“We’ve walked a lot of earth together.”
The table has seen so many family dinners over the years. We’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and pregnancies and new jobs there. We’ve wept over layoffs and prayed for healing and against pain. We’ve held hands so many times.
There are actually three families at the table. The first dinner was in the spring of 2007. I remember setting the table and pouring the wine and wondering if it would be the only one. We were a most unlikely group – we didn’t live in the same neighborhood or have kids at the same school. We would have never been in the same graduating class. But we were all hungry for something greater than the meal we were preparing to eat. We longed for deep, abiding community. We’ve had more folks at the table over the years, but we keep coming back to us. The originals.
Seven years later, we are different people in so many ways. We’ve experienced life’s best and it’s most tragic. And even now life is juggling us all about a bit. We held hands and bowed our heads, and with every word my husband Brad prayed, those hands held more tightly as if to join in a chorus of “we’re still in this, still walking, still together.” The prayer was about strengthening our marriages against the raging storms, helping us be good parents and grandparents, and it was about protecting Ryan as he donated his kidney so his godchildren could hold hands with their mom a while longer. And there was gratitude for being with family crafted by God Himself. Courtney and I have used that phrase, “God-crafted family,” for years now to describe what the Lord has done for us in giving us all each other. And the words keep getting sweeter, the more earth that passes under our feet.
When was the last time you were hungry for something greater than a meal at your table? When was the last time you held hands tightly and prayed with friends, letting the tears fall without shame? You’re invited to the table. For good conversation. For good food. For community. And maybe even – on occasion – for the celebration of a guy who says because Jesus died for him, giving a kidney to help someone else live is the least he can do.
Ryan wanted Salt-Crusted Tenderloin for family dinner. We had herbed Cracked Potatoes and Brown Butter Green Beans too. And we had a wonderful salad inspired by a cooking show I watch on BBC called Saturday Kitchen. For dessert? Ryan loves bananas, so a recipe from Paula Dean put a little Deep South goodness on the table. Enjoy these recipes as you enjoy God-crafted family.
Fresh Melon Salad
makes six side servings
1 Tuscan canteloupe, peeled seeded and sliced into 1″ cubes (you may use a regular canteloupe if you can’t find Tuscan)
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2″ slices
3 ripe and beautiful tomatoes, cut into 1/2″ slices
Mild, creamy goat cheese
Lightly sweetened red wine vinaigrette or raspberry vinaigrette (Bolthouse Farms makes a lovely Raspberry Merlot dressing if you don’t want to make your own)
Layer ingredients on a platter and serve with the dressing on the side.
Not Your Mama’s Banana Pudding
makes 12 good servings
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 t. Mexican vanilla
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream
Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve. NOTE: This pudding is better if it’s had about a day to chill. And it’s excellent frozen – it tastes like banana ice cream.
What does God-crafted family look like to you? What would you serve at family dinner? And most importantly, how may I pray for you – because I want to hold your hand and let some earth pass under our feet too. Oh, and by the way, the transplant went well! The doctors said Ryan gave a most beautiful kidney to his recipient.