Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Would You Like on Your Table?

How about a square Turkish table runner?

If you've read this blog much, you know that I think that what's on our tables is important. A pretty table is a prepared table. I believe that, even though our families don't realize it, when the table is prepared, planned, and thought out, it helps them feel loved.

At the end of September I will be giving away two of these lovely square Turkish Table runners that I picked up in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul this summer.

It will look great on your table between meals or at mealtime.

These table runners feature the Turkish artistic rendition of a tulip on them. Did you know that the tulip was probably introduced to Europe from the Ottoman Empire?

In 2008 Jim and I were fortunate enough to visit Istanbul at the height of tulip time.

You and a friend could be the winners of these beautiful table runners!

The contest starts now!

Here’s how the giveaway will work:

Who is eligible to win?  YOU! (if you do any of the following):
              ...“like” the Facebook page this month
             ...AND/OR become a member of the blog this month
             ... recommend someone to do the above.
Both the new person whose name is randomly chosen and the person who recommends them will win one runner each!

How do I enter?
  1. “Like” the Around the Table Book Facebook page AND write a comment on the page saying that you "liked" it and the name of the person who told you about page. Both the new member and the one who recommended them will win if their name is drawn.
  2. Become a member of this blog AND write a comment in one of the posts from today through September telling me that you became a member and the name of the person who told you about the blog. (If you do both 1 and 2, your name will be entered twice.)
  3. If you have already done these things, get friends to do steps 1 and 2 to enter and put YOUR name as the one who told them about it. Obviously, the more friends you get to list you as the one who referred them, the more possibilities you have of winning!

Can I enter if I live outside the United States?
Yes, IF you have a US address where I can send the table runner. I will send it to an address in the states and you can organize to get it from there.

Who will win?
On September 30 we will have a random drawing of all the names of people who liked the Facebook page OR became members of the blog from now through the month of September 2012 AND wrote a comment with their name in it and the name of the person who told them about it. The person whose name is drawn will win one embroidered Turkish square table runner AS WELL AS the person who told them about the Facebook page or blog. (Note: I am choosing names from the COMMENTS on both Facebook and in the blog, not just from the list of people who liked or became members. To enter you must write your name in a comment and the name of the person who told you about the blog.)

What if you told me about it, Sharon?
If you heard about this from me and “liked” the page or became a member of the blog between August 29 and September 30, 2012, then find a friend who has not done this yet and tell them and you can put each other down as the one who told you.

Why are you doing this, Sharon?
I see my blog as a ministry to families, to help them find another way to connect with and encourage each other, but it’s only a ministry to as many families as actually know about and read the blog. So I want to get the word out to as many people as possible. Also God has given Jim and I the privilege and responsibility of traveling for ministry and I wanted to share just a bit of this with my readers to allow them to have something unique decorating their tables.

So, don't procrastinate! "Like" the Around the Table Blog Facebook Page and become a "member" of this blog (you won't receive any emails) and write a comment telling me you did and the name of a friend who told you about it today! 

And then GTAF...Go Tell A Friend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Of Corny Pizza, Fishy Napkins, and Anti-Bickering Spray

Today's post is an interview with a friend and fellow missionary, Nikki Rogers. I love doing these interviews and learning about and from other people. I think you'll enjoy reading about Nikki's family because they are a real family (i.e. not perfect) but they are succeeding in having meaningful family mealtimes. Plus Nikki has some simple, fun, and creative ideas you might want to try!

Tell me about your family and who is regularly at your table?
We are a family of four people – Dan, Nikki, Andy, and Carolyn. We like to have Grandpa and Grandma Rogers over as many times as they can come.
It was cool the morning we took this, so the kids put their jackets over their pjs! -- Nikki

How often do you have family meals?
We have dinner (or “the evening meal”) together about 5 times a week. Dan and Andy leave early on Mondays to go to Bible Study Fellowship, so sometimes they eat before the girls do. On Thursdays our church has its “soup and prayer meeting” so Dan goes to help serve and eat the soup. Sometimes the kids like to go for the soup, but we are all normally there for the prayer time. (I can’t eat noodles, so I eat at home one way or the other!)

What would you say is something unique about your family meals? 
We like to use fabric napkins. Last year when we studied astronomy I found fabric with planets for one side of the napkin and fabric with constellations for the other side. Before that we studied swimming creatures so we also have napkins with manatees, whales, sharks, rays, and little yellow fish.

