode of Returning the Favor aral.

Speaker 1 (23:20):
Returning the Favor is a Facebook show that Micro did
after dirty jobs or even during dirty jobs, where he
would just show up to places and tell the stories
about people who were quote returning the favor, basically like
our show, telling stories of amazing normal people doing incredible things.

And he called it returning the Favor. So he showed up.
He showed up with his cameras.

Speaker 3 (23:48):
With his cameras, we were told a small documentary company
was coming.

Speaker 1 (23:52):
That is not nothing Micro does.

Speaker 3 (23:55):
It was a fake website. It was fake names, fake emails.

Speaker 1 (23:58):
And they were fake lying do you yes, ye, yeah, yeah,
I got it because they want because Mike's show wanted
to be a sprishtree.

Speaker 3 (24:06):
So when we show up at the Isaiah House that morning,
I think a small documentary company is coming everybody in
the house knows who's actually coming, but me, I don't know.
And so this is the speech I gave to my people.
I was like, listen, y'all know, I don't do details.
Some small documentary company is coming.

Speaker 2 (24:20):
I don't know. Here's what you need to know. Number one,
don't say one.

Speaker 3 (24:23):
Negative word about the Department of Children Services. And number two,
nobody take your shirt off because it ain't that kind
of video that.

Speaker 1 (24:30):
Was that's all I do. That's funny, and then micro
walked in.

Speaker 3 (24:37):
So our episode aired on March ninth of twenty twenty. Well,
this is crazy. I love sharing God moments with you.
So we were supposed to air March sixteenth. We had
a whole social media.

Speaker 1 (24:49):
Plan lead it to are you going to tell me
something about John three sixteen now or are we going
to skip that?

Speaker 3 (24:54):
We're skipping that Schwutch parties, watch what we have this
whole plan. Sarah, his producer, calls me on Sunday seventh
and said, or Sunday the eighth and says, we're moving
you to tomorrow night, Like, oh, okay, okay. So I
call our social media person. She's like, I'm on it.
So we watch it on March ninth. March thirteenth, the
world shuts down, so COVID two million people watched it

on March ninth. Do you know how many people watched
it March sixteenth.

Speaker 2 (25:19):
Ten thousand?

Speaker 3 (25:20):
Wow, it was like we just got picked up and
dropped on March ninth.

Speaker 2 (25:25):
What two million people watch it?

Speaker 3 (25:28):
Our phone blew up like we finally on day three
got a map of the United States and just started
coloring in. Forty one states and four countries have reached
out wanting an Isaiah one to seventeen house.

Speaker 2 (25:40):
Thanks to your buddy Mike. I say, Jesus and Mike
are the reason.

Speaker 1 (25:44):
Billy, Billy, Mike and Billy. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (25:47):
Oh, Trinity Jesus, the trinity of bloody do gootters, silly
Micro and Jesus.

Speaker 2 (25:58):
Yes, Jesus needs to many.

Speaker 3 (26:00):
So we in twenty eighteen summer of we had one employee,
me and one home. As of today, we have one
hundred and forty employees, over six thousand trained volunteers, fifty
four total locations in twelve states, twenty two open homes,
and we'll have thirty by the end of the year.
What what, Wow?

Speaker 1 (26:22):
Where just the money.

Speaker 2 (26:24):
I'm a cheer a dance coach. People like, what happened?

Speaker 1 (26:27):
Where does the money come from from that?

Speaker 2 (26:30):
The local church individuals and private foundations.

Speaker 1 (26:33):
You are kidding.

Speaker 2 (26:34):
No, we get no funding from the state. Now I
take that back. I will say this.

Speaker 3 (26:37):
So, the State of Tennessee came to us and said,
we need you to move faster in West Tennessee, Like
we need you to because there's like this wave of
red doors coming, you know, like we need you faster.
And we had never taken state money, and we said,
we'll try this one time, but here's our rules, Like
we still do it our way, you know. They gave
us one point five million dollars to do a home
in Davidson Gibson County and two in Shelby VI.

Speaker 1 (27:00):
Centner's Nashville Gibson is Jackson, Tennessee Jackson area and then
Shelby County Smmphis, which back to the top of the show.

Speaker 3 (27:09):
So I visited today. We have our first home in
Memphis under roof. They're getting ready to have a holy
Graffiti Night next Tuesday. They meet and write scripture on
the all the different wood inside and so yeah, we're
gonna have our first home in Memphis. So now we
have one in northeast Tennessee, were the very tip top northeast, and.

Speaker 2 (27:27):
We're going to have one in the very southwest corner.

Speaker 3 (27:29):
Yeah, what what is happening?

Speaker 1 (27:35):
What is going on?

