on gifts of time…

Shortly after moving to the Carolinas, I was invited to join a bible study that meets at our local bagel shop from 8:30a – 10:00a on Friday mornings. This has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the week.

The woman who gather around the table come from all walks of life. We’re single, married, working, retired, some are more seasoned in their life, others are just cresting the middle years. The one thing we have in common: we are a group of fierce believers. And the energy that comes around that table each week is a powerful thing to share.

A few of the women who used to live here but have since moved out of state join us via Facetime each week. The first few months I attended I only knew these women through the screen, but I was getting to know them through their words. They shared stories, anecdotes and insights on the topic at hand. They laughed with us and shouldered our collective burdens as if they were in the room. Eventually I would have the opportunity to meet both of these women in person during visits they would make, but I’ve never had the opportunity for much one-on-one interaction with them — yet I feel so bonded to them both.

This Friday I was especially excited to get up and get ready to head over to the “Boat” (the local Bagel Boat is the shop that so graciously hosts our group each week). It’s the first week I’m really feeling well and like myself again after a month-long illness. I arrived early, grabbed my bagel and got settled at the table. After a bit our ladies began trickling in and finally it was time to get started. Just a few minutes in, the door opened, and to our wonderful surprise, one of our Facetime friends appeared.

The way Shawtae lights up a room is not to be missed. She has a radiant smile and an energy about her that just screams positivity. Everyone jumped up to get their hugs in and after the excitement waned, we were able to dive into 2 Kings and get our study on.

At the end of the study I said my goodbyes and hugged Shawntae tight, but this time it was different — Shawntae had a little free time on her hands this visit and asked if I had any free time. Absolutely I would make time to spend with her.

I arrived home a few minutes later and my phone rang. My friend was on the other end of the line as she was on her way to pick up lunch. I invited her to my place where we could share a bite together and get to know each other a little better. I was so excited.

Shawntae arrived a bit later, food in hand, and we sat at my kitchen table. Time ran incredibly fast as we began sharing our life stories with each other. Have you ever felt like you know someone intimately, yet you’ve only just met. That’s how it is between she and I. I have always felt a connection to this woman with no foundation under it. We spent the next little bit closing some of the gaps and found we have several things in common. The moments flew by and before we were ready, it was time to part.

Our time together was so good for me. I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer this early part of the year. I’m asking for confirmation of so many things, and unbeknownst to my dear friend, she answered some of my uncertainties in our time together. I love when God shows up around the table of friendship. Having the opportunity to voice some of the questions in my heart and mind to someone so safe, so open, is a gift I look forward to repaying as our friendship grows.

I feel blessed, and incredibly thankful for this group of ladies. To be a part of something so unique and bonded. The mark that each of them has made on my heart I carry with me daily. From them I derive strength, love, a sense of belonging and a deepend faith in how God moves in my life. I have never felt more blessed.

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