I was a redneck before I was old enough to know what I redneck was. I loved to run around barefoot, hated to comb my hair, and when mom told me to go change my shirt, I was known to go change into another—dirty—shirt.
Yes, I loved to go barefoot. I even dressed up like Johnny Appleseed at a costume party one time so I could go barefoot. That is probably why my feet grew so far so fast. I wore a ladies size 9 when I was nine. At any rate, it probably wasn’t until I got kicked out of the library one day that it started to sink in to me that shoes were a non-optional part of life. And it was probably a good thing it happened then— while there was still time to sort of shrink my feet back into an 8 ½.
Yes, shoes are a non-optional part of life. But we do crazy things for causes we care about. Grandmas wear cheese on their heads at football games. Grown men cover themselves with blue body paint and scream at players who don’t have any hope of hearing them. I could give many, many more examples of people doing crazy things, but the cheese heads and the blue body paint go a long way toward making my point.
One of the causes I care about is “Remember” and the new children’s home we are trying to build to house 100 orphans in Burma. And to raise money, we are doing “Barefoot Because”—getting people to go barefoot or sponsor someone to go barefoot for 30 hours.
Most of the participants in Barefoot Because tend to be children, but there are some brave adults out there, and then there’s me.
I guess I got all the redneck out of me in elementary school, because I don’t care for barefoot so much now. In fact, the first thing I noticed when going barefoot was how dirty my kitchen floor was. I cleaned it three times over the course of the day.
I needed to take Julie Ann out for a walk and so I put my Barefoot Because T-shirt on me and a leash on my dog. The second revelation that came to my bare feet was that what appears to be a lush lawn out behind our little town house is not so at all. It is a glorified sticker patch. What do you call those little round things—Goatheads? They are in abundance all the way from my back porch to the Greenway.
Hundreds of people walk their dogs on the greenway behind my house—a fact I tried not to think about when I saw Julie Ann relieving herself in the grass beside the path. Yes, the path I was walking on with bare feet. There are some advantages to being nine. You just don’t think about stuff like this.
But the whole point of going barefoot is to make a sacrifice. It is a small way to keep us mindful of the circumstances of others who have to do without. In this case, Christian children—some of whom know that their parents died for their faith. What wouldn’t I do to make those kids know that the God their parents were faithful to is faithful to them in providing their needs through Remember?
It was slow going as Julie Ann and I picked our way down the greenway. Julie Ann kept looking at me like, “what’s your problem?” And I kept looking at her like, “I can’t believe you do this with bare paws every day!”
Julie Ann waited until we were a good distance from the house take care of some other business. I had forgotten to bring a bag with me to clean up after her. I stared down at the little pile helplessly. I knew people regard those who don’t clean up after their dogs a lot like they do murderers and child traffickers. But what would otherwise seem like an easy walk to my house and back suddenly seemed like the journey of a thousand miles. The greenway might as well have been made of hot coals. Three foot snow drifts. Eggshells. My feet were already wet and nasty, but…. would it be so bad if I came back to clean up—oh, about 30 hours from now?
It was time to head to church. Yes, I was going barefoot. And taking a set of flip flops just in case. Driving without shoes on has a whole different feel—I am told now that it is illegal. This going barefoot thing has me on a crime spree.
I needed to stop and get donuts for my Sunday School class. Two words—Drive thru. I would take my bare feet through the Dunkin Donuts drive thru. Not that I was afraid of people seeing me, of course, just that—well—I didn’t really have time to explain. Or was that an excuse? Oh, to be nine again! God knew what he was doing when he made nine year olds. They would be fearless under this same set of circumstances I’m sure.
When I got to church, I was greeted by Ann, a dear lady who was in her bare feet. She’s made Barefoot Because her mission lately and she was absolutely glowing with her news that she had filled up three of our round banks with a combination of cash and loose change from friends and co-workers. She was not someone who could write a big check, travel to Burma, or speak for a group. But she used what she had to do what she could. She was so excited to put in her two mites that it was contagious.
Then I talked to John. John has only been attending church for a few years. He had a stroke a while back which has left him partially paralyzed. He walks with a cane and struggles a bit with speech. His one daughter died years ago and he lives alone with his dog; he has no other family. John hasn’t been able to work for some time and leaves on a meager fixed income. But there were tears in his eyes when he told me that Remember has changed his life.
Being able to sponsor two girls in our Faith children’s home has given him purpose and a passion for giving that has motivated him to stretch his few dollars to clothe kids on the other side of the world. Rarely do I see him that he doesn’t have some new idea for something he can give to his girls. Today he was excited about buying pencil sharpeners. He set up an appointment with the manager at the Dollar General to see if he can get 100 from headquarters in Atlanta.
Barefoot Because is just a little thing. A few days in my life. A few glances from strangers. A simple sacrifice. It is for little people—people who can’t write big checks or take big trips.
It is the fundraising that the experts say not to bother with.
I think what I love about it is that it is the opportunity to do what we can do. To give what we can give. It is the little lunch that by itself never would have fed a crowd. But when blessed by the Master, it was able to accomplish more than twelve of Jesus’ closest friends could have imagined.
If we limited ourselves to what we could do with big gifts, Remember wouldn’t accomplish much. We never would have purchased property in Burma. We wouldn’t have plans to construct a new children’s home. We never would have taken medical teams to Iraq. We never would have build a safe house in Liberia. We wouldn’t be supporting widows in Sudan, Egypt, and Iraq.
All this and more with little gifts and the game-changing blessing of our Savior—who takes the little things we have to offer and make them more than enough.
And that is why I—someone not generally inclined toward crazy things like cheese hats and blue body paint—would do something crazy like going barefoot.
If you would like to sponsor me or just give to the construction of Remember’s new children’s home, visit www.RememberThose.org. And it isn’t too late to join me and go barefoot yourself!