Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Family Table

All week, I have been thinking a lot about our mealtimes around the table. I realized that they are something that I have taken for granted. What prompted this was a visit from a friend of our daughters.

This  young lady came over to spend a few days with our family. The first couple of mornings were atypical so we didn't have a normal breakfast. The last morning she was to be with us, I wanted to make a big meal to bless her. We made french toast and scrambled some eggs. There were mandarin orange slices with yogurt. Each had their choice of a hot drink; cocoa, chai, tea or cappuccino.

We  said a blessing and were having pleasant conversation and enjoying being together. Someone made a comment about the meal and I said I planned a big meal to make our guest feel special. Then, she said something that touched my heart. She said, "All of your meals are special because you sit down together and eat. At my house we all eat in different places." I didn't know what to say. She looked so sad.

After she had gone home, I thought more and more about our mealtimes and what they mean to us. This time is sacred to us and we guard them very carefully. Listed below are a few ways that we utilize "table time" in our home.

1.) We share our experiences.

2.) Biblical principles and school topics are discussed.

3.) Sometimes we read stories or poetry. 

4.) An awareness of current events is cultivated.

5.) It's the perfect time for working on manners and communication skills! (without too much intensity :)

6.) It is a time to minister hospitality and serve others.

  There are also some absolute guidelines that we follow.

1.) Individuals are not permitted to bring personal reading materials to the table.

2.) The television is not on. (exception would be for special event: presidential inauguration..etc....)

3.) Everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

4.) Attention is given to others while they are speaking.

While focusing on these things we try to remember to ENJOY EACH OTHER. Understanding that learning these things are important, the relationships are at the heart of our homes. We want this to be a time of nurturing as well as nourishing. It is best if the atmosphere is one of warm encouragement and gentle admonitions.

Jesus and the early church spent much time breaking bread together. There was teaching and fellowship. I am sure there were discussions of many kinds while friends and family ate together.

 A scientific study done by the American Psychological Association has shown that youth who ate dinner more often with their families (5 times per week) were less likely to be depressed or involved in drug use compared with youth who dined less often (3 times per week).

The family table can be a place where relationships are strengthened. Use it as valuable teaching time and just plain, have fun! It is where memories are made. Make it a time of hospitality and serving.  May the time be filled with love, laughter and all the good things that God intended!  Above all, as always, we want it be a time that honors our Lord, Jesus.

S0 much has been lost in the sea of activities and under the banner of providing
experiences. Time passes so quickly. Teachable moments and times of building our
families can be lost forever. This is a time to treasure and guard. May we evaluate as
 we plan our schedules and make commitments. Let us keep this time sacred.

Undoubtedly, many of you have your own objectives and strengths that your families apply to this special time. I would really appreciate hearing some of the ways God has led your family to redeem these priceless moments.

May God Bless your table time richly~


A Baker's Dozen Barnhouse News said...

Thank you so much for this gentle reminder of the importance of our time at the family table. We also have a large family and we treasure our time together during meals. We hear a portion from the Bible before breakfast and a read aloud during lunch and dinner, and sometimes my husband uses this time to share prayer requests for those with whom he works. We truly enjoy the fellowship we have during these times. Recently we've had to shift our dinner hour because an older son's work hours changed. It's sometimes difficult finding a time that works, but we believe it to be well worth the effort. Thank you again, and God bless you ~


P.S. Your story reminded me of a first time young guest we once had. I really thought she was terribly bored because she wasn't saying anything or responding to our conversation. I learned later that she had had a wonderful time watching my daughters prepare a meal for unexpected company(her) and was quite shocked by it all. She had never prepared even a sandwich and wasn't accustomed to so much fellowship during meals. It made me aware of how much I take for granted.

Jeff and Tamara said...

Thank you for sharing. It is always enjoyable and helpful to hear about other's families and what works for them. I understand about schedules and being flexible. God is always faithful to give wisdom and direction. I visited your blog. It is very uplifting and your home is lovely. God bless you. Tamara