Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bursting with Creativity Family Devo

Do you just know one of your kids is going to be a writer? Are you raising a future playwright or movie maker? Is there a radio announcer living under your roof? How about a mime or actor? 



Wouldn't you love something that brings all that creativity to the surface for a good purpose? How about creative family devos?

Here's the idea: 

  • Assign each child (or two children can work together) a passage that contains a Bible story. Tell them to read the story carefully several times through during the next few days.
  • On a specified day, they will present the story in their chosen genre. They can act it out, make a video, do a creative writing project, or even mime the story.
  • Tell them they can try to "get inside the minds" of the people,
  • BUT they cannot change the facts as they are in the Bible. We want them to actually see what the Bible says.


Maybe you could have a certain night of the week be "Bible Presentation Night". Each week a different child can present their story. Afterwards read the Bible passage again together to see if it was accurately portrayed. Then your job is to ask some "getting deeper" questions to help your children glean lessons from the Bible story. 

Be sure to not let anyone
make fun of or criticize the quality
of your child's presentation.


Here's an example of a creative writing devotion I wrote in the form of a journal entry:

I went to the temple today because I wanted to tell God I love Him. I know I can tell Him anywhere, but somehow it seems like He's listening more intently there. 
While I was standing in corner, trying to inconspicuously talk to God, I felt God's love for me so strongly that I wanted to give Him something. All I had was two copper coins.
And I do mean that's all I had, either with me or at home. 
I was convinced this wasn't just an emotional notion, but I could almost sense God asking me to obey Him and give Him my last two coins.
Just then I heard a trumpet blast and looked up to see a man dressed in fine, purple linen with gold trim emptying a huge bag of coins into the temple treasury. I noticed the "oohs" and "ahhs" from those who make it their entertainment to watch the offerings being given.
I silently wondered what difference my little bit would make to the temple. Perhaps they would lose them among the other coins, or even toss them out, not thinking it was worth picking them up. 
But, although I can't explain it--I certainly didn't hear a voice out loud--I knew God had a reason to be pushing me to give my last coins.
As I walked up to the treasury I could feel all eyes on my ragged clothes and stooped shoulders. I almost lost my nerve when I heard whispers and even snickers, but I quickly tossed my coins in and walked away, eyes toward the ground, so I wouldn't see the judgmental sneers.
I did notice that new rabbi they speak of so much and His disciples sitting opposite the treasury. Out of curiosity I snuck a glance at them. The looks on their faces surprised me no end. His disciples had looks of amazement on their faces as though they had just been told something they couldn't comprehend. Then I glanced at the one they call Jesus of Nazareth and He was looking straight at me. But the look on His face, how can I describe it? It was full of love and compassion, and I knew it was meant for me.
Catching myself staring back, I quickly looked down and walked out of the temple. 
Now the day's light is just about gone. Why do I write of this insignificant act of mine? I wonder if I imagined God was asking me to obey. I wonder if there was a reason for it? I wonder if it will have any lasting value?
Mark 12: 41-44; Matthew 6:2

Possible Discussion Questions:
  1. Do you think the widow knew what Jesus said about her offering?
  2. Do you suppose it is possible she never knew that her act was a lesson for the disciples?
  3. What would she have thought if she knew people would be reading about it thousands of years later?
  4. What does this tell you about obeying God, even when it doesn't seem like there's a reason to obey?
Photo Credits: RK Scott



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Do you know someone who would like some inspiration for family mealtimes? Please send them to this blog! Thank you.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Around the Table: The Conference

Last Saturday I had the fun of joining the women at Oak Ridge Bible Chapel for a conference on 


Around the Table
Connecting with Your Family at Mealtimes


We had a great day--at least I did! Starting with a delicious breakfast enjoyed, you guessed it, around several tables.


We enjoyed some wonderful times of singing before each of the talks.


I gave three talks looking at how God prepares a place for us, makes it personal, and provides protection there and then seeing how we can do that at mealtimes with our children, extended family, and friends.


Some friends and I even did a skit--though thankfully there are no photos of that!

They provided plenty of food at snack time and then lunch, too. At lunch we had "Conversation Starter" questions at our tables and that got us talking about interesting things as well as enabling us to get to know each other. One woman at our table had been married 68 years!


And then we had a demonstration on how to make a simple centerpiece to enrich our tables.


I got some new ideas for my table--just wish I had those flowers in my garden!


We held a giveaway for the book and the woman who was there to translate my messages into the language of the Karen people of Burma (Myanmar) won!


I thoroughly enjoyed sharing stories of my life with these women and getting to hear their stories and learning to know them.

Thank you so much Oak Ridge Ladies' Conference for inviting me!

