family prayer

I know that one of the most important jobs I have as a parent is to teach and train my children about matters of faith.  This can sometimes seem like a daunting task.  There are so many books we could read, songs we could sing, programs we could attend, and even Bible verses we could memorize.  How is a parent supposed to know what to do?

Fortunately, I believe there is one tool available to us that is easy to do and is ready-made to fit right into our schedule.  It is the family prayer, the simplest kind of prayer that can come before meals.  And I don’t just mean the meals that we eat around our dining table.  I mean the meals that we eat at the sit-down restaurant, at the playland at McDonald’s, in the park, in the car after we’ve gone through the drive-thru, and even on those white tables at Costco.  Our children (yours and mine) should see every meal as an opportunity to give thanks and talk with their Creator.

A great memory from by college days was mealtime with my friends in the school cafeteria.  The food wasn’t too bad, but the memories have more to do with hanging out with my friends.  If you were a student there, you weren’t expected to join the conversation at the table until after you had bowed your head and said a quiet prayer before your meal.  It was just the normal routine at our school.  You sat down, you prayed, and then you started in on the food and fellowship.  I really can’t think of a better way to begin a meal.

Now I know very well that there is no Biblical mandate for praying before every meal.  It’s just a tradition that has developed over the centuries.  But this tradition is worth keeping.  And if it isn’t a tradition in your family or in your daily routine, think about starting it.  If it’s a little intimidating or you’re not quite sure what to say, I’ll share what we say sometimes.  This is the mealtime prayer that I grew up with and the one that we often say with our children.  I consider it to be a part of my faith heritage and a big treasure in my life.  It’s also the prayer that I would whisper under my breath as a college student in the cafeteria.  It’s not too complicated, but it still says a lot about gratitude and our desire to live our lives for God.  We call it the Robinson Family Prayer:  “Father we thank you for this food, for friend and loved ones too.  Help us to be kind and good in all we say and do.  Amen.”

At other times before meals, we’ll pick a family member to pray on behalf of everyone else.  This is how Brent’s family has always done it, at least ever since I’ve been a part of it.  I like how it helps each child become comfortable with praying out loud.  Talking with God should be something that happens daily for us and for our children.

I believe that praying before meals (every meal) can help us as parents train up our children in the faith.  It’s easy to do and we don’t even have to make a plan for it.  The opportunities just come along three times a day without any advanced preparation.  And it’s a great habit to instill into our kids.  There are some traditions that come and go, but I hope that this tradition continues.  It’s a keeper!

birthday breakfast

One of our birthday traditions is breakfast in bed.  It’s so nice to start of your special day being reminded that you are loved.  So this morning for my 39th birthday, I woke up to this yummy tray of good food and a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” from Brent and the kids.  And now we’re off to the bookstore to spend some Christmas and birthday money.  I love after-Christmas sales!

apple cider, steel cut oats with toppings, eggs over easy, apple slices, and fresh carrot juice

getting ready for Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve, and our home is abuzz with activity for the holiday.  Here’s a peek into what’s happening this morning at our house.

We're rushing to finish some last minute gifts. Who wouldn't want a nice warm scarf made with lots of love?

The stockings are hung with care. This one is Brent's.

The gingerbread house is ready for display. Brent and the kids put this one together. We used a kit from Trader Joe's. I think they did a great job!

We're ready to set the table for tomorrow's big meal.

Can't forget to practice our music for tonight's Christmas Eve service. Above all else, the point of the holiday is to welcome the Savior.

So there’s a little glimpse into what’s going on around the house.  We’re really busy, but it’s a blessing to be busy when you’re serving the ones you love.  And I know these people will love me back, even if the I burn the turkey tomorrow (which I hope does not happen) or if they realize that their presents don’t cost a lot of money.  I pray that you will experience the greatest of all loves this Christmas, the love of a Savior who came for you.  Merry Christmas!

on the nightstand

How much can you tell about a person by what’s on their nightstand?  I took some snapshots of my bedside reading material.  If you were to see what was on my nightstand, here is what you would find:

1. Bible.  As some of you know, I’m reading and re-reading through the Proverbs this month.  I try to make this the first thing I read every morning.

Bible open to Proverbs

2. Martha Stewart Living magazine.  I’ve been a long time reader of this magazine.  I especially like the housecleaning tips and all of the holiday articles (expect maybe Halloween).  My absolute favorite was her Kids magazine, but they don’t publish that one anymore.  And I think that the photography has always been beautiful.

3. School research.  Teachers, even homeschoolers, are often thinking about what to teach in the future.  We just can’t help but look ahead to next year’s possiblities, even if we aren’t even halfway through this school year.  This is a chemistry book about the periodic table that I’m thinking about using for Emma next year.  I’m actually learning a lot by reading it.  That happens to homeschoolers a lot, too: learning by teaching.

4. The Mitford Beside Companion.  This is my nightly literary therapy.  It helps me unwind before going to sleep.  Jan Karon just might be my favorite author and her Mitford books are my favorite fiction novels.  This book is a collection of highlights from all of those novels with a few essays from the author thrown in for good measure.  Karon’s novels always celebrate the beauty of everyday life.  It’s a great way to end my day.

