see

There are so many clichés about ‘seeing,’ but how often do we think about how we are reflected in the eyes of others? What do they see when they look at us?

How do our eyes reflect our love? Our friendship? Our compassion? Our purpose? Our passion? Our orneriness? Or even our hate?

There are many that know the ornery gleen my eyes can take on…can’t hide much there!

And not everyone is going to be honest with you about how they see you, and you cannot control that…what you can control is what reflection you hope they see.

Steph and EtaeMany times after a mission trip, I will get people pointing out a photo that gets put out, and they say, “That is the real Stephanie. You are in your ‘mission’ element where you are supposed to be.” Generally in those photos I have a relaxed look in the midst of chaos, because I know without a doubt that God’s got everything under control and I’m just being obedient by being present.

But I am guilty of be absorbed by so many other things at home. I get lost in the midst of the shiny objects surrounding me.

Haiti 2012Last year after coming back from Haiti, I was not lost. I was very much in tuned with God, who I am and where he was leading me. I love the photo of my sunglasses, because I am looking out over Port-au-Prince from the Baptist Mission on top of the mountain and Haiti is reflected in my sunglasses. I remember so many things running through my head in that moment. I keep going back to that first post after we got back because I need to remember exactly where God was working on me.

I know exactly what people saw in my eyes when I got back from Haiti. They saw fight. They saw compassion. They saw extreme love. They saw me ripped raw by the Holy Spirit, and built back together by the compassionate heart of Christ.

But recently, my eyes have lost their luster. My vision is short-sighted. I’ve lost will to fight. I want to throw in the towel.

But that is not what God wants people to see in my eyes. He wants me to reflect his love, his grace and his message. If people are not seeing God reflected my eyes…then they are not seeing the woman he created.

So here’s to Lent. A time to restore yourself to God. A time to fast. A time to prepare. A time to work for God’s justice. A time for others to see God reflected in your eyes.

watch me

Yesterday I walked out the back door of the church to my car and was greeted with ‘Stephanie!’ It was my basketball buddy who likes to play at the church hoop with her brothers who came toward me bouncing her basketball…’do you have any gum?’

I always get that question …the exact same one. I haven’t had any for MONTHS, but she keeps asking. We talked about what her favorite kind was and she spent several minutes mulling over the brand name…rolling different brands over her tongue trying to figure out which one was her favorite. But knew the flavor in an instant, ‘Strawberry with different colored layers.’

She cracks me up. Seriously.

She bounces around with her beaded braids and has so much energy. Her brothers chat too, but she never runs out of words. I honestly think she reminds me of myself when I was about 8 years old. Always needing someone to talk to that would listen, and pay attention. Someone to realize I was there and value me instead of just being a shadow bugging people.

I was getting in my car when she yelled, ‘Watch me shoot the basketball!’

I, of course, was already running late…and said, ‘I don’t have much time. How about tomorrow?’

Her reply? ‘Then watch me for whatever time you have. Just watch a couple shots.’

How poignant is that? Isn’t that what we all want? From each other, our families, at work…from God?

Someone to see us. Someone to take the time. Someone who cares. Someone to encourage us when we fail and to cheer us in our victories.

It’s not just the kids at the basketball hoop, is the folks we serve hot meals to at Westport, the families in Joplin or the families at Hillcrest…or the quiet congregation member in the back row. It’s your co-worker, your kid, your neighbor…

It’s all about the relationship, and being a part of someone else’s story…it doesn’t matter where you are. And it is not about ‘setting aside time,’ it’s about being present in the moments you find in your every day life. There is no way to actively work for the mission of God without relationships. It is what God created us for.

What matters is the time you invest and the attention you give to those around you. I needed the reminder yesterday…and I got it from an 8 year-old.