This post is dedicated to Miles. Thank you for opening my eyes to the true value of family dinners.
Years ago, when we all lived under one roof, our house was the hub for middle school, high school and college kids. Music (really loud music, from the band that practiced in our garage), laughter, conversation, games, shenanigans, and young people filled every room in our home. And when dinner time rolled around... Well, let's just say, it was rarely only our family of six. No, we often set extra plates, as I prayed for the Lord to multiply the food I was cooking.
Our dining room table comfortably held our small tribe. Yet, many evenings we squeezed eight or nine or even ten snuggly around it. Some nights, though, even our long table was not quite enough. Then, I would holler for one of the kids to grab the folding table to accommodate the overflow.
We placed the square green table in the adjoining room, where we could easily include another three or four or five. This always worked well, I thought. Until one night, I will never forget! For on that particular evening, as food cooked, and kids set tables, and I prayed for our "loaves and fishes" to multiply, one of the young men, a high school senior, came into the kitchen and asked, "Mrs. Horning, could we put the tables together?"
"Sure," I answered. A little bewildered by his request.
Then he added, "I have never had a family dinner."
My heart broke. No, actually, it shattered. No family dinner, how could that be? Then one of the other girls spoke up, "I've never had a family dinner either. My mom and I sit at bar stools at our kitchen counter or on the couch."
All of us remember that night! We realized our normal meal time routine was not "normal" for some. We also saw in our young visitors a yearning to belong. A desire to sit a a long table with a lot of people, to eat and talk and laugh and be a part of a larger "family."
These days, our house is quieter. Well, it's different anyhow. As a good friend reminded me, often our home is still overflowing with sons, daughters, grandchildren and other family-guests. Still, my husband and I are certain that we need to intentionally invite others over to our home for "family" dinners. So, once a month, we will invite others to sit around our table(s) again. We will welcome anyone, but especially those who are aching for a family meal at a table in a home.
I am going to be honest, this is hard for me. You see my hubby, well, he's the party guy. It's natural and comes easy for him to entertain. For me, not so much. I am an introvert. It would be easier for me to hide behind my personality. I'm not a gourmet cook. In fact, I'm not really much of a cook, at all. (Thank God for Costco). I worry about the appearance my house. And yet I can't forget a young man's words to me one night, "can we put the tables together...I have never had a family dinner."
Then, I found these words in scripture, "The end of all things is near... Pray...Love...Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling...faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." Here, in 1 Peter 4:7-10, I am convicted that my excuses are invalid, my offering hospitality is not optional! Instead, it is required, especailly as the end of times draw near!
So, next week, we will begin, once more, to host family dinners. As I have shared the idea for this post with others, many are excited to join our family meal times. And, much to my surprise, others have been challenged to begin to host family dinners themselves. I think that is so cool!
Dear readers as I close, I am heartbroken to write, I recently learned the young man who inspired this post has passed away. We don't know how or why, but I can't help but ache for him and wonder, did he get to have more family dinners? And, I pray the one he had with us was a blessing he never forgot. WIll you make room at your tables?