If I asked you, “What is the heart of your home?” what would you say? It’s really an important question, and it is deserving of some deep thought.
Some of you, I’m sure, answered right away. Some of you might need a minute to think. It’s okay. Take your time.
The heart of my home would be the kitchen. Not because there are elaborate meals prepared there, though we are quite fond of food in my family…a little too fond. It’s not because it is an awesome room that once Southern Living Magazine discovers it, they will be calling me for an interview. Nope, don’t think there is anything about the kitchen that would intrigue them at all, though it does have a fireplace, which is the other love in my family.
We like to eat and we like fires.
Doesn’t get much better than that.
In my family, we are masters of setting fires. We could start a fire on a glacier without wood or matches. I hate to brag, but we are just really that good. We’re just not so good at controlling them or putting them out, but that’s for another story.
Yeah, we like to eat, we like fires, and oh, how we love telling stories.
That’s the real reason the kitchen is the heart of our home, because that’s where we do life together. It’s not the food. It’s not the fires. It’s the time spent together. It’s the stories we tell; the adventures we revisit, the things we pass on.
There in the kitchen, as we sit around the table, we nourish our bodies.
But it’s more than that…so much more.
There’s the laughter and the storytelling that feeds our sense of family, that reminds us of who we are, where we came from…maybe where we’re going. Sometimes where we probably shouldn’t have gone and had better not go back again.
It’s the building of memories – the reinforcing of memories so that when we’re apart, we can remember. It’s the glue that keeps use together.
Now that my family is getting older and feet are slowly vanishing from under the table, I realize something about the importance of my supper table that I didn’t fully realize before. For those of us who have been called according to His purpose, time spent around the table, after the eating is done and the chairs have been pushed back, can be nourishment for our souls. The real nourishment around my table happens when the stories turn to the One writing the chapters of our lives. The One who intricately weaves story lines of grace, mercy, and redemptive love into those chapters.
I wish I had fully realized this when my kids were younger.
You know, if I had it all to do again, no discipline would ever have been issued at the supper table.
To the ones who left home before I had this epiphany, sorry I’m just realizing this.
There would have been no fussing about grades, or lost things, or fires set that required several fire trucks and a backhoe. Not that these things shouldn’t be addressed, just not at the supper table.
All that would have been reserved for another room in the house. Instead, the supper table would have been reserved for stories both old and new. It would have been reserved for diligently teaching our children about the faithfulness of God toward His children with more intentionality.
We would have recanted stories of old. I would have talked of things – amazing things – my God did long ago. I would have talked about things – amazing things my God was still doing. I would have shared more of my first hand experiences with my Father. The times He rescued me from my stupidity. The times He showed me mercy or lavished me with His grace. I would have been painfully honest about my shortcomings and ecstatic over the victories through His power.
I would have remembered that it’s not the meal that is of greatest importance, it’s the time spent around the table, the legacy of faith passed down to the next generation.
We talk about the importance of sharing our faith stories with others, but before we take those stories to others, we need to talk them out with our children or anyone else He sends into our home. And what better place to do that than the supper table?
When we remember, we gain strength. When we share, we offer hope, and others gain courage. When we warn, we protect; we give an opportunity for another to be spared the hard road we walked as a result of poor choices or flat out disobedience.
We make sense of experiences through our stories.
Painfully honest, vulnerable, miraculous, grace drenched stories.
Start the tradition of sharing stories when your children are young. If they are older, introduce it to them anyway. Just do it.
We are changing the name of our Domestic Diva page to “The Supper Table” because we believe with all our hearts in the importance of sharing our faith stories around the supper table. And because we don’t believe that elaborate meals are necessary, we want to give you suggestions for great meals without all the fuss.
We want to help you just get them to the table.
Then when the meal is over, linger at the table a little longer. Don’t rush off. Talk about your day. Share what God showed you, taught you. Talk about your experiences with Him. Revisit those old stories of the Bible.
Be intentional until it becomes unintentional-just a part of who you are and what you do as a family around the supper table.
Invite others to sit at your table, often.
Years down the road, it’s not the food they’ll remember; it’s the stories.
It’s the legacy of family and faith.
Have a great week!
“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Ronald Reagan
“The enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy. But I (Jesus) have come to give you life and give it to the full.” John 10:10
A few years ago our dog of 6 years died. It did not take me long to decide that I did not like our home without a pet, so we got another puppy. We found her online, spoke with her breeder, had videos sent to us and we decided that this was our next pet! She was barely 2 pounds when we got her! She was so cute! We loved her immediately!
