Wednesday, October 25, 2017

By the Grace of God, Not "Me Too"

When we lived in South America we once hired a Christian man to do some odd jobs in our house. He came during the day when I was at home alone, and though I knew this man, I felt a discomforting atmosphere with him. I quickly let him go about his work and found my way to another room, but I was disquieted. As I thought about it, the only way I could describe it was a "sexual tension". I had no attraction whatsoever to him, but I was uncomfortable. I decided I didn't want to be alone in the house with him.



Later when I went to talk to my husband I felt extremely awkward. I didn't want to accuse the man of anything--he hadn't done or said anything explicitly suggestive or harassing--and I didn't want my husband to think that I had felt tempted, but I knew I didn't want to be alone with him. As soon as I finally expressed my feelings, to my great relief, my husband said, "Okay, from now on I will be home when he is working here." How can I thank him for understanding and protecting me?

We later learned that this man had seduced a woman and was carrying on an illicit affair with her. How had I known? Was it subconscious reading of body language? Was the Spirit of God warning me? (I hesitate to think that I could be that in tune with God's spirit, though I would like to be.) All I can say is that by the grace of God I was warned within, was able to voice my fears, and was believed and protected, in my case, by my husband.


These are things we need to provide for our children: the ability to listen to their own warning system, freedom to tell their fears or the actual abuse against them, belief, and immediate protection.

When our children were small, we started their sexual education by answering their questions in an age appropriate manner and when they were five or six, reading to each one privately a book called "Susie's Babies" which explains the miracle of birth by telling about a hamster in a classroom. It is not explicit at all, but opened the door to discussing the topic with our children. Then we had the conversation below, and at the dinner table, at least once year. This grows and changes as they are older.

The Conversation
Tell your children:

  • If they have any questions about any of this, they can and should ask us and not their friends.
  • If someone wants to talk to them about sex, how babies are created and born, or anything like this, they should tell them that they are learning about this from their parents. (Our children's Christian school sent home information before they ever had these talks in health or science so that we could be the first one to talk to them, tell them that discussion was okay, and we knew that the information they were getting was correct and biblically sound.)
  • If they are ever touched by someone, other than you when washing them or a doctor examining them, in or on their "private" areas (and let them know what these are) they should tell you, no matter what the person says will happen if they tell.
  • If someone ever tells them they want to touch them in those areas or they feel like that is being suggested, they should tell you, no matter what the person says will happen if they tell.
  • If they ever feel unsafe around someone, they should tell you, no matter what the person says will happen if they tell.
  • That if they are ever somewhere where they feel unsafe or that wrong things are being done (including drinking, drugs, or other irresponsible behavior), they can call you at any time of day or night and you will come get them and bring them home.
  • No one should ever require them to be touched or do anything sexual to get better grades, to be on a team, to be advanced in position, get a favor, or to get a job.
  • That you will believe them and take steps to deal with the situation and keep them safe.
Thankfully, we never had to take steps in this way, but if your child comes to you with this kind of information, you cannot just let it go. Here are the first steps of action to take.

The Action
  • Believe your child even if you don't want to. You might not want to think that the person they are accusing would do this, but for the sake of your child, you need to take them seriously. Few children make these accusations up.
  • Assure them of your continued love and that they are not at fault for this happening to them; the other person is the one who did wrong.
  • Take steps to make sure they are never in a situation alone with this person again. This might be inconvenient, but your child needs the security of feeling safe. 
  • Seek help from appropriate authorities and counselors.
  • This link to Focus on the Family will help you know what to do in the case of a child being molested by a family member and would be a good place to start getting information for any sexual abuse of your child.
Children are not the only ones who need this kind of information and support. You need it and your friends need it. 

In Addition
We need to keep our children from being harassers. Teach them that each person is valuable because they are made in the image of God and therefore the value of each one comes from the inestimable, incalculable value of God. God has proved their worth by demonstrating "His own love to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). We need to teach our children not to objectify others--even if they seem to be making sex objects of themselves--but to see each one as an individual whom God loves and for whom Christ died. Because of this, not only should they not harass others in any way, they should stand up for those they see being harassed.

It's not a simple subject that can be completely covered in one blog post, but as Christians, parents, and people made in God's image, we must be part of the solution.





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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Posts with the Mosts -- Celebrating 400 Posts!

With this post, I have written 400 entries on this blog. I thought this would be a good time to look back at some of the posts with the most.



