With four kids in the house, the necessity to take turns doing things is ever-present. While there are plenty of things we can do together as a family, such as setting and clearing the table, cleaning rooms, unloading groceries, taking trips to the library, and going to the park, there are others that are simply best taken in turn. Taking the dog out at 7:00 AM, toting the laundry to the laundry room, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning toilets, getting the mail - these are things that are best served with some kind of rotation. Oh - and feeding the fish must be on that list as well. Everyone wants to feed the fish, but that could be disastrous! ;0) The point is, in a busy family, there are many hands to make light of the work, but also many jobs to do. Ours is a family who works together, but we also love to play together. We enjoy our movie nights (Anne of Green Gables with pizza anyone?) and our Saturday afternoon piles of books and puzzles and games (with warm cookies and milk. Mmmmm). We love our church family and nobody complains about piling in the SUV on Sunday mornings. Our collective hearts desire the comforts of home or the fun of a trip somewhere when we'll all be together. One of the places we gather is around our table and we love that, too.
Back to taking turns, I have to admit that the kids are not pushing each other out of the figurative line to take the dog out or empty the trash. They are willing, but it is sometimes a grudging willingness. They are, after all, works in progress just like the rest of us! Sometimes the argument is about who has to do it, sometimes about who gets to, depending on the task.One thing I don't really mind them "fighting" over - and I use the term loosely and kindly - is mealtime prayer. When the time comes to hold hands and bow heads, they ALL want to be the one to pray. What a treat to see our children truly desire to go before the Lord in thanksgiving for His provision and petition for our needs and hopes. When the older boys pray, they do it with deliberate words that reveal things about the kind of day they've had, and they tend to be concise. When our daughter prays, she tends to be a bit long-winded, as though she is afraid of missing things or people. She prays this way at night before bed as well. She prays for people in Africa she's never seen and she prays for kids in her class and her brothers around our table. Sometimes she remembers to pray for the food! Our youngest prays as most three year-olds do, with one eye open, wandering the table, then settling on mom or dad, who help him through the words. He is quiet for these brief moments, so we have to strain to hear him. He is sweet in his thanksgiving for his family and hearing his little boy voice say the powerful name of Jesus is priceless. He usually needs to be reminded to say "Amen."
When the adults at the table pray, we are mindful of our daily bread, understanding in a way the children cannot, that our every need is truly met by the Father. We are thankful for His abundant provision and humbled by our blessings. We pray simply for things and people about whom our hearts pour forth much more than our few words express. We are also very aware that we model for our children the grateful hearts that pause before a loving God to thank Him for His ever-presence in our lives and in our home.
"I will spread out my hands to the Lord in prayer." Exodus 9:29