25 August 2011

Book Review - The Family Meal Table and Hospitality.

With CJ’s birthday a week ago, I paged through my photo albums and got real nostalgic about my almost grown-up Son!   But I got even more nostalgic when I looked at pictures of CJ and my Dad.  

My Dad had only two daughters, and I could tell he missed having a son very, very much.  Needless to say he was overjoyed when CJ was born - his first grandchild and also the taste of what it would be like to raise a son! 

Sadly my daddy died when CJ was only 9 years old, due to lung cancer...

As I cherished the memories, longed for my Dad and cried a little, my mind went back, way back to when I was still a little girl. He was such a fun guy!  Must be were CJ, as well as Josua, got their mischief!  He loved horses - does it surprise you that CJ loves horses? Then there were the countless times he would leave work in the middle of the day when I called him in distress and need.  But what I remember most, is our family meal table.  Daddy left every morning 06h00 sharp, for work, winter and summer!  Thus we didn’t see him in the morning, but he would be home at 17h00.  Dinner would be served immediately after Daddy washed his hands and then my Mother would ask him about his day and he started elaborating on his day at work.  He really had a way to intrigue us with his daily doings.  In the summer after dinner he would leave the table and go check on the huge vegetable garden he run part time. But in winter months he would take the big family Bible and read us the story of Josua, David or Daniel or he would read out of his favourite book in the Bible, Psalms.
How grateful I am for these special memories around the Family Meal Table, from my very young childhood years.
Unfortunately my Dad sold our farm when I was 13 years old and we moved to the city.  There the special hour around the family meal table slowly started to fade away. The country life is so much different from the city life, especially since there are so much more that compete for our time.  My sister and I were now involved in extra murals, which often ran late into the afternoon or started in the early evening; my mother was involved with the church and had to be at early evening meetings often; my dad had his duties as Elder in the church and their evening meetings. Often my mother was so busy in the afternoons, she didn’t have time to prepare a meal from scratch, like on the farm, and only made ‘one-dish meals’ which we then ate in front of the television.  And so we missed out on the very special time of nurturing our souls and spirit, while nourishing our bodies at the family meal table.
Over the past twenty five years live got even more busy! Families don’t gather around the Family Meal Table anymore! 

What is standing in the way of families to gather around the Family Meal Table?
- Mothers got brainwashed by the World’s thinking that preparing meals day after day is a wasting of precious time;

- Mothers don’t have the vision that they should teach their children the lifeskill of preparing a meal. Children learn by watching their mother and then prepare a meal themselves, which are enjoyed in each others company (complimenting the Young Cook all the way) around the Family meal table;

- Due to the previous point, young mothers today have no idea how to cook a good wholesome meal, they just pay frequent visits to the local fast food restaurant, instead of going through the painful exercise of learning to cook;

- Mothers are not home to prepare a meal, or don’t have time to lay a beautiful table with an inviting atmosphere where the meal can be enjoyed in each others company;

- By the time the meal need to get started, mothers are still trapped in late afternoon traffic due to the children’s extra mural activities or their own outings;

- By the time the meal should be served, family members are scattered everywhere, all doing their own thing;

- Apart from extra mural activities, television is one of the strongest competitors for the family meal table.  Soaps and talk shows are preferred above the precious company and conversations with family members.  After all, it is so much easier to prepare a quick one-dish-meal and ‘enjoy’ it in front of the television, than preparing a nutritious meal and sit at the family meal table.

Does this sound familiar?  It is interesting for me to observe in how many homes the television is the dominant ‘family member’, the ‘determiner’ of the atmosphere of the home, the ‘constant entertainer’, the ‘central piece of furniture’ in the home. Switched on the moment a family member walk into the home, or even worse, is never switched off!
Most families who stayed close over the decades will testify that the family meal table was the most central piece of furniture in their home - not the television - and the focal point that kept them together as a family.

Unless the Mother and/or Father have the vision to guide and shape the lives of their children with their personal involvement, the Family Meal Table will be empty in the evening.

And therefore I’m so thankful for the Family Meal Table and Hospitality study guide by Nancy Campbell.  

