“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
About fifteen years ago, I had the brilliant idea to dissect owl pellets with my children. It was a homeschooling project that I hoped they would enjoy and would spark a deeper interest in science. For those who are unfamiliar with the eating habits of owls, these majestic birds swallow small animals whole, digest the flesh of the animal, and later regurgitate the fur and bones as a ball or pellet. I ordered these pellets from a science supply company, so they did undergo some sort of fumigation process to make them safe to handle before they made it into my home.
I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about how my children would receive the project. We had already attempted to carve pumpkins, but both Ethan and Maggie were disgusted when holding gooey stringy pumpkin guts, leaving Terry and I to do the work. However, to my delight, they were both fascinated with the project, meticulously dissecting the owl pellets at my dinner table. Like detectives, they carefully separated bone from fur with a tweezers, hoping to identify the animal that the owl had devoured. Hours later, however, I started to panic when I realized it was time for Terry to come home from work. I admonished the kids to hurry because this was one project we couldn’t just slide down to the other end of the table while we had dinner. Terry would not have enjoyed the view of a bird skeleton and a pile of rodent fur with his spaghetti.
Our dinner table has always been the heart of our home, so much more than just a piece of furniture where we ate our meals and dissected owl pellets. It has been the place where my children were educated; from learning to read to figuring out advanced algebra problems. It is where we explored our creativity; from designing our own Christmas cards to decorating hollowed out goose eggs for Easter. Intense games of Monopoly and long games of Canasta have been played out at the table. It’s the place where we did family devotions together, taking turns reading and discussing portions of scripture. Seated at the table we have had heart to heart conversations about life, and at other times, exploded in laughter about some inside family joke.
This table, the heart of our home, has been where we have welcomed family and friends. Whether it has been over meals, including our famous fajitas, or over multiple cups of coffee, the table has been the place where we have discussed Godly principles, recalled old memories, mourned together over losses, and rejoiced over victories. It’s the place where birthdays have been celebrated, holidays have been enjoyed. and new friendships formed.
Our table has been the hub of many of our ministry projects. At the table, Vacation Bible School scripts have been written along with craft projects prepped. The table, covered with red and pink icing, was the decorating station for our Valentine cookie fundraiser for a few years. In addition, the table has been the place where Bible quizzers have practiced for tournaments, Sunday school lessons have been planned, and church worship music has been prepared. We have taught Bible studies, shared our testimonies and prayed with others while seated at the table.
The table has not looked the same over the course of our marriage. In the beginning, we liked the retro 50’s style and purchased a used chrome table. We quickly outgrew this table and our sense of style improved leading us to buy a used antique style oval table. That table survived most of my children’s lives despite paint residue, permanent marker stains and the inevitable chips and scratches from daily use. Unfortunately, somehow in the course of our move to Pennsylvania, we lost the leaf. With hosting company on a regular basis, we bought another used table with a leaf, which allowed us to seat more than six people comfortably. This unique table came with drawers that all the little people who came to my house found fascinating. In their imagination it held all kinds of treasures, like Uno cards and bags of rubber bands. The table wasn’t beautiful, but it served its purpose, giving me an excuse to purchase fun, colorful tablecloths to mark the beginning of each new season.
We recently purchased our first, and likely our last, new dining room table. It is my dream table and it came with the right price at the right time. It’s a farm style table and can fit my ever-growing family. But for me, as were the old used ones, it’s so much more than a table. It’s the place where our family can create new memories. This is the table where my daughter and I will plan her future wedding. This is the table where I will finish writing my book on restoration from my childhood. This is the table where I will create memories with my future grandchildren; making homemade pop tarts, playing games, and maybe even dissecting owl pellets. (I have a feeling my husband will not be on board with this idea.) This is the table where my husband and I will continue to share our morning cup of coffee while discussing God and our daily scriptural readings. It is the table where we will continue to welcome family and friends, celebrate holidays and “do ministry.”
Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” As much as I love my new table, it is not the physical object that I am going to treasure. From the chrome table, to the oval antique table, to the table with drawers, and now to my new farm table, what I treasure are the memories we have created, and will continue to create, as a family at the table. I often imagine that if my tables could talk, they would tell a story of a family who loved God and each other, who were not perfect, but quick to ask for forgiveness, who laughed a lot and created an atmosphere where they could grow and develop. The table would mention that this small family of four welcomed lots of other people to the table on a regular basis. The tables would declare that life-long memories were created.
Yes, I have a new table, and I have had fun styling the table with my table scarf and flowers. But, my new table won’t stay new for long. It will end up with dings, marks and maybe even paint residue. It might even go out of style. And some day, it might even end up in the trash pile. Yet, what will always remain is the opportunity to create new memories at the table. Personally, I will always treasure the memory of dissecting owl pellets at my table!