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Enjoying Mealtime As a Family

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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November 22, 2021 5:00 am

Enjoying Mealtime As a Family

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 22, 2021 5:00 am

Ted Cunningham offers practical suggestions for making family mealtimes more meaningful in a discussion based on his book "Come to the Family Table: Slowing Down to Enjoy Food, Each Other and Jesus."

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Parenting is tough and moms like Julie need encouragement when they feel overwhelmed and the first thing I did was turn on the Focus on the Family podcast about parenting. That is my go to is there's always a topic that is relating to what I'm going through at the moment I'm Jim Daly this season. Help us give families Hope and when you give today. Your donation will be double donated wanted kids to walk away from our family table when they leave our home going that was a place that was slow. It was enjoyable.

We always want family table to be a place where they long to come back wanting to come back one to bring their children. We want to bring our grandchildren Ted Cunningham is our guest today Focus on the Family sharing his hopes were many family memories happening around the dinner table for years to come. Your hostess focus. President Jim Daly con John Fuller, Jim.

I think this is one of those things people want family dinner time to be a place of good conversation and laughter and fondant together. It definitely is important, certainly important in our home. We love it and there are reasons why it doesn't work for everyone. Schedules and those kinds of things but it's very good to set that goal so that hopefully a couple times a week to be three or four times you can have that dinner time together. You get six kids had to make that work well you it's harder now that they're older but when they were altogether and 1012 and under in age. We had a lot of energy.

Obviously a lot of a lot of food and I did have some fun. We try to make it.

You know that there's a high low game you can play there's there are a variety of things but we did do is you just said we made a point of saying dinner time together. It's important and that's good. John and some of our funniest moments of happened around the dinner table like Troy having Malcolm out his nose as he was laughing so hard because of the fun moments and we enjoy him I'd encourage every family do it and that today Ted Cunningham will fill us in on some great ideas on this topic that he and his wife Amy have written about in Ted is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills family church in Branson Missouri and his wife Amy have two children and we recorded conversation you had Jim with Ted when he was here just recently at focus on the Ted welcome back to Focus on the Family with great feedback. Okay, you've written this book now come to the family table. Why is the family table so important to communication is not just sit around and eat that's not what were talking about right now for Amy and I the family table became like every other part of our life. It's something we rush to we got through and we moved on things to do. We had things to do and and food was getting in the way. But that is a lot of families.

Ted, you were busy. Some people double income. Maybe there's a lot going on, you know, eating is just a necessity to get together you throw something in the microwave and you quickly eat and then you got longer to do dishes and do other things you gotta do that is reality.

How do we make this a priority on what happens is we start thinking about all that you just listed and we decide to grab something on the way home and eat it on the way home so we have more time when we get home to do all the other chores are you guilty of that very sound like something I've done before. Yeah, and we so we wrote to the family table and we want to make sure from the beginning the reader understand we are not fanatics like were not talking three hour dinner seven days a week home baked biscuits. Yeah, sounds good. Biscuits we just said let's prioritize. Let's start with a night a week like let's declare one night a week where we sit together as a family with no rush and I mean it's all on its food. It's a devotional we can read something we can play a game back before that decision. What was your family like before you had this realization that we need to eat in a way that would please God.

Well, when we entered the tween in the teen phase we lost complete control of our schedule because you are no longer just on a family. Schedule your on you got school you got church you got there and talk and we are going in every direction and trying to find intersections during the day and that usually was at a restaurant eating out somewhere fast as we drive by restaurant. We would jump out and just grab something and then we became that family where we were like why don't really want that but I want that and so we go to different places and grab it on the way home and I'm just so chaotic that we said sums gotta change because it ultimately affect our health. Not just relationally, emotionally, but they were not eating all that well, let's just make you changes here and see if we can bring about a little bit better quality and why did you start doing. You begin to express that once a week you aim for just one we aim for once a week and let it grow from there. And we know we thought about the holidays you know holidays are good time for us because were not competing with schedules and so we just loved sitting down as a family. I we talk on in the book we had one Thanksgiving were invited friends over from the church and my parents with Amy's parents with their other family there and we ended up sitting around that table me to get up every now and then but with about eight hours.

