It's a big big table

Fall is upon us.
We're in the thick of my favorite season of the entire year.
Sweaters, boots, scarves, apple cider, hot cocoa, football, and Thanksgiving to cap it off.
Thanksgiving has been my favorite Holiday for as long as I can remember.
Sure, Christmas presents are nice, but really... that's what that Holiday has become; presents.
Whereas Thanksgiving is about PRESENCE; about gathering together with friends, family, and food.
I was 20 when I hosted my first Thanksgiving Dinner for family.
The green beans ended up still being crunchy, but I've found out that over the years, people actually EAT them that way, too!

It's amazing how many people have gathered together around our table through the years.
Massachusetts, North Carolina, Arizona, and Indiana groups of people eating, laughing, and sharing Jesus. And our table, it's a simple Ikea table that we purchased as soon as the Massachusetts Ikea opened in 2003ish. It technically seats 4-6, but we've had up to ten people sitting around it eating, laughing, playing games together. We've had several marriages that were started by a simple "date" around our table.  The table has been witness to couples who attended the Marine's birthday parties and conceived children the same weekend; there's THREE baby girls ages 4-5 years old now. (awkward moment alert!!)

But our table, it isn't judgmental. It allows everyone's stories to be told, to be listened to, to cry, to laugh, to be angry, to be happy. It allows strangers to become family. It allows family to become closer. It allows conversations that may be difficult to come to a resolution, a resolve, an end to arguments started over feelings.

Maybe THIS is why Jesus poured His life into His disciples and ate together and went to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus' house. The table is a life giver. It allows people to come together, share a meal and be comfortable around each other. Everyone relaxes around food and a table.  Which is why Jesus said "Martha, Martha" to calm her down enough to sit around the table and BE instead of worrying about the DO.  I know I've been guilty of this many times when hosting dinner. But but but..someone has to get the food on the table, right?  People don't come to the house JUST for the food because FOOD is everywhere in our culture. I often get the Holy Spirit Nudge of "Jen, Jen" and sometimes I refuse to listen because I just need to do ONE more thing...
and other times I listen and that one more thing is put down, put away, and would not have worked out anyhow.

Over the years,  the people have become more important than the food, the spotless, dust free, OCD clean house, the appearance that the Marine and I have it "all together" (what a joke THAT is!),  and we relish in the conversation, the trials, the tantrums, the sharing of God's goodness together. It's become an amazing journey to see how God uses our simple table and hospitality to welcome people in. To witness the transformation that it's not all about the Marine and I, but something greater and bigger IN us... to not let the idol of perfection rule, and not treat our friends/family as people we HAVE to tolerate, but to really get to KNOW them, love them, and cherish them, as God's people and family.

All this from a simple $250 Ikea table and Jesus....