Four months​​​​

A mom once asked me to talk to her 15-year-old son (Shawn) about a girl he was sitting with at church. She was very anxious, because she had learned that he had asked the girl (Missy) to go to a Valentine Day party with him and bought her a nice bracelet as a Valentine gift.

“She’s going to read something into that,” the mom worried. “She’s going to think that it means she’s his girlfriend.”

In my gut I knew it was a bad idea but I did it because I was afraid of this woman. I asked Shawn for a moment of his time and he shrugged and said “Okay.”

“So, Shawn,” I began, using all the beguiling rhetorical skill I learned in my first semester of Speech Communication, “I see you’ve been sitting with Missy quite a bit lately.”

“Yeah.” That's it.

So much for my opening. “Well, I heard that you had invited her to the Valentine’s Day party and bought her a bracelet.”

He sighed. “What does my mom want to know?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I never became a spy or professional poker player. I mean, other than not owning a tuxedo or a pair of reflective sunglasses, that’s the reason. ​​

Um… well, she’s worried that Missy might read something more into that than is really there.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, she’s afraid Missy might think it means that she’s your girlfriend.”

He gave me a look. “She IS my girlfriend.”


“Okay, then. Thanks for your time. Have a good time on Valentine’s Day.”

Shawn’s mom was not happy when I told her what he said. And, to be honest, she REALLY didn’t appreciate me telling him to have a good time on Valentine’s Day. Brrr.

She immediately went to work on getting close to Missy. As it turned out, she really liked her. But then, in the first week of June, Missy sat alone and crying during the worship service. Shawn’s mom headed me off at the door on my way out of the building.

“What did he do to her? Why was she crying? Did he break up with her?”

And that was how I found out that the whole Shawn and Missy file had been permanently placed in my IN basket. I gritted my teeth and decided to get it over with before lunch.

“Hi, Shawn. Hey, I couldn’t help but notice that you and Missy didn’t sit together today. And she looked kind of upset.”

He turned and looked directly at his mom, who was watching us from beside her mini-van. She ducked and got into the front seat. He nodded to me.​​

“Yeah, we broke up.”

“Oh. Okay. Any particular reason why?”

He thought it over. “Well… four months is a pretty long time.


Four months is a pretty long time. A spouse waiting four more months for their sweetheart to come home from their overseas post may feel like it’s taking forever. A kid entering school in August probably thinks Winter Break will never arrive. The fifth month of a pregnancy- when the mommy is learning that there aren’t really any comfortable sleep positions anymore, and is anxious to finally hold her little one- and she’s only a little over halfway there?

Of course, other people would give anything for more time. Only four months till a balloon payment is due. Four short months till a daughter graduates and leaves for college… Just four months left to finish a master’s thesis- is that ALL?​​

But sometimes four months is just about long enough. Our construction staff (top to bottom- Rick O’Daniel, Construction Manager; Ashley Hedemann, Construction Volunteer Coordinator; Jorge Vargas, Construction Site Supervisor; Greg Rounsivill, Construction Site Supervisor; and Songer Herr, Construction Assistant [no picture available]) and volunteers build a house from turning dirt to handing over the keys in four months. They have home construction down to a science. They know what they will be doing on every single Saturday of a build. And it only takes four months. (Plus they have cookies.)

They have a unique construction method that results in a minimum of wasted wood and supplies. Any usable leftovers go to the ReStore for sale. The homes are solar-powered and energy-efficient. Each home has a large back yard. Each home is uniquely designed to fit in with the other architecture of the neighborhood in which it is constructed. They build three-bedroom, four-bedroom and five-bedroom homes, depending on the size of the family. And no matter the size, four months is just right.

They have a staggered build schedule that allows them to be working on up to three homes at the same time. Ashley knows exactly what kind of volunteers (roofers, painters, electric workers) she will need each of those Saturdays. All the tools and supplies are ready and laid out when the volunteers arrive and team leaders are ready to direct them and teach the inexperienced volunteers how and what to do. That way, four months is just right.

Paul admonished us to “make every minute count” (Ephesians 5:16, CEV).

If time is used well, however long you have is just long enough.

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