It really was the center of the day, you know, we ended up having two meals there throughout the day it went so fast. It was so enjoyable was Thanksgiving there's games on this other stuff to do but we just said you know what would happen if we had a little bit of this in our life on a regular basis, again, were not doing Thanksgiving every week were not going to have a 3000 cal meal, you know, every day, so we just said hey let's just start somewhere. For us it was once a week. I must say to Jean's credit. We've done a really good job in this area of heaven dinner every night together and it's usually a lot of fun.

It's 30 to 60 minutes that you be at the table, I mean that we can make time for this.

We were doing so much other stuff that we can carve out a little bit of time and if that means you have activities to do part of school or an assignment or something and were done eating the organist stay at the table. You know, go get whichever you got to bring it back here and as it did together that we don't need to give me the objectives when you're sitting there. Jean tends to be a little more organized that way than I am. I mean she wants a more formal devotion time now. Today we will look at second Corinthians, and I just you and the kids were younger okay to say that for me it's more, you know… Work in the spiritual truths conversation be a little more gentle about it.

Not that it doesn't work effectively. Actually, I think it works more effectively to talk about what's happening school and what does the Bible say anything about that. Yeah. And how do you go about well so this is the hardest for our son and still is so he just he labored over long meals I mean he and every meal started with the same question. How long are we going to be what was pulling him away. What did he want to go do what he thought it was in condition his whole life right we go go go go go. We got stuff to do so.

We would sit down. He founded the first morning you know we ate were done eating now what are we still doing here so that's when we started to bring in the games. That's when we started to bring in the honor bombardment that we talk about worry just go around the table and honor bombardment where you go around the table do what yeah everybody shares a kind positive word got this from Gary Smalley years ago and so and we just like again we see you know keep going until we run out of things to say about the one person then we move on to another person and so I think there's a lot of that you can bring into a naturally try to bring in the book brought everything from recipes to games to Devos.

You know you more at the table than just eat and asked the same question. How was your day.

There's more to it than that. There's more you can do to bring about the laughs like a dog clever clever about it. But let's bring it into reality. Thankfully, have two children. We have two kids as well and you know some days they didn't get along all that well.

So when you're sitting there say let's honor the have you ever had. I really don't feel like doing that yeah you got no one to play what we move on to the more competitive games like monopoly, Nazi Nazi. But we also will want to mix it up so my son got to a place where he was setting up the game before dinner started. And we would have to say hey let's just wait just a little bit on that Carson let's eat first. Let's enjoy the meal that mom has just prepared it again and then we'll get into the game then will do something because it's this digital age that we live we've always got have something in front of us keep us busy, keep us active and so the opportunity to just, you know, slow down.

We don't need to be rests, no technology at the table every now and then we we bring the technology and if we want show video or summons or something, saw something and I saw this thing that I'm using it as an object is more or less and then just unite lighting surf of your interest.

Or maybe your model that well you not sneak in emails move onto the next one. Yeah, unless is a real important call waiting for right it's rare yeah that's good because that's what kids are going to see it's not. Don't tell me what to do, show me what you and I just thought the third restaurant I will give the name of the third restaurant has this thing now with a basket I think was in Springfield Missouri where if you can put all your technology in that basket a chain restaurant did this to little boxes you put all your technology in that basket and leave it there for the whole meal we've attempt sent off your bill and other wanted ice cream cones and stuff like that on like that.

It's kind where we need to get back to you to say hey we can go 3045 minutes without looking at this device and I know about you but I going to restaurants I see couples on dates that aren't even looking at each other right when families are in. I call it that mindnumbing surf. Not that I'm back in to see the babysitter checking around looking at news and updates, sports scores, yeah. What you do and now is another piece of interest to say were on this stuff are connected to it all day. We can take a break yeah what is your goal when you're setting out so Karen do this meal time with the family. You have a goal in mind or is it a little more haphazard. I heard you talk about set the boardgame up later, but is there any kind of formula that you're looking for. Listen, especially for dad's.

You gotta make it simple for me.

What am I trying to do here. What she then you don't even need to read but just look at the cover because we put on the covered slowing down to enjoy food each other in Jesus, so there's four things and that we want to slow down. We want to enjoy the food and not rush through it and tell your kids even if you don't like what's on your plate. I promise you in 1015 years you get used to it and you probably long forward as we long for me.

