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Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Simple Folk

I have been wanting to go to Bob Goff's Dream Big seminar for years, but the $3500 price tag was a huge deterrent to me. When I saw that he was opening up an online version for $200 during our quarantine, I immediately purchased it. I have to tell you that I am so glad I did it this way. 

He tells you that if you go through the questions too quickly to do them again because you haven't thought deeply enough about your answers. Friends, I have spent three weeks in the introduction and I have cried quite a bit. I wasn't expecting this at all. I thought I'd go through this and formulate a plan to best help homeless people in my community and maybe learn to be more hospitable to those around me. I've never been a person who wants to follow their dreams or dream big. I just like to follow Jesus around. He's doing crazy stuff and it is absolutely wild to be in cahoots with Him. 

Here's what I didn't expect: When asked what my dream was, I had to stop and ask myself some questions. I have had so much abuse in my home(s), at school(even by teachers), and in church that I don't think I had ever allowed myself to feel safe enough to dream. I stopped and I grieved that. I'm still processing it, to be honest. I have flashbacks of cruelty and I go through the emotions and forgiveness. This is a hard journey to healing. I have been looking for the people who gave me hope in humanity.

If you know me, you know that I am completely willing to do crazy things. I followed God out to a dilapidated mansion in the middle of nowhere, to foreign countries and under bridges to sit with homeless friends. This is different. I am discovering who God created me to be and exactly why the enemy was trying to crush that.

The questions that set me to thinking were really simpleWho are you? What makes you get out of bed each day? I always think those sayings about the hustle sound great, but I have reconciled to the fact that I am not the hustler. I like slow, steady, thoughtful movements that impact people. That's why I get out of bed each day. I want to enjoy Jesus and use that to love people.

I have read that you are like the people you surround yourself with. What you admire is often where your own heart is. I have thought through my own friends and then I started on a path to who my heroes are. I am 42 years old and one of my heroes is Mr. Rogers. That's true for many of us, but I really thought about the “why" of that. I know I looked for tv personalities to teach me because my own family wasn't healthy. We were constantly in a state of divorce and remarriage, but Mr. Rogers offered me something that other adults did not. He communicated feelings in a healthy way, a simple way. There is even a Harvard professor that teaches a course on his simple, direct approach. Mr. Rogers was quietly fierce and at war with a culture hellbent on destroying it's creation. He gave us words for our pain.

I realized that every hero of mine followed this basic ideology. Simple words that fight back darkness. One of my favorite stories from Corrie ten Boom was about how she felt like God had prepared her for the concentration camp by having her volunteer in a hospital full of the mentally ill and special needs children. She said she learned to communicate the gospel there in the simplest of ways. She begged Jesus for clear words that would reveal truth to minds that couldn't comprehend it. After much hardship, she was given the opportunity to take those words to the nations.

I started making a list of my heroes and the reason they stood out to me. It isn't comprehensive, but these are the first people to come into my mind.

Andrew Murray: simple humility
Jimmy Dorrell: simple gospel
Bob Goff: simple acts of love
Alan Graham: simple community
Mr. Rogers: simple human kindness
Corrie ten Boom: simple words of power
Jill Briscoe: simple prayer
Cervantes: simple depth
Dr. Paul Farmer: simple care
Harper Lee: simple character
Dr. Barry C Black: simple speech
Anne Graham Lotz: simple love of Jesus
Benita Long: simple hospitality
Bryan Stephenson: simple justice
George Washington Carver: simple redemption

I can go on and on with George MacDonald, CS Lewis, Frances Mayes, Lois Tverberg, Edith Schaeffer, Charlotte Mason, Voddie Baucham, Bono, and even Dolly Parton. The thing I love about all of these people is that they have simple ways, even though some are hidden in big, public lives. For me, it all boils down to speaking very plainly to the one thing that God has put in front of me. I hate to see people in pain with no idea how to care for themselves. I want to earn the opportunity to speak truth to pain. That often comes through feeding the homeless or anyone who will sit at my table. It's simple. So, I think I'll quit everything else and sit with these heroes, the simple folk.

I was sitting here at my desk trying to sum up my life verse to fit on a personalized journal that I am buying myself for my birthday. How do you sum up Isaiah 58:10 to exhort yourself? It says that if you pour out what you have to satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your own light will rise in darkness and your nighttime will become like the noonday. A little long for my one line of personalization. Then, into my head came these simple words. 

Give them what you have. 
Give it away, Steph.

Simple indeed. I hope you find me with the simple folk.

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