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Showing posts with label prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prayer. Show all posts

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Kitchen Table

During the preparation for our recent move, one of the pieces of furniture we chose not to bring with us was this table.  We were moving to share a home with our youngest son and his family. We would be using their furniture in our new dining room, and in the kitchen would be the table long used as our dining table, Grandma Terrell's oak table.  The butcher block parson's table that had graced our kitchens in 9 different homes over more than 40 years would need to go. It was sagging in the middle - showing its age and the number of times it had been moved, not to mention the markings acquired during cooking preparations, meals, snacks, art and sewing productions worked on by our growing family of little boys, and in most recent years, their daughters. There were even spots where glue and glitter and the paint from model airplanes seemed to be ingrained in the wood.  But my oldest son wanted the table. Sean remembered the table as a fixture of his growing up years, a leaning place later.  He was 6 years old when my parents gave us the money to buy a new table because our family had outgrown a table for 4.

So, the table would go to Sean.  But first, I wanted to give it a little help. Joe and I bought the table from Storehouse, a company at the time with a reputation for quality natural wood furniture. We had it made from pecan wood.  The butcher block wood and parson's style made it perfect for a succession of chairs to go around it.  I knew of a local craftsman who makes things from old wood. His artistry is beyond recycling or repurposing. So we loaded the table into my truck, took it to Mr. Hawkins in Rosenberg, and asked him what he could do with it. He loved the table and in spite of the cost he quoted for its restoration, I left it in his hands.  I liked that he loved the table too. Nearly 3 months later, our family table is in another kitchen, and it is still our family table.  we recently had breakfast with Sean and Teion and Skye, along with Ben, Nora, plus Tim and Debi, family friends. It felt right.  On the table, along with the breakfast casserole, they placed a framed poem I wrote many years ago. The following is the copy of the poem I posted once on my "kitchen" blog.                       

It would be a mistake to indicate that the only ingredients in my kitchen required for successfully and joyfully feeding my family were found in my pantry or simmering on the stove.  I will occasionally include table blessings, some “table talk”, and important for the keeper of this kitchen, prayers.  I wrote this one as a prayer poem in 1998.
                                              My Kitchen Table
                      As I open your Word and lean here one more time,
                  Make my table a holy place with your presence, Lord…
                     This table of pecan wood, not hand crafted acacia.
              This table scratched and stained with family years and family tears.
             This table that has been a family gathering place in so many places,
                 A place of offering and receiving nourishment of many kinds.
                     A place of joy and jelly, high chairs, and holding hands.
                   Birthday cakes and boy talks, spilled milk and spilled hearts.
            A place where I have put my head down and wet the wood with tears.
                         A place where your care and feeding of my soul
                            Joined the care and feeding of my family.
                              My heart is seated at this table, Lord.
                                You make this a holy place.
                                   I worship you.
                                                      Mary Ann Parker, March 1, 1998

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being Thankful for Chores

A maid service which advertises with bulk mail in our town reprimands "Life is too short to clean your own house."  The number of meals which families eat out, prepared and cleaned up by someone else,  is an astronomical part of family budgets.  I even saw a newsclip last week touting the introduction of a Swedish invention which is a bed that makes itself!  It seems that we spend an inordinate amount of energy and resources to get someone else to do our homework!Now approaching 72, and learning to accept more help these days, I appreciate occasional assistance with cleaning and gardening. But I prefer doing most of it myself.
I grew up having chores - housekeeping and kitchen chores I was allowed to be responsible for. At times I helped when Daddy fed the cows or drug a trailer behind a tractor to pick watermelons.  I don’t remember this as a negative, just something that was done because I was told to, most of the time feeling good about it. I may have not always begged to dust or take care of my little sister, but I loved helping in the kitchen. Cleaning up afterward was just part of the process. The summer  I was twelve, I helped behind the counter of the small cafe my parents owned. I had part time jobs as a teenager. That was work, not a chore, right?  When I graduated high school at seventeen, entered college, and became solely responsible for getting myself up and off to 7 a.m. classes and to my on campus job, I was given a book with a quotation by Charles Kingsley which still comes to mind when I hear anyone bemoaning “having” to do something.

 “Thank God–every morning when you get up–that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you a hundred virtues which the idle never know.”

I wouldn’t have labeled it so at the time, but I was learning the value of discipline. I also learned that something I accomplish has a great deal of meaning that involves something I am. Beginning all those years ago, I began to understand how I could find deeper meaning in my daily tasks required to care for my home and family.   I found great creative energy in gardening, planning and cooking meals, finding ways to make our home beautiful with art and music, encouraging our boys with good books, and offering hospitality to our friends and family. But the weeding, cleaning, mopping, potscrubbing, endless laundry (3 boys certainly makes for lots of washing and ironing) and keeping up with all the practices and games they were involved in could have easily overwhelmed me except for my belief that what I was doing was more than a job that would likely be necessary to repeat soon.

 I could pray for the man who would wear the shirt I was ironing. I could be intent on loving the little boy from whose jean pocket I had just fished out a frog. I could focus on blessing the messes as well as taking pride in the delicious meals. For many years, I have kept a small framed poem. It has peeped from beneath the stacks of paperwork on my desk, perched by the detergent in the utility room, and for a long time now has rested on the side of my kitchen sink.