Love mashed potatoes and corn at grandma's gratin and is used yeah and so each other and that would be the game of the honor bombardment and then Jesus.

We just want to take time. We pray together as a family around the table. We can read together we can memorize together.

I think the key we picked up with kids is to mix it up.

You know you have to sit down every night and do the exact same thing.

They know what the goals are, but the methods can change and we can do different activities that ask you this, when you look at Scripture. I mean, I love the way Jesus used mealtime and he seemed understand reclining at the table with the 12 meeting and talking. There's something in the Lord even talks about the feast. You know there's something there that he's wired us for that moment that were occupied occupationally during the day doing different things, but God is trying to say hey I want you to sit together to eat together to think and talk about me talk about your day. It's something that he model for everybody yeah and we kinda jump back to that Deuteronomy 6 passage and I'm all about. Along the way from the time you get up to the time you go to sleep you go here when you go there, be talking about the Lord. I think we've adapted that verse to our lifestyles today to where now it's like run run run as fast as you possibly can and bring Lord with you along the way, I can we do that, I understand that but I also think I think the family table for us. Is it doesn't mean that our schedule is going to get any less crazy will still be a little chaotic at times we get that. But this is our Sabbath.

This is our break from the grind of life we can pause and it's something we have to schedule like everything else we put on the schedule. So this is a different pace. We want kids to walk away from our family table when they leave our home going that was a place that was slow.

It was enjoyable.

We were relax I feel there is where my mom and dad really got to know me. I they asked me probing questions there. One of the big aspects of the family table for us as safety. This is a safe place so you can share. We can hold one another accountable here we can confess here. We always want that family table to be a place where where they long to come back to. We want him to come back and one to bring their children.

We want to bring our grandchildren one day and the no let me tell you what happened there, and even have a story my grandma mean Mary Jane's passed away at 90, she was a good size woman will just help lucky grandma. I love Mary Jane the best guy that she that this is a story my mom loves me Sharon about my grandma she was. She was in the doctor's office when she was in her 70s and she saw the doctor write down on her chart. The word obese and it completely and totally take my grandma for this is my grandma sense of humor.

She made that young Dr. cross off the word obese and write the words little chubby.I love it and I wish I one day on and get her medical journal to find that most of all the scratch out.

This is due, but I love that because we are right in the book I was back at Mary Jane's table is a five-year-old is a 10-year-old going to remember this is what we did. My grandma she hated TV she had one of those old TV from those terrible days Jim and we were the remote to get up off the couch and change one of the three channels you laid right in front of arm's-length. I just got man I she sat on her front porch and at our kitchen table. That was it. She talked the neighbors she talked to her family that was her life and every now and then she take us to Dunkin' Donuts and that was that was life, and I told Amy that I believe personally, I can't prove it but it's one of the reason she lived 97 Dunkin' Donuts that's not what my doctors to listening to Focus on the Family today.

Our guest is Ted Cunningham, Pastor Ted Cunningham and he and his wife Amy have written a book come to the family table slowing down to enjoy food each other in Jesus. You know the research is so supportive of what you're talking about in the book in terms of that was behavior that kids you know decide to go into when families are spending time at the table they're far less likely to go into premarital sex, drugs, alcohol, all those things. Why do you think that is that it's that substantial well. My favorite quote and it was one I found this years ago and you've heard it. It's one from one of my favorite presidents. I will say his name but his initials are Ronald Reagan and he said all great change in America happens around the dinner table that he had it before. The researcher yeah and boy the first time I heard that Mike that's right because I went back to my family went back to my grandma and grandpa and sit around the table when they didn't have the distractions that we had. They weren't exposed to what we were exposed to and for me, if I'm truly the primary author of my child's heart, which is what we believe I'm the one writing messages on my child's heart I believe speed is the enemy of intimacy speed is the enemy of that process. So if the family table can be a place where speed is eliminated and we slow down there. I believe it's going to do nothing but create that intimacy you're looking for between the parent a child so I can speak into my child's heart messages that I believe are going to be branded on their hearts for life and so every relationship is so good for us to remember that before we moved to another topic on the subject speak to the parents that are struggling. Maybe the single mom who you know she's got a lot on your plate and whenever we mention single mom's old single dads rightist notes.