Speaker 3 (27:38):
We have home we're getting ready to open a home
in Waco. We have a home in Dallas, like we're
getting ready to open one in Jacksonville, Florida. We have one
in Lynchburg, Virginia. Are you like, I don't know, I don't.

Speaker 2 (27:47):
Know what is happening. I don't know what's happening, but
this is what I do now. My God is big
and he has not left his children.

Speaker 3 (27:54):
That's what's happening. And the need is huge everywhere everywhere.

Speaker 2 (28:00):
Yeah, that's what's happening.

Speaker 1 (28:02):
All from little itty bitty what in a.

Speaker 2 (28:06):
Carter Brown County, Tennessee.

Speaker 1 (28:08):
Yep. I wish people could see how bright your smile is.
You are? You really are just stoked about it, aren't you.

Speaker 3 (28:24):
I just it's like I have this unbelievable vantage point
and like I know, oh, I know the church has
made a mess of things and I know there's church.
Like I have this vantage point where I just keep
watching the God that I've loved my whole life, rally
people to build homes and love on children like I
just keep watching it happen, and like over and over,

it just keeps happening.

Speaker 1 (28:50):
We'll be right back. No one that listens to this
will not be able to very quickly ascertain the level

of your faith and that you are a Christian and
all of that. But you just said something that I
think is really important that I've said, which is corporately
the church has made a massive mess of things. Yeah yeah, yeah,
given the depth of your faithfulness to your faith, I'd

like you to just say a little more about what
you mean when you said that. I think that's important.
So many people don't have the temerity to answer the
call to be that what are you going to do
about a person? And a lot of times will hide

behind well, you know, this religion screwed this up, or
this faith is screwed this up, or this church is
screwed this up. And my answer to that is you're right,
but so what. But it's interesting you just dropped that
in there. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Speaker 2 (30:15):
I mean, I've experienced some serious church her in my life,
you know, Isaiah one seventeen house came about in a
time when I was very disillusioned with the church.

Speaker 3 (30:26):
But this is what I tell people all the time.
I'm sorry for the Jesus that a church showed you.
I want you to know that Jesus I know, and
the Jesus I know has always been for the marginalized
and the forgotten and the underdog. The Jesus I know
could sit at any table, anywhere, anytime, with anybody because

he loves everybody the same. That is the Jesus I know,
and the Jesus I know loves you that way and
loves me that way. And I'm sorry for when the
church got in the way.

Speaker 2 (30:56):
Of that message.

Speaker 1 (30:57):
And I think we need to remember that if He
were to come today for the first time, rather than
when he did, it wouldn't be in the ballroom of
a massive Marriott hotel somewhere around a bunch of people
sitting around one hundred and fifty dollars dinners. No, Jesus

surrounded himself with stinky fishermen and prostitutes. And the church
needs to remember that, yeah, as it pertains to the
work that you're doing, because you are exactly where Jesus
would have come to the marginalized, to the weakest, to
the dirtiest and frankly the social out cast. And if

we're called to be christ Like, aren't we called to
do the exact thing you're doing right now? Yeah?

Speaker 3 (31:48):
And I mean I felt that probably in my mid thirties,
late thirties. It's when I finally was like, I don't
think we're supposed to be sitting in this building. I
think we're supposed to be out, Like I don't think
they're coming here, you.

Speaker 1 (32:01):
Know, like we're the sanctuary.

Speaker 2 (32:04):
Yeah, like we're gonna have an ice cream social.

Speaker 3 (32:06):
Okay, newslash hurting people are coming to an ice cream social,
you know what I mean.

Speaker 2 (32:09):
Like that was when it was finally like and so then.

Speaker 3 (32:11):
I started asking questions and nobody was comfortable with the questions,
you know. And so I absolutely believe it is time
for people to stand up out of the pew, out
of the out of the contemporary cheer that you sit
wherever and go out because the hurting world is not
coming to us, and so we have to go out
to them.

Speaker 2 (32:29):
But that's what I've seen happen with Isaiah one seventeen house.

Speaker 3 (32:32):
I believe our churches are filled with people that are
dying for more and they don't know where to start.
And so we're like, I got away. Come help me
build this house. Come be a volunteer and come meet
that child on their worst to day. Come pick lice,
Come make macaradi and cheese, come play you know, like
you absolutely can come be part of this. And I

think it's starting to open the eyes. And I've seen it,
like they get so excited. That's why, that's why we
are where we are. It's because the local church. I said,
we're in sign us up and they've shown up. And
so it's been good for my soul as well to
watch the local church rally because I do believe that
God wants us to come together in community. I do
believe that, so I don't want to give up on

the church. I've not given up on the church. I
know that their apologies that need to be made, and
there are changes that need to happen.

Speaker 2 (33:21):
But I've also seen I.

