Category Archives: Family

“I’m Drawing a Blank” : Evangelism in a Fatherless Society

In 2005 Elizabeth Marquardt and Norval Glenn wrote a book entitled Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce. I have not read the volume, but have seen it referenced in a few places, including a book I am currently reading.

Tired Man Sitting on Bed

One of the portions of that book that is cited and makes me well up with tears is the story of when the two writers asked some of the subjects to talk about the idea of God as a parent, specifically as a Father. They asked a man–an adult now–named Will to talk about God as a parent, and this is what they report:

Will was mystified by the question. He had been angry at his father for years because of the way he treated Will’s mother. When I asked Will if god is like a father or parent he looked puzzled. “Yeah, I think a father is somebody who is  your last string of hope,” he said slowly. “He’ll watch over you, make sure everything is going to be okay.” Then his voice faltered and  he looked down at his hands in his lap. “I’m drawing a blank,” he said. “I’m just drawing a blank.” (1)

If that doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, I’m not sure what would. Here was a adult who could not articulate what the concept of “father” really meant for this simple reason: he had never really seen it.

Oh, Will had seen someone who wore the title; who had the role. A male was in the home, at least for some of the time he was a boy.

But this man, now with the intellect of an adult, could not put the pictures together of what God as “Father” really was supposed to mean.

We live in a society that is growing more fatherless by the day. When I was younger, I would often hear statistics about how certain minorities faced a real problem of fatherless homes. We need to realize that it isn’t just any particular ethnic group or area of the country any longer. This problem is spread throughout our nation, as children are being raised in homes where dad just isn’t around.

In 2011, a US Census report stated that 36% of all women who gave birth in the previous year were unmarried. So, these children don’t really have a mother-father relationship in the home from the start. Add in divorce and death, and the number of children being raised by single parents in our nation is staggering. 26% of all children under the age of 21–that is, fully 22 million kids–are being raised in single-parent homes. Of that number, over 82% are being raised by a single mom; in other words, the full picture of what a “father” is to be is not present in the home for a startling number of children.

Now, before getting to my conclusion, let me praise you who are single parents. I know a lot of single moms (and some single dads), and you are doing tremendous work! I pray for you often, and you are heroic to your children. You can do it! Keep it up!

That said, I want us to think about our role as Christians. It is hard enough to reach people for the Lord. Throughout history, the difficulty of evangelism has been talked about. While difficulty is never an excuse to give up, it is appropriate to speak of struggles as being real.

Men, how much harder are we making it when we are leaving children with no idea of how to connect the picture of “God” and “Father,” because we have left? The first “father” a child knows is daddy. As has been said countless times, that realization alone should make every dad shudder. A child is learning his/her picture of God from us and how we act.

Will the child get the idea that, when things get rough, God leaves? After all, “father” did.

Will the child get the idea that God just checks in every few weeks or sends a little money to help make ends meet? After all, that’s what “father” does.

Will the child get the idea that God can only be visited every few weekends or on certain holidays? After all, that’s when they see “father.”

I know those questions might sting a bit, but they should. We who have the role of a father in the home need to realize that we are helping–or hurting–our children in connecting the dots of what a father really is. Then, when the learn about God being a Father…what kind of dots have we connected?

Have we made evangelizing our children easier or far more difficult by how we wear the name “father?”

Dads, it’s time we realized that we don’t want our children drawing a blank. Let’s build into them as strong and good of a picture of God as Father as we can. Though we are imperfect, we can still try.

Will you?

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(1) quoted in How the West Really Lost God (Mary Eberstadt, page 161)

Photo credit: Mic445 on Creative Commons

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“Before Your Kids Eyes” : 6 Things Your Kids Need to See You Do Daily

Children learn in every possible way. From the smallest of ages, they are soaking up information from those they love. (Don’t believe me? Take 61 seconds and watch this video from a recent college basketball game.)

