The invitation came. Dinner? Of course. The evening unfolded and the tension of the week did as well. An appetizer, a video, wine, pictures, kids laughing and needing and wanting. The settling came and eventually we were all resting in our spaces, beginning to unfold into the beauty of the night. Life’s happenings in the questions and responses. Curiosity and planning. Telling and listening.

All gathered around the table; we broke bread. The years have changed the faces just as they have changed us and yet the sweetness remains. Some faces are younger and ours are simply older. Our faces tell our stories. Funny. Painful. Healing. Heartbreaking. Difficult. Joy-filled. We were together as family, together as friends.

Nearly eight years ago, we were newly married. We lived here and they lived there. They were five and we were two and between two couches we fit quite well. The weekly gathering was a welcome relief. A time to rest and enjoy in the midst of new chaos. A tradition was birthed, the beginning of many more. Sometimes, in the simplest moments the sweetest memories reside.

There was a newness in the midst of returning to a tradition tonight. A peace that was experienced as we spent time in the company of friends, sharing life, and breaking bread. Remembering that God calls us to love. Sometimes loving one another looks like a Saturday night, with a thought-filled meal and  American Idol. Time spent gathered around the table and sprawled out on the couches.

The time came to an end, it always does. We loaded up in the car with gratitude in our hearts and warmth to fill our souls. As we drove up the long drive to the house the snow glittered more beautifully than I’ve ever seen it before. I wanted to take a picture, but I knew there was no way to capture all the glory of that moment. While the tears fell, I took a deep breath and let them all fall for I could feel His promise…I am here.

Here in the moments when He feels so close and in the moments where I’ve wondered where He is. January is the chance for a fresh start. A clean slate. Yet, wipe as we may, even with water, our chalkboards hold the marks of our years, the marks of our lifetime. How will you hold what has marked you as you enter what lies ahead in your world this year?

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Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys.  A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.
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