setting the table.

i’ve been away from home for several years now.  i’m pretty much on the twice a year rotation for visits.  so it shouldn’t shock anyone that life kind of moves on without me for the fifty weeks that i am not around.  parties are had, birthdays are celebrated and grandpa grills burgers just because.  it never fails that whenever the time rolls around for me to come home i’ll be on the phone with my grandma and she’ll be talking about an upcoming event, one i’ll actually be around for.  so i’ll say, “don’t forget – i’m coming home.”  it’s my implied “save a place for me.”

i don’t have to say it.  there’s always a place for me.  there’s always room at the table.  and lord knows there is always plenty of food.

Imagei’ve been invited to sit around many tables in my life.  from an early age i’ve always found myself in adopted families or with incredible groups of friends.  young life.  college.  the world race.  and now, georgia.  in this past season i’ve found myself a table to sit at.  i’ve been invited into something unique and special and sweet.  it’s been laced with tears and disappointments but it’s a table i’ve laughed at, screamed at, apologized and grew up at.  it’s one in which i’ve found myself celebrating, grieving, wishing, wondering, and praying.  i’ve been blessed, challenged, and sent out around this table.  i’ve dined with fancy napkins and plastic cups alike.  people have come in and out for different reasons or time, myself included.  but the table of grace, community, friendship and life exists here.  it’s a place i want to stay.

but i know it’s time to set my own table.  it’s time to be the creator of the space that invites people in, offers rest and life and encouragement and challenge.  it’s my turn to wash the napkins, dust off the china and get to work.  i’ve been partaking of a table for so long that this new task can, at moments, seem overwhelming.

but then i remember my place at the table doesn’t go away because i’m eighty miles further up the road.

around this time last year i was trying to make a decision about whether or not to go overseas for another season.  i was hot and sweaty running around at training camp.  my mind was spinning because it was not the plan.  i picked up the phone and through tears i asked for a blessing.  i needed to ask “if i do this – will you save a place for me?”  and through tears on the other end, i got exactly what i knew i would.  i don’t need to ask this time around.  partly because there is no conflict with this decision, but mostly because i know i have it without asking.

life is about to look different.  it’s something i’m not entirely sure that i am ready for.  but i know it’s right.  so i’m packing boxes and renting trucks and soaking up every minute with these people that i can.  i’m taking deep breaths and allowing my eyes to get wet.  i’m talking with people who i haven’t met but are soon to become new friends.  people who will come around a new table.  i’m pulling out every good thing i have to offer and preparing the table that is sure to be flooded in the coming weeks and months.

get ready, south carolina.  we are about to have one hell of a dinner party.

10 thoughts on “setting the table.

  1. I’m crying.

    I actually never thought I would look back at the last year and smile. But the dinner party memories make me smile. and cry.

    i am so proud of you. can’t wait to come dine in SC.

    love you higgle.

  2. So happy and excited for you Ashley!!! You will be missed but thankful that you are not that far away!! Love you!!

  3. Geeze. This made me cry. I will miss you little one. Hoping I get the opportunity to sit at the table you have yet to set. Love, love.

  4. : ) New Ashley… wow. Great words laced with honesty and optimism. I love it and I love you. This new table will be a big one and you are beyond equipped to set that table and serve the ones who come around it. Be blessed in this new place but know how blessed I feel to have sat at the table with you over the years.

  5. I love you…and you are so ready for this.
    Even in pictures…there’s always a spot where you would stand….if present. We always miss your laugh, but know…you’ll visit soon. I miss my coffee visits and the kids running to see you when you arrive. But the absence makes the time more special…more treasured. Not just another day, but a special day with our Ashley.
    I love you long time, and miss you this big. You will always have the best dressed table…cause Jesus is always there. Have a wonderful new adventure and continue to shoot for the moon.

  6. Wisdom beyond your years sweet one. I know everyone who sits at your table will be blessed. I know I am blessed when you sit at mine. Love you beyond measure. Gma

  7. 🙂

    You, lady, have such a way with words. Love this illustration. Praying for you during your transition. Excited to read stories about your new friends around the table you set. 🙂

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