Continue to Grow

Thanksgiving night our table was crowded with people, lingering over coffee and pie, laughing loudly at this story or that one, even crying a little.  Kids ran around, fought over toys, and asked for more ice cream.  Inside, I felt sad.  I missed my mom and dad, my sister and brother.  My inner pity party was practically a rave when I realized something…

My table just then looked remarkably like the one at my mom’s house.  The laughter, the stories, the noise of playing kids sounded just like the ones often shared and heard around my parents’ table for as long as I can remember.  Some of my sweetest memories are of my family and a few friends lingering around the table long after our stomachs were full , telling stories, laughing hard and loud.  Daddy always had a story or joke, and we’d all get started and before you knew it, the hour was late and we were all nearly ready to eat again.  There might be an occasional political debate or deep theological discussion, especially as we all grew up and began to wrestle with those things for ourselves.  Family legends (all true, of course) were passed down to another generation, friends were turned into family, and I’d wager some hearts were mended in the process.

I wasn’t at that table this year, but I had created another just like it.  There was, there is, something special at that old table we’ve gathered around for so long.  Though it nearly breaks my heart to be away from that place, I’m realizing that I’m never truly away from there.  I’ve taken that special something and brought it over seven hundred miles away to share it with more people who need the comfort and love it brings.

Around our table this year was a couple whose grown children are far away, a single mom with her two kids, another family of our dearest friends who live life along with us, and of course our family of five.  Me, Dwayne, and three great kids.  Hmmmm…. three kids.  Sounds like another family of five, only I was one of the three kids.  In what is, I think, the ultimate parenting success, my mom and dad raised children with generous doses of God’s love, laughter, and friendship.  And that love is so big, so strong, that I’ll never have to leave it behind.  It simply expands far enough to reach wherever God places me.  Now that I’m grown, I carry that love with me, pouring it into my own kids who will one day have tables just like that old one I grew up with.  Who knows where they’ll be, but the same love of God will surround them, just as it did at my mom and dad’s and just as it does at ours.

This is how it happens, the day-to-day sharing of our faith and His love.  This is how it expands, how it travels around the world.  This is my mother and father’s goals accomplished and me on the way to accomplishing mine.

Maybe I couldn’t be with my dad, my mom, my sister, and my brother this year.  But I took what I share with them and spread it generously around my own home, and in that way I was very much with them and always will be.  Some things need never end, thank God.  They only continue to grow.

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