We appreciate that's I don't forget us just a single parent when you've got so much of a load now were making them feel guilty that they're not spending enough time at dinner time to be with their kids. But what a beautiful time. Whether your two-parent family or one parent, absolutely. And whether your two-parent family or one parent family.

The kids need to be involved in the process of preparing the meal. That's a great yeah they need to be setting the table and it be pouring the water so to start the kids off at one side and can be an easy is easiest salad in a bag you know but they're showing responsibility. This this idea. I think were beyond this in many homes and I understand it, that you know mom comes home and does all the work cooking while we play and then she calls us in for dinner. I think preparing for the family table can be a family project and everyone can be involved I can. That's 1 Great Way for single better single mom to get the family table started is to say Tuesday nights. We are guarding Tuesday nights are regarding Thursday and it's whatever the night that works for your schedule is and it's from 6 to 8 from 5 to 7 whatever time works for you, but it's two hours and that's start to finish. That's that is preparing the meal that's having the meal that's having fun at the table.

One thing you know, here's the other problem have if you got a fight this if it's your personality that everything to be perfectly clean before you move on to the next activity but we have found will do that in a minute. We know to get that because that's a family activity to clearing the table, cleaning the dishes getting whatever needs to be put away and that can be a two hour deal and doesn't need to be just on one person and so that's where I kinda take this to the single mom, single dad, don't make this a one-person activity you talk in the book about delay, withdraw and abandoned in terms of time to explain that to us where you and Amy came to this understanding that you needed time for yourselves as a couple and we all struggle with that. Whether it's in a weekly or monthly, annually but describe what you mean by daily delay weekly withdraw and annual abandon yes so I'll probably 15 years ago. Now Joe White came to camps are judging out to breakfast and said I learned these three for my marriage. If you want your marriage to go the distance and you want to make it in ministry and you want to raise a healthy family you have to do these three things for your marriage, and I was on the edge might be the most amazing say I love you and I have a receipt and he says it daily delay weekly. Withdraw annual abandon and it's one of those outlines the moment he mentioned it to me. I memorize it.

I never forgot it. I put in practice right away how it works with the family tables is the daily delay of 15 to 20 minutes a day husband-and-wife eyeball to eyeball. No distraction, distraction free. I believe even kid free weekly withdrawal is the date night. It's getting out so the daily delay is in or around the home. The weekly withdrawal is out of the home at around town and in the annual abandon is a trip you plan every year, a night or two away.

In the song Solomon you see all three of these you see the daily delay in the secure home. You see, the weekly withdraw.

I'm coming to pick you up and take down the annual abandon. She says let's get out of here and go to the countryside.

You know after they're married for us. We found some of the best family table time is we would sometimes start the meal was salad when our kids were big salad eaters and really still aren't -15 minutes to talk with similar mom and I are to start the meal together.

We often times to let them bus the table and said working to sit here and have a cup coffee and talk for a few minutes. When you guys get the kitchen cleaned up so that's as simple as 15 to 20 mitts can be 15 to 20 minutes of daily delay may date night so much better because it's typically a date night that you start talking budget and children catching up and writes a business meeting date night should never be a business meeting so when you have the daily delay you're keeping short accounts during the week so when you go out our rule on date night is let's look the best. We cannot talk about the children and their needs. Tonight let's not talk about money. Okay, let's focus on having fun and dreaming together and enjoying the company of one another and in the annual abandon best thing we ever put in your marriage, and the farther out you can plan this the better because then you can anticipated all the way up to it and it can be as simple or here in Colorado springs complainant a night or two in Denver, you can be in the town next door but just go somewhere and do something different that it never has been expensive.

You get all these travel great travel websites go to towns out of season, you know, when they're out of season are offering great rates at the hotels I mean you can do a lot for chief and get the grandparents involved you know you have a great sense of humor in our listeners love that.

In fact, when your shows his one the most popular that we've done and you know people disconnect with your your sense of humor. That way when you sat around the table with the family have been a couple of funny moments that make euro all yes some of the site can like social meet. I can share everything that happens around our table. We have some great moments and are probably our funniest moments when we do impersonations and Carson and Karen are there becoming little comedians and Carson. My youngest, he's great at quoting the comedian great sin and retelling stories and he's at the place now he wants me to pay him every time I use a story with him in it so that's probably why it shouldn't share too much. I don't have no idea how much the folks broadcast would cost me if I shared a Carson story. It's five bucks for a sermon. This could be 50 or hundred.

