Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Family Dinner: The Communion Makes Us a Family

Today's post is written by fellow blogger, Helene Smith.





Recently my family has abandoned eating in the front of the TV, a bad habit we had fallen into. At first my eight year old daughter was very disappointed. The Great British Baking Show makes a fun short term distraction. But the delights of the family dinner are becoming apparent even to her.

For instance, she uses the time to ask complicated questions like, “Why do we need money, wouldn’t swapping stuff be simpler?” This diverted the family dinner table into a rousing debate regarding the difference between a village and a global economy. Economics isn’t the only subject we’ve covered. She told us, over enchiladas, that she had learned all the math she will ever need to know for the real world. Her older sister cheerfully gave us ALL a schooling in the practical applications of the calculus she is learning. Did you know that astronomers use high school trigonometry to determine the source of gravitational waves?


At eight she beginning to learn the Christian joy of hospitality. The guests at our table bring great fascination. She asks me as we clean up the mess: “Mama, where is his wife?” “Mama, why do they have so many kids?” “Mama, do you think he was right about…” She absorbs family history as we tell stories about our parents, grandparents and the legacy of faith we carry on. She learns compassion and prayer as she says grace not only for the food but prays for my uncle in remission from a very nearly deadly bout with lymphoma.


My girl is developing a taste for more complex joys than any tv show has to offer: the joys of family and conversation. She is learning about communion. I mean literally the way we commune together, the time that makes us one family instead of four people who happen to share the same space.


It’s a spiritual lesson that many of us adults could stand to learn. Coming to God's table requires us to put aside all of the week's distractions. We have to turn away from being "connected" to Twitter, Facebook and our phones to join the larger conversation. We may have questions. We may have to develop a taste for it. We may need practice and maturity. But our Father, our elder Brother, and a large family of siblings around the world wait for us there to commune.


Helene Smith: Whether it's suffering the consequences of an entire bucket of snails in Hunan, taking evening bike rides at the beach in Vietnam, or hurtling down the mountain on wild sled rides at home in Wyoming, I love a good adventure.  The greatest adventure of my life has been walking where God leads with my husband of 18 years and my two sweet girls. 


Look for Helene at:
Blog: http://maidservantsofchrist.blogspot.com/
To subscribe and get the ebook devotional "12 Lord's Supper Devotionals" that this post is derived from http://eepurl.com/cI1Gmf


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This week's hack comes from Susan: I use Plan to Eat to plan our meals. It generates the shopping list for me which is a HUGE help. I also do a lot of online shopping and have groceries delivered, or we pick them up.

The secret to using Plan to Eat is to buy a yearly subscription during their Black Friday sale every year and it is half-price. I recommend that anyone joining in the meantime takes advantage of a free month's trial and then pays by the month until November.  For the Plan to Eat app, click here.




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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fun Stuff for Tonight's Dinner Conversation

I received an email that made me smile and I thought it would be a great conversation starter at our table. Then I started looking up some of the questions to make sure they were accurate  and discovered that some of them weren't!

So that gave me a different way to start a conversation:
Should I believe everything I read (or hear)?



The following "fun facts" were probably not facts at all!



- - - - - - - - - - - -
Here are some other "factoids" that were in the email:
  •  It is impossible to lick your elbow. Before you tell, why not all try it? Here's the answer.


  • Intelligent people  have more zinc and copper in their hair. possible answer




                
                 ------------
What is the answer to:
                 111,111,111 x
                 111,111,111 = 

Answer: 12,345,678,987, 654,321
                 ------------

True or False?

     If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.
     If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died because of wounds received in battle.
     If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Answer


- - - - - - - - - - - -



  • What is the cost of raising a medium sized dog for eleven years?
                $16,400 True

- - - - - - - - - - - -



  •  Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter 'A'?

               A. One thousand


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The answers to most of the following can be found here--assuming this person did his homework correctly.




  • True or False: The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.




  •  True or False: Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.





  •  The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work:

                 Alaska



  • The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28%

              (now get this...)



  • The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

  • Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers have in common?


                 A. All were invented by women.





  • Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?

                 A. Honey



I couldn't find a definitive answer for these:


  • The average number of people airborne over the U.S. in any given hour:

                 61,000




  • Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?

                 A. Their birthplace



  • Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?

                 A. Obsession



  • Is this really where the phrase came from? In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase...'Goodnight , sleep tight'

            Find out here.


Follow up this litany of "facts" with the questions:


  1. Why do we believe what we see written down?
  2. How can we learn to be more discerning?
  3. Is it better to believe things our friends tell us or be skeptical? Which kind of person do you like to be with?

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Maree says, How do I have family meals? I don't think I have a trick. We just always made it a habit. Now the kids are grown and they call ask if they can come for dinner. Having dinner at approximately the same time, we do dinner out once a week, and now started Sunday lunch for those that don't live at home. 
You can read more from Maree in her blog here.






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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Those Awkward Silences

When you are planning to have others over for a meal, there’s a lot to think about--cleaning, menu, shopping, preparation, likes, allergies, special diets. One of the less thought about things—at least it was for me—is “Will my guests be able to comfortably visit with each other?”