Looking at this collection of reading material, I guess you really can learn a lot about a person by what they have on the nightstand.  I’m a Christ follower, a housewife, a teacher, and a reader.  And all of those things are reflected in my reading choices.  If you are what you eat, maybe it’s also true that you are what you read.

my favorite fast food

When it comes to fast food, there are some pretty strong opinions out there.  In California, you will meet people who couldn’t imagine going anywhere for a hamburger except In & Out Burger.  Don’t expect a lot of menu items there.  They only do a few things, burgers and fries, and they do it well.

In the South, you will meet people who are devoted to Chick-fil-A.  For some families, it’s the number one choice, maybe even the only choice.  The chicken is really good.  But for me, the best things are their high quality kids meal prizes (like books) and the fact that they’re closed on Sunday.

Since I’m a Northwest girl, my absolute favorite fast food is Burgerville.  I like how they try to emphasize regional ingredients.  You won’t get a cheeseburger, you’ll get a Tillamook cheeseburger.  At a certain time of year, you won’t get onion rings, you’ll get Walla Walla Sweet Onion rings.  You won’t get a salad, you’ll get a wild salmon and hazelnut salad.  And don’t get me started on the summertime milkshakes with fresh Northwest berries!  Delicious!  My only dilemma with Burgerville is the locations.  I have yet to find one east of the Cascade Mountains, which is a problem for me here in Central Oregon.  So almost every time we drive over to “the valley” for a meeting or family trip, I try to make sure that our agenda includes a meal at Burgerville.  And you can be sure that I’ll be ordering a Tillamook cheeseburger, no ketchup or mustard, just extra helpings of their original sauce. And maybe some waffle fries on the side.

Happy Birthday Lauren!

The little princess is six years old today!  Lauren is growing by leaps and bounds in every way.  Lauren, you were are second Christmas baby.  It was a cold Minnesota Monday morning when you came into the world.  You had so much hair!  At the hospital, you were kind of cranky for some of the nurses, but you always settled down for Mommy and Daddy.  And then we had you in church for your baby dedication that first Sunday.  Everyone was smitten with this beautiful new baby girl, and you’ve been charming people ever since.  The Lord has great plans for you.  And we love watching you grow into those plans.  We love our little Lauren Ladybug!

Lauren as a little toddler

At 1 year old, sleeping in Daddy's arms

Happy Birthday Blake!

Can it be true?  Is my little man eight years old today?  I guess there is no denying it.  He is growing to be a wonderful young man.

Blake,  we are so proud of you and we are having a great time watching you become who God has created you to be.  You were our first Christmas baby, born on a very cold day in Minnesota.  It was an early Tuesday morning.  And you were in church that Sunday for your baby dedication.  Mommy remembers hearing your first cry.  What a great sound!  Now eight years later, we still love to hear what you have to say.  Happy Birthday!

Blake at 2 and 1/2

Blake at 7 and 1/2

choir concert

Through the years, Brent and I have had more choir concerts than we can count.  And now it’s time for the next generation to start the choir concert family tradition.  Emma was a natural.  She enjoyed every minute.  All of the choir members were well prepared and gave a great performance.  Here’s a video of Emma’s group.  She’s in the middle of the front row next to the soloist.  They also performed some songs with the advanced choir made up of middle and high school students.  Congratulations on job well done!

holiday gatherings

What do chocolate chip zucchini bread, dried apples, spiced cider drink mix, and a bunch of other gifts all have in common?  These are all things that have been packed to give this weekend at a Christmas family gathering.  We haven’t always been able to go to this annual party.  When you live two time zones away, it doesn’t really work out.  But now we’re so much closer (meaning that now we’re only 6 hours away!) and can make the drive.  It’s great to catch up with aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I’ll be amazed at how much everyone’s children have grown.  There will be lots of delicious food.  And best of all, I’ll get a great big hug from my beautiful sister.

This isn’t our first Christmas party of the season, and it won’t be the last.  And it might seem like a long way to drive for just one evening together.  Honestly, we really don’t see each other very much during the rest of the year, if at all.  Because of busy schedules and long distances, it can be hard to stay connected all the time.  But for one night, for one meal, we’re all together under one roof.  And we’re all there for one purpose: to be a family.

guess who came to our house last night

The tooth fairy!  Our youngest, Lauren, has been asking us for about six months now, “When am I going to lose a tooth?”  And the answer came yesterday.  Her one lone loose tooth just popped right out!

Now that she’s missing a bottom tooth, she has a little lisp when she talks.  So cute!  Speaking of cute, she got the most accurate fortune cookie last week.  Usually, fortune cookies are random and generic and don’t make any sense at all.  But when Lauren pulled hers out of the cookie, we all laughed at how true it was.  It read, “You are always entertaining and delightful.”  Who knew that a fortune cookie could get it right?  When we’re at church and someone comes up to me giggling and has a smile on their face, I know they’re about to tell me something funny that Lauren said or did.  The world is her stage and she’s more than happy to be in the center of it.  As her parents, Brent and I love having a front row seat to all the performing and entertaining that happens every day.  Delightful indeed!