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As they grow, they learn to read, and they take in information from the media, from books, and from peers. But kids will continue to take in information from their parents. Kids really get their worldview from how mom and dad act daily.

Knowing that, I challenge every mom and dad to think about what your kids are seeing from you toward each other. I’m not asking you to be hypocritical, but you know that the eyes of your children are gathering information all the time. What are they seeing?

Every day, make sure they see these six things.

1. Speak Well of Each Other. Your kids need to know that mommy and daddy, though they may disagree at times, still hold one another in high esteem. Your kids should never hear you “run down” your spouse, but should hear regular and strong affirmations of their mom and dad. Sincere compliments and words of encouragement don’t just build up your spouse, they provide strength for the children.

2. Be (Appropriately) Romantic. No child wants to see mom and dad “all over” one another, but kids feel secure when they know that their parents are really in love. Your kids need to see you hug. They need to see you stare into one another’s eyes. Yes, they need to see a goodbye smooch! (Don’t take it too far, and you know what “too far” is.) Your children, especially as they grow older, may act like it’s gross, but inside they actually are thankful that their parents really love one another.

3. Say “I Love You.” This may seem repetitive, but it helps a child see that mom and dad are not just about the romance, but the actions (hugs, kisses, etc.) are based upon something deeper. I believe your kids need to hear mom and dad say these words a lot. In a world that doesn’t know what love really is, your kids can be assured that mom and dad understand.

4. Talk Up Christ and His Church. Too many parents spend mealtime talking down everyone and everything, and that includes their brothers and sisters in Christ. Why, then, would we be surprised when our children don’t want to go to church any longer? Instead, find something good every day to say about a fellow Christian or about a program at church.

5. Pray. There may be no more beautiful picture than a family with their heads all bowed as their thoughts are going before the throne of God. This does not just need to be a dad OR mom thing, however. Your kids need to see both of you praying to the heavenly Father. It will instill in them the knowledge that you really believe in God and fully trust Him with your life.

6. Serve One Another. Find something every day that shows how to serve. Maybe dad helps with the dishes tonight, or maybe mom gives the kids their bath. It could be that dad just takes the kids out of the house for a couple of hours or that mom cooks daddy’s favorite supper. Your kids need to see this service. Talk it up, not to your own glory, but so they grasp the significance of serving others.

What you do toward your spouse makes a world of difference to your children. How are your kids seeing you interact with your spouse?

QUESTION: What would you add? What are some other things your kids need to see from mom and dad every day? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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The Best Part of Leadership … and Parenting

It starts with little tasks like cleaning a room or sweeping the porch. It continues through more important things, like difficult moral decisions. All the conversations, prayers, and effort come into play in those moments, and they are what a parent waits to see.

I don’t know who originally said this, but it is a wonderful quote about leadership:

The best part of leadership is watching it happen without you.

As I heard those words again recently, my mind immediately went to my role as a parent. From the time our children are quite young, we try to teach them to do certain tasks even when we aren’t around. We may see if they can separate the laundry without our help, or make their bed while we are making our own. At first, we help them with a bath, but later, we trust that they will clean their bodies without us having to stand there for every moment of the shower.

In later years, we watch as they decide about sexuality, drugs, and friendships. We have said about all we can say and prayed diligently for when those decisions come into play. It is the same as we see in leadership:

The best part of parenting is to see it done without you.

Parents, we need to slowly let go. While we guide, help, and provide wisdom, we want our children to stand on their own. As hard as it may be at times, we want our children to do difficult things, so they can grow and mature. When they fail, we need to be there to pick them up and help them see not just that they messed up, but why they messed up.

One of these days, that little child will head out for a life of his or her own. You may want to hold on, and your wisdom will still be needed. When that day comes, though, it will be time to see the best part of parenting: seeing your child do things on their own.

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Eli’s Warning to Dads

On Wednesday nights, I’m teaching a survey of the Old Testament. This class has proven to be a great boon to my knowledge of that portion of Scripture, and has greatly lifted my faith.

