Dawn Benson Jones

Growing Deep Roots of Faith for an Enduring Legacy

Last House Standing: Building an Enduring Legacy

Strong Foundation

Last House Standing

The Power of an Image

A few Sundays ago, our children’s pastor Nichole Sims shared this breathtaking image as part of her message to the congregation.

The story behind the image was featured in The Houston Chronicle after Hurricane Ike devastated the area in 2008.

An excerpt from the article reads:


“There’s a new landmark in Gilchrist, one of the towns on Bolivar Peninsula that Hurricane Ike ravaged and left for dead.

The fire station is gone. The post office is gone. Every structure on the gulf side of this tight-knit community is gone.

Except for one house.

Standing tall, as if in defiance of Ike’s windy, watery wrath, is the home of Pam and Warren Adams, who built the place in 2005 after Hurricane Rita destroyed their older home on the same lot.

On Friday, the first day many residents were allowed back on the peninsula, the couple returned to Church Street, ready to help neighbors whose homes no longer stood with theirs.”

Families in Crisis

As you take in this story, what are some of the thoughts that come to your mind?

This image has haunted me since the first minute I saw it because I believe it is a reflection of what is happening to our families. Our neighborhoods are filled with real homes and real families, and though it might not be one huge storm like Hurricane Ike that comes in and wipes everyone out, we see homes crumbling and falling all around us at an alarming rate.

Think about the families in your neighborhood, from your school, and in your circle of friends for a minute. How many of them are either in a state of crisis or have already fallen?


As I reflect on this story, one of the first things that comes to mind is how much of this devastation was preventable. I find myself asking questions like:

  • How many people didn’t build to code because it was too expensive, too much work, or too inconvenient?
  • How many people worried more about how their house looked on the outside instead of focusing on the hidden support structures?
  • How many people knew their house needed regular maintenance but didn’t take time to perform such mundane tasks?
  • How many people built expecting calm instead of building for the storm?
  • Despite living in an area prone to hurricanes, how many people never created an emergency plan?

Take some time to consider how these questions might relate to your own family. Record your observations.


The Good News

Even though this story is filled with tragedy, it also contains some good news on which we can focus:

  • The house that was intentionally built following the recommended code was able to withstand the catastrophic storm.
  • The Adams family was able to use the experience of losing their first home to make adjustment and build more wisely the next time around.
  • In the wake of devastation, the community came together to help one another rebuild.
  • This wasn’t the end of the community’s story. They were able to rebuild stronger, better, and wiser.

If you have you made building errors in the past, what can you learn from them that will help you build more wisely in the future? Turn those missteps over to God and ask him to help you move on from them and to begin rebuilding according to His guidelines. Remember that your story is not over. Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.


The Goal

Don’t let the title here fool you. This is not a game where the winner is the last house standing. Our ultimate goal is for everyone’s house to remain standing strong, but the reality is that the only house we have control over is ours. As a result, that’s where we are going to place our focus. Keep in mind, though, that when we build well, we’re able to help others by showing them how to build well also.

Building a strong, stable house takes a great deal of time and effort. Building strong, stable families will require the same. Similarly, the process of building a house from scratch can easily become overwhelming if we try to do everything all at once. The same rings true for the process of building a family. As a result, this series will stretch over a number of weeks so we can focus on implementing several small steps that will eventually yield big results.

Today’s post has served as an introduction to help prepare you for all that is to come. From this point on, each devotional will be devoted to a small part of some of the broader topics mentioned thus far. All devotionals will end with an action plan for the week and a memory verse. The suggestions mentioned in the next section will help you make the most of each week’s devotional.


Set aside at least one day each week for you to really focus on the topic of the week. Use this quiet, focused time to:

  • Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you an awareness of where He is working and how He might be leading you.
  • Memorize the Scripture for the week or choose another related verse or passage to commit to memory.
  • Journal about the things that are being revealed to you as you work through the series and record action steps you are being led to take.
  • Plan your family devotional time where you will discuss the topic for the week.

Set aside at least one day each week to have a family devotional time based on the topic of the week. During this time, you might want to:

  • Share thoughts and revelations from your personal devotional time.
  • Discuss how the topic of the week relates to your family. Be sure to pull your children into the discussion by letting them know you value what they have to say.
  • Develop an action plan for the week to help put your new knowledge into practice.
  • Memorize Scripture together as a family. Consider making it a game so your children will look forward to it.
  • Pray together as a family, encouraging and lifting one another up.

Action Plan for the Week

  • Use this week to pray and contemplate how God might use this series to help strengthen your family.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal specific areas of your family life that might need reinforcing.
  • Determine when both your individual and family devotional times will be. Commit to making them a permanent part of your weekly schedule.
  • Have your first family devotional time to set the stage for what is to come in the weeks ahead.
  • Ask your children to be praying about and to share their thoughts and observations about the state of your family.
  • If you want to have each week’s devotional delivered straight to your inbox each week, be sure to sign up on the website. (Each week’s devotional will be released over the weekend.)

Memory Verse for the Week

Commit to memorizing Luke 6:46-49 as a family this week.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.

They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”


Additional Resources

One thing that I hear from parents on a consistent basis is the fact that they feel ostracized and alone as they try to parent in a countercultural manner. As a result, I have created the DBJ – Faithful Families Community. This is a private Facebook group where you can gather with other like-minded parents to delve deeper into the topic of the week. It will also be a place where you can give and receive encouragement as you seek to place Christ at the center of your family. All you need to do to join is to request to be added as a member and answer three simple questions. As soon as I receive the request, I will add you to the group. Discussion and share threads will be added every day to help facilitate conversation.

I have also partnered with my friend Patty Scott of Hearts Homeward to create The Intentional Motherhood Community. The Intentional Motherhood Community is a place for moms to gather to support one another in loving intentionally while making room for what matters most. Members will share resources and input and pray for one another so they can help one another grow in the abiding love of God, share that love in their families, and let that love spill over into all they do. This group will begin accepting new members on Monday, January 15th.

I am praying that you and your family will have a blessed week!    




  1. Excellent blog post! It spoke to me in two ways. First, practically as I deal with foundation and interior structural issues in a portion of my house. I expect part of it was caused by lax rules and workmanship at the time it was built decades ago. Second, and most importantly, it spoke to me spiritually. Losing my husband 7 months ago has shown me what I’ve been preparing for in my relationship with the Lord. I would not be surviving this without Him, and I am thankful that He prepared me through the basics of reading and concentrating on scripture, memorizing scripture, teaching me about the working of the Holy Spirit, and more. One of my daughters says she doesn’t know how I do what I do. I tell her it’s not me; it’s God. It could never be me.

    • Thank you, Nancy. I really appreciate you sharing how this spoke to you, especially relating to the loss of your husband. I am so glad that you have such a close relationship with God. I truly will never understand how people survive tragedy without being able to cling to a loving God. Know that you are in my prayers.

  2. Great post, Dawn! That photo is absolutely astonishing! This was a great reminder in so many spiritual ways, but also very practical ways — like the fact that I’ve neglected to purchase a carbon monoxide detector for months now. Just last weekend an entire family (who our neighbor is also friends with) died in their sleep because of poisonous gases leaking through their home. 🙁 We can’t neglect our physical homes or our bodies which are the temple of the Spirit of God.

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