When you sit down at the dinner table, can you imagine anything life-changing happening? Or is it a rush of hurry up and eat your vegetables? That’s the way it was at our house. We have a five-year-old and a two-year-old and we know that the older they get, the harder it will be to get them around our table for even fifteen minutes. So we decided to make it a priority right now, that they wouldn’t want to live without.
Now granted – it is nowhere perfect, and some nights go better than others. But each night, we try to let the “Faith5” model guide our dinner time. Some families do this at bedtime, others in the car, but we found that dinner works best for us – mostly because our two-year-old son is strapped into his booster seat, and our 5-year-old daughter isn’t distracted by other things.
So we get everything on the table, strap in D, and clear H’s crafts off to one side of the table. We go around and share our highs and lows – the best parts of our day, and the worst. Sounds simple – but this is how we learn from each other what is important to us, and how it affects us. It teaches our kids turn taking, and listening – because they will need this information later in the ritual. Our young talker is just now starting to chime in and understand – what was the best thing today D? “Doh” (Play dough). For H it might be gym class, or special mommy time. The bad stuff? For H it was not being included in a game. For D it was “no do” (He couldn’t have his pacifier all day). For us, we don’t hide our mess with them. My worst part of the day was someone ignoring me. For my husband, it was a co-worker gossiping. Our best parts of our day usually are about family or friends, or getting to help someone, or perhaps each other. How precious are these things for our children to hear? We all struggle, and we all have things to celebrate and be grateful for.
Next we recite our Bible memory verse for the week. Yep. Little kids can memorize scripture. There are tons of kid-appropriate, and easy, verses for kids to memorize. If we get tired of that, we go to the take-home sheet from Sunday School for ideas on faith-talk. Then we “talk about it” or apply the verse or topic to our highs and lows – uh oh, did you pay attention? They did – H will remind me that our verse talking about patience would be helpful in dealing with people who ignored me. I can encourage my husband with the verse. Or we can celebrate D’s love of play dough, with all of the ways God blesses us. This is both a time for encouragement, and loving challenge.
Then we each take turns adding to a prayer. We all have to say something, but it’s never a battle. The heart felt prayers of your children are priceless. We pray for our highs and lows, and those we know who are in need of grace. Our son always prays for one family member who really needs prayer – how would he know he needs it? He’s only two right? But you’d be amazed at the transformation that is happening in that member’s life right now. He knows and his prayers are being heard.
Lastly we say “God bless you” to each other, by name, looking each other in the eyes.
Can you imagine doing this ritual every night? How would it change your family dynamic? How would it form authentic faith in your family?
We’ve skipped nights. We went a whole week once without doing this in the past year. They felt empty once we learned to appreciate this ritual. Some nights end with food on the floor, and us sighing, well maybe tomorrow it will go better. But more nights than most, my husband and I are left speechless at the table at how God is working in our family. Give it a try!
- Highs and Lows
- Talk about it – application
- Bless each other.
For more support, and to read to companion book, visit www. Faith5.org
Pastor Carrie Antczak, United Methodist Church of Berea