Another thing is Friday is always pizza night. I use a super easy and fast pizza crust recipe and let Dan, Andy, and Carolyn top their pizzas with whatever they like. Carolyn likes to put corn on her pizza.

What do you do at the table at mealtimes besides eat?
Review Bible verses, talk about things we’ve learned in school, and discuss what’s going on the next day. Andy is one of those people who cannot fall asleep until he’s asked me, “So, what plans do we have for tomorrow?” I know exactly from whom he gets that.

What is one rule you have found yourself telling your kids over and over?
If there’s food in your mouth, it should be closed and you shouldn’t be talking.
Here are some pictures from a birthday dinner we had for our friend Katie. The kids helped make the penguin place cards and the Lego centerpiece. (Note to self – next time, iron the tablecloth!) --Nikki

What was the most unusual family meal you have ever had? 
We once had 5 other families over and they brought dinner – roasted guinea pig! Andy was a toddler at the time and twice asked me for “more of that good chicken”!

Have you been successful in getting your children to help cheerfully with mealtime chores? 
Someone else should comment on this one since we’re constantly working on good attitudes! The loss of “electronics time” for bad attitudes is a good motivator as is seeing Dad help out too.

How has including others around your table enriched your meals?
We’ve had lots of lovely people around our table over the past 14 years. I usually remember to pull out the guestbook and one of our favorite year-end activities is looking through that book and remembering the guests we’ve had. Bert and Colleen Elliot were two of our most gentle guests; a reporter for World Magazine was an interesting guest; one time we had 18 guests at once! We love hearing about the lives of others and find that we can learn a lot.

Do you have family devotions at a mealtime? 
We try to do family devotions at breakfast time, before everyone gets into their daily chores and activities. See my post for one specific story!

If you could put anything at all in a spray bottle and spray it over your family table, what would it be?
It would have to be the “Stop Bickering and Just Love Everybody” spray.
Lego penguin centerpiece

How old are your children and what are you loving about your mealtimes with them at this stage?
They are 12 and 8. At this stage, I love that they can help with all aspects of the meal. Each can make scrambled eggs on their own for our breakfast. Andy likes to make no-bake cookies (he calls them “monkey meat”) and Carolyn is good at offering to help.

Nikki Rogers lives in South America with her husband, Dan, and their two children. She keeps busy cooking most things from scratch and enjoys being a homeschooling mom.

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Reminder: In September I will be giving away two square table runners that I bought in Turkey. You and a friend could be the winners! Watch for details next Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

No Regrets

Yesterday was our 30th anniversary. 
It was a very special anniversary because it was the first time our kids gave us a party!

It not only made us feel loved, but it showed me that over the years, all those meal plans, all those celebrations, all those family times around the table, all the bits and pieces of things I have tried to teach them, were being absorbed. 

I will admit that our daughter-in-law was the chief planner for the event and I can't take credit for what she's learned. But she got everyone else involved--even writing to my mother for ideas.

They all contributed to the food and decorations and ideas and work.

We've only lived in Dubuque for four years, but we still had a lot of friends show up to join us in celebrating our joy.

It was special for Jim and I, too, because we recently found out our nest will suddenly become empty! We've known for quite a while that our youngest, Christina, would be moving into the dorm at Emmaus Bible College on August 23. 

But we thought, Samuel, our second youngest would be home a while longer. He moved home for his senior year and since graduation has been looking for a job. He wanted to stay in Dubuque because he's the youth group leader at our local church, he likes being near family, and his girlfriend lives in town. (Probably those last two aren't in the order he would put them!) But having spent the hottest summer in recent memory roofing has convinced him to take an office job in another part of the country, so he's moving to Houston at the end of this week. 

I'm thankful for his girlfriend for many reasons, but one is that it will bring him home often and I'll probably even get to see him. :-)

The party brought everyone out to Dubuque (our oldest son, Daniel and his family, live about 3.5 hours away) so we had a fun family time...
...our traditional three (this time four!) generation meal on Sunday...

...and time for games, too.

And as I contemplate having just Jim and I around the table for most of our meals, I definitely have no regrets about the time I spent planning, cooking, and cleaning up thousands of family meals over the last almost 27 years of having kids in our home.

