Last Thursday I took my first trip to Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress initiative and while in D.C., had the opportunity to see courage in action.
If you don’t know, Babies Go to Congress is Heartbeat’s way of highlighting the work of Pregnancy Help Organizations across the country. Moms helped by PHCs bring their babies to the halls of congress to tell their stories to senators and house members and staff from their respective states and districts.
We come with a simple message: pregnancy help organizations and ministries are good for America. We don’t ask for money (which comes as a welcome surprise those with whom we meet), we come as a resource so members of congress will be better informed regarding the vital work of PHOs.
I got to tag along with TrueCare Women’s Resource Center from Casper, Wyo., following executive director Terry Winship, Acacia Boyles and her (extremely strong and wiggly) son, Axton. Heartbeat president Jor-El Godsey led our bunch; my role was to sit back and watch courage in action.
First, background. When asked to join one of the teams headed to Washington, I was conflicted. For me, in a few weeks a speaking schedule begins, with 24 fundraising dinners in 95 days. That’s 45 nights in hotel rooms, on planes and in rental cars. While I look forward to every event, it takes an act of Congress to get me away from my family during the “off season.”
But, I said yes. It would be my first time to go to D.C. in this capacity, and my first trip to the March for Life the following day. Why not?
Today, I’m thankful for the opportunity. Yes, I enjoyed a bit of sightseeing in D.C. Yes, seeing those buildings is awe-inspiring for a guy who began following politics at the age of 10.
But I will best remember the moms. These young ladies (at my age, it was like spending time with my daughters) are true profiles in courage. Just getting to D.C. was a challenge for most; hauling diaper bags, strollers, food and everything else—I can’t imagine.
Then of course, these mothers told their stories—with incredible transparency—to key congressional aides all over Capitol Hill. In one of our meetings, an aide was driven to tears as Acacia told her story. “I’ve been on the Hill three and a half years,” she told us. “And this is only the second time I’ve cried.” This is what happens when a courageous mom sets any fears aside and chooses to share her story.
For me however, the most powerful moment of the entire experience was not in the Capitol, or even at the amazing rally with Vice President Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway and so many others leading up to the March for Life.
Nope. For me, my moment of truth came in a cab ride to Reagan National Airport heading back home.
In the cab with me were Acacia and 10-month-old Axton, ready to board a flight to Denver and on to Casper. They would arrive home sometime that evening.
Me? I was thinking about getting back to my family, telling them about D.C. and an early bedtime before a relaxing Saturday. That’s what weekends are for, right?
After a hectic couple of days full of travel, sleeping with a baby in a hotel room, telling her story to cameras and legislators and trying to somehow make life normal for little Axton, I guessed Acacia was headed back to Casper for some well-deserved relaxation.
I was wrong.
“So, are you ready to rest a bit when you two get back?” I asked her.
“Well, I go into work tonight at 9,” she began. Seems that mid-afternoon in D.C. meant her day was only beginning. As a part of her job, she was already aware of some employee issues needing attention, making for a long evening.
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And Saturday? “I’ll go in to work at the oil company (yet another job) at 8, but only for a couple of hours,” she added. “It’s not much.”
What? Not much? Traveling cross country with a 10-month-old, then heading to work until after midnight before getting up to work at another job the next morning? After three hectic days in Washington?
This is courage. This is commitment. Above all, this is what love looks like between a mom and her son.
I’ve got two daughters, both the ages of many of the moms who took part in Babies Go to Congress. Both are impressive, in my eyes. And as they face challenges in life, I pray they continue to face those challenges with the grace and strength I saw on display last week.
Well done ladies; if you were my kids, I’d be a proud dad.