I’ve had meals where the conversation just flows and flows and I don’t need to do anything more than listen and serve. And then I’ve had meals where there’s a lot of l-o-n-g pauses in conversation. Silence… I’m not very good at getting conversation going on my own in a situation like that. Sometimes it’s that people don’t know each other well, can’t hear, or are just uncomfortable. I've heard teenagers fill that silence with an announcement, “Awkward silence!” Everyone would laugh and then move on to whatever it is that teenagers are talking about today. That’s probably not a recommended technique with adults.

This silent situation occurs more often when my husband isn’t home. In our marriage, he’s the one who can think of things to say and questions to ask, but if he’s traveling and I want to have guests, I need help.  Our offspring tend to be more like me when Dad's not around but unknown guests are. Though we’d like to visit with others, we can get shy. But this problem is solveable.

One way I’ve learned to solve this is to invite a “talker” along with the others. There are all kinds of talkers. Some dominate the conversation. Some have interesting tidbits of information. Some tell jokes and funny stories. Some ask questions. Unless you know all your guests have laryngitis, you probably don’t want to solve the silence problem with a dominator! But someone who is interesting and upbeat can really set the tone.

I have a couple friends who are never without worthwhile things to say. They might tell you a funny experience, ask someone a question that brings out a story we've never heard, or share what they are learning in the Bible reading. I enjoy being with them, so adding them to my mix of guests is always fun for me as well as a help avoiding those awkward silences.

If you've been reading this blog for very long you know I really like conversation starting questions. These can be done formally or informally. If you have a set of cards you can memorize a question or two to use when no one is talking. Or you can have a bunch in a basket and tell everyone to pass them around choose one and ask the question. They don't have to answer unless they want, but others can. Or they can choose someone specific to answer their question.

What do you do to fill the awkward silences with guests?



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Becky, mother of 6 ages 5 to 14 says they can have family meals because:
We don't over book. 
All our activities are during the day or church related. I would love to say this is because we value family so highly, but more honestly, it's because I can't function if I'm running all the time. I don't like when life is that busy. 





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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Saying Thank You

When my brother and I were tweens we would sometimes get gifts from grandparents or others that were checks. The best way my mom had of getting us to sit down and write a quick thank you note for the money was to not cash the check for us until we had written the note. Let me just clarify that I usually got my money before my brother did!



We know how much work it is to remember a birthday, get to the store, try to figure out what we should buy that the person will like and is in our budget, wrap the present, and if necessary mail it. Even getting out the checkbook and writing a check to get in the post on time requires some work, plus the time put in on the job to earn the money. So writing a thank you note for five minutes isn't really asking that much in return. 

In today's world, paper and ink letters are rare, but what a delight to find one among the junk mail and bills that are dropped into our mailbox every day! Bringing the supplies out right after you clear the dinner dishes away while everyone is still at the table can make it a fun group project. If you want your children to write a thank you note, any paper will do. If they like to make their own cards that's great, but if you feel you all lack creativity, a piece of notebook paper works, too. For children too young to write, we all love getting a picture, or even a scribble to show we have been thought about.

However I'm not against an email, text, or even phone call thank you. You could bring these supplies to the table too, and be a modern family! It's nice to know that your efforts were appreciated and that the present actually arrived.

Reasons to Say Thank You

  • For a gift -- This is the most obvious one and what we think of when we are reminded to say thank you.
  • For a favor -- If someone collects your mail, gives you a ride, helps with a project, or takes your turn in a service, they will appreciate it being acknowledged. 
  • For a kind word -- Sometimes someone says something to you that just makes your day, whether it is a compliment on a good job, noticing your weight loss, or saying they are praying for you, a follow up thank you will probably make their day.
  • For the faithful work they do -- there are many jobs that are only noticed if they don't happen that are faithfully done by people behind the scenes who might just need a bit of encouragement to know that what they do is valued. This is my favorite kind of thank you to write because these people seldom expect it.
  • For anything that you appreciate -- anything you notice in your daily life that makes you smile or encourages you to keep going is worth a thank you.



What to Say in a Thank You

These are the guidelines we gave our kids when writing a thank you. We said it had to be at least five sentences, but whether written or spoken these are the basics to include:
  1. "Thank you for the ____." -- Say specifically what you received whether it is money ("generous gift"), candy, a useful item, or a toy.
  2. What you will do with it -- "I am planning to put the money toward _______." "Dark chocolate is my favorite." "I have already had some hot chocolate in the mug." "We played three rounds right away."
  3. Something about yourself -- "The soccer team I am on is only having a so-so season, but I have fun playing." "I'm in high school now and have a lot more homework." "I am currently crocheting an afghan that I hope to finish this year." "I have been enjoying taking walks in the beautiful weather we are having."
  4. Something about them -- "Mom told me you were just in Scotland. That sounds fantastic!" "I hope you are feeling better since your surgery." "I hope we get to see each other this year. I'm looking forward to going out for ice cream with you again." Or the old standby, "I hope you are doing well."
  5. Thank you again.


Who will you thank today?


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Shannon tells her hack:
No phones, no tv, and we bought a conversation starter game. We made it work. It was a struggle at first but you have to want it enough to make it happen. Stand your ground 
Read Shannon's blog here

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





It's as easy as that. No searching for the blog, waiting for your browser, or missing a post. Sign up today!

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For More Ideas and Inspiration:
Check out the book Around the Table: Connecting With Your Family at Mealtimes


Linking with these great blogs. 




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