I'll keep having Christina here for Sunday lunch along with Jim's parents and Rosana also lives in town and is over frequently. Daniel and Abby usually make it out one weekend a month and Samuel is hoping to get back with almost that frequency, too. So we will still have family mealtimes. And I'll continue to encourage and inspire you to connect with your family at mealtimes so when you come to this point in your family you, too, can say you have no regrets.

 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Reminder: In September I will be giving away two Turkish center of table cloths. You and a friend could be the winners! Watch for details on August 29.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Book Is in the Magazine

When the final edition of Around the Table went to the printing house, I invited a friend from church over to brainstorm about publicizing the book. Mindy's best idea was Connie!

We knew Connie wrote a monthly column, "Women Like Us", for the Internet version of Just Between Us, but we didn't know she was a brainstorming wealth of information! 

I facebooked Connie and what ensued was probably the longest set of back and forth messages between three grown women on facebook ever! She had so many ideas for getting the word out about the book, that I was rather overwhelmed and printed out the "conversation" and highlighted what I needed to do, who I should contact, and how to get going.

Shelly Esser
One of Connie's ideas was to contact JBU editor Shelly Esser about the possibility of printing an excerpt from the book in the magazine. 

This was not my first contact with JBU. While living in Colombia, I wrote an article that was published in the magazine. And earlier this year I interviewed Shelly for two posts for this blog.

I sent Shelly a copy of the book and a query about printing an excerpt. Today in the mail I received five copies of the Autumn 2012 issue of Just Between Us with an excerpt from Around the Table in it!
Just Between Us is a magazine for Christian women launched almost 20 years ago with a vision to encourage and equip women for a life of faith. It may be the only magazine for Christian women that still prints a hard copy. Maybe it's a magazine for you. Check out their website. You can browse through a sample issue there, see what topics are covered in the current issue, and subscribe to this quarterly magazine if you want. (They aren't paying me to say this!)
If you call and ask them, you might even be able to get a copy of the issue with the excerpt. But then, of course, you can always buy the whole book, too!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   

In September, I will be holding a special give away for two items I bought in Turkey this summer, to help decorate your table. So watch for the August 29 blog post to find out the details. I'll give you a hint at how you can have a better chance at winning: think of all the friends who might be interested in reading this blog. Now hold that thought for a couple weeks!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We've Been Enriched!

Wherever you go people eat.

Most of the time we have the luxury of enjoying what we eat. My heart goes out to those who eat only to survive, but in many places people have the resources to truly enjoy their meals from time to time, if not on a regular basis. 

I'm grateful to have been able to share in many of those meals in many places. This was definitely true on our most recent ministry trip to visit and encourage Emmaus course offices throughout Eastern Europe.
 How about a Turkish breakfast of tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, and olives? I can't say I'll be rushing to make this breakfast at home, but we loved it, sharing it with friends.

The Apostle Paul said a lot to the Corinthians about eating including, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corithians 10:31). We ate with the church in Corinth! They prepared a delicious and beautiful meal, to the glory of God.
Somehow I don't think Paul drank Coke Zero® with his moussaka.

At another kind of church dinner in Serbia, we walked about a mile through the village at noon on Sunday to a little restaurant rented out for the meal before the afternoon meetings. We couldn't talk to a lot of people, but those who spoke some English definitely tried it out on us. I felt like I could get used to Serbian village life!

Some meals were enroute. Here we are getting crumbs all over a train for our breakfast and enjoying being together as a family.

In some places in the world, eating outside is the norm, in others, it's a special treat when the weather cooperates. It does seem like people enjoy it, even with the extra effort of carrying things outside.

We got to eat outside in a backyard supper cookout in Hungary,
for lunch in a side yard in the Czech Republic,
and breakfast on a back patio near in a village near Vienna.
Our hosts ranged in age from a 22 year old university student to an 80-something couple who have been working with the Emmaus courses for 59 years!
Maria-Teresa and Bill served up a delicious lunch in the Emmaus office and told us that while they believe they should turn over the Emmaus work to someone younger, they are not retiring. They are writing books for Italian believers and have a long list of topics they'd like to cover.

Our lives were enriched by these people going out of their way to prepare food for us (often they had never met us before) and share a meal with us. I came home inspired to share willingly and generously with others. 

Will you add to the lives of others by including them in your family mealtimes? It will do wonders for you and your family as well.

To read more about this latest ministry trip go here.


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