Most Views — Just the Two of Us 
With well over 35,000 views and pinned to more than 5000 Pinterest boards, this post is viral. A couple of years ago I wrote 20 questions for my husband and I to talk  to each other about on our anniversary celebration. We were in the car for 6 hours and we had plenty of time for conversation and many questions brought up more memories of our relationship and how we met and why we fell for each other. At the end of a laughter filled time, we were more in love than ever. If you have been married more than a few years, these questions can help you rekindle that spark you had at the beginning. 
Runner Up: Ecuador, Martyrdom, and Family Meals (6001 views)



Most Important — Do You Have a Burden? 
This category was hard for me to choose. Of course I think many of my posts are important, but when it comes down to it, what is more important than our relationship with God? That’s why I choose this post. 
Runner Up: Praying for What We Cannot See



Most Purposeful — Cheated Out of a Last Supper
Why do I write this blog? The blog statement is "Inspiring Family to Connect at Mealtimes." There are so many things we can learn about around meals: cooking, manners, chores, conversation, hospitality, devotions, love...and probably others. Our family has always eaten meals sitting down at a table when we are together and even though we are empty nesters we have family around our table at least once a week, usually four generations! But when my two middle children married the same year, my oldest lived out of state, and my youngest went on a mission trip, I realized I hadn't gotten that "last supper" with everyone together to reminisce and maybe cry a little. But this post is most purposeful because I realized that 28 years of meals as a family is worth more than one "last time" together.
Runner Up: No Regrets 


Most Commented  Dinner for Just Mom and Dad
I guess that though I major on families eating together, encouraging and defending the idea of some meals for just Mom and Dad touched a lot of people. 
Runner Up: Half Full? Half Empty? Who Cares All Dirty!

Most Moving  — Remembering Uncle Pete
When my husband’s brother died we held a memorial for him in our own home. It was short, but meaningful. Others have told me that it has helped their kids process the loss of a loved one who is far away.
Runner Up: Teach Them to Pray Like Bert Did

Most Fun  Which TV Mealtime Mom are You?
While this may not be the "funniest", this is a fun quiz to do and figure out which of these four TV Mom's your style is closest to when it comes to mealtime. Take the quiz! 
Runner Up: Groundhog Day

Most Recipes  The Bright Side of Your Meal
This post more than 35 ideas for adding health and color to your meals--your side dishes! You can also search for "recipes" in the search bar upper right hand corner for the other recipes I have posted.
Runner Up: A Week of Real Menus (and Recipes)



Most Conversation  Beyond Small Talk

If you like conversation starting questions to keep things on a positive note, to get past small talk, to get to know people (like your kids) better, or just for fun, this post has lots of them!
Runner Up: Fit This In {A Dinnertime Game}

Most Decorative What's on My Table?

If you search in the upper left hand corner "What's on My Table?" you will find several posts with this title. I like to have my table looking nice and I like it to be something out of the ordinary, so I try.
Runner Up: Making Your Table an Attractive Meal Zone

Do you have a "most favorite" post of mine that you've read? If so, tell me which one it is. I'd like to know!




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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fire Safety at Home--A Dinner Conversation

When I was a little girl a smoke alarm salesman came to our house to give my parents a demonstration of smoke alarms. I was playing in the other room when he lit a match under the alarm and it went off jarringly. I came running to see what was happening!



I was probably 4 or 5 when this took place, but I remember another thing about his visit. He gave me a "Smokey the Bear". This teddy bear had a hard plastic hat with an elastic band, a badge attached to his chest and his legs were made of denim with furry feet sticking out. He was my teddy bear my whole childhood.

I don't remember if my parents bought smoke detectors from that salesman or not.

But I remember years later when we lived in two story houses, after fire safety prevention lessons at school, thinking about how I would get out of my upstairs bedroom in case of a fire.



When we were married and moved to Peru as missionaries, I remember being concerned because all of the windows that opened in our house had bars over them screwed into the house. No way to get them off. My American safety conscious mind decided I had to to trust God. Thankfully I never had to jump from an upstairs window or try to break a window that didn't have bars so I could get out of my house.

But a good dinnertime conversation would be about family fire safety. Here are some good conversation starters:

1. If our house were on fire, and you were in ______ room, tell me two ways you could get out. (Eventually discuss all of the rooms in your house.)

2. What are some good ways to prevent a house fire?



3. If a fire starts in a pan because of grease, what is the best way to put it out?

4. Where would be a good place for all of us to meet outside if there were a fire in our house? 

5. How do you call the fire department when there is a fire?

These are just some starter discussions. It would be a good idea, and actually a fun game, to have some practice fire drills at your house. You could buy a whistle or turn on a smoke detector alarm to be the signal. Tell  your family after your discussion on fires that you will have a fire drill that evening and what the signal will be. Get everyone to go about their regular after dinner activities and at the time you decide start the signal. Time yourselves to see how long it takes everyone to get to the meeting place.

