By Shelagh Raymer
I have a ridiculously large table in my kitchen; I mean, really large! Before harvest tables were a thing, I purchased a table from a craftsman of fine tables. That table has twelve leaves and extends up to 18 feet. Ridiculous, yes, because my dining room is only 12 feet long. Despite the smaller size of the room, that table has been extended many times to fit many people.
One of my favourite extended-table times was during the years when my three children were in high school. We have always had an open-door policy in our home. My three knew they could bring anyone home for lunch at any time, and on Fridays, I would make them lunch. I had heard years before in a Raising Kids God’s Way session that if you had to mortgage your house to feed your children’s friends, then do it – at least you knew where they were and who they were with. So I opened that table, inserted as many leaves as I could, and let them bring home as many friends as they wanted.
Those kids would pile in, drop their shoes at the front door, say a quick hello, make any introductions as new friends joined the group, then squeeze in around the table.
As I worked quietly in the kitchen, I overheard all those conversations and I would quietly pray for each one. I would laugh to myself as they argued over who would say grace; they all knew – Christian or not – they were not allowed to eat before a prayer was said over the food.
Those high school days of my three are now past but the friendships they curated at that table during those formative years are what I find to be the real blessing of my ridiculously large table. Some of these friend- ships have spilled into their church community, some have fallen by the wayside and others continue to be part of the neighbourhood. I may never know what seeds were planted when I prayed over those heads as they gobbled up the food placed before them. I may never know where each life ended up but during that time in my life as a mom, I extended that ridiculously large table, swung wide open the front door and provided a safe place for all those lives to feel – even for an hour – the love of Jesus through a mom, who welcomed and fed them.
Moms, extend your table during each stage of your child’s life. Extend it for a playdate, a craft, a board game, homework, a meal or even just a quick visit. It will forever become a safe place for your children to bring home anyone they invite to their table and a place for you to share Jesus quietly as you serve them.
Shelagh Raymer is MBC’s Program Director: Family Ministries. To the kids, she is known as MamaShee.