time

There is this thing that I have to remind myself…my timing is not God’s timing.

At least that is how this post started earlier today, but when I actually went to post…God was leading me to write about something else.

Which is hard, because I had the entire thing written and I was just going to reread it before I posted tonight for my Rethink Church Advent word ‘time.’

What kept sneaking into my brain is where my time dissolves…because it does. All of the time. I get to the end of the day and cannot believe it is already time to sleep again.

I love spending time with people, and I will take that over most any other option. It honestly doesn’t even matter what we are doing. I love being around people, granted I do need my down time, but I don’t do much well on my own.

When my brother was a kid I would take him out to eat so I could get him to talk to me. He had too many distractions at home with video games, TV and playing outside. Even when I would cook a meal, when it was just us, he would want to eat in front of a TV. What conversations take place then? What relationship can form without talking?

Loving sharing stories makes me a good listener, a good friend and I think I’m pretty funny…so..there’s that, too.

I learned a long time ago to never plan lunch for an hour, because inevitably I’d look down and it will have been 2 and a half hours making me, most likely, late for something.

I don’t like to rush the time I have with someone, especially if something is going on or even we are simply sharing stories. They need to know they matter, and that I’m not counting the minutes until I have to be somewhere else. They need to know I value their words and what God is doing in their life.

It doesn’t have to be a meal. I even linger over coffee. Depending on the conversation, it literally feels like God has put a bubble around us, and time doesn’t matter.

What I love most about spending time with people is the God moments that happen there. Encouraging words, Kingdom stories, pain shared, love for mission, prayers, a bond strong enough to inspire an entire community to get behind a cause…I have too many memorable moments with people to even think about writing them all down.

I walk away from each of those conversations energized, focused and excited what God is doing in the lives of people I know.

A huge part of God’s Kingdom is our taking time with each other to form community. But if we don’t invest in that time, and allow God to work among our time shared…the strength of our community suffers. Your community may be your family, coworkers, small group, athletic team or even a neighborhood group, but whatever it looks like…what have you done with your time together lately? We are truly stronger together, and God will use us wherever we are in this world.

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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.