Describe what your family dinners are like.

After publishing my last post, I noticed a new feature on WordPress that must have been added during my blogging hiatus. To the side of the “Congratulations, you published a post!” message, were ideas for post topics.

Although my blog began last February with a wedding-planning/apartment-decorating/relationship theme (okay, it was never that focused to begin with), life has progressed in the past eight months. Wedding planning no longer applies. Although I’m still interested in home-decorating, renter’s agreements, budgets, and time constraints leave me without a huge base of posting topics. Luckily, the relationship aspect of my life remains in the foreground, however, I can see my blog is taking a bit of a turn. So, you’ll have to excuse me, for I’m warning you in advance that I plan to break the major law of blogging. I am hereby revoking any “themes” my blog may (or may not) have had. Well, I take that back. Here’s the new theme: I like to write and I need a place to do it.

With this in mind, I’m going to stop worrying so much about find the perfect topic for a post, and instead concentrate on doing what I love most: writing. I may use these randomly-generated topics that WordPress recommends, I may review the book my Faith Club is currently reading (aptly named The Faith Club), or I may post recipes or tell you about how much I LOVE my new Nook.

For today? I believe I’ll…

Describe what {my} family dinners are like.

I grew up an only child in a family that valued spending time together. We always, and I mean always, ate our meals together. There were no breakfasts of cereals or dinners of PBJs eaten standing in the kitchen at the Johnson household. Eating dinner, for us, meant setting the table, saying grace, and enjoying each other’s company for at least ten minutes each night before we ran off to our many activities (yes, even a family with one child can have a busy evening!).

However, I’d like to focus this discussion on a particular part of a family dinner: grace.

Our church recently had the honor of hosting Dr. Rodger Nishioka, a professor of Christian Educ. at Columbia Theological Seminary for a weekend. Dr. Nishioka has been a part of many studies and lead many workshops on effective youth ministry. He shared an interesting statistic in a conversation with our youth group: Only 32%* of mainline-Protestant youth pray regularly before or after meals. *I’m not guaranteeing this was the exact number, but it was pretty close to this.

I can’t say this number really surprised me, but it did open up an interesting conversation about what constitutes prayer and our own grace-saying routines. Growing up with my parents, we recited the conventional “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blest” nightly. A nice, simple one-liner that we said in unison and punctuated with an “Amen. Squeeze-squeeze.” Our only deviation came when I was a youngster and was confused as to why we were praying about a pizza. (“Come, large pizza” is apparently what my four-year-old ears heard.)

With my mom’s side of the family, it was the same prayer, but said solely by my uncle with a bunch of “thee’s”, “thou’s”, and “thy’s” thrown in.

There’s something to be said for the familiarity of a comfortable dinner prayer. But I know I’d be lying if I said that prayer was always the most mindful, purposeful phrase that came out of my mouth.

Before our wedding, the pastor that married us advised that B and I try praying together. She promised it would be rewarding, and advised that it may be good for two people living together in such a strong commitment. This was not a subject we’d broached before in our relationship. B did not grow up praying regularly, with the exception of extended-family dinners. And my prayers had never been voiced aloud. But, when we moved in together, we decided to instate our own grace routine, as a way of spending that time praying together daily and continuing the tradition that had begun at my childhood family dinners.

For the past six months, B and I have alternated praying every night when we sit down for dinner. It was awkward at first; it’s always intimidating to put something so personal out on the table (literally) for the first time. However, it becomes less awkward with every “Amen. Squeeze-squeeze.” (Yes, we still do the squeeze-squeeze.) And, it encourages us to reflect on the day, think of one another, and to see what weight or joys the other is carrying.

So, while I can’t say with certainty what the implication of 32% of Christian teens praying regularly has had, I can infer that from my own experiences the positive impact it’s had on my life, both now and in the past.

4 thoughts on “Describe what your family dinners are like.

  1. I love the random blog post question idea! That is sometimes my problem, I want to have the very perfect topic, and then end up not writing about anything at all.
    Also, we weren’t great about praying before meals, but Molly has started wanting to sing the prayer she learned in preschool before dinner every night, so we’re getting better at least ๐Ÿ˜‰

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