Well…I preached on it yesterday and Clara and Andrew wanted to know what I preached on (they were at the Annie Moses Fine Arts Summer Academy in Nashville)…preparing and eating meals together. We had a blast this morning!! Bacon and eggs…my specialty!! You say…”Oh…they’ll get burned!” No…not on low heat. It takes twice as long to cook the bacon…but, they love it! We fix toast and have my mom’s blackberry jam… YUM!! YUM!!
So, in case you missed the sermon…here are some notes…
Families today find themselves heading a million different directions with work schedules, activities, television, computers, and even church events all competing for our time.
Our homes may feel like hotels with customers waving to each other as they pass in the hallways. Frantic families have become the norm. Kids are involved in soccer, karate, piano, scouts, gymnastics, tutoring and religious youth activities. Family life now revolves around children’s activities. A University of Michigan study shows that, in the last few years, children have lost an average of twelve hours a week in free time. Outdoor activity time has dropped nearly 50% while structured sports time and passive leisure time (TV, video games) have both risen. Not only are children busier, but families are spending less overall “quality” time together. Conversations between parents and children are all but non-existent.
What are the results: tired children who do not get enough sleep. Busy families who are driven more by activities than values. Disconnected families that do not talk enough or only in the van to and from events. Precious little unstructured time, like a family dinner, to catch up, breathe and share our lives. So what? Take a hard look at your family routine. Is it overbooked? Are you tired and frantic? Do you believe that your child will actually be better off with more activities? Why not cut back on a few activities and spend some unstructured time with your children. Start by planning some stay at home dinners together. No agenda, just family talk.
Yes, we all have plenty of great excuses for not having regular Family Dinner Times together, but let me remind you that the family meal time is an investment in your children. A recent survey from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation profiled national merit scholars from the past 20 years to see what these students had in common. Surprisingly, without exception they came from homes that ate together as a family three or more nights a week.
Another study, of children ages 3-12, found that time spent eating at home was a better predictor of academic success and emotional adjustment than any of the following activities: school, homework, athletics, arts and religious participation. Be honest, for how many of you do family meals involve fast food eaten in the van between activities? Or, for how many do family meals happen in front of the TV.
We know meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home. At present time the restaurant industry’s share of the total food dollar is more than 46%. Due to scheduling, commitments, and activities, families eat out several times each week.
Family meal-time-The family that eats together stays together, Clara S. L. Brenner, 10/27/04
Kids who eat with their families a lot generally have better nutrition, abuse fewer substances, are less suicidal, and have less sex. Researchers found that the more frequently children ate with their parents, the less likely they were to smoke, drink, use marijuana, or show signs of depression. Girls were also less likely to think about or try suicide or to do badly in school. Researchers concluded making an effort to sit down with your family for dinner more often will probably pay off. The quality of your kids’ life (especially your daughters’) is likely to improve.
Eisenberg, Marla E., et al. “Correlations Between Family Meals and Psychosocial Well-being Among Adolescents.” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. August 2004, Vol. 158, pp. 792-796.
So, why is the family meal time about to be placed on the extinct list? Simple.
No Plan = No Dinner
Step 1: Write out a master list of meals you and your family enjoy. If your children are old enough, allow them to help you make this list. Look in recipe books for new, simple recipes.
Step 2: Get out your calendar (use a blank one for meal planning) and begin filling in each night with what you will make for dinner. You can even do this just one month at a time. Maybe start with one week. It is important to look at your calendar as you’re planning so that you do not plan a big meal when no one will be home to eat it or a recipe that takes a lot of time to prepare when it is a busy day. Map out your time.
Step3: Make your grocery list. Take inventory of what you already have in your pantry, freezer, etc. Look at sale ads for loss leaders, gather your coupons, etc.
Step 4: Try to prepare as much of the meal as you can earlier in the day or the night before. In the morning, turn on the Crock-pot. During lunch cut up things, set the table etc. Schedule your activities around meal times, or if there are conflicts, prepare meals that can be ready when you walk in the door – soups, chili, spaghetti, etc. That is what those Crock-pots you got for your wedding are for. They actually should be baby shower gifts – who needs one till you have kids? Delay dinner or eat earlier. Remember there are no set rules about when dinner has to be eaten.
Step 5: Prepare meals ahead with the store loss leaders. Make double batches of things and freeze them for later. HAVE A PLAN.
Benefits to eating meals at home together around the table:
- Make your kids smarter
- Contribute to your child’s spiritual and emotional growth.
- They learn table manners and etiquette.
- Children learn to eat proper foods…fruits, vegetables, etc. (Remember that it can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted, so be patient. Trying a new food is like starting a new hobby. It expands your child’s knowledge, experience, and skill.)
- Better nutrition: Studies show meals prepared and eaten at home are usually more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate. Home cooked meals are usually not fried or highly salted, plus soda and sweetened beverage consumption is usually lower at the dinner table.
- Is where real bonding time can happen, discussing your daily lives with each other.
- Children today are missing out on the importance of knowing how to plan and prepare meals. Basic cooking, baking, and food preparation are necessities for being self-sufficient. Involve your family in menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. Preschoolers can tear lettuce, cut bananas, and set the table. Older children can pour milk, peel vegetables, and mix batter. Teenagers can dice, chop, bake, and grill. Working as a team puts the meal on the table faster, as well as makes everyone more responsible and accepting of the outcome. Improved eating habits come with “ownership” of a meal.
- Research shows that frequent family dinners (five or more a week), are associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking, and illegal drug use in pre-teens and teenagers when compared to families that eat together two or fewer times per week. Even as older children’s schedules get more complicated, it is important to make an effort to eat meals together. Scheduling is a must.
- It can help ease day-to-day conflicts, as well as establish traditions and memories that can last a lifetime.
- Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging.
Kids who feel close to their families will also take their family’s value system to heart.
Interestingly…how did the first church grow? I believe through food, meals and hospitality. Take a look:
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
Pretty amazing stuff if you ask me. Food…transfer of the Gospel…well…they go hand in hand…or should I say…”stomach to stomach.” After all…what does Jesus long to do with us?
20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Notice…the artist painted no doorknob on Jesus’ side. He is a gentleman. He doesn’t barge into our lives. Yet…He longs to come in and eat with us. What is the last thing He did on earth with His disciples as a group? Eat a meal with them. Right? What is the first thing He will do in Heaven with His bride (believers) as a group? Eat a meal with us. It’s called the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” Rev. 19:6-9.
Take the time and fix a meal together…it’s truly a joy!! And the greatest meal of all is coming!! I can’t wait!! Can you?
Read Full Post »