Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” I Peter 4:8-9 (ESV)
While Hurricane Ian settled over our home in Orlando, my grown boys, little girl, and our “neighborhood son” played a loud match of Monopoly at the kitchen table. Lately, with my youngest son, Colin, at Palm Beach Atlantic and my oldest living downtown, my boys now trek different paths. The hurricane provided this Momma a treat by bringing them all together back into the nest for a night.
Days before the storm arrived my daughter, Bella, said, “Momma, should I be scared?”
I laughed. “No, we like a good storm in this family.”
As the storm whistled through our pool screen and shook loose branches from trees, Bella threw her arms in the air, “Momma, I like hurricanes because it’s like Christmas!” And at the time, I agreed.
The Storm’s Devastation:
Now, after seeing the devastation left in Ian’s wake, I can’t help but feel guilty for having fun in the storm. It’s gut wrenching to hear the new death tolls, see boats parked on top of houses, or to hear the voice messages of those now missing. Although I’ve lived through many hurricanes by residing on the east coast all my life, I’m so blessed, humbled, and thankful I’ve not endured the devastating buffet one can serve up. I’m now praying for those who have.
The Latest Numbers Swirling From Hurricane Ian:
Hurricane made landfall shy of a Cat-5
Wind: Topping 150 mph
Water: Storm Surge reached as high as 18 feet
Death toll: 111- 120 (range from multiple sources) and still counting
Deaths from drowning: More than half
Damage: Catastrophic damage too soon to assess
A Hurricane Takeaway:
As a parent, I’ve learned something as my children sat around the kitchen table playing monopoly in the middle of a hurricane—I was struck by how important a monopoly game can be. Today’s culture puts little significance on family connection. It’s been replaced by text messages and social media updates, phones stared at during dinner, or dinners on the run.
When my boys were little, my husband, Jay, traveled a lot. For two years, he lived in Phoenix most of the week while working on a large project there. I tried to keep the boys occupied from missing their Daddy at dinnertime. I’d dress up, turn out the lights, light the candles, pop in music, and speak in a snooty accent while serving them juice in champagne glasses and food on fancy plates. They felt thrilled to experience “fine dining in New York” during dinnertime and to this day talk about those nights.
We also had talent shows. In the afternoon I’d give them a heads up to be ready. Around the table each of them would share their talent. One night, Nick pretended to be a psychiatrist and went around the table psychoanalyzing all of us. Christian jumped up from the table and did his robot dance. I’m not going to name the son whose talent was expelling gas on command and seemed extremely proud to be an overachiever in this. Boys will be boys. Keep it on the downlow…it’s still his talent today.
As mothers, how can we prevent life’s swirling demands from tearing our family apart? I believe it’s by creating an atmosphere of connection—and there’s no better place to come together than the place our children are nourished.
Here are some ideas to ease into making your dinnertime more than just a meal:
- Plan the following week’s meals and grocery list by Sunday evening.
- Utilize tools to make cooking homemade meals easier, such as the Insta Pot, Air Fryer, or Crock Pot.
- Establish one night a week as Family Game Night, or Family Movie Night, complete with popcorn.
- Bake something or fry bacon…they’ll come running…trust me.
- Send out a handwritten note inviting them to a special dinner you’ve prepared and then break out the china and fancy glasses.
- Have a Christmas in July feast, where you make their favorite Christmas meals and treats while playing Christmas music.
- Have a Thanksgiving feast in Spring and have them talk about what they’re grateful for.
- Utilize mealtime to discuss a passage of scripture.
- One meal a week take turns discussing what God has revealed in recent quiet times. (This will encourage your children to have a quiet time.)
- Put on some 80’s music and have everyone pitch in for the clean-up while taking turns showing your favorite dance moves. (One of my favorite things to do with my boys.) Your pre-teens and teens will love this snapchat opportunity.
- Utilize a mealtime to teach your brood about different types of music, like gospel, Jazz, classical, or 40’s. Start a conversation of what the world was like at that time and how it’s reflected in the music.
- Use mealtime to teach them about the culture of another country, by serving the traditional food, playing their music, and attempting to learn a few phrases of their language.
- Have an impromptu talent show.
- Create a story. You start the story and have each child add their spin on it.
- Cook double portion so you can transform leftovers the next evening into something else. For example: Baked chicken and rice can become chicken quesadillas or chicken stew.
If we begin making mealtime an enjoyable experience, our children will put away the distractions of this world and see the value in building a firm commitment to personal relationships. Give it a try.
If you have an idea on making mealtime a time of connection, I’d love to hear it. Or if you try one of the ideas above, let me know how your children enjoyed it.
Help the Victims of Hurricane Ian:
My team and I invite you to join us in committing to pray for those affected by Hurricane Ian. Family Church in Windermere, Florida, is collecting funds to go directly to those hurt by this devastation.
Here is the information if you’d like to help.
Hurricane Ian Disaster Relief
We are trying to do what we can for victims of Hurricane Ian.
You can donate to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund by going to give.ourfamily.church.
You can text IAN to 407.499.8661.
One of our previous articles to check out: Are We Being Conditioned to Fear.
Photo Credit: AleksandarNakic/Canva
Tammy Carter Adams is the founder of The Hallelujah House and co-host of The Hallelujah House podcast. When she’s not creating content, Tammy enjoys painting in her studio and spending time with her husband Jay, and their four children. You can read Tammy’s full bio and contact her directly at the “About Us” tab on the Home page.