Over the next week or so, have a couple of more drills and see if you can beat your previous times. Then put it on your calendar to do this at least twice a year so everyone remembers what to do and where to go. 

Below are a couple of websites that have more information and even printouts and games you can use to help your family prevent fires and be prepared in case of one. 

Keep your family safe!

Fire Prevention Week Teaching
Fire Safety as a Family





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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

National Do Something Nice Day

Did you know that tomorrow, October 5, is National Do Something Nice Day?

Recently I've had two reminders about being kind to people whether they deserve it or not.



The first came from a podcast about ADD. The speaker, who definitely has ADHD, talked about one of the ways he helps himself is by making connections with people. He said that even in the grocery store he plays a little game with himself to try to connect with the other people shopping there by looking at them as they pass and when they look at him he smiles. He gets a point if they smile back. His ADHD had made him feel unconnected from others because people couldn't follow the leaps he took in subject matter, his hyper behavior, and his impulsivity. Learning to be kind to people and connect was one compensation he developed to deal with his difference.

The second was from another podcast where a woman talked about "The Kindness Challenge". This was a way she had developed for people in difficult relationships to help them become better, and even good, relationships. (I found it funny that this woman is a statistician by training so she tried this experiment with something like 780 people and 89% of them reported that their relationships were better after trying this.)



The Kindness Challenge is basically fourfold:
Every day for 30 days--
1. Do something kind for the other person
2. Say something kind to the other person
3. Say something nice about the other person to someone else (even if they don't hear it)
4. Refrain from saying anything negative to or about the other person

By doing these things you change your own opinion of the other person and they see you being nice to them and most will return in kind and change their attitude toward you.

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) have been around quite a while, something like paying for the toll of the car behind you, buying a case of water bottles and giving them out to construction workers on your street, or holding the door open for someone. In fact, in some places this has become a thing--at a Starbucks in Pennsylvania not too long ago 160 people in a row paid for the coffee of the person behind them!



But I think that more meaningful than random acts of kindness is doing something for someone you know. Show love to the people around you. And I'm warning you, it might cost you something. Remember when David was going to make an offering to God and he wanted to buy Araunah's threshing floor and oxen to do it. Araunah offered King David his possessions as a gift, but David said, "I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing." (2 Samuel 24:24) Acts of kindness should "cost" as well to show true kindness.

What are some things you could do tomorrow to "do something nice" to celebrate the day?

Here are some suggestions:

- visit an elderly person or shut in

- tell a young mom to take a nap or go get a cup of coffee while you watch her kids for an hour
- rake your neighbor's leaves
- make a meal for a harried friend and take it to them in disposable containers 
- write someone a thank you note, maybe someone from the past in your life, the person who preached on Sunday if the sermon touched you, someone who had a kind word for you when you were down
- take a bouquet of flowers to a widow
- send a care package to a college student or soldier you know
- give a new neighbor a map of your neighborhood with the names of various neighbors, your name and phone number, and a list of plumbers, electricians, car mechanics, dentists, etc. that you recommend
- bake a loaf of pumpkin bread and bring it to work or a Bible study to share
- pray for a missionary and then write them an email to tell them you did (believe me hearing that someone actually prayed for you is an amazing encouragement)
- put encouraging notes in your husband's or kids' lunches, briefcases, or backpacks
- watch the show someone else wants to watch, even though it's the same time your favorite is on
- take a friend out for coffee
- offer a senior a ride to the doctor or the grocery store
- look up a high school friend on Facebook and reconnect

Don't brag about what you do on social media, (Proverbs 27:2) but if someone does something nice for you, tell the world and use the hashtag #DoSomethingNiceDay.

How can you do this with your family?

How about each person drawing the name of another person in the family tonight at dinner and tomorrow they have to do something nice for that person, maybe do one of their chores before they get a chance, warm up their bath towel in the dryer while they are in the shower, or leave their favorite candy on their pillow. The next night at dinner have each person tell what was done for them and guess who did it. Enjoy the laughter and love of your family.

Even if the National day has passed, take time to do something nice today!


Tell me, what was done for you today?





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To never miss an Around the Table blog post, simply sign up in the space on the right side of the blog, below the picture of the book. Each week you will receive one email that looks like this:





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