It’s sticky hot. Pants-stuck-to-the-backs-of-your-legs hot. But once a week during the lunch hour me and my crew load up into the car without air conditioning and drive windows down, crazy hair blowing, to share life with a group of friends.

We come kids, diaper bags and sippy cups in tow and sit together in the hottest part of the day because it’s the time we’ve got. It’s the time we’ve carved out. It’s the time to be real.

It’s been long since I last kept that kind of company. That kind of in your face and business and heart company. I should’ve known better what I was missing. Truth is, I do know better. But there are a million excuses when it comes to actually packing up and physically going to someone else’s house for an hour of shared Jesus time.

But I ran out of excuses a couple weeks ago. It was about the same time I was in a panic about my job. Funny how that worked out, eh?

So now at the time of day more convenient for naps and mommy’s alone time, we load up and drive the red car my boys call the race car for a couple hours of slow connecting. We are a mixed bag of women. We are old and young; new moms and experienced. We don’t all know each other well. But we all know Jesus.

When we share and compare notes about Him, we learn more about each other. And more about how He loves to love us. Because we see it reflected in the faces around the room. Tired, strained faces that sometimes cry, sometimes laugh. With worry lines that want to surrender to peace in the man-God who promised not to leave us alone.

For an hour we open up our heavy packs and pick out the stones we’ve been carrying around. We show them and share them and help one another unpack them. We try to leave them there, on the floor of Stephanie’s house. Not just in any old heap. But placed deliberately; an altar of praise between the puzzles, the plastic tigers and pacifiers.

And when I drive home again, boys passed out asleep in the back seat, the warmth I feel is much more than just the lack of air conditioning.

Much, much more.