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Life-giving With Littles {the mealtime challenge}

Life-giving With Littles {the mealtime challenge}

Do your ideals for gathering at the table clash with the reality of life with small children? We want to have extravagant moments together, but perhaps extravagance of heart is just as important. Remember that the daily stuff, the common moments in life, are what will shape our children and their memories. Here are some ideas to embrace your table with littles and enjoy the feast of God with your whole family.

Souls are shaped in the common moments of life, the daily stuff of memories.

If my table could talk, I know it would tell of moments like those— toddlers happily munching on bits of food and Cheerios scattered over plastic place mats. Birthday breakfasts with cinnamon rolls, mugs of hot tea, and morning presents companioned by words of love and appreciation. Warm soup and stories shared on cold winter nights. Sunday afternoon teatimes with James Herriott’s animal stories read dramatically. Countless lively discussions about morality and worldview as we filled up growing teenage bodies with satisfying food.

But souls grow by season as well. As we celebrate the passage of time by establishing and commemorating joyful traditions, honoring milestones (however small), cultivating a taste for greatness through the stories shared, books read, memories made, and faith lived out, we also make a path for growth and development.

Godly legacies are built, in other words, when we bring the life of Christ to the table through the grace of loving relationships and intimacy shared moment by moment. This is the essence of table discipleship. But doing it well requires both vision and commitment.

What is my vision for my lifegiving table? I picture that I am nourishing souls and spirits with both physical food and the everlasting food of the Word of God. I am providing grace and peace through gently accepting whoever joins us at the table. I am speaking hope forward by articulating my confidence in God’s love, faithfulness, and kindness for each person. I am establishing a spirit of graciousness by welcoming all who come as guests of the loving Host who serves all and makes us all whole.

As I’ve spent time traveling around the country in the past few months talking specifically about The Lifegiving Table, one common refrain has arisen over and over … “How on earth do I have a lifegiving table when I have young children? I love all these ideas, but at this stage, I feel like I’m doing all I can to get food on the table and gather my family around it!”

How well I remember those days! Clay and I had such high ideals and plans for our family table. And then … along came the children, and they didn’t seem to know what we had planned! With those days now far distant and much-missed, I thought I’d share some thoughts about how you can develop your own life-giving table in a house full of littles.

#1. Remember this is a long-term process. Don’t expect perfection—just begin where you are! If you haven’t required your children to join you at the table in the past, it’s going to take a while for them to develop their table manners.

#2. Determine to approach your table as a place to come and enjoy your time together, not a place where too-high expectations lead to inevitable disappointment.

#3. Make mealtimes brief! Small people have small bellies … and small attention spans. The less time they’re required to be still, the better that time will proceed.

#4. Have a plan! Planning meals in advance helps mom be less stressed, and coming to the table armed with a possible topic or question to ask once everyone’s seated can give a simple focus to your discussion.

#5. Establish an atmosphere of respect at your table. Everyone’s input matters, from youngest to oldest. If you offer respect and listen to your little ones, they will be more likely to offer respect and listen to one another—and to you.

#6. Enjoy your table! Figure out what works for you and your family, and remember that the more you practice, the more you’ll grow in your own family table culture.

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I am so excited to introduce my latest books, The Lifegiving Table and The Lifegiving Table Experience! They’re full of stories of my family’s practice of conversation, discipleship, encouragement, and more around the myriad types of tables we’ve shared (and some of our favorite recipes, too!) You can learn more about it here: www.thelifegivingtable.com and order here: http://amzn.to/2yT5FP3

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Blessings,

Sally Clarkson

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Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan for Oct 29–Nov 11

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