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Revelations: One shoe at a time

By BY JENNIFER PREYSS
April 27, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 26, 2012 at 11:27 p.m.

Jennifer Preyss

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Barefoot Sunday 2012WHERE: Renegade Church, 3706 N. Navarro St., also known as the old Incredible Pizza building. WHEN: 6-9 p.m. SaturdayGOAL: 5,000 pairs of new and used shoes. Practical heel heights, sneakers and flats.COST: No cost to attend. $1 donations are accepted for shipping expenses.ENTERTAINMENT: The Revival, One Nation, Two Guns for HireSIGN THE PLEDGE: Sign the pledge to go barefoot on Sunday, April 29.INFO: Facebook.com/barefootsunday; Jennifer Preyss, jlpreyss@vicad.com; 361-580-6535

Whenever I plan an event, (showers, parties, dinners), the last few days leading up to the big day are always knock-me-over stressful. It's a mix of emotions until people make it through the door.

And my friends and family have learned to keep their distance until I've plated my last dish and poked the last teriyaki-drizzled chicken skewer through my lettuce-covered Styrofoam centerpiece.

Yes, I really am that anal.

"Is everything perfect? Will everyone have a good time? Will they like the food? Will anyone show up?"

Of course, once guests arrive, everything turns out fine, and I'm usually good and relaxed by the event's end.

The crazy thing is, even though it wears me out, I genuinely enjoy party and event planning. There's something familial about welcoming friends into my home and creating something fun for them to do on the weekends.

If I ever lose my passion for writing, something I don't envision in the near future, I know I'll always have a backup career lined up. It's probably a much easier venture when you're not working full time.

For the past several weeks, while planning Barefoot Sunday, that knock-me-over stress started to creep in. Not all at once, but I could feel it building as the event approached.

I was managing the panic fairly well, talking myself down from high ledges, hair-pulling and other emotional outbursts in public. But a few days ago, a few days from Barefoot Sunday, I realized - this effort really can fail. And I, alone, would be responsible.

"The shoe goal is higher this year, what if we don't reach it? What if no one has a good time? What if the bands don't show up and no one comes? What if, what if, what if ..."

I was thinking these thoughts on Thursday, as I rushed down to the Advocate warehouse, attempting to finalize pick-up schedules for all the shoe drop-off locations and take inventory of the collected shoes.

I walked into the warehouse, a multi-page list of to-dos in hand, and I spotted seven large crates overflowing with shoes. Only a few days earlier, the crates weren't nearly as full.

"Holy crap. That's a lot of shoes," I thought, a smile stretching across my face.

As I panned the crates, slowly walking from bin to bin and moving the shoes around to see what was there, I noticed how many high-quality loafers and boots, flats and flip-flops were donated.

With every shoe I touched, I thought about the generosity of those who gave, and the time they took out of their day to drop them off for Barefoot Sunday.

I looked at the shoes and pictured the faces of the Malawian children and adults who would be sized later this year with one of those pairs of shoes.

And it occurred to me at that moment that it didn't matter if we met the 5,000 goal because Barefoot Sunday was already a success. We had already surpassed the collection goal of last year, and I knew that our Barefoot Sunday event was already guaranteed to touch the lives of at least 1,000 people in Africa.

By the end of my stroll through the warehouse, my stress level lessened, if only for a moment.

I'm not saying all this to dissuade anyone from attending Barefoot Sunday this Saturday night, or from giving any more shoes.

In fact, if you're free this Saturday night, I invite you to join us as we celebrate the culmination of this successful event, and I invite you to bring us your shoes. But I hope you'll all take a moment to reflect on what a difference this town has made in the lives of so many strangers.

Showing kindness and love to an absolute stranger is the greatest kind of love that you can show another person, and you all are responsible for planting those seeds.

God is moving in this city. And he's doing it one shoe at a time.

Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jlpreyss@vicad.com.

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