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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Why We’re Better Together

Welcome NiceLaughter bubbling out of a room full of women is my favorite sound. Especially when, two hours before, they didn’t know each other.

At Love Dinner #10 last night, one woman made a comment about God opening doors for us. But lately, she said, hers feel like a trap door to a slide. Everyone died laughing. Each of those gorgeous women sitting in my living room, sipping coffee, or cross-legged on the floor poaching blackberries from the fruit salad, know that feeling. Articulating it makes us allies.

Everybody brought something hard to the table last night and then we prayed. We’ve learned that fueling up together readies us to get back out in the world and do what Jesus said: Love God and love each other. We’ve also learned that the second command doesn’t work right without the first.

Luckily, once you get to know Jesus, it’s easy to love Him.

When Jesus is in your midst, it’s like listening to the best piece of music you’ve ever heard, while drinking a glass of wine and watching the sunset turn the mountains pink.

All that goodness, all that grandeur is at once overwhelming and still somehow incomplete. That’s why we jump up and run into the house looking for someone to share it with. Then when we stand shoulder to shoulder on the deck, in a moment of unscripted silence, just gazing at it, absorbing it together, that’s when it’s finally perfect.

That’s the magic of Jesus + us, and the purpose of Love Dinner. To be so overcome by the dazzling presence of Jesus, that we run brimming and sparkling, back out into our broken, sad world saying “Come quick. You have to see this.”


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.