Part 4 in our summer series, "Come To The Table"
Nourishing our bodies, our relationships, and our souls
Think about the significant family moments of celebration as well as the everyday moments of routine that happen around the family table. There really is something meaningful that happens to us as we break bread together. Close together in proximity, we face each other, we are given a place of acceptance, and we are nourished. So many of our basic needs for connection are fulfilled here!
Though in our family we are not “foodies,” we have gone through various seasons of trying to learn more about what to eat (and what not to eat). We do make efforts to eat balanced meals and we teach our children the importance of taking care of their bodies. They take great joy in reading nutrition labels and telling us about all of the carbohydrates we are consuming! It has worked well for us to emphasize to them that we can enjoy the foods that God has given us in moderation. (One of our family’s favorite meals is found in the recipe at the bottom of this post: Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Chicken.) However regardless of what we are eating, we make it a point to enjoy evening meals together and frequently invite others in to eat with us.
As we are mindful of our family’s bodily nourishment, we remember the importance of being nourished in our relationships with each other as well. The way that family members experience acceptance and feel “satisfied” will differ so it is essential to take the time and consider the needs of the each member, especially during seasons of change. When we recently added a new family member by way of adoption, the dynamics in every family relationship changed somewhat. This hasn’t been a bad thing and the reshaping is often quite beautiful, although getting to this renewed place of health in our family’s relationships hasn’t been achieved easily or quickly.
We check in regularly as spouses and also often ask our children if they feel loved–nourished–in our home. We look for opportunities to “fill their cup” in terms of how they are feeling appreciated and important to the overall mix of the family. As they are going to bed at night, we listen to them, carefully hearing out any concerns they may have as a way of helping them reflect on the joys and sorrows of their day. We also sing special songs or spend time reading a book. We want to let each of them know they are special. These are daily ways we seek to enhance the relational nutrition of our family.
All of this talk of “nutrition” would be much less meaningful without the added layer of spiritual nourishment. As parents this is our highest calling: to point our children to Jesus. I can think of many times in scripture where we are pointed to Jesus through the theme of food as nourishment. “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Revelation 19:6-9 reminds us of the hope of the wedding supper of the Lamb. And most clearly, we see it through the Passover and then the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Exodus 12:43-49, Luke 22:14-20). In fact, it is in coming to the Lord’s table that we can best understand our acceptance to God as His adopted children. We are given a place at His table, to join our Lord and Savior, who at great personal cost has come to claim us as His child and spend eternity with Him in our true Home.
From our first days together as a married couple, my husband and I knew that we were called to adopt. It was only a matter of when. God made it abundantly clear to us that His timing is perfect, and after the birth of three biological children and six years of an international adoption process we traveled across the globe to bring our sweet daughter home. Because of the length of this process, most of our children’s growing up years have included the discussion and expectation of adding to our family through adoption. Despite the amount of time that we waited, when the time came, it all happened so quickly.
We expected challenges and adjustments. After all, we had been preparing for this for years. But, there is a huge difference between the anticipation of adopting and the reality of a toddler coming onto the scene. We were in survival mode. The first few weeks at home felt a bit rocky. I had made allowances for our physical nourishment: boxed cereal for breakfast and meals on paper plates. And our church family blessed us enormously with the provision of many meals. This was a beautiful way for us to remain connected at the dinner table as a family and continue to eat balanced meals. Blessedly, in the midst of it all, we were getting to know a new family member as she fit into her role as little sister beautifully. Since those first days, God has been doing His work, molding us and shaping us into a different family but one that learns together and loves each other.
It is a sweet gift to see the spiritual nourishment of our family continue during this time. We have been able to recognize many ways that God answered our prayers for this daughter and the ways that she fits into our family. It’s true that our family devotions have had more interruptions in the last couple of months than we would prefer: however even this youngest one is now learning the name of Jesus, praying spontaneously on her own, and seeing that the Bible on the table is part of our evening mealtimes. We have the joy once again of hearing a little child sing, “Jesus Loves Me” before she can even grasp the truth of what she is singing. We are teaching our little one to love being in church, to repeat the answers to catechism questions and to know that God is the Creator of all of the beautiful things that she is drawn to: water, light, flowers, trees, and the sun. It is our earnest desire to see all of our children thrive and be nourished in body, in relationship, and most of all, in their souls. By the grace of God we will be able to point them to the One who can do all of this.
Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Chicken
...aka the meal that everyone eats and no one complains about!
Chicken breasts cut in thirds (or chicken tenderloins), as many as needed
Bacon slices, one for each piece of chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut each breast into 3 pieces, season chicken with the spices, wrap a bacon slice around each piece, sprinkle brown sugar sparingly on top and place into an ovenproof dish lightly coated with olive oil or cooking spray.
Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and bacon is nice and brown–and crispy. We enjoy this recipe with rice, vegetables, fresh fruit and a salad!
Kristin is wife to Dan and mother to four children, living in Lookout Mountain, GA. She and Dan recently brought their youngest child home from Ethiopia and are in the midst of all of the joys and challenges that this adjustment process brings.