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Last night, we surveyed First Samuel. In the opening chapters, of course, we spoke of both Samuel and the priest, Eli. While this class is more informational, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to present a word of application, and I wanted to share it with you, as well.

Honestly, Eli is one of the most fascinating people in Scripture to me. He was, seemingly, quite concerned with the role of being a priest, and he was (for whatever reason) open to God’s messages, even if they were stinging rebukes. Additionally, Eli seemed to do an admirable job in training Samuel for service for God.

In those opening chapters of First Samuel, though, we are also told of two other men: Hophni and Phinehas. These two younger men were the sons of Eli, and to say they were dishonorable would be an understatement. They were completely flippant with the sacrifices, and were also involved in sexual sins.

Why? The text tells us that Samuel “did not restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13). The total lack of respect by these sons was due to a total lack of restraint by their father.

Several times, I have heard the story of Eli and his sons used as a cautionary tale for preachers. It seems that Eli was more concerned with getting his spiritual “work” done than in raising spiritual children. That certainly is an important application.

But I want every dad, no matter what you do for a living, to see a very clear message in Eli’s failure.

Eli got his job all wrong.

This priest knew his occupation very well. If there was a job description he had to sign, he would have been able to point to a job well done. He knew being a priest inside and out.

But Eli forgot that his number one job wasn’t to be a priest of the nation. His number one job was to be a father to Hophni and Phinihas. Dads, you may be a great doctor, teacher, engineer, preacher, technician, or any number of other things. You are to be commended for your dedication to providing the monetary needs of your family and demonstrating a strong work ethic.

But your number one job doesn’t require you to commute in the morning or bring home a check at the end of the week. Your number one job includes reading Dr. Suess books, playing hide-n-seek, catching fireflies, and singing “This Little Light of Mine.”
And, yes, it includes a restraining hand, as well.

Let Eli’s failure be a warning to every dad. Let’s all remember what our true number one job is, and put our focus there.

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Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema on Creative Commons

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10 Budget Basics for Families

Leah and I have been living off of a written budget for a few years. Honestly, we are just now getting somewhat good at it. We having been very good at writing a budget for probably four years or more, but we are finally good at evaluating it at the end of each month to be sure we stuck with it. I say that to let you know that today’s post is not written by an expert, but by someone who is just trying.

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If you are not used to being on a budget, this post is meant to give some very basic information to help you get started.

10 Budgeting Basics

1. Every dollar is accounted for. In other words, think about every dollar you will earn this month. The most obvious income is a regular salary, but you may be expecting a royalty check, jury duty, tax refund, or other money, too. If it is realistic that you’ll make more (or less) this month, start with what you will really make this month.

2. Start with God. As a Christian, the first line on your budget after “income” needs to be “giving.” I do not believe we must tithe (literally, give 10%), but I do think we need to consider how much we are going to give to the Lord before we spend on lifestyle. I do think 10% is a good starting point, if for no other reason than it is easy math. If you make $3000 this month, just write $300 on giving. You might be surprised at how easily you can give that much.

3. Next comes true necessities. Think about the word “necessities.” Food is a necessity. Eating out is not. After “giving,” the next lines on your budget need to be the things that are necessary to live. I would say food, electric bill, water bill, and your house payment or mortgage would need to be the necessities. There may be a few others (gas for the car is probably there, too), but true necessities is actually a pretty short list. Beyond giving and true necessities, you are now just spending on lifestyle.

4. Both of you get a say. This is not to be something one person does and then informs the other what the family will be doing. Both of you know things that are coming up during the month, and each of you have things you’d like to do, as well. While making a budget can be frustrating, you might be surprised at how much good and deep conversation you have around this subject when both husband and wife really feel like they have a say.