If you would like a talk that will inspire your ladies to work toward connecting with their families at mealtimes at your next ladies' gathering for breakfast, lunch, or an all day conference, contact me:
to see if we can work out a date. I'd love to meet you, too.

You can listen to the talks at the Oak Ridge Bible Chapel website.


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Intentionally Spontaneous Hospitality

Have you ever been an answer to prayer?


Back in the 80s when we lived in Lima, Peru, an American man and his two teenage sons showed up at our church one Sunday. Ex-pats tend to gravitate toward each other, so of course we talked to them. During the course of the conversation, we asked if they would like to come to our house for lunch. Three hungry men being offered home cooked food? Yes, please!

We found out that the father was a representative for a mission seeking to find unreached tribes to bring Christians to them with the gospel. The father-son outing they had just been on had taken them to the jungles to look for almost unseen trails and broken twigs in hopes of finding an unreached tribe. Not your basic father-son camping trip, that!


Photo Credit: ID Campbell

While we were eating dessert, the father said to us "Actually, this meal is an answer to prayer. We fly back to the states tonight. We have enough money to get a taxi to the airport, but didn't have any cash to buy lunch, so before we walked over to the church today, we prayed that God would provide lunch."

Wow, we were an answer to prayer. Thank you, Lord, that You put it in our hearts to obey, even if we were just looking for a chance to speak English to some Americans



One time when we were on furlough an immigration situation for our adopted child left me in a missionary apartment with three small children while my husband traveled to meetings outside the country for 10 days. 

Sunday morning I got the kids ready to drive to church, but I just didn't have the energy to think about lunch. I prayed, "Lord, could you please have someone invite us for lunch?" To show my faith I packed extra diapers and the little ones' bibs in the diaper bag.

As I was putting the kids in their coats to leave church a woman looked at me and said, "Would you like to go to lunch with us?" I hope I didn't startle her with my enthusiastic response! We went to a fast food roast beef sandwich place. It was perfect--kids fed quickly, a toy surprise, and some adult fellowship for me. Thank you, Lord, for answering my prayer.



Want to get in on the fun?

Some suggestions:

  1. Have plenty of food ready. If you don't end up having someone over, you've got leftovers for another night!
  2. Have the fixings for back-up salad or veggie in the fridge. They can fill up on the variety.
  3. Serve bread.
  4. Don't apologize -- not for the quality, quantity, state of your house, or late invitation. Just welcome them into your home and they'll be thrilled.
  5. Plan to have an unplanned guest (or two). Ask God to make you aware of those around you who could use the blessing. You might see them at work, the store, or church. 
You never know when you'll be an answer to prayer!



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Do you know someone who would like some inspiration for family mealtimes? Please send them to this blog! Thank you.

Get a Conversation Starter question each week night by *liking* the Around the Table Facebook page! 




Thursday, September 5, 2013

Family Game Night

Did you ever cheat at Chutes and Ladders?

True confession: I did.


Photo Credit
And, I was an adult.

Playing against my children.

BUT, I cheated so one of them would win and the game would just be over!



However, I do think games are a great way to connect with your family, even if you have to play games you would prefer not to.

We used to have family game nights when the kids were little--lots of Clue, Parcheesi, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Trouble, before we graduated to AcquireCarcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and Pictionary(well, sometimes on Mother's Day I can convince them to play Pictionary.)




Actually we still love game night. I've been to thrift shops and collected all kinds of silly games to aid in these times. We repurpose the whole game:
  •  My daughter is making journal covers out of the game boards.
  • I use the game pieces to add decor to the table during mealtime and build the excitement for the coming games (not to mention, I don't have to say, "Don't play with the centerpiece" because I let them play!)
  • We use the question cards to play games.


Recently I found a game I'd never heard of--Imaginiff. We had a lot of fun with this when we had most of the family together over Labor Day weekend. A sample question goes like this:

"Imaginiff _(name of person on left)_ were a fashion fad. Which would he/she be?
  1. Poodle skirt and saddle shoes
  2. Leisure suit
  3. Victorian corset and gown
  4. Knickers
  5. Jordache jeans
  6. Toga
Everyone chooses which answer they would say best suits the person and we go around revealing our answers and telling why. It was a lot of fun, and didn't require the careful thought of the game of Puerto Ricothat we played later did. 


Grown up or little kid, most of our children will enjoy connecting over some kind of game. Take the time with your kids today.



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Would you like to attend an Around the Table Conference and hear me talk about Biblically based connecting with your family at mealtimes? 

I will be speaking in Milan, Illinois, on September 14.
For details, click here. You can email me, too, at:
aroundthetableblog(at)gmail(dot)com.

I'd love to meet you!




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