This could be really elements Carson were in your corner help you with yet for me.

We do a bunch of lease laughter singing, dancing. If you can't sing and you can't dance all the better. That's what makes it funny impersonations joke telling storytelling. Another aspect in the book you talk about hospitality in order make sure we get this in the last couple minutes here because hospitality I think Christians as a community aren't doing as well in this area and we struggle to be honest to do it as well, and that is to invite people to the table. Outsiders you emphasize that how you do that, how's the family responded yes. Each talk about hard enough getting your own family to the table now are talking about coordinating your family schedule with another family schedule which have a great story with this.

We are sitting down finishing dinner one night we just push the plates to the side of the table and were beginning a fun time and a family from our neighborhood that we invited over for dinner two nights from now were knocking on the front door holding a cake and Amy my wife about falls over because she thought she got the schedule.

It wasn't actually yes it was. Then we got schedule wrong. We invite them in and ended up sharing with them for two hours we had nothing to feed that had nothing left in the house are videos completely done. They came back two nights later for another dinner we broke the book down first tapas our family at the table in the second half is how can our family ministered other families and so whenever we have a family gathering that we try to think about somebody at the church that doesn't have family try to think someone in the community.

We can buy to be a single can be a couple can be an entire family and we just found you know were already making all this food, we've got plenty to go around.

Let's make sure there's always an empty seat that we can fill so good and teaches the children so much doesn't it out. Hospitality about engaging people. Yeah. And part of the burden.

I think on hospitality.

People like to do is because I think when your host, you have a responsibility not to talk about yourself and to talk about the other people at the table and to get to know someone at your table when everybody pretty much Artie knows each other family right you know it just brings a whole new level of storytelling to the table life experience to the table and we just had a great time at that over the years, bringing in folks in the church we know market to be traveling home for the holidays and so now we try to do that more often throughout the year. That is a great idea, hate one thing were at a time, but I want to keep going here and will put this on as a web extra. I want talk about your family Constitution and that give people some pointers on how to develop that so will do that as a web extra will ask you a few questions and John can provide the details of how to find that at the Focus on the Family website with Ted.

It is so good to have you back and I think you're on one of the most important things in terms of teaching family some healthy habits in your book come to the family table slowing down to enjoy food each other in Jesus. This book is full of great advice, and if you want to position your children. It's not a you know a promise, but it is the right thing to do, so that your kids have a shot at a healthy child. Hearing your heart and learning those traits and values from you that you believe in most of the transmission, the dinner table, so make it a priority. I've heard that line clear thanks thanks for having Pastor Ted Cunningham Jim Daly here on Focus on the Family about being intentional and connecting at family mealtimes, whether that's a special dinner once a week or several times a week in the book. Jim just mentioned, is available from Focus on the Family includes devotional ideas for your family recipes and games you can use as you gathered for meals requests come to the family table when you call 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459 or check the links in the episode notes and while you're at the website. Be sure to watch the video of that additional conversation about creating a family Constitution and when you get in touch.

Please remember our financial needs. We rely on your generosity and as you contribute your helping us provide resources and radio programs, podcasts, counseling, various events, all designed to help strengthen families so he can make a generous donation today to the ministry of Focus on the Family will express our gratitude by sending a copy of Ted's book and some generous friends of focus have offered to match your donation to help us come alongside even more struggling families, especially during this time of the holidays, so please give families hope today knowing that your gift will be doubled to impact twice as many families on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team.

I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time will hear from Dr. John Townsend on strained relationships between parents and adult children and once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. I was shocked when she gave me the divorce papers. I was so died I had reached my breaking point. I was desperate for a shred of hope. So I called the hope restored team. It Focus on the Family they they listen to me and they asked about what was happening in my marriage. They encouraged me in my wife to attend one of their marriage intensive's for couples in crisis and they prayed with us. They help me believe that my marriage could be saved agreed to go but was skeptical that anything can help us but the whole environment was so safe and nonjudgmental, high-tech and open up as we worked with the counselors. Both of us still have work to do in her marriage but for the first time in a long time we have hope again Focus on the Family's hope restored marriage intensive program has helped thousands of couples who thought that their marriage with over find out which program is right for you and hope

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