5. Be realistic, but challenging. “We only need $40 this month to feed our family of 8, and we are going to eat organic only.” Yeah, right. While you may have to tighten your belt at times, a budget should allow you to be realistic, too. We have tried to go months without eating out before, only to have an evening where we ended up doing it. So, we put down a small amount, but a realistic amount there. Think of areas like gas for the car, eating out, clothing, groceries, and gifts, and be realistic. However, challenge yourselves with a larger goal. If you are paying off debt, for example, you need to cut back in some other areas to reach that goal!

6. Give yourself grace (especially at first). You will stink for the first month or two at making a budget. You won’t stick to it perfectly. It’s okay! Give yourself grace and learn from the areas in which you struggled in the previous month. Dave Ramsey often says it takes 90 days to do a budget right, but that’s just a rule of thumb. Be gracious to yourself. You’re doing something good and growing in this area. That’s all that matters.

7. Save for big stuff. We do not go into debt except on our mortgage. That means we have to save up for big purchases as well as future expenses. As one who has been in debt and now is not, let me challenge you to get out of debt and save up for the big stuff. Please! We have a car fund, and we put money away for retirement and college each month. We also have a fund we call our “house fund,” where we save up for larger purchases and repairs around the house. If you are intentional in areas like this (or vacations, or any other large expenditure), you’ll be amazed at how much you can save up and not have to borrow a dime.

8. Evaluate each month. This is where we have really struggled until recently. Even when you get good at doing a budget, you are still going to mess up sometimes, or do better than expected at times. What will you do with that extra money, or how will you cover the overspending? You need to evaluate and make sure you know what all the debit card purchases, checks, and other money was spent on. By the way, if you will spend mostly with cash, this becomes far easier.

9. Your last number should be “0.” When you make your budget, spend every dollar. If you write down your budget and there is $97.43 left at the end of the page, guess what will happen? You’ll spend it, and have no idea where it went. Even if you just write, “Add to savings,” that’s a great usage of that extra money. Make sure you know where every dollar is going.

10. Make a new budget each month. No two months are alike. This month will be someone’s birthday, but that won’t happen next month. This month, school pictures will be taken, but not next month. Consider this month, and make a budget for this month. This is also a reason why working together on a budget is so important.

This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of how to budget, but these 10 steps should help you get started.

QUESTION: What are some other “budget basics” you would suggest? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Additional Resources

Budget forms from Dave Ramsey [DaveRamsey.com]

5 Budgeting Basics for People Who Hate Budgeting [Huffington Post]

A Free and Simple Budget Planner [Get Rich Slowly]

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8 Parenting Books You Need to Own (and Read)

I read quite a lot. I am one of those oddballs who, when I start a book, I am going to finish it. It doesn’t matter how bad the book is, or how long it takes me to read it, I am going to fight my way through. Each year, I strive to read a large number of books. This year, my goal is 61 (60, plus the Bible). [By the way, if you'd like to follow my progress, follow this Pinterest board.]

Over the years, I have come across several parenting books that I really like. While I may not agree with every word in each of these volumes, they have helped me in various ways. Here are 8 that I think you would benefit from (in no particular order).

1. Game Plan by Joe Wells. While this book is primarily aimed at teenagers and their parents, this is a great volume to read before the teen years set in. Joe sets up strategies for confronting our modern, anti-God culture in a very straightforward manner. Get this book on your Kindle for just $9.99.

 

2. Plugged-In Parenting by Bob Waliszewski. Whether we want to believe it or not, the media plays a huge role in the lives of our children. This book, by the director of Focus on the Family’s “Plugged In” group, provides parents with knowledge and resources to help their children make wise decisions. This is not a “turn off all the media” kind of book. Instead, it is honest and wise. You may not agree with every conclusion, but this book will make you think. This volume is also just $9.99 on Kindle.

3. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker. If you have a daughter, dads, you simply must read this book. It is a fairly quick read, but it will really make you consider strongly the power of your role in the life of your girl, no matter her age. This book does a great job of not browbeating dads who might not be living up to the standard they know they should, but encouraging them to step up and build up their girls. Just $8.44 on Kindle.

