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Parties, Porcelain, and Giving My Best

For years, I strived to host perfect holiday parties, as if they were an exam to pass. Hours before guests arrived, I dressed the table with my porcelain best, each item set precisely in its place. Thin lines of shimmering silver bordered its delicate rose pattern. Folded linen napkins bloomed on the plate. My china, a wedding gift from 1980, held not a single chip or scratch. I’d stand on...

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Come Saturday Morning

“Come and have breakfast.” It’s the resurrected Jesus inviting St. Peter to enjoy a morning meal. The sentiment frames my Saturday morning story, about a wild but winning neighbor girl with special needs—as impetuous as Peter—who barged into my life and heart. About five years ago, our breakfast routine started with her kicking at the door and yelling “Senorita!” through the mail slot, her plate in hand—tortillas and crème fraiche—persuasively...

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A Feast of Peppermint Jo-Jo’s: On the Couch with Jesus

Last Christmas our son was a fresh three months old, fitting neatly into six month onesies and footie pajamas with smiling husky puppies on the feet. The weather was unnaturally warm for December but we lived in the caution of RSV and ordinary colds—things that can land our little one in the hospital—so I don’t remember much of the outdoors. I think the leaves fell, wet with the December rains,...

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Neighbor Man Cometh

One Christmas Eve my husband and I invited our flannelled, bushy-bearded neighbor man to join us for our family’s traditional, holiday meal. We’d known him for a few years. He used to come to his country property every weekend to camp out, but come one Sunday night, rather than leave for the city, he moved into his camp trailer. Permanent. I sometimes saw him at the outlet store where dented...

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What Forgiveness Tastes Like

Family gatherings around life events are often joyous, emotional occasions. Wedding preparations take the cake when it comes to lots of Big Feelings. Mix the mother of the groom, the father of the bride, siblings, relatives—shirt-tail or otherwise—and there is sure to be no shortage of rough edges on the Big Day. Everyone involved has an investment in the couples’ happiness. Or at least an opinion,(“They paid HOW much for...

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Dear Mom, There’s Room At This Table For You

I see you at the park, with your camera slung around your neck, capturing the art of motherhood, one frame at a time. The Christmas card you sent in December was skillfully designed, and the invitation for your child’s birthday party was handmade too - the cupcakes… confectionary works of art. At Bible Study last Tuesday, I looked over and saw your beautiful doodle doodles in the margins of your...

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Biscuits, Eggs, and Becoming Family

White walls and a 80s multicolored afghan were all that greeted me in my new bedroom offered to me by virtual strangers. It had been two months since my parents had kicked me out of their home, leaving me stranded with nothing but a bunch of trash bags filled with my childhood stuffed animals and the fifty dollar check I had gotten from my job I worked at once a...

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When Hospitality Is Hard

I've always been a big believer in hospitality. I've always said that it's not just about making room, it's about inviting people in. It's making people feel welcome not just in my home, but in my life as well. I've always tended to be an open-book, open-arms, open-home kind of person. Maybe it's because growing up as a pastor's kid, hospitality wasn't just something I was taught, it was always...

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Tasting Grace in The Kitchen

In the kitchen. So much of life happens there. We celebrate the good times and mourn the sorrowful times over plates laden with food. Homework papers are returned to the classroom, randomly decorated by ketchup splatters. Friendships and romances happen over coffee and dessert. The kitchen is always the heartbeat of any home-based gathering, even when there is generous conversation space in the living room or the deck outside. I...

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On Leaves, Springs and Being Stretched

I’ve always been fascinated by tables with leaves. The idea that tables were made to be stretched wider on occasion, to receive guests outside of the ordinary people who normally fill the chairs around them. The idea that our tables are supposed to, were MADE to grow, speaks a quiet challenge to my heart. My grandmother’s dining table was famous in our family for the way it was constructed to...

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