Teach me, my God and King
In all things Thee to see
And what I do in anything,
To  do it as for Thee.
   ~ George Herbert

 Kathleen Norris, in her little book, The Quotidian Mysteries, discusses this process of the deeper meaning in our chores.

“…all serve to ground us in the world, and they need not grind us down. Our daily tasks, whether we perceive them as drudgery or essential, life-supporting work, do not define who we are as women or as human beings. But they have a considerable spiritual import, and their significance for Christian theology, the way they come together in the fabric of faith, is not often appreciated.”

We may do well to consider any differences with which we approach work (in the sense of a job for which we are paid) and chores, the necessary tasks which order our daily lives and the life of our family. 

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Come Into My Christmas House

As this year comes to an end, I am thinking of joys we have shared in our journey as a family, just as the blog subtitle suggests. This year has included many changes as Joe had surgery after surgery and has bravely met challenges of severe pain and limited mobility.  Our outings have been mostly to medical appointments, and gatherings have been different. The joys of this journey are nonetheless vividly apparent.  The love and caring concern of our sons, daughters in law, and granddaughters is lavish and intense.  They have helped with household chores from changing lightbulbs to moving furniture.  Meals have been joint ventures.  Phone calls "just checking on us" are frequent.  Little hands have helped set the table and take trays to Papa. Michala gave Joe his medicine.  Teion worked on the broken dishwasher.   Skye read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to Maddie and Jordann.  Kristen played dominoes with Maddie.  Jeremy played the Indonesian shell game with Lauren.  Ben gave Jordann rides on his shoulders. Sean started a fire outside to roast marshmallows.  It is not that these things never happened before, it is that they are intensified now, and deeply appreciated.  We decorated together, cooked together, prayed together, and even if our meals were not always around Grandma Terrell's table, they were family celebrations and joyful occasions.  So, come into my Christmas House, and share the joy of our journey as a family. Winter is upon us, but Spring is on the way.  I am grateful.    "With" is a powerful and joyful thing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Week with Maddie

My granddaughter, Madelyn, has been here for over a week.  She loves to cook as much as I do, so we have baked cupcakes, made Amish Friendship Bread, mixed up egg salad for a picnic, used the vegetable spiraler on zucchini and cucumbers, and enjoyed making Papa's dinner.  That doesn't mean she didn't have time to catch tadpoles, pick dozens of bouquets, raid the dressup basket for fashion shows with her cousin Skye, cut herbs, and harvest every tomato, okra, and cucumber that wasn't hiding under a leaf.  This list hardly begins to tell all the fun we had.  One morning when she woke up and ran in to give me a hug, she asked what I was writing.  I showed her the little journal and told her every morning I write down 5 things I am thankful for.  She wanted me to read her what I had been writing all week. Every day had her name written...Maddies' songs, Maddie's smile, snuggling with Maddie, reading with Maddie, Maddie's prayers.  She took the pen and asked if she could write something in the Gratitude Book and asked me for a little help with spelling.  When she gave it back to me, I read  I  AM  THANKFUL  FOR  GRANMARY. I don't know if she will always remember this week, but I know that I will.  Thank you God for Maddie!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Irish Blessing

In 1967, as the birth of our first son approached, Joe and I were fond of a San Antonio radio announcer who signed off each day with this Irish blessing.  Although I can't remember his surname, I do remember his given name because that is the name we chose for our son, Sean, who is now a father himself and still loves all things Irish.  Signing off for now...

Friday, November 20, 2009


When remembering my grandparent’s old house on an East Texas Hill, my thoughts reenter the red dirt road up to the house. We never went in at the front, but always drove around to the back, parked under the oak trees and, flinging open car doors, we ran to open arms and an open screen door in the back. That door took us into the large room known simply as the sleeping porch. It had windows all across two sides , was furnished with a big feather bed, the curved front bureau that now lives in my own front bedroom, some rocking chairs, a heater, and the oak dining table and china cabinet we now call ours.

I can picture going into the small kitchen just off the sleeping porch. There was a wood stove, a bucket of water with a dipper, and there Grandma produced peas and cornbread, fried chicken, homemade blackberry jelly, and my favorite treat, tea cakes. From the kitchen a door led into one of 3 front rooms which were separated by a long hall that had speckled blue linoleum dotted with white stars. On one wall sat a long chintz covered quilt box. That box is here in my house, too. On its surface sit family pictures, generations beyond my grandparents, but none of whom would have been possible without them!

At the end of the hall, the door opened onto the front porch. Two things pulled me there. One was a porch swing where I could sit and swing and read. The other was a large rose bush, planted at the corner where the house and porch met, just outside a bedroom window. It was a yellow rose, with large fragrant petals. My grandmother often filled a jar with these roses to put on the kitchen table. She didn’t have a car or an indoor bathroom, but she had roses. We would bury our noses in their softness and fragrance and thank God for this gift to us. When these roses had blessed us with their beauty for a brief time, and began to drop their petals on the table cloth, Grandma called this “shattering”. “Those roses have shattered,” she would say. I know that we use the same term for broken crystal and failed dreams, but in today’s bouquets, the shattering of the roses always brings a tender smile and a remembering of Grandma’s yellow roses.
Lord, I want to bloom today. Keep me together. Help me not to shatter.