4. Headed to the Office by Glenn Colley. Aimed at teenage boys, I think parents need to read this book. This book takes the qualifications of elders and applies them to the lives of our young men, trying to instill in them an aspiration to be all that God would want them to be. It is designed for a classroom setting, but makes a great read for anyone interested in young men. I think parents would benefit greatly. This quick read is only $5.95 on Kindle.

5. Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson***. The longest book on our list, this volume is also one of the most well-researched. Dobson, of Focus on the Family fame, writes about nearly any aspect of raising a young man that you can think of. This book will contain some things you do not agree with, I’m sure, but you will also find it to be a very good “survey-style” read for your library. You will probably find yourself coming back to certain chapters several times. The chapter on homosexuality alone is worth your time. Kindle saves you a lot on this long book, as it is just $8.63.

6. Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young. I really like this book for its brevity as well as its straightforward approach. This volume celebrates young men and shows that their “energy” and other qualities should be harnessed for good. This is a very practical book with good suggestions. If you homeschool, you will find some of the sections more practical than those who do not, but every parent can glean from this work. Just $9.99 on Kindle.

7. Daddy Dates by Greg Wright. This short book is so powerful. For dads of girls, this book will take you just a couple of hours to read, but could change how you spend your time with your daughter. I am not as regular with my “dates” with Mary Carol as I should be, but I’m not sure I would have had any had it not been for this book. The volume shares how one man used these dates as a way to win the hearts of his four girls. It will help you demonstrate real manhood before your daughter. It is just $6.80 on Kindle.

8. Raising Boys by Design by Gregory L. Jantz and Michael Gurian. A very unique book, this volume combines Biblical truth with brain science. It talks about how boys are wired, and does more than speak in general terms; instead, sharing the science behind why boys react in certain ways. While you may have trouble with some of the medical jargon, don’t let that keep you away from this book. I rarely mark in my books, and this volume has quite a number of stars and underlines. This book, released in late 2013, is still just $7.99 on Kindle.

***Dobson has also written Bringing Up Girls, but I have not read that volume yet. I hope to soon.

QUESTION: What did we miss? What are other parenting books you would recommend? Leave you suggestions in the comments!

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Video Summer Series Update: Recording is Done

Sometime ago, we told you about the Video Summer Series: “Building Godly Families.” If you are not familiar with this great work, take a moment and read the post here.

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We are pleased today to let you know that all 10 lessons in the series have been recorded. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, all the speakers came to the Lebanon Road church building and recorded wonderful lessons. Gospel Broadcasting Network sent a great crew to help, and they did a very professional job in the recording.

Today, we want to let you know not just the speakers, but their topics, and we have quite a few pictures of the recording days for you to enjoy.

Our speakers are:

Steve Higginbotham (“Jesus: The Foundation of Every Home”)

Josh Ketchum (“Before You Marry…”)

Glenn Colley (“Husbands, Love Your Wives”)

Bryan McAlister (“A Godly Wife”)

Andy Kizer (“Raising Godly Children”)

Jerrie Barber (“Having a Godly Fuss”)

Adam Faughn (“Family Finances and Honoring God”)

Ted Burleson (“Dealing with Divorce”)

Jim Faughn (“The Sandwich Generation”)

Keith Parker (“Your Family Can be Light”)

If you are interested in using the Video Summer Series, remember that these videos are going to be available absolutely free for your congregation to use. Simply download and show the videos and you have a ready-made series on the family. Visit and bookmark the website, and the videos and supplementary material should be ready by May 1. For more information about the series, feel free to contact us! Remember, you don’t have to use this as a summer series, so think of how these 10 videos could have the best impact on your congregation and community!

I have one personal request: if your congregation is even considering using the series, would you either leave a comment on this post or contact us? We would appreciate the feedback, whether public or private.

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Dressing Our Daughter for Who We Want Her to Be

She is eight years of age, and probably at least once every day, I call her “precious.” God placed her into our care in a very special way, and it is our job to see that we aim this arrow from our small quiver on a straight trajectory toward heaven.

