Ask my kids where I am the happiest and they will tell you "12 feet under". Now that's not a reference to being so dead that I am buried twice the normal 6 feet. Nor is it a lament on my insurmountable to do list. Nope, 12 feet under means all my offspring are home and gathered round to make "12 feet under my dining room table." Everybody home. What a great feeling to this Mommy-heart.
While they were all growing up, and there were 8 feet underneath my own most of the time, I didn't really spend much time pondering the merit of "everybody home". They always were! Truth be told, I probably spent some time wondering if MY two feet could leave these others here alone!! Even during those years of constant demands and busy-ness, though, my happiest times have always been when my whole family was under the same roof. (OK I do have to include that we all need to be liking each other for my happiness to be complete. Anybody know what I mean???) But together. All of us. Happy times.
When my oldest left for college, this longing for us to all be together became acute. Nobody had told me what it felt like for bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh to get her mail at a different address. That was probably a good thing cuz I probably would have tried hard to convince her that God's will for her was to stay at home until He returned.(Now don't any of you scoff at my grief, knowing that she was only relocating a mere 15 minutes away. It was still farther than just up the stairs, where she had been for 17 years! ). I knew it was supposed to be this way. I knew the point of raising children is to raise AN ADULT. One that becomes independent and self-sustaining and all that stuff. However, I also knew that she was really leaving and my family would never be the same and I liked it just the way it was, thank you very much. But leave, she did. And she thrived. Made me so proud of how she turned out, I busted buttons. Then the next one left and did the same thing. I alternated between grief and supreme joy at watching my two oldest children turn into adults. (Amazing ones, in fact. Turns out their grandparents were right!!) I truly am thrilled that these letters I helped write are being read and loved and admired in places beyond my dining room table. I see the unmistakable evidence that God has graciously and generously answered my prayers for their lives. And, true to His nature, He does above and beyond what I have asked and imagined. Gives me confidence that the last two letters will experience the same when they take flight.
Yet none of that joy changes the fact that my heart still longs for them all to be home. I'm OK with the fact that it won't be all the time. (In fact, I can even manage a smile that one day it'll be only the same 4 feet that started all this crazy stuff! We're gonna have some fun, just us!!) But those times that we are all here ....and liking each other.....well, that's truly a taste of Heaven for me. I cook as many favorites of each person that I can fit in. (We spell "LOVE" - "F-O-O-D", how bout you?) I just want them here so I can love on them. Feed them. Serve them. Just be with them. I don't need to do anything special, I just want to sit back and watch them. Interacting with each other. Laughing. Sharing. Yes, teasing. Eating. Remembering. Planning. Belonging. Loving. 12 feet under.
And now we've added more feet. Happiness for me is now 16 feet under. Had it this past weekend. Katie here, bringing with her two big feet and the cutest two little feet ever. Mary here. Joining Chip and Betsy and Paul and me here. Heavenly togetherness. A new table is on my wish list!
Just one thought before I close. Lest you think I am hopelessly sappy, let me tell you that I got this longing from Jesus. His heart's desire is for those that are His to be with Him. Check out John 17:24 where Jesus is pouring out His heart to His Father. In this prayer, Jesus asks God to protect us and strengthen us and keep us holy. He prays for our mission, our transformation, and our pursuit of the Father. And, after asking all these things for us, He asks for something for Himself. He tells His Father that He wants us all together. You and me and the Son and the Father. Together. Forever. Just so we can experience the glory of the Father, the love of the Son. Wow. What an awesome dining room table that's gonna be!
Originally posted on March 3, 2013