This past Friday night, I was able to participate in one of the most fantastic events I’ve ever heard of. It was called ‘Glitz, Glam, and Gowns’. It is a ministry program that is a part of Big House Foundation. Big House Foundation is a Christ-centered non-profit ministry in Opelika, AL, dedicated to meeting the needs and improving the quality of life of children in foster care. At the top of their website it says, ‘Connecting the Needs of Foster Families with the Generosity of our Community through the Love of Jesus Christ’.
So, back to ‘Glitz, Glam, and Gowns’… it is an annual free formal wear shopping event for high school girls in foster care in Alabama. This program provides a way for teenage girls in foster care to still be able to participate in normal teenage activities, like proms and dances, even though the financial resources might not be there. It helps relieve the financial burden on foster families, who are already living such sacrificial lives by taking care of these precious children.
This year, though, Big House decided to take this event out on the road. It was a road tour! And this past Friday night, it was at Latham United Methodist Church. Latham was the church that Scott had been previously appointed to, and someone from that congregation sent me an invite to come participate, and I am so glad they did!
I truly did not know what to expect. I knew there would be dresses there. Lauren Stiles, the girl who was able to get ‘Glitz, Glam, and Gowns’ to come to Latham, had sent out requests for dress, shoe, and jewelry donations. But when I walked into the gym, I was blown away by all of the dresses and accessories that had been given to this ministry. There were 3 long tables full of shoes, 2 tables covered with jewelry and purses, and finally, 11 clothes racks holding over 600 dresses! Amazing!
Lauren, a dear friend of mine, is the one who arranged for the tour to come to Latham. Lauren is super organized, can decorate anything (she can make roadkill look good 🙂 ), has a heart for missions, plus, her good friends from college started the Big House Foundation. Needless to say, this event was right up her alley. She did a fantastic job with it!
There were 9 girls that came through our ‘shop’ that evening. They came from several different counties here in north Alabama. They were able to try on as many dresses as they wanted, and take whichever ones home that they wanted, free of charge. One little girl that I helped took 10 dresses home! Why 10 dresses, you may ask… Well, she was super tiny, Big House had an over-abundance of sizes 0-2, and they really needed to get rid of some of those sizes. She hit the jackpot!
I specifically worked with 2 young ladies that night. Due to privacy laws, I can’t write the girls names or post pictures of them. So for this blog post, let’s just call them ‘A’ and ‘K’. They were both sophomores in high school. I already mentioned one of the girls in this blog post, the one with 10 dresses. Her name was ‘A’. ‘A’ was Hispanic and spoke very little English. She was so, so sweet. And she kept me hopping!
‘K’ was the other girl I helped. She was very, very shy – painfully shy. I’m sure she was like, “Please stop talking to me so much, you short, old lady!” She was totally opposite of ‘A’ as far as trying on dresses. We had to basically BEG her to try some on. She ended up only picking out 2 dresses that night. But when she tried on the ‘perfect’ dresses, her face lit up. I will always remember those moments.
One of the dresses that had caught the eye of everyone there was this hot pink, fluffy, fairytale dress. It had been tried on by different people at the various locations of the tour, but it never seemed to fit anyone just right. But guess what? It fit our little ‘K’ perfectly! She kept telling me that she wanted to try it on, but then she’d say, “Well, I just don’t know…” Finally, we talked her into it. I zipped the dress all the way up, and it was a perfect fit! She was too shy to go out where the big mirror was, so she just looked at herself in the small bathroom mirror, smiled and blushed, and said she liked it. She changed back into her clothes, and I took the dress back to her social worker to hold for her.
Well, everyone heard that the ‘fairytale’ dress had fit her, and they begged her to put it back on and show them. She was soooo embarrassed, but eventually gave in. She put it back on, came out to the gym and modeled for everyone. We “ooooed” and “aahhhhed” over her and the dress. She truly looked beautiful.
But the exterior beauty is not what actually moved me. What was truly beautiful was a soul that was in need of love and attention and had found it in a church gym with a few strangers. A few strangers that had given up their time on a Friday night to spend with these girls who had been given up on most of their lives. It was a beautiful exchange.
I’m extremely moved by music… worship music in particular. In last week’s blog, I mentioned the worship song ‘Amazed’. This past week, I’ve been listening to the song ‘Brokenness Aside’ by All Sons and Daughters. It is the song I listened to the entire way home after the ‘Glitz, Glam, and Gowns’ event. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:
‘Cause I am a sinner
If it’s not one thing, it’s another
Caught up in words, Tangled in lies
But You are a Savior
And You take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful
The fact of the matter is this – we are all broken. Whether it’s by our own hand or someone else’s, we are still broken. That night, I got to spend the evening with several broken little girls, probably most of whose brokenness was due to the hands of another. But I was in the midst of God’s people, helping push brokenness aside, so God could indeed make them beautiful – inside and out.
Be on the lookout for broken people this week. I guarantee you’ll run into some. It may even be you. Remember, we have a Savior who can do amazing things with brokenness. Let Him use you to help make someone else beautiful, or maybe you just need to let Him work on you. We are never beyond repair.
**To learn more about the ministry of Big House Foundation, please visit their website here: http://www.ourbighouse.org/