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That aiming includes trying to build a work ethic into her. It includes attempting to teach her not only Scripture, but the Author of those words. It includes teaching her healthy boundaries. It includes countless other things that we will try to instill in her.

We want to model the right behavior before her each day. We fail often, but we get up and try again. Someday, though, she’ll have to stand on her own. So, we try to put every influence around her we can that points her toward what we want her to be: a faithful, sweet, loving Christian lady.

That includes her clothes.

I know that goes against modern thinking, but we try to dress her in such a way that expresses who we want her to be. I’m not talking about brand names or even certain styles.

Instead, we are simply talking about modest or immodest clothes.

She is only 8, but she is quite tall for her age. As such, it is getting less often that we can buy “little girl” clothes. We are fast headed toward “tween-dom,” and if you are trying to purchase modest clothes, that’s a scary phase.

Just walk down the aisles sometime and notice the clothes that are placed there for girls who are around 9 or 10 years of age. You’ll find strapless shirts. You’ll see shorts with words like “sexy” across the behind. Likely, you’ll see shorts that are basically nothing more than underpants, but made from different fabric. You’ll even see bras with padding.

May I ask why?

It is not just that I want my daughter to be modest. It is that I want her to learn what it means to be a lady. No girl, especially of that age, even knows what “sexy” means, but the clothes are meant to display that (and some even just say it).

What are we telling our girls? What are we wanting them to be? How can we even remotely think that this doesn’t affect their thinking about themselves?

We are putting our girls–some younger than my daughter–in clothing that would, quite frankly, only be “appropriate” on certain street corners in shady parts of town, and then we are telling them that they are more than just their bodies. Really?

Parents, it’s time we had a vision for who we want our daughters to be, and it’s time we cast that vision across every area of her life. That includes her clothes!

My daughter is a child of God Almighty.

She is His special creation.

Somewhere she has a future husband that she will be precious and virtuous for.

She is a Faughn, and reflects our name.

One day, she will be a wife and mother (Lord willing) and trying to reign in her own children.

She is pure, innocent, sweet, and precious.

So, we try to dress her that way.

I’m certain that arguments are coming one day. I’m sure my blood pressure will rise a few times, and I’m sure Leah will cry a few times over these arguments.

But our vision for our precious treasure is Godly lady-hood, so we dress her with that vision in mind. I’m begging other parents to do the same. Dress her for who you want her to be.

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The Power of Real Conversation

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.

–Chinese Proverb

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Our family is making a strong effort to have more people in our home this year. Often, we have people over for a meal, but it is the conversation that is what really “makes” the evening.

Just as one example, we had two ladies over last week for a meal of soup and salad. It wasn’t anything fancy, and we just used our regular plates and bowls. After the meal, though, these two sweet ladies sat and talked with Leah and I for over an hour. We talked about issues related to the Church, our families, and our nation. The conversation seemed to go everywhere, but it remained lively and enjoyable.

This isn’t another post about eating together as a family. We wrote about that last week.

This also isn’t just a post for a family. This is a post about life in general.

We need to regain the power of real, true, deep, face-to-face conversation in our lives.

One of the things that made the evening with these two Christian ladies so special was that the conversation went along uninterrupted. Oh, the kids might ask a question or need some, ahem, “attention,” but for about 60 minutes or so, we just sat and talked.

Why? We didn’t have technology in the room. Ironically, we talked about technology for a few minutes, but we talked about how it is simply a tool that can be used for either good or bad purposes. On this evening, we didn’t have a cell phone, tablet, TV, or laptop anywhere in the room. Not a single one. I heard my phone buzz in the other room a time or two, but resisted the urge to check every little notification.

The reason was simple: we wanted to show the people who were with us that they were our priority that evening. I know that checking texts or emails may not be a sign of disrespect to a lot of folks, but it is distracting. Even if you don’t mean to be disrespectful, you are distracting, and that’s rarely a positive thing in relationships.

