Tuesday, February 18, 2014

not your average Sunday

Brian just got home from a trip to the states for the winter JV board meeting and a training for our newly formed and growing communications team. I was home with the kids for nine days (I keep saying ten, but Brian keeps correcting me). The kids were sick while he was gone, and I myself have been sick for more than nine days.

At our church us parents, who send our kids to nursery, rotate Sundays taking turns caring for the kids. Brian and I have done this together several times, and I would say a high average for us is about six or seven kids including our own. So, this Sunday, Brian very kindly offered to do nursery and to let me stay home and rest. I happily agreed, thinking at most, without our boys, he'd have six kids. I kept the boys home with me, and Cece went with Brian to help him.

While he was at church, I got a message from him with this picture. All the message said was 14 kids.

Whooops. Well, we won't be doing that again.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

who's at your table

My cousin, Melanie, gave me Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table for Christmas this year. Author, Shauna Niequist, writes about her life in short essays, most chapters ending with a recipe that coincides with that moment from her life. Even though, I'm not like her, "someone who wakes up in the morning thinking about what I will eat". I am captivated by her writing style, drawn to her honesty about life, and appreciating some new ideas in the kitchen.

One of her points is that one shouldn't worry about achieving perfection before entertaining. Instead, you should just have people over. Regardless of the size of your house, your ability to make tarts, or the chaos of life. Just have people around the table, she implores, because something sacred happens when people are gathered together and nourished together.

To be honest, I have found myself jealous as she's describing the gatherings she has at her table. I get mostly jealous of the times that she has family or long-time friends gathered together. Throughout my high school and college years, my family would gather almost every Sunday after church for dinner (we called it dinner, not lunch) at my aunt and uncle's house. When it was just our two families, the ten of us would crowd around the table. When we invited others, which happened often, we'd set up two tables, if needed. It was a time of joking, sharing, laughing, and eating. Ever since I left Minnesota, I have missed those Sunday gatherings around the table.

Then, when I married into Brian's family, we'd gather together too, but never around one table because 35+ people do not fit at one table. But, often, we'd go to Florida and gather in the living room with Brian's sister's family, kids everywhere (mostly hers), and my glass was never empty. Lots of chaos, but a lot of laughing and a lot of nourishing.

Reading Bread & Wine inspired me. We do have people over for dinner all the time, so this isn't a new thing for me. However, I decided that I wanted this most recent time to be more special. I invited several girls (they are really women, but I still can't call my good friends women--seems weird to me) over for a wine party. I brought out my best dishes and even put on a table cloth. I prepared two things that I know how to make, but that don't really go together--hummus and guacamole. Four of my friends came, two Americans and two Czechs. We sat around my table telling stories of giving birth in Czech hospitals. Tales of trying to speak another language and figure out another culture. Some shared about how they met their husbands. We talked about the local schools and our kids. Two of them shared what they remembered about living here in Czech as small girls during communism.

As I was cleaning up the dishes at midnight (yes, they stayed until midnight!), I realized that "my table" looks different than it did 15 years ago. I still want my brothers and cousins at my table way more than they are able to make it out here to sit at it. However, I'm thankful for this opportunity to have these friends at my table now. I'm not sure what my table will look like 15 years from now, but this is what it looked like last night (before everyone arrived).