Speaker 3 (33:23):
Say all the time, in this role that we're in now,
I see the absolute worst of humanity and I see
the absolute best. I see the worst of the church,
and I see the best, and there is good left
in the church.

Speaker 1 (33:34):
All right, so let me just four countries be Julian,
other places calling you after the mic Ro show, and
those numbers start adding up in my head. But today,
how many? How many children have you served from this
first little house in Johnson City? Yeah?

Speaker 2 (33:55):
As an organization, we've served over five thousand to date.

Speaker 1 (33:59):
Five thousand children on the worst day of their life
pass through one of your homes.

Speaker 3 (34:06):
And that's what's so exciting about when there is a
new home, because it's not just a new home that's
going to.

Speaker 2 (34:11):
Serve a child. We now have a new home that
is going to serve hundreds, hundreds and so every time.

Speaker 1 (34:18):
And you know, if you think about it on balance,
kids that have the worst day of their life and
a place where one of your homes doesn't exist, they're
experiencing the institutional furniture in their dirty carpet. So I mean,
there's a need for this literally everywhere.

Speaker 3 (34:38):
And I knew nothing about trauma informed care when this started.

Speaker 1 (34:41):
We have trauma informed care.

Speaker 2 (34:43):
You don't either, okay, say trauma informed care.

Speaker 3 (34:45):
It's this new way of handling people who have been
through trauma, and so you want to be trauma informed.
I've never heard this phrase. So we have this specialist
on trauma inform care come and visit the Carter County home.

Speaker 2 (34:55):
And she was like, do you know what trauma informed
care is?

Speaker 3 (34:57):
And I was like, She's like this, this is trauma
and form is trauma inform care.

Speaker 1 (35:04):
You may not know the phrase, but you know what
it is.

Speaker 3 (35:07):
And I said, well, that means God is trauma informed.
But what we've learned, because I didn't know any of this,
what the brain does with a traumatic event is it
never lets go of it, and.

Speaker 1 (35:20):
So it reprises it. It will reprise it, it will,
but it never lets go. But it's like someone once
told me, the problem with pushing something under the water
is it eventually surfaces again if it's not dealt with. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (35:35):
And so, because removal day is one of the most
traumatic days I'll ever walk, they never forget it. And
so I meet men at age forty that hang their
head and say thank you for the work that you're doing.
I still remember the tile floor, you know, or somebody
in their twenties that says I can still smell the
office like.

Speaker 2 (35:53):
They never forget that day.

Speaker 3 (35:55):
So what a day to step in with nothing but
love and kindness.

Speaker 2 (36:00):
And positive messaging and hope.

Speaker 1 (36:03):
Because maybe some of the trauma being pulled out of
their house will be all set with the love and
the comfort of them. Maybe they'll never forget.

Speaker 2 (36:10):
Maybe they'll never forget that.

Speaker 1 (36:12):
Yeah, you're not only changing the life of a child,
You're potentially changing the trauma of an adult one day. Yeah,
it's phenomenal. If somebody sitting out there listeners it wants
to do one of three things that I can think of.
One is just donate to financially support the work you're

doing now literally all over the country and growing to
more and more. And you said four countries, which is amazing.

Speaker 2 (36:42):
We've not gone there yet.

Speaker 1 (36:43):
They've asked me what I get it, but still that's
a lot.

Speaker 2 (36:47):
You Hawaii no twice, because it's like a six hour
time difference. I'm like, I don't know if we're ready
for Hawaii.

Speaker 1 (36:53):
But yeah, So, if anybody wants to donate money for
all of that, or if they are like that sounds
like something thing I could do in my community, and
they they want to start a house with you somewhere,
support one or however it works, or they'd want to
just learn more or be a volunteer how do who do?

How do they find you? What do they do?

Speaker 3 (37:19):
Everybody just needs to go to the website, Isaiah one
to seventeen house dot com.

Speaker 2 (37:23):
At that.

Speaker 3 (37:24):
On the website, you can hit donate and it'll talk
you right through whatever you want to do. You can
choose a specific county, you can choose where needed most.
There's also every location that we have where that home is,
the process that it's in, is it built already as
it opened?

Speaker 2 (37:37):
Is under construction? So you could see if you could
get connected.

Speaker 3 (37:40):
The person that runs that home is located there, So
you can click on that and say, I want to
be a volunteer.

Speaker 1 (37:44):
I'd love Can you get that person's contact information.

Speaker 2 (37:48):
From the website? Yeah, so I would just drive everyone
to the website.

Speaker 1 (37:51):
Yeah, Okay, what's Corey think about all this? Now?

Speaker 2 (37:57):
So Corey and I we joke I sleep on his
right and work on his left.

Speaker 1 (38:01):
Like we now and he's now employed by this right,
what's he doing?