When there are fewer distractions, you might just be amazed at how the conversation moves along and brings you closer together. It is in these moments that you will gain perspective and wisdom.

So, whether you are on a date with your spouse or simply having someone over for a meal, let’s all make the effort to rediscover the power of real, face-to-face conversation.

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Photo credit: University of Michigan on Creative Commons

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The Importance of the Family Table

If there is one word to describe our culture, it’s probably “busy.”

Our schedules are packed from morning to night, and for those of us who are Christians, we would say that the activities of the day are important. This post is not written to question whether we are doing good things. But I do want to ask one question: how often does your family gather around your table and eat together?

Our "Family Table"

Our “Family Table”

The family table is so important, and our nation has basically forgotten it. Think of a typical house on a typical evening. A regular, middle-class house probably has a dining room, but we consider it a “formal” room, so we don’t sit there for supper. Instead, we pile around the TV set and watch something.

Why? Because, on the other evenings, we are trying to line up our schedules to meet at a restaurant, and just sitting on the couch is better than nothing.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to watch TV while eating. We do that. Quite often, in fact. It’s also not wrong to go out to eat. It’s fun and provides a little break from routine at times.

But why do so few families regularly meet around a table in the quiet of their own home to eat a meal together? In other words, why is the “family table” a foreign concept in so many homes?

Think back to your childhood. For many of us, we could recall so many meals–and not just at holidays–around our table. We might not remember specific conversations or even specific dishes that were served, but we can remember that life happened around that table.

When we are sitting in a quiet room (not a noisy restaurant) and our eyes are on each other (not on the TV), it is amazing what happens. People open up. Questions can be asked and answered. Compliments are given for the quality of the meal, or how well one of the children set the table. Some of the best “tutoring” in math or spelling can occur when there isn’t a single worksheet to be seen, because there is real conversation going on.

All of this happens simply because we have a meal together. We aren’t talking about fancy meals, either. I think that we have used the excuse that says, “We aren’t fancy around here,” as a way to excuse not eating around the table. Leah is a wonderful cook, but there are quite a few nights when we have soup and sandwiches or I grill us each a plain chicken breast and we have a veggie or two. While she’s a wonderful cook, we don’t try for gourmet-level dishes every single evening! Instead, we eat good meals and enjoy a few quiet minutes together in conversation and, well, just the joy of eating.

It may not be supper at your house, but it may be breakfast. Whatever meal it is, take (rather, make) the time to sit down with no distractions and be together over the joy of a meal. In the next 7 days, if you will do this even 3 or 4 times, I think you’ll be amazed at the difference in tone and patience around your house.

Why?

Alignment of Schedules. Part of the reason so few families eat together is because they are, literally, too busy. But when, in the midst of that busyness, we can all align even 20 minutes for a meal, there is a unity that cannot be replaced.

All Hands On Deck. This should not just be “mom’s job” every day. The kids can help with all parts of the meal, as can dad. From preparing the food to setting the table to cleanup, this is a great way for every person in the family to play a role in getting something important done.

Fewer Distractions. Turn off the TV. Unless you are expecting an emergency call, leave the cell phones in another room. Close the blinds, if you have to. Make this about time where your whole family is “there” for each other with nothing to interrupt.

Shared Values. There is no way to put this in words properly, but eating and communicating shows that you are placing a real value on family togetherness. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Sea World that proves you put an emphasis and value on family. It could, instead, be eating some fish right in your own house!

Story. Talk at the table. Ask good questions. (This is something I need to work on.) Share memories and stories. Let life happen through the telling of tales from both that day and in “yesteryear.”

I know we are all busy, but this is truly important. Don’t get so caught up in the next game, event, club, business deal, or just being tired to miss out on a wonderful blessing that could happen in your own home. It doesn’t cost much, and it isn’t hard, but having a true family table will change your home for the better.

QUESTION: What are you some of your favorite memories or tips about the family table? Share in the comments!

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