Do you know how the Lord pictures a family that is blessed?
In Ps 128:1-4 He takes us to the window of a blessed family’s home and invites us to peep in and see what’s happening. What you see there is a glimpse of the kind of family that He wants to bless, the family that is happy together.
“1 Blessed is every one who fears the LORD,
         Who walks in His ways. 
 2 When you eat the labor of your hands,
         You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
 3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
         In the very heart of your house, 
         Your children like olive plants 
         All around your table.
 4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
         Who fears the LORD. “
Ps 128:1-4 NKJV
Do you see the picture?  Where is the wife?  She is in the very heart of her home! 

Where is the children?  They are all sitting around the table together!

The family table is a gathering place.  

A seat of learning. 

The hub for family activities. 

The heart and soul of communion and fellowship. 

Most of all, it is a biblical principle that God established.
How I enjoyed learning the origin of the table through the Family Meal Table and Hospitality study guide!
The table’s origin is in heaven.  God thought of tables long before we ever had them on earth. They are His idea!
 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;”
Matthew 8:11 NAS
I believe God wants us to renew our vision for the Family Meal Table.  It is more than a place to eat a hurried meal on the run.  The table is a feeding place.  
A feeding place for our family’s physical needs.  
This means preparing and cooking a meal. And this means work! 

Dear mother, cooking is a big part of your mothering career.  This is how we nurture our family. How often I see families who are sick for weeks in a row, sometimes a whole season.  Mothers who don’t have energy to take up the responsibilities of being a mother to their little children.  Babies who are colic, suffer from ear and respiratory infections, ending in antibiotics and operations like ‘grommets in the ears’ or the removal of their tonsils.  Many of these can be avoided, if we mothers, can renew our minds from the deception by our modern age vain philosophies and prepare nutritious meals for our husbands and children. 

In the 2nd chapter of the Family Meal Table and Hospitality there are excellent tips on cooking your meals, as well as how to plan your meals.
The table is a feeding place to feed the soul and mind!  
The table is synonymous with intimate communions and fellowship.  
It is where we speak heart to heart.  
It is where we sharpen one another’s minds.  
It is the heart and soul of family life. 

It is God’s way of keeping us together.
God loves this time of the day too.  This was the time of day He chose to visit with Adam and Eve - to talk and fellowship with them. God still loves to come and visit with His redeemed people during the “cool of the day”.  He loves to join them for their evening meal and reveal Himself to them. How sad when He finds the home empty, the family still on the road.
Chapter 3 with it’s excellent ideas of how to make your table a ‘heart and soul’ place, will renew your mind.
The Family Meal Table is a sanctuary.  
A secret place from the daily world of strife and filthiness.  Our husbands and grown children may spend their day out in the work place.  More often than not they are surrounded by filthy talk, jesting, immodesty and humanistic reasoning.  If they come home and turn on the TV, this contamination of the world will only sink deeper into their spirits.  But if they arrive home to a waiting table - a table that welcomes them with good food, love and fellowship, the filth of the day washes away. 

The preparing of the food and eating of the meal together, paves the way for the culmination of the meal - feeding the spirit.  God loves to present Himself at the table of the family that fears the Lord.  He loves to reveal His truth to us as we open our hearts to Him and talk of His wondrous ways.  Every time Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples after his resurrection, was when they were reclining at the table.  
Chapter 4 is filled with ideas how to feed the spirit.
The following chapters aim to enlarge your vision, looking at TABLE as an acrostic and discuss each word!
Part II of The Family Meal Table and Hospitality focus on Hospitality - God intend our table to be an extended table!  

Nancy focus on questions like:
Who Should Show Hospitality?
To Whom Should we Show Hospitality?
How Should we Show Hospitality?
How Should we Prepare a Guest Room?
Excuses for Hospitality.
The Blessings of Hospitality.
Ideas for Hospitality.

Christian Etiquette when Receiving Hospitality.
Part III of The Family Meal Table and Hospitality had an addendum on:
Herbs and Foods Mentioned in the Bible
Guidelines for Optimum Health

Should we Store Food?
The Celebration Meal
Dear Mother, through this excellent study guide - at the end of every chapter there is Scripture and questions - you will catch the vision!  You will understand God’s vision for the table, and it will make the time and effort cooking the meal worthwhile. 
You are not only cooking a meal, you are creating an atmosphere for the presence of God and for divine revelation. 

I would like to give all my Readers a Promotional offer on the Family Meal Table and Hospitality.  
For the next two weeks this excellent study guide, normal price R 135, will be only R99!
E-mail me with this code: FMTH2011
Offer ends the 8th of September.

With love

1 comment:

Wendy said...

What a lovely post Linnie, I can't agree more.

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