I was sitting at the table having just enjoyed a wonderful brunch when she hesitantly tapped the microphone and said, “Hello.” It was during a lull between speakers, and the women were all talking and visiting at the tables; the ballroom had a dull roar of conversation going, so at first no one heard her tentative hello. But then, one by one, each table quieted and expectantly peered at the beautiful young woman with the bright red hair standing shyly behind the podium. She was beautiful – young and vivacious – obviously full of courage. How else do you explain the bright red–primary red–hair that framed her face and fell below her shoulders?

We had seen her on the stage just twenty minutes prior. She had joined a friend of hers, an alumnus of Project Home Indy (PHI) who had given a small heartfelt speech. She was there for moral support, they had explained. She stood by her friend and held her hand, but she did not speak. Now she is ready.

Without preparation or prior intention, she has commanded our attention, and now, with a few words, she will capture our hearts. This beautiful young woman speaks eloquently as she tells us what it means to have a safe home with a caring family around her. As she shares so bravely, every eye weeps and every heart swells. This is what beauty looks like.

Beauty is a woman taking the stage to express her confidence in her future–confidence that she will need, for she is also pregnant. Due in July. This fearless young lady has not yet graduated high school and is in dire need of mothering herself, but she has decided to rise to this and try to do the next right thing…each day. When PHI found her, or she found PHI, she had nowhere to go. Sometimes courage is best expressed when we say, “Help me.”

I weep at my table as she speaks because I see in her a strength. I see in her a hope. And my hope rises to meet hers. I want her to succeed, I want that more than anything, but I know the odds are not in her favor. The systems we have put in place, the biases the media has offered us time and time again, the stigma that will follow her – they are not in her favor. And yet, there is our hope – meeting.

I have hope because I sit in a room of 250 women who have come together to rally around her and three other young women living at the home. I have hope because my car is laden with books and movies that women have given from two states away. I have hope because we are tangible evidence to her that she matters, that we do care. Her life is valuable. She is a warrior, and we are part of her clan -this clan of womanhood stands beside her.

I have hope because an author of a blog brought the attention of eighty-thousand women to PHI and raised $83,000 in six hours to give another young woman a home. I have hope because we really, really can do hard things.

At my table a board member discusses the challenge of raising funds for a charity that does for so few. They can only provide space for five mothers and five babies at one time. They focus specifically on pregnant or parenting teens who are homeless. Can you imagine? Being pregnant as a teen would have its set of seemingly insurmountable odds, but to be homeless as well? Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that PHI can only do for a few and they worry, always, about funding their work – their holy work.

This is holy isn't it? This work they do for ten people at a time. As this board member and I talk, I recall the words of Andy Stanley, a pastor and highly respected leader/author, “Do for one, what you wish you could do for many.” The women here may not go wide – but they go deep. They provide not merely a safe shelter, but a home for these young ladies. They provide staffing 24/7 – so someone is there to help these new moms with a cranky baby in the middle of the night. They provide counseling to help them recognize and deal with the trauma that led them to this point in life. They allow them to get an education and employment. They teach these young girls how to be mothers when some may have never been mothered themselves.

And now, one of these brave young mothers-to-be has stepped up the microphone to say, in her own words, this is holy work. Message received.

I went to Indy to support PHI and to hear Glennon Melton speak. Glennon, as you know ‘cause I talk about it so much, is the author of Momastery. She is a shameless truth teller, and she is fierce. To meet her and hear her speak in person was so inspiring, it really was.

But those two minutes of that young mother‘ speech…that was beyond words.

She is being healed because there are woman who are building a relationship with her. She has hope because she has healthy relationships.

Do you see? No organization can do this for every person in need. No government can do this.

But we can.

I am creating a list of organizations that are going deep – here in Missouri or wherever they may be found. I am also working with my beautiful sister-in-law on something. Something that will make a difference in the lives of those who struggle in poverty.

In the meantime, I encourage you to forge relationships whenever you identify poverty—be it of spirit, mind or money. Find one person that you will invest in, and begin.

Do for one, what you wish you could do for many.





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