How do you dine? Thinking on things that are lovely per Paul’s words in God’s Word and dining experiences throughout my lifetime stir this story. Enjoying dining with deep appreciation was instilled at an early age in our home. Mother was a master cook who made family mealtime delicious in many ways. Feeding her family faithfully and filling us with her good food and God’s sweet spirit was top priority in our home. Mama’s country cooking, that could have been served to kings and queens, and family fellowship and fun around the oval oak table were shared with love. The dining experience mother and daddy modeled fed our souls and kept us closely connected to the Lord and one another through seasons of sunshine and sorrow.
Every morning, my brother, two sisters, and I gathered at the table with mama scrambling to feed her family before we would head to school and daddy would open our country store. Visions of daddy giving himself a shot for diabetes - before enjoying scrambled eggs and sausage, country ham with fried eggs and grits, or stacks of pancakes that disappeared quickly - impacted his little girl who thought he could walk on water - even with two prosthesis. Daddy never grumbled during his daily routine of injecting sharp needles into his freckled skin and pulling on and buckling up his man made legs. His only complaints came when mama pulled the jar of homemade grape jelly from his reach. Mama’s faithfulness to serve up good meals - every morning, night, and lunch on weekends - and Daddy’s humility and humor at the kitchen table set the tone for how our family dined.
Did we always dine together? Heavens no! Closing our country store for nightly and Saturday meals was never an option, so mother put a plan in place and we handled meal shifts with ease. When my older sister left for college, her empty seat made mama cry. Daddy’s humor and silly songs kept the sweet spirit alive at mealtime and we welcomed weekends when dining together was cherished. One by one, we left home to start our own family traditions at mealtime. Then, daddy passed away, mother’s nest was empty, and dining alone was not her cup of tea. As our families grew, holidays, birthdays, and special occasions (any day was special in mama’s eyes to bring her loved ones home for a meal) meant we would come together and dine around the old oak table with love and laughter being sweet music to my mama’s ears. I could not understand mother’s sadness at mealtime until Tim and I experienced an empty nest and shortly afterwards, I tasted the sting of death - twice! How I dine is different, but I am not alone. Memories of mealtimes through the years serve huge portions of peace and joy that satisfy my hungry heart.
The best gifts my family give are opened around our dining room table. I love cooking big meals (complete with casseroles) and welcoming my blended family home where dining together blesses my heart. The love and laughter around the table grows greater each time we come together to share good food and sweet fellowship while dining. And when I dine by myself, memories keep me company when I open a can of soup on a cold night and eat in my recliner, prepare one of mother’s favorite dishes and pig out, eat leftovers - or eat alone in a restaurant after church where couples dine and families gather for a happy mealtime. Many people reading this story have experienced seasons when every dining room chair was filled and seasons when one by one chairs became empty and dining alone reality.
So, how do you dine? Whatever your situation or season that affects how you dine, I pray for joy to fill your heart and home where Jesus longs to be invited and dine with you morning, noon, and night. Whatever need you have in your season of life, Jesus can quench your thirst and fill your hungry heart with peace and joy for the rest of your journey.
A picture frame with a Bible verse sits by the window where I write and watch the wonder of God’s world. Michelle Reynolds gave it to Clint when he was in her youth Bible Study at Emma Anderson Chapel many moons ago. They concluded their study with a special meal that truly touched Clint’s heart. Joy rises inside with memories of my son dining with me and talking about Jesus. I keep the framed scripture close to the place I migrate for writing and studying while at Topsail. The message stirs my heart and fills my hunger with contentment that only comes from Christ. May this verse - Revelation 3:20 - be a source of strength for you too.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me.”
So, how do you dine? Jesus longs to be with you every single time!