Dinner Time – Now to Then and Back Again

“Your grocery bill must have been cut in half when they left!”

My friend endearingly noticed me at the deli counter in our local grocery. “Yes, it has!” She and I stood together visiting about the changes in our homes since our kids have departed.

My husband, our daughter and I are embracing and feeling the ebb and flow of joy and sorrow as we navigate the empty spaces August left behind in our home and our hearts.

“I miss them. All of them.” She has spoken the words most often at dinner time. She not only misses her brothers, but the many friends and family who occasionally joined us for family fellowships this summer.

This plaque has been the motto of our family table as our children have grown up:


We have enjoyed dinners with the ‘more’ this summer that have left the aroma of Goodness behind in our hearts.

But there was one dinner specifically that left deposits of love in the hearts of our family and friends, the beauty of which continues to pour forth blessings of peace. It was a “Blessings Dinner”, a tradition I began with our oldest son.

My husband and I host a “Blessings Dinner” each time one of our children graduates from high school. Friends and family gather together to enjoy fellowship over a meal during which time those who want to can tell a story from the past and speak words of blessings for their future.

The inspiration for the ‘Blessings Dinner’ was birthed from the memory long ago of the time I spent around the dinner table of my childhood home.

As a little girl of 4 or 5, even though my mother worked outside of our home, I knew that dinner time was important to her. I watched as she transformed an old door into a table long enough to provide spaces for our family of nine. I can almost hear the ringing of the brass ‘dinner’ bell that would announce to the neighborhood at large that it was ‘time for dinner’ at our house. Hearing the call, I would run to find my place amongst my siblings at the table where once seated, my young heart could sense the mood as it ebbed and flowed into and out of Goodness. With eyes of tenderness I can look back and remember my dad, sitting with his elbows on the table, his head bowed and resting on his clasped hands, asking for blessings for our food.

My childhood table was no Norman Rockwell painting… it was dark and lovely. But Love was at that table and through the dark and the lovely, seeds of Goodness and curiosity were planted into my sweet little girl heart, tickling my taste buds and wetting my appetite with a dream to host dinners of blessings and fellowships for large gatherings of people.

This summer, I watched with tears in my eyes as my husband gathered family and friends in a circle, opening in a prayer and speaking words of blessing and honor over our son.  I listened to the words graciously spoken for him by friends and family. I love the thought of him venturing forth to share the Goodness he received.

I lifted my heart and voice of gratitude to God for the blessings He has poured into our family, blessings of love, healing, grace and hope.

Since then, we have begun to host other blessing dinners for sons and daughters of friends as they too depart on their journeys into the plan God has for them. I think of my friends whose children have gone ahead of us, those who have taken their seat at the larger table of grace. I think of those who are travelling down a path unexpected and challenging. And I think of those who are seeking.

I long to share the blessing of Love in Family Fellowships and Dinners…if not now, on a glorious day to come at a table of extravagant grace…together…forever.

My husband says I am a dreamer. Yes, I am! Today, if you look under my tablecloth, you might see a small table transformed by a large piece of plywood to accommodate the ‘more”.

These are the lyrics to a song entitled “Go with God” by Carolyn Arends. It is a song I have listened to many times as those I love depart our table… for now….

Farther than lands you have ever imagined
Deeper than even the oceans of blue
An open horizon is waiting like morning
Waking the dreamer who’s living in you

So now go with the wind at your back
And the sun on your face
With a song in your heart
And the promise of grace

Go in peace and in truth
And let love lead your way
Go with God
Go with God

Stronger than will in the soul of a fighter
Higher than hope in the heart of a child
There is a longing, a yearning inside us
That’s reaching for Heaven and won’t be denied

If you go with the wind at your back
And the sun on your face
With a song in your heart
And the promise of grace

Go in peace and in truth
And let love lead your way
Go with God

Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 24 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.