Between Hello and Goodbye: the Story of a Table

newtable final

I remember the Sunday afternoon in June of 2002 when we bought it. We didn’t really have the extra time in our day…in just a few hours I had to be back to sing at church, and so it was a quick trip. But the new-to-us, very-empty house on Abbott Avenue, where my husband was partying up (not really) the remainder of his bachelor days before our wedding, needed to be filled up. Somehow. And so we drove, probably too fast, the 45 minutes to look at some used furniture.

The family was selling most of what they owned, and so after we’d agreed on a price for their bedroom set, they showed us their other offerings. Among them, the table.

It was a beautiful, nearly new, cherry finish with six matching chairs, and to this just-starting-out couple, it looked like something well beyond what we could…or should…own. I remember how I gave that hopeful smile to Tobin, but in my heart I knew our bank account couldn’t do it.

But they gave us an offer so good that we said yes. We made quick arrangements to return, pay for, and pick up everything, before sprinting back to church that evening.

We got married that August, and as soon as we returned to our home following our honeymoon, that table became a gathering place.

We’d invite people to share meals and conversations with us, always seated in those six chairs. We’d laugh over silly board games, we’d eat too many tacos over shared stories of how God was leading us and then, where He was taking us when, just a few years later, we followed His call to the other side of the world.

That table was passed around to different families during the five years we were gone…and though we never heard the stories that happened at it, I’m sure there were plenty of laughs, probably some tears, and many, many memories.

And then we came back, and our table was waiting for us…maybe a little more used and lived at, but still our table.

And very quickly, it resumed doing what it had always done…it became the place where we shared life.

It saw us through early baby years, many toddler meals, scritches and scratches because that’s what kids do to furniture…and many, many more memories.

A few months ago we began to look for something new. We knew it was getting close to the time when it needed to be replaced, or at least repaired heavily, and with the remodel and changes going on at our house, it was a good time. We placed an order for the farmhouse table of my dreams, the kind you only get once in your life…and that was that.

This past Friday, my husband and a friend picked up the new table. They carried it in through a snowstorm because that’s just how we roll, and I took my sweet time admiring it.

But it needed something, and so I took the vase of still-kinda-alive flowers from our old table and placed them in the center.

Later that night, we started cleaning off the old table…my husband was going to take it apart until we could get it listed for sale or find someone who needed it. Once we’d cleaned it off, he leaned it down on its side to take the legs off, and SNAP!

It broke. Irreparably broke.

As I held it so he could finish the job and then move the pieces outside, we talked about all the life that had been lived at that table. It’s held conversations with friends we won’t see again until heaven, tears in some of the hardest seasons of our lives, laughs and giggles and sound effects as our kids grew and changed and tried new foods. 😉

It’s held seasons upon seasons that have built our lives into what they are.

I wrote blog post after blog post at that table, I wrote a book and just a few weeks ago, started another one. I’ve cried into the pages of my Bible more times than I can count there, and I’m sure there were days when the tears rolled right off those pages to the table.

The table was the source of most of our fights and disagreements as it was my makeshift office, art center, and landing space in the middle of all the rest that should actually happen at a dining room table.

It was truly the most tangible center of our lives, and so it seems appropriate that at the end of a December we replaced it with a new one.

There’s a bittersweet feeling in me this morning as I run my fingers over the edge of this new one. It’s beautiful in its ruggedness…the old that we, for some reason in this crazy culture, pay extra for. 😉 I have no doubt that thousands of memories will be created at this one, too…that life in its rawest and realest and most precious moments will be spilled out as friends and family share their hearts here.

My eyes fall on the flowers in the center, and they hold the simplest of lessons for me, but it’s one I desperately want to cling to as this year comes to a close.

Every year…EVERY ONE…holds beauty. I can’t think of a year we’ve had when something wonderful didn’t happen. But I also can’t think of a year when something hard didn’t happen, too…whether it was a heartache or a struggle or a sickness or a loss.

That’s just life, isn’t it?

But we took the good from the broken and moved forward, determined to let our Father make something beautiful from it all. And that’s kind of how I feel about our new table…there are all kinds of possibilities about to be lived out there as we move from what was, what is, and what will be tomorrow.

I don’t know where you find yourself this December 31st. Maybe it’s smiling and anxious for a year full of new beginnings. Or, maybe not. Maybe you’re hurting from 2017 and not sure how you’ll face 2018. I think I fall somewhere between the two of those.

I don’t have a lot of answers, but I do know…I do know this. I know God can always take broken and make it beautiful, old and make new. I know He brings life through the hellos and goodbyes, through the changes and the moving forward.

Maybe you need that reminder. I know I do.

Here’s to 2017…a year that held a lot of life for our family.

And here’s to 2018…a year that will hold even more.

family pic 2017 final

Our house has been under construction since summer…some of you have asked about that. It’s going great, and soon I’ll be able to show you lots more! But for now, I’ll leave you with a family photo that perfectly depicts our 2017.
Under construction, yes.
Messy? Yeah, almost every day.
But somehow…it’s still beautiful.
And we’re so grateful.

Sig

Comments

  1. I think this post is one my “most favorites” of all the things you’ve allowed me to read over the years of our friendship! I’m thankful to have sat at both the old table and look forward to making memories at the new one as well. God’s blessings to you and your family, friend.

    • I’m so blessed to have you in my life, my friend…you are a treasure, and I’m so grateful for your love, support, and the many sweet memories we shared at the old table. You were also the first one to join us at our new table, so you get that title, too! 😉 Blessings and love right back to you and yours. :)

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