Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Learning to Serve

Today's guest post is by my friend, Karen Elliot. Listen to the insight and love she expresses as she reminisces about raising her children. 

We have guarded our family supper time together for the past 25 years, and it became a time of getting to know our children, teaching them, and sharing in the chores.

One of the things we tried to teach during this special time each day was how we could serve each other through this event. Having three children, it made sense to me to have one set the table, one clear the dishes after the meal, and one rinse the dishes and load the dishwasher.
Photo credit: SPI516
 Keep in mind we are talking about a 4, 6 and 8 year old. Just getting the dishes down out of the cupboard proved challenging! It was fun to see the inventive ways they came up with to get the dishes out and to the table. When the 4 year old was loading the dishwasher, she often had to pull a nearby stool over to reach the faucet, then climb down and place the dishes inside the dish washer.

We stressed that in setting the family table, we wanted it to look nice, be set straight, with all the accoutrements we might need. It was fun to see the children take on evaluating if a sibling was ready for a glass rather than plastic cup, or if the size needed to be increased, as they needed more to drink as they grew in age. I enjoyed teaching them the art of setting a proper table, and then watching them add their own touches. It was during this time that one of the children chose to rearrange how the family sat at the table, moving the older two next to each other, while keeping the youngest within reach of Mom.

Clearing the table brought more challenges! It meant putting left over food away in a proper manner. So not only did the clearing person need to be diligent to get the dishes off the table in a timely manner and safe manner, they must also begin to estimate the size of storage container needed to store left over food. Then it must be placed in the refrigerator, and those serving dishes taken to the counter for the dish rinse.

Sometimes, the children would interact with each other as the chores were done, sometime, music was on and there was singing. It was interesting to hear the prods from one or another, to hurry up, we have to do such and such tonight, or please get that over here so I can finish up my job.

My daughter loved doing rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher, and sometimes even helped wash the dishes that didn’t go into the dishwasher. Once I remember it was mid-January and below 0 outside. My daughter came into the kitchen to do her dishwasher duty dressed in her swim suit! When I asked why she wanted to be wearing that on the coldest day of the year, and she said, “So I can swim in the soapy water after I am done with the dishes!”

On another occasion I vividly remember receiving a phone call while out running errands. My middle son had started the dishwasher, and there were bubbles coming out of everywhere! We later realized he used the dishwashing detergent, rather than the dishwasher detergent! Another treasured memory was walking into the kitchen and catching my junior high son singing songs while rinsing the dishes.

At one point, my oldest son was showing signs of not being willing to serve his siblings, so he was put on rinsing the dishes for a whole year, to learn to have a servant’s heart. He did it for a whole year, and at the end of it he asked if he now had a servant’s heart! His vocation is Youth Ministry…you tell me…if that job doesn’t take a servant’s heart, I don’t know what does!

Karen graduated with her Bible Certificate and was working in the dental field when she married Bill Elliot. They worked together to create the opportunity for Karen to be a stay at home mom while raising their three children. Karen spent that time focused on raising, training and nurturing her children and loving her husband. She also obtained her certificate in Biblical counseling and, together with Bill, worked to enrich many lives and marriages. Bill and Karen are enjoying their first year of being grandparents to two wonderful granddaughters.

Coming Up!
Friday morning look for an interview from down under!

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