Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Enriching Dinner Conversation

Here is the second part of the sharing I gave at a recent retreat for women in the People of Praise.

Secondly (and on a somewhat lighter note), I'd like to share one way we have enriched our family dinners together.

One of the points of attraction for me to this life is that I have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the country with whom I can share a Lord's day with, or pray for from a distance, or celebrate a wedding with and it seems completely natural and normal to do so. I have been fortunate to visit branches and form friendships over the years.

One desire I have as a mom is to help my daughters see more of the richness of our life and the breadth of the body. So, if they choose to live this particular life as adults, they'll at least have some more knowledge of it beyond what they see at our area and overall gatherings and what they experience in youth group and at Servant Camp.

Along with that, Ben and I have been thinking about what it takes to have good conversation together. We make it a priority to eat together every night. Yes, we are entering that phase of life where extra-curricular activities compete with dinner time, but we limit those extra activities so we can spend quality time together around our table most nights of the week.

Typical conversation tends to fall back on reports from the day. These conversations are sometimes lively and fruitful. One cool thing about these last two years is that all our girls are studying the same period in their history class. It has been a gift to hear them respond to each other and recognize what the others are talking about. But, these conversations can also be stale and sometimes we just need to break up the routine.

So, to create another starting point for conversation I talked with Ben about us reading aloud some of the articles from Vine and Branches while we ate. Vine and Branches is a People of Praise magazine published a few times each year and distributed to all members of the community.

I have taken it for granted that leaving the magazine out in plain sight will be picked up and read by all of us. It just doesn't happen. Occasionally we also receive an email with a special news item or announcement from the central office….but these aren't visible to our kids. There are many amazing stories our girls just aren't aware of that are happening all over in POP.

So on a weekly basis, I bring an issue to the table and read an article as we eat. The storytelling and pictures bring a vividness to the lives of others and a familiarity with all the people and works of all the branches. It awakens the imagination of our girls – Look what God is up to across the country!

What we appreciate about V&B is the articles are short and easy to read aloud, they are well written, there are pictures, they are Christ-centered, and they cover a variety of topics (art, music, evangelism, technology, summer camps, caring for the sick and elderly, etc.)

Even the tributes to people who have died is inspiring and gives us something to talk more about.

We've enjoyed learning about:
  • “writing” icons from Kati Ritchie. In fact, we are making a trip to Colorado this summer and I hope we can see some of her work up close at a church in Denver.
  • Kay Keller her life-long ordeal with cerebral palsy; amazingly, she lived to be 72 because brothers and sisters in the Appleton branch loved her and cared for her. Kay was even blessed to have teenage girls from the Appleton branch worked with her in her home. What a witness to us!
One evening I brought my Samsung tablet to the table to read the email news item of Peter Smith's appointment as auxiliary bishop to Portland. My daughter remarked, “He's from Africa? He doesn't look African.” This led to a discussion about South Africa.

The stories from V&B have brought a new spark and life to our quality family time together. They inspire storytelling, like me sharing memories of Kati living with me when I was growing up. They have opened our eyes to some of the real issues in our neighborhoods and the world and how members of the POP are responding and laying down their lives. There is both an enjoyment in reading V&B and a seriousness that we can't ignore. Our girls are poised to know and see one way how God is moving in the world.

We don't intend to keep this effort just related to community topics, but it has been a good place to start. I can see this spilling over into world events as someone may bring an article or story from another source to the table. For now, this is what works. It's not too structured or with too lofty expectations. Like our family prayer, it's us. The motivation comes from recognizing what is important to us and what is a good way to live it out in our home.

In these areas of family life we've just decided to dive in and our home life is the better for it.

To read a recent issue, of Vine and Branches, click on a cover image below.


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