One of my favorite places to connect with our family and friends is sitting around the dining room table. There's just something about sitting across the table from someone, sharing a meal, and sharing life that feels right.
When I was nine years old, my family moved into an old farmhouse in Lake Stevens, situated on five acres on Sunnyside hill. My siblings and I all spent a lot of time outside....sometimes doing chores on our mini farm...and sometimes playing "kick the can" or "round up baseball" in the pasture, along with our neighborhood friends. Mom got tired of trying to call us home for dinner and got a big bell, that Dad hung on the back porch. When we heard that bell ringing, we knew we had to hightail it home! Though sometimes it was hard to leave a game, once we got in the door and smelled whatever Mom was cooking, we were glad to be home.
Our meals always began with a table prayer....always. A common one we said or sung was, "Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen." It was kind of hard to be crabby or to argue with your brother or sister when you've just asked Him to "be your guest"! My dad believed in having all of us participate in the conversations around the table....sometimes introducing a specific topic....or sometimes just having each of us share something about our day. Once we cleared the table, my dad often read to us...wonderful memories!
Once we had children, we taught them the same prayers I had learned growing up, and the boys brought other table prayers home from preschool, like, "Thank you, Jesus, for this food, Thank you, Jesus, you are good!" I remember some lively conversations about things that happened in school or in their neighborhood adventures! We too lived on five acres, as did all of our neighbors, so the kids had a lot of room to roam.
My parents were such wonderful role models of gracious hospitality. We often had guests in our home for dinner....extended family from Dad's side...church members...old friends from the mission field...people my Dad met and invited home. We loved having company....except when it came to the dishwashing! That was usually done by my older sister and me! My mother and father in law also loved to entertain guests and we had many extended family meals in this dining room.
So....sharing a meal around the dining room table is an event I highly value. When we moved into this house, I knew one of my first priorities was to update the dining room. Though my mother in law had good taste, the dining room reflected her....not me. We had a challenge because the floral wallpaper had been attached in 1976 and we could not remove it without chunks of the wallboard coming off with it. The other challenge was the floor. The dining room and living room were carpeted in deep red, and the carpet had been there almost 40 years. My husband and nephew began to pull up the carpet and discovered the original hardwood fir floors! Though weathered, they were in decent shape. We called a cousin of mine, Trygve, who finishes hard wood floors, and he spent a week working on them....years of old paste wax had to be dealt with. The floors are definitely "distressed" and aged....but I love them.
I had several professionals look at the walls and they all concurred that the best option, short of putting in all new sheetrock, was paint over it with a textured paint. We hired a painter to apply the textured faux finish and though it took a couple tries, he finally got it right. I love the warm color of the room!
The room had a built in china cabinet with deep stained woodwork and box molding on the ceiling....features I love about this old house. We inherited many lovely things from my mother in law and I'm happy to have a place to display them and use them readily.
I'll close this post with the words of the table prayer we often sang growing up in the Lutheran church....often in harmony with several parts. Come....be a guest at our table and sing with us!
"Be present at our table, Lord,
Be here and everywhere adored,
These mercies bless and grant that we,
May strengthened for thy service be."