Speaker 3 (38:06):
He's our director of development and so but we're in
it together. I mean, this is it was always the
dream that we could do this together. But one of
us kept a real job while the other one quit.

Speaker 1 (38:16):
Her job is director of mean he's out raising money,
talk more.

Speaker 3 (38:19):
About talking to yeah, talking to donors, but making people
aware of what we're doing. Yeah, and working more than
we ever thought with some corporate ideas, like you know,
Low's has helped us in every home we've ever built,
but we don't have a partnership with Low's. But we're
just saying we just love to give you credit. And
let's just say every time we build a house, we're
going to partner with you.

Speaker 2 (38:38):
You know what I mean. And you know I could
examples like that, and so.

Speaker 1 (38:41):
There's no that's how you build them.

Speaker 3 (38:43):
Yeah, they've helped us everywhere, so let's why not call
it what it is, you know, And so he works
on those kind of things. He's also over our We
have a big golf tournament every year. Every location has
a golf tournament, and so he's over all of that.

Speaker 1 (38:53):
But yeah, So I mean it's a big job. You've
got to constantly be raising money, you got to constantly
be outfit inness thing with the stuff that it needs.
You got to have volunteers to staff it because you've
got to be ready for the minute that that kid
has the worst day of their life.

Speaker 2 (39:08):
Yeah, we're open three sixty five twenty four seven.

Speaker 1 (39:10):
Yeah, it's phenomenal.

Speaker 3 (39:13):
But what's crazy is I tell you all the time,
this ministry stretches everybody the way they need to be stretched.
And so when you said, hou'se Corey, Corey and I
are being stretched. And so remember Bleft City, Bristol, Jump City, Elizabethan.

Speaker 2 (39:25):
Now I got to get on the plane and go
to Houston and figure out if you ever driven in Houston.

Speaker 1 (39:29):
Houston's a long way.

Speaker 2 (39:30):
It is crazy town to drive in Houston.

Speaker 3 (39:33):
And so I've got to go get a rental car likes.

Speaker 1 (39:36):
You know, Oh I've ever driven in Houston? Yes, Yeah,
it's the fourth largest city in the country. It's massive.
They have interstates. Is why theres five football.

Speaker 2 (39:44):
And they're like stacked.

Speaker 1 (39:45):
Yeah, they're stuck. They're crazy.

Speaker 3 (39:47):
So I'm trying to navigate Houston traffic and he's at
home trying to navigate four children. And so yeah, I
mean I think that, you know, he would be much
more comfortable in Houston traffic and I'd be more comfortable
at home. But God's called us to to learn two
different things. And so he's a good man.

Speaker 1 (40:02):
He's a good man.

Speaker 3 (40:03):
He's at home trying to navigate tea caps this week,
make sure everybody gets in bed on time, eats a
good breakfast.

Speaker 2 (40:08):
You got to be nice to your kids that week.

Speaker 1 (40:10):
You know, when you.

Speaker 2 (40:10):
Send them to school, you can't yell at them. So
he's trying not to stream to the kids.

Speaker 1 (40:13):
And so yeah, wow, Ronda, I am so inspired by
your story. And if you guys listening out there, it's
just one more and the litany of every week you
hear the stuff is. Nobody bequeathed this to you. This

is a dream you had that you went after as
a normal person, seeing the area need and filled it
because your heart said that's what you needed to do.
And with a lot of hard work, a little bit
of grace and a little bit of luck, you're changing
lives of people all over the country. And I would
guess you would say, get more out of it than

you ever put into it.

Speaker 2 (40:58):
Yeah, yeah, this is this is what I was called
to do.

Speaker 1 (41:02):
It's an amazing story. Thanks for Hey, thanks for plopping
a couple of these places in Memphis. I know my
dad needs it. I would love to holer at me.
And also thanks for taking the time out of your
incredibly busy schedule going around the country doing this to
join us and tell your story. It is phenomenal, as inspiration,

as honor to meet you.

Speaker 2 (41:23):
It was so nice of you.

Speaker 1 (41:24):
Thank you, and thank you for joining us this week.
If Ronda Paulson or other guests have inspired you in general,
or better yet, inspired you to take action by donating
to Isaiah one seventeen house, volunteering at one in your community,

helping launch one. If your community doesn't have it, or
something else entirely, please let me know. I'd love to
hear about it. You can write me anytime at Bill
at normalfolks dot us, and I promise I'll respect. If
you enjoyed this episode, please share it with friends that
on social, subscribe to the podcast, rate and review it,

become a premium member at normalfolks dot us. All of
these things that will help us grow an army of
normal folks. Remember everyone, the more listeners, the more impact.
I'm Bill Courtney. I'll see you next week.

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