It did not take long for us to notice that a few things were not right with her. Her first vet visit was great! She appeared to be perfect! A few weeks later, I noticed that she was vomiting a lot! Then I noticed she did not seem to act like a normal perky puppy. Then…I gave her the heartworm medicine. Her behavior scared me so badly that I ran her to the vet. He looked at her, ran some tests, called the company that made the heartworm medicine and in a few hours we had a diagnosis…a liver shunt. The liver is a filter for the body. Anything toxic runs through the liver. In my 2 pound puppy, she had a blood vessel not connected to her liver. I found out later that that particular blood vessel was less than a millimeter in diameter…a MILLIMETER!!! That one single millimeter was wreaking havoc in our puppy! She had seizures, she vomited, she slept, and she would bang her little head against a wall…pure havoc. Thankfully there is a university near our home that knew how to handle liver shunts and we were able to take her there and they were able to fix our puppy’s shunt. When we picked her up, they told us, “It will take time, but eventually she should be “normal””. It has been 14 months since her surgery and today she is normal!
Her name? Zoe!!! What does that mean? Zoe is a Greek word meaning “of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God”!
God intends for me to live a full life, both essential and ethical! God desires for me to live life to the full! If a millimeter of a detached blood vessel can cause such damage to a pet, what could a millimeter of sin do to my life? How does God see me banging my head against a wall? Could it deter me from living my potential in Christ? What if a millimeter of pride, judgement, hate, materialism or lust can keep me from a full relationship with my creator? What am I missing from just a millimeter of sin?
I pray that God will continue to shed light in each area where there is a millimeter of misalignment between us. I pray that I allow Him to do surgery in my heart so that my life is lived to the full! He loves me enough to seek me out and help me find what is making me “sick”. I should desire Him enough to be found and be healed!
We are so excited that Stacey Hensley has joined the PSF team as a regular blogger.
Stacey is married to Mike Hensley. They have 3 daughters (22 year old step-daughter, 16, and 14). She lives in Georgia and has been a stay-at-home mom for 16 years and she says she has loved it! Stacey says that she is now in the season of preparing for "empty nest" and her heart is growing for moms of young children and reaching them with God's truth and love. Her favorite scripture is John 10:10, "The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy. But I (Jesus) have come that you may have have life and have it to the full." She loves to share that life giving truth to anyone willing to listen!!!
I love the way God writes a story with the paper of our life and the pen of His Holy Spirit.
From the time I was a child I knew conceptually that God loved me. I knew that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for sinners. I knew this and believed as much as any child could. But in the back of my mind, I sort of thought God was lucky to have me on His team. Perhaps He even smiled when He thought of me, because I wasn’t really “that bad”. Especially not like those other sinners He died for.
It wasn’t until college that the fruition of my childhood belief became a deep and life-changing faith. It wasn’t until I became the person that I had always judged that God showed me his far-reaching grace. I was transformed as I began to believe the truth that I was more sinful than I could dare to imagine and more loved than I could dare to dream.
Cornerstones of the Christian faith like grace, imputed righteousness, the power of the Spirit, community, evangelism, and other foundational truths I’d been taught as a kid became my oxygen. Jesus was no longer a part of my life…He became MY LIFE.
It was as if I had purchased a fully furnished house and finally had the electric company come and cut the lights on! Everything that was needed to live was in place and finally, it was a home that could be richly enjoyed.
Upon graduation, I zealously entered full-time Christian work and couldn’t wait to tell college students just like me about Jesus. I fell in love with watching the light grow from a flicker to a flame, as they began to understand the Gospel. I loved my job. Full time ministry! What’s not to love? Yet, God gently showed me that I was using my profession and ministry successes to prop up my ego and validate my identity. Full-time ministry was a good thing, but I had made it into a god thing, an idol in which my value and worth were found.
In the thick of my love affair with ministry you can bet your bottom dollar that I firmly believed I did not need a man to slow me down. And, on cue, per my pride, God used a trip to do Hurricane Katrina relief work to introduce me to a person He would use to show me His unfailing love
There we were, hundreds of Cru staff and college students covered in mud and bug bites, freezing our tails off sleeping on cots under circus tents and taking showers in the back of 18-wheelers. There he was, leading a team from Ole Miss and there was me, leading a team that “just so happened” to needed to bunk up with their students because there was no room for us at any other sites. Sparks flew, but the timing wasn’t quite right. Six months later we started dating, six months later we were engaged, six months later we were married and the rest is history! Literally HIS story!
I remember one night, Joel sat me down and said that he felt I had nothing left to give and that ministry was in a sense the "third wheel” in our relationship. I was heart-broken and ashamed but I knew that ministry-aholism and the anxiety that comes along with it were something that I needed to process and battle. God used Joel to teach me so much of His love and my identity in Christ being perfect and complete, not needing to work harder or do better and that I no longer needed to avoid sin to avoid my need for Jesus. It was powerful.
A few years into marriage we (and by we I actually mean “I”), finally moved from fear to faith and decided to try and start a family. After a year of “trying” we realized it simply wasn’t happening. This was soul-wrenching. I remember numerous trips home to see our family when I’d have fully envisioned and planned “the announcement” and played out how excited our parents would be to become grandparents. But every time, there was no announcement to be made. The endless cycle of hope and despair continued. Two years later, I remember our reproductive endocrinologist patting me on the knee and saying that humanly speaking, there was no reason we should not be able to conceive and that perhaps there was a Higher Power who had a better plan. This was the confirmation we needed to end fertility treatments and pursue adoption.
