So much happens around a table, doesn't it? Conversations shared, meals consumed, holidays celebrated, family routine established...the table is really a sacred place in the home. Life is always demanding more from all of us and it's very easy to give in to the hustle and bustle of opportunity and scheduling, but I long to fight those demands and to take every chance we have to consistently gather here. It's too important to neglect and the years we have with our kids around the table on a daily basis, are fleeting. I am committed to carving out time here and to serving my family with food that fills their tummies and conversation that fills their souls. I want to break bread with my kids and my husband, while we talk about the Bread of Life in our home and in our lives, every single day.
It's really amazing to me that in only five years, we've already had incredibly deep conversations about the Lord and about spiritual things with Ava and Carter here. In the thirty minutes or so we sit for a meal, we have daily time to ask questions, to answer their thoughts, to encourage them, to model prayer for them and to hear what's on their hearts. We also have plenty of time to laugh, to talk about fun things we did or saw throughout the day, and to just enjoy each other. And all of this time together, it matters. It matters to Travis and I, but I know it also matters to them. Even if they can't articulate that yet, meals around the table are something they can count on and a place where they (hopefully) know that they belong. It's so easy and it's so tempting to just rush through a meal. I TOTALLY get that feeling and sometimes that happens here too. There are days that I am so over everything and it's been a long day and I just want to get through dinner so I can sit down and relax. Our home is just like yours and I don't always look forward to prepping, cooking and cleaning up after another meal. BUT gathering here anyway and redeeming what we can, even on the messy days, matters.
To my friends who have young ones and who are wondering when to start making dinners at the table a priority or how to bring the Lord into your routines? Just start right where you are, today. It's not only for them, but for you too. I can't tell you how many hours I've logged at our table singing songs to my kids while they ate, reading stories from the "Bear Bible", asking about the lesson in Sunday School, going through our Advent devotional, talking about our Easter garden and the cross, reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible, etc. When Ava was a baby, I knew she didn't understand most of what I was talking about, but I realized that I could talk to her all day long and practice whatever I wanted to practice on her. She was the perfect audience! So I decided to try and make mealtimes a habit for me, not just the food prep, but the soul prep. I tried to hold myself accountable and make the table a place where we talk about Jesus. Even before the kids know who He is, I wanted Him to be welcome at our table and to be Lord over every part of our daily lives, not just when Daddy is working or when we're at Church. I knew I wanted Him in our home and as I've fumbled through a thousand meals, I've tried to include Him in as many as I can. So many times I've been reading or talking and I can just tell, they aren't paying a bit of attention to me. The words are over their head or they are lost in their own world, but the Holy Spirit always whispers to me "just keep going" and sometimes nothing changes with the kids, but almost always, everything changes in me. Jesus is what I want my kids to leave home with more than anything else. And the salvation He died to offer me and them? It is the most important thing I can help them understand and long for and He is so worthy of my best effort, no matter how they respond. I can do my best to make this time together count for Eternity and then I can leave the results up to Him. I do it for them yes, but I also do it to be obedient to Him. We have responsibilities to train up our kids and to write God's word on their hearts. Deuteronomy 6 tells us to talk about them when we sit and when we rise, when we're on the road and at home. This is just one of those ways to do it.
But do you know what I'm seeing constantly now? The fruit of that choice. At five and at four years old, my big kids are answering questions, connecting dots, praying for a variety of things and talking about the Jesus they are growing to know. Believe me, we still have tears at the table, arguments, refusals to eat something, spills and all the other things that go along with raising kids. It's not perfect and sometimes it's down right ugly. But there is a sacred element to our mealtimes that is such a treasure to me. It was inspired by the Lord impressing that on my heart, it's fueled by Him and on the days when I'm tired and not in the mood, He can redeem a lot around that table. I share this not to toot my own horn because honestly, this is ALL JESUS in me, it's not my own natural tendencies at play here. But I also want to encourage you, especially those of you who have tried something and were disappointed when it didn't go like you hoped...Don't give up! It does pay-off and even when we think they aren't listening or understanding, they are likely retaining more than we know and in time, they will understand why we cherish this time with them and why we find it so important to speak truth into them. I am also extremely grateful for a husband who shares the same desire and who brings all kinds of joy and laughter to the table! He is a wonderful counter-balance to me and all my seriousness! ha ha! But also, this table is hopefully a place they will come home to and will make memories around for a lifetime to come. And that's why I've shared this photo with you today...
This table now sits in my kitchen, but it's a table that I've gathered around for more than 25 years. It's been in my parents' house for all that time and around it my sisters and parents and I have made countless memories. We've celebrated birthdays here, gathered for holidays, and had many conversations with family members we've loved who dine with Jesus now. I remember hosting Stacie's girlfriends for her bridal shower around this table and I also remember assembling tons and tons of Jennie's wedding invitations here with family and friends. I did a million school projects on this table and played with my barbies underneath it. I brought Travis home to Iowa for the first time and we ate around this table and now, almost 12 years later, I've brought this table home with me. My parents have a new table coming and they graciously asked if I wanted to use this one for my family. I jumped at the chance because it's so sentimental to me, but also because our old table has just become too small. This new one will hold us for a long time coming and can increase or decrease in size as we need it to. It fits perfectly in my kitchen because of its' oval shape and already we all love the added space it's given us for mealtimes. We christened it with dinner a few weeks ago, we celebrated Carter's birthday here last week, we hosted our first guest around it (Trav's Mom) and Ava has already logged some time here doing her homework. I love it for so many reasons and especially for what is to come around it. We have room for Walker now and I have hopes to refresh it with some new chairs down the road.
Daily we gather here and daily we invite Jesus to meet us here too. To many it's just a hand-me-down table and dinner is just one more meal to get over with, but to me all of it is a treasure and our time spent here together is priceless.