Medaling in Madagascar.

My friend and favorite superhero Bob Goff is a creative genius when it comes to loving people like Jesus. His gift is stopping to notice other humans in a way that makes them believe they matter.

For example, Bob travels to Uganda with his pockets stuffed with medals, so he can pin them on former LRA child soldiers, and say: “You are unimaginably important,” and make them believe it.

Bob Goff is the reason 160 foster kids in Madagascar are wearing medals around their necks today.

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In the extravagant, inefficient, upside down Kingdom of God, this is how love does:

A couple of years ago, I met Bob in Los Angeles. Probably like a million other people, I picked up the phone and dialed his number, which, like a lunatic, he listed in the back of of his NYT Bestseller Love Does. To my great surprise, he answered, and then squeezed me into his already tight schedule. Sitting in a cafe at Pepperdine University, Bob looked at me and said, in the most literal way possible, “how can I help YOU?”

I mean really, who does that?

At that time, I knew Bob had negotiated with the publisher of Love Does for an advance that would cover the construction of a school for former child soldiers in Gulu, Uganda. I also knew that he gave 100% of the proceeds from Love Does away. I’m sure that’s some of the reason there are more than 300 students there today.

What I didn’t know was, every time he goes to Uganda, he brings little, pin-on, military-style medals. So when he’s talking to a teenage boy, who was abducted then conscripted into a life of violence and depravity, he can pin one on him and say: God sees you and you are precious to Him.

You can’t imagine how many people need to hear that, and not just child soldiers.

So a couple of months ago in Texas, my colleagues and I were discussing how, in two-weeks time, anybody can reasonably expect to impact a bunch of neglected and abused girls in Madagascar. Ridiculous really – a total fools errand.

IMG_5078“We ought to take them swimming,” my partner said.

“Yah, and pin some medals on them.”

Sometimes when a thought bypasses my brain on it’s way out my mouth like that, I think God’s behind it.

I spent hours on-line looking for the kind of medals I imagined Bob was pinning on kids in Uganda, but I couldn’t find them. So I called my friend Kim, who owns Hometown Trophy and T’s – a mom and pop trophy shop in my town. I explained what I was doing and since she’s read Love Does, she said, “Yep, got it. Let me call you right back.”

Ten minutes later, her daughter Lindsey called and showed me, not a pin-on medal but a heavy Olympic-style medal with a crown on it. She offered to string a ribbon on it that matches the Malagasy flag and asked if we wanted anything inscribed on the back. Sure! Can you write beloved, chosen, precious, courageous and overcomer on them?

“You bet,” she said. Then she donated them – All 200 medals.

DSC01369It had been a hard, discouraging week in Texas. One where you think any second the alarm will sound, so the real player, the one who isn’t incompetent at your job, can step in and take over. As I’ve said before, sometimes I forget this thing I do isn’t all on me.¬†

The day Lindsey and Billy delivered those medals to Mercy Ships, I held one in my hand for a very long time. I turned it over and over and read the word Beloved engraved on the back.

The end of the story is this:

After Madagascar’s wildest pizza party, we had 35 medals left. Akany Avoko employs 40 staff.

The next day we walked back up the hill to Akany with 35 medals in my backpack, hoping for a solution to the obvious problem. I told Director Lalasoa, how much we wanted to give her staff those medals but we couldn’t imagine which five people would not get one.

“Wait, you have 35 medals in your bag?” she said.

“Yes.”

“I have five left over from last night, just sitting on my desk.”

“What? You have five medals sitting on your desk?”

“Yes.”

For those of you bad at math, that’s 40. Later that week, Lalasoa called her staff together, thanked them for their hearts and hung medals around their necks.

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Want to Quit Your Job? It’s Thursday.

New York Times Bestselling Author Bob Goff is famous for saying, “Quit something on Thursday. Maybe even your job.”

Bob believes that in order to make space for things you want, you have to clear out some things you don’t – even big things. So at his Love Does Conference in Seattle last year, I took him up on it.

“All right Bob,” I said, and quit my job, with my new BFF Lisa Long standing by.

The Culprits.

The Goff Unemployment Index rises by two.

I heard from that raven haired beauty Lisa Long today, AND GUESS WHAT SHE DID?

She quit her job…And it’s not even Thursday. Now, Lisa didn’t exactly work at the mall, she’s had a very big job for the last 22 years, so quitting was no small thing. But I’ve never heard her more excited.

“I have so much joy today and now I’m like Ok Jesus, whatever. I’m ready.”

Try praying like that some time.

Here’s the fun part.

This wasn’t a whim, Lisa’s been considering it for a while. Yesterday¬†morning she got up early to pray it over and wound up watching a couple of videos Bob posts. This was one of them. It’s 30 seconds. Watch it!

Six hours later, I posted the same video on my Facebook page and she saw it – again. Then she picked up the phone, called a meeting and pulled the chocks like a boss.

It’s not that Lisa isn’t scared, she is, but because she believes the Kingdom of God is a way of being in this world, right now, she is brimming with hope about what is next, and I CAN NOT WAIT….(How about a big white ship? hint hint.)

If you choose to live in the Kingdom of God – and by the way Bob would say, you’re not just invited, you’re welcome – it’s ok to reject coincidence. It’s ok, when people who love you post on Facebook things you’re already thinking, to believe that may just be God saying,

“Let go baby. I’ve got this. I’ve got plans for you.”¬† Jeremiah 29:11

Without the confidence I gained from reading Jeremiah 29:11 a thousand times, I wouldn’t have had the guts to quit selling insurance. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have gone to Zambia, which led me to Mercy Ships, and nine out ten people agree, bandaging the feet of lepers in West Africa is more interesting than selling insurance.

So, where do you need to pull the chocks and who are you trusting to help you?

Bob’s pal author Don Miller put it like this at the Love Does Conference:

“Are you being too careful? Is it robbing the Kingdom of God of something? We don’t want you to be careful anymore.”

Happy Thursday.

Come Do Love in Austin…And Pensacola!

Have you ever met a perfect stranger and three seconds later decided you ought to be best friends?

That happened to me in May, in Tacoma, Washington, as I wandered through the first ever Love Does Stuff Conference looking for a seat. Plunking down next to the raven haired beauty pictured below, I evidently flipped my hair and said,

“Hi, I’m Erin.”

“Hi, I’m Lisa.”

Boom. Friends.

Look out world!

Love Does Stuff Conference – Tacoma, Washington

Not only have we been BFF’s ever since, but the two of us will be speaking together this Sunday at her church, First City in Pensacola Florida.

The topic is the third person in picture – Bob Goff and his Love Does mantra “Love God. Love People. Do Stuff.”

Ever since I read Love Does, I’ve been in full enthusiastic agreement. However, the HOW can be tricky, because loving people extravagantly requires the surrender of our native human selfishness. Believe me, it’s a process.

That’s why I’m excited about the second Love Does Stuff Conference, in Austin October 31-November 1st. Regular people who have busted out of their own cocoons with atomic results, will gather to help the rest of us do the same.

Author Donald Miller laid it out in Tacoma like this:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we want?
  • What is the first step?

Lisa and I have been walking that out for a while now. You can read about some of my attempts here, here, here, and here. On Sunday, with the help of Rick Hazelip, her Jesus-loving Pastor, we’re going to talk about doing love Goff style, intersecting well with other humans, and why it is SO…MUCH…FUN.

“You are becoming love, that’s why you’re going to walk out of here worked,” Bob said in Tacoma. “Let your default position be love… see people for who they are becoming.”

Stay tuned.