Our gut reaction was to begin an international adoption process. It seemed the sexy thing to do; yet after looking at our options, it didn’t seem to be the right fit. We pursued domestic infant adoption the way many of our friends had done, but again, we lacked the peace and confirmation that we needed to proceed. Of course, the ONE THING we said we’d NEVER do was foster and adopt a child through social services. I mean, we’d never been parents before and weren’t these kids typically older with more issues? We decided to do our due diligence and attend an interest meeting. It was there that the Holy Spirit made it irresistibly clear what He had in store to build our family.
We walked away with fresh tears on our faces and a forged plan to fight for a child. We spent 9 months meticulously scribbling out all our paperwork and then waiting. In the darkest of places, smack in the middle of a “what the heck is taking so long” pity party, we got the call. Okay, well, really I made the call because “WHAT THE HECK WAS TAKING SO LONG???” But the social worker on the other end of the line asked me, “Did you not get a phone call already? You were matched yesterday with a kid… Or maybe it was two kids? I’m not sure…just call this number.” And call the number I sure did. It took that social worker 4 hours to return my phone call. FOUR HOURS, PEOPLE!?! Do you know how well you can clean your oven when you have 4 hours of nervous energy pumping through your veins?
There were a flurry of phone calls and emotions followed by a pivotal conversation with a friend whose advice we trusted… WHO JUST SO HAPPENED TO HAVE OUR FUTURE SON IN HER RESPITE FOSTER CARE AT THAT VERY MOMENT!!! Within a day we were not only matched, but we were in LOVE with not one, but two precious children.
A boatload of details needed to be worked out. Details like car seats, elementary schools and job transitions. But amidst the details we were seeing miracles happen and dreams we never even knew to dream, were coming true. Joel’s birthday fell in the midst of the hubbub. I deliriously asked him if there were anything he’d like for his birthday. With his eyes filled with emotion, he sweetly said that all he wanted for his birthday were two pigtails and a cowlick. On July 25, a spunky 2 year old and a snuggly 5 year old, their foster family and I threw Joel a birthday party at the Chick Fila play place. A few days later they came to live with us. Joel got exactly what he wanted for his birthday.
Over the next 9 months there were biological parent visitations, court hearings and finally on April 24, 2012, the judge declared what we’d always known, that they were officially a part of our forever family!
Ours is a beautifully broken story of God being good even when He didn’t feel good and Him being completely caring and sovereign even when things seem insanely out of control…nothing different than what He is doing in the lives of all His children. And the rest is history. Truly HIS story!
Thanks so much to Kitty for sharing her story with us. She and her husband, Joel, have a fantastic website. Please visit
http://www.joelandkitty.com/ to learn more about them and read some more of her blogs.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
I am a planner by nature. I like a plan and I like to stick to the plan. In 2013, I thought ahead to 2014 and I had grand plans! I started planning away! Vacations, selling a home, financial goals, and personal goals, were just a few of my plans. It was all perfect! It was all without a glitch! The timing was all going to be perfect and I should not have too much stress! I had plans! God had plans too! God had ordained my plans. God wants good things for me. So…I planned my way and my Father determined my steps. God had a few detours for me to take.
Dreams of a future home interrupted by the unexpected death of my father. Celebration of birthdays…. my second child is 16? Where did the time go? We sold our home of 9 years, had to be out in 3 weeks and amidst the chaos, our oldest graduated from college! Finally out of our home, into an apartment only to leave on a week -long trip 5 days later. At one point I had 3 children away on separate summer trips in 3 different countries. Oldest child starts a job and the other 2 start school…only for my mom to break her foot and she is a couple of hours away…and she lives alone. Taking care of mom with a major project in the works and my family survives with a very distracted mom/wife. December arrives and I attempt to decorate the apartment for Christmas and our apartment floods…the entire apartment in an inch of water. Get that mess cleaned up (and it is Christmas!) and the apartment above us floods…water through our ceiling. This is 2014 revisited for my family.
Why heartbreak while I was celebrating? Why stress when there is joy in my face? Why does the timing have to feel so off? Why does it feel like every year the changes get harder?
God allows me to plan, because He wants me to find Him in them. If He allowed every one of my plans to go off without a hitch, I would think too highly of myself. God wants me to seek Him in all things and if all things go well all of the time…well, I forget to look for Him! God knows this about me and He loves me too much to allow me to get away with it.
I can choose to look back at 2014 and think, “That was stressful!” But I have chosen to look back and see:
I still have a future home in the works. My mother is doing well. My children are all healthy and growing, as they should. My marriage is stronger every day and my God…my Father in heaven…He is walking beside me every step of the way. When I celebrate, so does He. When I hurt, He holds my heart. When I love, He gives me the capacity to love more!
Praise Him for determining my steps!
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