When Scott and I first got married my parents gave us a kitchen table. It was the same table that my grandparents gave them when they got married. When it was just the two of us the table was round with four chairs around it. As our family grew a leaf and eventually two leaves were added as well as extra folding chairs. Eventually, we outgrew that little table and it was time for something larger so last year for Father’s Day I built Scott a new kitchen table.

The table is a solid slab made from hickory, walnut, and Tasmanian blackwood laminated together. It’s heavy and solid. Instead of matching the chairs I decided to search the classifieds and put together a grouping of mismatched but complementary chairs. Half of them are painted and half are natural wood. Some are tall, and some are short. And, they are anywhere from 100 years old to 30 years old with a high chair thrown in for good measure.

We are in the process of creating a family mission statement that starts off with the simple idea of no empty chairs and I think my kitchen set is a great visual representation of our mission statement. Just as the chairs are different but complementary so is my family. We are a testament to a premortal existence. Our personalities couldn’t be more varied. At times we definitely clash and it may not be obvious that we belong together but in a unique way we work. When a member of our family is gone there is an emptiness and an anticipation of the time that void will be filled. I can’t imagine an eternity with an empty chair.

The central feature of my kitchen set is that solid slab table. Just as its chairs surround it so does our family surround the Lord. In the book of Matthew, a lawyer tempts Jesus saying, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Love the Lord and love like the Lord. Put Him first. Captain Moroni was a great example of centering one’s life around the Lord and what power he possessed. As Amalickiah was inciting the Lamanites to go to battle against the Nephites, Captain Moroni was preparing his people to defend their liberty and freedom to believe and worship God as they wished. When the Nephites centered their lives around the Lord they were not defeated. Of Captain Moroni it was said, “If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 48:17)

Sadly, all men are not like Captain Moroni but maybe we can shake the powers of hell in our own homes and families. The Lord loves us and wants us to put him first not to stroke his pride but because He knows that it will keep us on a path back to Him and to eternal life where we can abide eternally with no empty chairs.